A little privacy

You’ve all seen me ramble about some of my social anxiety issues before, but Blizzard has brought it all back to the surface again. In patch 7.1 there’s a new Quick Join feature that allows your friends to see that you’ve joined a queue or a group finder group and easily join you. In theory this can be great. In practice I’m not sure this is something I ever want to use. I’m too timid to randomly join anybody who was starting a queue, I would rather pug than impose on my friends. Conversely, sometimes I want to pug, for the goodie bag or because I’m feeling antisocial. If a friend asks to join either I have to tell them no and feel bad, or let them join and then I’m not doing the pug I wanted to do. At least if you queue for a Call to Arms (goodie bag) it will not show you as available for Quick Join. Maybe I will start only queuing for things that are Call to Arms, honestly that’s not super different from how I play normally. Still, I will continue to shout this from the rooftops: Give us a damn invisible mode already Blizzard.

This also complicates getting mythic or M+ groups for people without a lot of friends on their list. Now any group that forms has a higher chance of filling up with friends-of-friends before strangers get a chance to sign up. This means if you have a huge friends list your chances of doing more mythics just increased, and if you have few friends it will be even harder to get a group. Just add regular mythics to LFD already Blizzard. This Quick Join tool is solving a much less pressing problem, and causing new ones.

I’ve been slowly working my way back up to a friends list with nearly 20 or so people on it, which is about 20 more people than my anxiety could handle before. If this new tool becomes a problem for me, I’m back to either purging my friends list or just running away from the game again. I get that this is not a problem that most people have, but I also know I’m not alone. It would be nice if Blizz ever once gave any indication that they acknowledged people like me exist and have valid concerns.

The Shortest Season?

Diablo 3 Season 8 is here! I did my usual routine of grouping with friends on Friday night to level. This is the first season in a long time that I just could not get leveled before I crashed for the night. I think I made it to about 54 on Friday, and you could tell the group was getting tired as conversation in voice chat dwindled. On Saturday I got up early and finished leveling, then started working my way through the season journey. I decided to go with a Demon Hunter again this season because it had been so easy the past 2 times. Unfortunately this season’s set, with its buffs to rain of vengeance, just doesn’t feel that great to me. I know it is hard to judge without the full set bonus and all the extra pieces that really make things shine, but I definitely felt like I was having a harder, or at least slower time compared with previous seasons.

It might all be moot at this point, since I finished everything I needed for the first 4 chapters of the season 8 journey by yesterday morning. I’m now the proud owner of a  nice looking portrait frame, and the most disturbing pair of “wings” the game has introduced so far. I think if I want to keep going with this season I will have to farm a different class set, because even with my 6 piece bonus I’m not in love with rain of vengeance. I doubt I will bother, at least for a while, since Karazhan releases in WoW this week and I am sure I’ll be busy with that for a long time.

This season might be the shortest one for me. I’m still glad I participated, I had fun with Diablo this weekend, but there’s not much new and exciting to keep me around when other games have shiny new content. I’ll still hold on to hope that the Diablo franchise gets some serious love this year at Blizzcon.

Last Second Success

Surprise! I played something in the last week that wasn’t Legion! I realized that the Diablo 3 season was ending on Friday evening so I decided to hop in quickly on Friday afternoon to sort through my stash and prepare for merging my seasonal characters back into my non-seasonal stable. Usually I end up doing this after the season ends and I have a ton of items in my mail, and let me tell you, doing it ahead of time is way easier. While I was throwing away everything that wasn’t an ancient legendary, I realized that I was one conquest away from finishing the Destroyer tier of the season journey for season 7. I was pretty close to having 3 gems at level 65, so I decided to run a few rifts and try to go for it. In the process of farming rifts for keystones, I saw the season progress pop up for getting a speed run on a TXIII rift, which is one of the requirements for the stash tab. With just about 2 hours left in the season, I got my gems leveled and completed the Destroyer tier. Since I had gotten that speed run, the only thing I needed to finish Conqueror was a second conquest. About 45 minutes worth of running the Ruins of Corvus over and over again and I finally managed to get a 50 million gold streak and unlock my extra stash tab. It was pretty close to the wire but I did it.


