Sunday, 25 January 2015

WoW Goals Week 2 - Complete!

My apologies to anyone who reads this, I have not been particularly on top of posting this week. I have three different draft posts I am working on at the moment, but I haven't managed to get anything finished. However my WoW goals for the most part are a different matter.

This week was a bit more intense in what I was aiming to achieve. I was aiming to:

1. Unlock the Pet Menagerie,
2. Get the Fire Ammonite Angler achievement,
3. Max Archaeology
Bonus. Complete my Draenor Dungeon Hero achievement
Extra Credit. Guild Rated Battlegrounds

Lets see how it all went!

Goal 1: Complete!

This was the big one for this week. While I (read: my girlfriend) did some Pet battling in MoP, I never got that far with it.

Check the date - I told you I didn't get far

So getting my pet menagerie was more than just beating Gorefu, Gnawface, and my favourite, Carrotus Maximus. I needed to raise a team first to compete with. My first step was to get some Level 25 pets, and the closest ones I had to that were a Leopard Scorpid, my Spirit of Competition, and a Mac Frog. When I mentioned to Navimie, pet battler extraordinaire, what I was doing, she elicited a groan and immediately gave me some advice on the kind of basic pet line-up I wanted. While I haven't quite got to that point I did raise an Iron Starlette to 25, and in the end I took out those pesky pests with my Spirit of Competition, an Iron Starlette (did anyone else think this was a bird before playing with it?) and a Leopard Scorpid. Hooray!

I earnt myself the Keepin' Busy achievement, and finally obtained all the buildings in my garrison.

I really enjoyed the pet battling experience, so expect to see some more pet battling achievements crop up in the future!

Goal 2: Complete!

Once again I found the angling achievement to be quite painless. 15 minutes with fire ammonite bait and some +200 fishing bait netted me over 50 of the blighters. Yet another step towards unlocking my level 3 fishing hut.

Goal 3: Complete!

Archaeology was also quite enjoyable in the end. Similarly to pet battling, I have a lot of achieves to pick up here in the future. Picked up the Diggerest achievement as a bonus, yay!

I actually managed to screenshot this one in time, improvement!

Bonus: Complete!

This was the achievement I was really looking forward to getting, and myself, Cptsars, Navimie, Crooked, and Luxygaga all got it together this week. I am in the process of writing a more detailed post on this so stay tuned!

Extra Credit: Failed

We didn't end up getting the numbers for rated battlegrounds, but no matter, it is just something to keep an eye on for the future.

Week 2 additional achievements (I think I will call this part Extra Credit in future)

During my time on WoW this week I got a few random achievements, so I may as well make mention of those also.

WoW Goals for Week 3

My girlfriend gets back from the UK tonight, it is Australia Day tomorrow, and I am back at work now so my WoW time is going to be slightly more restricted. I also need to crack on with my painting goals so this weeks challenges are going to be on the easier side. That being said, my goals for this week are:

1. Cooking to 700. It is the last profession I need to round it all out.
2. The Blackwater Whiptail population will be affected this week once I am done with my Blackwater Whiptail Angler achievement.
3. I will do my Classic and Outland raider achievements - I need BWL and AQ40 for Classic, and Karazhan, Mt Hyjal, and Sunwell Plateau for Outland. I'm a bit shocked I haven't done these so I best rectify the situation.

I won't set a bonus goal for this week as I think it will only encourage me to spend more time on WoW and less time painting. It will also give me more time to finish those blog posts!

Lets see how it goes, due date Sunday 1st February 2015.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

WoW Goals Week 1 - Complete!

So in actual fact I completed these a few days ago, but I have been busy trying to write a post on music that I didn't get around to posting this until today, however given today was the deadline perhaps that is a good thing.

As a refresher, my goals were:

1. Finish my PvP set on my Warrior.
2. Finish my Stables quests
3. Complete my Sea Scorpion Angler achievement
Bonus: Level my Rogue to 96.

Goal 1: Complete!

I have capped my conquest, bought shiny gear, and have at least 600 ilvl PvP gear, or a better option (the belt) in the rest of the slots. There are some small upgrades here and there to make, but everything is PvP now.

Goal 2: Complete!

Still working on my screen shot reflexes, but here are the achieves from my achievement tab.

Goal 3: Complete!

And finally, my angling achievement. This was nowhere near as time consuming as I feared it might be.

Bonus: Complete!

