Early progression in Uldir

For a couple of expansions now World of Warcraft has been putting in place gates to their content in order to trickle out new things for us to do in game a little bit at a time.    In the past as soon as a new game opened up you would have access to all of the content including the large scale raids that require you to have between 8 and 40 people all at maximum level to be able to kill some bosses.  This often is where the best loot in the game was and was the goal of a lot of players to get to and through it.  The day that the expansion would launch you would have a mad rush to get to the end game, where many of us thought the game truly began.  We would play a crazy amount in that first week and it wasn’t unusual for my friends and I to clock in 16+ hours per day during this first big push.  Once we got to that final level we would switch gears and start hunting for the best equipment available to us outside of raids.  So this meant running the smaller dungeons which only require 5 players to complete, doing additional quests or any other task that the game developers decided that we would need to do to get some shiny new gear.  During this time, if there were attunements needed to get into the higher level content we would work on these as well.  A raid attunement is mostly a relic of the past and was just a way to further gate the content and slow down the progress of a player to reach this content.  Most of the time it was a time consuming task that we were forced to do in order to play the part of the game that we really wanted to play.  I realize that all this makes me sound like the grandma of raiding “Back in my day we had to do an insanely long quest chain in order to even step foot in Onyxias Lair”  and we did this backwards in the snow up hill, or something like that.  I only talk about the past to highlight how much better it is for those of us that enjoy raiding.

Full disclosure:  I used to consider myself to be super hard core.  The way these games used to be meshed well with my play style.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve witnessed the genre mature with me.  To my delight I can continue to play how I want to play and the game rewards me, perhaps not as much as the poopsocking-hard-core-world-first-striving raiders…but I feel like there is still a place for me and I am satisfied with the majority of how WoW feels today.

This time around we got a generous span of time to level up and work on our characters.  What the gates to Uldir finally did open, we were itching to get in there.  The layout of Uldir was reminiscent of Wildstar’s Datascape and Zul’gurub from WoW classic.  There were blood hexers and lots of pulsating blood graphics, which I personally don’t care for.  The fights were messy and chaotic and if your group had high damage output, many of the fight’s mechanics could be bypassed.  Some of the heroic fights were a little too easy and I know that once we clear the heroic version of Uldir we will be clammoring for them to introduce cross-server mythic raiding.

My guild is more community than guild at the moment.  Over the years we have formed lots of friendships with players that love raiding and communities have allowed us to play together without having to force everyone to pay for a server transfer.  This is great for us but we are faced with having to wait an estimated 3 months for the mythic raids to be available to us.  There are achievements for being one of the first 100 guilds of each faction to clear Uldir Mythic, I believe in order to make an effort to re-balance the factions.  More and more people each year are playing the Horde faction because…hello?  Bloodelfs!  The imbalance is especially prevalent at the very highest level of raiding.  Only 5 of the top 50 guilds as of today play the Alliance faction.

Wow Progress

Encouraging raiders to switch factions is a smart way to spread out some of the population.  I know that when ever I’m looking for a faction/server to play on in any game I look for:  1. a high population server and 2. Where ever the best guilds play.  I’m not alone in this.  Take a look at my server Illidan.   There are a lot of raiders on my server which makes recruiting much easier and is very attractive to players that like to raid since there are so many options for guilds if one doesn’t work out.  And if you really want to shoot for the stars we have some of the best guilds in the US on our server.

I’m hoping that Blizzard will decide to open up mythic raids for cross server sooner than the 100/100 clears.  The idea of a guild is changing with addons, cross server play and communities we shouldn’t be squeezed into the green-text guild box the same way that we played in the past.  We are evolving as a player base and measures like gating us out of content is not good for business.

 

MMOs, old Guilds and Intense Nostalgia

Angry is one of those guilds where people tend to hang around.  The group of players hasn’t changed much in the past 7 years since I stopped raiding on their schedule.  At the start of every expansion a lot of people, myself included, return to dip their toes back in the WOW waters and see how the game feels.  Since my guild was done playing through the raid for the week I asked to tag along to the Angry raid and get some more practice on some of the bosses that my guild was stuck on and also practice my arcane rotation.

