Enjoying the Shadowlands Pre-Patch

Welp, I did it! I started over, and I am loving it. The “new” account was created in 2014 for Refer-a-Friend (my Vanilla account was the friend). It had zero heirlooms, zero collected gear, zero allied races, a handful of pets, about 500 achievement points, and a naked level 92 undead hunter with zero gold.

Starting over has freed my mind from the self-applied pressure of so many incomplete achievements and unrealized ideas… the burdensome weight of a bloated 15-year old account. I couldn’t do it before because I was mentally tied to the “investment” of all that time I spent playing. Starting over felt like throwing it away as if it never happened.

But I can do it now, and it feels good.

I’m playing a Night Elf druid and so happy to have Shadowmeld again. It’s such an excellent racial for druids.

When character models were upgraded in 2014, my original Night Elf druid was no longer my original Night Elf druid. I tried very hard to connect with one of the redesigned faces and just couldn’t. Eventually, I race and faction changed her to a Tauren.

Now, with enhanced character customization in Shadowlands, I can once again create a Night Elf druid that I love! I used beta for the sole purpose of playing with the new character creation tool.


That’s a before and after of my girl, Joralda. The etymology of her name is:


  • Hebrew name that means “autumn rain”


  • Quenya word that means “tree”
  • the first two initials of my first (al) and middle name (da)

Jora + alda means “autumn rain tree,” and I love her! Autumn is my favorite season, and Joralda wears it well. She is currently leveling in the druidy Val’ sharah, one of my favorite zones. She’s level 38 and I’m sure she’ll reach level 50 in time for Shadowlands.


I played beast mode feral for many years and am now playing balance and happily experiencing the celestial in-tune with nature side of my favorite class. I was puzzled by the flowers blooming at Joralda’s feet when she stood still. I tried to find the cause in her spell book or on her gear and had to look it up—it was because I transmogged G’Hanir as my weapon! I had no idea. This might be my permanent weapon transmog. 🍃🏵🌿

I’m making a significant effort to focus on Joralda and setting aside distracting thoughts. I don’t need to create a character for each armor class or buy all the gear or all the pets from a vendor—for the collection tab; not because I like the class, or the gear, or the pets. I feel like I’m retraining myself to play more mindfully.

This perspective is refreshing.

I am very much enjoying how the level squish makes Azeroth feel so much bigger! I haven’t been excited by WoW in a long time. Perhaps some of that excitement comes from the “new” feeling of starting over. And I do think this reset reignites a sense of discovery at what has changed.

Messing around with Chromie time, I discovered that Legacy Justice Quartermasters sell item-level 41 blue heroic gear for level 30s. It’s better than the purple epic gear—item level 37 and requires level 32—sold by the same vendor and others nearby. The blue gear has sockets, better stats, and is much more affordable. My druid is still wearing most of it at level 38.

For Alliance, you can buy the gear from Toren Landow in the Old Town part of Stormwind. He is upstairs in the same building as the PvP vendors. Rugok is the Horde vendor located on the platform above Grommash Hold in Orgrimmar.

These vendors are a must-stop shop for brand new level 30s!

Have you come across something new or surprising?

Screenshotting and Imagining

I recently installed ReShade for Elder Scrolls Online and have messed around with it a little bit. I’ve known about GShade for FFXIV and decided to give it a go this weekend and I absolutely love it!

A lot of filters come with it and a very active community constantly publishes more. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg and spent more time—as I do—playing with Gpose and GShade than actually playing the game.

FFXIV has a lot of cut scenes during which I take screenshots. Especially when I start a new character so I can see how they’ll look in game and then decide if I want to continue working on them in character creation. I was going through screenshots from a new character cut scene and discovered a silly story.

Click/tap photos for full size.

My new Viera is headed for Ul’dah to start her new life.

She’s impressed by the forest… of stone.

Very impressed.

Lots and lots of stone…. makes sense. Ul’dah is surrounded by the desert.

Wait, what? Did that guy just “psst” me?

Can you imagine? He DID “psst” me!

And, yes. Viera start out with ridiculous outfits. According to lore, my Viera came from the Golmore Jungle. I guess that’s something a human bunny would wear in the jungle… [insert eye roll].

