Copper Ice

Blogger, Gamer, Nerd

WoW: November Update

WoW November Update

I feel like I have made some pretty decent progress on my Classic World of Warcraft journey. Especially as I have had some time off of work to play.

The first thing to mention is that I have raised the level of my rogue from 32 to 50 since the October update, which I think is pretty good considering how much of a casual player I am these days.

Second is that I have not completely abandoned my druid, I have invested in a talent re-spec from balance to feral and changed a lot of her items from spell casting (intellect/spirit) based items to agility based items and have raised her level from 36 to 40.

Any readers of my blog may have noticed in the October update post I had a level 13 warlock, called Electrum, which is now level 20. I currently primarily use this warlock to make use of all of the cloth I find to make bigger bags for all my characters using his tailoring profession. Electrum also has the enchanting profession which is helpful for disenchanting items which will turn them into enchanting materials and sell for bigger profit than if I were to sell the items as I find them.

I have also created a 4th character, a warrior named Khorium, who is level 12. I have grand plans of tanking low level dungeons with Khorium for fun when I want a break from whatever I am doing.

WoW Classic Level 50 Rogue

In order to keep myself interested and not burn myself out before I achieve the things I want to achieve, I have found it nice to split my time between several characters. It is fun improving my rogue, now my main character, but nice to have a break and play a different character for a while.

Moving forward I obviously need to get my rogue to level 60. From there the real work begins, I will need to source a guild which suits my needs in terms of raiding the high level content while being mature and friendly. This will be difficult because the rogue class is actually pretty common and in low demand. I will need to make myself more appealing to prospective guilds by getting as ready as possible for raiding by completing attunement quests and gathering good, entry level items from dungeons. I will also consider using my blog to create an application post containing detailed information about me, my character and what I can offer to their guild.

WCS 2019 Global Finals

WCS Global Finals

Last year I wrote about the StarCraft WCS 2018 Global Finals (World Championship Series) and how one of the greatest StarCraft 2 players, Serral (Joona Sotala), a young man from Finland, not Korea, was victorious. He was the first non-Korean player in 20 years of StarCraft to be crowned the best player in the world.

This year however, Serral was knocked out of the tournament in the semi-final by Reynor (Riccardo Romiti) who has seen phenomenal success this year as a professional StarCraft player aged just 17. For me this was the most exciting series of the tournament, not only because it came down to an ace match in a best of 5, but also because of a rivalry between these two players. Any regular readers of my blog may remember me writing about the success Reynor had in WCS Summer 2019, beating Serral 4 games to 2 in the final. More than that Serral lost WCS Winter 2019 4 games to 3 in the final which I was unable to watch. Serral however defeated Reynor 3 games to 0 in WCS Spring 2019 in the semi-final and 4 games to 1 in the WCS Fall (Autumn) 2019 final which I was unable to watch.

It was excellent to see Reynor, an Italian, in the final which before Serral was pretty much unheard of. Unfortunately however the victor of WCS 2019 Global Finals is Dark (Park Ryung Woo), who played some of the best games I have ever seen and really outplayed Reynor winning 4 games to 1 in a best of 7. Dark is a veteran compared to Reynor who started to see real success as a StarCraft 2 player back in 2014. While I am sad Reynor lost, I am happy for Dark who truly deserved the victory.

Looking to 2020, I really hope that both Serral and Reynor will continue to excel and that their exciting rivalry will continue. I also hope that I will be able to watch more of the tournaments, it really is a shame that I missed 2 of the 4 seasonal (and regional) tournaments where the players earn WCS points to establish who will play in the finals.

As with last year, I was a little sad to see that the production for StarCraft 2 at Blizzcon has been cut back even further. There was a time StarCraft would have a fully interactive stage with booths for the players. Last year the stage was not interactive but this year there wasn’t even a stage with booths. Instead, an arena, which was being used for the Overwatch tournament (a game I have little interest in) was used. While I do find this sad, I am understanding in that Blizzard want to do more to promote their other, much newer, games and tournaments. I should be grateful that Blizzard still do quite a bit for the StarCraft esports community.

I would like to praise the hosts, casters, production crew and everyone else who worked to make an excellent StarCraft tournament. It was a real treat to see some of my favourite casters, especially Daniel Ray “Artosis” Stemkoski and Nicolas Alexander “Tasteless” Plott who normally cast Korean tournaments which I rarely watch because of time zone differences. But it was also good to see Kevin “RotterdaM” van der Kooi and Leigh “Maynarde” Mandalov who I am seeing a lot more of recently.

