Aldi Harlem “Mini” Haul, Savings Galore!

After watching about a zillion Youtube videos, I’ve FINALLY popped my Aldi cherry (Harlem location)! I’ve been dreaming of this shopping experience for quite some time, but have yet to make my way there. In 2017 alone, I’ve moved from Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and luckily for me, I am now approximately 15 blocks from this Aldi location (as well as Target – control yourself, Jocelyn!)

It is true when people say that you can easily save 50% on your grocery bill by simply coming to Aldi. You don’t have to wait for sales or use coupons to save a lot of money here. I haven’t tried many of the products yet like other bloggers and YouTubers have, but I can say that the produce is fresh and well-priced. For example, you won’t find wilted salads here! Like many others have mentioned before me, Aldi supplies their own off-brand products, which so far, have been of very good quality, with many low-priced organic and GMO-free varieties to choose from. A few things you should keep in mind: They don’t bag your groceries, and you have to pay for plastic bags if you don’t bring your own. The same can be said for a shopping cart.

Unfortunately, because my husband and I have to lug back everything we purchase, we can’t shop too heavy. And, let’s face it, the bigger the value, the heavier it is! I’m not even kidding – the canned goods, the rice, the bag of sugar, flour, potatoes, etc. – that’s heavy stuff, and we only have 4 arms combined. However, the great thing is, those prices won’t disappear. They’ll still be there next week.

So, I’ll begin by sharing with you all what I’ve purchased along with a list of meals I plan to incorporate with these items. Then, I will share some good finds that I weren’t able to purchase and carry home, but felt it was worth mentioning.

Before I begin, keep in mind that I am meal planning under certain circumstances such as limited refrigerator space and cookware. This haul is meant to last 2-4 days, with a focus on snacks, lunch, and dinners. We are also shopping to stretch our food stamp dollar the absolute furthest possible.


Bag of navel oranges — $1.49, probably the best deal from this haul!

Baby carrots — .99


3lb Long grain rice — $1.39, again, you won’t find this price elsewhere

2 cans of black beans — .69 ea, ^^^

2 cans of vienna sausage — .49 ea, I’m not quite sure why I bought this, I used to eat them straight out of the can as a child and it’s kind of a treat when I’m feeling homesick

Peanut butter wafers — $1.09, my husband’s guilty pleasure


Bag of hard-boiled eggs — $1.89, this is a pure convenience purchase; we share a community kitchen with our neighbors and any time I can save in the kitchen goes a long way

Kielbasa sausage — $2.29

2lbs of potato salad — $2.49, I love potato salad, what can I say?

Honey Ham, cold cuts — $2.59, makes about 3-4 sandwiches, depending on how generous you want to be

Smoked Turkey, cold cuts — $2.59, ^^^

Cheddar cheese slices <3 — $1.89


Strawberry yogurt cups — .49 ea


Chicken fried rice — $3.09, meal for 2 type of thing

Frozen peas — $1.05


Right now, we have a decent amount of cereal, cereal bars, and granola bars, which, by the way, are mostly from Aldi as well! With that in mind, we didn’t shop for any breakfast foods. For lunches, we plan to have sandwiches with a cup of yogurt, an orange or handful of baby carrots. I have some salad dressing and hummus in the fridge to jazz things up. For dinners, we will be enjoying A LOT of rice and beans, and rice and peas (with carrots too)! We plan to throw in some kielbasa, eggs, or even some sliced ham. I will probably divide our kielbasa up between 2-3 meals and have some of it sliced, browned on the stove, then put on some bread with potato salad on the side.

Flavors will depend on what we have on hand from take-out condiments such as soy sauce or hot sauce.

In all honesty, I am a very simple eater. I am very satisfied with a bowl of rice and eggs with a little soy sauce or hot sauce. Chances are, we may go back for more kielbasa because it’s literally $2, and we can’t deny how versatile it is for meal planning – they have all-beef smoked sausage, lean turkey, etc. so there is some variety to choose from. Next time, I also plan to pick up some canned tuna because they’re .50 a can! Another simple meal I enjoy is diced tomatoes tossed in with some tuna (preferably tuna in-oil) with a few tablespoons of fish sauce stirred in over hot rice.

