Grind

Back on the Horse (again)

Back to doing dailies in Nazjatar again. I didn’t think I would do this for the second time but here I am. Working away on the story and the reputation. I feel like a masochist and yet I’m also happy to be back online in World of Warcraft and enjoying myself as I again pour too many hours of my time into the game.

I’ve always had a bit of a natural ebb and flow with WoW. I would be very active when I was still raiding until we defeated the current endboss of the expansion on the difficulty we wanted to. Then my attention would wane a bit and I would dial back on playing as much and my focus would go to other things. After I stopped raiding I mainly came back for either the big patch releases and try to catch up on content then or whenever I had a week off so I could pour a lot of time into the game again. Like what I’m doing now.
The guild where I spent most of my time in for the past decade or so has been dead for a while. I think it died out after we killed Gul’Dan way back in Legion. The plan was to get back together again for the next raid, Tomb of Sargeras, but that never happened. People were fed up with raiding, had sudden other social obligations, moved on to other guilds or just disappeared off the face of the planet alltogether. I certainly started playing less and less and when it became obvious that the raiding days were truly done I just stopped caring, untill I set my sights on the Mage Tower challenge which kept me going for a long time.

Because I went into Battle for Azeroth without a clear goal I found it easier to detach myself from the game after initial launch. Of course I did some leveling on my Rogue and later on my Paladin, but that was mostly because I wanted to see the stories of the expansion. I cleared all zone stories, finished the War Campaign and hell even had a super short raiding stint with some friends before I got bored again. I leveled my first Allied Race up to 120 (Nightborne Mage) but after that I kind of lost the will to play. It didn’t help that all the people I used to play with had basically quit and moved on and as such it was a very lonely time in the game for me. Instead I turned my attention back to Final Fantasy XIV and leveling and playing with people there.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was bitten by the WoW bug again, this time mostly due to the 100% experience increase when leveling which made me want to level up another character, my Void Elf Warlock, to unlock more Heritage Armour and because my friends were back to playing aswell. I had a blast being on voice chat with them again as I was leveling up my Warlock and they informed me of their plans to make a guild for Shadowlands and to make it a raiding guild with mostly friends and family that they would control. And it made me want to jump back onto the horse again and be part of that. I knew I wanted to get back to my Warrior again aswell so I also made the decision to finally pull her out of the dead guild she was in for the last 10 years and transfer over to Ravencrest where I now reside. So far I have no regrets. I’ve been doing dungeons and dailies with a group of people again. I’ve been having a lot of fun talking to people on voice chat and in guild chat. I feel like I’m part of a little community again and it does me so much good. I really needed this to come back to the game and I hope it will last for a while yet.

It has also caused me to decide to get a bit more serious about playing my Warrior and as such invest resources into her again. So I’m running Horrific Visions to upgrade my cloak. I’m doing dailies in Uldum and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to get my reputations up and unlock more essences for my gear. I went back to Nazjatar to work on those reputations aswell so I can upgrade the essences I’ve bought. I’ve dived headfirst back into the grind and so far I’m enjoying it, even if it is a bit much to handle here and there. I’m mostly bothered by having an overflowing questlog. As such I’ve tried to make some priorities. Dailies in Uldum, Vale and Nazjatar are a prio since I need those reputations. The four world quests daily comes next. Other than that I still have a ton of content to work through. Two zones full of quests on Alliance side. The War Campaign. The story in Nazjatar. Mechagon. The list goes on. I’m tackling every aspect, mostly because next to giving me peace of mind it also gives me a ton of gold.
As such I’m going to designate weekends to activities. This weekend I want to finish the War Campaign, front to back. I’m a good chunk of the way there, finishing almost everything in the original chapter. I hope I can finish all of it before tomorrow night. After that I think I want to start tackling the rest of Drustvar. I did a few introductory quests on my Warrior since I wasn’t 120 by the time I finished Tiragarde Sound so it feels natural to just continue there. All small chunks and all pretty doable if I just want to pour in the time. And right now I’m more than willing to do just that.

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In some other news. I finally managed to get my Bard to level 80 in FFXIV. I did it mostly off pixie dailies and Trial Roulette for the last two levels or so but I’m finally there. Now I just need to level four more jobs before I get that very cool mount and title, signifying I got everything to max level.
Hatching Tide (FFXIV easter) is running aswell right now and I haven’t done the activities just yet. I’ve been told that the event is a two part one where the second part unlocks tomorrow. I’m planning to tackle the first part tonight and then see what the second has in store for me tomorrow night. I’m also going to start leveling my Machinist and will probably do what I did on my Bard for the past couple of levels: Trial Roulette and Pixie Dailies. They take very little time to do which means I can get experience in while only playing for 15 or 20 minutes. I could do more but since I want to dedicate most of my time to WoW this is a perfect little compromise.

All in all I’m back into full MMO mode. It’s taking away time from single player games, although I still make some time for Animal Crossing, but for now I’m happy where I am and what I’m doing with my time. Let’s hope I can keep this up when I go back to work next week because it’s doing a lot for my mental health right now and I don’t want work exhaustion to ruin it for me.

This post was the second one of Blapril 2020

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!

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.

