[WoW] Ouch

Rough start to the expansion with the main quest being a bottleneck. How?

Pop into Stormwind, quest appears.
Wander into the castle, cinematic ensues, quest updates and says to go to the airship.
Go to Airship, struggle to click on quest NPC (remembering Cata release, I adjusted my keybinds to target friendly NPCs and interact with them).
Another cinematic.
Gotta hop into the gyrocopter to attack the Horde.
Again, clickie is surrounded by people, lots of lag.
Pop on gyrocopter – snicker at people still unable to click on the vehicle.
Zip out to start shooting orcs and shredders.
There must be 100+ other gyrocopter pilots… overlapping me with a few thousand more already on the rails circling the Horde base. Ugh.
Woot! I manage to kill a few orks despite all the lag and other people shooting at the same targets.
Disconnect.
Log back in – on airship need to click on gyrocopter through the masses.
YES!
Happens a couple of more times.
Third time is the charm – I manage to finish off what I need and now I land.
More lag trying to target wagons to explode.
Group up and get it done after several disconnects.
Get the rest of that area done and move on to the first village.
Much less lag.

After that things improved a lot and I can’t really complain aside from the odd error (when switching to alts to log them out in an inn to let the rack up some rested XP) that says, “Cannot find character.” Another downside is Stormrage is wicked full right now – queues of over 1000 people.

Eep.

Focused on the Rogue mainly and nearing the end of the first zone – sitting at level 86 (just a smidge into it).

That’s a slower pace than I would have previously gone at. I’ve been a little busy and I’m not rushing to raid level or anything. Just playing when I can.

 

[WoW] Theramore or Less

By now most of you people have either played the Theramore Scenario, heard or read of someone complaining about that already. I thought I’d do something different… then I tried it out. More complaining.

I completed it on two toons; my Rogue and Hunter. Queue times were short which was nice.

For reference, my 85s:

I ran the Rogue (Aijamul) through it first and it took me a bit to get back into things with the Rogue. The group consisted of a Warrior and Mage. We rolled over everything with little risk of death. We did pause a couple times to bandage or eat up the Mage food but otherwise didn’t find the lack of a healer too much of an issue. Loot was craptastic and he picked up the Tabard (white and gold) at the end which sort of clashes with his black and gold theme.

Smaken queued up next and it popped really fast. It took me awhile longer to get used to the rotation for Smaken and because my macro for Hunter’s Mark and pet attack was set to not have the pet Growl or charge I had to create a new macro part way through because it was getting annoying. The group consisted of a Priest (healer) and another Hunter. I struggled in the beginning, not breaking 10k DPS (I was very sad to see that) but I was still running my Rogue rotation/priorities (Sinister Strike 1-key, Eviscerate q-key) which meant I was spamming Serpent Sting (1-key) then Hunter’s Mark (q-key). I suspect it caused the healer to bail but right after things picked up and I was pulling over 10k or melting mobs in a couple of shots.

A bit about Marksman Hunters – I did find that Aimed Shot did not seem to appear as much as it did in the past (this was my first time playing the Hunter since the changes) which is annoying. I did like that they switched the Trap Launcher to a toggle. I found that I had to dump focus through Arcane Shot more, I used to use Aimed Shot, guessing my Haste isn’t high enough up there or they increased Arcane Shot damage? I’m not paying as much attention as I used to. One of the perks of not being a raider anymore. Hehe.

Anyway, by the time we got to the catapult thingy, I was back to form with my Hunter. I took agro and kited the thing around – at least, kept it’s attention while the two pets beat on it. Fox up, running and shooting Steadies, popping instances, swapping to Hawk when the ground target was up (after Disengaging out of it) to maximize damage. It was cake. I think it was actually easier without the healer there because we could both dump agro to the pets or Feign Death if needed. There were a few close calls as the other Hunter was letting stuff beat on him and for that big group before the Wyverns we agroed everything somewhat unexpectedly.