But… wait a minute… is that… ?!?!

*gasp* Could it be?

John Lennon?!?! Imagine that!

I told ya it was silly! 😋

The filter used during that cut scene was more washed out than I would have liked. But that’s just me learning GShade. Here’s a comparison demonstrating the difference it can make. Some people use a “gameplay” filter to adjust how their game looks at all times.

Gpose, the native photo tool in FFXIV.
GShade, using my first filter.

It’s pretty amazing. ReShade is fun to use in Elder Scrolls Online, but as far as I know you can’t freeze characters/scenes like you can with Gpose in FFXIV. Black Desert Online also has a native photo tool that freezes, but it’s not as user friendly—at least for me. Based on my experience, the screenshot/virtual photography tool set (Gpose + GShade + the amazing community) for FFXIV is unmatched.

This shot features a filter that came with GShade, and I adore it!

GShade, Lucid Dreaming filter by #AlmaStudio

Another example of the Lucid Dreaming filter:

Native Gpose
GShade, Lucid Dreaming filter by #AlmaStudio

I like how she turned out but I’m undecided about her name. She’s currently Vetrarros Dakini which roughly translates to “winter rose sky dancer.” I’m not loving it, and the naming convention lore is not helpful so back to my name docs and websites until I come up with a name I do love.

I hope you enjoyed the silly story. I find it interesting how it didn’t at all occur to me while the cut scene was playing. Perhaps I was too focused on my new GShade toy and taking screenshots to notice!

Back to Reality; Wrong Timeline?

I returned to full-time work nearly three months ago and was quickly reminded that time is a precious commodity.

I’m sorry. I haven’t kept up on your fun and wonderful blogs. Unfortunately, one of the first casualties in my efforts to manage limited free time is blogging; reading your great content and writing my own not so great content. 😉

While I haven’t been active here, I do think about y’all and your virtual adventuring. I hope each of you and the ones you love are doing ok.

With each passing day, I become more and more convinced that somewhere along the time continuum I, and those I love and all the good people and things of the world, slipped into the wrong timeline. (I remember reading Berenstein-with-an-e Bears as a kid.)

It feels like we are living in a sci-fi show imagined by someone in the 80s.

Regardless your position on any aspect of the coronavirus, it is affecting lives and livelihoods. I know we’ll get through this time of devastating loss of lives… and jobs… and the way things were. But it won’t be the same when we get there.

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. –Lao Tzu
Source: https://www.instagram.com/tinybuddhaofficial

I hope you are doing as well as can be in this weird and scary time. I genuinely hope you are spared the loss of loved ones. My sincerest and deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones. My heart goes out to you and your families.

Hang in there.

In Which I Compare BDO, ESO, FFXIV, and WoW

Time playing games since my last post—with the underlying current of narrowing my focus for a return to work this month—has given me further insight. I changed my mind about a few things.



I already caved and subbed to Elder Scrolls Online because I’m not too fond of craft materials NOT going into the bottomless craft bag. I pay Zenimax $15 a month to NOT manage a virtual inventory. Sounds somewhat crazy when put that way.

And I am now inclined to sub to WoW for a similar reason. I thought I was smart by giving my starter edition level 20 characters 16 slot bags and gold before my sub expired. Well, guess what? I can’t sell anything because I’m gold-capped. I knew about the 10g gold cap but didn’t consider how inventory space would fill up because I couldn’t sell anything.

Subs aside, as compared in my previous post, more factors need to be considered when deciding which game(s) to focus on when I return to a full-time working schedule.

BDO vs. ESO vs. FFXIV vs. WoW

I made this comparison table to visually represent my thoughts about each game and rank them accordingly. My apologies if the formatting comes across weird for you. I don’t see an insert table option in the WordPress editor and hand-coded it.

Disclaimer: these are my opinions based on my personal experience and filtered through my perspective and values. To somewhat qualify my experience, listed below are the years I started playing each game.

  • World of Warcraft (WoW) – 2004
  • Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) – 2014
  • Black Desert Online (BDO) – 2019
  • Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) – 2019

Please note: some features may have unlocks I have forgotten about, especially with ESO and WoW as I’ve been playing them longer than BDO and FFXIV.


