Archive for the “Mists of Pandaria news” Category

‘Tis the day before Pandaland, and excitement is brewing and bubbling away.

Poor timing for this post? Perhaps. But in the rush of enthusiasm, as many are carried along, there will be at least one voice saying, “But momma, he’s not wearing any clothes.”

This is, yes,a bout the Fall of Theramore, but it could as easily be called “What I did last weekend.”

But this isn’t about the story qualities of the Fall of Theramore. I’ve got a completely different axe to grind. Or not.

I think Rades said everything that should be said about it, in the best possible way. At least, everything I hope can be said about it. I find myself nodding along and wishing that it was all intentional to build up the Raid of Orgrimmar, and not just, you know, fail character development of Garrosh.

When The Fall of Theramore scenario was first released, Alex, Cassie and I all hopped on our characters and ran it once. We had a good time learning about it, exploring, burning the ships, etc.

Alex, as could be expected, was a big fan of setting the ships in the harbor on fire, usually while Cassie and I were still fighting on the decks.

We ran the Fall scenario just once that first night, because when we went to re-queue, the option for Fall was greyed out.

The second night, we went in again, and did it a few times. It turned out that you could re-queue, as long as you dropped group and then regrouped. Fortunately, that bug has since been fixed, but at the time it looked like a given character could do it but once a day.

I think we only ran it twice that second night, and I went on my Death Knight, hoping to get a weapon upgrade.

Instead of gear, I got the Everlasting Alliance Fireworks in my loot bag. Alex saw me get that, and was excited at the possibility of getting it as well. I mean, fireworks, right?

I wasn’t sure how loot was designed for the scenario, because after three or four runs, none of us had seen any loot whatsoever, and I had thought there was supposed to be a pretty long loot table for it, so, is it even working? but clearly, there is loot, and it was in the spoils of Theramore box, so… okay?

We ran it again a few times over the week, and no, none of us ever got any epics or Everlasting Fireworks on anyone else.

The drop rate seemed pretty low for anything, and it’s now school time. I decided to just put it aside until we were level 90, and could do the scenario at our leisure to get the fireworks.

Time moves very fast. It was Saturday night when I saw that a Blue had commented that the loot you can get from the scenario of Theramore now will NOT be available in the level 90 Mists of Pandaria version. If you wanted any of the items, you’d better go get them now.

Well… shit. Really?

It was late, maybe 10:00 pm, but I decided to log into Alex’s account and queue up his Death Knight to try and get those fireworks for him. It was no big thing, but I like surprising him with things like that, and he loves the cute flavor items more than actual gear upgrades, you know?

I left Stormwind to fly up to Western Plaguelands to farm iron ore, and join what I expected to be the long queue time for Fall of Theramore, just to get him an everlasting firework.

My first surprise was that the queue time was instant. I’d heard there were huge wait times earlier in the week, but not on Saturday night. I had three runs in before my flight even landed in Western Plaguelands.

How long could it really take to get one simple firework? I could reason that the epics might have a lower drop rate, but a cute little flavor item with a short availability? Shouldn’t be a big problem.

After my third run, I mentioned in Guild Chat that it was going to be a long night of runs to get that firework if the drop rate was as low as it seemed. I mean, sure I didn’t get any loot, but neither did anyone else in any of the runs.

Call me suspicious, but three runs now, plus the runs from earlier in the week, and NOBODY got an epic yet? That suggests a fairly low drop rate. Not exactly raining epics.

One of my guildies, Baddmojo, offered to run it with me three or four times to speed the runs up a little.

Saying his presence would speed the runs up is not a boast. Well, it is, but it’s also damn true. He’s a member of the progression heroic raid team in the guild, and his Rogue is a pure badass. He mentioned in guild chat that he hit 88k DPS on one of the DS boss fights over the weekend, and all I can say is, really? Well, we could bring three of my Hunter, or one Baddmojo to a fight. Hmm… let me think about that for a second. So yeah, I could reasonably expect the runs to go a teensy bit faster with him on the squad.

We queued that baby up and ran the Fall of Theramore.

About four runs in, I realized I was getting Justice Points for every run. Alex had no points when we started, and had been wanting to get a Spellpower Heirloom Staff for our baby Warlocks, so hey, double bonus! We’ll be making progress towards two goals at once. Can it get any better than this?

