Archive for the “Mists of Pandaria news” Category

Looking back on it, I applaud Blizzard for the legendary questline they have provided us through Wrathion as Mists of Pandaria progresses.

As a first grand attempt, I think it has succeeded in it’s largest challenge; how not to alienate the players.

Going into this expansion, Blizzard was faced with the eternal question, “How do we keep people from unsubscribing after they complete each dose of new content?”

It’s got to be the toughest challenge any company can face in this age of jaded gamers.

We gamers have many options for our dollar and our playtime, and the politics of playing have gotten ridiculous over the years.

Just one small aspect of it; there are undoubtedly players who will refuse to play World of Warcraft because it is an MMO with a monthly subscription payment system.

Think about it. There are players, I’ve spoken with them, they could play WoW, they like the game itself, they can easily afford it, but they are philosophically opposed to financially supporting any MMO that uses a subscription model.

In this kind of gaming climate, how does a company that uses a subscription-based system keep people from dropping and coming back?

In years gone by, we saw one method; bribery. “Sign up for a year of WoW, locked in with legal agreements, and we’ll give you a neat mount and a free copy of our new video game when it releases next year.”

What was the result? Many folks accepted the agreement, I among them, enjoyed the mount and Diablo III, and continued on. It didn’t affect my decision as to resubbing, because I knew I wasn’t going to unsubscribe anyway.

My wife, on the other hand, debated over it for a very long time, and in the end did NOT take the one year agreement. She did not want to be locked in to the game for a whole year, if she finally drifted away entirely.

The funny thing is, she did not then and still has not unsubscribed. Not once. But she refused to close off the option to unsubscribe. She wanted control over the choice of paying to play the game or not on her terms.

There was quite a lot of cynical irritation and red-hot rhetoric when the one year plan was announced. Who needs that kind of mess in their Public Relations department? Who really wants to see more morons and malcontents swear at Ghostcrawler as if it was his personal intention to piss people off?

For Mists of Pandaria, instead of a one year agreement, we’ve had a very different strategy.

The first part has been the increased rate of content releases. There has never been this amount of content released in such a short span of time. Blizzard started the expansion by promising an accelerated content push, and they have delivered.

So, lots more content to do, new content coming fast and fresh, less opportunity for someone to blow through it all and get bored, followed by an unsub. Right?

As part of the first wave of that content, there were many, many factions with gear upgrades, reputation gating, and daily quests. Many, many faction daily quests. There was a bit of a blowback on that, we could see where it was headed. It just felt too harsh, it needed some adjusting. Which came, there have been constant tweaks as we go. The Valor cap system and the changes to it have been amazing. The Commendations for alts have been nothing short of brilliant.

Another thing that was introduced to much discussion was the legendary questline from Wrathion once we reach level 90.

So much to do in this questline, gated by progression and drops from Raids that could be done in normal or Looking For Raid, and by grinding reputation with Wrathion.

Staged progression, that required continuous investments of time. You didn’t have to log in every single day to maintain progression on the Legendary questline, but you almost have had to log in and maximize your progression every week to stay current.

I started on a different character than the one I play now. I started on the chain on my Hunter. I am now completing it on my Warlock, and at the point I switched, I was about one month behind the progress of everyone who had stayed perfectly current. I am, right now, still 6 Titan Runestone drops from completing the current stage of the questline, when most of the folks I play with have their cloak or are only one or two stones away. So, even though i have continued on it to the best of my ability every week, starting one month late has me still one month behind.

I’m not going to call the Legendary Questline a perfect win for keeping subscriptions up. I’m calling it an excellent first attempt, and a wonderful work in progress.

The implementation has had it’s problems. Some items of the questline were only useful if you had been lucky enough to get the corresponding item to mate it with in LFR, something that was certainly hit or miss. Raise your hands if you had a gem or an extra socket long before you got a weapon to put it on? Yeah, me too.

Overall, I have enjoyed the questline.

Yes, I know it is meant to keep me logging in each week to try and get drops from weekly raid lockouts, completed daily quests to gain Wrathion rep, and maintain my progress. But that’s okay.

