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8

Wrath of the Lich King was the Best WoW Expansion

Something about Battle for Azeroth was announced today. Maybe a release date or prepurchase or something? I don’t know, but the news has people talking about WoW again in our community and the main topic hasn’t been contemporary.

I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know and agree with completely. Wrath of the Lich King was so far beyond and away the best WoW expansion there has been and likely — given its direction — ever will be.

What made it so good?

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6

Why Are Our Gameplay Options Being Taken Away in MMORPGs?

Yesterday’s topic about solo content missing from EQ was part of a bigger discussion I had with an EQ veteran friend. While trying to figure out why the devs removed the solo content from the game, we started discussing MMORPGs in general, and why devs don’t give people more leveling options in general.

A game like EQ is predominantly group-based experience to level up. Can you technically solo? Yes, but at a severe disadvantage in almost every case.

WoW is a game where you quest to level up. Can you still monsters for experience? Yes, but at a severely impractical rate. Interestingly, like EQ, the WoW devs changed the game. I remember playing in the first few months of launch and getting most of my experience 40-60 from grinding mobs. In fact, on more than one server I was the first level 60 Hunter and I made most of my experience from grinding — 55-60 was at these ghosts in the winter zone. It was mind-numbing, but it was efficient.

Why not let the player decide? If I’m playing a MMORPG and I want to solo, let me have my solo options. If I would rather group then give me options for grouping. If I want to hunt for treasure instead then let that be an option. Maybe have hunting for treasure come at a cost of no experience, but make it an option; Just throwing out thoughts.

I would like MMOs to be about options and open-ended choices for adventure. All of the ‘greats’ in MMO history were full of openness and choice. UO was a sandbox world without rules or expectations. There wasn’t a “this is what we should all be doing to advance” mindset. SWG let you choose a vocation and build houses, craft weapons, or hunt krayt dragons. EQ, to a much lesser extent than the aforementioned sandboxes, still let you choose a path of leveling and playing your way.

Instead of asking “is is possible” to give players the freedom to play how they want — since we know it has been done — I want to ask “why” isn’t it being done anymore. Why do you guys think our options are being taken away? Too much work to get right? Bucks the themepark trend? Too niche? I’m curious what you think is the reason, and whether or not you even want choices in your MMOs.

16

My Return of Sorts to FFXIV

Between all of the games I'm playing, I had an itch to pick up FFXIV again and see how the game has evolved.

I last played back in patch... I think it was 2.1? It was basically right before the King Moggle stuff came out. I played at launch for about 3-4 months. I did the first raid. I was in that stage of grinding for gear. The game sorta sucked in terms of content. It was rather a dull grind of the game long and rather boring dungeons.

Fast forward just under 4 years and here I am back in Eorzia.

First things first, I decided to play one of the newest jobs: Red Mage.

Red Mage are typically pretty interesting to me because they mix melee and casting. Having played for a few hour already, I can tell these RDM are far more caster. I'll write up some thoughts on the class in a future poast.

What I want to focus on today is the return experience.

I'm completely lost.

I logged in and had absolutely no friggin idea what I was doing. I had no idea where to go. I had no idea how to unlock RDM. I didn't know what any of my abilities did (on my 50 White Mage).

Returning to a game like FFXIV isn't easy, but neither is returning to any MMO 4 years later.​

With the help of some friends, I was able to figure out the very, very basics. I found out where I left off in the story, and I'm pretty much just questing through those main story quests (MSQ's) as I learn the ropes again.

I was able to get a Duty group for the Good King Moggle event.​ That was sorta fun to just jump right in and kill him.

According to the FFXIV Wiki, I'm a really... really... long way from the  Heavensward and Stormblood expansions.​ I'm on the Still Waters quest. That means I am exactly EIGHTY (80) quests away from the Heavensward expansion. 

The story is incredibly confusing. I'm not the best reader to begin with, and having so much unvoiced dialog is a little tedious. Add in the lore (which I don't understand) and the names (I don't remember and can't pronounce) and it's all a little overwhelming.

