Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Gaming Log - June 29

World of Warcraft

I did some Emissaries on my Paladin. I also did a few digsites for archaeology. I do want to max it out before Shadowlands.

I also did the Nazjatar introductory quests on my Mage. I really like the way the base Fire mage plays.

World of Warcraft Classic

I decided to play my Warlock for a bit. I trekked to Loch Modan and started doing quests there. Eventually I came back to Westfall. My Warlock got to level 17.

I think I'm going to give up on dungeons in Classic. Now everyone is selling boosts, and the whole scene is weird, in addition to being difficult to find groups. Maybe I'll see how far I get with just questing.

Vikings: Wolves of Midgard

The Roman Imperium showed up! These Romans appear to be from after the conversion to Christianity, though they also worship the Vanir as well. Or possibly the Vanir substitute for Christianity in this mythology. In any case, they have catapults and paladins in addition to legionnaires.

So far, the Romans appear to be side enemies, and not directly involved in the main quest with the Jotun. But I've only done one mission with them so far, and maybe they will play a greater role.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Gaming Log - June 26

This post contains minor spoilers for the early part of Vikings: Wolves of Midgard.

World of Warcraft

I finished the Broken Shore questline on my Priest, and got the class mount. The Priest mount, the Seeker, is a bit weird looking. It's like a gryphon, but with an owl's head instead.

[Edit: Not really sure what went wrong with the picture here. I've removed it for now.]

I think I'm going to shelve the Priest for now. I'm not really enjoying healing with it for some reason.

On my Paladin, we finished Heroic Nya'lotha like normal. We did Mythic Jaina again. This time it only took us two tries, and two guildies won the mount.

Vikings: Wolves of Midgard

This game is pretty fun. So far, my character, jarl of the Ulfung tribe, has subjugated two neighboring tribes, which pay tribute in gold and iron. She's discovered that her skald is really the daughter of a troll witch and a human runeseeker, and accidentally killed the skald's brother, a full troll. (To be fair, he attacked first.) And finally she led a raid on a Jotun fortress in retaliation for the Jotun's razing of her village. And she's only level 8.

The names the NPCs use for your character are also greatly amusing. Other games go with "hero", "champion", or "Outlander". This game uses "she-wolf". At least the friendly NPCs do. Enemies are more likely to call her "Ulfung bitch".

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

First Impressions of Vikings: Wolves of Midgard

On a whim I picked up Vikings: Wolves of Midgard from Steam. It's an ARPG like Diablo where you play a Viking. It's set in a Norse mythology setting with Frost Giants trying to bring about Ragnarok.

It's not a AAA game, but it's pretty decent. The developers put a lot of effort into the Norse setting and themed the mechanics of the game to match.

There are no classes, but weapon-styles are tied to the Norse gods. For example, 2H is Thor, 1H+Shield is Tyr, Dual-Wield is Loki, etc. As you kill things you gain Blood (basically XP). Once you have enough Blood, you can sacrifice at an altar, level up and gain Gift points. Each God has a skill tree where you spend your Gift points for abilities and bonuses. The important part here is that each tree is only active while you wield a weapon of the matching type. You have two weapon sets, and can switch sets with X. For now, I'm just putting all my points in Tyr's tree, 1H + Shield.

There are 3 resource types: Gold, Iron, and Wood. You collect resources to upgrade your village. One interesting thing is that each map has 3 secondary objects (kill X goblins, break 10 flags, etc) that reward a large amount of materials and encourage you to explore the map.

For gear, you can wear all armor types, but different type have different properties. Cloth gear has less armor, but faster cooldowns. For healing you have a totem (which is an item like the others), which acts like a potion. It has three charges, but can be refilled at cauldrons on the map. There's also a dedicated 'relic' item which has a special effect, but only a few charges and a minute cooldown. For example, my current relic freezes enemies and deals damage, and started with 9 charges.