I think the most satisfying part of the whole thing is that this is the first season I can remember where I didn’t really get carried by anyone else. The friends who usually carry me didn’t play in season 7 or just barely played in the first week or 2 until the pre-Legion hype took hold. I managed to unlock the stash tab all on my own, and even got a personal best of greater rift level 71. Now I just can’t wait to see if there is finally some good news for Diablo fans from Blizzcon this year!

A month of Legion

Are you sick of me talking about Legion all the time? I’ll be honest I’m a little tired of writing about it, but I’m nowhere near sick of playing it. Now that we’re a full month in I wanted to do a little analysis of what’s working and what’s not in this expansion.

Scaling tech: I was super nervous about how this would work but the reality of it is that it’s seamless. It worked great for leveling and it meant I could run dungeons with friends and not care about everyone’s level at all.

World Quests: I love pretty much everything about this system. They’re varied and usually quick, you can do as few as 4 a day and still get your emissary quest done for rep and loot, and the rewards for individual quests feel more meaningful than the tiny gold and rep you’d normally get from dailies. The fact that you can have up to 3 stored emissary quests also helps you get things accomplished on your own schedule without feeling like you’re missing anything important.

Titanforged Gear: Related to world quests, the fact that any piece of gear can potentially upgrade makes lots of tasks feel more worthwhile. Sure, that quest reward gear might not be that great, but I’ll do almost any quest that rewards gear because there’s that chance it could titanforge and be amazing. I got a sweet pair of i865 boots this way the other day and I’m still excited about it.

Suramar: Suramar as a zone is huge, full of nooks and crannies that I still feel like I haven’t completely explored. Doing all the quests there, I kept finding subzones with long quest lines and tons more content than I expected. On top of that you have Suramar City and the nightfallen. Multiple times questing in the city I got the feeling that I was not even playing WoW anymore, and I mean that in the best possible way. It felt like a completely different, story driven RPG and I loved it.

Mixed feelings:
Legendaries: Random legendaries that change the way you play your class like in Diablo 3 seem pretty neat. The fact that they are a random drop is less neat. For something this powerful, I prefer a way to work towards it. At least they put in a bit of RNG protection behind the scenes. Only a couple of my friends have gotten one yet. I’m sure I’ll get one eventually, but I’m mentally preparing myself for inevitably getting one that is the least helpful for my spec and being sad about it.

Artifact Weapons: Getting artifact traits has been pretty neat, and does a decent job of replacing the fun of getting talents as you level up. The way the gains speed up with artifact knowledge seems to scale pretty well. It still feels a bit bad when you either make a new character and have a long road to catch up, or if you’re trying to split points between multiple specs.

Dungeon Difficulty: I’m mixed on this because while I enjoy the more difficult settings, the system feels a bit cumbersome. Normal, heroic, mythic, and mythic+ feels like a lot of options, but then you realize that the game really wants you to play on mythic or m+. Mythic difficulty has been the most fun by far, and some of the dungeons (I’m looking at you, Darkheart Thicket) feel incomplete or boring at lower settings. Many quests and dungeon meta achievements require mythic difficulty, yet there’s no random group finder for that setting. I really wish they had either allowed quest completion in heroic, or added mythic to LFD. That said, mythic and M+ have been really fun, and I’m hoping I can keep a coherent 5-person group together long enough to progress.

Not so Great:
Professions: Blizz did their usual swing here. Profs went from almost completely meaningless in WoD to complicated quest-locked monstrosities in Legion. For example I need to run around to 6 different old world zones and run a bunch of different dungeons to unlock some things on my jewelcrafter, and the gear I’ll be able to craft after this will still be ilvl 815 and fairly useless.

Meaningless Faction Bullshit: There’s really two items in this category. First is the stupidity of the faction story in Stormheim. It is bad and it should feel bad. I love my chosen faction and will wear my Horde t-shirt with pride like any other nerd but the faction conflict in the story feels incredibly weak and forced. I am so over it. The other item is tagging. Making normal mobs be multi-tag is amazing, but faction locking them is annoying. This doesn’t enhance my faction pride or desire to pvp, it just makes me angry at the designer who thought this was a good idea.

