Tuesday 29 December 2020

My new blog: writings on everything.

 Hi, I've realised that I like blogging but that nowadays I'm no longer so absorbed by MMOs nor do I have much interesting to say.

I've also realised that blogging narrowly on a topic can be a straightjacket.

It's not the first time I've realised this. My first blog was called Death Knight Spree at a time when I couldn't imagine doing anything else in life that playing a Death Knight in WoW.

So Writings on Everything. Probably including poems, short stories, vegan lifestyle, the politics of Scotland, the politics of disability and, naturally, video game articles.

I hope you'll consider adding it to your feeds, blogrolls or however else you receive updates. If not I hope you've enjoyed reading Stabbed Up and I hope that you appreciate how much I've loved being part of our remarkable MMO blogging community over the last 10 years.


Monday 6 July 2020

ESO: refining daily tasks

In any game one should only do stuff that's fun. That said, I rather enjoy daily tasks in Elder Scrolls, particularly the crafting writs.

Routine 1 (every 20 hours)

1. Collect daily log in rewards 1/account. (2 accounts).
2. Add a point of riding skill (currently 9 + 3 characters).

It might seem a bit mad to alarm clock at 4am to update riding skill but in these lockdown times I'm quite often awake in the night anyway.

Routine 2 (daily, after 7 am daily writ reset).

1. Open mail (1/account).
2. Add CP (Thursday and Sunday)
3. Research traits (maxing out my main, getting Divines, Infused and Impenetrable on alts).
4. Daily writs.
5. Sell to merchant. (Thursday and Sunday)
6. Bank stuff (Thursday and Sunday)
7. Sell on guild traders (1/account). (Thursday and Sunday)
8. Deconstruct surplus items and runes. (Highest non-maxxed crafter). (Thursday and Sunday)

Thursday 25 June 2020

MTGA: Core set 21 out on Arena today.

Magic the Gathering Core Set 21 launched today and I'm halfway through my first draft. I drafted Black/Red in the first pack but I got a Baneslayer Angel in pack 2 pick 1 so I pivoted. As a result I'm a little creature light.

In the first game I got punished for this, barely seeing a single creature as my opponent ran over me.

The next two games I won with powerful high end creatures doing particularly well. (Although as so often seems to be the case when you get a bomb Mythic Rare I have yet to see it). The expensive but Common 7 mana Gloom Sower has done the job for me twice.

I think Core sets are innately less attractive than the other sets because they miss a theme, a story, such as the delightful faerie tale themed Throne of Eldraine and because they reprint a lot of rather dull cards. This is because it's aimed to be more accessible so simpler and/or familiar cards make the game easier for new or casual players. I can see why they do it, I'm just not the target audience for a dumbed down blander offering.

That said it remains a game of deep strategy and I'm very satisfied that I made no error in the game I lost and won games 2 and 3 by making better decisions than my opponents.

Many Magic players, even some reasonably good streamers don't evaluate combat well. They will attack with a good creature into two medium creatures of which they get to kill one. That's not a good decision, it's probably better to be patient. In the last game in particular I was able to use an equipment and good defensive double blocking to whittle down a far superior army of creatures from the other side then turn the game around once I could play my 7 mana big monster.

I'm expecting to be deeply absorbed in Magic Arena for the next couple of weeks as the period just after a launch is very fun for relatively competitive players.

Rabbit season!

Saturday 13 June 2020

ESO: Daily routine

Elder Scrolls Online rewards a well-organised daily routine which I'm finding quite an enjoyable way to pass time during coronavirus isolation.

1) Daily reward. This is a freebie and since when it hasn't been claimed yet the screen to claim it pops up it's no more work to accept it than to click and close the window. Even in terms of time it's free.

And the rewards are good. For May there's a total of

6 Crown experience scrolls
1 Grand Gold Coast experience scroll
12 Crown refreshing drinks
12 Crown fortifying meals
300 various poisons
60 various potions.
10 Crown mimic stones (allowing you to do 10 master writs without having the motifs)
4 various instant all research (knocking 19 days off if you can use them maximally)
10 Crown repair kit
10 Crown soul gem
20000 gold
Cosmetic item (pet).