Each step of the way has brought more than the mechanics of a drop hunt or a rep grind. There have been cutscenes, story development, a sense of building a relationship, taking part of a developing story, and along the way completing solo scenarios that are new and fresh, just like the Warlock Green Fire questline but there for everyone to see.

There are a few reasons I think it’s not quite perfect yet.

First, while it’s kept me engaged in the game week by week, it’s had the effect of pushing Cassie further away.

She was too busy with work stuff to play much for a few months. When she had time and came back, she felt that she was so far behind everyone else that it would be too big of a pain in the butt to try and start now. The weight of everything out there to do, all the grinds that have to be completed weighs on someone who hasn’t started it yet. There have been adjustments, more frequent drops for earlier stages, reduced Valor requirements, etc but it doesn’t change the feeling of being too far behind to ever catch up.

Especially when she sees that I’m doing it every week and I’m still over a month away from getting a Cloak, assuming I continue to maintain my lack of luck on Runestone drops.

So as much as it kept me going and giving me a reason to do LFR wings long after my gear was past it, it has pushed her away and given her greater reason to feel disconnected with the world of WoW. She now feels like an outsider, watching other people engaged in this massive questline without her.

The other reason is simply the length of each stage of grind. Some of them haven’t felt too bad, but the initial Valor grind. That sucked. That was like a wall of “I don’t want to Valor cap anymore” to push through.

I did it anyway… TWICE before they reduced the Valor needed, but it was still brutal, because it let me feel like if I did not Valor cap by God every week, I was not performing up to expectations. No, there were no real managers supervising my performance. But it left that feeling of work going undone if I didn’t Valor cap. Did some people let that wall o’ Valor stop them? I imagine some might have looked at it and said, “nope, nope, nope.” At least until the amounts were reduced.

I think if, in the next expansion, they continue along the same concept, a massive questline progressing a story in the same style, with the same kind of rewards at each stage, it will be a winner. I really feel this is part of a winning idea. I have yet to see ANYONE bitch about the existence of the questline or the way it draws you into playing every week (or almost every week) to stay up to date. After all, it is entirely optional, and open to anyone, all that is required is you put forth the effort and enough time to run your LFRs and some dailies once in a while.

You’ll notice I haven’t talked about the star of the show, the prize at the end of the rainbow. The Legendary whatsis that is ostensibly the point.

That’s because whatever the final reward is really doesn’t matter, and if it’s kept a secret so much the better.

At each stage of completion, we’ve gotten something pretty cool. Something that was a big enough upgrade to make exchanging it for a drop from the next content patch a big decision, but not so big that it was still overpowered two content patches later.

Now the new Cloak is a big enough iLevel that it is clearly a worthy goal that will last long into Siege of Orgrimmar and even beyond. The rewards we are getting are useful, different, powerful enough to feel like sizable boosts without being too ridonkulous, dahling.

In short, I think the way they’ve planned rewards for the questline is great. And it’s clear why there haven’t been items other than gear improvements, too. Some people might not be interested in pets, or mounts, or titles or transmog gear, but everyone can benefit from powerful gear upgrades.

They could, in the future, implement other versions of this Legendary questline targeted at pet collectors. We’re getting the Celestial Tournament in the next patch, and it’s always possible we will see a Legendary Pet questline develop that would keep us fighting new and different challenges, collecting special training food drops, achieving special training goals, and while the final reward could be a Legendary Pet some of the intermediate stage rewards could be learning how to teach your pet to “fetch”, “roll over” or even “play dead”. You know?

I know there has been a lot of argument about the death of WoW, and the loss of subscribers, and such in the community. What I’m trying to say is, when comparing how Mists of Pandaria has played out with Cataclysm, I truly prefer Mists. I love how things have progressed in this first rough run, and it is clear Blizzard is learning a lot as they go.

The Legendary Questline is only one thing they added in this expansion to help retain players. Don’t forget the entire system of Pet Battles that was added as well. If they take the lessons they’ve learned running this in live and improve on it going forward, I have nothing but hope for the future of WoW.

