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So… Now What?

The problem with goals is that you complete them.

When I originally wrote Monday’s post about farming transmog pieces in WoW, I had not yet acquired the Tunic of Unwavering Devotion. Since I had technically been farming since Legion (via LFR), I was buckling in for the long haul. After a presumed failed run over the weekend, I was going to get back to leveling my Monk character to the cap and then seeing if she can also solo Nighthold.

Alas, like a strange monkey paw curse, I got exactly what I was looking for.

WoWScrnShot_340i

Oh, and have I mentioned that my Demon Hunter is sitting at ilevel 340 now? It took a dozen dungeons to go from 310 to 320, but about three days of casual, mostly solo content to go from 320 to 340. So there really isn’t much of a point in doing much of anything on the Demon Hunter now. I will do the occasional WQ if it offers reputation, but only in the off-chance that I continue playing WoW once flying is (re)(re)(re)released.

Leveling alts to the cap seems like a fine goal on the face of things, but… eh. They will not be used for raiding or dungeon running or farming transmog, so what’s left? PvP? I usually reserve my Warlock for PvP endeavors, but the forums are pretty clear about the apparent sad state of Warlocks this expansion. I could try going the healer route for giggles, as I do have a Priest at 111.

The real problem I have is that I somehow lack the motivation to do much of anything, anywhere. Post-game Depression is a thing I talked about a few years ago, and it may well triggered when I got that last piece of transmog gear. Or maybe WoW has been on its way out with me for several weeks.

I dunno. I have a million other games I could be playing, but no motivation to load any of them. The 7 Days to Die Alpha17 patch keeps getting pushed into Star Citizen territory, and Fallout 76’s beta isn’t until the end of this month. In the meantime, I am just logging into WoW and puttering around on the AH, or closing the client and watching people play Hearthstone on Twitch.

Guess my next goal should be to get more goals.

Transmog Goals

When I came back into WoW during Legion, I had two long-term goals:

  1. Getting (mythic) Living Wood Spaulders
  2. Getting Tunic of Unwavering Devotion, or Skimpy Demonleather Tunic

Having finally gotten both items after some trial and error (and weeks of RNG), here is a mini-guide in case you want to follow in my footsteps:

Living Wood Spaulders

WoWScrnShot_Wings

Are there better shoulders for any other class? Doubtful.

Why: the mythic version of these druid-exclusive shoulders have insect-like wings that are animated. While they will only be visible on Boomkin (with the Astral glyph) or Resto druids, the effect is rather striking.

How: Living Wood Spaulders drop from mythic Operator Thogar in the Blackrock Foundry raid from Warlords of Draenor. You will have the best chance of getting this item if you are at least level 111, as that triggers “Legacy Loot” and you’ll get ~5 pieces instead of just one.

That said, the first step is getting to the raid site. Garrison Hearth and then take a Flight Path to Gorgand. Fly or mount up to the raid entrance, which looks like this:

WoW_Blackrock

Be sure that the raid difficulty is set to Mythic. Once inside, avoid the trash and head to the right.

Before you can access Operator Thogar, you will have to kill Beastlord Darmac. This fight is relatively easy as a level 111 Boomkin, with one enormous caveat: you must avoid Pin Down. Periodically during the fight, there will be a faint horn sound and a small, swirling cloud graphic will appear. Within 2-3 seconds, a spear will hit the ground at that spot and, if hit, will render you unable to move or take action, permanently. If you manage to cast a persistent AoE (e.g. Starfall) right before getting pinned, there’s a small chance the damage will be enough to kill the spear and free you. Otherwise, you will have to wait several minutes while you slowly and helplessly get killed.