A few goodies I spotted but wasn’t able to purchase:

$1.99 box of fruit bars that I really wanted, but would melt before I got home :/

MILK – it’s $1 less than anywhere else I’ve been!

Spices, sauces, dressings, and condiments.

Basically all baking and staple pantry items such as flour and sugar.

What are your favorite Aldi products? What would you recommend to new Aldi shoppers?

Continue Reading

Modesty Is Bullsh*t

We often mistake modesty for humility, and although they have similar definitions, one is authentic, while the other is not.

I was very lucky to have a mother who believed I could do anything — literally anything. Only and if I wanted it bad enough. My father reminded me often of my worth. He lifted me up while also making me tough. I wasn’t really taught modesty, like many of my peers. I wasn’t taught not to brag. I wasn’t taught not to be self-centered, or not to be self-indulgent.

Instead, I was taught to not only notice but also value my accomplishments. I was taught to be self-aware and honest. And, most of all, to cultivate and protect my happiness and well-being. Although indirectly, my parents helped me realize that modesty is by far the most false and unwise attribute you could use to sell yourself.

I never once questioned if I could ever, or would ever, earn the title of “writer”. I didn’t concern myself with the deep implications of this seemingly logical term to describe the practice I do often — write. I write — I am a writer. It’s not rocket science. Modesty is stupid.

It’s not only stupid, it’s manipulative and needy.

It’s a false crutch. It’s a way of saying: I’m insecure! The thing is, it takes great bravery to say, “Yes, I am good at this; I am good at writing” because there will always be someone, who is less secure about themselves, that will say, “Hey! You’re taking up too much space in the room; you’re too big — who do you think you are?” And that stings.

But, what is it you’re supposed to say? That you aren’t sure of yourself? That you are terrible?

That’s silly. The game of modesty is silly. Recognizing your strengths is not bragging. If you wrote an A+ piece, more than likely, you worked hard. Your hard work paid off. You did a good job — that was the entire point, wasn’t it?

But then you realize that you’re simply celebrating your victories — the ones you worked hard to accomplish. You’re doing this because it is more productive than sulking, whining, and marinading in failure.

Insecure people will always want to make you smaller,

and you shouldn’t take that personally. Find and seek comfort in your power, in your strengh, and in the energy that you possess. Celebrate your life force, shine bright, and be colorful.

Humility, on the other hand, is simply living honestly. It is being “real”.

Humility is admitting that no one gets to their destination alone. We all had help.

But, that doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard. That doesn’t mean we didn’t fight tooth and nail. That doesn’t mean that hard work doesn’t pay off — because, at the end of the day, nothing pays off more.

All humility means is that we’ve developed self-awareness. We know what we do well, and we know what it is we could work on. We are honest about our strengths and our weaknesses.

Sometimes you’re good. Sometimes you suck. Sometimes you’re brilliant. Sometimes you’re foolish.

And, you know what, when you start becoming comfortable with your strengths, you also start becoming comfortable with your weaknesses. Eventually, you want others to point them out — you want to improve. Why? Because you believe in yourself and you trust others. You want to be better for yourself and those around you. Don’t be modest. It’s bullsh*t.

Continue Reading

Save the Drama for the Page

Let’s face it: Drama is addictive.

Unfortunately, it does very little for our personal life or our writing life. Naturally, humans love gossip — they love to hear about the lives, and pains, and struggles of others. They enjoy it through their favorite television series and even more so between friends and coworkers.

Misery loves company, and you must be careful of that.

The truth is, it’s so easy to spend all this energy being miserable. It’s easy to sulk. It’s easy to complain. But, it’s still energy you’re wasting — energy that could be redirected towards something more productive like writing or healing. Or both, simultaneously.

Have you ever tried writing when miserable? It’s hard work. Impossible even.

I think what most of us don’t realize is that our dramas become big because we feed them — they’re often not big by default. They’re big because we allow it to consume us in a big way. Deflate your misery by talking about it less. Don’t invite others to fuel the flame. Change your focus. Consider that we can completely toss days or weeks of progress out the window by making a small inconvenience a big one. We begin fixating on how hard this issue is making our lives and it consumes us — every waking hour, and before you know it, we’ve fallen off track and lost our rhythm.

