Friday, July 29, 2022

Ending Those Joyous Journeys

If you're like me and try to avoid unnecessary buffs/boosts whenever possible*, the advent of the so-called "Joyous Journeys" 50% XP buff to TBC Classic probably has you a bit annoyed. Another annoyance is that you can't right-click on the buff itself to remove it whenever you want to, unlike most of the other buffs you acquire.

Well, I stumbled on the solution to this problem:

The Innkeepers.

You can select any Innkeeper you want, and guess what the options are:

I guess that player right next to Card is
into Iron Maiden.

Well well well...

Thank goodness.

You click on it, and at first it appears to do nothing. Until you hover over the Joyous Journeys buff....

Ah... Better.

You can go back and talk to the Innkeeper again and re-enable the buff:

And there it is.

I can also inform people that WoW does in fact remember to keep the buff set to 0% if you logout and log back in again, so you don't have to disable it every single time you relog.

*Not because of "hardmode" but because of the potential for outleveling zones/areas so quickly I never get the chance to properly finish an area before I shoot past the recommended level range. Well, there might be a bit of "hardmode" to it as well, and more than a bit of stubbornness involved.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Third Party Ponderables

Just how important are achievements to the Retail community?

It may not seem like big deal, but I wondered about it today because I was thinking about the "arms race" that Blizz found itself engaged with addons such as Deadly Boss Mods. According to far too many videos and blog posts I've come across over the past couple of years, the complexity of raids has amped up by Blizz in an attempt to counter DBM --and other third party addons-- providing a counter to the already existing boss mechanics. DBM provides alerts on certain mechanics, so Blizz makes them more complex, so DBM adjusts to compensate for the complex mechanics, and so on and so forth.

But I wondered about achievements for a pretty simple reason: Blizz has the ability to sense third party addons and if it detects them Blizz has the ability to encode a change to WoW to block Achievements based on the presence of said third party addons. 

Think of it this way: you push hard for a World First kill, and you finally GET IT, but Blizz denies you the Achievement because you were using addons.

Or certain types of addons that wait for certain flags and act on those flags.

Such as DBM.


I'd presume that the WoW Community would be a wee bit upset about that, but just how upset is something I have no insight on.

If WoW wanted to kill off addons, that's one way of achieving that goal without resorting to an official ban on addons, that's for sure. Of course, Blizz would have to dial back the boss mechanics if they wanted to give raids a fighting chance against them, but still...

Yeah, I think the "popping of the DBM bubble" like the Fed raising interest rates is probably an extreme solution to the problem, but I have no idea just how raids would function in a "no addons allowed" WoW environment. It obviously works in other MMOs, such as FF XIV and SWTOR, but WoW is an MMO built upon third party addons like DBM and ElvUI.


EtA: Changed some grammar.

Monday, July 25, 2022

A Necessary Distinction

Okay, let's be real for a minute here.

It's easy to look at my excitement at my last couple of posts and think that ol' Red here is all in on Wrath Classic. After all, I positively geeked out over the initial landing in Northrend from the Horde and Alliance side at Borean Tundra, and there's these that I did last night:

"Nice to see we're both on the same
page, Sir." --Quintalan

"Who the hell stuffed a ship
up there?" --Linna

And like an idiot I didn't realize there was a "Pets" tab in the character window --which is where the mounts live-- and I ended up submitting a ticket for "my Charger isn't in the spell window". 


This is all well and good, and yes, I was excited for a return to Northrend. That hasn't changed.

But what also hasn't changed is my sense of dread about how Wrath Classic will end up in implementation.


Despite everything, TBC Classic had one thing going for it: I really liked the story. Okay, I also liked the setting and the class changes and even the grind itself*, I'm not going to dissemble here. The story in TBC Classic, much like Vanilla's decentralized stories, had so many enjoyable parts that you can tell there was a lot of thought that went into how to make two erstwhile allies hate each other, and how to bring them together. (And no, I'm not talking about the Queldorei and Sindorei, either.)

I wouldn't have written those Letters from... posts if I hated the content.

What I hated about TBC Classic had nothing to do with the game itself, but rather how people decided the game should be played.

That's a huge distinction, but the most important one if we're to understand what happened to TBC Classic and my own enjoyment of it.

Remember this video?

It showed up on my "recommended" video list again for some reason, and I thought I might as well listen once more while I was leveling weapon skills for Cardwyn 1.0.**

You'd think that I wouldn't necessarily want to revisit this, because it would remind me of the past year or so, but I also think that it's important to understand why things became the way they did in TBC Classic. Just saying "people brought a Retail mentality to Classic" isn't enough, because there's plenty of room for misinterpretation.