I know that’s not a very popular position to hold, but this is one Bear that’s happy with the way the game is playing out, even IF it will take me six more damn weeks until I get that spiffy cloak, too!

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Beartrap the Unbalanced: The adventure continues!

The Unbalanced should be a title. I’m not insane, just… unbalanced. Ever seen me try jumping or platforming puzzles? It’s true on so many levels!

I decided that I would do dailies nevermore. None for me. My Druid is exalted with Tillers, so I can plant Songbells or whatever food strikes my fancy, but even there, no dailies. None.

The feeling of freedom is incredible. No responsibilities, no daily toil or drudgery. Just log in and play, man, play.

And after I get that first hour of gametime out of the way where I harvest, plow, plant and do daily Scroll of Wisdom and Imperial Silk transmutes, I can get right on my Hunter and play! lol. In most games, that first hour would be considered playtime too, right?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Freedom? Oh yes, I’m free to do anything I want to!

And what I want to do turns out to be dailies. I just want to do them for the sake of doing them, not for a ‘someday’ goal.

While Freedoms just another word for no Lesser Charms to use, I’m not doing dailies for some goal, I’m just enjoying going around doing stuffs.

Specifically, Klaxxi stuffs.

I chain-queued my Hunter last night, did a bunch of heroics, and even took part in killing the Sha of Anger for the second time.

That was great, the instances are very exciting and feel nicely bite-sized, but I kept resenting them pulling me away from Awakening Paragons and killing turtles for the honor of the Klaxxi.

Oh, and I hit Friendly with the Black Prince, so I calculated how many more mobs I would have to kill, exactly, to hit Honored and make the Black Prince happy with me.

500. That is what I would have to kill, five hundred. Sounds like a made for TV movie, doesn’t it? The Five Hundred. Dun dun dun.

Is it wrong of me that, after all my whining about gating gear behind rep and JP in a faction, I am seriously thinking about buckling down and going on a one-night rampage of blood-drenched slaughter just to please the Black Prince?

That was a rhetorical question, you don’t need to answer that.

It’s funny. Obviously, I don’t HAVE to have lesser Charms (turned in by the 90s for a Greater) to get extra chances at gear rolls, I can play just fine without them. At the same time, if you have any interest in getting geared up for your raids, don’t you almost HAVE to try and get them, at least in the short term?

Good thing I like the Klaxxi. And sooner or later I’m going to go do some Golden Dawn (er, I mean Lotus) dailies so I can get Satchels for a chance to learn the recipe for the little Jewelcrafting Kittycat pet. I got my recipes for two of the Cat mounts, that will do me for a long time.

Apparently, I will do dailies to get patterns to make vanity items, but I’ll turn my nose and sneer at upgrading my gear to improve actual performance. My Lesser Charms will be an incidental byproduct of my wastrel ways.

Hmmm. Where did my life go so horribly wrong?

A few words about the heroics.

Damn, they are FUN!

The first time you roll a barrel into a monkey just feels right.

At the same time, holy crap are some of the mechanics confusing. Remember how I said my son feels that you ought to be able to figure out what to do based on what you can observe?

Yeah, that works a lot of the time, but then there is Raigonn in the Gate of the Setting Sun.

For the record, so far I really like all the instances I’ve done. I like the pacing, the flair, the humor and the mechanics.

Can I just say though, that when you’re in a group that has, none of us, ever done Raigonn before, it was a confusing mess of chaos?

I had Deadly Boss Mods warning me to fire for the weak spot. I couldn’t find a weak spot to target specifically! Was I supposed to? In the heat of the moment, you can’t really flip over to Wowhead, y’on?

I was pounding away at the big bug for all I was worth, it’s health wasn’t going down. I saw that what looked like rocket launchers were sparkling at the sides of the big courtyard, so I ran over to one and used it, which showed me jumping in like I was about to be launched onto the bug’s back… only I fell through the launcher onto the floor. I didn’t get launched. I wasted a good 2 minutes of time trying to get the sparkly launchers to do something, with nothing apparently happening.

