Class Halls in WoW Legion

12. That is the number of characters I now have sitting at the level cap in WoW. Why on earth I have done this thing I do not know, but there it is. Except for the demon hunter, which was number 12, I have finished everybody’s order hall quests and have all the horde ones plus one ally monk caught up on the broken shore quest line as of last week. Even with 12 characters, there’s some duplication, so I still haven’t seen quite all of the class stories yet, so that’s still a goal. The only one I’m really dreading is warrior, simply because I don’t have a warrior leveled at all, so instead of having to dash from 100 to 110 I’ll need to grind myself all the way up from level 20. That process of getting from 100 to 110 is incredibly painless now, especially with invasions. Those events are fairly quick and in addition to decent experience they give way more AP and order resources than you otherwise have access to while leveling. That, combined with gifts of an AK tome and some boxes of resources from the blood trader from more established characters, makes the initial stages of gearing up at 110 and upgrading the order hall a breeze.

Something that becomes increasingly apparent the more class stories you see is just how variable they are in terms of gating, story, and difficulty/annoyance factor. The really frustrating difference to me is the amount of dungeon runs required. Some, like the demon hunter I just finished, don’t make you run any dungeons at all until after you hit 110. Others send you to one or two. The druid is the worst offender, forcing you to run at least 4 dungeons and then even more once you reach 110. Some of the story quests are also expensive, requiring various crafting materials to finish. I think some of this may have been nerfed since Legion started, but it is still weirdly frustrating that some classes had this step and others didn’t. Finally, don’t get me started on the differences in order hall upgrades. I like that in theory there’s some differences there so that every class isn’t just given the same choices with different flavor text, but a few classes make out like bandits while others are left with really lackluster options. Druid loses here again in my opinion. There’s a couple key abilities that make life way easier in the order hall: the ability to complete one free world quest per day, an NPC that lets you place work orders for champion equipment, and the option to get bonus resources when completing world quests. The poor druids get none of these, which means leveling and gearing up your champions is much slower, and you need to do more world questing to be able to afford to run missions. Meanwhile my mage, pally, and lock are fairly set since they can all place orders for equipment and also get one free world quest per day. Some of these bonuses will matter less when some more time has passed and champions get fully leveled and geared, but for a fresh alt these perks are really helpful.

As for the stories, there are some definite winners and losers there too. At some point when I’ve finished all of them I’d love to go into detail about which are the best and worst and why. So far my favorite is surprisingly the rogue story. It has a real authentic rogue flavor with lots of sneaking and subterfuge (and some pirates too!). It wasn’t the most original thing in the world but it was executed well and made me feel important in the story of Legion without having to be a big damn hero or a cookie-cutter version of what everyone else was doing. It also helps that the bonus companion rogues get from the broken shore quest line is one of my favorite characters in the game, and now she and I can go be buddies murdering demons out in the world every day.

I’ll wrap up here with my top three order halls (the ones I’ve seen anyway) for flavor of the hall itself (layout, atmosphere), story, and convenience:

Flavor of the hall itself:
Mage – It’s Hogwarts in Dalaran. ‘Nuff said.
Rogue – Secret passages, vaults of loot, and a fighting ring. Much better than “the Dalaran sewers” makes it sound.
Druid – A tiny piece of the Emerald Dream and a beautiful grove in Val’shara. There’s even a barrow den, which, annoying as they are to navigate, definitely exude druid flavor.
Worst: Hunter – A lodge on top of a mountain with very few distinguishing features. It is pretty, but so boring.

Class Story:
Rogue – Subterfuge, treachery, pirates, secret codes, and Lillian Voss. Clear winner.
Druid – Very true to druid class flavor and ties directly in with major world story events.
Monk – Beer beer and more beer. Once I got over how silly it was I realized how much fun I was having and how different it was from the other classes.
Worst: Hunter – loses points again for boredom. I was not interested in their organization or their story at all. I love hunters! Why is their order hall stuff so boring??

Mage – Easy teleport access from anywhere, optional portals to every Legion zone, free world quest completion, compact layout
Warlock – Mostly tied with Pally for including lots of useful options in the order hall upgrade tree, it wins over pally for the slightly better layout.
Pally – Like the Locks, Pallies get useful hall upgrades and as an added bonus it’s an extra way to get to the Eastern Kingdoms in a hurry.
Worst: Druid – As stated above, they are missing key quality of life options in their hall which makes starting out and maintaining resources more annoying. Also their hall is huge and sprawling (but at least you can fly in there).

