Vaguely prepared

‘Vaguely’ is probably the best descriptor for my Legion readiness. Bags are half empty (could do better), gear is good (though soon to be very dated), pre-patch achievements are complete. No real plan about how to level, but I’m keen to start in Highmountain due to the strong Tauren connection. And I can’t wait to get cracking on the Underlight Angler fishing Artifact!

One major decision is whether to stick with BM, or go over to Marksmanship. By all accounts Marks is going to be well ahead in the early Artifact days due to its rapid power accumulation. I think I’ll put my faith in Blizzard to balance that out though.

I much prefer the idea of a bow over a gun, which is a vote for Marks. As just about everyone has commented the models seem the wrong way around, despite the archetype of the Vanilla-cinematic BM Dwarf with his gun. The ‘hidden’ bow model for BM is a pretty ordinary mechanical looking Goblin creation unfortunately, so transmog is the only route to a handsome bow, which is a shame given the changing Artifact appearances.

Marks sounds quite RNG dependent for Marking Targets procs, which might become frustrating. And having to abandon pets also seems a bridge too far.

Strangely BM is getting very mixed reviews – many hate it or find it unplayable, others love it and are switching mains to BM. I’m finding it tolerable, if a bit limited in terms of opportunities to do things. I miss having Kill Shot as a finisher (my thumb still instinctively reaches for it), and there is often an autoshot zone where you’re just waiting for an ability to become available. Stampede also seems a bit borked in the way it won’t adapt to boss positioning, as very few bosses will stand in one spot long enough for the full impact to be felt.

Garwulf’s biting criticism that BM has become almost a caster class is pretty insightful too – your ability to do physical DPS is far outweighed by summoning Crows, Dire Beasts, and Stampedes. Add a lightning-powered Artifact and summoned wolf and BM has become very Shamanistic.

Still, if I was going to swap the invasions would have been the perfect time to test out the new model, but I’ve left that too late now. So BM it is. I think.

Other than spec, the biggest decision left is whether to abandon Tailoring for Mining, to better match Engineering. It seems a bit of a waste having burnt through all that cloth to level Tailoring, but Legion seems to heavily favour matching gathering and crafting professions. I fear that without mining there will be a shortage of Blood of Sargeras drops, which would be super annoying.

20 hours to go. Better make some decisions!

Moosed

Thanks to the generosity of my guild, Frostwolves, tonight I mounted Ghostcrawler’s long promised Moose.

A moose
A moose

In a pleasant surprise, it’s also a flying moose.

As Navi said, that’s that for HFC and Draenor: Legion awaits. Really looking forward to being able to start raiding at the start, rather than at the finish.

It’s already incredibly refreshing to be camped in Orgrimmar instead of isolated in a garrison. New Dalaran should be even better!

Hunting demons

I finally played through the Demon Hunter intro zone this weekend – and it’s a winner.

Like the Death Knight class before it, Illidan’s converts are given a self contained zone to explore, learning the class one or two skills at a time as it progresses. I found the DH to be instantly fun – I accidentally discovered the Double Jump and Glide combo, which was a nice surprise, and then spent the rest of the time triple tapping my space bar to zoom around the zone. It changes your perspective on the game world, as I found myself seeking out higher ground so I could glide around on my demonic wings. Combine that with Fel Rush and it’s a super mobile class – like having a flying Warrior Charge.

As others have observed, the class plays like a Rogue/Warrior cross with wings and glowing tattoos. Despite a propensity for tanks, I chose the Havoc spec, which the intro tends to lean toward. It would be interesting to know the breakdown of choice here – I’d guess 95% would be going DPS, but I suppose that’s typical of any hybrid choice.

The intro zone is well paced and atmospheric, as is the storyline that unfolds. There’s even a first person cut scene which seems like a new thing (?), and some interesting story telling options between followers loyal to Illidan and those that think he’s gone too far. It was also great to watch the Harbingers: Illidan animation again, neatly inserted into the DH experience.

I don’t think she’ll unseat my Hunter main, but I found the class more fun than a Rogue due to that amazing mobility – incorporating that into ‘real’ gameplay should be a lot of fun.

