Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hopes for Mists of Pandaria Expansion

I've talked about what I thought about the Cataclysm expansion. I've planned what I'd like to get done before Mists. Here is what I hope to see in Mists of Pandaria.

I am, as usual, excited about all the new things for Pandaria. I have quite deliberately kept away from any sort of story spoiler. Yes, I know there will be Pandaren and Monks, and there is a new continent called Pandaria, and Garrosh is the end boss, but that's all I know. In fact, I have instituted a No Spoilers rule in guild chat and on our vent server. People who start to say something I think might be a spoiler get the same noise that I use when the dogs or cats are misbehaving. I have not tried the beta at all. And I've pretty much entirely stopped reading WoW Insider, except for the Drama Mamas.

New Stories

I am looking forward to the new dungeons and raids. I hope that the heroic dungeons are kept challenging, at least to start. It was awesomely fun to fight through the heroic dungeons for the first time in Cata. The group was really challenged to do their best tanking/dps/healing, and I hope we get that same experience at the start of Mists. I love fighting my way to the end of a instance and getting to see all the cool stuff that happens along the way.

The new story for Pandaria should also be quite exciting. I like reading quest text and seeing what all the NPCs have to say. I really enjoy video games as a method of storytelling, and I'm looking forward to the next Warcraft installment. I really, really hope that the way the story develops isn't dumb with respect to how Garrosh gets taken down. And I hope that the way that Pandas are available for both Horde and Alliance is dealt with delicately as well.


I'm also hoping that Mists raids don't have melee vs ranged damage requirements. In Dragon Soul there are two fights where you absolutely cannot succeed unless you have fewer or even numbers of melee compared to ranged. The rest of the fights are merely harder if you have too many melee. I'm currently having to juggle people so that we don't have too many melee dps. And adding another melee spec isn't going to help that. Currently it's never a problem if there are too many ranged, just have one of them stand in melee range or target the usual melee target. But it's just not possible for melee classes to stand with the ranged or target the ranged target, if there are separate targets.
    With monks there will be 11 classes, with 34 different talent specs (since druids will get 4)
  • tank specs: 5 (blood DK, prot Pally, prot Warrior, bear Druid, and new tank Monk)
  • healer specs: 6 (holy Pally, resto Shaman, resto Druid, holy and disc Priest, and new healer Monk)
  • ranged specs: 12 (ele Shaman, 3xHunter, balance Druid, 3xMage, 3xWarlock, shadow Priest)
  • melee specs: 11 (ret Pally, 2xWarrior, 2xDK, enhance Shaman, cat Druid, 3xRogue, new dps Monk)
Monk adds 1 to each of tank, melee and healer. Granted there are, and will be, fewer melee than ranged specs but my anecdotal evidence comes down on the side of there continuing to be more melee dps available. I'm guessing that has some sort of relation to the number of pure dps specs, but that speculation is outside the scope of this post.

Death Knights

I have not been actively avoiding DK talent and skill information, but I'm not yet doing any research. Honestly I think it's still a bit early, and besides I'm busy having fun with my current WoW playing. There is no reason to rush off to the next expansion yet.

That said, I'm a bit worried about Blood DKs. We're in a good spot now at the end of Cata, and I'm worried that will not continue into Mists. There are things I would change, but I like our Death Strike/Mastery mechanic. I hope that in Mists that doesn't get messed up or overly needlessly complicated.

One good thing about the new Monk class, with respect to DKs, is that it'll be the new class on the block. I'm sure it'll start out just as ridiculously OP as DKs were in early Wrath. But maybe, just maybe, all the faddish people will reroll Monk and abandon their DKs. Hopefully most of the dumbest DKs will swap to Monk and then those of us who are competent will get less crap just for being DKs.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

