World of Warcraft – Game Goals & Deciding How Much is Enough

I played World of Warcraft consistently from late Burning Crusade, all the way until about the midpoint of Warlords of Draenor, which is when I took my first extended break. I came back mid-Legion and stuck around through the second major patch in Battle for Azeroth. This latest break ended about one month before the launch of Shadowlands, and despite there being some pretty major flaws in this expansion as well, I personally am enjoying myself in a way I haven’t really since Mists of Pandaria (which was one of my favorite expansions).

However, since late Wrath of the Lich King, there’s been one constant in my World of Warcraft play – my guild. Stands in Bad was founded in 2010 after a bunch of us left our previous raiding guild due to some differences in opinion about guild culture. Although members have come and gone, we have to be doing something right, because there’s more than a handful of us that have been together for the entirety of that ten year period, keeping in touch via Twitter and eventually Discord, even when we weren’t actively playing the game. Stands in Bad has itty bitty spin off guilds in just about every major MMO, because it seems like no matter what we’re playing, we want to be playing it together.

All that was a super long introduction to a conversation that we were having in our Discord the other day about what our individual “end game” goals are in WoW. Although the majority of our guild is populated by people who play somewhat casually, what casual means is very different across the board. Some people have busy lives which leave them very limited play time. Some folks have health issues that limit their ability to play the game at the highest levels. Some folks just don’t want their leisure time consumed by something that feels more like a second job than a game. Our guild works because we’ve all tempered our expectations to match our personal realities, so our progression raid happens for two and a half hours every other week, and we don’t mandate participation in any content that our members don’t enjoy. Our raid requirements don’t actually require a whole lot of effort outside of those 2.5 hours.

I consider myself casual, despite play times that might indicate otherwise, because I don’t feel driven to pursue the most difficult content available. I like to raid, but I don’t like to raid enough to participate in meta-chasing, and I’m content to see the content at a fairly low difficulty to progress through it slowly and with people whose company I am glad to be in.

Early on in the expansion, I found myself joining in to the criticisms on the pace of gear acquisition in Shadowlands. The first month or so, it felt so very painfully slow. Now, I’m not the type to get overly caught up in item level, but when pulling a second overland mob had a 50/50 chance of resulting in my death, I wanted to gear to ameliorate some of that feeing of being painfully underpowered.

However, as I closed in on the end of my covenant campaign, the situation started to feel more manageable. Sure, I’d picked up a handful of upgrades elsewhere, but fully upgraded covenant gear is more than adequate for the needs of most players who do a lot of overland solo content.

After our most recent raid night, my main character is sitting at an item level of 198, but once I found myself in the mid-190s, gear stopped being a high priority for me. Getting gear past what I need to complete the content I’m interested in has never held a lot of allure for me. However, I realize that for a lot of people, increasing their item level, and hunting gear with better stats is their end game.

Quite frankly, I can understand why those people are supremely frustrated with the systems put in place for Shadowlands. The reduction of gear drops in max level content means that people for whom gear is the goal need to put in more hours for less reward, and I can’t imagine that’s a great feeling. Although runeforging and titanforging had their own issues, and I think most people are more relieved than disappointed to be rid of that one infinitely upgradeable item that you wont’ replace all expansion, it’s possible that, for a sizeable segment of WoW-players, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

But for me, it’s a relief. I likely won’t return to LFR this tier on my main, because she has nothing to gain in there. The experience doesn’t translate well to an organized raid, and none of the drops (or associated Great Vault options) are going to be a significant upgrade. I’ll probably continue to run the occasional low-key (in both senses of the term) Mythic plus with my guildmates because I enjoy their company, but not the pressure of pushing keys. I’ll do the world bosses once a week, but more for the anima reward than any potential gear reward. It feels good to be geared enough to complete any content I am interested in for this tier so early on. If upgrades come, I won’t turn them away, but I’m not actively hunting for them anymore, which allows me to focus on the aspects of the game I really enjoy.

Until 9.1, I feel free to pursue the epic chase for achievement points, to farm anima (or not) to continue upgrading my covenant sanctums and play around with the minigames. I can pet battle, and play the auction house, and not feel like I am holding my friends back. I have enough, and now I feel like the real fun can start.

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!

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.

