When Real Life bursts your Bubble

Apparently it’s almost three months since I posted anything here and I suspect a similar duration since I last logged into Warcraft. I haven’t been cheating on WoW with any exciting new games, in fact I haven’t even finished Dragon Age Inquisition yet… I got as far as seducing Cullen and then stopped. As it happened Real Life caught up with me fast:

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Our son made his arrival into this world in a rather unplanned and exceptionally messy way, fingers crossed his bedroom as he grows will not reflect this. I will spare you all the gory details however there were parts when Mr Harpy thought he would be leaving the Maternity Hospital to organize two funerals. On the plus side, hospital food was marginally better than I had been led to believe and nitrous oxide is a wonderful thing or at least it was until I starting seeing snakes wrapped around my thighs (the hospital assures me they don’t have bright green anacondas working in the labour ward although…).

At the moment I’m learning to adjust and deal with the fact that everything I own is covered in milk but my intention is to re-discover my WoW subscription sometime soon, ideally when I’ve had a bit more sleep and see how things have changed since I last logged in.

 

TL;DR

I’ll be back.

Fandom Five: My Must See List of Christmas Movies

The Fandom Five is the brainchild of The Nerdy Girlie and Superspace Chick. It’s also meant to be done on Fridays, a level of organisation I just don’t have at this time of year. I love the concept because it takes the form of lists which appeals to the control freak in me and also because of the answers other people give. In this particular case, so many Christmas Movies I never knew existed.

Christmas has me in two states of mind, we have to eat three Christmas dinners in as many days, it never snows like it did in my childhood in central Europe and my parents usually start to argue by 3pm on Christmas Day although I do love wrapping presents, the smell of pomanders and of course Christmas movies so when I saw the latest prompt for the Fandom Five, I knew I had to add my opinion.

So in no particular order:

1. Die Hard I and II

Perhaps not what people might expect from a list of Christmas movies but they’re set at Christmas, are great to snuggle up with a blanket, someone you love and lots of lebkuchen plus they remind you that whilst spending the festive season with your nearest and dearest might at times resemble a war zone, it could be worse, much worse.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas

This makes both my Halloween and Christmas lists. I love everything about this movie and could watch it on a loop for hours although you do get funny looks singing “This is Halloween” in December.

3. Christmas with the Kranks

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This one ticks all the right boxes for me because I suppose it encapsulates my own mixed feelings about Christmas with of course the conclusion that the child in me wants. Every year I secretly toy with the idea of running off abroad for the festive season and every year like clockwork we go to my sister-in-law’s for Christmas Eve, my parents for Christmas Day and the in-laws for Boxing Day.

4. The Wizard of Oz

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Growing up, every Christmas this would be on television, it became as much a part of my family festivities as crackers, talent contents on Boxing Day (we’re a competitive family) and elaborately iced Christmas cakes. Whilst the adults drank (male) and cooked (female), we children were banished to the sitting room with a selection of presents and told to watch The Wizard of Oz until food was ready which surprisingly enough, we actually did.

5. Home Alone

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What’s not to love about this movie? I used to secretly fantasize about my parents managing to leave the country without me so I could heroically fend off inept burglars with the help of my trusty hound. However my parents never quite managed to lose me to that extent, although Home Alone is one of my Mother’s favourite movies too so perhaps I just have Daddy to blame for that.

Dragon Age Inquisition – First Thoughts

Santa came early to the Harpy household this year bringing with him a copy of Dragon Age Inquisition. It’s a joint present and as we have with both incarnations of the game, we’re playing together sharing the decision making and taking it in turns to pilot our way around the stunningly beautiful map.

Naturally we’re playing a Mage as we have in every other incarnation of the game and spent around an hour playing with the character creation screen.

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Visually the game has blown me away, it’s far too easy to stand around admiring the way the light falls through the leaves or the little details dotted around.

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What has really sold me though is the scale of the game, we’ve played for around eight hours but haven’t really achieved anything at all. From puzzles, to little quests just to be kind along with the main story lines, the scope is immense.

