The WoW races, ranked

I got a bit of blog inspiration today by reading Syp’s opinions on the World of Warcraft races over on Bio Break. There’s a bit of advice for the new bloggers this Blaugust: when in doubt, respond to something else you find in the blogosphere. Just keep it good-natured if you can. Unless somebody says something as objectively wrong as “Gnomes are the best WoW race”. Then the gloves can come off.

Best World of Warcraft (core) Race: Undead

Syp put them near the top of his list, which was a nice try but just not enough. While some people are baffled at why anyone would play the “ugly” Horde races, I embrace the ugly. I’m tired of games that give me the options of “too cute”, “too pretty”, or “too pretty and has giant boobs”, for player characters. The undead are like a giant middle finger to all the catgirls and sexy elfs, and my contrarian self enjoys it. Sure my undead priest has sizable boobs, but they’re probably full of maggots or something so it cancels out. As a bonus, I’m a sucker for their lore. I am a bona fide Sylvanas fangirl, even if I’m skeptical about the direction her story is heading right now. I love the idea of this race that got completely screwed over during a war, and when they tried to come home they got shunned and called monsters. Now they’re building their own place in the world as best they can. Plus they literally start the game by rising out of a grave, and they get to ride skeletal horses. What’s not to love?

Belfs

Okay, okay, I know I just had a rant about “too pretty” races in MMOs, but sometimes you do want to be pretty. This is also the only race in the game that I enjoy playing both the male and female versions. While undead is my race of choice for mains that I spend a lot of time on, blood elves are one of my top choices for alts. Mainly so I can see my armor transmog without the holes that come from being undead. I also love their starting zone and city, because they remind me of when I was new to WoW at the start of TBC. They’re like a little time capsule that missed the worst of Deathwing’s remodeling of Azeroth.

Draenei

These are my favorite of all the Alliance races. Although they are still pretty, they were the most “bestial humanoid” available to the Alliance until Worgen came around. They have a cool aesthetic, and their giant spaceship always fascinated me, even when I was baffled by the lore of it. The draenei also gave us Yrel, who was one of the best things that came out of the wreckage of WoD. I reserve the right to hold Yrel against them if BfA ruins her, though.

Trolls

I might actually be a “masochist that enjoy[s] looking bad”, it’s hard to say. I do love the ugly Horde races, including trolls. I think the distinction here is that I love the female trolls. The male trolls are a bit too big and weird looking. But then again I feel that way about almost every race in WoW. I think the ladies look sassy. I love their tusks. They have one of my favorite hairstyles in the game (that long weird braid). I wish they wore shoes but if I’m willing to forgive the undead elbows I can forgive this too. As an added bonus their druid flight form is an awesome bat.

Dwarves

These are my other favorite Alliance race. They’re short without being silly cartoon characters. I like the female facial options. To me they look the most like real people faces of almost any race in this game. They have lots of beer, and their racial mounts are awesome. I always enjoyed their starting zone and Ironforge, although I’m still not sure why such a short race needs such high ceilings. I also like their leadership, and the more I read about Moira the more I like her as a character.

Tauren

I feel fairly neutral toward Tauren but they are just too big. They’re fine lore-wise. I liked Cairn and like Baine and enjoyed the tension with the Grimtotem.  I don’t have the attachment to Thunder Bluff that some of my friends do. It’s okay but I fell off of those bridges a few too many times as a newbie cow and now I’m scarred for life. I also always felt like their starting zone was incredibly boring. I’m just not a fan of those wide-open spaces I guess. It’s pretty from a distance but not exciting to quest through. I had a tauren druid for a long time because I had no choice, but as soon as it was an option I race changed her to troll because I like bat form and fitting through doorways.

Orcs

These guys are the boring option for the Horde. I guess both factions need one. They’re not terrible but they don’t really have a lot to recommend them, especially after the Savage Draenor Orc Fatigue set in. Side note: I’m pretty sure nobody ever plays female orcs. I get this impression because I got in a huge argument with someone while leveling my female orc DK a few years ago. The dude swore I was some sort of hacker because “armor doesn’t look like that on orcs”. He literally had never seen anybody playing a female orc before and followed me around and got mad at me about it.

Pandaren

I don’t think I could say it any better than Syp did:

“I think the best thing that can be said about Pandaren is that the models are well-detailed and you do get the option to choose your faction. But they still, three expansions later, don’t feel like they fit in World of Warcraft. “

Although I do have a pandaren mage I got to max level back in MoP so my guild could get the achievement for it. I’d be perfectly happy if I never looked at her again.

Humans

Normally humans end up much closer to the bottom of the list for me. I guess that tells you something about how I feel about the races below this. Humans in fantasy games just seem like a waste of a perfectly good character space to me. In WoW, I think the human males look a bit ridiculous, and I dislike what happened to the female faces during the character model upgrades. That said, I still have several human alts, mostly because I’m willing to forgive a lot of things for their super useful reputation boost racial.

