Posted in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft: Legion plus one


If you’re looking for one of those gamers who was there at minute one for Legion’s launch, stayed up all night, took the day off of work, and is now nearing level 110… then I can’t help you. Really, I can’t. Life and responsibility comes before gaming for me, even on special launch days now. I did all I could to pile through my work, get a few things done in advance, and free up a few hours to dig into the expansion, but that was it.

And I was noticing that when it comes to brand-new expansions and MMO launches, I tend to take it very slow. It’s a lot of content, all at once, and I’d rather pause to savor it than gorge like a gaming glutton (*this remark is in no means intended as a slight to those tho power through). I get sidetracked a lot. I take the time to read things. I talk with people and soak in the general atmosphere.

After all, it’s the first World of Warcraft expansion in two years, and my first being there for launch day since Wrath of the Lich King. The day was over soon enough but the expansion will be there for some time to come. I’m in no rush.


I was almost on the fence of ditching my plan to stick with my Death Knight and move back to the Hunter, but in the end I trusted my instinct (and heart!) to focus on the DK for a while now as a sole, main character. My alts can come into play some day in the future, but there’s no merit for me spreading out what limited time I have between a crop of characters. Not if I want to actually see the fullness of this expansion before the next one comes out.

And it turned out to be a good choice. Right from the get-go, I was sent on my class quest to get the Apocalypse artifact weapon. I gotta say, great move developing custom content for each of these weapons… I’m tempted to play the other ones just to see the quest more than get the artifacts. The Unholy quest had me diving into the catacombs underneath Karazhan, and I was oogling the haunted house design the whole way. Made me once again grumpy this game doesn’t have housing because I would totally make my place look like this.


Getting past this hall actually stumped me for a second…until I realized that I was being asked to use one or two of my class skills. I activated my wraith walk and sped through it, scaring the boss guy away.


One fairly easy boss fight later, and Apocalypse was mine! Mine forever… or until the next expansion, when I guess all artifact weapons will be tossed in the trash at Blizzard’s say-so!

From there it was a trip to my class hall, which as I pointed out a few days ago, is simply the same Archon Hold that DKs have been using for years now. Nothing like seeing everyone else get shiny new places and we’re left in the same digs. Yay! Griping!


While I was running all of this, I realized that I had to go back to being a Draenei for various reasons which are as embarrassing to admit as they are petty. Yet as I said before, liking a character that I’m playing is so important, and I grew to miss that taller model and her self-heal. So a splurge on a race change later, and Syppy rejoins society as a space goat once more.

Oh! So let’s talk about the artifact weapon, because Apocalypse is kind of awesome. The first power that unlocks bursts festering wounds on targets for massive damage — and summons as many undead minions as wounds were burst. It’s like getting a mini Army of the Dead every 1.5 minutes, which pushes this spec more into being a minion master pet class.


A giant pulling in a ship to shore. Nothing to see here. Move along.

I wish I could say that I made huge progress, but truth be told, there’s so much to tackle at the start that I only produced a small dent in my initial leveling zone (I went Azshara because I figured most people were heading elsewhere… and I wanted to do the zones clockwise). Everything kept pulling me off track from straight-up questing. In the first evening I

  1. Got my artifact weapon
  2. Started on order hall quests
  3. Traveled to Azshara and did two full story chains
  4. Unlocked the next tier of my gathering professions and had to return to Dalaran a couple of times because I’d mine or herb up quests
  5. Spend extra time in areas finishing up bonus objectives
  6. Got my first followers and started up the mission thing again
  7. Hunted treasure and rare mobs down
  8. Leveled up my artifact weapon and had to return to my hall to pick a new power
  9. Started some sort of new main quest that had me going back to the Exodar(!)

So I guess I did a lot, all things considered, even though I’m just 101 and a ways off from finishing the first zone.



Overall, it was a great first day and I’m getting a positive vibe about this expansion. Of course, that could be the shiny newness of it all, but it is fun to see how enthusiastic everyone is, like kids let loose in a toy store to explore.

