Season 14 Still Going Strong

Screenshot061Even 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.


blaugustrebornlogo2018In other news, Blaugust is back! I’ll be joining in all the fun and games, with posts here and on my Creative Thing blog. If you are a blogger, or are thinking about becoming one, come join us!

Advertisements

Daily Creative Thing

As usual I had a silly idea one day and decided to put it into action and see what happened. I wanted to do something in the spirit of Blaugust this year, but without the stress of having to come up with a complete, coherent post every day. I also wanted to get back into some of my creative hobbies that I’ve dabbled in over the years. Thus Daily Creative Thing was born.

The idea is very simple. Do something creative every day, and stay positive. The part that makes it work is that the bar for “do something creative” is set intentionally low. Did you doodle something cute on a post-it at work today? That counts. Did you sing in the shower for 15 minutes straight and annoy your roommate? That counts. Did you add a row or two of stitches to a bigger project? That counts. This endeavor is about recognizing all the little creative things we do, in addition to encouraging spending a bit more dedicated time on whole projects. The creative thing doesn’t have to be completed, finishing a whole project every day would be exhausting, and wouldn’t leave room for things like writing a story or knitting a blanket. It also doesn’t matter what kind of creative thing you do, as long as you consider it creative. Drawing some fan art, writing a blog post, baking a cake… you get the idea. It all counts!

The other key here is the “and stay positive” bit. It’s okay to be critical of your own work sometimes. That’s how we improve. But when sharing things for this project, I’m taking the stance of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. Especially when posting half-finished things, the temptation is to apologize for it. Instead I want to celebrate that I made an effort and made something new in the world, and look for the things I like about it so I can keep doing those next time around. The internet is full of places where people tear themselves and each other down. I want this project to be focused on building things up. Stay positive.

That’s all there is to it. Keeping it simple means there’s at least a chance that I’ll follow through on it but making it daily means it is still a challenge and a change for the better in my habits.

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I would love to have a network of people sharing their progress and cheering each other on. I also selfishly just want to see all the amazing things that you all will create when you get in the habit. Try it for the month of Blaugust and see if it sticks. Let’s create some things!

dct

 

Farewell Blaugust, Again

Blaugust is finally over. That means I don’t even need to be posting today. Why am I here? Partially due to habit. I managed to post almost every day, only missing a few due to health issues. The relaxed version of Blaugust this year meant I didn’t have to stress out about skipping a few mornings, and that weirdly made it less of a chore for me to post every day. Without that pressure hanging over me I was happier to keep writing!

WoWScrnShot_083116_231258

In Legion news, my play time has also remained pretty chill. I think the same principle applies. I don’t have any pressure to keep up or race to be raid ready, and it is making me much happier to log in every day and keep playing. Last night I ran a dungeon with my friends, unlocked the other 2 artifact weapons for my class, and even unlocked my monk’s healer weapon. It turns out that running a dungeon as a fire mage made me miss healing intensely, even though I’m sure my friends’ bad behavior in dungeons would have me pulling my hair out in no time. Anyway at least now the option is available if we need a healer.

WoWScrnShot_090116_001624

The mistweaver weapon quest drove home just how much of a healer I really am at heart. At the last part of the quest you get to choose how the NPC allies in your group behave. You can ask them to be mindful and watch themselves, or you can ask them to go all out on damage with the understanding that they will totally stand in all the fire to do this. Given this choice I told each and every one of them to stand in the fire and laughed about it in voice chat with my friends. It turns out I would rather heal idiot DPS and complain about it than have a slow steady fight and have to help DPS as a healer. This worked out spectacularly, the boss died quickly and the game taught me something about myself. Bravo Blizzard.

Complicated Past

On the Aggrochat podcast this week we all talked a bit about our various histories with World of Warcraft and why it sometimes sounds like it physically pains us to speak about that game today. One of the things I didn’t go into on the show was a huge part of my relationship with WoW. Not too long after I started playing I was struggling with medical issues and in particular chronic pain. WoW was a source of comfort and companionship no matter what weird hour of the night I found myself needing it. I even found folks who were going through the same thing as me, and had a bit of a support group of blood elves with medical problems. When I was stuck home on medical leave and recovering from surgery, WoW helped me feel like I was still connected with the outside world. To this day it is still a comfortable refuge when life is crappy, even though the game itself has changed dramatically, and even though I lost touch with most of the people I was friends with in that painful past. It also means I can’t think or talk critically about WoW and its history without remembering what I was going through back then, and all the friends I gained and lost.

