Monday, December 30, 2019

The Story Continues (because I don't want to make a major edit to the last post)....

Well, right after I hit "Publish" and sent the previous post out into the world, I remembered something about the post-Cataclysm Felwood: there was a Night Elf encampment just south of Timbermaw Hold. I'd assumed it was an extra flightpoint added in to the game from Cataclysm --having not leveled up through Felwood in pre-Cata Alliance-- but what if it did actually have a flightpoint?

Wonder of wonders, it existed pre-Cata, and it did have a Flightpoint!

Mishellena, I am SO happy to see you!!
I'm sure the Paladin who'd recently landed* thought I was nuts for hugging Mishellena, the Hippogryph Master.

So with that in mind, I decided to tackle Timbermaw Hold without making good on my threat to strip Az down to her skivvies.

There was a group of Alliance who'd obviously farmed enough to have the Timbermaw as at least neutral running ahead of me, although I got the feeling they paused a bit to see if I needed some help. But hey, Az is a Rogue of means, and can get through anything, right?

Because Firbolgs.
Um, yeah, about that....

So I decided to save my gear and crept along once Kernda cleared out.

I did get jumped by one Firbolg but managed to avoid them by Vanishing. And on reaching the end of the tunnels, I found as I ran out that the large group of Winterfall Firbolg that wander around out in front of the Winterspring exit had all been recently cut down, so I managed to put some distance between myself and the exit....

Dead Firbolgs as far as the eye could see.
Sorry, Az draws the line at keeping her brown shirt on, as Winterspring is freaking cold.

And her daggers, but that's a Rogue thing.

So all I had to do was put my gear back on, mount up, and head west.

Destination: Everlook.

*Who was just offscreen.

Why do I do this, Part Whatever...

Az's penchant for getting me in trouble led me to Azshara today, stealthily sneaking along and swimming among the elite Giants out there. It wasn't exactly how I planned to spend part of a Sunday, but I wanted to clean out my quest queue as I was starting to acquire Alterac Valley quests.

And yes, that meant I wandered into Alterac Valley at a severely overwhelmed L51.

I kind of hoped* that the L60 toons would be isolated from the rest of the L50-L59 toons, but as soon as I joined the entrance to AV I discovered I was one of a handful not at L60. And I was the only one lower than L55, which wasn't a good thing.

That meant that enemies had a beat on me no matter whether I was stealthed or not, and I lost track of my deaths after about 7 or so.

Still, I actually got a killing blow in, and I participated in 6 HKs, not too bad for someone who was grossly outleveled in that BG.

And because of that misadventure, I decided I was going to wait on AV for a couple of more levels before I try again.


But back to Azshara...

I had that one quest you pick up in the Mage/Priest/Pally area in Ironforge to go get some rubbings of runes in Azshara, and both the rubbing kit and the flare gun were taking up space in my bags. So between those things and my full quest log, I decided to run on over to Azshara and knock that quest out.

However, I didn't count on the adventure of trying to find the island where the Biggs knockoff** was going to land.

The quest said it was an island off the coast of the southern peninsula, but did you notice there were a LOT of islands in the southern peninsula? And what qualifies as "off the coast", anyway?"

So I spent upwards of 40 minutes swimming from island to island, checking each one I could climb up on for a place for the Dwarf pilot to land. After the first attempt of firing the flare gun I discovered that I should be looking for a specifically built platform, so at least I now knew what to look for. But the time spent dodging regular enemies and elites that were 4+ levels higher than me didn't make this any easier.

I finally found the island as the very last freaking island on the map. Figures, I suppose, but I didn't want to assume that and then have to double back if I found I was wrong.

After that long waste of time, I shot off the flare, talked to the pilot, and then discovered that for my reward I'd have to go visit the original quest giver anyway.

"If that was the case, why make me run around for upwards of an hour?" I grumbled as I hearthed back to safety.


I had yet another quest to take care of, and one that led me to Felwood: the ooze collection. I'm almost worried about what that gnome wants all this ooze for, but Ironforge isn't my home, so off I went up to Felwood to perform the ooze collection I'm sure everybody wants.

