Walking away from Legion’s Loss of Control

I have been in a crummy mood for the last few weeks. Snapping, whining, venting, it’s been ugly. Part of it has been life, and part of it has been WoW. WoW’s become an increasing part of my life again and I think it’s been a bit detrimental.

I realized tonight that part of my issue with this expansion is that I have very little control over getting the things I want. Can I farm AP for the artifact traits I want? Yes, but it’s going to take either 2384289 mythic+ runs or waiting 5 days for more artifact knowledge.

I have no control over the drops I get. In previous expansions it was just a matter of ‘meh whatever, maybe next week’ but this expansion has warforged, titanforged, and most infamously – legendaries. None of which a player has any control over. You get what you get based on RNG.

The mounts I want are in the new caches from the extra rep and those are also random. I don’t want to grind for more rep so I figured I’d let it happen organically but knowing that the mounts I want are tied to more RNG on top of another rep grind really is not motivating.

I want flying too but that’s tied to another rep grind and achievements based on cycling events.

I want my new artifact appearance but it’s tied to a super buggy scenario that I wasted a lot of attempts on thanks to the feign death bug. That’s at least a matter of ‘when’ than ‘if’ but still.

Even things like the dungeon achievements are tied to random stuff – AKA which boss is going to be up in violet hold that week.

And relics? How bout those.

Plus I feel like BM hunters have been fighting to at least be relevant in content given all the bugs. And swapping specs/characters is not as easy nowadays what with, well, everything. But the pet AI, hati, etc. The legendaries. It just all remains the same.

I feel like I have very, very little control over the progression of my character this expansion. And that sucks, because I am all about working for things that I want. These two attitudes have come to a complete head and I think it was boiling under the surface and that’s what made me so nasty these last few weeks.

In order to continue to enjoy the game I think I need to let go of the idea of having any control over the progression of my character and getting the things I want. Which is a shame, but that’s the long and short of it. I have a feeling other folks have been wrestling with the same thoughts I have. If you couldn’t put it properly to words, I hope this blog entry helps.

Ultimately I love WoW but maybe a little TOO much right now and that’s bad. I do like the raids, and m+ are like my favorite thing ever. Plus pet battling is fun, even though the tamers fit the theme of the expansion and are on a completely random rotation.

I definitely understand the need for prolonged content, but I think this expansion’s treatment of it may have been taken a little too far. In the end it’s just kind of slowly pushing me away.

So this blog entry is just me saying my peace, pretty much. It reminds me of when I stopped hardcore raiding. I had to let go of the mentality of being ‘the best.’ And so I focused on more casual ways to progress my character. Now those casual options are also either really grindy or based more on RNG than effort put in so I’m at an impasse. The content itself is really neat. It’s just weird to have these shiny grapes hanging on a branch just out of your reach and every time you jump for it, it’s a 40% chance the branch will be pulled away by a racoon, a 20% chance the tree will be struck by lightning and fall on you, a 30% chance you’ll fall down and hurt yourself, and another 30% chance you might actually be able to grab them.

There is, of course, the matter of eventualities. Eventually you’ll have enough artifact knowledge to make a dent in more of your traits. Eventually you’ll get lucky with your gear. etc. etc. But sometimes having to wait for something means you lose interest in it by a certain point. Or you just get angry. So angry.

I feel sad but also a little relieved that I’ve realized this. I’m only ashamed it took me so long. Hopefully now I can change my attitude and start being more positive again.

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Beast Mastery Hunters: ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ part 1

I’ve been threatening to do a write-up on the state of beast mastery hunters for a long time and now I’m finally making good on it. I hesitated for a long time because I’m a relative newcomer to the class, having just started playing a hunter and maining a DPS spec in Legion. (For all previous expansions with the exception of the second part of TBC and first part of WoTLK I played a healer.) Whenever this happens I feel like I need to back myself up by listing my long resume of raiding history including portions where I was a raid leader and officer in several guilds. I’ve been playing WoW and raiding in some capacity since around the time Blackwing Lair was considered ‘progression.’ I’ve always been a middle-of-the-road raiding player. Somewhere between ‘good’ and ‘we just needed a warm body for this’ depending on the weather and my attention-span that day.

I was also wary because the default attitude towards beast mastery hunters seems to be: “Oh they’re a 3-button faceroll class, they don’t deserve to do good DPS.”

