Warcraft: Legion Highmountaineering

With a new expansion being announced, I decided it was finally time to play Legion. This appears to be my traditional approach now – not playing until it’s almost too late. I’ve realised that some of this is down to wanting to avoid the expansion level rush, and the pressure to ‘keep up’, but waiting 14 months was probably overdoing it. On the plus side, it has meant a very relaxed and meandering approach to getting to 110.

As a Tauren I headed straight to Highmountain, which turned out to be one of my favourite zones in the game. An entire region dedicated to moose horned Tauren was as good as it sounds (if you’re that way inclined). The Taunka zones in WotLK came close, but Highmountain was something special.


You’re tasked with reuniting the scattered tribes of Highmountain, with each having their own story and theme. The quests are wide and varied and there’s plenty of exploring to be done. The mountainous design of the zone led to some terrific viewpoints once you’d circuitously scaled your way to the top of a distant peak. Perfect for the snow loving brigade out there.


There are also many named mobs – aka Silver Dragons – scattered throughout the zones, and they’re all worth seeking out for both the loot and (minor) fight challenges. There are plenty of nooks and crannies that you stumble upon, with either small stories to tell or sometimes just flavour. And of course the Murlocs are plentiful.

I, murloc.

Draenor introduced the concept of treasures into Warcraft, and they are used in Legion to great effect as a tool to lead you to far and varied locales. Some are easy, some are tricky and may require add-on help to find, and it’s a fun addition and nice levelling boost to boot.


I would quite happily have spent the entire levelling process in Highmountain if it were possible, but as it was I had run out of content by level 105. So I grumblingly bid farewell to my home away from home and headed off to Stormheim, picked mainly due to the name sounding good.

And it was quite good, with the grappling mechanic in particular being fun. Early on you’re equipped with a grapple, and throughout the zone there are vertiginous points to attach to. These allow you to scale crazy cliffs and scoot overhead through enemy Vrykul villages, which is all good fun. The story was less compelling, but I am biased, and the zone overall had a bit of a dreary tone to it – it seemed to be raining 75% of the time I was there. I’d love to see it in sunlight as some of the vistas and golden leaves look nice. It’s a pity the Vrykul aren’t one of the new BfA playable races, but I suspect their size would be a problem (they tower over Tauren), but the models for the Highmountain are all excellent which more than makes up for it.


Just as I was done with the main Stormheim storyline I dinged 110. So it only took two zones out of four, covering most treasure finding and mini bosses, which seems much quicker than other expansions. It was nice how each zone story culminated in a dungeon, though being so far behind the curve meant the dungeons were being cleared faster than I could loot, let alone fire off a few shots on a boss.


As usual once hitting cap, the game suddenly changes tack. Instead of venturing around helping shore up our forces, you’re suddenly invited to help save some ghostly Night Elves in Suramar (and spend the rest of your days there I assume). Can’t say that was very tempting, especially after the, er, highs of Highmountain, so I think it’s back to the other two zones for me. Or maybe some alts.

Having finally played the 10 levels, I tend to agree with those that find the Beastmaster Hunter class less satisfying to play now. You are now mainly about controlling your menagerie of pets more than anything else, which leads to the animation spending a fair amount of time showing you doing anything but firing your bow. That’s kind of disappointing, as is losing Kill Shot which allowed you to land those satisfying final blows on low health mobs. Time to try Marksmanship on another character, though running without a pet may be a step too far.


The other major Legion mechanic is of course the Artifact weapon. I enjoyed slowly powering up Titanstrike, though around level 109 it suddenly ground to a halt with thousands of points being required. Which made it even stranger hitting 110, when suddenly the meager 25 point boost items in by bags morphed into 25 million point boosts. Obviously a catch up mechanic, it did make the slow progress I had made to that point kind of redundant. May have well have waited to 110 and powered up the lot on one go.

110 levels to go, little one

Overall Legion feels like an excellent expansion, I feel kind of silly having missed most of it. Though with BfA probably a year off, there’s plenty of time to see more.

Stalled

After all the anticipation for Legion, and two weeks after release, I’ve managed to get to level… 100.

Yup, not a single level in two weeks. I’ve hardly logged on, and when I do it’s more to potter around Dalaran fishing and avoid making decisions. Thinking back, this seems to have happened to me for every expansion since WotLK: the xpac drops and I get totally paralysed and barely play. And each time I wish I knew why.

This time around the BM weapon being a gun really threw me. Which is patently ridiculous given transmog. Nevertheless, wanting a bow, I spent time testing a MM spec, but don’t find it that compelling and don’t like the proc-based rotation.

Next I thought maybe I should change class altogether, so I tried my Warrior in Fury spec. That was pretty fun, and the animations are top notch. Nothing like a plate-wearing huge-weapon-wielding Tauren to get the blood boiling. But melee? Healers have enough to worry about without more melee. And he’s always been a tank.

Meanwhile I lost interest in my Paladin and Druid once they boosted to 100. That’s a strange phenomenon too, though I guess it’s explained by the fact max level means you have to start grinding, unlike the constant gratification of levelling. Plus dungeon tanking at max level means a sudden escalation in expectations and low-patience from LFD queuers. I feel like the only way to play a tank is to take it from 1-100 so you know the class backwards. Bampfing to 100 has made me lose touch with the rotation and playstyle. Whoops.

A couple of friends who left back in the WotLK days have also (almost) returned, throwing more confusion into the mix. I’d like to be able to level and group with them, but they play far less frequently so there’s a waiting game there.

One other issue, which I’ve seen others express too, is not wanting to rush through the new content. I’d like to see it all, rather than sprint to 110 and start gearing. But if I want to raid then that’s pretty much the expectation, and fair enough. I guess the solution is to have a raiding main that focuses on just that (rather than on exploring the content), and a stable of alts who can meander their way to the top.

So. We finally get new stuff, and reportedly great new stuff, and instead of playing I’ve been actively avoiding it: experimenting with Project Gorgon, installing and trying The Witcher for the 4th time, playing Overwatch, speculating about Crowfall. Guild chat is alive with links to epic gear and flavour items galore, and I’m standing paralysed in Dalaran clutching my Mastercraft Kalu’ak Fishing Pole.

Totally stalled.

There’s no way I’ll be ready for raiding when it opens in a week. Which is ridiculous given my stated goal of being there at the start for once. I guess I’ll just have to wait for this malaise to pass, and join in if and when I can.

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. 

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!

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
Moo

  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. 

It’s Good to be the King – The Dire Maul Tribute Run

I’ve been levelling a(nother) Tauren Paladin, exclusively via Dungeon Finder. The levels fly by which is nice, and tanking the old dungeons is loads of fun. And sometimes a bit of a surprise when the layout has changed (looking at you Blackfathom Deeps) meaning you lead your party totally the wrong way. Whoops.

Eventually I reached the 40s and Dire Maul became available. Which reminded me of the awesome ‘hidden’ mode in Dire Maul North – The Tribute Run.

The Tribute Run reverses the usual dungeon objective and tasks you with keeping all the bosses alive, instead of steamrolling over them. It’s a lot of fun and involves more than just running past each boss.

I wanted to remind myself how to do it, and was surprised to find there was no Wowhead guide – only a few scattered (and slightly dated) posts out there on the webs.

So I wrote one, It’s Good to be the King – The Dire Maul Tribute Run.

The Ogre’s are right, it is good to be the king, and it also feels good to contribute something back to the community – enjoy!