The crux of the video --for me, anyway-- was when All-Trades Jack presented a flowchart on what it took to raid in Shadowlands, and how if he wanted to raid with his guild when the raids opened three weeks after the expac launched he had to follow an insane timeline expressed in the flowchart. 

"In order to raid with my guild, I first had to get to level cap in about five days. This was necessary so I could do end game dungeons and start grinding renown. I had to look up a class guide so I could pick out the best talents, the best covenant and find the best gear. I had to look up a legendary guide to help me identify the best legendary for Fire Mages and which dungeon or wing of Torghast I had to grind in order to obtain it. I had to look up a guide to tell me what my weekly checklist should be in order to make gold, stockpile anima, get soul ash, and farm consumables for myself and my guild. I had to look up guides to the Castle Nathria boss mechanics and make sure I was aware of what my role would be to counter them. I had to look up guides on my ability rotation as a Fire Mage and how to maximize DPS as a caster while constantly on the move in the raid. I had to download a list of add-ons that gave me a number of advantages that are necessary to perform at a raiding level...   ...All of this just to join my guild in our attempt to complete the entry-level difficulty for Castle Nathria. Just this preparation was a commitment, and you know what? Even after doing all of this I was still third from the bottom on the DPS meter. My guildies were much more dedicated and skilled than I was." 
--All-Trades Jack, "This Game Wasn't Meant For You | World of Warcraft vs. Casual Players"

Does that sound familiar? It tracks very closely with all of the attunements and gearing that everybody was blitzing through in TBC Classic just to get to raid Karazhan and Gruul/Mags. 

Okay, maybe not "everybody", but it was the meta, and a lot of people were following it religiously. Even when I was about in Outland on Briganaa and I'd run into someone needing help with a group quest, conversation inevitably turned to the pace of getting through everything in time to raid. Some guilds used the buddy system, where guildies were in groups of five so they could run instances and level together, other guilds used what Valhalla did and said "just group up! And ask for help and we'll get you help!"

Narrator: For the leveling Shamans, they became familiar with the term 'New phone; who dis?'

But far and away, the meta was what people followed, and they did so with a goal oriented mentality more typically of what you'd find out of recent college grads gunning for an office cubicle at a Fortune 500 company.

I was no different, and as I alluded to with my snarky comment above, being a leveling Shaman/Paladin*** meant you had a longer road to travel than anybody else. 


Let's not make any bones about it: was it fun?

“And yeah, players will still complain about anything that slows them down because players want to consume as quickly as possible, but complaining is just what MMO players do. Really, modern MMO players are so goal oriented that they never seem to consider what’s actually fun. Players just chase their goals and hope fun will follow as a consequence.”
–Neverknowsbest, from “How to save the MMO genre once and for all”

For some people, yes. Or at least they put on a happy face about it.

For others, including me, no. It was a grind that, once you got to the end of leveling, you began grinding again so you could get the attunements and then the gear necessary to raid. Once you began raiding, there was pressure to 'keep up with the Joneses' and raid as much as you could to clear all the content so you could do it all over again on the next phase of raiding. The feeling of doing something greater than yourself, of being a part of something big, and truly accomplishing something was lost in the constant race to get ready for the next raid.

As I've alluded to in the past, the Classic WoW team did nobody any favors by accelerating the timetable for TBC Classic and effectively forcing progression oriented guilds into a more pressure packed environment than they signed up for. Sure, a lot of progression teams wanted this --or they said they did-- but quite a few imploded under the pressure. And even more had to constantly plug holes in their raid team as people burned out and left. To use a sports analogy, there were those raiding teams that were like the University of Alabama's football team, who have their pick of the best players, and there's everybody else, who have to work hard to just stay afloat.

One of my fellow leveling Shamans that dropped out last November told me recently that TBC Classic was not what they envisioned it would be; she felt too much pressure to level and get things done than what she wanted, and she was enjoying life in Final Fantasy XIV far more than she did in TBC Classic. 

It was only when I began leveling Linna and Neve in Outland that I truly began to enjoy the expac itself, but it was far too late to prevent the entirety of TBC Classic from being tainted in my memory. It just goes to show that it wasn't the content itself that I disliked, it was how I was pressured into approaching the content.

I wanted to raid, and I was given the opportunity to raid lead as well, and I wanted to make the most of this opportunity. Was the price worth it?