Once final note I would like to leave on was that Artosis, co-founder of The Pylon Show, was given the opportunity of hosting the show at Blizzcon. It was an interesting episode where there was discussion about CarBot Animations and the advancement of Deepmind AI within StarCraft 2, but at the end of the episode there was a tribute to Geoffrey John Vincent “iNcontroL” Robinson who died earlier this year, aged just 33. The WCS 2019 Global Finals was also dedicated to Geoff in his honour, something I found both touching and fitting. En Taro iNcontroL.

Blizzcon 2019 Announcements

Diablo IV

I decided to take somewhat of a leap of faith and purchased a Blizzcon 2019 virtual ticket for £34.99 so that I can enjoy watching the event unfold live along with many other Blizzcon related benefits.

To kick things off, before the official opening of the event, the president of Blizzard Entertainment, J. Allen Brack tried to address the controversy the company is involved in with regards to banning a Hearthstone player from competing in future tournaments after expressing their views on the struggles of people in Hong Kong. Something I wrote about in my Blizzard 2019 Countdown post. The initial reaction from the internet seems rather negative, but I actually appreciate the president of Blizzard acknowledging accountability and apologizing for the actions Blizzard took. Many people seem to think he should have made mention of the issues in Hong Kong or of Chinese anti-democratic values and make some sort of political statement. This, I feel, would have been wrong. The only thing Blizzard are responsible for here is trying (and ultimately failing) to silence someone. They are not responsible for anything which happens in Hong Kong or China and as a business  should refrain as much as possible from making political statements. The damage done in trying to silence Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai (the Hearthstone player) was huge, but this, I feel, is a very good step in the right direction for Blizzard and I immediately felt better after giving Blizzard another chance.

Last year I was sorely disappointed by the announcements, as written in my Blizzcon 2018 Announcements post. This year however it is almost the polar opposite with the announcement of Diablo IV for PC, PS4 and Xbox One with an amazing, if a little gory, opening cinematic which Blizzard do so well.

I can’t express enough just how excited I am by this announcement. This will most certainly be a game I will be investing time and money in and I will be watching its progress with interest. There was also a gameplay trailer which looks interesting but, a little unpolished, which I forgive at this early stage.

There was also some announcements for Starcraft 2 in that there are some advancements with Deepmind in that there are AI agents that people at Blizzcon will be able to play at a Grand Master and a Diamond level. This makes me wonder what future plans Blizzard and Deepmind have with AI. Perhaps someday I will be able to play Deepmind at my level of play which would most certainly help with my ladder anxiety and give me a chance to test my skills without that horrible feeling I get against a human opponent. Another announcement was for the latest co-op commander, Mengsk. I like Starcraft co-op, but not enough to get too excited by this. Still, it is nice to see Blizzard continue to develop the game and I remain hopeful Starcraft will remain one of their core games.

For me, the best part of Blizzcon 2018 was the announcement of Warcraft III reforged. It was announced this year that as of Tuesday, all Blizzcon attendees and virtual ticket holders will be able to play the Beta, something I will certainly be trying out during the week.

It would be wrong of me to not mention the announcement of the next World of Warcraft expansion, Shadowlands. The cinematic trailer at least, in true Blizzard tradition, is awesome.

With the recent release of Classic World of Warcraft however, which I have been enjoying a great deal, I am not sure I will be playing the current, retail version of the game again. That said, when I pay for my monthly subscription, I can play either classic or retail. Perhaps when I achieve I want in classic, I might feel differently and split my time between the two.

There are many other announcements, especially for other Blizzard games which I do not play. But these are the ones which matter most to me. As Blizzcon goes on, I will be watching the Starcraft 2 tournament and learn as much as I can about Diablo IV.

Snooker Nation October 2019

This month of Snooker Nation has been one of two halves. Jason continued his win streak for two more weeks which meant he won 5 matches in a row. I was winning the season 7 games to 1 but with grit and determination Jason, at one point, made it 7 games to 6. Fortunately for me however, I was able to break his win streak and have started one of my own, putting myself ahead 9 games to 6.

04/10/2019 – Match 50

Jason continues his reign of Snooker Nation terror, winning 5 frames to 3 in a best of 9. This is now the fourth week in a row Jason has won and I am starting to think he is not only going to make a massive come back but he may end up taking the lead. There was just one century this week of 135 scored by Jason in the first frame, narrowly missing his season high break of 136.

