Oct 192018
 

The concepts in this post will be fairly esoteric if you are not familiar with many of the game features in World of Warcraft. Also, this will likely be a bit of a soapbox as I’ve grown weary of the emphasis put on Mythic+ dungeons. Sorry Blizzard, I just don’t care for the Mythic+ system, in fact I think Mythic+ dungeons are obnoxious.

The original purpose for the them is to give players an end-game option other than raiding. The fact that spec recommendations are usually different depending on whether you are in a raid versus a Mythic+ dungeon is evidence that these two are mutually exclusive. Just because you do one, doesn’t mean you should do the other. As someone who raids heroic content 3-6 hours a week, I don’t find it interesting to spend another 3+ hours suffering through multiple Mythic+ dungeons.

Dungeons Should Be Short

Perhaps I have a bit of PTSD from a 6-hour trip into Shadow Labs way back in Burning Crusade, but a dungeon shouldn’t take more than 20-30 minutes. If a dungeon is taking you more than 30-45 minutes, someone is doing something wrong and its time to quit. I do like doing dungeons, when I have time to do one. I especially like it when there is a dungeon that has specific lore significance (ex: Black Rook Hold, Scholomance, Culling of Stratholme, etc). This is especially appealing if there is a quest that continues a particularly interesting story line.

Other than adding the Mythic mechanic, my only other criticism for dungeons lately is acting as a gate to furthering professions. As I’ve mentioned before, during Legion, its ridiculous to have to complete an extra boss in a dungeon to further your alchemy profession. This seems to be more tame in Battle for Azeroth, but I also haven’t leveled all the professions, yet.

Affixes and Keystones are Bollocks

How long a dungeon takes to complete, even a Mythic+, varies significantly on the composition and competency of your group. So let’s get to the real reason I think Mythic+ dungeons are obnoxious; affixes and keystones.

What are Affixes? They are special twists on mob and dungeon mechanics to create a new challenge and adds new levels of complexity. Only three affixes are randomly active in a given week. You can see the list of possible affixes here. I’m sure for those players that enjoy Mythic+ dungeons enjoy the variety affixes bring to a dungeon; and I’m happy that works for them. Personally I think affixes create more stress and make dungeons less appealing. I could even feel less annoyed by the hoops you need to jump through for getting appropriate gear if there weren’t affixes to deal with as well.

So that brings me to keystones (and, ultimately, gear). In order to enter any Mythic+ dungeon someone in your group needs a keystone. The only way to acquire said keystone is to complete a Mythic 0 dungeon. Each time you complete a Mythic+ dungeon you get another keystone, for a random dungeon, at an increased level. This is where things get especially gross if you are hunting for better gear. The higher your gear score is, the more Mythic+ dungeons you have to do to get gear that’s worth a damn.

An example

For example, my gear score on my raid toon is 360. If I want ilevel 360 gear to drop I have to get a keystone for a Mythic+7 or higher. Which means I have to do at least 2 or 3 dungeons before I even get the appropriate keystone, then I have to complete that dungeon. You also only have a week to do this (as all Mythic+ dungeons and keystones reset every Tuesday). Of course what gear you get is completely random so there is a chance, that after enduring all of that, you could get a piece that you can’t even use. As your gear score increases, so do the number of Mythic+ dungeons you have to complete within a week.

THAT IS A BIG FAT NOPE! I won’t do that. I refuse. All of that work for very little gain just isn’t my idea of fun. So, to that end, I won’t subject myself to that cruelty. I would rather asphyxiate myself with barbed wire (i.e. I’d rather PVP).

By the way, if you do want to know more about Mythic+ dungeons, because they do sound appealing to you, follow this Wowhead link.

/cheers

duke-nukem-sm If zombies attack the world, everyone will run and hide. Except for us gamers, of course. We’ve been waiting for this all our lives!

 

Oct 152018
 

The last weekend in September was also the last weekend my sister and I shared a last name. In a four-day period we drove 11+ hours down to Destin Florida to participate in an event that will ultimately change all our lives. The details that lead to this union is not a story I am at liberty to tell, however it is the stuff story books are made of, complete with a happy ending. I was unaware that she was seeing anybody but, being the tech savvy person that I am, when I was given his name, I began my Internet deep dive. (FYI, you would be amazed what you can find on the Internet about a person if you just know what to look for and where to look for it). Long story short, my search revealed no red flags and he received a preliminary thumbs up.

Coarse, Rough, Irritating and It Gets Everywhere!

Proof I stood in the sand (the things you do for those with whom you share DNA)

Needless to say, a wedding in Florida means a wedding on the beach. If you know me or have read my blog I’ve talked about how much I loath sand. The only place silicon has in our world is for the manufacture of computer parts. On my feet and between my toes is definitely not where it’s supposed to be. However, at the risk of sounding a bit schmaltzy, I am a devoted brother and I stood in the sand, in my bare feet. 

