FROGS!

WoWScrnShot_081918_205932Shoutout to my friend Mor, who suggested the topic of today’s post. FROGS!

Frogs are some of my favorite creatures. I’m not really sure why I like them so much. Maybe it is their cute little froggy faces, or their weird amphibian life cycle, or all the crazy colors they can be. All I know is I love frogs! That’s why I’m so happy that there are new froggy friends to enjoy in BfA.

I’ve already talked a bit about my love of Krag’wa, the enormous frog Loa in Nazmir. Krag’wa’s burrow is surrounded by naga and blood trolls, but he’s knows he can take them. He is worried about his children though. I’m not sure if they are literal or metaphorical children, but either way the the naga are stealing frogs and doing mean things to them. I happily murdered a bunch of naga to save the adorable froggies. Interestingly, there seems to be a connection between the crawgs and Krag’wa. Are crawgs what happens to Krag’wa’s spawn when they get corrupted? Or does Krag’wa just watch over all the weird swamp creatures? When you rescue a tiny crawg during a quest, Krag’wa tells you he can’t help it, and asks you to watch over it.

There are “spawn of Krag’wa” all around Nazmir. There’s even an achievement for finding all of them and sending them back home to the burrow. Although little compared to Krag’wa, these babies are the size of a large dog. I would love to have one as a pet, but I wonder what they would eat? Something that big would have to eat birds instead of bugs!

WoWScrnShot_083018_215331If you really can’t get enough of the Krag’wa-model frogs, there’s good news. For only 75 polished pet charms you can get Tragg the Curious to come and join you on your adventures! This was one of the first pets I bought this expansion. Speaking of battle pets, there are even more frog pets to collect. There’s both wild and vendor pets with a new model that looks like a poison dart frog. They are extra cute, and they can have some pretty useful moves for pet battles too!

Lastly there’s the amazing frog mount. It has been datamined, but there seems to be no way to get it in-game at the moment. I really hope that they make it available soon. I need to be able to hop around the swamps of Nazmir and strike fear into the hearts of my enemies from atop my very own riding frog!

That’s enough of my love of frogs for a bit! Do you love frogs too? Or is there another new model in the game that you’ve fallen in love with?

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Reading Challenge #73: The Legend of Drizzt Series by R. A. Salvatore

Time for yet another reading challenge post. For this episode we take a time machine way back to 1990. A young Gracie was in middle school, a time usually best left unmentioned. In this particular year, though, a much older cousin handed Gracie two books he thought she might like. And so, without realizing it, Gracie partook of a nerddom cultural phenomenon: The Dark Elf Trilogy, part of the larger body of work that is now known as The Legend of Drizzt.

Wikipedia informs me that there are a completely ridiculous number of books in this series. There’s a new one coming out in September and it is apparently book number 34. Obviously for my reading challenge I’m not going to read 34 Drizzt novels. I’m also not going to start in order of publication, back with the Icewind Dale trilogy. No, I’m going to start with the first prequel, and the book that started it all for me: Homeland, first published in 1990.

Come along with me as I re-read the book that I thought was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, back when I was in middle school.

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Best Loa

My post yesterday was a bit of a downer so I wanted to balance it out with something fun. I was having a discussion with friends about all the Loa we see in the Zandalari zones. There are a lot of new ones, and some of them are really great. I decided I would give you my top 5 Loa list. Spoilers for the horde story ahead!

5. Gonk – This large raptor/mini t-rex Loa is very helpful. I chose him over the pterodactyl one because he offers lots of speed boosts around Zuldazar. I love zipping around the city grabbing the Gonk totems!

4. Rezan – The Loa of kings. His appearance in the opening cutscenes (horde-side) was so cool, I may have yelled a little. Sadly his coolness is tempered by the fact that he is now a dungeon boss.

3. Bwonsamdi – The Loa of death. He has a huge personality and an equally huge role in the horde-side story this expansion. I am curious to see what happens with him in the future. Plus, he makes fun of me when I die (and makes me all nostalgic for WildStar!).