World of Warcraft – Goals (Not Quite) Met

I admit, the single thing that got me most interested in coming back to World of Warcraft for Shadowlands came in the pre-patch – the level squish. I’ve always been a bit of an altoholic; I would have a main for each expansion, but I would always level my shaman, even when I decided to focus on a different class for awhile. Then, during even the smallest content drought, I’d start working on more characters.

I probably had the highest number of max level characters during Cataclysm. Across both factions and three servers, I think I had 9 max level characters. Since then, I’ve never even come close to that again, and in Battle for Azeroth, I managed an all time low of 3 level-capped characters.

With the level squish, I realized I had a great opportunity to remedy that, and – after completely ignoring my active WoW subscription for the better part of a month after leveling my warlock – I decided to see if I could get one character of each class to level 50 before the start of Shadowlands.

I didn’t quite make it, but I got a lot further on the project than I honestly expected to. When Shadowlands went live last night, I had 10 max level characters on my main server, with only my monk and rogue left. I probably could have finished at least the monk, but I spent a bit of time in the pre-patch event on my druid, in order to get my hands on the leather set.

This extra push will make it a lot easier to cover all my bases during Shadowlands, making sure I have access to all the professions, and spreading my characters out between the four covenants for maximum cosmetic rewards. I know my goal was overly ambitious, and I was actually quite pleased that I managed to get as close as I did.

Achieved It! – Pathfinder Part 2

After a lot of complaining, and an absurd amount of character death considering it was all open world content, I have finally managed to finish up Pathfinder Part 2.

I’m sure a lot of this would have been less annoying if I did the content when it was fresh, but of course, with Impressive Influence on, it also would have taken twice as long. My pre-8.2 gear didn’t do me any favors – each and every trash mob seemed to hit like a boss, and if I pulled an elite without the assistance of other random players in the area or my earth elemental, I was running back to my body.

In fact, just as this achievement popped, I was frantically running away from a herd of mechanospiders with just a sliver of health remaining. This was not an uncommon occurrence.

Note the lovely red tinge indicating I was very very close to a corpse run.

I still have 13 days remaning of my 30 day subscription, and I will likely go back and see if I can scrounge up some extra gold before my sub runs out.

For now, though, I’m not going to think about naga or mechagnomes for a couple of days.

Pathfinder Part Two – Halfway There

I acknowledge it probably would have been smarter to work on both reputations concurrently, but Nazjatar has been seriously painful, and once I’d get through a day’s work there, my desire to do anything else was completely evaporated.

I definitely skipped some dailies and world quests, though. There’s a few places on the map I still haven’t figured out how to get to, despite the game having decided that I explored the whole zone. In fact, there’s still a regular old questline I didn’t finish. I did also manage to do a couple of emissary quests, which are worth a ridiculous amount of rep, over the six days.

All in all, not to shabby, but I most definitely have no intention of returning to Nazjatar until I’ve unlocked flying. I expect Rustbolt will take a few more days, but I still anticipating being done about halfway through my month long subscription.

The Pathfinder Rep Grind – What a Day’s Progress Looks Like

If I’m being really honest, I’m having a harder time with the patch 8.2 content than I anticipated. Sure, I knew there’d be a gear gap if I tried to skip over Nazjatar and Mechagon entirely, but I didn’t expect it to feel quite so bad doing the next logical content step from where I left off. For the time being, I’m going to blame it on my severely underleveled Heart of Azeroth, because otherwise, it means I just forgot how to play, and I’m not quite ready to admit to that just yet.

Anyway, Impressive Influence is completely amazing for what I’m trying to get done, even if I spend way too much time lost and die a lot.

When I logged in on Tuesday, my Battle for Azeroth reps looked like this. Not even halfway through neutral with Waveblade Ankoan, and no Rustbolt Resistance to be seen.

But 24 hours later, it looked like this – very nearly Honored with Waveblade Ankoan, and I managed to start on Mechagon and get almost to Friendly without a single daily or world quest done.

Overall, I’m pleased with the rate at which I’m progressing (even if I did manage to complete an emissary in there so most days won’t look nearly that good). Completing this before the end of the buff is more than reasonable, and may even leave me with some time left over on my token to pursue something else. Now I just need to figure out what something else might be.

So Very Far Behind – Working on Patch 8.2 in World of Warcraft

I reactiaved my World of Warcraft subscription this morning, with the intent of just dabbling around with some world quests to finish off the first part of Pathfinder before having to go check out the new (to me) zones of Nazjatar and Mechagon. But instead, I was greeted by a pleasant surprise.

