Posted in Gaming Goals

Syp’s gaming goals for October 2022

September 2022 in review

So something very interesting has been happening organically in my gaming life over the past few months that relates to blogging. I’ve been getting more and more into the habit of creating running posts for different games and projects, adding on to these posts as I play during different sessions, then publishing them when they get full enough or I hit a milestone. And what I’ve noticed is that there’s been a kind of unintentional “reset” switch hit every week around Friday where I schedule posts, clear the slate, and then start up a new batch. Around this time, I might decide to pick a different game or character from the week previous and focus on that instead.

So what this has gelled into is a gaming pattern where I pick three or four projects for the upcoming week — rather than a whole month in advance — while giving myself permission to swap out games and various projects when the next week’s reset comes around. It’s allowed for more flexiblity in play and writing without making me scattershot. Thus, I’m going to be going with this format in the future.

Anyway, here’s the month in review:

  • With the hype building for Wrath Classic, I jumped into the prepatch and finished up Netherstorm on my Shaman. I also took a Death Knight through the intro zone and worked up mining and engineering professions to 375 on my Shammy in prep for the expansion.
  • I kind of bounced around different Lord of the Rings Online projects, trying out a Hunter for a bit, working on a lowbie Beorning, and revving up my mid-tier Minstrel that I brought over from Anor.
  • In RIFT, I worked into the 30s while wrapping up Iron Pine Peak and heading into Scarwood Reach. My momentum’s slowed down considerably, so I may be taking more breaks with this MMO.
  • I also kind of, sort of returned to Guild Wars 2, first spending a week with a new Ranger, then with a new Mesmer.

October 2022 gaming goals

  • Wrath Classic is expected to take up a chunk of my time and excitement. I’m not in a rush with this one, so I’ll be playing tourist with lots of screenshots and getting a start on Northrend mining and engineering (while also saving up for cold weather flying).
  • If I am to stick with Guild Wars 2, I need to settle on a character and map through a few zones to see if the old magic is there — or if I shouldn’t bother.
  • I’m probably going to throttle way back in LOTRO, mostly just taking my Minstrel through Gondor quests and biding my time until I can both make a Hobbit Lore-master and take her through the upcoming mini-expansion starter experience.
  • With this new weekly pattern, I have so many other games I’d like to visit. New World will get me back when the improved newbie leveling experience goes in this fall, and I’ve been weirdly eying Wizard101 and the new Tower of Fantasy as candidates. No matter what I pick, my goal here is to enjoy more variety in play — and to get some entertaining blog posts out of them.
  • I’ve also been strongly considering getting back to doing a retro JRPG blog series — maybe Final Fantasy VI or VII? Or Chrono Cross? You let me know what you’d like to read on this!
Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Song-struck with Minstrel changes

It’s back to a week leveling through Gondor with my Minstrel in LOTRO! Look at me, fiercely trying to put out of my mind the impending class revamp and my seething frustration with this studio! I shall pacify my emotions by gazing upon the gorgeous vistas in this seaside nation.

Nothing like kicking off a gaming session by smacking down a Nazgul so it doesn’t spy on Aragorn. NONE SHALL PASS MY HOBBITYNESS!

Shh. I am meditating about a love poem for a hapless NPC while swans fart and poop all around me. This is the kind of dedication that separates the Baggins from the Sackvilles.

Come last Wednesday, Update 33.2 dropped with the big Minstrel changes. With trepidation in my heart, I logged in to rebuild her and see how she performed with the adjustments. I went about 3/4ths of the way into red and dumped the rest into yellow with the intention of getting back to the playstyle that I most like with this class (yells and cries > ballads/anthems/codas).

The end result was more or less what I had before. Less, because Piercing Cry got sadly nerfed. More, because now I had an extra couple of heals and longer anthems at my disposal. I tested this build out on a corsair camp, ripping through it like normal. I can say that I don’t feel any significant difference between dissonance and melody stances, so I’m not really sure why I should switch between them at this point.

And yes, it’s low-key killing me that I’m not making a Hobbit Lore-master right now. But with the mini-expansion coming on November 6th, it makes far more sense to roll up a new character then anyway. I can wait a month and play myself out in the meanwhile.