Book Challenge #91: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

I’ve been reading at what feels like a pretty good pace, and so it is challenge time once again! This is #91 on the list, The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury published in 1951.

This is the second book in a row that made me wonder how the heck it ended up on this list. Unlike the last one, this one isn’t mediocre or out-of-genre. It just isn’t a novel. The Illustrated Man is a collection of short stories, tied together loosely through the construct of the titular illustrated man, whose moving tattoos tell stories that play out every night. The illustrated man concept is a neat wrapper, but it didn’t fit all that well with the general theme of space stories over most of the book. Overall it was enjoyable, but this book feels weird to have on this list. Although now I’m really interested in a “top 100 sci-fi short story collections” list because I would read the hell out of that.

Since it is a collection it is a bit difficult to pin down any general thoughts on this one. I enjoy Bradbury’s style and there’s some nice thought-provoking tales in here. Some of the writing feels dated at times, and occasionally suffers from the curse of “this feels really cliched now but it probably wasn’t as much of a cliche when it was written”. Many of the stories are also very grim, so much so that this collection could instead be called “Many new and awful ways to die in space.” Even when the content is harsh the stories are usually thoughtful, and often contain a humanity that often gets lost in short fiction like this. Too many times short stories can be more about the twist or “aha!” moment than about characters or places, but some of these stories combat that nicely. One of my favorites from this collection is about a family where the father is a spacer and the mother acts like he is already dead to shield herself from what she believes is his inevitable death out in the stars. There’s still a twist but by the time you get there you at least understand a bit about this family and how they survive with each other.


TL;DR:  A nice collection of Bradbury’s short stories, in which many people die in space.

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

Rating: 4/5 stars

Verdict: I’d recommend it if you like Bradbury or sci-fi in general from that era. With lots of stories you will likely find something to enjoy.

Next up: The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock

Season Journeyed

Season10I can hardly believe it, but last night I finished the final step for the Guardian level of the season journey in D3.

When the season journey was first introduced in its current incarnation, it was something I was excited about for the cosmetic rewards far more than anything else. Since I’ve been participating, I’ve grown to love the “new game smell” of the start of a new season, complete with a decent sampling of my friends flocking back to the game to see what’s on offer, level together, and get the new goodies. I was completely casual about my playtime, enjoying murdering demons for the fun of it without pushing myself too hard. A few seasons in, I started hanging around with a few friends who would go all out at the start of the season, and were willing to carry me around so I could progress a bit farther. Those carry seasons saw me get my first bonus stash tab, and saw me start to push myself a little bit in terms of difficulty even when I was playing solo. The evidence that it was possible to meet the goals of the season was in front of me, and I got the urge to spend less time getting carried.

The past two seasons have seen me push way outside of my original comfort zone. I unlocked all my bonus stash tabs, and pushed into higher and higher greater rifts. Last season I got pretty close to completing the Guardian level of the season journey. I had all my conquests done, I just stopped short of a few other goals. The current season has been a little strange, since way fewer of my friends decided to come back for this one. Other than a little bit of paragon level farming in the first few days, I didn’t get carried to anything this time around. In fact, I was the one carrying some of my other friends more often than not, or at worst trading power leveling so we could do the set bonus conquests.

I pushed myself to get to GR70 solo as soon as I possibly could, so I could unlock the sweet sweet primal ancient drops. (Sadly this determination was repaid in a primal ancient Blackthorne’s piece and yes I am still bitter.) I ran rifts and bounties to gear up and level gems. I worked my way through 8 set dungeons and GR55 with 6 different set bonuses. And last night I soloed Adria in under 15 seconds on torment XIII and finally finished the Guardian requirements and officially completed the season journey. It was stressful sometimes and frustrating at others, but in the end it was an achievable goal and I’m glad I finally got motivated to follow through on it. I’m not sure whether I want to keep going in the season or switch to my non-seasonal stable. I am sure I will probably be taking a break from D3 soon, but maybe not right away. A friend recently asked if I was going to try for the achievement and wings for mastering all of the set dungeons for every class and I dismissed it because I figured I’d be working on the season journey for a while longer. Maybe I will try to get those wings after all.

Legion’s Profession Problems

After my WoW alt update post last week I decided to level my druid next. I just couldn’t resist the joy of flight form, cheering many quests and sniping all the herbs. For some reason I enjoyed the process way more than when I leveled my Alliance druid. I’m not sure if it was having flying, or not being an elf or what, but I had a lot more fun. I’ve been tempted to get the new flight form glyph because it looks really nice, but I just can’t bring myself to give up my awesome bat form.

