First Dip into the Pool

Image courtesy of WoWhead

I have a confession to make.  Due to a number of circumstances (travel and work to name a few), I actually hadn’t gotten the chance to step into the Eternal Palace yet.  Crazy right? The raid-happy paladin not entering the brand new raid? Luckily, the crisis was averted last Monday. And, since I never do things by half, I jumped into Heroic for my very first run.

Thanks to an old friend with whom I used to raid with way back in the day, I was invited to their group’s Heroic Eternal Palace progression, starting on the second boss.  I’d seen the videos of the fight and read a few guides so I thought I had a vague notion of what was going down but as soon as I zoned in and found myself floating underwater, I knew I’d jumped straight into the deep end.  Fortunately, my mythic raiding gear from last tier as well as my remarkably powerful Essence meant that I had a smoother ride. It was time for some quick learning!

The Blackwater Behemoth, the second encounter in the instance, loomed before our group. (I had missed the first fight by happenstance.)  The fight itself isn’t too bad – just some light five yard spreading, a few platform transitions, some dots, and adds that must be killed spread out throughout the encounter – but it’s got one giant peculiarity.  The third dimension.  That’s right, the entire time we’re fighting that monstrous eel, we’re swimming through water.  

First pull and I’m a total mess.  Luckily, I didn’t die until the whole group was wiping, but that’s just about the only thing I did correctly.  My healing was abysmal. I’m running the Glimmer paladin build and I couldn’t seem to figure out the boss’s hit box in order to get close enough to use my Crusader’s Strike.  It took me way longer than I’d like to admit to realize that I had to swim over and touch the glowing green cloud in order to, you know, stay alive. Each of my platform crossings were like a bad re-enactment of the jellyfish scene from Finding Nemo.  The water element really messed with my head, far more than I thought it would.

However, to my credit, whenever I make a mistake with a raid mechanic, I tend not to make it again.  I’ve often joked with my friends that the first pull, I’ll purposefully make every mistake I can in order to know how to avoid them in the future.  The Blackwater Behemoth proved that trend incredibly true. By the second pull, I had a much better handle on the 3D aspect of the fight and had jumped up from the worst healer by a large margin to actually being competitive.  I was on top of mechanics (since, after all, they were not too difficult once I got over the swimming aspect). Fussypants was back in her element. 

It took us a couple more pulls to get the beast down and in that time, I really came to enjoy the fight.  It felt different from any other raid fight in a way that was engaging and fun (unlike Hellfire Assault, blarg).  The speed buff to swimming made what could have been an aggravating aspect feel smooth and natural. And I just really loved how mobile the whole fight was.  It was a perfect introductory encounter. 

Image courtesy of Blizzard Watch

Next up, we went to face the Radiance of Azshara.  Unlike the previous boss, I actually had a very good idea of the mechanics to this boss, on account of me running the Eye of Azshara dungeon in Legion far too many times to count.  There were a few new portions, such as the winds phase intermission and the tornado-releasing orbs but other than those, it was an eerily familiar encounter.  

I’d always thought that the fight was a bit overly hectic for a dungeon but scaled up to raid size, the Radiance of Azshara was perfect. The platform itself is larger than the dungeon version, giving players a lot more room to maneuver around in.  Our group split the raid in two which worked remarkably well to keep folks close enough to healers without bunching everyone up. The mechanics tended to fall pretty randomly across the field which might lead to some frustrating RNG in Mythic (where I’d assume more would be instantly lethal rather than just painful) but in Heroic, that just kept the fight unpredictable and exciting.  We beat down the Radiance in just two pulls.

The final boss for the evening was Lady Ashvane and boy, is that encounter a big step up in the difficulty department.  We only got a few pulls in before raid night was over but what I did get to see of the fight indicated its trickiness. The mechanics were more intricate than earlier bosses, demanding coordinated movement and space management.  However, the biggest hurdle appeared to be the DPS requirement. By our last pull, we were still only getting the boss to around 80% (granted, we were still figuring out the mechanics at that point). I suspect there’s a good deal more progression to grind out in that fight but what I saw so far seemed intriguing.