Not Missing Much

Oh no! I’ve missed a couple of days worth of posts! Good thing this year is the super chill version of Blaugust, and there’s no repercussions of a few missed days. I’ve had some medical stuff come up (don’t worry, I’m fine!) that makes sitting at my desk for long stretches a problem. Thus I haven’t done much gaming to speak of the past few days and don’t have much to say here.

I have found that Diablo 3 is pretty great for squeezing a little gaming into small doses. I can pop in and run a rift in 15 minutes or so and then take a break. I’ve even managed to get myself through GR69 and do a T12 rift in under 6 minutes for the season journey, so I’m almost finished the Destroyer rank. D3 isn’t as fun solo, but playing solo means I can walk away and pause the game at any time so it has been working out for my needs this week. At this stage I believe the only things I have left to do for the stash tab are 2 conquests and a T13 rift in under 5 minutes. Maybe I will get it this season after all. It is definitely looking like there’s more D3 in my future than I had planned, anyway.

What I’m Playing: August 21, 2016

Another week of nothing but Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft. It should be depressing that I haven’t played more games, but honestly I’ve been having tons of fun with these old comfortable titles.

WoW: I got my baby mage to 100 this week via the invasion roller coaster. I also got my legendary ring on my druid, so I can say I saw that story on at least one character this expansion. The story quest they added this week as part of the lead up to Legion was also really fun. It wasn’t as epic as the Broken Shore quest but it was nostalgic and entertaining. Now I’m just leveling various alts and enjoying myself in these last few days before the expansion. In addition to the baby mage I’ve gotten a warrior from 1 to 64 and a DK up to 79 with invasions. It will be interesting to see what the total level count from this event will be.

D3: There’s been slow but steady progress this week. I’ve gotten 3 legendary gems up to level 60, and managed to clear GR68 solo. The pants I screwed up a while back have been fixed, and 2 more pieces of ancient legendary gear have been augmented. I just wish I could find or craft an ancient bow, it is the one huge thing holding me back right now. I’m leaning more and more toward not bothering with the stash tab for this season, but I think I would at least like to finish the step of the journey that I’m on right now. I just need one conquest and a TXII speed rift to finish up.

 

The Invasion Roller Coaster

It’s no secret that I’ve been having some fun with the pre-Legion events happening in WoW. The new quests are interesting and chock full of lore, and the invasion events are entertaining, quick, and showcase some pretty sweet new tech that we’ll see more of in the expansion. Those invasions have gone through some major changes since they went active, though. While my enjoyment of them in general is still high and I do still think they are a success, the whiplash-inducing speed at which xp gains have fluctuated has been troubling. It showcases what appears to me to be the usual Blizzard motif of making huge changes, reversing them, then eventually settling in a middle ground that nobody asked for. See: flying, daily quests, etc.

When the invasions started last Tuesday they gave almost zero XP for leveling characters. I did a few on my baby mage back then. While the scaling tech was cool and getting level-appropriate gear out of the treasure chests was nice, without any XP there was no incentive at all to farm on low level characters when I had perfectly good 100s around that needed gear.

babymage100

Not-so-baby-anymore Mage’s new arcane transmog for level 100!

Then the invasions were hotfixed to provide XP. Oodles and gobs of XP. Delicious XP as far as the eye could see. A single full invasion could give multiple levels worth of XP for lowbies, and even at 90+ they still gave a huge fraction of a level. During this bounty I leveled my baby mage from 61 to 100. For the last 10 levels I held onto my boxes, and when I dinged 100 I had almost a full set of ilvl 700 gear, including a fully upgraded ilvl 725 weapon and a couple of warforged 710 and 720 pieces. Truly it was a glorious time to be a baby alt.

The update this Tuesday pretty thoroughly derailed this XP train. Yes, you still got XP for invasions, but only a fraction of what they gave last week. Yes, technically there was more XP available in any given 4-hour window for one toon, because there were more invasions spawning. Unfortunately it required much more work, traveling around getting to each invasion and completing 6 instead of 2. During this time, I’d say that invasions were still worthwhile for lowbie characters, but only to do a few times to earn specific rewards you might be chasing, or fill in time between dungeon queues. There was just way more effort required to get the same amount of reward as last week. This led to even more people than usual afking to get the stage completion XP, instead of actually participating in the event.