As the raid group began to fill I saw so many names that I remembered and started to reminisce about Throne of the Four Winds and Firelands some of my fondest memories in WOW.  I remembered our group playing with a quiet intensity pushing ourselves to complete boss encounters and raid achievements.  This was also my first year going to Blizzcon where several of my guildmates met up to see all of the new announcements for our game.  Being a member of this guild was a commitment which formed a bond between us that has persisted through the years.

The Guild Master of Angry is someone that I will always remember for grilling me via in game whispers for 4 hours before he would consider giving me a shot in his guild.  He had his doubts that I would stick around, rightfully so since my husband (boyfriend at the time) was in a competing guild on the same server.  I spent a lot of time convincing this guild that my intentions were sincere and that I had no interest in playing in my boyfriends guild due to how they treated the women that played there.  It took a while but I think I showed that I was in it for my guild and ended up playing with them for a year and a half through two tiers of raids.

The raid started and I jumped right in having much more confidence in my abilities than I did 8 years ago when I first joined Angry.  There was the familiar banter over our voice chat and the calm coordination that was typical for this group.  I chatted with a few people that I remembered about some current game related things and tried my best to tone down my raid leader muscles and let them run their team the way that they did.  I did my best to pay attention and play my role in this group.  I offered some insights since my guild had spent some time on the same bosses the night before.  I took note of what they did better and how they communicated and assigned tasks.  It was a well oiled machine of players that were comfortable with each other and trusted in each other’s ability something that I strive to build in my own guild.  We worked on two fights and were able to kill them successfully.

Once we were done for the night the high spirited chatter in our voice chat surged.  Everyone’s voices were a little bit clearer than I remembered, probably due in part to my muffled memory of that time and also due to advances in voice over IP technology.  I was hit with a wave of nostalgia remembering all of the good times as we chatted about who were the oldest members in the guild and how they came to be members, that time when someone left the guild only to return 18 hours later, and who had the most epic failures when it came to devastating mechanics.  I could have stayed up and listened to the stories all night.  Of course the reason that I don’t play with them now is a difference in schedules.  They end their night at about 1am my time which is a bit too late if I want to be able to function at work the next day.

I remember explaining the relationships that I formed in MMOs and how I wasn’t playing with strangers every night, I had grown to know these people over the years and we had built friendships with our common hobby being the anchor point that held us together.  This was of course back when the internet was a scary place, at least in the eyes of most parents, with predators lurking in every chat room.  It was a hard concept to grasp if you hadn’t experienced it but these people that I played games with and only ever spoke to over the internet were my friends!  We would spend hours together every night fighting monsters and exploring caves.  I’ve made some amazing friendships over the years and there are not many places that are steadfast but Angry is one of those places that will always feel like home.

Companion apps are awesome

I am absolutely in love with the new World of Warcraft expansion Battle for Azeroth.  So that is where most of my free time is being spent.  Since I have other obligations such as work, I love having little ways to keep in touch with my in game characters throughout the day.

I’ve been using any app that’s available for mmos. It started with rift app and then the mobile AH in wow and then Legion companion app.  I’m a big lover of in game economies and always am looking for ways to make money in game.  The Mobile AH for wow was one of my favorite apps.  I fondly recall someone in one of my college classes having the money sound that the app makes go off.  It was one of those “yea, I know you’re a video game nerd” moments.

I just wanted to leave this image here as large and colorful as it is, since a tiny phone screen can not do this app design justice.  The detailing is beautiful and the menu is intuitive and takes from the basic design from the Legion app which I used extensively.  The app has a limited amount of things that you can do on it, one of which is sending your companions out on missions which you can only use it for as long as you have resources to do so.  I mainly use it to send out my followers on missions to assist with the rep grind.  I found that it was hard to keep up with resources on my alts when I was using the app in Legion.

IMG_2178

This app has some odd bugs.  Notice the green check marks?  This is supposed to mean that if you have a companion that counters a mobs abilities effectively.  What I’ve found is that sometimes if you select the companions that complete all the counters will sometimes give you a low success rate compared to some of the companions that do NOT counter the mobs.  Not sure what that’s about!?

IMG_2177

I both love the simplicity of this app but also wish that it included some additional features that the WoW armory app does.  I would love to have access to community and guild chat while on my phone and the ability to look at the items in my characters inventory, buy and sell on the AH. I know they got rid of this and have no plans to bring it back but I hope they reconsider!  I would also love to be able to craft since that’s mainly a task that I do when I’m not parked in front of my computer anyway.  Even if it was time gated I would be OK with that.  Maybe someday we’ll be able to play more of WoW on our phone or tablet.