Posted in General


Class order halls in World of Warcraft are a unique study in contrasting tones.

On one hand, you are exalted as a powerful leader and figure, one with an incredibly rare artifact weapon, one who is praised and worshiped and even feared.

On the other hand, you’re surrounded by a hundred other dopes who have the same weapon and status.

So you’re both this unique leader and part of a crowd of clones.

Posted in Music, Podcast

Battle Bards Episode 81: Goblins, Orcs, and Ogres!


They may be ugly. They may be smelly. And they may have no table manners whatsoever. What, we’re not talking about the Battle Bards! No, it’s actually a reference to the subject matter of today’s episode: Goblins, Orcs, and Ogres. The most unglamorous of MMO races get their day in the spotlight, as the co-hosts scrounge through soundtracks to find music that best represents their various cultures. Oh, and apparently Ogres are the odd man out, because they get nothin’ other than a sad place in the show marquee.

Episode 81 show notes (show page, direct download)

  • Intro (feat. “Plight of the Ogres” from World of Warcraft and “Down Down to Goblin-Town” from Lord of the Rings Online)
  • “The Crymbil (Goblins)” from Project Copernicus
  • “Orc Village” from Lineage II
  • “Kezan (Goblins)” from World of Warcraft
  • “Goblin Village” from Runes of Magic
  • “New Orsinium” from Elder Scrolls Online
  • “Greenskins (Orcs)” from Warhammer Online
  • “Cave of the Goblins” from RuneScape
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox picks: “Along for the Ride” from Poly Bridge, “Light is Green” from Halo 5, and “Theme” from Squids
  • Outro (feat. “Goblin Sapper Quotes” from Warcraft III)
Posted in General

MMO gamers, go ahead and complain.

I struggled a little bit whether or not to write a post on this, mostly because I don’t get my jollies off badmouthing others’ articles and I try to refrain from commenting on Massively OP’s competition.

However, I have to break my self-imposed silence on that site today because that site decided to dash off a quick five-point list in which the author comments on “Things MMO gamers should stop complaining about.” Now, I’m no stranger to making lists or even saying things that generate controversy, but boy did this article rankle — and for the wrong reasons.

So five quick rebuttals:

  1. When an MMO news/opinion site that takes in ad revenue (not to mention “sponsored content”) from studios, you don’t really want to give the impression that you’re so far away from criticizing these studios that you’re trying to squelch the community for griping. Appearances matter.
  2. Don’t ever, ever tell me what’s OK for me to complain about or not. That’s condescending and hypocritical coming from a site that criticizes and, yes, sometimes complains about games. I have the right to complain about whatever I want. You have the right not to listen to it.
  3. I get the sentiment that players tend to whine a little too much and beat dead horses without adding anything new to the conversation. But that doesn’t mean that these topics are now off-limits. Instead, guide the community to producing constructive criticism and tone down the rhetoric and knee-jerk emotional responses a bit.
  4. If an MMO news site isn’t being a watchdog against studios’ gross tactics, then why are you berating the community for taking up that slack? Lockboxes and pay-to-win sales are very controversial and, in the eyes of many, have damaged otherwise great games’ reputations. This is pertinent and should be debated.
  5. You really do not get to write a list telling players that they shouldn’t complain and then counter every negative response to said list with, “See? A complaint! Stop it!”
Posted in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft: The Legion countdown commences

The lead up to Legion has been a little strange on my end. I honestly think I was more excited for the 7.0 patch to drop — just in terms of anticipation, hype, and emotional dizziness. With the expansion launch proper, I’ve been so busy this month that I’ve hardly had time to really dwell on it, and so it’s rushed my way without a lot of long, agonizing days of waiting.

And that’s great for me. The Legion invasions and leveling up my Druid to 100 were perfect for occupying my attention, and in that I think Blizzard did a stellar job in making this last month of the pre-expansion bearable and even exciting. Plus, I’ve got a lot of planning for the fall in the works and projects in other games (such as getting my RIFT Cleric ready for that expansion) as well.

