Looking For Relief

For those wondering if I were dead, I’ve been away on vacation. If you are friends with me on Twitter, you know full well where I’ve been, as I spammed you pictures of touristy locations coupled with pithy sayings all week.

I regret nothing.

While I was AFK, the Warcraft world went bugnuts with not one but TWO big things, the live release of the Hearthsteed and the pre-release sale of Warlords of Draenor with it’s included boost to level 90.

I guess y’all should take up a collection, send me off to vacation so Blizzard moves on it’s release schedule, right? Because it’s all about me, right?

Oh, probably just a coincidence then.

Anyway.

The Altmother┬átalked about her trials and tribulations along the way to the Hearthsteed, so I won’t rehash all that. By now, you’ve either got your own or are well on your way.

I logged into Hearthstone, fired up the Hunter deck, and knocked out two wins out of four to get my mount achievement.

Yes, I got my mount after only two earned wins.

See, I don’t know WTF happened on that third win.

Started up, other player passed their turn, I dropped a dino card and on the next turn, they passed. And passed again. I steadily dealt damage unopposed as my opponent fielded no cards whatsoever, until I got the win.

No, I don’t know why. Did they recognize my player name and want to throw me a win? Were they a brand new player with nothing but 9 star cards in their hand? No bloody idea, but I felt really bad about winning a match feeling like either my opponent threw the game for me, or they didn’t know what they were doing and got crushed.

Without a chat function between players in Hearthstone, no way for me to ever know. I really hope I wasn’t playing someone like my son, trying to figure out what to do and excited to maybe get a WoW mount while some jerkoff dumps a horde of beasts on the field and swarms them.

Moving on. I played, I got the achievement and I felt no desire to continue. Hearthstone still feels like a good card game that does not entice me to drop real money trying to buy cards to win with. If I could buy specific cards I were missing to achieve a goal, like building a dedicated Murloc deck for grins and giggles (the lighter side of shits and grins), then it would hold me more… but have less potential for them to get money as folks flirt with the random odds. Once I had the cards I wanted, why worry about buying cards?

World of Warcraft, and the pre-order of Warlords.

Sometimes, I hate being right, as regards the wait for the expansion.

I assume everyone will now finally stop talking like we’ll be playing the expansion this summer? Fall to Winter time frame, and I still refuse to count Beta time as game time.

I don’t care if the Beta is released for everyone tomorrow, if what I do in the game is NOT persistent into live, it doesn’t count, and that goes double for when other people play and gush and post videos about how awesome this will be for the lesser mortals when it goes live but I still don’t have access.

It’s like the champagne room of your local nightclub, I guess. You’re supposed to watch as the special people go in, and envy what you think they’re doing and dream about the day you get in there too…. but in the end, it’s just a different room with the same people and products, only bigger egos.

Huh, that comparison was more accurate than I expected.

I have a confession; every time I get beta access to anything, I use it for maybe two days. As in, a half hour a day over two days. Then I don’t log in again until live. The first time I had Beta access I tested, really tried to find and report bugs. That was back when Beta was intended to have people find and report bugs, not when it was a reward for money received.

This all is coming out cynical. Funny, I didn’t know that was my mood when I started writing today. The things you discover about yourself when writing off the top of your head.

So why am I feeling so cynical and cranky?

Allow me to introduce you to my brand new level 90, courtesy of the boost to 90 from the Warlords of Draenor pre-order; EBONSOUL.

Ebonsoul the Huntard

I’m still working on the transmog.

Ebonsoul is my Blood Elf Hunter than I wanted to play as one of Sylvanas’ hunter patrols that are frequently seen in the Southshore region.

I think Ebonsoul is the perfect name for a Blood Elf Hunter devoted to Sylvanas. It is just so incredibly kitsch. Really, going for a name that is similar to Blackheart using pretentious synonyms, it doesn’t get more Blood Elf than that.

I think the Stylin’ Adventure Hat and Ebonhold set with a spiky crossbow says it all.

The character is great, I love playing Hunters and being able to use pets to reinforce a theme. Big black widow spider named Sweetbite? Kitsch factor 7, can do better, but good start.

I’d quested to level 15 before being boosted, had a full set of 496 gear from the timeless Isle waiting to send over, and by having two paid accounts mailing stuff across the neutral Auction House in Tanaris is a breeze.

