#372: The Capital

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No, this post won’t be talking about Washington DC, just so you know. I guess today’s blog post is going to continue discussing World of Warcraft, considering it’s what I’m currently playing and what feels the most natural for me to write about. I know it’s not so much a life update like some of the other blogs, but hopefully it suffices regardless.

In World of Warcraft, there are a few different capital cities, depending on what race you choose. I’ll talk a little bit about what I like about the Horde ones, considering those are the ones I’ll be frequenting the most while writing this post.

Cities in this game are bustling hubs of economic activity and discussion in trade chat. People take the time to interact with each other, gather their things and parties together, and set sail for adventure in various parts of the world. Cities usually connect between each other, and cities often have transportation to other continents connected to them as well. Orgrimmar can help you move to Stranglethorn Vale on the opposite side of the planet, and Stormwind can help you reach Darnassus. No matter where you’re going, there are easy ways of moving around the world once you get the hang of it.

My favorite city used be the Undercity, the home of the Undead. Unfortunately, that city is no more, as it was destroyed in the events of the most recent World of Warcraft expansion and blighted to nothingness. It no longer exists, basically, just like Darnassus. Orgrimmar, however, is still functioning, and it still has its usual auction houses and activities going on. It’s become the place to be now that Undercity is torched to the ground. I still prefer the old stomping grounds, but it’s nice that there’s at least one place to go to still.

#371: The Ghost

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I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I do believe in some kind of supernatural mental space. I think every element of the supernatural can be traced back to a moment in time in which a person, at that time, felt that the horror was real, as if it really had a hold on them. Like, for example, vampires aren’t real, obviously, but vampires were inspired by prejudice and anti-semitism. The actual disease of the mind wasn’t the vampiric haunts, but rather the bigotry that enabled people to invent whole new classifications for humans in order to understand minorities.

The real reason I wanted to make this post is because I was thinking about running back to my corpse on World of Warcraft, a regular corpse run to try and restore my spirit to its body. It’s an obnoxious process (I’ve talked a lot about obnoxious behaviors on this blog recently, haven’t I?) and it’s always made worse by the fact that the spirit healer is so far from your body. Sometimes I just don’t want to run all the way across the ocean to restore life to my corpse. Sometimes I just want to get resurrection sickness and accept defeat from there on.

Being a ghost isn’t so bad when you’re a night elf, though, as you have the ability to turn into a wisp which increases your movement speed while dead. It’s preferable to being any other race while dead, and if you spend a lot of time dead, like me, it makes sense to roll that race.

Oh, who am I kidding? I just got a tattoo done for the Horde faction, and here I am advocating people make night elves. I’m a traitor to my own tattoo at this point.

But really, dying sucks in this game. I don’t know why I wanted to talk about this.

#369: The Tattoo Experience

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Getting a tattoo was a fun experience. I’ll be discussing the details here, and keeping them for posterity. Overall, it was memorable in a way I’ll likely never forget, and the people I met there gave me a lot of fun stories to share with my friends for days to come. I’ll probably keep those stories to myself, though, as some of them are a bit inappropriate. Alex, who reads this blog, knows what I’m talking about, because I’ve already told her about some of them, and she’s also been to the same shop before.

So, I went to a shop in Norwalk, where I was serviced by an artist named Kyle, the same one who worked on Alex’s Makoto/Persona tattoo. Kyle was great, struck up conversation with me throughout the process, and managed everything well. He came up with two sketches for me to look at and I chose the more traditional looking one, rather than the one where it looked more sketched and abstract. I initially went in looking for an abstract design, but the cracked stone look appealed to me a lot more after talking about it with him. He convinced me of the right path, ultimately, because I absolutely love the design now and how it came out. He made it stick out really well.

While I was getting it done, the process was really smooth, and it took about two and a half hours overall. I watched some speedruns on the computer and checked my phone occasionally while it was getting done. My hand fell asleep and I felt like my legs would never leave that chair in the same spot. It didn’t hurt very much, possibly because my arms are chubby and I’m used to the pain. It’s apparently a good spot for a first tattoo.

#268: The Last Minute

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Ever wait until the last minute to do something? That tends to be me in that position, wandering around, waiting for a sign of what to do, only for something to finally show up and excite me into action. That was me tonight, when I decided to queue up for a Mythic+ dungeon on World of Warcraft the day before the weekly dungeon reset. I realized at night that I wouldn’t be getting a good box the next day if I didn’t run a dungeon at all, so I queued for an Atal’Dazar +6, which means I’m committing myself to at least 30 minutes or so of dungeoneering on my elemental shaman. Usually, when I’m about to start a dungeon, I go through a checklist in my head of whatever else needs to be done beforehand: do I have water nearby? Have I prepared the necessary materials in game? Does anyone else need me right now? Will anyone need me in the next 30 minutes? (Always unpredictable; anyone could call me at any time, and people do that sometimes in the middle of dungeons. It makes for awkward conversations.)

