We’re living in interesting times.

The new expansion for World of Warcraft is just around the corner, and the 5.0.4 patch that will bring us new talent specs is less than two weeks away.

I am… not prepared.

I haven’t made any effort to get prepared, either.

Specifically, prepared to tank as a Guardian Druid Bear RAWR RAWR bash all the things tankity tank tank.

I could have spent my time these last several months doing research, beta testing things out, providing feedback to the devs, all that sort of thing. If I had, I’d be going into this expansion ready and able to take advantage of every gearing and playstyle opportunity that is heading our way.

I chose not to.

I decided, rather than spend my time these last few months as an unpaid beta tester and help influence the direction of the game, I would spend my time having fun in the live game I’m paying for right now.

While others were beta testing, providing valuable feedback and pointed guidance to help improve outr class and future gameplay, and coincidentally preparing themselves with the knowledge they gained, I’ve been busy.

I’ve been running Dragon Soul and Firelands raids with our guild when I can, playing with my family in old instances, and having fun with a bunch of you in Icecrown Citadel.

I’ve been pursuing achievements, leveling alts I’ve never tried before, completing pet and bucket list goals, just living the high life with my wife and son.

Everything comes with a choice… and a price.

That price will soon have to be paid.

The fun I have had along the way has been great, and I regret none of it.

My Mage dinged level 84 last night, and I can proudly say that I leveled as Fire spec every. single. squishy. day. I only bought Dual Spec last night because I wanted to answer the question posed by the immortal Chris Knight, “Hows it feel to be frozen!”

It’s true, ice is nice! But I’m still burning for you, babe.

When the expansion goes live, I am going to return to doing something I haven’t done in a long, long time.

I’m going to return to raiding… on my Druid.

As a tank.

At least, that is the plan right now. I’ve been asked to be one of the tanks for the raid team I’ve been a part of, on my Druid, but whether or not that goes live depends a lot on the team, who levels what first, who wants to do what, that kind of thing. The team I’ve been healing for has two really awesome tanks right now, and as far as I know there hasn’t been a meeting I’ve been a part of to talk about our future plans, so I really don’t know who, if either of them, were planning on playing something else rather than a tank at first.

I’m not trying to vague things up here, I just don’t really know what’s going on. I’m not an officer, a raid leader, or any of that. I am joe player, one each, and I just offered to play whatever part I was asked, asked who I should level first to be ready for the team, and I was asked to level my Druid to tank.

I’m cool with that. It was either my Druid, my Hunter or my Priest, and frankly, I want my Druid leveled to 90 and having fun first. There is so much more I can do with my Druid, for everyone.

Yes, I may even start posting Bear tanking things again here.

God help me, I’ve got a big mouth and I write about whatever I’m doing in the game at the time. Whether or not anyone would care is really irrelevant. It hasn’t stopped me posting anything else, why start now?

Putting aside future raiding and my state of preparedness or not, Imagine with me for a moment what the new expansion will really mean for us as small family or solo players.

I am at heart not a progression raider in the way it used to mean. There is too great a necessity to devote long hours on multiple evenings, time I spend away from computer a lot more than my online status may suggest.

Let’s just say I’ve been surprised to find my character still logged in and afk twenty-four hours after I left to take care of something “just for a minute”.

For those of us who do not raid regularly, or who enjoy playing solo or with just a few family members, level 90 is going to give us a lot of distance from Cataclysm content.

What ICC and Ulduar and Naxxramas are to us now, Bastian of Twilight and Blackwing Descent soon will be. Plus of course the heroic versions of Cataclysm instances.

Right now, a group of three LFR geared players can fairly easily clear most normal Cataclysm dungeons, especially if one of them is a tank.

Once we’re level 90, and geared appropriately from that, all of Cataclysm will open up to us like a pretty flower, and the gate won’t be gear or DPS or HPS, but management of the mechanics.

I’m really looking forward to those days to come.