This is especially true for my writing life. It doesn’t take much for me to lose my momentum.

A small inconvenience turned big drama can make me stop writing for weeks, months, even years, really, if it’s substantial enough. And, all of this happens because I am not conscious of how much I am letting outside forces dictate my life. This is not to say that our problems are not valid because they are, but what much does that matter if we do little to help ourselves?

And, the truth is, this is not anyone’s fault but our own.

Don’t get sucked into other people’s problems, but also, do not blame them for having problems. Similarly, don’t get sucked into your own problems, but also, do not blame yourself for having them.

The problem is never nearly as important as the reaction or attitude towards it. We all have problems, but what are you going to do about it? That’s what really matters. Assuming you even need to solve it. Because sometimes we sign up for a battle that isn’t even ours.

Keeping calm in the midst of chaos is the ticket to a long and serious writing relationship. That is how we build discipline — by working when we don’t want to. As writers, we improve drastically by continuing our practice when life throws us a curve ball.

I like to compare the writer’s life to athletes in training.

Being miserable is exhausting. Writing requires your best self — your rested and focused self. The same can be said for any sport or activity. Writing is hard work, and I think admitting this fact is a step in the right direction. Knowing and accepting that writing is hard helps us understand that we can’t do it unless we’ve fully prepared our minds and bodies for it. We have to be ready to write, and being ready to write often means we need to take care of ourselves first.

Writing is the most demanding work I do, and I try to do it daily.

However, I know that for me to be able to do it daily, I have to eat 3 square meals, I have to be active, I have to prioritize my mental and physical health. At the end of the day, I find that this life — the writer’s life, is simply a healthy life. It helps to surround yourself with those who not only want to watch you succeed but also want to succeed themselves.

Again, this is why I say the writer’s life is much like the life of an athlete.

You must train like an athlete does. There is no doubt about it. Heck, you don’t have to be great. You don’t even have to be good. It doesn’t take a superstar to run a marathon, but you do have to train. And, rest. But, most of all, you have to conquer your head.

And, yes, this will make you unpopular. Why? Because putting yourself first in such a way requires a level of selfishness. You will ask others to step up to the plate and be better. You will also say no. A lot.

But, that’s what it takes. That’s what it takes to write a novel or compete in a marathon. Your training must come first — you can’t miss a day, or a week, especially not a month. Not if you want to reach the finish line. Protecting your writing schedule requires you to detach from everything else in your life, especially the drama, but before you can do that, you must believe writing can and will save your life.

Continue Reading

Where Do We Go From Here

Blogging is such an intimate act, isn’t it? Sure, it is hugely public, but there are many eyes that do not engage their keyboards. In no way am I asking you to – if fact, apart from my blog, I really don’t engage with others – especially not bloggers, but perhaps I, and you, should start. What’s interesting is I am fully aware that I am talking directly to people who are reading, but I am still sort of talking to myself, for myself.

I truly can’t say what direction I’m going in with this blog. I haven’t a clue what the future holds for us. In truth, I started this huge project on a whim because I needed something to throw myself at. You’ll soon discover that I throw myself into a creative project whenever I am in a crisis. And, this is, in fact, the result of that. Believe me, I was hardly prepared for the work ahead, but today, even though I am far from reaching my writing, blogging, and publishing goals, I am immensely proud of myself.

I initiated this very firm plan of focusing specifically on minimalist and frugal living, with a focus on urban cities such as New York City, but alas, my life is so much more than that. Yes, I am food-stamp receiving coupon-clipping human. Yes, I get a thrill when sifting through crates of hardcover books at the Salvation Army. But, I am also heavily interested in politics and culture. I spent the last year gaming somewhat competitively in a very popular MMORPG. But most importantly, writing is my life. I live a writer’s life and have lived it since the age of 13. Being confined to a “themed” blog was painful at times. I wanted to write poetry. I wanted to share my life without using nice words. I wanted to write all of the things I am publishing on this blog now.

I have a few blog posts lined up for the rest of the month. The next post will probably be in dedication to my husband. He and I are celebrating our 3 year wedding anniversary this month and I’d like to write a little something about that. This year, I have officially known him for half of my life. Isn’t that just insane? Especially at such a young age? We met 13 years ago, gosh, probably more like 14 years ago. I can’t even begin to tell you how blessed we are to have each other. Life is hard, and it’s nice to have someone to share the burden.  He is much more than a lover or a friend, he is an ally, which is a bigger word than most realize.

