Farewell to Blaugust!

Blaugust 2015, Day 31


It’s finally here, the day we’ve all been waiting for since August 1. Blaugust is ending today, and whether you’re a Blaugust “winner,” participant, or just a regular reader who’s been following me through this month, I wanted to say thank you. Some days were difficult but being part of this huge community of bloggers and readers has made it totally worthwhile.

So how did I do? Well I managed a post for each day so I guess I “win” Blaugust! I’ve had a regular readership of a few dozen loyal folks, with a few days where I got some extra attention. The day of my double post was my best, but there’s no way I will be attempting to post that frequently in the future. Honestly the only way I managed to get through the whole month with daily posts was by making a plan ahead of time with topics, writing prompts, and regular features like Screenie Saturday.

Writing the Shiphand Buddy series in particular was rewarding but also added quite a lot of work since I needed to research and run all of those missions many times in order to write the guides. All that hard work paid off though, since they were featured on WildStar Core!

Time for the money

Time for the money

At the beginning of the month I tried to take stock of my cash savings in WildStar and track it for the month. Unfortunately I got pretty lax about spending money midway through the month. Based on a couple high-cost items I bought, I’m guessing I made a total of around 150-200 plat over the course of the month. Sadly my cash-on-hand is only about 10p. The market has shifted dramatically since the beginning of August with the anticipation of F2P. On the flip side CREDD has gone up a bit in price over this month. Most of my money-making avenues are still functional but are just bringing in far less profit than they used to. Hopefully when the drop lands the combination of lots of new players and changes to gear will help me start churning out the plat again.

Some other game I play when I'm not being a space zombie

Some other game I play when I’m not being a space zombie

I set up my “What I’m Playing” posts in part to have an easy topic for the weekends, but also to try to encourage me to play more games. I succeeded at the first part but not so much at the second, since as the month progressed I played fewer and fewer. Partially that has been due to fatigue and stress, which make me want to stick with easy, familiar games. I may actually try to keep this feature, since it has been fun for me personally to be able to look back and see the record of what I’ve been up to all month.

Blaugust was also a nice experiment in adding some commentary about games other than WildStar here on Moonshine Mansion. I suspect I will continue this. The main focus of this blog will stay WildStar for certain, but I will happily sprinkle in posts about other games once in a while. With F2P coming soon I doubt I will be lacking for WildStar content to talk about for a long time.

At the beginning of the month, I said that all I hoped to get out of Blaugust was to get in the habit of posting more frequently. Since I managed a post every day I guess that was definitely a success. I absolutely do not plan to keep up the daily schedule moving forward, but I do have a lot more respect for the folks that post that often. My new goal is 2 posts per week, which is much more reasonable for my schedule. Thank you all again for taking this silly journey with me. And a very special thank you to Bel for all his hard work organizing this event, wrangling bloggers, tallying votes, and figuring out prizes.

Here’s to a very peaceful and relaxed September!

What I’m Playing: August 30, 2015

Blaugust 2015, Day 30

What a difference just a couple days can make

What a difference just a couple days can make

The pic says it all. This week was dominated by one game.

Diablo 3: This is where I spent almost all my free time this week. I played around with the new goodies added in the patch, and tried to get back into the groove and ready for Season 4. I managed to get online about an hour after the season started on Friday, and spent every possible moment playing all weekend. The end result is pretty darn sweet for only a few days worth of effort. I got to level 70, paragon level 90 and can easily do Torment V.

WildStar: I did get some raiding in on Tuesday, and even got an upgrade. Then I wasted way too much money on runes that are going to be replaced as soon as F2P happens. Ah well, it’s only videogame money.

FFXIV: I got some attempts in on Ravana with both my Monday and Wednesday raid teams, but neither group managed to finish him off yet. Hopefully that happens this week!

That’s it! I really did spend so much time playing Diablo 3 that there wasn’t any leftover for any other games!

Screenie Saturday: Ephemeral Beauty

Blaugust 2015, Day 29



The end of Blaugust is only a few days away, and as far as I’m concerned that’s cause for celebration and a little sadness. It also got me thinking about some moments in MMOs that are really cool or pretty but also fleeting.

The top pic in this post is from Idyllshire in FFXIV. That game has so many amazing details that I keep discovering new ones. I was standing around chatting and it was raining. Suddenly the rain started to taper off and this beautiful rainbow appeared. Just like in the real world, it only lasted for a minute or two before the sky fully cleared and the sun came out.