More recently there’s been yet another adjustment to try to address the afk problem. Now XP from killing mobs in the invasions has been substantially increased. I get that this is to try to encourage people to actually participate, but it has some nasty side effects. The XP gets split depending on contribution, and depending on how many people are attacking a given mob. That means that big bosses with dozens of people hitting them still give almost no XP, and even smaller mobs that you could solo will have their XP reward halved if someone else touches them. This encourages people to hunt down smaller mobs to solo kill in hidden corners of the zone, and to get belligerent if anyone comes along to try to help. It seems like exactly the opposite of what you would like to see in terms of people working together to take on these big social events. It is also extra rough for lower level characters, since with no or only slow flight it is hard to get out of the main town and contribute in phase 3.

I’m not sure why they felt the need to keep changing things so drastically. I honestly would be fine with either of the first two XP options they tried. The first way, with no XP to speak of, at least let lowbies participate and see what all the fuss was about, while encouraging people to gear up their level 100s. The second way, which worked the most in my favor, let people get to 100 quickly and get ready for the expansion. Since it is such a limited time event I’m not sure why Blizzard sees it as so bad that people are excited about the expansion and want to have their toons at max level to be ready to see the Legion content. It seems like it would encourage expansion sales, although I guess it would probably hurt the sales of level boosts.

All of the additional changes this week have mostly served to annoy me. At this point I have no idea what to expect from invasions from day to day, and what the most useful and profitable way to participate in them will be. While I could use the ilvl 700 gear on some of my alts, I don’t need anything else for cosmetic purposes, so maybe this is just the point where I stop bothering with invasions altogether? If everybody starts feeling this way though, we’ll get to the point next week where invasions are popping up everywhere all the time, but nobody cares enough anymore to bother trying to stop the Burning Legion. That would be a bummer of a way to start off a new expansion.

How to get to invasions in a hurry

I know I said I wasn’t going to do any guides this Blaugust, but I guess I lied. There’s enough folks wondering how to quickly get to the demon invasions that I figured I’d put together a quick guide. This accounts for both Horde and Alliance paths and portals, and has optional extra speedy options for specific classes. For the purposes of this guide I’m assuming you have set your hearth to your faction’s shrine in Pandaria for easy access to most portals. If you don’t yet have your hearth set there, make friends with a mage and get yourself a portal because some of these locations are a bit out of the way otherwise. Or better yet, just go roll a mage because they’re pretty great.

Westfall:

Alliance: Port to Stormwind just fly southwest. It’s not even worth grabbing the flight path to Sentinel Hill.

Horde: Port to Orgrimmar, take the zeppelin to Stranglethorn Vale, fly north to Westfall. If you really don’t want to wait for the zep you can take the portal to the Blasted Lands and fly northwest from there, but it is slightly longer.

Horde Mages: If you don’t feel like waiting for the zep, you can port to Stonard and fly west from there.

Dun Morogh:

Alliance: Port to Ironforge, walk out the front door.

Horde, with increasingly silly options: The fastest path requires you to have unlocked the portal to Twilight Highlands. You can fly due west from there. Otherwise you’re looking at a long flight from either Stranglethorn (via zeppelin), Blasted Lands (portal in Org), or Stonard (mage portal) to Searing Gorge, then north to Dun Morogh. If you’ve unlocked it you can also take the incredibly awkward pathway via Vashj’ir portal, seahorse to the flight path, to Searing Gorge, but if you’ve got that you probably have the Twilight Highlands portal anyway. If you’re extremely bored and have one laying around you can also try using a Direbrew Remote to go to blackrock mountain and fly north from there. All of these paths leave something to be desired but they will get you there, eventually.

Hillsbrad:

Alliance: Portal to Ironforge from the shrine, then hop a flight to Arathi Highlands and head west. Death Knights can also death gate and hop a flight from Acherus instead to save a little time. Aerie Peak is a nice close flight point.

Horde: Portal to Undercity and hop a flight to Tarren Mill directly.

Mages of either faction: Use your Ancient Dalaran portal to go directly to Hillsbrad. Just have your feather fall button ready! For the unaware, this teleport spell is found in the last room of Scarlet Halls (normal or heroic), after killing the last boss without letting him burn any books. It is on a shelf to the left of the door. The portal version is sold by the mage vendor in Dalaran once you have learned the self-teleport version.