Next thing I know, he’s “fixating” on someone, and his health is going down when attacked, so I figure somehow we got onto a Flame Leviathan style phase, and began DPSing my little heart out, all the while trying to burn down adds and stay out of the bad.

I’m all for exciting mechanics, but honestly, I still have no clue exactly what I was supposed to do.

I know that many of you are very, very helpful types, but don’t worry about telling me what the mechanics are for my sake. I’m just gonna go look it up and research stuff myself anyway. If you’ve got your own tips on how to tank him, though, by all means share them! It looked like a huge pain for a tank new to that place having to figure out how to tank the big bug while also handling the adds.

I’m just making the example that, in these early days… there is perhaps more excitement to be found than we might expect once things become old hat? But we didn’t give up, or panic, we just tried like hell to work as a team, and while the Warlock died to save Elo (our healer), we all managed to win in the end without wiping. So, how bad could it have really been?

Certainly was very exciting. :)

How odd that it was the Warlock who sacrificed his life to save a Priest. Doesn’t that kind of thing get you kicked out of the big meanies green fire club?

As I’ve said before, there is far, far more available to do than I can do in a single day, even if I only played one character. That means that I have to absolutely have to get past the idea that I must do everything or even most things every day.

Thankfully, I’m a bit of an anti-establishment type, so doing the opposite of what I should comes easy to me. :)

Even though there are things of astounding benefit, like having a second farm, or grinding rep with all factions, or doing dailies to have an abundant supply of LesserCcharms to turn in. Those are all temptations, but they are not necessary to play the game.

All that is necessary is I filter out the grind, and only do the fun, and continue to do heroics for gear upgrades as part of the fun.

It was worrying me, being ready for raids, but then Tom, our guild leader and player in Team Wanda told me, so long as I just run some heroics to get geared, I’ll be just fine for us when we start raiding. No need to go insane getting all the VP gear.

I’m going to try to take that to heart, even if it does seem to go against all previous expectations.

If I get left behind, oh well.

Along with that, I really need to research more about everything that is out there so I can make the best use of my time in doing the fun stuff.

A shining golden example.

One thing in the back of my head was Stormstout Brewery. Specifically, pets.

I was queuing for random heroics, to get Valor and because I hadn’t seen any yet, so I had no preferences. But I knew that Stormstout Brewery held an achievement to get a cute pet. And it was an achievement you could do even after the instance was cleared and everyone else had gone home.

So, when I did get a Brewery instance, I bought 5 of the special Tea from Auntie Stormstout at the beginning, stuck them in my bags and then ran the instance with everyone in normal “tank has to go to the bathroom go go go” fashion. I didn’t hold anyone up, I did my best to kill lots of stuff. I balanced on the barrels and blew up the bozos. I admired dancing monkeys.

When the final boss was dead, and everyone else immediately dropped group, I stayed in. Then I drank my first 5 minute tea, and went hunting Golden Hoplings at a nice, leisurely pace. Cassie watched and saw just how easy it was to do, too, especially after I got the nameplates up and went back to find the few I missed the first time. I didn’t encounter any bugged Golden Hoplings under stairs as had been reported on Wowhead, I collected 30 Golden Hoplings, dinged the achievement and found I had mail waiting for me… with my new pet Hopling. :)

I’d done the Stormstout Brewery on normal with some guildies earlier in the week, but I hadn’t been reading up on the instances at that time. How simple it was to complete that achievement, once you knew it was there to be done.

And how cute the pet is, too.

Maybe my priorities are screwed up, but I am finding my motivation for doing things is more about having fun banging around and doing the cute stuff.

Once the new patch comes out, I can tell you for a hard, cold fact that while other people will be doing the new Alliance versus Horde war machine chain in Krasarang, I’ll be running with Cassie and Alex in Molten Core and other Vanilla raids, hunting those newly released raid pets.

Naxxramas will fall, and Mr. Bigglesworth WILL be free! Free to escape the cold, cruel embrace of Kel’thuzad, and free to no longer be killed by every moron that wants to piss off the cat lovers in a party. Free!

I guess freedom is also another word for a cat with no lives left to lose.

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I know I said I was going to level as Bear, but turns out, I lied.