11/10/2019 – Match 51

Another week of Jason’s win streak, winning 5 frames to 2 in a best of 9. This time there were two centuries, both belonging to Jason. 127 in the second frame and 122 in the fourth. I was so sure that I would somehow end the win streak this week, but I didn’t even come close.

18/10/2019 – Match 52

At last, I won, 5 frames to 1 in a best of 9. To say I am relieved would be an under statement. Had Jason won this week, we would have been equal in matches won since the start of our Snooker Nation season in July. I scored two centuries, 116 in the second frame and 110 in the 6th.

25/10/2019 – Match 53

Another victory for me, winning 5 frames to 3 in a best of 9. Could this be the start of a long win streak for me? I hope so, but after losing 5 weeks in a row, including a white wash, I will not be resting on my laurels. I got the only century this week of 126 in the 4th frame.

Season 1 (July – December 2019) statistics

Played Won Frames Won Centuries Highest Break
Copper 15 9 54 14 147
Jason 15 6 49 13 136

 

Blizzcon 2019 Countdown

As with last year, for me, the countdown to Blizzcon 2019 has begun. This year however, I am not as excited as I once was and I am not even sure if I will be buying a virtual ticket to watch the event unfold live.

Readers of my blog may remember how how disappointed I was with the main announcement at Blizzcon 2018, but more than that, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Blizzard lately. Most recently, Blizzard has banned a professional Hearthstone player from participating in Blizzard backed Hearthstone tournaments for a year, effectively ending his career. They have also held on to his prize money for the most recent tournament because in a post match interview he openly supported the struggles of the pro democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. I believe they also sacked two of the casters.

For anyone who knows anything about Blizzard, it is obvious why they did this. Blizzard, now largely owned by Activision, has been working hard to tap in to the Chinese video game market. This was first made clear when they announced the hugely unpopular Diablo Immortal mobile game (the source of many disappointed Blizzard fans) last year. I am lead to believe that the Chinese mobile game market is massive and is most likely the reason Blizzard, who traditionally produce PC games, have decided to make a mobile game which 99% of their core fans do not want.

I want my blog to primarily be a space for me to document my passion for gaming and share my experiences with anyone who cares to read about them. But it would be remiss of me not to mention that I fully support the people of Hong Kong in their struggle for democracy, possibly the only good thing to come out of British occupation after the opium war. I also condemn the actions Blizzard have taken in this matter, although I am very proud that some Blizzard employees staged a walk out of the head office in Irvine, California, and stood around a symbolic orc statue which is famously surrounded by plaques with the company core values. One plaque reads ‘Every voice matters’ which they covered up since it did not apply to Blizzard that day.

Ever since Blizzard effectively merged with Activision and since Mike Morhaime (co-founder and former president of Blizzard) stepped down, the magic that once captured my imagination has rapidly diminished.

Thankfully there has been a big push to re-release classic titles. Classic World of Warcraft is a very close if not identical version of the game I literally fell in love with in my late teens. Starcraft Remastered and Warcraft III Reforged are also very interesting, but I worry that I may never see a new title from Blizzard that will offer the same highly polished exciting experience I crave.

I am deeply hurt by how far Blizzard has fallen in my estimation this passed year or so. For years now their games have inspired me and have provided me with much needed escapism. It may sound overly dramatic but I am not sure I would even be here if it weren’t for the games I could use to escape during the darkest and most lonely times in my life. I can only hope Blizzard will go back to trying to change peoples lives for the better and will remember their own quote:

“Never accept the world as it appears to be. Dare to see it for what it could be”

WoW: October Update

For anyone who reads my blog regularly, you might have noticed that I have not been posting much lately. Pretty much all of my gaming time has been dedicated to playing classic World of Warcraft (WoW) and, to be honest, there hasn’t been much to report. I think it’s about time however that I give a quick update as to where I am with my classic WoW journey.

The first thing to mention is that I joined the guild Wild Cards with my druid. My first impressions of this guild has been pretty positive, they seem to be mature for the most part and have seen some success with raiding the games toughest content, clearing most of Molten Core and Onyxia. I have joined the guild as a ‘social’ which means I am not part of their core raiding team, which suits me fine because it means there is no pressure on me to level up, gear up and be available for their raiding schedule. It’s just as well really, in nearly a month my druid has risen just 6 levels to level 36.

