Patch 8.3 Visions of N’Zoth dropped in WoW last week, and I have to say I’ve been having a complete blast! I really enjoyed the storyline to get our cloaks and unlock the visions and take us around Azeroth. I thought it was a good way to explain (in not so many words) why N’zoth’s corruption wasn’t over the whole of Azeroth (yet). It’s been a great journey.
Part of that journey has taken us to Uldum, and back to Pandaria to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. This week the Vale has the major corruption, so everything is dark and purple and there are tentacles everywhere. And of course there are Pandaren everywhere that we are trying to help (as well as fighting back the tentacles!)
Over the past few days I’ve been spending a lot of time in Pandaria, and while there I started to notice something. I was missing the Pandaren people. I was missing being a Pandaren myself. It kinda hit me randomly to be honest. I imagine part of it is the nostalgia of it – Mists of Pandaria was my first expansion that I did from launch to completion, so I will always have a very soft spot for it. And I do love the Pandaren race – I love their chill but playful approach to life, their appreciation for the world and what happens to it, and I just love their fluffy tummies. All of this was hitting me like a tonne of bricks during the N’Zoth invasions, and well… this happened…
I race-changed my shaman back to Pandaren. Oops!
I didn’t make the decision lightly, despite the spontaneous change. I opened and closed the in-game store so many times trying to make up my mind. But I think in some ways it has been building for quite awhile.
I loved my Kul Tiran, I really did. I had been looking forward to having her for so long. I loved her curves, her strength and even her accent. I also loved their totem design (that was funnily enough one of the big reasons I didn’t want to change – the Pandaren totems are probably the most boring of all the shaman classes). But despite all of that, I wasn’t connecting with my shaman when she was Kul’Tiran.
There were lots of little things that niggled at me – firstly, the female Kul’Tiran dance is stupid. Sorry, it just is. This was abundantly apparent during the New Years celebrations in game when the Auction Houses turn in to dance parties – everyone is in there being all goofy with their fun silly dances, and here I was throwing my arms around in short ballet poses. It was silly, but not in the fun way – in the way that was super daggy.
Secondly, she was so serious all of the time. Even when she was trying to be funny telling jokes she was still really gruff and… well, serious. Even her laughter was too much – booming and almost a little patronising sometimes.
Thirdly, she pulled the stupidest faces when trying to take selfies. I really struggled to find good angles for her when taking pics, to the point where I gave up. Which accounts for the lack of picture updates I’ve been doing. Poor darling was not the most photogenic being…
Lastly, some of my favourite transmogs just didn’t work on her. Belts always seemed too small and shoulders seemed WAY too big. (Though she did look cute as heck in her Wumpus Onesie!)
Because of all of these reasons, I felt a little self conscious with her, like she didn’t quite fit in (despite being so freakin’ awesome!)
Here’s the kicker – all of those reasons that I didn’t connect with my shaman as a Kul’Tiran are all faults I feel in myself. I can’t dance to save my life; I look bloody awful in photos, I’m awkward as heck, my anxiety makes me super serious and cranky, and I just feel like I never quite fit in anywhere. She was just a little bit too much like me. (Not that I’m super strong or kick-ass like she was!)
In a game that I dive in to to escape from the world, I found I wasn’t able to fully escape because I just kept seeing parts of myself in it.
The things I liked about being Pandaren were that she was a little like me (chunky and quirky) but had traits that I wanted in myself – to be cute but fierce, funny, able to chill out and have fun, not take herself too seriously… All the things I struggle to be and do.
It’s been an interesting revelation for me to say the least. I’ve always known how important it is to have characters in the game that people from all corners of life can relate to, but I never really realised how important it was (to me at least) to have characters in game that I want to be, too. It’s that fantasy element that allows us to separate ourselves from the games that we play, that helps us to escape, that can make a world so much more immersive. At the same time, we need to see the characters that represent us, too.
I think World of Warcraft is a far richer game for having Kul’Tiran in it – seeing women with curves that aren’t just giant boobs is so important. And I will always have a special spot for them in my heart. But for now, I need to play someone that embodies traits I don’t have in myself, so that maybe they will rub off on me.
Every year around Blizzcon time I’d hear that the only thing that comes close to Blizzcon awesomeness is the parties held in the lead up to Blizzcon. My twitter would be filled with people seeing their friends and/or people they’ve been following on socials just hanging out have a great time being nerds together. Last year the wowhead party even streamed the night, which was amazing to see. So I knew that when we went to Blizzcon, we’d need to go to at least one of these parties (even though the very idea of them terrified me).
This time around choosing which party to go to was made a whole lot easier by merging of the Wowhead AND Con Before the Storm parties into one giant nerd fest! It was an easy decision to support the kickstarter again this time around, and even better to be able to attend!
Even though we had spent (almost) the whole day at Disneyland, nothing was going to stop us from heading to the Con Before the Storm party. Not just because we wanted to meet some amazing friends, but also because we had so many treats to give out!
Thor was the mastermind behind these goodie bags, and spent a whole bunch of time finding Australian treats to take over and give to people. The no brainer was of course Tim Tams, but he also grabbed some Picnic bars, Caramello Koalas, Minities, Fantales and other stuff. Then he ordered little toy koalas from ebay… he really is such a darling with a big heart.
So, once we were back from the hotel after Disneyland we had showers and made an attempt to make ourselves presentable. Because it was Halloween I wasn’t sure if people were going to be dressed up. I mean, it’s USA and they’re very big on Halloween there, so there was a chance. But I wasn’t certain, which made deciding what to wear an absolute nightmare for me (who was already freaking out about the whole thing anyway). In the end I found a really cute headband that had a little witches had on it, then just went with a plain black dress with bright orange tights and orange belt. I figured this was reasonable middle ground. And the hat was just too darn cute! ❤
So off we went! We were a little late because of being at Disneyland so we missed some of the earlier panels at World of Podcasts, but thankfully arrived just in time to catch the last half of Raven (from Girls Gone Wow)’s panel, which was awesome!
During the panel I realised that the one and only Thyst was in the same row as me. I’ve always had a bit of a girl crush on her, and I had a goodie bag for her, too, so once Raven’s panel was done (and I could see she was swarmed by fans!) I awkwardly headed over to Thyst. You know how you get an image in your head of what someone is like in person, even though you’ve never actually met them? You paint a picture based on their twitter and streams and stuff and it never really lines up with reality. That was true meeting Thyst, but in the best way. She was so much nicer and sweeter in person! She was such a darling, putting up with me being super awkward and stuff. I was so glad to be able to meet her and thank her in person for being such an awesome person for the WoW community. Here’s a pic of me being beyond awkward meeting her.
By this point I could see that the crowd around Raven was dispersing, so I made my way over to meet both Raven and EJ. This was such a special moment for me because the Girls Gone WoW podcast was one of the first WoW related podcasts I listened to, and one of the few podcasts I still listen to to this day. I was so nervous to meet them both. I needn’t have been – they are both a kind and beautiful in person as they are on their show. They were both such a delight! We chatted away for ages, and all ended up heading off together (because I’m an awkward “hey I’ll come too!” person) to grab a drink and chat some more. EJ and Raven really are the type of people you could sit around and chat with for hours on end. Even though we were all exhausted for different reasons, we had a laugh and shared our predictions for the next 2 days as if we’d all been friends for ages. It was so lovely. ❤
One of the perks of contributing to the kickstarter for the party was getting a free spin of the prize wheel! Loads of companies had donated prizes for everyone to win, and everyone was guaranteed to win something. So I got in line for my spin. I won a prize from Razer, and chose a new mouse. I actually madly love my current mouse (a Corsair Scimitar!), but this prize was never really going to be for me anyway – I chose the mouse so that I could give it away to a guildie as part of our (now?) annual guild Christmas party, so it was nice to have something to give for that.
It was around this time that Talisen and Evitel were at one of the the meet & greet tables, but oh my goodness the line to see them lapped at least twice. So we decided to pass. Thankfully, not too long later I saw that Frazley had his meet and greet! I was a bit nervous about meeting him, but again, I shouldn’t have been. The heart on this guy is out of this world. He is so kind and just a downright good person through and through. And he seemed to genuinely pleased to see me. It filled my heart, I tell you! I was so glad I was able to catch him before Blizzcon to say hello and give him to Aussie treats ❤
For the rest of the evening we went around handing out Tim Tams to random people. We went and visited all the artists in the store area and gave them some Tim Tams (I was stoked to meet Eggu! A few years ago I won a competition where she drew my shaman! It was lovely to thank her in person for that). All of the artists were wonderful, and we may have bought too many pins lol It was really fun surprising people with treats. We will definitely do this again in future.
We were pretty pooped by this time but unfortunately couldn’t head off yet as I had been fortunate enough to win an art piece from the art gallery. Woot!! I LOVED the piece we won, too. It’s Queen Azshara by Moonpix and I just love it. The colours are beautiful (not that you can see in my rubbish pic below!) Just need to find a home for her.
The line to get the art pieces was pretty massive and took awhile, but the team behind the scenes were doing such an amazing job of getting everyone’s art to them as quickly as possible. They were bloody brilliant the whole night – that crew certainly know how to throw a good party!
We were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel. It was really late (well, for me, who wanted a decent sleep before Blizzcon!) but on the plus side, being as tired as we were meant we fell asleep relatively quickly and slept pretty solidly until Blizzcon the next morning. Wheeee!!!! Those adventures coming up in the next post… stay tuned!
Halloween! And what better place to spend it than at the happiest place on earth – Disneyland!
Disneyland was at the top of Thor’s list of things to do while we were in the USA. He’s a big Mickey Mouse fan, so of course we had to go. Personally, I was just curious more than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney movies, but Blizzcon was still top of my list of things to look forward to. In the end, it was SO much better than I could have ever expected!
If you haven’t been to Disneyland in California before, there are 2 parks – Disneyland Park (which includes all the old favourites like Fantasyland, Tomorrowland etc.) and then there’s California Adventure, which has a lot of the newer stuff in it like Pixar stuff and the Haunted Mansion. In between the two parks is a general admission area which includes Downtown Disney. You don’t need a ticket to visit Downtown Disney, and it includes some really amazing stores – the biggest Disney store ever, the Disney Dress store, and a whole bunch of other places.
When we were sorting out tickets I was a bit confused about how it all worked, not having been there before. But knowing now, there are ticket gates at the entrance to each of the two parks, so the tickets you get need to match the park you are going in to. There are loads of different ticket bundles, from single day passes to one park, to multi-day passes that cover both parks. In the end we got a 3-day pass which would allow us in to one park on each day. Day 1 (Halloween) would be in the Disneyland Park to see all the Halloween stuff, Day 2, California Adventure, then Day 3 back at Disneyland Park for Galaxy’s Edge. This plan worked out really well for us, because we found we didn’t see everything we wanted in Disneyland Park on the first day, so it was good to know we had an extra day there up our sleeves. (We also avoided Galaxy’s Edge like the plague on this day, but more on that later!). What you do for your own trip will depend on what you are wanting to see. But here were our adventures.
Day 1 – Disneyland Park
I don’t think Thor slept much the night before, he was so excited. And I have to admit, I was too!
We had both brought Disney-themed t-shirts for us to wear to the parks so that we would fit in at least a little. I wore my Winnie the Pooh “No Bothers Given” t-shirt, and Thor wore his Tee Turtle Han & Chewie shirt (which doesn’t seem to be available anymore, sorry!) I’d forgotten about my shirt, though, and as we walked through the ticket gates we were greeted by an employee, and then he very seriously whispered to me “ma’am, you have poo on your shirt”. I freaked out, and then looked down and realised… I’m sure the guy must make that joke 50 times a day, but it cracked me up.
We had made a list of things we needed to buy while we were at Disneyland. Things like salt & pepper shakers for Thor’s Mum (as she collects them), birthday gifts for my nephew and my friend’s baby, Christmas decorations (I do a Christmas decoration trade with some family members each year, so every year our tree is full of beautiful memories of family and friends), and of course Mickey ears for both of us. And a whole bunch of other stuff, too! So with that list in mind, we walked through the gates.
Honestly, it was immediately overwhelming. We had no idea where to go, and my neck was hurting from just looking at everything and getting completely and utterly distracted! There were people everywhere, though thankfully not as many as I was expecting. We gathered ourselves and started making some plans. First stop was to have a look in some of the stores to see what was there, and to look for some ears.
The stores were really something else. Who knew there was this much Disney-themed merchandise?! And SO many different ears! Holy moly. A great tip we got from Battle Panda and Hooblie before we went was that not all stores sell all things that are available. And that some items might only be found in one store. Also, because it was Halloween, there were special in-park-only Halloween themed items. Of course we wanted everything!! But decided to just have a look and purchase things at the end of the day so we didn’t have to carry them around all the time, and also to help us stop overbuying (we didn’t succeed very well at this during our entire trip, though!!)
One thing we did get right away, though, was some ears. Thor was initially planning on getting a pair of Chewbacca themed ears, and they weren’t in the first store so he waited. I, though, wanted some sparkly Minnie Mouse ears – I just adored them! I had to stop myself from buying 12 pairs of ears, they were all so great. Eventually in another store we found Thor’s Chewie ears, but they seemed to be for kids and unfortunately didn’t fit. We were really disappointed and headed off to a different store to re-think what he might get. On the way he saw the most spectacular thing – a man was walking by with Fantasia Mickey themed ears! Thor ran up to him asking where he got them, and we were pointed in the direction of the store. The ears were perfect for Thor – completely ridiculous and charming all at once. I think we made an adorably silly pair, indeed! 😀
The only other goals we had planned for the day were to go see Mickey Mouse in his house, and to see the Teacups ride. But before that, we realised we were both pretty hungry as we hadn’t really had breakfast (excitement, nerves, you know!) so we wandered in the general direction of some food. Looking on the map we saw there was a Pizza Planet in Tomorrowland, so we headed there. The pizza slices were huge and delicious!
Side note here: obviously, as you will have noticed from our pictures, Thor and I are on the large side. Because of this, we didn’t expect to be able to go on any of the rides, as we figured we would be too large for them. It’s for this reason that none of our plans included any rides because we just didn’t think we’d get on! But we were mistaken, and there are loads of rides that we were absolutely fine for. It was a wonderful surprise and really made us feel welcome in the park. I think next time we go we might plan for a few more rides 🙂
After some food we went on the monorail to see a bit more of the park to get a better idea of where we’d like to focus our time. We ended up in line with a gentleman who’d had quite a few drinks, but he was pleasant enough. And when the monorail arrived he asked the attendant if we could sit in the very front section (which was closed) and they said yes! So we had a fantastic view as we were hurtled around the park. The man was chatting away, asking us about where we were from and all that. He was delighted to hear we were from Australia, and shared some drinking stories with some Australians he’d met previously. He was quite amusing to say the least, and certainly made for an entertaining ride!
After our monorail ride we headed towards Fantasyland and found the Tea Cups ride! It looked like so much fun. We stood watching for awhile, then figured stuff it, let’s see if we can fit on the ride. We got in line and when we could, asked the attendant if we’d be ok to go on – they said no problems at all! And they were right! It was eventually our turn to find a cup and in no time at all we were spinning spinning spinning. It was glorious!! Thor figured out if we turn the thing in the middle we spin even faster – you can see the very moment he figures this out in the video below – he get a devilish grin on his face haha!! (and also sorry for the small swears in that video!)
