Archive for the “Druiding” Category

If you follow MMO Champion this morning, there is one damn thing I want to shout from the rooftops. Then I’m off to work, I swear.

The new Druid Glyph of Fae Silence adds a silence component to Faerie Fire.

You hear that, mother f&(*%^?

Druids done be getting a RANGED SILENCE!

That is all.

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Good day to you, my friends, and welcome to what is likely to be the only WoW blog post you’ll read today that ain’t about Patch 4.2 or the Firelands.

What I wanted to share with you was my excitement and nervousness as I boldy embark on a great new adventure in the life of the Big Bear Butt.

No, I ain’t quitting WoW. Or the blog.

Some of you got your hopes up there for a second, didn’t ya?

My Druid has, for the very first time in the history of WoW, got a Moonkin spec, and I’m not afraid to use it.

I knew so little about the Moonkin lifestyle going into this that it’d be just like having someone hand you their max level character and saying, “Here, go play this for a while. Have fun, knock yourself out.”

“But what do all these things do? How do they work together?”
“Eh, you’ll figure it out.”
“Hey, why did you rename your character Farkingebaynub?”
“I believe in giving my friends fair warning.”

After reading up about the current state of the spec at Grey Matter, I find I’m pretty excited. It’s always cool to try something completely new, and this ain’t even an alt. This is my main.

The joys of playing a hybrid. Even after all these years, you can have the same character, and still do something new.

Now, before we go any further, this post ain’t to say, “Oh, look at me, I did something new, blah blah blah”. What this is about is the excitement of learning about a very rich, well imagined and implemented character class. 

Last night, after reading Graylos’ fully updated Moonkin raiding guide, and checking out the recommendations of the Twitterati, I walked away impressed with how well conceived the spec sounds now.

These days, I expect each class to be well-balanced.

I expect classes to be designed so that, in the hands of a reasonably competant player, DPS characters can reach a consistent sustained and burst damage ratio. Tanks can survive a certain amount of damage for a certain amount of time, and have cooldowns to boost spike survivability. Healers can generate positive health by a certain amount per second, to a certain number of players to handle burst and sustained damage.

Maybe one is capable of a little more burst compared to the others, or handles sustained fights with consistent output while others go silent to recoup Mana, but by and large, they’re balanced.

What surprises me about the Moonkin is how delightful the Eclipse management system sounds as a concept, how different it seems to the other caster classes I’ve played.

With the other classes, you cast a spell, it activates, and aside from what it can do, it might also trigger something else that makes another spell more powerful. Once that buff is gone, though, you start over. Warlocks can burn their Soul Shards to buff spells, but it’s still a ‘cast this, trigger something else to be buffed, cast first spell again and start sequence fresh’ type of power progression.

For the Moonkin, this whole Eclipse sounds like an amazing playstyle to flow with.

Maybe you’re a highly experienced Moonkin player, or maybe you don’t know anything about them and don’t care, but from my fresh perspective, it sounds brilliant and I’m itching to try it on level 85 bad guys.

In fact, the only thing about it that I would wish, coming at it completely fresh, is that I wish the spell names and effects were tweaked the rest of the way to really highlight that you’re channeling the raw power of the Sun or the Moon.

You have an actual Eclipse bar registering both Solar and Lunar energy. Think of it as how attuned you are to one or the other at any given time.

Some of your spells, when cast, generate Solar power, and others generate Lunar power.

When your bar is at full Solar or Lunar power, you are at an Eclipse. The corresponding power is buffed… but every time you cast that spell, you move away from full eclipse and back towards the other side. The buff remains until the moment you reach equilibrium.

The amazing thing about this mechanic, to me, is that it gives you control over when your Eclipse buff will go off. Not all of your spells cause Solar or Lunar power… and you can intentionally cast the opposing spell to drop your bar back a step.

Think of it this way, and by all means correct me if I’m wrong, but say you’re on a boss fight.

For a lot of the fight, you’re doing the best damage you can, including pushing to each Eclipse point, but at some point you want to be able to push it on command. To ‘pop all cooldowns’, to go all out. Heroism is fired, everybody on the boss.

