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!

Crowds

During the Wrath Timewalking event, I visited Dalaran for the first time in a long time to visit Auzin and grab some rewards. And there were crowds of people! I’d forgotten what it was like to be in a buzzing capital, instead of sheltered away in our Garrisons. It was so great to see Dalaran populated again – should be fun in Legion.

Fel Skies

The mysteries of flight have been revealed – I can fly in Draenor.

In the end it wasn’t too bad – once enough Baleful gear dropped, the Tanaan quests passed relatively fast, especially if you knew which to favourite. The quickest zones I found were The Iron Front & Zeth’gol. The respawn rates are high and there are plenty of bonus items to speed the completion of the bonus quests – especially the warlocky blood bubble things in Zeth’gol.

The rep quests were roughly in sync so they all dinged with in a day of each other. Which was nice. Doing the weekly Rumble in the Jungle made the Saberstalkers super quick, not to mention the bonus Apexis gain as a result.

Unseen Influence was probably the trickiest, as once you run out of Treasures it’s only rares that drop Fel-corrupted fragments. But there are also chests and the like that drop them, so it was ok in the end. For the treasures, HandyNotes and HandyNotesDraenorTreasures are indispensable.

Naturally it was the Securing Draenor quests that were left outstanding, but buying the missives from Sergeant Grimshaw put an end to them quick smart.

In the midst of all this, I finished off Tailoring, Cooking, much of Archaeology (just from the Garrison mine fragments), and First Aid. And now I can fly, Archaeology will be a sinch.

Rising into the skies again is lovely, and it’s a nice reward for effort.

Dungeon Fear

Apparently there’s truckloads of gold to be made from Garrisons, and I figure I want in on that before the Legion nerf. The common theme for easy mode gold seems to be running plenty of Treasure Hunter missions – Alternative Chat says her partner has made half a million that way, and Disciplinary Action makes 20k every 2-3 days. Sounds good to me.

Only one hitch – to get the fabled Treasure missions, you need to have a level 3 Tavern. And to get a level 3 Tavern, you have to complete 10 Draenor Dungeon quests. Simple, right?

Well yes, trouble is I hadn’t run any Dungeons levelling up. I clean forgot about them. Which means I have no idea of the mechanics and strategy.

I find Dungeons far more stressful than Raid Finder, even as DPS, as your lack of knowledge of the fights is far more obvious. So I tend to over study and worry about not just being baggage.

So I’ve been arduously studying each Dungeon, learning the bosses and tactics, and trying to keep it all straight in my head before queueing. “Obtain a Lunar Purity buff by standing on a Lunar Rune during Dark Eclipse”. Got it. “When Gor’ashan gains Power Conduit, jump down from the platform, avoid Electric Pulses, and click on the Rune Conduit”. Uhh, ok. “Once you are carrying a Mortar Shell, click on a Blackrock Turret and use the Homing Shell ability on the Assault Cannon to damage it. Players must hit the Cannon with 3 Mortar Shells to destroy it.”. Argh!

So far it’s been fine, thankfully. I’ve retained just enough knowledge for each boss to get through it without embarrassing myself, and of course this late in the piece then tanks and DPS seem to be so well geared that a learner tagging along hardly matters. Watching a well geared Hunter destroy everything in sight is certainly inspiring – I remember the same inspiration happening in Cataclysm watching a Hunter dominate Deathwing, which led me to eventually challenging the Raid Finder DPS charts.

Thus: Growl off, aspect off, dungeon-on!

Draenored

2016 eh.

I decided early December to jump back into Warcraft for a while – the itch had been growing and December, summer, and holidays always seems to make me pine for Azeroth1.

My main, Knive the Tauren Hunter, had reached 100 during mid 2015 but done little more before I unsubbed. She was of course stationed in her Garrison, the great dwaal of Draenor. And for the first few weeks back I basically didn’t leave the place. The compulsion was just too great: send followers out, place work orders, collect ore and herbs, check missions, send the followers out again.

But it is so boring – you’re basically not doing anything on your character, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of just wash, rinse, repeat. Poor Knive was just a button pusher for her followers and the garrison as a whole. This wasn’t gaming.

Enough!

A project is always the best way to get me going, so I turned to Wowhead’s amazing character planner tool. It’s a great motivator and brilliant way to get your head back into the game after a break – giving a list of nearly complete achievements, collections, quests chains of interest, etc. The standout suggestion was of course the flying in Draenor achievement. Flight! Netherwing Drakes! Let’s do this.

I had completed the treasure finding (fun!), 90% of the exploration tasks, needed to wrap up the Arak and Nagrand quest chains, and then there was the new Tanaan rep grinds. And I finally realised I needed to pay attention to that annoying guy in the Garrison who kept pestering me about quests.

And so it begun.


  1. And I’m not the only one (though it’s Winter in Syp’s world!) 

Levelling like a very slow train

So far in Pandaria I have levelled my 3 85s to…85. I’m completely besotted with the scenery and so have spent the entire time just wandering around and /gasping. Pandaria is stunning, like an entire continent made of Nagrand beauty. So many nooks and crannies, sweeping vistas, and things to discover. This has been bad for actually getting anywhere, but so pleasurable to the eyes that I’m not fussed.