Overall, I quite enjoyed my little jaunt into the Eternal Palace!  I definitely want to see more of the bosses before I pass verdict on the raid in general, but the fights I saw perfectly scratched the raiding itch.  I’m a big fan of the mobility of the fights as well as the timing of damage, both of which compliment the holy paladin healing style. Big thanks again to Elandryia and their raid team for bringing me along!

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Transmog Time: For the Alliance!

Sometimes, the coolest pieces of armor are locked behind PvP requirements, which can be a bit rough for a PvE transmog fan such as yours truly. How will I be able to collect the perfect shade of that tier recolor or those wonderfully dynamic shoulderpads? I’m pretty sure no one wants my gimpy, rarely played shaman wandering around in their arenas! Luckily, with the advent of Marks of Honor, it has become a lot easier to farm up some of those previously more difficult to acquire sets, even without stepping into instanced PvP content.

All of the following transmogs have elements of PvP sets incorporated some how. Because I mostly play on the Alliance-side, I’ve started off with the Alliance-locked sets (but I promise, I’ll create a Horde equivalent eventually)! Some of the sets are class-locked but most of them are available for any user of that armor type. Additionally, many of the items have numerous gear look-alikes, so do take a peek at the WoWhead links. Enjoy!

Cool Justice

Recently, I’ve become a huge fan of the armor in WoW that borders on actually potentially realistic. Legion was perfect for this as it introduced a bunch of new model bases that look closer to what actual plate might appear like. This set is an ode to that bulkier plate look, with more subtle tones than the traditional Paladin gold.

(Apologies to Death Knights and Warriors, this is the only class-locked transmog set of the bunch!)

Electric Soldier

For this look, I was going for a more classic Alliance color scheme – blue and gold. However, I wanted a look that would suit a more elite member of the Stormwind Army perhaps (or maybe just a really patriotic mail-user). Additionally, I’m just a huge sucker for shoulders with electric elements, so I had to throw that in as well!

Windstep Traveler

Simple can sometimes be best. Inspired by the minimalistic look of the Monk PvP Wild Gladiator set, I wanted to go for a transmog with strong accent pieces offset by coordinating colors. The Alliance colors are most subtle here but it’s nonetheless constructed of the familiar blue and gold palette, albeit with a splash of red. This set is, excluding the gloves (which you can actually turn off with the changes to transmogrification!) is open to any leather user.

Seafaring Oracle

This was the outfit that inspired the article!

The only thing of value in the Trial of Valor, at least in my opinion, were the super unique transmog sets for each armor type. The cloth one, in particular, is one of my favorite sets of robes in the game! However, the original complete set includes absolutely enormous shoulders and helmet which overshadow the crisp design of the rest of the set. I paired them instead with some Battle for Azeroth cloth PvP pieces and found that the colors matched perfectly.

That should just about wrap us up for this installment of Transmog Time! I’m hoping to throw together some Horde sets for you guys soon, although I myself will likely never transmog them in-game, haha!

Overthinking It: Bread and Circuses

Welcome to Overthinking It – a column where Fussypants delves entirely too deep into something not nearly as nuanced as she’s interpreting it to be!  What follows is undoubtedly a fine collection of speculation, assumptions, and general tin-foil hattery. Today, we tackle a divisive subject: the potential impetus behind the current Battle for Azeroth expansion.

Why are the Horde and Alliance fighting once more?  This seems to be one of the quintessential questions of the current expansion – after all the destruction suffered in the string of past expansions, one would think that the collective peoples of Azeroth would like to just sit down and take a break for a moment.  But instead, we’re up and at it again, waging major campaigns against densely populated cities like there’s no tomorrow. And, with the state the planet itself is in, there may very well be no tomorrow.

