Not that WoWed

It's been a bit quiet on here, mostly because WoW hasn't been getting that much attention from me. Some of that is due to real life interference - for example I'm writing this post on my laptop while travelling, and while it technically has WoW installed on it and is capable of running it, I do find gaming on my laptop a bit awkward and am not that keen on it. However, other things have been happening as well.

For example, the biggest change affecting my Classic play was that I stepped down from raiding with my guild in era. Not in a hard "I'm never raiding with you guys again!" kind of way, and I'm still trying to join for things like the occasional ZG when I can, but I just felt like I couldn't hold on to the "raider" rank any longer and wanted to be open about it instead of simply having it revoked eventually due to no longer showing up.

When I first started raiding with the Warriors of Sunlight over a year ago, their raid days fit into the rest of my life pretty perfectly, meaning I was able to show up for most of them. However, over time, things changed for me, and more and more raids became a bit of a struggle or outright impossible to make time for. I would basically always sign as "tentative" for everything and then change to "absent" at the last moment.

My attendance had honestly been pretty shocking for a while; I just didn't really want to admit it to myself, because I do like the guild and I wanted to continue raiding with them... but the other week it just really hit me that realistically, I was fretting about sign-ups, consumables, world buffs and being on time three times a week, just to maybe do the first half of Naxx once every two weeks, which was not a very satisfying experience.

(It's kind of funny to me how originally, Sunday was the day I was least likely to make - plus I needed to gear up really - so for a long time, I was only ever running the lower-tier raids and Naxx was this pipe dream that I might be able to come along to one day. Then I geared up, and my availability changed so that suddenly, Sunday was in fact the one day I could make reliably, and it was always Naxx, so I never saw anything else anymore and that got me down. I honestly kind of prefer the chill atmosphere and lack of need for consumables of the earlier tiers.)

And well... while Classic has never been about raiding for me, it's a good way of staying engaged and having a reason to log in. Without that, I've been a lot less active recently, just spending a little bit of time puttering about on alts and keeping my hunter's small engineering gadget business going on the AH.

As for hardcore, I haven't really gone back to play more since my last post. I'd like to some time, but other things have just always taken priority.

And retail... well. I still have reason to log in at least once a week there to play with our little friend group, though we dialled back on the Mythic+ again. Over the summer, people were on holiday for quite a few weeks, and we had to once again rely on (more experienced) outside help to keep the weekly runs going, and let's just say it introduces friction in terms of how capable everyone thinks they are when some people get carried to higher keys and others don't.

After several more dungeons that left my husband and me rather exhausted and unhappy, we agreed to limit ourselves to something like a +10 every other week, and spend the other weeks doing something easier, such as going back as a group and taking a stab at some old BfA raids (which are apparently still not fully soloable on the higher difficulties, even two expansions later). That has been... interesting, with all of us effectively going in blind. For example we learned that mythic G'huun and Jaina still require quite a lot of people because there's only so much you can do against hard-fail mechanics that were originally designed for a group of twenty and haven't been nerfed retroactively (we didn't beat either of them, but at least we cleared the rest of the instance and learned the fights).

I've also taken to levelling a few more alts to better familiarise myself with different classes in retail, as well as to visit more levelling content that I've only seen once before or not at all (BfA Horde-side for example). My investment in those is very on-and-off though.

As for the actual level-cap content... there's been another patch recently, but to be honest I haven't even really looked at it. There was a quest NPC that showed me a cinematic, but that just confused me about just what was happening in what order and didn't make me feel like I should follow up immediately to see more of the story. There's also a new open world event that I did a couple of times and yeah... it's definitely becoming a bit of a meme at this point that all of Dragonflight's events tend to feel a bit samey. I'm sure I'm going to catch up with all of this eventually, but it's just not enticing enough to me right now to make it a priority.


Some More Experiences with Hardcore

I didn't immediately forget about my mage on the Stitches server after launch day; I did in fact go back to play her some more and see what else was happening on the server, plus I figured I might as well play until I died, which was surely going to happen soon.

I picked up mining and herbalism in Stormwind to supplement my income, figuring I'd avoid any crafting profession since levelling that would've just felt like wasted effort once I died. I also vendored most of the herbs I picked - when I talk about using gathering skills to make money, I'm not talking about the auction house, since it was so utterly flooded that absolutely everything was going for coppers. If you actually do want to level a crafting profession though, it's probably not a bad time to do so. I've seen plenty of crafters advertising their wares for cheap at all times of day, and I myself used the services of a tailor to get some bags made and bought a cheap wand from an enchanter.

As far as my gathering was concerned, it was hard to tap ore nodes and pick flowers before anyone else did due to how busy it was. While visiting the Elwynn farms, I found myself wishing that I'd taken up skinning instead, as I watched a constant stream of skinnable, hyper-spawning boars fall to adventurers keen to feed Billy MacLure.

I also joined a guild, not out of any particular desire to be social, but simply because someone threw me a random invite and I was curious to see what life was like in a hardcore guild. The first message I saw was someone talking about farting into their hand, which honestly made me want to immediately leave again, but then there was so much text scrolling across the screen, I did want to at least see some more first. The guild message of the day declared that the guild was "international", which manifested itself in people speaking a variety of languages in guild chat that most members probably didn't understand.

Death announcements were scrolling by pretty frequently and elicited a chorus of Fs in chat pretty much without fail. The average level of people's demise seemed to be around 8, with frequent causes of death including kobolds, murlocs and wendigos. Aside from that there were constant "so-and-so has joined the guild" announcements as the guild master appeared to be spam-inviting absolutely everyone for reasons unknown.