FWIW, the other Hunter was running Survival (ick) and carrying that lovely bow from Deathwing which I kept losing the roll on in LFRs. I still topped his DPS by about 2k, melting mobs down then helping him on his.

Loot reward at the end? Another tabard for Smaken (he’s got a ton) and an epic polearm with Agility on it.

Yes.

Blizzard… if you knew you were going to ditch the stat-stick, why would you put that on the loot table for a Hunter? I’m not about to become a melee Hunter now that almost all the abilities are ranged… so… WTF?

I popped in with my Paladin, figuring that tabard would look sweet on him. The Paladin has a mix of blues and some epics from the original raid tier so he’s above what Blizzard suggested the targeted audience for Scenarios would be (“quest greens and blues”) but his iLvl was too low for it. It apparently requires iLvl 353. Yay.

I didn’t bother queuing up with Kremus yet, maybe later. I’m debating getting a few PVP pieces to push me up to that iLvl so Lukanos (formerly Lannister) could get him that nice tabard but I’m not really all that motivated to do so.

Overall?

It was short.

It involved killing lots of stuff.

I had no idea why the bombed Theramore – there was no backstory filler anywhere telling me why.

I had no idea why the bomb was such a big deal.

I have no idea why this connects to Mists of Pandaria? Is it a matter of the war being on again? I realize it seems less like there was a war going on over the last couple of expansions. Horde and Alliance sorta put that aside a little to deal with Arthas than to deal with Deathwing.

Loot sucked.

Tabards are soulbound (minor complaint – why couldn’t they be Bind to Account?).

When the Healer bailed I didn’t see any option of bringing in another person.

Expansion release on Tuesday does not seem so epic… you’d almost think it is just another patch day. In other words, this is a lame opening event for MoP.
UPDATE: I bought a couple of pieces of plate PVP gear for Lukanos and ran him through the scenario shortly after posting this. The group consisted of a Rogue and a Hunter. Lukanos was in Ret spec and I haven’t looked at playing him since the changes. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what the changes were until I started playing and saw all the holes in the ability bars. Much badness ensued, the Rogue DCed but the Hunter stuck it out (bless his heart) despite all the dead Paladiness going on. I couldn’t find my bubble and I couldn’t get Lay on Hands to work … seems clicking it turned on target mode instead of it zapping me because I had an enemy targeted.

Admittedly, most of it was my bad for being ignorant. I’ll check it out again later when MoP comes out and I feel the urge to level the Paladin again.

[TL2] Couldn’t Help Myself

I caved on Friday night and bought the four-pack (cost of one Borderlands 2 game) of Torchlight 2. I kept one, gave one to the LBO and another to the LLO. I have a fourth sitting here waiting to be gifted and I’m debating who to give it to.

On one hand I can gift it to the kids’ friend up the street that plays all sorts of games with them – figuring he’d play this with them too. On the other hand, neither one of the kids has so much as loaded the game up – they’re smitten by Borderlands 2 so I’m tempted to not give that to him.

On to the game.

I played it a little yesterday and was going to play a little of it now but decided I should give my blog some attention.

I went with the Berserker class (picking maniacal looking dude) and started exploding enemies almost right away. The game seems to have more of a flowing overland sprawl to it so far. I’ve seen a few little dungeons, but it’s not like the first one where you (sorta) just delved deeper and deeper (I’ve never heard that before). The story is light so you jump right into click-killing stuff. The short of it is the Alchemist from the first game somehow got corrupted (yeah, I never completed the first game) and turns on everyone. He takes out the Mage and beats down the Warrior until the Warrior has to turn tail and run. That’s where you come in – the Warrior asks you to figure out what is going on and stop him starting with warning some nearby town.