I disagree. In fact, I challenge that view with the following assertion:

Beast Mastery hunters are a weird mix of a ranged and melee class. You might think I’m exaggerating here but I’m not. Consider that we have all the negatives of a ranged class (Generally expected to do more mechanics. Eat cake, target swap, soak pools, etc.) with all the negatives of having a melee class attached to us in the form of our pets. (As in, if it’s a target swapping fight like Cenarius, a good 80% of our DPS in in transit switching back and forth from adds the entire time.) There’s a lot more micromanagement required to play the spec well than people might think. Keyword being ‘well.’ Any class in this game can be played at an average level, it’s part of what makes the game great. But if you don’t know how to manage your pets well, you’re going to have a bad time as a BM hunter. (Especially since Hati is slower than a tire rolling uphill.)

I’ll give you an example of my analogy – the Krosus fight in Nighthold requires ranged to soak pools while the only mechanic melee need to worry about is running out of slams. When Krosus slams and breaks the bridge, any melee caught in it gets stunned or dies by falling into the water. This also applies to hunter pets. What this means is that BM hunters need to be keenly aware of his slam, a melee only mechanic, so that they can manually pull their pets away and prevent them from being stunned and unable to attack for a few precious seconds. Since hunter pets are by default agonizingly slow, this can generally only be accomplished by using dash and just ignoring Hati because he will never, ever make it out in time and just ends up stunned regardless.

Are you starting to catch my drift? Good. Now can we please get rid of the “lol faceroll u dont deserve good DPS” attitude? Good. With this long intro out of the way, I’m going to get into the true reason for this post: Feedback. What’s going right, and what’s going oh God so very wrong with BM hunters right now.

Let’s start with the uh, glowing blue wolf elephant in the room, okay? Hati.

This poor doggo is probably the most hated animal in the game right now. I can appreciate that they wanted to try something unique for hunters in Legion, but…poor Hati. It was an interesting idea in theory but in practice and function he is just subpar in almost every way. I think at this point I’d prefer an artifact ability that played this video on repeat every time it was used rather than having to deal with Hati.

Let’s just come out and say it, okay? Hati sucks. Consider this log from my heroic trilliax kill this week. (Pls 2 disregard other boss kills on heroic it was only my second week and I did terribly swap to normal for my big pen0r DPS numbers if that’s your thing.) Hati only just barely did more damage than my auto-shots. I realize his damage is also figured into the overall kill command damage, but that is just pathetically bad. He does marginally more damage than a good trinket or a neck enchant. This is our ARTIFACT ability here. I don’t think any other class has an artifact ability that is actually a liability to them the way Hati is. Not sure what I mean? Let me use another anecdote –

I’m in mythic+15 or whatever vault of the wardens and my group decides it wants to save time and sneak past the jailer mob that sits by the final elevator to the dark area. The rogue hits the entire group with AoE stealth and we start running. I’m stealthed, my regular pet is stealthed, hati is not. Hati pulls the mob. I commit seppuku on the elevator out of shame.

Another example would be a place like court of stars. There are a lot of tight turns and corners in that dungeon that require precision movement. I have the aggro radius of a semi-truck because I have two pets, only one of which can stealth and they both stand on either side of me. This usually leads to me having to dismiss my pets and lag behind so that I’m not the one who pulled the extra sentry.

As a pet mechanic, Hati is impossible to control. He will not leash, he will not maintain attacks, and he does not aggro properly. If I lead with a multi-shot on a group of mobs, my main pet will blink over and start beast cleaving. Hati will sit next to me and beast cleave at the air.

haitbobati

Protecting me from harmful oxygen molecules

When he DOES aggro a mob, he never actually de-aggros no matter what you do. A classic case of this is when I was doing Emerald Nightmare raid achievements and we were on Nythendra. The goal of that achievement is to squash bugs during her swarm phase. The entire raid was over-geared so we opted to not damage her so that she didn’t accidentally die before we got all the bugs. I hit follow/passive and my main pet ran over and sat like a good boy. Hati just kept. running. back. to. the. big. nono. dragon. It got to a point where I had to use the ‘play dead’ ability which puts your pets into feign death to get him to stop. He also does this during the second boss of vault which stinks because he’s wasting valuable DPS time by running all over the place given his slow running speed.