The Goal is Set: Unlocking Skins

Fury Warrior challenge skin unlock

I’ve been addicted to World of Warcraft again. After not playing for most of Legion I’ve jumped back in again for the past few months and started a grind that seems to be nigh impossible, yet I want it done badly.
It all started with me making an overview of the things I have already obtained in Legion, on what characters and what I’m still missing. As I write this post I am down to three classes left to level (Warlock, Death Knight and Rogue) and I have obtained a boatload of Artifact skins. Getting seriously back into WoW has been a mixture of circumstances. I’m currently playing a lot on the Horde side with one of my best friends aswell as trying to get that Mythic+ 15 done on my Warrior on Alliance side. I’m actually having a lot of fun again and only play with the people I want now. Couple this with a severe decline of interest in FFXIV, Eureka has been a serious disappointment for me, and I find myself on Azeroth a lot once again.

One of the things that has me pulled back into WoW, next to playing with the right people and an immense collectors’ drive, is the fact that I can make progress towards something on any character I happen to log and don’t need to spend a lot of time doing it. Aside from the Mythic+ madness I’ve been solely focused on leveling all my classes to max level, do their class hall campaign, unlock the class hall mount and grind out Hidden Artifact skins. On top of that I finally managed to get my first two Challenge skins (the Fury Warrior one pictured above) and I feel like I can actually get done what I want to before Battle for Azeroth hits. In FFXIV if I want to level my Machinist I will have to queue up for roulettes because doing only the six available Beast Tribe dailies every day is too slow. In WoW I’ve been doing invasions, which grant atleast a level and take about 15-20 mins to do, aswell as just doing the main story line in the zones. I can literally play for 30 mins and make progress. In FFXIV that’s usually the time it takes for me to even get into a dungeon.
Even though WoW is a bit more chaotic at endgame, seriously Blizzard needs to stop throwing all these quests at me as I ding level 110, it’s also somehow less time consuming to get what you want, granted you need to plan very carefully so you don’t get sucked into the game and waste three hours doing nothing, which is something that tends to happen in MMO’s.

I’m chunking up my WoW time effectively, dividing it towards what I want done for the day and making sure I get it done aswell. Sometimes this entails running a Mythic+ or two for gear and progress towards getting the +15 on all my characters. Sometimes it’s doing a few quests in the Legionfall campaign so I can unlock another Class Hall mount. On my Warrior I’ve been diligently doing all my Emissary quests for the caches, but also all the PvP World Quests to edge closer to that new Prestige level. I plan to take my Paladin and my Priest through the Argus campaign in the near future so I can get proper gear and maybe start working towards tackling the Mage Tower challenge on them aswell. I can make this progress in tiny amounts, usually I don’t have more than 2-3 hours of game time a day anyway, and still slowly tick goals off my spreadsheet.

Compare that to running Eureka for three hours and maybe advance an elemental level or two… I feel like I can get more out of my limited game time in WoW right now.
It’s not to say I’m abandoning FFXIV outright, it will probably be my weekend MMO, but I will be playing it a lot less than I was a few months ago. I still plan to get all my classes to level 70, eventually.

For now though I’m working on a rather prestigious WoW project that I hope I can see through to the end: Obtain every Mage Tower Challenge skin in the game and do M+15 on all 12 classes. Why? Because those are the only skin variants (MT base and +15) that Blizzard will remove with BfA. And so I am going to work my butt off to get them all before that happens.

Current status: 0/12 M+15; 2/37 Challenge skins. Wish me luck!

 

Daily Routines

I’ve come to the point of my relic that is basically a massive grindfest. You need to get 80 items that you can get into a myriad amount of ways plus another 16 crafted items that will probably cost me a fortune.
One of the fastest ways to get those 80 items is to do beast tribe dailies… Every day. So for the past few days I’ve religiously logged on and did dailies for the Vanu Vanu, Sylph, Kobolds and Sahagin. In a way it’s nice to see all these “familiar” faces again, but at the same time I’m quite bored having to do all these dailies every single day. It’s 12 dailies and they take me about an hour to do… Travel times and killing stuff and not being able to fly in the old zones slows things down massively, but atleast it’s nice for getting experience on my Bard, who dinged level 55 today.

Another thing that I have picked up is my collection habit. I realize I’m still missing a lot of mounts and minions and I’m trying to figure out how and where to collect the ones I still need. A few are relatively easy to get and involve me doing a FATE in the South Shroud and make an effort to complete all my sightseeing logs. I also still have two pets left from one of the Grand Companies so I might switch over to that after I get bored with being an Immortal Flame.
I’ve also set my eye on all of the Gold Saucer pets and mounts I’m still missing. I’ve decided to do atleast the Mini Cactpot once every day to rack up the MGP I need. I’m currently sitting on about 4.5k MGP so I still have quite a way to go.

Other than my FFXIV adventures I got very little done in my other games this week. I was planning to do the Cataclysm Timewalking event but real life stuff happened and I spent a lot less time behind my computer than I thought I would. I’m happy I’m making some progress on my relic though. I have 16/80 items so I’m almost a quarter of the way done. I hope I can put in a bit more time this week and not only run my beast tribe dailies, but also some roulettes to be able to buy the items with tomestones to speed things up.

As for now I’m looking at a four day work week which I hope won’t make me too tired to game, because I really need to escape from reality for a while.