I’ve found that with the right team, I do love challenging the new content and really pushing forward to do the best I can, but I also love taking a group into close to current content, stuff that WAS the baddest of the bad very recently, and just taking the time to laugh, to joke, to explore and sightsee our way through the content, beating up bad guys as we go.

When Ulduar was current content, I only got in there in raids a few times. When I did get in there, I was focused entirely on performance. I was watching the boss, the trash, and the other players to ensure I was doing my best to help the team win. I wasn’t looking at the graphical design of the architecture.

Likewise every other current raid I have ever done.

It isn’t until content is ‘old tier’ that I’ve able to go in and take my time playing tourist and simply enjoy the artwork, the designs and the amazing attention to detail that has gone into the game.

From something as simple as the floor in Gundrak in front of Moorabi that is so gorgeously detailed with elephants it could be a special collector’s edition china plate, to the room of Algalon in Ulduar that transforms into a stunning galaxy of light and color when the encounter begins, it’s breathtaking… when you are able to take the time to enjoy it.

As much fun as it is to progress in raid content, for me there is more satisfaction to be found in playing tourist, taking the time to stop and smell the rot in Sindragosa’s lair. For a place featuring an All You Can Eat buffet, ew. Dragon bits and bits and bits!

At a time when my thoughts should be turning to catching up with Guardian Druid gear plans, talent specs, ability synergy and active mitigation to tank a progressive raid group, I find myself instead already looking forward to when I can look back, and form cross-server reader raid groups to take down Bastian of Twilight and Firelands, to smile at the dragons and admire the electricity sparking down Onyxias’ side.

I am not prepared… but that’s okay. We gonna have us some fun!

17 Responses to “Swimming for Firelands”
  1. Riegnman says:

    Yeah, I am with you. I much prefer solo play or family play to the progression side. The enjoyment of laughing at someone that can’t do the safety dance in naxx as opposed to listening to whining and crying cause we didn’t get the achievement or because we wiped again.
    I havent played more than a couple of hours over the last two months but I was soloing cata reg 5-mans on my Druid A LONG time ago for mounts and stuff. Plus the fact that my wife got her priest to 82 and still can’t walk without getting stuck on bookcases and such so there is no way that I am going to expose her to the asshattery of a random

  2. Ted says:

    I’m sort of in the same boat. I’ve been spending my time in a galaxy far, far away. I got a Scroll from one of my old guild mates. I’m totally not prepared for the expansion, nor do I remember what half my buttons do.

    – Honorshammer

    • Gameldar says:

      But that’s alright Honors – it’s an expansion so everything Paladin will have changed anyway… although you switched to hunter didn’t you??

      That said – BBB I’ve played a little bit on the beta and bears haven’t changed all that much – at least not in bear form. You’re basically doing the same thing minus pulverize… well except you need to press savage defense and frenzied regen and not use maul – although if I was seeing it correctly swipe is worth using single target when you run out of other things to press. Not sure of the final stat breakdown, but crit is king at the moment – so for me since I’m already crit/mastery I don’t think I need to change anyway. Now… going kitty as bear leaves a lot to be desired – but I think feral (not guardian) got more fun things to play with than bears – bears are largely the same (apart from there not being a lot of reason to switch to cat). The other thing I need to learn is to hit mangle in AoE situations as otherwise you don’t build any rage…

      But for me – three of the things I like most and I am excited about:
      1. Root shifting!!!
      2. Full speed stealth! Takes a glyph, but I sorely miss the speed in stealth as cat.
      3. Prowl activates cat form!! Having been playing my rogue a lot lately… I keep pressing my ‘stealth’ button on my druid and wondering why I’m not in stealth as it takes 2 buttons to press at the moment.

      OK… so I might be thinking of pvp a bit more than pve…

      Ok maybe one more thing that excites me… Bearphoon!

  3. Theodoxus says:

    I’ve gone and made 85s on beta to judge for myself the best talents for my playstyle on my primary characters, but I still haven’t looked into how to get to Pandaria (I assume there’s a quest giver or portal or something – literally have not yet gone to look).

