..and a new era begins

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Feb 192015

Blizzard Watch logo

So…interesting things are afoot… While I was in Germany, I got invited to help start this Blizzard Watch thing that you may have heard of. :) It’s pretty amazing, actually – I think we’re close to being the largest Patreon campaign ever. I don’t think there’s an official list anywhere, but the most I saw was about $15k/month for a couple of podcasts, and we’re close to that now. (Actually, Alex and Adam have done it all. I just do REALLY GOOD unsolicited advice. I swear.)

Anyway, druid stuff! You can see the first re-started Shifting Perspectives column on Blizzard Watch here! I didn’t do it for the first one, but going forward, I’ll likely be linking to each column here as it goes up, along with some additional material that may or may not be interesting. For the time being, it’s going to be pretty light on feral because I have to cover all four specs, but that may change in the future.

I will also be doing Hearthstone content for Blizzard Watch. My first column, on deckbuilding for new players, can be seen here. At the moment, I’m not sure how much Hearthstone content the site will have going forward, so if you want to read more of my HS stuff, let the editors know. :)

 Posted by at 5:55 pm

WoD Launch-Day Resources!

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Nov 122014

WoD logoIt’s here it’s here it’s finally HEERREEEE!

There’s a ton of resources out there, so rather then write a mammoth wall-o-text, I’m going to make this as short as possible while linking all over the place so you can get as in-depth as you want.

Feral Druid Things

1. Ger the Glyph of Travel as soon as you can find it on the AH, it makes getting around so much easier. Ditto Glyph of Savagery.

2. As soon as you get the Rake perk, you’ll want to open with that from stealth, instead of Shred. Of course, if you’re in ubergear, you can skip the stealth part altogether and just demolish things, but that goes away as you level.

3. Spec SOTF for leveling, but use Incarnation for dungeons. It’s a surprisingly good talent. Force of Nature is unsurprisingly terrible.


Pawkets’ guide for level 100 with new WoD discussion thread.

Leveling Quickly

1. Stack some combination of Isle of Thunder/Shado-Pan/Klaxxi/Timeless Isle quests. Log in at Isle, port to Shado-Pan, hearth or fly to Klaxxi, trinket port to Timeless Isle, guild cloak port to SW, Mage tower port to Blasted Lands. If starting at 12AM, may want to only save 20-22, start questing immediately, and hearth out/back once you get garrison port.

2. Consumable up – might as well use them. Food, flask, DPS potions for rares/overpulls, etc. If going all-out, get speed (Darkwater) potions, slowfall potions for shortcuts, gems to gem gear as you get it, etc. Cracked Talisman is also very useful.

3. Buy all 3 guild battle standards. They buff XP gain from monsters and treasures by 15%/10%/5%. 10 minute CD per banner, so you should be able to drop one for most treasures you find.

4. Or, if you want, totally ignore everything in this section and level at your own speed! That’s perfectly cool too!


Leveling Preparation Guide. Skullflower’s Guide is excellent. If you only read one thing, read this.

Horde Speed-Leveling Guide. Step-by-step questing, Hordeside.

Alliance Speed-Leveling Guide.Step-by-step video quests and treasures. Recommends spending garrison resources on XP potions, which I wouldn’t recommend.

Waypoints to all WoD treasure chests. Treasures are very prevalent in WoD – there are 20-40 in each zone. They are like Timeless Isle treasures; they’re phased so everyone can pick them up (once). Treasures give slightly less XP then completing a quest.

Professions and Garrisons

1. You’re steered to your Garrison immediately after finishing the introductory Tanaan quests. Once you finish the intro garrison quests, you’ll have a L1 Garrison with an open small plot and a Barracks-filled large plot. After finishing the intro zone (Shadowmoon/Frostfire), you’ll unlock a L2 Garrison, which opens an extra small and medium plot. L3 isn’t available until 100 and adds an additional plot of each size, for a final total of 3 small, two medium, and two large. You’ll also pick up some extra buildings along the way that everyone gets: the mine, the herb garden, the fishing shack, and the pet menagerie.

2. Gathering professions are largely unaffected by Garrisons. Gathering is super easy in Draenor as you can gather from any node (or skin) regardless of skill, you’ll just get less from it.