There’s a lot of possible answers to this question of ‘why’.  According to Blizzard, it’s due to deeply ingrained animosity mixed with the advent of Azerite.  Talk to Blizzard detractors and it’s because the company has “lost all it’s creative juices and just keeps rehashing the same ol’ garbage for the fanbois to lap up” (no, I’m not a particular fan of this explanation).  Ask Taran Zhu and it’s because the leaves fall. Or something like that. I don’t particularly love any of these answers. So, I’m going to logic out my own.

Why are the Horde and Alliance fighting in Battle for Azeroth? One word answer: Food.

When questing through Kul’Tiras for the first time, I stumbled upon a most interesting grey item.  The Old Sailor’s Almanac wasn’t the most lucrative piece of vendor trash, worth only about 5 gold, but the riches it had were in words instead.  The flavor text of the item read “Decades of meticulous notes about the weather, tides, and navigation rendered useless by the Cataclysm.” The first time I saw this, I chuckled at the obvious surface humor.  Haha, obsolescence, amirite? But then I began to think deeper. This almanac hinted at a more serious problem than I first imagined.  

We all know about Deathwing’s rampages across Azeroth, whether we were burned directly or we quested through the altered zones.  The Barrens rendered in two. Hyjal burning. The Wetlands somehow even more wet. The Insane Earthwarden wreaked immense damage on the physical features of the world but, apparently, he also did a number on the physical cycles.  Wind patterns, ocean currents, temperatures, rainfall.  This last item is key.

In a world such as Azeroth, just as is the case in our real world, farmers, ranchers, hunters and gatherers of every kind rely on the steady and predictable cycles of nature in order to produce food.  We plant corn in the spring and apple trees in the fall. We grow barley up north and rice down south. We tend to our animals based off their rhythms, which are in turn driven by nature. Any massive disruption in these cycles can cause a cascading effect of food production failure.  Crops fail, animals die, and people starve.

When Deathwing burst free from his lair, he didn’t just cause the Stonewall Dam to fall, he disrupted something as fundamental as the weather.  That, undoubtedly, resulted in droughts and flooding which would drastically alter how everyone on Azeroth eats. Even if this effect is only temporary (and the evidence points to it being a permanent shift), a change this big would have a ripple effect outwards. 

Now, you might be saying something along the lines of “Deathwing might have ruined some farmland but he probably also created new fertile areas, right?”  You probably are correct in this assumption, but if anything, this makes the problem even worse.  Firstly, there is an issue of infrastructure.  Regions that, traditionally, have been farming hubs typically have a lot of processes built up over time that aid in that – roads, irrigation systems, the like.  These new fertile regions won’t have these things built up, which means that even though food production potential is there, it’s going to take a hot second before farmers can move in, settle, and access that.

However, there’s an even more pressing issue – much of Azeroth is contested territory.  The Horde and Alliance claim only nominal control over these regions, and they’re often pressed right up against territory of the enemy faction.  It’s a patchwork of blue and red out there and now each side is trying to consolidate.

In a way, this problem is similar to that posed by the appearance of Azerite.  We’re talking about valuable resources which have popped up in unexpected, isolated, or contested areas, which will obviously resort in a massive scramble to gather and hold.  However, there’s a critical difference between Azerite and arable farmland. Azerite is a strong military advantage. It helps immensely in warfare and could give one side the edge in battle over the other.  Arable farmland however, is vital.  If there is no food then there is no army, no matter how strong their weaponry is.  What’s more, this extends far past just the battlefield; this impacts almost every single aspect of life for every single individual of your faction.  Everyone eats after all (except maybe the Forsaken, so they’ve got a leg up here I suppose).

Image courtesy of Reddit

Let’s break this down even further.  Pretend you’re Anduin Wrynn, King of Stormwind and leader of the Alliance.  You’ve very recently assumed the throne over a very large and very diverse confederation and you want to do everything you can to ensure your people are contented with your reign.  You know the price of unrest – your mother’s death can attest to that – and you also have a pretty good idea of what causes the kind of unrest that leads your people into rebellion.  On the surface, money. People want to be able to support their families and not be thrown into abject poverty. But even simpler than that, food. People want to eat. It’s not from your universe but you’re likely familiar with the idea behind the phrase “bread and circuses”.  Bread in particular in this case.