From where I stand now, no.

I have derived more enjoyment from exploring Outland and leveling alts than I did on my main. Withdrawal pangs aside, I have gotten more enjoyment out of not raiding than raiding. This includes the Friday Karazhan runs, which would frequently give me heartburn while I made sure we had enough tanks and healers before raid time itself. It was a very rare occasion indeed where I didn't have to get on the guild's LFG channel and ask for people to join the raid.


This brings me to Wrath Classic.

I have enjoyed the Beta so far for two reasons: I am under absolutely no pressure to level quickly, and there aren't that many people out in the Beta, either.

My questing buddy mentioned the lack of raiding when she told me how much she was enjoying the Beta, because for her she'd been in "raid mode" for over a year. When you take that burden away, you can simply start to breathe again and enjoy things that you used to just rush through because it was a roadblock to the next item on the checklist.

Among the many topics my questing buddy and I chatted about the last time the two of us were out in the Beta together, we discussed the choke points for leveling. Having had her second toon out there leveling in Borean Tundra, she pointed out the various areas where there were going to be choke points, such as killing those mini bosses scattered throughout the zone. Typically those are at the end of a three or four quest cycle, and if there isn't a crowd it's no big deal. But imagining what it is going to be like on release day on these megaservers, it's going to be an absolute nuthouse. There's going to be a lot of frustration trying to down these mini bosses and keep pace with leveling.

Or, as I suggested, people are just going to make a beeline straight into Utgarde Keep and just level exclusively through instances up to L80 and then quest for gold making purposes.

Because a critical mass of players consume content like locusts.

For me, however, if I keep my mains on Myzrael I'll be able to avoid the crush of people trying to get to L80. My questing buddy will be able to farm for herbs without dealing with the constant camping and bot activity on the megaservers. 

Additionally, not being in the franken guild that is the merged guild means I won't have to read about how fast people are blitzing through content, seeing the cliques ignoring each other and remaining in their own silos, and people pushing hard to be raiding as quickly as possible.

I will be attempting to hold onto that sense of wonder that I had when I first took the time to look around in Northrend without rushing from quest to quest, and simply say "Wow. This is amazing."

And Atheren, if and when Myz is shuttered --or maybe even before then-- I might move some of my toons your way. Bloodsail Buccaneers is the only RP PvE server in North America, and since it serves such a niche role, it's not likely to go away.

*Except the Nesingwary quests. I hate those, despite that they're great if you're a Skinner and need leather for leveling Leatherworking.

**Or the OG Cardwyn. Not sure which one I prefer.

***Or leveling a new toon with a different class entirely.

EtA: Fixed some grammar.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

And On The Other Side

It's a safe bet to claim that Cardwyn is the toon I love the most, and doubtless due in no small part to my attempts at writing fiction, but of my old toons, it's pretty much a tie between Neve and Quintalan.

Since that's the case, I created Neve on the Wrath Classic Beta because I'm more familiar with a Mage than a Paladin at the moment.*

I accidentally selected a more auburn hair color for Neve than brown, but I'll handwave it off to being out in that Outland sun all the time.

Of course you can't tell what her
hair color is with that helm on. /sigh

Since I knew the drill on creating a Beta version of Cardwyn, I opened up talent trees and filled in all the Frost tree that I could. Then, I set about filling in my bar and...

"Where are my portals/teleports?" I blurted out loud.

Blizz kind of missed them when they created a Beta L70 for Neve. Card may have only been missing the ports for The Exodar, but Neve was missing ALL OF THEM.

So, my first hour in Wrath Classic Beta on the Horde side was spent shuttling back and forth to the various capital cities --plus Stonard and Shattrath-- and collecting the port/teleport spells.

Then it was back to Orgrimmar and onto a zeppelin bound for Northrend.

My first trip to Northrend back in original Wrath was not to Borean Tundra, but rather to Vengeance Landing, the Forsaken outpost on the other side of the continent. Why? Because Souldat, my erstwhile co-blogger, thought it was more interesting than Borean Tundra. So I flew in to Vengeance Landing, and tagged along with Soul and his wife while we quested. Although to be perfectly honest, I fell behind on questing as they were cruising along --Soul was about midway through the L70s at least, and his wife was a couple of levels higher than me-- and I just kind of made a mental note to go back on my own and make up for the quests I hadn't finished.**

Although it wasn't my first time into Northrend, when I did hop on Quintalan some days afterward and actually ride to Warsong Hold, it was obviously the far more dramatic entrance into Northrend. And it stuck with me all these years later.