It was then that I discovered that the Emerald Circle outpost doesn't have a flightpoint in Classic (it did by the time Wrath came along). So I collected oozes and then decided I ought to wander north to see if I could sneak through to Winterspring. As of this writing, I'm parked outside the tunnel entrance, debating whether I've enough flash powder to vanish my way through the cave network.

There's foolhardy, and there's crazy. I prefer to think that Az is on the side of the former, but given that I've got some screenshots of Az in the Western Plaguelands at L28, maybe the latter is a more apt description.

But one thing is certain: I'm not exiting this expedition without acquiring a flightpoint.


And if that means having Az run naked though the tunnels so as not to lose equipment durability in the event of multiple corpse runs.... Well, I hope those Firbolgs enjoy the show.

*Given that I don't read the forums, I just play.

**Biggs Starlighter from the original Star Wars movie.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Who eats those Sour Patch Kids candies, anyway?

I finally got into Az's last Uldaman run* the other day, and by far this run was the most like my previous time in WoW than any other.

And I'm not exactly sure how I felt about it.

On the plus side, it was efficient. We had a Mage whose AoE made me pretty much superfluous, and I was reduced to mainly doing crowd control on various casters. We had a DPS Warrior who could handle threat if the tank went down, even though he wasn't geared for being a tank himself. We skipped a boss or two on the way to cleaning out the instance, and the only time we had a couple of people die --the tank and the Mage-- the three of us who were upright were able to handle the mobs without issue.

However, the efficiency came at the cost of silence and pulling entire rooms.

The tank pretty much made the assumption that our group could handle pulls at the level I last saw in Halls of Lightning, where a tank would get about 3-4 mobs at once and let the DPS toons AoE them down. The problem with that is that the tank had issues keeping threat from the Mage**, so the DPS Warrior and I kept having to DPS down the mobs that ran to the Mage.

And during Archaedas' fight, the Mage had been designated to take care of the adds, but either he kept forgetting or he didn't have the instant DPS needed to zap the adds quickly so I had to run around and kill the adds instead.

But what bugged me the most was how blasted silent the entire run was.

I'd grown accustomed to everybody talking in the instance, if for nothing else than to identify what strategy to use throughout the pulls. But this was so damn quiet I think that the only time we did talk was the lead-up to the Archaedas fight, and that was limited to a couple of sentences total.

This was not what I had in mind when I resubbed to play Classic.

Thankfully, that seems to be the exception, as this past morning Cardwyn ran Razorfen Kraul with a good group, and we had a great time killing mobs, chatting away, and in general having a blast. About the only downer was that I got a call from work that caused me to have to drop after the run, so I couldn't get a second run in with that group. But we did exchange friend requests for later***, so maybe the Uldaman run was an aberration.


I have turned that Uldaman run over in my head for a couple of days, and emphasis on efficiency --and the overall silence-- bugs me more now than it did then. I'm in Classic for the experiences, not the rush to max level, and that Uldaman run felt so much like another step in the rush to get to raiding that it made me want to hang around Stormwind, crafting for a while.

If Classic devolves into the rush to end game like Retail, I'm not so sure how much longer I'll want to hang around. But at the same time, this was only one run. We'll see what happens later, but I'd say this was the first time I'd had a truly bad taste in my mouth since coming back to Classic. The irony is that it had nothing to do with being ganked in a battleground, which is where I expected that first sour taste to come.

On the flip side, I've met some really great people in Classic, and I enjoy talking with them. And seeing old friends who still play both Classic and Retail. So I guess we'll see how things go.

*I should clarify: she only needed one more run to finish the Uldaman quests she had in her queue.

**Rogues have an ability to reduce their threat --can't remember the name offhand right now-- that as of L32 Cardwyn does not have. Therefore, I use AoE with Cardwyn sparingly, and after the tank says it's okay to use it.

***And I politely declined yet another guild invite after the run.

Monday, December 16, 2019

OOO!! OOO!! Greatfather Winter!! I Know Him!!!

