Warming Up Every Day with Cozy Grove and WNBA Games

I’m living my best life by playing Animal Crossing and Don’t Starve-like Cozy Grove and catching up on WNBA games every morning.

I’ve talked about my morning routine on various podcasts, especially Channel F. Every work day, I get up, feed my pets, get breakfast and coffee ready, and sit down with my “warmup” game for the day, while I check email and slack and get my tasks sorted for the day ahead.

It’s a comforting routine — and helps me to fully wake up while I strategize my next set of tasks. The coffee helps (of course it does!), but so does the practice of playing something that suits the mood — in the past couple of years, that game has been Into The Breach (naturally), Animal Crossing: New Horizons (I have close to 600 hours in that one), and now, it’s Spry Fox’s Cozy Grove.

As I wrote before, I didn’t expect to fall all the way in, but Cozy Grove combines the relaxed vibes of Animal Crossing with the best bits of Don’t Starve (minus the punishing difficulty), with the narrative elements of something like Spiritfarer. The further in you get, the more freedom you have to really customize and optimize your island — and the game is so much crunchier than it first appears. You can really, really dive into those aspects, and lord, I have. I’ve played every day for… thirty four (I believe) days, and I can’t get enough. Sometimes I go to bed by playing a few minutes, setting up a few things for the morning. I am IN IT.

Just as much as I enjoy my daily warmup game, I tend to like a secondary audiovisual experience. Previously, I’d put on a favorite speedrunner’s stream and watch them practice their craft in a beloved game, just kind of having it in the background. I’ve watched A LOT of Wind Waker and Bloodborne, for example, this way.

The WNBA season just started last weekend, and my beloved New York Liberty is doing amazing (especially after a pretty disastrous season last year, thanks to star Sabrina Ionescu’s injury). While I obviously root for the Liberty, I actually like to watch just about every game of the season, and follow each team with interest. Watching WNBA games I missed live (via league pass!) has taken over my warmup watching, and the combination of Cozy Grove — a chill moment-to-moment experience, with plenty of engaging numbers-go-up stuff under the hood — and basketball is the perfect morning warmup.

new york liberty highlights

It has everything: I’m engaged with both, actively playing the (video) game and mainly listening to the (sports) game. There are chill vibes, fish to catch, recipes to craft, and the excitement of watching high level athletes do what they do best. I’ve got my coffee going. I’m glancing at email. I’m talking to my teammates. I have my notebook on my lap, making notes for the day ahead. 

Slowly, as the caffeine starts to really hit my bloodstream, I start to get ideas and really visualize my upcoming day (and week). I’ll start to mull over solutions to an issue, or brainstorm more creative things: ideas I’d like to write about, or passages I want to make a little goofy podcast video for. The practice also helps me gear up for less exciting things: mundane meetings, or difficult days where I’ll need to balance a lot of spinning plates, and my head just isn’t in the right space yet.

Having a routine like this simply helps me get my shit together. Having this (very particular) combination of elements in rotation has been exquisite.