Another mechanic is that in the wilderness maps, you are exposed to the cold and can only survive for so long before you freeze to death. This is shown as an icy-blue bar under your health. You can warm up at campfires across the map. The locations of the fires are shown. As you get colder, your character starts commenting on the cold and screen takes on a frosty tint. So the map plays in an interesting fashion where you move from campfire to campfire, and you have to judge if you will make it to the next fire in time, or if you should go back to the previous fire.

The best thing about the game is that it leans heavily into the Viking mythos. For example, in the first main quest you rescue a shipwright. He builds you a longship, and you promptly set out to raid a neighboring village. No reason other than the fact that it is there. Your character even yells out, "Time to bathe in the blood of fisherfolk!"

I was quite taken aback at that. It is certainly very Viking.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Mythic Jaina

Apparently there was a quasi-exploit Horde-side where you could skip to the end of Mythic Daz'alor and only fight Jaina Proudmoore. Surprisingly, instead of removing the skip, Blizzard added an NPC for both sides that takes you directly to Jaina. This is unlocked if one character in the raid has beaten Mythic Jaina previously. This has become the newest activity in organized raiding, farming Mythic Jaina for the Mythic-only mounts.

Jaina drops two mounts for the raid, distributed via Personal Loot to people who don't have the mount yet.

The factor that makes this really viable is that there is a "cheese" strategy where you only have to do Phase 1 on the boat. You then run to Jaina, and do not interrupt her cast. Instead you just dps as hard as you can and you kill her before the cast ends. Now, at the end of expansion, a geared raid can do enough damage to make this viable.

The hard part, though, is having everyone in the raid avoid interrupting. Somewhat ironic, given all the trouble it takes to get people to interrupt when necessary.

Our guild decided to try this out after our alt raid. We only had about 10 guild members online, so we had to PuG 10 others through Party Finder. Our first couple of attempts went somewhat badly, as we had to learn Phase 1.

Then we got through to the second phase. But halfway through a PuG hunter accidently fired Countershot, interrupting Jaina's cast and putting us into the next phase where she promptly wiped us. Everyone was very unhappy. Our raid lead started insisting that people remove their interrupts from their bars, to eliminate even the possibility of interrupts.

The next attempts went pretty badly, wiping on the boat, and half the PuGs left. We replaced the PuGs and tried again. This time everything went cleanly and we got to Jaina. Everything was going smoothly, until one of the new people accidentally interrupted the cast!

After more insisting on removing the abilities on the bars, we tried again. This time was a great attempt, everyone got to Jaina alive, and we just grouped up and cleaved down people who got frozen. We beat the timer, defeating Jaina on that attempt!

Two of the PuGs got the mount.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Gaming Log - June 21

World of Warcraft

Been playing my Paladin mostly. Not doing anything special, just invasions and emissaries.

World of Warcraft Classic

I took my Rogue to Stranglethorn Vale and started working on the quests there. Mostly the Kurzen and early Nessingwary quests.


I booted up Control for the first time in a couple of weeks. I'm at the last boss of the Foundation DLC, but I'm a little stuck. The problem, of course, is that I'm out of practice now, so I die even quicker than normal. I lasted about four attempts before I gave up.

This boss is also a little different in that the boss fight is in an open room without a lot of hiding spots. Normally Control (or at least how I play) involves a lot of ducking behind walls to avoid attacks. This fight, I think is going be more about using Levitate and Shield to avoid damage.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Gaming Log - June 17

World of Warcraft Classic

I played a fair bit with the Shaman. I grouped with someone to do the troll quests on Echo Island, then finished a lot of the remaining Durotar quests.

I also did the Shaman Fire Totem quests. It took me forever to find the main NPC, because I was looking up and down the main road from Crossroads to Ashenvale. I really enjoy class quests, even simple ones like this one.

In the end the Shaman got to level 11.

World of Warcraft

I decided to play my Paladin today, doing the Pandaria invasion. I realised that I enjoy playing the Paladin much more than the Priest. Maybe it's long familiarity, but it just "flows" better than the priest. I think I don't really care for dropping in and out of Void Form. I'll probably leave the priest on the backburner for now.