We wandered around some more… Thor tried his best to become a King, but alas it was not his time.
We found ourselves on Mark Twain’s riverboat at one stage, which took us on a gentle trip downriver. It was a beautiful day for it! And the boat theme continued shortly after as we found ourselves in front of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Again we figured we’d try our luck, and hopped in line. (I should point out here – it was not a busy day at Disneyland. Lines were relatively short so we weren’t losing much time by trying our luck!) The ride was SO great! We were both far too wrapped up in it all to take any pictures, so you’ll just have to take my word that it was a good time. 🙂
By this point we realised it was close to time for a parade, so we caught a train back Main Street…
On Main Street we set ourselves up on a curb and waited. We made the mistake of being on the sunny side of the street… it was a pretty hot afternoon by that point so we got a bit burned, but it was worth it to be up close to all the characters.
Then it was time to take Thor to see Mickey Mouse. I think he’d kinda been putting it off a bit all day, and I think he was a little nervous, but we had to go! So we made our way to Toon Town to find Mickey’s house. This area of the park was absolutely adorable. It really looked like we were in a cartoon world! Everything was so bright and… well, bendy looking. It was fantastic!
The line to Mickey Mouse started out the front of his house, where we are told Mickey is out back working and would love to see us. The line to see him snakes through his house and through the backyard to his studio out the back. Every room is his house is designed to suit a cartoon mouse! The attention to detail was incredible. Some of the areas would animate, too! The chickens out back clicked away and bobbed their heads, and strangly, so did the carrots in the garden… hmmm.. I got a real kick out of seeing the mopbucket from Fantasia there! As we went through the studio area there were prints from some of the earlier cartoons and “props” hanging from the ceiling. Then right before the room to Mickey was a big theatre with rolling Mickey Mouse cartoons. It was all done so well, and was very effective at keeping kids (who have been in line for 40 minutes by this point!) relatively entertained.
Finally, it was the moment. I don’t know why I was nervous to see some random person wearing a Mickey Mouse costume, but I was. Most of all, though, it was pretty emotional for me seeing how excited Thor was to see Mickey Mouse. I think Mickey Mouse is one of those things that throws us right back to when we were kids, to a time when things were simpler because we didn’t really know what was going on… that innocence that kids have that we all lose as we get older and more cynical, you know? Seeing Mickey brought all that back for both of us, and so it was a pretty emotional time.
Afterwards we got some icecream. Once again we hadn’t learned our lesson about portion sizes and foolishly (?) ordered an ice-cream each. We didn’t finish them, but they looked amazing!!
By this point it was starting to get late, and we needed to head back to our hotel to get ready for the Con Before the Storm party! But not before getting some nighttime Halloween pictures 🙂
All in all, I really enjoyed our first day at Disneyland. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the happiest place on earth, but I would agree that it is a magical place. SO many people were dressed up, either in fun t-shirts or costumes or onesies. It made the whole place feel so much more fun. And everyone (for the most part!) was just nice, you know? Like we all recognised this is a shared experience and we all just want to have a good time. There were so many times people would offer to take a picture for someone else, and phones/cameras would be handed over without concern for them being taken. It was a really nice feeling. You could ask someone a question and they would be so glad to tell you the answers. I dunno, it was just really nice, you know?
Anyway, that’s it for day ONE at Disneyland – two days to go! But first, BLIZZCON!
There were so many things I was looking forward to about this trip, from Blizzcon to Disneyland to seeing Hogwarts in person. But one of the things that was right at the top of that list was getting to visit Blizzard HQ.
Thanks to an amazingly kind friend, we were given the opportunity to visit the mothership – to see where all the magic happens. To say I was excited about this was a massive understatement. I mean, this face of mine below of me losing my shit was an understatement for how I was feeling inside!
So, we go there by Uber, and I was jittery the whole way. And then we saw the gate and oh boy…
We got dropped off at the gate then walked in, and there’s the Orc in all his wonderful glory, RIGHT THERE. It took all of my effort not to sqeal. Well, ok I squealed, but hopefully not too loudly.
Once inside we met up with our beautiful friend, Marie, who was to be our guide for the afternoon. After handing over the piles of gifts we had, we headed off to lunch at the campus cafeteria. I don’t know if it’s like other workplace cafeterias…? I’ve only worked in small organisations really. But to me, any place that makes pizza in front of you is a winner by default.
With our meals in hand we sat down and caught up on all the happenings. I kept getting distracted by the moment. I mean, here I was, surrounded by all of these amazing, talented people who work on the games that I love so much. And you know what I noticed most of all? They were just like me. Everyone was dressed in Blizzard gear or clothing that was “them” rather than “corporate”. And everyone seemed… happy? Ok sure it was lunch time and there’s food, but like, everyone seemed happy to be there. Like they had a purpose. Don’t get me wrong, some people looked like they had a lot on their (work)plate, but noone looked like they were just done with everything and was ready to walk out the door. You could feel the energy in the air, it was remarkable.
With lunch done, we started on our tour. For those who are unaware of what happens on these tours, there is a museum that has exhibitions that change every now and then, there’s amazing statues all over the place, and other places around the campus to visit. But before you go anywhere, you sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (of course!), and they let you know where you can and can’t take pictures. All of which is fair enough. ESPECIALLY 2 days before Blizzcon! The secrets in that building, oh my gosh.
Because of where you can and can’t take pics, there’s quite a lot here that we experienced that can’t be shared, but there’s still plenty to show…
The Blizzard museum had just been updated to celebrate Hearthstone! Even though I don’t play the game very much at all, I do love all the artwork. And it was amazing to see how it all started out. Definitely a fantastic experience to check out.
After the museum we headed in to area where we can’t take pictures. So let me paint some pictures with my magical words 😉 Our first stop was a peek in what looked like one of those scenes of NASA with rows of people at computers all facing a whole bunch of screens. This was, of course, where the servers were all monitored. They also had a great interactive display talking about how it all works and what happens when something goes wrong. I kinda wanted to throw Tim Tams to everyone in there because those folks work bloody hard to keep us in game. It was fascinating to see it all in person.
One of the main things you notice when walking around the corridors is that there is Blizzard artwork EVERYWHERE. There is not a bare wall, and it’s beautiful. The halls were filled with creativity – you could feel it oozing out of every corner. If I had all the time in the world I would have just slowly wandered from wall to wall, gazing at it all… probably would have been there for a few days if I’m honest. It was very inspiring stuff.
One of my favourite places to visit during the tour was the library. Oh my gosh guys it was everything you’d want a nerd library to be! There were all the games you could think of, there were cozy corners – there were even doggos in there, because there were a few employees at one of the tables playing a game together! How awesome is that? Everything was decorated for Halloween, too, so it had the spooky old library vibe going on. And even better – we got a treat! I spoke to the librarian (who was an absolute sweetheart) telling her I wanted her job and pls can has? And obviously not, but she was lovely hehe. And then she offered us Bizz bookmarks! eep! We got one each…
Then we were off again. We went around and checked out all the statues… you can’t see in the pic, but the Tyrael statue wings GLOW omg. It was my favourite of them all. Although Gorehowl was pretty awesome to see in person – that thing is flippin’ HUGE!
We were also really lucky and got to visit some of the WoW dev work areas. There was so much here that just blew me away. Firstly, again, all the art of the walls. Ahh!! Secondly, everyone had really personal work spaces. Some were really decorated with their favourite things – others looked like a nerd had exploded in there. It was AMAZING. But my favourite thing here – every person we met in the halls stopped and said hi and was just so darn friendly to us strangers. It wasn’t the usual “polite nod, half smile walk on” kind of situation; people would smile and say hi, some asking about our trips over here, what we were looking forward to at Blizzcon… I just wanted to hug everyone for being so nice! (I reckon it’s also because Marie is such a darling to everyone, too!).
The other thing about this area is that there were a few walls that we noticed were covered in black cloth. SECRETS! Having seen the reveals now, it was all obviously Shadowlands stuff, but seeing those covered up walls got me so hyped at the time. Eee!!!!
Eventually we had to go and let Marie get on with her day. We were SO grateful to meet Marie for the first time, too, after talking and playing together all these years! What an absolute treat our time there was.
On a personal note, the whole experience at Blizzard HQ was really inspiring for me. For those of you who follow me on twitter you’ll know that I’ve really been struggling with my job a lot lately, and I’ve just fallen in to a bit of a rut. I’m not working in a job that I enjoy, and I have so much creative energy just going to waste. I’ve felt like I’m stuck, and that this was really as good as it was going to get. But after that tour and seeing how a workplace can be… it was truly inspiring. The people there seemed to really enjoy being there. They seemed to care about what they were doing and wanted to share it with people. And it made the whole campus buzz with an energy I’ve never felt before. It was the kick in the butt that I’ve needed to get me out of this rut. I want to work at a place that inspires me like that; that encourages me to be creative, and makes me care about what I’m doing. And while Blizzard would (obviously) be where I would want to do that, it doesn’t have to be there – but it certainly isn’t where I am now, and I need to change that.
Anyway, back to our holiday! After our HQ adventures we headed back to the hotel. Unfortunately the cleaners arrived shortly after we did and they kicked us out, so we checked out the pool… it was way too cold to go in, though (it was quite a windy day). Thor decided to go for a walk to get some things we missed from the day before while I just lazily stayed at the hotel watching Netflix lol. I shouldn’t have left him unattended, though, because he came back with unicorn magic Snack Packs! They were actually pretty amazing… the blue tasted… well, blue.
Eventually night came, and on twitter I could see people were starting to head to the Hilton lobby. This was the thing I was most nervous about, because I don’t drink, and I’m awkward as heck. But I also knew it was where a lot of people would be hanging out, and I’d heard many stories about people having some amazing non-Blizzcon times at the lobby. So we forced ourselves to head over.
I was as awkward as expected. Everyone seemed to be in their groups and so we felt a bit out of place really. We grabbed a drink from the bar and kinda stood around for awhile. Eventually, though, I recognised a face – Terran Gregory! And then all at once I was terrified. We had brought Tim Tams with us to give out to people, but I was too scared and shy. But Thor forced me to take some over to Terran because he knew I would be kicking myself later if I didn’t. So I swallowed my terror and went over to Terran and said hi and gave him Tim Tams and he was SO lovely even though I was such a dork and he took a picture with us that cracked me up and I did it! I thanked him for being amazing, and then set him free to be bombarded by less weird nerds than me. But it was great. 🙂
We also saw the amazing folks who made the Eyes of N’zoth. Darn it I can’t remember their names, but they looked incredible. They also had dressed up Pepes that were amazing! We gave them some Tim Tams too, but then we headed off because that was our quota of being brave. (Well, mine anyway). And by this point I was pretty emotionally exhausted after the HQ tour. That, and we needed an early night, because the next day was Halloween at Disneyland!!!! stay tuned…
PS – I totally forgot to mention that we saw Ion Hazzikostas TWICE while we were at Blizz HQ! Once in the halls of the WoW dev area, and then secondly as we were leaving. Except I was stupidly trying to look something up on my phone at the time and missed him! Bah! So we didn’t get to say hi and/or thanks, but we did see him, and he was glorious 😀
We ended up packing our suitcases a few times to help shuffle the weight around. We had a few big boxes of gifts to give to people while we were in the USA, and then of course we needed to pack clothes, which was interesting because we needed to pack for potentially hot California and really cold Yosemite. So it was a lot of trial and error!
The longest Monday
I don’t know how I managed to sleep on the Sunday night before we left. I think being completely exhausted from work helped a lot! Once I was awake I was well and truly awake, so we had our showers then headed off to catch the bus to the airport.
I like to be at the airport early. I’m not a good flyer, so being there with plenty of spare time helps me to calm down. Having said that, Thor will never let me live it down because we got there so early we couldn’t hand in our bags and check in. Oops! (it was only 10 minutes too early!!) We had a few dramas – for some reason when we tried to put our bags in it said we had 2 too many (which we didn’t). It got fixed fine, but then when we went to put our bags on the conveyor belt thing, the whole thing shut down! Something happened when the man at the booth next to us put his bags in, but the timing of it was unnerving.
So we passed through security no worries and find somewhere to have breakfast. It was only at this point that I started to calm down a little and realise we were on our way to America! eeee!!
Eventually we headed towards our gate, only to find another round of security. Well, kinda. Blocking our path to the gate was a temporary table with some people sitting at it, checking our tickets. Everyone was going through fine, including Thor. But of course it got to me and I was asked to a different area for further processing. Ummm ok? Anyway, it turned out they were doing some new extra security stuff and my ticket had been flagged to go through the process (we think this is why our bag situation got borked at check in). Nothing drastic, but I did have to run around with my little compression socks, looking like a fool.
So I passed through yet another security check and we’re waiting at the gate when next minute my name is called over the loud speaker. I have never been upgraded to business class on a flight, so my heart leapt at the thought that this could be the moment! But no, it wasn’t. I was being called so they could check I had gone through the extra security. Well poop.
Flight 1 was from Melbourne to Auckland and it was uneventful. But I will say this – Air New Zealand has great planes. We paid a little extra (like $15 per ticket) to have a pair of seats together at the back. The pair was the whole row, and we did it because we’re both big people, so this way we were only squishing on ourselves, not random strangers. It was the best decision. The seats were perfect. I could even cross my legs in front of me I had that much room! (And that never happens given my size and height!). So if you fly Air NZ and you get the opportunity for those pairs of seats, do it, they are brilliant.
Our stop over in Auckland was for 5 hours or so. It was a lovely airport. There was loads of art leading us to the international transfer area, and then in the terminal itself there was lots of nice stuff to look at.
We found ourselves a couch and parked there watching netflix on our ipads with the the free wifi. Not the worst way to pass the time!
Eventually it was time for the big flight to LA. It was a doozy. 12 hours all up. I did manage to sleep for a little while. Thank goodness for inflight wifi and downloaded Netflix shows on our ipads! By the time we landed we were pretty exhausted. And had arrived only a few hours after we left (time zones are weird).
Getting through customs was every bit as terrible as people say it is. Despite having visa waivers and being (apparently) able to have a faster process to get through customs, every single person there ended up in the 1 long line, waiting for 3 or 4 border patrol guys to check us all and let us in. It was actually stupid. We were in that line for well over an hour. I felt so bad for anyone who had a transfer, because they were in it too! I was baffled at the stupidity of the system. But it was what it was and we waited.
Then we started playing a game – spot the BlizzCon attendee! We noticed a few people popping up in the line wearing Blizzard shirts. Then we saw Preach and his family in the line… it helped us stay excited and focused. Despite claiming food products on our forms, noone asked what they were or to look at them, and we passed through customs and all the security stuff quickly and easily.
Getting to the hotel was a bit of a pain because I had not gotten around to booking a shuttle bus. Which wouldn’t have mattered because we couldn’t find anything at the airport anyway. LAX really wasn’t that fun lol Being so tired didn’t help either. But eventually we got on a shuttle bus to the hotel… and we were there! We were in LA!
