How Much Does Mythic Plus Matter in Dragonflight?

Looking back now at Shadowlands, and all the issues I had with it, I’m sort of surprised I returned for Dragonflight with as much gusto as I did. As someone who absolutely hates the gameplay loop of Mythic Plus dungeons (and honestly, doesn’t even care much for 5-man content), a big draw of this expansion was that world content would be a viable alternate gear path for players. In the early days of the expansion, I started to doubt the truth of the situation, and now that I’ve had a few months to really feel it out, I think I’ve decided that it’s technically, but not completely, viable.

Here’s why: the amount of time it takes to get geared up, especially at the start of the expansion, is an important component of whether or not something feels viable, and Blizzard has stubbornly clung to time gating gearing from every source but one – Mythic Plus dungeons, which you can run as many of in a week as you can find time and groups for. Sure, the M+ currency, Valor, had caps until about a week and a half ago, but if you were lucky, or very very determined, you could be kitted out in full M+ gear within days of hitting 70. I know this, because it’s precisely what my husband did.

Fortunately, I had a bit of luck of my own with weekly quests and world event boxes, so I wasn’t in terrible shape when Elemental Storms started spawning in mid-December, offering yet another route to getting gear that was a bit better than LFR, but not quite as good as normal raids. Since normal raid gear for me is pretty much the peak of each tier, that feels pretty good.

This past Wednesday, I got my first piece upgrade from a raid drop. Now, that isn’t counting the vault pieces I’d picked up (although I think at this point, I’m about 50/50 for getting either an upgrade or something to disenchant for purple mats), but as far as raw item level is concerned, I’ve done fairly well this tier. I did do a handful of low mythic keys with folks from the guild, but as you can see from my M+ score in the screenshot above, I’ve done very little of that content overall. I haven’t timed any key higher than a 6, and at this point, I don’t expect to go back to doing any mythic keystone dungeons, hopefully for the rest of the expansion.

That said, raiding normal with my guild is the only group activity in World of Warcraft I have any real interest in, and I probably would have done whatever I had to in order to meet requirements. I have no intention of pushing harder content, so I don’t really need better gear on my main than what I’m currently kitted out in – I even managed to complete my four piece tier set this week with a vault drop and a catalyst charge.

Which means it’s time to start looking at how my alts are faring.

The only group content my warlock has done since hitting 70 was one set of Timewalking dungeons for one of the weeklies. I’m not even sure she did leveling dungeons, and I’m positive she hasn’t done a single heroic or mythic one. I haven’t taken her to LFR. The majority of what she’s wearing has either come from the weekly “Aiding the Accord” quest, or from various bags & boxes that you get for participating in world events like the Siege on Dragonbane Keep and The Community Feast.

It’s taken forever, but as far as my guild is concerned at least, I could take her to raid if I so chose.

My death knight character hasn’t had quite as much luck, but I’m still seeing a path for her as well that doesn’t include doing 5 mans. I’ve had somewhat limited playtime recently, but I’m fairly certain a couple of upgrades from doing elemental storms, and perhaps a crafted or two will boost her over the sticky place she is now that’s making upgrades hard to come by. She has a few pieces that are still left over from leveling quest rewards, and if I can replace those, it should bring her item level up enough to start getting actual upgrades from open world content again.

Mythic Plus has become an endgame in its own right, and it’s clearly here to stay. While I’m not 100% pleased with the pace of gearing up a new character without it, I am glad that other methods feel comparable in everything but speed. The rework of the crafting system is pretty excellent for freshly leveled characters, in that the gear is both not prohibitively expensive to craft and feels like a solid starting point. While I wish world quests were more abundant (and more generous with the item levels they reward), I’m mostly content with my experiences getting adequate gear while living a dungeon-light life.

Two Weeks on the Dragon Isles – Some World of Warcraft Thoughts

At least once per day for the past week or more, I’ve told myself that it was time to sit down with my Dragonflight thoughts and put together a blog post. And at least once per day, I’ve told myself “No, not yet. I’m not ready.”