The last minute, though, is when you usually feel the most motivation to do a particular task. The heightened anxieties, the excitement in the air. It’s usually the moment when people feel the most stress, but to me, that stress is productive, positive, and enthralling. Not to say that I always leave everything to the last minute; that wouldn’t be the case at all. But when a bunch of tasks are piled on someone all at once, you will naturally have to make a few concessions here and there; one task gets completed now, the other one perhaps later, the last one in the last minute. I don’t volunteer for all of my tasks to be completed then; it just so happens to end up that way when you’re given a lot at once.

#256: The Flyers

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Anyone who plays World of Warcraft can recognize that the game changes completely as soon as you unlock flying for the first time. Once you’re able to soar through the sky on your flying mounts, everything on the map becomes more enticing and travel is significantly less tedious. You don’t have to worry about running into mobs any more on the “safe” path to that one world quest, and you can freely escape a dangerous situation if you manage to get out of combat and have a few seconds to load up your mount. For world quests, even in enemy territory, it’s easy just to drop in, kill something, and then load up your mount again. Flying takes away so much of the tedium and trials of the game, making so much of the game accessible to someone like me, who doesn’t as much enjoy his ground mounts.

Being able to fly is great and all, but one of the best benefits of flying is exclusive to the druid class: flight form. Druids are shapeshifters, taking the form of beasts and animals to suit the situation they’re in. When they enter water, they can take the form of an aquatic animal to increase their movement speed while others swim at slow speeds. But in flight form, they can fly around and collect herbs easily, without ever having to leave their transformed form. (Does that wording make sense? Hopefully…) They can swoop down, collect an herb safely, and ignore any potential danger. It’s like having a free pass to level your gathering professions. I love that so much about flying, and right now it’s what’s motivating me to play my druid, after a while of having that character sitting on the bench. The transition is as smooth as butter and nothing really compares to it.

#251: The Portal

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Today I’ll be discussing a lesser-known aspect of World of Warcraft, but something that’s still deeply important to my main class choices.

For the record, and for those who don’t know, I played a mage as my main class from 2007 all the way until… probably about 2018. His name is Seneth, and he’s been my main guy for well over 10 years. I still play him from time to time, though not as frequently as I used to. The mage playstyle just doesn’t interest me that much right now, and I’m waiting to see if any major changes to the mage rotation come in the next expansion, or after that. At the moment, nothing about mage is really striking me as interesting, except one thing… Portals.

That’s the topic of today’s blog post: the portal. Being a mage means having access to portals and teleportation spells that allow you to go wherever you want, whenever you want. The spells cost mana to cast, but the cost is practically negligible when it comes down to it. The main perk of playing mage is the ability to always have the ease of access of teleporting wherever you want to go. I miss that when I play other classes, like paladin and shaman, which don’t have the same ease of transportation. Both are bulky, mostly immobile classes. It makes me wish that mages were better right now, as I would probably be playing one!

I took a portal just now from Boralus to Silithus, but it would have been so much easier had I been on my mage. The times have definitely changed since the old days of this game.

As you might be able to tell by the picture up top here, I don’t have a picture of an actual portal to share with you, just a port!

#224: The Tank

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Today I’ll be discussing the art of “tanking.” Tanking is a strategy employed in certain strategy games or role-playing games, wherein a tough, beefy character stands in front of all the baddies and absorbs their hits while the rest of the party deals damage or heals the tank. The holy trinity of MMORPG party mechanics is one tank, one healer, and three damage dealers, and it hasn’t changed much in the time since World of Warcraft’s initial release. It’s just become normalized that way in almost all MMORPGs.

Tanking, however, is something that takes skill. It’s not as easy as just face-rolling all of your damage dealing abilities and expecting big numbers to pop up. You have to worry about maintaining aggro from all the mobs you’re attacking, while also keeping yourself alive and dealing a respectable amount of damage, enough at least to keep the attention of the mobs. You also have to position the mobs such that they don’t unintentionally grab the attention of other nearby mobs or bosses, while making sure their abilities and spells don’t target the rest of the party. Essentially, you are keeping multiple people’s positions in mind while worrying about your own position and the position of the enemies. Being a tank requires a special awareness to all of these key traits.