As we were coming in on the plane I couldn’t get over just how massive LA was. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. It was exciting, but in a way made me feel a bit claustrophobic at the same time! Being on the road was also as daft as people had said it would be, and the hotel ended up being further than we thought. But we made it in one piece.
We stayed at the Double Tree at Anaheim, and I will say this up front – they were fantastic. The rooms were really great, beds SO comfy, and the staff were amazing. Price-wise it was pretty good, really. It didn’t include breakfast, but it was so close to the Convention Centre that we didn’t need to pay for Ubers or anything, so had some trade offs there. So if you’re looking for somewhere for a future BlizzCon, we definitely recommend!
Despite how tired we were, we forced ourselves to stay awake, with the goal of going to bed at a normal time for California. So instead of going to sleep straight away (as much as we wanted to!) we forced ourselves to leave the room and go get some dinner. Thankfully there was a Denny’s across the road from the hotel that would give us our first taste of US food. We learned the hard way that serving sizes are really something else in the US. Thor had ordered a “sampler” plate, thinking it would have a couple of things on it… not the multitudes of food that it did have! And the sauces, oh my good lord they were the size of bowls of soup! I got a nachos for myself that I barely made a dent in. All we could do was laugh and try to learn from the mistake (hint: we didn’t get this right ever during the whole trip!)
With our bellies full and it late enough in the evening, we wandered back to the hotel for our first night’s sleep. To help make sure we stayed asleep we had a sleeping tablet each to knock ourselves out, and I have to say it was the best thing we could have done. We both slept solidly, and woke up the next morning at a normal California time feeling completely refreshed. Huzzah! No jet lag for us!
Our first full day in LA, and our primary goal was to get supplies. We didn’t want to be spending money eating dinner out every night, and we needed breakfast foods, so we headed off to a Target that we knew was nearby. We also needed SIM cards. Another lesson learned here… I had initially planned to have SIMs arranged before we left, but just ran out of time to get us all sorted, so we relied of getting things sorted out in Anaheim. It was a giant pain in the ass. Target ended up being a bust so we had to head off to try and find SIM cards from somewhere else…. but then they didn’t have what we needed. In the end we got the SIM cards from a small convenience store, but setting them up was bloody stupid too. Anyway, the moral of the story is to have this stuff sorted out before you go!
With SIM cards, bottles of water, breakfasts, snacks and foods all sorted, we headed back. It was a LOT of walking on this day, but I think overall it helped us get used to the time. And the sun wasn’t terrible 🙂
Once we were back near the hotel, we decided to have a bit of a wander down near the Convention Centre so that we could have a sneak peak at BlizzCon getting set up, and to get our bearings of the place. This was when I really started getting butterflies. It was nearly time for BlizzCon!!!!!
For dinner we had wandered up towards a nearby shopping mall (?) and found ourselves in a mexican restaurant. It was pretty good!
The mall itself was amazing – it had loads of Halloween decorations (which we aren’t really used to seeing back home) and also had loads of art around the place and fun lights and stuff. I liked it 🙂 Then on the way back we passed Bubba Gumps! That was something new for us.
Last thing for the evening was to put together all of our Aussie treats for people. We made some little goodie bags for friends we knew we would see, and packaged together some little Tim Tam packs for anyone else who wanted them. We also had a really big box of treats for a special friend and her team 🙂
All in all it was a busy couple of days, but it really did help us get settled in to a proper sleeping routine, and avoiding jet lag, which we were really grateful for.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been back from our trip for coming up to two weeks now. It feels simultaneously like a lifetime ago, but also just yesterday. But that’s usually how it goes when you have fantastic experiences.
Over the coming days/weeks I’ll be sharing our stories and, of course, LOADS of pictures, from our time in the USA, from Disneyland & Universal, to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Parks, and of course BlizzCon AND Blizzard HQ (yeah you read that right!).
If you can’t be bothered reading multiple posts, the tl;dr is this: We had a bloody brilliant time. 🙂 But if you want to hear all about the adventures and see way more pictures that necessary, stick around. I’ll be adding shortcuts to the links below as posts are uploaded.
I had hoped to have written about some of our adventures to California and BlizzCon by now, but of course I got sick on the flight home and I’ve just been absolutely wrecked. So I haven’t been able to go through the thousands (genuinely 2500+!!!!) of photos from the trip to pic some favs. And I haven’t written stories yet because staying awake is hard. But I’m slowly getting through it all! Expect a LOT of posts over the next couple of weeks as I go through everything, though. Can’t wait to share our adventures with you all 🙂
It’s amazing how fast time passes. Last time I posted about Blizzcon we were just over 2 months out. Now, it’s 2 weeks and 12 hours before we get on a plane bound for LA.
The anxiety about it all has well and truly set in – and blimey is my brain good at freaking out about the strangest of things…
There’s obviously all the plane-related concerns – missing our flights, getting sick on the plane, missing our connecting flight, landing and not getting through customs and being ordered back to Australia, luggage going missing etc. etc. (and of course, one of the planes crashing).
In LA itself, there’s also obviously the concern of being shot. Now this might seem ridiculous to many people, but living in Australia, it’s just not the norm to see people walking around with guns. It’s definitely something that’s going to niggle the back of my head the whole trip.
We are doing a bit of a road trip after Blizzcon and are hiring a car for it. Right now I have the panic because part of the road trip is in Yosemite, and there’s a chance it could snow. And I can’t get a straight answer as to whether or not the rental place rents chains for the tires, or if they have those all-weather tires that don’t need chains. And of course none of the rental companies have online support so I have to find a time to call them in LA to get an answer. And THAT is another panic all on its own. blergh. Oh and of course driving on the other side of the road isn’t going to be a picnic either. I’m very grateful that Thor will be doing all the driving…
And then there’s Blizzcon itself… one of my biggest concerns about Blizzcon was (and this is going to sound so self-involved) that noone would actually care that I was there. All these people I’m friends with on twitter who I’m so keen to meet in person… what if they don’t want to say hi back? What if they don’t care? I’m such an awkward person, and I really wouldn’t blame them but golly has that been at the top of my worry list. Well, it was until earlier in the week.
The Hong Kong/China/Blizzard situation has brought a whole other level of concern for Blizzcon, with a bunch of protests now planned to happen at Blizzcon itself. I’m not going to be going in to this other than to make two comments: 1. Taliesin’s video about the situation is a very well thought out discussion about the situation, and really sums up how I feel about it all. Watch it here. 2. If someone had said something we *didn’t* agree with, this would be a completely different conversation.
It’s such a complex situation… and a terrible insight in to just how fucked up the world is. I just feel like the problem is so, so much bigger than Blizzard, but they are an easy target… But I *personally* don’t think that Blizzcon is the place for these protests. And I suppose when it comes down to it, if for any reason the protests got out of hand, we are visitors to the country… I dunno, America just scares me a little I suppose… and there’s just no easy answer here 😦
And then there are the really stupid panics that I have. The stupidest one I had was a few weeks ago in a dream. I dreamed we were at Blizzcon watching one of the panels, and something so incredibly amazing got announced and everyone was cheering. And I went to cheer along too…. except my cheers of excitement sounded like a cow in labour (warning – graphic content). And everyone just stared at me as I made this god-awful sound. I couldn’t even cheer properly! What a stupid thing for my brain to be worried about. And yet HERE WE ARE!
So clearly my brain is going in to overdrive. There’s a lot to get done in the next two weeks – we need to get the lease on our apartment renewed so that we have a home to come back to, for one! We’ve also got a lot of tidying to do in case they decide to do an inspection while we’re away (and also it’s just so much nicer coming back to a lovely clean home.)
Mostly, though, the next 2 weeks will be packing (and repacking!). We need clothes for all weather. Parts of the trip will have temperatures in the high 20’s/early 30s (celcius!) which is too hot for my liking. But then temperatures at Yosemite look to be in the single digits, and might even snow! So it really is one extreme to the other. Layers will be the key priority for packing 🙂
In the meantime, I’m curious to see what other stupid things my brain can decide to be anxious about over the next 2 weeks!
I looked at the date today and realised that it’s just over 2 months until we head off to LA for Blizzcon and I am FREAKING OUT.
I have done nothing more for our trip since initially booking flights months ago other than thinking a lot about it. Not acting on anything, just thinking about it all. Freakin’ typical.
Our list of things still to do is pretty big:
sort out visa
buy Disneyland tickets
buy Universal Studios tickets
figure out what we are going to do for the 10 days between when we leave Anaheim and when we fly back home – including where we are going to stay!
sort out our flights over* (more on that below)
figure out what the hell I’m going to wear
buy comfortable shoes
figure out what days we’re going to Disneyland and Universal studios
figure out a day to go to the beach (it’s a personal thing – have to stick my feet in every new ocean I am near)
organise presents for US friends
make a list of people we need to buy presents for back home
$$$ do our taxes so we can pay for everything!!! $$$
Oh look, there’s so much more than that, but that’s just what is floating around at the moment.
Actually, one of the decisions we have been trying to make is around Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. I think we’re pretty settled on going to both of these places, but how we get there has been a bit back and forth. Initially we had planned on driving and doing a fun road trip, but then had advice from some friends who have driven in LA who said to avoid it at all costs. So then we started looking for flights instead. I asked for some advice on airlines for the trip (thanks friends for the input!)… but someone said we should just do a road trip. And honestly, I think that’s where our hearts lie. So even though it’ll be scary driving on the other side of the road and having the steering wheel on the left and all that, it looks like that will be our plan. We like adventures 🙂
So the flights thing. We booked our flights ages ago, which is fine. I got an email from our airline about a week or so ago now saying that the plane we were due to fly over on was one of those planes that was having issues with crashing all the time, so they need to send it away to be fixed. They are leasing a plane from someone else to replace the original plane. Now, I am all for not exploding on my flights so have no issues with the planes being changed – 100% in support of this decision. However it does put us in an awkward spot. We had paid extra to sit in some specific seats that were in a pair towards the back of the plane. We did this to help manage my anxiety over flying, but also because, in a row of just the 2 of us, us being large people wouldn’t impact anyone else (and again would help ease my anxiety). With being on this new plane we have been told seats are no longer guaranteed. While they will do their best, they can’t guarantee any special seats chosen will be available. If we paid extra and didn’t get what we wanted they would reimburse us. That’s all well and good, but I’d rather the seats. So I need to call them to make some arrangements. It’s just triggering my anxiety a bit (seeing a theme here?!!) but I just have to do it.
It’s slow going, and really getting to the point where we have to make some hard and fast decisions. I think this weekend will be quite busy with planning!
Tomorrow the gates of Azshara’s fabulous Eternal Palace open, giving us a brand new raid, with loads of new boss butts to kick. And with it (hopefully) will come some answers as to the next part of the Battle for Azeroth story.
I for one am so pumped for this! I have some ideas about what could be cool to have happen, though I should say I’m pretty garbage at predictions, so this is all likely to be a load of crap, but it’s fun to think about!
PATCH 8.2 spoilers ahead – if you haven’t done any of the Nazjatar content, including watching the intro cinematic, and you don’t want to be spoiled, please turn back now!
My theory comes about from a different interpretation to the intro cinematic for Patch 8.2. Taliesen (from Taliesen & Evitel) did a really great overview of the intro cinematic that I strongly recommend you watch (here’s the link!)
One of the things Tali brought up in that video is Azshara’s vanity. She spends so much of that cinematic admiring herself in the reflection of the waterfall that it would appear she has a pretty high opinion of her appearance. But I can’t help but wonder if all that water gazing is for a different reason.
Taliesen made a great comment – for someone who’s palace is under the sea, why is her chamber not full of water? He argues that surely it’s far easier for her to move her tentacly body through water than it is to wriggle around the place, and he’s not wrong. His conclusion, though, is that the room is devoid of water so that Azshara can have her reflective waterfall-mirror, so she can gaze upon her beauty.
Here’s what I think.
Azshara was a hottie, and she knew it (why else would she have statues of herself everywhere, if not for everyone to bear witness to her beauty?). I can’t help but wonder what she thought about being turned in to the tentacled (albeit still disturbingly hot) monstrosity that she is now. Sure she has power and her life, but I can’t help but wonder if she was happy with the trade off. I personally think her chambers were not filled with water because she prefers to think of herself as she was, and looking like an elf. And I think she was staring at her reflection so long in the waterfall because she was saying to herself “soon you will be yourself again”. Because I think she’s going to screw over N’Zoth.
Ok ok it sounds lame putting that in words – to suggest Azshara has been waiting, plotting and planning for years just because she got ugly sounds pretty weak. But for someone who, for her first life, was fawned over for her beauty as much as her power, this would have been quite the shock. I mean, she’s popping up all over Nazjatar to taunt us with a wine glass in her hand! Clearly she has a drinking problem having turned to in a lush, pining over her lost youth like a quarterback who broke his leg before the big game and watched his life pass before his eyes…
But in all seriousness, it wasn’t just Azshara who was transformed like this, and really it’s got nothing to do with how she looks. It was that her people – almost every single one of them – were made into these hideous creatures against their will, trapped in their underwater tombs for years upon years. And yes, they survived, they live, but at what price? What kind of life is one hidden away in the deep dark depths of the ocean? Is that really a fair trade? Those who weren’t turned in to naga are ghosts who don’t even know they are dead – why do they linger if not to be saved as part of Azshara’s true plan?
See, I can’t help but wonder if the prisoner that’s going to be released at the end of this raid is not N’Zoth as he hopes, but Azshara and her people. Perhaps Azshara will come good for her people and help them rise to power again as themselves, and not these serpenty versions of themselves. Maybe she will make up for her past mistakes. I mean, we’re potentially pretty screwed if that does play out – Azshara at her full power and potential could be devastating to us all. (Though the alternative of N’Zoth being set free is undoubtedly worse). Or… maybe she’ll just want a quiet life with her city raised from the depths and everyone living happily ever after.
Either way, I think someone is getting stabbed in the back tomorrow. And all we can do is be the stupid pawns we are, failing to stop anything from happening because we really are just far too daft for our own good.
Whatever happens, I hope everyone loves the new raid!
PS: There will be some screenshot posts coming up in the future. I’ll be doing some of the new raid, but also Nazjatar as a whole and of Mechagon. My GPU died at the beginning of June and I had been running WoW on the built-in graphics card, which was absolute garbage. Everything looked crap, and it broke my heart. I ended up buying a replacement GPU while the old one was being fixed. Definitely the right call because now I can actually see the water in Nazjatar! But also, the old one is still going through the process of being fixed, and I couldn’t have raided without something in place. Anyway, expect some pictures in the near future!
I’m going to be honest here – I’ve not looked too much in to what’s coming in 8.2. Not in any real depth that is. (Please don’t tell my raid lead!!!) Mostly because 8.2 is a biiiig patch with some really, really exciting stuff coming. Nazjatar!! Mechagon! New mega dungeon and new raid and pet battle dungeon and essenences and transmog and then there’s everything coming with the 15 year Warcraft celebration… holy moly! So much exciting stuff to come!
