Fatigued

Winnie the Pooh in Stormsong Valley!

I like this picture. I like that Blizzard put Winnie the Pooh into their game with all his friends. Its one of the many easter eggs of Battle for Azeroth. But it’s not my topic for today. Rather I’d want to talk about fatigue on multiple fronts. A type of fatigue I’ve been noticing a lot lately and which I want to talk about to get it off my chest.

The past three years I’ve been working for a big Dutch retail company at their headquarters. I started out as a simple Data Entry employee and most of my days were literally entering Data from paper into a system. Along the way my role shifted to less entry work and more organizing work. Yet the 8 hour screen days stayed. Right now I’m in a role where I am a direct link between a part of the commerce department and the data management department. Even though my screentime has been reduced a bit and has been replaced by meetings I still feel like I’m a slave to the machine so I try to take a lot of breaks away from staring at a screen all day.
The funny thing is though that as gamer when I come home from staring at a screen for approximately 8 hours each day I then spend my evening staring at a screen again. And this is causing me some fatigue issues. I just can’t bring myself to spend so much time infront of screens anymore. I’m trying to stay away from any and all screens the moment I get onto the train home untill after dinner. This means my eyes and my brain can rest a bit and I actually do take that time, which is about 1-1.5 hours to lay down and rest. I feel like I need to reset and restore my energy for the rest of the evening like that and if I don’t I notice that I get headaches and sleep worse at night.

This fatigue is also causing me to start to dislike gaming in general. I just can’t seem to bring myself to play anything on certain days, mostly because my brain subconciously steers me away from the screens. There is a screen overload, especially when you factor in smartphones and tablets, and I’m pretty sure as human I’m not supposed to treat my body or my eyes the way I do it now. I’m lucky that I don’t have to wear glasses yet and that I know when to take breaks away from sitting down too long or in a wrong position. I’ve never experienced RSI or any discomfort in my shoulders or neck due to sitting the wrong way. But I do experience fatigue and tiredness when it comes to screens and instead of powering through it I think I need to learn when to step away and do something else. I’m trying to start a workout routine where I just spend time at the gym or at home doing some light workout for about an hour. It’s a nice way to empty the mind and to not put strain on the eyes while also keeping my body used and it’s most definitely better for me than sitting on my butt 24/7.

Does this mean that I’m going to give up gaming completely on some nights? Maybe I will. I’m not really sure about that yet, maybe I’ll restrict myself to only playing for an hour. Maybe by the time I finish my workout I’m so tired that I just want to take a shower and go straight to bed. I’ve done this before where I’d go to the gym and get home around 21.00, take a shower and something to drink and then just head straight to bed. Other nights I’d have a bit more energy and I would game for an hour or so before giving up and closing down shop for the evening. When I did this though I felt less fatigue when it came to staring at screens but also less fatigued when it came to gaming itself. I wonder if I get back to that routine I will have more joy from gaming aswell. I guess we’ll see in the near future. For now though I will probably spend one of two evenings less on a game filled night and more on recharging my batteries and making sure I don’t ruin my body and my eyes too much.

Fate is sometimes kind

I found this a very striking picture to start off my post with today. I was planning to do a post on the FFXIVxMHW crossover event but that will be postponed untill tomorrow.
Some stuff at work has got me thinking about where I am today and how I’ve got there. We are finally finishing off a huge automation project that will probably take a lot of the pressure off our department and get people off edge. It was fun partaking in this project and it’s so nice to finally see the fruits of everyone’s labour. For me personally it gave me an opportunity to learn how to program a robot, even though I can only do simplistic stuff, and to see the enthusiasm of people when they realize what this project means to them. If I hadn’t stuck around at my job this year I would’ve never had this opportunity. It must’ve been fate.

