Rise of Iron



On September 20th the Rise of Iron expansion launched for Destiny, and considering just how damned engaged I am currently with World of Warcraft Legion, the truth is that I had not really spent much time playing the game until this weekend.  On Saturday when we recorded the podcast, I noted some of the issues I was seeing about what seemed to be recycled sections of the Cosmodrome for the purpose of building the Plaguelands area.  There is one entire section that was essentially the same, but with added snow, ice and SIVA/Splicer destruction marks.  What I am realizing after spending some time with the game is that this is absolutely on purpose.  The current cosmodrome and the plaguelands overlap slightly, and it seems as though this area got repeated as a way of explaining to the player visually how the two zones fit together.  After spending a significant amount more time roaming about, I can verify that the plaguelands are massive and extremely unique in geography apart from this one region.  It is really hard trying to make something feel completely new, when essentially you are having to build it out of the same visual language that the first zone of the game used several years ago.  So while much of what you end up seeing looks extremely familiar, there are some really interesting things going on, like exploring the heavily skewed wastes of capsized shipping freighters for example.


The dreadnaught very much felt like you were invading a dark and foreboding foreign space.  Everything about that dungeon felt like a dungeon crawl, as you explored the nooks and crannies gleaning secrets from every corner.  The plaguelands are much the same, but this time around it is a sprawling outdoor space, and part of the cognitive dissonance is that at least on some level I keep remembering that I am exploring the same cosmodrome complex that I have known for years.  It feels as though I simply got to open a door to a new area that I never saw before… and essentially because of the recycling of that first area that is precisely what happened.  The only disappointment is that the new story elements were pretty short, and while retaking Felwinter Peak was an awesome sequence of quests, and shutting down the SIVA replication chamber was one of the more epic fights in the game…  it all felt extremely brief.  The truth is the amount of content contained within Rise of Iron feels like a DLC addon… and not an “expansion” in the terms I am used to think of it from my MMO roots.  The level cap does not change, and while all of the light levels increase greatly…  the process starts to stall out heavily just five points from the 335 cap I was already sitting at on my characters.  All of this said I still have yet to really scratch the surface of the content, but it just does not feel like quite the same transition as Year 1 to Year 2.  I guess in many ways Rise of Iron didn’t have quite so many wrongs to right, and as such didn’t need to be quite the overhaul that Taken King was.


Ultimately I am enjoying myself, in spite of the fact that the gearing this time around feels significantly more grindy.  The biggest part of this is the fact that it seems like blue engrams have a hard cap of 340 light.  I spent a good deal of last night when I couldn’t get to sleep running around and doing content out in the world, and with that gathered up a dozen or so blue engrams.  Apart from the ones that upgraded into Legendary, or turned into Strange Coins… every single one came out at exactly 340 light which only serves to be armor materials or weapon parts.  With Rise of Iron, Blue is the new Green…  which makes the fact that I am getting a constant string of 190ish light Greens simply tedious.  Something just feels wrong with the engram system this time around, because nothing shy of a Legendary seems to make a difference.  That means that the real way to move that needle forward is to either grind out faction packages or do heroic strikes…  something I have not really dared to do just yet given the highly interrupted playtime I have gotten so far.  When I do open a faction package however the fact that you can choose between an Armor, Weapon or Chroma package is a welcome change.  It is my understanding that the faction packages have a similar hard cap to Blues, which winds up getting you to 365 leaving raid gear and exotics your only way to push up to the new 385 light cap.  All of this would feel a bit frustrating… were it not for the fact that the moment to moment gameplay feels so damned good.  The biggest problem I have however is the fact that my favorite weapon is an exotic… which means I need a constant flow of infusion fodder to keep moving it forward.


Since I am also an avid Destiny lore hound… I have to say this expansion is great for many reasons in that it fleshes out a lot of bits of the overall story that were left alone.  Unfortunately most of this happens in more grimoire cards, which are only hinted at in the actual spoken dialog.  For the last two years we have participated in the Iron Banner, as Lord Saladin arrives at the Tower looking for a new generation of Iron Lords.  Now we finally get to learn about the names we have heard during that time like Jolder or Timur.  This is the story of what happened to the Iron Lords and once again the story of the hubris of humanity as it tried to exploit the resources of  the traveler.  While I completed the main storyline rather quickly, I still have a bunch of quests that are slowly playing their way out as I have yet to take on the raid, or do any of the new strikes.  I have a feeling that these will ultimately lead to unlocking the various new quest exotics, and I am hoping giving me more bits of the story.  All in all it seems well worth the $30, but the truth is… you are just paying the upkeep cost on being able to keep current with the game.  The game is once again falling into the spot of giving me something that I can do quickly, without getting to engaged in content that will be hard for me to pull myself away from.  Are you playing the expansion?  What are your thoughts?