You want to be using Eclipse to buff your spells during the fight, otherwise you are hurting yourself, sure. But you also know that when the boss falls to, say, 35% health, it’s time to go all in. And when the mark ticks 35%, that’s when you want your chosen Eclipse, Lunar or Solar, to activate.

So when the boss gets to 40% or so and you’re getting close, a Moonkin can cast a Lunar spell pushing towards a Lunar Eclipse… and then once you’re on the edge of the Eclipse, cast a Solar spell or two, bringing it back again.

At 35% boss health, you can actually cast that one last Lunar spell, tipping the bar to 100 and firing off a Lunar Eclipse, right on schedule, buffing your Lunar spells like crazy. But of course, each buffed Lunar spell you cast drops you back towards equilibrium again.

That’s so freaking cool.

As I said, my only teeny gripe about this is that some of your spells are still Nature based in name. To my mind, the idea that you are channeling the raw force of the Sun, or the more muted, radiant energy reflected off the Moon is awesome. I’d prefer all my spells to relate to this Solar/Lunar theme.

I fully understand that the Moonkin started out with pure Nature, and the Solar/Lunar thing grew later based on Moonfires and Starfires, but now the Eclipse theme is so sweet that I’d like to expand on that, and leave the Swarm of Angry little Bees Chasing Pooh the Bear behind, y’know? I’d love to see Entangling Roots become more of a Gravity Well thing to pin people down.

I ain’t crying, just saying.

And for those of you that love Moonkin and wish they’d drop Solar and Lunar Eclipse, Moonfire and stuff, and go back to pure Nature for the spell theme… I totally understand.

I personally see the Eclipse thing as being more appropriate to an Astrologer-style Mage, and seeming kind of wierd tacked on to the Owlbear.

But I love the Moonkin form, the Moonkin dance, and the Eclipse cosmology. Can I help it if I want them juxtaposed, no matter how little sense it might make?

So, off I go. I intend to try running normal instances as Moonkin to try my hand at the playstyle. I’m going to explore totally new territory.

Oh wait, I AM scared. Hold me!

Now, on to a more serious note.

The Moonkin playstyle really is not that different from other casters, except that it gives you the ability to manage a resource that has no zero point. You have a sliding scale, and at any given time, you are moving somewhere on the scale, and you can change directions at will. 

It is that aspect of the mechanic added to the traditional caster playstyle that I find very intriguing. With the help of addons like the one Graylo recommends, Balance Power, you can see exactly where you are at any given moment, and also how far the next spell you are actively casting is about to push you towards an Eclipse.

This small addition is just enough to take away the feeling that there is a specific fixed rotation to master, and instead, however mistakenly, gives me the feeling I am in control of my own destiny. I and I alone choose when I buff my spells, AND which spells will be buffed (Solar or Lunar), based on the choices I will make. The moment I unleash the power of an Eclipse will be in my hands.

It’s a small thing, but at the same time, just the idea feels more fulfilling than knowing that a spell I cast as a Mage has a chance to proc an extra buff or effect on a Crit.

I have no control over when crits go off, unless I have a spell I can trigger to make my next cast spell an auto-crit, which doesn’t have the same feel. All I can really do is stack more crit, which is a function of gear upgrades and Reforging/Gemming and Enchanting.

It’s a small thing, but it adds an excitement to the idea of playing a ranged spellcaster that had been a little lacking before.

It makes me wonder… is the way the Moonkin changed over the years a sign of how Blizzard sees class design these days? And if so, is this the level of control over our class we can expect to see them introducing in the new MMO they’ve been working on?

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PvP – Where big bear butt is the OTHER white meat

Gnomer wrote a post recently that would have had me blushing if I were still capable of it, and along with the love he called me out big time on being a slacker. Which, of course, I am.

What is the one aspect of the game that I have chosen to remain willfully ignorant of?

Shout it out with me, friends; PvP!

Now, I’m not entirely ignorant of what PvP is, just mostly ignorant.

Believe it or not, I have dipped my paw in the PvP pool before.

What, when? Why, back in Burning Crusade, when there were some sweet PvE rewards you could purchase for honor points, especially weapons and high-armor Leather items my Bear craved for the multiplier values.

I took my Druid into battlegrounds… and I took my long abandoned Priest, too. I wanted the epic PvP spellpower mace to help me Shadow it up in Karazhan.  