I’ve been focusing my questing efforts playing my Druid, and from the moment I set foot in Pandaria I’ve been running as a Cat.

The single biggest reason is simple curiosity. I haven’t really played as a cat since, like, Burning Crusade.

In fact, I remember in BC doing a blog post just reminding people there was more to Cat DPS while questing than Mangle Mangle Mangle next. Was that my last time talking about Kitty DPS? Might have been.

Amazing how much things change, right?

I’ve been all about being a Bear for so long, I really didn’t even know how cats had been changed. Or what they had for synergy.

I just haven’t been paying attention, but that’s all changed in Mists. I’m being a Kitty and I like it. So many tools!

I’ve been playing the Feral Kitty now, and building my DPS rotation has felt a little like a build-your-own-sandwich buffet.

There are a lot of abilities to choose from, and they all taste good, but space is limited and some of them taste better together than others. And some clash.

Also, you can’t just throw everything together taking as much time as you’d like, because lunch time is short. One thing that irritates me is when you just get cooking on a good rotation, and the damn bad guy dies before you get to use your fun stuff on it. I love boss fights, it gives me time to use everything plus the kitchen sink.

Boss fights let me show that I can do so much more now than “mangle mangle mangle next”.

I know that there are a lot of people out there that have since long mastered the Cat DPS, and know all the ways it works.

Those folks, God bless them, will probably think the things I’m going to describe are so elementary that it’s funny, and it’s entirely true. But everyone has to start somewhere… and at least I do have something like 5 years experience eating faces off.

Past experience on the resume is great, but before I break out the beard and suspenders and talk about those halcyon days of face chewing youth, what faces have I chewed off lately?

I can’t help but notice the system I learned and mastered has been replaced. I’ll miss the Trash-80, but I guess it’s time to look into these fancy new Tablet thingies.

For those of you who, like me, are used to being more Bear than Cat, there are a few things I’ve come across that felt kind of surprising, and I wanted to share them with you.

And if it turns out I’m the last Druid in Pandaria to put this stuff together, well, it’ll give you a healthy laugh, right?

First thing I noticed is the Healing talent tier sounded good but was deceiving.

You’ve got Nature’s Swiftness on there, which hearkens back to the old days of Vanilla WoW, popping out of form for a quick NS+Healing Touch insta-heal then back to Bear bidness. Old school happy memories.

I strongly recommend you don’t take Natures’ Swiftness!

I took Renewal, the instant-cast 30% max health Heal spell instead.

The reason I suggest you avoid Natures Swiftness is that you already have it built into Cat Form.

It’s a passive effect called “Predatory Swiftness”, and what it does is give you a 20% chance per point in a Finishing Move of making your next spell, from a group including Healing Touch, instant cast, cast in all forms, and free. JUST like Nature’s Swiftness does.

So, you get Natures Swiftness already if you’re Feral. Why not take one of the other two choices instead?

Let me give you an example of how I’ve been working the Predatory Swiftness into my current soloing rotation against, say, an 86 elite.

Oh, and just as an FYI, I’ve soloed Urobi the Walker over 8 times now. Not a single leather pant or staff drop. Not one. Nor did I get a bag. Same with Salyin Warscout. Lesson learned, go have fun. Camping random rares is boring, even if they are on a 45 minute to 1 hour respawn timer.

So, sorry, how I’ve been doing rotations while soloing elites as Feral.

I hit Faerie Swarm to apply the Weakened Armor debuff.

I open with Mangle, get in a Rake, and then a few more Mangles to 5 points.

I do that because I have trained myself to hit Mangle first to apply a Bleed debuff before Raking… BUT MANGLE NO LONGER APPLIES BLEEDS, it just does the Infected Wounds that slows targets. I just can’t seem to break myself of that habit. I’m working on it.

Anyway, I run out of energy with this burst at about the same time I hit 5 points on the target, so I pop Savage Roar as my first Finishing Move, getting a 30% DPS boost for the next 48 seconds and then I pop a free Healing Touch for a big self heal.