Now it’s a smidgen more than two weeks since launch, and although in a lot of ways, I’m still not ready, I am going to do my best.

My absolutely favorite part of World of Warcraft is the start of an expansion. Some patches come close, but for me, there’s nothing else that feels as good as the first day or so of exploring a new area. The group I play with is not so rush-rush that we’re not reading quests, watching cutscenes, and exploring the world, but we’re rush-rush enough that everyone is online as much as they possibly can be during the first week or so.

Of course, within minutes of Blizzard flipping the switch, the boat to the Dragon Isles broke, because of course it did. It took a good couple of hours of rage-smashing the replacement portal, mostly being met with “Transfer Aborted – Instance Not Found” and being dumped unceremoniously back on the Stormwind docks before we finally got started.

It took about two days of pretty heavy play to reach level 70 on my main (although that was spotted with some alt play, since I was leveling my main with my husband, and doing other things when he wasn’t available). While leveling, we pursued just about every exclamation point we saw, but once reaching the cap, I turned my focus to just main story quests, and plowed through the remainder of the campaign. Once that was done, it took me another couple of days to finish up Loremaster of the Dragon Isles.

So – at least for me – approximately the first week of Dragonflight absolutely exceeded my expectations.

Since then, however, I’ve found myself repeatedly adjusting my expectations as I interact with all the new end-game systems. Part of what fueled my enthusiasm for this expansion was the idea that dungeon content was going to feel a whole lot less required in order to gear up for raiding. Now, I’ve tried almost all of the new five mans, and I’m still really not a fan. They’re tolerable enough while leveling, but one night of running Mythic Zero has pretty much made me not want to go back. With five-man dungeons of various difficulty levels being the primary source of pre-raid gear (and a massive time-sink), I’ve been curious to see how end-game feels without them, and overall, it’s been a little disappointing for me.

Of course, there is some world content – namely, Primal Storms – that has yet to make an appearance, but in week two, for a player primarily interested in improving in a player-power context, there doesn’t feel like there’s a lot to keep logging in for. The majority of world quests are either on weekly, or semi-weekly, timers, so you could easily knock out the whole map by logging in for a couple hours twice a week. There are a few repeatable events, but although you can participate over and over for reputation, the big rewards are limited per reset period.

After that, if you’re not running dungeons, what you’re left with is the most tedious parts of the game. Most of the reps in the game are nearly infinitely grindable, and I’m sure there are folks who have already maxed them out, but it’s incredibly slow and tedious to do so. The game seems to be designed with a set amount of progress to be readily attainable each week, and then additional progress comes so slowly it might as well be a hard cap for most players. In a lot of ways, Dragonflight is probably a much more satisfying experience for the average casual player, but I’m finding myself missing the rewards that have traditionally been available with a heftier time investment.

As far as the new major systems for the expansion, well, those have also been a mixed bag for me.

I’m not 100% sold on Dragon Riding being the best addition ever, but I am grateful to not be ground-bound for the next several months. I would even argue that the system when you first get access to it is more frustrating than fun. Initially, dragon riding feels very limited in comparison to the flying mounts that we’re all used to. It’s not until you find all 48 dragon riding glyphs – either through natural exploration or, as I did, through concentrated effort – and fill out the entire dragon riding talent tree that it starts to feel really good to use. Unfortunately, once you reach that point, the only thing left to do with your dragons is to seek out new customizations. I’m sure there are players motivated by this, but I’m not one of them.

I also have a love/hate relationship with the profession rework. I think it’s great that crafting professions are intended to be continually relevant throughout the expansion, but it was a bit of an attitude adjustment to realize that professions are no longer meant to be leveled to max alongside your character. Most of the gathering professions felt a little slower, but not obnoxiously so, however, it’ll likely be months before my main character’s enchanting reaches its skill cap. Not only am I waiting on the highest level of enchantment materials, which come from epic pieces that just aren’t that plentiful just yet, I’m waiting on recipes from reputations and from my profession talent tree.