Posted in Music, Podcast

Battle Bards Episode 217: Legend of Edda

Episode 224: A return to EverQuest II Battle Bards

It's been an almost egregiously long time since the Battle Bards turned their attention to the EverQuest II soundtrack — but now that wait is over. Join Syp and Syl as they comb through the expansions for all sorts of delightful musical morsels to enjoy! Episode 224 show notes Intro (feat. "Main Theme," "Landing Zone," and "Darkpaw") "Artisan Theme" "Qeynos Rises" "Stonewood" "Dreadcutter" "Visions of Vetrovia" "Enchanted Lands" Which one did we like best? Listener notes: Zinn Jukebox Picks: "Big Apple 3PM" from TMNT Shredder's Revenge and "A New Land Awaits" from Going Medieval Outro (feat. “Gnomeland Security Headquarters”) Talk to the Battle Bards on Twitter! Follow Battle Bards on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play, iHeartRadio, and Pocket Casts! This podcast is produced using copyrighted material according to Fair Use practices as stated under Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act.
  1. Episode 224: A return to EverQuest II
  2. Episode 223: Dragonica
  3. Episode 222: World of Warcraft Dragonflight

Chances are you’ve never heard of today’s featured MMO — or its quirky little soundtrack! So why not come along with Syp and Syl to explore Legend of Edda, a now-defunct RPG set in a realm of Greek Mythology?

Episode 217 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “Ballack’s Castle” and “Cybele Garden”)
  • “Title Theme”

  • “Frigid Valley”
  • “Gaiyan Town”
  • “Wailing Wall”
  • “Kobalos Mines”
  • “Silver Lake”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Listener notes
  • Jukebox Picks: “Millick Meadows (Night)” from Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and “Drug Store” from EarthBound
  • Outro (feat. “Boreas Temple”)
Posted in RIFT

RIFT: You’re Scarwood Reaching

As I reached level 32 in Iron Pine Peak, I was grappling with immense dissatisfaction over my Druid/Inquisitor build. Sure, I had tons of healing and some DOT damage, but it kept taking longer and longer to kill. Too long, and too unsatisfying. So to mark the end of the zone — more or less — I whipped up a new outfit and respecced to primary Defiler with Inquisitor secondary and a splash of Warden for healing.

So no more faerie (RIP Trixie), but in exchange I received a whole lot more damage AND a taunting totem pet. I’d forgotten that I mainlined Defiler back in the day, but it came back to me quickly as I slipped into its skin.

While I am finished up with the normal Iron Pine Peak questlines, I still have the Saga of the Storm Queen to do. Well, the first of five “arcs” that are done at different level tiers.

One of the steps of this arc is to close out five (5) air rifts around the zone. Minor ones were no problem, but the majors kicked my butt on the boss fights. I forgot that they even came in different flavors! And check out this drake boss — it’s so unlike what you’d see in most MMOs.

New zone time! At level 32, it was time to head to Scarwood Reach and see what trouble I could get into there. Apparently, a lot of it is killing people so hard it makes their bodies flip in gymnastic twirls to reveal striped leggings.

I’ll be honest, Scarwood is not my favorite zone aesthetically. If your thing is giant tree stumps, scraggly little trees, and lots of brown mud and scaffolding, then here you go. It’s all yours. To me, it feels like the Zone of Leftover Art Assets.

That said, it had its moments!

Posted in Guild Wars

Guild Wars 2: A Virtuoso in training

For this week’s Guild Wars 2 adventure, I decided to create a new Mesmer and set her on a journey toward becoming a Virtuoso. I’m quite curious about the idea of a more psychic-based elite spec and wouldn’t mind checking it out. So say hello to Trillyra (trill + lyrics). I used a makeover kit from my bank to grab an exclusive hair dye and style, then I splurged on not one, not two, but three outfits from the store. Hey, don’t look at me like that! They were on sale, they all looked awesome, and I had gems to burn.

I’m not proud of it, but I danced to entertain a cow. He didn’t look amused at all. WHY CAN’T I PLEASE YOU, COW?