But now we’re the day before Legion and my thoughts have indeed turned back to the expansion. I won’t lie: It might well be the highlight of the MMO gaming year, right here. I look back at the road I took in 2016, getting back into World of Warcraft, building up my garrison, going through Draenor, and leveling up my alts. It’s been quite the journey and now we’re at the cusp of Legion.

It’s the big reset button. The gear treadmill starts anew. We’re moving digs from Draenor to the Broken Isles. There are new systems to be figured out and a new “life” to be explored. It all looks pretty great, from my perspective, and I’m hoping that the endgame world stuff pans out as Blizzard is hoping.

So what are my plans? It’s not the busiest week, although we will be doing stuff as a family over Labor Day weekend, which should shut down some of my gaming time (which is OK — the game will still be there afterward). I have five characters at the ready: My Death Knight, Druid, Warlock, Hunter, and Shaman. Unless I have a massive change of heart, I’ll be focusing on my DK for the first month or so. I think I want to explore the expansion on a single character before branching out into alts, and there really is no rush here.

I’m a little too old and responsible (or so I tell myself) to take a full day off to play on launch, and besides, I know how the crush of players can create all sorts of havoc and end up frustrating those who took time off. I’m sure I’ll be in there, but my mantra will be “no rush, no rush, explore, enjoy, pay attention to the details.” I’ll lose the race in the first hour anyway, and this expansion sounds like it’s going to be around for quite some time.

I’m looking forward to getting my artifact weapon and seeing what the class hall system has to offer, but more than that, I can’t wait for some good old-fashioned polished Blizzard questing. Draenor was a great ride while it lasted and I’ve heard some very positive things about this.

What are your launch day plans? Taking it casual or do you have a huge to do list at the ready?

Posted in iPhone

Mobile game recommendation: Dungeon Warfare

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced an iPhone game that got me super-excited, but such a title happened this past week and I wanted to share it: Dungeon Warfare.

Dungeon Warfare is a mash-up of a few types of games. First and foremost, it’s a tower defense game (waves of mobs come that you have to kill before they reach your portal). But there’s a bit of Dungeon Keeper in it (since you’re running your own dungeon) and a much different feel to it. Probably the coolest part is that you can set up traps to ping-pong off each other, mousetrap-style, setting of chains of destructive glory that ripple through the oncoming waves.

Everything about this game is spot-on perfect. The pixel art works great and keeps the gore from being more than abstract, the sound effects (traps and screams) lend weight to the gameplay, and the whole interface is a dream to work with. I love how the game super-slows down when you’re placing a trap — although it doesn’t stop entirely.

There’s a lot of strategy with the different stages, especially since you can’t keep plopping down the same one type of trap, as traps become more and more expensive when you’re overusing a single type. You can even handicap yourself on stages (giving yourself only one life or allowing the mobs to regenerate health) in order to get more XP. The leveling mechanic also works well, allowing you to beef up your traps, dungeon bonuses, and consumables.

I think this was a Steam game first, but it just came out on iOS last week and I’ve been rocking it ever since. It’s brutally fun and could well be my new favorite tower defense game. Wiping out waves of heroes never gets old.

Posted in Retro Gaming

Quest for Glory III: Journey to the Simbani

(This is part of my journey going checking out Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

The next day is my appointment with Rakeesh and the Court ‘o Judgment. Here they recap what the game has already hinted at:

  • There’s a war brewing between the human Simbani tribe and the Leopardmen
  • Some of the Liontaurs want peace, while a bunch (including the king) want to fight alongside of the humans
  • A peace envoy from the Liontaurs was met with violence and most were killed
  • There may be demonic activity involved

Rakeesh swears on his honor to investigate this situation and attempt to bring peace, and I’m prompted to make the same oath. When I do, this happens:


Let’s just put it out there that I am WAY too irresponsible of a player to be entrusted with a fire sword. But I’m going to enjoy it!


