Waking Up To 6.0

Patch 6.0 is now live and with it came many changes, but none more than the vast amount of visual ones.  Almost everyone I spoke to yesterday was headed straight for the Barber Shop to see what they had to work with.  Many weren’t keen on what they saw when they logged in, while others didn’t mind the initial look when things went live around 1:30 EST.  Personally, Tum was far more angry than I wanted.  To be honest, almost all of the dwarves are surly/angry looking.  Not that it doesn’t fit the race, because it most certainly does.  It’s just that it wouldn’t hurt to have one lighthearted option.  As you can see by this image, I did the best I could with what I had.

New Tum
Initial one on the left, new on the right.

I had to change Saintvache as well, as logging on to him I was blinded by an albino.  I just wish we had more hair options for the Tauren.  As for the rest of the team, I’ll check them in due time.

It wasn’t just character models that changed.  From what I saw last night and this morning, nothing sparkles anymore.  No quest items, no nodes. Nothing!  Instead, you’ll get a faint outline that gets stronger once you mouse over it.  Even characters gain an outline now (green for friendly, red for not) when targeted, though I’m sure there’s an option to turn it off.  Still, at a glance it took me a second to complete a couple of quests because I was looking for the shiny.

Action bars have obviously changed, with some spells removed and others simply changed.  But speaking of spells, they even look better visually.  The animations are fantastic, though I’ve only seen Paladin, Mage, and Warlock.  Once again, I’ll get to them in due time…or simply see them amidst my travels.

This isn’t even documenting some of the bigger changes that came with the patch either.  Things like the new level UBRS, the Iron Horde invasion (which I’ve started Horde side…so far so good), Garrisons, Premade Groups in the Dungeon Finder, all the class changes, etc.

With the game seeing an increase of over half a million players, this patch is well timed.  Many of the changes brought the game up to relatively modern standards and introduced a lot of things the players have been yearning for, for quite some time.  Will it translate to more than 7.4 million players and sustain them for a while this time?  Hard to say, but you can’t say the new expansion isn’t setting up to take a big swing at it.

30 Days (April) – Favourite Alliance Leader

Moira Thaurissan

Surprised? I know I am. Out of the two factions, I certainly knew this one was going to be the harder choice.  A good portion of the decision making process was more about elimination than support.  King Varian has certainly come around (a lot) since Cataclysm.  He’s become a much better leader, but he just isn’t quite there for me.  I also have zero connection to Velen.  I never have, and I fully expect that to change in Draenor.  For now though, he’s out.  Tyrande I’m a fan of, but she’s never overwhelmed me all that much either -in part because her husband gets pretty much all the attention.

Without elaborating on the others any further the question is “why Moira?”  To be honest, I always hated her.  From the moment you got sent into BRD to save her pompous rump from Thaurissan only to have her say “no, I’m staying” (or if you aggro’d the fight right you could outright kill her), she made me eyetwitch.  When Magni became one with the mountain and she snuck her way into power I was even more irate with her.  Any time I went past the council for any reason, I wanted to stab her.  Badly.

But the fallout from that is where things begin to change.  She made genuine effort to integrate the Dark Iron Clan into the mainstream dwarves, though it didn’t necessarily go all that smoothly.  However she learned something in all of it because she recognized what the other Clan leaders were doing and why and made similar sacrifice.  Despite her past, Moira starts to show the Queen Regent title is starting to become more than just that.  Blood In The Snow is where she takes her next big step.

If you haven’t done the scenario yet, I apologize in advance if you continue to read the spoilers ahead.  Still, you can’t tell her story without it.  Varian needs more help against the Horde and gets handed a nugget in that the Zandalari are going to help the Frostmane Trolls and attack Ironforge.  So thinking he can warn them and offer aid, they’ll provide the support he needs in return.  Only, there’s a hiccup.  The dwarves don’t trust each other for a second and one’s not going to offer to help fend off the attack and leave the others in charge.  Or that’s how it seems until Moira defies her male counterparts and offers the aid of the Dark Iron Dwarves and herself in order to defend the city.  After they successfully stop the Trolls the king tells Moira the others should be ashamed for not aiding and that she should be proud.  In a moment that is truly genuine she responds that she doesn’t want to shame anyone.  She was simply trying to protect the city and prove herself loyal as well.  Sure enough, the other two prety much hang their heads like scolded siblings even though no one suggested as much and the three Clans are pretty much unified now.