These rewards are so good it's worth considering making an extra account or two for c£14 as a one-off payment at which point it does become a minor timesink to log over to the second account and collect free stuff. I decided to make one account and I'll talk more about that in a later blog post.

2) Upgrading mount skills

Quite tedious, you can learn 1 point every 20 hours up to a max of 60. +60% mount speed is pretty important. I guess in a way you get the time back as you play simply by not moving slowly. It takes me about 20 minutes to upgrade 11 characters across 2 accounts if they're all waiting at the stables.

3) Research

Researching traits is essential for a serious crafter and a nice extra on other characters who might need to respec traits at some point.

4) Crafting writs.

Crafting writs pay gold, resources, some deconstructable items, useful trait and improvement materials, treasure maps to more resources, recipes, junk glyphs,  and inspiration (crafting exp).

5) Open mail

6) Restock guild stores. I usually sell across 1-2 guild stores plus my casual guild's store if we have one up. You have to cancel orders that aren't selling and put up different stuff to make sure you hit that guild's minimum sales volume or else they'll kick you. Being kicked doesn't matter much as you can just join another trade guild (or perhaps even the same one). If you're serious about being a goblin then you'll probably focus on materials, highly used potions and foods and highly prized gold or mythic items. The cottage industry nature of ESO's economy doesn't really reward being a goblin as far as I can see so far - there simply aren't enough eyeballs on the items you're selling.

7) Inventory management. This is a major part of the game and sometimes you just have to wade through all the junk you've picked up and dispose of it in the most constructive way possible. It's good to combine this with mail and decon.

8) Deconstruction. As I play I fill up my bank with weapons armour rings and glyphs that will get disenchanted. I often combine this with my morning writs/mail and store management to set me up for a well-otganised day.

9) Daily random dungeons.

Big fat experience bonus for the first random dungeon on each character. This is my main way of levelling alts. Just log in, get their dungeon done, log out.

10) Daily battlegrounds.

These are tedious unless you're really good at pvp. So far as a newbie I've been a drag on any team unlucky enough to get me which means I quite often am on the team that comes third and misses the rewards. It's just not a good experience to get massacred and then miss out on the reward. This one usually falls below the bar for me, I tried them out when I started the game but now I don't do them.

11) Daily pledges. A pledge is a quest for group dungeon content. The rewards give you access to chests which hold part of the game's "monster sets" and give you Undaunted rep which is a pretty useful skill tree on every character.

12) Enlightenment. Bonus experience which accumulates daily but stays for 12 days. This doesn't have to be used daily but you do need to use it up every 12 days to avoid waste.

13) Daily repeatable quests. Not currently on my radar as the storyline quests pay better rewards (ie skill points). The main virtue is in collecting rare motifs by doing a lot of grinding of these quests. Perhaps the best ones to do are the Cyrodil or Imperial City ones as most players don't like pvp.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

MTGA: analysis of the mastery upgrade for Theros Beyond Death

I've written before about the mastery system in Magic Arena. TLDR 4 wins a day will comfortably max out your mastery.

The mastery upgrade costs 2200 gems and at level 100 gives:

1800 gems
4000 gold (worth 600 gems)
1 ranked draft entry (worth 750 gems)
Booster packs: 4 GRN, 4 RNA, 4 M20, 4 WAR, 4 ELD Key: here.
Random cards: 8 mythic, 10 uncommon
A large amount of cosmetic upgrades including the owl pet.

The first 3 items alone clearly return more than the gem value making this well worth it. It's effectively 1150 free gems if you're an active player.

The other benefits are nice to have on top but not benefits I'd pay money for. But unless you're committed to playing for completely free (which is perfectly viable) then this is an essential upgrade for anyone who is willing to spend money on this game.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Absurdly happy in World of Warcraft Classic too.