The second complicating factor in this fight is when Beastlord Darmac mounts Dreadwing, which is the dragon-looking beast in the back. Dreadwing has the Conflagration ability, which will essentially disorient you for ~10 seconds at a time. You can (and will) get CC’d by this ability and then be unable to move away from the Pin Down ability, which will (eventually) kill you. It’s exactly as frustrating as it sounds. Sometimes you might get lucky and the timing will be off (e.g. the Pin Down happens first), but you cannot rely on that all the time. Thus, I recommend starting the fight with Beastlord Darmac towards the rear of the room, closest to Dreadwing, so that he mounts Dreadwing first, and you won’t waste time beating the other beasts before seeing if you’ll survive the encounter.

Operator Thogar is a relatively more simple encounter at these levels. DoT him up, run out of the flames/electricity, AoE adds, and avoid being hit by the trains. You’ll be able to tell which tracks are safe by watching the train doors at either end of the room. Things were a bit more dicey in Legion, but if you get to level 111 and equip at least the crafted 225 ilevel gear in your slots, you should not have too many problems.

As mentioned, I completed the above as a level 111 Boomkin with ~225 ilevel gear. I recommend picking up Restoration Affinity over the other options, as I found Swiftmend (instant heal on 30-second cooldown) to be extremely useful if I accidentally took a lot of damage, like getting hit by a train. I cannot speak for whether Guardian or Feral would have been easier specs to farm this item.

Tunic of Unwavering Devotion

WoWScrnShot_Devotion

Why: this item is an incredibly risque leather chestpiece. Like, whoa.

How: There are technically three sources for this particular armor model. The first is the Demon Hunter PvP set for Legion. If you have X Marks of Honor, you can buy the entire armor set and be done with it. Note: you will only be able to transmog the set on your Demon Hunter.

The second source is the Legion world boss Ana-Mouz. This boss cannot be solo-farmed by any leather-wearing class that I know of, specifically because she will periodically cast a spell which will Mind-Control you after ~5 seconds. Now that I think about it, you might be able to pull it off if you switch to a healing spec and dispel yourself. Regardless, world bosses are on like a 12-week rotation, so it’s incredibly unreliable to farm her anyway.

The third, confirmed soloable method is killing Trilliax, the 3rd raid boss in Nighthold. My druid is still low-level, so I actually went in as a fresh, level 120 Demon Hunter with an average ilevel of 290. Make sure the raid is set to Normal, and you purchased some of those extra-roll coins!

Where is the entrance to Nighthold? Here are some pictures:

WoWScrnShot_RaidEnter

Go down, then past Meeting Stone, then down some more.

Zone in, clear/avoid trash until you get to the first boss, Skorpyron. This encounter took a while, but was completed with relative ease as DPS Demon Hunter. Make sure to save a few of your AoE spells for when the adds are activated. Also note that there will be a short burst window when the boss takes a lot of extra damage. Save your DPS cooldowns for then.

The second boss is Chronomatic Anomaly. This boss has an instant-kill debuff you would normally have to worry about, but there’s a trick to avoiding it. DPS the boss as normal, avoiding damage as best you can, until the add spawns. Run over and kill the adds, including the smaller ones that appear, but do not click the orb. The boss will essentially channel an AoE with stacking damage until the orb is used, but he otherwise doesn’t stack the debuff. So, basically, kill him during the channel. The level difference will allow you to survive 20+ stacks of the increasing damage, and you should be able to kill him before you’re whittled down. You might able to use the orb to buy yourself some more time, but I didn’t have a problem at ilevel 290.

Finally, there is Trilliax. Change to tank-spec for this fight. Trilliax will cast Arcane Slash periodically, which will give you a stacking debuff to damage taken, and I was not able to kite him long enough for the debuff to fall off. In tank-spec, your only real worry is the Enrage timer. To this end, make sure you maximize DPS as much as you can. For example, I took Abyssal Strike + Flame Crash, which gave me two additional uses of Sigil of Flame. Every DPS gain you can eek out is necessary! There’s nothing more frustrating than dying to Enrage timers when the boss is at 5%.

As mentioned, I completed the above as a new, level 120 Demon Hunter with an average ilevel of 290. I cannot speak to how a Druid, Rogue, or Monk might fair in these same fights.