Catching a snowball fight using screenshots
is harder than it looks. So I guess I'll
settle for some Lock AOE.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Clothes Make the Mage

One thing about class quests in WoW Classic is that each class has a different focus. For Warlocks, it's all about the demons and the power they bring. For Rogues, it's about how to use your abilities to not get killed in the field. And for Mages, it's about acquiring the trappings of power: your gear.

That's not to say that Mages are stuck using gear they're given in these class quests, but they represent the maturation process of the Mage. As you grow in level --and stature-- the class quests become the equivalent of exams.

For example, your first class quest is the equivalent of getting your entrance papers in order: you show up with the letter, and you're in.

Then there's the basic "gofer" test to prove you can follow directions and not ask too many questions*, which gives you your first "real" staff.

The next quest (~L15) is the "go investigate" quest, showing you have basic mastery of your abilities, and you are rewarded with a "real" Mage robe. Right about here, this quest presents you with an item that easily identifies you to all around that you're a Mage; so you've "joined the club" and are no loner a Mage-in-training. It doesn't carry any real weight to others who are Mages, but to the general populace it provides an "ooooo" moment. Such as when you finally graduate from basic training in the military and you get your first dress uniform.

After that, you don't get any new class quests until about 10 levels or so later, which is when you're sent on another fetch and carry quest, but this time it's considerably more dangerous. You could potentially solo it, but this is more of a "social" test for the Mage: you have to put a group together to go achieve the fetch and carry, and since a Mage has high social standing, you have to demonstrate that you can navigate the complex social life in Azeroth.** Your reward for this is a better set of robes, but you have to assist in getting them tailored. You've moved up the food chain to no longer being a 1st or 2nd Year Mage, but rather a 3rd Year Mage.

At least she's no longer a Freshman.

And now Cardwyn has just reached the next round of respectability, as she just received the Class Quest for a wand.

Of course, that quest means that she has to travel to Dustwallow Marsh and hunt for a Human Witch out in the swamp.

At L30.

There's a reason why this quest shows up as beet red in the quest log, because you'd have to have a full group to run through Dustwallow Marsh at L30, and even then you're all likely to wipe once you go south past the fork in the road that heads to the Barrens.

It's not that a Mage hasn't stumbled across a wand or three out in the wild, but this is a Class wand, which may not be the most powerful wand available to you, but is another social cue to others in the profession.


You know, it's kind of strange to approach the class quests like this, because until I started writing about Cardwyn's journey, I never really noticed these details. I certainly remember Quintalan's two biggest class quests, which involved him learning how to Rez people (~L20) and obtain his Blood Knight Tabard (~L60). The quests involving the Blood Knight Tabard left a bitter taste in my mouth, as so much of that questline was driven by revenge against the Alliance for abandoning Quel'Thalas in the Third War.

That being said, I don't recall much of Neve's leveling process --and corresponding class quests-- because she was still at a fairly low level when Cataclysm dropped and removed all of the class quests. (The same with Tomakan, my Draenei Paladin.)

With the benefit of hindsight, however, these Mage class quests --while optional-- provide flavor that was lost when WoW streamlined leveling/questing with Cataclysm and subsequent expacs. I've a similar experience now that I've been playing in a D&D 1e campaign the past year or two***. While newer versions of D&D have a better grasp of various actions, there's something about the quirkiness surrounding 1e that was lost in 3e and 4e, which helps to explain the popularity of the "return to basics" that D&D 5e espouses.**** When everything becomes a mechanic, you tend to look at actions in strictly a "gaming the system" fashion. But D&D 1e, like WoW Classic, there are quests and options and other things that aren't there strictly to propel the plot forward, but reflect your toon's interaction and status within Azeroth itself.

I guess an argument could be made that Classic was far more open world than subsequent iterations of WoW, and as the mini-Reds would put it, "You're not wrong".

Now if you're excuse me, I'm going to let Cardwyn contemplate her place in the universe while I go work on some fishing and crafting with Az. I've finally decided that she does need a mount sooner rather than later.

*For Alliance toons in Stormwind, it's the "get the vial filled" quest.

**Okay, it's not that hard to get a group together for the quest --at least in the Redridge Mountains version-- but you still have to be social enough to pull the group together. The more I play Classic, the more I realize that because I post in LookingForGroup and Trade Chat, I'm the one who frequently gets the job of putting a group together. There are a lot of people out there who simply passively watch and not get actively involved in the social aspect of putting a group together.