Yes, I know, surprise! Bear has a Priest. A Priest who has been abandoned since the day after WotLK came out. And now we move past the Priest, thank you very much.

Okay, Priests for 5 more seconds. I have tried to resurrect my Priest several times, and failed miserably. Lately, some Priest bloggers I read, and some Priests I know in Band of Misfits, have all made it look so damn cool and fun to heal as a Priest that they’re tempting me. But no! I cannot! Must. Stay. Focused.

I played in some PvP battlegrounds in Burning Crusade. I did! I wanted those points from the BG daily quests for bonus honor, so I saw all of them at the time, plus my favorite BG when it wasn’t the daily, Alterac Valley.

I liked Alterac Valley. I liked taking part of a massive battle fought in that valley, with multiple objectives, tactical opportunities, spoiler attacks, flanking manuevers, supply lines to cut (graveyards), the whole thing. The scope of Alterac Valley was pretty awesome.

I know this may sound stupid, but I also really liked the story and lore between the Orcs and Dwarves fighting over control of the valley. I did Alterac Valley a bit during vanilla WoW, back when the quests led you towards upgrading your Trinkets, and I still have my own trinket in my Druid’s bags. I enjoyed taking part in that story, it felt so epic. 

So, if it was all so damn great, why did I grind out the honor for the gear I wanted, and never went back?

What kept me out of BGs was a combination of three things; I don’t like PUGs, I don’t like trash talk, and I don’t like being part of a chaotic mess.

I don’t like PUGs. I don’t like playing with silent, faceless strangers. If I’m in a group, I like to be able to chat with them, hear them yell in joy or anger, shout in frustration, bitch when they get eaten by a grue. Vent is king. Plus, coordination and response is much stronger with friends, even if you’re NOT on vent.

I don’t like trash talking, name calling, blame throwing or errant bullshit spewed on chat channels, and from what I’ve seen over the years, that’s about the norm in BGs.

And I don’t like chaos. There is a learning curve to anything, and when you are first introduced to a new BG, with a map that is unfamiliar, names you don’t know, and objectives that aren’t spelled out for you, it’s all a mad swirl.

That’s fine, because even if you don’t read up on them, it doesn’t take long before you understand what’s going on and learn where things are, and what people mean by “Head for ICG!” or somesuch.

What fascinates me about BGs is that, no matter how long they are out, it seems at least half of the group, every single time, doesn’t know anything at all about where things are or what to do or why to do it. Even after all these years, half the people in a BG act like they’ve never set foot in one before.

Are that many players really trying battlegrounds for the first time every time? Am I just fortunate in my zone timing? Or are that many people just incapable, or unwilling, to learn?

I don’t know, but the larger the scope of the battle, the more chaotic it gets, and when you want to win, that is irritating in the extreme. Win or lose because you were outfought and outplayed by the other side, not because your side had the greater number of lost children and fools.

Last night, I entered Tol Barad with nine other guildies, and we proceeded to run around and kill people, and that was a lot of fun.

There were other guildies chatting in vent so there was some fun buzz, and that helped me completely ignore typed chat so I didn’t even see the usual idiocy until people in vent brought it up.

There was lots of tense battling, as Horde defended and we attacked. Excitement! Chills! Thrills! A raid run hanging in the balance!

We lost, but that was okay. It was fun.

Except… if the rest of the guildies hadn’t been there, all the things that MADE it fun would have been gone. What would have been left was fighting for the sake of fighting in a chaotic melee, while people bitched in chat. Meh.

It’s not going to be my last time in a BG. I want a seagull pet, and they can only be acquired through PvP in Tol Barad. So be it. I have a goal. And, much like my time in Burning Crusade, once I have enough points to achieve my goal, I will vanish once again.

The only thing that would keep me going back would be going with friends and having fun with friends, chatting in vent while we lived and, more often, died.

Would I run with the Gnomer? You bet your butt I would! Wouldn’t you? If only to toss a flare on him so the other side could see him more clearly just as his internet took a lag spike and threw him into freeze frame.

What are friends for?

Internet Dragons – Awww, hell yeah!

In other news… I can now do what all Druids should aspire to; I can assume my Dragon form.