2. Krag’wa – The frog Loa. He seems pretty chill but will totally lick his enemies to death when necessary. Hangs out in an awesome pond with lots of frog buddies. I love him. Last night I spent my hard-earned pet charms to get the battle pet that looks like him.

1. Jani – The trash raptor Loa. Jani is the best Loa because it is fun to be a trickster. I really enjoyed seeing random trash piles in all the different zones and knowing that Jani would be waiting for me with maybe some trash prizes or a quest. So far my favorite has been messing with Nesingwary.

I never got that into the troll lore in WoW until this expansion. This time around I have really enjoyed learning more about their cultures and the Loa are a huge part of that.

“Which Loa do you bargain with?”

BfA Crafting Thoughts

I spent way too much time in WoW this weekend, it was great! I have been mostly focused on my disc priest main for the expansion, but I had a little time to branch out into alts and their professions too. As it stands now I have a mini stable of alts in the new content:
Horde:
Disc Priest 120, Tailoring maxed, Alchemy ~100
Feral Druid 113, Herbalism maxed, Enchanting ~70
Frost Mage 111, Mining ~30, Jewelcrafting ~50
Afflic. Warlock 110, Inscription ~110, Alchemy 1
Alliance:
WW Monk 110, Mining ~10, JC 1

I want to talk about professions in BfA, because I’m quite frustrated with them already. First the good, though: most of the quest and dungeon gating that existed in Legion is gone. I could level my tailoring all the way to max without having to jump through any extra hoops. I also really like the way they restructured professions, with each expansion having its own separate leveling range. It makes everything really clear.

Unfortunately that is all the good I really have to say about professions. Now on to the bad. Gathering profs still have quest and dungeon gating. I actually enjoyed the quests and thought it was working really well right up until I hit the one for anchorweed. For the uninitiated, anchorweed is the rare herb necessary for crafting all the flasks in BfA. Rank 1 of anchorweed gathering can be bought as normal from the trainer. Rank 2 is already gated not just by a quest, but by a dungeon quest. Not only that, but the dungeon you have to run is an alliance leveling dungeon, which means there is no way to get past rank 1 as a horde character until you hit 120 and unlock the alliance-side dungeons. I’m not sure if the alliance quest is in the same dungeon, or if theirs is gated in a horde dungeon. I still haven’t hit 120 on my herbalist, so I have no idea what rank 3 of anchorweed requires. I have an unsettling suspicion it is going to send me to a mythic dungeon, let’s hope I’m wrong!

Speaking of mythics, that’s another concern I have about professions. Almost all of the higher level gear and items that can be crafted require hydrocores. The mouseover text says they can be obtained in Zandalar and Kul Tiras dungeons, but that is a lie. They can only be earned through mythics, and they are bind on pickup. That means to craft the fancy epic pants I can make with my tailor, I need to first run mythic dungeons, which drop gear the same level or higher than the item I am trying to craft. Once again this renders crafted items useless for the people who enjoy crafting with alts. We were warned about this but it didn’t sink in until I started actually getting around to crafting in-game, only to be disappointed. While I hope to do a few mythics, maybe, on my main, I absolutely do not ever want to do them on my crafting alts.

This leads into another annoyance with crafting in BfA. Right now, crafting is the only way to get follower equipment for your war campaign followers. I think this is a really cool idea, in theory. My tailor can craft equipment that lets followers bring back extra cloth. Or she could craft it, if she had run mythics to get hydrocores. Yup, almost all follower equipment for this expansion is dependent on crafters running mythics. Until sunday evening I did a scan of the AH a couple times a day, and on my server there were 0 follower items listed. Last night there were 2, if you wanted to spend 900,000 gold. This was a really neat idea that could have given every  profession something relevant to sell, but the implementation feels awful. Sure the prices will come down, but a huge reason I have crafting alts is to make things like this for myself, only I can’t because it requires mythic dungeons. I am going to hope that Blizz eventually adds hydrocores to world quests or missions to help alleviate this issue, but I am not going to hold my breath.