Speaking of bread, you’re very worried about this commodity.  Westfall, the breadbasket of Stormwind, your capital city, has been suffering from drought-like conditions pretty much ever since the Cataclysm.  That’s been a lot of years now, so you’ve likely worked through much of your grain stores in the interim. Now that you’ve finally finished up fighting off the Burning Legion, this has become the most pressing issue on your agenda.  You need a new breadbasket, and fast.  

Unfortunately, so does the Horde.  While their Forsaken members may not need to eat as much, or even at all, the other citizens of the Horde definitely do.  If you’re Sylvanas Windrunner and you’re already having problems with unrest, you certainly don’t want to add to that fire by adding in a famine.  A few individual leaders dissenting is one thing, but every member of the Horde outside of your specific faction?  That’s just the kind of thing that took Garrosh Hellscream down.

Let’s say, in this scenario, there are a few WoW zones that become particularly fertile regions.  These are zones with plentiful resources. Zones with lots of good soil and water. Zones without major polluting influences like the Scourge or the Legion.  Zones adjacent to major transportation hubs. Let’s choose, for example, Darkshore and Arathi Highlands. And gee, wouldn’t you know, these two zones are already warfronts!

Some of you might be asking, where exactly does the Azerite fit in with all of it?  The resource is too important a factor to be a complete non-issue in the considerations of the Horde and Alliance.  I would generally agree with you. You remember how earlier I mentioned the idea of bread and circuses?  Azerite is our circus, folks.

Think about it this way.  The armies of the Horde and Alliance are gearing up for a big war for arable land and they need a new recruitment drive.  They previously just used the classic “Enlist to protect your families!” with the whole Burning Legion thing and now they need a new angle.  Unfortunately, while food is an important part of a happy populace, it doesn’t make as good as a motivating cry unless your people are already starving (and there’s been little evidence I could find which points to that being the case).  If you offer food as the reason people should go to war and lay down their lives, they’re going to scoff at you and walk away.  It just doesn’t seem that dire yet, even if it is. Your citizens see their own personal little picture, not the overarching big one.

What you need is something more dangerous, more exciting, and more explosive.  You need a new threat which merits response even when people are tired and war weary.  Enter Azerite.  A glittery material literally oozing from the world’s pore (enjoy this imagery) with the potential to save your life or end it.  And look, the enemy might get it first!  Now that’s a good recruitment pitch.  That’s a good circus.

While the Horde and Alliance may have their official rhetoric about the volatile new threat of Azerite, the mineral merely acts as a reason to go to war rather than the underlying cause.  The Horde and Alliance fight because of food.  The two factions battle it out because they need reliable breadbaskets to feed their people if they hope to do anything in the future, and that anything even includes eventually making peace.  Both sides are vulnerable right now, and in that vulnerability, they’re frantically scrambling for basic resources.  The current war may be complicated, with dozens of moving parts and conflicting players but the motivating factor is quite simple.  Folks need to eat. 

Or, ya know, maybe I’m just adding way too much realism to my video games.  But hey, it’s a fun thought experiment!

A Path Forward

About two weeks ago, I wrote something along the lines that writing helps me clarify my thoughts.  The very act of putting words to a page, even if the words themselves weren’t the answer, would help me organize through situations to find the eventual solution.  It was also about a week ago that I was writing about my inability to decide where next in the game I was going. You see where this is heading?

Tongue in cheek implications aside, it seems I am no longer at the crossroads I wrote about previously.

I ended up choosing a version of Option 2 from our three choices of yesterweek.  Mythic raiding is on long term hiatus for me, but as I wrote about last week, I’m doing so in exchange for my absolute favorite thing about the game: my friends.

Shortly after writing the article last Wednesday, I reach out to my good friend Dame who had been the co-GM of Praetorian Guard/Objectively Bad.  The two of us talked and realized that, while others may be able to move on, we still very much missed playing WoW in a social setting. We reached out to the other members of the guild and found that not everyone had moved onto other mythic teams or other games.  Indeed, there were a number of people in the same boat we were in – wanting to play WoW but not wanting to find a new guild.