So he comes with all the negative bugs that regular pets have right now while suffering additionally because he’s got the AI of a guardian rather than an actual controllable pet. (Think the difference between a mage water elemental and a shaman’s regular earth elemental or a DK’s army of the dead ghoul.)

So we have this artifact ability that while unique and super cute and you just wanna smooch him head – he sucks at damage and will cause your death more often than you’d care to realize. I mean, pets in general are super bugged out this expansion.

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Stuck in a cage

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Stuck on a cliff

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Stuck on a boat with a nautical themed pashmina afghan

But Hati is on a special level uniquely his own. He gets KOed more often than not on the courtesan mobs before Elisande in Nighthold for whatever reason (I can tell because I’ll get the “You let your dog die you terrible owner you” debuff) but I consider it a blessing.

How to fix Hati? Dear God, I do not know. He is almost broken beyond repair. The issue is that he has the AI of a guardian rather than a pet and as such his actual mechanics are very limited outside of ‘move’ and ‘do damage.’ A lot of hunters have been asking since launch for a way to just imbue Hati’s spirit into our regular pet to give it a flat damage buff equivalent to what we’d lose by Hati not being around. (So extra damage from his base damage and anything that would come along with it like way of the cobra which does more damage depending on the amount of pets/guardians you have out.)

Alternatively, pump up his damage and make spawning him a high DPS cooldown that lasts for 10-20 seconds the same way murder of crows does. I mean honestly, if his damage is this terrible already, there’s not really any reason not to turn him into a cooldown and just have that damage come as burst rather than crappily spread throughout a fight like old chalky butter.

Poor Hati though. He’s so cute. I feel terrible that he was dealt such a terrible hand and is now almost universally hated. 😦 A doggo should never be hated, only loved.

I don’t think Hati can, or should, be turned into another fully functioning pet. Our DPS doesn’t need to be split between 3 different functional entities anyway. (Hunter, pet, hati.) It adds more uncertainties and liabilities in fights and maintaining steady DPS expectations. Asking a person to control two characters in battle in one thing. Expecting them to manage 3 is a little excessive, ‘beast master’ or not.

The reason beast mastery hunters have been churning out mediocre DPS this expansion is not an issue of numbers, it’s an issue of mechanics. We fighting against poor pet control and when 80% of your damage rotation is buggy or slow, the numbers are going to show that. Where we really shine is in mythic+ because there’s usually very little movement and a lot of opportunity for our pets to stand still and beast cleave.

They’ve made obvious attempts to mitigate this by doing things like increasing cobra shot damage. That’s totally fair. But I think more effort can be made to tweak the pet pathing and work on the issue of Hati entirely in order to really start addressing the class’ weakness.

And I think that about wraps it up for part one. In the next part I’ll get a little more into the situation with beast mastery’s abilities and gearing as well as touch on PVP a bit. All this provided my attention span for this lasts. If you stuck with me and read through this, thank you. If you didn’t, leave a comment and raise your hand.

We’ve Come a Long Way!

BEWARE! THIS POST IS LONG! FAIRLY WARNED, BE YE!

So I’ve been talking a big game about making a post discussing my fitness efforts and it’s time for me to make good on my threats.

Before I get started I want to point out that this is going to be a deeply personal blog detailing my weightloss and fitness efforts over the last year. It comes directly from my mind and experiences, and with that comes the emotional highs and lows I have felt going through this journey. Everything I say in this post is directed solely at me and my experiences. In saying certain things about myself, I do not imply anything about the fitness/health of others. I hate to sound like Veruca Salt, but this is about me and my journey only. I don’t want anyone to read this and feel upset or down on anything because that is not my intention! I just wanted to say that going in, because I’m putting some harsh truths about myself in here that reflect solely on me, my mental health, and my own body. None of my comments are meant to pass judgment on anyone else’s body or their lifestyle. Live your life as fully as you want, be beautiful, feel amazing in your own skin no matter what!

So let me preface by explaining why I began this journey. I was very, very thin in high school. Probably to an unhealthy point. I wouldn’t really eat lunch, I’d grab a bag of chips and sprite from the vending machines and then walk all over the school with a heavy backpack. I’d eat dinner at home, but when I see pics of myself around that time I was mostly skin and bones.