    So, I’m kinda prepared, and kinda nervous about essentially learning 11 classes all over again (and 1 completely new). I’ve been planning on just leveling my priest to 90 and keeping everyone else at 85 – at least at first, for raiding. Now, I’m not sure. I’m not sure my guild is returning, I’m not sure which will actually be fun to play, I’m not sure if I’ll like MoP.

    Rushing to 90 and then doing Cata raids actually sounds more fun to me than grinding MoP dungeons and raids.

  4. Kal says:

    I’ve been using Beta as a personal preview of Mage, Lock, and Monk, since those are the classes I’ll be leveling finally. Also, trying out different races at 85 is fun, and a rare opportunity.

  5. Rades says:

    This is kind of random, but you mention the scenery and such in a few places, and it made me wonder – have you ever given Alex one of those Ornate Spyglasses (made via Engineering but doesn’t require Engi to use) that are basically binoculars? They let you zoom in and look at things that would normally be outside standard draw distance, or look at mobs super close without aggroing them, etc. It seems like maybe something he’d enjoy?

    • bigbearbutt says:

      No, I didn’t even think of it before.

      • Theodoxus says:

        Related is the Far Seeing ability of Shaman. I once took my Shaman (pre cata) and stood in Silithus and chain looked across all of Kalimdor to Everlook. Took a bit of doing, but it was fun.

        I don’t recall what level Shaman get it – so the spyglass would probably be easier to do.

  6. Kamalia says:

    Yeah, I’m excited about Pandaria itself, and Pandaren and Monks and stuff, but when it comes to raiding, I’ve been feeling the much the same way as you — bring on the level 90 gear so that I can go sightseeing in the level 85 content!

    I read a few class/talent reports early on in the beta. Lately, however, I’ve decided that I want to go into patch 5.0 blind and figure things out by experimentation as I go along. I think it’ll be more fun that way.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      Hmm… good thing more folks weren’t like us or mists would still be in beta a year from now.

      • Alburet says:

        But BBB isnt that the progression peeps are for. To help Blizz push the envelope so some of us can enjoy the scenery?

  7. Regarding your Mage:

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire,
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it should have to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate to say
    That for destruction ice is also great,
    And would suffice.

    -Robert Frost

  8. Specter says:

    I know I have been issued at least 30 invitations to beta. I have ignored each and every one in my desire to go into the next expansion with as fresh a feeling as I can manage. I wish to recapture that “new car smell” the game had when I first logged in. Granted I will be level 85… but I am not willing to give up EVERYTHING in my quest. The age old question of if you could go back in time and start over with your current knowledge would you… I find my answer is “Not quite.”

  9. Erex says:

    I got so far that I played through the starter area for monk and moved my druid over. And then I stopped and decided that learning Mist could wait until it was released. Too much to do inCata to consentrating on Mist. And since it looks like I have to change my muscle responses to play properly in Mist would mean to unteach some of my current muscle responses, the choice was easy :-)

  10. Michelle R says:

    I went into the beta for MoP a few times to check things out, then decided I didn’t want to ruin the fun and surprise of a new area/quests for myself and the kids, the only thing I went on to try, when it came up, was the pet battles and then it was to get my daughter re-interested in the game. All she wants to do it get to 60 so she can get flight form on her druid and collect pets, oh and pvp with her brother. It’s fun watching the two of them go into a bg together, my daughter bouncing around in prowl watching her brother’s back (rogue), tossing him the occasional heal and the both just having fun.

  11. Clanadd says:

    BBB doing tanking guides again?!? Now I’m excited!!

    When I started Bear Tanking your guides were what got me through. Sure there were other guides around but none that didn’t either lose their way in theorycrafting (Does an extra 0.1% mitigation really count when my ping was over 300ms) or didn’t understand the difference between Bear Tanking and other classes.

    For what it is worth BBB, I am sure there are many of us Bears who would love to see your guides again. Please bring back the common sense approach that is so often sorely lacking.

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