In Review – December 2020

I seriously considered skipping out on this post this month because (with some very minor exceptions), all of my gaming time was spent neck-deep in World of Warcraft. Normally, I’m a dabbler, but I’ve been all in all month long.

If I hadn’t been tracking it, I wouldn’t have believed I spent over two hundred hours with a single game over the course of a month. Of course, there’s no way to differentiate idle time from active playing time, and I do tend to leave WoW running and walk away to do other things.

I did play a couple of chapters of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments for #AdventureGameDec, completed 10 turns in Civilization 6 for Long Live the Queen, played a handful of games of SMITE, and played through the tutorial of Dawn of Man. Even totaled up, that only account for about 6 hours of time, and all my other game time was spent in the Shadowlands.

I guess that means – at least for me – the $40 I dropped on Shadowlands was a good time-for-entertainment investment, even when you tack on a month’s subscription fee. Although I haven’t been making tons of gold, I did just pick up a token, so I should be able to go back to subbing via in-game gold again. Given my guild’s super-casual raid schedule, I’m expecting most of my play time over the next month to be spent leveling up more alts, and maybe spending more time in previous expansions increasing my nerd point total.


Happy New Year, friends. I hope your 2021 is full of all the best nerdery!

Quick Look – Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments (#AdventureGameDec)

I had such good intentions this month.

It wasn’t even a case of not liking the game – Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments is great! Early in the month, I played through the first two cases, The Fate of Black Peter and Riddle on the Rails, and I fully intended to get back to it.

But World of Warcraft has really devoured all my gaming time this month, and it’s not like December doesn’t have anything else going on. I just never managed to carve out 90 minutes or so where I could really get deeply involved with a story game after completing the second chapter.

That was, in fact, the only complaint I had about the game. I’m actually really glad it required thinking and paying close attention to the story, but that also made it nearly impossible to take an extended break in the middle of a case. More than a day or two, and I’m fairly sure I would have had to restart any given case. That said, carving out a couple hours to play through a case isn’t at all an unreasonable ask.

I loved that the game allows you to … well, it lets you totally drop the ball. Each case has a right answer, of course, but it’s also really easy to overlook something and end up accusing the wrong person (or the right person for the wrong reason). You also have the opportunity to make a moral decision at the end of each case, and that will effect the way the final scene plays out. As with just about any adventure game, there’s some tedious backtracking and some pixel-hunting, but overall, I found those things mild enough to not detract from the experience.

I absolutely intend to go back at some point and play through the remaining four cases, but this just wasn’t the time for me to play something so heavily story-focused.

About A Month Into Shadowlands

… and I would be lying if I said it had been smooth sailing. The first week was pretty great; everything since then has been a tug-of-war between frustration and fascination.

In that time, I’ve leveled three characters to 60, and even managed to get my main reasonably well geared, considering the current state of loot overall. I’ve been in 6 of the 8 release dungeons (which is a lot for me), and even done a very small number of very small Mythic+ keys.

While I’ll admit, I don’t love the decisions in regards to decreasing the amount of loot from various activities, I can say that I absolutely hate the reduction in the number of viable paths to getting geared. Despite not playing for much of BfA, when I was active, I was all in for world quests and emissaries as my primary path to not being a complete dead weight when I poked my head into the raids. In an effort to make world quests and callings (the Shadowlands version of emissary quests) feel less mandatory, they also made the rewards … well, let’s be real. The rewards suck.

As a result, I’m doing more instanced PvP this expansion than I have since Wrath of the Lich King. Honor gear got me over the hump to the minimum item level required for heroic dungeons, and then again over the next hump to where I could queue for LFR. The perk from your covenant that allows you to upgrade your honor gear further is nice, and I even went all out one week and did a few rated battleground in order to complete the weekly PvP quest and get a chance at a piece from the Great Vault. It’s still not my favorite way to spend my game time, but I actually find it less painful than using the LFD tool and doing dungeons.

All in all, at least for me, Shadowlands feels like it’s in a very strange place. There’s a lot to do, but there’s not a lot that’s worth doing, which sometimes can leave me feeling both overwhelmed and bored at the same time. It’s a weird dichotomy. From what I’m seeing around the internet, it seems that most people have found something to be grumpy about, but not grumpy enough to play something else, and I feel exactly the same way most days.