Can Haz Durid
Warcraft is the only one with an official druid class. I suppose you could build one in ESO, using the werewolf skill line to shapeshift and even play as a Worgen. In BDO, you can pretend to be one as a ranger or witch and in FFXIV as a conjurer/white mage and maybe even a red or black mage.


Build Customization ✔✔
Character Creation/Modification ✔✔
Fashion ✖✖
Racial Diversity ✔✔

Black Desert Online

BDO’s character creation is phenomenal, saving it from an because it costs to modify your character’s appearance and what they are wearing. And they can’t wear much, even if you buy all the $30 outfits for your class. Additionally, “armor” for female characters doesn’t cover much to show off the jiggle physics. Elves and humans are the only races you can play, and classes are gender locked. As for build customization, there is none. You can theoretically pick and choose skills to learn/use, but you could be gimping yourself. What sets you apart from others of the same class is a higher character level with more skill points and better gear.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO’s build system is exceptionally versatile, e.g., you can completely ignore your class skills and only use skills from other skill lines. I’m not sure if this is advisable, but it’s certainly doable. In character creation, you can adjust individual facial and body parts. You can make a Bustopher Jones Khajiit!

Modifying your character’s cosmetic appearance can be done via collections. I’m not sure what is available to new players. My best guess is anything in character creation—makeup, tattoos, and jewelry—that was available for your race. You can buy more cosmetic options in the cash shop and change your gear’s appearance once you have collected a few dyes/motifs.

ESO has cats, elves, a variety of humans, lizards, and orcs. You can change your race using tokens purchased in the cash shop.

Final Fantasy XIV

As far as I know, there is no build customization in FFXIV. The fashion system, called glamours, makes up for this—once you unlock it—allowing your character to stand out from the crowd. And if you don’t know about it to seek it out, you may not unlock it for awhile. Glamours allows you to create outfits using the “glamour plate” system, and you can change colors with dye. Did anyone else play with Fashion Plates as a kid? I’m sure it contributed to my dream of being a fashion designer when I grew up!

The Aesthetician (unlocked with a quest) can change a few cosmetics while Phials of Fantasia (purchased in the cash shop) can change your race, which some people seem to do as frequently as the weather changes. Like ESO, you can play cats, elves, a variety of humans, and a lizard-like race. There’s also the diminutive Lalafell and the Viera bunny girls. In character creation, the body parts you can adjust are height, chest size, tails, and ears. You can’t make a Bustopher Jones Miqo’te.

World of Warcraft

Like FFXIV’s Aesthetician, WoW’s barbershop allows you to change your appearance. Unlike ESO and FFXIV, you can change your character’s skin color with in-game currency. WoW gets a whole extra for this. You can purchase race changes from the cash shop. Once you have collected some gear/weapons in WoW, you can change your gear’s appearance but not the color.

WoW has the most playable races with pretty much everything the other games have and more: panda bears, goblins, trolls, werewolves, hooved and horned creatures with and without fur, undead, and now foxes. Build flexibility with class specializations is limited. Druids have the most options with four specializations, one for each play type: tank, melee DPS, magic/ranged DPS, and healer.


Login Rewards ✖✖
Pressure to Play ✖✖ ✔✔

Black Desert Online

BDO is horrible (or very good at it?) when it comes to making you feel like you are missing out. Players are rewarded with daily login rewards, daily loyalty rewards, a daily guild “allowance,” a daily event item collection—get x for being logged in for 1 hour each day, xx for 2 hours, and even more for 3 hours each day!—to the point that managing your collected rewards becomes a daily chore. There are even incentives for leveling a new class: earn 10 billion silver for leveling the new class to 58!

BDO somewhat balances out the crazy by making many activities doable while AFK—even character leveling—helping you reach those daily /played goals.

Elder Scrolls Online

I went through a period when I logged in to ESO each day—and not played at all—for the sole purpose of earning a reward for consecutively logging in for a specified number of days. I don’t like this feeling and have tempered it by ignoring this feature.

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV has a loyalty system in which you receive rewards for x /played days. They sent a set of cosmetic gear to all my characters, and I had no idea why. It turned out to be a 60-day loyalty reward! Even with that and a sub, I don’t feel pressure to play FFXIV. Perhaps because I’m a new player?

