Same Druid, Different Game

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Is this thing still on?

It’s been a while since I posted any kind of an update here. Whilst the intervening time has seen me dabble with World of Warcraft a little, I have gradually realised that I’ll probably never play seriously again. Juggling working four days per week, parenting two children (now aged 9 and 7), household chores and everything else means the only video games I’m playing at the moment are casual, mobile ones that I can pick up and put down in my odd spare minutes.

Blizzard managed to suck me back in to WoW by emailing me a free week just before the launch of Legion, and I enjoyed it enough to buy the expansion and play a bit. However after the initial enthusiasm I found it harder and harder to make the time to sit in front of the PC to play, and I’ve let the subscription lapse again. It’s still my favourite RPG, no question, but my gaming style has changed.

One of the things I have been re-discovering lately is my love of board games. The kids are now old enough that we can play games with them, and Catan Junior, Dino Race, and My First Stone Age (amongst others) have become firm family favourites.

I’ve also, after many years of wishing, finally managed to find a regular group to play tabletop RPGs with, and have discovered a love for Pathfinder. I’ve been playing just over a year now, learning new things all the time and having an absolute blast. My first character was, of course, a half elf Druid, although her campaign is suspended at the moment and I’m dabbling with my first cleric (after the evil GM killed my Paladin!).

I have always blogged because I have stories that form in my head that I want to get written down. At the moment the stories in my head are all about gaming – board gaming, RPGs, and all the fun we’re having as a family who games together. And so it feels appropriate to return here, to my gaming blog. I’ve had a bit of a spring clean, and my loyal readers will probably notice that what I post here will change in nature, as I won’t be writing about World of Warcraft any more. Instead I will be talking about the games I am playing, and I hope that will interest you enough to stick around for the ride!

Just like riding a bike

I’ve not played World of Warcraft for quite a while. Having found the higher level Pandaria zones so crowded when MoP released I had a little dabble with a baby monk, which was fun, but then real life caught up with me again and I left Azeroth behind for a while.

Life’s hectic. Juggling two children, working part time, running the house, blogging and podcasting regularly doesn’t leave much play time, unfortunately. However recently I’ve taken some steps to improve my work/life balance, and I’m starting to find the odd hour in the evenings for gaming again.

I’ve tried a few other games. But I keep finding myself playing something and thinking “I’d rather be playing WoW”. So a couple of weeks ago I took some tentative steps back into Azeroth. I started gently – a baby monk on a completely new server, as I didn’t know how my guildies would react to me coming back. I wanted to be sure that I would be playing reasonably regularly before going back to my old characters.

I found I was playing quite consistently, and enjoying it, so I took a deep breath and logged in to my old server. Thankfully I still recognised most of the names in my guild (although several of them have switched mains), and even better they all welcomed me back with open arms (and a few jokes about whether I was lost or not!). I noodled around on alts for a few evenings, and then plucked up the courage to log my level 85 Druid in to see if I could still remember how to play her.

It’s not quite like riding a bike, as several of the mechanics have changed since I last played – in balance spec I seem to have new mushroom things to play around with for example – but it is coming back to me. I’ve soloed myself up to level 86 without too much of a struggle. This week I braved my first instance run, with friendly and very forgiving guildies, my first attempt at healing. Most of it came back to me, although having re-installed the game from scratch I’ve lost all my key bindings, and I kept finding my fingers automatically hitting combinations that I hadn’t configured!

Some things I have forgotten though, and my most embarrassing moment was having to ask my group what my group heal was called, as it wouldn’t come to mind at all and I was struggling to recognise it in my spellbook! Thankfully they’re a very forgiving group, and could tell me it was Wild Growth without laughing at me 🙂

I lost the tank a couple of times, but we managed to scrape through with no wipes, so in my mind it was a good start. More importantly it was fun, and reminded me that I really do love WoW and want to carry on making the time to play.

First impressions of Mists of Pandaria

It’s all very crowded!

To be fair, I didn’t expect anything else on launch night. But I must confess I got myself to Pandaria, eventually managed to click on the first quest mob, and then logged off to let everything calm down a bit!

I might try rolling my Panda tonight and see if that’s any less busy…

Short term goals

It seems that I have come back to WoW just in time for the massive pre-expansion patch, which I believe hits the servers next Wednesday. I’m still worried about how I will research all the changes, like the new talent trees, but that is a problem for next week.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to accomplish in WoW in the short term. My main, my beloved Druid, is already level 85, and I can’t really work up the enthusiasm to do much with her at the moment with the expansion so close. I have decided that I would like to get her tradeskills sorted out before the expansion though – whilst her Herbalism is maxed out she still has a little way to go with her Inscription, Cooking and Fishing. I’m using the Stormwind dailies to level the last two, and crafting “Forged Documents” to level my inscription, which is on a 24 hour cooldown. My pet collection is woefully neglected, but I need to do some research into where the pets I am missing come from, so that might have to wait for after I’ve got to grips with the expansion.

Then there’s the alts. My primary alt is my Mage, who is level 80. She is painful to level because she’s so squishy, and I think I’ve spent most of her 80 levels wishing she was a shadow priest. I tried playing her the other day, and got her killed on the third mob. I will go back to her but at the moment she’s not a priority.

I have a supporting cast of other alts. One of every class except warrior, although many of them are currently Auction House mules. Curse you Inscription for the amount of bag space needed to hold stock! I’m actually seriously considering trying to offload most of my glyph stocks and dropping out of the glyph market entirely – I’ve made a reasonable amount of gold, and it’s such a time sink. With limited play time I’d rather be actually, you know, playing, rather than mass crafting.

My current favourite alt is my priest. She’s only level 17, but I’m enjoying playing her. When I played on the US servers my primary alt was a shadow priest, and I got her all the way to 60 in the days when that was the level cap. This probably explains why I’m much more comfortable playing a priest than a mage – I just wanted to level the mage when I moved over to the EU servers for some variety. I think I might focus on her for a bit.

So I suspect this is what I’ll be doing in WoW over the next few days and weeks:

  • Maxing the Druid’s tradeskills (with the possible exception of Archaeology)
  • Sorting bags and trying to clear down some of the AH mules
  • Levelling the Priest.
Sounds like enough to be getting on with in the short term, doesn’t it?

I logged into WoW last night…

… and it was still there!

And a large number of my guildies were still there too!

Since the birth of my son I’ve really struggled to make the time to play many games, and these days I’m more likely to be found dipping in and out of iPad games for a level or two at a time rather than making the commitment to play a large, complex game like WoW.

My interest in Rift waned pretty quickly after the last blog post. I’m not sure I have the time to learn a completely new game these days. I picked up Diablo III and I’m enjoying that, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to cancel my WoW account.

So I  just pre-ordered the Mists of Pandaria expansion. And I’m trying to make at least one evening a week to log in and play. Starting last night. All my characters are still there. The druid made it to 85, my Mage is 80, there are a host of supporting alts (thank goodness we’re getting an additional character slot in MoP or I’d have to delete someone to make a panda!).

There’s just one problem. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing! The game doesn’t stand still. I have new spells I don’t understand – what is this mushroom thing that druids get now?! I have forgotten how to play – I thought I’d try to get the Mage to 85 but she got killed by the third mob I tried to kill. So I did a few dailies and then noodled around on an alt.

I used to have time to read up on strategy and gearing AND play the game. But I can’t do that any more. So I’m going to have to just fumble my way through and see how I get on. I’ll probably be even more lost that usual!

There’s something about druids…

I seem to be drawn to the druid class. Which is interesting really, as it plays very differently in the MMORPGs that I’ve played.

My first druid experience was in EverQuest. Druids were pure casters, generally played as healers, although some were dps casters. We were not quite as good at healing as clerics, and I was always terrified any time I was in a Complete Heal rotation (remember those?!) as my CH was smaller than everyone else’s.

Then came WoW. I was immediately drawn to the druid shapeshifting abilities. It is a much more flexible class in WoW, having the ability to heal, range dps, melee dps or tank. I’ve tried all roles, and discovered that I am naturally most comfortable in a healing role, although I like to have delusions of range dps power and I maintain my boomkin offspec.

In Rift the Druids are different again. I’ve only played to level 12 so far, so I’m still learning about the class, but what attracted me to it this time around is that I get to have a pet. And this little pet will heal me! So far the druid is playing as a melee dps class with some healing utility -it doesn’t feel as “pure” a healer as it is in EQ or WoW. The soul system in Rift means there are many more options in terms of building your character class, and I think we’ll see many different variations. Mine currently has Justicar and Shaman souls, which is making a melee dps class who also acts as a support healer. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one plays!

Not permanently lost, but a little lost

It’s been quiet around here, hasn’t it?

There’s two reasons for that – firstly I’m finding that I have a lot less free time now that I’m looking after two children rather than one. And secondly, I’ve really lost interest in World of Warcraft recently.

I’m disappointed in Cataclsym. I really am. For me, the most enjoyable part of an MMO is the levelling part. I enjoy duoing with my husband, venturing into unchartered territory together. His reckless racing in without assessing the situation first complements my more careful nature perfectly. I knew there were only 5 new levels in Cataclysm, but I was hoping to have a month of two of enjoyable levelling out of those 5 levels. So yes, it was disappointing to see my guildies hitting level 85 within a week or so of release.

But then the double whammy – it seems to me that there’s nothing new at 85. When you get to 85 you can grind reputation, run heroics or raid. Just like you could at level 80. With the added bonus that everything has been made harder. So where you could once log in, drop into the dungeon finder, run a heroic in about 30 minutes, log off again, now you get to use the dungeon finder that puts you into a PuG that repeatedly wipes. As someone who doesn’t do PuGs at the best of times, the thought of everything getting harder is not something that appeals to me.

This all resulted in my husband losing interest in the game at level 83, and moving on to other things. I don’t want to level without him, because the fun for me is in playing the game with him. So I spent a few weeks messing around with the AH and dabbling with alts, and then gradually I started finding other things to fill my evenings with.

We did both get onto the Rift beta program, and found the game enjoyable enough to pre-order it. I’m not cancelling my WoW subscription, but I am quite looking forward to levelling a new character in a new world. I hope to blog about that a little here too.

So it’s been quiet around here because I’ve not really had anything to say. I’m still here though, just trying to find my way.

Blizzcon Opening Ceremony – All A Bit “Meh”

I wish I could have been at Blizzcon. I attended the World Wide Invitational in Paris a couple of years ago, and I loved it. Sure it was packed, but the atmosphere was electric, and being amongst that many like-minded people was great. I would love one day to make the trip across the pond and attend a Blizzcon.

But I have a three-year old and a four month old. And I can’t afford the trip. So I bought the DirectTV live stream, and I’ve been watching the coverage, and enjoying it.

I tuned in especially to see the Opening Ceremony live. Blizzard usually take these opportunities to announce new products or new information, and I was excited to hear what they had to tell us this time. A release date for Diablo 3 perhaps? Or even some details on their new, super-secret MMO project.

What we got was a very nervous looking Chris Metzen presenting a “Geek is…” slideshow, and then the announcement of the 5th and final Diablo 3 class – the Demon Hunter.

And it all felt a bit “meh”.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the sound of the Demon Hunter. It was a great cinematic, and it’s probably the class I’ll play when D3 comes out. But at Blizzcon last year they announced two Diablo 3 classes AND the Cataclysm expansion. And at the WWI before that they announced Diablo 3 AND two Diablo 3 classes.

I have read some speculation that there was due to be another announcement, but for some reason it couldn’t be made, hence Chris had to fill time with his “Geek is…” thing.

Strangely, Blizzard chose to release the Cataclysm cinematic a week before Blizzcon. They could at least have held that back to give us something special at Blizzcon.

I did enjoy the “Geek is…” presentation, although it made me think I’m not as much of a geek as I thought before – my husband had to explain what several of the pictures were!

On the bright side I’ve started watching the “Quests and Lore” panel, and I’m finding it hysterically funny. Most entertaining 🙂

Still Alive

This was a triumph
I’m making a note here
Huge success
It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction

My son, David, was born on the 30th May. He is absolutely gorgeous, and I am completely besotted with him. He is also a huge distraction from WoW, and although I’m finding the culture shock of moving from one child to two a LOT easier than moving from none to one, somehow my time is getting filled up with family stuff, and it’s a bit of a struggle to get online and play much.

Hence this blog hasn’t been updated in a while.

David is now three months old, and some normality is starting to return. I’ve even managed to attend a few guild raids again, although it requires organisation with military precision for me to get all my household chores finish before raid start time. I’ve still got loads I want to achieve before Cataclysm comes out, and I want to return to updating this blog regularly. I’m hoping my recent purchase of an iPad will help me with this, as I now have the ability to “blog on the run”, so to speak.

So, I’m almost back, I think!

Radio Silence Will Break

It’s been quiet around here for the last couple of months. That’s because a few RL things have been keeping me busy and tired. I’ve not had as much time to myself, and so not been able to update here. I’ve also been playing less WoW than I would like.

However, this week is my last week at work for over a year – yay! I need to recover a bit from the last three months, but I have several updates and posts I want to make here already, and I’m hoping to get a bit more WoW time (well, at least until the baby comes!)

So, my loyal readers, I’m on the way back 🙂