Aaaand then I went to college and gained the freshman 15. Thankfully having to walk to my classes and all over campus kept that gain at 15-20lbs.

BUT THEN I STARTED MY CAREER AND EVERYTHING CHANGED WHEN THE SNACKS NATION ATTACKED! Suddenly my lifestyle was COMPLETELY sedentary. Working from home didn’t help the matter, as that dropped my average daily exercise to basically the amount of steps between my home office and my bed. Every now and then I’d go for walks or take the dogs out but beyond that, I was lifeless.

My eating habits went in the crapper as well. I didn’t realize how poorly I was eating at the time, because one doesn’t set out to eat an entire pizza or family size bag of doritos on their own – it just kind of happens. Whenever I went grocery shopping I’d grab all kinds of snacks like cheetos, oreos, etc. and then after bringing them home I’d graze on them all day. Walk past the kitchen to let the dogs out? Better grab 2 or 3 oreos on the way back! Because goddamnit, those things TASTE good. Same with takeout food like pizza or whatever else. Even now I struggle with cravings when I know better, that I shouldn’t be ordering a medium sized extra cheese pizza and breadsticks for ONE person.

The main point I’m trying to make here is that my weight gain happened slowly over the course of 5-8 years. A box of oreos here or there, some pizza on Friday night, ice cream from Dairy Queen when I was coming home from work, etc. I would buy whole bags of hershey’s miniatures and just eat them in a weekend WITH my other meals. ALL of them. An entire bag of chocolates. Coupled with little to no exercise and that means that as I got older, I was gaining more and more weight. But it was such a slow process that I didn’t even notice.

Now, I have always had a mental image of myself that is, well, my concept of a perfect me physically. She’s beautiful, intelligent, and has a traditional hourglass figure. When I imagine myself doing things or whatever else, that is the “me” that I think of. It has always been this way, from when I was a little girl until now. I like to laugh about sexual dimorphism and overtly sexualized women in games, but the truth is that this mental image of myself is just as leggy, busty, and sensual as any leather-clad leading lady in a comic book movie or fantasy novel cover.

What does that make me? I don’t know. It’s not something I’ve ever seen as “wrong” about myself. I don’t think I have any kind of body dismorphia, I just think I have an over-idealized version of me bouncing around in my head so I can feel good when I imagine myself taking over the world during my daydreams.

So here’s where it all comes to a head. I went to my endocrinologist as I have a thyroid issue. Hashimoto’s, it’s an autoimmune disorder that cause hypothyroidism. (At this point when I went to my endo, it had been under control and treated for at least a couple years by that point so no, it wasn’t the main source of my weight gain.) I got on their scale and it read almost 200 lbs. That was, according to the BMI scale on their wall, clinically obese. The endo sat me down and told me that since I already had an autoimmune disorder and my weight was increasing, I was going to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. My general practitioner had expressed concern about this and my weight as well, as had an orthopedist I had seen for a hip issue. All of this genuine concern from medical professionals plus actually seeing my weight right there in big bold letters on the scale caused that beautiful mental image of myself in the mirror to crack and shatter.

I went home and for the first time I looked at myself and saw how much weight I had gained and I saw that perfect image of myself in my brain compared to how I looked and felt and I just cried. Literally cried myself to sleep that night.

Now, not every woman holds weight the same way, we have some seriously diverse body types! Some women hold weight more in their chest, thighs, and butt. I was not so lucky. All of my weight gain was centered on my stomach and abdomen which, in terms of health, is one of the WORST places you can carry it. All your organs are located in those areas which means the fat is more likely to collect around them and cause things like heart issues, liver disease, etc. Plus, I looked like I was pregnant or smuggling a beachball under my shirt. I had resorted to wearing unflattering tops that fluffed out at the bottom in the hopes of hiding it. I actually had a cashier at a restaurant once ask me when I was due. I just gave her a sad smile, a quiet laugh, and replied, “I’m not, I’m just fat.” and she turned almost scarlet and was silent the rest of the transaction.

Now please understand, I’m not pulling any punches here in terms of myself and these comments/opinions are only directed AT myself, nobody else. I was very unhappy with how I looked and felt. On top of being depressed about my appearance, I started having pain in various parts of my body. My shoulders, neck, hips, and knees would shift between dull aches to just throbbing pain depending on how I slept or moved during the day. Surprisingly, my elbows even started hurting after a certain point because of my posture.

