Good Games That Are Good: Pokemon X/Y

It’s no real secret that I love Pokemon.  I have loved Pokemon since the first games came out oh so long ago, despite the fact that I was probably just slightly over the targeted age for them, and of course I got into the cards and the show as well.  I also skipped high school specifically to go watch the first movie in theaters.

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I know a lot of people who sort of “fell out” of the games after the first or second generation, and I’ve gotta say, if you are one of those people then now is the perfect time to get back into Pokemon.  The latest generation – consisting of X/Y as well as remakes of the third generation games – is beautiful and streamlined without losing any of the charm that makes Pokemon, well, Pokemon.

Being able to trade Pokemon online makes the entire process of filling out your Pokedex easier than ever, and the addition of features like O-Power buffs, Pokemon Amie (which I have no doubt will be removed in the next generation, so enjoy petting and playing with your Pokies while you can), TMs that can be used multiple times, and the absolutely gorgeous 3D models make this generation a solid and smooth culmination of all of the best bits of prior Pokemon games.  Best of all, the core gameplay is still there, so even if you haven’t played since the days of Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle, you will have absolutely no trouble jumping right in.

charmander caution

Probably the biggest downside to X/Y (as well as Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire) is that you have to have a Nintendo 3DS or 2DS to play, and those are still fairly pricey.  However, the 3DS library is huge (and fantastic) these days and I’d recommend investing in one if you can spare the change.  Even for the Pokemon games alone, it’s worth it.  Besides, haven’t you been feeling the urge to catch ’em all lately?  …all 721 of them?

On MMOs

As a returning blogger after a long hiatus I have opted to participate in a lovely program called the Newbie Blogger Initiative this year.  I do feel slightly, uh, awkward being involved as a newbie when this blog is almost eight years old, but I digress.

The Newbie Blogger Initiative is aimed towards video game bloggers, and most of the ones I’ve seen are blogs about MMOs.  Most of which are not WoW.  What I find interesting is that MMOs, as a genre, have such a following.  Many people proudly call themselves MMO gamers.  Not me.  I’m just a gamer.  (Or, to use my preferred term, a “video game enthusiast.”)

ENTHUSIASM!
ENTHUSIASM!

Many people can clearly remember the first game they played.  Not me.  I was born alongside the Atari 2600, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Commodore 64 and I grew up with my tiny little paws wrapped around a joystick.  There has not been a time in my three decades of life that I cannot recall games as being a major part of my existence.  When I began playing WoW oh so many years ago, it was not because it was an MMO – it was because it was another video game (and one set in a world I was already familiar with, since I’d been obsessing over Blizzard games for many years already.)

To this day, I don’t really play any other MMOs.  I don’t really have anything against them.  But between all of the other games I regularly play the heck out of, I suppose I feel like I only have time for one MMO.  And that MMO happens to be my first true love in the genre – one World of Warcraft.

Quel'Thalas is the greatest of the nations in lore.  Fact.
Quel’Thalas is the greatest of the nations in lore. Fact.

So yes.  To any curious newcomers to my blog:  That is my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

…there might be time for FFXIV though.  Maybe.  Maybe.

Flashback Friday: Do You Recall When Leveling Took Forever?

I leveled my first character to max before any of the many assorted nerfs to leveling that inevitably followed.  Do you know how long it took?  Well, let’s just say that I started playing that character in May and I hit the then level-cap of 70 in December.  That’s uh… that’s seven months.  And I was playing quite a bit.

These days, however, leveling is astoundingly easy.  Not only have there been multiple nerfs to the leveling process, but heirlooms and various other things exist to make your grind as quick and painless as possible.  As someone who has been playing this game for years, I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty good.  But sometimes I look back on spending a month just to gain ten levels and I… oh no, who am I kidding, there is basically nothing I miss about that.

"You... you mean I have to spend HOW LONG in Stranglethorn Vale?  And on a PvP server??"
“You… you mean I have to spend HOW LONG in Stranglethorn Vale? And on a PvP server??”

BONUS NOSTALGIA: Remembering the days after Blizzard started to nerf player leveling requirements but didn’t re-tune pet leveling so if you wanted to level more than one pet at once as a hunter you had to sleep outside and forego rested experience.  …what, I can’t possibly be the only person who did that, right?

So yeah.  Old school leveling.  How long did it take YOU to do it?

A Beast Master Hunter’s Guide to Proving Grounds on Endless

You asked for it, so here it is: A Beast Master Hunter’s Guide to Proving Grounds on Endless: 6.1 Edition!