The point is, even still, after all this time, I still like there to be a bit of a surprise with everything. I really like that feeling of discovery, of learning something new and experiencing something for the first time. I’ve been pretty time-poor the past few weeks/months, so decided that I’d not dive too deeply in to 8.2 until I had to. As usual, this has been glorious. And if my GPU wasn’t at the PC docs getting fixed at the moment, I’d be thoroughly giddy with excitement.
But that’s only part of what this post is about. Today we’re here to talk about why ignorance is bliss.
One of the big things coming in 8.2 are essences. Essences are these little things you can add to your Heart of Azeroth neck that empower it with either major or minor abilities (depending on what level your neck is and where you equip it). There are a whole bunch of different Essences available, usually broken down by role. So there are dps specific, tank specific and healer specific essences, along with a bunch of essences suitable for whatever role you play. The wowhead guide for this is, as usual, amazing, and very nicely laid out – definitely worth a look.
I’ve been really excited by essences. I think they are going to help with making our classes feel a bit more interesting for the rest of the expansion. I like that there is a wide variety of abilities that these essences give, so if you’re a healer who chases mana, there’s an essence for that, or if you’re a tank who likes to dish out damage while they protect everyone, there’s an essence for that.
Essences are easy to swap in and out – you just use the same Tomes that you use to change talents, and you change essences on the fly to suit whatever fight you’re about to come up against. Great, right?
There’s an essence I’ve had my eye on for awhile now, because to me it just looks really interesting. It’s the Life-Binder’s Invocation essence. (Even though it’s changed a bit throughout it’s time on PTR). At rank 1 (the lowest rank) it does the following:
Rank 1: Your heals have a very high chance to implant a Seed of Eonar in the target for 12 sec.
Seed of Eonar: If the target takes damage, the Seed bursts, healing them for 4,132.
Major Power (2.1 sec cast, 3 min cooldown)
Rank 1: Implant 30 Seeds of Eonar divided over allies within 30 yds.
Seed of Eonar: If the target takes damage, the Seed bursts, healing them for 4,132.
To me, this sounds kinda cool. I have so many heals that go out passively as a restoration shaman, that I think the Seeds should apply pretty often. It just means lots of really nice little passive heals going out on a regular basis that could help avoid outright deaths, you know? And the major power, with the ability to plant a bunch of seeds on purpose to a whole (mythic) raid team is brilliant for preparing for a big burst of incoming damage. I’m also curious if it could feed our cloudburst totems, too, because that would be awesome (though unlikely)!
And then there’s The Ever-Rising Tide essence, that gives you a random int buff or mana regen when you cast your heals. There are some really fun looking DPS ones as well, including one where you set up a beacon somewhere, then teleport to that location and do a huge burst of AOE damage. How awesome does that sound?!
There are loads of really fun abilities here, and so many that you could mix and match to suit your boss fights or what your preferred play style is, and I think that’s awesome. I like that Blizz are giving us options to personalise our playing experience, letting us choose abilities that we want to use, to customise our characters our way.
Or are they?
Well, firstly, yes, they are, of course. It’s not really Blizz that messes this up, though, is it? It’s us. You see, when push comes to shove and all of these essences are being used by thousands of people in the next week, we’re going to start to see a lot more data about their effectiveness for different classes and situations. And what’s going to happen is that we’re going to learn that, as usual, there is a “best in slot” combination of essences that will make your numbers look great. Essence A for your major and essences B and C for your two minors will be the best combination in conjunction with X, Y, Z traits on your azerite gear, and using this specific set of talents. Once that’s learned, that’s what will be expected of you, and if you’re not using that specific combination of gear/talents/essences/traits then you’re just not doing it right.
We gripe and moan about our characters being boring and loot not being meaningful etc etc but at the end of the day, that’s a load of shit. There is already a lot of loot out there that’s interesting, that impacts our play style, that can help us feel unique, but we choose not to use it because there’s always a “best in slot” that “must” be used for us to feel competitive.
I mean, Blizzard just can’t win.
We want class/spec uniqueness, but if our toon doesn’t have an ability that another class has, there’s hell to pay!
We want loot that feels rewarding and interesting, but we’ll ignore anything that isn’t going to bring us to the top of the meters.
We want spells and talents and extra abilities that engage us, that make us feel powerful and strong and impact our game play… but we stick to the talents and traits that make us perform highest.
And on top of all of that – we want everything to be balanced between all classes.
A lot of the frustrations we have are brought upon ourselves, because of our choices (oh the irony!). Sometimes (maybe most of the time) what is fun, isn’t what is powerful. And if you have to make a choice, you’re going to choose what is powerful over what is fun, because that’s what gets you in to the Mythic + dungeons and the raids and killing bosses.
We say we want choices, and we do! But our actions say otherwise. And I think we really need to start being a bit more accountable to that. Yes, it would be amazing if we could have a plethora of choices that were all equally, beautifully balanced. But that’s not going to happen.
So what’s all this got to do with being ignorant? Well, everything. If we didn’t see numbers – if Details or Skada or other ways of ranking our performance against others weren’t a thing; if there was no such thing as “best”; if we couldn’t see all that, and didn’t know… don’t you think the game would be more fun to play? We’d make choices based on how fun something was, or how powerful we felt doing something (regardless of whether or not it actually was powerful). Wouldn’t that be great?
But here’s the confession – it turns out that it’s looking like the numbers on the Life-Binder’s Invocation essence make it really not so strong. And so even though it looks like a fun essence (to me), if I start simming my character and the numbers say it’s too weak, I just won’t be using it, because I’ve got mythic bosses to kill, and I need to be as strong as I can. But I’m sitting here wishing it was a week ago when I had no idea that this essence may not be all that strong, and I could just focus on how fun it might be.
Can’t I just go back to a being ignorant? Please? I was having more fun then.
P.S – I realise this won’t apply to people who either really aren’t bothered about min-maxing, or who aren’t doing high level content or who are happy just doing whatever they want. I hope you love all the new essences and traits coming in 8.2!
I’ve been quite sick all week this week. It’s just a cold, but it’s been a big one. I’ve been off work for almost the whole week (thankfully being able to work from home), and am still recovering now (I sound like a hag! It’s actually kinda funny lol)
Despite being quite ill (and having no GPU at the moment… but that’s another story) I still showed up to raid on Wednesday and Thursday evening to help the team get another Jaina mount. It was pretty rough going, but hey, you gotta help the team out, right?
After our mythic Stormwall Blockade kill on Thursday night, some Slimy Kelpweavers dropped. I checked and they were an upgrade for me, and I won them. I promptly equipped them, as we got on the boat to Jaina. While we were waiting for the rest of the team to zone in, I checked my character screen to look at these Kelpweavers in a bit more detail.
But they were gone.
Instead, on my wrists where the Kelpweavers should be were Icebinder’s Bracers. Huh??! I searched my bags – no Kelpweavers. Then all of a sudden our GM was unable to speak in Officer chat. While he was trying to sort that out, I decided to hearth out to see if I had accidentally sold the wrists to a vendor when I repaired. So I get in to the inn – nup, nothing on the vendor. I brought Thor over and showed him – Icebinder’s on my character, but no Slimy Kelpweavers in my bags! He agreed he couldn’t see the wrists either. I decide to log out and log back in again to see if that would help.
So I log out… and can’t get back in again. Then the GM gets booted too… and a whole bunch of other people. Ahhh ok there are server issues. Crap! The server issues must have deleted my gear!! Ok this is making some sense. (Kinda?)
Once I get back in to the game I double check – still no wrists. But at least now I have an idea of why. So we eventually go on to kill Jaina and give out another mount, and I head over to Support to lodge a ticket.
Clearly there was a mistake here, but it’s ok! The Blizz Support team haven’t let me down yet! They can fix it!
I went to bed confused (and coughing) but hopeful it would be sorted out.
I received a reply the next day:
ok great! So it looks like it’s fixed itself overnight. Huzzah!
I log on to my character to check… but no. There are those Icebinder’s Bracers still on my wrists. And the only other wrists I have are Ape Wrangler’s Wristguards in my bags. This doesn’t make sense! I even did an Ask Mr Robot string for best in bags, and it had listed “Icebinder’s Bracers” in the wrist slot, and didn’t even have the Slimy Kelpweavers as an option to equip! They were clearly missing.
I took some screenshots to show the bracers I had on, and the Ape Wrangler’s Wristguards that were in my bags, and then sent off another reply:
(My favourite part (now) in that reply is my comment “I promise I’m not going batty!… I’m not being completely stupid!”. Yeah ok Cinder! Jokes on you!)
I was completely baffled by this point. Why could they see something on my character that I couldn’t? Did my character have an issue with getting loot? I was so paranoid about it that I did mount runs on an alt instead of her, just in case there was a bug that would make my loot disappear.
This morning I have another reply from Blizz… and honestly, it’s the most polite reply I’ve ever had, but I am absolutely certain behind the scenes they were either laughing their ass off at me, or rolling their eyes so hard at the stupid.
Here is the final reply in this saga:
Yeah… they were gloves, not bracers. *facepalm* And yes, they were most definitely on my character. In the hand slot, where they belong. I’m pretty sure my ticket is stuck up on a wall of “stupidest support issues” at Blizzard…
Clearly I’m sicker than I thought and my brain is a bit broken. Excuse me while I shamefully crawl back in to bed and die of embarrassment!
I think I need to learn to stop making plans. I’m never good at keeping them. Although this time it was less my doing, and more things happening to me that changed my plans.
I had planned on spending a lot more time in the WoW Classic Beta over the past few weeks. Instead, I’ve been experiencing the amazing world of Virtual Reality. You see, my amazing partner, Thor, surprised me for my birthday by getting me a new Oculus Rift S. He surprised me further by wrapping the thing in balloons!
Up until this point in time, I’d never tried VR. My biggest concern was how ill it might make me. I get really bad motion sickness at the best of times – I struggle to play Overwatch and many other first person shooters because I just want to hurl the whole time. We also have an extremely small apartment with little to no room to move. However, Thor went around measuring our spaces and figured with a bit of creative moving around, there would be plenty of space to use the Rift.
There are already some amazing games to play in VR, and even some incredible experiences. But what I’ve wanted to do since the very day I saw it, was play Beat Saber. The premise is simple – the controllers in your hands become light sabers. You use those light sabers to slice boxes to the beat of the music playing. It is SO addictive. Ridiculously addictive.
There are multiple levels of difficulty – Easy, Normal, Hard, Expert, Expert+. You get scored on your combos (how many blocks you hit correctly in a row) and another score on your performance – how you hit the blocks, how close it was to the centre, correct wrist flicks and follow-through etc. The completionist in me wants 100% combos on everything, with at least a rank A on everything (though an S would be better!!)
If you’ve never seen or heard of Beat Saber before, check out this video of an absolute pro, OtterWorldly, playing a custom Expert+ map of Lindsey Stirling’s Shatter Me. It is absolutely unreal, especially given it’s the first time she’s seen it! (I am nowhere near this level!)
**WARNING this video has flashing lights**
I have played Beat Saber almost every single day since Thor gave me the Rift. It is genuinely a workout when you do it – especially as you get to more difficult levels. I love it. And best of all, it doesn’t even make me a little bit nauseous! (Skyrim VR on the other hand – ooof). Right now I’m somewhere between a Hard and Expert level, depending on the map.
One of the other things that makes Beat Saber so great is the community around it. These amazing people create mods for the game which can let you change the colour of your sabers and the lighting of the room and all sorts of other things that make the game a unique experience for you. But best of all, you can make custom maps for any song you like. The game itself comes with about 10 songs I think, and there are a couple of expansion packs (an Imagine Dragons pack released earlier this week!!). But you can burn through them all pretty quickly. There is a huge community around making songs and maps at a bunch of difficulty levels, making the game last just that much longer.
Despite me feeling like an uncoordinated noodle, and having zero dancing skills, I’m actually able to do alright in this game. It’s extremely satisfying, too. It’s great for those bad days at work. Normally I’d blow things up in WoW – now I’m smashing blocks with a light saber. The hardest part for me is being on my feet for so long in bad shoes. I’m getting some pretty gnarly knee and lower back pain, so I need to sort out getting a proper, decent pair of sneakers to wear when I play, because really the only thing stopping my from playing longer is the pain, not any exhaustion. Stupid limited body!
Other than that, I’m still raiding in WoW. We got Cutting Edge on mythic Jaina a little while ago. I’m so proud of our little team! I put together a pretty full on kill video for it, too…
Our raid lead got the first mount, then us officers rolled off for the order of the following mounts – I got mine third. It’s such a beautiful mount!
At the moment we’re not stepping in to Mythic Crucible of Storms. It’s such a rough raid. So each week we’re just going back in to Battle for Dazar’alor for a mythic reclear, and to give out as many mounts as we can.
Otherwise, it’s mostly same old around here. We’re all hanging out for 8.2 to drop in WoW… there are some really awesome things coming there! The small peeks I’ve had of Nazjatar are amazing. Mechagon is going to be fantastic, too! I think my screenshots folder is headed for an influx of pics… 🙂
Last week I was fortunate to learn that I had been granted access to the World of Warcraft Classic Beta servers. Anyone who’s followed my blog knows I’m a bit of a nerd, and a big part of me loves to contribute to these early access servers. I like feeling like I’ve helped contribute in some small way to the game. So I was thrilled to be given the chance to do this again. Even more so this time because, in a way, playing WoW Classic is like playing a whole different game.
I’ll be doing multiple posts on my WoW Classic experiences and thoughts. This first post will just cover my initial observations – how things are different in Classic vs. Retail and what I found interesting. Expect future posts with more opinions and thoughtful discussion.
I started playing WoW at the end of Cataclysm, right around when Firelands was in full swing. I have only known Azeroth as it is now – broken apart and forever changed by Deathwing. I’ve always been curious to know how the world was before that time. How did it all look before it was ravaged and destroyed?
Knowing I’d be playing Alliance when Classic does go live (a simultaneous worldwide launch on August 27/28!!!), and knowing shamans were a Horde-only class, I decided to start my beta adventures as a Tauren shaman.
The first thing I noticed when making my tauren was the lack of choices in facial expressions. This wasn’t at all unexpected – it’s a super early version of the game, and this is part of it. Just one of the many luxuries we have in current WoW!
It was raining when I zoned in, and I have to agree with what I’ve heard from many people before – the weather effects were better then. I don’t know what it is, but the rain in that screenshot is just loads better than what it is in current WoW. The sound of it was incredible. It really helped add to the atmosphere of the zone.
There’s no guidance for the game. You zone in and there’s a person in front of you to do your first quest, but that’s about where the help stops. Quest givers aren’t shown in the map or mini-map. If you have to collect parts from mobs (like teeth from wolfs or something) there’s no indicator on the map of where these wolfs might be. Then when you (finally!) do get the parts, you don’t get a direction of where to go back to hand in the quest. The best you get is a small yellow dot (like how herb nodes are shown on the mini map in current), but even then that only shows up when you’re close to the NPC so isn’t reliable. What it all boils down to is this:
you actually have to read the quest text
And it’s fucking brilliant. It’s hard, but it’s so great having to read to figure out where to go to kinda be in the area of where some mobs might be.
