WoW – Hooked

I haven’t been this hooked on an MMO since Guild Wars (in the 2005-20007 time frame) or LoTRO (in the 2007-2009 time frame). I can’t play as much now as I could back then, but I’m fairly consistent in getting an hour or two every day on average.

My main char is Suhl, a discipline priest, currently level 38. I keep an eye on LFG for groups that need healing in appropriate dungeons, and it’s been a lot of fun so far. Deadmines, Stockades, Gnomeregan, Scarlet Monestary… next up is Uldaman after I gain a few more levels.

Most of my leveling from 31 has been in Scarlet Monastery’s various wings, and it’s been good to me as far as loot and gear upgrades, but at the same time I’m looking forward to something else.

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I will run Scarlet Monastery a few more times, because I finally got the quest In the Name of the Light, which is to kill 4 bosses that I’ve already killed many times (well, healed for groups that successfully killed the various bosses). The prerequisite involved killing 30 undead ravagers in Desolace (level ~38 mobs) so I went off and did that – which took a while as a discipline priest, lots of bubbles (Power Word: Shield) and wanding.¬† That’s fine because I don’t have much downtime otherwise (positive spin on “it takes so long to finish off a mob most my mana regenerates”) and was never really at much risk.

I don’t mind a few more trips into Scarlet Monastery. After all, I still need Whitemane’s Chapeau to complete my Scarlet Monastery collection of gear. ūüôā

My alt is Eresat a holy paladin. This class grew on me, I was bored of it in the mid teens and nearly ready to give up. But I pushed a few more levels and things got better. I can’t remember anything specific, but it was probably a combination of gaining a few more skills so there was something to do besides mostly auto-attacking and refreshing buffs.

Eresat started as a protection paladin, but after my disastrous warrior tanking attempt I decided to switch to the healing spec instead. I figured, if I can’t tank as a warrior when that class actually has threats and taunts, I’m screwed on a paladin where there aren’t any.

The general plan was to follow in my priest’s footsteps and jump in to heal various dungeons and otherwise landscape quest along. So far I’ve also healed Deadmines, Shadowfang Keep… but I’ve also successfully tanked Deadmines and Stockades!! Both of those tanking efforts were at the urging/plea of my friend who wanted to run those dungeons and had trouble finding a tank. Thus, a literal in-game knight to the rescue.

I figured, what the heck, let’s give it a try. At the time Eresat was level 27 or so, out-leveling Deadmines and at the upper end of the range of Stockades.

And, to my pleasant surprise, it went well! Obviously, out-leveling the dungeon really helped, but I found tanking on the paladin was doable, even in the healing spec, and it was even less stressful than tanking on the warrior. That’s because the paladin can run two skills to passively generate threat or do damage (Retribution Aura and Righteous Fury), so I just had to pop Consecration and a Seal (of Righteousness or Crusader) on cooldown, which was a light enough mental load (for lack of a better term) I could swap targets and pay attention to the overall fight better. When something peeled off, I could swap targets and/or chase it down.

So I’m willing to tank on my paladin, but only when I’m at the upper level range of the content. Otherwise I can heal, also when I’m at the upper end of the level range, and this flexibility is fantastic. Eresat is currently level 30 and I’ll consider SM: Graveyard in a few more levels, for example.

My 3rd character is a druid that gets scraps of playtime since I can’t really play three characters. I started as a feral druid, decided I wanted to try balance instead, so I payed the respec fee. Unfortunately, I find balance to not be much fun, it feels low damage and my downtime recovering mana is long. I did heal my friend’s instance group, but feel weaker since the druid doesn’t have utility/emergency skills (like my priest’s Fade, to help drop threat; or Power Word: Shield to buy a few crucial seconds in a heavy damage situtation), and itemization is tougher. That is, there isn’t as much leather armor with caster stats.

My druid is currently level 23 and since I already respec’ed, doing another one costs 5 gold. UGH!! 5 gold is painful but I suppose it is better than effectively abandoning the character. If I were lower level, say mid teens, I seriously would just start a replacement druid to avoid this ridiculous respec fee.

I’m trying to save up for a mount for my priest and it’s tough to part with that much gold. On the other hand, a mount apparently costs 100 gold (OUCH!! 20 for the skill, 80 for the mount; minus 10% for reputation… so “only” 90 gold) 5 gold is just a fraction of what I need. But I don’t have much gold in general, heck just buying skills as I level doesn’t leave much left over. I guess I need to get serious about farming.