TODO before Mists

Things I want to get done before Mists of Pandaria:
  • Kalimdor quests completed on Mornara.
  • I want to get all the Jewelcrafting recipes from Orgrimmar and Dalaran:
    • Dalaran jewelry recipes - only four epic ring/necklace recipes left = 24 tokens.
    • Org epic gem recipes - sixteen gem cuts to go if I buy them randomly = 64 tokens.
    • Org jewelry recipes - seven ring/necklace recipes = 49 tokens
    • The end is in sight for Dalaran tokens. For the Org tokens though it is far far away. Really the most I can hope for is that I get the rest of the Org epic gem cuts. I'll just have to keep coming back during Mists for the other tokens I need.
  • More heroic kills! We're 6/8 in Heroic Dragon Soul so far! We are currently working on Spine.
  • Get more guild and raid recruiting done for Darkfall.
  • Figure out race/gender/name for my monk: orc/male/?????
  • Finish Dragon Soul boss dialogues. I have the first several bosses posted. I need to take all the screen shots I have and crop the dialogue images out of them for the last half of the instance.
  • Shocking achievement in Naxx25, last one needed for the meta achieve, sadly the drake reward was removed years ago.
  • I Could say That This Cache was Rare in Uld25, last one needed for meta achieve and Ironbound protodrake.
  • Blood Infusion, the next step in the Shadowmourn quest. I am not sure if that is still bugged or not.

Edit: Oops I wrote this last weekend and we killed heroic Blackhorn this past Thursday.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Heroic Blackhorn Dead and Blazing Drake

Last night Darkfall continued our Dragon Soul raid. My plan was to spend as much time as we needed on Blackhorn and kill him on heroic. We'd made some excellent progress on Tuesday and I was excited about killing him.

It turns out that our work on Tuesday paid off. We had a single unfortunate wipe when partners got confused about what little purple swirlies to take and two people each took a swirlie by themselves. Which lead to not enough people in the Onslaught. But then we got that sorted out and slaughtered him on the very next attempt.

It was a close thing, the boat was down to 3% health. However, once we got to the second phase it was a pretty easy fight. I'll credit the second phase smoothness to fabulous healers who didn't explode the raid, and awesome dps who absolutely murdered Goriona and Blackhorn. The tank swaps with Goriona and Blackhorn both still up were pretty smooth, too.

Having killed Blackhorn so quickly we then had the whole rest of the raid before us. Since Blackhorn had gone so swimmingly I suggested that we spend some time on Spine. We decided to take a short break so that the new gear could be gemmed, enchanted, and reforged, because we'd need all the help we could get on Spine.

Our Spine attempts were ridiculous to start. One good thing is that when the raid dies from Blood Corruption: Death, you don't take any durability loss. This is a really good thing, because while the healers were figuring out how to make that buff show up with the highest priority in their UI we died to it a lot. It was utterly hilarious. We'd be killing corruptions and starting to roll the dragon and then BOOM! Everyone was dead! We were all laughing really hard.

But we did start making some progress. By the time we called it for the night and swapped back to normal mode to polish off Spine and Madness we were getting the first plate off in two tendons. Our deaths started to be about Amalg and blood placement. Well, mostly. Every so often there would still be an insta-death wipe and we'd all laugh. Honestly, I'm still giggling a bit just thinking about the entire raid dropping dead instantly.

Anyway after we swapped back to normal mode we handily slaughtered both Spine and Madness. As a raid we're definitely ready to start killing them on heroic. Not least because the loot they drop on normal was entirely useless to anyone in the raid. More crystals for the gbank, I guess. The one drop that wasn't DE'd were the Reins of the Blazing Drake.

We use EPGP for most of our loot, but mounts go by free rolls. Mornara apparently had the hot dice. Or, more accurately, everyone else had crap rolls. I won the drake with a 77, and the next closest person was Kuanchichi with a 73. I did see a number of rolls in the single digits, so I totally lucked out.

I'm super pleased with the drake, even if it's horns do seem to be ridiculously oversized. We all headed back to Org to see what it looked like and I immediately added it to my random flying mount macro.

I"m pretty pleased with our progress as a guild. We're actually getting pretty close to the Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider achievement. Only two heroics left for Mornara and Kuanchichi. There are a few missing achieves for other people, but we're working on those as we go. This week, in fact, we started on Kalec's platform again because someone is missing that and Noz's platform for Chromatic champion. I"m going to be so super proud of the guild when we get everyone the meta achieve.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gaming Update

DraNgNon and I are splitting our game time between Diablo 3 and WoW.