World of Warcraft

The pressure to play WoW is felt—whether or not I am subbed—likely because I have a far greater time investment having played for 15 years. There are no login rewards or incentives for daily play. I don’t count daily quests because they are a means to an end, requiring you to do something more than logging in.


Combat ✔✔
Housing ✔✔ ✔✔
Lore/Story ✔✔
Open World Exploration ✔✔
PvP (forced)

Black Desert Online

BDO’s combat is amazing! No tab targeting or reticle aims your actions. Just glorious mayhem that takes down whatever you are facing and is in your vicinity—lots of AoE. It’s very fun, and it has to be to balance hours of grinding. Even so, I get quickly bored with the repetitiveness.

I enjoyed the housing system. You can get furniture as quest rewards and will need a home to put them in. Many of the buildings in towns and cities can be rented as your residence, and you can have more than one in different places. I had a little villa with three residences around a courtyard; one served as a living space with a kitchen downstairs, another was my bedroom, and the third was my alchemy lab. It feels like your characters are living in the game.

I think there is some lore, but the story is confusing and disjointed. Perhaps because everything is translated from Korean to English, some texts and dialog don’t make sense.

BDO is the only game of the four with forced open world PvP. My great dislike of becoming the victim of someone’s bad day keeps me from exploring the vast and beautiful world, which is unfortunate because there is a lot to discover. There are no loading screens, and it can take 30 minutes in real-time to travel from one part of the map to another. There is no fast travel. You can travel by foot, horse, or transport yourself and wait an hour until you can play that character from the new location.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO gets all for Gameplay. The lore/story is vast, deep, and unique. It’s the only game where you can go anywhere you want as everything scales to your level. There are no game mechanics that require grinding. Any grinding is self-imposed, i.e., if you want to reach max level ASAP. It’s possible I’m wrong and have not yet come across anything that requires a grind.

Housing is excellent, and there are so many recipes to craft your furniture and decorations. Players can get very creative in decorating their homes! Each starter city has a free apartment available upon completion of an introductory quest. You can fast travel to your homes at no cost, making this a convenient and cheap way to travel across Tamriel.

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV is the only one where you can’t go wherever you want; you unlock travel to other regions through the main quest. Combat feels clunky and slow, which makes fighting enemies feel very repetitive. And while I have yet to experience it fully, FFXIV does have player housing and a good story.

World of Warcraft

WoW is the only one without housing. My best guess as to why is because the game’s engine is so old that it can’t be implemented. ESO went live without player housing. I think it was able to add it in a later expansion because housing objects were created as individual assets. I’m making a wild guess here, but it makes the most sense to me. And I’m not sure player housing in WoW does make sense. It seems weird.

WoW’s lore and story are good. It doesn’t get as high marks as ESO because much of it takes place in books outside of the game. For me, it creates a disjointed experience. I’m not a fan of this approach—requiring me to invest time outside of playing the game to research and figure out what the heck is going on.

There is an overall grindy/repetitive feel at higher levels, which should come as no surprise as this element of gameplay has been part of WoW since the beginning. The reputation grind to unlock the Zandalari Troll was long and arduous. But I feel more attached to Zen’Ijira than had the race been accessible to all with a new expansion. So there’s that interesting psychological feature. However, I’m not at all inclined to unlock the Kul Tiran anytime soon. I will eventually, just maybe not this year.


Cash Shop ✖✖✖ ✖✖
Loot Boxes ✖✖
While WoW does have the Blizzard Shop, it pales in comparison to the other games’ cash shops so it’s the only one that gets a for monetization. In BDO and ESO, the cash shop is available in the game (not a positive) and requires you to buy a cash shop currency with real-world currency. ESO scores better than BDO here because it provides some of that currency with a subscription. BDO does not have that option.

FFXIV and WoW do not have loot boxes. ESO’s loot boxes are limited to seasonal crown crates. BDO’s loot boxes are everywhere; nearly every facet of the game features their RNG gambling system.