 

WoW – Terrible Tank

The other day I was in a Deadmines group, with a tank that had trouble keeping aggro. It was as bad as you can imagine: uncontrolled mobs running around, adds harassing everyone, near total chaos with most fights, the healer threatening to quit with 2 bosses left, grumbling in the group, etc. It was a mess but somehow we pulled it off.

Plot twist: I was the tank.

This story began in guild chat, where somebody (the healer) asked for a tank. Their group was at the goblin workshop area, and needed somebody to fill in so they could continue. I was on my warrior alt, wanted to try out tanking, am familiar with Deadmines, so it sounded like the perfect chance.

I responded, joined the party, made my way to the dungeon and met up with everyone soon enough. I wasn’t sure the circumstances behind the group missing their tank halfway through, but it didn’t matter really. The group was me (tank), a priest healer, two hunters, and a rogue.

To sum up basically every fight: I could keep aggro on 1.5 mobs on average. That is, half the time, just one, the other half the time, two. Three or more was too much for me apparently.

I was cycling through mobs, using taunt, revenge, sunder armor, etc. as my rage allowed, and still had trouble. One thing I was bad at was situational awareness – I was so focused on the one or two right in front of me, I didn’t notice that the healer was under attack.

After Mr. Smite, the group started offering advice. One of the hunters seemed very knowledgeable about warriors – I imagine his main was a warrior and the hunter was an alt – and suggested I switch stances, using Battle Stance at the start of the fight, so I could Charge in and start with 10+ rage. Then, switch to Defensive Stance so I could Taunt. He then went on to mention using a macro to do it. They mentioned tanking got better at level 40, when warriors get plate mail, and said to search for videos about warrior tanking. OK, but I can’t do that during the run!

So, the healer died twice by the time we at the top of the boat. And since nobody else could res, the healer had to run from the graveyard back to the entrance, while we also went to the entrance from the dungeon side to help clear the way of respawns.

For those unfamiliar with Deadmines, at that point (top of the boat) were 2 major bosses left: Captain Greenskin, and Van Cleef. After the we got back to this spot from the 2nd time the healer died and had to run back, they said they were leaving if they died again.

I’d like to think I played better those last two fights, but it looked like the same chaos to me, and I struggled to keep 2 mobs under control. Perhaps the healer’s threat focused the DPS to concentrate on anything I wasn’t handling that was attacking the healer.

We did prevail, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was more a sigh that we were done and not excitement of rolling on loot. It was pretty stressful!

I decided after to concentrate on my priest, where I’m having way more fun. I feel like I’m a better healer and have had players mention that. Maybe they say that all the time as a general thanks. ūüėČ

Tanking is brutal. One problem is there just isn’t a good way to practice without a group of live players, who may not know or want to be a lab experiment for somebody who needs practice. Tanks also need to know the dungeon pretty well, to lead the group. Plus call/mark targets, and have enough situational awareness to simultaneously cycle targets, watch for adds, check on the group to notice if someone is being attacked by an uncontrolled mob.

I felt like I was juggling 2 balls, except if that’s all you can do, nobody thinks you are a juggler.

After healing more instances and paying extra attention to what those tanks do, I can see one major error on my part was gathering aggro far too close to the group. I see tanks run far ahead to attack a group, while the rest of the players then come up and join in. When I tanked I was aggroing just barely in front, basically with everybody in range of every mob. And of course those better tanks pay attention – if I draw aggro the first thing I’ll cast is Fade (remove threat for 10s) and stand still, continuing to heal – and in every case, the tank is already running over and grab the mob off me anyway. As a tank, I can’t rely on the priest casting Fade (it does have a cooldown) so I would need to be paying enough attention to notice this unfolding.

Other ways to improve would be cycling attacks better, making macros to help the stance switching, etc. But I am loathe to do any of this. I’d rather work on leveling my priest.

Hats off to the tanks of the game, I found it to be very difficult and they are key to any group being able to do the content!

LoTRO – New Server

I’ve been in a training class with coworkers from different departments, people I didn’t know before. During breaks the group discussion varies all over, and earlier this week the topic of gaming came up. Console gaming, PC gaming, what genres people liked… I half paid attention since I was going over some notes from the lecture, when the conversation shifted to MMOs.

I perked up a bit, paying more attention. One coworker mentioned the only MMO he played was LoTRO. Hearing that shocked me a bit – from the perspective that I’ve never met another LoTRO player “in the wild”! I’ve played with friends I’ve met in other games (Guild Wars, then we started LoTRO around the same time), talked a friend from other games into playing LoTRO (from WoW, but he stopped playing both after a few months; however ~5 years ago he popped up in GW2 and we played together for a bit before stopping again), and met Eve Online players at work (two different people), but this is the first LoTRO player I’ve met.