Gear Deadzone

Never thought I’d be in this place again, but I spent the weekend chain-running dungeons in WoW.

My for-now main is a Demon Hunter, and I had been relatively satisfied with the ilevel ~290ish gear she had. Mobs scale up with ilevel now, and I’m not doing regular raids, so who cares? The thing is… character progression is nice. Also, I found that there must be breakpoints at which World Quests just refuse to grant higher-level gear. My understanding is that if you are at 290, you should see some 295 gear, presumably until you reach 295, at which point you’ll see 300, and so on. After 3-4 days of WQs, that did not appear to be the case.

Plus, the Alliance Warfront was active this past week, and that apparently hands out 340 gear every 20 minutes you chain-run it, with an extra 370 piece once a cycle. The catch is that you need to have 320 to queue for it. Also, you need 320 to queue for Raid Finder. So, how the hell are you supposed to hit 320?

Chain-run dungeons like a chump, apparently.

The experience has not actually been that bad, at the moment. I queued for some normal dungeons at the beginning, so I could hit the 305 breakpoint to queue for heroic dungeons. That took around two dungeons’ worth of drops. Then I ran about four heroics in a row, with about ~15 minutes of queue times inbetween them. Heroic dungeons drop 325 gear, which is nice, if a little weird considering how that’s 20 ilevels above the minimum.

During this process, I was very tempted to solve my situation with gold. First, by buying BoE epics from the AH. The DPS Darkmoon deck is 355, for example, and there were some BoE wrists that drop from Uldir too. Before committing, I decided to do the ilevel math myself to see how much of a bump that might give me. Going from a 295 trinket to 355 should be a big boost right? Well…

5016 (total ilevel) + 60 = 5076 / 16 = 317.25. Or +3.75 average ilevel.

While that ain’t nothin’, it also isn’t 320. Plus, the Fathoms deck is 70,000g at the moment. While I was poking around the AH, there were a couple of advertisements in Trade chat from people doing Mythic dungeon carries. I was very, very tempted to check up on the prices of that, out of curiosity if nothing else. Then I saw one being advertised for… 350k. Even that started to sound a bit reasonable as the Warfront window is rapidly to drawing to a close. Gold it meant to be used, right?

What brought me back to reality was Blizzard’s own intrusion into the real world. Specifically, WoW tokens. Current prices are 107k gold for $15, which meant I was about to pay $49 to get to 320 ilevel. That doesn’t seem all that good. There is often an argument to be made regarding how much time I am going to spend running heroics (etc) instead, and how I could just “work another hour of overtime” instead of spending 3+ hours doing something I don’t expressly enjoy.

First, I don’t have a job where I can just magically get overtime – that shit has to be approved on two different management levels. Second, there is a wide gulf between a distasteful or boring task in a videogame, played at home, in a comfortable chair, with a refreshing beverage, than there is with another hour spent at work. My job is relatively easy and stress-free, but I’d still rather be doing damn near anything else, including nothing, if given the chance.

Anyway, the decision is likely already made for me, as the Warfront window closes soon. I’ll continue to casually run heroic dungeons until I hit 320, so I can unlock LFR, which will give me a steady stream of gear for the rest of the expansion. This initial hump is extremely awkward though, as it’s likely to be pole-vaulted beyond for anyone playing in 8.1 given the next tier of crafted gear coming out.

I’m fine with Blizzard wanting there to be some sort of hazing phase where they want everyone doing 5-man content before “graduating” into raiding. I just think it’s weird to have Warfronts dropping 340 gear like candy for something that, by all accounts, is significantly easier than even 5-man normal dungeons. Finally getting over that 320 gear deadzone will apparently set you up for easy gear the rest of the expansion, and that’s just a strange sort of design decision.

The Last Reset

This week is the last reset before Battle for Azeroth goes Live.