A Busy Weekend



Mondays are always a challenge.  I realize that is the understatement of the year but there is just something extra heinous about trying to revive your week day routines after happily nuking them from orbit over the course of Friday and Saturday night.  Sunday night is always the roughest night of the week to get to sleep, because my body is not quite ready to relinquish the last vestiges of true freedom.  Similarly since giving up the whole weekend blogging thing for lent….  or whatever I did to actually give it up…  rebooting that process each Monday morning is an equal challenge.  This morning for example I have logged in to “check on” several things, all the while happily avoiding actually sitting down to put thought on paper or at least virtual paper.  This weekend was an odd one, but a good one.  It started off Friday night with House Stalwart my guild throwing together an impromptu raid into the Emerald Nightmare.  We did not really have a lot of time, since it was literally thrown together over the course of that evening, but we did manage to go in and one shot the first boss.  From there we started work on the spider boss, but given its moving parts I am wondering if that was the best choice.  In truth ALL of the next bosses seem to have their own madness going on and with it a challenge or two that will force us to shift and adjust to the fight.  We managed to get spider to phase two, which isn’t much of a challenge but at least I can claim it was progress.


Another thing we attempted this weekend was our very first Mythic+ dungeon… because well Grace and I had keys burning a hole in our pockets.  However after attempt number one, I think we are going to wait to do number two… until we know the dungeons better.  Mythic Plus Halls of Valor… also happened to be the very first Halls of Valor Mythic run for most of us.  As a result we were less than efficient at a number of the fights and failed to get the timer.  That said given the number of wipes we had I think we did fairly well in that our timer ran out around the time we crossed the glowing bridge of nonsense.  So while we failed… we at least failed in style?  The truth is all of us just need a lot more normal mythic runs before we start burning any more keys.  None of us have any of the magical legendary drops that our UI tells us we can currently equip one of….  but I hear they absolutely maybe sometimes sorta drop in mythics.  We were maybe unprepared given that we were also dragging Ashgar into his first mythic ever…  and we went for a timed one.  The truth is I think we just wanted to know what the challenge looked like so we could prepare for it.  I know personally I find it hard to wrap my head around what is needed until I have failed for a bit at doing something.  Similarly we had to fail at the spider boss for me to be able to wrap my head around the videos that I will ultimately watch before we make another attempt on Wednesday.


Finally I made a significant push on Exeter my Paladin, who is now 108 and about halfway through it.  Not shockingly I ended up dropping Retribution around 102 and have been leveling as a Protection Paladin the rest of the way.  This has allowed me to do things like tank for friends when they need to run lower level instances.  We pulled together an Eye of Azshara for Thalen over the weekend… and I happened to need it as well.  Now I have several more dungeons waiting in the wings for me to do that I may or may not wait for friends to get to as well.  Now that I am so close to 110 I sort of want to push across the finish line so I can start doing world quests and such on this character too.  Similarly I want to get in some Coren Direbrew runs for trinkets before those things go away.  So at a minimum I am probably going to finish out the rest of 108 because 109 allows me to start queuing.  I still think that is a major missed opportunity, in that they should have allowed the Direbrew event to scale with players.  At this moment I have finished Azsuna and Highmountain and have just trudged through the faction bullshit in Stormheim.  The first part of that zone feels so unlike the rest of this expansion, I can only hope in the future they are going to realize that this game feels so much better when you give us an interesting place to explore with its own story… and quit trying to force everything into a dated red versus blue narrative.

