Holiday break

I am taking a three week holiday break. Look for me back in this space on Monday January 8 2018.

Many cultures and religions have some sort of celebration around the winter solstice, and nearly all of them serve to give people reassurance and hope — that in the darkest and coldest days there is light from love and warmth from friendship, and a certainty that spring and the season of growth will soon come. With that in mind,

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Thanks to my readers for a great year. I wish you all the very best, and I will see you all in three weeks, cranky and ranting as usual!

Unscheduled break

Intermittent power and internet failures today — so no post. Back Friday (I hope).

Catastrophe at home

No post today, basement flooded, water heater gone, etc etc etc. Joys of homeownership! Hope to be back Friday.

Still alive

I am still alive and playing WoW. Watch this space, I plan to be back writing on January 2. Meanwhile, many thanks to all the faithful still checking this site.

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Profession changes and cataclysmic changes

This will be a very strange post, I am afraid. On the one hand, I feel more or less bound to comment on yesterday’s dev interview on professions in Legion. But on the other hand, I feel like yesterday’s world-altering changes in Britain simply cannot be ignored. Major changes, whether in a computer game or in the existing world order, are always unsettling, and honestly it is impossible to foresee final outcomes from any of them while they are in progress. It is that uncertainty, I think, that makes such changes so difficult for most of us — nations as well as individuals, games as well as real world.

Let me deal first — and briefly — with the dev interview. As with the first one last week, I found the format to be very good, and I thought the overall tone of the answers Paul Kubit gave was quite positive as well as informative. I do think that the Legion profession changes are generally favorable, and that Blizz is making a good faith effort to reverse the profession slide we saw in WoD.

This does not mean I agree with all the changes. I think Kubit did some very fancy dancing on the whole Blood of Sargeras subject. He first went to some pains to explain that no, of course Blizz does not want to dictate that players “should” have one gathering and one crafting profession on each character. No, no, no. Then he went on to say but of course you should suffer some slight disadvantage if you do not. He outlined several changes being made to make the BoP situation with BoS somewhat more equitable, and in the end it will probably work out. That is a positive thing, because it shows Blizz is listening to the very real concerns of players in this matter, and that continues a trend we have seen pretty much throughout the recent Legion development — a welcome turnaround from WoD.

Still, in the end he did not really have a good answer for why BoA is not an option for Blood of Sargeras. I am willing at this point to just accept that this mechanic will be a continuing pain throughout Legion, and to prepare to deal with it.

A couple of other comments that I noted:

  • It looks like we will not get much of a break from the huge annoyance of RNG-dictated secondary stats. As in WoD, there will be no real way to ensure you get the secondary stats you need on your crafted gear. In fact, the reroll mechanic is going away, and instead you will just have to craft piece after piece until you get your optimal stats. I hated that part of WoD, and I hate that it will continue in Legion. The only possible bright side, if there is one, is that Multistrike is also going away, so I suppose we can hope that there will be fewer possible stat combos to roll the dice on.
  • Mass resurrection is going away. I did not know this. It more or less completes the rollback of guild perks and thus helps to drive another nail in the coffin of robust guilds. About the only thing left is the mail perk, we will see how long that lasts. The engineer-crafted Failure Detection Pylon is the presumed replacement, and while it has a couple of cute features, I think it will turn out to be a poor substitute. For one thing, it will only rez players within 5 yards of it. Kubit opined that the way to use it would be for the raid leader to call for everyone to head to the pylon if it looked like the raid was going to wipe. That was just a stupid comment, in my opinion. Typically, raids wipe incrementally, with players dying off one or two at a time in different places throughout the boss space, so by the time it becomes apparent that a wipe is in the works, it is too late for most of the raid to gather in a small space to die.
  • Kubit was a bit overly coy about the fishing artifact, if indeed there is one. He hinted that Blizz has deliberately put out some misinformation about this — for example, you will not need to complete the coin-fishing achievement in Dalaran as part of the quest line (if there is one, haha). Okay. Very clever, Blizz.

I have to be honest. My heart is not in this today. Changes to a side game within a computer game are less than insignificant in the face of the geopolitical earthquake we have just undergone, and in the face of what will surely be a long period of aftershocks, many of which may be as significant as this first quake.

This blog is a gaming blog. I do not use it as a political platform, nor do I intend to start now. I am not going to venture an opinion on the rightness or wrongness of the Brit vote, it was what it was. But I know for a fact that we are in the midst of a cataclysmic change in the world order, and whether Brexit is the cause of it or just a symptom of a change that has been in the works for some time, remains to be seen. It will be up to future history books to trace the seeds of this change’s actual beginnings and to describe how it finally unfolds.

If you are not someone who usually pays much attention to current events, think about starting to now. It will be important, I think, for you to be able to tell your children and grandchildren what it was like to live through this geopolitical shift, because there will be the big picture but there will also be the small picture that affects you and me and everyone living in the world. Let us hope that the stories you will tell will be about the bad old days, not about a time of relative peace that is unimaginable in the chaotic world of your grandchildren.

Let us hope that this cataclysm is not the worst expansion ever in the real world.

On break

I’ll be taking a little time off to recharge my creative batteries, about 10 days or so. I’ll be back May 2, see you then!

Crocus and daffodils and gritty optimism

We are on the very early cusp of spring here in the Mid-Atlantic region. This after what seemed like a harsh winter because of one gigantic blizzard with massive snowfall and a couple of weeks of exceptionally cold weather, but which was in reality quite a mild winter — our windows were open on Christmas Eve, for heaven’s sake.

Mind you, it is not yet spring — it is still cold and blustery and the trees are completely bare — but there are enough signs to make us all true believers. My crocus and daffodils and even last fall’s pansies have pushed up brave little shoots, promise of cheery spots of color in a month or so. (There will be tulips, also, but they are more cautious and deliberate in their emergence.) I am not someone who likes snow and winter, I hate it and I think of it as something to be endured rather than appreciated. So planting bulbs and fall pansies are for me an act of gritty optimism, an acknowledgment that yes there will be a period of pain, but that indeed I will come through it more or less unscathed, and at the end there will once again be beauty and hope.

For me, the promise of winter is the spring that follows.

Why am I telling you this, in a gaming blog? Well, I think I have arrived at a point of gritty optimism about WoW. I consider Legion to be my winter, and I am preparing as best I can to come through it more or less unscathed. I believe I will, but I do not delude myself that it will be an enjoyable time for me. I am still deciding on what bulbs to plant in anticipation of arriving on the other side. Should I prepare a bed of strong raiding skills? Become a healer for once and for all? Learn to tank? Lay the ground for the mounts, toys, and achievements I usually ignore? Become entrenched in another MMO?

I do think I am approaching the winter of my WoW experience. My spring and summer were glorious fun, and my fall was a time of maturity and rich harvest. What remains to be seen is if the coming Legion winter is indeed the end, or if it is in fact part of a cycle that will usher in a new round of growth and warmth and carefree fun.

For now, all I know is that WoW winter is coming, and I am doing my best to prepare for enduring it.

That, and my daffodils are up as the reward for getting through real winter.

Have a good weekend.