I do like this same color scheme more with Gwen’s outfit, though. It’s so iconic and perfect for a fellow Mesmer, dontcha think?

A bit of a closer look. I might go with a different pistol, but the rapier + corset look really works for this class. My daughter is totally in love with this character’s hairstyle, too.

My last new outfit is the Mist-something… Mist Walker? Mist Guard? Misty Meadows? I don’t remember and I’m too lazy to open back up the client. It definitely skews more toward heavy armor in looks, but I really dig the way that you’re always trailing this shadow/mist off the right side.

Posted in World of Warcraft

WoW Classic: Pulling the ripcord on engineering

Nothing like making huge, last-minute changes right before a major expansion launch to get the heart rate going! But what the heck, I wasn’t enjoying leatherworking on my Shaman and figured that at least Engineering kept me fixated on fun goals. So with a week and a half to Wrath Classic’s release, I wiped out those old professions and trained up in mining and engineering. Could I make it all the way to 375 on each before the launch?

11 Days Until Wrath (1 mining/1 engineering): Trained engineering and mining in Ironforge. Cleaned out a ton of space in my bank and sold off all my leather material on the auction house. Spent a while running long laps in Dun Morogh to find copper, after which I moved up to Redridge to start collecting as much tin as I could find. I also wiped out gnolls en masse to build up reservoirs of linen and wool for engineering projects.

10 Days Until Wrath (117 mining/137 engineering): I wanted to get as strong of a start to this process as possible, because the first 100 points come super-easy — and then it gets exponentially more difficult. I felt like I came into this day with a good chunk of progress as I returned to Redridge for more tin/silver mining. I kept the progress going into the iron tier, jumping up to Arathi while taking breaks every now and then to return to Stormwind for smelting and some bursts of engineering. And yes, I’m using a guide to move as quickly as possible through the engie track.

While I was doing all that, I decided to go guild shopping since I wasn’t clicking much with my old guild. People coming and going, but no good conversations and no strong connections. It was time to move on.

9 Days Until Wrath (180 mining/175 engineering): The good news is that a kind guildie sent me 15 gold ore to help me get through the iron/gold mining tier. The bad news is that this landed me at mithril, which is rough to come by — especially with gobs of people farming as I am. I spent a couple of hours watching a movie and mindlessly farming Badlands for Mithril, which took me up to 240. After that, I gave myself a bit of a boost by purchasing four stacks of 20 thorium ore off the auction house and zipping ahead to 283. That left me with 17 points to farm from Azeroth before heading to Outlands.

8 Days Until Wrath (283 mining/175 engineering): With my bank overflowing with lower level mats that I don’t need any more for engineering, I spent some time installing Auctioneer and hopefully making back a bit of the 100g or so I’ve spent so far on these profs. I also pushed hard to get both profs up to 300 — even if it meant spending some money buying mithril and thorium that I didn’t have extra time to mine (although I did a couple of hours of farming).

7 Days Until Wrath (300 mining/300 engineering): One week to go — and I’m finally in Outland with both professions brought up to the first expansion. I’m not so worried at this point about mining, but I know engineering is going to require a HUGE amount of mats. As I started in on farming fel iron ore across Hellfire Peninsula, I finally installed a node tracker addon to assist with my flight patterns. It certainly helped, and I got 25 points by the end of the day.

6 Days Until Wrath (325 mining/300 engineering): Didn’t have time to play today, oh well.

5 Days Until Wrath (325 mining/300 engineering): Moved on to mine in other Outland, trying to hoover up as many mats as I can for the engineering push ahead. Starting to feel the crunch of the time counting down and contemplating extra days needed for this project if I can’t make it by launch. Happily, by the end of the day I breezed right to 375 mining with no problems whatsoever.

4 Days Until Wrath (375 mining/300 engineering): With mining done and the clock running out, it was time to get serious about pushing engineering up. One happy discovery was that I was able to make my flying machine (the basic version, at least) only a couple of dozen points into Outland engineering. But I realized I would go absolutely broke if I didn’t mine more ore by myself.