***We just finished the Slave Lords modules (A1-A4), and are starting in on the Against the Giants modules (G1-G3).

****That's not the only reason, by far, but it is one that has captured the interest in long time players such as myself.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Blast from the (Infamous) Past

I periodically make a trip back to Ravenholdt, on the border between Alterac and Hillsbrad, because that's the one place I wanted to see as a Rogue in Classic. When you're an Alliance Rogue in the low L20s and you get that quest to "come visit" Ravenholdt, you have to traverse not only the Wetlands but Arathi Highlands, where the wandering enemies can be over 10 levels higher than you.* As a Rogue that means that you pretty much go through all of Arathi stealthed as much as is prudent, but even then I was chased by one of those damn buzzards for what felt like an eternity.

But once you're high enough level --and you've already gotten the Southshore flightpoint-- Az made her base at Hillsbrad as it was the closest a low-mid L30s Alliance toon would get to the Scarlet Monastery without having to run through the Western Plaguelands.** I spent the Halloween season hanging around in Southshore, watching the occasional Horde incursion to throw rotten eggs around the town.

Once I moved on from Scarlet Monastery, Az left Southshore to entrench herself at Theramore instead. But me being me, I'd still occasionally send Az back just to wander around. Seeing Hillsbrad as it once was warms the heart.

Anyway, the other day I was visiting Ravenholdt and Alterac when I got into group for Uldum. I figured that a quick jaunt down to Southshore and catching a flight to Thelsamar was faster than hearthing to Theramore and catching a ship to Menethil Harbor, so I stopped bashing ogres in Alterac and ran towards Southshore. I quickly passed the Tarren Mill spur on the road from Alterac, where a Horde toon gave me a wide berth even though I wasn't marked for PvP.

There I ran --almost literally-- into a group of L60 Alliance that were coming back to Southshore after a successful foray into raising hell in Tarren Mill. They were bouncing around, taking their time, and one of them waved at me as I caught up to them.*** Even though I started playing WoW on a PvP server, it still felt very weird being surrounded by allies with green colored names. Perhaps because this was Hillsbrad and I was once a Horde lowbie getting ganked by those evil Alliance, I suddenly got the creeps.

I turned off the main road toward Southshore, and everything exploded around me.

Figures with skulled yellow nametags were everywhere, swarming all over the Alliance group. At that point I was eternally grateful that none of the Alliance PvP group had decided to buff me or something, as it would have made me a sitting duck.

I had one Swiftness Potion left in my packs, and I used it to quickly get the hell out of there and reach the Flight Master before the Horde could gank her. Good thing, too, as when I flew away I turned around to see the much larger Horde retaliation group right on my heels, having dispatched the Alliance group.

Okay, I should have had absolutely nothing to fear, as I wasn't marked PvP. However, I know from experience that accidents happen and I could quite easily have been buffed by a PvP late comer or someone not part of the Tarren Mill raid. I also have a lot of dark memories of being ganked in Tarren Mill, to the point where I stopped calling it "ganking" and started calling it "being Tarren Milled". Since this was open world PvP, I wasn't prepared for it in the same way that I'm prepared for a battleground.

So when I read online in places (Reddit is the loudest party here) about how the heavy Horde skew on PvP servers is making Alliance players leave in droves, yeah, I can appreciate where they're coming from. Yes, these players should have known this was coming when the Honor system dropped, but still it can be quite a shock to the system. And it makes me glad I rolled on a PvE server.

But this has also hardened my resolve. Bring on Alterac Valley; I'm ready.

*And that's not counting the elites that wander the zone --and the road-- on a regular basis.

**Not recommended, although some plate wearers in my various SM groups died only once, and that was at the armed border crossing from the Western Plaguelands into Tirisfal Glades.

***The people who I first grouped with those first few weeks of Classic had long since passed me to max level, and it was entirely possible one of them recognized me. However, I think that it was more that they'd had their fun and were enjoying the chaos they'd wrought.

EtA: Corrected some grammar.