My favourite thing so far however is this:

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It might turn more like a  tank than a horse but the level of detail is amazing, from the difference in your position depending on your speed to the individual hairs making up the tail.

Garrisons: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

When I first started playing the Beta, I was almost determined to dislike Garrisons because they weren’t player housing. I started out critical because on the back of playing Wildstar, the biggest thing I felt WoW was missing was my own little corner of Azeroth. I wanted to be able to decorate, to hide out and grow huge possibly man eating plants in solitude.

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However as with most things, my feelings towards them have softened the more exposed I am. Sure there are still things which bug me, for example I’d love a shared Guild area attached to our own private space, perhaps with some of the functionality of Stormshield, i.e an Inn minus the quests for drunken parties or a banking facilities where you could hang out but on the whole, the positives outweigh the negatives for me.

The Good

Familiar NPCs as Followers

Having for example the Firebeards spending their extended honeymoon tending the Alliance Stables is a lovely touch for those of us who helped them get married back in Cataclysm. It’s always good to be able to tie the current incarnation of the game to what came before, giving that sense of a real world in which it’s not just us the players who change but the NPCs too. They grow up, form relationships and decide to explore new frontiers as well.WoWScrnShot_121214_133959

Your Battle Pets strolling around and following you

Okay, it’s a bit disconcerting when your buildings are besieged by your creepy crawlies but it adds a personal feel to the whole place. The only thing I’d suggest to make it better would be if it worked the same as the Stables, picking favourites rather than at random but really that’s a minor change.

The choice of Buildings

I’ve visited garrisons belonging to others as well as having seen screenshots and it’s interesting just how diverse they are. Mr Harpy and I have almost the same buildings but managed to lay them completely differently which means I keep getting confused and annoyed whether I’m visiting. I also liked the fact that I wanted more buildings than the game allows which gives you motivation to push alts if you have them although I can imagine this being exceedingly annoying if your not an Alt person.

The Weekly Garrison Campaign

It’s just not the extra 800 apexis crystals you get for completing the bonus objective but the rewards and storyline I love about these. So far I have a mole machine outside my Garrison which takes me to Gorgrond, a bundle of garrison resources and the title of Blood Champion not to mention this rather attractive disguise:

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I also like the potential this has as the game progresses, each patch can add more of these campaign missions to explore lore, hand out followers and fancy toys. According to the Followers list for example, we should be able to recruit Thisalee Crow or Choluna depending on your Faction at some point in the future through these.

Missions: The Rewards

On the face of it, I do question whether 645 loot should be obtainable by sending your minions out to fight whilst you sleep, work or watch tv but given that it does happen, it’s a great way of gearing up especially if you’re slowly leveling alts in the background. Whilst RNG hasn’t been that kind to me, Mr Harpy is currently working on his 4th or 5th piece. My little Shadowpriest already has 615 gear waiting for her despite being level 92 because her followers are already lv 100 and it will be interesting to see if once those followers have geared up, she can start stockpiling 630 and then 645 pieces. I also like the fact that you get toys, tokens for old mounts and followers from the missions because you never know what will show up next in your list.

Garrison Attacks

Attempting to get better and better scores makes these attacks fun in my book. I also like the little details, rescue civilians caught in the open, catch snipers or saboteurs before they can wreck havoc.

The Bad

Missions: The Timesink

Feels a bit like those free to play games you get on your phone where they want you to check back every 30 minutes to 12 hours to start off a new project. In order to maximize the rewards you get, there is that feeling that you need to check regularly and make as much use of your minions time as possible.

The choice of Buildings.

Ignoring aesthetics and personal favourites, if you are a completionist the easiest way to tick off everything available from Garrisons will be to have multiple alts each working on different things.

 The lack of Festive decorations

I’ve mentioned this once or twice before, but I feel our Garrisons need that tie with the old world more than anywhere else in Draenor. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a Winter Veil tree and some candy canes next week.

