Friday, November 22, 2013

Going Back to Cali: BlizzCon Edition

It's hard to believe it's already been two weeks since we were all gearing up for the excitement that is BlizzCon. I was wiling the hours away at work, checking the Meeting Stone forums and official site for something - anything! - to distract me from what I was doing. Now I'm grasping at straws for a way to get back to that feeling of shared happiness and belonging that I felt in Anaheim. I think that's the best thing about BlizzCon, it's unlike any other convention because everyone who came to this event is passionate about Blizzard games. You can have conversations with complete strangers about WoW/SC/Diablo and not get a confused look back. There were so many people to talk to and meet that when you come back there's this sort of... recovery time or recharge period, because suddenly you're at home not surrounded by thousands and thousands of people. Now that I've decompressed, I wanted to record my experiences and share them with all of you!

Our trip began on Wednesday. I took the day off so that I could pack and get things sorted out with the people who were going to babysit my kitties. I picked up my friend Sara (@SerrinneWoW) in the afternoon and she and I waited for my boyfriend Brian (@Chronis_) to be finished at work before we left. We drove out and picked up another guildmate, Andy (@Slout_ET) before we really started the drive to Buffalo. Let me tell you, if you need to get across the border quickly bring Chronis. I don't know if it's that Cape Bretoner charm or what but he didn't have his passport signed and we still got through the border in under two minutes.

It was so dark so we didn't see much of the scenery (although, it's Buffalo so we probably didn't miss much), but we got to our hotel safely and decided to get some dinner. We ate at this hot dog place called Ted's Hot Dogs because a) DONGERS and b) they have gluten free buns! They even changed gloves while handling my food so that was a welcome relief.

With our bellies full and the realization that we were so close, we all hit the hay and dreamed BlizzCon dreams.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Live and Die in LA - Sara's First Blizzcon

To be honest, my brain is sort of a blur about what specifically happened at Blizzcon!  This post will mainly be about who I met (the most important and best part of the con) and then some game impressions.

Your Power Word: What?! bloggers ready to fly!

What is nice to know is that relationships in life aren't different on the game or twitter - those ARE our relationships.  I am going to try and restrain myself from going into detail about the anticipation, excitement, and happiness I felt meeting someone I've sort of fallen for over the last few months, but I will say that meeting everyone was really just awesome.  I certainly won't be able to list everyone here, I seriously met like 9847509 people (and I didn't even get a chance to see everyone I wanted to see.)

Meeting the guild was of course totally great.  Many of us have hung out before (Toronto, and visitors to Toronto) but meeting Sheepeater, Srs, Jack, Shawnelle, Sturm, Kristin, and the rest was great! We were pretty much just like we are in game - tease Sara mercilessly and party hard!  I actually felt really proud seeing us all in the shirts that Kal and Chronis made for us.  It was awesome to have a crew there to watch panels with and sit around with and joke with.  It was nice to be able to relax and not worry about guild stuff or officer stuff or raiding.

Our extremely good looking guild.

The sensation of normalcy was really vivid for me -I think I've talked to some people about how I really like day to day minutiae, routines, and the like.  There was a moment where I was in my hotel room with Sheepeater and Grumdy getting ready to go to a panel or something, and they were just sitting around talking about games and I was standing in front of the mirror putting on make up and chatting with them and it just felt so NORMAL, it really made me smile.

Me and Mr. Jack Lalanne

Meeting almost all of the <Something Wicked> attendees was also a highlight - I have spent a lot of time in game with these folks, in mumble, on twitter, etc. I talk to Esoth just about every day, and he has become one of my very best friends so meeting up (finally, it feels like!) was great - we were the dorks we always are.  He even brought me home brewed mead!

Meeting some EJ folks like Dysmorphia, my swole sister, seeing Hamlet and Perculia again (every moment away from them is hell, have I mentioned that? they are best kind) and other Twitter folks like Kerriodos and Theck, my bun brother, and Antigen and Rhidach and Tass was just so great - putting a face to the names, it was just wonderful to feel like totally not out of place, and nothing was different.  It was time to talk about bunnies and tanking and games and all manner of thing - just like it always is.  BUT getting to hug people like Arielle (and a few other Inc Bears) was obviously better than a retweet!  Freaking out when I spied Vidyala and Voss at the Hilton, squeeing at Jen and Baj at the CTR party (regret not yelling GET SHIT ON though), being too shy to say hi to Absallom and Ataxus (my achievement point idol!), comparing ink with Hestiah, it was all really really good.


Blizzcon was really a great social setting - I actually didn't feel overwhelmed by having to socialize and meet a million people, I LIKED it!  No one asked me about being sick or unemployed, they asked for a hug and put out a hand and exchanged drinks and wanted to talk about games.  I also feel like I had a nice balance between time spent socializing at large, with my guildies, with my boyfriend, at panels, and at parties.  Although I certainly paid for it - I have never been this tired in my life, I feel like I've been at a rugby tourney, not a gaming convention!