3. Small building are mainly for crafting. Each crafting profession has an accompanying small building that can build most (not all) of  Each profession also has a Unique Resource (I’ll use engineering’s, Gearspring Parts, as an example) that must be generated in order to build most of the new cool things.  Stay with me here, this gets a little complicated.

  • If you have BOTH the crafting building and matching profession, you can get 16 of your Unique Crafting Resource per day; 10 from the profession, 6 from the building.
  • If you have the profession, but not the building, things are mostly the same. You only get 10 Resources per day, and you have to go to Ashran instead of your garrison to learn new recipes, but that’s it.
  • If you have just the building, you can do some things with the building, but it’s limited. You’ll only get 6 Resources per day and can spend the Resources for the base-level crafts, but won’t be able to buy the upgrades or unique items.

Other than the crafting buildings, there’s also the Storehouse for extra work orders and garrison bank access (meh) and the Salvage Yard for extra rewards from follower missions.

4. Medium buildings give you stuff. The Barn gives Savage Blood (needed for ALL epic crafts), the Inn gives you daily dungeon quests and more followers, the Lumber Mill lets you harvest Timber which turns into extra Garrison Resources, and the Trading Post lets you trade reagents for Garrison Resources (or vice versa). There’s also a PvP building in there for some reason.

5. Large buildings offer buffs. You start with a Barracks for free, which buffs your followers and lets you make certain followers bodyguards, who fight with you in the wild. There’s also the Bunker, which buffs quest rewards, can upgrade followers, and gives you free bonus rolls; the Stables, which increases mount speed and prevents being dazed; the Mage Tower, which lets you port around Draenor; and the Gearworks, which gives you a different fun toy/special ability to use every day.

6. My picks: I’ve changed my mind around a few times, but I’ve finally settled on these starting choices for my main, who is Alch/Engi.

  • Small: Salvage Yard, Enchanting, Inscription. I like the follower minigame, so Salvage Yard is a must-take. I’m not building the Alchemy building because the Alch unique resource is only used for making a trinket and super-flasks; my profession should generate more than enough mats for that. I’m swapping in the Enchanter’s building so I can disenchant quest greens. Inscription over Engineering is a tough choice; I will likely start with Inscription just to generate cards for a Darkmoon trinket, then switch it to Engineering later.
  • Medium: Trading Post, Inn. Not a PvPer, so the PvP building is out (should’ve been a building that everyone gets, really). I went back and forth on Lumber Mill or Trading Post for a long time; both will generate you Garrison Resources, but Trading Post is ultimately more flexible and doesn’t require you to go harvesting. Finally, Inn wins over the Barn because I’ll be running a lot of dungeons at 100, though my alt will have a Barn to sell the Bloods.
  • Large: Barracks, Bunker. Glyph of Travel means I’m not too concerned with the Stables, I think Engineering will give me enough toys to get around fast that I don’t need the Mage Tower, and the Gearworks looks more like a “fun for alts” thing than anything else.


A garrison infographic by Ask Mr. Robot.

Grumpyelf’s collected Professions posts. LOTS of info in here.

A garrison addon.

Things to do at 100

1. Gear up! Questing should’ve gotten you up to around item level 610. Heroic dungeons drop ilevel 630 gear, and CM dungeons drop ilvl 640.

2. Start farming Apexis Crystals. These primarily come from a daily quest in your garrison. You need ~5000 Crystals as part of the legendary questline, and lots more can be used for gear.


A guide to gearing up at 100 by Wowhead.

Legendary quest guide by Wowhead.

Copy/Paste dungeon boss strats by Two Wow Chicks.

 Posted by at 2:30 pm

The BradyGames WoW: Warlords of Draenor Strategy Guide Announcement and Giveaway!

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Nov 062014

WoD WarlordsThe NDA has finally lifted, and I can finally announce the big writing project that I’ve been working on – the Druid section of the official World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Signature Series Strategy Guide!

It’s been an incredible journey. I started this blog way back in July 2009 while serving in Korea, with my initial posts getting single-digit views (Thanks, Mom). Now, five years and three continents later, I’m a published author. I still can’t believe that people are actually giving me money to write things.

It wasn’t just me, though! Many of the old WoW Insider crew got recruited to turn this thing out, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them. Go follow them all on Twitter and give kudos. (Except for Bendak, tell him to stop stealing the feral gear.)