When I played AD&D, the Druid class was one of my favorites there too. I loved the concept of nature as the ultimate weapon, and I loved Druids being able to shapechange into any other animal form they were familiar with, depending on the hit dice of the critter they were taking on. The higher in level you were, the more powerful an animal form you could assume.

Those might be house rules we ran with in the service, to be honest I can’t remember what the actual first edition Druid rules said about shapeshifting.

I do remember when someone decided to take on humpback whale form, because we all wanted to slap the silly bastard for jumping the shark breaking the genre. Just because the rules say you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should.

I also remember the sad day when the ruling was made in our group that Dragons were not natural creatures, but instead inherently magical due to the wingspan issue, so they could not ever be a Druid form.

A Druid well studied in archaeology might take a Dinosaur form, however.

I always wanted to be the Druid that could turn into a dragon. Always. Surprise ambush by Rogues in the woods? Dragon. Attacked by an army of the damned? Dragon. Bar fight? Dragon. Behind in your taxes? Dragon.

It’s the best answer to any problem. Once you apply Dragon to it, it goes away.

Last night Bigbearbutt learned how to transform into a dragon.

Now, Cassie doesn’t really see why I’d be so excited. After all, I can’t herb in Dragon form. The claws are just too big to get ahold of those itty bitty herbs. And it takes more time to shift into Dragon form, because hey… it’s a Dragon. A fast bird is a little thing of feathers and fluff, but we’re talking Dragon. It’s gonna take more time.

But utility ain’t the POINT. I’m a freaking DRAGON.

Wanna go for a ride?

Raiding – looking for more, please have a sense of humor. I need to be kept entertained.

In other news… Band of Misfits on Azuremyst has three raid teams, Team Teddybear, Team Snuffalupugus, and a third team whose name escapes me at the moment. I feel bad, but I can’t very well look it up right now.

I am in Team Teddybear, and Team Teddybear’s co-raid leader, Matheo, would like me to let you know that there is a strong need for a healer to join us in our raids. He’s looking for, hopefully, a Paladin or Shaman healer. The server is Azuremyst-US, on West Coast time, and the raid times are a fixed 5:00 PM start going for three hours Saturday and a 5:00 PM start going for 2 hours on Sunday.

The raid team is working on Nefarian in BWD, and is looking in a menacing way at the Ascendant Council in BoT.

If any of that is of interest to you, please send ingame mail to Matheo to let him know.

I ain’t raiding this weekend at all myself, since, you know….

The TERRY PRATCHETT convention is going on this weekend in Madison, Wisconsin! And I’m gonna be there!

Woot!!!

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I’ve been having just the most incredibly fun time on Azuremyst with my new alts.

Wait, how is that possible? I’ve been playing WoW for years and years and years. How can it still be fun? No, scratch that, how could it possibly be awesome?

Haven’t I heard? All the cool kids are sneering at WoW and going off to play other games that are newer and cooler and better and stuffs!

I had heard a bit of that going around, but I do strongly believe that attitude matters. If you walk around looking for an excuse to feel pissed off, seems to me it doesn’t take long to accomplish that goal.

I’ve never been what you could call pissed off at WoW. I’ve just been adrift, trying to find my center. My happy thought.

I can’t fly if I don’t have my happy thought, damn it.

Well, I’m flying now, baby. Figuratively.

The first thing I’m finding is that I really missed the challenge of being broke. Of being on my own without a big sugar daddy supporting my low level adventures.

I made a Death Knight on Azuremyst, but I got so into my Druid that I never leveled him to 60 to get flying. Just having too much fun, you know? I’m sure glad I didn’t now!

Having only the money that I make myself on low level characters by playing the auction house and gathering has added a degree of challenge that has been long missing, and I’m loving it.

Selling that stack of copper ore for 19 gold 24 silver really feels like I scored! It’s the little things.

The second thing I’m loving is I finally have a clear set of goals.

On my normal server, I’ve got 10 characters, and half the time when I log in, I’d be staring at the list, trying to figure out who to play. Too many characters, too many levels, too much damn history.

On Azuremyst, I’ve got a Fury Warrior that I retired as being too bloody easy to level (sorry, but he is), I’ve got my Feral Druid that is just a gas, and I’ve got this up and coming Hunter that I’m really rocking the place with.