I’m not without my limitations. Once the post-ceremony pictures were taken, I hopped on the first shuttle back to the reception location (which happened to be a mere block from where we were staying). After a quick 2-minute shower, which involved thorough scrubbing of my feet, I was back. Nobody was none the wiser and I stopped twitching and scratching like a crack addict.

With Friends Like These …

I only really know the friends my sister had when we were kids. Unfortunately none of them could make it, but I did have the pleasure of meeting her new crew. When her and I moved to different cities to embark on our own journeys, our lives would be enigmas to one another. Our routines would change, our jobs would change, our friends would change. You can only glean so much about people from social media. However, I knew she had a great group of friends when they did exactly what I did the moment I found out this new guys name. It appears I wasn’t the only one that dug up whatever they could find on this guy.

I am very happy to know that she has friends that think like I do (at least in regards to my sister’s well-being). I barely knew these folks but I was looking forward to spending some time around them. She has picked some amazing people and I feel confident that she is well looked after.

It was the shortest time I’ve ever spent in Florida. However it was extraordinary, with some extraordinary people for an extraordinary event! God Bless the new couple!

minions_icon

I could accomplish so much more if I only had minions!

 

Oct 042018
 

Book Review: Lord of ShadowsLord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 

This is not going to be a lengthy review. Lord of Shadows is the middle book of a series and I want to avoid revealing too much detail both about this book, and its predecessor (Lady Midnight). I want to remind you that I am not one of those guys that reads a lot of romance novels. Granted this book hardly qualifies as a “romance” novel but it does have a few fanciful moments.

The quick breakdown of the book is the conflict with the Unseelie King continues while the Shadowhunters also track down Malcolm Fade. Amidst all the turmoil between the Faerie Courts, the Centurions and the Shadowhunters, Emma and Julian’s affection for each other continues to grow. They know the law and the law forbids romantic relationships between parabatai. In fact not only is it forbidden, it’s dangerous. It almost as a Jedi-esque quality.

Biggs Review

I think this is a solid middle book. The journey into the Faerie world was especially intriguing and there is quite a bit of action, especially at the end of the book! I could have done without the author’s editorial on transgender personified in one of the characters. It provided no relevance to the story and was clearly a device to illustrate her political stance on the topic. In fact it was so irrelevant, I forgot it even happened within two chapters.

The last couple of pages in this book are probably the biggest shocker in all of her novels. By the end you are left wondering “who IS Emma Carstairs??” and what does Cassandra Clare have against children?! Reading the other series isn’t necessarily a prerequisite but certain parts of this book make more sense if you have. If you have read her other series, then I would recommend continuing with the Dark Artifices. I can’t wait for Book 3.

View all my reviews

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Sep 272018
 

Hi. My name is Matt. I’m in my late 30s; and I still play video games.

Video games are something I grew up playing. I was born after the Atari was introduce but just before the Nintendo era began. I was about 10 when I got the NES, Super Mario Brothers and Blades of Steel then became my world. I’ve had every iteration of the Nintendo since then, until the Wii U. I’ve also had a Sega Genesis and an XBox 360, however PC is where I spend the majority of my hobby.

Kids today will never appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of video games. They did not endure 8-bit Pitfall and side-scrolling Super Mario Brothers. Legends of Zelda was the closest we came to an immersive world. Be that as it may, it doesn’t matter if you’re 16, 25, or 38, video games have no age barriers. In a world plagued by stress, bullying and butt-hurt social media trolls, video games provide a cathartic escape for all ages. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll keep going until my hands are so arthritic I can no longer hold a controller or click a mouse.

The things that go through my mind when I’m alone with nothing but my thoughts for entertainment is dangerous. Some might even say eccentric. Consider this your warning about today’s Random Thought of the Day

 

Sep 252018
 

Battle for Azeroth ImpressionsWe are about six weeks into the eighth World of Warcraft expansion. The Battle for Azeroth has begun; the Horde and Alliance are engaged in fierce warfare to control the Azerite. The first raid, Uldir, is available and Blizzard has already announced the first content patch, Tides of Vengeance. Therefore, by this point in time we have experienced everything that is new to the game. While there is more to come, here are my Battle for Azeroth Impressions thus far.

Battle for Azeroth: The Good

I know why Blizzard doesn’t allow flying in new expansions. I “complain” about not flying quite a bit but it’s only to be an irritation (*cough* “Tony” *cough”). However, in all honesty I do enjoy using ground mounts exclusively at the beginning, for two reasons.

  1. The artists put so much work into the landscape and scenery I feel that flying, right out of the gate, would negate all that effort.
  2. I rarely get to use my ground mounts when flying is available. It’s nice to have a reason to see all my favorite ground mounts.