Ok, time to score. Let’s make this simple:

 = +1
= -1


(6 – 18 )
(14 – 6 )
(10 – 6)
(13 – 4 )
Druid -1 -1 -1 +1
Character -3 +5 +2 +6
FOMO -4 -2 +3 0
Gameplay +1 +9 0 0
Monetization -5 -3 0 +2


We Have a Winner!

According to this, I should be playing WoW and ESO. That sounds about right; I was playing them before I started playing BDO and FFXIV last year. Well, that’s settled! With a clear picture of which games to play, I now need a clear picture of HOW to spend my time playing them.

As shared in previous posts about WoW, although I feel more lost with each expansion, I can still do a lot and enjoy it. I get excited thinking about playing level locked 20s in Vanilla zones I haven’t experienced post-Cataclysm, collecting gear along the way. But I’m still toying with the idea of only playing druids. That would mean there’s no need for me to play other armor classes just to collect gear.

In a recent post, Gamescapist talks about setting goals for her characters to serve a specific purpose, and then their playtime comes to an end. Gnomecore does this as well. It always seemed strange to me. Why waste your time on a character you have no intention of playing once they reach a certain point?

But I should consider their approach. I’ve been playing these games without an end… without an end. I’ve mentioned before how I spend much of my time playing without specific goals in mind.

It might be time to change that.

Preparing for 2020: Returning to Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

I intended to post an update on where I’m at with preparing for Shadowlands. While working on that post, it quickly became clear that it should be part of a greater and more general update on preparing for this year.

In between the time I spent with my Mom last year, I played games. We’ll set aside the fact that I didn’t spend my free time wisely and I didn’t even spend my gaming time wisely, i.e.: finish games I’ve been wanting to finish or complete goals in games I’ve been playing—I had all the time in the world and did not choose to do things in games that require big time commitments. Instead, I started two new games: Black Desert Online in January 2019 and Final Fantasy XIV in the summer.


Returning to work next month is the most significant factor in preparing for this year, making it very easy to decide what I’ll do as I will no longer have the luxury of time. As a game subscription makes me feel obligated to spend time playing the game, we’ll start with game subs and see what each game generally offers without one.

  • Black Desert Online – no game sub, all content available
  • Elder Scrolls Online – all base content available, no level restrictions
  • Final Fantasy XIV – can’t play without a sub
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic – all base content available, no level restrictions
  • World of Warcraft – level 20 starter edition (I wish Classic was available!)

From a subscription perspective, you get the most from BDO, ESO, and SWTOR without one. Yet, if I were to choose a game based on paying a sub, it would have to be FFXIV because you can’t play it at all without one.

And that’s what I’m going to do. My one-year ESO sub expired this month as did my six-month WoW sub. I am not re-subbing to either because I don’t want to feel obligated to play them. I can happily play them as a non-subscriber.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do


I can’t deny that not subscribing to WoW is hard. It feels like a break up, but I have to be honest—the breakup started years ago. This is from a draft I never published in 2014:

Getting Worse with Each Expansion

For me, the result of each expansion has been an increased loss of connection with knowing how to play my characters, the game mechanics, and perhaps the game itself. I am less willing to spend time relearning how to play a class and feel like more of a n00b each expansion. So I play less, and less, and less. With MoP, I mostly played to see Pandaria, which I enjoyed very much as well as fun new features such as finding lost treasures.


I’ve become one of those players that just doesn’t care as much anymore.


So, after all this time with MoP, I have not stepped into any raid, which is a first for me. I haven’t even done all the 5-man dungeons or completed a single scenario. I’d rather get Timeless Isle gear and continue working on grinding old school reps and challenging myself by soloing old raids. Maybe a few BGs here and there.

It’s gotten worse! I didn’t check out the anniversary celebration. In fact, I logged off at the Times of Cavern entrance with the best intention of checking it out and… I just never did. I see people talking about essences and have no idea what they are, nor have I bothered to look it up and find out. The game described in Fiannor’s post sounds completely foreign to me. Despite all that, I truly am looking forward to Shadowlands and have formulated a rough plan for that, as well as the other games.

2020 Game Plan (tee hee)


Black Desert Online

BDO has the best character creation and combat style! I spend more time creating characters, taking screenshots, creating graphics, and posting on social media than actually playing the game. I can’t commit to this when I am working.