I can slowly feel the stress from work fading and it makes me more focused and happier when I’m at home. I’m also learning when I hit my wall in WoW after a week of expansion madness. I’ve been making small “quest logs” of my own in a notebook with all the stuff I want to do in game (and in real life) for the evening and I try to stick to it. So for today that meant I completed all my open emissary quests on my Rogue and finish off the Daelin’s Fort questchain in Stormsong Valley. On the Horde side of the fence I’ve finished off the Krag’wa questchain in Nazmir and some Herbalism quests to start getting my two star skills. I try to keep my goals small and realistic and I try to not do too much in the way of WoW because I don’t want to burn out like I did in Legion. For now my plan is to do a small bit everyday on my Rogue and Paladin and try to switch it up by either playing a bit of FFXIV, read a bit of my book or watch a show on Netflix. I’m not in the race for world firsts so I’m not in the race to gear up like mad.

Next to my gaming shenanigans I also want to pick up my courses in programming/IT again. I’ve been letting them fall to the wayside due to the stress at work and me just wanting to relax and sleep at home. Now that I have a bit more energy, and time, I want to see what I can learn and add to my skillset. Seeing as I’m 29 and my resumé isn’t that impressive I need all the extra skills I can get these days. So next to building robots with Automation Anywhere I want to be able to show off that I understand databases aswell as basic webdesign. I’m not sure when or how this will come in handy but having a bit of knowledge about how things work will never hurt. And who knows, maybe I’ll end up somewhere great because of it. And then I’ll look back and say “it must’ve been fate”.

Nazmir is okay

So I’ve spent more time on my Paladin than I thought I would today. I’m currently sitting at level 112 and am starting the first leg of the War Campaign from the Horde POV. Even though I stated I wouldn’t want to play Horde as main I enjoy playing my Paladin much more than I do my Rogue. Maybe it’s because I’m less squishy. Maybe it’s because I know I will be going Tank when I hit max level and thus have no real queues to worry about. Seeing as trying to queue for dungeons on my Rogue has been an absolute nightmare and all my friends are over on Horde side, I feel the pull to main Horde after all much more now that the expansion has launched.

As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve started off in Nazmir. I picked this zone because it gave me the creeps when I did the War Campaign stuff on my Rogue and I figured I wanted to get this zone over with first so I would be done with that. I guess I grossly overestimated how creepy this zone actually is. Okay, the Blood Trolls ARE creepy but I’ve also seen some really pretty sceneries so far and I’m really in love with all of the dinosaurs that populate this zone. Plus the swamp vibe isn’t that bad.

Story wise it can’t really compete with Drustvar, which is hands down the best zone this expansion. As far as atmosphere goes it can’t compete with Drustvar either. I’m probably fangirling like mad here but Drustvar was such a joy to quest through that I completely forgot time and didn’t want to take a break untill I saw the story from start to end. I’ve not had that with any of the other zones yet and Nazmir is no exception. I do like encountering the Loas, I made contact with Bwonsamdi and Hi’reek and am now on my way to Torga, the turtle Loa.

I guess I need to be a bit careful though because I don’t want to burn out on my Paladin like I did on my Rogue. I expect to swap between the characters as it suits me but I think I will be spending more time on my Paladin than on my Rogue as I reach 120 on her. Up untill then though I can enjoy the scenery. And the dinosaurs!

Ding! 120 reached

Yesterday morning I reached level 120 on my Rogue. I was about 10 quests into Stormsong Valley when this happened and with it I unlocked a whole lot of new things to do. The biggest one being World Quests which are popping all over my map, on both sides of the world. I was really happy to hit this milestone but I also notice that I’ve burned myself out quite a lot leveling this character up. Even though I hadn’t done a “one day race” like some of my friends did, it has taken me one full day, 3 evenings and one morning to get to this point, I do feel the new content burn quite heavily. Blizzard has managed to pack so much lore into this expansion so far and with my determination to do every quest I can possibly get my hands on things get rather exhaustive quite fast. I’m about halfway done in Stormsong Valley as we speak but I’m not making a lot of progress. I’m taking breaks every time I’ve tackled a sidequest or mainstory line because I just can’t play for much longer than that. I’m trying to break things up by doing Worldquests and leveling up my Engineer but I guess I’ve just spent a bit too much time focused on getting to 120 to really enjoy it now that it’s there.

