As planned, I respecced to the recommended talents for Beast Mastery, redid my keybindings for the new priorities, and spent all the Valor I had on the upgrades recommended by Ask Mr. Robot.

AMR is great, well worth the ~$10 for a yearly subscription. Without it I would have probably upgraded the wrong stuff, and definitely defaulted to higher iLvl gear when something lower might be more beneficial. The ability to export and import gear lists using their add-on is invaluable.

New rotation and gear in hand I dutifully queued for some Cataclysm Timewalking. Which was probably unfortunate for the first couple of groups as I was making all kinds of muscle memory mistakes. But I pretty quickly settled into it – there was a definite improvement in the key mapping, making things more obvious and faster to reach.

Timewalking doesn’t give a good idea of DPS output so I queued for all the LFR wings, hoping to also pick up the final Tomes. The good news was there was a definite improvement in damage output – phew! From being mid list I was steady in the top 5, which has the added bonus of knowing the healers will pay you a little more attention. Speaking of, I think anyone who heals or tanks LFR is a saint. So many people on follow, or just standing in the fire, dropping things at the tanks feet, pulling bosses early, etc. Chaos!

In any case, it’s pleasing when you set to work on improving something and there is a clear result. Sure it was only LFR, but the improvements were pretty obvious. Added bonus: Barrage is much more fun than Glaive Toss.

Serendipitously, all four remaining tomes dropped after only running 6 bosses, including 3 for 3 on the last section. So I’m the proud owner of the Legendary Ring, at a similar expansion stage to when I got the MoP cloak. Maybe for Legion I’ll be ahead of the curve instead of waaaay behind!

Raid report & Legion Professions

Spent another night raiding Heroic HFC on Thursday, with mixed results. Still can’t seem to put out decent DPS, despite my iLvl reaching around 705 now. So I’m going to review all my talents and rotation and upgrades, as it seems my current choices were superseded somewhere along the line without me noticing (probably because I wasn’t raiding so it didn’t matter). Given patch 7.0 will change all this very soon, it’s probably a bit silly, but it will force me to be realistic about skill vs gearing, and compare better with similarly geared players.

Downed a few new bosses I’d only seen in LFR which was good, died on obvious mechanics which was bad. Archimonde (N) was a classic case: we got the meta (which gave me the final piece for Glory of the Hellfire Raider), but we got it while I was lying dead in the Twisting Nether as I didn’t realise you had to ‘exit’ and was busily attacking a worthless Void Star. Sigh.

On the plus side, I was lucky enough to get the Tier Gloves, so I now have the 4 piece set bonus (albeit with the LFR chest), and need only 5 more Tomes before getting the Legendary Ring (despite going 1/10 on Tomes in LFR last week!).

In other news the profession Q&A was quite interesting, and I think confirms the plan to go gatherer/crafter on my twin tank alts. Seems like the traditional gatherer/crafter match is the favoured playstyle once again, after Warlords blew that up with the Garrison Mine & Herb Garden.

I’ve avoided reading too much about Legion stuff, wanting to discover it organically in game rather than through the beta coverage. So I was pretty excited to see there is going to be a Fishing Artifact! When the Q&A asked about how to acquire it:

Purposely meant to be kept vague, having hidden things in the world keeps things fun. Don’t believe everything you datamine; you don’t need to complete the Wish Remover achievement. This is meant to be something for people who love fishing.

/raises hoof
I love fishing. Prepping my fishing lines, reels, rods, and special hats!

Cinematic Warcraft

The Warcraft movie seems to evoke love/hate responses, and after about 15 minutes I was a bit worried. The start is pretty exposition heavy, and also seemed to assume a fair amount of lore knowledge (what’s ‘Fel’, what’s Ironforge and who are these Dwarves). But thankfully it pretty quickly settled into a rhythm and story that felt compelling and (mostly) made sense.

The Orcs were amazing, so huge, solid, thick, and powerful. The movie captured their brutal tribal warlike ways perfectly, while also showing that a tribal community cares deeply for one another even amongst the chaos. The orc camps are dirty and busy, with plenty of thumping and growling going on. But they’re not portrayed as beasts, and there’s a genuine sense of care amongst the clans. Pleasingly Durotan’s deeply honourable Frostwolves are front and centre, a nice parallel to my new guild.