Before I begin, I want to note that a.) this probably isn’t going to get you to round 9283643 or whatever, but it should get you to round 30, and b.) not all of what I say applies to raids/instances (although much of it does.)

SPEC:

I ran with this spec.  Some of these talents are more important than others.  A brief discussion on them:

Tier One: Narrow Escape is actually probably the least helpful talent here but I was too lazy to respec from it and frankly it made little difference in the end.

Tier Two: I like Intimidation as a backup Counter Shot; Wyvern Sting probably works well in that regard also.

Tier Three: Doesn’t matter as you won’t be taking damage.

Tier Four: Dire Beast helps provide necessary burst and is currently the highest DPS choice for Beast Masters out of this tier.

Tier Five: I opted for Crows here over Stampede because it’s on much shorter cooldown and things die quick enough that you can essentially use it non-stop.  With all your other bursty tools at your disposal you should not need Stampede for this.  I can see Blink Strikes as being a potential option  but this guide was written with Crows in mind.

Tier Six: Barrage is the best for burst, AoE and overall DPS.

Tier Seven: Adaptation is far and away the best DPS choice in this tier.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN:

Repair, buff up (the grummle provides buff food or you can use your own), use a flask if you want.  Do note that certain buffs (augmentation runes, for example) don’t work here.

Make sure your pet is spec’d for Ferocity and set to Assist.

Turn on Aspect of the Cheetah; nothing should be hitting you throughout this entire encounter.

Turn on Trap Launcher, if it isn’t on.

GENERAL TACTICS:

Get in the habit of moving around a lot (in fact in many rounds you will essentially always be running) and of tossing an explosive trap in the center of the room between rounds for some free bonus damage.

The first ten rounds will repeat endlessly, albeit with slightly higher enemy health each time.  So round one is the same as round 11, 21, 31 etc.

SECRET WEAPON:

Mecha-Blast Rocket.  It drops from Blingtron gift boxes and does serious damage in a pinch.  Shhhh!  (I did do the achievement without using any of these, so don’t think they’re required.  But hey, I can’t say they aren’t without their uses.)

ROUND SPECIFIC TACTICS:

Round One:

You will have a group of small enemies in the center and three larger ones around them.  None of them do anything special and you should be able to take all of these guys down in about 30 seconds between Crows, Bestial Wrath and Dire Beast on the big guys and a Barrage and a couple of multishots on the little guys.

Round Two:

Before this round I run towards the back of the room (opposite of the entrance) because that is where the healer will spawn.  Take him out first, interrupting him with a Counter Shot as soon as you see him begin to cast his heal.

An Amber-weaver is going to launch globules around; these stun you for a long time if they hit you but if they hit another NPC then they cause that NPC to take double damage.  For this reason I tend to take them out last because the globules can be useful.  Keep moving in order to avoid those globules and take out the big guys.  Remember to stay behind them when they put up their shield.

A banshee will show up halfway through this round and if you don’t kill her within ten seconds the entire thing ends, so I save a burst for her (typically Barrage).

Round Three:

I open this round with a Barrage on all the little guys in the center.  Then I focus on the Banana-tossers one at a time with Crows and Dire Beast (not BW yet, for reasons that I will detail in a bit.)  Remember to keep moving because if a banana hits you it will kill your hit rate for several seconds.

Once the banana-tossers have been dealt with pop a Bestial Wrath for the cheaper focus costs and then proceed to spam multishots.  Between all your multishots and the resulting Beast Cleaves all the little guys should drop like flies.

Round Four:

A Berserking buff will spawn here but frankly I never need it on this round so if you don’t need it either then feel free to save it for later, more difficult rounds.  This is a fairly straightforward if DPS intensive wave.  Keep Crows up on whatever you are attacking at all times and don’t stop moving and trying to maneuver the amber globules into the big guys.  A banshee does spawn halfway through so keep a burst saved up for that (again, my preferred burst on a banshee is Barrage.)

Round Five:

You will have a VERY big guy in the center, plus a healer and a banana-tosser.  Ignore the big guy for now – he has a shield up anyway – and destroy the healer (remember to interrupt!) and the banana-tosser.  Begin work on the big guy, but save your cooldowns for now.  At some point you will get a banshee, which you can Barrage away, and soon after it’s dead the big guy’s shield should fall.  Unleash all your cooldowns on him and he’ll go down really quick.