We ran the Fall. And we ran it some more. Then, well, we might have run it again.

It might seem boring or like drudgery, but I was having a blast on every run.

See, I have a Death Knight that is now a baby 85, no raids, no runs, barely an instance or two. Still half in pvp 377s. But I was on Alex’s Death Knight, and seeing what a hotrod can do on the open road.

It was an eye opener. So many things to try, so much to do, shiny buttons and Talents, oh my! 

Inevitably, we were trying to see how fast we could do it, and okay, so we were messing with each other pulling mobs. Since his DPS was so obscene, I would use Death Grip on his mobs when he was far way from me… especially when I’d see his Legendary Dagger wing effect pop. :)

I figured out I might have been going too far when I didn’t let the mobs spread out to engage the water elementals on the last phase, but rushed the group instead so I could Death and Decay and my diseases on everyone at once. Oops! Steamrolled!

Oh yeah, right. When you’re dead, you do zero DPS. Right. Forgot about that.

About, I dunno, 8 runs in we got a dedicated Priest healer, and holy CRAP did that change the nature of the game. The two of us dropped any pretense at strategy, and just started zerging the island.

We’d pile everyone up at the beginning, kill that damn kissing captain, and then he’d take the left ship, and me and the healer would head right. By the time we’d hacked our way through to the right ship’s captain, Baddmojo would have knocked off the left captain and caught up to us. Usually bypassing us to set the ship on fire.

After that, zerg the fountain, zerg the demolisher, and successfully zerg the final wave.

I wanted to hug that healer. Such fun! So fast! I wanted to keep him and hug him and name him George.

I asked him if he’d stay with us. Don’t leave us! Baby, it’s cold outside.

He was there farming cloth, he was delighted to run it again with us.

Over and over and over…. and over and over and over…

By 2:30 in the morning, I had about all I could do. Fortune favors the brave, and random is random, but it just wasn’t happening.

God bless Baddmojo, he stuck with me the whole way through. He may have said he’d run three or four with me, but we ran Fall of Theramore enough for me to earn enough Justice Points to buy that heirloom staff outright.

Lemme see here… 168 JP per run, and 3500 JP for a staff, equals… huh, about 21 runs in one sitting. Or maybe it’s 186 JP per run, and 19 runs. Shit, I don’t even know anymore.

What I do know is, we ran Fall of Theramore a lot.

Over the course of the evening, I saw a lot of cloth drop, a lot of trash grey items, and I got… one Black Circlet epic.

No Everlasting Alliance Firework, just a ton of the Alliance fireworks.

Baddmojo got three of the epic daggers to drop.

I never saw any of the other players we were with get any epics at all.

All night long, not a single one of us ever got the Everlasting Firework.

Here is the sad part. We didn’t get the loot that was supposed to drop, but we did get a world drop of a iLevel 359 epic. A necklace or something, Ju’tzes bell or one of those things.

It wasn’t a waste of an evening by any stretch. Like I said, I did earn enough JP for my son to get the heirloom staff all in one night. That’s pretty badass.

When we played our Warlocks the next day (we’re at 27!) he was so delighted. Now, as he pointed out, he only needs enough JP for the cloth heirloom shoulders. As it is, we’re twins in so much Heirloom gear, the mobs might as well bend over when they see us coming. 

It wasn’t a waste in other ways, too. I had a freaking blast playing through that on Alex’s Death Knight.

I learned so much about performing AoE DPS on a Death Knight, on survivability cooldowns, on how Talents work, I can’t begin to tell you.

I know that I started out the night doing around 15k – 18k DPS, and by the end of the night I was doing 33k.

Of course, Baddmojo was doing about 20k more than that, but I felt a distinct sense of satisfaction at improving so much.

I had never really had a chance to play with AoE Death Knight mechanics, and let me tell you, the Blood Tap Talent is awesome for repeated applications of Blood Boil at carefully timed moments of maximum crowd density. Just, wow. Boom boom boom!

And then there was just having a blast messing around with someone doing things that aren’t for progression, just… having fun, you know?

What I’m just a little ticked off about is the miserliness of the drop rate for these items.

Just.. why?

I don’t understand it.

Is it really intended that you should take one character and have to chain run it for a week to get one item you’re looking for? To invest four, five hours running the same 20 minute scenario in the hopes of getting an everlasting firework so you’ve got that cute memento?