The Ugly

Garrison resources

To be fair, this is mostly the fault of RNG as Mr Harpy got two followers with the scavenger trait straight out of the gate and has been capped on Garrison resources for a while now, whereas I wasn’t quite so lucky and am hanging in there at around the thousand mark because every time I get more, I need to upgrade something. However having listened to guild mates complain about their lack of resources I suspect it’s a problem for a lot of people.

Herbing and Mining

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Don’t get me wrong, I love my herb garden but I do question why I who has neither profession should have a bank full of mats without having to use the Auction House or trade them from a friend or alt. This is the first incarnation of the game in which I haven’t had to spend any money whatsoever on leveling Engineering and it does seem a little unfair to those who were hoping to make some money from their professions.

Finally these are a few of my hopes for my Garrison going forward.

Seasonal decorations: When it comes to the various Festivals in WoW surely these will be mirrored in our Garrisons as what better way to show our troops exactly what we’re fighting for and also to make a tiny corner of a foreign planet feel a bit more homely. I mean we don’t want them deserting in droves do we.

The Druid Tree in the corner of the Alliance Garrison which is currently a little quiet, a little reserved: I hope that at some point, perhaps tied to the Garrison Campaign mission concerning Thisalee Crow which appears not yet implemented will make a better use of this tranquil space.

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Some sort of building which makes reference to your either your class/race or both: Obviously as a Nightelf Priest, a Moonwell would be the obvious choice but coming up with something for everyone shouldn’t be too hard. For Human, Dwarf and Forsaken Priests it could be a chapel, although the Forsaken version would look like the chapel you begin your Forsaken career in. Rogues might have a trapdoor leading to a secret lair and Warriors something reminiscent of Fray Island with their followers stacking the stands.

What if anything would you like to see added to your garrison?

A lonely impulse of delight: On Flight in Draenor

They say honesty is the best policy so before I start, I thought I’d nail my colours to the mast. As a girl flight fascinated me. The Wright Brothers were heroes of mine and the first Latin I learnt was the motto embroidered on my Father’s uniform so that it lay across his heart, Per Ardua ad Astra or Through Adversity (or Hardship) to the Stars. I loved the angry roar of his squadron’s fighter planes as they powered down the runaway and shot upwards into the sky. Like Icarus I wanted to soar amongst the clouds on wings of my own, seeing the world below as if it were nothing more than a patchwork quilt spread on a old bed. Even now, I get a physical kick from flying, the harder the take-off the more that jolt of burning flame hits my stomach so when Flying was first introduced into WoW whilst I had major misgivings for World PvP over all, I was secretly excited. After all the world looks so different from up there, you’d get a whole new perspective and so many more screenshot opportunities and I couldn’t quite shake my feelings for the Irish Airman who W.B Yeats had utter these words:

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

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Somewhere over Canada

As it turned out, Flying did kill off World PvP but that tide was turning anyway, so many battlegrounds and arenas meant that fighting over tiny strips of non instanced land didn’t interest the majority anymore and like many things it became a convenient habit especially with mounts like the Headless Horseman’s available.

Fast forward to Draenor and when I first read about the lack of flight, my gut reaction was one of a backwards step. Blizzard had given us something and now they were taking it away which whilst always within their rights to do so was frustrating. I thought about the various Flying Mounts other’s had purchased from the Blizzard store for cold hard cash and that only added to my annoyance. Surely selling things and effectively making them obsolete in the current version of the game was a tad unscrupulous. I went on a tour of all the little secret hidden places I love so much, the borderlands, the gap between the hedgerows where anything and everything seems possible and thought how much I’d miss finding places like this in Draenor. The thought of no flying built itself up and up becoming almost a deal breaker for me.

Then with drums and crashing servers, the expansion arrived and somehow my opinion suffered a sea change. I found myself tightrope walking in the Spires of Arak desperately seeking archaeology fragments because no bit of purple rope was going to get the better of me. I spent time figuring out how to scale giant mushrooms to win myself battle pets in the shape of pretty spores and I fell both up and down cliffs in pursuit of trifles wrapped in sparkly boxes. For the first time in a long time, I had to engage my brain and think about the best path to places, levitate and goblin gliders have both been invaluable I admit but more than that, it’s been fun. I haven’t been knocked off my mount and forced to fight to the death against a horde of pesky mobs as I feared which given that I’m a Holy Priest who hits like a wet noodle is a very good thing but more than that I feel engaged in the world around me. The sight of something glittering amongst the trees, well that’s the beginning of a puzzle. Yes some are way harder than others and at times Mr Harpy has a distinct advantage as a cheating, leaping warrior but the sense of satisfaction seems so much greater than just swooping down out of the sky would do.