 

WoW BFA Recruitment

Now is the time to put on your recruiting boots!  The very beginning of any game or game expansion is a great time to recruit players for your guild.  There are lots of people that are coming to a game for the first time or returning after an extended absence.  This all means that they need a social group!

A couple weeks ago I talked about how we were in the beginning stages of recruiting for our guild.  Now that the expansion has launched we are starting to get a flood of potential recruits.  Last time I made a big push to recruit, I did so mostly by seeking out those players that posted to the general forums saying that they were looking for a guild.  I would send each of them a private message that was personalized to respond to what they were looking for.  While this proved very effective in a new game, this method was getting very little responses in WoW.  For one, we were a brand spankin new guild as far as anyone was concerned.  We didn’t have any wowprogress history or any impressive boss kill logs, so the serious players didn’t even consider us since they were getting lots of messages from already established guilds.

I was frustrated that all my hours of finding the perfect recruits were proving unfruitful.  So I made a change and rethought of how we could improve our headcount and be able to step foot into the new raids for BFA and hopefully reduce my load of administrative duties outside of game.  I mean, I wanted to play the game too!  I decided for my own sanity that I needed to cast a wider net and started to spend less time talking to applicants during the first week of the expansion and steering them to the community.

Communities are a new feature which allows you to join a new social group without leaving your current guild or having to pay for a server transfer.  I could see wow eventually making this THE new social experience in the future.  For those long time wow vets, a community is basically a custom chat channel with a member list interface.  I like this idea so much that instead of building up the “guild” we were using the community as our new “guild”  It was so easy to use.  Instead of a potential player having to wait to get an invite from someone, they can just enter a join code and instantly be connected with everyone else that’s online.

Getting people to talk to you is half the battle, and having them join a social group just gives us opportunity to introduce people to our group’s culture.  It takes a lot of work to join a new guild in any of these games, so if I can get them to play with us even just a little bit they may like that experience and want to hang around because of it.  Right now we are getting to know our potential raiders and just having fun.

Getting Pumped for Battle for Azeroth (BFA)

I am so incredibly excited, I don’t know what to do with myself.  I love new expansions and new games for the opportunity of a clean slate.  It’s the best time to learn a new game when everyone else is learning it as well.  Its a much better experience than joining a 5 player dungeon group just be scolded or worst, kicked, just because you didn’t understand the mechanics of a fight.  Its a time when everything is fresh and shiny and new.  Even my mage that I have had since the end of classic World of Warcraft is exciting to play again.  She feels familiar yet different, more powerful as she has enhanced her ability over the past twelve years.

I’m excited not for all of the changes and new content of the game but because this is the first time in 4 years that I’m getting my guild into a new MMO.  We are hitting the ground running and I am leading the way.

We are a smaller group of about 10 people and we will be able to do the normal and heroic versions of the large group content with this many.  It is my hope that we can grow enough to do the harder content but it will be difficult with the light schedule that we are playing on.  I know the type of player I am.  I know the type of players my guild tends to attract.  We will want to do more once we have completed the easy stuff.  We will want to do the hardest content in the game.

I’m excited to be leading a guild again.  Never have I felt more driven to succeed as when I am holding the reigns.  BFA – we are ready for you!

 

Prepping for BFA (or any new game launch)

I’ve been through a lot of game and expansion launches in the past 15 years and have been refining my plan to maximize my time playing the new game.

The last big game launch that I was a part of was a few years ago.  The time that the servers went up would be 3am.  Both my husband and I were going to be playing so we made a plan.  This was pre-kids so our intensity level was quite a bit higher as we were planning on playing about 20+ hours the first day.  Our plan was to go to bed a few hours early and wake up about 45 minutes prior to the game going live, get a big breakfast with coffee and hop on voice chat with our guild.  There were about 30 people on our voice chat that early morning and excitement buzzed.  Of course this extended gaming session had ended with my PC having problems and me having to swap to playing on a laptop with poor reaction times.  My brain also had some poor reaction times near the end of my 23 hours played and I wound up dying so much right as I was nearing the finish line (level cap).  I may have cried this day, sources say that I did but I don’t remember it like that.  This was definitely the most intensely I have ever played a game launch.