Demonic training wheels

One of unexpectedly nice things about the Legion invasions is they give your characters – particularly alts – a great way of trying different builds and rotations in a low stress environment.

Legion invasion of Tanaris
Low stress

My boosted Paladin and Druid tanks, and neglected Rogue, can all venture out into the thick of battle and start getting a feel for the New Ways without the self inflicted fear of letting down a dungeon group or raid. And as a bonus the less geared alts pick up a full set of iLvl 700 gear, ready for the Legion levelling.

If this was part of Blizzard’s plan they deserve a round of applause.

In related news, 7.0 also introduced a new level 100 boost tutorial, making my recent post about the now antiquated level 90 boost, well, antiquated. The new method of a scenario that introduces your key abilities sounds much better, as does the new Class Trial feature that lets you play around with a class before committing.

I’m guessing Blizzard would have liked to have all this stuff in place to be ready when the movie launched, but given it wasn’t the mega success hoped for it probably didn’t matter too much that it’s being delivered late. At least the existing players get the benefits.

Legion-aires

The Legion has (finally) arrived1, and it’s great. Logging in and feeling overwhelmed with options – Invasions? Broken Isles? Demon Hunter? – is a nice change from the late Warlords routine.

I hopped straight in to an invasion. Well not quite straight, as first I mistook the new Dark Moon Faire icon for an invasion icon. Embarrassing arriving in Mulgore to find…nothing except a purple tent.

Luckily there was an actual invasion not too far away in Azshara. It’s fantastically epic joining a fight with 80+ other players to take down giant demons as they wreak havoc, and Blizzard have done a great job making that somehow work with little lag and excellent phasing. It seems that whenever you arrive in the ~3 hour window, the invasion is just starting for you (and everyone else).

After turning back the tide there, I – and 1000 others – hopped a zeppelin to travel to the next event in Westfall, Alliance territory.

wow-legion-invasion-force
I’m on a boat

Unfortunately 7.x seems to have introduced a bug with v-e-r-y slow or even disconnect zone transitions, which meant by the time the zone loaded I was somehow back in Orgrimmar, having taken a round trip.

Instead I joined a raid searching for the elusive Pocket Fel Spreader in Org. Kind of painful, spamming the Doomsayers for the Demon spawn, hopefully they increase the rate as the invasion continues – guild leader Navi got lucky though, yay!

Next I tried the Broken Shores scenario, and once I’d fought the loading screen boss found that again Blizzard had outdone themselves. Terrific storytelling via gameplay and cutscenes, and a real sense of the scale of the invasion. The moment you realise you’re face to face with an actual Alliance raid with other players on the opposite shore is excellent2. And the denouement for both Horde and Alliance is shocking.

Gee I hope we get to finish Gul’dan off this expansion.

All this and still a Demon Hunter to create. Plus the promise of a return to Karazan next week. Legion is shaping up very nicely indeed.


  1. And I’m finally back from an unexpectedly long game break 
  2. Imagine if Blizz designed (some) raids like this – a Horde/Alliance joint raid, where you fight through different paths to meet at the end boss and fight together for the glory of the kill. Or the better spoils went to the side that contributed the most to the fight. Kind of PvPvE Raiding. 

Legion World PVP: Wacky Races vs Formula 1

The world PVP areas coming in Legion sound pretty entertaining – Blizz are tagging it as Wacky Races compared to the Formula 1 of Arena. A dark last-toon-standing gladitorial pit, jousting on the back of mountain goats, and best of all: “You get to turn into a Murloc, you go onto the Murloc faction, you can blow up players as a Murloc.”

You’re going to turn into a freaking Murloc. How do you balance Murlocs? That doesn’t even make sense. You don’t. You make it overpowered. Go and have fun.

Murloc PVP! Time to find out why Murloc’s have been so good at wrecking low level characters for so long1.


  1. I love that the WoW Iron Man forums have a special warning for Murlocs due to their ability to swarm and kill even the most careful player. 

Gear equalised dungeons

The always thoughtful Rohan at Blessing of Kings has a great proposal: equalising gear in levelling dungeons the same way it is (as of 7.03) in PVP:

The problem is that leveling dungeons need to be balanced such that a group of new players in quest gear can complete them. But if one or more heirloom characters are present, that balance goes out the window.