Odd Content Gating: This includes mythic-only dungeons, locking story behind mythics and out of the reach of LFR, and the fact that there’s no LFD for mythics. I am lucky I have a group of friends playing right now but lots of people don’t. Why is so much of the story gated behind more difficult content with no easy grouping option? Related- this contributes to my feeling that LFR is almost entirely useless. You can get better gear from world quests, and it doesn’t work to progress story. Why on earth would anyone go in more than once just to see the fights?

Overall I’m still in love with this expansion a month in. I would currently rank it as my 2nd favorite, after WotLK, and if it keeps going well it might even move up to first place. How do you feel about Legion after the first month?

Yet another week of Legion

Another week has gone by and I’m still in my infatuation mode with Legion but it is starting to wear a bit at the edges. In the big picture sense I haven’t made a lot of huge progress since last week, but everything has still been moving forward in a satisfying way. Mage and Monk are still my only 2 characters at 110, but I now have 2 druids, a priest, pally, and another monk in various stages from unlocking the class hall through level ~105. Other than the minor faction BS that happens in Stormheim, there’s not much difference between Horde and Alliance side. This is making me feel less bad about focusing on my alliance servers where my friends are. It also helps that professions are so tied to quests that having my army of alts horde-side isn’t as huge a benefit, and is more a liability at this point.

I got to raid a tiny bit on Friday! We only cleared the first boss and put in a few attempts on the spider-bird boss, but it was a fun time. I also got to try a couple mythics and my first mythic+. Mythics are fun, they feel about what I’m used to for heroic dungeons. My only complaint about them is that they aren’t available through the group finder. I am hoping as the expansion goes on and the gear cap rises that they might lift that restriction, because there’s nothing about normal mythics that makes me think a restriction on grouping is necessary. Mythic+ on the other hand, that kicked our butts. I mean it probably didn’t help that we had never been in that particular place on regular mythic. We had a good time and we did complete it, but nowhere near beating the timer. With a couple weeks worth of experience and gear I’m sure we’ll be in good shape.

A few other things happened inside my brain over the last week. First, I finally realized that yes, I really am a healer at heart. Goodbye short-lived mage main, we hardly knew ye. Monk healing is fun and satisfying, and since I have a good group of friends to do mythics and raids with I think it needs to be my main. It will take a couple weeks to get fully up to speed on her compared to where my mage was, but it will be worth it to be settled in and not feel pulled in multiple directions. I even kinda enjoy windwalker, even though I usually hate melee. I’ve been playing it enough during world questing to get used to it though, and ran a dungeon as dps and it wasn’t awful. That was my one outstanding worry about monk and it is pretty resolved so I think I’ll be really happy going forward.

The other brain thing that happened is that Blizz’s insistence on forcing people to manually group for things and putting story content out of reach of the group finder has made me stop giving any fucks about it. I’ve got groups and friends so I can totally do these things! But sometimes I just want to queue for LFR and knock out a quest or run a random dungeon when my friends aren’t around. Now LFR gives absolutely nothing I need, not gear or quests or anything, so I have zero reason to do it. And heroics are only really worth it if there’s a world quest or a healer goodie bag. I am wondering if this expansion is going to really divide the population, between casual solo-ish folks who only do world quests, because they can’t move the story forward in accessible content, and raiders who group with their guild for the hard stuff and have no reason to do LFR or heroics. There doesn’t seem to be much incentive this time around for those two groups to overlap. At least in the last 2 expansions you could work on the legendary questline in LFR. Anyway I’m curious to see how this plays out, but I’ve decided I need to stop caring about the story and rewards that Blizz put in front of me and just wander around doing whatever I feel like instead.

Magical Unicorns

So something magical happened to me last night and I need to get it down on virtual paper before I forget. I’ve been gushing to my friends about it since it happened because it was so unexpected and amazing. Did I win a prize or something? In a way, yes. I had the most perfect unicorn of a pug last night in WoW and I almost didn’t believe it. Truly it was the best pug experience I’ve had in that game in a very very long time.

It didn’t start on a great note. I solo queued for Darkheart heroic on my healer (monk) because I needed it for the world quest and my friends had just run it already. When I zoned in I saw that the group was me, 2 warriors, a rogue and a demon hunter. All melee. I groaned and resigned myself for a painful time, and then the warrior tank charged in and there was no more time for regrets.