And so, after crying, I fell into a bit of a slump about the whole thing. My ideal image of myself was in ruins, and I no longer felt cute, powerful, or whatever else. To me, I was just a walking lump with a big mouth.

Now, I could go on and on about this aspect of my growth but I won’t, because it’s uncomfortable. I kept the feelings bottled up and for a time, I got worse. Food was comfort for me, and I sought it out as much as possible which just made it a self-fulfilling prophecy. And before this, I had looked on things like calorie counting and whatnot as tedious, pointless, and just making life complicated for the sake of being complicated. Who wants to count their calories for EVERY meal of the day? I certainly didn’t. And you know why I didn’t? Because it would have made me responsible for everything I was putting in my mouth.

So now that all that nastiness is out of the way…how about when things turned around?

The first part of my weight loss came solely from the kitchen. Or rather, came from things I kicked OUT of my kitchen.

In June of last year, I went on a trip to visit my family. I spent a bit with them and saw how they lived their lives. They were all very active, ate healthy, and just were overall much, much happier than I was at the time. THAT was my turning point. I saw how they lived, and I knew I wanted the same kind of life for myself. So after coming back home I knew I had to make a change. I went through my kitchen and threw out all the junk. Buh-bye cookies, buh-bye super sugary cereal, buh-bye candy, buh-bye buh-bye. I also bought a scale to FORCE myself to accept the reality of my own weight from then on.

Then I went shopping and I shopped specifically for my new lifestyle. I got skim milk, greek yogurt, fiber based cereals, veggies, healthier bread, etc. etc. I have a “no snack” rule in this house and I stick to it. I wish I could say that I had the restraint other people do with snacks, but I don’t. To me, there is no such thing as one reeses from the package and saving the other for later. No. Both are going in my mouth. I know this aspect of myself, and I accept it. In accepting it, I set these boundaries for myself knowing it was the only way I’d be able to stick with it.

I learned very early on not to drink my calories. Thankfully I don’t like coffees or teas, so that just left soda and fruit juice. Fruit juice is meh, I don’t usually buy it at the grocery store so cutting that out wasn’t hard. Soda I just had to force myself to quit cold turkey. I tried switching to diet, but for some reason any time I drank the diet sodas I would retain water like a sumumabish. So I’d wake up the next morning, get on the scale, and freak out! Thus, diet sodas have become relegated to a “once in a while” thing. I will NOT drink them when I go out to a restaurant. I find that in a restaurant setting I will gulp down my drink like gangbusters. If that drink is soda, that’s baaAAAdddd. So water it is.

I went into this lifestyle change hating water, to be honest, but I have learned to love it. Now the only drinks in my fridge are my skim lactaid milk and a pitcher of filtered water. My body is MADE of water, so I wanted to learn to like it. And I did. I’ll still get sodas, but usually just a regular can or bottle of diet as part of a Thai takeout meal or whatever else. That way it’s a limited amount as a treat.

The change with food came down to one thing: counting my calories. As much as I groaned and eye-rolled at it before, I realized I needed to learn to do it. I downloaded the Lose It! app on my phone and started tracking as was utterly surprised at the type of things I was eating in a day.

The important thing with calorie counting is that, outside of water, you are tracking EVERYTHING you put into your mouth. So you’re having a bagel and add the bagel in? Great. But did you add the cream cheese too? They’re both going in your mouth, both are going to be converted into energy for your body, so you NEED to keep track of it. This was the hardest, and most eye-opening part for me. Suddenly I was learning what was actually sabotaging my weightloss efforts. Salads with dressings? Wow. Soups? Can be tricky. Pasta? loooooooooooooooooool. Do you know just how many restaurants will add things like sugar, butter, and mayo to meals that otherwise don’t need it at all to increase the “flavor”? It’s more than you’d think, and it might be worth taking a second look at certain chain restaurant menus to see their calorie counts before you go out to dinner.

