Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recycled content...

Never have I seen a company recycle so much content. In fact, it’s

gonna get really old if everything is always the same. However,

give it time and I’m sure we’ll see some new stuff.

You have to trust that a company as big as Blizzard has something up its sleeve.

Up until the news of the re-release of ZG and ZA, I

never thought I’d see them again. I should say I hoped that would be the case anyhow.

Gonna be fun to see how they changed the dungeons and mechanics. Hopefully, it will

let us get the mounts a bit easier this time, though I seriously doubt it.

You have to wonder though, what else is going to be recycled? Will we see MC version two?

Down to even lower dungeons such as stratholme version 2? If that’s the case I can say I’m

NEVER – ever gonna be really motivated to run them. Seriously, who’s really

gonna want to do that all again? I certainly don’t. In fact I’d be happy to

run any new themed dungeon that’s introduced. You think we’ll see any new dungeons

around path 4.2 as well? I really hope we do, because if the content doesn’t hold my interest

and burn out starts to set in, it would be a really big shame to

desert this game after so many hours put into it.

You can’t take things too seriously though.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You Never Know

Last night my family attended the district-wide Festival of Bands held at our local high school.  The Festival of Bands pulls together all of the woodwind, brass, and percussion band students throughout the entire school district, from 5th Grade through 12th Grade, for a combined concert.  The concert showcases all of the hard work the band students have been putting in --my oldest, a flutist, among them-- and gives them a chance to shine on the stage.  (Or in this case, gymnasium, as there were over 400 students assembled for the program.)

We left after the concert and went back home, just in time for my wife to realize that she'd accidentally a book she'd been reading behind.  I went back to the high school to go hunt for the book, hoping that the building hadn't been emptied and locked for the night.

Luckily for me, I encountered one of the band directors when I was roaming through the gym, and he suggested we try the high school band's office.  We crossed into the Commons area, and while he called his wife my eye was drawn to the lost-and-found shelf.  I pointed to myself and at the shelf, and the band director nodded while he talked on his cell.

I searched under the hoodies and jackets and found a few notebooks which I searched through, but not much in the way of my wife's book.  I set the notebooks back, and it was then that I noticed the owner's name of the topmost one:

Jimmy "Leeroy" Jenkins

"For the Horde!" I whispered, smiling.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

So... Where've you been?

That was the question asked me by a guildie when I fired up Quintalan for about 20 minutes early last evening.  It was about the only time I had to spare in between the end of the work day and having to take two of my kids to a skating party, but I figured I'd knock out a few quests in Uldum before I spent a couple of hours at a 1970s era roller rink.

I kind of shrugged at the question.  "I've been on," I replied.  "Mostly in the mornings and the early afternoon."

"Okay.  I haven't been able to get on in the mornings lately, except for Saturday."

I'd noticed that the regular morning crowd for both Tom and Neve/Q has been thinning a bit lately, but until my guildie alluded to it I hadn't noticed the decline in my evening playing.  With three kids (and their activities) and a wife who works in the evenings part of the time, I've cut back on my WoW playing.  When I do play, it's much easier to run a quick BG or knock out some quests/crafting rather than queue for an instance.

At times like this, I miss the quick Wrath instances like A-N or Forge of Souls, the BC quickie Hellfire Ramparts, and Vanilla's Scarlet Monastery Graveyard.  Got 15-20 minutes?  No problem!  You don't have to be in a losing fight in Warsong Gulch; you can go bash some Scourge or Fel Orcs instead!

But really, the design for Cata instances took away the ability to get a dungeon quickie.  Given that Blizz wants to make the instances --especially the heroics-- hard, the concept of a quick and dirty instance clashes with design intent.  And I'm fine with that.  It's my schedule that has changed, and I shouldn't expect the game to change for me.

This is where things kind of intersect with a persistent theme the past month or two out in the WoW blogosphere, how a certain subset of WoW players have gotten disaffected with the game.  We're not talking about the people who like WoW but tried and fell in love with Rift (or LOTRO or another game), but the people who burned out on WoW or who threw up their hands in disgust over the game.

Even if my own WoW time has been cut, I still find things to do.  If I'm the only person in my guild on in the morning, I make a point of chit chatting while holding down a tower in Alterac Valley.  (And I'm not even talking about roleplaying, but just regular in-game talk.)  What I don't get is when people focus in on one aspect of the game so completely that they miss the rest of the game world.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: an MMO is what you make of it.  Yes, there is design intent at play, but you can choose to buck the system and do your own thing.  Nobody pulled out the book of WoW Scriptures and read "Yea, and upon the Seventh Day the Toon assembled with many brethren, and thus they entered the Great Raid.  And the Two Headed Ogre with many pokey eyes was slain."