Diablo 3 is a fun game but I'm a bit nervous about Inferno. We've got two pairs of characters that we play together. A monk and demon hunter who are at the end of Act I. And a wizard and barbarian who are in Act II. Both pairs are on Hell difficulty. It can be quite frustrating how totally random the difficulty level is for the random trash. Especially if you've got a narrow hallway to work with and the blue pack has molten, plagued, or arcane.

I am really enjoying playing both the monk and the wizard. I think I like monk best. But both are quite excellent. I'm also very very glad that DraNgNon and I decided to mix up our pairs so that we have a melee and a ranged in each pair. We'd tried it with two melee and that was just not good.

The WoW is going pretty well. Last night Darkfall one shot the first 5 bosses of heroic Dragon Soul. I was pretty proud of that even with the 30% buff. I did speak sternly to the raid before Morchok, to remind them that 30% doesn't mean they can goof off. However, I suspect that when we get to Madness later this week we'll still have at least one messup where we trigger blistering while we either still have bloods or big tentacle or elementium bolt. Hopefully that won't be a wipe, but it'll certainly be annoying and may cause the healers to burst a blood vessel.

The reason that we didn't get to Madness (or Spine) last night was that we spent some quality time wiping on heroic Blackhorn. The deckfire and other increased damage to the boat make that a pretty tough fight. We had a few wipes where not everyone got to the Onslaught. There were also several deaths due to one partner for the little purple swirlys not keeping up. Most of our deaths were due to the boat exploding out from under us. There was steady progress overall though, so I'm confident that we'll get him on Thursday.

I'm working Mornara through the Kalimdor quests. She is messing about in Winterspring right now. The current quests are merrily killing furbolgs and pretty much anything else that moves...

I've also got my jewelcrafting & alchemy & enchanting production line going. I'm making a modest amount, but, more importantly, I'm easily able to supply Mornara and Kuan and all our other toons with the gems and enchants that they need. It's also a good thing to do while I do the guild leader thing and chat/discuss/soothe all the things that need it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cataclysm Retrospective

The Cataclysm expansion seems to be winding down. The Mists 5.0 PTR is up for testing. The Mists beta is doing raid testing. Deathwing has been made dead many times over.

Guild and Raiding

It's been a pretty fun expansion for me and, I think (hope), for Darkfall too. This is actually the first expansion since Vanilla that I've been in one guild the whole time. Of course it helped a lot that I became a guild officer pretty early on. I could make sure the raid schedule was as comfortable as possible for DraNgNon and myself. Fortunately this wasn't actually any sort of change from what Darkfall had originally had as a schedule.

It was fun, over the past 18 months, to learn how to be a better raid leader. And, over the past eight months, I've learned a lot from being guild leader as well. Though I don't think I'm nearly as good a guild leader as I am a raid leader. Darkfall is currently 5/8 in Heroic Dragon Soul 10man so I don't think I've done a terrible job as raid leader thus far.

I am also really happy that I instituted the Monday night fun runs. I initially started them as a way to get guild achieves. We'd grab whoever was on and and interested to run old dungeons and raids. It actually turned into a really fun experience as we also would get whatever achievements individual people needed from the raid or dungeon we were slaughtering. In addition to being fun it was also a great way for the guild to bond. Most of the time I'd alternate easy and hard stuff on a week by week basis. So one week we'd be romping through Outland 5mans or Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj while laughing and talking on Vent. The next week we'd be concentrating on avoiding the defile from Heroic Lich King or twilght cutters of Heroic Halion. There was still laughter, but often it was laughter as someone fell to their death from an unnoticed shadow trap. Regardless of what happened it was a good way to have fun and helped the guild bond.


The general Cataclysm story was pretty good. It suffered a bit from not being separate from the rest of Kalimdor and EK. With BC and Wrath I expected it when the new zones were their own new and separate stories. But with the new Cata zones being part of the original Azeroth it was both nice and odd that the rest of Kalimdor and EK were updated to fit with them. I think that it's going to be increasingly jarring to level as more expansions come out. I'm not sure there is any way to solve this, but I do wonder how the new trainers in the starting zones are going to fit in with everything.

