Tag Archives: World of Warcraft

Gaming Roundup

I’ve intended to write a blog post every week for almost 2 months, but I always end up doing something else. No more I say, time to write again. Of course, then there was the issue of what to write about, as I have been barely playing World of Warcraft lately. I’m not sure what has been keeping me away, but I just haven’t felt the pull of WoW outweigh Starcraft 2, League of Legends, or XCOM lately. So I settled on just changing my focus to gaming in general, and write about what I’ve been up to.

I purchased XCOM on Steam a few weeks ago and was addicted almost immediately. I’ve always been a sucker for turn-based strategy with games like HOMM and Lords of the Realm (I still play Heroes of Might & Magic 3, and found a way to play online with my brother as well), and XCOM is a twist on that with turn-based combat and soldier movement. The story is good enough that it doesn’t detract from the value of the game, and I found the user experience to be pretty enjoyable. I defeated the game on Normal without much fuss, and decided to try my hand at Ironman Classic difficulty. It’s exceptionally difficult, and I have a feeling that its going to keep me coming back.

One of the reasons I needed to purchase a new computer was that Diablo 3 and upcoming Blizzard games were no longer going to support the video card in my iMac. I love my new computer, but I admit to being a little disappointed in Diablo 3. I recently found the time to complete my first play-through on Normal with my Monk, and enjoyed it quite a lot. The disappointment surfaces after that. I’m really supposed to play the entire game again, only harder? I really don’t think I get it, but I’ve created a few new characters of different classes, figuring it would be fun to play them through. So far though, this hasn’t drawn me in at all, and I don’t get the attraction of repeating the game with a more powerful version of my original character.

League of Legends has been an absolute blast to play, and I can feel myself getting better, which is cool. The problem is that there is still not a clear role that I excel at or enjoy, but Attack Damage Carry (ADC) I’ve ruled out – I just don’t enjoy it. I have, however, had excellent runs as a single lane bruiser, jungler, mid-lane Ability Power Carry, and Support. Unfortunately  I’m almost exclusively stuck playing support in most PvP games, as most other players prefer the glory of a high kill count. And I swear, after the Sejuani rework I’m going to work her top lane, jungle, AND support. You’ll see.

I’ve also had a lot of fun watching the NA and EU LCS. This competitive series is so well run, and while I dislike the observer UI for LoL, I’ve learned a lot and had a good time watching the powerhouse teams rock games without losing a single turret, while occasionally the weaker teams come up with a monster performance and knock off a heavy favorite. Riot has a winning formula in their hands and I think they know it. Now if only the observer screen wasn’t so awful.

Starcraft 2 launched its expansion Heart of the Swarm and I urge all of you who love gaming to pick this up, even if its only for the campaign. This is the most fun I’ve had playing a video game since I got Mario Brothers 2 brand new back in the day and stayed up all hours of the night trying to beat it. The teaching missions and the story were excellent, and the game is much more user friendly than its predecessor Wings of Liberty, especially to new players. I won’t get into SC2:HotS too much here, as I have another post dedicated to it coming up.

Warcraft has waned on me, probably because I have lost my passion for raiding and now feel that I need to re-invent myself in game before deciding to re-enter the fray. It doesn’t help that most of our members are on mountain and pacific time now and we’ve had to move our start time back to 10 pm eastern. I mean, damn, I’m 32 years old with two kids – there’s a good chance I’m unconscious by that time. I’m going to focus on playing my alts, and slowly working on my Leodar’s rep (not even revered with Golden Lotus – don’t ask), because I still love the game, and I think Mists of Pandaria really is an exceptional expansion – I just need to find my place in it right now.

Happy gaming and happy hunting to you.


An New Year’s Update on my WoW Hibernation

Not much has changed in the last two months, and I’m still not playing World of Warcraft very much, logging on maybe once every 8 days or so to check mail, patches, and add-ons. Truth be told I just don’t have enough time for a game without a pause button – or the options to walk away and come back. So Diablo 3 and Heroes of Might and Magic (3, 4, and 5) are getting my attention these days because I feel like I can accomplish something and save my game if I’m interrupted, which I usually am. WoW is so immersive and social to me that I feel like the 20 and 30 minute chunks of gaming time I find aren’t enough to really accomplish anything.

So far my basketball season is going very well. We are 6-1 and very close to securing a berth to our local playoffs that lead to our state tournament (for you New Yorkers I’m referring to sectionals).  According to the moderately reliable but not completely accurate MaxPreps website we are also a top 25 team for our size in New York, so to say this season has been my best as a coach would be a massive understatement. Our points per game are up, turnovers are down, and we’ve seen a 5% increase in field goal percentage. I have no seniors and go eight deep with substitutions which includes three sophomores. Simply put, things are good. Unfortunately for my gaming lifestyle things don’t get much easier. We have 4 games in the next 8 days, which includes 2 ranked teams, one of which is an undefeated local rival who hasn’t lost to my school in…well, a really, really long time. That means putting in long hours with scouting, film breakdown, and practice planning to make sure we are well prepared. Obviously this leaves me with virtually no time to run dailies and heroics, mostly because I’m still at home with my two daughters full time and the only time my wife and I have to spend time together is at night (when I’m not at practice, or have a game, or am scouting an opponent, etc.).