After Rakeesh and the king get into it again — bicker bicker honor bicker — the two of us leave to travel to the Simbani. Along the way, Rakeesh tells me a bit about Tarna, being a paladin, and how to make campfires. Hey, I already know how to make campfires: I stick my sword in a heap of wood and activate its AWESOME MAGIC POWER.


After a day or so of travel and a non-stop Rakeesh monologue, we arrive at the village. At first, it seems promising: Everyone’s friendly and we have a joyful reunion with Uhura and her son Simba.

But then we meet with the chief and the situation sours. The chief downright loathes the Leopardmen, saying they use magic and that’s totally not fair (as I stuff my magic sword behind me). Also, they stole something called the “Spear of Death” and when the Spear of Death be stolen, there can be no peace in the world.

Naturally, Rakeesh takes in this situation, turns to me, and says, “BYE!” He heads off, leaving me to do the grunt work of investigating.

Oh, if you end up clicking on yourself:

Indeed they do! And your appearance is all pixelated! Wear some polygons, son.


The next day I wander around and try to make friends with the locals. One fellow invites me to play some sort of obscure stone-related board game. I’m quite bad at it, but I’m sure you could guess that.


Not much to do in this village, so I wander over to a spear throwing range and get some instruction from Uhura on the art of throwing pointy sticks. The actual technique is to judge the wind (from the waving flag) and adjust your target accordingly. I’m even worse at this than I was at the stone game.


Finally, there’s a good old-fashioned wrestling bridge. Uhura says this is another part of the initiation, and I’ve heard that enough that I have a sinking feeling that sooner or later, I’m going to have to pass all of these tests to advance in the game. Foreshadowing!

Posted in Retro Gaming

Quest for Glory III: Lover of small, furry animals


(This is part of my journey going checking out Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

One thing that slightly frustrates me about these early-era VGA adventure games is that it’s apparent how much the designers are in awe of their own graphics and really want everyone to spend as much time as possible admiring them. Hence, the land speed of characters like this game being measured in inches per hour. So… very… slow.


Down in the bazaar, which must take up more than half the footprint of this city, I find a lonely Katta hanging out, pining for Shapeir. I give him a note from his aunt and cough discreetly, looking for a tip. None was to be had. Actually, he does give me a free leopard carving when I try to buy it from him, so it’s all good.


Next to the Katta is this doggy fellow selling dried meat. This guy just cracks me up — he’s a panting, drooling, completely dumb dog who just so happens to walk on two legs and speak. He’s so stinking eager to sell to you that you can bargain his meat down to a single coin and he’ll be ecstatic with joy that you’re buying it at all. I do take small umbrage with being labeled as “ultra-liberal,” however.

I walk away with 70 hunks of dried meat. Gonna open up my own stand and sell this stuff at a profit!


Meet the local hippie of Tarna, who owns a drug store because of course he does. Talking to him is a trip, and not the good kind. When he mentions hugging trees, we get into a conversation about how he’s had these dreams of a woman who was turned into a tree. Hey, that sounds familiar! In another burst of series continuity, I tell him about Julanar the girl-tree from the second game and he vows to pack up and visit her in Shapeir.


It’s been a long, tiring, bewildering day, so I retire to the inn — another one of Quest for Glory’s staples. It’s a beautiful place that almost looks like a small palace. After a meal delivered by the beautiful owner, I retire for the night in my room (paid for by Kreesha, 10/10 highly recommended, would visit again). I love how the background changes from day to night and back into day again as time passes. And it’s so nice, for once, not to be under some sort of time pressure.


By the way, if you ever play these games — and you should, at some point — make sure you click on the description for everything. There are puns upon puns laying in wait, as well as funny observations. One of my favorites is how my character looks up at the chandolier with dozens of candles and then remarks how he’s so glad he isn’t the one tasked with replacing those every day. I always wondered who did such things in fantasy games.

And there are also in-jokes:


Haha! You had to be there, am I right?