The major problem I had with the Cata story, both in the new Cata zones and in old revamped zones, is how very linear most of it seems to be. I've complained about this before. And I still think that Blizz learned just the wrong lesson from the DK starting area. The very linearity seems to have taken away a lot of the mystery and the sense of a big unexplored world just waiting for you. Except for the sections where the dangling plot hooks are just completely unexplained. Azshara, Neptulon, and the Naga spring to mind as a story that had a lot of promise but was just dropped to the floor. I have fun theorizing about that, but, of the new zones, that is the only place where there is any sort of major speculation possible.

There was also a lot of recycled content in Cata. Some of it tried to bridge the gap from Vanillla to current times, and some of it was just entirely recycled. I think that Blackwing Lair to Blackwing Descent would have been more successful if we hadn't had to kill Onyxia for the *third* time as part of the end boss encounter. Perhaps I'm more forgiving of Nefarian in that encounter because I didn't ever raid BWL more than the first few bosses. However I did raid Molten Core on a semi-regular basis so I had no leniency whatsoever for the entirely recycled nature of Firelands, and Ragnaros in particular. OH LOOK! The Sons of Ragnaros!! /wrists

I also would have been more impressed if the revamped troll dungeons were handled a bit better. Well, in fairness, Zul'gurub did have updated story around it, so the new bosses there made sense. However, Zul'Aman didn't have any explanation for why Daakara replaced Zul'jin but the animal loa bosses and Hexlord were still there. It would have been a good chance to update the Blood Elf starting area, which is sorely in need of an update, or at least the ability for people to use flying mounts there.

Uldum Sucks

However, my least favorite part about Cata was the Harrison Jones quest in Uldum. I really, really hate that quest line. I did it on one character, and I will NEVER complete any of it again. It was such a bad story, but what I truly hated was how often you lost control of your character.

Understand, I did the Uldum quests with Mornara. Mornara is a TANK. This means (I'm talking to you Blizzard) that she regularly gets hit by very large and angry beings and it does not kill her. Ok, yes, there is a full raid group, with healers, behind her. But consider this situation: Mornara and Kuan and various raids have fought their way through ICC. They defeated Arthas. Anub'arak's carapace lies cracked at their feet. They ride Rust-bound Protodrakes because they freed the Keepers of Ulduar and killed Yogg-Saron without their help. Now they are headed off to Uldum, and a band of pygmies with spears and rocks capture them?!?! And then later Harrison Jones needs to rescue them from a single goblin with a rocket propelled grenade. Mornara jumps on grenades for fun! It's called being a tank!

I'm also not a big fan of the pygmies in Uldum. It's rather racist portrayal, but Saif said that better than I can.

Oh and lets not forget that the entire set of Harrison Jones quests is thinly veiled WW2/Nazi references. Yes, yes, I like Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's a fun movie, but the quests in Uldum had too many references to actual Hitler and his cronies. That's history, it's not something that should be made into a joke.


The new secondary profession for Cata, Archaeology, was also a modest success. I found it most useful as a filler while I was waiting for a battleground or arena queue to pop. I suspect it is also useful if you are waiting for a dungeon queue, but as a tank the longest part of my LFD queue is waiting for that one dps who is asleep to time out.

I've gotten some cool rewards with archaeology. There are bunch of rather cute companion pets you can get. I'm also always happy to be riding my skeletal raptor around. And even better, to my mind, there are a bunch of small bits of lore you can get out of Archaeology. Every item you assemble has a sentence or two at least of explanation or history on it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

EPL Quests

When the Cataclysm expansion came out I decided that I wanted to see the new story and quests in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Khyrie, my troll druid, leveled to 60 through questing in Kalimdor and hit most of the zones there. There were some excellent stories, and even though I often was killing mobs that were green or grey, I'm glad I leveled her that way. It was fun to experience the fresh story with a fresh character.

I deputized Mornara to do the quests in Eastern Kingdoms. There are also some excellent stories and zones there too. I really like how the vast majority built on what the quests used to be in Vanillla. Specifically good examples of this are the pirate quests in Southern Stranglethorn Vale (now Cape of Stranglethorn), Blasted Lands and the Rahk'likh quests, the Hillsbrad quests, and the quests in Eastern Plague Lands. There are excellent quests all over, but the ones in those zones had an extra awesome dimension if you'd completed the Vanilla quests as well.