In the future, I’m hoping to gain the courage to be real, to be raw, to display the fact that, yeah, there is a real person behind the scenes, with a life equally as terrifying as yours. To those reading quietly from the sidelines, I appreciate you and I hope you stick around. And, please, know that I am always ready to engage. If you choose to connect, I will listen, and be grateful for it.

See you in the next post,

Continue Reading

Writing From Your Compost Pile

Writers are often asked where they get their ideas from. And, always, there is this assumption that the best and most imaginative writers were brilliant and had brilliant ideas, when in fact, brilliance happened by accident – it was an unintentional result of a practice or a lifestyle.

Much like sex, it’s a desire, it’s an urge, it’s raw – a most natural act. It is not thinking, it’s more like breathing. When you’re in love, you don’t plot your sex life, do you? God, I hope not. You don’t know what works until you’re already there. You don’t make a schedule with your lover. If you submit yourself to your writing life, as absolutely ridiculous that sounds, the less you will worry about your ideas.

By submitting yourself to the writing life, you’re inadvertently sifting through your compost pile. That is where all of your material brines. It’s your history marinading in the backyard. This is all those parts of your past you threw out, it’s the stuff you keep covered, you filed away, sometimes to never look at again.

Everyone feeds their compost pile differently. Some, never at all. Eventually, it becomes fertilizer, it’s just for some of us, if you never touch it, you’ll be dead by the time it’s ready. I eat cake, write poetry, and play a shit ton of video games to digest mine. You can go to therapy to digest yours, or the amusement park.

If you’re looking for the next best seller, stop going across town. Importing stories that aren’t yours will not help you write. They won’t be authentic, and you’ll know it. Look towards your personal history, your passions, your concerns, your obsessions, and all these little details that shape your life. I’ve often said write what you know, and I believe this wholeheartedly. Thing is, the only thing you truly know is what you’ve lived. This doesn’t mean you can’t write a bomb-ass fantasy fiction novel. Because you can, and even then, the story will be bits and pieces of who you are. Your novel will be a mix of your home life and your favorite stories. Each character you build will be aspects of your personality or the personality of people in your life.

While you’re sifting through your compost pile, consider that it takes a while for all of that to sit well – to ripen and mature. You may not be able to write about events that happened yesterday or last year, depending on how painful it was. To see your history through clear eyes, they can’t be watery. You’ll need to walk around in it for a while, you’ll need to heal first. Then you’ll find the truth, then you’ll find the lesson. Then you’ll finally get your brilliant ideas. The beauty is, if you don’t like your compost, you can live differently. Then you’ll have other brilliant ideas.

Continue Reading

A Writer’s Guide to “Killing Your Darlings”

You’re not killin’ it until you’re killing your darlings.

If you’re a writer, a practitioner of this craft – a world builder, you’re probably fully aware that all good writers are self-critical.

“Kill your darlings” is a nothing short of a segment from your self-written writer’s manifesto, and if isn’t yet, it should be soon. What does killing your darlings mean for a writer? Killing your darlings, killing your babies, whatever you want to call it, might sound like a murderous violent task, but I assure you, if you do it correctly, it doesn’t have to be bloody. It’s quite simple actually: If something isn’t working in your writing, take it out. It could be a single word, a sentence, or even an entire chapter. As Will Rogers’ famous advice goes, ‘Never miss a good chance to shut the hell up’.

Your darlings are those sentences, paragraphs, or even whole chapters that tug at our heart strings.

They often lift us up and make us feel like we’re floating in the clouds. They bring up emotions that often link us to personal memories. They haunt us when we re-read them. We love how these words are organized, and we love how these words make us feel.

The problem is we can be so enchanted by these words, that we forget what we’re writing – we simply could not care less if it fits our story, or helps our writing in any way. In fact, these beloved anecdotes often serve us so deeply, but only confuse our readers. We love these words, but unfortunately, we do a huge disservice to our writing, to our readers, and to ourselves by keeping them.