Which brings me to my biggest disappointment thus far, and I acknowledge this one might be on me for just reading the headlines. I was super excited by the idea of reputations (renown) being account-wide this expansion. Now, to me, that meant you would have one single renown level with each faction, and it would be the same no matter what character you were playing, but this isn’t the way it works at all. Instead, there are certain account-wide unlockables in each faction, like certain types of world quests and the open world events, but each character still has to level up their renown in order to access things like profession recipes and gear. Obviously, this has put quite a damper on my plan to have an army of alts at level 60 hanging out in the city to be completely crafting self-sufficient.

Which is probably for the best, because if it weren’t necessary to level up my alts and get them renown for their professions, I’d very likely feel like there was nothing left for me to do until my guild starts raiding in January.

I realize this may have sounded like a whole bunch of complaining, probably because it is, but overall, I am enjoying the new expansion. It’s sort of like going out to dinner and saying “Well, the food was great, but the portion size was just too damned small.” I’m sure I’ll be grateful in a couple of months to not feel overwhelmed by all the things I should be doing, but right now, it feels like there’s a lot of good stuff here, I just want more.

Playing Catch Up in World of Warcraft Before Dragonflight Drops

I had forgotten how much time playing a MMO can take up – it’s been less than a week since I reactivated my subscription, and I’ve already got over 24 hours into the game. I guess I really was ready to come back. Of course, I hadn’t anticipated my old raid group running short this week, and pushing to get caught up to the bare minimum of raiding requirements over just a couple of days took a significant time investment.

For the most part, I enjoyed the Zereth Mortis campaign far more than I did the Korthria one when that was current. I managed to complete all seven chapters in a couple of days, and then spent a little extra time there finishing up the achievements required to fly in the zone. I know that flight in World of Warcraft can be a pretty divisive topic, but from a time-saving stance, I’m never not going to jump through hoops to get into the air again as quickly as I can.

While that’s a not-insignificant amount of content I’ve already managed to consume locust-like in just a few days, I’ve realized that a lot of what I had hoped to get done is probably a bit ambitious, considering that the general consensus is that we have less than a dozen weekly resets before the expansion releases.

On the upside, it doesn’t seem like there’s much that I won’t be able to go back to after the new expansion. On the downside, history has shown I never really get around to doing the old stuff. Sure, I’ll knock out a few things here and there, but for the most part, once an expansion is over, it gets increasingly unlikely I’ll revisit that content.

Bearing that in mind, my content completion wishlist for the next few weeks looks a little something like this.

Twisting Corridors & Other Torghast Achievements

Of all new things in the Shadowlands, Torghast is the one I most expect to have its associated achievements relegated to legacy status in Dragonflight. There’s a lot of nerdpoints here I don’t have, and some pretty fun rewards from some of them, including multiple mounts. Getting all of these achievements will probably take a pretty significant time investment, but having run a few floors the other night, I feel like it is probably more about time than challenge at this point, which in all honest, are my favorite type of achievements.

Covenant Sanctums

While I set myself up well to be able to complete all of the covenant related content with a max level character in each of the four, I’m fairly certain there’s just not enough time left to get everything I’d hoped to finished. I do plan to make sure I’m rotating time between each of these characters to farm up as much anima as I can in hopes of at least getting all the upgrades finished up. Mounts are usually a pretty good carrot at the end of the stick for me, so I probably will poke at each covenants special a bit even when I outlevel it, but I’d like to make at least some (if not all) of the cosmetic & “fun stuff” anima purchases over the next couple of months.

Leveling Alts

Every single expansion, I set myself the goal of having one character of each class at max level, and each expansion, I never quite make it. In fact, I think the period before Shadowlands is where I came the closest, even after not playing for most of BFA, with only two classes below level 50. With the Threads of Fate option, the 10 levels that Shadowlands covers isn’t a particularly large time investment, so I’d like to set a bit of time aside to get a few more characters up to 60.

Other than the priest, who was my main for a time in MoP, most of these characters are fairly new for me, and they’re classes I’m not particularly drawn to. However, I plan to prioritize the ones who will give me access to professions I’m currently missing on my more often played characters. That means the priest, demon hunter, and warrior are the most likely to see level 60 over the next couple of month.