I even moved over a full set of Glyphs. It’s nice to be able to move resources where needed for a new alt.

Cassie and I have a teeny level 1 Horde guild called Bacon on a Stick, so I don’t even have to worry about invite spam.

Everything is great. Wonderful. Freaking beautiful.

NOW I can play with my Horde friends, right?

Well, no.

No, see, the point of being able to play with Horde friends is that you’re having fun together, and being a burden ain’t fun for anyone. Before I could actually PLAY with someone, I need some damn gear upgrades.

Even with Timeless Isles gear, best I can do is queue for the Celestials, Ordos (no gear from either), and Throne of Thunder LFR.

I did Throne of Thunder.

At least, I tried to do ToT. A few times, now.

It turns out, my 77k DPS going all out as hard as I can is near the top of what is currently in Throne of Thunder LFR.

Seems that everyone ELSE in LFR is on a brand new level 90 with Isles gear as well.

But fun alert, the majority seem to be playing as if we’re all doing 200k DPS with mad heals and mechanics don’t count.

Horridon… I should record video of Horridon. It’s so bad it’s shocking. People really seem to be watching for when the majority stop working on adds at the gates, so as to be able to join the rush to abandon the gates and focus on Horridon… which works never.

I’m grateful that I was able to get a complete clear on my run in the first wing today, because I never want to see Horridon again.

I don’t feel real warm and fuzzy about having a cross-faction level 90 Horde anymore. I still need gear before I could be an asset to friends in their groups, but to get that gear will require pain. So much pain.

Oh, so much pain.

Fortunately, I have plenty of time to work on it, what with another 8 months before the expansion comes out. That’s a lot of time to run LFR for upgrades, so I should be able to get tooled up with no problems.

Or… my Diablo 3 Hunter is level 54. Not too far from level 60 and Torment modes, maybe I should give that a go some more today.

Perhaps I should hold off on Diablo 3. Is it a bad sign I dream of dual-wielding pistol crossbows? Or is it a worse sign that it’s a pretty good dream?

Ah, well. Ebonsoul the Hunter. Style over substance, scouring the land for those filthy warmbloods.

A fine way to spend an afternoon.

Any Horde groups in the US need a Hunter with no gear whatsoever? No? But with a resume like that, how could you resist?

On the positive side, any Ulduar or ICC groups will be right up my quarrel!

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Diabolical Temptations and Time Sinks

Diablo3 - Tyrael

As much as I love World of Warcraft, it’s strength and weakness is that it is a living world. It changes over time, and the challenges grow ever stronger.

If you want to stay current with the challenges you will face, you have to give your characters constant attention. Feed them raids and instances, complete daily quests for Lesser Charms, improve your gear and unlock the content, get those legendary questline drops.

I love the feeling of having a persistent world to drop into, the sense of accomplishment in achieving raid goals, finishing the legendary, cleaning up some old goals that were left by the wayside.

Yep, I love it. Yep.

/whistles

What, we’re in a lull? Nothing at all whatsoever new coming in WoW for months and months as we wait for the other new Blizzard games to be released to our undivided attention and wallets?

Thank GOD that’s over! Seriously, I need a break, man.

I like having that living world to play in with my friends, but seriously, there is more to gaming than WoW. There is, right?

Coincidentally, a new patch was released for Diablo 3, a game I last played when Dragon Soul was a thing. I had reached level 36 on my Wizard, beaten the first difficulty of the game, and faced having to do it all over again a second time in a more difficult setting just to hopefully someday reach level 60.

Nothing sucked WORSE than beating the first play through of Diablo 3 without coming close to reaching level 60 and the unlocking of equal-opportunity multiplayer.

Also, I had a love/hate with the Auction House.

On the one hand, I could try and get great items for reasonable prices that increased my power. On the other hand, if all the best upgrades came from the AH, why the fuck was I playing in a game that was about loot drops? At level 36, loot runs aren’t happening. I’d just be running to get gold to buy better loot. And my apologies to all of those that love economy games, but playing the AH isn’t a fun game to me. Too much time investment to get a means to an end, gold for better gear.

So, I guess my problems with Diablo 3 were running out of game before hitting end level, and missing the point in playing when you can buy the best gear.

Enter the most recent patch. Everything revamped, quest XP boosted to heck and gone, and smart loot drops so the stuff that drops is far more likely to be of use to you.