Probably the biggest thorn in my side so far has been the whole legendary acquisition system. While I understand that I don’t have to have a legendary, it is probably the single biggest goal to work towards independently right now. Unfortunately, as someone who mains an elemental shaman, my best memory comes from a boss that won’t be available until this coming Tuesday. I’ve had the Soul Ash for awhile, and figured I’d go an pick up my base piece, which is when I discovered the second really irritating thing about the system.

Tailoring makes armor for three classes, and everyone can loot cloth. Blacksmithing also makes armor for three classes, with necessary materials that are a little more difficult, requiring either a character with mining or purchasing the ores from other players. Leatherworking, however, makes armor for 6 classes, also requiring a second profession to farm up, and so far, seems to require far more (and more difficult to obtain) base materials. As a result, if you don’t make your own base pieces, expect to pay at least twice what a plate wearer pays, and at least four times more than if you needed cloth.

As a result, a good amount of my time this week was spent leveling up a fourth character so I had access to do my own skinning. Using the Threads of Fate system, and moving around to the quests and bonus objectives that require the murder of the most skinnable creatures, it took me until level 57 to obtain enough materials to make the base item for my main characters legendary. If I want my main alt (a druid) to have a legendary for each of her specs, I can expect to need to do that twice more, and that will only get me the lowest item level for each.

It’s not a great time to be a leather or mail wearer. But it’s probably worst for folks who are waiting for the last wing of LFR for their legendary memory! Sire Denathrius won’t be available until February 2.

All my gripes aside – and gripes, I have many – I am enjoying playing Shadowlands more often than not. When I don’t want to do something, I generally just skip it. I will be able to take my main to raid with my guild for the foreseeable future, and I still feel like I have plenty of time left for playing around on other characters, even if they never do anything more intensive than their covenant story campaigns.

Steam Winter Sale – Deals I’m Debating

It’s that time of year again, and although I primarily enjoy the two major yearly Steam sales for the opportunity to send (deeply discounted) presents to my friends, I do also tend to spoil myself rotten. Since my husband and I mostly don’t do gifts for Christmas or our birthdays (both of which are close to the holiday season), we do tend to get a little splurgey on whatever fun stuff catches our eyes this time of year.

On the first day of the sale, I check out all the stuff on my wish list that’s marked down and try to prioritize. As per usual, I find myself debating whether I’d rather pick up some pricier titles with some real meat to them, or if I want to pick up a whole mess of smaller indie games. This year, I decided to make two lists of similar cost, and then turned those into a graphic to really look at my options.

Even throwing a couple of somewhat higher-priced titles onto the “cheap stuff” side, I was surprised that picking my top three “big” games actually would cost just a smidgen more than buying all fourteen titles on the right.

Although the graphic makes it look like this is an absolute binary choice, it’s absolutely not. In reality, it’s much more likely I’ll grab one from the left, and four or five from the right, and call it a sale. After I’m done with all my gift purchases, of course. In fact, between making this graphic and posting this blog, I can no longer just go for the three games on the left, since I’ve been hit by the Steam Sale Santa and gifted Outer Wilds as an early birthday present!


Are you planning any purchases this year during the Steam Winter sale? Or are you side-eyeing your backlog and making the choice to hold off on new games?

Long Live the Queen! Turns 351-360

The Project Explained

Long Live the Queen is a collaborative Civilization VI base game play through and blogging project conceived of by Naithin at Time to Loot. We have 8 players, and each player is responsible for taking 10 turns and writing about our progress. I drew fifth in the randomly generated line-up.

The Story So Far…

If you need to know how we got to where we are, just pop on over to Time to Loot, where Naithan has kept track of all of our shenanigans in a really nifty list of links. Tessa had to sit this round out due to an injury, so I’m taking over from Paeroka this time around.

Turns 351-360

Holy cow, there’s a lot going on here. I’m not sure how much of that has to do with just being late game, and how much has to do with England maybe not having the most cohesive growth plan ever.

I, however, have decided to put as much focus as possible during my turns on the Space Race. During turn 352, I am able to start the Earth Satellite Launch in Stoke-Upon-Trent, and then send Carl Sagan right over to finish it off. I then set them to working on the Moon Landing. Research into Sufferage completes, and I start us on Totalitarianism, despite the fact we’re still rocking a Monarch, more options are good, right?