Arielle, myself, and Hamlet - I think this is my favourite picture!
Photo credit to @kristin

So speaking of GAMES, I'm also excited to post about my impressions of the gaming news and events at Blizzcon 2013.

What can I say about Warlords of Draenor?  All my toons are goats.  I'm excited about Black-Temple-Goat-Town.  I'm excited about Draenei NPCs and maybe even some storylines.  I'm excited that I'll maybe get to hang out with Korgath Bladefist and Ner'zhul.  The setting totally does it for me, even though I'm a total lore noob.  I did the Horde starting area and loved it - I can't wait for Beta so I can do a "Sara and her Beta friends" series like I did with MOP - I already met a Frostboar and oh man was he a qtpi.  Really looking forward to exploring vast zones and the new character models!  I would love if Serrinne could narrow her eyes snarkily even more than she does now.

The addition of tertiary stats (and removal of hit/exp/dodge) is interesting for sure - as a healer I never really had this issue so to me, this is just an entire mega bonus (although I suspect we will be seeing changes with Spirit soon.)  I have been dying for run speed in WoW ever since I started playing D3.  I am so thrilled this is being added to the game - I want to be the fastest goat in the west!  I  have always said that sprints/engineering boots/etc are always a raid saver and better than any few points of any other stat you can grab.  So basically this was my idea, right guys?  I am excited to figure out this new system, especially since I think it will make healing (more) exciting.

Thoughts on Mythic raiding?  I think it will shake out just fine - and that's my rational side talking.  I love raiding with as many specs as possible (which is why I raid 25 instead of 10 at the moment) so obviously that'll be sad losing some spots, but all in all I think it won't be bad.  Obviously so little info out at the moment about administration and logistics, so I'll just leave it at my initial impression.

The quality of life changes (like heirloom page!) and Garrisons will obviously be something I love when they go live (I was someone who liked dailies, so Garrison maintenance excites me.)  The "Trial of the Gladiator" arena change absolutely thrilled me - I will get to arena on alts! This is so incredible, and (yes, I know this is horrible) will allow me to play the flavour of the month comps for pvp.  This rocks!

As for the level 100 Priest talents, I think they probably won't go live as they are (at least the healy bits.)

Divine Clarity is akin to the original iteration of Spirit Shell, although I'd be hard pressed to see why I should take this and use it when I already have Power Word: Shield - I suppose we'll have to see how the cost comparisons shake out on live.  This talent seems super sexy for Holy priests - when was the last time you cast Greater Heal, seriously.  The shadow version of this seems odd since we're getting a Cleave stat - I would take this talent if I wasn't that into multidotting (and without snapshots, this might be a good choice.)

Power of the Void seems incredibly fun (to me, at least - I <3 void shift!) but it completely devalues your stat choices since it's based on health percentages.  In my head, I read that talent and thought COULD I STACK STAM AND VOID SHIFT ALL DAY ERR DAY?  Let's hope not - that is just silly.  Shadow version is another dot - unsure about how this would compete with DP as an orb spender, but nice to have an alternative I suppose.

Spiritual Guidance is a very interesting mechanic in terms of introducing a penalty as part of the spell - it is reminiscent of the mana cost increase per arcane blast for mages.  This will be a fun balancing act for figuring out how often you can cast this without crippling your other heals.  Only complaint is that, again, it totally devalues your stat choices since it's based on % max HP.  Shadow version seems awesome, especially since we can bank 5 orbs now (WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!)

And now onto something I may even be more excited for than the WoW expansion:

DIABLO 3 IS GOING TO BE AMAZING SOON!  And that's coming from someone who has played dilligently since release.  Loot 2.0 and the Crusader (both of which I experienced at Blizzcon) are going to be awesome.  Crusader is super shiny and looks great, with some awesome animations.  The new act is totally fantastic, especially if you liked A1 - similar atmosphere with + ghosties.  I also got to try Adventure Mode and I did the "endless" thing where you just kill monsters until you spawn a rift boss guy - exactly what I love about Diablo.  Farmy farm farm time!  I also got to watch Mike play it on PS4 for a bit, which looked absolutely beautiful at that resolution.  Pretty excited for him - he is salivating over that version already.

Overall Blizzcon was an absolutely perfect weeekend, I'm looking forward to many more in my future!

I'll end this off with some thank yous: Kal and Chronis, I wouldn't have been at Blizzcon without you.  Thanks for bearing with my travel woes - I'm not a good traveler!  Thanks to Perculia for all her hard work on the Wowhead Blizzcon coverage - without her I wouldn't have known what I had missed!  Thanks also to Hamlet for organizing a lovely dinner, and for some downtime chats.  And thanks of course to Mike for everything.