This doesn’t mean you should limit yourself.

I’ve always believed that the first draft, of any piece of writing, is always written by the writer for the writer. It is not until the editing process begins that we start to consider the reader. Write uninhibited, write with ambition, and don’t concern yourself with labels, genres, or style.

We are not burying your works six feet under to be forgotten forever.

The great thing about it is although it’s necessary to kill our darlings, we do not need to arrange for a funeral service – we are not burying your works six feet under to be forgotten forever. Why? Because chances are, that piece of writing, although not fitting for your current project, is probably brilliant. And, if it makes you feel some type of way, you do not delete it forever.

Instead, save them for later – open up a Word document, CTRL-C, CTRL-P, then save. By doing this, we can keep moving forward while also relieving a little pressure off ourselves.

Storycraft – Kill Your Darlings

Now the real work begins.

You’ve removed the offensive cluster of words; now you must fill the gaping hole in your manuscript. Start by re-reading the section, paragraph, or chapter before the portion you cut, then immediately, yes – immediately, write a new version of that scene. Don’t over-think it, just let the words flow. Let the images in your head guide your pen (or keyboard – to each their own). Don’t concern yourself with the bits of words you exterminated before, just write like it’s your first time, and you’re simply continuing the story. Write it fresh, write it from within, like you already know how, and I promise you, it’ll come out so good, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear at the end.

Continue Reading

Introduction to Creative Non-Fiction

What is Creative Non-Fiction?

Creative Non-Fiction is your diary hidden under the mattress, your travelogues, your WordPress blog, it’s your overflowing binder of recipes, erotica, your favorite fanfiction, it’s your advice columns, Yelp reviews, satire news articles, and literary criticism. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Literary Journalism

Creative Non-Fiction, also known as Literary Journalism, makes a great example of how flexible the practice and art form of writing truly is. Most of us adhere to the simple understanding of fiction and non-fiction being categorized by how factual the writing is. Creative Non-Fiction purposely blurs these lines; that fact alone is the reason why it is my preferred genre and the reason why I absolutely adore it so much. It is a reminder that a person’s individual truth is often subjective, whereas a concrete, well-supported fact, is not. Creative Non-Fiction enjoys dipping its toes in and out of sub-genres, rubbing people the wrong way, while often dancing all over and challenging a critic’s claims.


A basis for understanding this concept can be seen when observing sub-genres such as poetry, song-writing, or scriptwriting. Unlike personal essays or memoirs, where the foundation is in fact, real life, such a rule cannot be measured or tested in these works. Only the writer can verify whether or not their poetry, song-writing, or script is derived from real life, and how much of it is. Creative elements within poetry, song-writing, and scriptwriting, as well as style or theme, make such a claim impossible to measure.

Journaling – You’re Probably Already Doing It

Many types of writing, many of which you probably do often in your day-to-day life, is considered Creative Non-Fiction. In fact, journals, not to be confused with diaries, are the most common types of Creative Non-Fiction. Diaries are technically a type of journal in which you log or document the events of your day-to-day life, while a journal is any kind of written log – anything written with the intention to reference later. This can be a collection of recipes or a comprehensive guide to completing your long-term goals.

Susan Orlean Shows How to Find Subjects for Creative Non-Fiction

Literature vs. Journalism

Why has Creative Non-Fiction taken on the nickname of Literary Journalism? First, we must consider what Literature is, and why it holds value in Journalism. Literature, more specifically, is considered written work with a strong creative or artistic touch. Literature is the poetic element; the story-telling. It is the parts of writing that bring forth pleasure, imagery and other emotions. Journalism, objectively, is the reporting of facts. It often strives to inform the reader of events that are happening around them.

The Future of Creative Non-Fiction

Today, journalists instill elements of Creative Writing into their news reporting in order to make their stories more compelling. Many would advocate that this strategy blurs the facts, while others often suggest it is a competitive tactic driven by media giants and their desire to maximize readership, consumption, and profit. There is no doubt that the capitalistic nature of mass media influences what is produced, as well as what is distributed, however, the beauty of art, language, and literature is we are all free to write what it is we want, and most free when we do it. We are not restricted by what and who we share it with, either. Keep creating. Keep writing. Keep sharing it with the world.