I went a bit overboard with this one, as I have really been enjoying the rogue, so rather than get to 96 (so I could get my salvage yard) I am at 99, and half way to 100, which will probably happen later today.

I guess I should set some goals for the next week. Last weeks goals in the end were quite easy to achieve, so I think generally I can set slightly more intensive goals, bearing in mind that I don't want to push myself too hard and burn out. This week my girlfriend is off playing a concerto in the UK (which I am SUPER excited about, but I can't go to watch which is sad) so I have more free time to get WoW stuff done. Bearing that all in mind, this weeks goals are:

1. Unlock the pet building in my garrison. This may sound simple, but I never really started pet battling in MoP before I quit, so I need to raise a few pets to 25 before I can even start. I suspect it will take a little while, but I'm looking forward to doing it - the pet battling feels like a big road block in my achievement hunting at the moment.

2. Get my Fire Ammonite Angler achievement.

3. Get Archaeology to max level.

Bonus: Complete my Draenor Dungeon Challenges - I am a huge fan of these achievements, and myself, Cptsars, and Navimie (of the Daily Frostwolf fame - she may get a post in the future) have been slowly working through them, though we have been hampered by my inability to find time. I really want to get this done this week, but it is in the Bonus section because it involves coordinating other people.

Extra Credit: I want to start doing some Rated Battlegrounds, and I would especially like to do some with my guild. I believe there are quite a few people that would be interested so this is a reminder to myself to ask around and see if a guild night of it could be organised while Erin is away.

Deadline for all of these is Sunday 25th January 2015. Let's see how I go!

Music and Me

Not my picture, but hopefully the site I grabbed it from won't mind.

As the picture may suggest, I am a trombonist - that is, I play the trombone. I don't think anyone would disagree particularly strongly with me when I say it is not the most elegant, nor the 'coolest' instrument out there. Quite often I have wondered why I chose it over something sexy like a saxophone, or something extravagant like the trumpet or piano. These musings are only intensified by my masters level saxophonist girlfriend playing super cool saxophone concerto's and the like. However, I always tend to come back to the same reasons for why I like the trombone and why it suits me. But first, some history of me and my 'bone'!

I live in Perth, Western Australia, and the primary school I went to had a music program that began in year 5. Prior to this we would play the recorder in classes and such, but come the end of year 4 we would get the exciting opportunity to pick three instruments (in order of preference) we might like to play in the Junior band for year 5. My twin brother had drums as his number one option, and then some other things further done. Spoiler alert: he got to play drums/percussion, but that is fairly irrelevant to my story. I considered picking 'cool' instruments like the drums, and my dad hoped one of would pick the saxophone, but in the end my top choice was the trombone. Without much foresight, my only criteria for picking the trombone was that it was big. I wanted a big case to carry around. While I don't regret that decision, I have always found it curious that that was my criteria for choosing an instrument.

After that the normal course followed; I had lessons, sang in school choirs, played in Concert Band and in Year 7 we were allowed to join the Swing Band. For me the Swing Band was always the most exciting ensemble to play in; I just really enjoyed playing in a big band.

A big band traditionally follows a 5/4/4 setup; 5 saxophones (2 Alto, 2 Tenor, 1 baritone). 4 Trombones (3 Tenor, 1 Bass) and 4 Trumpets. It then has a rythym section consisting of Bass (Usually a Doublebass, but can be Electric), Drum Kit, Piano and a Guitar (somewhat optional, it was introduced into the standard line-up a little later). This setup can change depending on the era the music is from, and also what the composer of a piece decides to write for. Vocalists also sing in front of Big bands, for example Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble.

I kept up my musical ways in High School, getting involved in all the various school ensembles. While I enjoyed the classical side of things, I found the freedom of Jazz to be much more inviting. However, because I was scared to improvise I preferred playing in a Big Band as opposed to a small combo. While at High School I considered pursuing a music based career, however the big sticking point was that I just didn't enjoy practising. I struggled to actually sit down and do scales, or work on a piece, or anything of the sort. If I were to go the University to study music then this would be quite the sticking point, so I decided to keep music as a hobby, and steer clear of the pressure to practise. This aversion to practise also meant that I was quite the terrible student; while I was happy to go to lessons I never really practised or prepared anything for them. During this time I improved primarily by playing 11 hours a week in bands before and after school - While I didn't like structured solo practise I could spend hours playing with others.