Friday, March 18, 2011

So Many items to craft, so few toons to do the dirty work...

There are days when I feel like two toons are one toon too many.  Then there are days when I look at the AH prices and grumble that I don't have enough toons.

I've been spending some of my recent time leveling Enchanting and Tailoring on Neve, and as I watch my gold disappear into the WoWified ether, I'm reminded of the old maxim:  The questgiver giveth, and the Auction House taketh away.  But at least she can craft her own high level gear; Quintalan and Tomakan don't have such a luxury.

Sure, Jewelcrafting and Engineering have their perks, but in terms of the majority of gear I'd need a blacksmith to do the dirty work.  Since there are some decent Cata items you can craft via Blacksmithing, I really really really would like to level an alt to get access to that stuff.

But I'm also conflicted on leveling another alt.

I mean, it is a grind leveling again.  With Cata zones the way they are, you kind of have to go through them to finish all of the phasing.  The XP you get from BGs and instances got nerfed with Cata's release, so I don't have the option of pugging my way to riches like I did with Tom and Neve.  (Okay, the option is still there, but not as good as before.)

At the same time, there are races and classes I've thought about trying that I haven't had too much of a chance to experiment with before.  The concept of a NE Mage is appealing --hey look, an outsider group in the Alliance!-- but also tinkering with a Worgen or Orc Lock could be good.  (Shadow Council?  What Shadow Council?  I don't know what you're talking about!)


After being oh-for-January and most of February, I finally started getting on the winning side of BG runs.  I still can't win Warsong Gulch to save my life, but I finally got into some winning AV, AB, and BoG battlegrounds.  Considering I'm starting over with building up my PvP gear, I'll take whatever badges/points/whatever I can get.

Even after all this time of playing my three toons, I still have this annoying --and often fatal-- habit of charging into the heart of the enemy side while on Neve.  I get this "I have to close to really do some damage!" mentality going, and all I can think of is Crusader Strike, Templar's Verdict, Inquisition, and other Paladin abilities.  I'm sure that my wife wonders who the hell I'm talking to when I constantly say "No no no!  Stay back, dammit!  Stay back!" to the computer screen.


I've posted before about what happens when my kids watch me play WoW, but it had been a while since any of them had done so.  I guess I'd kind of forgotten exactly what it was like having extra pairs of eyes watching me play, when I'd gotten into an Arathi Basin run last week on Neve.

A Hunter and I took the Gold Mine and we kept beating off persistent attempts by a Rogue to ninja us and steal the Mine.  After the Hunter pursued the Rogue up toward the Alliance base, I pulled back to see a Pally coming down the other way.  In the ensuing duel, I died once but ran back and rezzed to finish the job.  Just as I let out a big sigh of relief, I got one-shotted from behind.

"Stupid assed Rogues," I grumbled as I sat by the Spirit Healer, fuming, as I watched the Hunter chase after our persistent pest.

"You died again, Dad!" a small voice piped up at my elbow.

I must have jumped a good foot in the air because my youngest got the giggles.  "Scared ya!"

"Hey!" I protested, turning my head in her direction.

She pointed at the screen.  "Oh look, you died again."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Frost Mages get a bit more love

Well, looky here, straight out of the updated 4.1 PTR notes:

  • Ice Barrier base damage value has been increased by approximately 120%. In addition, the benefit from spell power has been increased by approximately 8%.

  • Glyph of Frost Armor (new glyph): Frost Armor also causes the mage to regenerate 2% of maximum mana ever 5 seconds.

I like the tweak on Ice Barrier, but I'm actually just as excited about the new Glyph.  Anything to regen mana quicker is fine by my book.  I didn't have any issues running out of mana until Neve reached L85, and then suddenly it hit like a truck.  So anything to alleviate mana problems that doesn't entail equipping Spirit gear is fine by me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

About those the 4.1 Patch Notes

I found this little line very interesting in the patch notes:

Blizzard damage has been increased by 70%.

I've noticed a decrease in utility for Blizzard the deeper I've gone into Cata.  For what it does --and AoE attack that will proc Fingers of Frost and other goodies-- the damage has been really lagging behind most of a Frost Mage's other attacks.  The only times I've used it in instances I've done it more for the procs than anything else.  And now, Blizz seems to be putting some of the damage back in.