Maintenance Tasks

This is the one I least want to work on, but will most improve my experience going forward. All of my characters who have existed through multiple expansions have a pack rat problem. Much like in real life, I never want to get rid of things I may want or need later, even if – at the current moment – I cannot fathom why I may need or want those things. The more I play a character, the more likely that a look in their bank will give me palpitations. I really want to make a concerted effort to make all of this more manageable before there’s a new expansion, full of new profession related materials and things to loot, but man, I am not looking forward to this part at all.

As always, I am setting goals for myself that I know are overly ambitious, and I’m still passing over a lot of things I would either like to do (because they’re fun) or I would like to have done (because I want whatever shiny is at that end of a particular rainbow). But it does look like I’m going to be playing for a bit, which means a Dragonflight purchase is probably in my future, since the first months of an expansion are probably my favorite part of the whole cycle.

Attempting to Temper My Expectations – Musings on Returning to World of Warcraft at an Expansion’s End

I’m not even sure that I’m all that excited about Dragonflight – World of Warcraft’s next expansion – but I am absolutely getting that end-of-expac itch. It feels like time is running out to do all the things I wanted to do when Shadowlands first released.

Now, I have tried to convince myself that if I really wanted to do all of those things, I would have done them over the months I was actively subbed and not playing, but I cannot seem to get that to stick. I have characters to level, battle pets to hunt down, and there’s a whole bunch of nerd points I wanted that are going to be a royal pain in the ass in a few months, and have you guys seen the fancy jelly cat mount that you get if you manage to complete all the fated raids before 10.0?

Clearly, I was not listening to anything I said when I sat myself down for a stern talking to.

Of course, I anticipate I’m going to run into the same problem I always do when I’m playing WoW – or any other MMO for that matter. I want to do the things that are Fun (for me) while managing to avoid all the things that are Not Fun (for me). Which is all fine and dandy when it comes to all the casual-core stuff I love – leveling, battle pets, running old content for transmog and nerdpoints, leveling professions & playing the auction house.

No, where I always run into trouble is that I do, in fact, like to raid. More specifically, I like to raid with my guild. However, chasing upgrades is part of the stuff I find to be Not Very Fun At All, especially since there’s been so much focus on Mythic+ and high-pressure timed content.

While the very generous raid requirements for my guild mean that – at this moment – I am only short the legendary from the last patch (which I skipped almost all of), there has been discussion of also requiring tier pieces for our Fated raid nights, and that is probably more grinding than I am going to be able to push myself to do.

So while I do intend to restart my subscription sometime in September, and as much as I have grabby hands for that silly green cat, I don’t expect to be raiding between now and the first tier of Dragonflight (assuming I stick around that long). Maybe I’ll change my mind and decide that it’s worth putting in the effort, but I have to start by telling myself I’m just popping in for the super-casual stuff.

…and maybe to clean out my character’s banks before the end of the expansion.

Leaving Azeroth

When I logged into on March 12th to cancel my World of Warcraft subscription, I confirmed what I already knew – I hadn’t logged in for more than a full month. A few days prior, I had skipped out on our first raid of 9.2. I hadn’t intended to miss it, but I’d had a couple of really rotten days in a row, and not only was I not in the best headspace for learning new things, time had gotten away from me, and I hadn’t even managed to do the most rudimentary prep for it.

That was the last straw. I finally had to confront the complex feelings I’d had about the World of Warcraft, and my place in it, that I’ve been struggling with pretty much since the middle of the first tier of the expansion. The only thing that I’d been hanging on for was to keep spending time with the friends I’ve had in game for over ten years now, but since I can’t even push myself to do the barest minimum in keeping up with the game outside of raiding, I’ve managed to even spoil that for myself.