Do any of you play FFXIV? Can I skip the next 80 quests? Should I? I'm worried that I won't have the stomach to push through them. I don't want the game to feel like a quest grind where I'm running from one point to the next ad nauseam.

I'm feeling a little defeated knowing that I'm still hundreds of main story quests away from even the most recent expansion.​

What I really like:

  • Sense of story in the world (despite having a hard time figuring it out)
  • The quality of life changes like pushing a button to equip your best gear
  • Hardest content in-game is done with 8 people​
  • Novice Network (channel to help returning/new players) is really helpful. Reminds me of old school MMO people being helpful.

What I wish I knew more about:

  • How to get a house - is that even something to worry about at level 50?
  • Grouping for content - is it just queueing up in the duty finder? What should I be doing if anything?
  • Best way to tackle these MSQ's and level up (so far exp at 50 isn't moving at all on these ​7th Astral Era (Patch 2.1) quests that I'm doing.

I know this post was all over the place. Sorta matches how I feel about the game right now. I welcome our insight and help as I try and make my way through these expansions.

I'm quite intrigued by what I see so far, the Red Mage class, and have hopes that at max level the end-game content has improved since launch.

Nighthold Raid Part 1

Nighthold came out yesterday! KGC and friends took our dedicated group of 11 raiders into the new raid to test our skills against the normal mode bosses.  Normal mode drops loot significantly better than even Heroic mode Emerald Nightmare, so it’s a no-brainer for us to move on.

We entered Nighthold and easily blew through all of the initial trash pulls. Wowhead has a guide that details what should be done with the different scorpions…. we sorta just ignored it and pulled all of the trash. Yay for normal.

Skorpyron

The first boss — Skorpyron — went down with no trouble. The mechanics from the main tank perspective were a little annoying. I had to move 10 yards every 10 seconds. There’s a mechanic to hide behind crystals, but these were never in a place where I could realistically reach them. Tons of adds come if you get knocked back (which I did every single time) and overall it’s just about killing him when his vulnerability window comes up.

Chronomatic Anomaly

Second boss — Chronomatic Anomaly — was interesting. This fight is broken up into phases where things move normal speed, slow speed, and fast speed (get it? Chornomatic anomaly?). The fight is ridiculous easy on normal until the fast phase when he starts destroying the tank unless the other tank swaps as soon as their debuff wears off. Fun and fast.

Trilliax

The third boss — Trilliax — reminds me of putricide from ICC. There are slimes and goos on the ground that make a mess. There’s an element of having to clean the stuff up to make room. We botched this one bad. We ended up never having space on the floor, and we ran around like crazy. When we downed the boss we ended up all getting achievements for doing the fight a certain way. Turns out we had no idea what we were doing and did an achievement run our first go. Yay us? We’ll be reading the guide for next time.

Spellblade Aluriel

Fourth boss — Spellblade Aluriel — is where we wrapped up for the night. The three previous bosses were cleared in an hour, and then we wiped on Aluriel for an hour. She’s incredibly difficult. The fight feels like chaos until your DPS figure out the tradeoff mechanic. Then there’s the tank damage…. it’s basically a soft enrage. How many Annihilates can a tank have before they die? For me it’s 5. It’s this horrific feeling when you see Annihilate being cast and you’re like, “Guys, I’m dead in 3 seconds. Good luck.” We eventually got her down but it was hilarious — both tanks dead and it was a race to kill her before she killed the DPS. Definitely a cheering moment.

So far the raid is fun. The trash isn’t too annoying yet and the boss mechanics are neat. I’m really excited for Sunday when we go back in to finish the place.

The second trash pull of the night dropped me an 875 BoE cloak. I’m told I can make 100k on that! Woot, 2 months subscription!

I then upgraded THREE items this run, including a SET PIECE CLOAK! Super stoked about that.