Later, we talked more and I learned he plays on Arkenstone, has a small kinship of friends/family, and said if I ever wanted to join, just send a message. He probably thought I wouldn’t want to leave Landroval and restart… except I actually am willing to do that, in order to play with someone I know in real life.

I don’t expect him to start a new char or anything, and don’t mind soloing quite a bit either, but it would be great to adventure with others occasionally! The kinship I’m in on Landroval is basically defunct; it seems I’m the only semi-active player. I could have usurped the kin leadership a dozen times by now, but haven’t.

Anyway, I logged into Arkenstone and created a Beorning, since I was enjoying the one I started on Anor and then the one I started when I returned to Landroval.

This morning, he brought it up, asking if I was interested in playing/joining on Arkenstone. I got his character name and this evening, logged in and played my new Beorning to level 9. This wasn’t too difficult since Beornings come out of their intro area at level 5, so I quested a bit in Archet and Combe before mailing him and logging off.

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Now I’m mulling over some other character possibilities. See, I haven’t purchased Minas Morgul expansion yet, and when I do I’ll get a version that includes a character boost. So while I am leveling away, I will make an end-game character to join in whatever I can.

I figured the character I’ll boost will be a minstrel, since I do enjoy healing and groups usually are looking for that role.¬† And then maybe make a burglar to fiddle around with… ah yes, can’t stop playing alts.

WoW – Resub

I have gamer’s ADD but managed to get things under control… until last week when a friend told me she and two others had resubbed to WoW and rolled on a classic server. Having low will power and also a strong desire to play with friends, I also resubbed so all my careful plans to rotate games, etc. are tossed out the window. But this is a good thing!

I might like ESO, LoTRO, FF14 better than WoW, but WoW has one untouchable advantage – real life friends that play. And that is a huge draw. So, I found myself at the character creation screen of the Westfall server, and soon after had a druid, paladin, and priest ready for adventure.

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I picked the druid and paladin because they can fill multiple roles, and I like characters that can do more than just DPS. I like healing in general so those classes were natural draws as well. I plan to focus on druid and priest, with the paladin as a distant priority, since they are kinda boring to level.

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Over in retail, I peeked at my monk, who I left off at level 100 when I subbed previously (Warlords of Draenor era). Logging in produced a flurry of popups (garrison mission complete! new quest available! unspent talent points!) I quickly logged off, resolved to deal with all that stuff at a later time.

Anyway, we’ve grouped a few times now. Once as lowbies in the gnome starter area, questing along to about level 7 or 8, and then a week later with all four of us, questing through Westfall, planning out our eventual Deadmines trip.

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It was a ton of fun in our group (warrior, paladin, hunter, priest) tackling Westfall. I hope we can keep the momentum and avoid burnout while leveling along to 60.

I do have a backup plan in case something happens – WoW retail. It turns out my friends from work still play on Earthen Ring, so I can join with them too. Towards that end, while I’ve been concentrating on classic, I did put a tiny bit of time into retail.

When I resubbed, I got a free level 100 character boost. My monk, which I did enjoy, was already level 100 so I decided to boost my paladin to 100. Then, when I bought the BfA expansion, I got a free level 110 character boost! That went to my druid. I figured what the heck, I’ll have a choice of 3 viable characters to play on retail if it comes to that.

I haven’t completed the “welcome to your boosted character” intro on my retail paladin or retail druid yet, but I will when I have the itch to play but don’t want to do classic. Perhaps I can devote some time to leveling any of my retail characters to 120 to join the end game with my old guild.

Back in classic – we had a few wipes due to being caught by respawn. Moonbrook was surprisingly busy, with many characters waiting for Defias to spawn. One minute, crowded with players and no Defias, next minute the players are gone and all the Defias respawn… to help keep track of each other, we assigned symbols.

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Good times!

 

 

PoGo: Hoenn pokedex

I traded for a Tropius, that last Hoenn pok√©mon I needed to finish the Hoenn pok√©dex. Well, except to #352, Kecleon, but since that one isn’t in the game yet, I’ll consider my Hoenn pok√©dex completed for now.

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The trade involved me giving a shiny flower-crown Eevee for a Tropius. I was happy to do that since I couldn’t go to Safari Zone Montreal (not that I didn’t try; the tickets sold out almost instantly). And that chances of me going to Africa are slim. I should note that my Tropius is from the Spanish Canary Islands, off the west cost of Africa. ūüôā

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I’m not a shiny hunter per se, but I do realize their value when it comes to trading. As it turns out, shinies are the actual trade currency. Even then, it’s just the rarer shinies – all the serious shiny hunters have all the community day shinies so those are a no-go for trading. So I am grateful for every shiny I do get, because they may one day become a trading¬†pok√©mon for something that I can’t normally get.

