Spoilers for the WoW War of the Thorns questline. Continue reading
Belghast kicked off Blaugust prep week with a discussion of what makes a good blog name. He talked about some regrets he had choosing his name and gave some advice to help folks choose a good one. I want to use this as an excuse to talk about my blog name too.
Bel’s advice boiled down to choosing a short, catchy name that vaguely connects to the blog theme, but isn’t so specific that you can’t change your direction later without changing the name. I’m not really sure whether I succeeded or failed.
I created this blog just prior to the launch of WildStar. My goal was to talk about the game in general, and also emphasize the housing system, which I still enjoy the most of any MMO I have ever played. Fans of the game might remember that one of the default housing “plugs” you could place on your land gave you a mini-game that let you make moonshine. I thought the contrast between a fabulous hand-built plot with tons of decor and the moonshine still out back was amusing, so I tapped it for my name. Moonshine Mansion was born.
Over the years I’ve drifted away from WildStar and turned this into a more general gaming blog. The name Moonshine Mansion wasn’t explicitly tied to WildStar, so it survived the transition just fine. On the one hand, I sometimes wish I had chosen a name that had more to do with gaming. On the other hand, this way I feel free to talk about other geeky things I love when I feel the urge. At this point I think of Moonshine Mansion as my digital home. It’s a welcoming place where I keep all my stuff and can invite my friends over to talk about games and things. If someone offered me the chance to go back in time and pick a different name, I would decline. There’s way cooler things to do with a time machine anyway.
I’ve already gone on the record about how much I dislike the faction conflict theme of the upcoming Battle for Azeroth expansion. I think I’m in a weird place compared to some of my friends, because I do have strong faction pride. I like playing Horde and I enjoy their story perspective. I just don’t think overt faction conflict in WoW is at all interesting anymore, and hate when it stands in the way of me playing with my friends.
Because of this I’ve been struggling with this odd malaise ahead of BfA’s launch. I want to be excited about new WoW things to do and the inevitable flood of players returning to the game. Instead I have mostly been annoyed by the story beats that feel at odds with the way I enjoy the game. Still, I was not going to miss the pre-expansion story quests that were added in this week. Spoilers for the “War of the Thorns” story ahead!
I started off on the Horde side because that will always be my home faction. The opening quest from Sylvanas immediately made me feel better for two reasons. First, although the Horde are the aggressors here, we’re not marching to Teldrassil to burn it to the ground. Sylvanas’ stated goal is to occupy the city to gain access to its port and cut off the Alliance’s azerite supply chain. I am a confirmed Sylvanas fangirl who also really dislikes the night elves, but even I would have reservations about marching off to explicitly commit genocide and burn down the world tree. The second thing that made me feel better about the story was Sylvanas’ other goal here: kill Malfurion. March off to murder one of my most hated lore figures in the game? Sign me up!
The quests themselves involve a lot of running around. From Undercity to the Barrens, Ashenvale, and finally Darkshore, we’re rushing ahead of the Horde forces to prepare the way. The individual quests are fine, nothing especially exciting or awful. I did like the rogue quest in Ashenvale, where you are meant to be taking out town guards. If you direct the assassin to kill civilians, they will do it, but are vocally unhappy about it. It was a nice touch.
In Darkshore, the Horde forces get blocked, first by Malfurion’s wisp wall and then by Alliance forces at the river. There’s some conflict over azerite, but otherwise the story for the week ends there. The Alliance side quests are spent reacting to the Horde. You start scrambling to try and fail to protect Ashenvale. Then you move to Darkshore and help bolster the defenses there. Finally you head to Teldrassil to warn them and set preparations in order. I feel bad for the night elves, and I had some pain because I know soon my beloved Undercity will soon be in the same situation. But mostly I hated taking orders from Malfurion and I sure hope we actually get to kill him soon.
Once you’re finished the story a few world quests open up. Importantly, once you’ve done the story on one character (per faction), you have the option of skipping straight to the world quests on all of your alts. They were mostly simple, and reward 210 gear. I was hoping that the rewards would be interesting new transmog options, but they seem to be the garrison/level boost class armor from WoD. I’ve seen some folks complaining that this gear is “only” 210, but I’m perfectly happy with it. It will be a guaranteed upgrade for all of my alts unless they happen to have a Legiondary in that slot. My only complaint is that I’ve had to give up my artifact weapon on a few characters already. I was hoping to hold onto them for at least a couple levels into BfA.
Today marks the start of “prep week” for Blaugust. This is the time for everyone to start preparing for the long month of blogging. As a Blaugust mentor I’m supposed to give some blogging advice this week to help you get ready. My advice is pretty basic but it has served me well so far.
1. Plan what you can. My most successful Blaugust was one where I took the time to plan ahead. Having a set schedule for the month really helps, especially if you are not used to posting every single day. Choose a couple days of the week to have a regular feature. This helps you plan your posts, and also just helps with writer’s block. It’s especially useful on days when you know you won’t have much time or energy to devote to writing. For example I tend to schedule a “screenie saturday” for a quick and easy post on the weekend.
2. But leave yourself some wiggle room in your schedule. Even if you’re the type of person who really needs a schedule to stay organized, you should leave some space for the unexpected. Whether it is a bit of news, something you tried recently that you fell in love with, or responding to a blogging discussion that’s going around, you want to be flexible enough to react.
3. It’s okay to write and schedule posts early. This lets you keep up your schedule even if you’ll be out of town or just have a break for a day or two when you need it. When inspiration strikes, just start writing! Worry about when it will get posted once you’ve gotten your words out of your head and onto the screen. Given the choice between missing a day or scheduling ahead of time, I’ll always opt for scheduling.
4. Have fun. Remember why you started blogging in the first place. If you are starting to feel burnt out, it’s okay to take a break. Or even better, you can switch up what you are writing about for a change of pace. Not excited about games today? Talk about your favorite recipes instead. These excursions into other things you enjoy can help you recharge, and they help your personality shine through to your readers.
I hope some of this advice is helpful! And if you are interested in Blaugust but still haven’t signed up, what are you waiting for? Come join us!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
A 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.
Even 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.
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.
I can’t believe it is July already. That means it is time to find out how I did on my goals for last month and make some new ones!