Despite the general disappointment I have not being able to play as much as would like (and I have barely played on my Starcraft 2 ladder since my promotion to silver last season), I’m pretty happy overall, if not a little tired. These breaks I take every year from November through the end of February are good for me in the long run. When March rolls around and my free time opens up I can get right back to a good balance of gaming and coaching.

I hope everyone had a nice holiday, and that the new year brings you happiness and shiny loot.

Finding the Time

World of Warcraft is an old game. This is not meant as an insult as much as it is meant to state a fact. WoW was released in November of 2004. At the end of this month the game we love will be 8 years old, and its success and longevity is the envy of many game development companies.

Something else has aged during that time. WoW’s players. A person who started playing at launch as a college freshman of 18 years would be 26 now, with new responsibilities and different life circumstances than we started with. That college freshmen is either in graduate or post-graduate studies, or perhaps has a full time job. Maybe they have a spouse and a family. One thing is almost certain: free time is hard to find.

The flashpoint for this post is the convergence of exceptional game titles by Blizzard. It is likely that by the summer of 2013 they will have released an expansion (Mists of Pandaria for WoW, and Heart of the Swarm for Starcraft 2) or sequel (Diablo 3) to some of the most successful titles in the gaming industry in the span on a single year. I find my ability to keep up is lacking.

I started playing World of Warcraft in 2007, not long after the release of The Burning Crusade. At the time I was married for 3 years, and my wife had just finished medical school. I was leaving a full time teaching job because of the move required by my wife’s new position as a medical resident, and was going to be a substitute teacher. I was also a women’s basketball assistant coach at a local community college. Things were really uncomplicated. When I wasn’t teaching (which was frequent) or performing my assistant coaching duties (which were really only heaviest from October through March) I could do what I pleased. I read tons of books, exercised all the time, and played WoW as much as I wanted. One week I was able to put in about 40 hours, and didn’t even blink at the number.

Let’s skip the middle and fast forward. Today I have two daughters, aged 4 and 2. My wife is an attending hospitalist who works fewer evenings than before and is not a gamer. I’ve added Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 to games I enjoy playing. I am also the raid leader of my guild, and the main tank, so my out-of-game work has increased. I can play WoW about 4-10 hours a week at most, usually during nap times so as not to miss out on opportunities to spend time with my wife in the evenings. I’m happy, but its a far cry from the days of my youth when I thought I was busy.

I wonder about other World of Warcraft players experiences. How has your game time evolved? I find this evolution really interested, and would love to hear about it.

How are you at Finding the Time?

Clearing of the Mists

I am going to be perfectly honest that I am having trouble explaining why this expansion is so much better than Wrath of the Lich King. Cataclysm certainly had some cool things, but it was more fun from 1-60 than it was from 80-85, and the introduction of new features that were very successful doesn’t quite offset the “meh-ness” that was our most recent expansion. Whatever went wrong in Cataclysm, thus far, has been remedied in Mists of Pandaria. Thus far it receives a 10/10 on the fun scale for me. I’m sure I will eventually find things I don’t like, but it hasn’t happened yet in any really (punching the giant bug in Valley of the Four Winds was a little silly though) important way.

The visual appeal of the new zones are incredible, and it only improved as I moved into Kun-Lai Summit. The story is conflict driven, but moderately complex, and so far very well told through the questing experience. The questing experience itself is awesome, I made more character choices about following questlines than previously, and the achievement tracker showed me if there was a storyline I missed so I can back and do it later if I want (for example, I decided not to do the Nesingwary quests so far). I can also choose which stories to folllow. I reached a place in Kun-Lai that had quests branching out in different directions, and I chose to continue the Loremaster Cho one as I was enjoying that story. This experience didn’t exist in Cataclysm, and is a very welcome change.

Now for pictures!!

I am absolutely loving the Sha art. These are the coolest monsters I have ever killed in WoW.
Whale shark and Megalodon? Double the awesome.
This rare killed me 5 times before a Horde paladin got him. Bummer.

The next 3 pictures were from a spot in Kun-Lai Summit where I was questing.

This one made me smile.
This one made me giggle.
And this one made me laugh out loud. Love these three. Totally naming my next toon Hackiss.
Never miss out on a chance to beat up some Hozen. I hate these creatures. Well played Blizzard.
A view as I follow the trail to the Temple of the White Tiger.