It slowly started dawning on me that maybe this group wasn’t going to be the nightmare I had envisioned. I said hi in chat, and everybody actually replied! Living humans actually speaking to each other, a miracle! The tank pulled quickly but precisely, grabbing what we could handle and not completely rushing around out of control. The dps were somehow not taking much damage. How is this possible? Turns out they were avoiding bad things on the ground, and using occasional stuns and things to make each pull go smoother. What a novel concept! By the time we got to the first boss I thought maybe I might actually live through this experience without permanent psychological harm. Then the first boss melted like butter. Not only were the dps good, but everybody did their jobs so well that I had time to punch the boss instead of worrying about topping everyone up every second. Suddenly not only was this not terrible, but I was actively having fun!

The whole run went like this. Everybody did their jobs, nobody took unnecessary damage, everybody profits. It was amazing. To top it off one of the dps got an item they didn’t need and gave it to me because they saw it was an upgrade for me. Without me even saying anything. WHAT UNIVERSE IS THIS? HOW IS THIS EVEN WOW? I double checked, and no, the other people in my group were not on a guild run or something, everyone had different guilds or no guild at all. It was just a magical lucky happenstance that I got the best possible pug. That all melee group could have been a disaster and instead it has renewed my love of throwing myself into pugs and seeing what happens. Because often they’re mediocre, sometimes they’re terrible, but sometimes the stars align and you get to see a magical unicorn and it makes everything worth it.

Three Weeks In

Like the title says, we’re 3 weeks into Legion, and about to have access to raiding and mythic+ dungeons. Are you prepared? I am not prepared. Or rather, I’m actually in a pretty good place personally but I have no solid group to do these activities with. My gear level is pushing ever closer to the pre-raid cap of 850 on my mage, and my monk is now heroic-capable or possibly even mythic-capable too. What I need is a squad, a team, some pals to do all the new stuff that comes out tomorrow with. My self-imposed casualness has deteriorated in the face of a really fun expansion that I can’t get enough of. Unfortunately most of my friends are still exactly as casual as we all said we’d be. So I’ve done only one mythic dungeon so far.

This may come off as me complaining about my friends, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact I’m frustrated at myself, for not being able to go slowly like I said I would. Or alternately, for not recognizing that I get into  “do all the things” mode every time I am enjoying a new game/expansion and planning accordingly. I shrugged off some invitations to join more hardcore groups because I wanted to go slow and not have pressure. Now I’ve gotten raid-ready anyway in spite of myself.

So in the interest of keeping momentum without running off to do things without my friends (which has already gotten me in trouble a few times, stupid lockouts!) I’ve been working on alts. Mage is still my main but is holding on to that title by a thin thread. DPS queues are a thing, and everybody needs a healer. Monk is leveled, class campaign finished, and heroic geared, ready to run mythics and drag me back into healing forever. My horde priest, my main for many many years is 102 and has all her weapons, even the disgusting evil holy one. She’ll be leveling as shadow and gearing up enough to do LFR as disc. I don’t love disc for dungeons this expansion and I hate holy so I don’t plan on doing much other than healing LFR with her. Horde pally, and both alliance and horde druids have unlocked their class halls and first weapons, so I have tons of options in front of me. I just have to figure out what I want to accomplish first.

Are you raiding tomorrow? Getting ready for mythic+?  Or are you still slow and steady, enjoying all the new content of Legion?

A little bit of everything

wowscrnshot_083116_215940Holy cow I can’t believe we’re only 2 weeks into Legion. The first week was a week of leveling and exploring. This past week has been about trying to clear out my quest log more than anything else. The first time leveling in an expansion I like to get the Loremaster achievement, which means by the time I reach the level cap I’m usually pretty close to done with all the quests available. Not so with Legion. I keep half-joking with my friends that there’s some folks at Blizzard laughing their butts off at us because we complained there wasn’t enough to do and now there’s SO MUCH TO DO I don’t even know where to start. I head to an area with the intention of clearing out a quest from my log and suddenly there’s a world quest there too. Or I’m flying somewhere for a world quest and I see a quest hub I missed while I’m flying over. Suramar in particular has two subzones that are gigantic, with pretty extensive quest lines. And I’ve barely scratched the surface of crafting and all its associated quests.wowscrnshot_091016_210946

One thing I have done is dungeons. I’ve done all of the normal mode dungeons now, and a few heroics. There’s surprisingly little difference in tuning between the two modes. I wonder if part of that is the way level scaling works on the normal ones, since you never get the benefit of a couple slightly higher characters in there making the whole thing go easier? All I know is I’m more than happy to queue for heroics now, because the dps queue times are much shorter than for normals. I was all proud of myself for doing all the dungeons, and then I found out there’s 2 more that are reputation gated by Nightfallen rep, plus I haven’t set foot in mythics yet. So there’s plenty more on my list.


