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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!

I suppose the writing was on the wall and I didn’t want to see it. Because of reasons outside my control I won’t be able to keep raiding in WoW, at least not in any meaningful way. I won’t go into details because frankly, the whole thing sucks. I was having fun raiding with a good friend of mine and now that won’t be possible anymore and no matter how one’s logic tries to rationalize the whole thing, the whole thing feels like a failure.

Where does that leave me with WoW? I’m not sure anymore. WoD had a great storyline, fun zones and even decent dungeons and raids if you don’t count LFR. The questlines have been done, the dungeons completed multiple times and now that raiding is dead I’m not left with much. I could do the horde side once but beyond that, things are looking grim. I’m pretty sure I’ll be back for the expansion, even maybe renew to see the new raids as they come out but that’s it for now.

I could start guild hunting, try to find the rare gem of a guild who magically fits all my criteria and me theirs but I’m not sure I have the energy to go through the motions again. Meeting new people, hoping things fit, hoping the guild doesn’t fall apart because reasons and so forth. Like someone else said, I’m getting too old for this.

If anything the whole thing drives home the point that my best time in WoW was with Eff the Ineffable back in Cata which became Snark side in Swtor. I’m still pissed at Bioware handling of the game which killed us in the end. I know Alas tried to bring back part of the gang together for WoD and I didn’t really help which in hindsight I probably should have. Hopefully I’ll learn some lesson out of the whole thing.

I wish I didn’t have such a downer of a post today but the combination of this BS and RL issues has been messing with me and just writing this did help sort a few things out. Thanks everyone for your patience.

My gaming week

Quick update post today to talk about what I’ve been up to this past week.

WoW: We killed Ko’ragh (6th boss) on normal and went to work on The butcher heroic mode. We got close to killing him but we were short a few % dps. I feel partly responsible for this as I’m on the lower end of the dps spectrum in the guild right now. I’m still above the tanks and wasn’t dead last on our best attempts but still, I know I can squeeze out some more.

I’ve been agonizing some over how to improve my dps in WoW lately and that fight drove the point home. According to simcraft I’m about 1.2k from my theoretical max considering my gear and I did change spec to unholy which did net me about 2k dps. Right now I need to be better at getting Defile down and be more consistent with Soul reaper. Still, if someone knows of a good current Unholy Dk guide I’m all ears (currently going with the icy veins one).

FF14: The smell of the expansion is getting stronger and I’d like to clear more of the current endgame content before it hits. I’ve been farming a bit of Bahamut coil Turn6, getting ready for 7 and been trying to get a clear of Thornmarch extreme but that place is a bit of a blocker. Nobody really goes there except people who haven’t cleared it takes forever to get going and you start fresh every time.

I still have a few Hildibrand quests to clear and then I’ll be ready for the patch which hits next week. This will be the last big patch before the expansion, getting excited!

WoT: Had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday with my T-54. I had two awesome games, one of which I went over 4k damage done by applying what I’ve been learning and not just lucking into it. Feels great to make some progress.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been playing quite a bit of World of Tanks lately and trying to improve both my winrate and my wn8, WoT’s skill rating system made by the game’s community. Wn8 is calculated by measuring various factors like cap points, enemies spotted and most importantly, damage done to the enemy. The statistician overlords behind the metric claim that damage done is the most direct contributor to a team chances of winning. In order to be more precise, each tank has their own expected value which means that in order to get a good rating you need to do more or less damage depending on the tank.

So for the past two weeks I’ve been making a conscious effort to try to improve my damage done in the game by reading up on strategy guides and trying to apply what I learn. Pretty similar stuff to what you’d do if you wanted to improve your Dps in WoW for example. After two weeks I was expecting improvement but when I looked at my stats they were pretty similar to what they were when I began which kind of sucks  when you apply yourself and try to get better.

Yesterday I was chatting about this with one of the trainers in my clan to see what I could do to start getting better and not get stuck at my current skill level. He listened to me for a while, went to look at my stats, asked a few questions about how I approached the games and what I felt I was doing better or worse and then he asked me a few important questions.

Him:  “What was the tank you were playing the most before the holidays?”

Me: “T-44” (a tier8 medium tank)

“What is your main tank now?”

“T-54” (tier 9 medium, the one following the T-44 and one with relatively high win8 expected values).

“I see you also have a Auflkl. Panther that seems recent. Did you buy that recently too?” (Aufkl. Panther is a tier 7 light tank with a reputation as a bad tank that is very hard to do well in).

“Yeah got it during the holidays”

“So, you’re getting similar stats playing the T-54 who has higher expected values and see tougher opponent more frequently and also while playing an Aufkl. Panther which is an awful tank.”

“….. crap I’m dumb.”

So a big thank you to my clan mate who reminded me that improvement is not just measured by a number and that it’s also important to put said numbers in context.

Let’s have blitz LFR

Remember a few days ago when I said I’d try to be more positive? I still want to do that but today I’ll criticize.

