In case playing World of Warcraft on your PC isn’t enough, there is also a trading card game option available as well, so you can play when not on the computer. Technically the TCG has been discontinued since Blizzard has Hearthstone now, but the cards are still available. I have been avoiding these cards because I really have no desire to play the TCG and I don’t have anyone to play it with anyway. Unfortunately, my curiosity got to me finally and I ended up buying a few packs.
Why would I buy packs if I don’t care about the game? Simple, the packs also include "Loot cards" which can be redeemed for TCG exclusive items in the game. I figured, I could crush the itch for loot cards by buying a few packs, ending up with nothing or garbage, and then I’d be done with it.
Unfortunately, this didn’t quite happen. I ended up with an ok pet and a really neat mount, thing. The mount is the War Party Hitching Post, which honestly is one of the two things I knew was available via loot that I actually wanted (the other is the rare Giant Chicken). The Hitching Post is not an actual in game mount but it allows you to spawn a temporary mount.
So, unfortunately, buying these packs has had the opposite effect and now I want to buy more, which is an ugly rabbit hole to start running down. Fortunately the places I can buy packs locally are pretty limited (Target) and they only have so many available (maybe ten).
The cards themselves are nice I suppose. A lot fo my TCG interest is in the fancy card art anyway. I have no idea what the rules are but there seems to be some sort of system around completing quest cards to make your heroes and units stronger. I have around 44 cards now, which probably isn’t enough to make a deck (the TCGs I know of and have played all usually need 60 cards for a deck) and I have no idea how interchangeable 60 random cards would be in a deck in the first place. As near as I can tell there are no resource cards (Energy, Mana, Land, Force Power) so I have no idea how cards are played.
That can all be learned I suppose. If i get enough cards I’ll probably look into it.
RamenJunkie, Champion of the Orc cause, has arrived in Pandaria.
While RamenJunkie was my first character, I got tired of playing Hunter and switched to Warrior with Ramchan, who became my "Main". A Main is a primary character with the most effort put into it, an Alt is a secondary character. An Alt can become a Main, but it can be a bit tricky to overcome the time investment in a Main.
Also, the little backstory one may create for your characters. I’ve got some vague backstory to most of my characters, it more or less relates to their actions and path through the game, but there are little liberties to flesh out a character. While Ramchan is Horde aligned, she is also Bloof Elf aligned, and cares more for their needs than the Horde or Orc needs. Her main story also revolved around destroying the Lich King for revenge against the destruction of the Sunwell. All of the stuff after was just supplemental adventures. Pandaria for the Horde was never an issue. For Ramchan, Pandaria was an adventure, but it became obvious that the Horde were helping to destroy the wonderous land of Pandaria, and Garrosh had to be stopped.
RamenJunkie is Horde all the way, and Orc all the Way. Even his path through the game put him directly under both Garrosh Hellscream and General Nazgrim repeatedly. RamenJunkie, Orc Hunter is fiercely loyal to the Orc cause, and does not care about the land of Pandaria beyond conquest.
Running through with RamenJunkie has been considerably more efficient than my run with Ramchan. I am much wiser and more attuned to how the game mechanics work mostly. When leveling Ramchan, the only stats i cared about were Armor and DPS. I hate to imagine what kind of cloth, plate, and leather mish mash I was wearing without realizing that Int is meaningless to a Warrior. I do know for a while I was emphasizing Stamina, but that is mostly for Tanks and a lot of Mail Hunter gear using Stamina. At least that would have been closer. Now I’m maximized and tweaked for maximum Crit and Hit like a good Fury Warrior.
with RamenJunkie, it’s considerably easier. For starters, there are way fewer classes that use Mail, so I can generally just "pick the mail quest reward". I also went through a lot of the game in Heirloom Gear, which meant I mostly just picked the quest reward with the highest vendor value. I also understand iLVL and how it relates to stronger Gear, so when my Heirloom Gear stopped being useful at level 80 and 85, I knew how to drop a few thousand gold on the auction house to replace it with good gear that will last until I can grind Timeless Isle and run LFR.
I also was way less obsessed with exploring and questing for the sake of story. I’ve been there done that, so I could just cut to the chase more easily and get on with leveling.
It’s just, easier the second time around.
A Day Late but for pretty good reason. All of the new Warlords of Draenor announcements happened today.
Like this awesome part one for Lords of War, a series of videos that give some background on the Orc Warlords.