In the three weeks that I have been back playing WoW, it has consumed a rather large part of my gaming time, as it did in the past. I have since reached the level cap with my paladin, rogue, warlock, demon hunter, and death knight. Two additional classes are just barely past level 100 – the priest and warrior – but I have had great fun with playing them, so I plan on getting them to the cap as well.

I am abandoning my mage at level 92, as I tried out all three specs and found them lacking. In fact, it’s pretty awful considering mage is the only class that can’t face-tank mobs, and yet cannot blow them up either. Or maybe WoD is still overtuned post-squish? All I know is that I accidentally aggroed a bunch of crabs in the the beginning Garrison quests, blew all my cooldowns, and still died. I don’t think I’ve died to non-elite mob pulls in… five years? Maybe longer.

Anyway, the shaman is a big Nope for me, Zappiboi notwithstanding, and I never was particularly serious about the hunter in all my time with WoW. I’m probably going to wait until I unlock Void Elves before using one of my three stockpiled instant-100/110 tokens on getting a monk up to speed.

This last reset is going to be somewhat important for me in the transmog department. Specifically, I have been trying to obtain the Tunic of Unwavering Devotion since the release of the Nighthold raid. A similar model drops from a world boss, but it’s one of 11, and the order was completely random week-to-week until recently. I’m not especially confident that Legion raids or the world boss will be soloable on a leather-wearing class at the beginning of BfA, nor do I imagine there being much interest in small-party raiding of old content. If I have to wait 2+ years to obtain these transmog items, well, they are effectively removed from the game as far as I’m concerned.

We’ll see how it goes. I will have six opportunities (3 leather classes + bonus rolls) to snag the chest piece, and potentially another two if the demon hunter tier piece chest (same model) can be used for transmog on other leather-wearing characters.

WoW Again, Redux, Part 2

Tuesday was pre-expansion patch day in WoW, and it is once again (temporarily) relevant to my interests. I actually resubbed a few days ago, but close enough.

What brought me back? The realization that what I was doing in most of the survival games I played isn’t so different than what I do in MMOs. In Conan: Exiles, for example, I routinely went back to a fast-respawn pirate area so that I could grind XP and potentially enslave new Thralls. When I was wasn’t doing that, I was farming mats for building materials. Longer-term goals included traveling to far away places and repeating that entire process at tier N+1.

If I’m just grinding shit for something to do, why not do so in WoW?

…that’s not actually a good reason for anything. The unspoken assumption in the back of my mind is that WoW is a game that matters, in some ineffable way other games do not. I mean, what other game do you still play 10+ years later? But just because I seem to fall back into the familiar groove of a bad relationship, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be trying something newer, even if I’m going through the same motions.

Trouble is, I’m kinda waiting for Fallout 76 and Battlefield V and the next 7 Days to Die Alpha release. Alas, here we are in the meantime.

My original goal was to unlock Legion flying. I left right before it was fully implemented, but I had unlocked everything in the Part 1 of the achievement. Part 2 was simply… getting Exalted with a new faction. Which will take literal weeks. [Edit: Only takes Revered, apparently. Still, it’ll be days of work.] That in of itself wasn’t the worse thing, but the process essentially being “hope there’s friendly people around to help kill these outdoor bosses” was. And, you know, bored/angry Horde characters wanting to pick fights for no reason. War Mode couldn’t come fast enough.

So, I gave up on unlocking flying for a bit, in the hopes that perhaps Blizzard would make it slightly easier in some future patch. Instead… let’s unlock some of the new races!

…and it requires Exalted rep with the two new factions in zones I had not even entered once. I’m actually a bit miffed, because the two new Horde races require Exalted reputation with factions that have been present in Legion since the beginning. What kind of bullshit is this?

All that aside, it’s kind of funny coming back to the WoW side of things from a combat point of view. Like, I have no concept of what kind of enemy I can safely face-tank, which is pretty much the default playstyle of Boomkins. I kept trying to dodge-roll out of melee range, like in GW2 or Conan. Druids have 37 different kinds of buttons anyway, so I sort of just embraced the 5-10 buttons I could comfortably press and then hoped that Shadowmeld would get me out of any serious binds.