And there’s so much running around. SO much running around. Which I don’t mind at all, because I just love to explore.
And there’s a lot of dying. Well there was for me at least. I didn’t mind too much because there was something really beautiful about the spirit realm. It’s different to live – it seems…. spookier? It’s hard to explain. But I find current corpse runs are beautiful, but the world is clear. In Classic, there’s less visibility – you can’t see a lot of what’s around you until you’re close, and there’s something really cool about that. It really does feel like you’re in the afterlife, frantically trying to reunite yourself with your body.
Combat is hard. For a couple of reasons. First one being that classes are completely different to how they are on live. I made a shaman, but you get spells from all specs, and you pick and choose where to put talent points in… it’s a big mash up of different (and customisable) builds. It’s really interesting.
The other reason combat is difficult is because everything costs so much mana, and you have no health. I’m used to pulling mobs with lightning bolts and dropping an earth shock and just spamming lightning bolt and lava burst until the thing was dead. In Classic, you can’t do that. There’s just not enough mana available to cast that many spells. You need to make sure you have enough mana available to heal yourself (god help anyone without a self heal!!), and if you’re battling humanoids, you have to make sure you have enough mana left to cast a spell when they run off, or they will run to their friends, and you will die. A lot.
With the abilities I have available to me now, I’m dropping a defensive totem that helps me take less damage. I’m casting a lightning bolt to hit them from a distance and get them running to me. They get a lava shock and a fire totem and then I wait. I right-click on them to punch them in the face until they die. (And that’s also making sure I’ve already got my lightning shield on and my weapon enchant on!)
And that’s another thing – you have to level up weapons! I started off being able to use a mace and a shield and that’s it. And I had to learn to use them. It’s an interesting concept because it means that your combat varies as you try to level up new weapons. To level up your defence, you have to literally get hit in the face (well, avoid getting hit in the face at least!!). To level the mace (or any other weapon) you need to be in melee range, right click the mob and just auto attack it down, and sometimes that will grant you levels on your weapon. This slows down combat significantly, but it also makes you think about what you’re doing, and making conscious decisions about what to do next. It’s very interesting.
I should also point out that you can use other weapons (for shamans we can still use 1h & 2h axes and maces and staves and daggers) but in order to use them you need to go to a trainer to learn how to use them. When you learn it, you start at 0, and sometimes you’ll just fail miserably as a result. It’s a very interesting concept.
Health wise, we have none. Same as mana, it’s a finite resource that you have to pay so much more attention to. You actually need to make sure you have food and mana water on you at all times, otherwise you’re pretty screwed. And don’t be surprised if you need to eat/drink after killing just 1 or 2 mobs. Don’t expect to live if you accidentally pull 2 or 3 mobs, either.. like I did… a lot >.<
The other finite resource is gold. It is really scarce. I don’t think I went over having anything more than 36 silver at a time (buying Iced Milk instead of Mana Spring water certainly didn’t help me there!!!) It makes for an interesting layer of complexity to the game. You have to make decisions about whether or not you’ll buy that health food to help save time between pulls, or will you just wait it out and save the money? Got 5 spells your class trainer can teach you – great! But you can only afford to purchase 2 of them. Which do you choose?
The hardest part that I’ve found about Classic is how fragmented the quests are. I don’t really know what the story is. I think I lost the thread somewhere and I’m not too sure where to go to pick it up again. Which is what it is and I’m not complaining 🙂
So instead of trying to figure out the “right” way of playing the game, I just decided to start doing my own thing and go exploring. It has been such a strong desire of mine to see the world “as it was in the beginning”, so I set off to do just that. I took a zepplin to Undercity to explore around there, and met a very different Sylvanas.
Then I headed off to Silverpine to work on a random quest I’d picked up in Thunder Bluff. Silverpine was absolutely beautiful. I don’t remember it looking as it does (I’ll have to check in live!) but I did like it. As I was walking around I noticed some magic looking effects in the distance so of course I chased after them to see what it was. I didn’t get far because there were too many mobs, but given where I was I’m pretty sure it was Dalaran. And not just any Dalaran – a Dalaran in a bubble still on the ground. Maybe?!?! I decided I’d try to get there… but failed miserably. Darn mobs 7 levels higher than me! I’ve got another idea in mind of how to get there next time I’m there, though… 😀
I know it wasn’t the “right” thing to be doing in the game, but it was what I wanted to do. It was how I wanted to adventure. I wanted to explore and see the world, and so I did. And that for me is what the root of all games is – playing the game your way. It’s something I’ll touch on further in future posts…
I don’t have the nostalgia that others have about Classic because I just wasn’t playing then. For me, playing Classic isn’t about reminiscing about a time in my youth that I’m longing to get back to. But that doesn’t make my excitement for Classic’s release any less valid or dim. I honestly cannot wait for this to be released. I cannot wait to experience the old stories, see the old world and just play the game because I want to, and how I want to, and not because I feel obligated to level fast to raid.
I know this won’t be for everyone, and that is how it should be. But this is right up my ally. And I can’t wait for August 27
Note: there are no spoilers in this post for Avengers: Endgame or Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This is a safe space!
What a week it has been! With all the public holidays happening over Easter and ANZAC day, I decided to fill in the blanks with personal leave to get 10 days off work for a mini-break – I really needed it! But I tell you what, it has turned out to be one hell of an emotional week.
The bananas week started on Monday, which was my 8 year anniversary with my partner, Thor. But before we got to celebrating, I guested on the Girls Gone WoW podcast, which meant a 4am wake up call. Eep! But it was so worth it. EJ & Raven are justt so lovely, and we had a good laugh. (You can check out the episode here.) For our anniversary, Thor and I spent the day binge watching Umbrella Academy on Netflix, which was so great. Aside from it being a great show, it was nice to just spend time together doing nothing else.
Tuesday I went and visited a lovely friend of mine to have lunch with her and her partner and their gorgeous new baby. This was probably my most chilled out day all week, to be honest.
Wednesday was where things really ramped up. At 8:45am (which is generally far too early for a movie!) Thor and I were sitting in a theatre ready to watch Avengers: Endgame. I will not spoil anything here. Suffice it to say it was an emotional experience, as I expected it would be. It was truly fantastic though, and well worth the early start to the day to avoid spoilers.
Then came Thursday. Our anniversary present to ourselves was to go and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play that is currently showing here in Melbourne. We bought the tickets months ago. They were not cheap, but as a mad Harry Potter fan, I figured it would be worth it to experience this. I was not disappointed. For those who are unaware, the play runs over 2 showings. We saw Part 1 on Thursday, and Part 2 on Friday. I was in tears just arriving at the theatre. I mean, look!
To be fair, most things makes me cry. This in particular was always bound to have me in a mess – to see this amazing world Rowling created come to life in front of us… well I didn’t really stand a chance. The show itself… it wasn’t without flaws, don’t get me wrong, but it was genuinely magical. Well worth the ticket price, and then some. Being able to experience the world again was just amazing. I highly recommend it.
But the emotions didn’t stop on Thursday night. We got home after seeing Part 1 of the show, and I was way too amped up to go to bed any time soon, so stayed up a bit to level my paladin in WoW. And wouldn’t you know it – Blizzcon 2019 dates finally got announced!! 1-2 November, with a special community day on the 31st (the Thursday before the con itself). EEEEEEEEEPPPP!!!!
What makes this Blizzcon so special is that this year, Thor and I will be attending! We will be making the trip from Australia to LA. We’re making the most of it, planning to be there for 20 days. So far we have planned Blizzcon (of course!), Disneyland (of course!), and Wizarding World of Harry Potter (of course!). Now we are just working on the rest of it. There’s a travel expo coming up in a week or so that we’ll go to to see if we can get some good deals. But anyways, that was Thursday.
Friday was Part 2 of Cursed Child. Again, no spoilers, but I was openly weeping during parts of it.
Come Saturday, I’m pretty exhausted but still seriously pumped for Blizzcon. I had organised accommodation around 2 months ago for the dates I guessed Blizzcon would be – thankfully I was correct! – so we were already ahead with somewhere to stay for the convention and Disneyland. But what we hadn’t sorted yet, and why I’ve been so desperate for the dates to be announced, was our flights. Unfortunately flights that we had been looking at were already gone and almost doubled in price. So I spent a big chunk of Saturday looking at what was available, checking times, legroom etc. In the end we settled on an airline and flights and we think we should be pretty good. Most importantly, we booked the flights. That was a big expense, and hence the overwhelming moment of the day. But I did feel good to do.
The other adventure on Saturday was my passport. I lost it. Well, temporarily. It was funny, because last time Thor and I went on a big trip together there were a lot of dramas with his passport/s and everything was fine with me. This time around he knew exactly where his was, and he’s good to go. Me? I had put mine in a really stupid place and couldn’t find it for the longest time. And then when I did find it, I saw it was expired. Thankfully not too long expired so the replacement process should be pretty quick. But it’s nearly $300 for a new one, and I could have done without that expense!
Today, Sunday, it seems things have calmed back down again. I levelled my paladin and she dinged 120, but other than that it’s been a pretty cruisey day. Tomorrow I am back to work and basically will be super busy until this trip. But it will be worth it!
I’m going to track all my Blizzcon prep and posts as best as I can, and will make a little sub-section on my site for awhile for anyone who wants to follow along on these adventures. In the meantime, I’ve already made a countdown for our trip!! Check it out!
We’ve been progressing on mythic Jaina for 2 weeks now. We’re at 200 pulls and seeing third phase, so we’re actually doing pretty well in comparison to some other guilds. But it is a hard slog, without a doubt.
So it’s probably no surprise when I say that sometimes we get a little silly. Tonight it got reeeaaaaly silly.
Enjoy this clip from my stream, where I completely and utterly lose my shit. 😀
Patch 8.1.5 arrived in World of Warcraft, and with it came the Kul’Tiran allied race. Regular readers will know that I had been planning to race change my shaman, Cinderstorm for quite some time now. Well, that moment finally arrived. I said farewell to my pandaren self, then set off to start the journey to become Kul’Tiran.
This post contains story spoilers for the Kul’Tiran Allied Race scenario. If you don’t want to be spoiled, now’s the time to go!
Up front, I have to say that the Kul’Tiran Allied Race scenario is one of the best quest lines yet. I really enjoyed it, as did quite a few fellow guildies and twitter friends. Though others did not enjoy it as much… but they were clearly wrong 😉 I took as many screenshots as I could throughout this scenario, but I must confess that I was so enthralled with the story that often I forgot! Wowhead, of course, has a full run down on their website here if you want to see the bits I missed.
As with all other allied races, we start the journey to recruit them by visiting the Stormwind Embassy.
It is here that Jaina asks us to help cement the relationship between the Alliance and Kul’Tiran by assisting her with building a ship for King Anduin. But not just any ship – she wants the very best. She wants a ship built by legendary shipwright, Dorian Atwater. So off we go to find Dorian.
Despite being legendary, Dorian Atwater is a bit of a mystery. After speaking with Cyrus in Boralus, we head off to Brennaden in Stormsong to try and find them. After asking a bunch of super lazy citizens, we are given some clues as to where Dorian may be.
We head off in the general direction of where people think we can find Dorian… and we come across this adorable little cottage with – wait – elementals?! There are elementals all over the place! Out the front is an old man tending to the garden. We ask if he is Dorian, but not – Dorian is his wife (he is Sal Atwater, btw, and an absolute darling).
We go inside to meet the legendary Dorian. She’s wonderful. She’s retired, but after some coaxing (and a heartwarming letter from Jaina) we convince Dorian to pick up her tools again and build us a ship! But not before we ask her what the deal is with all the elementals everywhere… she doesn’t know what a shaman is, but I tell you what she’d give Thrall a run for his money, I reckon!
Of course there’s a lot to be done to build such a majestic ship. Firstly, somewhere to build it.
Once the perfect place has been found at Port Fogtide, it’s time to get the timber for the ship itself. We head off to the lumber yard to get some timber (after clearing out some of the evil that’s lurking about the place). This part of the quest was a little buggy for me at the time, but it was still loads of fun. We run around collecting timber while Dorian literally blasts bad guys out of the sky and laughs at us for being so slow (it was HEAVY!!)
So we have our timber, but it turns out it’s haunted (of course!) and we must cleanse it. This was a really nice way to (re)introduce us to the drust druids. We are picked up and given a ride to someone who can get rid of the things haunting our timber.
Again, this was another point that I forgot to take screenshots. In addition to finding a cure for the timber, we need to find out why the ore shipment hasn’t come through. So we head off to Cleak Hills mine were we see poor Chealsea Wright is being harassed by a scary looking wicker beast who has stolen her keys. After a short chase, we find the wicker beast’s lair and it’s hear that the hair on the back of my neck prickled. You see, I swear that I heard Abby Lewis’ giggle when I entered that cave. And sure enough there’s the “toys” that were used to summon the beast the first time around in Drustvar. But when I asked people if was the same they said no. But jokes on them! The wowhead guide just confirmed that I was right – it is Abby’s wicker beast! Except he’s not evil, he just wants a friend, poor darling. Still kicking myself I didn’t get pics! Nevertheless, we get the keys back to Chelsea and the ore situation is dealt with.
So it’s back to Stormsong for our next steps – a crew! Again, I was shit and didn’t screenshots unfortunately. But we are sent to see Tandred Proudmoore to figure out the crew he wants for this ship. We travel around recruiting – Brother Pike as our tidesage, Lieutenant Tarenfold as master gunner, and Rosaline Madison as first mate, along with the rest of her Outrigger Crew (recruiting her was fantastic! I love her!!) Lastly, Dorian Atwater herself is convinced to forgo her retirement to be the ship’s Botswain.
Then we name the ship. When the quests suggested this I started panicking – it takes me ages to name things! How could I possibly come up with a name for this magnificent ship!?!? Thankfully our companions have some suggestions:
Rosaline Madison says: Anduin’s Wrath. The Horde will learn to fear her! Brother Pike says: She seems like a Dawnsailor to me. Captain Tandred Proudmoore says: The Alliance is fond of its lions. How does Lionheart sound? Katherine Proudmoore says: Tiffin’s Melody.
Now I will admit that I didn’t know who Tiffin was, but Jaina’s reaction to the name made me investigate. When I learned Tiffin was Anduin’s mother, it was a no brainer that the ship would be named Tiffin’s Melody. (Thor made me cry even more with this, because he pointed out that all ships should be named after strong women, so of course it had to be Anduin’s Mum. 😥 )
With the crew sorted and the ship named, the last thing left to do was to bless the ship itself. The ceremony was beautiful, actually, and honestly really helped confirm that this race of people was something I connected so strongly with.
That left only one thing to do – delivery the ship to Anduin. We set sail for Stormwind and experience a truly beautiful moment with Anduin. I did wonder what the voice lines were for each name choice, and of course wowhead delivers, so go check it out if you’re curious. But for me, having chosen Tiffin’s Melody, the moment was extremely touching. Bex (@formbextron) made a beautiful comic that summed up the moment perfectly!
The next step was to race change from Pandaren to Kul’Tiran. It took awhile for me to decide what I wanted the new Cinderstorm to look like, but I got there in the end!