Kodra the Prodigy



Last night I had what is going to go down for awhile as one of my strangest dreams.  The root of it was a roadtrip, that apparently myself and the rest of the AggroChat crew were taking across country.  I have no clue at all where we were going, or what we were actually doing.  However we were in a road trip in a car that was probably too small to fit all of us…  but those are the sort of details that dreams just handwave away.  What I do know for certain is that at some point we stopped at a roadside diner, and while milling around and waiting for everyone to finish going to the restroom I noticed this little girl had a cool vintage metroid championship t-shirt.  I commented that I liked her shirt and she showed it to me proudly…  and that is when I noticed that emblazoned across it in a fuchsia with purple shadow version of the Metroid logo was the name “Kodra”.  Round about this time in the dream Kodra comes out of the bathroom and I point out the t-shirt and he is super nonchalant about it.  This is the point where we learn that apparently he was a child prodigy at video games… and “he doesn’t like to talk about that time”.  We also find out that apparently there is this entire internet sub culture that has been trying to find out what happened to Kodra after the championship…  which in itself is funny given that he goes by that game on our podcast.  It is around this point that the dream starts to break down like every dream does, especially given that I am not sure the timing works.  Kodra is quite a bit younger than I am, so not sure what age he would have been when Metroid was even a thing.  In any case… it was one of those strange dreams that I had to commit to paper as it were.


As far as “me”, I am doing mostly better… or at least on the road to better.  I feel bad about the weird state of yesterdays post, but I just didn’t have any proper fuel to cobble together a post.  I have been stressed beyond belief for reasons I can’t get into.  Just know that for the most part those events have passed and I think I am on the other side of them.  Cryptic as hell I know but that is about all I can really say.  I have not been feeling great, but I think it is just a side effect of the stress.  Last night I wound up going to bed before 10 pm, and then woke up about midnight feeling like I had slept an entire night.  My body does strange things when it comes to sleep, but thankfully I was able to mostly get right back to sleep.  As far as gaming goes last night, I managed to exist in the “organized gameplay” world just long enough to drag some friends into Heroic Darkheart Thicket for the World Quest that rewarded an 850 wrist.  This was unfortunately good enough that it was worth breaking up my four piece world quest set to partake of the level difference.  After that and finishing up my emissary quest for the day I flipped over to my paladin and continued questing out in Highmountain for a bit.  So far leveling as a tankadin is pretty chill and relaxing, and while I would rather run around Justicar Julia Celeste, I have to say Vindicator Boros is growing on me.  It is kinda fun to run around and be Super Draenei Tankbros.  I contemplated actually transmogging to some of the gear he is wearing to make it even seem more legit, since I think I have a lot of that stuff from the Draenor expansion.  However my purple judgement set matches the purple tone artifact so well… that I am leaving it be for the time being.  Over the night Tam managed to ding 110 so my hope for tonight is to grab him and smuggle him into a heroic to hopefully get some gear.

Don’t Bring Frogs

So this mornings post is going to be essentially a non-post.  The last few days have been a sequence of bullshit that I have had to deal with, and as a result I am having trouble thinking of anything reasonable to write about.  Generally speaking I share my life with you all, and while some of the names are withheld to anonymize the experience the sequence of events is pretty much raw and unvarnished.  This however is one of those times when I can’t really talk about it, but suffice to say it is a bizarre time to exist in my head.  Gaming has always provided an escape for when things are getting just too real, when I can climb inside someone else for awhile and forget any madness going on.  Similarly laughter is something that helps push me out of my own brain for awhile and forget whatever is wrong for a few minutes.  This morning instead of a proper post I am just going to share some videos that I have watched too many times.


Nithogg and Mythics



I am convinced that time slows down when you wake up early… and then attempt to go back to sleep.  This happened to me today, and between 5 and 5:30 I am pretty sure several hours passed.  I kept waking up thinking that surely I had forgotten to set the alarm, and that I had now overslept significantly and would have to rush around in the morning.  However I would look at my watch… and see that it was only 5:15, 5:22, 5:26 etc until finally the alarm went off.  At this point as a person of reasonable life experience… I know that I am probably far better off just getting up and dealing with the fact that I am awake a bit earlier than normal.  Instead I attempted to go back to sleep and I am pretty sure I will now be sluggish the rest of the day.  Yesterday was of course an important maintenance day in World of Warcraft because it unlocked both raiding and mythic+ dungeons.  I however don’t yet have a proper raid team, and last night represented the first mythic I have done yet.  This expansion has been a significantly more casual pace for me… yet still somehow I managed to end up just about as well geared as anyone else out there starting raiding.  I did a doublecheck this morning looking at a friend of mine in the warrior class hall and inspecting him… and I am maybe a couple ilvls behind him in total, and he is a serious progression raider.  This is absolutely been the expansion so far of multiple paths to the end game… which is ultimately what I always wanted out of warcraft.  You can craft your way to madness, or dungeon, or world quest, or raid… but in the end we all wind up in roughly the same destination allowing folks to swap paths at will rather than allowing choices within the first few weeks of a new expansion to forever dominate their fate.