In old pre-Cata EPL there were a couple of quest hubs and their quests sent you all over the place. It was fun and, with no flying, a bit challenging to get through/around Corin's Crossing and avoid the Scarlet Crusade's patrols to get to Light's Hope Chapel. EPL, being a max level zone, was not an easy place to quest at when level 60. I'm a little sad that they reduced the general level for the zone and for the Stratholm instances, but honestly there isn't that much of a difference between 40 and 60 when you're 85.

Anyway, the general layout of the zone and quests is that you've got a caravan you travel with and it stops at the different towers, which have now been taken over by the Argent Crusade. You do quests for the people in the caravan and for the people in the towers. It's a fun set up, and you get a lot of story as you ride the caravan from tower to tower. Through the zone of course you're fighting the Scourge and other undead, including the undead remains of the Scarlet Crusade and the zombified trolls.

However, as you get to the end of the zone, near the entrance to Stratholm, there are a couple of quests where it is very clear that the quests were not designed for Death Knights to do them. In particular, there is a set of quests where you have to go rescue a captured paladin before he gets turned into a Death Knight. The quest givers for that and a few other nearby related quests go on and on about how terrible the Scourge is and how truly awful the Death Knights are, and how there really isn't anything worse than being turned into a Death Knight... Through this set of quests Mornara is doggedly slaying Scourge and rescuing feckless paladins, but what she really wants to do is point out to all those silly quest givers, that she is *Right There* and can hear them just fine as as they say how gross Death Knights are.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Chromatic Champion & Alt Runs

Thursday night a little over two weeks ago Darkfall got a full 10man raid together and took down the last four bosses of DS. Without pugs it was a relatively painless experience. I say relatively because there was some funky lag and that caused several wipes on Ultraxion before we got him down. We also had a few pulls on heroic Blackhorn again. The lag bit us there too, but we did get farther than we had before. We had started a bit late between a few planned and unplanned people running late, so we only did three pulls on him for heroic, then I swapped it to normal and we handily wiped out Blackhorn and Spine.

But my big plan for the evening was to start on Kalecgos' platform. He was the last one we needed to do for Chromatic Champion. My plan was to go: Kalec > Ysera > Alexstraza > Nozdormu. It was actually a it of an anticlimax. I was expecting some hard coordination required to make sure that everyone single targeted the bloods down correctly. However, we had a really awesome set of dps, 3/4 of whom had lovely cleaving abilities, so we just aoe'd all the bloods. Between being able to do that and having Alexstraza up for three platforms (no need to try to time the blistering tentacles, she'd just burn them away) it was actually pretty trivial. I guess that the 25% buff is just that massive.

Speaking of the 25% buff: since we'd actually finished thirty minutes early there was discussion of an alt run. Everyone swapped to an alt except for one person who didn't have an available alt, and Caffinator joined us. It was excellent to play with him again. Honestly it really reminded me of running Karazhan again, what with him, and DraNgNon on Eeyan, and me on Teltanara. Oh yes, because of class/role composition issues I brought Telt instead of Viljo. Viljo was going to be the 3rd mage, and we were short on heals... It was 'festive'. At the beginning of the run Telt had such crappy gear that she wouldn't have qualified for LFR, and she's only run two of the Hour of Twilight Heroics.

However, holy priest is super excellent to play. Even though I (and everyone else) was looking at buttons and wondering what they all did, it went reasonably well. I went into Chakra:Sanctuary and just kinda mashed Prayer of Healing and occasionally put down the Holy Word: Sanctuary. We did two heal Morchok and Yor'sahj, but Zon'ozz was just impossible with me being such a scrub. So one of our locks swapped over for that fight and it wasn't actually too bad.

Telt made out like a bandit from the three bosses we killed. She got the mace from Morchok and the leg token from Yor'sahj. I just need to get them enchanted and reforged and transmogged now. I'm so excited that Telt finally has a mace again, it's been a long expansion with her swinging a staff around. I'm looking forward to transmogging her mace to the ever lovely Light's Justice She'll look even more like she did in BC. I may even show her cloak and transmog it to Stainless Cloak of the Pure Hearted.