A New Day, a New Expansion: Part 2

Yesterday went better than expected. Despite spending an hour trying to locate my current favorite quest in game (which was hotfixed during one of the few disconnects), the whole process went a lot smoother than I would have expected. Sure, there were some annoying bugs and getting booted offline 3 times in 4 hours. But it was playable, and that’s really more than WoW fans have come to know with this company. Their hamsters were spinning the wheels just fine last night. There were a lot of complaints, but honestly, has an xpac launch ever gone as smooth as this one?

Prior to the expansion, my guildmates asked me which zone they should be questing in. Of course if you have kept up with my blog on this, Drustvar got my vote. So far on live, it is just as amazing as it was on Beta and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that. The zone has this creepy Victorian vibe to it, probably what makes me love the zone the most. I think that the storyline is cohesive and immersive. Plus, a good portion of the zone reminds me of fall. I’m a New Englander that loves her fall.

My leveling plan is as followed: finish Drustvar, then do 2 war campaigns worth of quests. Then Tiragarde Sound, to see what they’ve added since Beta. I want to see the Jaina storyline play out. Stormsong is a pretty zone, but it wasn’t very interesting so that’s a last resort questing zone for me. Hopefully there are some great changes to make these zones better, but honestly I don’t have a lot of hope for that.

Today is a new day in the xpac. We’ll see what bugs await us and maybe get some instances in to try them out. My toon needs to get levelled quick so I can get back to my Overwatch Event. I say Blizzard should have waited until September to launch, that way us mega-fans of both games could enjoy the Summer Games before worrying about speed leveling through new content. Just a thought for next time.

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Expansion Day! Part 1 on Battle for Azeroth

Today is the day that Warcraft fans have been waiting for, even moreso after the events of the pre-patch. In an expansion that is supposed to be about choosing allegiances, we are getting repeated reminders that there are no winners in war. Ignoring the debate of why the events happened as they did (I have several theories that I buy into, which I may dedicate an entire second blog), the events of the xpac did take place and they were heart wrenching. I played both sides of the scenario and I witnessed players on the horde side lamenting about how hard it is to fight for the horde after everything. Maybe that’s the entire point of the xpac. Soldiers aren’t meant to think about the actions of their leaders; they are meant to follow. And we are. And I repeat: Zappiboi for Warchief.

In this xpac, much like every other before that, I have made the difficult decision to stick with my original main: a human priest. I love my Void Elf, but I just can’t seem to take the plunge and swap mains despite how it is far cooler than the humans are. Though, let’s face it: most races are.

I will be doing a series of posts this week in addition to streaming the new xpac. If you want to follow me, check the sidebar for the channel link. This first part  of the blog will discuss my predictions for launch as well as some advice from playing in the beta.

First, my predictions. It’s a Blizzard launch of a major patch/game. It will be laggy, buggy, and annoying. Especially after the big item squish patch that broke the game. Don’t complain about it. You’ve played Blizzard games long enough to know this, I shouldn’t have to remind you. Just deal with it or wait until tomorrow when they hotfix the problems. (Or over the course of the next few weeks.)

I also predict that most players on Alliance side are going to go with the Tiragarde Sound, which will contain the Jaina storyline. She has gained waifu status after that incredibly awesome cutscene, so that will probably be the busy zone. Me? I’m starting off in Drustvar. In the beta, I really loved that storyline the best so it was the most enjoyable zone for me. It may be busy because the consensus is that Drustvar was the best zone in beta, but they could have withheld all of the cool things for launch. (Entirely plausible. Don’t want to give everything away.)

Okay, so that last one was also a tip. Here are some more:

  • When you get max level, the Battle of Stromgarde is amazingly fun as are the island expedition. Plus, getting free loot for seemingly little work is always a good thing.
  • Flynn on the Alliance side is hilarious and I wish he were real so we could be best friends.
  • The instances are a little gimmicky but I miss having mechanics that you actually needed to pay attention to in instances. Makes it more important to pay attention rather than playing Bejeweled. Sorry, wrong xpac.
  • I’m Pro-Night Elf and want them to destroy Sylvanas. Or the demon controlling her. (Maybe?) It will be really interesting to see what happens to this story later one.