Two characters I’m enjoying… and almost as though it’s a second chance to play the game for the very first time, I’m playing them… but I’m doing it up right this time.

My Druid was the first one to go down the road of “Hey, why don’t I…”.

They added this new (to me) kitty mount to Darnassus Rep a while back; the Striped Dawnsaber. I love that mount. I’ve lusted after it for a low level character ever since Cassie bought one for her Night Elf Druid when we started playing Mage/Druid together.

I never had a chance at that mount for any of MY Night Elf characters when leveling. By the time it was added, my Hunter had the Mammoth and my Druid had the chicken mount from Sethekk Halls.

Now, I can finally have that chance. Even better, mounts scale with your Riding skill, so I can have that land mount I love, and keep using it all the way to 85!

Adding to the fun, neither my Druid nor my Hunter are Night Elves. To get that mount… I need to get my Darnassus rep to Exalted. So if I really want that mount early enough to be fun… I gotta work for it.

What’s that, a challenge? Well, aw shucks.

Having that goal made the game even more interesting for the last week. After all, I have to find two different ways to get that rep, or I’ll burn out doing the same zone quests twice in a row.

I’ve almost nailed that challenge on BOTH.

What I did was, I went back to Teldrassil on my Worgen Druid, and played through all of the quests. I’m in the early stages of Ashenvale, and I’m already halfway through Revered with Darnassus. No problem.

Once I got to that point and knew that my Druid was right in the bullseye, I switched over to my Hunter.

My Human Hunter, having the advantage of Human rep bonuses, didn’t go to Teldrassil right away. Instead, after I got the Darnassus tabard, I started doing Stormwind related zones to get my Stormwind rep to Exalted.

I kept at it until I hit Exalted with Stormwind doing quests… and along the way, the shared rep with the Alliance factions got me 1 point away from Honored with everyone else. I also ran some random instances in PUGs, getting rep from the tabard.

By the time I entered Teldrassil on my Hunter, I was well on my way to Revered, and this evening I had barely set foot in Ashenvale when I dinged Exalted. I got it on my third quest in the zone.

Isn’t she pretty?

I really love the looks of that kitty.

Having this extra challenge I set for myself has really been great. It’s been so exciting to see what it would take to get there, without ruining the quests my Druid is doing.

Speaking of kitties, there was that other thing about my Hunter…

Cassie came through. Well, of course she did.

After one hellaciously long run at level 16 through Stranglethorn getting flight points along the way to Booty Bay and the boat to Ratchet, I made my way over land to that infamous den of mindless PvP, Crossroads.

There, Cassie summoned me a pet that I’ve been proud to have by my side ever since.

Say hello to… Moonshine. :)

It feels very rewarding to play the game this way. I’m not just questing through the zones, I’m using my knowledge of the game, of the zones, of how reputation works, of what rewards are available and what pets are where, to do what I would have loved to do when I first started playing the game years and years ago.

I have a level 31 Human Hunter riding a Darnassus cat with Echeyakee for a pet. It doesn’t get more gigglicious than that.

Yes, that’s a word now. Shush.

What I’m really looking forward to now are the quest zones I have yet to see.

My Hunter and Druid are both poised to quest in zones I’ve never set foot in since the Cataclysm.

Mu Hunter is heading to Hinterlands, and will do the Hinterlands – Western Plaguelands – Eastern Plaguelands – Badlands sequence. I understand that Badlands, in particular, rocks.

My Druid is going to finish out Ashenvale and move further on down Kalimdor, seeing how the land was sundered. I hope there is lots of fun for Alliance to have in Thousand Needles. South Barrens looks crazy!

Honestly, it’s a brave new world. I’ve limited my character options, removed the safety net of lots of max level characters, no longer have Cassie there to “run me through” something on her main if I just want to knock out a quick instance for quests, and have to earn every silver piece I get, for a given WoW value of “earn”.

It’s just like playing a brand new game… fresh and exciting. Except I, like… already know all the secrets and tricks and where everything can be found, and where resources are on the web.

As a side note, and I know this will seem very sudden to some people, but I can no longer be found in the guild Eff the Ineffable.