Or this amazing opening cenimatic that makes Garrosh Hellscream seem like a total bad ass and makes me feel kind of bad for kicking the crap out of him at the end of Pandaria.
I am a fan of comics, I like the idea of comics, I like super heroes.
I don’t actually read all that many comics. The ongoing monthly cost is more than I care to bother with and I hate the whole multispan multi book story arch aspects (multibook Crossovers, not bultibook within a series). It also feels like there is too much long tail and too much filler to really "get into" anything these days. I really love collections and Graphic Novels. They tend to highlight the best aspects and they tend to be self constrained consolidated stories. The only DC hero I really care for is Batman, and maybe Power Girl (and not for her enormous plots). It’s probably not a coincidence that my favorite Marvel heroes are Iron Man and Mr Fantastic (and the FF by extension). I like the sciencey inventory gadget types. My exposure to Batman is is still mostly limited tot he various movies and TV shows.
I’ve been reading through a bunch of Batman graphic novels recently, and mostly enjoying them. They apparently are not all in continuity with each other but it’s good enough for my level of interest. (I picked up ten books on Comixology during their 75th anniversary sale).
I started out with Hush. I wanted something from a more slightly modern era that I had heard (meaning it must be relatively famously decent). Hush fit the bill. It’s also possible that it was just first in the list and this the first one to finish downloading. It turned out to be a decent book to start with, not because it’s super great but because it covered a pretty wide birth of general Batman history and almost all of the major villains make an appearance at some point as well as many of Batman’s allies.
Ok, I’m assuming these random appearances are at least somewhat less common, maybe Joker is in every other issue, Arkham Asylum seems to be a literal revolving door of entry and exit for these bad guys. It’s kind of comical just how bad the security is on a prison that holds all of the cities most dangerous psychopaths. Anyway, Batman follows through a series of encounters trying to track down this new criminal mastermind. His journey even takes him through to Metropolis with a brief appearance by Lois lane and Superman.
While I enjoyed the art and the overall story, the book suffers from the over use of the red herring plot device. There are at least 3 people who wear the same outfit for various reasons in an attempt to make you think they are the real villain, not to mention the other "could he be the mastermind?" moments with people not dressed in a coat and bandages. This is made even more annoying by the fact that it’s pretty obvious who Hush REALLY is from very early on including his motivations. This results in a decent ride with a lackluster, and obvious ending.
Despite this complaint, I really did enjoy Hush. Its a great quick primer for someone like me who is less familiar with how the character dynamics work in the comics. It also has a few set ups that I imagine are expanded upon in the future mainline series of books.
The Long Holloween
It’s kind of funny reading through The Long Halloween just after reading through Hush. It’s an older book, but it has a fair number of parallels to Hush. Specifically the whole "who is the mysterious killer" aspect as well as the "All of the rogues gallery will make an appearance" angle. You even have the subplot of Catwoman showing up to help out. I suppose the reality is that these gimmicks are probably just the way Batman books always work.
Unlike Hush, the "secret main villain" (Holiday, as in the Holiday Killer) is slightly less obvious from the get go. It also saves most of it’s big reveals until the end, and it actually has a nice twist at the end that I didn’t see coming yet it totally makes sense and fits. The core plot follows Batman tracking down Holiday, a killer who is systematically murdering high level Mob figures through out Gotham, except each murder falls on a Holiday, starting with Halloween.
There is a secondary point to the story but it’s a bit of a spoiler, so I’m going to throw it in this paragraph. If you want to avoid spoilers you can just skip ahead to the next paragraph or the next book. Anyway, now that there is a bit of space in there, I’ll go on an say, the basis of this book acts as an origin story for Two Face. This is part of why i wasn’t certain of the true identity of Holiday despite my suspicions. Harvey Dent plays a pretty major roll in the story, but I know Harvey Dent is a character who isn’t just Two Face. I had my suspicions that in the end Harvey would become Two Face, but it was entirely possible that Harvey would just spend the entire story helping Jim Gordon search for Holiday. It helped that there were several other possible candidates for Holiday, however unlike Hush, the entire story wasn’t spent setting them up and knocking them down as suspects. Most, if not all of the suspects lasted up to the end of the book.