Happy hunting, WoW players. The Battle for Azeroth will be upon us at 6pm on the east coast. I will start my stream around then, to share the bugs and the excitement of the release.

The Local Government and You

Growing up in school, we were told the biggest fairy tale of our lives: that the government works for the people. We are taught that the government cares about its citizens, making bills to protect us and listen to us. If they don’t, you go out and vote and make a difference. As an adult, you get hit with the crushing reality that the government doesn’t work for us: they work for whatever will get them the most money and re-elected. Yes, on a much grander scale this accurately describes the federal government but there is still the misconception at the local level that us citizens actually have a voice. Spoiler: we don’t. And the thing about voting? The citizens need to educate themselves and have actual choices to make the changes that are necessary. We don’t. The only politician that I follow in Chicopee that seems to genuinely be concerned with its citizens doesn’t even get a second glance from voters.

When you become a homeowner, you realize how terrible your local government can be. For instance, my mortgage went up as it seems my property taxes went up. What did I get in return for these taxes? Are my teachers getting anything that they are asking for so that they can better serve my children? Nope. In fact, they are still trying to negotiate terms of a contract that ended a year ago (Last I saw anyways, I could be wrong in which case feel free to correct me). Also in fact? They are shuffling around teachers/administration in a manner that may negatively impact the education of my children. They were even discussing getting rid of the Pre-AP program at my son’s high school, a move that actually upset my child. That tax money didn’t go to our schools.

Well, at least we kept our free trash pickup right? Except we really didn’t. We were given a trash barrel that fits 2 trash bags in it and then we have to pay $5-$10 for extra bags if we need to. I live in a house with 2 children and my recycling is so full that by the bi-weekly pickup, I have so much recycling accumulated that I can’t do anything with and it keeps building up. I’m certainly not the only family in the city with this issue. Does that matter? Nope. So where did our money go? Well, a conspiracy theorist may point out that the Mayor’s street is getting redone again…

My husband and I are reasonable people. We follow the rules. We donate more than our fair share of supplies to our elementary school because we can afford to and other parents may not be so lucky. We do it because it helps the teachers and by helping our teachers, we are giving our children the best chance to succeed. We don’t even complain about much to the city. Our only complaint has ever been: Can you fix the parking situation on our street?

A backstory. We live on a horseshoe type street. Our house is on one side of the curve, the Inkedparkingsituation_LIside where there is a sidewalk that leads up to the school and playground behind our house. A sidewalk that all the neighborhood kids need to access to get to school or their bus stops. A sidewalk that frequently gets blocked by cars. This curve has cars parked alongside it pretty much all the time, only allowing 1 car to make it around the curve, if they’re lucky (as you can see). Larger vehicles? Those aren’t so lucky. For instance, 3 times trucks have ended up on my property. They drive down the street, which they have no business being down anyways, and end up needing to back up. The problem is backing up with an 18 wheeler. This one incident is a truck that managed to come up several feet onto my property, nearly hitting my tree. In an incident that occurred yesterday, 3 pots and 2 lights were destroyed. Annoying, yes but they were close to the curb so I realize there’s nothing we can do. My neighbor? The tire tracks are further up his lawn than mine. 3 incidences where trucks ended up my property probably exceeds the reasonable limit. If I didn’t have a hill on my property, those trucks could have destroyed my home. There was also this really cool year when my son took a special needs bus to school. 3 times (at least) the bus couldn’t get him because they couldn’t get up the street. Reported it to the city, and got the response of: “Parking on this street is a known issue.” What is a known issue? Does it mean that it’s known and you don’t care to fix it? For the record, other times I just met the bus at a different stop to ensure he made it to school. One time the bus driver kept honking her horn at everyone until people started moving their cars so she could get by. I miss her.