Continue Reading

The Five R’s of Creative Non-Fiction

As an accomplished writer, professor, and renown expert in the genre of Creative Non-Fiction, there is no better mentor than Lee Gutkind to turn to when seeking writing advice. Regardless if you’re just beginning or have a few good years under your belt, listen up! In his essay, titled, “The Five R’s of Creative Non-Fiction”, he identifies 5 critical elements of Creative Non-Fiction. Below you will find a summary of these 5 elements.

Real Life

When constructing your personal essay or memoir, whatever your piece of Creative Non-Fiction may be, the absolute most vital component, and it’s most critical rule, is regarding factual content. It must be based on personal experience, real people, and real events. Write honestly. At no point will it be acceptable to invent or change the facts of your story to improve or increase the drama within. In short, the events of what happened must be true, and even more importantly, verifiable. If you’re writing a story about the events of your childhood, a vital character should not be able to petition your claim as incorrect or inauthentic.


Taking the time to thoroughly reflect on the events in your story is very important. In fact, this is why it is recommended to outline your work before you begin writing. Sit down, reflect, and take notes on each event – it will make the writing process that much smoother! As I will mention in the next paragraph, research is vital to the writing process, and you will be spending a great deal of time analyzing the information gathered, as well as assessing your thoughts on what you’ve collected. Your reader wants to hear your personal thoughts, they want to learn more about your life – they’re interested in your perspective, but that doesn’t mean these opinions should not be well-researched and well-developed.


What sets Creative Non-Fiction apart from other forms of Creative Writing is the journalistic component of the genre. This is why research is imperative. Your story must have a topic or central theme, and you must become an expert on this topic or theme. Use facts to support your claims. It is also acceptable to complete secondary research by interviewing a friend or family member present in your story. This is a fantastic idea because it gives the author a chance to verify dialogue taken place between family members. Another great suggestion is to review social media accounts, as well as personal journals or blog entries.


A good writer reads. A lot. They read, write, then read again. Similarly to any other field, it is without question that continuous training and retraining is required in order to stay ahead of the game. This is how we continue to move forward and ensure our writing is always improving. What does this entail for a Creative Non-Fiction writer? Perhaps we tirelessly engage in every guide published about our genre. That is, of course, not before we raid the new releases display at our local Barns & Noble! We owe it to the personal stories brewing in our hearts and minds – so, yes, please, read like their lives depend on it.


The only thing you’ll do more than reading is, of course, writing. Mastering your craft requires practice. You need to be neck-deep in your drafts. Can you put in the work? Can you be consistent? Can you build a habit?

What I’m trying to say is: Write. Each day, religiously. Make writing a form of worship. This is how you find your voice. Creative Non-Fiction often starts with a journal entry. The best way to start your memoir or personal essay is to simply start. Just write. Write your story, raw and uninhibited.

The best writing you will ever produce is what was written without restraint.

This is why I suggest starting in a place without rules. Heck, the actual writing part should be fun – an adventure. You should be having a ball. There should be fireworks, frankly.

It’s the editing that’s work. It’s coming back later to make sense of it all – when you need to start considering the reader, that’s when you actually clock-in.

Still, the beauty of writing is you get to become better by simply doing what you love.

Remember, you can always go back, with a red pen, and make it better.

Each word you put to paper is a step in the right direction.

Continue Reading

The Elder Scrolls Online: Beginner’s Guide to Tanking

Support Role: Tanking

Since the launch of The Elder Scrolls Online, there has been a tank shortage. So much so that, you will notice how convenient it is to create your own for situations where it’s possible to find one. However, it’s not particularly surprising why that is— in a group setting, tanks often suffer a lot of pressure. A group heavily relies on their tank, just as much as they rely on their healer, to keep them alive. When creating and leveling your first tank, it can often be frustrating, and even a bit complicated. I hope that after reading this simplified beginner’s guide, you will not only understand the basics of tanking, but also feel more comfortable and confident when doing so!

Your First Tank

Within all roles and classes, there is a lot of room for experimentation and flexibility, especially for the average player. That isn’t quite the case at end-game, but until you’re concerned with trials, know that there is room for whatever the heck you’re trying to do. My favorite tank build, which I played religiously, was the iconic “Sap Tank” on a Magicka Nightblade. Although arguably not viable in end-game, I was able to take it through all dungeons, including DLC hard-mode versions, without a scratch.