  • Death Knight: Magdalena (@MagdalenaDK), who blogs at Magdalena’s Musings and blows me away with the things he pulls off, all the time.
  • Hunter: Bendak (@BendakWoW), who blogs at Eyes of the Beast and keeps trying to tame me, despite repeated growls.
  • Mage: The incredibly awesome Vidyala (@_Vidyala), my guild leader, fellow hunter insulter, and good friend. Blogs at Manalicious and draws the webcomic From Draenor with Love.
  • Monk: Chaithi (@WoWMonk), who runs the video podcast Monk Meditation. (Hopefully he can tear himself away from Pandaria’s sweet brews.)
  • Paladin: WoW’s best tank (in his own mind), Rhidach (@Rhidach)  who blogs at Righteous Defense.
  • Priest: The man! The myth! The Matticus! (@matticus) Blogs at World of Matticus, naturally. Is cooler than I will ever be.
  • Rogue: The always-stylish Rfeann (@Sveltekumquat), who blogs at the Red-Hatted Rogue and co-founder of the definitive rogue resource, Ravenholdt.net.
  • Warlock: Poneria (@_poneria) of Fel Concentration. My comrade-in-arms at telling people “You’re doing Simulationcraft WRONG.”
  • Shaman: Binkenstein (@Binkenstein) of Totemspot, who has a better spreadsheet than you. Don’t even try.
  • Warrior: Rossi. (@MatthewWRossi) Just Rossi. He’s achieved single-name status. Has forgotten more things then I will ever learn. Go buy his book if you want your mind blown.
  • Editor, Whip-Cracker, and Generally Awesome Lady: The Stickney! (@Shadesogrey) Damn, I forgot to include “slayer of internet dragons” in the title. Senior editor over at WoW Insider.

Of course, I can’t forget Ken and the other people at BradyGames, who run a great outfit. Last, and most critically, huge thanks to Arielle, Hamlet, and Cyous for helping me nail down some things about Druid non-feral specs, even when I couldn’t tell them why I was asking, and Pawkets/Tinderhoof for helping with feral.

The Giveaway!

WoD Guide CoverOk, enough acknowledgements. I’m generally didn’t consider myself much of a strategy guide person, but this thing is massive. I’m talking 300+ pages of solid info. If you’re like me and forget how to play your alts after a while, this is a great resource for getting you back up to speed quickly. It’s also a great gift for someone who’s just getting started with the game. I would say more, but the thing isn’t actually published yet, so I can’t. :)

Long story short:  I have an extra copy of the guide (a $24.99 value), thanks to BradyGames, and I’d like to give it to one of you. Just enter below. Please note that only US residents are eligible (sorry, EU-friends), you must be over 18, and you must have a valid shipping address (no PO Boxes). Full T&C’s are in the giveaway app. Best of luck!

(EDIT: Aus/NZ residents now have a chance  to win one as well, thanks to Binkenstein! Go here for more details.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Posted by at 8:08 am

What I’m playing/writing, mid-September edition

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Sep 172014

The massive writing project is done, which means I can get to other important things, like farming Shaohao rep. (Kidding. I think. The Timeless Isle is growing on me.) I can’t talk more about said project because it is currently under NDA, but I will share at the right time. In the meantime, the other stuff I’m doing:

World of Warcraft

WoW is just..comfortable, right now. There’s good discussion to be had as to whether it’s actually “fun” or just psychologically soothing, but I’ve enjoyed making lists of all the things I haven’t done yet in Pandaria and trying to do them before 6.0. Currently:

  • Brawler’s Guild: Finally beat Hexos. 3 tips for that fight: 1) Raid mark yourself and steer the mark through the maze. 2) Use a mouselook macro (like this) to avoid having to hold down a mouse button. 3) If you have crappy WiFi, buy a powerline Ethernet kit, the fight is REALLY susceptible to latency. *cough* All of the other Rank 8 bosses were extremely easy in comparison, so just need to finish Rank 9, the specials, and a few card bosses. I hate waiting between tries, though, so I keep leaving when a queue forms.
  • Proving Grounds: I’m waiting to start on this until I finish Brawler’s Guild; I feel it’s something that’ll take me some undivided attention for a couple days to get Endless 30/Doing it Wrong. Will probably write up a post on this.
  • Pet Battles: Not much to do after completing the Celestial Tournament, so just doing a few dailies when I find them nearby whatever I’m currently doing. I’ve got enough good pets now that I can beat any fight with 2-pets, which makes it easy to level a 3rd.
  • Reputations: Never did Anglers rep, so doing dailies for that. The shark-punching daily is somewhat bugged in that self-heals will heal the shark…so you have to drop Ysera’s Gift to finish it. Also doing Pagle rep.
  • Raids: I keep meaning to look for a flex SoO run on oQueue/OpenRaid, but never get around to it. Maybe this weekend.
  • Timeless Isle: Shaohao rep! Not really looking to max this one, just want to get to Honored to get the teleport here for later. I love being an Engineer here; between Goblin Glider and Nitro Boosts, I’m successfully making it to a lot of rares for the tag. Oh, and the GetRare addon (or RareCoordinator, or what have you) is quite helpful.

For the site, I have a whole series of articles planned. I’ll have 6.0 guides up for all specs (abbreviated ones for non-ferals); a WoD gear list; a look at some of the new raid logging/analysis tools out there; an addon roundup; lots of fun stuff. Happy to take requests/feedback.


Not much to say here; log on, do daily quests, log out. Primarily playing a super aggro-Rogue deck to win fast or lose fast.

Other Games

Want to get back to Reaper of Souls and Kingdom of Amalur, but on the backburner for now. Amazing how an expansion date can remind you of the things you haven’t done yet. :)


 Posted by at 1:06 pm

On Gamergate, echo chambers, and toxic discourse

 Feral, Misc  Comments Off on On Gamergate, echo chambers, and toxic discourse
Sep 082014

George_McGovern2About 40 years ago, there was a presidential election. It wasn’t much of a contest; on one side was a popular incumbent who had just signed peace agreements with two other major world powers, while the other had a candidate who barely scraped through his primary. Following the primary, the upstart challenger continued to make several political missteps, dumped his VP candidate for health reasons three days after stating that “he backed him 1000 percent,” and was widely perceived as a lock to lose heavily.

There was no Cinderella story; the challenger did indeed lose the vote by 23 percentage points. That’s not the interesting part. Here’s what is: after the election results were announced, a prominent journalist who supported the challenger was quoted as saying “How could he lose? Everyone I know voted for him!”

The year was 1972; the incumbent was President Richard Nixon, the challenger (pictured here) was George McGovern, and the quote, though more of a paraphrase, is completely real.

(“Alaron, what does an old white guy have to do with an Internet scandal in 2014?” “Shh, I’m expositing.”)


…it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. -Macbeth, Act V, Scene V

In case you’ve (wisely) been ignoring the whole thing, the entire gaming world has been rocked by controversy over…dudes behaving badly. Okay, it’s more than that, but that’s basically what’s been going on. Dudes sexually harassing a female game developer after her ex-boyfriend accuses her of sleeping with game journalists for favorable press. Other dudes sexually harassing a female media critic after she posted a video on Youtube criticizing how women are portrayed in games. Another group of dudes calling in bomb threats to ground a plane because the president of SOE was onboard, and temporarily shutting down PSN, Xbox Live, and Battle.net just because. Someone else, probably a dude, calling in SWAT to raid the house of a popular Youtube streamer.

This has led to counter-dude. Numerous online sites have written tons of editorials criticizing the vicious misogyny and general boorish behavior being shown my those self-identifying as gamers. Several sites took it a step further, however, declaring an “end to gamers,” such as with these editorials on Gamasutra and Ars Technica.

Naturally, the dudes didn’t take this calmly, declaring this wasn’t about misogyny, this was an issue of journalistic ethics and corruption! A guy by the name of InternetArchitect made a few youtube videos making this point, actor Adam Baldwin tweeted out the videos along with the hashtag #Gamergate, and that’s when the Internet exploded.

Dueling Narratives

Here’s the thing. In a lot of these cases, the Gamergate folk have somewhat of a point. (Not the hackers and the SWATters, though, those guys are just assholes.) There’s a legitimate discussion that could be had over whether games journalists are too close to game developers to report ohjectively. Lord knows there’s plenty of examples of game developers crossing the line; from cutting back advertising after receiving a poor review, to a writer being fired for giving a poor review to a title that had prime advertising space; to the 2012 Games Media Awards, where journalists were given free PS3’s, among other things (and subsequent firing of the person who wrote that critical article).