Alex wasn’t down about not getting it… not with the multiple stacks of normal Alliance fireworks he got. He can burn those suckers off for the next two years. He’s cool. It’s not like we were dying for some specific transmog item, either. Aside from the Archmages Staff, they’re pretty ugly items.

But the drop rate…. I really am surprised. Ooh, here’s the point of the post. I’m a little worried, too.

What I’m worried about is that this isn’t intentional design, but instead a result of the new LFR loot system.

As far as I understand the new LFR loot system, the game decides if there was a chance that loot your class and spec could use would have dropped from the boss. If the answer of that random roll is yes, then a second roll is made to see if you would have been lucky enough to win it based on normal numbers of competitors all rolling for it.

So, although you’re not literally rolling against anyone else, the rarity of loot is supposed to be equivalent to your playing with a full group of people, and always having everyone who could roll for something useable by you competing with you.

Is what I saw in Fall of Theramore that system in action? Where I won a single epic helm after 18 (or 21) runs of the scenario, not including the runs from earlier in the week?

Or was the scenario not using LFR rules, and it was just… hell, the worst loot luck I ever heard of.

Not leaving me with warm fuzzies, here. What if it had been a pet drop? Something I would have wanted on my account, too?

All in all… the Fall of Theramore is leaving me with a bad Cataclysm aftertaste, and I am hoping, I am really hoping  that it’s not a sign of what the live Mists of Pandaria will be like.

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Hey, I hear there was this patch thing?

Actually, the MMO Melting Pot keeps telling me that the only topic of discussion consuming the blogosphere is Guild Wars 2. I dunno, I guess I don’t read enough blogs. The whole time I was away, my feed was crammed with dozens of posts each day about the patch and World of Warcraft.

That’s not a knock, for as someone on Twitter said to me, “We’re too busy playing Guild Wars 2 to write about it. Now shhh, I’ve got hearts to fill.”

I don’t even know what that means, and I’m fine with that. Hooray! Multiple MMOs in the house, and they’re all good!

Whoopee! Now WoW will be peaceful and happy, with nobody in Trade talking about how bad the game is, right? They all left to have fun in GW2? Right?

Right?

We came back to town around midnight last Saturday, so we had, oh, the afternoon to install the patch and figure things out before the ICC achievement raid Sunday night.

Two out of three computers in our house patched and optimized and installed just fine. Can you guess who got the crash?

I started the process at midnight, went to bed, and when I got up 6 hours later, it was still stuck on Downloading Tools.

I made the big, terrifying life-draining decision – nuke the install from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.

I went to Battle.net and installed the client clean through direct download.

Holy shit, people. A single 20 gig download client, fast playable install, no bugs, no worries, and the damn thing runs clean and fresh like a dawn raid on the Keep on the Borderlands.

Crap, the Mists patch I downloaded for my previous install was bigger than the whole full client download. Yay and stuff, and life goes on!

Fortunately, you’ve all been in the game enjoying the patch for almost a week now, so I don’t have to worry about dropping any spoilers. I get to post a first impressions roundup guilt free!

This has been a patch full of many unexpected gifts.

Mounts

First, the obvious. Account-wide shared mounts did NOT work as advertised. They were better.

I didn’t have anything excluded that I was told would be. PvP mounts from Honor Points, and the mammoth drop from the Wintergrasp PvP raid? All shared. Every single one.

The X-53 rocket mount? Shared. The Swift Zhevra? Shared. The Zhevra! I specifically saw a comment that the mounts from recruit-a-friend weren’t going to be shared, yet there they are.

Now that I have all the mounts to compare, I can say with some surprise that my all time favorite is the Brewfest Kodo. Happy time, and isn’t it nice that even though the only character I have that ever won it was on another server and hasn’t been played in a year and a half, all of my characters can now enjoy it?

Pets

The pets, I knew what was coming, but it was still fun showing Alex that he can rename pets. Also, he was finally able to get the Creepy Crate shared on ALL his characters.

One surprise for me was to see pet collecting trends revealed in pet quantity.

For example, Cassie has done the Jousting quest in Mount Hyjal on all her characters. Without exception, every single one has chosen the more attractive Blue Mini Jouster pet over the Gold vulture-looking Mini Jouster. Without exception.

Having something like 12 Blue Mini Jousters and not one Gold? That’s hilarious. Errr, I mean, ouch! Gonna have to do some dailies, dear! Just ten more days!