See what also happens because of the parking situation on my street is that fire trucks and ambulances have some trouble getting around the street, sometimes even requiring one of them to get out to help the driver back up and move forward for 10 minutes while trying to get around this street. What happens in an emergency because of those 10 minutes? People could die. Does that matter? No, apparently not. What if my kid is having a medical emergency and the vehicles couldn’t get to him in time and he died? This is a valid concern that I have. There are other kids and elderly people on this street. This is a valid concern that they should have. (Side note: absolute props to the police and fire department. I don’t want to sound like I’ve insulted them because I have never had a negative experience with them. They were always kind, helpful, and they do a lot for our city.)

Now I know…. “instead of ranting on your blog that no one sees about this maybe you should contact the city”. After the first incident 2 years ago with the “Known issue response”, a second report about the sidewalk being blocked where we got a “Call dispatch next time.” (For the record, the car stayed there for another day without any recourse if memory serves me correctly.) I decided to email every official I could think to. Paper trails are a more effective approach I find. They can deny a phone call, but not electronic communications. It’s a safety concern and I worry for the day when something happens because of it. What if my kid was on the lawn when a truck did this? As of the writing of this a day later, I haven’t received any email back. Even a courtesy “we’ll look into this matter” would be less infuriating than no response.

The moral of this story: the government doesn’t care. And the only people that do seem to genuinely care never get the chance to help us. Chicopee needs a change in leadership, a shakeup. I hope it happens soon. Our schools deserve better. Our government employees deserve better. Our citizens deserve better. Most importantly, our children deserve better.

 

The Pre-Patch Event That Was Promised… but Did It Deliver?

During the Overwatch League, I continually spent my Monday Gaming posts discussing the leagues, recapping the important/shocking/interesting details of the week. I should have dedicated more time for my love of Uber and Mr. X, Soe, Puckett, Reinforce, and Bren. But I focused on the game. Next season, I will mention them. Because they are awesome and deserve it. Also, Uprising should definitely keep Avast because despite not playing, he is a huge morale guy that needs to stay. Just saying.

However during this time, I lacked the ability in my one day of gaming posts to mention my other gaming loves. In this case, my hardcore love of WoW and leveling alts. I have been streaming my beta/alting experiences (though apparently I still can’t figure out how to get my mic to work), but haven’t been able to really delve into the current happenings of the game. Today is that day.

The War of Thorns event was one that I played through its entirety in one sitting on the beta. I didn’t have the cut scenes, but the core set of quests were there. It was haunting on the beta, even without the cut scenes. It really was. I couldn’t get the “Can you hear the screams?” out of my head for several days. When I did the play through on live, which was separated into 2 parts, I again was haunted by the same voice line. It sticks with you in the most beautifully tragic way. The cut scene/Warbringers video of Sylvanas was emotional. I felt angry. I had the same feeling of sadness as watching Ysera’s fate in Legion. I actually wanted to PvP to kill horde players for their part in this madness. I read the pre-xpac novel. I was already bothered by the path Sylvanas was taking. She was becoming the cruel leader that Garrosh was.

It’s sad that they keep doing these storylines where the horde leader is a villain. I hope that this finally leads to redemption for the horde, and I don’t even main horde. But there is a bigger issue with this pre-xpac event: it was long and drawn out. There was a lot of hype going into it. I even loved it playing on Beta, though the alliance side was heartbreaking trying to save all those people only to have the screen flash with “Quest Failed” on a quest that you were meant to fail. If they had released it all at once, I think it would have had a better impact. You would have been fully immersed in the event, rather than going “Oh, part one was meh” then having a strong reaction to the second part. Did they have no faith in their product so they had to disappoint before delivering? It was likely because they didn’t want a huge roll out in case of bugs, but guess what? It was a disastrous rollout anyways. Hold off the event in a different patch, then release the event in its entirety at once rather than 2 parts. I’m not a coder or game designer. I’m not sure if that’s how it works, but I’m pretty sure they could have separated the code for the stat squishes from the patch events. Again, no expert here so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

I hope the Battle for Lordaeron is more successful. I hope that the cut scenes are just as amazing. I hope that Zappiboi is the new Warchief, with the wise and honorable Saurfang as his advisor. I hope that the expansion delivers the hype better than the pre-xpac events did. Until then, I will be streaming on Twitch. You can also find the link on my sidebar. Feel free to follow me.