I’ll play enough to keep my guild contract from expiring and will create fewer characters, using my solid foundation of templates for new designs.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO has the best stories! I really messed things up with my “one of everything” approach to the point of feeling overwhelmed so I just don’t play. To correct this, I’ll recreate my beloved Zahra al-Nayyir on NA and focus on her. I’m undecided about subscribing for the upcoming Dark Heart of Skyrim DLCs. I should have enough crowns to play them without a sub.

Ironically, that post about Zahra references a post in which I decided to play one character in one game. Ha! I’m a lost cause.


Oops! Not that kind of work! 😅

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV has the best transmog/outfits and screenshot tools. I haven’t played enough to evaluate the story, but I think it will be good. I am really enjoying it so far and am happy to subscribe. It’s new, different, and so far has a happier and lighter feel to it. Interactions with and between NPCs are delightful. I am leveling fishing to see more interactions between Sisipu, the acting guild master and quest giver, and Wawalago, the guild master in name. These two are hilarious!


Star Wars: The Old Republic

Oh, SWTOR, I haven’t quite pinpointed why you aren’t a priority. You are a good game and I know I’d have fun playing you. It’s not you… it’s me.

World of Warcraft

I love the level 20 starter edition! I’ll play Zen’Ijira in 20–60 zones and dungeons, adding gear to my collection. I’ll also play a cloth, mail, and plate character to collect gear and to play through different zones. I haven’t played through any of them since Cataclysm changed them all and am looking forward to it.

I’ll subscribe for Shadowlands and play through the new leveling experience.

Returning to Work

2019-07-11_98576163 crop

This return to work is a new beginning with meaning. While economically, I need to work, I’m very grateful that the job I start next month isn’t just any ol’ job to earn money. It’s the start of building something with my husband and for our family. I’m very excited about it!

If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you might wonder if what I say here will actually happen. You aren’t alone! I wonder the same thing too.

We shall see, won’t we?

2019: The Year I Spent With Mom

Happy New Year to you! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and the new year has been good to you thus far.

This year marks a few major milestones in my life: 10 years since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, 25 years since my daughter was born (my son is nearing 30 years old! 😲), and 30 years since my husband and I met.

2020 will also birth new beginnings: if all goes as planned, my husband and I will start a business together. I’ve been unemployed for one year and four months now. If I’m returning to work, I’d much rather run my own rat race. My husband and I have talked for years about running our own business and I very much hope this works out.

The past year is not at all how I expected a year off from work would have happened. All in all, and at my currently narrow perspective as the benefit of time has yet to provide an eagle eye view, I think 2019 will go down in my history as The Year I Spent With Mom and I’m very grateful for that.

Since October 2018, I saw my Mom about once a month. A weekend one month, the next month for a week, and 2–3 weeks some months. I’ve spent more time with her in the past year than the previous 5 years combined… maybe more.

My time with her gifted me with an internal reconciling and acceptance of my relationship with her—past, present, and future. My “mother issues” are healed and she has no idea, nor will she ever. In mid-December her neurologist said she has moderate Alzheimer’s Dementia. Regardless the diagnosis, she never would understand that I had “mother issues.”

Had I been working this past year, there is absolutely no way I would be in a better place with her and able to help and support her in the way that I now can.

Here are a few highlights from walks we took in December. Please excuse the poor quality of the duck photos; they were taken at 10x zoom. Mom loved those ducks!


Processed with VSCO with l6 preset

Processed with VSCO with l6 preset



Woop! There it is! And here is a quick post in celebration.

I reached exalted last night and finished the Allied Race quest today. Sadly, I wasn’t made an honorary Zanchuli Council member. But the new one is in good hands! And boy does it feel really good to have completed this!

I’m glad I had the Tauren heritage armor set on hand—it was perfect for this epic occasion!

World Of Warcraft - Retail Screenshot 2019.12.07 -

I’d like you to meet Zen’Ijira!


Her name is Zen (a Zandali prefix that means druid) + Ijira (derived from Ijiraat—shape shifters from Inuit mythology).

She kinda looks like my Darkspear druid! They both have purply skin with green hair.