As well, it turned out that the Holy Paladin Best-in-Slot Corruption, Ineffable Truth I, was up for sale. I picked up 2 of those. Unfortunately, I haven't been playing the Paladin very much since Echos were introduced, so I couldn't afford more.

Surprisingly, I'm still at negative corruption on the Paladin. I haven't had a lot of luck with corruption drops.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Gaming Log - June 16

World of Warcraft

I took the Priest to Heroic Nyalotha. We did the first 7 bosses like normal. For some reason, 4 healers showed up tonight when we normally 2-heal. So healing was fairly light and easy. I replaced both my blue trinkets and got to full epics. I think my averaged item level jumped a full 10 ilvls. I basically leeched loot from several regular cloth raiders.

I also did the Uldum invasion and World Boss on the Priest.

World of Warcraft Classic

Did a few more quests in Durotar on my Shaman, including the somewhat-hidden quest to get a bag. It's not really hidden, but it is out of the way on the tower above Razor Hill. The Shaman is now level 8.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Gaming Log - June 15

World of Warcraft Classic

I did the early quest to fight the Theramore marines in Durotar on my Shaman. I teamed up with a mage and hunter to do so. I find I'm using the Earthbind totem a lot. Of course, I'm only level 7.

World of Warcraft

I got a i445 off-hand with some corruption on my Priest. Unfortunately, it put me into the Thing from Beyond zone. I tried to do a Vision, going for the Dwarf District in Stormwind. It went well for a bit, then two Things From Beyond spawned in the middle of the fight and killed me.

I ended up going back to my previous off-hand (a blue i415 one), and this time I finished the district. Rank 6 cloak so far.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Gaming Log - June 14

World of Warcraft

Did some invasions with my Priest. Also did the Nazmir foothold. Otherwise I didn't really accomplish much. Our alt raid didn't fire, as only four people showed up.

I have a Horde Paladin which I boosted for the sole purpose of doing the rebel story in BFA. My main Horde character, a Warrior, is a Sylvanas loyalist. I never actually finished the story on my Horde paladin, so I finished up Voldun and continued on for a couple of chapters.

I think one of the biggest problems with the WoW writers is that they are just not consistent. For example, a major part of the early Horde BFA story is Thomas Zelling, a dying Kul Tiras Tidesage who becomes Forsaken in order to provide for his family. Only to be rejected by the family as a monster. Perfectly in-line with all the Forsaken themes thus far.

But then Derek Proudmoore becomes Forsaken, and he isn't rejected by his family. Maybe that's the difference between major and minor NPCs, but it feels like the different writers are just not on the same page.

World of Warcraft Classic

For some reason, I made a Orc Shaman on a different server. I got to level 5 and logged out in Razor Hill.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Gaming Log - June 11

World of Warcraft

Raid day again. We killed the last 5 bosses of Nyalotha. A pretty smooth raid, though both tanks brought alts. So we had a Demon Hunter and Warrior combo. I'm never sure which tank to Beacon when we have this combo. You want to avoid healing the Beacon tank, so it's always a guessing game about which tank will need less direct heals.

I also did Emissary Quests and N'Zoth invasions with my Priest. Ended up filling out Azerite Essences for both Holy and Shadow. Now I just need to replace my blue trinkets.

World of Warcraft Classic

Just ran around turning in quests from that Stockades run. It's a little amusing how just cleaning up can take a lot of time in Classic. I had to turn in quests in Stormwind, Lakeshire and Darkshire. I do like how quests can cross zones. In retail WoW, it often feels like zones are overly self-contained, except for the breadcrumb quest which takes you to the next zone.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Healing in WoW Classic and FFXIV

I healed a Stockades with my Priest. Another paladin tank, it looks like there are many people creating paladin tank alts. You can tell that they're alts, because they all go up the Holy tree for Consecration first.