I was really hoping that after the terrible state of professions in Legion that BfA would feel much better. Instead I am going to be mostly ignoring them for yet another expansion.

Raiding and true friendship

I’ve gotten myself into the mode of grinding gear and getting all the upgrades I can, now that I’m at the level cap. I clear the emissary quest, and any WQs that give gear every day. Then I stopped to ask myself why I was doing this. What exactly do I want to get out of this WoW expansion? Do I want to raid? Do M+? Just be casual and get all the battle pet achievements and fashion? I haven’t really figured it out.

I think I would really like to do LFR at a minimum, maybe raid a little if I can get into the right group. I know I probably won’t stick with it for the long haul though. It’s easy to get caught up in the new expansion hype and want to try everything, but it has been very hard for me to find a schedule for end game stuff that fits with my real life needs.

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Luckily I have a great friend who tried to temper my enthusiasm and cushion my inevitable disappointment. He kindly reminded me what raiding actually feels like sometimes, to help me get some perspective. The funny part is that we became friends because we were raiding together.

It is sad, though, how quickly my hardcore raider persona sneaks back out when I start doing group stuff in MMOs. It makes finding a raid group even harder. I’m still probably going to try. The fun times! with friends! killing internet dragons! is usually worth it, at least for a while.

BfA dungeons (so far)

I’ve officially done all of the dungeons I can queue for in BfA, on normal mode. That specifically leaves out a few things, because I haven’t run anything that is mythic-only yet. So far I’ve mostly enjoyed all of them, although there are a few things that concern me as I prepare to face the heroic versions. I do think the alliance got the cooler dungeon themes, but I’m glad we hordies get to see them too. Potential spoilers here for BfA dungeons and some zone stories.

I’ve ranked the dungeons from worst to best. This is based solely on my opinions after healing each of them on normal mode once. I suspect this might change a bit once I start getting into heroics and mythics.

The snake god (Temple of Sethraliss)
This was the first BfA dungeon I ran with my friends instead of pugs. It was not bad, but it makes the bottom of the list for a couple reasons. Firstly, it was the least interesting to me story-wise. I really enjoyed the zone story this dungeon wraps up, but I was disappointed that we don’t actually get to fight the big bad old god minion. Instead we’re going to wake up the snake people goddess to ask for help. This dungeon also suffers from two mechanics that make me worried for the harder difficulties. One is a room that reminds me of the brazier gauntlet room in blackrock depths, and the other is a healer gimmick boss. I am strongly opposed to these kinds of fights because they almost never play nicely with my UI. I hate having to fumble around with my targeting and keybinds to heal NPCs.

The allergy overload (The Underrot)
This dungeon is entirely, perfectly on theme, and it makes me feel like I need to take a shower and 10 benadryl. I can practically smell the mold spores through my computer. It’s made worse by gross exploding ticks, mutated monstrosities, and various worms and bugs. It is really well done, it’s just super super gross. The boss mechanics at least are not too bad. There is one section of the trash where some mobs cast a fear that is going to cause a lot of misery in pugs though.

The mechano-trashpile (The MOTHERLODE!!)
Goblins. So many goblins. I still am not entirely clear on why we were in this dungeon. I know I got a quest from Gallywix and queued right up. My initial impression of this place is pretty rough because I pugged it and my group sped through super fast. Some of the bosses definitely reminded me a lot of the Protogames bosses from WildStar. They were mostly fun, especially the last boss, but it didn’t overcome how much I dislike the goblin scrapheap aesthetic of the place.

The prison break-in (Tol Dagor)
This was the first alliance-side dungeon I did. It has a lot of floors, and we did get turned around a few times while we were trying to make our way through it. It has this spot in the middle of the pack for me mostly because I don’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other. I think it might be pretty enjoyable once I know where I am going.