And if you mess up, everyone knows. You’re the de facto leader of the group; you’re the one who decides the pace of the dungeon, after all. You’re supposed to be the one who pulls mobs at your decided pace, and because mythic+ dungeons are timed, the blame for dungeons not being completed in time can sometimes fall on your shoulders.

This all being said, I enjoy tanking and the challenges it provides. Sometimes I like being able to just join a group without having to worry about how the tank decides to carry us through the dungeon; sometimes I like being able to decide that myself. It can be nice and liberating. Tanking is great, and stressful, and that’s all that matters.

#220: The Timewalk

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Timewalking is a feature in World of Warcraft that becomes available every few weeks or so, and it’s become a tradition for us to take time out of our busy schedules to complete the 5 required weekly timewalking dungeons, regardless of what expansion they come from.

Let me explain what timewalking is first. So in World of Warcraft, there have been seven expansions up to this point. The game has been out since 2004, and it’s still running strong despite everything else going wrong with the game since then. Each expansion has a set of dungeons (5-player group content) exclusive to that expansion. In Mists of Pandaria, the fourth expansion to the game, you could explore the Temple of the Jade Serpent with a group of randomized players, but in the most recent expansion, you can still complete the Temple dungeon, but not with random players in an instance queue. That is, until timewalking appears, and then you are able to experience the magic all over again. Your characters are leveled down to the current level of the expansion, and then you’re forced to take on everything that comes your way with an item level appropriate to the expansion, too. Everything is normalized to provide an authentic experience of what it would be like if that content was current. For example, all the enemies and bosses are scaled up while you are scaled down to match their power levels. Mechanics are important again, and you can’t just zerg rush through all the bosses without paying attention to some of the mechanics of the game. You have to actually pay attention and work as a team, rather than rushing and rushing along through every health bar you face.

That’s it for timewalking, for now at least. I’m sure I’ll talk about it again at some point, considering how prevalent it is in WoW.

#165: The Legion

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Originally, I was going to write about the Boros Legion, the overzealous crusading guild in Ravnica, but then I realized I could also write about the legion in another respect: the Burning Legion in World of Warcraft. There are so many legions! Legions upon legions to discuss.

The Burning Legion in World of Warcraft were the central antagonists of the second most recent expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion. They’re an endlessly respawning army of demonic forces, and they are practically unstoppable. The conflict in this expansion is that they were invading our home world again, and this time they were hell-bent on annihilation. This expansion solidified WoW as an absolute titan of the gaming industry and allowed them to reclaim some of their old glory. Legion propelled subscriber numbers and boosted player interest and hype, with the introduction of the Broken Isles, legendaries, artifacts, and the exclusively max-level Suramar questing experience (which, if you read my blog regularly, I wrote about a few weeks ago). Legion revitalized my interest in WoW and got me hooked again for practically the entire length of the expansion, minus a few spots. I remember focusing super heavily on completing the mage tower challenges at the end of the expansion, trying my best to unlock the hidden and exclusive artifact appearances before they went away for good.

The Boros Legion is interesting because they’re primarily “good” guys. I bought the Boros guild pack recently, and it’s absolutely crushed all the other decks when it curves well. I’ve enjoyed playing with it a lot. The idea of playing a “white weenies” deck (strong, small white-colored creature cards with exceptional synergy between each other) has always been fun for me, and I like blasting people’s faces in with flying angels. Thankfully, that’s what the Boros are all about: ruthless aggression and flying assaults.

#153: The Guild

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When I first started playing World of Warcraft, years and years and years ago, I met some friends online who had just started playing, too. We quickly became friends and bonded over our immaturity, youth, and playful attitudes. It’s so easy to find like-minded individuals online when your entire personality is shaped by your online presence and what you find on the Internet. Our guild, called “R A W R” (because we were kids who liked memes and cats on the Internet), meant a lot to me, and our regular conversations in guild chat set the standard for what I would come to expect from sociable, inviting guilds. We would set up raids of Alliance cities, and have regular hang-outs in secret alcoves on the world map that no one knew about except us (or so we thought). We discussed guild matters, like who deserved a rank promotion and, more likely, who was being annoying on a particular day. There was drama, of course, as there is in any guild, but we persevered through it. Our guild’s downfall came not because of any drama or anything like that, but because we all, gradually and slowly, stopped playing the same game as each other. I remember quitting at one point and roping in my guild friends to come play other computer games with me, but that never lasted very long. I think one was a browser game, with blue fish and matching cards. That’s all I remember from it.

Some of my friends who used to play still come on every once in awhile, though not as often any more. It’s not the same as it used to be; even if we were to try to recapture that old magic, it’s past that time in our lives. And I think we all recognize that, which is why we don’t talk as much as we used to.