Another big impression is that Arcane Mages are getting some good buffs to bring them more in line with Fire and Frost.  Based on the DPS charts I've seen, Arcane has been lagging behind Fire and Frost in raids, and Blizz is moving to correct that.

As for Paladins, not that much is in the PTR, other than Illuminated Shield getting a longer duration.  I'm sorry, but Righteous Fury persisting after toon death isn't anything to cheer wildly about.

Now this little note about the LFD tool is very interesting:

The Dungeon Finder now attempts to avoid putting damage-dealing classes with the same armor type in a group.

Apparently that wasn't always the case, but I guess that means that DKs, Warriors, and Pallys will be more rarely grouped together as DPS.  Same goes for the cloth armored Warlocks, Mages, and Shadow Priests, and for leather/mail armored Rogues, Hunters, and Druids.   Of course, "try" != "will", as I've been on a four Pally run through Gnomer before.

One final note:  I found this entry in the Hunter section truly amusing:

Glyph of Mend Pet is now Glyph of Greater Proportion, which increases the size of the pet slightly.

All I could think of when I saw that was the line in Blazing Saddles:  "Excuse me while I whip this out!"

EtA:  One huge win for the leveling crowd:  BC Instance maps are now in the 4.1 patch!!  Woo!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It Takes Diff'rent Strokes

Well...  Two down, one to go.

Both Tomakan and Neve dinged last week.  For the record, Tom crept ahead of Neve the past few weeks while she spent some of her time farming for Frostweave, but I didn't really look at it as an Alliance v. Horde competition.

The primary concern I had with this experiment --could a toon go straight into Cata without stopping to farm Northrend Heroics-- was answered well over a month ago.  Of secondary importance was the amount of difficulty melee DPS and ranged DPS would have in making it through Cata, and after that how different the stories each faction would tell.  Now, I'm not completely finished with Twilight Highlands, but I'm far enough along that I can draw some conclusions.

Melee or Ranged DPS:  Who's got the harder time?

The answer for that is that it depends on the zone.

Some people love Vashj'ir, some people hate it.  But for ranged DPS, it's possibly the best zone out there.  The added third dimension to the zone means that ranged DPS can zoom in and attack at odd angles, negating the advantage that melee DPS would get having to grind their way through a particular area.  Sure, your average toon will have a flying mount by then --and zones such as Deepholm and Twilight Highlands pretty much demand one if you want to get to certain areas-- but with a flying mount you still have to land to attack.  in Vashj'ir, the underwater vertical dimension effectively allows ranged DPS to attack from the air.  You don't have to clear out all of the nearby enemy to prevent from being caught from behind, but instead you can use the WoW equivalent of surgical strikes to take out the enemy.

For melee DPS, there's a lot that Vashj'ir has going for it as well.  Plate DPS will find a lot more useful drops in Vashj than in Hyjal, which can be vital in getting your toon Cata-geared.  At the same time, Deepholm seemed more tailor made for melee than ranged DPS.  For a Ret Spec Pally with the Holy Wrath Glyph active, any place with boatloads of elementals on it is a real bonus, and Deepholm was filled with them.  By comparison, Hyjal, Vashj'ir, and Uldum didn't have nearly as many elementals to work with.

After having read the above, you'd think that by omission I must be ragging on Hyjal and Uldum, but that's not the case.  Both zones were pretty much DPS-neutral, not favoring either one.  Hyjal had more tank Plate drops than Vashj, so if a tanking offspec were of vital importance to you, Hyjal is the place to go.  Uldum had one or two quests that were much easier on Plate DPS than on a squishy Mage --The Pit of Scales being the biggest offender, particularly if it's bugged*-- but in general I felt that Uldum was pretty much DPS-neutral in terms of difficulty.

Now Twilight Highlands, that's another story entirely.

If you leveled through Northrend back in the Wrath days, you know that once you dinged L80 --typically in The Storm Peaks-- things weren't bad at all in Icecrown.  Quest greens didn't hold you back much, and the real difficulty came in trying to solo the mulit-person quests.  That was when you needed the T9 set.

Therefore, if you were expecting history to repeat itself upon venturing to Twilight Highlands, you were disabused of that opinion almost immediately.  It was more along the lines of:  "Ding!  You're L85!  Now go to back and start over!"

For people who never experienced what it was like to start the Cata leveling process with Northrend green gear, this had to be a kick in the nuts.  And the Horde's initial Naga quests are particularly brutal to squishy mages, as the waves of them come in so damn fast that you can get completely overwhelmed before you knew what was going on.  Once you get past the initial quest chains, however, the zone becomes pretty DPS-neutral.  Where Twilight Highlands shines, however, is in the story.

