Alt Skies

Whoa so levelling in Draenor with flight is entirely different.

I hopped on my Rogue, built my Garrison, and headed out into Frostfire Ridge. And realised I could just fly straight to each treasure on the map. XP-a-rama. And fly to the rare spawns. And skip the trash mobs before the quest objective.

It’s a different game altogether, far less immersive, and I’m super glad we were forced to do everything on foot first. On the ground I learnt the world, and felt part of it. Having done that makes flying above it rewarding too, but if we had have flown from day one, the detachment flight grants would have really detracted from the sense of place.

But it’s brilliant for alts. Pick and choose how and where you want to level, and avoid the grindy parts. Thanks Blizzard!

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!

Repped off

Part of the pursuit of flight in Draenor is gathering reputation with various factions. The rep grind is one of the long established pillars of Warcraft, and many people seem to love (or at least tolerate) the repetitive path to being Exalted.

I find it kind of soul crushing after about Honoured. Which is kind of pathetic given most factions want to at least Revere you before it’s worth your while. It does depend a lot on the carrot at the end of the grind stick. For a Netherwing Drake I’ll throw a lot of boots, and flying is a big carrot too.

The Tanaan work though I’m finding a little too far to the glazed eye side of the equation. The chores are quite long and you can’t one-shot most of the bad guys. It’s more fun than Garrison stasis, but still not something I’d want to do more than once.

Which makes me surprised to see the many people who have obviously already got the required rep – as they triumphantly swoop down from the skies onto the mob I was about to tag – doing it again on alts.

I guess that’s the beauty of MMOs – you can play it anyway you want. As long as you’re Revered with Tanaan that is.


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.


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…

Curious crate

It’s been a year since posting here, but with Mists lurking only days away it seems a good time to start posting a few things. A brief catch up first.

I’m undecided about who or what to focus on for Pandaria, but it’s likely to be my Warrior (now christened Angler) or Knive, my Hunter. I played Knive deep into Cataclysm and thanks to LFR saw the end game raid bosses for the first time. LFR was great for me because it allowed me to see the benefit in gearing properly and committing to a toon for a prolonged period. Watching my Recount rank slowly climb into the top 5 was immensely satisfying, as was the slow gear acquisition plan formulated via Ask Mr. Robot.

So Knive is an obvious choice. But I have an unscratched itch to end game tank again. Angler (nee Banehammer) has been in retirement for all of Cataclysm (after a tank cataclysm of my own at the end of WotLK) but it might be time to oil his rusty armour and see what he’s capable of. I’ve rolled about 8000 alt Paladin, Druid and Warrior tanks in the meantime and loved tanking through the older content. If I had an 85 Paladin I think that would be my first choice, but alt-itis means a lot of low level toons but nothing at max.

So, that’s the update. Let’s see what happens.

/cracks open the curious crate…

Loremaster Insanity

Now that I’m Netherdraked, I’m pondering what the next goal for Bane should be. And for reasons probably best left unexplored (but where’s the fun in that?) Loremaster is calling.

Loremaster is insane. Not as insane as Insane in the Membrane, but insane nevertheless. Who in their right mind wants to complete 2700+ quests, spreadeagled all over every continent, with the reward being a nice title and funny meta-tabard? A lot of people apparently!

There’s been a lot of discussion about the worth/value/fun of Achievements, and plenty of gentle mocking and evil marketing plans, but there’s no question they’ve extended the longevity and appeal of WoW. Loremaster is the kind of thing that no-one would have attempted before Achievements were created, because no-one even knew it was a ‘thing’. By exposing the mechanical statistical details behind the game, Blizz opened up a whole new source of obsession and compulsion.

I haven’t seen a satisfactory answer to why Achievements are so successful, whether it be WoW, MW2, or foursquare. Chris Hecker posited that Achievements are harmful, in response to Jesse Schell wanting to make brushing your teeth an Achievement. Do we need Achievements to play a game these days, or should story and gameplay be enough?

There’s always been the obsessive collectors, and the hoarders, and the trainspotting brigade. Pokemon was probably the first game to really tap into and nail the collecting mentality, and Edge Magazine recently declared the unexpected success of Crackdown was due to the uncontrollable drive it created to collect all 500 Agility Orbs.