On day two, I go poking around the town a bit more and come upon a temple room with a rather buxom statue in the middle. And the puns… oh the puns. So delicious and yet painful at the same time.

Side-note: I wonder if this game was localized for any other market, and if so, how they handled this English wordplay.


To my surprise, the statue comes to life and starts talking. She says that I bring either weal or woe to Tarna, and that there is a great darkness rising. With those cryptic statements floating in the air, I’m given a task: to find the Gem of the Guardian. So, could you give me directions to said gem? Any clues? Hints? A map? No? Okay… well, I guess I’m off then to look for a gem somewhere in the entire world.

Posted in Picture of the Day, The Secret World

The Secret World: 80s fashion show edition


You know me and you know that I throw emoji frowny faces at the presence and use of lockboxes in MMOs. I’m not going to spend real money on them, but if there’s a way to earn them in-game or get one for free, why not? Free stuff is free stuff.

So I’ve been accruing a lot of bonus Funcom points in The Secret World thanks to my grandmaster sub. I have nothing left that I really want to buy, so those points are just sitting there, waiting in vain for the next mission pack to come along. I don’t feel bad blowing a wad of them, then, on the new retro-themed costume packs (along with a few of the other packs, just because I was curious).

I was pretty pleased to get a wide assortment of goofy costume bits, including Terminator glasses (now with glowing red eye!), a headband, legwarmers, one of the tackiest jackets ever (not shown), and my favorite, a neon fanny pack:


ALL HAIL THE FANNY PACK. It brings any outfit together.


I also got a pair of dogs — one fire rescue Dalmation and one police K-9 doggy. Considering that I still have a hypnotic C’thulu as a pet, none of these stand a chance at being used regularly, but still, nice to have.

Posted in RIFT

RIFT: Clerical work


One of the greater joys of RIFT is being able to dream up your own classes, within limits, thanks to the soul system. So the other day when I switched back to my Cleric, I was pondering what kind of healer to make for dungeon runs. So far this year I have greatly enjoyed my HoT-happy Druid in World of Warcraft and Scholar’s healing pet in FFXIV.

I thought… why not try to have them both?

From concept to reality took about five minutes. I started with a blank slate on the soul tree and then invested enough points into the Druid to get the greater faerie healer (who can be toggled for single/multiple target heals). The rest went into the Warden soul, which is abundant with heal-over-time spells. It looked solid enough, even if it probably wasn’t a min-maxer type of build. It was what I wanted to play and I was allowed to make it. Makes me grateful to RIFT for that opportunity.

I took my new healer into an expert dungeon and held my own just fine. Spike damage was a little more tricky, but I’m overflowing (a water-related Warden pun) with extra heals, so I can just jam on number keys and usually save the day. The only trick is to keep one particular heal up, as you can stack that HoT up to four times and keep refreshing it every 15 seconds without having to re-apply all four stacks.


For a DPS counterpart, I made a Cabalist/Druid build, this time with an evil damage-dealing faerie. Lots of good AoE DPS with that mix, and it worked well when I joined my guild for some rifts the other night.

Thanks to the expert dungeons, I got my Cleric from 57 to 60 in practically no time at all (and even got a few new cosmetic pieces). I forgot how brutal the climb is from 60 to 65, but if I am willing to heal, I suppose I won’t have problems finding dungeons to run for the XP.

It’s been a slow and enjoyable reentry into RIFT as of late. I’m not playing it hardcore, but what time I’ve gotten, I’ve had a great experience. It’s made me genuinely want to log in every day, if even for a quick dungeon run, some more tweaking to my dimension, an instant adventure, managimg my minions, or the other five hundred things this game keeps throwing at you. Probably won’t be doing the Unicornalia event, however.


Going around Sanctum, I stumbled on a kind of really disturbing sight that I think most people just run right by. A “bounty hunter” with various goblin corpses and body parts, some still sticking in bear traps. What do they need these bodies for? WHAT MADNESS IS THIS.