The Great Gnome Race

The minute that I saw the micro holiday event of “The Great Gnomeregan Run”, I knew that was something that I needed to do. For the most part, I don’t really bother too much with these micro holidays, especially after the first time. This one? This one needed to happen. I imagined the rows of RPers taking this a little too far, but isn’t that part of the fun? I got on my Dark Iron, in hopes to squeeze out a little extra XP to get to 110 for my heritage armor. (So far, 106. Not bad in the short time I’ve dedicated to her.) It granted 20k, which was a bit more than a single Legion quest and I received exploration XP. Not too bad.

I admit that I used my flying mount to cheese my way through it. At some point I joined a group, but they were moving at a turtle speed to the finish. (No seriously, they made everyone mount up on a turtle.) I quickly decided that this went far beyond my RP limit and left to hurry up with this event to see if the XP was worth my time. It may not have been, but it was an interesting break from the grind.

What this micro holiday did accomplish was showing how much detail the design team is capable of adding into anything. The fireworks every time that you cleared a gate. The tables with water for the “runners”. The road blocks and rows of gnomes cheering you on as if this were a serious marathon. It was cute. It was really really cute. (I wish I had time to stream myself completing the event, because it was hilariously fun.) As I described how cute it was to my husband, he said “well, maybe the guy in charge of that team should be leading the WoW Development team.” He’s a reformed WoW player, who gave up after the 1st raid of Legion due to raiding again turning him off of the game. I haven’t actively raided since defeating the Heroic Lich King and received both ICC achievement mounts. Things happened, completely turning me off of the hardcore raiding thing. I nearly quit the game, feeling it was ruined for me. I didn’t. I went back to a core of players that were genuinely fun to be around and who have also been reformed raiders.

He may be right. I love BFA, but I wondered if I could love it more. I love the Allied races, as someone who is a confirmed alt-aholic. I love the island expeditions, but I gave them up for the sake of alts. Because I love alts more. I do the warfronts and the quests because those are also fun, but my character has hit a point where aside from going back to raiding there is nothing really for me to do. I’m exalted with all the new factions. The only quest zone I found fun to level in on the Alliance side was Drustvar. I haven’t played Horde yet, (but I just may level my Nightborne all of the way to despite swearing not to touch 110 alts until flying) so I can’t say whether or not the Horde side had a better story. From what I saw in Beta though, the Horde side had a more cohesive and entertaining story. Though listening to Bwonsamdi every time I die is not something I want to experience again.

I’m not even sure what they could have done to improve the experience. The time-gating is lame, but I get why they do it. Could it be less annoying? Sure. But I’m happy with it since it gives me more time on alts. Maybe give a cooler story line for Stormsong, which was the most annoying zone for me. Maybe they could have also made getting turtle rep more worth it. The Jaina storyline was awesome, and Taelia’s was also pretty interesting. I can’t wait to see where that goes. But Stormsong was meh, at best. It could have been more interesting if it didn’t feel so disjointed. Drustvar was all about the witches. Every quest revolved around the Heartsbane. The story with House Waycrest was interesting and the instance that completed it was also well-designed. Tiragarde Sound was about fighting pirates and Lady Ashvane, as well as Jaina’s and Taelia’s story. But Stormsong? That was all about Tidesages who turned evil. And fighting the Horde. And fighting the Naga. And helping the turtles. It was like they had all of these things that they wanted to do and just tossed them together in Stormsong. It makes sense, in a way. They had to introduce the Queen Azshara story somehow. That was the main storyline of the zone, but I thought that gets lost in every other storyline they tossed in the zone.

With new content coming in the near future, maybe things will turn around. But for now, I still stand loyally by this game that has offered me way too many hours of entertainment.

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Do We Really Want WoW Vanilla Back?

I was at the grocery store recently and I noticed that they had Count Chocula in stores. (And Boo Berry… and Franken Berry…) I was excited to have a taste of my childhood, though I was always a bigger fan of Honey Nut Cheerios. Those other cereals were way too sweet for me and even today I tend to avoid overly sweet treats, since I feel so nauseated and lightheaded after eating them. Naturally, I bought them for nostalgia factor. I sat down while knitting and decided I wanted to try them to see if they were exactly how I remembered them. After a quick, small handful, I decided that they were exactly how I remembered them. Which was sad to me because they were completely disgusting to me now. I actually spit it out. The kids loved it. Maybe I had just outgrown this treat that became extinct in my childhood or built it up to be something better in my memories than it actually was.