Many of you will know I have an unhealthy obsession with transmog… I’ve learned that the transmog sets I’ve been using on my pandaren didn’t suit my Kul’Tiran so much. So what a terrible tragedy that I need to spend some time figuring out new transmogs! /sarcasm
And so the new Cinderstorm is born!
Just to wrap up this adventure, I learned that you can go visit Tiffin’s Melody in Stormwind after everything is done. The crew are all there, and you can even explore under the deck and everything! It’s a beautiful ship, and I love it!
So that’s it! I’m not Kul’Tiran! We are still getting to know each other, but I love her. I’m learning how to take pics with her (there are an awful lot of “derp” faces!!) but I’ll get there in the end 🙂 I would like to do some reading on the Kul’Tiran history a bit more to get a better sense of who she is. Maybe one of these days I’ll even write a background story for her. But for now, I’m having fun getting to know her.
Tomorrow patch 8.1.5 arrives in World of Warcraft, and with it comes the much-anticipated allied races of Kul’Tiran humans and Zandalari trolls (along with a WHOLE bunch of awesome content!) I am beyond excited (as usual) for new WoW content. But I will admit I’m feeling bittersweet.
Since I first learned of the Kul’Tirans being added to the game, I’ve known I wanted to play one. The idea of having a larger sized female model in the game with hips and a butt and a thick waist, who is still strong and powerful was something I couldn’t pass up. I promised myself that if they could be shamans, I would race change my main character to be one. And as luck would have it, shamans were announced at Blizzcon as a class that Kul’Tiran’s can play!
In a way I have been dreading this day for awhile. It sounds melodramatic, but my pandaren shaman was my first toon that I ever really connected with. She has been so good at embodying what I wanted from a character in a game like World of Warcraft. She has been strong, but kind, fierce but lovable. But these aren’t traits that are unique to being a pandaren – they are what I want from a female with curves who isn’t just comic relief or “that fat friend”. So I guess in a way I’m taking this opportunity to make a point.
Maybe it’s stupid to make a statement like this, but right now, for me, it’s important. I need to see a woman in game who kinda looks like me who isn’t a complete mess, who gets up and kicks ass and fights for what she believes in and doesn’t let others’ opinions of her appearance stop her from doing what she wants.
So tomorrow, once I have unlocked the quests, I will log out from my pandaren shaman in the place that made her happiest – her little home at Sunsong Ranch, overlooking the beautiful Valley of the Four Winds.
But for now, it’s time to farewell my pandaren self. Here’s to some amazing moments 🙂
And look, I’m not silly. I know that if I’m too sad not being my pandaren any more, I can always change back. 🙂
Warning – this post contains reference to sensitive content involving abuse and situations involving children. Please proceed with caution.
I’m a bit quieter than usual this month as I am spending the vast majority of it interstate for work. I was hoping that I would have some time to finish off some posts before I left, but as is usually the case, I didn’t really get enough time before hand to do this. Right now I’m writing this post as I fly form Hobart back to Melbourne (home) for a few days before heading off again. (edit: well, I started writing this post on the plane! Finished the last of it off at home.)
It’s interesting being out on the road for extended periods of time like this. It’s a lot harder to keep up to date on what is happening in the community. I’d pick up bits and pieces here and there about game patches and hot fixes, and little things every now and then about the races to world first for mythic Dazar’alor. (I saw Method won the race this morning while I was sleeping – huge congrats to them!)
Yesterday, though, was something else. We had been driving from Launceston to Hobart (for those who don’t know Australia – you know that little island that’s kinda tacked on to the bottom of Australia? That’s Tasmania. Launceston is at the top and Hobart is at the bottom). I had been looking every now and then at twitter and saw a few posts that seemed a bit sad, but I couldn’t really see why. It was only when we arrived and I was checked in to my hotel room that I learned the horrible news about Elvine (***WARNING* this link here takes you to a media release explaining what happened but it contains graphic information about despicable acts involving children. Please proceed with caution***).
There’s something strange about hearing horrible things about a person that you “kind of know”. For some people, they genuinely knew him in person, but for a lot of us it was more distant. Elvine was a part of the Warcraft community for a long time, streaming and writing guides etc, so he was a familiar face to a lot of people. And that has had a really strong impact on the way the news has been taken.
The shock in the community has been palpable, and brutal to say the least. I want to say upfront, I am genuinely sorry for people who are affected by this news. It’s hard not to be. The cause for arrest is nothing less than despicable. But the ripples it has caused throughout the Warcraft community has also been extraordinary. Those close to him seem to be feeling almost a sense of responsibility for the situation. That perhaps they should have picked up on some signs along the way that might hint at what was lurking beneath the surface.
But, for as many messages I’m seeing from people who were in complete shock, I’m seeing almost as many messages from people saying they felt something wasn’t quite right. Others still, terribly, had personal experience of his behaviour.
It goes without saying that not a single other person is responsible for what has happened here – no matter how close you may be to another person, you will never know what it in their mind and heart. People who do these awful things are also extremely good at hiding them, of only showing the world what they want to see. Please know none of this is anyone else’s fault but his.
And that is the reason I wanted to write this post. This awful situation has made people take pause and planted a seed of doubt about those around us, questioning their actions and wondering if there’s something they’ve missed along the way that could suggest something terrible beneath the surface. But I think instead of this, we need to come together.
What has happened here are the acts of a (sick) minority – not the majority. This is a time that we should be remembering what the Warcraft community is best at- being there for each other in the rough times. Supporting those who are struggling and upset, offering an ear or a laugh or a virtual hug to those who need it. Just being there for each other. It’s something that we are actually very darn good at.
This article by Vicky Schaubert on the BBC website had the most uncannily perfect timing. It tells a beautiful and moving story that is familiar to so many of us. It explains what World of Warcraft (and other online games) mean to us, and just how real our friendships with each other are, no matter how far we may physically be from each other.
This is the story that I want us to focus on and remember. Keep this in your hearts. Know that at the end of all of this, there is more good and more beauty in the people around us than not.
It seems the Warcraft development team are back at work, because this week the first official Patch 8.1.5 PTR went up. And there’s a lot of great stuff in there. As usual, Wowhead are going through and presenting us with a peek at what’s to come (and doing a darn good job of it, too!)
The highlight for me, though, is something I’ve been hanging out to see since they were announced – Kul’Tiran shamans! Since being formally revealed at Blizzcon, I’ve been waiting (im)patiently for a peek at what they might look like. Thanks to the PTR going up, I’ve been able to do a bit of exploring!
After a few dramas (mainly being unable to copy any characters on to the PTR OTHER than my shaman!) I was able to get my hands on a 110 shaman that I race-changed to Kul’Tiran so I could see the new race in action.
First up was taking a look at the Kul’Tiran totems. Comments on Wowhead’s post featuring the totems seems to be a mix of love and hate.
It makes sense that these would feature anchors. Of course there are anchors – the Kul’Tiran are the children of the sea, so of course anchors and other nautical themes feature extremely heavily in every Alliance zone in Kul’Tiras. It’s these themes that made me fall in love with the Kul’Tiran people. It’s fitting that totems follow this theme as well.
Whilst I like the body of the totems, I wasn’t a huge fan of the anchor on the bottom of the totems when I first saw them on wowhead. However when you use them you don’t really see it- it’s just how the totems stick in the ground. Which makes sense, and looks great.
The only thing I’m not thrilled about is the water animation in the water totems. It doesn’t feel “watery” enough – it just seems to behave like blue fire. I’d love to see it have a similar animation to the water effects in the tide sages totems. And I feel the green of the earth totems is just a little too “fel green” for me. But they are really minor things. Overall I think these look great, and I can’t wait to use them on a daily basis!
I played around a bit to see what their casting animations were like – I think I’ll be quite good at capturing many derpy casting faces haha! But I love it. I think she looks fantastic.
For me, 8.1.5 can’t come soon enough! I can’t wait to be a child of the sea! ❤
It is New Year’s Eve. 2019 is on the other side of this day, and as is customary, people are making resolutions in the hopes of making the most of the year to come. I am one of those people.
2018 was a pretty ok year for me. It was tough, but I won’t complain. Resolutions-wise, I did quite well (check it out). Outside of myself, though, I noticed a trend that just got worse and worse as the year wore on. 2018 seemed to be the year of negativity. The year that it became “cool” to be a dick. The year of entitlement. Of focusing on the negatives, abusing people because of them and arguing “accountability” to justify their actions. Honestly, it’s been sad.
It has been a really hard year to be a Blizzard fan. Even more so in the last 2-3 months, where it seems that if you don’t hate everything Blizzard does, you’re wrong, and either an idiot or a shill. Which is such a sad mentality to have, and one that has honestly been getting me really down lately. I’m seeing it in popular personalities who have been long-time fans, I’m seeing/hearing it in other podcasts, and I’m seeing it all over twitter from random followers to friends. It has honestly been making me really, really sad. (And personally, I think they are wrong.)
What does this have to do with my 2019 resolutions?
This time, I’m not making an arbitrary list of things to do in game and calling it ‘resolutions’. I want to do something more than that. I want to do something that can help other people who may be in the same situation as me – who are bogged down by the constant negativity; who may not feel brave enough to be a small voice of positivity in a crowd of hostility. And that starts with me.
So, my only resolution for 2019 is this:
Be the positivity you want to see in the community.
I know it sounds wanky. I’m not actually very good at motivational speaking/typing 😉 But what it means is this – if I want to see more positivity in the world (both in gaming communities and the world in general) then that needs to start with me being more positive, more often, and loudly.
How am I going to do this? Well this is where a list comes in:
1 – Celebrating successes – loudly and often This is about giving credit where credit is due. Pointing out the positives and celebrating them. I need to be doing this every day.
2 – Take “problems” for what they are I think the most important thing about what I’m wanting to do is really reiterating that this is not about just rolling over and ignoring things that are “not right”. It’s not about turning a blind eye and pretending everything is ok. This is about looking at problems for what they are, and weighing them up against everything else. Game lagged for a sec? Not really a huge drama. Someone wants to bomb a country and kill everyone in it? Yeah that’s definitely a problem.
3 – Being constructive with criticism Linked to number 2 above, this is about recognising when something isn’t right, and finding the best way to express our issues. It’s about gauging an appropriate response- the proportional response– to a problem. It’s speaking in a way that is respectful to the people the problem involves to help find a solution, not to embarrass, humiliate, bully or threaten. Avoiding escalation – trying to solve the problem, not make it worse.
4 – Be patient, be kind Sounds like a no-brainer, but this one is going to be the hardest. Because this isn’t just about being nice about the things you like- it’s about being patient and kind to the people you disagree with. Seeing a message telling someone to “go kill themselves” over a bug in a game is enough to rile anyone up. But me telling that person to “fuck off” (as much as I would like to) isn’t going to help. Maybe reporting them on twitter and telling that person their behaviour is unacceptable is a better response.
I know it sounds fluffy and silly, but I really need this. There are so many things in the world now days that are worthy of our anger and frustration. And that alone is exhausting. But it seems like that’s all we know how to do now. We know how to complain. We know how to be mad. We know how to fight. What we’re losing sight of is how to be thankful for what we do have – how to appreciate the good things with the bad and expressing that gratitude.
So that’s my goal. I know it’s hard to measure, but that’s ok. I’m going to try, and I hope others do, too. I hope that I can help other people feel confident about talking about the things we love, and I hope that infects everyone. I want to be drowning in positive vibes! I will be doing my part on twitter and in my streaming and gaming in general. 🙂
I wish everyone a 2019 full of happiness and love.
Another year is coming to a close. It’s always a time for us to look back and reflect on the year, to celebrate our achievements and say goodbye to perhaps some of the sadder moments that have happened.
For this post, I’m going to take a look back at my 2018 bucket list to see how I did. And of course for the next post, I’ll set myself some goals for 2019.
Looking back on 2018
I tend to get to this time of year feeling a bit sad. Sad that I probably didn’t accomplish or achieve nearly as much as I would like to have. But that’s not the best way to think about things, is it? Because when I look back on my bucket list for 2018, I actually succeeded quite well indeed, despite the roller coaster that was my guild in 2018.
Let me touch on that quickly, actually. Those who have followed my blog or twitter this year will know that it has been quite the year of ups and downs when it came to my guild.
The short version is that after the high of getting Cutting Edge with mythic Argus, we made the decision to push harder going in to Battle for Azeroth. Looking back now, we all agree this decision was our downfall. I wrote a lot about this in this post, and then this post. What I didn’t end up writing about is how we came back together again.
What I didn’t end up writing about is how we came back together again.
As I wrote in my last post about all this, I moved servers to a new guild to trial as an elemental shaman. And I have to say, I got damn lucky. The team I trialled with were so lovely and kind, and extremely patient with me while I tried to figure out how to be dps instead of heals. They were extremely kind to me, and I’m so grateful for that. But in the end, as tragic as it sounds, the lure of old friendships called, and I ended my trial to try, yet again, with Realm.
Looking back on this past year, as tumultuous as it has been, there is one common thread throughout – friendship. Oh I know, it sounds so lame. but it’s true. The people in Realm are people I consider to be friends. I am glad to have them in my life. A few weeks back we had an in-game Christmas party that was loads of fun, and really struck home how much I enjoy spending time with these fine folk. It turned out, for me, friendships were far more important that raiding, and I’m completely ok with that.
The 2018 bucket list
At the beginning of 2018, as I do most years, I wrote a bucket list of things I wanted to achieve. You can see this post right here. I didn’t write it at the time, but in the back of my mind I’d had the bucket list from the previous year in mind, and wanted to make things a bit easier on myself. Although looking on it now, I really failed at that! This list wasn’t nearly as easy on myself as it could have been… but it was definitely fun. So let’s see how I did.
Make a list of every pet and mount available in Legion and get any that are missing (That are not RNG dependent).
Well I suppose technically I fail by default because I never made that list! BUT, I’m pretty sure I did get a lot of them. I got Uuna and finished her quest line, and then later go Baa’l when he came out in BfA. I finished the Family Familiar achievement as well as the Family Fighter achievement, getting pets from both of those as well.
I found Lost Mail and felt like Harry Potter as I got the Mailemental pet (and Katy Stampwhistle toy!)
I was also really lucky with mounts, getting the Shackled Ur’zul mount from Mythic Argus! AND I managed to complete the Lord of the Reins achievement! I was very fortunate all around, I feel.
Were I did fail (other than failing to make the list at all, haha!) was not getting the pvp mounts. They were easy gets, but I didn’t do them. There’s still a chance of going back, but to be honest, I can’t see myself doing that any time soon. But overall, I think I’d call this a pretty successful bucket list item complete. 🙂
Finish getting all of the class mounts
DONE! You can read all about it right here. This was an epic undertaking, but one that I’m glad I did in the end (not just because it helped a lot getting Lord of the Reins done!) It gave me a chance to play around on all the classes, to see if any of them really tickled my fancy for an alt. They didn’t… but I’m still glad I had a go at them all again for awhile 🙂
Get more Mage Tower appearances
This was tougher than I expected it to be. My original list of appearances that I wanted to get were:
Protection paladin (though I honestly don’t see this one happening at all)
maaaaybe affliction warlock
What I ended up getting….