On the other side of the coin, the Humans were all pretty weak and humourless. It seemed like all the best actors ended up greenskinned, and the leftovers played wooden Human caricatures. Only Lothar stood out, and even he seemed often to be half tipsy (unintentionally) and not really present. The actor playing Medivh was clearly heavily influenced by the brilliant portrayal of Merlin by Nicol Williamson in the highly highly underrated Excalibur1, but couldn’t bring the same sense of barely contained madness and power. King Llane and family are straight backed and boring, and Khadgar is strangely unsuited to the role with his baby face and constantly morphing accent. The human world is neat, tidy, and their armour is sadly weightless.

The Horde/Alliance portrayal in the film is kind of apt given how I feel about the game’s factions – boring puny Humans vs virulant chaotic passionate Horde. So I’ll put down the dull Humans to intention on the part of Director Duncan Jones. Horde bias confirmed!

The movie was full of fan touches, with murloc’s lurking on riverbanks, namechecking of much travelled zones, and some nice spell callbacks. And Karazhan features heavily, though while the interiors bring memories flooding back (that library pull!), it’s weirdly unrecognisable from the outside.

Unfortunately, but maybe typically for (pre-Overwatch) Blizzard, there is only one major female character. Garona is great, dominating her scenes with huge presence and character, and she’s a crucial bridge between the Orcs and Humans. But she’s also part of a love story, which is a shame and such a tired sexist trope. They try hard to make her independent and non-needy, but can’t quite resist making her an object of desire for half the men in the film.

I saw it with a bunch of current and former players, and all were pleasantly surprised. It didn’t hurt to have such low expectations (Chinese box office notwithstanding), but the movie rises above the ‘game film’ curse, largely due to the strength of the Orc storyline. I’m not sure what a non player would make of it, but Game of Thrones has conditioned people to the idea of a fantasy world, and one ex-player I went with enjoyed it despite not having played for years and having zero lore knowledge.

My only disappointment was there was no Tauren cameo – the post credit scene had me hoping, but it wasn’t to be. Maybe the sequel?

Here’s a collection of other blog reviews for those interested:
Superior Realities
Not All Hunters
The Ancient Gaming Noob

  1. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this film go and do so immediately. It captures the darkness and light of the Arthurian legend perfectly, and is about the only film which realistically demonstrates the incredible weight of plate armour – the hand to hand combat and jousting is exhausting just to watch. Bonus early career appearances from Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart add to the fun. 

Boost Planning

Yesterday I finished levelling my Druid tank to 60, all through LFD runs. It’s a fun way to level, with not many repeat dungeons until the 50-60 Stratholme/Blackrock Depths/Blackrock Spire zone.

Spire is a great run – it’s long, complicated, some interesting pulls, bonus bosses, pet drops, the works. It’s a marvel of 3D mapping too, with lots of bridges and fissures where you can see the lower levels you’ve already traversed (and fall if you’re not careful). And it’s the first Dungeon where the bosses might actually kill you even in these days of OP Heirlooms – namely Vosh’gajin who likes turning everyone into frogs.

So I now have two level 60 tanks (the other being a Paladin), and two boosts to spend. I’ve still got the level 90 Boost from Warlords, and a level 100 from Legion. Beyond the enjoyment I get from low level dungeon tanking, the logic behind getting the toons to 60 was to take advantage of the ‘free’ profession levelling that comes with the boost.

I have Engineering, Tailoring, Leatherworking, and Skinning already maxed, and I want to add Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Mining and Herbing to the mix. I dropped Mining during Warlords as there was no point in having a dedicated gatherer with the Garrison Mine, but it sounds like we’ll need gatherers again in Legion.

The main decision to make is whether to go dual crafting/dual gathering, or mix and match the appropriate skills. Because crafting is so much slower, I’m tempted to go Alchemy/Blacksmithing on the Paladin and boost him to 100, which will give full 700 profession skills. Then put the gathering skills on the Druid, boost her to 90, and easily grind the professions from 600 while she’s out levelling herself.

Having said that it’s nice to have self sufficient crafter/gatherers, so maybe I’ll just have to knuckle down and level Alchemy the slow way.

There’s also the matter of the BoP Blood of Sargeas crafting mat to consider. Similar to the MoP Spirit of Harmony, the Blood being BoP makes a dual gatherer less attractive.

Decisions, decisions! I might wait for the next Legion Q&A, which will focus on Professions and may make the choice more obvious.