I may have gotten into the World of Warcraft game late, but I did manage to get in before the game had any expansions. After trying a few characters, I settled on a Human Priest. I struggled through quests as a holy priest, making a lot of friends along the way because everyone loved a pocket healer that could actually heal. Eventually, I made it into a top guild on the server as a healer and got to experience the magic of end-game content at a competitive level. It was intense. The content was hard. I missed the “Opening of the Gates”, but I spent countless hours wiping on raids even clearing the original Naxx. I can reminisce with the sentiment of “I remember when content was really hard”. That’s not to say that the Burning Crusade content wasn’t difficult, but when compared to the original game it wasn’t really that bad.

As the game went on and after a couple of less than stellar expansions, people began lamenting for the “good ol’ days” of Vanilla. Vanilla servers popped up, giving people the ability to relive the time before the game was tarnished by “casuals”. These were short-lived as Blizzard quickly shut them down. Then Blizzard listened to the masses: they promised us Vanilla servers! The veterans of the game rejoiced, excited to relive the game. Everyone who played the original was excited to relive the glory days. New players were excited to see why people kept saying “I miss vanilla”.

But is this what we really want? We’ve grown from those days. I’m certainly not the same person I was 10 (::cough:: or so) years ago. Will I be as disappointed reliving this experience as I was when I took that bite of Count Chocula? Or will it be as natural and entertaining as it can be watching classic 90s cartoons like Rugrats? In about a month, we’ll find out. People who are at Blizzcon, or who purchased a digital ticket, get to try out the demo of WoW: Classic when Blizzcon starts. Yes, I will be streaming the experience. I’m afraid to go back because I don’t want my memories of the original game to be destroyed. But, what if it really is as good as I remember?

 

The Thing About Alts

The reason why I have a great time playing WoW is that I like the grind. I like leveling alts up. I don’t necessarily have the taste or desire to do anything really hardcore anymore. Time and real life responsibilities can get in the way of that anyways. I’m a very goal oriented person. I like setting goals and I get an incredible high off of completing them, in both real life goals and in games. That’s why I like doing challenges like NaNoWriMo. I like the challenge. I like being told that I can’t do it, only to not-so humbly shove it in their faces when I do. That’s just who I am.

The thing that is so great about alts is that you can relive an experience. Maybe when you speed through the levels to get maxed quickly, you don’t stop and experience the game. With alts, there’s no rush or pressure to get up there quickly. You can enjoy content anew. You can speed through areas you hate. The new system where you can choose where you want to level rather than being forced into one area is awesome. I never have to level in Burning Crusade ever again. If only I could get out of leveling in Warlords of Draenor, which is in my opinion the worst of the expansions to level in. Even if I do have flying, it’s still annoying. The instances are awful. The zones are well-designed but the whole place is boring with annoying quests. The only redeeming quality is the XP pots you can use to level quicker and the ability to use garrison missions to farm up XP for you. And that you can now farm herbs/mine to level up quicker. Which is why all of my toons now have mining/herbalism. Should they all get to level 120, I may end up rolling in the gold from the ore/herbs.

You can make the game into any experience that you want. I like Allied races because I like how I feel there’s this incredible story to them. Sure, I used to kill Dark Irons while leveling in Vanilla but now I can be a Dark Iron killing the same Vanilla Dark Irons. I can be a Nightborne, something I have been dying to be since first meeting the race in Suramar. I can be an Alliance character one day and the next see the other side of the story on the Horde. I don’t feed into this us vs. them mentality that a lot of players immerse themselves in when they play. (Much like I don’t feed into this in real life politics.) And I still have fun.