Classes available are Berserker, Engineer, Embermage and Outlander. I didn’t dig too far into them, I just hopped in and started playing figuring the Berserker looked to be more my style in these sorts of games. My assumption is that the Engineer is either melee or ranged – which ever is your preference, the Outlander is a shooter type and the Embermage is the caster type. There are three trees you can put points into per class, like in the first one, these give you new abilities to use or improve on your character in a passive or active way.

You have a few more options for pets; I think there are about eight in total. Your pet can now wear three pieces of armor – a collar and two tags. Feeding them fish does different things to them, just like in the first Torchlight.

One disappointment with Torchlight 2 is that the multiplayer doesn’t immediately tie into Steam. You have to create a Runic Account (like I need another account… really..) then it can synch from your Steam account for your friends list. I won’t bellyache over this a lot, just a little. The smooth integration between your Steam Friends list and Borderlands 2 spoiled me and I wish more games would go this route. Honestly, I don’t see myself using my Runic Account for anything other than Torchlight 2 Multiplayer so it’s only a matter of time before I forget what password I used for that and have to jump through some password recovery hoops.

Graphics and sound are much like the first Torchlight and the UI performs the same way. Not a lot of really big changes. There are tabs on the side of the screen for pulling out windows; character stats, pet, inventory, etc.

More of the same that you either loved or hated in Torchlight but with multiplayer!

[BL2] Same Ole Same Ole…

… Fun!

Same type of  behavior in the game, same sort of things to kill (though more mobs), lots of back and forth missions, a bit more story to it with characters returning from the first game. I’m having fun with it and finding it slightly more challenging – just slightly.

The LBO claims to almost be done and keeps trying to tell me what happens, looking disappointed when I shove my fingers in my ears and start ‘la-la-la’ing. I did have to give him a hand with one area which he was having a hard time with (did I already mention that?). I opened his eyes up to some different tactics with Axton and reminded him of the importance of making sure he had different ammo types represented (less likely to run out of ammo) and making sure he mixed up the elemental damage types.

Then I ended up carrying all Fire elemental weapons… yeah. If you’ve played the Firehawk portion you’ll realize how worthless Fire weapons are there… at least for killing stuff.

LLO is moving along more slowly. He’s picking up the quests but doesn’t seem to be completing them. I think he just wanted to rush ahead to gain access to a town. I popped into his game (he’s playing as Zero) yesterday to help him out (I caved and got him a Steam account then bought third Borderlands 2 game…). I noticed he still had missions from the first area but gave him help with the area he was in, including a few more after that.

We do have a group we’re playing together with – I think they just got to Sanctuary and no further. I’m playing Salvador and not really liking it as much as the others. I find having two guns with different rates of fire somewhat… weird. I get used to the fire rate and how to shoot each gun so putting two up there that are different? Argh. And if I try to put two up that are the same I just burn through the same ammo quicker (I’m guessing). I’m starting to just let the kids charge in and spend most of the time bailing them out. I hope that’s not foreshadowing their teenage years…

For my own personal game, I’m playing Maya the Siren. It’s taking me a bit to get used to her ability and figuring out how best to use it and which spec line I prefer. I ended up going the route of more elemental effects (Cataclysm) picking up the extend mag and reduced reload times first, then the fire burst when I Phaselock someone. Next up will be the Cloud Kill talent where shooting people has a chance to make a little acid cloud for a short time. I’m building a purely offensive spec hoping to be able to avoid or soak as much damage as possible.

I won’t say how far along I am because I don’t want to spoil, but let’s just say I’m around level 15 or 16 and about to deliver some pizza.

[BOOKS] Read Read Read

I don’t remember when my last update around books I’ve been reading was but I’ve been spending a lot of time reading. It seems to have replaced some of my late night evenings playing games and I found myself sometimes going to bed at two in the morning because I was getting to a really good part.

I’ve read over the Orson Scott Card Ender Quintet, completing Ender’s Game, Speaker For the Dead, Xenocide and Children of the Mind but haven’t gone into any of the other stories around that. I found as the series went on, it was somewhat less enjoyable and started to get a little too philosophical and less about some of the sci-fi elements I loved in Ender’s Game. Still, a decent read if you have the patience for internalized debates around morals, ethics or existence.

