Tag Archives: World of Warcraft

The Virtues of a Routine

Alexander (The Final Boss) 

I’m starting up a new series on this blog that I hope will help meld my old life of playing games and my new life of being a father to an awesome son named Alexander. You can see him chuckling at his good fortune to be born into our home on the right.

Don’t worry, this was primarily a video game blog, and so it shall remain, for now. I’ll have to see if I can muster the will to produce articles of substance during the early years of fatherhood.
This first entry is about the idea of a daily routine, and how routines in general apply to the gaming world. I often used to think that routines were boring, that doing roughly the same things at roughly the same time of day held no virtue. Only a few days into leave with Alexander, and I can see that stance was woefully ignorant.
Daily routines provide an anchor by which to subconsciously measure time, and to free your mind up to do more useful tasks. You never have to think, for example, about what time of day or even what DAY it was when you’re in the middle of a routine. You know exactly where you are and when you are because you’ve done it so many times! Daily routines help organize day to day life in neat little chunks that are easily digestible by your mind. If you get up every day at 7 am, eat a bowl of cereal, take a shower, then groom yourself and get dressed, during that hour or so of time your mind is free to consider future events, like what’s happening at work that day, or how you’re going to improve your score on your favorite golf course in the afternoon.
I had a pretty normal routine before Alex was born. A simplified version of my routine was that I would get up, do a few chores, shower, go to work, come home, play games, and go to sleep. About half of that time I could focus my mind on thinking about stuff like article ideas, mentally building Hearthstone decks, thinking about what class to play in Legion, or really anything I wished.
Now, with Alex running the show (and believe me, he does run it), nothing happens at the same time of day anymore, and generally not the same way even, making even the most menial mental tasks something you cannot auto-pilot. Every diaper is different, every feeding is as well, and his sleeping is chaotic and sporadic (so is mine now). I have practically no time to think about anything but the moment, and that often creates problems that would not exist with any level of foresight at all.
Now take all this Daddy stuff about thinking ahead and knowing what to do without thinking too much and apply it to a game like Hearthstone. Hearthstone is incredibly grindy, and while games almost never play out in exactly the same fashion, many times the mulligan and opening turns are remarkably similar. When facing a Shaman on the play on turn one, do you want to have to think about whether to cast Living Roots to start the offensive when you have a Wrath in hand? Of course, the context of your remaining cards does matter somewhat, but the point is that generally, openings do not change. There is a right way and a wrong way to play them based on all the possible outcomes, and after a hundred or so games with a deck, you’ll probably know what the right choice is. You’ll probably know how most games play out up to turn four or so, and don’t have to grind the math on most lines of play from you or your opponent. This lets you think beyond those opening moves, and consider how best to use your more powerful cards later on.
Ragnaros_Firelands (1)Routines appear in other games as well. In World of Warcraft, often a raid team will wipe on an encounter many times before defeating it, and once they do so they usually have far fewer problems, which indicates it wasn’t just blind luck that led them to victory. As a seasoned-but-certainly-retired raider of everything from Molten Core to the Dragon Soul(I am SO 2011), I’ve seen it happen countless times. Suddenly, everyone moves out of the fire, the DPS switch targets instantly, the tanks juggle aggro like they’ve been doing it for years, and the healers know exactly when that burst is coming. It wasn’t luck, it was all 10-40 players getting into the routine of the encounter’s mechanics at roughly the same pace. Coincidentally, this is probably the biggest unspoken reason why people actually switch guilds. It sucks when a few people catch on at a different pace than the rest of the raid. If you’re still somehow grinding away at HFC and you’re not happy, maybe it’s time to consider your guild’s learning curve and whether its right for you.

Well, that’s about it for my first try at this sort of post. I don’t think I’ve really said all that much of use, but frankly, it was nice to take a little time to get some thoughts down and talk about something that applies to both fatherhood and gaming. For you guys out there that are not yet dads, know that the lack of a routine has been the most disruptive part of my life right now during this first wild week. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just another mechanic to overcome in life, like going to school or getting a job. Eventually, raid boss Alexander’s pooping mechanics will become second nature to me and when that happens I can think about other things during that phase, like quickly switching to adds that may appear aka, quickly covering him up when he decides to pee during a change.
Wish me luck, and be sure to comment with how routines in gaming have impacted your ability to play like a champ!
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My First and Last Healing Experience in Warlords of Draenor

It may come as something of a surprise to some, but I’m playing World of Warcraft again. I’ll wait while you finish laughing, crying, and rolling on the floor.

OK, let’s continue, but I feel I should explain why I’m playing again after publicly stating countless reasons why I hated the game. I’ll try to be brief.

