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 Battle.net 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.

World of Warcraft – Anima Conductor Treasures – Ranked by Covenant

I feel like most of the major pros and cons of the different convenants have been discussed to death, but I haven’t seen much talk about the Anima Conductors overall, and the treasures unlocked by the first level anima conductor in particular. Sure, even a terrible treasure is still treasure, but after having done all four covenant’s treasures many times, I’m prepared to rank them, from worst to best.

Number Four – Necrolords

As far as Anima Conductor treasures are concerned, Necrolords comes in dead last – and it’s not even close. The treasure is located in the House of the Chosen, which is full of hostile mobs. However, just getting there isn’t enough – it’s a Runebound Chest, so you have to clear all around it so you can deactivate the three runes before you can open it. This is the one treasure I don’t bother with most days – it takes far more time than it’s worth.

Number Three – Kyrian

This one is pretty awful as well, but the most awful part (having to fight your way through a mob-dense area to get there) is made better once you unlock the second tier of your Transport Network, which provides a portal exactly where you need to be. However, like all things Kyrian, you need to prove your worth by ringing a bell, which will silence you and slow your movement speed, and then maneuvering through moving patches of bad on the floor. Touching that blue ick will bring you back to the beginning and stun you for a second, so this can get frustrating. The debuff lasts for two minutes, which is plenty of time to get to the treasure itself, but limits you from just changing your mind and leaving. I quickly learned that if I ring the bell in ghost wolf, I get to stay that way, so the movement debuff is less noticable, but overall, the Kyrian treasure is pretty irritating.

Number Two – Night Fae

The Night Fae treasure is a Large Lunarlight Pod, which you may have encountered elsewhere in the zone. This one is right next to the flight path at Glitterfall Basin, and you won’t run into any hostile critters while looking for the Lunarlight Buds you need to light up to unlock it. Sure, it takes a minute or two to find them all, since they’re not always in exactly the same place, but with it being close to a flightpath and in a safe space, the worst you can say is that it’s a little tedious. As an added bonus, once you have the second level of the Queen’s Conservatory, this is a fairly regular source of catalysts, which is a nice bonus.

Number One – Venthyr

There’s a lot of things that are irritating and confounding about Revendreth, but thankfully, the Anima Conductor treasure is as easy as they come. Like the one in Ardenweld, it’s right near a flight path, and there are no hostiles between where you land and where you need to go. Once you click the tombstone, you just need to walk up the ghostly stones to the ghostly treasure chest. You do receive a debuff that doesn’t allow you to mount, and you are on a (very generous) timer, but although this may look like a jumping puzzle, it’s really a pretty simple walk. It also frequently gives almost as much anima as your average world quest, which is a great bonus.

Obviously, the ease of access and quality of Anima Conductor treasures is probably a worse reason to choose a covenant than fashion, but I thought this might help someone decide what to reinforce first on an alt. If you’re Venthyr, the treasure is quick and easy, and if you’re a Necrolord, well, you might be better off going after the rare.

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.