I’m coming to the launch of BFA (Battle for Azeroth) just as excited as I was all those years ago.  However, this time I’m older and (hopefully) wiser.  I also have a child to consider when making my gaming launch plans and we want to make sure we do this game release in a healthy way.  The game will launch at 5pm CST which is 6pm our time.  We plan to take about 20 minutes each taking turns between 6pm and 8pm.  We will go through our normal evening routine of dinner, playing with my daughter and then get her to bed around 8pm.  Once she is in bed we will start leveling together and play until about midnight our time, so about 4 hours total.  This will be our gaming schedule for the rest of the work week.  On the weekend we will trade off playing games and playing with my toddler and will have periodic breaks where we will leave the house for an hour or so to get some sunshine.  I know this seems like a huge difference from what we did before, and it is!  But this plan is in line with this phase of life that we are in.

Things to do before a new game launch:

  • Meals: Prep food for the week.  This means having easy go to meals that do not require a lot of time to get on the table.  Using paper plates this week so washing dishes can be avoided at all costs.
  • Housekeeping: having the house clean helps keep the guilt away when I playing for an extended period of time.
  • Sleep: gotta get some!  I know its hard to sleep the night before something so exciting but try to get to bed early.  If I are waking up in the middle of the night for a 3am launch try to get at least 6 hours of sleep and wake up with enough time to brew the coffee, take a shower and get dressed.  Since this launch will be in the evening and I’ll be working that day I’ll get as well rested as I can.
  • Communicate your intentions:  This is assuming that you typically have contact with the outside world.  If you plan to hole up in your room for a week and not leave except for bathroom and food, you may want to let those in your life know.  Of course use your best judgement.  I started telling my family how I play during these launches because it was the easier way to go about things since they are not the judgmental type.  If they know what I’m up to they won’t worry about me if I suddenly stop communicating and don’t want to go outside.  I NEED MY GAMES MOM!

I’ve made a list of things to do in game to prep for the WoW launch of BFA.  Some of these things will translate to other expansion launches and some won’t.

Things to do in game:

  • Quest log: empty old quests that I do not want to complete.  This expansion I have complete a bunch of quests and once I’m able to start leveling, I go turn them all in for a small boost in the first level.

quests

  • Bag/Bank:  I cleared out any old pieces of gear that I no longer need and have a mostly empty bag so that I will need to make less stops to sell junk or bank items.
  • Consumables: Stock up on food, flasks, potions, banners, goblin glider kits and anything else that will help me move and kill things faster.
  • Update UI:  Now is a great time to tinker with any elements of my UI that I would like to improve.
    • Recommended Addons
      • Handy Notes + Handy Notes: Legion Treasures – If you haven’t picked up many of your treasures in Legion it is well worth your while to collect them for level 110 to 111.
      • Azeroth Auto Pilot or Zygors guide both will assist you with what to do next and will take alot of the decision making out of how to go about leveling.
      • LookingForGroup – this streamlines the looking for group interface and makes it a little bit quicker to party for group quests.

Things to remember while binging on your favorite video game.

  • Water > Caffeine:  You may plan on staying up later than normal, in that case make sure you use caffeine sparingly and to drink lots of water along with your coffee or energy drink
  • Snacks:  You will want healthy snacks that don’t get your hands messy.  My go-to is going to be cut up fruit in containers that I can eat with a fork and trail mix that I will eat with a spoon.  I know this sounds weird but trust me, you do not want salt and stickiness all over your keyboard and mouse.
  • Breaks:  Every couple of hours I plan to get up from my desk and get my heart rate up.  I’ll be running down and running up my stairs when I need something from the kitchen just to get a burst of exercise.
  • GLHF (Good Luck Have Fun):  Keep in mind that we are playing games for our personal enjoyment.  Listen to your gut and make sure to stop if needed.
Drinking Coffee waiting for BFA
Enjoying some coffee while I wait for BFA.  Who knew that there were french presses in Dalaran?

This launch is going to be a great one!  I can’t wait to see all of the new areas and start doing the new dungeons.   I’ll be doing this with my guild, some of them will out pace me in levels and I’ll hopefully beat some to 120 as well.  What are some things that you do to prepare for a new game launch?