But then here’s the thing. Those foods I listed above? THEY ARE GODDAMNED DELICIOUS. How can I LIVE without cake?! I’ll tell you – I don’t. I have cravings, they are very real and they are very persistent. I don’t think I will ever get rid of them, especially given my previous eating habits. The key with food is balance. If I want cake, I will have cake, but I will budget the rest of my day so that I’m not overconsuming calories because of the cake. So maybe instead of a bigger lunch I’ll just have a salad with a balsamic dressing. Then, at dinner, I will shove my face squarely in the biggest, chocolatiest piece of cake I can find for myself.

And that is it. That was the key. Balance. Balancing my meals, balancing my lifestyle. There is no such thing as a successful diet. There is only changing your lifestyle and learning how to eat properly. I can still have junk when I want it, just in moderation. This moderation, this balance, and this knowledge and acceptance of my own flaws and cravings is what has kept me successful with changing my eating habits.

Changing what I ate was how I lost most of my weight.

Are you still with me? I told you this was going to get long!

Around the end of October of last year I was very happy with my progress but I had hit a plateau. Plateaus are the ugly part of weightloss where you get stuck and can’t seem to budge the scale. At that point my mental image of myself was coming back into focus and I could see her in reach again. I decided that I wanted to be healthy, not just thinner, so I opted to add some exercise to my new lifestyle.

There’s a small, 24-hour gym local to me that I love. The ladies that run it are very kind and encouraging, and I had gone there in the past. My first foray into gym life from a couple years ago was a mess. I’d walk slowly on the treadmill for 30 minutes and consider myself good to go, but couldn’t understand why I wasn’t losing weight. This time when I went back to the gym I was DETERMINED to make that $30 monthly subscription worth it. I told myself that if I wasn’t sweating or if I had time to be watching a TV show on my phone, I wasn’t doing it right and needed to work harder.

I started my cardio slow with the elliptical and recumbent bike. The first few weeks were filled with me wheezing, sweating, and just plain miserable and out of breath. But over time, as I went, I realized that each day it got a little easier. I could stay on the machines for a little longer…push the resistance up a little higher. Even though I couldn’t really “see” a difference and my weight was still stalled, I FELT the progress. I FELT myself getting healthier, more in shape. There is no greater feeling in the world than knowing your body is turning into the well-oiled machine it was always meant to be.

Suddenly those aches and pains in my neck, shoulders, legs, etc. were disappearing. My muscles were firming up, and my body was able to support itself better. I equated my body to a machine in the last paragraph, and that’s true. Have you ever heard the old adage that cars like to be driven? That’s how our bodies are too. They LIKE to be used, made to work hard. I’ll be the first to admit that cardio can be boring as HELL, but afterwards I could feel my body and mind completely invigorated. PLUS I got the added bonus of that dopamine release you get when you tell yourself you need to do something and then you actually accomplish it.

By this time, I was starting to feel good. That mental image of myself was in clear view and SO close. I started losing weight again, but at a much slower pace. And that was okay. By then I had hit what is considered a healthy weight on the BMI scale. I still had my goal in mind, but at this point I’ve stopped using weight as the measurement and started using visual assessments to see if my body is where I want it to me. I still step on a scale, but I get a better idea of whether I’m on track to my goals just by looking at myself in the mirror. I can see what needs to be firmed up or worked on, and I can see how far I’ve really come.

SO! I stuck to doing cardio at the gym because I thought, y’know, that’s what women are supposed to do at the gym, right? WELL. One thing they never tell you about weightloss is that it the weight does not drop evenly. I was losing weight from all the areas I wanted to keep it while my tummy was still a freakin’ disaster. I didn’t want to lose my butt, thighs, and hips, darnit! But, that’s kinda what cardio does, right? You lose weight, but you lose it indiscriminately. You can’t wave a magic wand and ONLY lose tummy weight. Your body is just gonna be like, “AAYYYY WE NEED ENERGY, TAKE THE FAT STORES FROM THE CHEST AND THE BUTT, AND THEN MAYBE THE FACE???”

But this…this mental image of myself. She’s got the hourglass, she’s got the thighs and hips, she’s got the boobs and the toned arms! What am I gonna do if I l have the body of a potato?