  1. No flying in Draenor zones. This was my number one complaint about the game. Flying made the game world feel fragmented, and encounters with other players were somewhat rare (and PvP encounters with flying mounts were rare AND stupidly frustrating. Fucking flight form). Removing flying meant Draenor could have quests and exploration in a more traditional sense. I love exploring zones and questing in WoD because I don’t have the ability to just fly directly to the objective, land ON IT, kill it/loot it/talk to it, and leave.
  2. I lost the fire. I played WoW for a long time with the mindset that I wanted to raid everything, do everything, and be the best I could be. It really made it tough for me to just play the game and have fun. A few years away has really doused that desire (thankfully), and I can just try to enjoy playing the game like I did way back in early 2005.
  3. The free ten-day trial. I was bored, and this is how they sucked me back in. I didn’t have a 90, and I wanted one. Marketing, it works. Also, The Angry Chicken podcast talking about WoW all the time didn’t help, jerks.

I still have issues with the feeling that the entire game is a much of mini-games you queue for, but that isn’t changing anytime soon because truthfully, it works. It lets more people experience more of the game, and now that I’m part of the unwashed masses and not an elite raider, I have to say I sorta enjoy it.

OK, the elephant in the room has been acknowledged. I really want to ramble on and turn this into a pros/cons of WoD, but let’s leave that for another post and move on to the bitching session (let’s call it what it probably is).

I chose to boost my Shaman to 90 because I raided with Shaman in Cataclysm, and I liked his professions (JC/Enchanting) because you could make a fair amount of money, which I enjoyed doing, and when you got an upgrade you didn’t have to screw around finding someone to put the finishing touches on your new item.

This was a mistake, and not just because Versatility was already level 85.

Shaman kinda suck right now. Enhancement is terrible in PvP, Elemental is acceptable in Arena and marginal in BGs, and I just don’t like PvP healing as a Shaman (or in general really). In PvE, their feel just doesn’t work for me anymore. The specs don’t feel that much different, but I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to, especially with Echo of the Elements causing me to constantly miss out on extra damage.

That left PvE Restoration, something I don’t have a ton of gear for. My ilevel is only 609 in healing gear, and frankly, I wasn’t great in Cataclysm as a healer. But I had put a lot of time into the character, completed almost all the quests, and had a huge garrison to play in, so I wanted to find reasons to play the class until they became viable in PvP.

versaI queued up for a Heroic after going through the seriously annoying silver-level Proving Grounds where I did just fine aside from Healbot not registering those bubble debuffs on party members. I got a group for the Docks pretty quickly, but I quickly found that my party took more damage than I thought they would, and I was casting more often as well, meaning I had to plan ahead.

We cleared to the first boss, and the tank pulled it while I was at about 50% mana (he hadn’t stopped once since we began). Our hunter and shadow priest were taking excessive damage from the fire-poop that occasionally landed near us, but the tank was doing alright.

Then our Paladin walked too close to a few guys we didn’t clear, and the fight became a mess. He died because I wasn’t going to heal him and die next, but I managed to finish the fight with no other deaths and no mana. We continued on to the area where LARGE areas of the ground were occasionally bombarded by cannon fire, but unless it’s your first time at the Docks, it’s easy to not stand in.

The Paladin pulled the first group in that area while the tank was afk, so that chewed up a fair chunk of my mana. Once the tank arrived, he continued to turbo-pull. Every pull, our shadow priest and hunter would stand out in the open exactly where you are not supposed to, and took HEAVY damage. Several times all five of us were at or below 25% health because of excessive dummy damage, but no one died.

After we cleared the area, just before the boss, I was booted from the group. No reason was given, and no one had complained in chat about my healing. I couldn’t believe that they booted me, not because there was great loot or anything in a heroic (better than my current healing gear, but w/e my healing gear was kinda bad), but because they preemptively got rid of me before anyone, aside from an idiot who needed to because he pulled adds during a boss fight, died.

I repeat, despite the DPS playing like crap and taking tons of damage, NO ONE HAD DIED. If anyone had a complaint about the group, it should have been the tank and I, really mostly just me. I’ve healed instances and raids pre-WoD, but healing that group was at least three times as much stress and work than the average average puts in, and only a small part of that was because my gear was relatively poor.

I can only imagine how the next healer reacted to their idiocy, but the real question is “Is this what it’s like healing in WoD?”

If I’m going to get booted for doing my job (albeit barely), then fuck healing, and fuck shaman.

Yep, this ended up as mostly a rant. That’s OK, I needed to get it out.

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