I think stat templates for leveling dungeons would be a great idea. Everyone would be reduced down to an even playing field. Dungeons would be a proper group experience once more. I rather doubt anyone will sheep anything, but maybe it could happen.

Despite the fun of tanking in heirlooms, this is a very worthy idea. I especially like the idea of cc returning! I remember using Distract to sneak past mobs in dungeons once upon a time, and trying not to hit the sheep with AoE.

Another idea for the mooted ‘Pristine’ servers, perhaps, though given they’ve done it in PVP why not implement it into PvE too – the tech is there with the Timewalking gear scaling. This would just be scaling as you level, rather than scaling down from max.

Timed to perfection

The next installment of Warcraft is finally – and that’s a well deserved finally – here. Patch 7.0 lands tonight, after which we get masses of bag space, transmog heaven with the Wardrobe, and time to settle into new rotations and abilities before demons start invading Azeroth and we head into Legion.

Hunters have had some major changes, mainly to do with the split into three very distinctive playstyles: melee, no pet, or traditional BM. Bendak has a great overview on Blizzard Watch, and a further detailed breakdown on his own site. I think I’ll stick with BM, I enjoy the pets and fantasy of a companion class, but Marksman also sounds interesting. Can’t quite find interest in melee, despite flashbacks to BC era level 1-10 Hunters when a pet wasn’t provided.

It sounds like every class will now start with a default specialty – for example Paladin’s will all be Ret at level 1. Which means spending some time updating my Paladin Tanking for Beginners guide (and get cracking on the Druid and Warrior equivalents).

Also going away is the chance to score the fabled Moose Mount for Heroic Archimode. I debated paying for a carry to get it, and almost committed for 30k, but in the end figured that while the moose would be awesome, I wouldn’t have earned it and would probably be reluctant to use it as a result. Hopefully the Legion mount is as good, and hopefully I’m there to get it legitimately.

Big week. After waiting so long I’m vaguely amused, and a little disappointed, to be afk for the next week, pretty much from just when the servers will be coming back up – timing is everything!

Warcraft movie paraphernalia

Director Duncan Jones noted on twitter that a replica of Garona’s knife will be available later in the year from NZ effects shop Weta. Investigating further, turns out Weta have an entire shop full of Warcraft paraphernalia, ranging from weapons to rings and even a Orc Tooth Pendant. I like the Horde pin – coincidentally also the cheapest thing there!

Boost mechanics

Having boosted my level 60 Prot Paladin to 90, I was surprised to find that all my abilities and talents had been locked away. I couldn’t even summon the Paladin mount. It was effectively like being a first level character again – Crusader Strike and Judgment were my only skills. It felt very underpowered after blasting through dungeons on the way to 60.

As I ventured into Draenor, quests started rewarding clusters of abilities – damage boosts, mitigation, healing – and talent tree unlocks.

Thinking about it, I realised this is obviously the mechanic for Blizzard to introduce newly boosted level zero characters to their abilities. I wonder if they could have made it less abrupt by leaving abilities unlocked for characters that were boosting from a higher level, but that would pose it’s own problems – what level did they boost from, which abilities are left, how to introduce them.

The main problem I think is that even though the abilities were gradually unlocked, there was nothing in the way of explanation as to what they were and how to use them. When levelling, you get one at a time and can read the ability text and work out (or look up) how they are best used. With the boost, you just unlock three new abilities and hope for the best.

The other problem is the unlocks are not matched to what’s happening in game, so getting the defensive abilities wasn’t because a quest was about to call for them. It also had the strange effect of making me feel vulnerable – some of the quests were harder than expected due to a lack of skills, which I think would be off-putting for a fresh player.

It seems like there is an opportunity to create an isolated boost scenario which would match the skill and talent unlocks to events and challenges in the scenario. Similar to the Proving Grounds, but tailored more toward teaching. And because it’s quarantined from the game story, it can scale to each expac as they are released, before launching the fresh player into the storyline. It would be a lot of work for Blizzard given all the classes and specialisations, but given boosting characters appears to be the new normal it might be money well spent.