The Overwatch League Finals

The OWL Grand Finals have come and gone, but it was such an incredible ride to experience. Who walked away the champions? How salty were the NY fans that the favorite to win didn’t even make it to the finals? (I won’t even address this; they probably were very salty.) This recaps the event for you.

Due to the sale on Overwatch League merch, I invested in a simple t-shirt to show my support for the Spitfire. Sure, I was bummed that the Uprising didn’t make it. But they couldn’t have done that bad considering Fusion destroy NYXL as well. That led people to believe that the Spitfire would follow the same fate. The London Spitfire had a rough go for a while after winning the inaugural season’s first Stage championship. No one expected anything from them but what they got was an incredible show that no one saw coming.

Carpe and Eqo are amazing players… when they are hot. The problem is that they can be a streaky pair. Fortunately for them, they were hot during every other round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the streakiness showed in the one set of matches that actually mattered: the finals. The problem may not have been entirely their fault: the Spitfire knew that to win, they needed to shut down this DPS pair and show Neptuno that aggressive Mercy play doesn’t always pay off. In the finals, it certainly didn’t.

This should not diminish the excellent games that the Spitfire played. After just the first round in the first match, I called Profit the MVP for the finals. On Friday, he was there for his team. On Saturday, he showed up again and caused utter destruction. In fact, calling it destruction doesn’t even do what he did any service. Between him and Birdring, the DPS was really unstoppable. But what really was impressive during the matches was the amazing abilities that the Spitfire has to play as a team. This can be seen in the Dragonstrike play heard ’round the world. Gesture Halted, Profit used his Dragonstrike. If anyone thought that they could jump down to avoid it, Fury jumped up and pushed them back into it. Profit may have gotten the kills, but it was a team effort on that play and the entire match.

Also, not surprisingly, Profit did walk away with the Grand Finals MVP trophy and the Spitfire climbed back to the top as Grand Finals champions.

Now that it’s all over, what’s next? Free agency and hopefully some new teams coming into the mix. Reports are saying that a team in Atlanta is being backed by Cox Communications, but nothing official has been announced by OWL at this point. It would be great to have some new teams mix it up. I also hope they change the format of the playoffs. Teams were fatigued, playing back to back matches. It should be broken up or at least give them a much longer break in between matches.

As for the Boston Uprising, they really need to pick up some DPS. We have plenty of supports and Mistakes and Striker could use a break here and there. Someone with a larger character pool can also be very helpful for us. I hope that the entire team comes back. I hope that if they keep Kellex, they figure out how to keep him alive better (or what he could do to stay alive better). The core team that they have are laid-back and talented. I have high hopes that they can pull it together and be even more successful next year.

The Overwatch League Semi-Finals

Could anyone be more shocked at the outcome of these semi-final matches? The last seed Philadelphia Fusion faced off against the NYXL, the favorites to win it all since Stage 2. (Depending on who you asked, they said all along that XL would take the Grand Champion title.) The London Spitfire, the other favorite to win it all since the pre-season and their win at the first stage championships, slumped and people had little confidence that anything would come from this team. The Spitfire went against the favorites and hometown team the LA Valiant. Who won? What are my predictions for the Grand Finals? Let’s get to this.

To be clear, I was spiteful and went against my Boston roots to cheer on the NYXL against the Fusion. They beat my team, so naturally I wanted them gone. However, the only place they are going is the Grand Finals. Much to everyone’s surprise, NYXL lost 2-0 to the Fusion. If Jjonak (MVP!!!) was responsible for getting Zenyatta nerfed, then Eqo is going to be the reason Hanzo gets nerfed. Between Carpe’s Widow and Eqo’s Hanzo, Fusion was once again unstoppable. The second match in the semi-finals between these two teams was a nailbiter, but some questionable mistakes on the XL side cost them the game. Instead of full on aggression, someone should have been pushing the payload so there was progress made. That could’ve easily have given them the win that they needed to walk to the finals but it certainly wasn’t their only questionable move. They had weaknesses that Eqo and Carpe easily exploited and destroyed them with.