The other cool thing that started up last night was the first of the world bosses.  Apparently from this point on we are going to get a new world boss every week, and the first of these was Nithogg, a monster I have slain in so many games with so many different spellings.  In World of Warcraft I have a particular vendetta against this creature for doing bad things to my Ravenbear friends.  Even though I was reminded during the day… I absolutely forgot to go fetch my re-roll tokens.  This time around they are located where the daily dungeon quests used to be during Wrath on ArcheMage Lan’dalock.  Similar to the birbfolk in Draenor we can purchase the seals with Gold or Garrison… I mean Order Resources.  Once again the prices go up not to subtly nudging you to spend multiple kinds of currency to get them, so the first seal will be 1000, the second 2000 and the third 3000 of either gold or resources.  With the absence of Apexis Crystals… or some equivalent currency we are missing the option to buy three of the “cheap” tokens and are going to have to choose either resources or gold to escalate the cost with.  As far as the boss fight… I did it a total of three times.  The first time I didn’t have any stones, the second I did.. and the third I was testing to see if I could spend more than one token a week.  The answer to that last question is no… and as a result I am stuck with earning 60g for my two attempts.  It is at this point Tam should be happy because he always complains about my good luck…  which in truth is not really a thing, its just that I do a lot of content that can potentially drop good stuff so in the end I get a lot of stuff.  The boss itself is a bit boring, and reminded me quite a bit of the zerg dragons of old but mostly the boss is designed to be that.  I was not in a proper raid group in any of the three times that I took Nithogg on, and sooner or later enough people amassed that someone pulled and the fight was on, with me furiously trying to dodge lightning patches while obeying the rules of fighting dragons…  stay away from the head, stay away from the tail.

The other big happening of the night is that I finally did my first Mythic dungeon.  The biggest problem I have had is when I feel like doing something like this… I lack the stalwart team to pull it together (pun intended).  There are in truth few of us who are really at “mythicable” level, which seems to be around the 830 mark if you want to be safe.  So while we might have 20-30 people on during prime time… a lot of them are still leveling and or gearing.  What I assembled instead was a team where myself and the warlock were the only folks safely in mythic range, and the rest of us were a bit on the undergeared side.  We felt it, but in the grand scheme of things I think we did just fine, especially considering it was my first mythic to tank, and Grace’s first mythic to heal.  The long and short of it is…  shit hits really hard.  Like from the first trash pack onwards it was noticeable that the incoming damage on my side had stepped up a few notches.  It was not unmanageable but it was a constant mitigation tug-of-war with my trying to maintain shield block and ignore pain whenever possible.  Out in the world it always feels like I have all the rage in the world… in mythics however I am constantly hoping for enough rage to set up that next active mitigation.  What they reminded me the most is the way that Burning Crusade Heroics felt, in that if we wanted to…  crowd control would probably smooth out the difficulty curve significantly.  Namely I am thinking somewhere around the Shadow Labyrinth difficulty, for those who are long enough in the tooth to remember how that felt the first few times.  Our particular run was made harder probably because we had a marksman hunter…  which are going to ultimately be the bane of anyone trying to carefully pull a dungeon.  All in all we did well enough and other than the final boss only suffered a single wipe, which I found surprising because I was absolutely expecting issues with the serpent.  It took significantly longer than your average dungeon, but we were being extremely cautious… which is something we are going to have to pick up the pace for when we start attempting keystone runs.


Panda Hero



Yesterday I talked about my journey from bad engineer to not so bad engineer, but that was not at all the only thing I accomplished this weekend.  For some time I had been sitting at three achievements from completing my Glory of the Pandaria Hero meta achievement and obtaining the purty mount you see in the screenshot above.  I guess leading with a screenshot pretty much kills any suspense, but I am going to talk about this regardless.  I actually accomplished most of this during my periods of playing Pandaria back in the day, but for whatever reason I simply was not with the group when they completed Rattle No More, Seeds of Doubt, and I never messed with the super annoying Polyformic Acid Science.  What ultimately jogged my memory is that I wound up getting an enchanting quest requiring me to go gather up various components…  two of which were located in Scholomance and Stonecore which meant me going to the respective areas and soloing a dungeon.  It was during this process that I got one of the empty vials, and remembered how the whole Polyformic Acid thing worked.  As a result I managed to do five of the six kills needed for that achievement during a single 60 minute charge… before using the empty vial and removing it.  What I did not remember is that apparently when you remove and reapply a charge… it gives you a fresh 60 minute buff and not a partial buff based on what the previous timer was when you last stowed it.  From there the actual chore of doing the last two achievements was minimal because with level 110 gear things just sort of fall over.  However regardless I now have one more mount to add to my collection.  The thing is I am in similar places on most of the other “Dungeon Hero” achievements because for whatever reason I never really prioritized them.  I have never been the achievement hunter that Thalen or Rylacus was… but maybe it is time to start changing that.