Nevertheless, I find that when it comes to tanking, it helps a lot to start with a fool-proof build that is very classic, very basic, and easy to execute – at least the first time around! In that case, I would recommend picking up a Dragonknight and selecting a race that offers supplementary passives, such as a Nord. Furthermore, your first tank will wear all heavy armor, be focusing primarily on high health, enough stamina to taunt and block successfully, and just enough Magicka to cast Magicka-based abilities. In regards to character stats, you will be focusing on physical and spell resistance, as well as health recovery. For abilities, aside from your taunt, you will seek out anything to reduce the damage you’re taking, as well as casting shields that “eat” or absorb damage. I will discuss this a bit more as we progress through the article.

Leveling, Questing, and Grinding

When leveling your first tank, it will probably feel like torture, especially if you’re used to playing a damage-dealing role. This is why I would suggest picking up a pair of daggers (or swords, or axes – it’s up to you!) and going duel-wield on one of your bars. Did you know that you can gain experience in any particular skill line, including another weapon, by simply putting those abilities on your primary bar (the bar you will be spending most of your time on)? For example, even if you have duel-wield equipped, you can still slot a few sword and shield abilities on that same bar in order to level both weapon skill lines simultaneously!

Additionally, you can adjust the skills on your bar before turning in or completing a quest to better control where that experience is applied. Another benefit to duel-wield is it provides the best stamina AOE (area of effect) at an early level. That means, even at level 10, you can have a single target ability, as well as an AOE! This will make fighting enemies, mob-grinding, and gaining levels, much easier, especially for those in heavy armor.

Dungeon Delving

So, you’ve found yourself in a dungeon with 3 other players, and you’re the tank. Oh boy, I’m sure you’re wondering what am I supposed to do! What is expected of me? First of all, let me tell you that you can relax. Although it would be misleading to suggest that you will never run into unfriendly folks, most, and really, a good portion of those you run into will be nice people. Personally, I have had a great experience with other players. Most are patient and understanding of those who are learning.

Your main concern in dungeons will be keeping your taunt up, which will, in turn, keep the boss focused on you. That is your primary and most important job. Your second job is, of course, staying alive. I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that a lot of being a tank is getting smacked around, and I suppose, looking like you don’t feel it.

Moreover, in most cases, you do not need to move all over the place. You can stand in one spot and block critical hits. I know you’re used to running from your enemies, but now you’re face-to-face! If it helps you, it would be no problem to step aside if there is a ground attack, but for the most part, you can safely block all damage. By staying still, it will also be easier for your healer to support you. It also helps your damage dealers, especially those who are in melee range. Having to chase you or the boss around the room only makes it harder for everyone. As a tank, you’re essentially the group’s leader. The group reacts to your movements.

Additionally, it is imperative that you communicate with both your healer, as well as the entire group. Communication is key – I cannot stress this enough. Dungeons require teamwork.

Short Course: Damage Mitigation aka Hey! That Tickles!

I wish it weren’t so, but taunting is only half the battle! You also have to stay alive! How do tanks manage to take such a beating? The reason tanks can take so many hits and it only briefly tickles them is because they’re mitigating so much damage through blocking, with their armor, physical and spell resistances, and the abilities they’re using. You’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about!

Through sword and shield passives, heavy armor passives, as well as armor set bonuses, you can significantly raise your physical and spell resistance. Paired with major or minor maim, major and minor protection, and aegis, you can mitigate a huge amount of damage! Again, like I mentioned above, if you also choose the Nord race, you can also gain the “Rugged” passive to mitigate even more damage! Being a vampire may also be useful, as they also have both passives as well as skills that offer damage mitigation. The downside is you also take more fire damage.

Don’t forget you can also apply damage shields that will absorb incoming damage. It is often recommended to not only save on resources but also as a quick save during “oh shit!” moments when you find yourself low on health. Having a shield active can often be the difference between a group wipe or victory. By shielding yourself, you can resurrect an ally, preferably the healer, and ultimately save your group.

Last but not least, and perhaps the most obvious, is to simply block! Heck, tell your DPS and Healer to block as well!