I debated where to go after reading that and decided I was in the mood for something with a little more humor so I picked up the one book I was missing from the Richard Castle Nikki Heat series – Heat Wave. I had previously received the other two books for Christmas but TheWife could not find this one in print.

Yes, I know it’s not really Nathan Fillion writing these books and they’re literary works of art but they were enjoyable and humorous. A nice change from some of the later parts of the series I had just completed. I consumed the book quickly, really enjoying it and laughing at  several parts. I think these books are strengthened by the TV series (Castle) because I was easily able to imagine the scenarios, replacing the in book names with the in show names – really credit to the author, the show writers and the actors in the show.

Once that was complete I decided to keep away from the fantasy genre and started reading through Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Trilogy. While I did enjoy the story and I did have a few annoyances. First issue was in the first book where I found the author did not separate tenses or points of view well enough. For a portion of the story it was first person and would shift, awkwardly out of that and into more of a third person. It was really sort of jarring and something my brother-in-law has been struggling with.

The other annoyance was that it was clearly aimed more at young women than other audiences. The main character was a drama-magnet and seemed to dwell on too many things at one time. Something I can’t associate with well as a grown adult male with a wife and children. The drama around her world seemed something a young teenage girl would be experiencing and so better able to understand the main character at a better level than I ever could.

Finally, I found the last book a little rushed to conclusion and without some of the depth the second and first one had. The main character also seemed to have a mental breakdown (understandable) which wasn’t all that exciting or interesting to read though. Again, related to my previously listed annoyance – I can only take so much “woe is me!” from the main character of a story I’m reading.

I think of the three books, the middle one (Mockingjay) was the better written but relied on the other two to start and finish the whole story.

I recently watched the move with TheWife – she enjoyed it but I found it missing a lot and somewhat rushed. I suppose in some areas it was fortunate, but overall it made a lot of what was happening seem too sudden. Example? (Spoiler) A big part of the first book is Katniss playing up to the ‘star crossed lovers’ thing with Peeta only you got a sense that near the end of the Hunger Games she had some feelings for Peeta and felt guilty because of her not-quite-boyfriend at home. This wasn’t played up as much in the movie and the movie made it seem more like it was just a ploy. Another thing that was missing was the hardness of Peeta who finishes off one of the first ‘careers’ kills.

Next series I picked up was Brandon Sanderson’s The Mistborn Trilogy, which is a step back into fantasy though not the typical wizards, orks and dragons. I’m about 80% through it (according to Kobo) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I find the characters likable and well done. The story is interesting and has kept me guessing. It’s not as predictable as I thought and I’m not overly easy to fool in books (or other places for that matter).

The era seems to be a short bit before the gunpowder age or the Renaissance era without gunpowder or advancement in art. One race of humanity oppresses another and one empire rules the world with its Emperor claiming divinity which might be the case because he’s been around for a thousand years. “Magic” is not your typical fantasy magic, instead it is the innate ability of people to ‘burn’ metals inside them to produce effects. The type of metal denotes the ability; pewter strengthens the body, heals it quickly, enhances grace and other physical attributes. Tin enhances the senses; touch, sight, hearing, and smell. There is more but I don’t want to spoil it. This sort of ‘magic’ is called Allomancy.

There are two types of Allomancers; Mistlings who can only burn one type of metal and Mistborn who can burn all types of metal. You’re either one or the the other or have no ability to burn metals at all.

I won’t go on much more about the series other than to highly recommend it.

If Brandon Sanderson is a familiar name to you but you can’t quite place it, then you’ve likely heard his name as the guy who will be finishing of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. After what I’ve read of The Mistborn Trilogy it was definitely a good choice.