After school I kept playing with professional and amateur Big bands around Perth; I was good enough to play in professional Big Bands, but my individual playing was weak, so anything exposed was dodgy. A few years ago I was asked by one of the bands I was in whether I might like to try Bass Trombone.

For those that are unfamiliar, a Bass Trombone is like a normal trombone except a bit bigger in every way. It also has a bunch more piping on the top of it that can be opened with a couple of valves near the left hand. By being bigger, and by having more piping for the air to travel along, lower notes can be played, hence 'Bass' Trombone.

A non-soloist position, playing lower notes with some meat behind them? Hell yes! So life was proceeding like it had at school, I played in bands and improved that way, but I still did no practise. This all changed when I went to the UK last year. My girlfriend, Erin, was off to do her Masters in the UK. I had just finished my Law degree so it was perfect timing for us to go together and live abroad for a year. I didn't take any trombones with me, but I had a scholarship to buy a Bass Trombone whilst I was over there. In the end I wasn't able to buy a Bass Trombone until the end October last year, and then we went travelling around Europe until December before flying home to Perth. What this meant was that for a whole year I was surrounded by amazing musicians, with no way to play. For the first time I was motivated to practise, and I couldn't!

So this leads me to the here and now, and what I want to achieve with my music. First of all, my technique is terrible - because I was an unreceptive student I never put in the time to get my embouchure and technique right the first time. Now that I have spent some time away from my horn I want to relearn it right, rather than going back to my old habits. Secondly I want to play some classical Bass Trombone repertoire. It dawned on me that I know far more about classical saxophone repertoire than I do about trombone repertoire; a heap about saxophone, and nothing about trombone. This situation is a bit shameful, so I would like to rectify it. It also has the secondary goal of making me play in more solo situations, a weak point in my playing that I want to overcome. In this case I won't be setting weekly or monthly goals, but trying to provide general updates on how things are progressing; where my technique is at, what music I am looking at and the like.

For those keen readers who noticed I haven't said why I like the trombone, well here it is. The trombone is the workhorse of a band. It supports other parts with its mid-range sound, and fills out the inner parts of compositions. A great trombone section should be present but not necessarily distinguishable from the other instruments. We provide the meat and potatoes while other instruments get to be the gravy. We support everyone else and make them sound better, without needing the gratification of the crowd. I like this because it is similar to how I like to live my life - I don't always feel particularly comfortable in the spotlight, but I like to support others around me in whatever they are going for; to be reliable and dependable is where I get my kicks. For a boring person like me, the trombone is just perfect!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Where I'm at: Warhammer Fantasy

I was first introduced to Warhammer by a friend when I was 13. We went down to Games Workshop, had an introduction game, and picked out 40k armies we would like. My friend chose the Sisters of Battle, my twin chose Grey Knights, and I went with Space Wolves. Being the jobless teenagers that we were much of our time was spent proxying games on the floor of one of our bedrooms, gazing longingly into the pages of White Dwarf wishing we could have a setup like theirs; beautifully sculpted terrain, immaculate models, all on a glossy mag designed to show off Games Workshops wares.

While I enjoyed my time playing 40k, I found that my heart was really drawn to fantasy. The ranked blocks of infantry, the large units, the outstanding heroes, the magic, monsters, the fantasy setting of the Old World, and the clean and bright colour palette all called to me much more than the grim, dark, war-torn future that is 40k. After scrimping and saving birthday moneys and the like I bought myself a box of Bretonnian knights and was hooked and haven't considered 40k since, much to the dismay of my Space Wolves.

As is wont to happen with teenagers that play with toy soldiers, the pressures of attracting the fairer sex tend to weigh heavy, and I stepped away from and back into Warhammer multiple times. Often this migration would occur in tandem with World of Warcraft; as I became more enthusiastic about one, the other would be neglected.

While I have for the most part kept my finger on the pulse in regards to Games Workshops releases, it wasn't until 8th edition was released that I started to make more of an effort to finish an army. While I still liked my Bretonnians I had never got that close to completing a fully painted 2400pt army. I also found the prospect of painting different heraldry on so many different knights intimidating, so I took the opportunity to start a new army. In the end I chose the Daemons of Chaos; they had great colours, cool background, and the potential for creating a themed army (my preference was Nurgle).