In other news, because I’m so burnt out on my Rogue at the moment I’ve decided to take baby steps into the expansion on my Paladin. It’s the class that I originally wanted to play in this expansion and I notice that I’m having a much easier time on her than I had on my Rogue while leveling up. I decided to start out in Nazmir and the zone so far seems to be okay. I guess going to the Blood Troll capital at night on my Rogue was a bad idea because it seriously gave me the creeps. Now on my Paladin however I’m just enjoying the swamp atmosphere while picking a lot of herbs along the way. Maybe it’s because the pressure to level to 120 is off or maybe I just enjoy Paladin more but I think I’ll spend a bit more time on her than on my Rogue in the coming week.

Also, Bwonsamdi is great!

BfA: Zoning in on Drustvar

Today I want to take the time to talk a bit more indepth about Drustvar. The first zone I’ve completed in Battle for Azeroth. This post will be rather spoiler heavy so if you’ve not yet done the zone or do not want to be spoiled please stop reading after this paragraph. I feel the need to write up this blogpost because Blizzard, in my opinion, has done such an awesome job with the zone stories in Battle for Azeroth so far that I just want to gush about it. So without further ado, I present you: Drustvar.

Let me start off by saying that I’ve gone into Battle for Azeroth mostly blank. I did spend a few hours one night on Beta leveling through like the first ten quests in Stormsong Valley but other than that I was a complete blank slate. I wanted to be surprised and charmed by what Blizzard had developed for this expansion so I wanted to experience everything fresh.
The above screenshot is part of the introductory town of Drustvar. You are sent on your way because there are issues and no one has heard from Lord and Lady Waycrest, they rule Drustvar, in a while. As you arrive in the zone the first village you pass through is abandoned and overrun by wild creatures. There is still a little girl around however who sends you on a wild goose chase finding people and things for her. It’s clear from the second quest or so that she’s probably not the nice little girl you think she is. The questline culminates in her summoning a Wicker creature with a satanic ritual for which she killed her cat (poor Smoochums) and one of the few surviving villagers commenting on how the girl has been dead for a while. Yeah, I guess the tone for this zone has been set nicely.

I see a lot of people comparing Drustvar to Duskwood but then in autumn colours and way bigger. I get the sentiment here but Drustvar is so much more than that. The overarching story becomes quite clear very early on: they are having issues with a powerful Witch Coven that is calling themselves the “Heartsbane” and who are cursing every village in Drustvar, making sure the people in town suffer one way or another.

A big part of the Drustvar experience is helping villages cleanse the local curses and kill the local witch of the coven responsible for it. The story really kicks into gear though when you come across Lucille Waycrest who is about to be hanged as witch. She is the daughter of the Lord and Lady Waycrest and she’s gotten herself in a bit of a pinch by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. A part of the questchain to help her escape involves taking control of your very own Wicker construct and clearing out a more powerful Witch that has been terrorizing the village. Let me tell you, it was awesome. Running into a mine full of mobs and just completely obliterating them with my Wicker body had me cackling. I mean just look at how I looked? It’s an amazing theme and I loved all the Wicker looks in Drustvar.

Anyway, after you’ve cleared Lucille’s name and rescued the villagers of the village that wanted to hang her you set out on a journey towards Waycrest manor with Lucille and Marshall, who is the commander of the Waycrest troops. Lucille knows a large part of what has been happening in Drustvar and seeks to revive an ancient Order that used to fight the Drust as the Kul Tirans were settling down in Drustvar. I guess this also leads to big plotpoint number two. The Drust are forest creatures that look kind of like the Wicker creatures you see everywhere in the zone. When the early Kul Tirans settled there was a war between them and the Drust that the Kul Tirans won. Their final victory was a Waycrest stabbing Gorak Tul, the leader of the Drust, to death and claiming Drustvar for the Kul Tirans. It also becomes clear that not all the Drust were against Kul Tiran settling in their homeland and they have remained on friendly foot with the humans untill this day. They call themselves the “Thornspeakers” and are the amazing Wicker themed Druids that the Kul Tiran humans can become.
As you advance into the zone it becomes clear that Gorak Tul may not be as dead as everyone thought he was and that he is probably the mastermind behind the relatively recent forming of the Heartsbane coven that terrorizes the land. As you rebuild the Order of Embers and work your way through the zone you are treated to a beautiful landscape with many sidequests. The atmosphere in Drustvar is amazing to say the least. The background music is superb and it’s really worth doing every single questline you can get your hands on. Next to the Witches and Wicker creatures you get to fight Yetis, wild beasts, Stone Guardian constructs and even a small patch of mutated mushrooms. You help a Goblin retake a town from pirates. You help create alchemical fire that will make all the Wicker constructs burn. You stop a Wicker construct army from being built and marching through the zone. On the way there are a ton of rare creatures to kill and special treasure chests to find. I personally enjoyed the Runebound Chests because they forced you to look around you to crack the code that keeps them locked. You learn about the history of Drustvar and Kul Tiran as a whole and you get to know a lot of interesting characters. One of my favourites is the falcon master that you pick up somewhere in the middle to become an Inquisitor in the Order of Embers. I like the whole “old England” look and feel that’s tied to the entirety of Kul Tiras but Drustvar just portrays it the best with it’s woods and villages.