I really like healing in Classic. It's pretty basic. The damage is moderate, but it's all about managing mana. In fact, you don't necessarily have to cast a lot of healing spells. I get by with Renew for a lot of it. The 5-second rule for mana regeneration means that you try to "batch" your healing together and then wand for a while.

It's interesting to compare to FFXIV, because you probably spend the same amount of GCDs on heals. But FFXIV doesn't really tax your mana, and their DPS spells are cheap. So you end up spending most of your GCDs on damage rather than healing.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Holy Priest Healing

I took my Priest to an "alt run" of Nyalotha Normal. We had to PuG a couple of people, but it was mostly a guild group. Thankfully the other healer was pretty geared to cover for me.

Holy Priest is a lot different from Holy Paladin. The first major change is that there are a lot more buttons. As well, most of the heals are targeted. Unlike my paladin, I found it was easier to heal by just targeting friendlies.

I find the "Word" mechanic hard to get used to. I need to get better at using those spells on cooldown. Instead of treating them as part of the rotation, I treated them as cooldowns, and didn't cast them nearly as much as I should have. WoWAnalyzer scolded me for this.

I think I've mentioned this before, but I find spells with cooldowns in the 30 to 90 second range harder to keep in mind. It's short enough that you should use them on cooldown, but long enough that they fall out of memory and are easy to forget about.

One thing, though. I thought Holy Priest was a mana-thirsty spec, but it didn't seem like it to me. I even cast a lot of Flash Heal, which is more than I should have. Maybe I'm not casting enough, or perhaps I'm supposed to be spamming the AoE heal. I did check WoWHead's Holy Priest guide beforehand, and I was trying to follow that.

Maybe I'll see if I can take the Priest to the first three bosses of Nyalotha Heroic this week, and see how healing is in the harder environment.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

A Failed Gnomeregan

I joined a Gnomeregan group on my Rogue in WoW Classic. The group was pretty good, but ultimately unsuccessful. Warrior tank, Priest healer, Rogue (me), Mage, and Warlock. We did quite well up until the final hallway before Mekkatorque. The one with the Dark Irons.

We accidentally pulled too many and wiped. We rushed back in and got past the respawns to the hallway. This time, in the middle of the fight, the mage accidentally blinked into a group of enemies and pulled them. Another wipe, but this time the priest had Soulstone on him. He ressed us, but he was low level and got too close to enemies and they came and wiped us for a third time. At this point we gave up because of all the respawns.

I did get a couple of quests done, but I still have five or so left. This is the point where finding a group becomes a lot harder, especially as the main wave of leveling characters finished so long ago. Part of me feels like it would be faster or better to just ignore dungeons and focus on solo quests.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Gaming Log - June 5

The Old Republic

I finished Onslaught with my Inquisitor. I did the Meridian Complex instance, and then the final conversations. I rejoined the Empire, killed Darth Anathiel and retook the Dark Council seat.

I really enjoyed how they referenced the original story here. Made a lot of sense for a Sith lord. It was really nice being called Darth Occulus again.

So that's Imperial Agent, Jedi Knight, and Sith Inquisitor all caught up. I'm not sure which class I will level next, though it will probably be a Republic class. However, maybe I'll take a break from The Old Republic for a bit.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Gaming Log - June 4

World of Warcraft

Raid night. We finished up Heroic Nyalotha. Nothing really unusual happened. We had a few less people than normal, only 13, so healing was pretty easy.

Now that I'm recalling the instance, I think I forgot to get Seals this week. I don't remember seeing a bonus loot roll pop up at any time.

The Old Republic

I finished up Mek-sha. This time around I sided with the rogue Mandalorians, since that was the Dark Side option.

I know that you can kill Vowrawn for playing Sith games instead of focusing on his mission, but he doesn't seem to be playing any games. His plan focuses on beating the Republic and it works well. If he solidifies control of Mek-sha as well, that's just a bonus. I wonder if there's a conversation path which makes it more obvious, or if it's just something that doesn't come across.