The folks there are wonderful folks who went out of their way to try and make me feel right at home, and I am very grateful to them for the invitation that brought me out of my Kael’thas shell to try something new. Please don’t believe that I have anything aganst them in any way. I don’t.

But a guild has to be a good fit for both the guild and the people in it, and while the people are great, their goals and mine within the game just aren’t the same.

I hadn’t realized going into it that they had formed the guild as a new place to make a solid go of raiding, and that there had been a lot of worry and sadness recently over what to do to get a guild of people focused on raiding. They are working very hard to get everything right, and from everything I’ve seen a re doing great.

I had been invited by nice folks I knew through Twitter, and I was very glad to go and spend time with friendly people, but in the end, the fact is I’m not a raider. That’s not my focus in the game. It’s not where my cheese is to be found.

I had lots of fun lurking in the guild chat channel… but I wasn’t a contributor to the success of the guild, and I knew that I never would be. I’d be that guy that dings 85, and then moves on to a new alt. Just when I could finally start pulling my weight in the guild and help them do what they want to be doing, I’d be moving on to another alt.  

I know that I could have stayed and been very welcome, and I’m sure nobody would have ever said anything to me about it… but I have to feel that if I am part of something, I am actually a contributing part of it. I have to feel I’m pulling my weight. 

It just wasn’t going to happen. That was, honestly, the single biggest reason I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I’d been thinking about it all week. I did have some minor issues with one person earlier in the day, but it had nothing whatsoever to do with my decision to leave. I’d been thinking about what I should do from the moment I read up about the guild and how it was formed, and realized they were a raiding guild, and meant it.

So, I said my goodbyes and left.

I’ve got some other friends on the server, I’ve been around long enough that I think I know someone on darn near every server in the US at this point. Hedwig and Matheo have invited me to hang out with Band of Misfits, a more casually-oriented guild on the server. They still raid, a LOT, word is they’ve got three raiding teams, and do so very well from what I understand… but from everything I’ve been told, it’s very casual friendly. I’ll be able to contribute to the guild by running light content in 5 person instances, and questing together with folks, or by being an occasional fill-in if someone needs a hand. That’s something I think I can handle. Plus, I won’t have that feeling that if I’m not raiding and helping the guild push through new content, that I’m not doing my part.

There are a lot of very, very nice people in Eff the Ineffable. They’re going to be pretty big stars on the raiding scene, because they have everything they need; a great GM, wonderful guild members, a mature, adult attitude and a determination to succeed. If raiding with good people is what you’re looking for, people who will actually come prepared, looking to succeed or get a punch to the crotch, then Effs’ the guild for you.

I owe the people of Eff the Ineffable a huge debt of gratitude. I may not be a raider at heart, but they brought me in and put me in a situation where I was able to rediscover all the things I love about WoW, and get my gaming groove back on.

When I get home from work now, I’m really looking forward to what I’m going to do when I log in. I’m thinking of the challenges ahead, and of what kind of neat stuff I can get up to in the world of Azeroth. That’s something that was missing for a while, and I knew I had to get an attitude adjustment to find it. I’m glad I’m back in the game.

If you’ve read this far, thank you all very much for your patience, and have a great week.

Comments 22 Comments »

Thank you very much for the wonderful folks that all emailed in so fast to give me a copy of my lost post, which is included below. I dearly appreciate it. Thank you specifically to Mee, Gregory L, Beefeater, Grimmtooth the Great, Bhal the awesome, Adamonius, Darth Solo, Dan M, Steven W and Ben O, the fastest emailers out there.