Tanking for Beginners – Protection Paladin

In between playing my Hunter main, I seem to spend a lot of time levelling alt-Tanks. I love levelling up tanking 5 man dungeons, and as a result have far too many mid level tanky types.

Having done it a lot, I noticed there’s a lot of endgame tanking guides, but barely anything for the learner who wants to try this tank thing.

So I wrote another Wowhead guide – Tanking 101: Protection Paladin. Covers all you need to know up to Level 15 and tanking your first dungeon.

Probably not the best time with the Legion class changes just around the corner, but hopefully the low level experience hasn’t changed too much. I have a vague intention to add similar guides for Guardian Druids and Protection Warriors if this one proves worthwhile.

Tank well!

Barely clinging on to the horse

So, Heroic HFC is a different kettle of fish. Having galloped through Normal a few weeks ago, my gear levelled up enough to join the Heroic lower and middle floor guilt alt runs.

Unfortunately my skills didn’t level up at the same time as my gear, so there was a fair amount of floor tanking going on.

The lower level went pretty well, my DPS was at least equal to a few of the other newer geared players and I stayed alive until Gorefiend. We then switched to normal and felled Archimonde, which was a first for me and earned the Time is a Flat Circle achievement. I did notice however my DPS was well below the tanks for that, which should have been a warning for middle floor…

…which is much harder! I started badly by face pulling some trash on Iskar, to much raid astonishment, then forgetting to get my pet out after dying, etc. Ugh.

Luckily the guild once again were very forgiving, and slightly amused I suspect. Zakuun proved to be tricky too, though after a few wipes I started to understand the fight properly, helped by some good explanations of mechanics. There’s some nice calm voices in Discord and a sense of humour, and you could kind of feel the sudden focus on the attempt that got Zakuun down.

Someone called out with surprise to see my still up at as Xhul’horac went down, which was funny. But it’s pretty disappointing to be below the tanks in the DPS tables – I once read an opinionated blogger saying that is a sure sign of being overwhelmed and under performing, and they’re quite right. So work to be done.

It’s certainly a challenge coming up to speed with boss fights with a group who know them backwards. There’s a certain assumed knowledge, which is completely understandable after a year of the same content. Hopefully being there at the start in Legion will make a difference.

Pet pet pet

In BC and WotLK, I used to drive my Guild Leader crazy by a) spending too much time fishing, and b) spending too much time collecting pets. Basically spending too much time not optimising my gear and grinding rep. But it was fun!

Collecting pets was completely different before MoP – it wasn’t about battling, it was about finding them in the wild as drops off mobs or bosses1, earning them from various tasks and quests, or buying them from vendors.

Completing Higher Learning in Dalaran gave you a Kirin Tor Familiar, spending hours killing thousands of dragonwhelps for the elusive Dark Whelpling, or best of all, fishing up Mr Pinchy for the wonderful Magical Crawdad 2.

You can still do all those things of course, but now Pet Battling has kind of taken over the pure collecting goal. To collect now, you have to do some Battles in order to have a team capable of capturing level 25 wild pets. And a Molten Corgi or equivalent to make sure you don’t accidentally kill your capture target.

Shortly before MoP launched, I had gathered up around 100 pets for the Petting Zoo achievement, which was relatively high for the time. The remaining pets were hard to get and find, but I was slowly working through them.

Then came Pet Battling and I pretty much stop collecting immediately. I did some battles up to about level 15, but then abandonded it completely.

It’s hard to pinpoint what it was, but I think it was the sheer numbers. From an achievable list of ~150 hard to find pets to suddenly having to search for over 700 pets was overwhelming. It also meant learning a new game system that was completely isolated from the rest of the game.

It wasn’t until now, in the dying days of Warlords, that I’ve decided to take another look at it. Battling is quite fun, and I have a small team of 25s that can start to take on anything found in the wild.

And I recently discoverd you can get a tiny cow pet, so now I’m obsessed. No self respecting Tauren would be without one!

Pygmy Cow

  1. Including the Vampiric Batling who dropped from Prince Tenris in Karazhan as part of the WotLK launch. To my eternal regret I never got that drop, due to a confidence crisis on my Rogue meaning I was too scared to join a PUG to get it! 
  2. Who turns out to be a pretty great battle pet – he has a zone heal, and a ‘Wish’ spell that restores him to pretty much full health. So he can stay in for a long time slowly wearing down the opposition.