The tentacle pope (Shrine of the Storm)
We get to see Queen Azshara! Does she play more of a role in the alliance-side questing? She sort-of ducks in and out quickly here. Also did I miss when she got tentacles? I thought she was a naga? Azshara sightings aside, I love the theme of this place. Creepy tentacle cultists is totally my aesthetic. There was one boss here with a mechanic that was pretty brutal to those folks who didn’t know it yet. That made it a rough time for me to brute force heal my way through. If it weren’t for that it might be slightly higher up the rankings. I want my in-game house to be this place.

The zombie dinosaur (Atal’Dazar)
This place was so cool-looking. Plus, I was invested in it because I really wanted a resolution to the zone story this wraps up. I was sad to have to fight zombie Rezan, but I was glad we got revenge on the lady who betrayed the king and was running around stealing Loa powers. It does sometimes feel very strange that we are now friendly with the Zandalari and dealing with so much troll lore from their perspective. Side note: the most annoying part of this dungeon was the screaming pterodactyls. Make your healers love you and keep them on lockdown if you can!

The haunted house (Waycrest Manor)
The theme of this dungeon is absolutely perfect. I love the creepy haunted house vibe. It definitely reminds me of the haunted house dungeon in FFXIV, in the best way. The creepy mansion thing gets in its own way a tiny bit, because it is confusing to maneuver around and camera angles sometimes become an issue. We got lost a few times but managed to get back on track quickly. Unless some of the mechanics get tricky in harder versions, I’ll be looking forward to running this place a lot in the future.

The pirate fun times (Freehold)
This one is another dungeon whose theme is perfectly up my alley. I enjoy pirates and mostly lighthearted fun. I especially enjoyed the “shark puncher” boss who had sharks on his arms, and punched us with them. He also had a Sharknado attack. This whole place felt like a breath of fresh air, a silly diversion from all the super serious, creepy evil stuff happening everywhere else.

I should say here that most of these dungeons were really interesting designs. I disliked some of the mechanics but they were all on theme and very pretty to look at (even when they were full of goblins or mold). I’m excited to see how to handle them on harder difficulties.

BfA pet battling

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I’m not sure why I suddenly got back into pet battling, but I’m enjoying it. I didn’t finish many of the pet battle achievements in Legion, and now I’m considering going back. At least I should probably go and capture all the wild pets I’m missing.

I did catch every wild pet in BfA for this achievement. I really like some of the new pet models, especially the bees and butterflies. The most annoying one was the glutted bleeder. Not only is it super gross looking, but it has the “burst” ability. That makes it hard to catch, since it would rather explode and kill itself than let you capture it. I ran around in Nazmir for a while until I found one that had a different ability in that slot so I could actually catch it.

I’m not worrying about making sure all of my wild pets are rare for now. I have such a huge stable of pets that I only worry about specific ones if they have a useful or unique skill set. I do want to be able to beat all of the pet battle world quests so I can get enough currency to buy all the vendor pets and toys. There are a lot of things to spend pet charms on this expansion!

Reading Challenge #74: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

It’s reading challenge time again. After the months it took me to get through The Diamond Age, this one only took a couple evenings. This time I’m reading John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, published in 2005. I enjoy Scalzi’s work, which is often fairly light and humorous. I read this novel a few years back, and was curious how I’d feel about it on this re-read. Spoilers Ahead!

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The height of fashion

WoWScrnShot_082018_191543I haven’t had much time today to put together a post, but I don’t want to break my Blaugust streak. Therefore, please accept this screenshot of my character. I have found what is perhaps the most “me” hat in the history of hats. It may even be better than my scholar’s top-hat from FFXIV. Now I need to run a bunch of dungeons to farm the rest of this set.

Player Housing Wishlist

A few days ago Alunaria asked me in the comments what my ideal player housing in WoW would look like. I figured it would be more fun to answer with its own blog post, because I’m also curious how you folks would answer this question.