One guy that stood out to me among all the crazy chatter was someone who claimed to be a Catholic priest and who, unlike most people, talked in full paragraphs that were only slightly preachy but sounded very sincere. I couldn't help but wonder whether he was for real or some sort of elaborate troll or chat bot. I never found out, because he died to a kobold at level five and I don't know what he did after that.

I quested my way through the entirety of Elwynn and was level eleven by the time I hit the border to Westfall. And honestly, despite the constant death announcements, it was less scary than I expected? I just made sure to always run away if I wasn't 100% sure of the outcome of a battle. The only thing I had that was somewhat close to a near-death experience was when I went into the Fargodeep Mine (yes, I've heard all about the dangers of caves but I wasn't not gonna hunt down Goldtooth) and found myself running very deep inside because there were people everywhere and no mobs - until I suddenly saw a kobold in front of me, turned around, saw a kobold behind me, and everywhere else I looked I was suddenly surrounded by kobolds with no other player in sight. I basically just started running and didn't stop until I was out of the mine and the four or five kobolds I had in tow had reset. Frost Armor probably saved my hide there by slowing them after their first hit and allowing me to get away. When I made my way back into the cave a second time, I advanced more carefully and managed to find and kill Goldtooth with no problems.

Oh, and while hunting gnolls, Hogger spawned right on top of me not once, but twice. He hits pretty hard for his level and took about a third of my health off in a single hit both times, but again being a mage was helpful with getting away.

All that said, I didn't really want to start questing in Westfall and deal with Defias at level eleven, so I returned to town and logged off in order to accumulate some restedness. When I logged back in a week later, the guild had shrunk from over 500 members to less than a hundred, with a lot of the still active ones now being in their thirties or forties. I guess on hardcore a guild can die in a more literal way.

I decided that I was going to get a couple of levels in Loch Modan. I know that troggs can be dangerous too, but I seemed to remember the ones in the open hills being a bit more predictable and less janky than the Defias in Westfall. And indeed, being rested, I gained two levels doing just three or four quests in the area to kill troggs and wildlife. There were quite a few bodies at the entrance to Stonesplinter Valley though, and I witnessed a death "live" for the first time, as a female human warrior or paladin (I didn't quite catch it) was fighting near me one moment, and then I looked over just in time to see her expire to a trogg. It felt oddly traumatising to know that character was truly gone now.

Back in town, I heard a strange sound that sounded like a crowd of people shouting and which I couldn't place, but I soon learned through a guildie that this announced a character on the server having hit level 60. 

Lossy the mage remains alive at the time of me writing this, once again chilling in Stormwind after having hit level 13. Apparently that already makes her better than average, as the official Warcraft Twitter has enjoyed sharing some statistics about official hardcore life (and death).

I like how in the heat map included in that first link, you can see the trail of death from people attempting the Wetlands run at low level... and to think Pallais thought people weren't gonna do that! A lot of the causes of death listed in the second post also align with my own experiences based on the death announcements I saw, though I'm surprised to see fall damage and PvP ranked that high. I can't even think of that many places in Vanilla where you can fall to your death unexpectedly, unless the Undercity elevator still does that thing it used to do...

Anyway, I guess I'll casually keep going for a little longer until I either die or get bored.


Kalimdor Cup

My play time rotates a lot at the moment. One week I'm all about Classic, then something in retail grabs my interest, then SWTOR is king again. One activity that had my attention in Dragonflight the other week was a limited-time event called the Kalimdor Cup. I worked really hard to finish all my goals related to it before it was supposed to end - naturally Blizzard then went ahead and extended it by another week. Oh well.

When I first heard about this event, I thought it meant that Blizzard was going to unlock dragonriding in the old world sooner than expected, but that was not the case. As it stands, you still have to flap to all the race locations in Kalimdor the old-fashioned way - it's just that when you talk to the NPC that starts the race, you're put on a generic dragonriding mount and off you go. A few seconds after you finish the race, it disappears and you get teleported back to the starting point.

I still really enjoy dragonriding... though my attempts to get gold on all the advanced courses on the Dragon Isles haven't got very far. I remember falling down that particular rabbit hole one Saturday morning and it felt like three hours later I'd managed to complete only one zone - I like dragonriding, but not that much. With that in mind, I only aimed for gold on the basic races of the Cup and only did the advanced and reverse versions once or twice before moving on. I first did all the races on my evoker main, and then went back to do the intro quest on a few alts in order to get enough currency to buy all the cosmetic rewards. I think the cosmetic gear set looks pretty nifty, though it looks to me like it's made for a dwarf.

Thanks to Kamalia highlighting that the races also give a bit of XP, this served as an incentive for me to also do them on my hunter to level her a bit more without repeating the same stuff on the Dragon Isles yet again.

I really liked the way this event made you revisit the old world, and there was something quite peculiar about dragonriding across the old zones, an added perspective to just how large the Dragon Isles are and how comparatively small these old zones are, when you can basically do a race around the whole map in a minute and a half. It's such a weird contrast to zoom through Frostwhisper Gorge in what feels like the blink of an eye when I think of riding around Winterspring on my hunter in Classic to mine Thorium, how long it takes to get anywhere, and how every nook and cranny of the environment feels important.

The one that tickled me the most was probably the race around Ahn'qiraj, which effectively does a round of the open world version of the AQ20 raid. It says something about the scale of those old raids that this didn't feel all that restricting, even going at dragonriding speeds. Apparently an Eastern Kingdoms Cup and an Outlands version are already confirmed, and even more might be in the works. It's a relatively low-effort way of giving some purpose to old zones and I like it.