Love you!

Of course, I wish I could cage them already and hand some of my duplicates over to Alex, but give it time. On the flip side… if I can’t actually train pet battles yet, take it the fuck off my trainable skill list, mmkay?

On the other other hand (or tentacle, pseudopod, whatever), you can now buy the pet from the special Mountain Dew promotional event, PLUS the red and blue robot battle fuel, from Jepetto Joybuzz in Dalaran. I have the pet already, on a lot of characters… and it’s nice to know I can stop hoarding the 20 red and 20 blue fuel… on every character. Every. Character. You can just go in the store and buy it now. Go figure.

Hey, as long as we’re adding old stuff long gone from the game, how about adding the secret vampire boss (Prince Tenris Mirkblood) back to Karazhan this Halloween so people can have a shot at the guitar axe and Vampiric Batling? Go for the hat trick of awesomeness.

Me love you long time, Blizzard. LONG TIME.

Archaeology

This one… this one is a mixed bag of blessings.

Six digs per dig site? Twice as many artifacts for the same amount of travel time, right?

Feels a bit like too much time in one spot… because I have nothing but Night Elf dig sites in Kalimdor. Screw Night Elves, can I please get some Tolvir love? Grrr.

On the even less gifty side, please stop asking me if I’m really super sure honest and for true sure every single time I want to solve an Archy puzzle. Yes, I know I am at max skill, stop asking me if I want to go to a trainer first when there aren’t any upgrade trainers yet, you twit!

On the other hand, if I were to forgo the immediate gratification of knowing what I got… I could stack up fragments now for a series of future solves, for faster leveling. Right?

At least, I could if I had the ‘put off til tomorrow what I may be prevented from enjoying because of the car that hit me today’ gene.

Eat dessert FIRST. Geez, people, think about it. We could get hit by a meteor and join the dinosaurs tomorrow, I want to get that level NOW.

After all, when I die, Saint Peter will ask me what level I reached on my Druid, and if I have to say I didn’t fully complete my rare Archy solves in Cataclysm, TO HELL I GO!

Class Changes

Ahh, the big one.

I’ve been playing my Hunter in the ICC raid, so while I checked out my Guardian Druid first, I couldn’t linger. I had to be pr… no, screw that, I ain’t sayin’ it.

I had to be ready to rock.

So on to my Hunter I went for the real firsties.

Huntery Stuffs

Not reading about changes beforehand is a dual-edged sword. On the positive side, things are fresh and new and filled with wonder.

On the down side, I have to rely on having a brain to figure this shit out cold. Whoops! And I also need to find some alternatives to up sides, down sides, other hands and inner paws. Willing to buy a vocabulary, STAT!

For my Beastmaster Hunter, I had a good time choosing talents. Even the choosing was fun. They all sounded so… tasty.

I looked over my choices, and all I could think was, gee, they took all the neat toys the other two specs used to get, and let me cherry-pick whatever I wanted. And I get to keep MY special exotic pets! Are you shitting me?

I get a spell interrupt! Just, WTF is up with that!

Did I reforge into mixed Expertise and Hit? No, no I did not. It was ICC, I didn’t reforge shit. But I did choose my Talents, without guidance, based entirely on what sounded cool.

I specced a Hunter, and I liked it!

I chose Posthaste, because I use Disengage all the time as a fast positioning tool, and having a boost of run speed is all win in my book. I’m always positioning myself, like on the boat in Dragon Soul, to be ready to Disengage laterally out of a bad AoE. I used my Disengage A LOT on Festergut and Putricide, and damn, was it fun!

I took Silencing Shot, so no longer will I be looking stupid when it comes time to ask, “Who can interrupt the Queen?” The answer is now, “ME! BOOYAH!”

I took Aspect of the Iron Hawk, because, well, lazy. One less cooldown or GCD sounds pretty nice about now.

Thrill of the Hunt would almost sound like another lazy choice, except I had a hunch about that one. I mentally did the math on how a 30% proc chance from abilities that use Focus would translate into 3 super-fast cheap Multi-Shots, and snatched it fast. I’m a Beastmaster, I pop Kill Command and Arcane Shot all the dame time.