Round Six:

As soon as this round begins toss a freezing trap on one of the healers – it doesn’t matter which one – and kill the other one.  Whether you focus on the other healer or the little guys in the middle next is up to you; the little guys in the middle go down fast with AoE (barrage + multishot/beast cleave) and the healers go down quick with Crows, Dire Beast and sustained DPS.

You do get another berserking buff here – again, I save it.

Round Seven:

Personally I find this to be the most difficult of any of the rounds.  There is a lot of DPS required to get through it all in a minute.  If you’re having trouble with it, don’t be afraid to use one of the berserking buffs that you’ve saved up.  There is no real secret to this round other than kill everything as fast as you can, keep Crows up nonstop, use Barrage when you can (there are no banshees in this round) and try to use the Amber Globules to your advantage.  Remember to keep moving or the bananas will get you.

Round Eight:

This round is deceptive – it looks simple to begin with, but there are three banshees that will show up later on to mess you up.  Open by disposing of the healer right away and then beginning work on the other guys.  This is usually when the banshees start showing up so save your cooldowns for them.  These ones last fifteen seconds rather than ten, but they also have more health, so stay on your toes.

Round Nine:

This is another DPS intensive round and there is a banshee that pops up halfway through so have Barrage ready to go.  Save the Amber-Weaver for last so you can use the Amber Globules on the big guys, and watch out for the banana-tosser.

Round Ten:

Patchwerk but with a twist: you need to save all of your cooldowns for the end.  Don’t worry about healers, bananas or banshees, this one is just you and the big guy.  Maintain a basic rotation (Cobra Shots, Kill Commands and Arcane Shots, plus your first Dire Beast) for the first ~38 seconds of the fight and then when you see that he only has a couple of seconds left on his shield pop EVERYTHING.  Trinkets, Bestial Wrath, Barrage, Crows, Dire Beast et al.  BM is a bursty enough spec that you should be able to get him down in time without using a Berserker buff but I like having one up at this point anyway… just in case.

After you beat this guy you will get a bonus ten seconds before the next wave of ten rounds begins, so give yourself a breather, and if Round Ten was actually Round Thirty – congratulations on your shiny new title!

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So yeah.  That’s how I did it, and that’s how you can do it too! Remember – it’s probably going to take practice and determination.  But I believe in you!  If I did it, then you can do it too.  Best of luck!

Why Do I Want Flight in Draenor? It’s a Matter of Time.

The debate for flight in Draenor continues to rage, and the debate has even spread into dubious “They should just [do this] so people can stop whining” territory.  I am not here for a debate, nor am I here to dismiss anyone’s concerns as whining.  I am here to tell you why I support flight in Draenor, as I haven’t seen any official talk on this particular aspect by Blizzard:

Put simply – time is money, friend.

Fashion-Chic-GoblinI would like to be able to fly in Draenor because it would save me five or ten minutes on Apexis dailies and five or ten minutes doing those Harrison Jones repeatable quests.  I know, I know, that may not seem like a lot.  But let’s say you’re saving, on average, ten minutes a day.  That’s 300 minutes a month.  That’s five hours that could be spent raiding, playing alts, playing other games, watching Netflix, or any number of other things.  And I feel like ten minutes a day is at the lower end of the spectrum.

For those of us who started playing WoW in our college days, well… most of us are “all grown up” now.  We have other responsibilities.  Dumping an extra few hours into one game may not have been a huge deal back when we were younger.  But now?  Time is rare, time is valuable, and time is precious.  I could write a few freelance articles in those five hours and get paid for them.  Time is money.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I support flight in Draenor.  It really wasn’t a huge deal to me when I was still leveling, but now… come on, Blizzard.  It’s almost patch 6.2.  Listen to the goblins.  They are wise.

I Just Love Garrisons So Much

I was thinking about this the other day – I needed to make some buff food but I didn’t have quite enough of the correct kind of fish, so I ran up to the trader and exchanged some garrison resources for some.

And it was just perfect.  It’s just perfect for if you need a little bit of something.  You can snag it right there in the garrison without even running to the auction house or anything.  I love it.  I love it so much.  It’s so streamlined.

I love garrisons in general.  I know some people say that it takes away player interaction, and I guess I can sort of see it a little?  But ultimately I don’t spend much time there, and I only ever do invasions with another player.  (I hate doing invasions alone, in fact!)  So for me, anyway, I don’t feel any sort of loss.  If anything it’s relaxing to have a safe place to retreat in-game every so often.  I am a nerve-wracked and high-strung soul, at heart.  It’s nice to have a personal little sanctuary, and a centralized hub to return to between all the other stuff you gotta do.