Dame and I realized that, within the end of the last guild was the beginnings of a new one.  No longer a mythic raiding guild – we didn’t have the manpower or inclination for that any longer – but instead something a bit less intense.  A casual heroic guild? We gave it a week of discussion and thought. This wasn’t just a pipe dream; this was doable. The infrastructure was there, the people were there, the only thing missing were the people to give the plan one final push.  The instigators, if you will.

What better instigators than a pair of friends so much on the same wavelength that we find the same Toilets With Threatening Auras twitter account to show each other?

All of this has been to say that I, Fussypants, and returning, not only to heroic raiding but also to guild leading.  And this time, I’ve got an official title.

Co-Guildmaster of Proudmoore’s very own Objectively Bad.

(Has a nice ring to it!)

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t super excited.  Sure, I know this won’t be a walk in the park (as leadership rarely is!) but what Dame and I are doing just feels right.  We’re extremely good about communication.  We’re putting an emphasis on transparency. And we have a very similar goal – to reconstruct a guild family, partially out of the old and partially out of the new, that is friendly, funny, and inclusive.  Along with some raiding in there, of course!

So why this blog post?  Well, you know how I said partially out of the new?

*Cue elevator pitch*

<Objectively Bad> is a casual Alliance heroic raiding guild located on Proudmoore-US and we want you!  We’re an LGBTQ+ inclusive family that loves chungy memes and wholesome content alike.  Raiding atmosphere-wise, we stress a balance between progression and jokes, and we also understand that people have lives outside of the game.  Our raid night is Monday 9pm-12am EST (6-9pm PST) with a potential addition of Sunday 9-11pm EST (6-8pm PST). Additionally, we play a LOT of games outside of WOW, so if you’re looking for a multi-game community, we’ve got you covered!

If we sound like the group for you, feel free to reach out! You can message me on Discord (Fussypants#4821) or on Twitter (@TheFussypants).  Can’t wait to meet you!

A Crossroads

It’s been three weeks and I don’t know how to write this. I’ve tried multiple times, drafting about 5,000 words in total and still, I can’t manage to put my thoughts down on the page in a manner that I like and that seems true to my emotions. However, it’s been too long a wait at this point. I can’t hold out for perfect, I need to achieve ‘completed’.

Firstly, hi! Long time no see! In the months since I last wrote consistently, life has been totally crazy for me. I helped raise $36,255.17 for the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital through the Perky Pugs Violet Spellwing campaign. I coordinated over half a dozen Herald of the Titans runs. I raided on mythic difficulty, and for real this time. I started college, moved across the country, joined my school’s debate team and was actually halfway decent at it. I’ve been writing and writing and writing, but almost none of it has made its way here.

Speaking of here, I’ve missed the blog. With a million other things all demanding my attention at once, I’ve found myself absent from my little corner of the internet. My dad and I both still play the game (more on this in a second) and we definitely still talk about it but we haven’t found the time to write much of anything. I can’t speak for my father, but I know for me personally, I miss writing greatly. There was nothing like drafting a blog post to organize my thoughts and light my creative spark. Writing made me want to play the game more and, as the writing has fallen off the way side, so has my gaming.

The bitter reality is I don’t play as much WoW as I used to. Much of this is due to straight up scheduling; I’ve sort of jumped into just about everything I could have at school – a jam-packed academic schedule, a number of intense clubs, and a job all at once – which leaves me with little time to do anything else. The other issue, however, is that I’m just not as interested in the game as I once was. Both I and my father still play but we almost never play together. I’ve been finding it harder and harder to motivate to log on with the massive amount of “wizard chores” that await me in-game. I’ve barely touched my alts, and those used to be my biggest passions. Perhaps it is me who has changed, and perhaps it is the game that has changed, but regardless of the cause, the effect is that I’m just not playing nearly as much as I was before.