I’ll have to go looking for another series to read soon, though even at 80% there still seems to be a lot left for the series!

[IRL] Gaming ADHD

So there is an influx of games I’m looking forward to not having the time to play coming out in the next short little time frame…

Borderlands 2 – this Tuesday (Sept. 18). I’ve got this pre-ordered for me and the LBO (LLO) and pre-loaded on the systems we play on. I’m not sure which of the classes I’ll play first, but I do have some interest in Axton and Zero.

Mists of Pandaria – coming out Sept. 28. I have this purchased and installed. I’m looking forward to new content to level through and some of the newer mini-games to engage in… maybe. Mostly new content to level through. I intend to play the rogue through first, then either my DK or Hunter. Paladin and Priest are in the queue as well. I also have my Mage that is slowing creeping towards 85. Further down I have a Druid sitting at 67th and a Warrior up to 60. I just need to knuckle down and get them trough TBC, WotLK and Cata. heh.

X-Com Enemy Unknown – coming out Oct. 9th. I’ve got this pre-purchased and waiting for pre-loading on Steam. This is a throw back to X-Com UFO Defense which is an ancient PC game that I loved. Unlike the more recent interpretations (UFO Aftermath, etc.) this one is more of a true interpretation of X-Com. It is going to include base building (something the others lacked), some of the ship combat (and upgrades) and all the squad based missions and researching and ZOMG… I’m excited just typing about it. There are some additions to the missions, they’re adding in some cinematic effects for some of the actions – so when you shoot a target, it plays it out. If an alien moves to attack you, it plays out in a mini-video using the ingame engine. A lot of it is just moving the camera around – it looks pretty cool (Video here) but I can see it get a little annoying after a time.

So those are things that are going to consume some of my time later this month and into the next.

(And some Guild Wars 2 here and there).

[GW2] Slow Down

I’ve slowed down a bit over the last week for GW2 play time. I mostly get on some point for the weekend, explore an area, collect the ‘points’ then pop off to do something else. Not because GW2 has lost my interest, but because I’m feeling like there is a lot to do in a “Skyrim – your journal is full of stuff” only there is no real journal so it leaves me sorta freaked out that I’ll forget something.

Yes. I am too lazy to write down areas to revisit or even alt-tab and type it into Notepad.

PVP goes well enough though it seems I’m suffering from the success of the evening groups (which I’m never a part of). They do very well at their time frame, dominating the map then disappear come morning and afternoon when I play. That means we’re always facing top of the line servers and I find myself stuck in with the less organized casuals.

Yeah, I’m casual too, but I’m willing to collect the supply, build siege weapons and follow orders.

I think another source of my lack of enjoyment is that I have no one to share my successes with – that is more my fault than anyone else though. I don’t participate in guild activities or even chat much. See? My fault. I think if I knew people better or was more involved I’d have more of a stake in doing is available.

Guardian is at level 34, Warrior and Engineer are up to 11, Elementalist is sitting at 9 and I have a low level Rogue.

I have yet to do that level 30 dungeon but I figure I’ll get to it.

Combat

Evolving Squid commented in my last GW2 post that he found the combat somewhat boring. I somewhat agree.

Ultimately I use sword and shield so the first three abilities are my attack abilities: autoattack chain, teleport to target and strike, series of strikes that can also be ranged for less damage+sets up a close shield. The offhand abilities consist of one shield attack that raises protection for me and nearby allies and impacts nearby foes negatively while the last item (5) is a shield that knocks people back. The heal ability I use is an auto-cleanse of one condition every 10 seconds but is otherwise unexciting. For my talent base abilities I typically run with an increase to Power passive with knockdown active, the ring of fire (sort of like a WoW Paladin’s Consecrate ability) and teleport to target+strike and AOE ring of fire ability. For my Epic ability I took the Bearform (since the toon picked Bear totem – yeah, I’m a Norn Guardian – I regret going with a female though… I think the male would have been more impressive).