The story arc I’m looking forward to most is Queen Azshara. We saw her briefly during the Court of Farondis questline, but heard very little of her after that. She’s clearly involved in this expansion so I’m excited to see if she will be a raid boss. It’s time she is put down!

Battle for Azeroth: The Bad

While I don’t think this expansion is starting out as great as Legion, I couldn’t think of a lot of things I think are “bad”. The one item I’m still not happy about are dungeon quests required for professions. Granted I have not reached the max level in all the crafting professions, however Anchor Weed, the rare herb in this expansion, has a dungeon quest required to reach rank 3. It also appears that herbalism is the only gathering profession that has a dungeon component to it.

I don’t mind using quests to reach ranks 2 or 3, but I do not like profession quests that require a dungeon.

Battle for Azeroth: And The ‘Meh’

The Story

As much as I do like that Queen Azshara is mentioned a lot, I’m still not as into the story as I was in Legion. Granted, I don’t think it’s as weak as the story for Warlords of Draenor but the whole “Horde vs Alliance” feels a bit cliche. Perhaps the reason I’m not as into the story is that I actually like Sylvanas and the fact that she’s lost her mind is fantastic. Unfortunately, 98% of the community disagrees and they all hope she dies (btw, I even play Alliance). I’m sure I will be labeled a traitor when I say, I really hope we don’t kill her; in fact I think she’s under the influence of Queen Azshara. While I don’t think she makes a good war chief, I would rather over throw her than kill her (thus killing another Horde leader).

Treasures and Rares

This expansion is inundated with treasures and rare mobs and they have really lost their value. I have opened hundreds of treasures and killed hundreds of rare mobs and 99% of the time I only get Azerite power and vendor trash. Perhaps we were too spoiled in Legion and now expectations are too high to get more out of rares and treasures.

Island Expeditions and War Fronts

The two new world mechanics in Battle for Azeroth are Island Expeditions and War Fronts. These are essentially the evolution of scenarios. Island Expeditions is a race to farm Azerite; that’s it. They developed an algorithm so each time you enter an Island Expedition it’s different, however its only different in terms of terrain and mobs. The objective is still ALWAYS the same. Island Expeditions feel so lackluster that I’ve been renaming them to “Island Adventures”. There is good news. I believe Blizzard has plans to make some changes so they are not so terribly bland.

Honestly I think these Island Expeditions should feel more like War Fronts where the action is immersive. While the objective in a War Front is the same, you can get there by doing other things (i.e. farming iron/wood, attacking clinch points, etc). The downside to the War Front, especially when you can’t enter the battle, once you complete the quests, there is nothing else to do for several days. If you’re still trying to increase your item level or you have alts, they are a great way to get some decent pieces of gear.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Battle for Azeroth is off to a decent start. It has more going for it than Warlords of Draenor. I also suspect that there are more surprises coming for players (not just story but game mechanics as well). I feel like Blizzard is intentionally holding something back, and perhaps BlizzCon is when we will find out what else is coming.

FOR THE ALLIANCE!

duke-nukem-sm If zombies attack the world, everyone will run and hide. Except for us gamers, of course. We’ve been waiting for this all our lives!

 

Sep 192018
 

Phasma (Star Wars)Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
My rating:

Captain Phasma is the Boba Fett of the sequel trilogy. Mysterious. Ruthless. The stomp of her chrome boots and her clipped Imperial accent makes her both menacing and intriguing. There is clearly a story to tell and Delilah Dawson is here to tell it.

Vi Moradi is a Resistance spy, often given tasks by General Organa herself. On her recent mission she is captured by Captain Cardinal, a stormtrooper of the First Order. Instead of turning her over to his superiors, he secretly interrogates her for evidence against his rival, Captain Phasma. Since the day Brendol Hux brought Phasma on board the Absolution all his hard work has been marginalized and his pupils reprogrammed to be heartless killers. He believes that she is responsible for murdering his mentor. He wants Phasma gone and he’ll do what needs to be done to see to it that she is removed from command.

Biggs Review

I really enjoyed this book. I love the austere and ruthlessness of Phasma in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The thing that I enjoyed most was that the author didn’t just give us a full origin story. We learn about the kind of person Phasma is by second-hand stories. I didn’t want all the secrets revealed to maintain the elusiveness of the character. The use of interrogation of a spy, and friend of someone from Phasma’s past, is a great mechanism for maintaining the enigma.

I like the fact that throughout the whole book you’re never really “rooting” for Phasma but you do develop some revere for the character. You begin to understand the character more from what she has endured before joining the First Order. You even learn why she doesn’t wear the typical plastoid composite stormtrooper armor and where the chrome armor comes from.

Finally, much like Boba Fett in the sarlacc, I do not think she is dead after she is bested by Finn in The Last Jedi. Phasma knows exactly what she needs to do to survive and I think we will see her again in Episode IX.

View all my reviews

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss