Blaugust

Heavensward Mount Bonanza

Gobbiewalker!

Last weekend a friend asked if people were interested in farming some of the Heavensward primal and raid mounts. I jumped at the chance and said yes because I still miss quite a lot of mounts from that expansion. Other people said they’d come as well and in the end we had a party of 4-5 people to tackle old content with.
We did both Alexander part 4 Savage mode and part 12 Savage mode and killed it as often as was needed to get everyone their mounts. This didn’t last that long luckily since for both wings the mount is a guaranteed drop when you kill the boss. There were a few one-shot mechanics that we needed to deal with but once we figured out those it wasn’t to difficult to get some kills in.

Next to the savage Alexander raids we also tackled a few primals and I walked away with the Bismarck ex bird (dropped at the first kill and I was the only one who needed it) and the Sophia ex bird (again dropped on the first kill). We kept farming Sophia and Zurvan ex for mounts for other people but unfortunately nothing else dropped for the evening. All in all I only need two more bird mounts from Heavensward primals now: the Nidhogg ex one and Sephiroth ex. Maybe we will do another farming party later on this week or in the weekend and be a bit more lucky with mount drops from people.

In other news I’ve managed to crank my Culinarian up to level 50 yesterday and I will probably get my Alchemist to level 70 tomorrow after reset. I’m also fully decked out in Eden healing gear for my White Mage so I can start rolling on tokens for caster gear. It feels like I’m getting my goals in Final Fantasy XIV completed much faster than I do in World of Warcraft. I guess because the grind is a bit different and I’ve figured out an optimized route to do most things with. As it stands now I’m going to take a bit of a break from the Ixal daily quests for the coming week and probably only do ex-roulette and some leves to get my Botanist and Miner leveled up. The rest of my evenings will be spent in WoW doing all the dailies to unlock flying.

Speaking of WoW, in about an hour and a half you can start reserving names on the Classic servers… I’m going to roll Alliance on the EU Mirage Raceway server so if you want someone to talk to when Classic hits you can find me there!

Underestimations in Azeroth

When I decided to go back to World of Warcraft somewhere at the end of July I figured I’d sit down for a couple of nights and just grind out the whole flying thing. You see, I’m so used to the Final Fantasy XIV way of doing things that I may have completely forgotten how utterly annoying it is to unlock flying in WoW. I much prefer the system that Square Enix implemented where you sort of organically unlock flying for all the new zones of an expansion as you do the main story. It gives you access to easier travel way earlier on and makes things like Hunts, FATE farms and the like much more beareable.

Cue Blizzard and their approach to unlocking flying. As they’ve done since the Warlords of Draenor expansion flying is tied to achievements. Before that you just had to obtain enough gold to buy flying from a vendor. Now it’s tied to a grind that comes naturally as you keep on playing the game, especially the achievement part, but can be quite frustrating when you are a returning player. I was lucky that I finished off the first part of the achievement pretty early on after expansion launch so I just have to focus on the two new zones now, but I don’t want to think about what a nightmare it would be if I still had to grind out starting Battle for Azeroth reps on top of the new ones. I would drive me quite insane I imagine.

So far I’ve managed to more or less keep up with doing dailies in both Mechagon aswell as Nazjatar. I find Mechagon to be a bit more doable due to it being a smaller surface plus, if you’re lucky, you can pick up a jetpack on certain days that allows you to fly for 20 minutes at a time. This is huge to someone who hasn’t unlocked flying yet because it means I don’t have to pull half the island to get to something and instead can just fly over it. Unfortunately Nazjatar doesn’t have something similar but I have unlocked all the flying points there, allowing me to cross from one end to the other end of the zone pretty “fast”. Still it’s pretty annoying to have to cross all of it on a ground mount. As Rogue I can dismount and stealth past a lot of the mobs but that slows me down even more.

Nevertheless according to my calculations I should be hitting the flying unlock right before WoW Classic goes live. You get around 1-1.5k reputation per day per faction if you do all the dailies and world quests. I need 11k untill I’m Revered with the Ankoan Waveblade and about 17k untill I hit the same with the Rustbolt Resistance of Mechagon. If I manage to find time to do the dailies every day, without it hampering too much time for other games, it will take me a maximum of 17 days to get flying unlocked. Obviously I hope that it will be sooner than that, especially since the Ankoan are on the roulette for WQ completion bonus, which in itself nets 1.5k rep alone. Plus if I can drop having to do dailies in Nazjatar and only have Mechagon left it’s much less time spent so there’s that. All in all I’m still on track to unlock flying before Classic so here’s keeping my fingers crossed!

A short book review: Tales of Lunis Aquaria

Tales of Lunis Aquaria as shown on narratess.com

So I don’t think I’ve ever done a proper book review. Mostly because the books that I’ve read are all bestsellers in their own right and I don’t think the authors really need a gaming/hobby blog like me to shower them in praise. They received that enough. However after reading this book I feel compelled to write a post about it. So let’s start with the basics.

Book title: Tales of Lunis Aquaria
Author: Tessa Hastjarjanto
Publishing date: 8th of April 2019
Genre: Fantasy
Book type: Short stories
Format: E-book (but there is a paperback available aswell)

Tales of Lunis Aquaria is a bundle of nine short stories set in a fantasy world. Each story involves different characters although there are a few reoccuring ones. It’s an entry book in what will be a bigger universe expanding on the introductory short stories written in this book. There are a few main characters, the ones depicted on the cover of the book that play a big role in the universe. They are however only featured in two (or maybe three if my guess is correct) of the short stories.
It’s a relatively short book, only 104 pages long in the e-pub format that I use on my Sony e-reader and as such I was able to read through it in a relatively short time. The fact that I didn’t put it down once I started reading it should say enough about the quality of the stories. I was immediatly sucked into the world that Tessa has crafted with her writing. All the stories are very pleasant to read through and are short enough to fit into small reading sessions for when one is traveling or when you want to read something before going to bed. I enjoyed all of the separate stories, enough so that I can’t wait untill the continuation comes out for all of them. I don’t want to spoil too much of the stories but I can definitely say that the one titled “Moonflower” was my favourite one. The premise is as followed (as written on narratess.com): To win the heart of a girl, a young man sets out to find the most beautiful flower there ever was. He faces the dangers of the mountains, looking for a flower that might not even exist. The tale has a twist at the end and I so want to find out what happened! All of the other stories are written just as well but specifically this one has me hungering for more.

As mentioned the flow of the book is good. Tessa crafts a very compelling world and everything fits together nicely. I’m quite curious as to how the stories continue. With setting up nine different ones she’s given herself quite the task of expanding this world. If anything that’s the one thing I may nitpick on. The introductions are written so well that I really can’t wait to read how they continue. Seeing as how this is only the entry in a far bigger series I expect a ton more books to come out and patience isn’t one of my strongest virtues when it comes to things I enjoy. I hope she can write a compelling universe with this as starting point and I can’t wait for the next book to come out.

If you’re looking for a light book to read during some travel time or a saturday afternoon sipping a cup of tea and you like fantasy this is the book for you. But know that if you’re hooked you might have to wait a bit to see the stories continue!

Tales of Lunis Aquaria is available at Amazon, Kobo, Nook and Smashbooks and if you’re Dutch you can get the e-book from Bol.com or the paperback from boekenbestellen.nl

Reading blogs

With Blaugust 2019 well under way I had the pleasure of adding a lot of blogs to my Feedly, which is the medium I use to read blogs. Since I work fulltime and have a bit of travel time I prefer to read stuff on Feedly as I travel to and from work. It’s a nice reader, I can easily add (and delete) feeds from it and because it’s cross platform I can read on my PC, my phone and my tablet without issues. I love that it works that way and I don’t really see how I used to read blogs without the help of a feed app.

Of course a feed reader like this has it’s downsides. It’s literally a reader only, so if I want to comment on someone’s blogpost I will have to actively go to their website and comment. One of the other downsides is that for some people’s blog I don’t get full posts on Feedly but only an excerpt with a redirection to their website to read any further. Because of the way that I’m using Feedly, namely to just catch up on blogs during some downtime, I remove those blogs when I come across them. I know it sounds a bit harsh but unless I see a really compelling reason to constantly open a blog seperately to read it I just don’t put in the effort. Especially with so many people posting due to Blaugust right now it’s just a step that I’m not willing to take.

As for the rest. I consider myself to be mostly a blog lurker. I enjoy reading what other people are up to and have a few blogs that I’ve been following for years now and that are big examples to my own blogging. Tales of the Aggronaut, Bio Break, Aywren Sojourner and Contains Moderate Peril are a few of them on that list. Although I’m not always interested in the specific topics they write about, I don’t play most of the games the reference on their blogs for example, I do always enjoy reading every blog post they put out. They are able to make things interesting even for people who have no clue what the game entails. I like their writing personas and I have a huge respect for all of them because they’ve just been around for so long. I mean I’ve been blogging for a good chunk of time myself, my archives here date back to 2013 but I’ve been blogging for longer than that, but I still don’t think I’m anywhere near their level. I feel like my writing persona is all over the place and I use my blog more as a sort of diary than anything else.

Anyway. I do enjoy having added all these new blogs to my daily reading routine. It is a bit overwhelming to keep up with all of them but I’m trying my best to do so. Now I just need to nudge myself into the comment game and interact a bit more with my fellow bloggers instead of being the lurker that I have been over the past years.

Grind vs Grind

As I’m easing back into WoW the two new zones, Nazjatar and Mechagon, kind of highlight the major difference with endgame grinding in WoW and FFXIV for me. As we all know FFXIV endgame is based on running dungeons for tomes, raiding and ex-primals. This is all group content. Once you’ve played through the Mainstory and completed all the sidequests you’re basically out of quests to do. Of course there’s the challenge log which I kind of count as “weekly quests” and of course we have daily quests in the form of beast tribe dailies but most of the endgame stuff revolves around group content. I’m not going to tackle crafting and gathering here as I feel those systems are so resoundingly different in both games that they deserve their own post.

In WoW however a lot of “endgame” content revolves around doing quests. Nazjatar and Mechagon emphasize this even more than usual. To unlock flying and to move through the story you’re required to do a ton of questing. This involves one time quests that advance plot points, world quests that were newly introduced in Legion that give you items and rep with factions to now a ton of daily quests to again advance your reputation and level up your companions. Dungeons are fun to do and WoW has it’s own challenges in the form of Mythic+ dungeons and high end raiding where, on both occasions, you pray for a piece of loot to drop. Therefore you’re reliant on way more sources to gear up and tackle more difficult content than just running dungeons over and over. Also when it comes to unlocking features like flying you’re basically confined to doing dailies and world quests otherwise you will never get the reputation needed to unlock this among other things (like recipes and items).

A lot of people don’t like this questing to progress. Especially people who are more into raiding than anything feel like that being forced to do this many quests to unlock stuff is a damper on their fun. Personally I can see the positives in tieing progress to more solo oriented and quest content as opposed to raiding and running dungeons. It gives people like me time to sit down, unwind and do stuff on my own pace that doesn’t necessarily need the involvement of other people. I don’t mind doing quests. I just sit down and get into the zone and grind away.

Conversely I also don’t mind the current endgame progress in FFXIV. I do my ex-roulette every day untill I’m capped on the newest tomestones. I do the 8-man raid so I can get gear upgrades on normal mode and when I feel like a challenge I will pug an ex-Primal or, when I’m feeling exceptionally well, a Savage raid. I don’t mind having to group up with other people to get stuff done and in the FFXIV community I’m much happier to be running dungeons than everywhere else. Usually people are quiet outside of saying “hi” and we have a fast and efficient run. Sometimes you get more talkative people. Sometimes you get a bad player. But overall the FFXIV dungeon and raid (non Savage content) experience is quite relaxed and doesn’t feel like a chore at all.

All of this has put me in an interesting decision state. Do I want to kick back in WoW with some quests and minimal social interaction as I work towards my personal goals? Or do I pick up my controller, nestle on my couch and start up FFXIV and embrace the social experience as I queue up for various dungeons, trials and even raids? It all depends on my mood and what goal I want to attain. Both have their pro’s and cons. Both represent a grind in some form. And I’m perfectly happy with the difference that’s there.

Ubisoft Summer Camp 2019 Dutch edition!

A few weeks ago one of my best friends took part in a Facebook giveaway to win entrance to the Ubisoft Summer Camp 2019 at the Dutch Ubisoft offices. To both our surprises he won and I was the lucky +1. So last Tuesday we made the journey towards the Ubisoft offices that were located near Utrecht.
I left work early because it started at 18.00 with a walk-in from 17.30. After traveling for a bit and searching an industrial area we managed to locate the building where Ubisoft was located. Due to the Dutch division being relatively small they had a small office space. Something we like to call “drie hoog achter” in Dutch to signify the relatively small and well hidden location of said office space. Then again, no development takes place at the Dutch offices. It’s really just customer service and social media management so you can’t really expect a full building like their HQ in France.

We were greeted by a few Ubisoft employees and entered what could only be their break room. They had setup about 15 PC’s and various Playstations, a stocked fridge with tons of drinks, a popcorn and cotton candy machine and enough chairs for everyone to sit on. As people were slowly trickling in we were told the purpose of the evening. Basically we got to sample a number of games that hadn’t come out yet, we were going to have a small competition, lots of pizza and just gaming fun in general.

The competition opened with a 20 questions quiz about Ubisoft related things, me and my friend ended 7th place, playing Trials Rising and playing a Trackmania Turbo track. Eventually two younger boys won the grand prize and they were really happy with it. As for the games they had on offer… We played some Trackmania, some Trials Rising and some Roller Champions which is probably going to be Ubi’s counterpart to Rocket League. I’m not gonna delve too much into detail about this game because they were pretty strict with us not being allowed to make recordings and stuff. In essence it’s a 3v3 game where you’re on rollerblades in an arena and it involves scoring points. That’s all you’ll get out of me.

All in all me and my friend had a nice evening. The Ubi employees were nice. We met up with all kinds of people who enjoy games aswell. We got to play some games, we had pizza and we ended up going home with a goodiebag. I’m not a huge Ubisoft fan, most of their IPs don’t really speak to me, but they are one of the nicer companies here in the Netherlands when it comes to social media presence so it was really nice to spend an evening there. They had nice decorations up with Rayman greeting all visitors that entered the 3rd floor where they were located. You could see that all the people who work there were passionate about what they do and it rubs off on the guests. It was a good evening out and I’d do it again next year, even if it means it will take me two hours to get home again (in Dutch standards this is a lot since you can basically get out of the country in 2 hours).

Finally a small FFXIV update. My Black Mage hit level 80 last Monday. I’m going to retire that for the rest of the expansion, I really don’t get along with the job, and this weekend I will start leveling Red Mage. After that I should be done and have the title “Soul of Magic”.

Catching up in Nazjatar

As stated in my Gaming Goals post from August 1st I want to get back into WoW and work my way through Nazjatar and Mechagon and unlock flying. Like Syp over at Bio Break I’ve been on a hiatus from the game, although not quite as long as he has been. I think the last time I’ve actively played was when I was still living with my Dad and right before I moved so that would be the end of March. I’ve touched the game briefly here and then after that but nothing that really warrants the label of a fulltime return to form. Now that the FFXIV expansion hype has slightly died down and I’m settling back in a less time consuming routine there I can devote my time to WoW again, among other games.

I had already cleared my questlog and dove into the first tiny bit of Nazjatar earlier but yesterday I sat down and played the zone, and Mechagon, in earnest for about two hours. In that time I discovered the dailies/world quests system that make up these zones and was I reminded that I would need to put in a bit of work if I want to unlock flying in earnest. The whole idea of having a buddy in Nazjatar is nice and I’m happy that I’ve immediatly gone and explored the entire zone since it rewarded me with various flight points that I can take as shortcut to get stuff done. I think the zone itself is nice and I can’t wait to advance in the story and work my way up to the inevitable raid.
I also really like the Benthic gear system and how it allows me to catch up gear and itemlevel wise to other players. My Rogue, who I’ve picked to take through these zones, was hopelessly behind on gear but with the Benthic gear I already managed to drag my itemlevel up to 370. Not anywhere near the current “good” itemlevel but it’s a start at least.

Thematically I enjoy both Nazjatar and Mechagon, although I enjoy Nazjatar a bit more. The elven ruins littered here and there and all the outlandish underwater creatures mixed in with the overwhelming naga presence really sets a good atmosphere. The part where there are still elven ghosts has an amazing soundtrack. Everything really sets the stage for whatever big thing Aszhara has planned and I love it. I’m happy it’s not a truly underwater zone, like the Vashj’ir experiment back in Cataclysm, but I do think that Blizzard kind of missed an opportunity for some underwater content.. Maybe in the way that FFXIV has succeeded, but only with the ability to fight underwater. A girl can dream right?

I’m still settling into all the new stuff they’ve added, like the overhauled Heart of Azeroth system and both the new zones aswell as just getting reacquainted with playing WoW in general. I need to get used to my keybindings again after playing almost exclusively on a controller for the past month, aswell as the combat system and my UI. I also need to remind myself that the looting system is different and the community is very different from FFXIV and I have way more casual goals here than I do in FFXIV. I’m not really scared that I will get sucked back in again seeing as I have no active raiding group and none of my friends really play anymore so my ties to WoW have gotten significantly weaker compared to a few years ago.
The real big elephant in the room is that I hope to have my flying and all content done before Classic WoW launches towards the end of the month. I really want to peek my head in there, I will probably roll a Human Warlock, and I’m sure that I won’t have the “stamina” to play both Classic as modern WoW at the same time. This sets me on a bit of a timer to get stuff done so once my Black Mage dings level 80 tonight I will probably dial down on the playtime in FFXIV and up my playtime in WoW at the same time so I can get done what I want on time. I’ll keep you all posted how that works out.

Living by checklist

You’ve undoubtedly already seen it from my August gaming goals posts but I am a checklist type of girl. I live by checklists on my job, for games and at home. It’s a habit I’ve picked up early on in life when I started to play Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon back when I was still a kid. You see I would do the park challenges and they all came with “checkboxes” that needed to be marked to complete said challenge and open up more difficult park challenges. I would write down what I needed to do and cross it off the list when I was done with it. I took this habit with me to my MMO’s, especially World of Warcraft, for when I needed to craft a particularly annoying item. I’d write down what I would need, in which quantities and where to get it so I wouldn’t have to toggle between screens constantly.

Nowadays in my adult life I tend to make checklists based on my emails at work. I take inventory of everything that comes through my email and the standard tasks that need to be done and then make a priority checklist with the most urgent and important stuff up at the top and the stuff that can be done later at the bottom. Along with carving out blocks of time in my planner this is what has caused me to not go completely insane for the past year or so. Seeing as how I deal with a lot of departments and people in my current job it’s important to stay organized and level headed. It also helps that when I cross things off my checklist I have a bit of a “look what I did today” list for my boss to keep her happy aswell. It gives a bit of insight of what everyone does on a given day and that in turn tends to lead to a better distribution of tasks among colleagues.

In my personal life I tend to use task lists on chore days (like today) and when it comes to what I want to do gaming wise. This helps me achieve what I want during the day and helps me focus my time and energy better on what I want to do. I’ll make a list of all the chores that I want doing and stripe them off one by one as I finishe them up. I do the same for gaming related things. Today for instance I wrote down all the roulettes I wanted to run in FFXIV and the dailies that I wanted to do. It helps me have a sense of what I’ve done and how much I still need to do. Of course I can’t always do everything on the list. So I prioritize there aswell. What laundry do I need to do first? Do I really have to vacuum/dust today or can I go another day? Do I have any other interfering plans that means I have to move over some chores to another day in the week.
The same goes for the gaming stuff on my checklist. How much time do I have? What will take me longer, what won’t take me that long? What is the payoff for doing X over Y? In the end though I try to make my lists in such a way that I’m able to check everything off during the course of a day. Unlike work though I don’t really set aside times for what I do when. I tend to do my chores earlier in the day usually but today I spent my morning doing roulettes and dailies on FFXIV instead, giving me the rest of the day to clean my house and do groceries.

I know it sounds boring to “live” like this but in all honestly it helps me in getting stuff done. When you’re away from home for work from 8-6 five days a week and also want to maintain an inkling of a social life besides spending time on your hobbies it’s pivotal that you have some sort of planning system in place. For me it’s checklists and it’s worked so far. I’m slowly trying to combine it with setting aside special “time blocks” for certain things like I do at work. And that works for my evenings when I have even less time to use. However I believe in having the weekend be the weekend and as such I don’t want to plan certain timeframes. For then a checklist for the entire day, or half the day, will be enough.

Of family barbecues

I just got home and technically it’s already August 4th here but I’m just gonna roll with it and pull the “it’s August 3rd in the US still!” card and just make this post count as my third of August post. I had hoped we would be home a bit earlier but I should know better by now, my Dad and his partner like to stay late at any family gathering so this one was no exception. Don’t expect a long post since I’m still slightly intoxicated, I just wanted to throw something out there.

I was supposed to write this blog post before I headed off to the barbecue but real life managed to get in the way of that and thus I’m sitting down and mostly just whacking one out so I won’t stray off my schedule. I haven’t really done much in the way of meaningful gaming over the last two days anyway so might aswell sit down and talk a bit about our family barbecue and how I absolutely love going to these types of things since it gives me the opportunity to unwind and relax with my cousins who I don’t see that often anymore.

You see, my mom was born into an exceptionally large family, she had seven brothers and three sisters totalling the number of children to eleven. All of the aunts and uncles had kids and I’m somewhere in the middle age wise. This meant that we always had tons of fun playing together as cousins on whatever birthday or gathering that was happening. Unfortunately due to age and other things you grow apart and start seeing eachother less and less. Most of us are somewhere in our twenties to fourties now and we see eachother only a few times per year, if even that. We do however make a point of getting together once per year for a big family barbecue and it allows us all to catch up, have good food and a good time in general.
Today it also involved copious amounts of alcohol. There may or may not be a movie going around of a table full of wacko’s singing along to a Dutch song because at some point we were all to inebriated to care, except for the designated drivers of course. I may or may not have been singing really loudly along aswell and this may or may not have been caught on film. I love my family all the more for it.

All in all I’ve had a really good time and we really should do it more often. Family is important, especially the ones that accept you for who you are. For now though everyone is going their own way again untill the next time we meet up. Which will probably involve more alcohol but maybe less singing.

Go with the flow

Random cat pic from the Googles

This week has been my first week back at work after having my two week staycation and man I’m absolutely wrecked. I’ve not been sleeping well all week and having to get up early every day doesn’t really help with that. I keep waking up at random intervals and I have a very hard time falling asleep to begin with. I’m not really sure why since it’s not melting temperatures outside anymore and I’ve actually had to close my windows due to it being too cold otherwise.
I think one part of this is because I have applied for a new position and I won’t hear anything about it for the next three weeks. I’m trying to let it go but it’s hard because I know I will be severely disappointed when I don’t get it. On the other hand I had to deal with the usual “crap” that comes with being away for longer than a weekend. Working headoffices for a large retail company means you only have two types of workdays: busy and extremely busy. There is never a dull moment but this also means that I tend to get home feeling completely worn out, especially when having to “catch up” with stuff that happens over a two week absence. As direct result of this I’ve been falling asleep after dinner almost every evening, either on my couch or on my bed. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle really. I come home from work, fall asleep after dinner, wake up around two hours later wondering what year I live in, be awake for a bit and then go to bed where I can’t fall asleep. When I do fall asleep I wake up multiple times per night and then the alarm goes off and I’m tired before I’ve even gotten out of bed.
I hope it’s just a getting back into the groove of things week and that things will feel more normal next week but for now I’m happy it’s the weekend and that I get to sleep in and not care about waking up in the middle of the night when there’s an alarm set to go off.

Due to me falling asleep a lot I’ve not really been able to do what I want during the evenings. My chores have all been postponed and I’ve put in way less time into gaming and being active than I hoped I would. It’s not like I’ve not done anything at all besides sleep in the evenings but I’ve not taken any of the walks that I wanted to and I’ve maybe put in 30 mins of game time if that per night.
Today isn’t much better with it being a League of Legends evening.. I’m spending most of it knackered out on my couch watching TV. I guess things will turn around a bit tomorrow and Sunday when I’m hopefully more well rested and in a bit better state of mind to get stuff done. I also have a big family BBQ to go to so there’s that.

So sorry for this being a bit of a lackluster post but I’m just honestly overwhelmingly tired and I can’t wait till I get to roll into my bed and drift away into dreamland.