Also, the promise that the auction house is going away very soon.

Well played, Blizzard. Even knowing that you’re setting everything up so there is nothing new to do in World of Warcraft right while things are heating up in Diablo 3 for the new expansion, here I am, logging in to D3.

Well played, indeed.

By way of comparison, I reached level 36 when Diablo 3 first came out having cleared all four acts and completing the game. A little over 20 hours played, level 36.

I now have a little over 10 hours played on my newly started Demon Hunter, I am level 33, and I JUST completed act 1. Just now moved to act 2 and Caldeaum.

If the XP continues as it has, I should be hitting level 60 and have all my core abilities and runes unlocked by the time I’m reaching the end of my first complete lay through the story.

This feels perfect to me. THIS is the rate of progression in a game I like.

I have purchased nothing for my Demon Hunter, and yet at the recommendation of my friend Arrakeen, I moved the difficulty of the game to Hard for better XP and drops, and I am managing just fine. Maybe a little slower, but the satisfaction at having a legendary drop off a boss kill is HUGE when leveling.

Oh yeah, did I mention I’ve had legendary drops? I’ve actually had six legendary drops since I moved it to Hard difficulty immediately after killing the Skeleton King. I got Leoric’s Crown twice, bracers twice and a ring twice. They seem to scale to the level you are when you identify them, so you can use them immediately, it’s awesome.

A bunch of my guild friends have made a Diablo 3 clan and seem to be even more active in it since the patch than I am. One of the great things about being in a clan with them is that they are all level 60 already, and I get to see the gear they loot.

Did you know that awesome loot from World of Warcraft is also in Diablo 3? I didn’t.

Alke looted Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker. In Diablo 3.

I asked what it looked like, and he said it looks like it does in WoW. I saw him with it in a quick multiplayer team up, and yep, it looks freaking awesome.

That is not the only WoW item in Diablo 3. Far from it. I’ve seen a lot of very cool weapon designs from WoW in Diablo 3, and it’s just too cool seeing these items I am familiar with in a different game, in a different context.

I’m just… I’m having a blast. Demon Hunters are so satisfying to play. I remember loving the graphics of my Wizard spells, but this is just as cool, and I get a pet, too! Demon Hunters get companions, and they are up ALL the time!

I asked Arrakeen what companion she liked, and she said the ferrets. Ferrets? Ferret pets that run out and gather loot off the ground for you?

Oh my god, yes, give me my Beastmaster fix! I grew up on that movie, oh yes oh yes, gimme! FERRETS!

The other thing that’s amazing is, even though I’m barely half way to max level, my character looks cool. Nothing like the incredible looks of max level characters with amazing legendary gear, but still satisfying;

Beartrap the Demon Hunter

Yeah, I know. Nothing is color changed, but I’m replacing stuff too fast to worry about it.

Using a bow is very satisfying. And I like that I can equip a quiver in the offhand and still use two handed bows, I’m not limited to a two-hander, or a one-handed crowbow and quiver.

Sorry, irrelevant.

My point is, the changes they made to Diablo 3 have really transformed the game experience for me.

I know it’s an evil plan, I know I’m falling right into their diabolical clutches, I know that all of this is just ensuring that I’ll be buying the expansion for a game I haven’t played or even thought about in what, two years?

I KNOW.

And yet, here we are, and here I am, and damn you Blizzard, it’s working.

If they had released new content right now, I’d never have logged into Diablo 3. I’d have had to stay logged into WoW every night to keep up with everything. Like a job.

I’m being manipulated, and you know what? I’ve decided I’m all right with that.

Can’t wait until I get to 60 and get that legendary ring that gives me my own Treasure Goblin to follow me around!

Diabloe 3 seems to be the game where all the cool magic toy ideas Blizzard has gets brought to life.

I guess having had a Cow Level takes some of the credibility out of “we can’t do goofy stuff like that because it would ruin your immersion in the game. WE’d have people raiding with fish as a weapon.”

I’ve heard tell of a chicken gun. I don’t know anything about it, but my imagination is picturing me wielding a gun that shoots chickens at a target.

In Rapid Fire.

In flames.

Rapid Fire stream of flaming chickens at my opponents.

That explode.

I’m all right with that. No, really, I have no problems with this concept.

I only pray it’s true.

See you in hell?