Unfortunately, though, the argument never gets made like that. Gamergate supporters like to complain about a giant “conspiracy.”


The reason many websites have turned off comments, deleted/blocked threads, etc. is not to be gleefully conspiratorial; it’s because the discourse is 80% toxic misogyny. It’s like that Tide commercial; if you have a big stain on your shirt when you get up to speak at the big company presentation, nobody’s going to listen to you, they’re going to sit there and think “Man, if this dude can’t even dress professionally, why should I take his words seriously?”

I’d like to dig a little deeper, though. I think there’s an indictment of our culture to be made here. When insults are your normal discourse, you don’t know what’s professional speech and what’s not, and you don’t know how to have a civilized debate.

Modern Tribalism

Look. I’m in the Army. The attitude, language, and threats that you see people spew online is nothing compared to your average military barracks bay. We (gently) abuse people during basic training deliberately in order to build up a sense of brotherhood. (Or, alternatively, to gauge their level of bullshit tolerance prior to giving them things that go bang bang.) I’m not too far removed from going through a version of that myself, and I see it in my soldiers every day.

What these guys do know, however, is their audience. They give each other shit all the time, but when an officer comes by? “Good evening, sir. What are we talking about? Um, some strategies for doing better at Call of Duty, sir. Roger, sir, we’ll keep it down. Have a good night, sir.” …officer walks away… “Dammit Jones you fu*king faggot you TK’ed me again!” “Haha, pwned you bitch just like I did your mom last week.”

This is not a new thing. I’m sure Roman soldiers pretended their hasta were dicks and poked each other with them too when their superiors weren’t around. They grew up, became those superiors, and similarly got frustrated at their new soldiers who were now pretending their new pila were dicks.

What has changed, however, is the Internet, and how it has connected and divided us at the same time.


That journalist I cited in the introduction lived in an early “echo chamber.” Everyone she interacted with had similar opinions and beliefs, so the opinions and beliefs that diverged from the group consensus were automatically rejected.

What the Internet has done, however, is to narrowly cleave groups into thousands or millions of these chambers. Reddit is the perfect example of this. Fan of something? There’s a discussion group dedicated to it! Others exist that have the same tastes you do! There’s never any reason to go anywhere else!

Unfortunately, living in an echo chamber gives you no skills to respond effectively when something challenges those views. Instead, you respond as the group does; harassing the outsider until they go away, and coming up with crazy stories to justify why those outsiders’ views are wrong. Combine that learned behavior with the assumed anonymity of the Internet and you have the perfect recipe for jackassery.

Is there an easy solution? I don’t think so. We’re conditioned to think in terms of fast, instinctive decisions, which games only accentuate. Friend! Enemy! Fight! Run! Somehow, “well, both sides have valid points, let’s talk this through and find consensus” doesn’t enter the gamer consciousness very often.

Kill ’em with Kindness

I’m not going to propose some bullshit Synthesis ending here that wraps everything up neatly; if there was an easy solution, it would’ve been done already. (Seriously, ME3, come on.)

Most of you are familiar with John Gabriel (Penny Arcade) and his Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. According to the GIFT, it takes 3 A’s: average person + anonymity + audience = fuckwad.

He’s right, but there’s one term missing: acceptance. Fuckwads act like fuckwads because they get away with it. Want to curb the behavior? Start checking it at every turn.

Now, this doesn’t mean stooping to their level and throwing insults; that’s what they’re used to, and that just confirms that this kind of discourse is effective. (That’s partly why this thing is such a ugly mess, because some of the people criticizing the misogynists for their language are condemning them with their own language. Pot, meet kettle?) Instead, find the lever. It might take some work to do, but it’s always there.

Let me share a quick story. I was putting together a public 25-man raid for Onyxia, back in 2009, when she had just been re-designed and was current content. As was my luck, I got one of those; a decked-out raider who insisted on repeatedly wiping the group by feigning death in the egg piles. Other members of the group started berating him, and he laughed at us, calling us “noobs and casuals.” Did I rage at him? No. I found a lever.

