Scattered

The holidays are approaching fast and my brain is scattered in a billion directions trying to plan presents and decorations and cooking and travel. It is no wonder that I’ve been a bit scattered when it comes to gaming lately too. I’ve still been playing WoW. In what must be approaching a record for recent years I’ve been playing solidly since just before the pre-expansion patch. My interest is definitely starting to taper down now. The past few weeks I haven’t run any mythic+ dungeons and have barely been able to motivate myself to show up for raids. Most days I log in for my emissary quests and then wander off. I’ve gotten some mileage out of alts, but once they hit the level cap and have to run dungeons for professions quests I lose interest fast. I was hoping to get alchemy sorted on my newly-110 hunter, but the thought of having to do a quest in Vault of the Wardens stopped me cold. My next project may just be leveling things to 110 to see the class hall stories but it is frustrating that one of my key motivations for alting is so gated behind content I don’t like to engage with on alts.

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What I have been playing a ton of is Justice Monsters V. This is a minigame within Final Fantasy XV, which has been given a full mobile game treatment. It’s part pinball, part Puzzle and Dragons, and entirely fun. Individual games are on a timer so at most they can take 2-3 minutes which makes it perfect for a quick distraction in between holiday chores. It has a frustratingly bad pricing scheme for in-game purchases, but I’ve been playing for almost 2 weeks straight and haven’t felt like I needed to spend any real money to progress anyway. The game starts out very easy but the tables get progressively more interesting and the enemies get much stronger so it does have enough challenge to keep me from getting bored. Like PAD there’s obviously a lot of grinding to do to be able to upgrade and evolve your monsters. Unlike PAD, the method of leveling up is way less opaque. Also, I enjoy the pinball enough that it doesn’t feel like a grind yet. I’m genuinely enjoying playing monster pinball for its own sake and I get the occasional bonus of being able to power up my monsters every once in a while. The monsters you collect are all straight from the Final Fantasy universe, and while you don’t need to know anything about Final Fantasy to enjoy this game, it is a treat to see those recognizable creatures if you are a fan. It’s not the most complex and engaging game ever, but it is quite fun in quick bursts and  worth checking out for free.

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Book Challenge #97: The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

I’m doing a bit better on my book challenge this month. This time I’m reviewing The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, published in 1992. This is the first book on the list so far that had never heard of, and the first one that I’ve given a 5/5 rating. Read on to find out why I loved this book so much!


This book takes place in the near future 21st century, where historians not only study the past via archaeological digs and old tomes, but also by traveling back in time to experience things for themselves. The technology is in its growth phase in the book, established enough that there are protocols for it and trained technicians to oversee it but new enough that whole swaths of history are still off-limits due to safety concerns. Kivrin, our protagonist, is a bright and determined student at Oxford who wants to be the first to visit the 1300s.

The novel opens as Kivrin is being prepared to leave for her journey to 1320. There’s comedic but all-too-real rivalry between departments or schools at the university. Her mentor Dunworthy specializes in less remote time periods that are more routinely open to time travel, and is concerned about her safety and the way the drop is being rushed. Meanwhile the acting head of the medieval department appears more focused on the prestige and opportunity he might gain by pushing the project through before the actual department head returns from Christmas vacation. Kivrin herself is just excited to be on her way to see the middle ages at Christmastime and wants everyone to stop worrying over her. The whole book is full of genuine-feeling interactions between characters with real motivations and expressions and it’s part of why I enjoyed it so much.

The drop to 1320 appears to be a success, but shortly after it is completed the technician in charge comes down with a serious illness. Unbeknownst to the modern characters, Kivrin also becomes ill upon arrival in the past. The net that allows time travel is supposed to be impervious to things like diseases coming back through, but did something go wrong? The story splits, and follows both Kivrin’s experiences in the 1300s and the epidemic happening in 21st century Oxford. We get treated to the antics of overprotective mothers, precocious children, and status-seekers across the centuries. There are heroes and saints and villains but mostly there are average folks just trying to make the best of terrible situations and get on with their lives.

What started out as a story about time travel turned out to be part medical mystery, part survival story, and part family drama. It was so satisfying to watch these parts unfold in tandem across both timelines. Also, though I don’t usually like children in general, it was impossible not to become attached to the children in this story. Colin, in the future, watches the epidemic unfold with morbid fascination, ducking past quarantine lines, helping in the hospital, and endlessly sucking on his everlasting gobstopper. Agnes, in the past, could be any young girl in any age, playing with her puppy, teasing her older sister, jingling her new bell during mass when she’s supposed to be quiet. I absolutely cared about these characters and wanted them to have a happy end to their stories, even the ones who, from one perspective, had already been dead for hundreds of years. I stayed up way too late reading the last section of the book in one go because I was too invested to put it down before I knew what happened to all of these people I cared about. And that’s leaving out the biggest question: Would Kivrin  ever make it home?

The strength of the last book I read for this challenge (Perdido Street Station) was in the deft complexity of the story threads and the way the city itself felt alive. By contrast, I was almost always a few steps ahead of the plot of The Doomsday Book, but it didn’t matter in the slightest because I genuinely cared about the characters and wanted to see how things played out. It also helped immensely that the grim realities of life in the middle ages and in the midst of a modern epidemic are at least partially offset by moments of humor and human kindness. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

The past is wonderful and terrible and nothing like you imagined, but you will be glad you made the journey.

TL;DR:

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Rating: 5/5 stars

Verdict: Deeply human and relatable characters and an engaging story make this my first 5/5 book of the challenge. You should read it!

December Gaming Goals

First, how did I do on my November goals?

November Wrap-up

WoW

Level another alt to 110 – Yep! Got my druid up there high enough to run LFR.

Get a Legendary for my Monk – Yes, though sadly it was literally the worst possible one.

Get one of the falcosaur mounts – Check! I’ve been riding my snowfeather since I got her.

Clear the new Karazhan – Check! We’ve fully cleared it two weeks in a row.

Destiny

Run some strikes with my friends – Sort of? I ran one strike with my friends, but when I tried to run more I kept getting disconnected.

WildStar

Play at least once a week – Fail. I’ve ducked in just twice in November.

Finish seeing the Arcterra content – Nope. Not even close 😦


December Goals

WoW

Clear Trial of Valor. We got Helya to phase 3 last night so hopefully as long as everyone keeps showing up for raid as the holiday approach we should get this.

Level a hordie alt to 110. My priest is 105 so hopefully this should be easy as long as I avoid more pugs like this one.

Complete the new raiding with leashes and get my starbunny pet. I only need one pet from the Lich King to get my invitation to Algalon’s trial.

Destiny

Get my connection issues resolved and play some strikes with my friends without getting disconnected.

Get my light level up above 310. I’m still sub 300 right now but if Bel keeps dragging me around this should go quickly.

WildStar

Play at least once a week. I’m gonna keep trying because damn it I love this game.

Diablo

Beat Diablo 2 in time for our Aggrochat game of the month podcast. Right now I’m almost finished with chapter 1 so I need to spend some quality time.


I set relatively modest goals for December because honestly I want to spend all my time playing Final Fantasy XV. I’m not setting any goals for it though because I don’t need any motivation to get me to play, and because I’m not far enough into it to know what reasonable goals would look like!