Gnomes

Here’s another big difference of opinion. I used to sort-of like gnomes, back when I was new to the game and desperately trying to make a character I didn’t hate on the Alliance-side where all my friends were. My ranking of gnomes and humans has swapped a few times over the years. At least gnomes are different. Their engineering prowess is a plus. But they’re tiny. Transmog looks weird on them. They get lost on the screen in group content. As a culture in the game I like them fine, but as a player character they just fall a little short. Haha.

Worgen

Worgen are one of those things that seem cool in theory but when you actually have to live with it they’re not so great. Their starting experience is one of the coolest in the game, and it’s all downhill from there. Female worgen look exceedingly weird to me. You can hide this sometimes by swapping to human form but…then you’re just a boring human. Also screw Genn Graymane and his grudge. Dark Lady watch over us!

Goblins

Goblins are a weird race. I appreciate they gave the Horde some short people, but they’re just not for me. They’re ugly, selfish and rude. Their leader is horrible, and weirdly enough if you start as a goblin you probably hate him even more than everybody else in the Horde does. It also feels strange to still have some neutral goblin factions when some of them are Horde-aligned. I like them better as a neutral, only-in-it-for-the-money race.

Worst: Nelfs

This is something Syp and I can definitely agree on. They have weird eyebrows and bounce too much and their eyes don’t look right. Plain elves are almost as boring as humans at this point in fantasy settings. Also I’m just going to go ahead and hold Malfurion against them because I can. I hate that guy. Even though my very first, long-since-deleted WoW character was a night elf, I don’t have any residual fondness or nostalgia for them. Their starting zone is pretty, but I couldn’t even be bothered to go look at their tree one last time before grabbing my marshmallows and waiting excitedly for the bonfire.

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Bucket list fail

WoWScrnShot_071618_193620A few months ago, around the time we learned Battle for Azeroth’s release date, I made a bucket list. I figured since it’s patch day I should revisit it. I’ve been running fairly cool toward WoW for the past year or more, still playing but not really engaged. So my bucket list felt very humble when I wrote it. And yet I did a very poor job checking things off. Here’s the list:

  • Get the mount from new Karazhan
  • Do a mythic +15
  • Get at least one artifact maxed out in the netherlight crucible
  • Cap my professions
  • Get all the First Aid achievements before it disappears
  • Save up some gold
  • Level at least one of my allied race alts to 110

How did I do? About 3 1/2 out of 7. Not great but not a total failure.

I didn’t get the Karazhan mount. I didn’t even try in the months since I wrote the list. I did become part of a group that intended to work toward M+15, but it lost momentum after a month or two and we never met that goal. I was really keen on both of these things but wrangling other people to do them with when I was on the edge of burnout just didn’t work.

I did get one artifact capped in the crucible, even before the freebies we got by siphoning off Sargeras’ sword. I will be honest though, it was not fun. It was not difficult, it just felt like an entirely pointless chore. Go pick up rocks to make this number tick up higher. If BfA has more of that in store I’ll be starting the expansion halfway checked out already.

On the profession front, I had envisioned capping everything on all my primary profession characters. I did finish all the ones I use regularly, or that are traditionally good for turning a profit. I came up a little short on my lesser-used profs. I think I’m still missing blacksmithing and leatherworking. I also never got close to the Field Medic First Aid achievement. I hate to leave something like that undone since it is going away forever, but reading people’s accounts of farming for it inspired me to spend my time on more productive things.

I made enough progress on the gold front that I’m willing to call that a win, since I didn’t set a concrete goal. I would have liked to have saved up enough to pay for the ridiculous dinosaur auction house mount, but I didn’t quite make it. If BfA continues the trend of the past few expansions I should have no problem taking my current balance and building it up enough to blow 5 million gold before BfA is over.

I was hoping to level more of my alliance race alts, but I did at least get one of them finished in time. I loved my baby mage, and she might end up being one of the first characters I level in BfA. I was very disappointed to see that we are not getting a leveling catch-up mechanic in the pre-patch like we did with Legion’s invasions. It would have been nice to rocket a few more alts up to 110 (or at least past the 60 – 80 slog) before BfA’s official launch.

Season 14 Still Going Strong

Screenshot061Even though I completed the entire season journey, I am still very engaged in Diablo 3 for the time being. Maybe it has something to do with the joy of double treasure goblins. It’s given me some time to work on achievements. You can see I’ve maxed out a few categories, like the set dungeons and campaign mode. I am sorely lacking in hardcore mode achievements though. I’m considering leveling a hardcore character this season just to knock out a few of the easier ones and bring that 31% up to something more respectable.


blaugustrebornlogo2018In other news, Blaugust is back! I’ll be joining in all the fun and games, with posts here and on my Creative Thing blog. If you are a blogger, or are thinking about becoming one, come join us!

Season 14 Guardian

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I wasn’t that excited about D3 season 14 until I heard about the double treasure goblin event. I’m a sucker for treasure goblins. The season got off to a slow start, but I still haven’t lost interest in it. One reason for that is the free demon hunter set for the season (Marauder’s), which has several fun variant builds that mesh nicely with my playstyle. I started off with a grenade build, then switched over to the multishot version once I started really pushing greater rifts.