It paid off in spades in ICC. I was proccing those three extra cheap Multi-Shots and Arcane Shots constantly. Including off of Multi-Shot. At one point, Cassie whispered me to ask me what it was like to do over 40k DPS. I said I wouldn’t know, I didn’t have Recount installed. :)

And finally, I chose Blink Strike. Oh my. Oh, my my my.

It’s Sunday, I’m in love.

Instantly teleport my BM pet behind the target to do a big nasty CHOMP out of it’s butt?

Oh, hell yes.

Now, I haven’t tested it yet for variables. The tooltip for Blink Strike says the chomp is 600% normal damage. By normal, I can assume that means damage unaffected by current Bestial Wrath status.

But I’m willing to find out. For Science!

For the Glyphs, nothing really sexy, not like there was for Death Knights or Druids. Best I could come up with for fun was Marked for Death, so I automagically put Hunters mark on whatever I’m shooting at in the moment. That was nice, removed a /petattack macro with that one.

Still, the feel of the BM Hunter in the raid was unchanged. It felt exactly as BM did before the patch to play… ONLY BETTER! Enhanced! The way it should be, and with no minimum range!

I’m in danger of switching mains.

I kid, I kid.

Guardian Druid

I had a rocky first tank run on my Druid today in Heroic End Time. But that is for another story, and you have to start somewhere, right?

Oh, and it helps to have a healer who actually heals, instead of stays in DPS gear and shadow spec.

I knew it wasn’t going to go well, when I zoned in to Ruby, said “hi, I need a sec” because after the first pull I saw my Tidy Plates had me set to DPS mode so it was reversed on threat tells, and the healer pulled the boss for me while the addon pages were covering my screen.

Let’s just say that after he flat out told us he refused to heal me on Murozond because I was in kitty tier gear(!) and we booted him from the party in the first minute of the fight, we STILL managed to win it while 4-manning it, without a healer, with Alex and Cassie in the team, and an awesome Shadow Priest named Sutralas – Blade’s Edge, who I swear was still DPSing while throwing me heals, AND popping the Hourglass. Although everyone was handling the HG when they could.

Let’s also add that it’s nice to have a ton of defensive cooldowns and Heroism ready to go after every Hourglass activation, hmm? Still, we did win… with a healer that had the shittiest attitude I’ve seen in a while booted from the run before the first HG click. :)

Yes, I know he got his same chance at loot after being kicked, but it must have pissed him off to blame me for being in kitty gear and unhealable, and yet we didn’t wipe after booting him. We somehow managed without any healer at all. Burn? Perhaps a teeny bit, yes.

Idiot, I warned the group up front I needed a few seconds to adjust on the fly, it’s not like we had any trouble at all on the first two bosses. Despite having the healer pull for me. Grumble, grumble.

That Sutralas, what a nice person. And it was so funny and cute, they told me before we dropped group that I shouldn’t take the criticism from the healer seriously, I was a good tank! Very nice person, and it was so cool to see another player offering encouragement and kind words to someone who had just had to deal with… well, idjits.

Anyway, the Druid is a story all it’s own. Gonna need more time to fine tune things like button positioning.

Sure wish I had a Druid blog to write it up on, huh?

What?

Death Knight

My Death Knight was the most unexpected gift, of all of the changes.

The last time I logged into my Death Knight pre-patch, I had about 40% XP left to go before dinging 85.

When I logged in this morning, I had exactly 1 XP left before dinging. ONE.

I just kinda looked at it, shook my head, assumed it was a typo, killed one trash mob and ding. WTF?

So from there, surprise! Guess, I have a new 85… that will sit until AFTER the expansion comes out to gear up. :)

In the meantime, my Druid is a max level Scribe, what goodies does the DK need?

Holy crap, you can get a Glyph to make your Army of the Dead summon a wide variety of random undead! Wait, let me check it out… and yes, yes they look SWEET! Oh no, they didn’t… a Glyph to stop the Army from TAUNTING?!?!

Okay, all straight DPS Death Knights, from now on if you group with me and I’m tanking, you BETTER have that fucking Glyph active when you pop Army or I boot your ass from the run. Be told.

OOH! And a Glyph to make my Unholy perma-pet look like a Leaper!

/happydance

And then… the rush left me.

What to do now?

Oh, I know… let’s make an alt. We’ve got our eleventh character slot, fill that baby up!

But what to make…

Warlock?

