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After a few months of inactivity, I had the urge to play Heartsone yesterday for some unexplicable reason. I had more or less missed the release of the latest expansion, Gnomes versus Goblins and wanted to knock out a few quests, buy a pack or two with the gold I’d make and see if I would get anything good.

My plan went out the window fast…

Since I had been inactive for the past few months, I was put at rank 25, the lowest rung on the ladder. While I don’t have much of the new cards, I had a most of the original set barring a few legendaries and out of the way epics and I would usually get to rank 10 or 9 most seasons which given my limited playtime felt like a good result. I like to think that I know how to play and how to make a decent deck.

Well, I got crushed yesterday, hard… In over 10 matches I barely managed to win two times and one of these was due to sheer luck. Out of all my opponents I did not meet a single newbie, something I would have expected that low on the ladder. I was facing legendaries, combo decks and other things I’m used to seeing at much lower ranks.

I eeked out my wins more out of stubbornness than fun and I kept thinking about what would a really new player think of the experience. Someone who just started playing a week ago. Probably that it’s utter crap and another pay to win game. I know yesterday I was tempted to do so and just not bother with the game ever again.

This is a problem my dear Blizzard. A big one. The low ranks are the starting point of new and returning players, of people playing once in a blue moon and people who are just not that great at card games. They need a place where they feel like they have a chance and where not having the latest cards doesn’t matter.

Right now it’s a stomping ground where bullies crush new players and where veterans farm wins. I wasn’t expecting to win all my games yesterday but I was expecting to make a few ranks before encountering the tougher opponents. It’s an horrible introductory experience.

I can also hear the justifications of the forum lurkers and experts. Hear them tell us that if you do deck X then it’s possible to win with a minimum of investment. That you need to learn how to play the game, that you should do some research, that it’s not that bad, etc… etc… I’ve heard the same arguments for years when I was working at a game store from “experts”. I lost count of how many games died because the communities were not welcoming to new players. They feel super great when they crush a newbie who just bought a starter deck 15 mins ago but chances are that newbie won’t come back next week. That is a huge problem.

Going back to Hearthstone, a new player should be able to play without having to go read forums or do research or anything. He should be able to pick his few cards, get a game going and feel like he stands a chance.

What I saw yesterday was the polar opposite and Blizzard needs to fix this asap.

As Heavensward start looming closer, we’re entering this pre-expension period where pretty much everyone is focused on either knocking down the fights they’re missing, ticking off boxes of their to-do list or just plain killing time. In my case I’m in a bit of a bind trying to find groups to knock down a few of the fights I’m missing and I’d like not to have to rely on my guild to do so but I might not have a choice in the end. Most groups advertising are pony farm groups (mount drops) and I need a group that will take in someone needing the kill.

Usually I try a mixture of duty finder and party finder to get myself a kill but in this case duty finder is pretty much out of the question. Ramuh needs a lot of coordination that I’ve yet to see from a DF group and Odin needs only a single tank yet the DF insists on giving two tanks which is an issue in a fight that’s all about dps. That said I still have a bit of time ahead of me to complete these fights but I know those two fights pretty much by heart now and I’d like to see a kill soon.

The only item I’ve made some progress on is my atma weapon. I’m close to being done with the 4th book so there’s still a way to go but at least there’s some progress there.

Let’s talk about blogging today. As most of you must be aware by now, AOL has decided to close down most of their blogs which affects big names like Joystiq, Massively and WoW Insider. This blog has been featured a few times on WoW Insider and Massively and I know a few of the people who worked there through blogging and just playing with them. Even though I also had a few disagreements with some of them, it still sucks and the way AOL has handled the whole thing is just awful. I wish them all the best, I truly do.

Continuing in the same vein of thought, it seems my time as a semi-pro blogger over at Journal De Montreal is also coming to an end. While they’re not dropping blogging altogether like AOL did, they’re moving away from blogs and we can already tell that it’s a matter of time before they let go of us. In my case it was more of a hobby and a way to get to meet devs and get a few demos so I’m not losing much but it still sucks. I remember reading not so long ago about how the trend these days is to move away from blogs and if anything these events seem to go in that direction.

Since we’re on the topic of blogging, I had someone ask me during the weekend what server I was playing on in FF14 and to my surprise; I hesitated a lot before answering. Recently I was reminded that as you blog you will eventually offend someone and that some people hold grudges for very long time. Hell, I’ve had some people in the past assume things about me just because of what they read on this blog or what people had told them about me. It’s a very weird feeling to find out someone doesn’t like you even though you never even met them but it happens.

On the other hand, I met the awesome gang from Eff the Ineffable through blogging so it’s not always negative and in the end I had more positive come out of meeting people through this blog than negative. Still, I’m debating whether I should make a conscious effort to dissociate this blog from whatever game I’m playing so that I can avoid whatever preconception people might have.

Food for thoughts I suppose.

Luck vs perseverance

If I’m to achieve my goals of beating all current content before the expansion, I need to gear up some. However since I have a lot I want to do and my time is limited, I have to be efficient about it. So in order to preserve Tomes of Poetics, FF14 currency for high level gear, I’ve decided to farm World of Darkness for the Demon healing set which is roughly equivalent to the poetic gear. My plan right now is to use Demon gear for the main pieces and complete the accessories with Poetic gear.