Sure, I technically meet the minimums our guild requires, almost entirely due to raid drops from the previous tier, since I’ve been doing almost nothing but logging on for raid for months now. And I’ve never been a top performer, not by a long shot, and as time goes on, it takes me longer and longer to learn the fights. I spent most of the last tier feeling more like a dead weight holding the raid back than as a useful member of the team. I no longer bring any kind of unique utility, and I’ve been scaling back on my administrative tasks for quite awhile now. While I don’t doubt my friends still want me around, I am equally sure that they don’t need me anymore.

I’m hesitant to say that this is a forever goodbye – in a few weeks, Blizzard will be announcing a new expansion, and maybe it will reinvigorate me. Maybe I’ll get an attack of FOMO and decide I’m not willing to miss yet another end-of-expansion boss kill. Maybe this subscription lapse will only last a little while. But it feels like the end of an era, like leaving home for the last time, and I’m far more emotional over the whole thing than I have been any other time I’ve taken a break.

This blog is supposed to be primarily about gaming, with a smattering of my other hobbies & interests. As such, I usually tend to shy away from talking about anything overly serious, personal, or worst of all, personal and serious. It doesn’t feel like the right space for those things, most of the time. But I’m about to get pretty heavy for a minute. If that’s not what you’re here for, peep the cute dogs below and then move on.

It’s not about the game, not really. It’s about losing yet another community, one of the last few places I feel like I fit in. I cannot separate the feelings I’m having about stepping away from a video game that I have been finding myself increasingly frustrated with for about six years – since Warlords of Draenor gave us the earliest iteration of Mythic dungeons – from the other grieving and losses I’ve felt over the last two years since COVID19 showed up. Now, watching so many people in my orbit jump on the bandwagon of “Time to return to normal!”, I’m having a harder time than I have at any other point in the pandemic. I’ve known all along that as someone with a chronic illness and increased risk of long-term complications that I would be treated by society as expendable, but now I’m feeling like people I know and care about see it that way as well, and it’s absolutely wrecking me.

My official diagnosis is Fibromyalgia. My symptoms started after I caught a virus, and was the sickest I have ever been in my life. It was the spring that everyone was worried about H1N1, and I had no idea that the week before I caught it was going to be the last time things were ever “normal” for me.

For about six months after I “recovered”, if I wasn’t at work or at doctor’s appointments, I was sleeping. Spending 14 or more hours in bed on a weekend was commonplace. It didn’t matter – I was still exhausted all the time. The primary care doctor I had then didn’t believe there was anything actually wrong with me except my weight, prescribed exercise for someone who was tired, in pain, and falling asleep at the wheel, and managed to drag his feet long enough that I lost both my job and my health insurance before getting any answers. I was in my early thirties at the time.

It was about another year before I could access health care again, and start working towards a diagnosis and eventual treatment. In a way, the delay was probably best; by the time I had a name for what was happening to my body I had mostly become acclimated to it, and didn’t expect it to be something fixable anymore. I learned to live within my limitations – I had already grieved the life I expected to have. Nothing was ever going to be the same for me again.

I think if you talk – really talk – to anyone with a disability or chronic illness, they are likely to have a similar story. It’s not just an adjustment, but a loss, and there is grief. There is no getting better or returning to normal. The pandemic we’ve been living through for the past two years is the same, except society hasn’t accepted its limitations. It keeps pushing itself too far, doing more and more irreparable damage, stubbornly taking a bad situation and making it worse over and over.

The world is sick. It isn’t going to recover, and it has been – so far – unwilling to accept this fact.

Maybe it’s because I’ve already been through this so I have the experience to reflect on, or maybe it’s because I know that yes, it absolutely can happen to me, but I’ve mostly decided that for me, there will never be a return to the way things were. I will probably never eat inside a restaurant again. I’ll never see another movie in a theater. I probably will never travel by airplane or go on another cruise. None of these are things I’m willing to give even more of who I am to experience, not when I’ve already had to let go of so much of who I wanted to be.

But no one that I used to spend face-to-face time with in the before time is willing to give these things up. For them, things are improving, while for me – who has been fortunate enough to have fared pretty well overall during the past two years – they’re getting worse and worse. My world is getting smaller with every choice the people around me are making for themselves. I don’t blame them, exactly, but it’s hard to be left behind.