As far as last night went, I spent most of it working on questing Exeter my Draenei Tankadin.  I did not realize what a difference harvesting makes to the total amount of experience you can squeeze out of a zone.  Belghast had no harvesting skill, but instead a double crafting combo of engineer and enchanting.  As a result it took me all five zones to be able to reach 110, or at least a fraction of the last zone for me which was Highmountain.  On Exeter however I have done nothing but complete Azuna my first zone… and I am sitting at 104 and roughly half of the way to 105.  I’ve run zero dungeons, and the only real difference is that I am harvesting every ore node I happen across.  However at 900 xp or so a pop those nodes I guess add up, as does the fact that I have plenty of rested experience since I am only playing him a few times a week right now.  The push however is to get to 109 quickly so that I can have another character to start running the upcoming Coren Direbrew fight that comes with Brewfest…  that should start showing up after the downtime today.  Now however is the point at which I am going to ascend my soapbox.  One of the things that the Legion pre-event showed off is just how damned well the content scaling works, and how much more enjoyable an event can be when you allow players of all levels to complete it.  Direbrew has never really been a difficult fight and honestly most of the time you could complete it without a tank in previous years. It just feels odd that in an expansion driven by scaling of content, that they would not also update this event to use it.

As much as I am loving this expansion, there are a lot of things that still make me wonder.  For example Stormheim is this amazing zone…  so long as you completely ignore any factional crap that happens in it.  This is really the expansion of two stories happening at once…  a faction tale of red versus blue that feels grossly outdated, and deep and rich zone specific tales that feel fresh and new.  I realize they probably did not have time to do everything in this expansion and update Brewfest… so they instead simply bumped up the item levels a bit and moved on.  However I feel like at some point they really need to do an update pass on all of these seasonal fights to bring them in line with the newest tech.  Imagine how much cooler it would be if anyone in the game could participate on all of their characters.  Right now this event feels like it is setting an artificial deadline on when we should have been leveled by in order to keep from missing out.  Then there is the issue of the fact that I am pulling 840/850 items from World Quests and the face value of the Direbrew trinkets is only 810…  something that I am hoping can easily War and Titan forge up in level.  In any case I will be doing this event every day on Belghast, and attempting to get my nearest character up to the appropriate level range of 109 so that I can get multiple characters trying to farm goodies.  If nothing else I need to have more characters at the level cap since this does not appear to be something they are going to scale…  because I still am chasing that ever damned elusive Headless Horseman mount.

Bad Engineer



This weekend was a weekend in many ways about finishing things that I left unresolved for years.  Over the course of the weekend I managed to get in several heroic runs of Legion content.  During Vault of the Wardens… we wiped a lot.  So much so that by the end of the run we were all showing yellow on our paper doll armor portraits.  It was around this time that I saw some text that I dread “Does anyone have a Jeeves?”.  This was quickly followed up by a statement from my friend Grace, “Hey Bel, You are an Engineer right?”.  To which I have to hang my head in shame every time this conversation comes up, because I am a failure as an engineer.  The biggest problem that I have had is the fact that my warrior is the completely screwball combination of Enchanter and Engineer.  Its like I chose the two worst things to level and slapped them on the same character.  The truth is… I used to be the even stranger profession for a warrior of tailor.  When I created this character I had no bag makers, so I decided to remedy that problem.  Then during Burning Crusade I could not get a helmet to drop period.  I went through all of Tier 5 and almost all of Tier 6 still wearing my Tier 4 helmet.  Over the course of a weekend I decided to fix that, dropped tailoring, and power leveled my engineer from zero to the then level cap… and crafted myself a t6 equivalent helm.  The very next week… a helm dropped for me.