That’s right.  The one dwarf that nobody, including myself, wanted in power was the one to truly and genuinely unify the three hammers.  You really have to stop and think about it for a moment and realize the character transformation and growth of this woman (especially in a game that gets slagged for not having any dominant female characters).  Granted, it wouldn’t matter if it was a woman or man, the task itself is daunting.  At one point you’re in love with some crazy bastard down in Blackrock Mountain (sorry, but I’ll always consider Thaurissan as loopy), then you’re an iron fist over your entire race to the point people actually hate you, and now they genuinely love you and adore you for doing what a true leader is supposed to.  So in the end, there really couldn’t be any other choice.

Transmog By Race Part I: Dwarves

Tired of getting beaten to the punch on various transmogrification ideas I’ve had (I keep my sanity by arguing great minds think alike), I present to you the first in a series of posts where I suit up each race based on their classes and the role I envision them playing.  To kick things off I went with the race I likely have the most familiarity with in terms of “fantasy:” Dwarves.

Dwarves have access to every class now except for Druids and quite frankly they shouldn’t ever get it.  For the most part, I argue against Rogues as well but that’s a whole other story (and for this purpose, I’ve made it work).  Also, aside from the Forsaken I will refrain from using the Death Knight class (I’m treating it as their quasi-Antipaladin equivalent).

The Dwarven Kingdom is heavily stacked with Priests.  Now since this is my view, I don’t see Dwarven Shadow Priests (sorry, Dark Iron casters fall under Warlocks).  That means you you’re walking in the light where either Holy or Discipline suits the race just fine.  The outfit I built for Tumunzahar really feels like a Dwarven Priest for me, so I just tweaked him a little bit.

As I said a moment ago, I’ve had issue with Dwarf Rogues since my introduction to the game.  Especially since back then there were no Dwarven Mages and to have Rogues first completely baffled me.  In compiling this list, though, I came up with a role that a Dwarven Rogue would play, and that would be someone of a Dungeoneer or Siege Sabatoeur.  In both cases, I see them as Engineer infused, though the Dungeoneer may do more with Gnomes and the Siege Sabatoeur would be more Goblin/demolitions.

When it comes to Dwarven Hunters, they fall into one of two rolls as a hero.  The first, is a Game Hunter type.  Not to Hemet Nesingwary lengths, but a game seeker just the same.   So, I started with the wolf shoulders and built from there.  I like that the pants look leather crafted as well, adding to the trapper idea.  I could’ve gone further with it, but was happy with how it turned out.

On the flipside, a Hunter could also fit the role of a Dungeoneer.  Where a Rogue would disable traps and what have you, the Hunter would get by using his tracking skills to navigate the dangerous mobs that lurk behind every turn.  So with this outfit I went with a crossbow instead of a gun, but focused on including some elements of chain (specifically links) in the armor with the idea that it would come from the dungeons he’d explored.

I see Warlocks being a Dark Iron only class.  In the modern Dwarven hierarchy that’s mostly fine as they’ve been loosely accepted into the mountain, albeit under a mighty watchful eye.  I based this outfit loosely on the shades seen in BRD, as that’s where I would picture these guys prior to old Moira moving the clan into the Forge.

One of the defining race and class combinations in the game, there’s no shortage of Dwarven Paladins  in Azeroth (or fantasy lore period).  Whether it’s as Champion of the Light or the Mountain, one can easily see them standing at the forefront.  So I built a pretty straightforward outfit, with a heavy gold/light influence.

Clerics are as prominent as Priests when it comes to Dwarves, and since they can wear armor it left me wanting to use the Paladin, as one could simply spec into Holy to properly represent them.  While I used a piece of the “definitive” Paladin gear in the game (Judgement), I was really happy with how unique and good this turned out.