The Drustvar zone story culminates in Corlain and Waycrest Manor. As you arrive there it seems like the coven has taken over the town and the manor and it’s up to you to clean out the mess and figure out who is behind all of this. And more important, what has happend to Lord and Lady Waycrest?
This is also where the story kind of splits in two. As you make your way through Corlain it’s revealed that the Waycrest Manor went on lockdown and nobody really understands why. It also becomse clear, from diaries that you find in Corlain, that the girls of the town have been sneaking out during the nights and supposedly went to Waycrest Manor. After that the disappearings started.
The other part of the story takes you to a chapel where you encounter the ghost of Lucille’s dead fiancée. As he shares with you his memories of what happened during their wedding it becomes clear who the culprit of this zone really is. The whole wedding scene was a nice nod to the “Red Wedding” in Game of Thrones, proven by the dead “Red Hand Assassin” in my above screenshot. As you help the ghost find peace you make a final push into Waycrest Manor where it is revealed what you’ve already known: Lady Waycrest is the head of the Witches’ Coven. She is responsible for all the Witches that have been making life hell for the people of Drustvar. She has killed and revived her husband to serve her as a grotesque individual for eternity and she is the one responsible for murdering Lucille’s fiancée at their wedding day. As a final act of cruelty she turns Marshall against you and you then have to kill him while her and her husband flee into the Manor.

Officially this is where the zone ends. You’ve figured out who is behind the Coven and you’ve waged a war to get to there. Lucille takes over as new ruler of Drustvar and sends you back to Boralus to declare Drustvar’s allegiance once more. However she also gives you a quest to chase her parents into the Manor (which is a dungeon) to deal with them once and for all. The dungeon itself is a bit confusing but no less fun, I can see this one being quite a challenge on Mythic+. You kill her parents in the end and then Gorak Tul pops out as final bad guy, bragging about how he was able to influence the Lady Waycrest to do his bidding and be his way back into the world of the living. As you beat him he retreats in what he calls “the Blighted Lands” and issues a final threat.

All in all the zone was an epic experience for me. The story buildup was amazing, especially with all the added cutscenes Blizzard seems to be doing this expansion. I’m guessing they stole that idea from FFXIV’s book. Some of the quests were downright hilarious, like the one where I had to prick peole with a Silver needle to figure out if they were Witches. Or the one where I pick onions to deter them, because obviously onions are nasty and smelly and no one wants to come near those. Now that I’ve finished the zone and won’t be back untill endgame I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume the WorldQuests in Drustvar will revolve around clearing out what remains of the Coven and helping villagers rebuild. I wouldn’t mind doing those quests at all because it will take me back to a zone I fell in love with. I really hope Blizzard can keep up this level of storytelling throughout the entire expansion, but that’s something only time will tell.

Bonus screenshot: I keep finding pairs of boots in weird places…

BfA: Almost There

Another day and another BfA themed post. I want to say I’m sorry but I’m not. I’m spending all my free time playing through the expansion and I’m getting close to some important steps.