Since then I have been in and out of the hobby, I really enjoy listening to podcasts (such as the Bad Dice Podcast, the Dweller's Below, the Watchtower, and Heelenhammer), but I don't seem to finish anything. Similarly to my WoW post, I am hoping to use this blog as a vehicle to achieve some goals. I started to going to tournaments and the like, so my first goal is to have a legal 2400pt army to use. I have a swathe of half completed projects so my monthly goal (to be achieved by the end of January) is to complete my unit of Bloodcrushers. I have done some conversion work on them already (basic green stuff and repositioning), and they have been undercoated, so in reality this is a painting goal. Painting is definitely my weakest point so hopefully a simple, hopefully easy, goal will help my motivation.

It is a bit hard to see, but their bases have been designed to slot in in a certain way

This one is going to be tricky to keep together, currently the rider is bluetacked on but I will need to find a more permanent solution.

I'm thinking I will need a better camera and a light box at some stage, but this will have to do for the moment. 18 days to finish painting this lot, that should be immensely doable right?

P.S. Hopefully I can find a way in the future to format pictures nicely. That white space is horrible!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

WoW and I

My history with the World of Warcraft has been a love/hate one. At times we have been as close as two newlyweds on their honeymoon, at other times we have loathed each other, pretending the other didn't exist. Well, perhaps that isn't fair on WoW, but I have certainly felt that way at times.

We first met in 2005, maybe six months after the game was first released. I had been a big fan of Warcraft III and so the idea of getting to delve deeper into the world of Azeroth was an exciting one. My twin brother and I went out and bought a copy, eagerly installed the game, and then made our characters and dived into the World of Warcraft.

I was a lowly dwarf hunter with my best friend (wolf) Loki by my side. Leveling was an agonisingly slow experience and I almost gave out in the early 40's. However we pushed on, hit level 60, joined a raiding guild and had a great time in Molten Core, Zul Gurub and Ahn'Qiraj.

Come 2007 we were very excited by the release of The Burning Crusade. Those first steps through the Dark Portal and seeing the skies above Outland were phenomenal. By this time I had changed to playing a Feral druid, and was having a good ole time. Some friends from Vanilla, my brother, and I, all got stuck into Karazhan together. It was my first experience main tanking and raid leading, however after a while I became burnt out and stepped away from WoW; it was affecting my studies very badly and I needed to get myself back on track.

Since then I have returned to WoW at the beginning of each expansion and then left it, for various reasons, part way through. While initially I left because of my horrendous WoW/life balance, I have generally left other expansions due to burning out from raiding. I tend to put in alot of hours at the start of an expansion, to be as prepared as I can for raiding, but after the first tier I would find raiding a chore rather than fun. My aim for WoD is to avoid making this mistake. With that in mind however, I still want to achieve things while playing, I still want to spend time trying to improve, and I still want to play and enjoy the game. So my hope is that by blogging about my experiences, and by setting weekly tasks for myself, I can actually continue playing through the expansion and enjoying all it has to offer.

I'll detail in a future post where I am at currently, but for the moment I have these things that I want to achieve by Sunday 18th January 2015:

1. Complete my PvP set for my warrior; I need a Cloak, Bracers, a Ring, and a Trinket.
2. Finish my stables quests; Advanced Husbandry & The Stable Master
3. Complete my Sea Scorpion Angler achievement.
Bonus: Level my rogue to 96.

Let's see if I have I underachieve this week, or if I smash my goals by making them too easy!

Friday, 9 January 2015

D-Day: Welcome to my world

Greetings Ladies / Gentlemen / Bored People / Internet Creepsters, and welcome to Arelion's Realm!

My name is Alex and the goal of this blog is to give me a place to practise writing/vent on the things I do and like. I imagine that while it won't be a daily blog, there will hopefully be 4 to 5 posts a week. At the same time I am hoping to use it to make me set goals and attempt to achieve them, as well as having a record of the progress I've made and the things I've done. I envision this blog will focus on four main things:

                            1. My adventures in the World of Warcraft
                            2. Painting and gaming with my Warhammer: Fantasy projects
                            3. My musical exploits, and
                            4. My weight loss/fitness progress.

Over the next week I'll expand a bit on each of the above, and start setting some goals for myself.

While I am an avid blog reader I have never ventured into the realms of blogging myself. As such for those that spectate through my struggles I hope you will bear with me as I learn to screenshot, edit, format and such along the way.

So sit back, grab some popcorn and drink of choice, and relax.

Welcome to my world.