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There’s a lot of things I love about WildStar’s housing, and would definitely steal those for my perfect player housing.

  1. Full control over item placement. Great player housing must allow for player creativity. For me that means lots of cool housing decor, and the ability to move it, rotate it, and scale it in any way I want. “Hook” systems are frustrating. Let me place all my decor freely.
  2. Multiple ways to acquire decor. WildStar’s decor can be crafted, earned through repeatable activities, dropped from mobs, and gained through quests. Decor should drop in pretty much every type of player content so there are always new items to discover or chase.
  3. Some pre-built set pieces can be nice. WildStar gives you choices for when you didn’t feel like building your own buildings from scratch. Having some modular pieces like pre-built houses is great for people who want housing but don’t want to micro manage every inch of their space.
  4. A reason to go back there. Like WoW’s garrisons, WildStar lets you earn some resources through your house. Unlike garrisons, the amount of resources never completely removed the need for gathering in the world. Also WildStar lets you choose other useful things for your plot, like portals to zones you like, or mini-dungeons you can run for fashion or more housing decor. No matter what, there should be some benefit to having a house.
  5. Social controls and social events. I love that WildStar lets you choose who can enter your house, and what they can do there. For example, you can let your friends  harvest your resources, and you can set it so you split then so you both get a benefit when they visit. I would also steal WildStar’s use of housing during seasonal events. Visiting different housing plots to trick-or-treat at Halloween is something every game should do!
  6. Housing should be accessible. You don’t have to be anywhere near the end game to unlock housing in WildStar, and it doesn’t cost very much to get started. I know WoW loves to add features specifically for new expansions at the level cap, but housing should be something like pet battles, that everyone can hop into right away. Save some fancy decor until higher levels if you have to, but at least let folks get their foot in the door early.

ffxiv_02202018_143132There’s also some housing ideas I like that aren’t stolen directly from WildStar 😛

  1. The ability to have both guild housing and player housing. This one is basically taken from FFXIV. Have a guild space that also lets players have a small personal section in it. This way folks who don’t want to mess with housing can still have a cool place to hang out for RP and guild events.
  2. Dynamic neighborhoods. This is my dream feature. I’ve got no idea how to make the tech work, but what I would like is something like FFXIV’s housing districts, but without the crazy prices and housing scarcity that is so annoying in that game. I’d like an instanced zone with 20 – 50 houses set up in a reasonable neighborhood that you can wander around. Unlike FFXIV, all the plots would be the same size, and you’d just pay to upgrade your house or the number of items you can place on your plot. Your neighbors would be semi-permanent, but to keep it feeling lively if someone hasn’t logged in for 60 days someone active or new would get moved into their spot. Maybe you could bypass this for people on your friends list, or in your guild. And if your neighborhood is feeling lonely you could request a new spot near a friend. You would never lose your house from inactivity, and people wouldn’t have to wait for someone to move out to find a plot. You’d just end up with a new neighborhood if you’ve been gone for a while.
  3. Housing districts in lots of different zones. Don’t just give us one size fits all housing. I want to spent hours agonizing over whether I want a fancy apartment in Suramar, a peaceful treehouse in Moonglade, or an underwater grotto in Vashj’ir. There should be lots of different housing districts to fit lots of different player tastes.
  4. A choice to link alt housing. I have lots of characters, but not a lot of time and energy to make an awesome house for each of them. Let me choose if I want to let them share a house. Maybe my main wants to have her own big fancy place with all her raid decor, but everybody else could share one cool house instead of each having a mostly empty space.

Most importantly, I would want assurance from Blizzard that if they add proper player housing they aren’t going to abandon it at the start of the next expansion. Garrisons and Order Halls are neat, but it was sad to leave them behind as soon as the next new thing arrived. If they want players to get invested in housing and be creative, the players have to trust that all their hard work isn’t going to get swept away.