This one was taken near our free company house in the Mists during the summer event. We get treated to the fireworks display from the capital city, viewed over the ocean. It was another moment where I was going about my business when I suddenly realized something beautiful was quietly happening around me.

Everstar Grove

Everstar Grove

Last I wanted to add this one from WildStar. It’s from Everstar Grove, the default starter zone for Aurins and Mordesh. I chose this one because it is so pretty, but also because as you play through the zone you see it and its inhabitants destroyed by the war between the Dominion and Exiles. At least I can always go back and experience it again on a new character!

New Beginnings

Blaugust 2015, Day 28

My new Season 4 wizard

My new Season 4 wizard

I’m writing this post at the last possible minute, in a brief break from leveling. It probably won’t end up getting posted until *technically* a day late, but since I’ve been keeping up so well with Blaugust I’m going to allow myself this one slip-up.

Season 4 of Diablo III has begun and it has been great to see so many people returning to the game. I had a blast running around doing bounties and leveling up. I’m not sure if this is new since the previous season, or if I just didn’t notice it before, but most of the low-level crafted sets have very cheap mat requirements now. It meant that even when I was unlucky for a few levels I could usually make myself some awesome gear and not worry about wasting legendary crafting mats. That’s an A+ change as far as I’m concerned.  I can’t wait to get to 70 and start tackling greater rifts again!

Shiphand Buddy Wrap-Up

Blaugust 2015, Day 27

Time for the money

Time for the money

Whew! We made it through all seven shiphand missions! Time to relax and reap the profit. But first let’s hand out some awards:

Most fun: Fragment Zero

Murdering swarms of things is super satisfying, and it also comes with a healthy dose of jumping around in zero-g. Win-win!

Shortest / Best cash per minute: Infestation/M-13 close call

If I just want one or two quick runs Infestation is my go-to, but if I’m chain running I will always throw some M-13 into the mix just for variety. I find waiting around for the hull breach section in Infestation extra annoying if I’m running them back to back.

Most annoying: Gauntlet

I hate exploding splorg. If the point requirement was a little lower or the timer was a little more relaxed for that section it would be fine. It is otherwise a fairly fun place but I can’t enjoy it knowing how much I struggle trying to get gold.

Yep. Still really hate these guys.

Yep. Still really hate these guys.

Now for the best part of shiphands: making cash money. Sure, the daily quest rewards a little money which is nice, but really the market board and commodities exchange are your best friends. You’re guaranteed one imbuement-type item, which can sell from 5g to upwards of 1p. If you’ve managed to get gold the reward baggie can have some great stuff. Once you’ve collected the dyes and mounts for yourself, throw those extras on the market! Usually the decor doesn’t sell too well on the market, but they do vendor for 1-3 gold a piece so I don’t complain. The runes were my bread and butter for a while, but with F2P and the stat changes looming on the horizon the market has cooled off quite a bit. They will still sell, but prices are very low right now. You can also hold on to them and exchange them for runes of your choice when F2P arrives!

Ooooooh! Shiny new intro cinematics!

Ooooooh! Shiny new intro cinematics!

Speaking of F2P – I did get the opportunity to run a few shiphands on the PTR, and there are some changes to keep in mind. First and foremost, they’ve been renamed “shiphand expeditions” or just “expeditions” in the group finder. All of the older missions have gotten fancy new intro videos a la Fragment Zero, which is a fantastic change. Not so fantastic is the re-tuning of the difficulty. I went in with the most badass raid gear I could buy from the PTR vendor, and the enemies were still noticeably more difficult to kill than they are with my normal gear on the live servers. Supposedly this is still being tuned, so hopefully when the drop launches these will still be closer to the difficulty we’re all used to already. The other big difference is that the rewards are being toned down a bit. Currently running quick shiphands is one of the most profitable pastimes in the game, and that will be less true when these changes happen. I’m disappointed, since I’ve been making a tidy profit from these, but I understand why the devs think this change is needed. I’m looking forward to the F2P transition no matter what though!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I really love the shiphand missions in WildStar for content that is bite-sized and great either solo or in a group. What are you waiting for? Check them out and let me know in the comments which one is your favorite!

Lazy Reset Day

Blaugust 2015, Day 26

Another super quick post today because I’m completely running out of things to say. Blaugust has just a few more days left and I know I can finish but it is not going to be easy.

Last night was a classic case of having way too many things to do on reset day and only feeling motivated to do the “wrong” one. I hopped into FFXIV exactly long enough to do my daily expert roulette and quickly ran away. I still really love that game but there’s way too many other shiny things stealing my attention right now.