Once I made that switch I was enjoying myself so much I decided to make an attempt at full completion of the season. Since several of the conquests and season requirements overlapped it went very quickly. I didn’t take a screenshot when I completed the Guardian chapter, so I took one when I did this GR80 instead. I went back and checked my non-seasonal characters, and 80 is the highest I’ve ever done. I feel pretty proud to have done it with seasonal gear, most of which isn’t ancient yet. I still have not even seen a single primal ancient drop.

Now that I’m done with the season journey I’m not sure how much longer D3 will keep my interest. I’m really happy I was able to do the full season so easily this time though. I believe this is only the second time I have ever completed all the way up through Guardian.

First allied alt leveled!

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Working on this nightborne mage has been on my goal list for a couple months. I finally finished leveling her this week. Once you get to 90, the rest of the levels just fly. I wish the whole process had been like that. I got her to 100 mostly collecting treasures and doing the occasional WoD “world quest”. From 100 – 110 I relied on invasions and one zone worth of questing. I don’t know why they decided to make the leveling so uneven, but 20 –  80 and 80 – 110 feel like completely different games.

So now I have another 110 mage. The problem I have with her is that she’s too much fun! I want to try to get at least one more alt leveled before BfA gets here, but I’m not excited enough about any of them to push them through. Frost mage is a good fit for my play style and “class fantasy” enjoyment, plus she’s been surprisingly survivable, even on Argus. I even ran part of Antorus with her. My dps was terrible, but then again, my gear was the minimum to get in the door. At least I wasn’t bad enough to get booted after a wipe (several others were kicked that run).

If I want to make my goal I need to set her aside and choose between my highmountain monk, lightforged pally, or velf priest. I love the look of the velf the most, but priest always feels like a dead weight to level. I still sort-of consider my disc priest my main, but I don’t like the way the spec plays right now. On the other hand, I enjoy the monk playstyle quite a bit, but I already have 3 max-level monks sitting around. The pally is just a giant question mark. My belf pally was my first real main, waaay back in TBC. Since then I’ve always leveled her with each expansion, but I’ve never done enough to really understand the class and how it has evolved. Basically I have no idea what I’m doing on a pally these days, and no sense of whether I would enjoy it or not.

So those are my options for my next alt to level. I would flip a coin, but I can’t seem to find one with 3 sides. Which one would you choose?

The New New Mouse

DSC_0401I’m a gaming mouse user. I’ve been a convert to the Razer Naga since back in my “hardcore” WoW raiding days (circa 2009). The side buttons take some getting used to, but once you do there is no going back.

Sadly, although the design and functionality of the Naga is fantastic, the actual craftsmanship doesn’t hold up to my use. I end up needing a new one every 1-2 years. At $70 – $100 a pop, that adds up. My current Naga had been doing a little bit better than the average. It was over 3 years old and just starting to get a little flaky on me. I thought I might get 4 years of use out of it, right up until my cat decided it would be a fun time to chew completely through the cable.

I decided to use this cat-astrophe to try something new. Since I can’t imagine gaming without my beloved thumb buttons there were only a few options. I know from trying them out in the store that the Logitech version is a bit big for my hands, further narrowing my choices.

DSC_0413My final pick was the UtechSmart Venus. It has a ton of bells and whistles that I probably don’t need, for less than half the price of my beloved Naga. One bonus that I do like is the adjustable weight. I’ll probably be playing with that over the next couple days until I find the right fit. It also has the requisite number of buttons, and the ability to tune the color to match my keyboard. Fashion is always important, people.

The default settings were overly sensitive, but configuration was pretty fast and painless. As a bonus, I don’t have to register for an online account like with the Naga software. So far I like it quite a bit. Even though it is wider than the Naga, it isn’t much longer, so it is still very comfortable in my small hand. Much of the extra size is simply giving me more comfortable places to rest my fingers. I especially like the thumb rest. It’s the sort of thing you don’t realize you need until you try it.

So far no regrets with this purchase. I look forward to putting it through its paces!

Reading Challenge Interlude: The First 25 Books

I started working my way through NPR’s list of the top 100 sci-fi and fantasy novels almost two years ago, in August 2016. Rendezvous with Rama represents the 25th book on the list, so I’m officially averaging a little bit faster than one book per month. I wanted to use this milestone to look back at what I’ve read so far and see how my personal rankings match up with the list.

I’ve been updating my spreadsheet every time I finish a book, and adjusting my rankings as I go. Goodreads also has a version of this list, with a different ranking order based on their users. I’ve included all three (NPR, Goodreads, my personal rank) because I think it is useful to see how they compare. I have some suspicions about how the demographic differences between Goodreads users and NPR survey respondents play out in the different rankings.

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Since I’ve been updating my order as I go, it’s been interesting to see how things have shifted. For example, The Space Trilogy and The Xanth Series started at the bottom of the list and haven’t budged. Nothing since has been quite as bad as those two. Likewise, the Doomsday Book was my first 5-star review, and it has stayed at the top of my list until getting dethroned by Rendezvous with Rama, 20 books later. The amazing books and the truly awful books are all pretty easy to place. What is really difficult is sorting all the 3- and 4-star books. It is getting even harder as I finish more books and the less-memorable ones start getting fuzzier in my mind.

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