Give Me My Zandalari

I’ve been patient. Since the Zandalari trolls have been introduced as an upcoming race in the then yet-to be expansion Battle for Azeroth, I have been dying to make one. This need only got worse when I saw the boom chicken form that resembled the Arrokoa from Warlords of Draenor, which I wished could become a playable race. Maybe it was those endless hours I’ve spent wiping in ZG. I don’t know. Whatever it was, I needed this in my life.

It was like a promise that will never seem to come. I know it will, but the wait feels like forever. I bought the Battle for Azeroth expansion as soon as pre-orders happened because then you could play the allied races. Except the ones that you really wanted. (Though to be honest I really really wanted to play a Nightborne, as I’ve mentioned so many times before.) What I wanted was the Zandalari and the Dark Iron. Then the next set of allied races came out. Nope. No Zandalari. I did get a really awesome Dark Iron though. She was awesome.

I know I could play the Zandalari on the PTR right now, but what’s the point? It will hopefully be live soon. I worry that I’ll make this race out to be cooler than it actually is, like my longtime obsession with the Pandaren. But they look so cool. Like more awesome looking Trolls. I want to look like the Princess, I think. I don’t know. We’ll see what my options are.

I don’t care if I’m in the minority of most people that I talk to about the game. I enjoy the allied races. I like having options outside of the standard choices. I especially love going through their storylines. My favorite stories have to be the Mag’har, Dark Iron, and Lightforged. In that order. I especially liked the overlap between the Mag’har and the Lightforged. I hope that the Zandalari have cool story that is worthy of their awesome race. I hope that the Kul Tiras have an interesting storyline, but I’m not holding my breath for that. It may be as lackluster as the Highmountain Tauren. I say, keep the allied races coming.

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Will This Patch Bring BFA Back to Life?

Tides of Vengeance Part 2 is coming out tomorrow. While a casual like me probably won’t get into a raid until LFR opens up later on (especially since Uldir was boring to me so I only did the first wing before saying “nah”), there are some exciting changes that I can’t wait for. For instance, being one step closer to the Zandalari troll that I so desperately want. This also brings me closer to earning flying in the expansion, something I desperately need to start leveling up those pesky high level alts. Yes, I’m addicted to alts. They are fun and I enjoy the grind more than I ever enjoyed raiding.

BFA does seem like a dead spot. It started off strong with an interesting story, but because of inconveniences and the coolness of new features like island expeditions wear off, it seemed to fizzle out. I liked the story, but there are so many unanswered questions. Will Sylvanas be locked away when Saurfang and the Alliance finally beat her? Will she join forces with Queen Azshara to continually plan out Azeroth’s demise? Will the resurrected Calia Menethil take rightful command over the Forsaken and Lordaeron? It could be interesting to see where these still open story lines go, but they need to make sure the game stays interesting enough for people to stick around for the answers.

This new patch, being touted as “Season 2” seems exciting but it seems like a much needed attempt to bringing this game back to life. This expansion did fizzle and while the Night Warrior new design and story was interesting enough, it was quick and over with. Then you were just left to farm Darkshore for new items that you’ll probably never get. The final question remains then: Will this patch be the one to bring Battle for Azeroth back to life?

Does “Tides of Vengeance” Do Enough?

There may be some storyline spoilers. You have been warned.

I’m in the minority. I actually enjoy Battle for Azeroth. I like the prequel novel and the other stories that have set the stage for the new expansion, making me excited to see how the story goes. Does Sylvanas win? Will Saurfang take control of the Horde? Will Zappyboi end up as the new warchief? (Let’s be honest, they’ve done crazier things with the storyline so why not continue to fulfill everyone’s love for some random character in a cinematic who then becomes one of the heroes of the expansion?) Will we see (spoiler alert) a holy undead Calia reunited with her daughter? (Ok, so this may not have been confirmed officially yet.. but this is probably the case.) There is still so much story left to tell. This may not be my favorite expansion, but it is far from my least favorite. (Anyone who watches my stream knows just how much I complain about leveling in Warlords of Draenor.)

“Tides of Vengeance” is the first real big patch we have seen for Battle for Azeroth. It promised excitement. Some went in hesitant, since they felt so disappointed with the new expansion. Due to a busy schedule that tends to come around holiday season, I haven’t played too much of it to be a good judge. I really want to check out the new island expeditions, which I probably will check out later. But I did experience enough to say that I’m still pleased with the expansion. I’m someone who likes the grind. In fact, I suspect most people who played at a hardcore level back in Vanilla were originally hooked because of the grind. It was work. Yes, I had to grind up Zandalari Empire rep if I wanted to play that Zandalari troll I have only been talking about forever. Yes, I did that even after the gruesome grind to get my Dark Iron (which I immediately leveled up to 110.) To me, there are 1000 things to do. I have mounts I still need from this expansion and others. I have toons that still need their class mounts. I have things I can do to keep me occupied. Plus, you need that sub for WoW Classic anyways.

I liked the Battle for Darkshore. I liked the Alliance scenario with the Night Warrior transformation Tyrande went through. First of all, I applaud this expansion for finally bringing back Badass Jaina and Tyrande instead of the whinier versions in the last couple of expansions. (“Oooh my beloved. Where are youuu….?!”) I think this does exactly what people wanted: Take a group of people, who were once believed to be peaceful pacifists, commit mass genocide against them and show why everyone feared them to begin with. The Humans aren’t going to be the heroes of the Alliance in this expansion. The Little Lion King won’t lead them to victory; the vengeance in Tyrande’s and Malfurion’s hearts will. Plus, my Night Elf gets this really beautiful appearance as seen in the featured image. (Isn’t it great though?) I like the invasions because they offer a quick way to get gear for alts and people like me who haven’t spent a lot of time in raids. I like this patch.

I’m torn about what I’m most excited about as this expansion comes to a close. At first before I even saw the stunning images of the “Tides of Vengeance”, I was most excited about Calia potentially facing off against Sylvanas and becoming the new leader of the Forsaken. (Stranger things have happened.) Then I wanted to see her go the way of Garrosh, with Saurfang becoming the leader of the Horde. Now, I want to watch Tyrande as she makes the world burn in starfire while she avenges her people and her home.

Did “Tides of Vengeance” do enough? There’s still more left to go, but I’m personally very pleased with it. It might not fix all of the problems that people have had but I think it makes up for a lot of that. There’s still more patches to go and this game is always evolving. That’s why we still play it though.

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.

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.

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.