My Thoughts on Karazhan

Karazhan launched just over a week ago. Our 5 man group has now completed it twice, so I want to write up some of my thoughts and experiences on the dungeon.

Blizzard did something a little bit different this time.

Feels like a Raid

Karazhan is not a raid (anymore), but it feels like one. I have championed the idea for years that “raids” should be available to 5 people too. Small, epic content is really something I love (conceptually, at least until now).

Going through Karazhan for the first time took us almost 4 hours. We didn’t know the fights, we had two people slightly under-geared, and I think we were pretty tired at the time. Still, knowing the fights was a huge part.

The second time clearing Karazhan took only 2.5 hours — we could have done it in 2 if I didn’t wipe us by moving on the flame rings like an idiot.

Lots and Lots of Trash

Staying true to older raids, Karazhan is packed with trash. Most of the time is spent traveling between bosses. However, unlike modern dungeons, the trash is easier but the bosses are incredibly difficult.

Boss Fights are Pretty Good

I really like a few of the boss fights. I think the final boss is one of the better bosses we’ve gone against (mechanically). The RNG involved with some of these fights is a little tedious, but not bad if you can conceptually master what’s supposed to happen.

Speed Running Karazhan

Instead of having Mythic+, Karazhan has a speed run mechanic where you have to get to a certain point fast enough to unlock a secret boss: Nightbane. Getting Nightbane takes really good gear, a ton of speed/luck, and probably the right classes too. That’s perhaps my biggest gripe about dungeons in WoW: Certain classes are just way better at bursting through trash with AOE.

Return to Karazhan Overall Thoughts

I think Blizzard did a nice job restoring an older raid into content that players can enjoy as though it were a 5-man dungeon. I would have preferred wings in order to avoid being in the place for several hours at a time, and a lot less trash would be nice.

Overall a very nice dungeon with good loot and difficulty curve.

Civilization 6 Review

I want to start off this review by saying I’m not an expert at Civilization 6. In fact, quite the opposite. I haven’t “won” a game yet, and I’m still learning how to play Civ 6 having not played a Civ game since Civ 4. However, I can talk about whether or not I’m having fun or like the game.

Civilization 6 is a turn-based 4x strategy game – “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate.” (Some people have different X’s, but you get the idea). The goal is to take your civilization from an early civilization up through a thriving world power. To win, you have to achieve one of the conditions centralized around military, culture, religion, science, or score based if no other victory conditions are met.

There’s a lot I could say about “how” one plays Civ, but for that I’ll leave you to read the in-depth guides or the videos. Suffice it to say, the game has subtle complexities that I have come to only learn by experiencing the game myself.

What I like most has to be that no two games of Civ 6 have been alike. I can play a game like Warcraft or Starcraft, and they generally all go the same way — I make the same units, use the same strategies, and generally play the same way on every map. In Civ 6 — albeit a completely different kind of strategy game — I’m rarely going to play the exact same way. The main reason for the diversity and dynamic play has to be the resources and tech tree.

Something I’m still trying to learn to be better at is planning my civilization around what I can access. For example, I thought I’d be super cool and tech fast to munitions only to find out that I had zero niter anywhere near me. Scouting better and actually thinking about requirements for making units would have made this a much easier mistake to avoid.

Civ 6 brings a lot of new features, but the main one for me so far has been the unstacking of cities into districts. Instead of all upgrades going onto jut your main home tile, you now can place districts within your city’s influence. Placing districts on certain tiles yields better results based on that districts requirements — something I’m still trying to be better at. Districts are continually upgraded throughout the game as you unlock more technology and discover new things.

Adapting to random circumstances has also proven challenging. For example, I started my last game next to FOUR barbarian outposts. For the entire first 100 turns I was living by a thread as I was continually assaulted from all sides and surrounded by barbarians. I couldn’t even make a builder because they were captured instantaneously.

Gandhi using missionaries to convert my civilization

Different world leaders also present some fun. Just when you think you caught a break by being neighbors with the peaceful Gandhi… he suddenly starts converting your people to his religion with dozens upon dozens of missionaries. And while you try and deal with stopping him without starting a holy war, Greece offers to send a peaceful “gift” and “delegation” to your capital — YEAH RIGHT.

Military gameplay has also been different. Units do not stack until much later, and even then stack less than normal. This has required a lot more thought into how I move my units across a map, and managing the units has become a lot more challenging. Military gameplay in general is something I’m also working on — especially when it comes to sieging cities with walls in the mid-late game.

Playing for a military victory feels really, really cumbersome and even a bit annoying. Perhaps it’s mean to mimic the complexities of supporting and maneuvering large forces, but it teeters on being obnoxious at times waiting for units to unintelligently move to open hexes if another becomes inadvertently filled.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer gameplay is pretty neat. Graev and I have a game going right now where we enabled simultaneous turns. The only real downside to multiplayer is that you may end up waiting a while before that player finishes their turn, and you both can start a new turn. I feel like it has almost doubled the length of the game, even with simultaneous turns enabled.

