Legendary Quests and Subscribers, Oh My!

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!

Five Feet High and Rising

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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.

Kitty Clawing All The Things

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.

WoW: Have I Told You Lately…

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.


What was the first thing you did?

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.

Fall, Theramore, Fall!

‘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.

A Myriad of Amazing Gifts

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?


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.


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?


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.


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?


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!


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?!? 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!


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.


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?

World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria game trailer is live

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.

Swimming for Firelands

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!

[BETA] Spoiler-free first impressions

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.