What I have realized though, is that without flying, playing the druid is a real drag. Instant mounting is pretty much the only reason to play a Boomkin over any other ranged caster, and I’m pretty sure I’d have more fun on the rogue than Feral. All my other characters are below level 103 though, and I don’t want to run around in a full-PvP world in which flying exists for everyone other than me.

So, we’ll see.

Thought Process

“I need to delete some games to free up space on my SSD. Let’s look at Steam.”

“Oh, here’s Civ 6. I tried it for about 10 minutes a few weeks ago, and it didn’t grip me. Why would I want to have to relearn everything from Civ 5? Besides, there are a lot of other, similar games I could be playing instead. This can go.”

“Whoops, I double-clicked on it instead.”

“Whoops, it’s 2am.”

“Whoops, it’s 2am every day this week.”

“I can’t wait for the weekend, so I catch up on my sleep.”

“Sweet, now I can play for 10 hours straight instead of just 5…”

[Fade to Black]

Main Story Sidequest

Against all odds, I remain playing FF14. Some days. For about an hour or two at a time.

Had I stuck with the Pugilist, I would have unsubscribed a month ago. Instead, I decided to try out the Archer and… I’m actually having fun. Usually. The mobility of instant-casts makes up for a lot of what I can only describe as the “jankiness” of FF14’s combat system. No attacks seem to have any weight to them – they are all high-pitched squeals and brightly flashing lights.

There is also an extremely noticeable delay in state-based attacks. For example, the Archer has a Kill Shot/Execute ability that’s off the global cooldown which triggers at 20% HP. Which is fine… except that it always lights up almost a full second after the target is below 20%. Combined with the default 2.5 second GCD, and enemy attack animations not being synced with their damage, the game feels like you’re playing with 250ms lag all the time.

I continue to slog through things though, because everyone talks about the fantastic story.

Know what I did on Monday? I /danced with some Sylphs to earn their trust. Then did some fetch quests for said Sylphs. Then helped out a bar owner, which involved talking to half a dozen people around the world to find out where a particular NPC went so I could return an earring. Then I helped the NPC make some liquor as a gift. Then went on a side quest to catch a traitor in the woods, ostensibly as something to do to pass the time. Finally, I found the the missing Sylph elder hiding (spoilers!) in another mandatory dungeon.

Best. Writing. Ever.

It really isn’t. I’m too committed to seeing this experiment to its conclusion, to see for myself if there is any redeeming value in playing FF14 for its story, to quit now. But I really, really want to. I have to imagine that SWTOR would be a better use of my time at this point.

Still, I shall overcome. With active, conscious effort.

Legendary Out of the Way

It finally happened last night:

wow_legendary

3rd best one, I guess.

My views on legendaries in general hasn’t changed since a month and a half ago. Indeed, in a very ironic sense, finally receiving a legendary at the long end of a hidden pity timer might be the motivation I needed to finally stop doing Emissary Quests, and most World Quests altogether. Lord knows how I would feel if another one drops after I kinda gave up farming Order Resources and thus never unlocked the “You can equip 2 legendaries” bonus. Even if I started right now, the research timer alone is 14 days.

So, yeah. Go me. The legendary’s effect is to reduce the cooldown timer of my 3 minute DPS cooldown that I never use outside bosses anyway. I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon.

In the meantime, I’ll continue unlocking Draenor flying, farming Ulduar transmog, and perhaps get around to using my level 100 boost on something.

Back in Draenor, Apparently

Don’t ask. I don’t know either.

… but apparently I had a wild hair the past day or two to pick up the Bind on Account Rings that you get from doing the Shipyard quests in Warlords. I think the train of thought was that even if I spent money transferring toons off of Auchindoun, a few were at, or even below level 90. Plus, you know, the future, man.