From that point onwards I have been a shitty engineer, always lagging behind and never quite having all of the toys that I should for my profession.  During Wrath of the Lich King I swapped mains and instead focused on Belgrave my Deathknight.  So while I farmed the Jeeves pattern, I never actually got around to gathering the materials to craft it, which even at that time were pretty insane.  This weekend during the AggroChat Podcast, I decided to remedy the failure and set forth to farm all of the materials to craft my Jeeves.  The real credit for this process goes to the wowhead user Ketho for posting a breakout of the materials which made me realize this was actually doable.  So during the podcast I farmed the following list of items…

  • 6 – Copper Ore
  • 32 – Thorium Ore
  • 32 – Fel Iron Ore
  • 32 – Adamantite Ore
  • 4 – Khorium Ore
  • 60 – Cobalt Ore
  • 80 – Saronite Ore
  • 48 – Titanium Ore
  • 2 – Essense of Fire
  • 2 – Primal Fire
  • 8 – Eternal Fire
  • 8 – Eternal Earth
  • 8 – Eternal Shadow
  • 2 – King’s Amber

Looking at the list now it seems even more like madness but I set forth to gather it up while we talked on the podcast.  The first goal was Thorium ore, which I set forth to farming in Winterspring which I could get to easy enough through Hyjal.  Remember I am not a miner on my actual engineer so instead for this job I grabbed Tallow my Jewelcrafting/Mining Shaman.  This part went super quickly, and I decided to drop by Darkshore to pick up a few copper nodes to be done with the “Vanilla” section of the list.  From there I took the Stormwind Mage’s Guild port to Hellfire Peninsula and farmed anything I happened across on my way to Zangarmarsh.  I remember spending hours running/flying circles around Zangarmarsh farming Fel Iron and Adamantite… so I focused on this zone until I neared enough Fel Iron.  From there I took the exit from Zangar to Nagrand and flew a path around that zone until I finally gathered the Adamantite I needed.  I lucked out and found just enough Khorium while farming so I moved on to Northrend, where I flew circles around Grizzly Hills until I had gathered up enough Cobalt.  Similarly to Zangarmarsh, I spent most of my Wrath farming time in Sholazar Basin so I quickly gathered up the requisite amount of Saronite I needed there.  Lastly for Northrend was flying a bunch of circles around Icecrown trying to find Titanium.  Here is the point where I cheat a little and tell you all that I had a handful of bars sitting in the bank left over from something so I didn’t really need that much to continue onwards.

The challenge was getting enough elemental stuff to create the Eternals and the Primals.  Before leaving Nagrand I slaughtered a bunch of fire elementals at the elemental plateau which gave me enough to create the two primal fires.  While mining I got more than enough Earth and Shadow, which left me in a similar position needing fire.  I made an attempt at Wintergrasp but Horde was currently holding it, which means the elementals there have a greatly reduced drop rate.  This is the point at which I went to the wowhead and found that apparently there is a lesser known farm spot in Storm Peaks.  There is a cave full of mobs called Wailing Winds  that are nearly instant respawn and have a pretty decent drop rate for the fire.  So after about fifteen minutes of killing them I managed to gather up the mats to do my Eternal Fire.  This left one last component…  the King’s Amber which I initially thought I would simply buy off the auction house.  We had none available, and after looking at how I might actually get my hands on some… it seemed like it was going to be the part of this equation that killed me.  I instead restored to trying to transmute them… which required 2 Autumn’s Glow that caused me to once again fly some more around Sholazar Basin and this time prospect it hoping for the gem I needed.  I transferred the materials to my alchemist… and then was disappointed that apparently old world transmutes still incur the once a day timer.

It was around this time when Thalen told me he would be re-upping his account and was certain that he probably had the needed gem sitting in a bank somewhere.  We then played this game… of him trying to remember who was his jewelcrafter.  Thalen has been gone from World of Warcraft since about halfway through Pandaria, meaning he has slept several times since then.  When he finally landed on the right character, he didn’t have the gem…  but instead said he could swap to his alchemist and do a transmute.  So we played a similar game of trying to figure out which character was his alchemist.  Finally we got the mats and I mailed everything to Belghast to start crafting the sub components.  This is the point at which I realized that I apparently NEVER picked up the recipe for the original Repair Bot on this character from Blackrock Depths.   Prior to Belghast I had another engineer, and I knew that I had grabbed it on that character, but I guess mentally I transposed that event to happening on my current engineer.  I hopped on a mount and flew over to Blackrock Depths, ran in quickly… got the pattern and returned once more to the Dwarven Quarter in Stormwind where I finally combined everything into my shiny new Jeeves.  I had enough mats left over to craft a Moll-E as well.  It was a whirlwind of farming but during the three hours or so associated with the podcast and me doing post podcast editing I am now less of an engineering failure.