For the first time since I can remember I am actually looking forward to leveling my other characters through the same zones. I don’t know exactly why, but something feels different, and I can’t get enough of it.

Enough writing, more questing. Onward to 90.

WoW Drinking Done Right

The much-anticipated Mists of Pandaria will launch soon, and thanks to a wonderful community of dedicated gamers, you can find pre-raid BiS gear lists, talent evaluations, dungeon guides, and raid guides. What you can’t find, however, is a guide that helps you to decide what to drink while playing. I have decided to fill this void for you, faithful reader, in the hopes that come midnight you are as ready as possible. Research was grueling and lengthy, but no amount of delicious beer could stop me from providing you with a comprehensive guide to doing raid night drinking right. In addition, I had the pleasure and privilege to work with the most impassioned beer aficionado that I know, Arolaide of Dragonsworn (You don’t read Dragonsworn? Start NOW), whose suggestions and feedback went a long way to making this post happen. Thanks Aro.

You’ll notice no Budweiser, Coors, Labatt’s, or Molson on this list. I dare not suggest such swill to my beloved readers and Warcraft brethren. So find your class, buy your beer, and enjoy.

Step away from the Pabst and nobody gets hurt.

Death Knight: What better beer for a fallen soldier damned into martial existence than Unibroue Maudite. A malty beer that is also spicy can be very challenging to your palette, but this beer is not too heavy, nor does it have a lingering bitter aftertaste. It is hard to express how awesome this brew is, and how unique. Well worth the effort to find and try.

A strong beer for a powerful class.

Druid: Do you miss the Emerald Dream? Perhaps you are wondering if it was worth waking up after all? Well, you can’t go back to the Emerald Dream, but Delirium Nocturnum can get you close. This is a dark rich beer with a pleasant lingering taste. A good balance of sweet and bitter with caramel, mocha, and chocolate.

Enjoy some while your Pint-Sized Pink Pachyderm pet is out. Coincidence this is available from Brewfest? I think not.

Hunter: If you get along with pets and nature better than other players you just may like the woodsy and crisp nature of an India Pale Ale. There are an extraordinary number of IPAs out there, but Flying Dog Brewery’s Snake Dog IPA is an excellent choice. It has a citrus flavor which includes caramel. Don’t worry if it has a slightly bitter aftertaste, it’s there to remind you how we all feel when you roll on our gear.

Who wouldn’t want a Snake Dog pet? Blizzard should make this happen.

Mage: Do you like to enjoy a rich complex alcoholic beverage as you contemplate the most efficient way to blow something up or freeze it into nothingness? Then you are probably a mage, and if you are, you’ll probably enjoy Ommegang’s 3 Philosophers. This beer edges out Maudite as my absolute favorite during my research. Dark, rich, heavy, and incredibly complex. Drinking this beer while hitting Hot Streak procs will, in fact, confirm that you are better than everyone else.

Why yes Mortimer, I do believe we ARE better than Warlocks

Monk: The Pandaren race are notorious brewers and drinkers, and are introducing Azeroth to the Monk class. To pay homage to their Asian influence I suggest (with Aro’s help of course) Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale. With sake-like flavors this complex pale ale does justice to the Brewmasters of Pandaria.

Arolaide suggested, Chen Stromstout approved

Paladin: A defender and wielder of the Light deserves an exceptional beer with a summery feel and plenty of light citrus flavor. Unibroue La Fin Du Monde fits the bill perfectly and at 9% abv packs a serious punch that rivals Divine Light, Shield of the Righteous, or Templars Verdict. A smooth, dry finish and wonderful fruit flavors might remind you of wine, a fitting comparison for this class.

Delicious, complex, and light. This might be the best Canadian beer on the planet.

Priest: I’m going to admit right up front that I’m cheating, but I couldn’t help but suggest two beers for a class with an identity problem. For priests that use their power for healing let me suggest Leffe Blonde Ale, a smooth abbey ale with a slightly spicy finish and a wonderfully consistent and pleasant taste. For priests who embrace the shadows, Grimbergen Dubbel (Double) is an excellent choice. First brewed 900 years ago by Noberline monks, this is a bittersweet beer with a rich caramel flavor. In a word, awesome.

Holy or Disciplined? This beer is for you.
For priests that walk among the shadows












Rogue: For the class whose primary goal in life is to incapacitate and destroy before you even know what happens I present Rogue Dead Guy Ale. A fitting name would be meaningless without a good beer, and fortunately Rogue delivers. Nice caramel malt flavor, but with more IPA flavors than most of the other ales I tasted. This gave Dead Guy a distinct flavor with a bite at the end, very appropriate for stun-locking fiends.

Nothing goes together better than Rogues and Dead Guys.