Warlock?!? Can’t make a Monk, can’t make any Pandapeoples… so what about I make the one class I don’t have that a Panda can’t ever be?

This time… this time it’ll be different! You’ll see! This time I’ll make a Warlock, and take it right to the top! And it’ll be a Gnome!

Yeah!

And didn’t I hear the Succubus was supposed to be a guy if you had a female Warlock? Let’s try that out! So a female Gnome!

Yeah! Do it!

What was that definition of insanity? When you do the same thing over and over, and expect to get a different result?

And I have just the name! Blackrack! ‘Cause her heart is all black and evil, pumping behind her, well, that, you know… her rack.

Yeah, whatever, I’m running out of name ideas.  Bite me.

Shit, that reminds me, I have to try and reserve OldDirtyBear.  Yeah ODB yeah you know me!

So, a female Gnome Warlock.

I said bite me.

I started it up, I had my Heirlooms as usual… and you know what, this wasn’t so bad.

The DPS was pretty powerful, in fact.

And is the Imp actually HELPING? Wow, it almost feels like the Imp is putting out some damage, that’s fucking new.

Okay, ding level 10, let’s see, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS DEMONOLOGY ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?

I don’t know what the hell they were smoking, but at level 10 as Demonology, I got Metamorphosis. And auto-attack is ranged chaos bolt thingies. And you get a resource that, like, refills as you KILL SHIT.

Alex looked over at what I was doing, and about had a cow right there.

So, I deleted my level 10 female Gnome Warlock (I said bite me, Gnomer) and we both made brand new Worgen Warlocks, or as Alex calls them, WWs.

Then he asked about my gear, so I showed him where to buy cloth heirlooms from the Guild Vendor, and that is when I tanked a heroic on my Druid to get him the JP he needed to buy the chest heirloom from the JP vendor.

He got Cloak, Helm and Chest. Not bad in one day. Off we went, blasting stuff together as WWs.

It’s crazy. Blueberry at level 8? Drain Life Drain Life Drain Life…

Alex loves Drain Life. He loves the idea that at level 15, he’ll be able to get an AoE Drain Life replacement.

At level 10, he became enamored of Metamorphosis, and can I just say, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never killed shit in the Worgen starter area that fast in my life.

We did encounter a small amount of confusion with terminology.

I had to inform Alex that it is not, in fact, entirely appropriate for a nine year old to be saying he enjoyed, sigh, “sucking that guy”.

No, rephrasing it to “sucking the life out of that guy” is not much better, thank you.

In fact, and this is a sort of testament to how sheltered the language in our house can be in certain ways, he was unaware that the term “suck” could have negative connotations… meanings other than those normally associated with Hoover vacuum cleaners.

I had to let him know that he is never to say that he sucks anything, or sucks AT anything, because suck can be slang for ‘loser’, and if he were to say that he, oh I dunno, “sucked a guy so hard last night”, well, the other kids may start laughing at him and saying he admitted he was a massive loser, and we all know where that heads. I break out the baseball bat and go visit other kids dads for a ‘chat’.

Or the police come to have a little chat with ME, and rightfully so.

Oh, the baseball bat? Don’t beat the kids, beat their parents, I always say. I believe in the trickle-down theory. Shit trickles downhill.

Yes, I avoided mentioning to him what else suck can be used to describe. I’m not stupid.

While I don’t think there is anything wrong with it from anyone of the appropriate age TO anyone of the appropriate age, regardless of gender so long as both are into it, call me a prude all you like, he’s nine. He can wait on that discussion for a bit while he enjoys his Pop Tarts, Phineas and Ferb, and Legos.

And yes, sigh, “sucking the life out of that dude”.

At least I had him reflexively saying “draining” instead of sucking by the end of the night.

We were both also level 14 and almost through the entire Worgen starter area. Still feels ridiculously overpowered, and some of the neatest class toys at low levels I have ever seen.

It makes me wonder. Is this what all the classes now feel like to start at 1st after the patch? Ridiculously overpowered, full of neat toys, lots of the ‘good stuff’ right up front?

I know that I’ve tried Warlocks many times before, and I’ve never seen anything this… well, neat in the game before at level 10.

It almost felt as cool as the first time I ever played the game, on my very first character, and I had to travel to Moonglade and approach the Great Bear Spirit to try and learn how to be a Bear.

Almost.

I know, right?