At no point so far have I felt let down by being grounded. Most cliffs are climbable somehow, the trick is figuring out where. I don’t feel particularly slowed down by having to ride across country either and having a level 3 Stables takes some of the potential bite out of that anyway. We no longer need to physically get to raids so that’s another potential issue removed entirely. I don’t even miss the convenience of being to go straight from A to Z without having to stop off along the way. Of course, when I return to the old world, I still fly but we accept that there are different ways of doing things in the real world so why not in Azeroth. Perhaps when the last patch brings the shadow of Draenor’s final curtain then flying would be appropriate but in the meantime, I think we’ll survive.

Four Things I have learnt about my Garrison this week

The more time I spend in my own little oasis of Shadowmoon Valley calm, the more I’m enjoying my Garrison. Life however is very much a learning curve and thus I thought I’d share with you all the handful of facts that I’ve only just figured out despite having been level 100 since the 16th of November.

1. Getting a Follower as Green or Blue whilst obviously not as awesome as getting them as Purple is not the end of the world.

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Exhibit A

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Exhibit B

As you can see from my rather messy UI, both of these screenshots depict the robot belonging to Snowflower. The first one shows him in the state I found him in and the latter shows his condition many missions later.

2. If your minions have good enough gear, you can potentially get better items than you can get from the Raid Finder purely through missions.

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Kit a bunch of them out in item level 630 gear (the Salvage yard is great for this) and cross your fingers. So far Mr Harpy has received a 645 chest and 645 boots from letting his Followers take the strain whilst he’s been out at work. I must admit I have mixed feelings about this, should NPCs essentially go and fetch you higher item level gear than you get playing with other random people in a multi player game but it does give you options when you’re looking to gear up for raiding.

3. If you possess a Stables, favourite the Mounts you want on the Mounts collection screen and watch them turn up.

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Here are my favourites and yes, they can all be loosely classed as horses. Below you can see half of my level 3 Stables complete with said Horses wandering around.

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4. Mining is a nightmare with a level 3 Mine, however the best way to make it as pain free and quick as possible is to use the Goren Garb because it makes you roll both cuter and faster. The egg you loot this from does however take seven days to hatch so the sooner it’s picked up the better. You loot the egg from a Cracked Goren Egg in Gorgrond and instructions on the actual location can be found on the WoWhead page.

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There is definitely a world of potential out there with the Garrisons and it will be interesting to see how Blizzard keep taking it forward as we move through the patches.

A Home from Home …

As a child I spent much of my childhood growing up in the real world version of Garrisons, military outposts set up on foreign soil. Instead of Santa bringing presents in something as pedestrian as a sleigh he would arrive in our school playground dangling from a Chinook and for the squadron party, he would turn up in a Harrier Jump Jet (perhaps not surprisingly given that’s what the squadron flew, with hindsight this also probably explains why my Father refused to let me aged 12, long legged and big eyed sit on Santa’s knee despite Santa’s attempts at insisting). Christmas abroad was taken far more seriously than at any school I attended in my own country. Ignoring the interesting ways in which they managed to spend the Defense budget when I was a child, I have to admit I’m finding the lack of festival related fun and games in our Garrisons both short sighted and rather sad. Nothing motivates the troops garrisoned in some foreign land like reminders of what they’re fighting for, therefore I feel Blizzard are missing a trick here.

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There should be a bountiful table laden with food sitting in our garrison just as when Winter Veil rolls around we should get wreaths and a giant tree.  Even better of course would be to let us decide/purchase decorations ourselves perhaps with garrison resources so that it’s a choice whether you want to cover your fountain in candles or hang axes from fir trees.

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