Azshara:

Alliance: Portal to Stormwind. Take the Hyjal portal from there and fly southeast from Hyjal to Azshara. If you haven’t unlocked the Hyjal portal yet, portal to Darnassus, hop a flight path to Ashenvale and then fly east, or if you are a druid teleport to Moonglade and fly from there.

Horde: Portal to Orgrimmar and head out the back door to Azshara.

Northern Barrens:

Alliance: Once again the Hyjal portal is your friend, otherwise you’ll be flying for a long while from Darnassus.

Alliance Mages: Teleport to Theramore and laugh at the poor suckers flying all the way from Hyjal.

Horde: Portal to Org or Thunder Bluff and catch a flight straight to the Crossroads.

Tanaris:

Everybody: Portal to Dalaran. In the Kirin Tor tower there’s a portal to the Caverns of Time. Take it and you’ll be in Tanaris.

(edit) Thanks Mister Smath for the reminder about engineer gadgets:

“Gnomish Engineers can craft the toy “Ultrasafe Transport: Gadgetzan” for a quick trip to Tanaris. Goblin engineers have “Dimensional Ripper: Everlook” for a quick trip to Winterspring then a short flight to Azshara.”

Do you have any other suggestions for getting around Azeroth in a hurry? Share in the comments and I’ll be happy to update this list!

 

All the Fel

WoWScrnShot_081516_000614

My garrison was feeling left behind so I brought the demon invasion to it.

When the 7.0 patch hit I was surprised how much I still stayed in my garrison. There was cloth to make and missions to run to stock up on resources so I could buy fur so I could make more cloth…it was still almost as tedious and exhausting as it was before the gold missions got nerfed. I was starting to worry that I’d end up spending Legion still hearthing back to my garrison just so I could keep working on professions and making bags to sell. Fortunately last week’s demon invasions have thoroughly cured me of my garrison addiction. When I bother to check in on them, my garrisons are full of resources and waiting for me to restock everything. In between, I’m not thinking about them at all and that’s 100% fine by me. My baby mage is 92, she’s going to hit 100 this week, and the stretch from 60-100 will have been fueled largely by invasion events instead of questing. I’m going to squeeze all of the leveling goodness out of this that I can because I know it is going away at the end of the month. The only other question is, can I level another alt to 100 before it goes?

What I’m Playing: August 14, 2016

We’re almost halfway through Blaugust and I’ve managed to keep up with things so far, woo! This week my play time has still been pretty focused.

FFXIV: Once again the only time I played FFXIV this week was during raid. Once again, the time I did play was phenomenal. This game’s raiding is so fun and satisfying, and even old content still requires some thought and attention. I’m just too distracted by other things right now to give it the attention it deserves.

screen406x722

Steven Universe Soundtrack Attack: I almost forgot to mention this one, but I was talking with the Aggrochat folks about it last night before we recorded the podcast and figured other people might want to know about it too. I’m playing this fun little rhythm game on iOS. I like it because you can create and customize your own new gem (mine’s a Ruby!), and it has music from the show. Unfortunately it moves pretty quickly from “hey this is fun” to “furiously mashing at the screen not being able to keep up.” Maybe that’s a thing this type of game does? I admit I’ve not played any other rhythm games on my phone. Some of the songs are even sped up a bit from the show. I suspect it is because they want you to watch more adds and buy powerups that let you slow down the songs. Also not all of the levels are songs directly from the show, a lot of them are instrumental tracks, so don’t expect to hear all of the songs from the show right away when you start playing. In any case it is a fun enough little game and worth checking out for yourself if you are interested, just don’t expect a lot of depth.

Diablo 3: I’m still working away at my seasonal character. I’ve completed GR60 and the view ahead is all grinding for tiny upgrades and praying for ancient legendaries with good rolls. I have no idea if I will stick around long enough to finish another chapter of the season, but I’m still having fun for now.

WoW: Once again this is where I’m spending the bulk of my time. The demon invasions have gone from fun distraction to pretty great way to level, so I’ve been trying to hit them on my baby mage whenever new ones are up. between invasions and dungeons I’ve gone from 60 to 77 while barely setting foot on outlands or northrend. I actually like both of those expansions just fine, but it is pretty neat to have an alternate leveling pathway open up like this, even if it is only temporary. I suspect I’ll have at least one more character to 100 by Legion at this rate!