Now Dwarves are wise and scholarly (to a stubborn fault), and it only stands to reason they count Mages among their ranks.  I debated on drawing on the element of Frost when putting the outfit together, but then reconsidered that for something more transcending.  I like the green offset in the design which very much veered away from some of the more traditional Dwarven colors.  Mages can get away with it.

The Dark Iron Dwarves brought Warlocks, and Wildhammer Dwarves brought us Shamans.  In designing the Dwarven Shaman outfit I wanted something that relied on earth tones for the Dwarves, but also to be sure to include a node to the Wildhammer heritage.  Unfortunately, players can’t select any tattoos for the clan (hoping that changes in Mists).  What I’m most happy about with this outfit is how I managed to line up the three components around the waist perfectly(which is waist, legs, and even the chest).  I’m thinking Elemental, with lots of casting so weapon choice may vary.

I saved the best for last when it comes to Dwarves, as there is no shortage of them who like a good fight.  Said fisticuff is usually after a few good pints.  Despite the many options and roles for their Warriors, I picked two -the Defender and the Berserker.  The Defender is a fair bit on the cliched side, but still I was happy with what I came up with.

For the Berserker I wanted something a bit unique, and it needed to be a culmination where I could see the Warrior charging from a ledge and leaping out, axe in hand, to embed in a target.  It took a number of tries, but I ended up with a look I was happy with.

Hope you enjoyed my take on the Dwarf options in the game and will check back in to see what I do with the other races.  In part two, I’ll be flipping factions to tackle my favourite race in the game.

20 Days of WoW: Day Two

Favorite Race

This question is honestly almost as hard as favorite class.  Altoholics are just that for a reason people.  The only race I really don’t like playing is the Humans.  I just find them to be very dry and bland.  Plus, when you read into their lore, Stormwind’s upper echelon were a bunch of pricks.  Van Cleef wasn’t entirely out of line.

I’m a long standing fan of Dwarves, and my first toon was one.  I can identify the personality of any dwarf I roll almost instantly.  It stems from playing several of them over the years in Dungeons & Dragons.  On the Alliance side, they’re easily my favorite.

That doesn’t suggest I’m a Horde player, or at least shouldn’t.  I play both factions, though on the whole I am a bigger fan of the Horde races in general.  Not surprisingly, it’s one of their races that tops my list.  At one point I rolled one of every class they had.  I think it could be their ability to be gentle, yet violent and their respect for the lands and resources around them.  They’re wise and think things through.  Then again, it could just have to do with me falling under the Taurus Zodiac sign. 

Yep, I LOVE my Tauren

What about you, my faithful?  What race would you choose as your favorite?

Starting Anew: Dwarfs

Great View of Loch Modan...what's left of it!

“Thanks for these field reports…is that a beer stain?”

That simple line in a quest hand-in tells you much about what it’s like now starting out as a dwarf in Coldridge Valley.  There’s some humor, some pride, and a fair bit of ale.  But there’s also some old and some new, something borrowed and something blue.  So yes, I find myself married to the land of Dun Morogh.

When I made Egwydorian, I knew a great deal hadn’t changed in terms of the landscape in Dun Morogh, and in terms of what you actually see in that area, there’s next to nothing.  A few more encampments, sure, and flight paths in Kharanos and Gol’Bolar Quarry (great for snagging a few Snowshoe Rabbit pets or a new Ram at Amberstill Ranch), but the land itself is still as we knew it before.  It’s the quests that have changed.

In your early goings in Coldridge Valley, there are some things old players will be familiar with, such as Bingles and the inability he has to keep tabs on his tools, and having to go into the Troll cave again.  Good news is that they’re now neutral except for the baddie and his elemental deep inside.   After some puttering around you’ll be on your way to Kharanos, but can’t take the old safeway Trogg tunnel because it collapses.  Instead, you get a Gnome pilot to whisk you away.

Kharanos has seen a nice update, as Dwarven Military vehicles are on hand, holding some Trolls at bay.  Also, no going across hell’s half acre for Leper Gnomes either thanks to the Gnomeregan recapturing.  I’m sure they’re still there for the Gnomes to deal with, but Dwarves have no reason to go that way unless it’s purely for snooping.