Again, thank you all very much.

~~~~~

I got an email this morning from one of my favoritest friends in or out of the game, whose name shall remain undivulged because I want to use a cool sounding pseudonym for him. Something like “Deep Throat”, but without the… interesting connotations.

I think I’ll henceforth call him…. “The Admiral”.

Anyway, so The Admiral had sent me an email, and while reading it, I was inspired to write this here post. Because what The Admiral wrote me about was a friend of his that had lost interest in playing his Hunter after the mechanics changes, and instead had found a new love… playing a Druid.

Playing a Feral Druid in Cataclysm

I can completely understand the fascination with a Feral Druid. Especially right now, if you are fortunate enough to start in the ‘right’ zone.

I am playing two characters through the new level 80+ content, my Druid and my Hunter.

I chose, completely arbitrarily, to start my Druid in Vashj’ir, and my Hunter in Mount Hyjal. I didn’t really know anything going into it, intentionally.

I’ve completed both zones now, and in hindsight, I’m insanely happy I chose to set them apart that way.

In Vashj’ir, it’s a Druid’s wet dream. Ahem.

The advantage to both mechanics and feel of having a character with instant cast swimming form in Vashj’ir cannot be overstated.

I never, ever used the seahorse mount in Vashj’ir. There was no point. With the press of a button I instantly become a svelte beastie of destruction, powering through the depths.

Herbing? Let me talk to you about herbing.

I leveled to 525 Herbalism just swimming superfast routes in the last zone of Vashj’ir, swoop in, herb and swoop off. Lots of times, I’d aggro things on the way to the Herb and not care, because I could scarf up that herb and be off before they got to me. 

Being able to fly around and Herb without leaving form in normal zones is nice, but it just feels like awesome to the tenth power to do it in swimming form. As a Druid, the water environment isn’t your enemy, it’s your advantage.

Of course, it need not be reiterated how awesome Bear Bouncing on the sea floor is. :)

Vashj’ir just feels like a Druid dominated zone to me. The other classes may visit, but we own it.

I started messing around in Vashj’ir on my Enhancement Shaman, and while I love the look of the seahorsie, it’s just not the same. Not even close. What, I have to actually dismount to pick something up? Really?

How quaint.

The Hunter side of things.

On the flip side, my Hunter has finished Mount Hyjal, and had a wonderful time doing it.

When the massive class changes came out, I really didn’t play any of my level 80s.  left them alone in favor of new race/class combinations. My single biggest pleasure was leveling a new Human Hunter.

I know a lot of players are dissatisfied with the changes that were made to Hunter mechanics, but I’m not one of them.

I have only ever been a Beastmaster, so of course I can only speak from my limited experience with only one spec. Also, I never really was much of a raider, so the performance at the upper echelons is not something I am familiar with. Please, don’t take this as a “there’s nothing wrong with Hunters so shush” commentary, it’s a statement that ”there’s nothing but awesome for my particular style of gameplay, but your mileage may vary.”

For my Hunter, the single biggest change, to me, wasn’t shifting from Mana to Focus.

It was nice, since I was able to empty my bags of worthless pots and mana food, and I’d never, ever have to worry about forgetting to switch from Viper back to Hawk again. But it wasn’t the biggest change for me.

No, the biggest change was putting the timing of pet threat control directly in my hands, finally.

Kill Command is wonderful.

Before the changes to mechanics, when I sent in my pet to attack, Growl was on auto-cast. In the old days, it served as a Taunt, automatically placing the pet highest on the mob’s threat list when it was cast, just like every player tank Taunt ability. Then, the mechanic of pet Growl was changed to be a hugh threat generating ability, rather than a true Taunt.

I’m sure the idea was, take the power of Taunting off of tanks away from Hunters in random pugs.

How many times did you as a tank experience that? “Could you please take your pet off Growl, he’s taunting off of me. It’s annoying.”

So, a good change. But not the best change. It only went halfway for me.

My core issue with the pet Growl mechanic had always been, the power was taken out of your hands, and placed on an autocast with a cooldown timer, OR you had to leave it shut off and activate it manually. Either a full loaf, or none at all.

Then the new patch changed the mechanics of Kill Command for me.

Now, I can leave Growl on all the time on autocast. It generates high threat for my pet every time it activates, which helps my pet generate more threat than I do over the course of a fight.

But I ALSO have Kill Command at my control, and when I use it, my pet does one hellacious instant CHOMP on the enemy, right when I want him to.

I have yet to see my pet not immediately grab aggro from the mob away from me when I give the command to Kill. And I love it.

I find that, WITH Kill Command, I never, ever use Intimidation. It’s superfluous for my solo play. Kill Command is where it’s at for me.