As for the Valiant and Spitfire, again full disclosure I was rooting for the Spitfire to win. They are my second favorite team and since the OWL is having a ridiculous sale on merch I finally scored myself a Spitfire shirt. (As well as 2 Uprising hoodies since everything was still cheaper than 1 hoodie would normally cost.) Unlike the Fusion, the Spitfire had seemingly no issue taking on the Valiant. Going 3-1 in the first match, they went for the full sweep in the second to get their ticket to the Grand Finals. They pulled out some interesting tricks that the Valiant just couldn’t seem to handle. Such as my 2nd favorite D.Va in the league Fury playing Soldier: 76 in a triple DPS comp on Oasis. Going super aggressive with a Reaper, Soldier, and Tracer combo was the right call and they did jaw-droppingly well. I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing. Their performance in the semi-finals reminded everyone why they were the original team to beat going into the pre-season. The biggest criticism people had was that this was not an aggressive team. All that has changed now, when it counts the most.

What happens next? On Friday, the Grand Finals start with one match then Saturday there are 2 matches. Spitfire is considered the home team since they have the higher seed. The same playoff rules apply.

Now, who’s going to win it all? The way both of these teams played in the semi-finals, it really could go either way. I’m rooting for the Spitfire because I feel as though they are the more consistent team. Carpe and Eqo have the tendency of being a bit streaky and despite having a strong showing the playoffs so far, there is a chance that their streakiness will come back to bite them soon. As long as Spitfire plays flawlessly, they should be able to take this one home. I’m sure they have some more surprises up their sleeves as well, which could be very helpful against a team that may not be the best at adapting when they need to.

My Latest Project

I am so overwhelmed with how well my latest project was received. Last year, I wrote this blog. It was painful to have to write it. Immediately after I wrote this blog, I wrote down the words that I wanted to say to my son afterwards. I wrote the words I did get up the courage to say to him. He was oblivious to what happened; the harsh reality of what that moment really was and what would likely happen in his future especially since things don’t seem to be getting any better. I wrote down the words and thought “these are words that we all should say to our children”. Children are going to get bullied. And they need to know that they are bigger than those words.

The book itself took as long as it took to type the words out as I thought them. Maybe the process only took about 4 minutes. It was simple to write them. It was simple. It was driven by the incredible and special love that a mother has for her child. Illustrating the book, the was a different story. I had trouble finding a program that I felt comfortable using. I had trouble coming up with the pictures that I felt were worthy of these words. My biggest hurdle was myself. I can sculpt things. I’m pretty crafty. I can sew and knit. I’m confident in my artistic abilities except for drawing. I was told by some that my drawing skills are lacking. They are, I will certainly admit that. I was embarrassed about it and hesitated illustrating the book. I didn’t have the money to just hire someone to do it.

Finally, I took my words to heart. People are probably going to laugh at the artwork. I came to peace with that. It’s a children’s book. I wrote it for children because they need encouragement. Okay. I wrote it for my child because he needed those words. But what kid doesn’t need to be reminded that they are special? That the world can be cruel but they doesn’t have to break them? Any self-consciousness I had about my skills had to stop holding me back. You could say that I needed those words too.

The problem with writing is you are putting yourself out there. You are letting people critique you and tear you down. It’s really scary to write and have everyone hate your work. I fear that with every book I release and every blog that I post. I promise to be better.

I want to thank everyone who has purchased this book. I’ve run into some technical difficulties in releasing the paperback version, but I’m hopeful that by the end of next week I can approve the proof and get a physical copy of the book out. I want to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey. Maybe I will start pursuing more children’s books in addition to writing novels. But this past week, I have discovered a level of confidence and pride in myself that let’s me know that maybe I’m doing the right thing staying this course. I look forward to sharing my projects with you all in the future. I have some exciting things planned out and I can’t wait to move forward with it.