Here’s Zen’Ijira meeting her queen for the first time.


I like how Talanji handled Sylvanus… and tells the new Allied Race character that Zandalar comes above all else. Zen’Ijira can get behind that.

Zandalar Forever!

Nearly Exalted with Zandalari

On my journey to exalted with the Zandalari, I check wowhead.com to see if I’ve missed any quests and lo and behold, there’s this whole Shadow Hunter series involving Vol’jin. YES! So I start that chain. I wore my Darkspear costume while assisting Talanji and Master Gadrin in escorting my favorite Warchief’s remains to a final resting place amongst the kings.




The next step after this is a dungeon. Sigh. I haven’t ran a dungeon with other people in about two years, maybe more. So I sit on this for two weeks and finally get up the courage to queue. I read up on the tactics for Atal’dazar in the dungeon guide and go for it.

HOLY MOLY AND WTF?!?! That was a normal dungeon? We wiped on the first boss, Rezan. Got him on the second try and only one death the rest of the run. It was nuts. I used my feral regrowth on everyone at least once; many times on the tank.

A frost mage 100 item levels below me out-dpsed me. I do not belong in dungeons! Well, probably not as dps. Actually, probably not as melee dps. Ranged dps is better because I can see more of what’s going on. But I’m a healer at heart and I’m always looking at health bars.

With the ridiculous levels of mobility in this dungeon, I’d often find myself not hitting anything after glancing at health bars. Oops! The pack/boss moved… so much moving! I failed 13 GTFO alerts. No kidding! There was so much stuff to GTFO of! 23 were high—I’m not sure what that means. Sounds like more failing. I was the only person on that recount report.

I’m not sure I want to do that again.

Once we downed the final boss, I double checked my achievement to be sure it wasn’t a heroic. Nope. That was normal. Yikes! After everyone left, I donned my Darkspear costume and placed Vol’jin’s urn.


All right. All right. I see you Bwonsamdi. Sure, I’ll meet you in your lair. But before I do, I need to run off to the Darkmoon Faire to get a reputation buff in preparation for this quest line. Y’see, I’ve been doing everything I can to earn the exaltation of the Zandalari and by my estimation I should reach my goal once I complete this quest line.

La dee da… hearth to Spirits Be With You, fly to the Great Seal, take the Thunder Bluff portal, off to the fair, spin around the merry go round, hearth to Dalaran, take the Orgrimmar portal, take the Zuldazar portal, fly to Nazrim, mount up and go see Bwonsamdi about Vol’jin’s spirit.

And that was it. Wait. What? That was it? Wowhead says there are more Shadow Hunter quests. Do I need to pick it up with someone else? Surely the game would have some clues for continuing this series.

Sigh. Time to Google.

The quest series picks back up with Bwonsamdi in Zuldazar. This disjointedness seems unnecessary, but OK then.


World Of Warcraft - Retail Screenshot 2019.12.05 -

Yay! I got to see Vol’jin! And then, boo! The next quest is in a raid. I can’t imagine what LFR is like if that is what a normal dungeon is like. What the heck happened to dungeons while I was not running them?

To be fair, that was just one dungeon. Maybe others aren’t this bad? But humans typically associate one bad experience to all the things from whatever it was they badly experienced. This is Psych 101. Why is making players feel bad an acceptable outcome?

Dungeons don’t have to be something players dread. I’ve done a few in FFXIV—you have to for the main quest—and they feel much better and more accessible. Anyhow, that’s a whole ‘nother topic for another post.

Light is at the end of the tunnel!

I’m at 90.9% exalted with the Zandalari. I don’t know if I’ll try LFR or not. I really want to complete this quest line but unlocking this Allied Race is painful and not at all enjoyable. I’m human. I prefer to avoid pain.

Unlocking the Nightborne was a much better experience. In addition to world quests and missions, there was a beautiful story line that gave Nightborne reputation. Are those content creators no longer at Blizzard? Not once did I have to step foot into a dungeon or raid, or even rely on outside sources to know what I’m supposed to do next.