So here was Neve's chance to have that big dramatic entrance, and she as a decorated Magistrix made the most of it.

She was originally stuck with a kodo
--a kodo!-- and I made a slight
detour and corrected that.

The foghorn sounding as the zeppelin
comes to a stop still gives me a thrill.

"Yeah, about that. Can I please
report to Saurfang instead?"

Walking through the Hold...

...because that's what is expected of a Magistrix.

"High Overlord, requesting permission to put
Young Hellscream in the corner for a time out."
"/sigh Request denied."
"Damn. How about a good spanking?"
"Really, Magistrix?"

*I'm pretty sure that Linna is feeling a bit pissed by that observation.

**Now you know where my reticence toward "holding back" people I'm grouping with comes from. That ol' Midwestern "I'd rather not be a bother to people" thing.

Friday, July 22, 2022

There is Always Hope

So... I got an interesting little email last evening...


I guess they're letting every Tom, Dick, and Harry into the Wrath Classic Beta if they let me in. Especially since I didn't try to get a beta key either.

"Unforgiving cold of Northrend"?
Haven't you ever heard of Hoth?

Anyway, my questing buddy was already knee deep in the Beta, so she actually squealed with delight when I shared the screencap with her on Discord.

"Want to play on the Beta tonight??"

I couldn't say no to that, so I downloaded the Wrath Beta and started it up: 

This was what I saw when I started playing WoW,
so I got all the feels. I have no idea if that
was what some of my friends who started in
BC or Vanilla felt when they saw their loading
screen, but I now finally feel like I'm home.

And that Wrath intro soundtrack piece...

Instead of porting a toon over, I created yet another Cardwyn.

I swear those shoulders look like
they're made of metal. But I like the
look of her robes.

Yes, I've kind of gotten used to doing that.

I logged in, putzed around in Stormwind while I waited for my questing buddy, and realized that Beta Card was missing the Portal/Teleport spell for The Exodar.

"Oh, that won't do at all!" And away to Azuremist I went.

On the way up there, by questing buddy logged in, and I told her that I was getting the Portal for Exodar.

"You didn't import your original Card???"

"Yeah, I figured it's not a big deal. And one bonus is that Blizz gave me more gold than what Card 1.0 actually has!"*


I got to the Exodar and grabbed the spells, then I headed for Alterac.

"Where are you going now?"



"Because I've always wanted to do this:"

...and have it be relevant, too.

Once I was finished, the next couple of hours were spent putzing around and questing around Northred with my questing buddy. I thought I got more screenshots in than I actually did, but when I got off the ship to Valiance Keep, it felt like I was coming home. I can't wait to take the zeppelin from Orgrimmar to Warsong Hold, because when the zeppelin flies into the hold.... Wow. Just wow.

But even though Card 1.0 took TBC Classic off, and (story wise) she spent her time at the farm dealing with her PTSD, it actually hit home when the early quests were happy to see you because you're considered a known entity. This first time, in Wrath, it feels good. Card defeated Onyxia and Nefarian. She was there when C'thun was defeated.

And she's back to finish the job with Kel'Thuzad.

This acknowledgement by NPCs that you're pretty damn good at what you do doesn't feel so old like it does by the time you reach Mists. 

I'll be poking around a bit more with my questing buddy, but I wanted to leave you with this screenshot:

Ah... My old friend.

Remember this? The beginning seed quest for the entire Coldarra questline, which also leads into The Nexus, The Oculus, the Malygos raid, and Dalaran.

I wonder what Haleh would have thought of this?

*1.0 has about 150 gold, while Blizz gave Beta Card about 950-ish gold.

EtA: Corrected a grammar error.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

And That's That

The other day I logged in to Briganaa to putz around for a few before my slate of morning meetings, and the discussion among a few of us that were on in guild was whether the patch for TBC Classic was going in this week or next week. Then, naturally, the downtime alerts showed up.

Well, crap, I thought.

"Hang on a sec," I replied in gchat, and hopped onto Cardwyn.

"Done," I said in gchat.

"Huh?" asked my old Mage Lead.


Before anybody asks, yes, I did say "thanks".

Probably was over four weeks, but I wasn't about to go fact check when the server was being shut down.

After a few more congrats, I dropped and hopped on Neve.

Because Mages stick together.

There was nobody on my Horde guild at the time (I think), so there was no reason to say anything, but the morning crew was well aware of my long grind to L70 on Card. Their congrats were very much worth it. 