My first alt order of business, if you’ve been following my stream, is my Dark Iron. I was on my Nightborne, until the Dark Irons were able to be unlocked and now I’ll work on that until at least I get my heritage armor set. I’ll probably go back to the Nightborne to at least get my heritage armor for her. Then I’ll have to make a decision of which Horde character I need to start farming on so I can be ready for the Zandalari troll release because I need one of those in my life. I don’t want to go priest again. So my choices will end up being my BELF Pally, my Troll Furby/boomkin, or my Undead or Nightborne Mage. My instinct is one of the mages, but we’ll see when I get there. If you have any suggestions for me, let me know. Otherwise you can see me failing my way through WoW (and sometimes Overwatch) on my stream, which is linked on the sidebar.

Dark Irons, New Torb, and other Interesting Blizzard Gaming Topics

Even though I already have the coolest, the bluest, costume for Sombra in Overwatch, there is something even cooler about the Demon Hunter skin. It almost makes me want to willingly play Sombra to learn how to not suck at her. (Because really, not sucking at her would really be my best case scenario here). I should learn to play a DPS hero that isn’t a mediocre Junkrat style or easymode Soldier style, but I just can’t. I do much more DPS as D.va and I find it far more fun. All this rant is totally not the point.

Easily one of the biggest bits of information from Overwatch this week are the Bride of Junkenstein and the Torb changes. I’m not sure what Bride of Junkenstein is going to be but I have a feeling I’m going to love it. I think I live off of the Junekstein event when it goes live and I think between me and my boys, we could pretty much dominate. I do hope for some really cool new skins. Ana, Winston, and Moira are desperately hurting in the “Cool Skin” category, so I would love to see something that doesn’t suck for them. The Torb changes seem to drastically change who he is as a character, despite the fact that they didn’t want to fundamentally change who he was as a character. I’ll be streaming a bit from the PTR before I get into WoW stream today, especially since I want to see the Orisa changes as a partial Orisa main. Torb, as you probably know by now, can now shoot lava out during his Molten Core. According to Reddit, you can even get more out of it if you shoot it up in the air first but I have a feeling that this is going to be fixed soon.

In the Overwatch League, Danteh has unsurprising joined the Outlaws. They needed a strong Tracer/Sombra/Genji and he certainly fills that role. That lets Jakerat go back to what he’s good at and makes it so they have a better shot in Season 2. Ark, one of the most personable supports in the entire league, was rumored to be looking for a new home. If he is, I would strongly suggest heading to Boston. That would be awesome, as a huge Boston fan. There still hasn’t been too many announcements about the final rosters for teams yet, but I predict we are going to be slammed with all the exciting news soon enough.

Lastly, Dark Irons. Sometimes in WoW, you get a new race and you’re super excited about it only to be let down. The Highmountain Tauren: nope. Nightborne: a little disappointing so far, but I’m only level 30ish (coming from someone who has wanted to play  one since the Suramar quests opened up for me). Void Elf: Love. Lightforged: Kinda love. The Dark Irons, I wasn’t so sold on. Mostly because I never played a Dwarf race because I never wanted to. The voices are annoying.. and I want characters that look cool. They definitely don’t look cool. But then I found out that Dark Irons had a Mole Machine. A MOLE MACHINE! Yeah, that needed to happen. No regrets, I hit 60 over the weekend and today on stream, I will bore everyone by searching for all of the mole machines I can. They are fun. They are cool looking. And their home is in a freaking volcano. With elemental changes coming in the next patch, I may not even totally hate playing it. I highly recommend them to anyone who wants a cool new option.

This was just my brief overview of interesting topics from this past week in gaming. Don’t forget to check out my stream and my YouTube channel for past streams. Links are on the side.

Pay to Win Gaming and Why It Ultimately Fails

This isn’t a conversation on games like World of Warcraft, which has proven that people are willing to subscribe to a game to play it if the game remains interesting enough. What this is a conversation about is whether or not games that require you to pay real money to play will win in the long run. These mobile/online games seem to follow a tactic similar to ones done by Magic. You can buy packs and packs of cards hoping for some incredible, unbeatable card or end up going online to buy a rare card that will tilt the game to your scales. The difference is a game like Magic has some staying power. People still play it. People even play Hearthstone and put money into it to win. I’m also not talking about these games.