Technically, I don’t HAVE to run group content for Zandalari rep. It’s merely out of desperation for sources other than limited world quests that grant pitiful amounts of rep—the missions, when they pop, are decent—that has me feeling like I am required to do things I don’t want to do. And now I have the added anxiety of expecting LFR to be 10x worse than a normal dungeon. This feels very bad to me. Earning Nightborne rep did not feel bad.

Back to the bright side!

With the Darkmoon Faire in town, I may reach exalted this weekend. And when I do, I better get a seat on the Zanchuli Council.

Wish me luck!

Black Desert Online 2020 Calendar Contest Screenshot Submissions

Black Desert Online (BDO) holds an annual calendar contest for players to have a chance at their seasonal screenshots be included in next year’s calendar. Players can submit up to three screenshots in each seasonal category: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Halloween, and Winter. BDO staff then chooses one from each player’s set and that one will be voted on by other players. Check out the 2019 winners.

To help players with submissions—or new players like me who didn’t know about this annual contest and who haven’t been taking screenshots with it in mind throughout the year—BDO changes the season in game for a few days. Once the Halloween decorations are taken down, cherry blossom trees are added for spring, then tulips for summer, autumn leaves for fall, and rain changes to snow for winter. That means for winter you have to either chase the snow or stay put and hope it will eventually snow on your chosen photo shoot location.

BDO’s screenshot tool is, well, it’s a tool in and of itself. It takes some practice to learn the controls, and then even more practice to use them in a way that gets good results. It can be time consuming, especially for n00bs like me. The hardest part is selecting three images from the hundreds taken for each season!

I’ve learned a lot these past few weeks and even started using Ansel—just yesterday, in fact! There’s a lot you can do—the 360° feature is super fun—and I can’t wait to try it in other games. Disclaimer: outside editing isn’t allowed for this contest, so none of my submissions were taken using Ansel.

So, with that lengthy preamble out of the way, these are my submissions. I missed Spring because I was grinding Zandalari reputation while the Darkmoon Faire was in town. 😁






How an Archdruid Kills Onu

A recent “Know Your Lore” article—A personal anxiety about Shadowlands—got me thinking about how I play World of Warcraft. As discussed in my Preparing for Shadowlands post, I basically do things “for the sake of it.”

Matthew Rossi, author of the “Know Your Lore” article, and many other players stopped playing Horde in Battle for Azeroth. So why is my Tauren Druid (Aubari) attacking other druids, fellow Cenarian Circle members, in Darkshore?

Guys, I made her attack Onu. I even hesitated. I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed that I hesitated and went through with it. I turned my Tauren Druid into one of those Horde members that does things because they are told.

For me, these tweets perfectly describe how I felt coming from Legion.

Why, indeed. Why would Archdruid Aubari have anything to do with the burning of Teldrassil, going back and warring in Darkshore, and killing an Ancient of Lore?

So. Along the theme of cleaning up my account in preparation for Shadowlands, I think the why for my characters is important. Taking a character inventory was a great start. But even now as I play Battle for Azeroth, what can I do to move away from a “for the sake of it” style of play to one that is more meaningful?

This 5-minute video explains the importance of starting with why, and how it differs from starting with what. If you are interested in the full TED Talk, you can watch it here.

Playing in BfA I am focused on what, then how, and why is nowhere to be found.

  • What = unlock Zandalari
  • How = do what Wowhead’s Battle for Azeroth Attunements says

What I haven’t considered is the cost to my character’s why. For Aubari, a servant of nature, is helping Sylvanas turn people undead and robbing them of their afterlife (I’m assuming) worth an alliance with the Zandalari?

If I go down this path, won’t I then be creating a new set of potentially prohibitive rules for myself? But isn’t that what a roleplay game is? I think I’d rather play the game with character specific limitations than as a digital reward/achievement system with a “do all the things” approach.

Something comes to mind, from a comment made by Kamalia regarding older vs. newer characters. Like her, I have stories in my head for newer characters while my older characters were just played “for the sake of it.” My connection to my older characters is derived from play time, not through an affinity for their story.

Aubari is my oldest character (she started as a Night Elf in 2004). Without a personal story, she—and any character for that matter, even myself as the player—can easily succumb to a minion mindset. Go there, do this, and oh yeah, for the Horde!

But… why?

Ignoring why leads to an Archdruid killing Onu.