Gen 4 will be very tough to complete, because it has regional legendary pok√©mon (Azelf, Uxie, Mesprit). I do have several Azelf so perhaps someday I’ll be able to arrange a trade, who knows.

Anyway, Gen 5 (Unova) recently released so everybody that is still playing is busy capturing the new crop that’s out. My strategy is to use as many pinap berries as possible (they give double candy on a capture, so 6 instead of 3 for a base evolution) since eventually I’ll want to have an extra 25 (base to middle) or extra 100 (middle to final) candies for evolving.

I’m also an avid runner, and Adventure Sync is a really welcome addition to the game. I’ve got my buddy (currently Gabite, since I’m short of candies to evolve a Garchomp) with me when I run, earning 1 candy per 5km. It’s slow going to reach 100 candies, but this certainly helps out… the alternative is spending rare candies (which I will probably do when I near 100, just to finish off quicker). Or just being super lucky either finding gibles in the wild (very rare) or hatching out of eggs for the hatching candy bonus.

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This week I ran/walked/moved ~52 km, getting my buddy 10 candies plus a 5km and 10km adventure sync egg reward. My stats say my buddy has been with me for 168.5 km so that’s a total of 33 candies. When I do finally evolve a Garchomp I’ll probably switch to Klink, since that one was only available out of Tier 1 raids and I didn’t do enough of those to get the 125 candies to evolve a Klang and Klinklang. Buddy candy and Adventure Sync to the rescue!

ESO: Finished Summerset

OK I was close to finishing so I carved out some time to just do it.

The Summerset storyline was 9 quests, each multi-step and fairly involved, and I enjoyed it overall. The boss fights were fun and challenging and I’m grateful that failing (dying) only made me retry from a recent checkpoint, not redo the entire fight.

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The fight against Nocturnal boiled down to paying attention to the on-screen cues to “use the DawnBreaker”, the sword that you went through great trouble to power up (others gave their lives, etc. hope that isn’t too much of a spoiler).

The screenshot above was the tamest one I could get, because the actual fight was way to hectic for me to pause to get a better one. Nocturnal had a cool. ghostly giant apparition in the background, while directing her champion (the main guy the fight was against) plus random adds here and there.

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After my victory I spoke to Sotha Sil to wrap up that chapter. The actual last chapter of the storyline consisted of speaking to a few people and having Razum-Dar call forth various citizens of Summerset that you helped out. That was a nice conclusion!

As for Daurum… I want to find the 3 other wayshrines in Summerset I don’t yet have. Hey, those will come in handy should I want to zip around the island in the future!

After that, I plan to go start the original main quest and defer Morrowind until I’m done.

ESO: Summerset Storyline

My goal was to finish the storyline on Summerset, and make my way to Elsweyr. I figure I’m already “out of order” from the main storyline and Morrowind, might as well not worry about it and see new areas, and then go back to the mainland and Morrowind later.

But, I wasn’t able to do it. I wrapped up A Necessary Alliance and am now at The Crystal Tower, which is 8 of 9. The end is in sight!

Wrapping up the previous step involved a tough fight: defend two portals (one at a time) and basically kill the final mini-boss that attacks. Like most quests in ESO, there are a series of regular enemies to fight as you navigate towards various goals, then the quest wraps up much tougher fight. It generally takes me a few attempts at these “quest completion” fights, buffing up a little by eating some food beforehand, popping a healing potion as needed, etc.

This particular fight was annoying due to the ~minute long run I had to do after dying to get back into the fight. But, after a few attempts I prevailed. It kinda felt like Dark Souls, scaled down of course: get to the problematic mini-boss fight, hang at a distance to learn their moves and what patterns to dodge (various red circles). I’m glad I trained bow as a secondary weapon because it lets me do some damage while kiting for my life.

You have two allies in the fight, one at each portal: Razum-dar and Darien Gautier, both characters in the storyline. Both are decent fighters, but won’t finish the mini-boss off for you. What Darien does do is occasionally is yell “get behind my shield” before popping some bright light damage absorption bubble. I also learned to stand right behind him when he does that and keep attacking.

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Anyway, later I talked to a Daedric Prince, Clavicus Vile. He at least recognizes how awesome I am at previously thwarting his plans. ūüėČ