My first “almost there” is Mining. I’m currently sitting around 137 Kul Tiran skill. I’m enjoying the fact that I get quests from my trainer instead of from random drops from nodes. This means I already have a ton of things at the two star level. I probably will get to max level Mining tomorrow as I finish up Tiragarde Sound. Which brings me to the second “almost there”. I’ve been running around Tirasgarde Sound for the past two evening and bar some sidequests I only have two main quest lines left for the zone achievement. I’ve also worked my way through atleast half of the rare encounters throughout the zone and earned the exploration achievement, so there’s that. I’m kind of curious to see how things will tie together in the end. I know who the big baddie is for this zone, it wasn’t that much of a surprise, but I’m curious to see how we’ll unmask her.
Also Flynn (who is clearly taken from Cpt. Jack Sparrow) is hilarious. Plus I got to drink milk from a skull mug, as you can see on this screenshot in the upper right corner.

The last “almost there” is me being halfway to level 119. I’m kind of expecting to be 119 as I finish up Tiragarde Sound which means I’ll ding 120 fairly early into Stormsong Valley. Seeing as I’m not really in a rush to gear and start doing tons of dungeons I’ll probably opt to finish off Stormsong Valley before I dive into the amazing world that is endgame.

On the first character I level through an expansion I try to do every available quest and I don’t think this time will be different. I love sucking in all the lore and quirky sidequests that Blizzard offers us. I also notice that I’m wandering off and exploring much more stuff than I did in Legion. It’s how I’ve been killing all the rares and finding a lot of treasure chests and hidden sidequests. Nothing punishes me for just going where I want to go while also completing all the main storylines. Although with unlocking my last foothold in Zandalar (the one in Nazmir) I tried to shy away from exploring and just getting my quest objectives done because man, that zone is hella creepy. Drustvar was “horror tropes witch covens” creepy but I enjoyed that. Nazmir is “cannibals in a swamp” creepy and I’m not digging the vibe at all. Which will be interesting when I level up a Horde character through that zone… I can already imagine the nightmares.

BfA: Day Two

A part of me wants to go to bed and a part of me feels like I should atleast write a short blog about Bfa day two. Yesterday I’ve done all of Drustvar in one day and I wondered how long it would take me to finish up Tiragarde Sound. It seems to be an overall smaller zone with less quests and less space to cover. However I’ve already discovered tons of sidequests and finished off a few of the amazing mainquests the zone has to offer. All in all I think Drustvar still has the edge when it comes to storytelling and atmosphere but Tiragarde introduces us to many unique characters aswell. We also get a taste of the Old Gods influence and I got to perform in a jousting show on a horse.

The best part though was this adorable little hunting dog that was bringing me the birds I shot out of the sky during one of many sidequests Tiragarde has. I imagine it’s sort of modeled after a Jack Russel Terrier although I’m not quite sure. He was kind of difficult to get a good screenshot off, especially because it was rather dark in game when I did these quests but the one above should give you a decent indication.

The darkness thing is something that caught me a bit off guard aswell. I don’t think any of the zones get as dark as the ones in Kul Tiras have been getting. I think Blizzard may have amped up the weather or, and that’s more likely, I’m noticing it more now that we are running about in zones that are more open and feel more natural than the Legion ones.

All in all I’m still having a blast and I’m starting to find my way through Boralus as city aswell. I’ve been completing a few Mining quests, I’m really happy these come from the trainer now instead of randomly dropping from nodes, and I’ve been pouring all the ore I’ve been mining into leveling up my Engineering aswell. Although I’m only on 25 skill level at the moment. There’s so many little details that I could go on and on about but honestly it comes down to the fact that Blizzard once again made an amazing zone with beautiful landscapes and good lore. Even the War Campaign makes sense next to the questing in Kul Tiras. I’ve established two camps over at Zandalar right now and I’ve unlocked my Island expeditions. They seem like mini scenarios where you race the opposing factions to get to 500 Azerite per island first. Unfortunately I’ve not really gotten the time to figure that out yet but I will. For now I’m going to focus on finishing off Tiragarde and moving on to Stormsong Valley the next few days and hopefully ding 120 around Friday evening.

BfA launch: Obliterating Drustvar

Today was the day Battle for Azeroth launched. I tried getting into the server around midnight when it launched for us EU folk but I couldn’t. I gave up around 00.30 and just went to bed. I got up around 8, encountered more server issues and finally managed to get started around 9 in the morning. In theory I was planning to roll my Paladin. But with all the server issues going on I decided to play my Rogue instead seeing as that server seemed to be much more stable. I’ve not regretted my choice one bit.