People like being rewarded. Sid Meier described how Civilization was originally going to have Dark Ages, to mimic the peaks and troughs of human society. But people would abandon their game and start a new one whenever the pits occured in game. His solutions: Golden Ages instead. Like Blizzard decided with WoW, make everything epic, and people will enjoy themselves more.

Achievements are like that: they give people small incremental rewards for doing ‘stuff’. Some are silly and fun, some are the result of hours of hard work, and some happen by accident. But they all deliver a pat on the back and a reward for simply playing. It’s easier than achieving in the real world, they’re measureable and you know you can get most of them.

So I’m thinking about Loremaster. Either that or level another alt :-). Maybe a BElf pally who I can switch to Tauren the minute Cat launches. Sheesh talk about busy work, shouldn’t I be writing a comic or cooking some tofu or creating an iphone app or something? Nah.

On Wings of Nether

Some grinds are worth every minute

I finally got my Netherwing Drake, a thing of great beauty and the most gorgeous mount in the game. It may not have the heft of the Protodrakes, or the scarcity of the Icebound Frostbrood Vanquishers (though they too look amazing), but it has such grace, elegance, and presence.

My approach was pretty bog standard: do all the one-off rep quests as they came up, obviously, and then just rotate through all the dailies. I got to Honored pretty quickly, had a break, and then worked through to Exalted. There was nearly always one or two others grinding away, which was fun to see. It’s nothing on the pain of the (pre-nerf) Hodir grind – no infuriating timesink design like the Spy Hunter wolf/dwarf quest – though you were sent back and forth over Shadowmoon Valley a few times too many, and as far afield as far West Nagrand.

One thing that really helped was being on a US timezone server – I’d be jumping on at 8-9PM Sydney time, which translates to 1-2AM US. Due to the low population at that time, there were usually plenty of stray Netherwing Eggs to be found, which is a bonus 250 rep per egg. It was always a thrill spotting one smoking away. There’s a great “Netherwing Loop” YouTube video by wowangel showing a route to follow for all the known egg spawn points. I found eggs in most of the marked locations over the course of the grind, as well as a fair few in the mines, so it’s an accurate map.

Some of the quests are pretty fun – in particular the Drake racing sequence, which gets progressively harder as you beat each racer. And throwing an old boot at lazy peons was fun for a while, though having to do 20 got tired pretty quickly.

The cleverest thing Blizzard did was to replace your standard flyer with a Drake whenever you are in the Netherwing zone. It means every time you go there you think “oh yes, I need to have this”, and the crushing disappointment of flipping back to your Swift Wind Rider when you re-enter normal space drives you on toward the Exalted goal.

I can’t even imagine how painful it would have been to do this at level 70, when you’d actually have to fight the mobs instead of facerolling through them.

But the reward speaks for itself.

Oo-oo, baby you’re a fool for love

Banehammer is now officially a Fool for Love, having cleared the final two hurdles last night.

The first was to get a nice bouquet of roses from the first boss in UK, Prince Keleseth. Because the roses only drop off the Prince and only for one person, doing it via LFD was fated to be a ‘ninja/drop’ disaster.

So we guild ran it with our Rogue, our Hunter, and me. No heals, but I guess not surprisingly it was challenge on normal mode, given the mobs are ~70 elites and the boss not much more. We even two manned it for a second run, just me and the Hunter. We employed ice traps, misdirects, and much hilarity ensued.

The last achievement was to set off 10 Love Rockets in 20 seconds. I’d already burned through 25 of the @#$@# things and not got the ding, so this time I disabled all my add-ons, turned the graphics down to Vic-20 level, and went to an isolated pocked of Mulgore. Success!

The next festival on the list is the Lunar Festival. I’m really enjoying doing each one that comes up, having previously had no real interest. Planning what you’ve got to do, working out the most efficient way, and just the general design of the various quests is all good fun. I’m don’t even mind the PVP quests, I always intend to just zone in and do the Achievement, but tend to get caught up in the fight despite my appalling PVP noobness. For the Horde!