I parked my Rogue in Greenstone Quarry hoping to discover the Ancient Pandaren Mining Pick. Staking out rare spawns is a bit dull normally, but Pet Battles has made it entirely tolerable. Check the spawn spots, go into stealth mode to avoid the zillion mobs in the mine, then queue for a quick PVP pet battle. Excellent.

Meanwhile Angler, my ostensible Prot Warrior main, has just been wandering, gathering Ghost Iron, and fishing. Tonight he stumbled into Halfhill and may never leave. Can you tank with turnips and pumpkins, as it looks like that’s the only gear I’ll be getting for a while.

Which leaves Knive as my only hope. Being LFR geared means the mobs drop a lot quicker, and she’s less likely to get distracted by professions, so I guess she’s the one getting on the level 90 train. Although, gee, that escarpment looks beautiful, I better go check it out…

Mana bombs and the problem with Goblins

Theramore was an obvious misstep by Blizzard. As has been well documented, the problems are less to do with the scenario itself than with the story delivery, and more specifically with the expectations that were heaped upon it. We were all expecting a major pre-expansion world event, a-la the WotLK zombie invasion. I guess the ‘one week only’ news should have been an early warning, but really Blizzard could have hosed down expectations before making it available (rather than a meek blue post after the fact as spotted by The Godmother at ALT:ernative).

If it had have been promoted as a Scenario teaser, the grumbling might have been quieter – the failure to explain the lore would still have rankled, but who reads dungeon background details these days? Rades has the most positive take on it I’ve seen, using it as training ground for the Scenario runs to come. That’s exactly the right way to approach it, and how Blizzard should have sold it too.


When I played through Theramore on launch day I was completely nonplussed. Why were we here? What was going on? Are we the invading force? It was all over so quickly. As Horde, the last thing we did was rescue some kind of spy who proceeded to flirt with the players. Totally bizarre, especially not knowing who this spy was or why we were rescuing him. I guess this means we’ve taken Theramore for the Horde?

Then came the cut scene.

I was horrified. We were nuking Theramore? Killing everyone and everything? I had no idea this was coming – why didn’t we invade, fight the honourable fight Orc vs Human?

It reminded me immediately of the denouement to Stonetalon Mountains, where another Horde bomb is used for similar evil. I had the same sinking feeling, the same horror that I had participated in this act. But in that case it was severely denounced by Garrosh as dishonourable. His stance there was so strong that it made me rethink my previous Tauren-based hatred of the Warchief.

Stonetalon set us up to think that honour is Garrosh’s saving grace. In a masterful article at Stoppable Force, Stop nails it: Garrosh is “a jerk, but he’s a jerk who represents “old school” Horde values, such as honor above all.” Read his whole article – for Theramore background and deep speculation on the next Warchief.

Now, thinking back on it, I wonder, did he really turn a corner in Stonetalon? Or was it all just a show for the player? He knew there was a bomb. He knew we were trying to secure it. Maybe he didn’t want it set off just then, but he knew the potential. It was just a practice run for the Theramore monstrosity.


And behind all this catastrophic behaviour are the Goblins. The Theramore cut scene has them hooting about what they’re about to do with typical misguided enthusiasm – cheering about mass murder basically. Same in Stonetalon. And in every quest and every zone they’re in, they are basically strip-mining or deforesting or some other environmental depravity. I hope they never get to Nagrand.

Playing through the Goblin starting zone drives home the point – Kezan is ugly, polluted, the landscape riven with smokestacks and paved with hideous racetracks. Horde players are complicit in all their scheming, often assisting with promoting their profit-above-all agenda. I hate playing the first few quests in Azshara now, as it forces you to ravage and plunder before eventually slaughtering an innocent Talrendis Ancient in a Goblin engineered tree killing machine. Aborcide? Murder more like.

There was an excellent question buried in the recent Warcraft Reddit AMA which asked why Thrall would let the Goblins into the Horde given their history of slavery. The answer was enlightening:

Thrall’s vision of the Horde is a refuge for people in need. He’s a helpful guy. The Bilgewater Goblins just had their home destroyed, and they were refugees (he can certainly relate to that). They helped him in the Lost Isles, so he offered them a home. Presumably he’d put a stop to any slave trade (the player characters don’t remain slaves once they join the Horde.)

Of course… afterwards he was no longer the Warchief. Garrosh was probably a lot more hands-off of the goblins, so long as they showed their usefulness – as they demonstrated immediately in Azshara.

‘Garrosh was…a lot more hands-off’. Let the Gobbo’s off the leash, see what happens. Mana-bomb development, I’m guessing.

They’re the pits.


In a final indignity after all my Goblinish pondering, our guild is named after them. Kezan Cartel. Created before Cataclysm and inspired by Gazlowe, denizen of Ratchet and self-styled saviour of Orgrimmar (he dug the Ragefire caverns to deliver water to the parched city). We figured it was a fun semi-RP name before the Goblins arrived in force. And it was for a while, as we gleefully hunted for treasure under Gazlowe’s auspices.

But after Azshara, Stonetalon, and now Theramore, I think it’s time for a Guild name change.