Instead, you pass through there and Gol’Bolar Quarry to get to the meat and potatoes of Dun Morogh: Water Elementals and Dark Iron Dwarves.  The elementals are near the lake now and have trapped some of your Brethren.  The Dark Iron Dwarves are invading the air strip and you get to go fend them off!  The air strip was always a place people wanted to go, kudos for Blizzard for actually creating a chain up there.  Once it’s complete, there’s some fun follow up involving Magni’s daughter.  It provides just enough insight into the current political landscape in Ironforge.

That pretty well wraps up Dun Morogh, after which you can continue on your Dwarven path and head to the Valley of Kings and into Loch Modan, which isn’t much of a Loch anymore.  The Twilight Cultists have shown up in the middle of it, while Murlocs and Gnolls are also rampant.  The absolute highlight of the zone for me, is a lovely drunken Hunter in the inn.  She sends you on a serious of quests that involve a great reference from Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and this beautiful disguise she gives you:

To complete the zone, a couple quests take you to everyone’s favorite dig site again (say hi to Ironband) and then to a new hub of quests in Farstrider Lodge.  It’s much of what you’d expect from a Hunter’s lodge and the quests involved, but they’re not outrageous or tedious.  You’ll also get to see one of the new tameable pets in the game: Foxes.

To bring your toon to a lovely simmering level 20 will be some encounters with said Twilight Cultists…a very quick swing through Mo’Grosh Stronghold again…and a flying mount (sorry, not spoiling that one).

Since the world’s changed, this is the first area of the 1-20 I’ve done and I have to say I am very impressed with it.   The quests flow together incredibly well, and tell some really great stories (some downright hilarious).  I did it with little rest and no BoA’s, and at no point did it feel tedious.  Not just because the content of the quests is relatively new, but the flow I just mentioned.  Again, even if you just travel to Thelsamar to check out the drunk hunter and some baby murlocs (did I forget to mention those?), this area is definitely worth a bit of your time again.

Shattering Thoughts

New Hotness For Alliance

The Shattering came yesterday and my how things have changed!   Rather than just ramble profusely, here are five things I’ve noticed since the realms came back yesterday:

1. Orgrimmar is HUGE
I never checked what the city looked like in any of the Beta spoilers, but flying into it this morning was jaw dropping. Every time I thought it would end, it just kept sprawling outward and upward. It definitely feels like the major capital of the Horde now.

2. Alliance LOVE having a different Shaman
Honestly, I reserved Egwydorian so long ago because I felt Dwarves should’ve always had a Shaman (rather than Rogues to be honest). I was excited when the news of this particular combo came out. I didn’t think others were nearly as excited. I did a “who” for Hunters, Warlocks, Mages, and Shamans last night. There were 11 Mages under level 20, and that easily beat out Hunters and Warlocks. Shamans? 19. I can’t even tell you how many new ones I saw after I did that search either.

3. I Miss Magni
It sounds odd, but seeing three seats in Ironforge instead of one is tough to get used to. Of course, Moira talks about planning to rule when you talk to her, so that doesn’t help. The first thing I always did with my Dwarves was head to the throne, but I just don’t feel the duty to do so.

4. Safety pre-level 5
So long as you don’t wander far, you’re pretty safe. Almost everything is Neutral. Even the old Trolls in Coldridge don’t attack you. I guess it gives new players a chance to get a feel for things before they need to be afraid. I can understand it, but it still feels odd.

5. Little Changes
Blizzard did some things that you don’t even notice until they happen. For example, when you receive a quest for a named character, a 3D portrait of them actually pops up. That’s a subtle thing that I appreciated but didn’t change gameplay. Same with making the old world zone maps the same as Outland and Northrend. Again, it’s the little things.

There’s many other things I could discuss, but for now I’ll keep it to those little tidbits after my first day of the new Azeroth.  I will give an honorable mention to flight paths and the drastic increase in how many there are, though.  What about you?