This is the first time I felt strong as a tank. I’ve felt “okay’ in other raids, but this time I felt like my tanking ability was on point. I’m really looking forward to diving further into Nighthold!

6

WoW Progress Update

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done one of these. Yep, I’m still playing WoW. Does that mean I’m past the 3 monther status now?

KGC & Friends are now 7/7 Heroic Emerald Nightmare, and 3/3 Trial of Valor.

That’s quite an accomplishment for us. We are a VERY casual raiding guild — about as casual as they come. We raid 2 nights a week for 2 hours each night. Typically our raids are on Monday and Sunday at 4:30pm PST. Yep, that’s right, we raid only 4 hours a week.

One of the biggest challenges with being so casual is that we have had to fight the idea that being casual means it’s okay to be unreliable or not committed and dedicated. We had to let some people weed themselves out. Some people wanted to raid more. We had to let them go and flap their wings and fly free. Some people didn’t have the patience to wipe and thought wiping for a couple of hours on a boss wasn’t fun, and they too had to depart. That’s okay. We want people who want to play the way we play.

I’m proud of the team we have. We sort of lead by committee, and have everyone participate in the raid leader role. If someone has a suggestion, and it makes sense, then we try it. We laugh, joke, and have fun.

KGC on FenrisWe’re also very much about realizing that people have real life obligations. We have business professionals who have to miss a week at a time, USPS drivers making Christmas deliveries, etc. That’s okay. As long as people let us know they can’t make it, we can work to replace them that night. We’re not afraid to PUG, and we just have the goal of doing content every time we raid.

We’re now gearing up for when Nighthold comes out. I’m excited! Even more content and things to see and do. I ended up going full-time tank now, and have been this way for almost a month. I’m 870 item level, and having a blast.

If you’re looking for a raiding guild that fits the description above, feel free to contact me in-game (Bewear-Fenris) or leave a note here. We are definitely recruiting and have room for more like-minded players.

1

Blizzcon Roundup – My Thoughts on What Matters Most

Blizzcon has come and gone, and I want to take a few minutes to reflect back on some of the news coming from the company that has consistently captured the attention of most people in this space.

If you’re looking for more of a roundup, I recommend Shacknews. Scroll back through a few of their posts like the one reviewing WoW’s 7.2 update and the Keynote roundup. There’s also MMO Champion for the overall “what’s next” in WoW. I’m not going to cover all of the news side because I’m an opinion guy, not press or journalist.

So here’s what matters most to me, and what I’m excited about (and why).

Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer

I welcomed the news of a new ‘character pack’, despite still not knowing what I’m going to have to pay for it. This year was about 2-3 years too soon for them to announce Diablo 4. In fact, I would be upset if they did. They failed so hard on Diablo 3 — yes, I still think so even after they improved it — that I would be bothered by them immediately jumping into 4. I need to see some serious brainstorming from them before I would even trust them on it again.

The Necromancer class is fantastic, and I only wish it came out sooner. Diablo 3 is, unfortunately, on the edge of dead for me. Will this be enough to revive it…. probably not, but this next news might be…

The Darkening of Tristram

The original Diablo makes a return in The Darkening of Tristram, which is a “retrovision” look back at the original Diablo. Featuring 16 levels, a boss, old school graphics, old sound track, and four direction movement, this throw back seems like the best news to come to Diablo 3 yet — and it’s free.

Darkening of Tristram

While the Necromancer MAY bring me back, this will absolutely 100% get me to reinstall. I only wish the scope was greater than the cathedral.

What’s Next for World of Warcraft

Patch 7.1.5

Really big news coming in 7.1.5, mainly the Mists of Pandaria Time Walking and class updates (which I can only hope will be good news for me). The artifact catch up mechanics also pique my interest. One thing I really like about sticking with my Druid is that I can be a tank, a healer, a melee dps, or a caster dps. What I can’t do is keep them all up.

Patch 7.2

You want to know what I like about patch 7.2? There’s lots of neat things coming like Tomb of Sargeras, a new dungeon, more artifact talents, etc. What I like most is that THERE IS A PATCH 7.2 and Blizzard actually has a plan for this expansion.