I also finished up the Death Knight intro zone with my Gnome. I figure it’s a two-for-one deal: I get a DK on standby if/when I want to play her, and I earn a free mount in WoW retail. Plus, it was kind of crazy to see the old DK talent trees. Perma-ghoul, here I come!

Posted in Guild Wars

Guild Wars 2: Ranger danger

To address my aforementioned S.O.S. (start over syndrome), I figured that it might be best not to litter up currently played MMOs with scads of alts but instead hop over to a title I haven’t seriously played since (checks) 2020 and dither about on a new toon.

And so I’ve come back to Guild Wars 2, at least casually. It’s a good game to be casual in, especially if you’re just logging on for a bit to map out a zone. I figure that can keep me busy for a good long while, and if it’s proving sticky — which is dependent on a good guild and whether the game is gelling with me — then I can move on to the living world/expansions.

I actually did have End of Dragons unlocked on this account (which I had forgotten) along with tons and tons of birthday gifts, free store unlocks, and other goodies. As usual for coming back to a previously heavily played MMO, I had a whole lot of inventory management to sort out on the first night.

Following that, I rolled up a fresh character — a Ranger with whom I’m using the reappropriated name of Eoan Echo. It’s been a long, long time since I played a Ranger, and a simple pet/ranged class seemed perfect for what I was looking for. I very much appreciate how GW2 allows you to instantly use all of your account-wide unlocked skins, mounts, pets, outfits, wardrobe, etc. on a new character.

Speaking of looks, I fished around to find the perfect ensemble for this character. I settled on the Arctic Explorer outfit with some funky dyes, married with a Fox Fire longbow. I’m sure I’m not winning any originality awards, but I like the combo.

Yeah, I’m number one! I’m number one! I’m… oh, you’re testing the wind? Whoops. Let my ego get away from me, there.

My plan, such as it is, is to alternate between mapping and going through the main storyline (personal and then living world/expansions) roughly in order. The full Ascelon tour. This meant that my first stop was the oh-so-familiar Queensdale and Divinity’s Reach. I had kind of forgotten how chatty the NPCs are in this game (and fully voiced, kudos to the team for that) as I zip on by them.

Divinity’s Reach is still an amazing city as it ever was. Great sightlines, fun architecture, big without letting you get lost.

Hey, even a swamp can be pretty under the right light!

I did experience a moment or two of Engineer envy, so I logged in to say hi to Rain Bunny, who I left somewhere in Season 2. She’s looking suitable for this fantasy world, yeah?

Posted in World of Warcraft

WoW Classic: Wrath on the horizon

Gawrsh, who doesn’t enjoy logging into a game only to find that the first thing on the docket is an escort quest? How about I be the escortee and you keep the mobs off of ME, eh?

Fangs vs. Claws, who will win? I hope I will, but only if the reward is being done with Netherstorm. Or this whole expansion. Burning Crusade may have seemed so fresh and exciting at one point, but I think that was only for decent quest flow — because it’s certainly not for zone design or stories.

Happily, after 125 or so quests (!) in Netherstorm, I wrapped up all but the elites that I couldn’t find parties for, and thus headed down to Shadowmoon Valley with 4689 gold in my pocket and a song in my heart.

But instead of doing quests there, I took stock of what I wanted to accomplish in this last week, and doing this zone wasn’t it. Rather, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to top off my leatherworking skill, so I found some good grinding areas and set to farming leather. It was low-stress, low-thought, and somewhat profitable with the extra drops.

I do have a regret that I went leatherworking with this character, though. I haven’t really gotten that much out of it in terms of benefits and gear, and now I wish that I had gone full engineering to have that character good to go for Wrath (as I was doing with my Warlock). I guess I could start over and level up mining and engie, but man would that take a whole lot of work — and strand me in the middle of that project when Wrath launches.

To change things up a little bit, I did roll a Death Knight — wasn’t planning to, but I figured that I could at least get one through the starter zone and have it there if I wanted to continue with it. It’s the OP class of Wrath, dontcha know?

It is oddly encouraging and fascinating to see the huge swell of pre-launch interest for Wrath. The servers are all sorts of a mess right now, with lots of overcrowding, and people are scrambling to level up Death Knights and zoom through fresh start server lands. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like at the end of the month when Northrend opens for realsies.