Next I activate Tiger’s Fury, giving me another 15% DPS boost for 6 seconds, but more importantly I instantly get 60 more energy AND my Shred can be cast even though I’m facing the front of the target, for as long as Tiger’s Fury lasts.

So for 6 seconds after I hit Tiger’s Fury, I spam Shred, then switch back to Mangle, quickly building back to 5 points on the target and hit the Rip Finishing Move for a nice powerful DoT… and hit another instant free Healing Touch.

Now I can pop Berserk, giving myself an increased energy regen for 15 seconds. So, more Mangles, renew Rake, and build up to a Ferocious Bite or Maim, and get another free Healing Touch out of it. 

I mean, one fight and I generally have two, maybe three different opportunities to cast a free instant 30k heal. And it doesn’t have to be cast on me, either, if I have a focus target set up like, oh, on my friend I’m questing with, and they’re wearing cloth. Or on the healer to help in AoE moments.

And that’s not even counting Renewal as a self-only instant cast Heal that gives you 30% of your max health RIGHT NOW.

The only times I’m having trouble is when I’m fighting swarms of little things that die so fast I can’t get 5 points built up on ‘em, and, well, Bear.

Speaking of AoE, I don’t work Thrash into my rotation. Not unless there are more than one target on me. it does damage and yes, it does add a DoT, and it also reduces the damage the bad guys do by 10%, but on single targets I go for fast DPS and multiple Healing Touches rather than worry about reducing damage by 10%.

I also love being an Herbalist. I’ve been getting Life Spirits everywhere from herbs, I’ve already got over 80 of the damn things, they’re like super-hot pots. I use them all the time.

Tiger’s Fury is on a short enough cooldown that, on long fights, by the time Berserk is over I can hit a second one for another surge of DPS.

One thing that I’ve had to work around is, when Predatory Swiftness activates, the Healing Touch icon does NOT light up like other procced abilities can. I suppose it’s because you’ve got choices to make, it’s not automatically assumed you’re going to use Healing Touch. Predatory Swiftness also makes your Rebirth instant cast IN FORMS.

Since the icon doesn’t light up, I’ve set up my Scrolling Battle Text to give me an announcement in my notification window saying it’s procced.

If you use Power Auras or Weak Auras, it’s probably already enabled, and you see it no problem. I don’t know, I haven’t been using them for a long time now. Maybe I should.

It’s important to have some way of knowing if it really went off, though, because in the heat of battle let me tell you, if you hit a Finishing Move and it didn’t go off because you missed, hitting Healing Touch immediately afterwards and popping into humanoid form? BAD THING.

I’ve still got alot to explore.

I have questions.

I haven’t messed around with training dummies, so I have nagging questions like, is there a better DPS boost in the short term hitting Rip on the first Finisher and getting Savage Roar on the second, or is it better the way I’ve been doing it, getting Savage Roar in early?

And Thrash, IS it a DPS boost to replace one of your early Mangles with a Thrash to get the DoT cooking and reduce incoming damage? The few times I’ve tried, the HUGE energy cost feels like it sucks the guts right out of my rotation.

And Ravage. If you have Incarnation, as I do, besides looking really cool with armor and stuff, it lets you instantly activate Prowl if you want, it lets you use your prowl-only abilities like getting off a Pounce stun, and use Ravage ignoring positioning requirement for the entire 30 seconds.

So, how much more of a DPS boost is getting 30 seconds of Ravages off? Am I supposed to use Incarnation as a PvP ability, Pouncing on opponents to stun them? For straight PvE fights, how does Ravage compare to Shred?

It’s an interesting question, and I look forward to doing some playing around with it.

I don’t PvP, and I’m a Night Elf anyway. When I want to vanish I don’t need Incarnation/Prowl, I just hit my Night Elf racial to vanish while stationary, and that drops aggro and let’s me enter Prowl. I do that all the time.

So, if the DPS boost from Ravage isn’t that high, maybe it might be more valuable in terms of DPS to go with Soul of the Forest, giving me an additional 20 energy every time I pop off one of my 5 point Finishing Moves. 20 extra energy goes straight to the DPS bottom line.