Also, I may be imagining things, but this book really felt like it had served as the root of the recent film, The Dark Knight (aka the good one). The Dark Knight is certainly a way different plot than The Long Halloween, but it shares a lot of the core ideas and characters. The Joker, the Mob characters, Harvey Dent, i think there was even a money burning scene in both books (I’ve been reading a bunch of these and they are starting to blur). The Dark Knight is one of my favorite movies for sure and this book really kept hitting a lot of the same notes that movie does.
The Killing Joke
The last book for this round of discussion is The Killing Joke. Both of the last books were essentially collections of like 8-10 issues covering an arc. The Killing Joke is considerably shorter and by rough estimate covers 2 or three issues. It’s considerably less "epic" and only involves Batman versus the Joker. The most notable thing about it is the slightly iconic cover, which may be less iconic than I feel it is as most of my experience with the cover involves a remake for Transformers involving Megatron and Reflector.
(Some spoilers ahead) Despite how short it is, several notable things happen in this arc. I am not sure how impacting on the overall world some of these events are given how Comics sometimes handle continuity, but they seemed important based on what I know. One, Barbara Gordon gets show and crippled. This is important because Barbra used to be Batgirl, later she is the wheelchair bound Oracle. Knowing comics, there has probably been a back and forth on this, but for my purposes, this serves as a point when Barbra’s character became permanently changed. None of this happens IN the book aside from the shooting. Batgirl doesn’t show up at all and Oracle doesn’t show up to help Batman track down the Joker.
This book apparently also is the basis for a change in how the Joker is depicted in all future books. The Joker spends most of the book torturing a naked Jim Gordon with BDSM midgets, it’s kind of bizarre more than freaky, but I suppose I can see the change. Instead of being a kind of comical "Joker" he is more of a deranged psycho. Ok, admittedly, I don’t really see the change, but then almost all of my Joker exposure is to the "Psycho Joker" so he just feels more or less like, The Joker.
There is also a subplot revealing the Joker’s origins. It’s really watered down though, which makes it more disappointing than insightful. Part of the Joker’s "thing" is that no one knows his true identity. Even after this origin we still really don’t know his identity other than he had a wife and was somewhat tricked into becoming the Joker. It sort of explains why he is the way he is but it really doesn’t feel like it gives enough motivation for why he is who he is. It also doesn’t help that the Joker is an Unreliable Narrator and the story may in fact be entirely untrue.
The point is, I can see why this is an important story in the Batman Mythos, but it’s also kind of a mediocre leaning crap story at it’s core. It adds to the mythos in several big ways, but it’s done in such a lame way that it’s hard to really care.
Since I’ve FINALLY finished with my Legendary Cloak quest, I’ve gotten back to business of completing the Loremaster achievement before Warlords of Draenor comes out. I’ve also been working on leveling up some alts to level 90, so I can have so variety for the new expansion. I’m not worried about uber gearing the alts, the new expansions tend to do a good job of gearing characters during the opening quests, I just want to get them up to the point where I can hit the ground running.
So I’ve been doing some zones on alts, and some zones on my main. The nice part of about old content on a max level character is that you can literally breeze through it and one hit every enemy. It’s a pure quest and story experience. The bad part about old content on a max level character is that some of the quests can be difficult or near impossible.
Like the quest depicted above. The quest is to weaken 7 spiders to Lunk the Ogre can get his jollies riding them around. It’s a silly pointless quest ultimately but it needs done. These spiders have around 3800 hp. My main, fully geared, hits for anywhere between 100-120k damage. Needless to say, "weakening" a spider is not something that is easily done.
The best I can do is strip off all of my gear, thus reducing my stats as much as possible. The end result is certainly a much softer hit, most of the time. Stripping down to the basics gives punches that hit for around 400 damage, definitely something I can work with. Except that occasionally there is still a critical hit for around 4,000, which of course, kills the spiders.
These sort of quests actually aren’t super common, probably for the reasons here, but they are there occasionally, and dealing with them can certainly be a bit tricky.
This is commentary on the Beta and is not intended to be a review. Also, as far as I know, the game will eventually be a "Free to Play" title so for now, I’m filing it under F2P.
Landmark is an upcoming Sandbox MMO title from SOE (Sony). I think. I’m actually a little lost on what it is ultimately going to be. I know it’s related to Everquest Next, but I’m not entirely sure if it’s going to replace it, or be a partner to it or what. At this point, it’s just a gather and build title. Combat is supposed to be added soonish (I have heard in a month or so). Whatever the case, being a free form building title, it had my interest. I enjoy Minecraft, but find the blocks to be a bit limited. I enjoy Second Life but that whole thing has just become some sort of spiraling ball of crap spiralling off into oblivion. SL has issues, hopefully they can be addressed in Linden Lab’s new thing that was announced recently (SL2). I’m not really here to discuss Second life or Minecraft though, but Landmark. Landmark almost strikes me as a cross between the more open building of Second Life, the gathering of Minecraft, and eventually the questing and combat of an actual MMO.