Operation Hey Folks



For the last week and some change, I have been running at least one dungeon a night.  Often time I am queuing with less than a full party.  This is a situation that generally causes me great anxiety, because I like going into a group knowing that folks I know… outnumber the folks I don’t know.  I said awhile back that I have been trying to force myself to be more cordial in dungeons.  As a result I have adopted my common “Hey Folks” and “How Goes?” greetings.  My friend Grace that I am often dungeoning with has been doing the same.  Mostly we had a discussion awhile back about how this is the common expected behavior in Final Fantasy XIV, and that maybe if we attempted to treat World of Warcraft the same we might get similar results.  Folks in FFXIV are largely charming and willing to help you sort out mechanics that you might not understand, all just because you spoke up and said you were new to a dungeon.  My experience in the past of WoW has not been nearly that charitable, but I was willing to give it a shot either way.  The awesome thing about going in with the majority of a party… it means the moment someone resorts to toxic behavior you can punt them quickly.  All in all I have to say I continue to be pleased at just how well this is going, even in Heroics.  If you present a friendly face, more often than not it has been met with a similarly friendly response.

Last night we had someone drop shortly after introductions…  which I am hoping was just a case of them getting disconnected or being needed elsewhere.  However others in the party not only were cheery but performed admirably.  At the end of the dungeon run we took time to praise the Deathknight for example who did an amazing job of pull casters into the group, and pulled off a clutch rez when our healer inadvertently stood in some “bad”.  All of this is really making me wish that World of Warcraft would adopt a commendation system similar to Final Fantasy XIV.  I think a lot of that culture is based on the fact that at the end of a dungeon run, each player gets a single commendation that they can give to someone in their party.  There is the additional caveat that you cannot give commendations to members of your own guild, meaning you have to be giving random strangers these nods.  To make it something that folks are actually interested in receiving there are a number of achievements based on the number of commendations you have, and some of the rewards are things like mounts, titles and cosmetic items.  Basically the system would port perfectly to World of Warcraft random dungeons, and give some additional reinforcement of good behavior.  Last night for example I greatly wished I had the ability to heap tangible praise on this Deathknight for doing a pretty amazing job all around.  Even the mage that ultimately replaced the dropped Demon Hunter, was deserving of commendations because for the most part everyone “mechanic’d” like a pro.


Other than dungeons, last night I spent most of my time attempting to catch up in Suramar.  I had been lagging behind horribly in the questing there, namely when it comes to unlocking things in the actual city proper.  I am not a huge fan of stealth mechanics, and it is foreign to me to attempt to sneak around.  A huge part of me wants to simply fight my way from one side of the city to the other… but the sheer mob density here makes that not really a viable option.  Similarly I don’t believe a lot of the quests are actually open to you unless you are wearing the illusion.  As Tam and I have commented… Suramar is like being a High Elf Enchanter in Neriak…  for those who ever had that experience in the original Everquest.  The illusion works most of the time, but occasionally there is someone all to happy to murder you.  As you progress however you start to build little enclaves where you are more or less free to roam safely.  Last nights grind was focused on getting far enough in to be able to start unlocking some of the lucrative world quests, one of which yesterday was an epic trinket.  Before I went to bed last night I managed to unlock the dinosaur quest… which is truly amazing and with it the trinket world quest.  Nothing quite as fun as riding along on the back of a devilsaur and gobbling up demons and evil elves.

Accidentally Epic’d



I figured this screenshot was appropriate this morning because this if anything else is how I feel.  Ragweed is my direst of dire enemies.  It has always been a problem for me and continues to be this day.  I feel like I am a bit of a walking zombie and I didn’t really know completely why until I watched the forecast this morning.  Sure enough ragweed pollen is spiking like mad right now, which explains the constant congestion, watery eyes… and general inability to breathe.  On a day like today all I really want to do is to either go back to bed and hide from the world, or snuggle up in a cocoon on the sofa playing video games.  The problem with this plan however is that our human resources department is being super bizarre with sick leave.  I have almost 400 hours of sick time built up over the years…  yet they tend to freak out any time someone actually uses some.  What is the point of giving us sick leave…  especially in the hundreds of hours territory while being stingy with actually getting to use it.  So instead of chilling out on a day like today when I am not really a fully functional human being… I am going to shamble in my undead state to the office and mash keys with confused fingers.