And Pounce, well, stuns are nice but I took Mighty Bash to supplement my Headbonk interrupt, and I like it.

So, yeah it’s a new experience. A lot that’s familiar from the times I did Kitty DPS in Dragon Soul, but other stuff that feels like it’s more streamlined, cut closer to the bone in terms of timing.

What do you think? Are you having fun with it? Are you feeling uber epic powerful like I am, or is it feeling squishy to you?

I can hardly wait to get into Heroics and Scenarios, and try out both Bear tanking AND Feral Cat as my two specs.

Now if only I didn’t need to reforge and re-enchant every damn time I wanted to switch.

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Have I told you lately that I love you? That I hold no one else above you?

I can’t gush too much because, hello, spoilers.

But I can say two quick things and then give you a screenshot of happiness.

First thing. Last night I started doing the starter area in Pandaria with my Druid, but before too long decided to follow my nose and sniff out herbs. I explored a lot without ever looking at a map, and found herbs, herbs and more herbs. I quickly got my Inscription to 600, made two Scrolls of Wisdom now (24 hour cooldown, but got the first in before midnight last night), and know two of the new minor Glyphs. So, if you are on Azuremyst and want your Warrior’s Charge to leave a flame trail, or you want your Priest to be looking like a Vyrkul when something or other spell goes off, I’m yer Drood.

The thing of it is, all that exploring left me very, very happy with the land of Pandaria, and I’ll tell you why.

You’ll likely see a lot said about the beauty, the architecture, the design. That’s all nice, I agree.

The big thing to me, the thing that feels RIGHT, is it feels like a land people actually LIVE in!

There are orchards with trees in bloom and peaceful farmers. No mobs, no flames, no distress… just people going about the business of daily life.

Yes a lot of the land, by necessity, is crammed with dangerous areas for questing.

But there are also areas that are there because, you know, people need food. Beer needs barley and hops. Flowers come from somewhere before being picked and placed in a bowl on a table.

There is life happening in Pandaria, and it’s something that I’ve often felt was missing in previous expansions, by necessity of cramming quests into a limited amount of space.

The space in Pandaria is generous… and even on the panda starting area, on the back of a giant sea turtle, this attention to detail of the life and loves and daily work of a people is given consideration… to the improvement of the game.

Okay, so the ecospace seems a bit tiny for the Virmin… who among us didn’t give out a laugh at what we saw deep underground in the Vermin-infested carrot patch? I know Alex drug me over to show me in delight.

So, my first thing is, thank you Blizzard for giving me a land that feels like a settled land with history that supports a people, rather than a coldly calculated quest zone.

My second thing is, whoever designed Pet Battles needs to be given a raise, and then somebody slap the shit out of ‘em. Not necessarily in that order.

Pet Battles are so good, so awesome, so perfect and so ADDICTING that if this shit isn’t the single greatest threat to raid teams, I don’t know what is.

The pets, the achievements, the sheer quantity of critters to seek out and capture, the swapping nature of the game, the tactics and brute force, the balancing act between winning by overpowering and having someone weak enough to give a wounding shot but leave the target alive for capture… wow.

Cassie had no interest in it. Cassie wasn’t in the slightest interested in it.

So who was it that spent most of last night capturing pets in Elwynn Forest and Westfall until she had a rare of every critter in both zones (except the cat in Elwynn, damn the slow spawn rate), and had used a Bunny as her main combat pet? Or, as she put it, ‘That’s one bad bunny!”

Who was it that told me, after her 40th tamed crab in Westfall, that she thought there WERE no rares out of respect for Ghostcrawler? But kept on trying until she finally got one?

She’s got achievements for capturing over 100 critters now, and I still don’t have a third pet past level 2. Mostly because I feel like I really should get my Druid to combat level before getting too deep into Pet Battles and lose it all.

There is going to be a twelve step program for Pet Battles. We’re going to see guild interventions. Mark my words. You will lose raiders over this. They would’ve been ready on time, but they were collecting critters in Kalimdor, and didn’t have time to farm for flasks or food.

I’m telling you. It’s coming.

And finally, this.