The last wing of Highmaul has been released and with it the last boss Imperator Mar’gok which I had the displeasure of facing using the dreaded LFR. To be fair, LFR is not a fault here, it does a fine job of finding a group and getting them going which is after all its purpose. Don’t blame the tool, blame the one using the tool I suppose.  Which leads to the first question, why make a wing with a single boss in it? Seems a bit wasteful in terms of queue time, especially for DPS classes.

So Imperator Mar’gok in its LFR state is a pretty boring fight. It’s about 12-15 of button mashing and hoping your group is smart enough to switch to adds whenever they show up. My group wasn’t that smart so the place ended up taking nearly an hour to complete. A long and painful hour.  I had to fight falling asleep fighting a boss I met for the first time and resist the temptation of going afk and watch Youtube while the rest of the group was killing the boss. I have a nagging suspicion though that some of my fellow puggers didn’t resist that temptation.

I’d like to blame Mar’gok for being boring but the truth is that LFR has been that way for me since Pandaria.  Bosses takes too long, fights are boring and I have to fight off falling asleep. I know I’m not the only one feeling that way. We do LFR to round out gear, complete our legendary quest but we’re not in there for the fun factor.

It’s not big surprise either that it’s so boring. There’s no challenge involved in it. As long as you have one or two decent healers and at least one good tank, the fights become tank and spank and most if not all mechanics can be ignored.  In the worst cases they literally become the same as fighting a practice dummy. I don’t any players who find fighting practice dummies exciting and even less who find that fighting multiple dummies for over half an hour to be a productive endeavor.

Dear Blizzard, I understand the reason why we have LFR difficulty raids. It allows even the most casual players to see content and it’s a great catch-up mechanism for gear. I also get that you need to put incentives (Legendary quests) to get the more experienced players to go in there to help out. I think we’re not that far from perfection… except that it’s boring as hell.

I’m going to offer a simple solution. Make the fights go faster, a lot faster.  Why not aim for 5 minutes per boss and another 5 for the trash leading up to it. Every ten minutes, a dead boss. If you want to add mechanics to the boss because there needs to be a bit of challenge go for it but keep the fight short. Either the group masters the mechanic and is done within 5 minutes or they don’t and wipe.

If you want to steal this idea, I allow Blizzard Entertainment to use any suggestion contained in this post.

Back in October 2014 I started playing Word of Tanks again after a rather long break.  In the past I would play it by spurs of a few weeks and then leave it alone for a while and I figured this time I’d probably play until Warlords launched and not drop it again. But this time around the game seems to be sticking with me. I did play a lot less during WoD launch and the holidays but I’m finding myself playing a fair amount these past two weeks. I believe that this is mainly because back in October I had set for myself the goal of improving my play and this has kept me interested in the game more than trying to get new tanks.

Which leads me to today’s topic, wanting to improve your gameplay in videogames, something that I find is most relevant in competitive games and MMOs. For example, I’ve been trying to improve in WoW to keep up with my raiding guild which raids at a pretty high level. I’ve had to improve my healing in FF14 to get through Extreme Ifrit and Bahamut Turn 5. And now in WoT I’m trying to get in the  “bluenicum” range which equals roughly to the top 5% of players (blue is the color given by mods to the players in that range). There are also traces on this blog of my attempts at getting better at SC2.

Now these are all pretty high goals and I know that to enjoy these games I don’t need to raid at a high level, I don’t need to do extreme modes or be in a particular league or be a top tier player. For me though, it’s a matter of challenge and let’s be honest, pride. I play a ton of games and most of time I play on the harder settings. Games like the Soul series (Dark Souls, etc…) just appeal to me and I love playing them. Beating a hard game not only gives a great sense of accomplishment but most of the time I find them more interesting too. A lot of game mechanics are often not apparent on the lower difficulty settings and playing on a harder setting often allow you to appreciate all the depth a game has to offer.  In an MMO being able to play at a higher level often gives you access to more challenging content version of raids and boss fights which I find more interesting.

And let’s not forget pride. After playing games on harder setting for long I want to be able to keep doing so and when I find a game where I struggle it becomes a matter of pride to be able to “beat it”. In my mind, there’s no way I’m going to be beaten by mere lines of codes. I’ll figure out the solution and come out on top. When translated to MMOs or competitive games I know fully well that I’m not a pro player but I’m not satisfied if I can’t play at a high enough level. It might not be the best reason for wanting to improve but here it is.

Sadly I’m not always able to reach those goals especially when it comes to MMOs and games like World of Tanks.  Time commitment, opportunities and skills don’t always line up. When I tried to get better at Starcraft 2 I did manage to get in Platinum league which was my goal but by then it had become a source of stress and I’m not sure how much better I could have gotten even if I wanted to. Likewise, I can’t put in the time required by a lot of serious raiding guilds and even then, to improve to the required skill levels I’d probably have to put in way more time than is reasonable.

In the end though, I want to keep setting myself these kinds of goals. They keep games interesting which is doubly important for games likes MMOs who have no clear ending to them.

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