Shit, I’m serious, I was wondering what I was going to do for fun until the expansion came out, but this is just amazing.

So… anyone else having unexpected good times?

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The cinematic trailer for Mists of Pandaria is out, and it was a nice way to start a morning.

I love the philosophical shift in this trailer. I wonder how this is going to work out in the long term.

In the previous expansion cinematics for World of Warcraft, it started with the journey, but finished up focused on what would turn out to be our raiding end goal.

I felt that this cinematic was a breath of fresh air, going back to the very first vanilla WoW cinematic. It established where we were in the game, fighting and butting heads faction to faction, and then in a shift of perspective opened up a whole new world of possibility for us to explore.

We’ve always been focused on a final big bad, and I’ve posted before that Alex likes that. It sets a simple, easily defined goal when you log into the game; work a little closer to killing the big bad wolf. Maybe get a little better gear, develop closer ties to allied reputations, defeat lesser bosses, develop information on who the big bad is or what his plot is to foil, even just figure out how to forge a key to open the big bad’s front door.

This time, in a very appropriate change, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey along the way.

I know my son will enjoy the game, but without that clear goal staring him in the face at the login screen, he’s going to be a bit adrift. He is very young, after all, and isn’t used to setting his own goals or following his own path. He is more used to an obvious structure to follow.

That being said, he also loves redoing levels in games like Super Mario Galaxy I and II, so he can adapt to enjoying journeys just fine.

I’m pretty excited. I know that there will be some faffing around as I settle into Pandaria, and I’m sure that there will be so many directions to expore that I could get lost along the way in side paths and digressions, but I’m okay with that.

I can’t help but wonder, once the rush of the video has passed, just how many folks will start thinking about that lack of a big bad to focus on, and start whining about being confused as to what they are supposed to do.

For myself… I love it. it’s the journey I love, and if I never see the destination, I’m fine. We’ll have many wonderful adventures along the way.

Alex may find his attention wandering, but, hey… pet battles!

Oh, and talk about short attention span theater. Serious conflict, heavy drama, a struggle for sruvival shipwrecked on a dense jungle isle… then, comedy! I have been trained well. The training begun with Mtv has finally come full circle. I can now enjoy in full a 3 minute movie. I’m surprised we didn’t have a satisfying love affair worked in there.

Comments 18 Comments »

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!

Comments 17 Comments »

Welcome to beta Bear!

I did spend a little time in the beta for Mists of Pandaria yesterday, and while I do not intend to write anything that would be a spoiler about story or quests or new races or classes, I did want to give you a few impressions. I hope you won’t mind.

I played the Pandaren Monk yesterday, through to level 6. My very first impression I’d like to share is how beautiful the areas and architecture are. The Pandaren starting area is very given to a martial-arts dojo aesthetic, and I came away with some personal decisions after playing it;

1) Do not start a Pandaren Monk unless the initial rush had died enough that there would only be a few other people sharing the area.
2) If I start feeling so damn excited that I don’t want to be patient, remember point #1. No, really, wait. No, stop it. Wait. Breathe in, breathe out. Ahhhh. Patience, young one. Give it a few weeks or even a month or two. Level to 90 on someone first. Let the need to level a Pandaren Monk go until the herd is GONE, damnit.

It was a little crowded. Yeah. Just a tad. It took away from the feel of the quests and the setting, took away from the fun of discovering class abilities and using them, it stole some of the innocence. Enough that I know I must wait when doing it for reals.

The second thing I noticed, and Alex commented on, was there weren’t any bad looking Panda faces, male OR female. They were all quite attractive. I liked the fur markings. Nice job. I hope you’ll be pleased.

I created a Gnome Monk to see how the class leveling was implemented in starter areas other than the Wandering Isles. Short answer; they’re not.

I got to level 2, I was getting quests, but as soon as I made it out of Gnomeregan, no more quests. No trainer. Nothing. I just stood around with a bunch of other level 2 Gnome Monks wondering ‘WTF now?” So, early days.

I also played around some with the Glyph system for Druids, and the feel of Guardian Druid skills and stats. I’m hoping to respec, gem and enchant, and go test Bear tanking a bit in some instances later this week.

Overall, the single biggest thing I guess I can share is, yes, the starter zone looks quite stunning.

The challenge will simply be in figuring out how to prevent the surge of other eager players from taking away from our enjoyment.

Comments 17 Comments »

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