Oh well, on to the Meridian Complex.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Gaming Log - June 3

World of Warcraft

Not much here. Did the Stormsong dailies with my Priest as the Emissary reward was gear. Then did the Uldum invasion and initial quest.

World of Warcraft Classic

Did an elite quest for the Thandol Span bridge on my Rogue. I partnered with a gnome mage. At some point, the mage hopped up on the chain at the side of bridge. He then promptly fell off, all the way to the river below! In the end, we got the quest finished and I got the breadcrumb quest for Arathi Highlands. I reached level 32 in all that.

The Old Republic

About half-way through Mek-sha with the Sith Inquistor. It is quite amusing playing a more arrogant and cruel character.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Gaming Log - June 2

World of Warcraft

Raid night again. We did the first 7 bosses of Heroic Nyalotha again. A little bit off our usual game, as we wiped once on Xaneth, had several wipes on Vexiona, and a couple wipes on Ra-Den. We had a pretty unusual raid composition as well, with only 2 melee, but 4 Mages and 4 Hunters.

I did shift my cooldown usage on Vexiona. Normally I pop Avenging Wrath on cooldown, usually at the beginning of each dragon phase, and once in Phase 3. But since we've been going faster with higher DPS, AW usually doesn't come up again until after the second Heart of Darkness. On the kill, I saved Avenging Wrath so I could use it after the first Heart of Darkness. I think that helped stabilise Phase 3 a lot.

The Old Republic

My Inquistor finished Odessen, and is set for Mek-sha. Mostly Dark Side, though I left the king alive. Almost caught up to the current end of the story.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Gaming Log - June 1

World of Warcraft Classic

I did a Deadmines run with my Paladin. I healed it. It was actually a pretty good group: 2 Paladins, 2 Warriors, and a Warlock. Naturally, only cloth armor dropped, and the warlock made out like a bandit.

The group played well. They pulled back, dealt with patrols, and didn't rush ahead. It was a smooth, clean, and enjoyable run. About the only thing that could have gone better would have been better focus-fire, instead of splitting damage.

In some ways, these types of dungeon runs are a better experience than Retail dungeons. But even in Classic they are a bit rare, and inevitably get overtaken by boosting and other nonsense.

The Old Republic

My Inquisistor is continuing through Onslaught. She's my first Dark Side character I've taken through this, and it's amusing so far. As far as Dark Side goes, I enjoy being ruthless to my enemies. I can't, however, be ruthless to my allies. I always end up going Light Side with those choices.

Also, I got Khem Val back, which is great. There was a [Flirt] dialogue option in the conversation, which was rather concerning. I did not take that, but I'm sure it's on YouTube.

Monday, June 01, 2020

The Centralized Internet

A few days ago, I saw a discussion on Hacker News bemoaning the centralisation of the internet, and the loss of blogs and other independent sites. Most of the comments blamed Google and the other giant tech companies for this.

I don't really agree with this perspective. I'm not a big fan of the giant tech companies, but I don't think they were directly responsible for the centralisation of the internet.

In my view, the centralisation of the internet had too major causes: spam; and the fact that creators are drawn to audiences, and only rarely the other way around.

The hard truth is that there is no decentralised solution to spam. If you allow other people to post comments or content to your site, you will get inundated with spam. Only the large tech companies have managed to reduce the problem to manageable levels.

The other factor pushing centralisation is that creators are drawn to audiences, and not vice versa. 

One of the blogs I follow is Arnold Kling's Askblog. It's a nice blog on economics and politics with a lot of good commenters. Indeed, most of his posts get between 10 and 30 comments of high quality, which is quite excellent. In some ways, it's the "beau ideal" of blogs that the Hacker News people were mourning.

Yet last year, Mr. Kling started posting essays on Medium.com instead of his own site. His reasoning was basically that he wanted a larger audience.

The lesson here is that creators go where the audience is. If everyone watches videos on Youtube, then creators will make videos on Youtube.

I think that between spam and audiences, it was inevitable that the internet would centralise. A de facto carrot and the stick, one which the tech giants took advantage of.