Ohoho. Here’s a fun secret that they don’t market to women. They don’t market it to women because if you tell us women that you can essentially build your own body, that means that the fad diet and fad cardio exercise home workouts won’t sell. The secret is…wait for it…weight lifting. Weight lifting is specifically designed to target muscle groups on your body so that you can literally build the body you want by toning certain areas. Women seem to have this mistaken impression that if you do a few squats or bench presses, you’re going to break out in GIGANTIC veiny muscle patches and just, no. It doesn’t work like that. And I’m not saying this to be controversial. I mean, just talk to random people and the general idea is that weights and SICK GAINZ are for men while cardio is for women. I SPIT ON THIS STEREOTYPE! PETH PTHH! SPIT! BOTH ARE FOR BOTH!

Cardio and your diet are for losing weight. Weight training is for gaining it back IN THE AREAS YOU WANT IT.

So, to me, I wanted my killer thighs and toned arms. I’m not as big on abs, I just want a flat stomach. (That is still a work in progress.) So I took the dive. I got some help from the gym trainers and just, y’know, went for it. I sat down at the weight machines and…I did the reps. I started with the vertical bench press for my arms, and leg presses for my legs. (As a note, if you aren’t sure what these machines are, google it! You can find some great diagrams that explain them.) I was sore, but I took that soreness with a sense of pride because I knew it meant it was working. And the results were fairly immediate, I could see them after a couple of weeks. One day I was bending over in the shower to reach my body wash and I saw the gentle slope of my upper thigh and I saw it. I saw that mental image of myself reflected in the actual physical sense. I was becoming the person I had always dreamed about.

Oh gosh, I’m tearing up as I write this but it’s true.

Over time I’ve added more machines to my routine. At this point I’m doing bicep curls and using a machine that specifically targets the outer thighs on top of my other stuff. As I’ve started toning up I’ve realized that the toned areas look great, and I want more of them. So I totally get why people spend hours doing weights at the gym every day.

But to me, having an amazon body is pointless if I can’t walk for more than a block without getting winded. So my usual gym routine is 30 minutes of cardio followed by my circuit on the weight machines. I usually go 3-5 times a week and keep rest days in between for the days I really push myself by upping the weight limit or adding more reps. To me, this is balance.

The important thing is that I am still a work in progress, physically and mentally. But I feel better now than I have in the last 5 or 6 years, and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. If anything, this whole experience has taught me that if I really put my mind to it and WORK for something, I can DO IT. It’s HARD and downright unpleasant at times, but it is doable.

As for my current progress, well, here’s a collection of pics I took to celebrate my new pair of leggings:

leggingssylvanas

Like I said, I still have work to do. But the point is, I’m doing the work. And I’m getting SO close to that mental image of the amazon in my head. Even better, that mental image is changing as my journey continues. She’s changing…well…into me. Actual me. And that just feels pretty damned good.

Thank you to everyone who read this far. And thank you to all my friends, family, etc. online and offline that have supported and encouraged me throughout this journey. You guys have been an invaluable resource, and I hope I’ve made some of you proud. :’)

The Story So Far…

So Theramore? How about it? It was certainly a thing. Yep. Certainly a thing.

Before I go on in this post I would like to warn people that there ARE spoilers for the Tides of War book lurking around. If you’re planning on reading the book you may want to skip the spoiler labeled areas.

As a service to people who had no clue what happened during the Theramore scenario, I wrote up a fairly detailed *spoilers* summary of the book on the forums.

The major things to pick up from the book that were…sort of…in game are thus:

*MORE SPOILERS BELOOOOOWWWW!*

*Forreal*

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1) Rhonin is dead. Jaina now leads the Kirin’tor.

2) A whole bunch of alliance generals are dead, including Marcus Jonathan. He was the mounted guy that sat at the entrance to Stormwind who would wave to you.

3) In his pursuit of the “Orcs are superior” mentality, Garrosh has allowed the blackrock orcs along with the dragonmaw orcs to join the Horde. Yes, the same blackrock orcs that waged war under the “warchief” Rend Blackhand.

4) Thrall does not care.Well, sort of. He didn’t care that Northwatch was wiped off the map by a group of demonically summoned magma elementals. This is something that goes against almost every shaman’s code because it’s part of why Draenor (outland) was destroyed. He also didn’t care that Theramore was decimated by a bomb so powerful it tore holes to other dimensions and wiped out entire timelines. He DID care that Jaina was going to flood Orgrimmar, so his neutrality went out the window when Org was involved. They tried to play it off by claiming it was because the water elementals reached out to him, but I guess the magma elementals didn’t matter? Oh and they wrote it off as a “thank goodness Thrall stopped Jaina because she would have killed Varian too!” to try and make it better. Convenient post-plot writing at its best.