While it’s a bit taken off my plate to realize I was done with the early Battle for Azeroth reps, it meant there was no easing myself back into it. I went straight to Nazjatar, because even with double rep, this is going to be a lot to get done in a few weeks.

Notice the complete lack of Rustbolt Resistance on my reputation tab? That’s because I haven’t even been there yet!

I did open up Nazjatar trying to get geared up for an emergency anniversary mount run a few months ago, but here’s the thing. Even though questing in Nazjatar drops gear roughly equivalent to what I’m wearing, I’m feeling really out of my depth here. This morning, I mostly ran around picking up flight paths, doing the few world quests I stumbled into, and feeling very overwhelmed. I got a couple of dailies done, but I was starting to feel as if I was spending more time healing myself than anything else. Those mobs hit hard, and I’m still waiting for my muscle memory to get warmed up again.

Hopefully, it’ll come back to me sooner rather than later, and I won’t squander my token and a month’s worth of Impressive Influence chasing battle pets or conveniently forgetting to log in.

Always Running Late

For someone who is meticulous about being timely IRL, I still can procrastinate for the Olympics. I feel like this post has a sort of an Inception-style thing going on for it, because it’s a short story about waiting until the absolutely last minute, and also, it’s written and posted more than a week after I intended to.

Sorry about that, folks.


It seems like it’s been forever since the information about the 15th Anniversary event in WoW came out, and I was pretty sure I was going to reactivate my WoW sub in November to take advantage of it.

Then, I saw that the event was going to be a long one, running all the way through January 7th, so there was no rush. And rush I absolutely did not. Before I knew it, November had disappeared, and then it was December and I was stuck in bed sick for over a week, and then it was the holidays, and that token just never got spent.

At the beginning of January, I again claimed I was going to get my act together and go get that Deathwing mount. Finally, on Sunday, January 5th, a mere 48ish hours before the even was over, I reactiavted my account.

And after approximately 10 months off, I had to remember how to play (thank goodness for muscle memory), scrounge up 10 item levels, and actually get through all three LFR events. Easy peasy.


Having missed at least a couple of patches, making up that iLvl was far easier than I could have hoped. One random world quest for a trinket, and several quick upgrades while opening up Najatar (not to mention the hella boost to my necklace), and I hit 380.

All in all, it was easier than I anticipated all around. Monday evening, my husband and I started queuing up for the LFRs (I know, I know!!!) – Outlands was flawless, Northrend was … less flawless (stupid dance, stupid defile, stupid old person memory for mechanics), and we only had one wipe on Cho’Gall in the Cataclysm content. The whole shebang, including figuring out how the heck one gets to The Caverns of Time these days, took about two and a half hours.

So, let’s say that this mount took approximately 5 hours of effort, and about two months of procrastination.

As it stands now, I have not logged back into WoW since then – I still have 20 days remaining on my sub – and yet, I’m still thinking about going back for real for Shadowlands.

Sometimes, Procrastination Pays Off

I have had the itch to go back to World of Warcraft for a bit now, but I’ve been procrastinating on actually re-activating my sub. Sure, I could let you all in on some of my MMO neuroses by listing off a bunch of reasons, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there was one that was stronger than the rest.

See, when I re-upgraded to Windows 10 a couple of months ago, one of the things I forgot to back up was my World of Warcraft addons folder. I have always run a ridiculous amount of addons, and I had some deep dread about having to figure out my UI from scratch.


Well, a couple of weeks before the big upgrade, I thought that my harddrive was starting to go, so I had bought a replacement and cloned it. However, once I fiddled around with all the cords in there, all of the hard disk ridiculousness seemed to resolve itself, so I’m thinking it was a loose cord or something, and I promptly put the whole thing out of my mind.

Well, some oddball glitch caused my computer to boot from the wrong drive last night, and after a few very panicky moments trying to figure out what exactly had happened, I realized that this was a blessing in disguise. My addons folder was on the cloned drive, and I could simply copy it to the drive I am actually using!


After a little more fiddling, and safe removal and storage of the backup drive so that I could avoid any more odd rebooting shenanigans, I have all of my addons back, and updated, and well, I guess I’ll be dabbling in some World of Warcraft this weekend.