Speaking of herbalizing from the skies, I also decided to give professions another go, mostly because I knew Darkmoon Faire was coming up and I figured at least I could get 5 free skill-ups that way. Unfortunately professions in Legion are still completely awful. I wanted to focus on my priest, who has tailoring and alchemy, since she’s my most nostalgia-heavy character and those professions made me a ton of gold over the years. Sadly the biggest moneymaker she has is still probably the 30 slot bags from WoD. Meanwhile leveling tailoring requires doing the Suramar questline, which I was avoiding like the plague on my alts. I loved Suramar, but it was long and had a rep grind and I don’t have any desire to repeat it if I can help it. On the alchemy side I’ve run up against the RNG of learning upgrades. Having to make a billion potions that are too low to give skillups to try to learn new ranks that might give skillups does not appeal. On top of all of that, you also have to run multiple dungeons for each profession. At least now that I’m 110 I can be carried through heroics by people with way more gear in a matter of minutes, as long as I don’t make myself depressed by looking at the damage meters.

The huge disconnect between how easy it is to level up an alt and how annoying it is to level their professions is really messing with my normal path to expansion/patch lull enjoyment. This is the time in prior expansions where I’d be raking in gold. Sure, we all got spoiled by how easy that was in WoD, but even in prior expansions I could level an alt and be useful making flasks, bags, gems, or transmutes pretty quickly. This time around even my main only got her professions maxed by staking out the Darkmoon Faire, and my alts are getting to around rank 760 (out of 800) at best before I hit a wall of dungeons or RNG or both. It has been fun to see a bunch of the class hall stories, but feels really strange that these alts aren’t being useful like they should. All that investment into leveling alts feels very hollow if I stop logging into them as soon as I’m done with their story. Oh well, at least I can keep selling plenty of Draenor-era bags. Maybe I should park my alts back in my garrison again…

WoW?! Alt Overload

If you had told me at the start of April that I would get heavily invested in WoW again that month I would probably have laughed at you. For better or worse I’ve gotten back in the habit of messing around in Azeroth. It turns out that lifting the pressure of trying to keep up has done absolute wonders for my enjoyment of the game. I’ve still been logging onto my main to do occasional world quests and each new piece of the class quest when they are available, but otherwise it is alt time all the time.

After leveling my pally I got my warlock up next. Leveling as affliction was incredibly easy, which is good because when I swapped to demonology for the weapon quest I was totally lost. I guess it has been a while since I spent any quality time with demo. Much like beast mastery hunters they seem to have put the focus on quantity of pets instead of quality, and I am not a fan. Once I hit 110 I struggled a bit more with soloing than I did on the pally, but I’m still pretty functional. The artifact knowledge 25 token that I can buy with resources from my main makes a huge difference, as does the cheap nethershard gear from the broken shore.

My plan is to at least finish the original class hall quest line with everybody, and make progress on the class quests for the mounts as much as I can. I’m prioritizing that on my monk, and waiting to see if there are any bottlenecks in terms of difficulty or resource requirements that will make it a waste of time on alts. I’m hoping I can get at least the priest and druid ones done if they’re reasonable.

Running the same four leveling zones over and over is starting to get a bit tiresome, so I’m not sure how many more alts I’ll get to 110 before I get sick of it. I still have a lot hordies sitting at 100 and in need of love*. If I’m still motivated to play but need a break from leveling in the broken isles I can always either work on professions (hahahahahaha no…professions in Legion are awful) or level something I don’t have near 100 yet horde side. Raiding is still firmly off the table for now, because I am enjoying not worrying about the pressure of learning the fights and showing up on a schedule.

I’m still slightly baffled at how much I’m enjoying being back, but that’s the allure of comfort gaming – it works best when I don’t think about it too much.

*My current roster on my primary Horde server (yes I have even more alts at 100 elsewhere, please send help) looks like this:
Priest 110
Pally 110
Warlock 110
Druid 103 (have 110 Alliance-side)
Mage 100 (have 110 Alliance-side)
Hunter 100 (have 110 Alliance-side)
Rogue 100
Shaman 100
DK 100
DH 98
Warrior <10
Monk <10 (110 main Alliance-side)

What would you level next?

Book Challenge #92: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Surprise! We’ve reached reading challenge time again already! We’re up to #92, Sunshine by Robin McKinley. It’s one of the more recently published novels on the list, from 2003. This one left me confused on a couple fronts, not the least of which was how the hell it ended up on this list.