Karazhan 2 Wings

I was just lamenting how long it takes to get through Karazhan. Well, in a few months (fingers crossed) there will be upper and lower. That’s pretty neat. But isn’t that a bit late, Blizzard? I mean, ToV is coming. Cathedral of Eternal Night (A new dungeon) is coming. We’ll have Nighthold too. Will this gear actually be that good? I suppose from the final secret boss it might be, but otherwise I can’t see needing it.

Druid Wearbear Form

Heck yes. Best news out of Blizzcon. This is so ridiculously needed, and SO FREAKING COOL!

Druid Wearbear Form

If they make this hard to obtain I’m going to rage. It’s the least they can do after making our class mount (form) look so stupid.

Druid Class Mount

Blizzcon Overall

Sort of a lackluster event. The news for World of Warcraft was fantastic. There’s not a WoW player out there who can justifiably way “that’s a let down” for the coming months. But this news didn’t need Blizzcon. Can you imagine the event if there wasn’t a Legion? “You can play some old looking Diablo levels and hey there’s some Hearthstone cards. Grats kids!”

I’m excited for when the huge year comes next year, but I think I’ll REALLY be looking forward to the year after that when they finally announce Warcraft 4.

Read between the lines here where Mike Morhaime said in a Blizzcon interview…

“We love RTS games but right now our focus is still continuing to evolve StarCraft II—and to the extent that MOBA games are RTS—continue supporting and evolving Heroes of the Storm,” Morhaime said in an interview (via GameSpot). “I love that there is so much passion and interest around Warcraft IV. I would love to see Warcraft IV at some point in the future, but that is not our current focus.”

Let’s look at the facts.

  1. He would love to see Warcraft 4.
  2. It’s not their current focus

It’s coming. The announcement will be made in 2018. They’ll release in 2020. 2020 being hindsight, hindsight being they should have done this WAY sooner. It’s coming guys. It’s coming.

6

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.

17

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.

11

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.

[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/NpCRvHZMZ54″ width=”700″]

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.

KGC & Friends Clear Emerald Nightmare!

Emerald Dream Cleansed

KGC & Friends finished up Emerald Nightmare this weekend!

We were able to beat Xavius on our first night of attempts (about an hour and a half).

The boss who gave us the most trouble was definitely Cenarius. We spent two nights of attempts on him while trying to figure out some of his mechanics. Luckily, once figured out the fight seemed to go pretty well.

cenarius-kgc

Earlier bosses were more about figuring out some mechanics, but also how to raid together and use our classes properly. We struggled at first with how many healers we would need, how many DPS, etc.

Overall, our group was did quite well for the amount of time we put in. As a casual raiding group, we put in 4 hours a week (2 hours each on Sunday and Monday) from 4:30pm-6:30pm pacific. That’s not a lot of time at all.

Each day we progressed, and I saw people learning to play both their classes better as well as playing better together. That’s what progressing through boss content is all about!

One highlight of the evening for me was being able to bring my Druid in for Xavius. We needed a little more than two healers, so I was able to squeeze out a drop of usefulness.

Emerald Nightmare Impressions

The raid itself delivered nicely. Blizzard has been teasing the raid for years saying they want to make sure they do it justice.

Emerald Nightmare definitely delivered atmospherically. I like how different parts of the world were represented. Mulgore definitely takes the prize.

Emerald Nightmare Legion Raid

Bosses looked ‘okay’ to me. None of the bosses made me go “OH WOW COOL!” except for maybe the first boss who is a dragon comprised of swarming bugs.

Mechanically the raid was good. Several new mechanics were introduced — some a little wacky — but overall straight forward.

Looking for a Raiding Group?

KGC & Friends are looking for more! We have need for DPS to join our ranks. If you’re looking for a dedicated team that will clear Normal Mode weekly and now progressing into Heroic, please join our Discord and message Keen.

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