It’s exhausting to feel like, by advocating for myself, I’m being a killjoy and a burden, and not being able to not do that offline is also a huge part of why I’m leaving my friends in Azeroth. I can choose to not be a burden to them, so that’s the choice I’m making. Coming on the heels of the realization that the more “normal” society at large wants to be, the more risk I’m at every single day, despite how much I’ve already given up, withdrawn from, and continue to avoid, it’s painful, but it also feels like the right choice, at least for now.

Getting Ready for Super Squirt Day

My interest in World of Warcraft pet battles comes and goes. I enjoy the collecting part, especially pets that can be caught from wild battles. The leveling part is somewhat less enjoyable for me, mostly due how long it takes and how very many pets there are that need to be leveled. I currently have just shy of 750 pets, and just over 200 of them have been leveled up.

If you’re like me, and you’re a somewhat casual pet battler with some catching up to do, and you played enough in Warlords of Draenor to have gotten a level 3 garrison up on at least one of your characters, then you might want to set aside some time this Thursday, August 26th. On this date, not only will the pet battle weekly buff be available, but Squirt will be the daily challenger in your garrison, a combination of event that the pet battle community has dubbed Super Squirt Day.

On Super Squirt Day, you can level just about any pet from level 1 to level 25 in two battles, provided you have two appropriate support pets already leveled up to 25. I use my Enchanted Broom and Boneshard, but if you are looking for alternative strategies to fit your stable, Xu-Fu’s Pet Guides has 43 other team options that you can check out.

If you use the add-on Rematch, you can save teams, and also set up a leveling queue. If you make your third pet in your Squirt Team a leveling pet, Rematch will automatically pull the first pet in your leveling queue onto the team once the previous pet reaches max level. This saves a ton of time sorting through your pet journal and deciding what to level. If you have specific goals, like leveling the pets you need to conquer the Celestial Tournament or the pet battle dungeons, it’s worth taking the time to do some research and make sure you have the correct pets queued up for leveling.

Once reset happens on Thursday, Squirt will be available in your garrison to battle all day long, so put on your favorite podcast or start up an audiobook, and settle in for some serious battle pet levelling. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t give your character any experience, but it’s still a great way to get a lot of battle pets leveled in a short period of time without needing any consumables whatsoever.

Why I’m Still (Sort Of) Playing World of Warcraft

I am not posting this to talk about the lawsuit that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has brought against Activision Blizzard, nor about my personal reaction to the news (spoliers: it wasn’t shock). There’s very little that folks more eloquent and less jaded than I am haven’t already said much better. I considered letting my subscription lapse again in light of the news, and then I realized I was already considering letting my subscription lapse for totally unrelated reasons.

In the end, I made the decision primarily on the strength of one thing only, and it’s not a thing that Blizzard Activision can be given any credit for whatsoever – what I’m talking about of course, is the strength and longevity of our guild.

Let’s rewind a minute: Back in Warlords of Draenor, there was a lot of burnout in our guild, including almost all of our active officers at the time. It occurred to me that maybe, if we did a little bit of research, we could find another place where we could still hang out together, but enjoy the atmosphere a little more.

I did the research. I made polls. I made spreadsheets. We set up a Google calendar, and scheduled nights to try out pretty much everything the market had on offer, free or paid. We went on this way for weeks, but nothing stuck.

And although a few folks have successfully moved on for good, I think most of us keep getting drawn back in because of what we have built, not what Blizzard built for us.

For me, the 9.1 content was … fine, I guess? When I first renewed my subscription, I was super enthusiastic to dive into the new story & areas, unlock flying, get back in Torghast, and check out the new raid. For the first couple of weeks, I did just that, logging in every day, keeping up with my renown, and it felt really comfortable to be back.

Then, right before I unlocked flying, I hurt my hand. I couldn’t do dailies, I certainly couldn’t do anything more challenging than that. I missed our first raid night, and decided to switch mains for the tier to fill a hole in our raid composition. Once I was finally feeling up to playing again, I realized I had lost quite a bit of that new patch enthusiasm, and have since been logging on sporadically at best, to the point where I’m starting to feel bad about how far I’m falling behind.