Shaman – Restoration, elemental and enhancement (these were no-brainers – I absolutely had to get all of these.) Mage – Arcane, fire and frost. Yep, I got all three! I was pretty pleased with myself for that one 🙂 Druid – Balance and feral. Yeah you heard me, feral. How could I not get disco kitty? It’s easily the best appearance out of all of them. I didn’t, however get the restoration appearance. I’ve never healed as a druid, and that darn scenario is hard. Priest – Discipline. This was tough. I’d never played Disc properly before. But I pushed through, because I really loved the appearance.
The Disc priest appearance was the straw that broke the camel’s back, though. It was a tough fight, and by that point I had started to resent the amount of time I was spending trying to finish these, so I stopped. But, I had set myself a goal of getting 8 (maybe 9!) appearances, and in the end, I actually did get 9 appearances. So I’m going to call this one a win, too. 🙂
This one was very generic, but I needed it to be (for this year at least). I managed to get Affiliate status a few weeks after making my bucket list, so that was a nice bonus!
Overall, yes, I technically streamed more. And to that end I can call it a win. But I certainly have a long, long way to go. Will all the raiding dramas this year, I was unable to have a regular raiding/streaming schedule because I kept associating one with the other. It has taken me awhile to separate the two, and branch out to stream other content. I’m still getting my feet with this, but I will get better.
What I have really enjoyed about my streaming, though, is finally settling on an identity. I love my little unicorn self! I’m really enjoying updating my graphics for the year… helps to keep things interesting 🙂 It also helps me to focus on the streaming itself, and not necessarily the games that I’m streaming (if that makes sense).
So, that’s my year! Honestly, I can’t complain. I know that I am a very fortunate person. So for all the difficulties and struggles I face, I know there are people who have it so very much harder than me, and I need to remember that.
I’m pleased with what I’ve managed to achieve this year, both in game and out. I hope you all have had a great year, too! Keep an eye out of my 2019 bucket list post, coming very soon….
Wishing everyone a very happy holidays! I hope your days are filled with happy hearts and happy tummies. ❤
Thank you to all of you for simply just being here; for reading my blog or liking my tweets, watching my streams or listening to my podcast, or just generally being an amazing person to know. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such lovely, talented people. ❤
It seems to be that the more adamant I am about writing more, the less I do it. It’s like the universe listens to my plans and says “Nup! Not today!” and I get ridiculously busy. Which is how I find myself in the middle of December all of a sudden. When did that happen?! I’ve been travelling a fair bit for work over the past month running workshops and the like, which is, to put it mildly, exhausting. I don’t travel well at the best of times, let alone when it’s for work and I’m stressing about a presentation I have to do when I land. Suffice to say my life has just been a bit overwhelming at the moment, meaning I haven’t written blog posts and I haven’t been streaming.
On the plus side, Christmas is two weeks away, and I’m having two weeks off! *block your ears, universe!!!* I’m determined to stream a whoooole lot during that time off to make up for the lack of streams of late. But before that, we’re having a guild Christmas party that I need to prepare for!
Which occurs to me… I haven’t written that I went back to Realm lol Side note! I went back to my old guild. The plan is for us to try yet again in 8.1, but taking a much more relaxed approach to the mythic raiding. I have hope. 🙂
Anyways, we’re having a Christmas party this weekend, because I just thought it would be nice for us all to get together and be stupid together. I’m going to do organise a scavenger hunt and Dalaran darts and a drunk raid and just silly things to have fun with. I even bought prizes! Half of the big box of goodies I had delivered recently was stuff for the Christmas Party.
Anyways, that’s where I am at the moment. Give me two weeks and I’ll be around a lot more!
Today marks the first day of a 2 week event to help celebrate World of Warcraft’s 14th birthday. As has become tradition, upon logging in today I received a gift form the Dev team, consisting of a ‘thank you’ message, a reputation & experience game token, and 200 time warped badges to spend on whatever you wish. Each year they add something new for you to spend your tokens on. Previous years have included a corgi pup, an inflatable Thunderfury, and cosmetic bronze-tinted glasses. But this year, Blizz really outdid themselves. The toy people can buy this year is Overtuned Corgi Glasses. When they are used, they turn NPCs and friendly players around you IN TO CORGIS!!!!!
When I first heard about the toy I thought it would be kinda cool. I was not prepared for exactly just how incredible it really is.When active, there are corgis EVERYWHERE!! I could not stop squeeeee-ing!
In the Auction House…
Riding around on mounts…
Strutting around in gangs…
Doing chores on the docks…
Taking magic classes…
Protecting our cities…
Or being terrifying!!!
All jokes and silliness aside, from the bottom of my heart, thank you Blizzard for 14 years of this incredible game that has brought me so much happiness and friendship. It really is something special that I am extremely grateful for. ❤
It’s been 2 lockouts since Realm disbanded. It’s been weird not raiding. I played a whooole lot less. The break was nice in a way, but to be honest one of the main reasons I wasn’t playing as much because there just wasn’t anyone else around. It got very lonely very quickly, and it was seriously bumming me out.
On Thursday (with some help from the lovely Lemon) I changed my status on Wowprogress to “looking for guild” to see what would happen.
I had some decisions already set in stone:
I was staying Alliance. I just dislike the Horde aesthetic so much that I don’t want to go back to it. Also, almost all of my toons are Alliance, and I just don’t want to have to faction change them all just to raid.
I was probably going to have to move to Frostmourne in order to find a team. It’s a very Alliance heavy server with a high population, so lots of Alliance raiding guilds. And all the other servers are far too quiet, so if things didn’t work out I’d be stuck on a server with few options.
I was staying shaman. I’m too attached to my shaman ways.
No increase to raid time – 3 days max of prog raiding. Ideally, 2, but that’s pretty hard to find.
No downgrades – I wanted to find a team within 1 boss prog of myself.
The guild I end up in has to be a good fit people-wise. That’s what made raiding with Realm so amazing – the people. I want to be able to dick around with people and have fun and joke around with each other. And kill bosses.
I got a btag friend request the next morning, and well long story short, I’ve moved servers to Frostmourne and have a trial in a guild. AS ELEMENTAL. Yep, this shaman’s shooting lightning for awhile.
This was a big decision for me. I’ve been a healer for as long as I’ve raided (minus 2 weeks where I tried to be dps back in WoD), so raiding as a full time dps will definitely be a change. But I think it’s going to be a good one. I’ll still always have my healer spec there if I’m ever needed to heal, so that’s not going to go away. There are some changes coming in 8.1 for elemental shamans that I’m hoping will help make the spec a bit better to play… but we can only wait and see.
The thing that really attracted me to this guild was the recruitment person was really lovely, answering all my stupid questions. They also apparently watched some of my streams, which made me feel better because firstly, they know I’m a girl, and secondly, they have seen me play, so they know what they’re in for. They don’t mind me streaming raids, either, which is great. And lastly, something that will either be fantastic, or terrible, their raid times start and finish earlier. I’m a little nervous at the start time being 6:30, as sometimes I haven’t even left work until that time. But if I can get to work earlier and leave earlier, it will be fine. Which means slightly earlier nights, which I think will be good for my tired old self.
I’m obviously terrified. I’m always terrified of putting myself out there, especially knowing people will be watching and scrutinising. I’ve said that they just need to let me know if I’m not cutting it – I’d rather know sooner than dragging it out, because I don’t like letting a team down. But I just have to try my best. It’s all I *can* do. If things don’t work out, at least I gave it a go.
So! Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me that I can actually pull this elemental thing off, and that these guys are a good fit! 🙂
Like I mentioned in that post, I’m going to start streaming some non-WoW content. Because of this, I’ve made the decision to move away from having my pandaren shaman be my “face”. It was a tough decision, because my pandaren has really been the embodiment of my personality for almost as long as I’ve played WoW. But that right there was the problem. So much of what I do creatively at the moment has been so focussed on WoW that trying to do something outside of it has been extremely difficult. WoW has been my clutch, and despite it opening so many doors for me in terms of friendships and content creation, it has also been holding me back. So my pandaren had to go.
I thought a while about what I wanted to be outside of my pandaren. I am not even a little bit attractive, so showing my real face and body is out of the question (I do not have the self esteem to deal with that at all). The answer was obvious in the end – a unicorn! Well, a chubby unicorn anyway hehe. While looking for inspiration for what she might look like, I came across the perfect depiction of me. She’s chubby, sassy, and she games. 😀 There’s actually a whole series that I’ve purchased that depict her in so many different ways. (I can’t wait for Christmas!!!)
I have been madly making graphics and updating everything to have my new unicorn persona. My name won’t change – I’m Cinder now until the day I stop gaming. Despite having only recently revamped by twitch stream, it really didn’t suit the new persona. Thankfully Streamlabs have some really great set ups built in and free to use. I’ve gone all out on this. It has sparkles!!! It might be girly and silly, but I truly don’t care. I’m really having fun with this. I even made new emotes and badges (though I will say this was the hardest part – I really love the totems Sirius made for me).
Here’s a little peek at my twitch page…
I have a friend helping me get a capture card for my PC so that I can hook up our Nintendo Switch and stream some games from there. I also had a look at some games on Steam (and was promptly disgusted at some of the games suggested to me there.) I’m even considering getting Discord Nitro to try out some of the games they have on offer. In the meantime, I’m focusing on getting a proper schedule going, starting tomorrow night. I’ll probably stream some WoW first… might even brave LFR (oh my!). Onward and upward! In the meantime, if you’re interested in coming to hang out with me while I stream, you can find me here – https://twitch.tv/cinder_streams
Anyways, I wanted to share the new Cinder with you all. Hope you like her!
It’s been hard to start this post. Or any other blog post for that matter, if I’m being completely honest. But this one, I don’t really know how to start. I know the things I have to say, but putting them in order is proving difficult. So how about we make a deal and pretend this is the middle of the blog post and flow on from there. Let’s give it a go.
The past few weeks (or months, really), haven’t been the greatest for me.
The guild crash
Unrelated to the below (but in a way still very connected) my guild fell apart for good. We tried to keep it together but it was too much to try and push through. The gap between strong players and weaker players was becoming bigger and bigger. The in-game workload for officers and the GM was far too much, and the payoff wasn’t there. It was a really tough call, but it was the right decision in the end. So as of last week we stopped raiding mythic, and the guild officially went casual, with a social heroic run planned for every Saturday night so we could all still spend time together.
This week was the first week without raid, and it felt weird. Tonight was the first casual Saturday raid… and we only had a handful of people come along. So I really don’t know how that’s going to go in the future. Suffice it to say that I’m pretty sad at the moment.
For me, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do. Raiding has always been a favourite thing for me in game, so to not do it feels weird. But trying to find another raid team… well I dunno how I’m going to go about it. I’ve never had much confidence in my skills as a raider. I do know that I’m not terrible. I do mechanics, I heal while I do them, and I try my damn hardest. It’s the same as when I try to apply for jobs – I know that I can contribute well, but I’m shit at selling myself. Especially with raiding. Logs are a thing, but my numbers always look shit because I hate overhealing, and I make sure I’m focusing on doing mechanics first and foremost.
And this shitty lack of confidence in myself doesn’t help when (now) ex-guildies are getting offers left and right from other teams wanting them to join. I haven’t had anything. Which is petty, I know, but it just reinforces that shitty feeling about myself not being good enough.
I’ve been looking on the forums to see what guilds are after, and I’m not finding any at the level I want to be at who are looking for restoration shamans. (Well, Alliance guilds, anyway). There’s a high chance I’m going to have to go Horde if I want to keep raiding, and that on its own is not at all appealing. I’ll need to give it some more time and thought, and hope something comes along.
There are a handful of things that I am good at in life, but the thing that I am the very best at is pretending that my anxiety isn’t as bad as it is, and that it doesn’t affect me as strongly as it does. I’m very good at putting on the face that the world needs to see on me, and pretending that everything is fine. I can laugh and joke and make others feel great, and I do it in an attempt to hide the panic that grumbles inside me on a constant basis. I’ve become very good at it. So good at it that people don’t believe I have anxiety at all, and when I bring it up with doctors, they laugh it off thinking I’m just being melodramatic or joking around.
I struggle to sleep, laying there as my body tingles with terror, restless and exhausted all at once. If I am lucky to sleep, I wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks so intense they make me gag. At work, I go to the bathroom for a short moment of solace, squeezing my legs in an attempt to calm the roaring in my ears, to breathe, to focus. It’s exhausting. And over the past few months, it has gotten worse, to the point where it’s crippled me. I’ve not been functioning properly. It’s affecting my health, my relationship, my friendships, my streaming and gaming; everything that is important to me.
I bring this up, because firstly, I wanted to explain my absence (noted or not). I wanted others who may be feeling the same way to know they aren’t alone. And I wanted to be accountable for trying to get better. It has taken awhile to build the courage, but I went to the doctor again this week (a different one) and insisted they help me do something so I can stop feeling like this. I have referrals for a psychologist, and some anti-anxiety meds to help me get out of this funk. I’m not going to let anxiety get the best of me.
So then what’s next. Well, I’m starting to feel better, which is why I’ve written this post. And I’m taking steps to keep getting better. I don’t know what the future is going to hold for me and WoW. I know I will continue playing, but I don’t know to what extent. I had a great chat with Neuro after our Battletagged show on Tuesday, and he was telling me about how much more he’s been enjoying WoW since he stepped down from raiding. So maybe there is hope for me outside of raiding.
One of the things I’m saddest about though, with everything that has been going on, is my streaming. It turns out that I really, really enjoy streaming. I’m terrible at it, and I don’t think I’m interesting at all, but I just enjoy playing games with other people. Thor (who I just don’t deserve- he’s so freaking amazing) has been incredibly patient and wise, and we’ve been talking about what I might do. And it became obvious – I just stream something other than WoW. We looked in to what I might stream, and there a whole bunch of games on the Nintendo Switch I’d enjoy playing, and of course Steam and even Discord has a bunch of games now. So I’m looking at getting a capture card and expanding my gaming options.
I’m still ironing out the finer details, but some changes are on their way. I want to get back in to a regular streaming schedule. I will (of course!) still play and stream WoW, especially if I manage to find a new team, but between that, I’m going to try some other games. This also means that I’m going to do a bit of a “re-branding” of myself. Whilst I love my pandaren Shaman, I need to move away from the strictly WoW focus. So keep an eye out for some fun new things in the very near future.
Look, if you’ve made it this far through my post, thank you. Thank you for sticking it out with me when I disappear for lengths at a time. Thank you for reading this post and helping me feel like I’m not alone. You’re amazing, and I’m grateful for you.
I like English Breakfast tea, a bit on the stronger side, with milk and honey. Really not a fan of fruity/herbal teas. I’m trying really hard to enjoy green tea… slowly getting there!
2. Favourite dessert?
Far too many things to mention. Right up there, though are Apple Turnovers. proper ones, with delicious fresh cream and flaky pastry om nom nom
3. Favourite season and why?
It depends on where I am in the world, but anything that’s on the colder side. I like cool weather with blue skies and gentle breezes and jumpers and socks and scarves and also rain and changing trees and new flowers… bit of everything really. Just as long as its not hot!