For whatever reason, the above picture triggered a huge dose of nostalgia. Right then I could imagine being back in 2008, going through this starter experience for the first time. The Death Knight became one of my main classes forever after that, so it was a personal milestone to start off.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: A song and a stabbing

At least I can say I got my Minstrel to level 100 before the great minstrel nerf arrived. I’m trying to snarf up as much XP in western Gondor to stay on top of the leveling curve, which I feel is starting to outpace me for some reason. It’s not a great difficulty yet, I just want to make sure I don’t fall behind.

While I am down with smaller outposts and contained quest hubs, my teeth grit when I find the game channeling me into a major city. LOTRO in particular has some amazing cities, and boy does its development team know it, because the quests will conspire to keep you in them forever. Darn it, you’re going to inspect and appreciate every square inch before you’re allowed to move on!

And so my Minstrel came hesitantly to the doors of Dol Amroth, a mid-sized city perched on an island/peninsula poking into a bay. Upon approaching its walls, I was reminded at how amazing the artwork is for this country. Gondor has a very distinct — and not at all subtle — style compared to Rohan and other nations. Also, there are tons of swans. Swany swany swans as far as the eye can see.

And flowers. I guess I never really envisioned Gondor as being the flower capital of Middle-earth when I was reading the books. The capital of stern people full of grit and determination, perhaps, but not lilacs and tulips. But now I know better, thanks to LOTRO.

Stop looking at me, swans!

For fun one night, I felt like taking a STAB at something a little different, even if it’s just a temporary experiment. And so I hopped back on Treebeard after a couple of months away, rolling up a new character: Syprowl the Gentleman Burglar. He shall be the dapperest daredevil this side of the Misty Mountains, I promise you.

I’ve become partial to the Stout-Axe intro, thanks to its brief length, fun setpieces, and tour around the dungeons of Mordor. Say what you will about this country, but Sauron definitely did not skimp on the fashionable red tint for his windows.

Also, the next time someone drags out that tired “but the GRAPHICS” on this game, I’m just going to show them the above screenshot of this Orc and walk away without another word. LOTRO has pretty fantastic visuals in so many ways.

I really like the theming of this character — it prompted me to go in different directions than I normally would, which is a giddy experience. I ended up very much liking the above outfit — lots of black with silver bands to complement the beard ornamentation.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Bear down for midterms

After cleaning up my account on Landroval — which involved deleting every character that I wasn’t playing or keeping — I ended up with just three on the list. My LM, my Cappy, and my Minstrel transplant from Anor. To those I now add a fourth, a Boerning named Sypaws (because “Syp” plus “bear paws” I guess). This gives me a lowbie to run around with, especially a class I was having a lot of fun with on Treebeard. I feel good about it, and am so daring that I even made him a dude instead of a dudella.

I love that bear’s best friend is a totally happy corgi. They make an odd pair, those two, but I’d put my odds on them conquering the whole of Middle-earth before the year is through.

What’s hardest for me when starting a new character in LOTRO is slowing down to read the quest text and enjoy the journey instead of sprinting through very familiar territory. I feel it’s imperative not to get in a “gogogo” mode, because what am I rushing toward? When will I ever slow down to actually absorb the story if so?

Of course, familiarization wars against good intentions and nostalgia. It’s why I am starting to look forward to the new 1-32 leveling experience they’re churning out for later this year, if only to have a truly fresh start. In the meanwhile, my bear will continue to terrorize… er, HELP those hobbits. Yes. Help.

I’m just saying, it’s never the ones you most suspect that end up being the body parts-selling serial killers. Bad doggie!

Nothing profound here, other than to say that I appreciate the work that went into the design of the Comb inn. It’s got a really great fantasy look to it.

Being a no-rush character, I took my time going through all of the human starting quests around Comb and Staddle. You can easily knock out the 45 quests for the Bree-land Adventurer deed doing this, which saves time later on in the zone. And hey, I like helping dogs, widows, and quirky hobbits.

I am so far from my car right now.