As starting zone I chose Drustvar. And boy was I in for a treat. I don’t want to spoil too much but the whole atmosphere of the zone was amazing and I’ve tried to discover every nook and cranny. I managed to track down and kill every rare encounter in the zone, earning me an achievement. I’ve done all the available quests and I’ve explored the entire zone. With a dungeon at the end I completed the questline as a whole and can honestly say I really enjoyed my first day of BfA play!

For some reason there’s empty pairs of boots scattered about a certain subzone…

Even though we had the usual launch shenanigans I managed to play for the biggest part of the day and I log off being level 115 on my Rogue. I’m not really sure how everything works yet. I’m leveling up my Heart of Azeroth necklace and I’m picking traits in my Azerite armor. So far it looks like you want to have multiple pieces of one slot so you can itemize them according to all your specializations and I’m sure PvP itemizes differently than PvE. I’m also sure there will be guides soon about which Azerite armour piece gives the best traits and what to look for and pick. I’m currently rocking a chest or headpiece (I don’t remember which one) that gives me a haste boost when I use Adrenaline Rush on my Rogue and it’s amazing. I’m really digging playing the Outlaw specialization right now as it proves to be nice for leveling but also decent for dungeons. Blade Flurry + Killing Spree is definitely somewhat overpowered on packs right now.

My next zone will be Tirisgarde Sound. Seeing as I took all day just to get through Drustvar I expect not to be done with this subzone in one measly evening. I do think I will ding 120 before being done with all the zones, but the same was true for Legion. It won’t stop me finishing it all off and tackling as much content as I can while doing so. I hope to make it to level 120 around the weekend, because we all know the REAL game starts at max level…

Goodbye Legion

As we’re one hour away from BfA launch I’m reliving the hype from many other expansion launches. I’ve only pulled an all-nighter for one so far (Wrath of the Lich King) but I’ve tried to be around for the midnight launch for most of them. Some where smooth. Others not so much. I’m not going into this one with high hopes, mostly because even if you get through you’ll be fighting so many people over quest mobs it may actually be impossible to get going for quite a while. Instead I opted to take tomorrow off and use that to get some leveling done. I know some of my friends are going to go all night and I say good luck to them. Me, I’m going take it easy, explore, do quests and enjoy the ride. As usual.

Did I get everything done I wanted from Legion? Not by a long shot. I got my 36 Mage Towers done and all my Class Hall mounts but I still miss a lot of hidden appearances for my Artifact weapons. I’ve never properly finished the Chromie scenario. I’ve not taken part in the riddle mounts. I’ve not raided Tomb of Sargeras or Antorus properly and I never got my desired Mythic +15 done. I’m not that fussed though. I can go back for mounts and weapon skins. Pets and toys. Achievements that don’t go away. There’s always content to do and content to go back to with so many expansions.

So right now I’m saying goodbye to Legion and hello to Battle for Azeroth. May your content bring me joy. I’ll see you all on the other side!

Swinging High

As I sit down to write this post I’m quite exhausted after an eventful weekend so if it turns into a bit of a ramble please bare with me. I spent most of Saturday shopping for new clothes and not playing games. I spent today hanging out with family on a rather special trip that we spontaneously planned a few weeks ago.

The IJ in Amsterdam

In Amsterdam right across the Central Station there’s a building that used to belong to the company “Shell”. I’m sure a part of the building is still used as office but they’ve also commercialised it where you are able to buy tickets to go to the top of the building and have an amazing view of Amsterdam and surrounding areas. I could even see parts of my own hometown up there, that’s how clear it was and how fare you could see. It was amazing enough to go up there but they also had an experience called “Over the Edge” where you would be strapped into a mechanical swing and swing over the edge of the building whilst enjoying a spectacular view. Ofcourse it was way overpriced and the whole swinging experience was only one minute long it was still a blast and I’m happy that I went.

On the Swing

And because I honestly don’t really know what to write about anymore I’ll leave you guys with a few more pics of Amsterdam as seen from high up 🙂