The Epic ability is actually somewhat amusing. When I change form I end up losing my typical action bar and it’s replaced with 5 abilities; attack chain, powerful sweeping attack, series of progressively more damaging attacks, a shout (PBAE ally buff/enemy debuff) and a charge attack that is wicked fun – bowls everyone over on my way to the target then slams the target and knocks them back.

I’m sure most readers (I do still have readers, right?) who are familiar with WoW are probably thinking, “I really don’t press more than a few buttons in WoW either…” which is true but I find WoW tends to have more of a build up or require a little more attention to elevate the damage output. You have to use things in an order and fire off some sort of finisher while with GW2 it’s a lot of button mashing.

Example? My DK in WoW typically uses Horn of Winter to buff up, pops the ability to dump all the diseases on a target, then Pestilence to spread it, then Death and Decay, then Death Strike or Heart Strike. If that disease dump ability isn’t available, I have to add Plague Strike, Icy Grip (or whatever it is called) and Death Strike (or Heart Strike) to get the diseases up to a target.Usually popping a Boil Blood in there because DPS is too impatient to wait until they see I have Death and Decay down… then I spread the diseases and drop Death and Decay, etc.

There is more of a purpose to what I’m doing than just  “the ability is ready”. Maybe it’s just my lack of understanding of the abilities, but there doesn’t seem to be as much of a build up to them as there is in WoW.

For the Thief (in GW2) you have your main attack which is mostly a builder of resources then you have your other abilities which consume that resource and that’s about it.

For a WoW Rogue (Rouge, sorry!) you build up your combo points with various abilities then apply a finisher that consumes them all granting more of a result based on whether you hit the 5 point cap or not. These results can be a number of things and it matters. You’re not just hitting the button because it’s available. i.e. for Combat Rogue you want to Sinister Strike, Revealing Strike and pop Slice and Dice for haste increase, then build up again and pop Eviscerate for big damage… unless you have a bleed buffer then you might want to pop Rupture. There just seems to be more to it.

I guess you can say most GW2 classes feel like an Arcane Mage… sorta. Mash the 1 button and pop a few other buttons when they’re available but even the Arcane Mage has to keep track of the build up for Barrage.

Again, maybe I’m missing something or just playing the wrong classes… but it doesn’t feel that way.

I recognize the Warrior builds up Adrenaline and then dumps it for some effect depending on his weapon equipped and sometimes you want to swap your weapons out to gain access to different abilities, but even then you’re still limited to that one set.

My Guardian’s second weapon set is a Scepter and Torch which I typically use during sieges in WvWvW because they give me a ranged attack, a ground AOE, a root (good for catching runners) and for my Torch I get another ranged (fire damage shield that you can toss at someone) and another cone AOE (it does crazy damage).

Admittedly in WvWvW the combat is more entertaining because people do different things.

One upside is that you do get a lot of Talent abilities that you can swap in and out for different effects and swapping weapons often gives you different types of abilities – you just do tend to button mash with those too.

Another upside to PVE combat is that mobs don’t typically die in one or two abilities and with the downscaling of levels as you enter areas, this (mostly) remains true. This means DoTs aren’t somewhat a waste like in other PVE in MMOs (Oh hai WoW!).

Still, I can’t break the feel of mashing buttons until another ability is available in PVE.

Is GW2 dead to me already?

No. I’m not paying a monthly fee for it so I can pop back to it whenever I feel like it.

Auction House

There has been a lot of talk about the cross server Auction House… I like it. It becomes a Buyer’s market which I like but then I’ve never been one to play the Auction House or get too into Crafting that others were. I don’t care that materials cost more than finished product (even though I recognize that is ass backwards), but it really does come down to (I believe Tobold said this) supply and demand. GW2 does not take items out of the game which means there is less of a demand on the finished products. Everyone is looking to do some crafting (because it’s not overly painful to do) so there is a demand for crafting materials.