When I started reading this book I was a bit surprised it was on this “best of” list. For the most part it looks like not a lot of “horror” or horror-adjacent novels made it. The usual vampire novel suspects like Dracula or anything by Anne Rice are nowhere to be found. I do enjoy some urban fantasy so I don’t object to the genre being represented, but I could definitely think of some better choices than this one.

The novel follows Rae, aka “Sunshine”, a coffeeshop baker with a family history of magic who very quickly gets tangled up with vampires. The world building here is a bit different from the norm in urban fantasy, since “Others”, the catch-all term for demons, angels, weres, vampires, etc., are all out in the open and well known to exist and participate in society. The world is in the aftermath of a large-scale magical war, so there is also a small post-apocalypse element too.

Sunshine has magical powers but she had been largely ignoring them because she didn’t need them in her day to day life. When she gets abducted by vampires at the start of the book she’s forced to use them or end up dead. The blurbs I read about this book described it as a fresh spin on the genre but it didn’t feel that way to me. Perhaps if I had read it when it was released I’d feel differently. The story is pretty straightforward. Girl gets abducted by vampires, rediscovers her latent magical powers, reluctantly teams up with a mysterious vampire who doesn’t want to drink her blood for some reason, ~obligatory vampire-human sexual tension~, something something the human and the good vampire triumph over the evil vampires. There’s nothing horrible here, but nothing exciting or new either.

The biggest things which made it hard for me to enjoy this book were the point of view and style. We get the constant internal monologue thing which is so common, but every once in a while there’s a weird fourth-wall breaking moment thrown in too. It is definitely a style thing that didn’t work for me. Some of my favorite urban fantasy novels are my favorites because I enjoy the main character’s personality and point of view, but that was not the case here. I get the reluctant heroine thing, but it wasn’t fun reading an entire book where the main character is constantly complaining that they wish they were anywhere else. By the end I was wishing that too.

If I was feeling a bit more charitable I would give this one a 3/5, because it really is not in the same class of terrible as A Spell for Chameleon. It would make a fine throwaway beach novel. However I do think it was below average, so I can’t quite bring myself to give it an average rating. If I could assign half points this one would be a 2.5/5. Not awful but not really good either.

TL;DR:  Middling to below-average vampire novel.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Rating: 2/5 stars

Verdict: If you love the southern vampire (True Blood) books you might find something to like here, otherwise this one is a safe skip.

Next up: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

May Gaming Goals

Holy moly how is it May already? I need like 3 filler months to get things done before June gets here.

Last month I set up some really modest goals and then didn’t do any of them. Why do I even bother? Oh right so I can look back and laugh at how I thought I could remotely predict how I’d spend my gaming time in any given month.

April Goals

FFXIV: Do the new Hildebrand quests. NOPE. I started them. I think. It’s super hard to be motivated to do these when there’s no trials associated with them this time around.

Finish the umbrite step of the anima weapon for my SCH. NOPE. Hell I still haven’t finished the aether oil step. I have only really been logging in for raid night. I guess I did say I wanted to prevent burnout before Stormblood…

WildStar: Play once a week. NOPE. So much shame. I love this game but it’s increasingly difficult to make it mesh with my playtime.

Mobile Games: Find a replacement for JMV. NOPE. I played some alphabear for about 15 minutes and that’s the extent of my mobile gaming for the month. I also played FFXV just so I could get a JMV fix. Please send help (or suggestions of mobile games that might scratch the JMV itch).

May Goals

FFXIV: Get enough scripture to buy a weapon, and get it upgraded. I have the micro tomestone or whatever it is called laying around but I don’t have enough Rowena’s tokens to purchase the weapon and I should fix that. Still haven’t decided if I want the SCH or AST version though.

Finish the aether oil step of the anima weapon. If I keep lowering the bar maybe eventually I’ll trip over it and get something done.

Diablo 3: Complete the season. I’ve never actually completed every step of the season journey. This time around I’m pretty close, with 3 conquests done and mostly some speed run stuff to do. This is ambitious because my interest in D3 is on the wane.

WoW: Level one more class that I don’t already have at 110. I got my pally and warlock up in 2 weekends so this should be doable. I’m not sure what class I care enough about to level next though.

In April I thought I’d be spending lots of time in FFXIV doing last minute housekeeping in the lull before Stormblood. Instead I played a ton of Diablo and WoW. Sometimes I think the process of setting these goals curses me to lose all interest and move to entirely different games. Ah well. May is a new start, maybe this will be the month I actually meet all my goals!