One the WoW front however, as of last night I am missing one ring and a belt from being completely purple once more.  The strange thing about this process has been that I didn’t really do anything super intentional to get there.  Through unlocking my class hall, completely its mission… and then spending order resources to upgrade items all the way to 840 I got a big chunk of the way there.  From there it has simply been doing any items that were upgrades each day from the world quests.  The end result has been the least grindy gearing process I have ever gone through.  I just played the game and did the things I enjoyed and before I knew it I was sitting there at 838, a reasonable level to do just about anything available in the game right now.  The truth is I have only actually run two dungeons in heroic, and while I have done a slew of normal dungeons they were always for some other purpose than just grinding.  Either I needed something for a quest or a friend of mine did… and we ventured forth and had a grand romp inside.  It has been amazing just how painless and seamless this entire gearing process has felt.  For a long time I have given credit to the way the catch up mechanics felt in Final Fantasy XIV, but even there you had to have a focus on actually running content to get gear.  This time around it feels like I just did the things I would have done normally… and accidentally got epic’d.

Short and Long Game



Last night is a perfect example of why Legion is working so well for me.  When I first got home I piddled around for a bit doing the few world quests that actually had upgrades for me.  I managed to pull out another 835 trinket, and a 830 Iron Relic which combined with a 830 necklace that I got much later in the evening takes my overall item level to 834.  For the most part every single night I am doing two things.  Firstly I am knocking out the four quests that are required to get me the emissary chest with whatever faction is highlighted.  After that I check World Quest Tracker to see which rewards might be upgrades, because as my gear level has gone up… the sorts of rewards available to me has also increased.  For example when I checked a few minutes ago before sitting down to write this blog post I had an epic chestpiece somewhere in Azuna with roughly 20 hours left on it.  For those not familiar with the addon, it gives players a similar view to the mobile app in game and allows for the tracking of individual world quests.  This is super handy because when you are tracking one… it then also shows up on your flight map so you can see pretty easily which location is the closest to the quest you are trying to finish.  It also color codes the quests so you can see which ones are expiring soon.  This way if you are trying to complete every possible quest, you can make sure you get those with a short timer on them done so you don’t risk them expiring.

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After hopping on voice chat we organized into a group, because in part we were looking for something to do with Tam who has been working on a Monk healer.  I needed a quest for enchanting from Halls of Valor… because even though I have done this place five times now the staggering of quests meant I kept needing something from it.  The positive is that we could run a dungeon with him… the negative is that because of his “just boosted” gear score we had to zone in manually.  What was awesome about the run last night though is that Grace has done quite a bit of healing on the Monk, so Tam and her talks about which abilities work for which fights as we went through the dungeon.  By the end Tam was Mistwalkering like a pro, and I went from having to largely keep myself alive with Ignore Pain to not really even getting close to dying at all.  The other thing we noticed is just how ridiculous the range on the Monk healing statue is.  It seems to be most of an instance worth of distance… and I am not entirely certain that when it finally stopped healing… that it was due to range and not due to line of sight.  We finished the dungeon successfully and it broke up the logjam that seemed to be my enchanting progression.  After completing that one quest I got four other quests that unlocked a series of endgame neck enchants.  Grace and I were talking a bit about this problem last night, that while I really enjoy the quests… it is going to make tradeskilling on alts a pure nightmare.


After the dungeon run, the group broke up as Mor and Ashgar needed to go off to bed… or whatever it was that they actually did.  From there Grace and I decided to work on some of the Gold Dragon Wardens quests.  These show up on your map with the traditional elite boss seal around them, and represent tougher group content.  Sometimes these are reasonable to solo… other times they simply hit too hard or have too much life to be reasonable.  While they are not often soloable, they generally speaking can be duo’d with my protection warrior and her mage.  I can keep myself alive mostly long enough for her to burn it down and more often than not when we actually get to a given location… there is already a group starting the fight that we just hop in on.  So I started the post with a statement about last night being a perfect example of why Legion is working so well for me, and all of these examples are why.  I started off the evening soloing, then pulled together a group and ran a dungeon… then continued the grouping in a much smaller scale with tracking down a bunch of elite world quests.  I went from solo, to group, to duoing… all in the same night and it felt seamless and largely effortless to find some objective that felt valuable to do in all of those cases.  Eventually I am sure raiding will be added in to that mix giving me a whole new level of things to do with friends, all the while constantly feeling like I am moving the needle forward.  Legion is doing an excellent job of giving me small term gains, but still keeping extremely long term goals present and making me feel like I am constantly inching forward towards them.  Now I just want them to keep this  up for the rest of the expansion and continue this feeling into the next.