There are a number of reasons for how poorly I have progressed with my druid. The main reason is because I have been playing my rogue, Mithril, which has just hit level 32. I started playing my rogue to give myself a break from my druid but I have found playing a rogue so much more fun that I just carried on playing it. Pick pocketing, lock picking, brewing poisons, fighting dirty and not having to worry about mana (a resource which determines whether or not you can cast spells) has been so much more fulfilling than my druid has been to date.

Any readers may remember my personal post about my mental health and playing WoW alone. Apart from joining a guild with my druid I have also been trying to play the game with people and have actually completed 4 or 5 dungeons with 4 other people each time. Each dungeon has so far been a good experience with, for the most part, half decent and well mannered players. I have also been actively trying to be kind to lower leveled players, giving them items and helping them with their quests, leaving me feeling good about myself, knowing that I might have made someones day. I have tried to encourage 2 people I know personally to join me in my adventure, but neither one of them seem particularly interested, which is fine and actually allows me to carry on and do my own thing at my own pace rather than feeling responsible for making sure it is fun for both of us.

Moving forward I hope to continue to make progress with my rogue and join more groups of players to complete more dungeons. I also have grand plans on helping lower level players, especially when I hit level 60 (the maximum level achievable in classic WoW) someday. I will continue to try and make some slow progress with my druid, especially as I am still interested in being a part of the Wild Cards community.

Snooker Nation September 2019

For the first time, after over 240 hours of play time, I scored a maximum break of 147 and I am absolutely delighted. Despite this however, Jason has secured a three week win streak and has started to make an excellent come back.

06/09/2019 – Match 47

Jason bagged his second win of our Snooker Nation season, winning 5 frames to 4 in a best of 9. There were four century breaks this week, Jason scored 118 in the 5th frame to which I responded with 110 in the 6th, 126 in the 7th and 105 in the 8th. After 4 frames with century breaks, the 9th and final frame was almost comical, with both of us making horrible mistakes. On two or three occasions I thought I was going to win but somehow I fumbled enough times to give Jason the frame and match.

15/09/2019 – Match 48

We did it! In the second frame of this weeks Snooker Nation match I scored a break of 147, the highest possible in the game of Snooker. During the break, Jason was supportive and tried to make suggestions after the frame had been won. After potting about 7 or 8 reds with blacks I remember saying to him that things were getting a little scary because I was on such a good roll. Towards the end of the frame I was concentrating so hard that the most simple shots were taking me quite a while. Suffice to say I was elated and so happy to share the experience with my friend. I couldn’t really settle down for the rest of the match and Jason punished me for it, winning 5 frames to 3 in a best of 9. Any century is good so it would be wrong not to give credit to Jason who just about scored a century in the 7th frame.

27/09/2019 – Match 49

White wash! Jason continues his win streak by winning 5-0 in a best of 9. I played very poorly this week and missed a lot of opportunities. Jason played well and even got a new high break of a 136 in the 3rd frame and followed it up with 109 in the 4th frame.

Season 1 (July – December 2019) statistics

Played Won Frames Won Centuries Highest Break
Copper 11 7 39 11 147
Jason 11 4 35 10 136

 

WoW: Level 30

In my last World of Warcraft post, I was disappointed with my progress and mentioned that I had booked several days off of work to continue my adventure. I used last weekend and the following Monday and Tuesday to knuckle down and level up as much as possible.

Before leaving work for my short break, I told a colleague, who I would like to consider a friend, that I hoped to reach level 30 during my time off. I just about reached it, hitting level 30 late last Tuesday with over 3 days play time. To be honest, I thought I was being a little conservative as to not apply any pressure during what was intended to be a relaxing break from work. I had hoped for a little more, but I am not too disappointed.

Unfortunately towards the end of my 4 day break, I started to feel depressed and alone which I wrote about here. It makes for sad reading, I considered deleting the post, but decided to leave it. I think that this is an important realization that I have made about my gaming and is worth documenting as part of my gaming blog.

It’s nice that gold (the in game currency for World of Warcraft) has value again and is somewhat hard come by. I made the mistake of switching talent tree specs, twice, costing me a total of 6 gold which is huge to a level 30 character. I am going to have to double my efforts in farming gold in order to afford a mount and training when I reach level 40 within the game. I continue to notice other differences that weren’t there during the original launch of World of Warcraft 15 years ago, most notably, the dressing room, allowing you to see what an item would look like on your character before equipping it. This feature simply did not exist 15 years ago.