And now I get to train, use the Tomes I've acquired (on Card; Neve doesn't have any), and start figuring out what lingering old quests are out there that need finishing.

EtA: I can't believe I missed the "to" ON THE FIRST SENTENCE. /sigh

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

And Just Like That...

 ...the Monday raid came to an end.

After last night's raid, where they failed to down Kalecgos, there was an announcement in Team Loki's chat that the raid leadership had made the difficult decision to shutter the Monday raid. It was becoming too difficult to recruit given that Alliance players were abandoning Myzrael-US in droves, and while there was an option floated about moving the Monday raid entirely to Atiesh-US for next week, apparently enough people didn't want to move that it would be difficult to replace them on the fly. 

I know that things were difficult in keeping a single day/week raid going --I mean, I was in the Monday raid up through Phase 2, so I know this personally-- but I also know that the grind as well as the perception that the Monday raid team was somehow "less than" hardcore enough that it became mentally taxing to a lot of people. 


Yes, I was aware of how mentally taxing the perception that the Monday raid was a bunch of "casuals" was. I kept my mouth shut about it in general, both here and in guild, because it wasn't my place to say anything as I was no longer progression raiding*, but I knew it really became a thing when we were unable to get people to come to our Saturday afternoon/evening Zul'Aman runs.

That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, of course. If you avoid running with people because they're "not hardcore enough" then they have to backfill with undergeared alts who can't clear content quickly enough, so the perception is reinforced that "they're too casual" or "they're not good enough". Rinse and repeat.

Sure, there were other issues with the Saturday ZA raids, such as other raids happening that would suck away personnel and we were caught in the crossfire, but perceptions are hard to shake.


Now that the Monday raid is well and truly dead, I guess I'll have to come to grips with the small(ish) fantasy I had that somehow I could get back into progression raiding before Wrath Classic dropped. 

I mean, I now have the time on Monday nights to be able to raid again, but I am so far behind --both in gear and more importantly in understanding the fights-- that there's little chance of me catching up in time. As my questing buddy put it the other day, by the time the Shamans were really needed in progression raiding (in Mount Hyjal), there were so few left of the original group of leveling shamans that it was essentially worthless to make them run through the gauntlet at the beginning of TBC Classic. All it did was burn them out and cause them to quit.

Gear drops --or a lack thereof-- also hurt the Monday raid. For most of Phase 2, we got so few decent drops out of SSC and TK that it really hurt our DPS and Tank output. When your Pally tanks and Warlocks are both competing for the same tier gear, and both need the same drops off of Vashj and Kael'Thas, then that's going to hurt your raiding quite a bit. Chasing the BiS gear --and not getting it-- was mentally taxing on my questing buddy too. I did my best to try to support her and the others with the Friday Karazhan raids (badges, you know), but I was pretty limited in what I could do without burning her out further.


At times like this, I just wish I could have done more to help out and keep the raid running. Even though I know intellectually that you can only do so much, that doesn't stop those feelings from coming. You never really stop caring, and when you say you've stopped caring that's probably when you actually care the most.

Yes, there's a selfish element to all this, because I'd love to be able to stick it to the doubters, and even more than that I'd love to finish my personal goals in TBC Classic. But part of being an adult is that while I can keep my dreams, I can also acknowledge reality. 

*It was brought up with raid leadership as well.

Monday, July 18, 2022

A Collection of Guild Names

While I've been roaming around Atiesh-US --and on the Horde side of Myzrael-US-- I've come across, well, a lot of creative guild names. While I was out questing, I was inspired by Njessi's Hawtpants of the Old Republic and her periodic posts on Bad Fashion and her Hall of Shame to take screenshots of some of these guilds.

Yes, a lot of them are walking Dad Jokes...

I always wondered what a group
of Karens was called.

And others skirt the edge of PG-13...

I guess I know what wands their casters use...

I think I found the guild the people in those
Viagra commercials are members of...

There are those that shrug off any whiff of cynicism with their positivity...

"And top o' the mornin' to ye!"

Uh... thanks?

"...because I learned it from you, Dad!!"

But there are those that provide a bit of entertainment simply by being a fictional part of the game...

I can get behind this.

And finally there are those guilds that bring up their status in game...

Boy, do I. Thanks a LOT for reminding me.

What if you're TWO tiers behind?

At least it's well identified.

"I think I can... I think I can..."

I've met plenty of happy or crazy
or loopy gnomes, but sad ones?

Shinies for everyone!!

EtA: Corrected a grammatical error.