Prepatch

So the prepatch is here, has been for a few days even, and it has started in usual fashion, with things being very broken. There's the usual thing, of most addons being broken with the changes that came, I think the biggest problem for them has been the change to require some extra code for frames that need a backdrop since apparently time was being spent figuring out to render non-existent backdrops before so Blizzard changed how they handle all of that.

A bit more annoyingly, what was also rather broken the first couple of days were the servers, which considering how well Blizzard has handled the expansion launches recently was something of a surprise. Patch-day itself was pretty much unplayable, we wanted to do some leveling and couldn't really get started at all before late into the evening when things mostly stabilized somewhat. At this point, the servers are mostly stable again from what I can tell so things seem to have settled, which is nice.

A lot more annoyingly, the patch seems to have brought a couple of bugs along with it, the worst of which is some sort of desynchronisation between the clients and the server, where a player ends up just showing in the completely wrong location. Have had it happen both in dungeons and in the raid, and is rather annoying when it does especially as a healer since the player in question will only be shown in range on the desynchronised position not their actual position, making healing them in dungeons essentially impossible. Raid fights, well depends on the fight and how far one has to move, though luckily we only had this bug come up once and some strategical relogging seemed to fix it so.

Another more minor bug but rather annoying one non the less is the inability as Alliance to start questing and leveling in Battle for Azeroth at the start unless one does Exile's Reach as starting zone. Which would be fine, except the whole reason we are leveling Alliance characters at the moment is in order to unlock the heritage armor which means playing allied races which means we can't play Exile's Reach since we start at level 10. This is a minor bug for me since there are other avenues to level and we mostly wanted to do Battle for Azeroth to see how the scaling on the neck was at early levels and it seems that gets unlocked later anyway, but still it was rather annoying to find it since we spent a good while trying to figure out how to start questing there—including leveling other characters through Exile's Reach to see how that works and seeing if maybe party sync could allow us to finagle our way in there—but unfortunately it all seems very buggy at the moment.

Beyond that, we had our first prepatch raid yesterday—moved from Wednesday due to the aforementioned server/addon issues—and it was all a surprisingly fun time, since we got to do content that was rather familiar while at the same time having to relearn how to play it to a degree due to the class changes and consequent damage output changes following that. Especially prominent in this was no longer having the burst from fire mages which meant we had to adapt some of our strategies somewhat to reach some key damage checks, but overall it seemed that our relative damage had actually increased since we seemed to kill N'Zoth at a earlier point than before. The lack of haste hasn't hit me too badly yet—though the worst part of course comes when we start leveling in Shadowlands—but it was definitely noticeable when doing my ramps on my priest since it means I have to time things differently and potentially not cover as many people. I'll get used to it with time but still a bit sad to have it all gone.

Overall the prepatch has been a fun time so far despite the hiccups, so should be able to tide me over well until the expansion itself launches.

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Shadowlands

So the expansion got delayed, the pre-patch is hitting soon, I've played some more beta and barely play any live. All of these factors are condensing into quite a lot of feelings towards the game, so I thought it prudent to write those down to process them better.

Delay

Shadowlands getting delayed is old news at this point, and I haven't really mentioned it so far because all I can really say about it is echo what I think the general sentiment seems to be: great news, a bit unfortunate that we have to wait longer since I was really looking forward to having new things to test out—not just in beta form—but the expansion really needed this and I'm hoping it gives Blizzard what they need to make it great. It's giving me more hope that the expansion will be good on launch which is a positive thing, even if it does mean some boredom in the short term.

Pre-patch

With the announcement of the delay we also got the date for the pre-patch, which mostly felt like a concession so that people would have something new to grab on to during the extended wait for the expansion. It is cool, since it will give more people the opportunity to play around with the class changes that were restricted to people with beta access before, and it will mean that we get to do some more allied race leveling we had been postponing so that's a nice bonus.

On the other hand, pre-patch is generally the worst time of the games lifecycle, since it's the time when the old stuff gets disabled or weaker—looking at you, corruption disappearing and secondary stats getting a lot weaker—and the new stuff isn't quite there yet to replace it so it tends to play rather poorly. Still, my time playing it will probably be quite restricted—at least on max level characters where the negatives are most noticeable—so it shouldn't be that noticeable to me and as said brings with it the opportunity to level some allied races so on the whole it's probably more positive than negative.

Beta

Having played more of the beta however, oof. It makes really clear to me why they delayed the expansion and why I was hoping for it, but even though there have been some changes for the positive so far, it still feels like there is quite a lot of work to go before the expansion is in any state that could be classified as fun or good.

The covenants and soulbinds still feel like a mess, more limiting of player choice than actually enabling it. The class changes I'm rather unsure about, sure there is some good stuff in there but the tuning is a bit all over the place which makes it hard to predict if the fun things are the things that will actually stick. The Maw is an unfun mess that I would prefer to completely avoid at this point yet they stuck the gem vendor in there making it essentially mandatory content where you seemingly in its current iteration can spend quite a lot of time there daily.

Barely playing any live

Among all of this, it feels like there's barely any reason to log into the live game, excepting maybe doing the weekly keys and arena on my latest alt.

All of this is putting me into the somewhat strange place of having alternating phases of hype and dread towards the new expansion. On one hand, I'm really read for something new, on the other, the thing we're getting really doesn't look all that good at the moment and even though Blizzard took more time in order to be able to fix that, I'm really worried that it just won't be enough.

At the moment, I'm in more of a down phase which I'm sure shines through in what I've written, and I'm really hoping Blizzard proves me wrong because I would really like another good expansion right about now.

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Dungeons & Dragons hype

It feels somewhat ironc writing this at the moment, since we have had a two week break from the game due to real life getting in the way, but recently I have been really hyped up to get to playing Dungeons & Dragons again which is a refreshing change. I mean, I've always enjoyed the sessions we have had, but now I am once more excitedly planning and looking forward to the next time we play as well as seeing how they tackle the challenges I set before them.

I am, however, at the moment somewhat unsure what exactly that challenge will be but I have some ideas that I can refine and more importantly I feel like the time has come to start giving the players some more interesting magic items to play around with as well as encounter in their fights. It's actually been really fun so far seeing them interract with the magical things in the world that they have already encountered since they are first-time players and as such have no real expectation of what's in front of them making the reactions they have really unexpected. The best example of this so far was their encounter with an alchemical jug, where one of the players (or their character) assumed it was filled with some sort of invisible liquid instead of being merely magical in nature and consequently (unfortunately for them) ended up destroying the item during their experimentation.

This feeling of not knowing what will happen is what makes me really excited to have them encounter something like that in a combat situation, since they will have to think even more on their feet and prepare a response to such a strange circumstance in a hurry, and the coolest part of course is that once combat is over—should they prevail—they will have the opportunity to confuse their own enemies with such magical items in the future.

The other thing that I find myself really looking forward to again is the whole collaborative storytelling aspect of the game, especially since the players' actions can sometimes throw rather big curveballs to me as a DM which makes the whole thing that much more interesting along with giving me ideas on how to implement things in the future. I think the best recent-ish example of this was a player simply deciding that they picked up a glowing stone while they were out adventuring, and gave it to the dwarf in the party since they are experts on stones and stonework. This all lead to a somewhat interesting dream-like adventure at a later date that I don't think the players expected, but that interaction between the two players was the catalyst for it all which I find really cool. That does remind me, I need to try and encourage such creativity from the players more somehow, since as mentioned they are first-timers and I quite often get the feeling that they are somewhat unsure of what exactly they actually can do and it all feels a tad bit safe, though the two above examples are definite counterpoints to that feeling. Still, giving the players even more opportunities for those interactions is definitely something I want to enable, so need to keep that in mind more in the future, maybe a note or the like somewhere?

Having written this, now I just hope all the more that we actually do get the opportunity to play in the not too distant future and that we have the chance to put real life aside for a bit, and I think next time is actually looking rather likely so fingers crossed!

Gaming

Design

It doesn't feel like that long ago since I last completely changed the design of this blog, yet recently I have for some reason started thinking about changing it up a bit again, strangely enough because the current design feels a bit dated even though that is exactly the point.

I don't as of yet have any concrete ideas of where to go with a potential new design, so it's all mostly just thoughts in my head that I decided to put down for my own amusement, but here we are.

I still in a sense want to keep the current general feel of the blog, though perhaps with a few more modern touches like enabling me to if I so choose to pick some of those nice featured images for a post, and perhaps in general being a bit more friendly towards media in my posts. At the same time, using more images and media is something I've wanted to do before as well, yet it is something that almost always just ends up being something I want to do instead of something I go through with since I find it somewhat hard to find fitting places for images and don't necessarily partiularily enjoy the process of finding the fitting imagery for a specific post or point.

This all isn't really helped along by the theme of the blog currently being very heavily World of Warcraft inspired, yet a lot of the content not necessarily having that much to do with the theme so it feels like there is a certain conflict between the presentation and the content itself which would only be made stronger were I to use things like featured images which exist to give a bit more, shall we say, punch to an article yet might look completely out of place with the theme. I suppose this is why the trend is towards quite a bit more "generic" looking sites with simple and sleek designs, and while those can look really nice I do still enjoy the somewhat oldschool feel that the current theme has.

Another problem becomes that were I to choose to also go that route, it would in a sense become that much more difficult to make the site memorable to potential visitors since it feels like it would then look just like every other blog currently in existence making it all that much more forgettable. Sure, one can argue that just means that the content is more important in those cases, but presentation matters just as much as content.

In the end though, all of these problems and pros and cons are somewhat irrelevant though, since this all is about me expressing myself and not truly writing for any specific audience and consequently the only presentation that matters is the one I myself am comfortable with and the impression it leaves on anyone else is secondary—especially since, let's be honest, nobody is reading all of this.

All of that is a really long way of saying, I'm thinking about changing things up a bit, and somewhat excited by the idea, but it will probably all end up going nowhere (at least on any reasonable timescale).

Misc

Arena

In the process of gearing and playing my new rogue, we ended up doing some arena as well mainly for the essence since I never ended up getting rank three of it on my priest. This was a rather interesting experience since arena was something I hadn't particularily enjoyed up until this point, I'd participated in it at times when friends asked me and didn't really mind playing it per se since I was playing with people I enjoyed playing with, but it also certainly wasn't my favourite part of the game.

This didn't exactly change while playing the rogue—as in it's still not my favourite part of the game—but it did feel a lot less frustrating than when playing as a priest and more specifically healer, and I think I can even say I enjoyed it, which came as something of a surprise; not a complete one mind, since I did actually have a period during Warlords of Draenor where I did a somewhat significant amount of PVP, mostly battlegrounds, also with a rogue, meaning the precedent was definitely there for me enjoying rogue PVP.

It feels like this somewhat re-iterates the value in playing multiple characters and specs, since it allows one to find new places to enjoy the game that perhaps didn't feel that fun before. It has also increased my desire to keep several characters relatively well maintained in Shadowlands, especially as mentioned before that is looking a lot more doable than it was in Battle for Azeroth. Being able to hop on the rogue and shank some faces in arena will be a really nice change of pace from progressing the latest mythic boss as a healer on the priest which I think will go a long way to helping the new expansion keep fresh.

Speaking of the new expansion, I am slowly starting to get somewhat hyped for it, what with all the changes coming to shadow along with the removal of things like corruptions that while really fun on a well maintained character are really frustrating while playing a new character since it feels like one is just perpetually behind and never really able to catch up. It's a bit of a strange feeling, since I'm not generally one to get really hyped for new expansions, I think the last one for wich that was the case was Cataclysm, and tend to actually have a bit of a case of, well, mourning the passing of the previous expansion in advance. This even happened with Warlords of Draenor, since even though it wasn't really my favourite expansion while playing it there were some really positive changes to the environment in which I was playing which made me have fond memories of the end of it along with a dread of what was to come with Legion. These fears ended up being rather unfounded of course with Legion ending up my favourite expansion, but still they were there. Going into Battle for Azeroth, the fear ended up being whether or not the expansion could live up to its predecessor (spoiler: no, it could not) along with once again shifting guilds which always comes with some uncertainty even if that ended up being a really good thing in the end and I am really enjoying where I raid at the moment.

Yet now, I'm just looking forward to putting this expansion behind me and "getting" to play more characters on a competetive level without the somewhat silly amount of effort that required in Battle for Azeroth along with getting to see the new content. Sure, there are as always the worries around balancing and raid spots that accompany every new piece of content, but it feels like even were it the case that those worries come to pass I would have a better time of it than I would have had during Battle for Azeroth and that I'm more prepared for that outcome. Still really wary of how the Covenant-situation will end up, but nothing I can really do about that so nothing to be done but wait and see and enjoy the ride.

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