Shaman: The connection between this class and the elements that they commune with made this a tough match. Luckily for me I had the magical beer powers of Arolaide on my side and she delivered with an exceptional recommendation. Midas Touch is without a doubt the strangest beer I’ve ever tasted, fortunately it’s also delicious. Brewed by Dogfish Head, this beer is a mixture between wine, beer, and mead and tastes much better than that sounds. Tons of fruit flavors and even saffron. One of the most unique beers I’ve ever tasted.

Flameshock? Stoneskin? Healing Stream? How about all of them.

Warlock: Arrogant Bastard Ale. From the label to the name to the taste, this aggressive hoppy beer fits the warlock class perfectly. The ideal beer to drink as you send your minions to do battle for you, cause widespread destruction and cackle madly while you watch your enemies flee in terror. The beer itself is an exceptional one, with a taste similar to an IPA, but more complex, and smoother. A sweet start with a bitter, spicy finish.

A proud warlock brew that mages simply can’t handle

Warrior: This class is nothing if not stout, and Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout is a perfect homage to these battle-hardened denizens of Azeroth. A very dark beer (black with a tan head) that can almost be a meal in itself, this brew is incredibly smooth almost to the point of being silky, and very rich. The sweetness of the beer is balanced by the coffee and chocolate flavors, and creates an immensely satisfying drinking experience. This strikes me as the kind of beer a warrior would drink.

The perfect beer for the warrior that wades happily into battle

I admit to being disappointed that some of my favorite breweries and go-to choices at the store didn’t make this list. Magic Hat, Samuel Adams, and Sierra Nevada make good, solid beers, but were not especially good fits for this article. Nonetheless I feel that their consistency in making very good beer warrants a mention here at the end.

In addition to enjoying some beer while you play Warcraft, I hope this inspires you to try some of the excellent brews right across the aisle from the cheap stuff that so many people seem to be content with. Thanks again to Arolaide for all her help. Happy Hunting, and Hooray for Good Beer.

TheraMore or Less

Well, that was awful. Happy as I was to get my mage a new weapon (that’s right, first time, hehe) I was pretty disappointed in Blizzard’s first live scenario. Some people have pointed out the lack of compelling gameplay and storytelling, and they are both right. It was a boring and irrelevant stompfest that added nothing to the lore of World of Warcraft that we didn’t already know. In addition, simply logging in and standing in Stormwind did not alert you to the fact that anything had happened at all. Pretty disappointing.

In terms of storytelling my problem is not that we weren’t there to try and save Theramore and failed. That would have made no sense. Based on my understanding of the situation, the bomb caught Theramore off-guard, and having heroes hanging out in Theramore because that is just what max level characters do doesn’t really fit. But there are no pockets of resistance to come to the aid of, only Jaina Proudmoore standing in the middle of the crater. Here is my recollection of how it went.

“Look what the Horde did! Those bastards! Let’s kill them!”

“Hold on Jaina, just let me find my [insert AoE ability here] button. Got it.”

“That’s all?”

“Yeah. These guys are like Naxxramas level trash. Total roflstomp. Kinda surprised you couldn’t take them yourself, you trashed Orgrimmar not too long ago.”

“My bad. Kinda distracted with the whole bomb thing, the decimation of my city, the blatant murder, etc.”

“No worries. Totally understandable.”

The Fall of Theramore was pretty terrible, but I’ve heard very good things about the Mists of Pandaria scenarios, so I’m not worried in the slightest, just disappointed.

I think Blizzard made two mistakes with this scenario. The first, is that it’s available way too close to the launch of MoP. It makes sense to put a little less effort into something that people will only do for a week or so (I really can’t imagine running it at 90 unless I really need the loot), but it makes more sense to release this scenario 3-4 weeks before an expansion so that the content is accessible for longer. You could then justify diverting more resources to it.

The second is the gameplay. The Horde has dropped a bomb on Theramore. They have occupied the ruins. HOW ARE WE NOT PISSED OFF ABOUT THIS. One ship shows up to Theramore?! One!! There should be a tug-of-war situation here. Alliance soldiers streaming off of ships engaging Horde soldiers with us, Alliance Heroes, aiding them and pushing the Horde back, engaging Horde captains as they rally their troops. You could even have a Alliance/Horde meter on the screen, showing when you have broken the Horde and pushed them back from Theramore, culminating with a final engagement at the crater with Jaina. Instead Varian Wrynn sends 3 Heroes on one ship to fix the problem.

I love Blizzard products. I don’t agree with them blindly, but I pretty much love everything they make. However, this scenario is terrible. It is WAY below the standards Blizzard sets for themselves. I’m not sure what kind of resources it would take, but the Fall of Theramore is worthless as a lore device or entertainment, and could be vastly improved. I really wish they would shut it down and improve it, because if it was more entertaining, I would absolutely do it when I reach max level in Mists of Pandaria.