We also have not one, but two great Admirals in London. I have no idea what we’re supposed to do with them, because I don’t think we have a single naval military unit on the map. Perhaps UnwiseOwl will be able to find some use for them.

Despite not focusing so much on Culture, I gave Roosevelt 30 turns worth of resources for an Edgar Allen Poe story. Which Pedro then immediately demanded I give him. Sorry Pedro, you have nothing to offer me – and I do mean nothing. Two turns later, Gilgamesh also asks us for the book, but I turn him down as well. Apparently, this is an exciting book, and I made a good trade getting my hands on it.

Once we finished our research into Robotics, I took a small detour into Plastics, in order to open up both more oil access and some extra food from fishing. I also started production on some additional builders (one in Ur, and one in Bristol) as our population seems to be stagnating, and having a little extra food never hurts.

We built three new farms near Ur and sent a builder in the general direction of the unimproved tiles between Stoke-Upon-Trent and Adab. I’m concerned we might be more restricted by space than food, but I’m going to be honest – there’s a lot going on and being away from the game for weeks to months at a time, I’m not feeling like I really have a handle on all the mechanics.

I also started up a few new wonders. I bought a tile near Ur to start work on Petra, and the Hermitage in Leeds. It seems like we have a pretty beefy military we’re not using, so if a particular city didn’t seem to have something critical to build, I set it to improving the infrastructure that was there already.

On my last turn this round, we finished our research into Plastics, and I wanted to make sure our research path was on track for what we were going to need for our science victory. We’ve researched most of the required technologies already, with just Nanotechnology outstanding, Unfortunately, there’s two steps in the tech tree we haven’t researched that are required for Nanotechnology, so I started us on the first step, Synthetic Materials.

With that, I turn over the crown to UnwiseOwl. Save file can be found here.

Nerd Girl Goals – December 2020

Community Game Along – #AdventureGamesDec

I don’t even want to admit to how many point and click adventure games are sitting, never touched, in my library. Still, I just picked up Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments a couple weeks ago at an absurdly deep discount with the intent of playing it during December. After all, who doesn’t love curling up with a good mystery when it’s cold and blustery outside?

I’m not going to pre-select any alternate or additional games fitting the theme this month, but I am not short of options, including most of the other Sherlock Holmes titles. I’ve also been itching to dive back into The Council, and I’m pretty sure that’d fall under the umbrella of this theme.

Subscription Gaming

I’ve left my choice for subscription game service as To Be Determined for December, and I’m likely not going to use one this month. There are still several games on XBox Game Pass I’d like to try, but I also know that even this year, there’s likely to be a lot going on in December, and besides, Shadowlands is still very fresh and I’m likely to spend a lot of time there.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to already being a bit concerned about the longevity of the initial Shadowlands content for someone who tends to avoid doing dungeons and raids – at least while they’re current content. However, I’ve decided to renew my sub in December and see how long I stay engaged. If I lose interest in the new stuff, there’s a lot of old stuff I still want to dabble in, as my play has been pretty sporadic going back as far as Warlords of Draenor.

I mean, I’m getting awfully close to 20,000 achievement points, so that’s definitely a thing I want to spend some time filling out. In the short term, I’d like to get a total of four characters to level 60 and keep up with progressing them each through their covenants, but I don’t expect to do much in the way of the gear grind for most of my alts.

GAMING

Play to Satisfaction

For me, saying “Play to Satisfaction” gives me explicit permission to drop a game that’s not working for me, but also to grind away for nerd points if I’m really loving something. I’m trying to make it a policy for myself that I will always play to satisfaction – no more, no less.

I don’t know that I want to put much of anything else on my plate this month, but it’s my turn again in our Long Live the Queen game in Civilization 6, so I should be posting about that before the week is out.

But I feel like it’s almost traditional to drop a few titles here that I probably won’t touch. I did recently download King’s Bounty: The Legend after reading that it was reminiscent of the Heroes of Might & Magic games. I also just picked up Megaquarium and Cattails during the Steam Autumn Sale, and I really did love the demo of Crying Suns which was in the most recent Humble Monthly. Maybe I’ll fire up one of those before the end of 2020.