I use an app called InboxDollars, where you do surveys and other things to get real money in your spare time. One day, I get this: “Play Final Fantasy: A New Empire to earn money”. I bite. It’s a free game and I could bank like $15 so why not. So I do. And I did. The game was interesting enough. Then I got attacked for the first time. No big deal. Rebuilt, refusing to spend money on pixels as I often do. (I won’t even buy that really cool mount on the Blizz store for WoW because of this refusal. If I win the lotto, maybe I’d consider it.) Joined a guild, then another guild. Then another guild. It seemed stable until the a bigger guild declared war on us until we decided to join them. We did. It’s just a game and I still refuse to spend money.

Then the top guild in the realm (NIC3) decided to just start ransacking everything. Which is fine, it’s a war game, only the problem is the idea of Pay-to-Win. A game that touts itself a “war game” kind of accomplishes that. The group with the most amount of disposable income and time on their hands is going to win. The problem with that is this: people in my guild have decided to leave the game. Other people will probably follow. I may stick it out because now I have a journalistic curiosity about how this is going to play out. What happens when this guild that probably spent thousands of dollars on a game so far gets everyone to stop playing? They will end up turning on each other and start outspending each other, until there is 1 lone person standing. There may be a surge of money for the time being, but is this a sustainable business model?

Probably not. I say that because how long do games like this actually stick around? If they were willing to pay people to start playing this game, the answer is probably “not much longer”. People get bored very quickly and even more quickly if they don’t have a fair shot. That may be why people are more willing to spend money on Overwatch loot boxes than they are other things. These are cosmetic items that look cool, but you gain no advantage in playing except for “wow, cool skin bruh.” That is exactly why these games don’t last and will eventually fizzle out.

Let the Grind Begin

Now that Overwatch League is over, I can adjust my focus to the other game that drives my life: World of Warcraft. (Though next week, I’ll take a look at all of the latest on OWL releases and free agency with a special focus on my team the Boston Uprising.) This week I can begin streaming again after the holiday, now that my face doesn’t feel like it’s on fire. For added enjoyment, I can let people watch me fail through Overwatch competitive placements prior to WoW’ing. I think I can handle the trolls now. Maybe, until a troll makes me cry. It could happen.

I hit 120 in only a few days. I would have been quicker had it not been for life, namely emergency surgical tooth extraction. But I did it quick enough that the grind began. My first goal: getting the Pathfinder part 1 achievement. I want the faster mount speed and to get my flying mount as soon as possible so that I can start the alt grinds. It’s more efficient that way. (Though this week on the stream, I will be doing a lot of Nightborne leveling. I really want to be a Nightborne.) I also want to farm up 7th Legion rep so that I can unlock the Dark Irons. This is probably the only Dwarf race that I actually want to play. They just just much cooler than the Dwarves of Ironforge.

The problem is that the grind for Champions of Azeroth and Tortollan Seekers (aka: Turtle Rep) seems to be a more difficult grind. Sure, they offer more rep per quest, but they are much fewer of them. Even with human rep increase racial, you can only do so much when only 2 or 3 of these quests are up at a time. I know that they don’t want people to just breeze through these, but it’s almost as annoying of a grind as fishing is. Still, you kind of need to power through it anyways because these two reps are essential parts of the Pathfinder quest.

There is also the mythic grind, getting as geared as possible for when the first raid is released tomorrow. The gear grind is real, especially when RNG hates you as much as it hates me. That’s really all WoW is: one big grind. You grind for rare mounts, rare pets, achievements, gear, alts. But we always do it because that’s what we do. I actually love the grind, but I also figure out the best ways to manipulate the system to maximize results. For instance, when my characters hit Legion I wouldn’t do anything with them except farm Legion invasions. You saw this from my streams, if you watched. That way characters would get rested XP for a faster leveling grind. It’s all about knowing the most effective way to grind what you want.

Tomorrow also comes the release of Warfronts, which I loved more than I do Island Expeditions. (Which I walked away with the Surf Jelly mount and a pet from completing.) These are great additions that I wish came sooner, but came before I lost total interest in the game. Not that I have ever lost total interest in the game. It will be interesting to see the changes that they made to warfronts on live and if there will be even more incentive to farm them other than the weekly and the world boss.

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.