The main new shiny is the new patch for Diablo 3. That’s where I really wanted to spend my evening, even though it is a bit of a waste of time right this second. If you’re not familiar with D3, they’ve added “seasons” where you have the option of starting over from scratch without the money and resources you’ve gathered over the years. Completing objectives during the season can earn you cosmetic rewards like transmog and new name plates. Right now season 3 has just ended but season 4 won’t start ’til the weekend, so it feels a little silly putting in much effort knowing that I’ll be starting over from scratch in a few days. Still, it is fun checking out the new stuff, and hopefully I’ll be a little more prepared once the new season starts.

I wanted nothing more than to just chill out with Diablo all night but figured I’d check in to WildStar just to get things started after the weekly reset. One thing led to another and I ended up raiding for the rest of the night. I had a really fun time so I don’t regret it, but now I’m really itching for some more D3!

Shiphand Buddy: The Gauntlet

Blaugust 2015, Day 25

We made it! This is the 7th and final shiphand mission. Get ready to be a reality tv star!

So many telegraphs, so little health.

So many telegraphs, so little health.

What: Compete in a deadly reality show against your will and escape to tell the tale!

When: Available at level 40

Where: Malgrave

Gold Timers: Normal: None   ; Vet: 20:00

Gracie’s Run Time: Normal: 11:59    ; Vet: 11:55

Shiphand Buddy Says: I hope you like dodging things, because this shiphand has an excess of dodging things! Once you speak to Pilot Taboro and start the mission you will be teleported to the chamber pictured in the screen shot above. There are a large number of telegraphs, but only the round ones move. You should be able to find safe spots and dodge them. If you are hit they only do modest damage, so you should be able to recover if you’re careful.

Through this whole mission you will need to be on the lookout for 10 golden skulls. There’s often one inside or on top of the shipping containers directly behind you when the mission begins. Skulls can spawn in any room in the instance, even the connecting hallways. They are frequently located in somewhat hidden places, such as inside containers, behind banners, or under the bleachers in the last room. Sometimes they are on the floor, but often they are floating in mid-air and require a little jumping to collect. Keep your eyes peeled!

To progress to the next section you’ll need to activate 3 control panels in order. From your starting position head to the room on your left first, then the right, and after that you’ll be able to activate the third panel in front of the exit. While you’re in the side rooms make sure to check for golden skulls along the walls, and on top of or behind the large pipes at the back of the rooms.

The gold skulls like to hide in front of these yellow lights above the doors. Tricky.

The gold skulls like to hide in front of these yellow lights above the doors. Tricky.

The next room has a swarm of angry bees, and three waves of small adds. Finish them quickly to minimize the damage you take. Be sure to look for skulls along the walls before you head out to the Chamber of Choices.

This, friends, is how you lose a gold medal.

This, friends, is how you lose a gold medal.

The splorg gauntlet, how I hate thee. This room is where gold medals go to die. You will have to survive a swarm of explosive splorg for 2:00, and collect 20 plushies for “bonus points” while you do it. Getting too few plushies or dying to the splorg will cost you your gold medal. I try to run through the splorg to activate them away from the plushies. Once they start to detonate they stop moving and you should be able to dodge them. For me this objective is probably the most difficult in any of the shiphands. Movement abilities can help you escape the explosions, but if you are really struggling you can bring a friend to make things much easier. When you finish you can endorse a product and wave to your fans. After all that running around I feel like I could use a Protostar Fortified Whim-Beer myself.

Once you’ve survived the splorg, you can choose which challenge to tackle next, either the Charnel Chamber (east) or Faction Friction (west). Both small arenas have a single round of challengers for you to defeat. After completing the Faction Friction arena, make sure to continue through to check the small hallway behind it for skulls. On the eastern side, you can choose to participate in the dance off competition. It doesn’t affect your gold medal, but it is pretty fun! The eastern side also has some extra mobs that you need to kill to save other contestants from the Darkspur. Once all of that is completed you can progress to the final room.

"Brick" Braggor, the dude responsible for bringing you to this awful place. Punch him once for me.

“Brick” Braggor, the dude responsible for bringing you to this awful place. Punch him once for me.

Before you enter the circle in the final room, check if you are still missing any skulls. If you still need some, look around and underneath the bleachers. If you start the event before you get your skulls you will fail that objective. The Main Event consists of 4 waves in total, with a short break between each that should allow you to heal up if you need it. The first two waves are random teams of 2-3 enemies, the third wave will be a single mini-boss. After defeating all of them, “Brick” Braggor himself will challenge you. As you fight him, the other traps of the Gauntlet like electrical telegraphs and exploding splorg start appearing. Save your cooldowns for this guy, because the faster you can kill him the less time you will have to deal with these extra headaches. Once he’s dead you can finally escape this deathtrap!