In any case, this triggered a cascade of research and dicking around to the point that my namesake paladin is now scouring Tanaan like it’s June 2015. I even took another look at unlocking Draenor flying, but 1) fuck Blizzard for that entire fiasco, and 2) getting the 20% bonus to reputations (e.g. Trading Post Rank 3) requires Exalted with any Draenor faction… and I’m not even Honored with any of them. I suppose I could just use Medallions of the Legion without the bonus, but I don’t actually think there are enough of them on the no-pop wasteland that is Auch.

In the meantime, I’m just lurking around rare spawn sites for Shipyard equipment and doing my best Jedi Mind Trick on the passing level-capped Horde. I was only “ganked” once, by a Blood Elf hunter that saw my attempts to hearth out as too irresistible to ignore. Too bad I have the auto-bubble talent, which led me to just hearthing again, this time at double speed.

All of this is quite silly, of course. I’m pretty sure whatever time I’m spending on this is more than I’d save with +5% XP gains. At the same time, my druid is basically in passive grinding mode for Legion Pathfinder and this side project gives me something to work towards a bit more actively. I haven’t yet stuck my foot in a BG or LFR or even a Mythic dungeon.

So, I’m doing it wrong, but I’m doing something. And that’s fine for now.

Dilemmas, Part 1

Time will tell whether or not that one remaining New Years prediction will come true, but…

WoW_Reactivate

…yeah.

What pushed me over the edge were all the reports about the Legion pre-expansion event XP. I haven’t actually experienced a good expansion event since the lead up to Wrath, so it’s actually surprising that Blizzard hasn’t tried the ole “easy XP” route before. Then again, perhaps they really needed the scaling level tech in place before they were able to. Regardless, since I only ever got one character up to 100 in Warlords, this provided a nice opportunity to boost some of the alts.

Then came the dilemmas.

My primary dilemma is this: I’m still stuck on the low-pop wasteland of Auchindoun-US. The one remaining friend I have who has been playing WoW all this time has server hopped a few times until landing on Sargeras-US in a Mythic-level raiding guild. So… what do I do?

  • A) Choose a new main, pay $25 blood price to transfer, use level 90 & 100 boosts for alts.
  • B) Choose new main, but use level 90 & 100 boosts to create one and an alt.
  • C) Do nothing.

A) is annoying and I don’t want to do it; $25 is absurd, and has always been absurd. Of course, I have 335k gold locked on Auchindoun, so I’d have to start from scratch otherwise. Or take up my friend’s offer of some seed money on Sargeras – he apparently accumulated 1.7 million gold via Garrison farming over the course of the expansion. While I am relatively confident in my ability to pay him back via AH shenanigans, I disliking owing people anything.

B) makes for an interesting situation. Getting an instant 90 and then farming Invasions will quickly get me fully geared and ready for Legion, probably with time to spare to level professions. Or create a level 58 Death Knight, and get that guy boosted via Invasions. The instant 90 will also unlock the ability to get a Demon Hunter, which of course starts at level 98. So between the level boosts and Invasions, it’s entirely possible to get four new max-level characters on an entirely different server with minimum fuss. Minus the gold situation.

C) is actually what I am leaning towards at the moment. Cross-realm tech means I can technically group/dungeon/raid with my friend no matter what server we are on. Mythic raiding is still disabled from what I recall, but the chances I buckle down for the hardcore raiding I swore off of three expansions ago are between zero and Nope. Of course, this means I can’t be in their guild, meaning I miss the chatter and social aspects that (usually) make MMOs worth playing in the first place.

The one wrinkle that bears examining is that Sargareas-US is one of the largest servers in WoW, and it is PvP too. Auchindoun is also PvP, but even with cross-realm activated, the place is generally sparse. In both a A) and B) scenario, I would likely have to contend with queue times near launch and potential ganking 24/7. Something I am not exactly looking forward to.

Hmm. I shall have to ponder some more.