While playing, I used my Twitch channel for the first time and started streaming my game play and music. I only got a few views but did end up with my first follower. Yes, that follower is the colleague/friend I previously mentioned, but to me, that’s even better than someone I don’t know following me. I doubt I will ever stream regularly, but if I do, I will need to look at ways of making the stream more interactive and better quality.

Moving forward I hope to continue to level and slowly improve my character(s). Also, I hope to introduce my new friend to the game, I don’t know if they will enjoy it like I have all these years, but it would be awesome to play with them if they do.

Playing Alone

Recently I have been playing classic World of Warcraft after taking a few days off of work. I will be writing about the results when this day is over but I wanted to write about playing alone, something I intended to do before the re-release of the game two-weeks ago.

Classic World of Warcraft is much harder than the current/modern state of the game. Literally everything from completing quests, killing enemies, even looting slayed enemies is more difficult. I have seen other players level their characters much faster than me and there are a number of reasons for this. One reason however is that I make it even harder on myself by playing the game alone. It’s strange really, that I choose to play this MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) by myself. While you can play alone and achieve many things, the game is ultimately designed to be played with others. It requires 5 people, or maybe 4 at a pinch, to complete most dungeons which contain the best rewards. At the maximum level, it is required that 40 people or at least 30, combat the toughest enemies in the game.

There is no reason why I should play alone, there are plenty of ways to join a guild (clan) of players and play with them on a regular basis. The guild I am in for the modern game, Midlife Crisis, even set up a classic World of Warcraft guild, albeit on a different realm/server. I think the reason I don’t play with anyone is because I am afraid that I would not be good enough or that they would let me down. It’s quite sad really, and hard for me to say, but this is also how I lead my life outside of games. I have a very low opinion of myself and have been told by professional psychiatrists and therapists that I am overly critical of myself but not of others. I am also easily hurt. Someone might say or do something and mean nothing by it, but I still end up being hurt, occasionally to the point of tears.

I have come to realize that my poor mental health has a profound effect in which the way I play games, highlighted by my experiences playing classic World of Warcraft. First, I do not feel good enough as a person. I feel like I am not a good gamer, not a good friend, colleague, son, lover, partner and that nobody could possibly like me, that nobody could possibly love me. Secondly is people will always hurt me and each other, either by choice or by accident and that it is just easier to avoid people altogether. If I avoid getting to know people, avoid getting close to people, they will not be able to hurt me.

I know that much of what I have said in this post is wrong. People do value me, they tell me so themselves from time to time and when they do, it makes me very happy. Also, while people do come and go and will say or do the wrong thing, the potential reward for finding that one person who will stay with you, encourage you and be your true friend is so high, that getting knocked down by other people time and time again to find that one person, is well worth it.

My heart tells me that I should dream, that I should see the world for what it could be, that I should dare to seek friends, dare to love and be loved. But my head tells me to stop, don’t get hurt, don’t get disappointed, nobody could like you anyway. Which is why I sit here alone, playing a game alone, with thousands of people.

WoW: Slow Start

Last weekend was the first time I had a chance to play Classic World of Warcraft and I have to say, it’s been a slow and disappointing start. With nearly 20 hours total play time, I have reached just level 16. Players are starting to hit level 60 (the maximum character level) and have even killed one of the raid bosses (end game content) getting some of the best items the game has to offer right now.

I kept getting distracted by real life and couldn’t muster the energy to play for long periods of time. When World of Warcraft was released in February 2005, I was 19 years old. Back then I had a lot more energy and could easily play games all night several times a week and still hold down a job. This continued into my 20’s but now, aged 34, I just can’t do it anymore. I feel like an old man.

Aside from being dissatisfied with my progress, it is actually a lot of fun. It’s a lot more challenging than modern World of Warcraft and a far more rewarding experience. Not everything is as I remember from the early days of WoW. Darnassus (the Night Elf city) and I presume other cities have auction houses (the best place to buy and sell items). I remember that it used to be that for the Alliance faction only Iron Forge (the Dwarven city) had an auction house and for the Horde it was the city of Orgrimmar that had one. Also, there are battlemasters (non-playable characters who allow you to queue and join player vs player instances) in Darnassus. These did not exist in early WoW and it was required that you would go to the location of the battleground you wanted to play. Don’t get me wrong, I really like these quality of life additions, but it isn’t what it was the first time around.

Going forward, I have booked several days off of work and will be dedicating a lot of that time to play Classic World of Warcraft. I will be setting myself some realistic goals and will be working hard to achieve them.

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