Armor Sets For First-Time Tanks

Hatchling’s Shell / Shadowfen
Akaviri Dragonguard / Eastmarch
Meridia’s Blessed Armor / Coldharbour
Mark of the Pariah / Wrothgar (REQUIRES DLC)

Hist Bark / Craftable
Alessia’s Bulwark / Craftable
Song of Lamae / Craftable

Continue Reading

The Elder Scrolls Online: Beginner’s Guide to DPS

DPS Like a Pro, Even When You’re Not

With the upcoming release of The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, I’m sure Zenimax Online Studios can expect an influx of new and returning players. Before we dive in, I’d like to point out that some of the best players, the ones who dance at the top of the leaderboards week-after-week, they didn’t become the best players overnight! In fact, it took a lot of time, dedication, and practice. If you’re like me, with a history of being incredibly bad at video games, I can assure you that your experience with TESO will be different once you finish reading this article.

Getting Down To The Basics

As a damage-dealer with the intention to do the absolute most damage possible, you will want to first begin by choosing if you’d like to utilize magic or stamina. Does a caster sound appealing? Pick up a destruction staff! Maybe you’re after a rouge-like character, with a bow and a pair of daggers?

Keep in mind that when you’re taking up the role of damage-dealer, it would be ideal to put all of your attribute points into the respective resource you have picked – this being Magicka or Stamina. Why do we do this? Because all of your skills will scale off of your max resources! For example, if the ability you’re using costs Magicka, the more Magicka you have, the harder that ability will hit. So, ideally, as a caster, playing as a Magicka Sorcerer, you would choose to put every single one of your attribute points into Magicka in order to maximize the power of your damage abilities. Same can be said for Stamina-based builds. The more Stamina you have, the harder your Bow abilities (and all melee weapons) will hit.

High Critical Damage Or Raw Power? You Choose.

When looking at your character stats, you will want to focus on max resources (Magicka or Stamina), Weapon or Spell critical (critical chance), Weapon or Spell damage, and last but not least, Magicka or Stamina regeneration. Like I mentioned previously, the values showcased upon your ability’s tooltip (the numbers that are shown when hovering over an ability) is scaled off of your max resource. Additionally, the same can be said for your weapon and spell damage. The higher both of these values are, the stronger your damage abilities will be. Coupled with weapon or spell critical, which increases the chance of a critical hit, you will give any enemy you come across in Tamriel a run for their money. Magicka and Stamina regeneration determines how quickly you run out of resources, and how quickly those resources regenerate during combat. Consider cost-reduction as well, which can be obtained with glyphs and special armor sets – this will allow you to better manage your resources in longer fights.

Any veteran player will tell you, “You can’t DPS when you’re dead or when you’re out of resources.”

Endless Armor, Endless Builds, Endless Possibilities

The armor or “gear” possibilities are literally endless. ZoS has released an enormous amount of zone-specific drop sets, as well as numerous craftable sets all over Tamriel. As stated above, max resources, critical damage, and weapon/spell damage are what you want to aim for. Law of Julianos for Magicka users and Hunding’s Rage for stamina users are both great base sets to start with. They’re both craftable and not difficult to get your hands on. Don’t be afraid to ask your guildmates or friends to help you out if you’re unable to craft it yet. Feel free to test different sets and get creative while mixing and matching different armor. In short, find what is most optimal for you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Do Your Own Thing!

I can’t stress this enough – experiment on your own. In fact, many of the choices you make will depend greatly on how you choose to enjoy the game, and that will change as you play and get familiar with the game! For example, many organized groups will provide their allies certain buffs that increase their critical damage. With this in mind, you may want to adjust your own play style to best fit those you’re grouped with. Will you be spending most of your time as a lone-wolf traveler – roaming around and doing quests as they come? Maybe you’re excited by large scale PVP sieges? Are you strictly Undaunted – is your core purpose defeating the most difficult dungeon bosses?

This guide is definitely aimed at those who are looking for a pretty straightforward guide to fulfilling the role of DPS. I’m here to help you understand the very core basics of how the game works but is up to you to decide how you want to apply this information to your adventures in Tamriel. Happy adventuring!

Continue Reading