Right, What's that? Daylight? What day is it?

2 days of playing a lot of Classic WoW has left me firmly echoing Syp's eloquent enthusiastic blog post from yesterday.

One delightful and perhaps surprising aspect is how nice everyone is. World of Warcraft has not always had the reputation for having lovely people playing it but whether it's the delirious contagious happiness or the increased maturity or a sense that community is finite and matters, whatever, people are being really nice.

Half the passing Druids and Priests throw me a buff as they run past. A stranger gave me a free green 2handed Axe. (In a Classic twist, naturally my Tauren warrior couldn't use 2handed axes - I had to spend 30 minutes running to Orgrimmar to vist the Weapon Master).

I've done 2 group runs of Ragefire Chasm. The first was an all guild group and they were very competent and very friendly. It got hairy at times as we had two partial wipes but we managed to come through both with our healer still up. (My Warrior ate dirt for the team as is appropriate).

The second run was a late night affair with people playing at all hours right now. Another very nice effective group that cleared the place with no deaths this time.

Gear feels very exciting, getting new levels is a highlight, running these half-remembered quests is enjoyable.

Perhaps I'm the ideal audience. I both like the gameplay and would play it and enjoy it had I never experienced it before. And I also get very strong nostaligia vibes. I suppose I acquired a mastery 14 years ago that wouldn't have otherwise had any relevance and certainly doesn't carry over into the modern retail game. But in this  I know what I'm donig, I'm full of cunning plans, I'm relishing the ways the game tests me and I'm back with my tribe of people.

"Ah," you may be thinking, "You can't be all that absorbed if you're pausing to write blog posts."


I'm waiting in the log-in queue. Obviously.

Sunday 25 August 2019

WoW Classic: Information sources

 I'll list a few topics that I think will keep coming back with sources that might help:

What quests are there for each dungeon?

Wowhead is probably the best resourced WoW fan site and it shows. Articles show a completeness and a professionalism that isn't always there on some of the other fan sites.

The inidivual dungeon guides are in both written and video format making them great to plan efficient runs. Quests have their pre-reqs explained so you can prepare those before starting.

This one is still in its early stages when a lot of the links are incomplete. I imagine it will fill up pretty fast. (You can always register, dear reader, and help them out). Where there is data it's very good and it's Classic specific which matters.

Not Classic specific but most data hasn't changed much. Also a good place to look up quests.

What's Best In Slot?


Pre raid gear comes from:

Head: Blacksmith item or Blackrock Depths. Enchant with Libram which need Black Diamonds from BRD.

Neck: BRD. Also Onyxia attunement quest for fire res.

Shoulders: UBRS. Exalted with Argent Dawn for the enchant.

Back: Stratholme. Also UBRS for fire res.

Chest: BRD. Mail item so Hunters and Shamans will expect priority.

Wrists: BRS. BRD for fire res bracers.

Hands: Scholomance. (Note Edgemaster's Handguards best for threat. BoE world drop).

Waist: UBRS

Legs: UBRS/World Drop. Enchant with Libram which need Black Diamonds from BRD.

Boots: Scholomance. Mail item so Hunters and Shamans will expect priority. Also boots in Stratholme for Fire Resistance.

Ring: Maraudon and Scholomance. Also BRS quest/world drop for Fire res.

Trinket: Maraudon and BRD.

Main hand: Scholomance.

Shield: UBRS. Enchant with Blacksmith item Thorium Shield Spike.

Ranged: LBRS. Ranged item so Hunters will expect priority.

Enchants from the Enchanter profession will be covered in a separate blog post.

This list is pretty interesting for our late levelling. Pre-raid end game and even the first few weeks of raiding are about completing this list so that we can be at our optimum. And some of these dungeons start well before level 60.

Also note that many of these picks are controversial and the list may be subject to change.

How do I power level my professions?






Warrior class quests


Level 10: Defensive Stance.

Level 20-30: Brutal Armour

Level 30+: Berserker Stance and Whirlwind weapons.