A Mash of Friday Thoughts

Last night my guild spent a full raid night working on heroic Azshara. It was actually not a bad night – my one night of Havoc DPS a week, pulls had steady-ish progress, and we’re making it fairly consistently to the last phase, meaning we are getting close to pulling together a kill, which I’m delighted for since I have 3 resets before I’m gone for a month, after this week.

I’m both delighted and saddened to report that Queen Azshara on heroic is indeed quite a bit harder than I expected, largely due to the additions to the encounter requiring that you pay a fair amount more attention. The possible double-decree can screw over non-attentive players, you need to make a plan for people who need to be alone and also soak an Arcane Orb, and with those plans, you need everyone to pay attention – one pull, I got solo soak on both transitions and people came to me anyways, causing me to get stacks of the nasty disobedience DoT and nearly die (thankfully Blur and Darkness reduce a lot of damage!), while they didn’t suffer any ill effect because they were following their command, even if it was against our strategy.

The wards mechanic requires a lot of attention, more than in normal. On normal, Azshara can be positioned relatively statically by phase, because the interplay she has with the wards isn’t a huge deal. On heroic, it becomes necessary for the boss’ location to be fluid, able to move at will to respond to the various aspects of the encounter. The sirens during the third phase are a lot more important to manage – frequently, our transition into phase 4 was messed up because one add was up too long and the ward drained, causing the raidwide DoT and ensuring a wipe.

These little tweaks (and they are fundamentally small changes to the encounter) actually add up to substantially more than they first appear, so while the learning curve is theoretically pretty small if you know normal, in truth it takes a fairly major modification to your normal mode strategies to claim victory. Raid nights like that are, however, what I like about raiding and the modern game. Each pull felt meaningful, like there was a lesson learned, we had big breakthrough moments (having me as Havoc means I can Chaos Nova stun the kamikaze nagas in Phase 2 for a clean, no-threat AoE kill), and it felt like we made small modifications with each pull that got us closer and more reliably to phase 4, to the point that we got to see the small changes that phase has so when we do get there with a meaningful attempt, we won’t be as surprised.

On another WoW-related note, Target (the retailer) is now my sworn enemy. I had a pre-order with them for the 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition box (the one with the Ragnaros statue) which was unceremoniously cancelled for me…and everyone else with a preorder through them. A guildie blew up their support line and found out that their story is that they reached out to their supplier to find out how many of the CE they’d be getting (why they’d offer pre-orders without this information is, frankly, baffling), and did not hear back, resulting in the mass cancellation of pre-orders for that product.

Target was a hail-mary for me that was lucky, so I wasn’t particularly angry at first, until I saw more stories of cancellation and found that it was a giant wave of cancelled orders. I guess since I got a commemorative server blade, I’m not as bothered by losing out on it, but I’m still probably going to try to grab one, if not here in the States, than somewhere in the world since I’ll be going to at least two countries with some chance of having them around right near the release!

Lastly, FFXIV. I’ve been having a fun, very casual week in the game, mostly leveling crafting, with my first Disciple of the Hand job hitting 50 – Armorer. I now have Botanist at 50, Miner at 51, and the aforementioned Armorer, and have made some good progress on the other trades. The only one I haven’t touched yet is Fisher, but I suspect that will change in short order given how easy it was to level the other gatherers, although I imagine fishing is likely to be a bit more intensive. I’ve also begun taking my last two (technically 3) level 70+ jobs to 80, starting with Astrologian. While Scholar/Summoner was already 72 when I left off, Astrologian was the job that really made me want to get back into the game for Stormblood, and now that they are fixed from Shadowbringers launch, I’ve been having a lot of fun with mine. Once I finish leveling these two jobs, I can glamour chest the leveling armor I’ve been holding onto from Trusts and leveling White Mage at launch!

In a personal note, I’m starting to get pre-vacation mental vacancy! I’m pretty much locked on to moving ahead to my trip, which is in 24 days as I write this, and while I’ve been to London and Tokyo before, Rome will be new and I really love those other two cities, so words cannot describe how excited I am!

Post-wise, I’m working on a few concepts. I’ve got ideas for posts on MMO expansion release frequency, a two-month lookback on my Ryzen 9 3900X upgrade and discussion of the various little issues that lineup has had, RNG in gameplay (which I wrote while leveling Dancer in FFXIV), and a possible personal post about some reasons I may not be into Classic (which involves a personal story about being threatened with a gun!).

But I’ll leave it there and let daydreaming about my trip siphon my working time instead for the rest of my Friday!

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