I tabbed out to wow-progress, looked up his guild, and found his guild master’s name. Tabbed back and whispered him “Hey, I know XXX, the leader of <Your Guild>. I’ve been logging your actions and chat, and I’ve got it all typed up to send his way. Want me to send it?” Instantly, he shut up, apologized in /raid, apologized privately to me in a reply, begged me not to tell his guild, and dropped group.

Is that going to work every time? Of course not. Sadly, sometimes you can’t reach the lever, or it’s broken. Sometimes it’s a lot of work to find it. Sometimes the only thing you can do is leave and come back another day, because the griefers own the whole map. Do it. Remember, games are supposed to be fun. Stand up to the boors if you can do so lovingly; otherwise withdraw peacefully. Either way, make the point that you won’t tolerate that kind of behavior around you.

And with that, I’m done with ranting about social issues. Anyone up for a game?

 Posted by at 11:54 am

Blog SET posts keep-alive

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Jun 052014

Still around and kicking. Without going into too much detail, I’ve been selected for a new position in a different location that requires working with sensitive material. As such, I’ve been keeping things quiet until I get established at my new assignment and get the lay of the land. Don’t think anyone’s’ missed much, since as far as I can tell, WoW’s exactly the same as when I left it.  (I’ll quote Azuriel here and express incredulity that 7 million people are still playing a game that hasn’t seen any content updates since September.)


 Posted by at 4:43 pm

I’m fine

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Apr 032014

Shortpost to let those who’ve asked know that I’m fine. I was about 1/4 mile away from where the shooting went down; the alert sounded, we locked the doors, sat down and watched the news like everyone else. Didn’t know the guy or anyone involved.

 Posted by at 10:16 am

This cat has plenty of lives

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Dec 272013

Hearthstone LogoHi, all! For today’s post, I’d…
Hey yourself, brain. I was talking to my readers…
Readers? Pfft. You’re still alive?
Yes, little voice, I’m still alive.
Are you sure?
Yes! No. Maybe? That’s way more metaphysical than I was aiming for with this little intro.
Sorry. Maybe you should explain where you’ve been for the past three months?
Sigh. Fine, little voice, I’ll do that.

The spiral of sadness

Over the past year, my wife’s condition has deteriorated markedly. (I’ll spare you the details; let’s just say I wasn’t prepared to deal with wheelchairs and daily nurse visits at 30.)  In retrospect, I went through the classic stages of grief, starting a year ago with denial. Intellectually, I could see how things were getting bad, but I just pretended they weren’t happening. I signed up for raids all the time, was working on collecting every pet, alted it up. Then, boom. After a few ugly fights, I realized my wife’s condition wasn’t going to get better, and I had to start adjusting to the new reality. I did…but I got mad about it. It wasn’t “fair” that I had to stop raiding, it wasn’t “fair” that I had to take over all the household chores, etc.

Then I started my new job, with a much more…direct…boss. Stress level went to 11 and available free time went to 0. I skipped the bargaining stage and went straight to depression. Depression manifests differently in different people, but to me, it was totally withdrawing from interactions. I retreated to my Steam library of single-player games and stopped posting, stopped Tweeting, hell, even stopped talking to real-life friends. Sleep–Work-Eat-Sleep-Repeat. I stopped playing WoW entirely; I never even finished Siege of Orgrimmar on any difficulty. I considered coming back to write things at some point, maybe some post-Blizzcon thoughts…but what was the point, really? Everyone writes better than I do, so why bother? The more depressed I got, the worse I felt my writing was, which depressed me more, and CYCLE.

So ends the year.

Thankfully, there’s a new one coming up. I’ll save the walls of exposition and just say that I’ve gotten through most of the black clouds, accepted the situation as it is, and am ready to get back to participating in my Internet-life again. :)

Moving on

I likely won’t be writing about WoW for a while. Let’s be honest – if you don’t have an active guild/community to participate in, the parts of WoW that are left are not all that entertaining. Questing is far too easy, crafting is pointless, and gearing up is irrelevant. About the only reason for me to keep pushing was Brawler’s Guild, and I got frustrated with the wait times for those. I’m staying openminded about the new expansion, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’ll be more of the same. Of course, the forums will stay open, so the people who really know what they’re doing can chat, and I’ll update the beginner guides for WoD when that comes out.  