In fact, the way I’m currently playing is a way I never let myself play in the past, and I think a big part of the uncertainty I’ve been feeling has more to do with the idea that I’m wasting money on something I’m not extracting adequate value from. I normally pay for my subscription by buying tokens with gold, but I’m no longer Azerothian-rich, so I’m actually looking at a cash investment for the first time in years.

I currently have 14 days left on my subscription, and I haven’t actually logged in since our last raid night on Wednesday, and yet, I’m still strongly leaning towards renewing. I don’t see my subscription as an investment in the game, but rather, an investment in the friendships I’ve formed over the past decade. Even if I am just logging on for raids, it’s not a waste.

Bonus Blaugust prompt idea: Do you sometimes play games you’re not actually that excited about because you’re playing with friends?

World of Warcraft – Taking Some Time Away from Azeroth

The writing has been on the wall for awhile. Once I finished leveling up & gearing my paladin, I started logging in less and less. For over a month now, I’ve logged in solely to either attend raid, farm materials for raid, or when I had a Flashback Friday event scheduled. I had no interest in leveling any more alts, I certainly didn’t want to run any Mythic Plus dungeons, and there just wasn’t anything pulling me to actually boot the game up.

Shortly after our guild took out Sire Denathrius on normal, I made the decision to step away for a bit to avoid the full-fledged burnout that leads to me not returning until the next expansion, as I’m still looking forward to the new content in 9.1 – I just don’t really feel like I have much to do between now and then.

I’ve already told my guild, and passed off my organizational responsibilities to other folks in leadership positions. My main is passably geared – this past week in raid I replaced my last sub-iLvl 200 piece – and her renown is capped. I should be in good shape to pick back up right around the next major content patch without really feeling like I’ve missed out on much of anything at all.

I’m not 100% sure how this will go – I’ve always been the type to keep myself busy with alts, old content, and cosmetic farming between content patches, but I just wasn’t feeling it this time around. When I’m paying a subscription fee, I feel like I have to play whether I’m enjoying myself or not, so I think this was the best course for me. It is, however, the first time I’ve taken this sort of break with full intent to return within a few months – normally, when I let my sub lapse, I’ve kept on so far past when I was actually enjoying myself, I don’t come back for a year or more.

World of Warcraft – The Difference a Week Can Make

I have been procrastinating doing any more leveling in World of Warcraft because I am finding plenty to do with four characters at max level, and I just really haven’t been excited about the leveling process. However, after finding myself in a position to need to be a healer for our alt raid, and my only viable choice being my druid, which I’m really not enjoying, I set myself a challenge.

When I sent that tweet, my paladin was just shy of 51, having made the trek through the Maw intro, but otherwise, just hanging out in Oribos waiting for her turn. Since she was also pretty neglected through all of Battle for Azeroth, I enlisted some help from my husband to get her into some Shadowlands starting crafted gear, turned on Threads of Fate, and made my way out into the Shadowlands to melee DPS my way through a bunch of quests and bonus objectives.

Now, I played a lot that day, and for the next two, but I managed to hit 60 with her on Friday night, at which point I ran a solo-raid on the auction house for some crafted blues, and got ready to start the Covenant Campaign quest line slog and do a truly excessive amount of world quests.

I took Saturday off from the project, due to the aforementioned alt raid and just really needing a break. But now, one week later, I feel like I’m in pretty good shape.

I haven’t done much at all in the way of dungeons, but I’ve managed to heal my way through four Layer 8 Torghasts, and have a 210 legendary for my holy spec to show for that work. My convenant renown is at 18, which means a lot of catch up happened, but I’m holding onto my weekly renown quests until after I go on a mythic world tour later this week. My hope is that I’ll end up with enough renown to max out my covenant gear in any slots I don’t fill out doing Mythic Zeros and LFR. The one place I’m feeling really behind is in Conduits, but I’m optimistic that plowing through a whole bunch of dungeons will help with that as well.