So yeah.  GARRISONS.  I love them and I’m going to miss them when Blizz inevitably pulls a Pokemon and retires a good idea.  But maybe next we’ll get something better?  Who knows!

 

What Do You Want In A New Expansion?

Do you know what would be awesome?

A spider-themed WoW expansion.

Yeah, that’s right.  Like Azjol-Nerub except THAT’S THE ENTIRE THING, IT’S ALL UNDERGROUND AND NERUBIAN THEMED.

Can you imagine huge bug cities?  Awesome tunnels leading from above ground, at various points around Azeroth, to the immense, sprawling world beneath?  How amazing and alien it would be and how fun it would be to explore?

Yeah.  I want this.  Nerubian-themed expansion, Blizzard.  LET’S DO IT.

How about you guys?

There’s Always Money in the Tel’Abim Banana Stand

these are my awards cadyAlthalor likes to collect little pets – probably because he likes animals (he’s a Beast Master, after all) and also because he’s a sensitive sucker for things that were orphaned like he was.  Then he shows them off to his best friend Cadyna.  Like so.  (And then she promptly pretends that she has no idea who he is.)

Cookies to all of you who get the reference in the quote!

This has been a Cop-Out Post brought to you by the fact that I’m going on vacation tomorrow so I’ve been running around getting ready for that.  I will be sans-WoW for a week but I plan on still writing lots of posts when I can.  See you guys on the other side!

The Proven. Gorram. Assailant.

CElkPDoUgAAyEs1.jpg largeThis is a title that you get by successfully doing 30 rounds of Proving Grounds on Endless.  I.e., the health of the mobs goes up a little on each round.  Forever.

And I’ve been wanting that title bad, so bad.  Mostly because I saw it as a personal challenge to see if I can still hunter all these years later.  So I practiced and memorized the mobs and figured out when to pop my cooldowns and today it happened.  30 rounds of Endless (I actually went on to get to 37) and I snagged my title.

I AM A HAPPY, HAPPY PIKE.

Once you figure out the pattern it’s not terribly difficult, to be honest – well, no, let me rephrase that.  It is difficult.  But I feel like with practice YOU can do it too! Anyone want tips?  I can always write up a Beast Master’s Guide to Proving Grounds if anyone’s interested.  Heck maybe I’ll do it anyway cause why not.

And Dreams of Adventures Yet to Come

There has been much talk, lately, of the recent sharp decline in WoW subscription numbers and the related idea of content, or lack thereof.  Now on the one hand, I feel sort of… not qualified to talk about this because honestly I’m pretty satisfied with this expansion (I wouldn’t be playing and blogging if I wasn’t!) and I’m also enjoying what I’ve seen of Blackrock Foundry so far.  However, I started to think a little, and it hit me that something has, indeed, been missing from the game – for me, anyway.

WoW_LunapikeAgainstNightSky2

Long ago, when I was new to this game, the prevailing feeling was that there was always something up ahead.  Something to aspire to.  Something to claw my way towards.  First it was a mount.  Then it was Ice Barbed Spear from Alterac Valley.  Then it was an epic mount.  Then it was max level.  Then it was instances, and heroics.  Then it was Karazhan, glorious Karazhan.  By that point there was about a year left in the lifespan of Burning Crusade, and I felt that the impending new expansion was moving towards me much, much too quickly.  I still had TONS of raids left to do!  Heck, I still had Heroics I hadn’t done!  (Shattered Halls, I’m looking at you.)  How could I finish it all in just one year?

You see, raids back then were not terribly accessible.  It was normal for an average guild to languish in tier four raids for months or even years.  Was it frustrating?  A little.  But what it did do was give me a big ol’ carrot on a stick.  And I loved it.

Wrath of the Lich King hit – I never did finish all the TBC raids – and I loved the new expac.  I even got in with a progression guild and did all sorts of content when it was new.  It was pretty neat.  But then I quit.  Why?  Well, partially because I wanted to play other video games.  But also partially, I think, because it was the last raid of the expansion and there was nothing left to chase.  There was still a ton of content that I hadn’t touched at the end of TBC.  Not so much at the end of WotLK.

This isn’t to say that I don’t like accessible content.  I love it, I think they it’s a great idea, and LFR gives someone like me – with a really weird work schedule – a way to see the raids.

But I do sort of wonder if maybe there’s something to be said for a goal that’s just out of reach…

AlthalorAndTheRake

Something that we can continue to aspire to, even eight years later.

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Everyday I'm Huntering