Differences between normal and vet: On normal mode you don’t have to collect the plushies in the Chamber of Choices. You still have to survive exploding splorg for the same amount of time though. The other difference is that you don’t get to fight “Brick” Braggor at the end, there are just 3 rounds to the Main Event.

Other Thoughts: This is the only mission I can’t reliably get solo gold. The timer in the exploding splorg room is super tight and it is very easy to either not get enough points or just accidentally die in there. I had to run this one four times to make sure I got a gold medal and an accurate run time. If you really want that gold it is much easier if you bring a friend or two. As a bonus the run time was about a minute faster with a buddy to help!

That’s the last shiphand available to date. I hope you enjoyed these guides, and had fun running these missions with me!

Under the Wire

Blaugust 2015, Day 24

Made it!

Made it!

Quick post today because it is Monday and my brain is all out of ideas. I managed to get my second seasonal wizard up to level 70 before season 3 ended last night at 5pm pacific time. In fact I had about 4 hours to spare. I’m not sure why I felt the need to do this at the last minute but it was not a bad way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Diablo 3 is always my default game when I need to run away and hide. It is also great after a rough day at work. I can just shoot demons and get loot and turn my brain off until I’m ready to rejoin the world of the living. I am really looking forward to all the new stuff they will be adding to the game in the next patch. Hopefully I can level in season 4 with a bit more time to spare.

Here’s hoping I can also finish FFV for the four job fiesta before that ends too…

What I’m Playing: August 23, 2015

Blaugust 2015, Day 23

Getting ready to take the plunge to Ohmna.

Getting ready to take the plunge to Ohmna.

I might have just called this post “WildStar WildStar WildStar” since that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to this week. I guess I did get a few other things squeezed in too.

Final Fantasy XIV: The Monday team has started working on the extreme version of Ravana. We’ve seen the whole fight now so it is just a matter of time until we kill him. Sadly my Wednesday team was still missing folks, and we weren’t able to get anything together at all. The good news is that everyone should be back this week, so hopefully we can get everyone caught up  and start working on Ravana EX also.

Diablo 3: I managed to get my seasonal wizard up to level 63, mostly by playing while we were recording Aggrochat last night. I’m not sure I’ll have time to get her to 70 before the season ends tonight though.



WildStar: I’ve spent a lot of time leveling my engineer. She’s level 39 now and still going strong. Also this week, my guild added a third raid night. Luckily it is actually a night that I can attend without having to leave early or feel like a zombie the next morning, Hooray! On the first two nights we managed to clear everything up to Ohmna, and on Friday we got one look at her before the end of the night. Since a few folks already had the title for killing her, I hadn’t realized that this was the first time everyone had seen her as a guild group. Congrats Remnants of Hope, with any luck you’ll get that kill tonight!

Hatoful Boyfriend: Ok this one is a slight cheat. I haven’t actually played this game much this week, but I have watched several playthroughs on Twitch and continued to evangelize about it on Twitter. I can’t wait to talk about this one on the podcast.

Screenie Saturday: Alone Time

Blaugust 2015, Day 22


Just taking a quiet moment to myself.

For as much as I’ve been sharing my adventures here, I’m actually a pretty introverted person. Sometimes I just need to step aside for a little while and do something by myself to recharge my mental batteries. As weird as it sounds, MMOs are great places to be alone. Sure, the whole point of these games is to have giant worlds full of people, but there’s tons of opportunities to get some alone time while still feeling like part of the world.

Are you really alone when these guys are with you?

Are you really alone when these guys are with you?

Solo instances like shiphands, Omnicore 1, and the Drusera ones are obvious ways to get some time alone. These are my go-to choice if I really need alone time since they are sealed off from the rest of the world. Sometimes instead I will just go exploring on my own, or farming for annoying rare cooking mats. These activities at least let me see other players.

All my friends are dead. This did not end well.

All my friends are dead. This did not end well.

Very strangely, I find that I can feel pretty alone in battlegrounds. Often if people are being abusive or annoying in chat I will turn off my chat box and just play. I get the challenge of fighting something more interesting than AI, but get way less of the stress of dealing with people.

What do you do to relax or recharge in-game? Do you seek out solo time, or prefer to be around other people?