Teaming up together to strategically choke an enemy civilization or manipulate the map’s resources makes things a whole lot of fun… as long as you can trust your real life allies…

Conclusion

Overall, Civ 6 is a lot of fun, but you can’t go into this expecting a super high-velocity city conquering game. Civ 6, like its predecessors before it, is a methodical strategy game. You’ll need to plan ahead, take your time, and realize what type of victory is within your reach — and do it pretty early. On more than one occasion, I’ve realized (1-2 hours into a game) that I really can’t win. While that’s not a fun realization, I still had fun getting to to that loss.

So about that last post…

I may have jumped the gun a bit…

Xavius Boomkin DPS

Last night I took my Boomkin into our raid and absolutely crushed it. I did the best I’ve ever done. I didn’t beat the mages, shaman, or DH but I did way better than I usually do. To put this into perspective, I was doing 160-170k tops last week. Last night I was averaging 220+.

What changed? Good question. According to patch notes there was no positive change for Boomkin. In fact, some Boomkin vets say we were “nerfed” because some “snapshot” system was removed.

I did use a flask and food. Is that responsible for a 50k DPS increase? Maybe. Quite probably.

Boomkin DPS

I felt like my abilities were flowing so much smoother from one to the other. Perhaps some extremely minor GCD tweak? I played no different than any other night.

After the raid we went into Mythic dungeons and I obliterated mobs. Again I didn’t beat the OP shaman who pulled 100k dps higher than me every pull, but I I was doing 220+ on trash and bosses. I can live with that! I can totally live with middle of the pack. I feel like I can be totally viable all of a sudden.

So while nothing officially changed in patch notes, everything changed with respect to my outlook. Yep, it happened overnight. I plan to stick with Boomkin, and spec heals on an as-needed basis.

On the Eve of 7.1

WoW Patch 7.1

Major patch update 7.1 releases tomorrow, bringing with it some huge updates to WoW.

KGC (Keen and Graev’s Community WoW Guild) has progressed decently for how casual we’ve played. We spend 4 hours a week raiding, and haven’t really made a push for high level Mythic+ yet. Although we’re taking it slow, we’re still seeing the content and having fun.

Return to Karazhan

This 5-man Mythic dungeon is like a raid, and drops gear equivalent to what my team has been getting in Emerald Nightmare so far.

What I really like about 5-man content is how easy it is to get a group together and just go. When organizing 10 people, things become a lot more complicated — even when you go casual.

We should easily fill a group or two on a regular basis to clear Karazhan weekly. I’m excited for the gear, change of scenery, and the experience of new content.

Trial of Valor – 3 Boss Raid

ToV is going to be a 3 boss raid similar to the Onyxia experience. I believe the devs even stated they mean for it to be a complementary raid like Onyxia was to MC back in Vanilla. There will be little if any trash, and hopefully the whole thing goes down like a nice loot pinata.

Again, this is totally my style of play. I like shorter raid with less trash. I want to go in, do a fun boss fight, and walk away with loot. I don’t want to invest 2-3 hours clearing crap to get to a boss. Although I will say that Emerald Nightmare hasn’t been horrible in this regard either, but I’d simply prefer no trash at all.

We’re going to tackle this right when it releases.

My Great Class Struggle

I was so dead set on playing a Balance Druid. I spent the past 2 weeks really working hard on mine… then I realized that Boomkin (Balance Druids) aren’t any better off than freaking BM Hunters. In fact, both are near the bottom of the dang charts. WTF did I get myself into?

I might just give up on Balance and make a push for Feral/Guardian or Heals on my Druid — which I really do love. I love my Druid. I just HATE being that guy pulling up the rear on the DPS logs (despite knowing I perform admirably in raid boss mechanics).

I’ll spend some time working up my Feral spec for sure now that I know Balance is going to be in such a rough spot.

Edit 1: Hah, doesn’t look like Feral does much better. 😉 Heals it may be…

Edit 2: I spoke to the team and they think I should go Heals. So there it is.

Conglomoblog Update: Civ, Gears, WoW, Business

I’m sorry for the record slowdown around here. This past week was crazy with a few game launches and RL stuff.

Civilization VI

Graev and I both picked up Civ 6. I’ll be the very first to admit that I’m not as familiar with Civ as I thought I was from playing Civ 4. I get the general idea of how to play, how to take a turn, the general ideas, etc. What I don’t have down at all are the strategies or “best practices” of how to play.

My games are always SO DANG LONG. Is that normal? Right now I chalk it up to not having a strategy, therefore spending hours going in multiple directions when I should be focusing on one solid victory.

Gears of War 4

I think Graev and I are making good progress in Gear 4. We’ve come across a few major reveals in the story, and I can tell they’ve definitely set themselves up for a new trilogy.

This is one I still plan to more formally write my thoughts on, but for now I’m happy to say it’s fun and I recommend it for fans of the previous games.

WoW

KGC is still progressing in raids. We’ve moved into Heroics now, and plan to pick up the pace now that 7.1 is coming out tomorrow. I’m actually going to write another post on 7.1 here this morning.