5) Garrosh is recruiting children into the horde war machine at this point.

6) Both the alliance and horde navies were decimated by the end of the book. This leaves a small skeleton crew warring on the open seas which is how the ships end up finding Pandaria.

7) Jaina and Kalecgos sitting in a tree. B-L-E-E-G.

Please don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book as I do most of Christie Golden’s writing. However, there were some very…problematic plot holes and twists for the sake of convenience. At the start of the book Jaina goes to talk to Thrall about her issues with Garrosh and Thrall’s response is, “It’s not my problem. By the way, have you considered finding a boyfriend to even your temper out?” And like magic Kalecgos appears. Shazzam! Just like Aggra! Why work through a character’s issues using plot and character development when you can just throw a boyfriend/girlfriend in there to fix it all up? It’s funny because in real life it’s almost the exact opposite. You can’t be in a solid relationship unless you work your own issues out first. Thankfully it’s a fantasy world in more ways than one.

So they’re finally starting to throw Garrosh off the deep end. Now begins his descent into madness. The question is, why now? I would argue that it’s pressure from the fans. But for an in story excuse several reasons have been brought up:

1) Traces of Mannoroth’s fel energy corrupting him through his armor.

2) Sargeras and the burning legion

3) An as yet unnamed old God. But this one comes up EVERY TIME someone gets corrupted because old Gods are like the default answer in WoW. “What caused this? Oh an old God. Carry on then.”

Or any combination of the three along with the pressure of wanting to be great like his father.

One thing is painfully clear though – the burning legion is coming back and will most likely be the focus of the next expansion. They’re setting us up so that the horde and alliance are so entrenched in war again that invasion will be simple with our depleted resources. Methinks they’ve attempted this before!

Wrathion obviously knows this. He tells the player as much. It will also probably be the catalyst of Illidan Stormrage being brought back to life. Metzen has said he wants Illidan alive again and quests in game explain that even completely disemboweled demon hunters can come back to life with the power of an equal or stronger demon to resurrect them. It doesn’t get much stronger than Sargeras or Kil’jaeden. Expect Illidan back soon!

So what are my predictions? Well I just gave you some of them. I have a strong hunch that when Garrosh is defeated the catalyst of us fighting him will be because he’s bringing the legion back to Azeroth. Dave Kosak mentioned that even Thrall was getting involved hordeside for the siege of Orgrimmar. What would be bad enough to bring Thrall back? Maybe the signs of the legion he fought previously at the battle of Hyjal?

So Garrosh brings back the legion one way or another. The alliance and horde end up having to team up in their own ways. What do I see? I see an older Prince Anduin Wrynn leading the combined forces of the horde and alliance into battle against the legion. Given how they’ve set him up with him being the tolerant alliance NPC with ties to the horde who trained under Velen, he’s the obvious choice along with whoever is leading the horde at the time.

And WHO exactly is going to lead the horde? Lots of ideas flying around. Honestly? I’m not even sure. My hope would be a combined council of Baine Bloodhoof and Vol’jin.

People have suggested that Garrosh will end up kidnapping Thrall’s child and using blackrock orc magic to age him in the hopes of getting Thrall on his side. Then once Garrosh is deposed – Thrall’s child will take over. If this happens, I’ma be angry. Why? Because COME ON. If any lore developers are reading this, PLEASE DON’T DO THIS. This game does NOT need more “superman” characters. Med’an was a terrible character and the experience with him should never be repeated, let alone with Thrall’s son or daughter.

Truthfully I don’t see Garrosh dying. I see him splitting off the orc factions of the horde (draenor, blackrock, and dragonmaw) and becoming the next Rend Blackhand, potentially with Magatha’s grimtotem helping him out.

Either way it will be interesting to see how Pandaria will play out from a lore perspective. I’ve argued until I was blue in the face that the alliance and horde are the main villains in this expansion. We’re taking territorial invasion to a whole new level. Pandaria will be lucky if there’s anything left after we leave.

So what do you think is up with the lore? I’m pretty passionate about the story in this game. It’s fun to have a reason to read all the quests!