Now, to be fair, for most folks, I do not recommend doing what I just did. It was definitely more hours tied to the game than I like to dedicate outside of the first week of a new expansion. That said, I was honestly surprised how fast everything is coming together – if someone needed to change mains in a hurry, it’s still a significant effort, but it’s not as bad as it has been in previous expansions. I expect my paladin’s item level will be comparable with my other alts before the next reset, and I’m far more comfortable with the style of healing she offers as compared to the druid.

Of course, this has set back the rest of my plans a bit – I still want to play through at least one more title for #DatingSiMonth, and I’ve been sneaking some late night gaming sessions with my new Nintendo Switch, but I definitely put a hard pause on my other hobbies during this period, including most of the blogosphere and social media time. It was a lot, but man, what a difference a week can make.

In Review – January 2021

Another month gone by, and again, it was dominated by World of Warcraft. That said, I played a bit less than I did in December. I had predicted that my time would likely increase a bit as I spent time on alts and old content, but what I found in actuality was that when I didn’t have firm plans for my play time, I tended to wander off and play something else, or indulge in other hobbies. I’ve completed all four convenant campaign stories on the four characters I leveled initially, and I’m finding that I’m not really feeling a sense of urgency about catching up my other characters. I’m enjoying Shadowlands enough that I’m expecting I’ll keep subbing throughout (unless something changes majorly to detract from the fun I’m having), so I figure I have at least another 18 months to level alts. No reason at all to rush.

I manage to complete three different games during #PuzzleGameMonth for the Community Game-Along, although I did go completely off-script from what I had planned. I did try out Outer Wilds, but the combination of feeling like I just wasn’t getting the concept and the fact that I’m a goddamn awful spaceship pirate left me looking for something else, although I do expect I’ll revisit it at some point in the future.

Short games seemed to work best for me, as all three that I completed all took me around two hours to complete. Other puzzle games I dabbled in this month included Animated Puzzles, Peggle Nights, Munin, Simply Puzzles: Codewords, and Doodle God, but I wouldn’t say I made any significant progress in any of them.

I also added a couple of new games to the library which were impulse purchases, but in a surprising turn of events, they were impulse purchases which I proceeded to install and play!

The last time I had peeked at Amazing Cultivation Simulator, English wasn’t a supported language, and despite the fact that the game otherwise looked right up my alley, I figured not being able to read any of the text was going to be a deal-breaker. However, when the game launched version 1.0 last November, it came with English language support, so when I spotted it on sale, I knew I wanted to pick it up. Sure, I don’t need another massive time suck colony management game (especially since I haven’t even looked at Rimworld in around two years), but I just found the whole concept and art style so appealing. So far, I’ve only spent about half an hour with it, slowly making my way through its robust series of tutorials, but I imagine at some point in the not-so-distant future, this game will take a good chunk out of my gaming time.

My other impulse pick-up was Hardspace: Shipbreaker, which has fantastic reviews, despite still being in Early Access. I’d been keeping an eye out for a new low-commitment chill game, and breaking down derilict space ships to pay off massive amounts of crushing debt is actually fitting the bill. I am taking advantage of the easy mode while I get comfortable with the 3D movement and figuring out how everything fits together, but not being limited by shift length and oxygen drain really does make this game almost meditative. It’s something I will definitely poke at here and there until the release of the first chapter of story mode coming in the next major update, at which time I’ll likely shelve it until full release.

It’s been quite a while at this point since I was investing so much of my time into a single game over a period of months – even when I was playing ESO regularly, I wasn’t dedicating half this much raw play time. It has definitely made an impact on how much other stuff I’ve had time to play around with, but really, it mostly has gotten rid of the hours I was spending trying to figure out what I wanted to be doing.

I won’t lie – pandemic life has gotten really old, even for someone who is as introverted as I am, and mostly happy to stay home. Mostly, I feel like I’ve missed having a schedule, and MMO-life has brought a little bit of that back with scheduled guild events and weekly chore lists. It’s comforting having something that manages to be both new and familiar all at once.