I don’t even wait for the pet to get to the mob anymore. I use Kill Command and timing to manuever the mob to die where I want it to.

I shoot the mob at range to get it to move towards me, use my send pet/mark target macro to get the pet moving, timed to intercept the mob at the appropriate point, and then at the precise point I want the mob to stop dead in it’s tracks, I pop Kill Command.

The feeling of control over the battlefield this gives me is a pleasure all on it’s own. It’s an illusion, of course, I’m not really in control, mobs could respawn, others cold charge in, etc, but it feels like it.

Even better, my Ferocity pets all seem to have enough health to hold their own JUST FINE against 3 to 4 mobs.

I now use my pets to pave the way clear before me as I race to an objective. You know, like an ore node deep in a cave.

As I went Ore farming in Hyjal, there’s this one cave full of ogres that always seems to have tons of ore.

It’s bloody well infested with ogres, though. I’d say the best solution is to roll in some canisters of VX and drop a boulder over the entrance, but what the heck. I’ll go in. Why not? My pet is badass.

I take that cave at a dead run. 

I’d run in and send the pet after the first mob in front of me to eat some face. I’d keep going, leaving my pet behind, and as I approach the next mob, I’d send my pet after that one as well. My pet would leave the first mob behind and go heading after mob two, and once in range, boom, Kill Command. I’d just keep going.

Four mobs in, and my pet has brought all four mobs to me, I’ve never been hit more than two or three times, I mine the node unbothered by interruptions, and then turn around and help my pet burn all four down to the ground.

No muss, no fuss. Plenty of health to endure.  

Seriously, I’m having a blast. My Hunter is better than ever for me, specifically because I feel that, win or lose, I have all the tools I could possibly want to control the flow of the battle, and keep myself out of trouble.

And don’t even get me started on Trap Launchers and new pets and more pet slots!

Play at your own pace

The new zones I’ve played in, Vashj’ir and Hyjal, are great. They’re very immersive, and have wonderful variation in quests. I liked them both.

I know that folks have been very concerned with the phasing, and how it may affect future replayability on alts. There is a worry out there that, on alts trying to level through the content fast, or on multiple characters that you want different experiences with, that the having the content be phased and require 100% conpletion of the previous quest hub before being able to move to the next will force everyone to have to do everything, all the time.

I can see it, but only time will tell how I feel about it.

What I am enjoying is how much fun, and I’ll be honest, how cute some of the quests are, especially in Hyjal.

I’ve been taking the game at my own pace, exactly as I said I would, and as a result my Druid is barely level 83, my Hunter is level 82, and both are at 0% in Deepholm.

Both are maxed at their gathering professions, but I am taking my time and enjoying the questing.

When I got to the forest fire part of Hyjal, being sent out to save bunnies and squirrels, I was delighted. But those little bastards can MOVE, man.

Then I got to go rescue three Fawns from the flames, and escort them back.

Tell you the truth?

I rescued more Fawns than I had to. And I didn’t revive a Fawn and then mount up and fly like hell back, forcing the little fawn to run like hell through fire to keep up, either. I carefully planned routes to keep the poor little woodland creature out of the fire and away from danger.

I really enjoyed that quest.

Then I encountered the Chuck A Bear quest.

Look, can I take a moment to ask wtf Blizzard is trying to say about me?

First, I run into the ‘go gather bear brains’ quest in Duskwood. Go out, kill bears, and bring back their brains.

Okay, that’s insulting, but then you loot a bear skull, and the tagline says, “This was a bear of very little brain.”

Now they’re sending me up in trees to throw bear cubs at a trampoline. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe.

I’m beginning to detect a trend. Ahem.

Okay, I’m just jealous, I’ll admit it. I wish the type of bear you were sent to kill to harvest brains in Duskwood also dropped flanks of big bear butt, just to make it clear who the bear of very little brain happened to be. That would make me very happy. :)

My point is, I’m taking my time, reading the quest text, and in some cases, I’m simply role playing my way through the quests. I’m not going for number of quests completed in the shortest time, I’m having fun at my own pace and enjoying the game. 

Along the way, I’m having a blast. It’s such a great game, and if there is fault, it’s simply that there is so MUCH I want to do, and I want to do it all right now.

Am I the only one?

How about you? Are you really enjoying the content of the game, exploring the world and the stories within it, taking your time?

Or are you really excited about reaching max level, getting geared up and taking on the end game group challenges together with your guild or your friends?

Or is it somewhere in between?

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