I have, however, been bitten by the Hearthstone bug. (Makes sense; the game is basically lots and lots of numbers in a Warcraft-candy shell.) After the first of the year, I’ll be writing Hearthstone guides and posts primarily, as the game gets closer to open beta. (Sadly, I have no beta keys to give out, though they’re apparently much easier to come by now; also, the open beta will likely occur within the month.) I’ll also be making some updates to the website and forums to support the change, as well as some general maintenance.  As always, feel free to PM me on the forums or send me an email if you’re looking for a personal response. I’m also actively looking for people to chat with in HS, so feel free to send me a friend request at Alaron#1198, and I’ll see you at the tables/realms!


 Posted by at 9:07 pm

Reformulated Expectations

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Nov 182012

(x-posted on TFD and WoM)

One of the perks of an enforced hiatus to any activity is the ability to gain some perspective. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve logged in or done any writing. I expected to feel compelled to come back; oddly, though, I’ve felt almost relieved at the lack of pressure. Why has WoW (which, y’know, is supposed to be fun) become funless for me?

Well, no matter how I slice it, I keep coming back to the same point: it’s a multiplayer game. (Duh.) While the game offers tons of singleplayer endgame content (and I include things like random 5-mans/LFR as singleplayer, because you’re not really interacting with anyone there at any serious level), let’s face it; most of those experiences are nothing more than time grinds to obtain stuff. Sure, it’s stronger stuff, or prettier stuff, which is nice, but that doesn’t change the fact that the gameplay itself to get there is mostly an exercise in tedium. Repeating content is fun once or twice, but that’s it.

The worst part: it didn’t have to be this way. Unfortunately, in the name of “fairness,” Blizzard has elected to balance single-player progression solely on time invested, and not player skill. Gone are the group quests, soloable by a good, determined player. Gone are the large gold rewards earned from running dungeons solo (yes, AoE looting compensates slightly, but only just). Etc. The only difficult challenge I’ve had this expansion has been rare elites, and their non-scaling nature means the difficulty curve for those drops off quickly as well. I’m holding out hope for Brawler’s Guild, but unless they do a complete 180 on their current stance, I won’t be seeing that content for some time.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m perfectly okay with Blizzard taking this stance, and agree completely that it’s my erratic schedule that’s at fault, not Blizzard, for why I’m not “playing like I’m supposed to.”  I’d love to do a few challenge modes, for example, but I’m still not at the point where I can agree to set aside 1-2 uninterrupted hours to learn and do one. And no, this isn’t an “I quit” post in disguise. I still enjoy racing the clock in scenarios, outDPSing people who outgear me in LFR, and, quixotically, farming. I also think I’m going to take another stab at battlegrounds (now that I have a good connection and a good PC to play on) and probably mess around with pet battles. The things I don’t enjoy, though, such as powerleveling professions on alts, VP capping every week, or random 5-mans; I’m going to stop feeling like I “have” to do them…because I don’t. Seriously. Dailies? Dailies can kiss my human/elven ass. The Shado-Pan can hate me, and I’ll go on hating them right back. (P.S. your monastery sucks too.)

In writing terms: I’ll still be kicking around, writing about what interests me, and I’ll still write the occasional guide post from time to time. My dreams of being the pre-eminent analyst for  druids and monks, though, died next to a hospital bed about six weeks ago, and I’m surprisingly okay with that.  I’m just going to keep on keeping on, probably making things up as I go.

Then again, I’ve been doing that for the past two years and it seems to be working.

 Posted by at 9:57 pm

Personal Update

 Misc  Comments Off on Personal Update
Nov 032012

(xposted on TFD and WoM)

The good news: my wife has recovered enough to go home. The bad news: there’s still a lot of adjustment we have to do. I didn’t really think it through, but I actually had more free time in the hospital to play/write because the nurses took care of her personal care. Now that she’s home, I’m having to help her with everything (including adjusting to life as an ostomate), so I haven’t touched a keyboard (until now) since we got home a week ago.

I’m still keeping up with goings-on via RSS on my phone…just don’t expect me to say anything meaningful for a while. Hope you guys are having fun in WoW!

 Posted by at 3:20 pm