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?
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?