World of Darkness works a lot like WoW LFR raids except that instead of being a simpler version of another raid it’s a unique raid, part of a chain of tied together raids. The main difference between WoD and WoW lfr setup is that in FF14 you can get only one piece per week but can attempt the raid as often as you like until you get a drop. WoW on the other hand allows you to get multiple pieces but you can loot the bosses only once, meaning that you can have raids where you don’t get anything.

This means that in FF14 you can just run the thing over and over until you get a drop, like I did yesterday when I ran WoD four times. It wasn’t exactly super fun by the fourth run but at least I wasn’t coming out empty handed like it happened to me a few times in WoW. On the other hand, you sometimes get lucky in WoW and just make out like a bandit meaning you won’t have to redo the run multiples times.

I’m debating right now which is the better system. Slower but mostly guaranteed drops as long as you persevere or trust to luck and be less likely to burn yourself over a short period of time.

Monday gaming updates

More gaming updates today because I can! First, following my last WoW post where I was wondering if I had any future with the game, Alas and Zel (well Zel did most of the explaining) both talked to me about some of the old gang looking to do some casual raiding together. Mostly drunken LFR or maybe some normal Flex mode but nothing more complicated. I can see the glorious rebirth of our EffingDrunk channel where we could bitch and moan about the awful puggies so maybe there’s something there. I’m curious to see how this will go.

I’ve also been playing some Wolfenstein 3D (the old one!) after going through the excellent Wolfenstein: The new Order. To my surprise the game is still surprisingly fun after all these years. There’s something very cathartic about these games, just shoot Nazis and don’t bother too much with realism or fancy story. It’s simple, to the point and highly entertaining.

On the FF14 front I’ve worked mostly on the Atma books during the weekend. Managed to finish the second book and made some good progress in the next one so I’m hopeful to get the third one down during the week. I tried some Ramuh EX with Duty Finder to learn the fight and this is a fight I’ll have to find a group for. There’s a lot of coordination required and I’m not sure a random DF group can do it unless I get real lucky. That still won’t stop me from trying but I’m not expecting much.

Anytime an expansion looms closer we all make that bucket list of things we’d like to complete before it hits. With Heavensward raising the max level to 60, it’s highly likely that some current endgame content will be harder to complete since most players will have moved on. To FF14 credit it’s no certain thing thanks to the way their progression is set-up but I’d still like to have everything in order.  So here’s my bucket list before Heavensward hit.

Complete coils of Bahamut

This might be the hardest item on the bucket list. The coils of Bahamut are pretty much the hardest content available right now and just getting a group that can beat any of the last four turns is an achievement in itself.  Myself I’m at turn 7 out of 14 and working on bettering my gear a bit before trying to make some more progress in there.

Finish extreme modes

I’m missing Ramuh and Shiva which I’m told are not the hardest ones to complete. I often see groups advertising for them so getting a group shouldn’t be that hard either.

Get Black mage to 50

My main class is White mage which I love but I’d like to have some options and be able to dps too at some point. Right now the Black mage sits at level 30 so it’s really a matter of putting in the time to finish leveling it.

Finish the Zodiac weapon upgrade quests

Another item that will probably be very hard to complete since its super time consuming but I still want to try it. Right now I’m working on the second book of the Atma step so I have quite a while to go. I’d probably be happy with just finishing the books but who knows.

So those are pretty much my big ticket items I want done. Of course I’ll probably try to do other stuff like the Sightseeing log but those are my main goals right now.

Patch 2.5, Before the fall, hit yesterday and I spent most (all) of the evening running around and gorging myself on the new content. I should probably take it slower but hey, I was having fun so who care right? I managed to do quite a bit of content and unless I’m mistaken I’m missing the Hildibrand quests and a kill of Odin and that’s pretty much it.

Main storyline 

The main story this time around is a bit shorter than what the past few patches offered us which I’m perfectly fine with. I love the main storyline but the quests do tend to get very verbose and have long cutscenes so I’m not mad that it’s a bit shorter and more to the point. Storywise, there was a nice twist this time around and while it’s obvious they’re setting up the expansion plot I’m curious to see how it will all link up.

New dungeons and trials

Amdapor keep (hard) and Wanderer’s palace (hard) both were great fun even if Wanderer’s is a bit on the longish side. The fights themselves were not too hard but still had a few interesting mechanics. The difficulty was pretty much in line with the others hardmodes we’ve been offered so far. Wanderer’s palace last cutscene was a nice surprise and I highly recommend you don’t skip it.

Keeper of the lake on the other hand left me a bit puzzled. Maybe it was the group I was with but I came away from it with a very “meh” feeling. The bosses in themselves were pretty average considering the impact this place has on the story. I suppose I was expecting more.

Odin and the new story trial (won’t spoil it) were pretty neat. The story one was surprisingly challenging considering it’s part of the main story which tends to feature content that’s a bit easier. Took the group a few tries to get the hang of everything. Odin himself was pretty fun despite the fact that we couldn’t kill him. He felt like a proper primal and his normal mode is on the upper end of the difficulty scale as far as normal mode primals go.  He doesn’t have an extreme mode yet but as we were discussing in guildchat yesterday, it will likely be insane.

World of Darkness

Last but not least was the last part of Final Fantasy 3, the Crystal tower World of Darkness. I love how they took the end part of FF3 and reused it in Realm reborn and I hope they do that again. The WoD itself looked awesome, had great music and the Cloud of Darkness fight was a lot of fun. I even got an awesome pointy hat out of the place that made me remove the hide headpiece option for the first time in years.

Another great patch from Square Enix! Keep it up!

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