Supposedly eventually players will be able to build little mini quests and games into their creations for other players to interact with. It could be fun. Hopefully there is some mechanism to help prevent the world from turning into a hodgepodge mess like Second Life’s mainland is.
I have not gotten the chance to really explore the land and building aspects in depth yet. All I have done is mine. The system seems to be surprisingly robust. You can run your little pick axe and chop balls of materials out of the world or cut down trees. Except the world looks like an actual game. It’s not like Minecraft where everything is a grid of blocks, it’s a fluid flowing land. Chopping chunks out even looks natural in the end.
You can dig pretty deep too, I chopped a tunnel through a mountain for instance. One session I pan to just dig straight down as far as I can and see where it gets me. I do worry about potentially getting stuck though. I am not sure how easy it is to escape from a deep pit.
Anyway, I was a little leery about investing in the Beta after some of the negative aspects I was reading about but so far everything has been smooth. I have not had any frame rate issues. I’ve seen many complaints about low frame rates. Granted, I have a pretty beefy set up pushing the game along. I have heard complaints about the lack of actual game, but I’m ok with a complete sandbox system. There is some sort of material upkeep involved with owning a piece of land, materials which can be mined in world, but I don’t know how much mining will be involved as I have not staked a claim yet. The upkeep costs Copper Ore, and after an hour or so of really loose play I had amassed 700-1000 Copper, which is plenty if the upkeep is say, 50 copper per day, but it it’s 300 copper a day, I can see that becoming a massive chore. I’ll know more once I stake out a claim and start building on it.
So, after what feels like months of work, I’ve finally obtained my Legendary Cloak. This is a lengthy quest chain which rewards the player with an iLVL 600+ Cloak that includes a bonus proc for loads of extra damage. In the current game it is straight out the strongest item you can obtain. I was prepared to mostly complain about this quest line but after obtaining the Cloak, I have to admit, it felt pretty bad ass. A lot of the longest part comes from all of the repetitive grindy parts. The overall chain is broken down into Five chapters of varying lengths.
Chapter 2 involves a rep grind, a valor grind, and killing a mini world boss that is tricky to solo. It also involves winning PVP matches on two particular maps, something tricky for PVE folks.
Chapter 3 sends you on ANOTHER rep grind, and after 20 more random drops from Raids (20 Secrets of the Empire ). It also requires you to obtain 40 pieces of hard to get Trillium Bars, which is easy if you are a miner but expensive if you are not (I think I dropped 2-3k gold on the AH for these). After that you get a really tricky Solo scenario and an almost as tricky Solo mission. THEN you get to collect 12 more random Raid Drops (12 Titan Runestone ) and the Heart of the Thunder King.
I should probably mention, with these 52 Raid drop items. You only get them from bosses, the drop rate is ridiculously low, and you can only loot Raid bosses once a week. This is the absolute WORST part of this entire quest. Rep and Valor grind? Fine, I can handle those, Chasing these stupid stones and sigils and crap, running the same long ass raids repeatedly? I hate that. Raids queues can last an hour easily, then the Raid itself is another 30 minutes to an hour. If you’re lucky, you might get one drop in that two hours. This wouldn’t be so bad except Raids are horrible for secondary bonuses, like Gold, and Valor Points and Justice points. You’re already at level 90 so experience doesn’t even matter.
Chapter 4 gets easy, you visit each of the four Celestial temples and completed a Solo challenge battle depending on your class and spec. It took me 3 tries to win a 1v1 battle with Wrathion. It was simply a matter of learning the fight, learning when to doge, and when to burn him down.
Chapter 5 takes you to the timeless Isle, where you have to gather a handful of Timeless Coins (I already had this) and fight each of the Celestials, which is as simple as opening the Other Raid Queues and waiting for a group to add you. All of the Celestial battles are simple Tank and Spank fights. This will give you your upgraded Legendary Cloak. There is one more Raid to run to kill Garrosh in Seige of Orgrimmar but frankly, I enjoy doing that run and it’ll be a change from the other Raids over and over.