I have still found the time to do a little bit of work on my army of alts, usually once I’ve finished the emissary quest for the day on the mage and don’t feel up to running dungeons. I’ve unlocked one weapon for my pally and my priest, and have unlocked all 3 weapons and gotten to 108 on my monk. The monk is very fun and flexible, and leveling goes ridiculously fast when you have rested xp. I’ve gotten to heal a few dungeons, and while monk healing is nothing like it used to be back when I picked it up in Pandaria, it is a solid healer with a pretty nice toolkit. I’m still happy that I chose mage as my main, but it is nice to be able to heal again if my friends need a healer to fill in a group.

My goals for the week are to get revered with the Nightfallen, get my 2nd gold artifact trait, and level the monk to 110. I wish I could will myself to slow down a little bit more and savor this time, but this is part of the cycle I enjoy most and part of that enjoyment is the speed with which new upgrades and unlocks are coming in. I’ll just keep doing a little bit of everything and trying my best not to burn myself out.

Book Challenge #99: Piers Anthony’s Xanth Series

The next item on my reading list is Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. It starts with A Spell for Chameleon, published in 1977. I knew this was a long series, but I had no idea that there are 39 of them, and several more still forthcoming. These books were always staples at my local used book store, but I never picked them up. Something about getting into a long series like that is incredibly daunting.

Luckily after the last book I read for this challenge, this one doesn’t take itself seriously at all and is a light, vaguely pleasant read. Well, most of the time. Spoilers ahead!

Continue reading

Chill Excitement

Legion excitement is still going strong. Last week was busy for me with classes starting and work being stressful, so I was a bit behind my friends on the leveling curve. Then I got to spend all day Saturday playing, and I managed to get myself to 110. The only thing that seems to have changed for me so far is that I’m trying to run dungeons a bit more. Otherwise I’m still doing a ton of quests. In fact, when I hit 110 I had not even started questing in Highmountain yet, so I had that whole zone to do to unlock world quests and get the loremaster and exploration achieves.

This expansion comes with a pretty solid crop of new dungeons. The five that are available while leveling are fairly nice, but the 3 that unlock at 110 really shine. Maw of Souls, Vault of the Wardens, and Black Rook Hold are all incredibly atmospheric places and do some slightly different things with their boss fights.

ghost ship

Helya is the best.

My favorite by far is Maw of Souls. Most of the dungeon takes place on what is essentially a ghost ship full of the damned, and when you get out on the deck you can even see the sea rolling around you. The last boss is essentially a sea witch goddess and I love her more than words can say, although I suspect I’ll love her less when I have to fight her on heroic!

Because my friends have all been leveling at different paces I’ll still have to run through those 110 dungeons a few more times as people hit the cap. Instead of dreading it I’m actually looking forward to it. Part of it is that the dungeons are really fun, and part of it is because I’m a DPS and it is way less stressful than healing. The difference in levels hasn’t mattered much at all along the way. We’ve been able to run dungeons with groups ranging from 100 to 110 with no noticeable difficulty, so that’s a huge quality of life change to the game.

The very best thing is that I’m in no hurry. I’m not planning to raid more than completely casually, so there’s no rush for me to get geared or anything. I’ve had some requests to do heroic dungeons, but I’ve been putting them off for a bit because I want to see and enjoy things on normal mode for a bit longer and give the rest of my friends time to get to 110. Overall am feeling a bit weird about this expansion because I am really enjoying myself, but I’m also super relaxed about everything. I’m used to being very manic at launches, trying to do all the things as fast as possible. It feels very strange to be happy and excited about all the new things to do and yet not rushing through everything. Now I just hope that I keep enjoying the game this much as the expansion continues!