"Thundermar ale is 220 proof; I don't know how that's possible."

The story is similar for both factions throughout Vashj'ir, Hyjal, Deepholm, and Uldum.  With Vashj, the story is the same, but the quest givers are Horde or Alliance.  The other three have the faction neutral questgivers, so the story is almost exactly the same.  Then you get to Twilight Highlands, and things suddenly diverge.

The Horde and Alliance stories emphasize dealing with the new additions to each faction --Dragonmaw and Wildhammer-- and the struggles each leader has in exerting control.  The Dragonmaw are initially run by Mor'ghor, last seen on the Netherwing Ledge, and the younger Dragonmaw under the direction of Zaela chafe under his demon-tainted rule.  Once Zaela leads a successful revolt, she then has to consolidate power against the drake riders who think the Wildhammer are the greater threat.  On top of that, the Horde has big issues --as in Wyrmrest type issues-- by aligning with the Dragonmaw.

The Alliance, by comparison, has a slightly more mellow route through the Twilight Highlands.  First, you have to fight off a Horde attack --thanks, Garrosh!-- and then you settle into trying to unite the independent Wildhammer clans.  I know that Blizz basically lifted the stereotypical Scottish blueprint and stuck them on the Dwarves, but after a while the quests devolved into something like having Robin Williams describe golf.  You go rally the clans, but then everything falls apart because the clans can't stand each other.  So you try to arrange a political marriage, and you can guess where this whole thing is going.

Well, the divergent paths of each faction really brings Twilight Highlands to life.  And I haven't even gotten through the Red Dragonflight portion of the program yet!


Heard around Azeroth:

Warrior:  LF Port to Dal
Neve (Me):  I can do that.
[Warrior invites Neve]
Neve (Me):  Um, you're in Dal.
Warrior:  Oh.

Tomakan (Me, during the Cursed Landing quests):  There's something incredibly satisfying about killing 1000 Gnomes.

[Quintalan is helping a couple of people look for a rare spawn in Deepholm while he's finishing up the questlines]
Priest:  Did you find anything yet?
Quintalan (Me):  No.
[Quintalan pauses to acquire another quest]
Priest:  Did you find it?
Quintalan:  No.
[Q completes quest, gets another quest]
Priest:  Did you find it?
Quintalan: Look, you don't have to ask each time I pause.
Priest:  kk.  [10 seconds pass]  Did you find it?
Quintalan: /facepalm

Warrior:  LFM Ring of Blood
Priest:  Wrong location.  You want Outland.
Warrior:  LFM Ring of Blood
Priest:  What level are you?
Warrior:  L84
Tomakan (Me):  You can solo Ring of Blood at L80, much less 84
Warrior:  Tried it.  Didn't work.
Priest:  Just what did you try?
Warrior:  The one here.  The Ring of Blood.
Priest:  That's not the Ring of Blood; that's the Crucible of Carnage.
[One minute passes]
Warrior:  LFM Ring of Blood
Priest: ...


Convoy to L85 Update:

Tomakan:  L85 and in Twilight Highlands
Nevelanthana:  L85 and in Twilight Highlands
Quintalan:  L84 and in Uldum

*You know you've got a bugged quest event when you're out of the Pit and taking damage for no visible reason whatsoever while you're still drinking.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oh, This is going to be good

I'd known that the Horde was going to partner with the Dragonmaw Clan in the Twilight Highlands, but while Neve was waiting on the platform for the arrival of the zeppelin, I wondered exactly how the intro was going to pan out.  Would Hellscream act like a doofus?  What exactly would the dragonflights think of this deal with the devil?  And were the Dragonmaw worth saving?

Well, at the moment the answers are:  yes, I don't know yet, and yes.

For a change, the Goblin in charge of the skyfleet had the right idea:  "What kind of madman orders away his close air support?"

Um, that guy.

/points at Hellscream


I kind of expected that both the Horde and Alliance lead in quests to the Twilight Highlands would be similar:  find a Twilight spy, reveal him/her, and basically look good for your faction's boss.  That followed the plan to the letter on the Alliance side, but the Horde side was, well, disappointing.  Greedy goblins and troops on shore leave in a town that would make Vegas or Bangkok look tame kind of took the edge off of the Horde's lead in quests.  If I want to watch greed like that, I'll turn on the news.