That being said, I’m still deeply invested in the story and the community of the game. I actually quite like the lore of Battle for Azeroth – it’s much more of the actual in-game mechanics that bore me. And I would play pretty much any game so long as the people are friendly and funny, and I have been lucky to know tons of people like that in Azeroth. It’s these two factors (along with the sheer amount of time I’ve already invested) that have kept me from leaving entirely. I’m definitely not done with the game. However, that leaves me unsure of where I stand.

Throughout this recent period of low energy however, I have maintained my love of raiding. With my spectacular guild Praetorian Guard/Objectively Bad, I’ve gotten to see content I would have never thought and challenge my gameplay in ways I never have before. Additionally, I’ve gotten close with a group of people who are truly, truly, special. I am going to Blizzcon this year (side note: hype!) purely because I want to hang out with my guild. They are fantastic people and I am so blessed to call them my friends.
That brings me all the way back to the event which happened three weeks ago, the one I’m still struggling to parse through.

Three weeks ago, my guild met and came to the decision that we would be retiring from raiding for the foreseeable future.

The decision was spearheaded by our guild/raid leader who realized that he no longer had the passion for the game that he once had, and that he didn’t find it fair to us to continue leading the group by only giving half effort. His sentiments were shared by a number of our team. We are definitely not disbanding as a guild, but instead transitioning into a multigame friend group instead of exclusively a WoW raiding team.

It was the right decision to make. And, it was such a hard one to take.
As I mentioned earlier, tow of my biggest passions in the game are raiding and community. Since my enjoyment of raiding is largely due to the social, team-building aspect, that reveals my truest motivation to be the people I play with. I’m not my dad – I can’t play the game barely interacting. I love logging in and chatting with people. So where do I go in WoW when the people have gone?

This is the crossroads I’ve been stuck at for three weeks now. Do I go and find a new raid team? That option carries the baggage of having to make entirely new friends, which is a challenge I’m willing to undertake but one that would be a lot of work. Do I create a raid team out of the friends I have in the game? This option makes building relationships much easier but returning to raiding becomes a much more difficult task. Or, do I give up the game entirely? It churns my stomach to contemplate the last option but it is arguable the easiest path to take.

If I do choose to continue playing and continue raiding, that begets the further question of whether or not I opt for mythic or heroic difficulty. My school schedule begs for heroic, but my personal enjoyment of the game pines for mythic. I have the most fun doing mythic raids, but I’m not convinced I’ll have the available free time to complete all the out-of-raid chores that mythic raiding requires. Furthermore, the likelihood of me finding a mythic team that is flexible with my sometimes erratic college schedule are probably very slim. That being said, it is so hard for me to step down, knowing I have the skill-set (if not the time) to push harder.

I don’t have the answers yet. With the new raid coming, I should be settling on an option, especially considering the first two paths, but instead, I tread water. Maybe, hopefully, writing this all out with make things clearer, but right now, I just don’t know.

One thing is for sure though, I’m casting Resurrection on this blog!

Draecember 2018: Tattoo

Image created by @rurukatt

Welcome to the second day of Draecember! (Do ignore the fact that it’s the fifth day in the month.)  Today’s theme was Tattoo.

A bit of background before I jump into the vignette – this story takes place very early after Kya and Letuus met Mikri for the first time.  There’s still a little residual awkwardness as neither of the draenei quite know what to do with this easily excitable gnome.  Also, this story is far more lighthearted than yesterday’s, thank goodness.

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Draecember 2018: Hugging Someone

Image created by @rurukatt

Happy Draecember everyone!  But what is Draecember you ask? Draecember is an event celebrating the WoW Draenei race (one of my personal favorite races in the game) through art and writing! It was created by the absolutely fantastic rurukatt, and you can find out more information about the event here.

This year, in the boundless amount of free time that I’ve had in college, I’ve decided to give the event a whirl for as long as I can! I will be posting my short vignettes and illustrations here on the blog.  Please enjoy this little bit of personal writing I’ve been able to squeeze in between college essays and reports!

Today’s theme was Hugging Someone.

(Small content warning: the contents of this story are a touch emotionally charged.)

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