Just, this.

While I was exploring, I came across this gentle soul, taking his pet fish for a walk.

That’s all he’s doing… he’s taking the fish for a little walk.

It’s little moments of insane awesome like this, that are the reasons you need to stop and LOOK when you’re playing, or you might miss something that’ll gobsmack you.

Oh, and one last thing.

“An’ this one’s for Gizmo and Socks, you bastards!”

Best. Line. Ever.


Comments 19 Comments »

Good morning!

Whether you took some time and are making a marathon of it, or just logged in long enough to go, “Yep, that’s a panda all right”, I hope everyone has had a chance to dip their furry toes in Pandaria.

I spent just about an hour and a half in before work, myself.

So, the big question.

All bullshit aside, what did you really do for your first hour in Mists of Pandaria?

I’m really interested.

Maybe you had big plans or not, maybe you thought you had plans and when you logged in you changed your mind at the last minute and did something else.

What did you do?

How did you spend your first hour in Mists of Pandaria?

Did you rush to level a profession for a server first, or make a new alt, or quest, or try your hand at the new instances?

I thought I had sort of a plan. I was going to go to Pandaria on my Druid and explore a bit. I didn’t do any of the level 85 – 90 content in the beta, it would be truly new content.

Instead, when I logged in this morning I found myself turning my name placeholders into real characters. So, I now have a Panda Monk named Bouncybutt, and a Panda Warrior named Baconbutt. Warriors are supposed to tease the bad guys. If I could wear special threat-enhancing bacon-scented armor to cause more aggro, I would. Oh yes I would.

And really, isn’t it about time we were able to use our Cooking skill to make threat enhancing scents to apply to our armor or shield? The very best chefs could create mouth-watering aromas that drove the critters wild… literally!

After making my new alts, I did log into my Druid… and the thought uppermost in my mind was Pet Battles.

I found the trainer in Stormwind, and then had to go fight a critter. With a pet.

I had to choose a pet to battle with.

Aw… well, shit. I knew I forgot something.

I never picked a team. Quick, who do I choose?

I scrolled through my pet list, and the first thing I noticed was, none of them have any rarity indicator. Still. They just are what they are, no common or rare or anything.

What can I say? I’m a jarhead at heart. Out comes Grunty the Murloc Marine, and I went to pit his automatic weapon against… a bunny wabbit.

It was a tough battle, but I emerged victorious! Err, Grunty did. Yeah, that’s what I mean.

By the time I finished doing pet battles quests, I had a level 3 Grunty, I’d picked the Phoenix as my 2nd battle pet just to have something in the slot, and I could and did capture a poor quality bunny, a poor quality squirrel, and a common Stormwind Rat.

Fine, off to Pandaria!

I won’t spoil anything about the Pandaria experience for those that may still be at work or who have yet to buy the CE version in stores.

What I will say is, when I arrived in the skies above Pandaria, I saw far below the paw print icon of a capturable critter. An Emerald Turtle!

My first Pandaria pet!

When I landed in Pandaria, the very first thing I did was ignore any quest giver, run past all foes, weave and dodge, and got to that Emerald Turtle.

I engaged it in furious pet battle… and it destroyed my pet team in two shots.

Turns out, Pandaria Emerald Turtles are level 24. Oops.

I did a few quests there after that, and then switched to my Panda Monk and got to level 3 while the area was pretty empty.

All that was beside the point. For me, the thing I apaprently really wanted to do was pet battles, and if it weren’t for the desire to level at least one character to max, I’d have stayed with pet battles all morning.

I hope that you enjoyed your first steps into Mists of Pandaria. I hope you’ll tell me how it went for you!

Oh, and if anyone knows how I go about finding out what rarity my existing pets are, I’d appreciate it.

Take care, and happy hunting!


PS, if you haven’t done pet battles yet, when you train the profession, critters you can fight or capture in cagtesd appear on your mini-map as little green paw prints. It is SUPER awesome, and will help those of us who want to fly around in low levels areas expanding our critter stable. I was wondering how you went about fidning new critters, and now I know! And knowing is half the battle.

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