4. What cheers you up?
I use music to help a lot of the time. I have specific playlists to boost my moods, and some to help me get out of funks. Other playlists are there to just rid out the low times. And if all that fails, Thor is always the first to cheer me up with his silly puns and snuggles.
5. Dogs or cats?
Both. I’d love one of each, and I’d love for them to be best friends 🙂
6. What’s your dream holiday?
Hmmm… somewhere new, where I can take loads of beautiful photographs, have somewhere to have a picnic with Thor then just relax and read/nap the afternoon away. Somewhere away from people!
7. How many kids do you want?
8. Favourite weather?
See question 3. But also, rain.
9. What would your last meal be?
Thor’s chicken soup, for two reasons. Firstly, its bloody delicious, and it always helps me feel better when I’m sick. But secondly, if it’s Thor’s chicken soup, it means he’s there too ❤
10. You can spend 24 hours anywhere, any year, where do you choose?
Honestly, I don’t know a god answer for this. All of the moments I would like to see would be greatly impacted by my presence, and I wouldn’t want to change them. If there was a way to see dinosaurs without being eaten or messing up the future of the world, then I’d see dinosaurs.
11. If you were a ghost, who or where would you haunt?
Many of you know that I have anxiety. I’ve had it since I was a kid. I remember my Mum was going out to a friend’s birthday one night, and I was losing my shit over it. I was scared something terrible was going to happen to her. So she made a deal with me. She said “if something happens to me while I’m out, and I don’t make it back, watch the clocks. I promise if I die, I will change the clocks to a silly time, and you will know that I’ve passed away but that I’m ok and that I love you.”. It seems ridiculous, I know, but it calmed me down and has stuck with me always.
So, to answer the question, if I were ghost, I’d go to my Mum’s house and change her clocks to silly times, just so that she would know that I was ok, and that I loved her.
12. What is your family ancestry?
Oh man we are so white. Our family history is pretty much all in England. Apparently there’s the very tiniest sliver of Spanish, but everything else is English. Pretty boring really. (My old boss has Viking blood in her!!)
13. What scares you?
I have anxiety – everything scares me lol
14. What are you most grateful for?
Oh it’s corny, I know, but I’m most grateful for Thor. He believes in me when I don’t or can’t. And holy crap is he an amazing cook.
15. Dream job?
This question is haunting me at the moment. since turning 35 I’ve been having a crisis about what I’m doing with my life. A big issue is that I don’t know how to answer this question. I don’t know what my dream job would be. All I know is that it’s creative, flexible with location and hours (i.e. I don’t have to get up at stupid times in the morning) and it satisfies me. I mean if I could do anything, I’d be a full time writer/photographer.
one of my favourite photos I have taken
16. Do you believe in aliens?
17. Favourite sport?
I don’t like sports. Esports I can get on board with, though.
18. How do you relax after a long day?
By blowing up internet pixels in WoW 🙂
19. If you could meet one historical figure, who would you choose and why?
Honestly, I’d love to meet Jo Rowling. She gives me hope that there’s still time/a chance for me to be a proper writer.
20. If you had to be a teacher, what subject would you teach?
Fun fact: When I was in highschool I wanted to be a music teacher. We had to do compulsory work experience in our senior years and so I shadowed a primary school music teacher and a high school music teacher. I didn’t want to be a music teacher after that.
If I had to teach now, I’d probably teach English.
21. Describe your perfect day
Waking up in a little cabin by the beach, a soft breeze coming in through the window, blue skies outside. I’d hang out with Thor, read, go for a swim, play games and just not have a care in the world.
Teleportation. I’d love to be able to travel anywhere I wanted, whenever I wanted. Would make for a super fast commute home, too! 😀
25. Favourite animal?
I really do love owls. But honestly, animals in general are pretty neat, don’t you think?
26. Biggest accomplishment?
I’ve had my writing published once, and that was kind of a big deal, but also not at the same time because it was a uni thing. I’m proud of myself for getting on a plane to randomly nanny for 4 children in England… it was hard but I survived it and feel I’m a better/stronger person for doing that.
But I honestly don’t feel like I’ve reached my full potential yet.
Those of you who follow my twitter account will have seen that this past week was quite the rollercoaster. I’m personally still reeling a little bit from everything that happened (though I am overly dramatic, I know).
On Wednesday, Realm as a guild ended. And then on Thursday, it didn’t. Confused? Well, it will make sense. But to explain properly, I need to go backwards.
At the end of Legion
Realm as a guild technically formed at the end of the Tomb of Sargeras raid in Legion, though was made up of people who had been raiding together already for at least a year, some even longer. We went in to Antorus as a new team, determined to get Cutting Edge Argus. Which we achieved. We also managed to be the top ranking Alliance guild on our little server, which we were pretty proud of. We ended Legion as Titanslayers- strong and ready for Battle for Azeroth.
A few weeks before BfA came out we held a guild meeting to start making plans for raiding in the new expansion. We were having troubles trying to figure out our roster as it had suddenly grown to almost 40 players – waaaay too many. We needed to make some decisions about what type of team we wanted to be so that we could build the right team. So we asked everyone what they wanted from BfA; did we want to work on mythics, but bring through lower performing players (effectively being a “friends and family” mythic raiding guild) or did we want to push harder, be tougher about who came to raid and try for faster progression. The agreement from everyone was that we wanted to push harder. We were in a good spot- we had loads of players to choose from, and we all wanted to be better.
Going in to BfA
Going in to BfA everyone (including officers and GM) were dropped to trial rank. Our GM was re-chosen to lead us all, and new Officers were voted in (myself included). We had requirements about what level people needed to be at for raid, and agreed for the first few weeks of Uldir, we’d add in an extra night of raiding to help get us ahead.
Our first week of Uldir was great with us getting Heroic G’huun down, giving us Ahead of the Curve in the first week. We were pretty stoked. The following week mythic opened, and we managed to get TWO mythic bosses down in addition to a heroic re-clear, giving us a bit of time to work on mythic Zek’voz.
And then last week happened. We cleared through heroic relatively quickly, as well as re-killing the first two mythic bosses, giving us days of attempts on Zek’voz. But we struggled. We didn’t get the kill. And worse than that, we felt like we were going backwards. On Monday, we had a really bad night, with many people under-performing and even more people getting extremely frustrated at both performance and lack of progression.
Here’s the thing about mythic raiding. It’s really stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to be performing to a super high standard. If you don’t meet that standard, you make mistakes, and mistakes mean wipes. For some people (like me) I like the pressure. I like the stress of it, I like wiping and failing, because we we do win, when we nail that delicate balance and we all figure out the dance together, the victory is so worth it. I love that feeling of accomplishment when it all just falls in to place and we win as a team. I love the nerd screams. I love our failed kill screenshots. I love it all. But it is really stressful. And you have to feel like you’re getting the payoff for it to be worth it.
After our rubbish night on Monday, the Officer team had a meeting, and our GM confessed he was done. He’d had enough. For him, as GM and raid lead, the stress and pressure is multitudes higher than for anyone else, and after that night it just got too much. The payoff wasn’t worth it, and he needed to step down. At that time he wasn’t 100% decided on what to do, and our meeting was to try and figure out what we could do. Could someone else take on lead? What would be the consequences of him stepping down? Who would step up? What could we do? I went to bed that night in tears – I could see the writing on the wall, and I was devastated. I could only imagine how our GM was feeling, too 😦
At the end of our meeting, one of our officers (and top dps) decided it was time for him to move on to a higher progressing guild (which he has found, and I’m super happy for him). We had suggested our GM think on his decision a little more and get back to us, but on the Tuesday, we also lost a tank. Then the Wednesday morning, another dps.
I spent a lot of Tuesday talking with the GM and other officers about the whole situation. It’s always a hard decision. I won’t go in to any specifics of our conversations, but a lot of what was making the decision so difficult came down to just how much the GM loved the guild and the people in it, but also just how stressed and worn out he was with it all. Being GM and raid lead has got to be one of the most thankless tasks out there. It’s so much work and effort to keep things running. And even with officers helping with bits and pieces here and there, and with talking to the team and asking them to take issues and concerns out of raid, it doesn’t stop those things from happening. It drives me up the wall, and I only experience it a little. It’s nothing compared to what a GM has to put up with.
Wednesday – the break-up
A team meeting was held on the Wednesday night (instead of raid) and our GM announced he was stepping down as raid lead, and that the future of the raid team depended on what everyone else wanted to do. People were asked to think on it for a bit, and let us all know what their plans were – did they want to stay and try and fill in the gaps, or did they want to move on to another team. No grudges would be held, we just needed to know so a decision could be made. In the end, too many people said they would be moving on without our GM in the leadership role.
So we came back together for one last team meeting with everyone… and our GM announced there were too many people looking to move on, so this was it…. and I bawled my eyes out (as did he, the poor thing). It was a horrible, emotional moment. I was genuinely heartbroken. I’ve been in guild break-ups before (far too many, actually) and they have always been hard. But this one felt different. This one really cut deep. It really felt like a relationship breaking up. I couldn’t imagine not spending each week with these people, laughing and yelling and struggling with these people. We all had good and bad times together… I didn’t want that to end. And yet here we were.
The fallout was… interesting. Once the meeting was done, people kinda just took a breath, and then decided to go run heroic Uldir together. I was a mess and sat out, but stayed in game because I just didn’t really know what else to do. But no-one gquit or raged or ranted. Everyone was just… sad. Overnight a couple of people faction swapped to join other friends in other guilds, but it wasn’t in anger. It was quiet and kind.
I posted about it on twitter, and had so many beautiful and amazing responses of support back from people. I was genuinely overwhelmed. But still heartbroken. I went to bed that night wondering what on earth I was going to do. How was I going to find a new team? Who on earth would take a shaman to a raid right now? Did I still even want to raid? And even worse… did I still even want to play WoW anymore?
I went to work on Thursday exhausted and mentally drained. No-one at work really understood it (one person even kind of scoffed at the situation) which didn’t really help. I felt sad, and tired, but added to that, I was also sick to my stomach. Our GM was feeling almost instant regret about the decision, and it made me feel awful. I felt I had given him bad advice about everything. (My focus was on making sure he was going to be ok with the decision he made, and to not feel guilted in to sticking around if he didn’t want to. You know my mantra – WoW is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.) Thursday morning SUCKED plain and simple. I had lost my guild, and felt like I had been a bad friend to someone who has been exceptionally kind to me. I was not having a good time.
But then Thursday afternoon happened.
Thursday afternoon, our GM logged in to game, expecting the guild to have emptied, and instead still found it full of people. They didn’t want to go. This was their home, and they wanted to stay. That coupled with our GM’s regret… and well, the guild un-broke-up. Our GM posted in our Discord a really heartwarming message saying the guild would be staying together… and then I cried again as people cheered and left sweet messages and were just everything we didn’t want to leave behind. The thing that makes this guild so special is the people in it. Sure, we all fight and bicker and give each other shit, but that’s what families do.
We went back in to finish off the heroic clear on Thursday night with a renewed sense of togetherness. We also managed to one-shot the last 3 bosses on heroic and the first mythic boss, which just goes to show how much better peoples’ performance is when they’re in a good mood! 😀
Things seem to be calm, now. The people who had faction changed managed to have them reverted (thanks Blizzard!!!) and came back to the guild as soon as they could. We ran our usual normal run on Saturday night, which went surprisingly well. And tonight’s mythic run, though thwarted by the attendance boss (thanks NRL grand final!), was smooth and successful.
Most people understand why things got they way they did – we pushed too hard. Raiding 4 nights a week was taking it out of people. The constant feeling of pressure was overwhelming for a lot of people, and it was wearing everyone down – not just the GM, but everyone. So we’re taking a step back. We will continue to raid mythic level, with the goal of getting Cutting Edge each tier. But not at the expense of the team.
The whole thing feels like a really sappy daytime romantic comedy in a way. But whatever it was, we’ve come out the other side of it, and I feel like in a way, we’re almost a bit better for it. Those who wanted more have moved to a place they can get that progression, and everyone else back here is on the same page. I’m grateful for this crazy bunch of beautiful people. Here’s to many more raids together as a the silly, dysfunctional WoW-family we are.
This long weekend I said to myself that I would take things a bit easier, and get back to just enjoying WoW. Yeah, there are things I definitely need to do, but my goal for the weekend is just to make sure that I’m doing the things I love. Like explore and finish obscure achievements and what not.
One of the achievements I ticked off today was Cursed Game Hunter. I only had a goat and a shark left to kill for the achievement, so was on wowhead looking for where they were, when a related guide popped up – Hidden Secrets of Kul Tiras. I mean, of course I had to check it out.
First thing I ticked off in this guide was getting Taptaf. He’s an absolutely adorable little piggy!
The in the guide I saw that there were other pets that could be purchased if certain conditions were met. Turned out I had met quite a few of those. I decided to go get Greatwing Macaw because I just love the birds! This lovely pet was available to purchase from Dana Pull in a part of Boralus we don’t really spend a lot of time in. So off I went to find Dana. Not only did I find Dana, I found heaven.
Dana is found in Boralus:
Here’s the entrance to his shop…
And inside? PUPPIES!! PUPPIES EVERYWHERE!!!!!!
I went around and patted EVERY.SINGLE.PUPPERS in there so they would know that I loved them all. What a magical place!!! (And yes, bought the macaw pet, too).
The NPCs in there make my heart swell, too.
It’s things like this that make World of Warcraft such a beautiful game to me. I remember seeing tweets from Blizz employees in the lead up to launch saying that their pets had been found in the PTR. It was a surprise to them, too, which is just so lovely.
There are so many things like this in BfA, too. Whilst levelling I found a couple of houses absolutely PACKED with cats! And somewhere in Zuldazar (I think!) is a flight point for Alliance that has little baby dinos that you can pet, too! And there’s so much more. It’s nice to take some time meandering around and finding these things.
How has it been a month since Battle for Azeroth launched? Holy moly time passes quickly. I suppose a bit part of that is about how completely flat out I’ve been in game. Which leads me in to the topic of this post, and the last Blog Challenge topic (I know I’m late!!) How do you level in Battle for Azeroth?
After raiding, levelling is one of my favourite things to do in game. Seeing new worlds, new NPCs, new secrets and adventures really tickles the explorer in me (and the screenshot nerd!) I love taking my time to follow random paths, hunting down treasures, killing rares, seeing new things and helping out a whole new bunch of people. And this is where we start facing some issues – the time I take to level is not conducive to being raid ready.
Being in a raid team (especially a team that wants to work on mythic bosses) means there are certain expectations. Characters are required to meet a number of requirements in time for going in to raid to make sure we are able to beat dps checks and heal all the damage going out. For our raid team, we expected everyone to have an ilvl of 340 and Azerite neck at 18 before stepping in to Uldir for the first time. (Keep in mind, 340 is the ilvl that drops from mythic 0 dungeons).
I am all for making sure that I’m raid ready. But I’m also not going to sacrifice what I think is important to me about the game. I’m in WoW to have a good time, and new expansions are a really special time for me. So I had to find a happy medium. This is what I did.