A Weekend Resumed

Looks different around here, I know. But so does Azeroth. No, not in the private sector where you’ve occasionally heard me from. The real deal. I resubbed on Friday…for a month. Who knows, I might wrangle enough gold to buy a free month as well. But in the short term, we’ll see how it goes. It doesn’t mean I’m back for Shadowlands. Much as I have to have the Collector’s Edition at some point for my collection, I’m in no rush. Instead I came back to see what everything else is like.

The first thing I did was putter about on a couple of toons. Elcombe still has a 6-tab Guild Bank full of pets. So, guess no one hacked me at any point. After checking that, I took him to the barber shop to see what the new options looked like. He ended up looking like Stephen Baldwin apparently.

After that, I did what I do most. Maybe best. Took a bag full of pets over to the auction house. It’ll take me a little while to get settled into the market. But if I can sell a lot of what I’ve got in stock, that free month might not be all that difficult to achieve. Heck, if I put all my toons in one place it would be mission accomplished. But, that’s not the case, though I do still know how to move money around to some degree if I so desire.

Then it was time for familiarity. Over to Zarahi and druid adventuring. She was sitting at the top of the toons at level 42. So I puttered in Warlords for 1-2 levels and then made my way to Azsuna. Apparently I had some quests there from the last time I logged in…a couple of years ago. So I went through a few of the storylines.

Then decided to take her to the Barber Shop. Holy crap, I can be a Druid of the Flame. Permanently. Didn’t see that one coming at all…and nope, didn’t even look at Bear Form.

At this point, I decided to go to Zandalar. Figured her last few levels would get me on track to unlocking Allied Races. Of course, I didn’t put much research into how to do so and was disappointed when I completed the Zandalari stuff and it turns out that’s just the beginning of what was needed. Oh well, still hit the level cap in no time at all.

When I realized I wasn’t unlocking the Trolls just yet I thought I’d visit a place I’d been dying to see: Siege of Orgrimmar. If I can’t have what I want, at least I can go kill Garrosh, right? Well, not so much. Despite researching the issue, I just could not solo the Scrolls of Pandaria. After dying about a half dozen time I gave up. Between the trolls, Garrosh, and this site causing me grief (hence the new look), I wasn’t in the best of moods by Sunday night. So, I needed to remedy that. Went to a favourite place. No, not Karazhan oddly. Instead it was off to Sunwell Plateau. Wasn’t long after I paid Kil’jaeden a visit and felt better. Even had the Chaos Pup and Wretched Servant drop.

So I experienced some of the new and some of the old. We’ll see what the next 30 days brings. I know Shadowlands hits this week and as I said off the top, I’m in no rush to get it. I haven’t played the game in a couple of years so there’s lots for me to do for my dollar (which, yes I was fairly certain I would never again give Blizzard…eh, times change I suppose). I’ve certainly built up a few thoughts on how things are in Azeroth now. We’ll see if I can get them out here with some semblance of frequency. No guarantees, but for now we’ll do our best and enjoy the ride.

5 Ups And 5 Downs In Wrath

It’s funny. Until you go back in time (no, not Warlords), you don’t realize just how much of the game has changed. But when you stop to think about it, Wrath ended 10 (!) years ago. With all the changes that have taken place, here are 5 things I like from Wrath and 5 things I’m glad changed.

Plus: Harder
Going back I’ve come to realize how much more difficult the game was, particularly at lower level. Yes, it was still the era where start zone mobs were yellow, but once you tag them, they can be hard to deal with. Even more so if they bring friends to the fight. My Mage has died a lot and it’s not from doing dumb things. Hunter could say the same pre-pet.

Minus: Mob Tagging
This was one of the things Blizzard got right, likely taking the lead from Guild Wars 2. There’s little more frustrating when you are doing a kill ‘`em quest and someone tags one of your mobs right before you do. And heaven forbid it’s a quest objective mob, otherwise you may as well get comfy for a couple of minutes.

Plus: Talent Trees
I might be in the minority on this one, but it was one of the things I always liked. The modern formula of choosing one of three abilities here and there was never the “better choices for the players” that the developers lauded when they brought it forward. Instead it became even more cookie cutter. Sure, the old trees still have their optimum build, but there is room to play around. And if the character isn’t raiding, the tree is your playground.

Minus: Profession Specialization
It’s a bit trivial, but having to choose between Weapons or Armor, for example, feels like you’re forced into a specific direction that by this time in the franchise certainly wasn’t necessary. For someone who also likes to have all craft options, it makes it a bit more difficult. But let’s be honest, if this is one of my gripes then things can’t be too bad.

Plus: Less Flight Paths
The abundance of flight paths post Cataclysm makes getting around significantly faster than it had been to that point. However, between that and being able to fly your mount, Azeroth got significantly smaller. But in the modern game if you are starting out then you’ve got 120 levels to get through. With only 80 back then, it wasn’t so bad. You could get Outland flying at 70 and Northrend flying at 80, the latter of which then unlocked the Cold Weather Flying option for any of your other characters and they just had to be high enough level to be in Northrend in the first place. But there’s something nostalgic about running from Loch Modan to Menethil Harbor, or Stormwind to Westfall, that while a short distance still seems to emphasize the “World” part of WoW.

Minus: Corpse Run
I like the world to feel bigger, just not when I’m dead. Having to run across a zone to get back to your body can be painful sometimes. Ok, almost always. And if you’re the only member of a group or raid, you feel even worse while everyone is waiting on you to return. The changes that made getting back to your body a minute or less ordeal was definitely a step forward.

Plus: Leveling
As I said in flight paths, the leveling had to change for the modern game. But the pre-Wrath zones that were changed in Cataclysm took things too far. We got quest hubs that we often outgrew before even finishing the story or getting the xp for the area becase it was no longer worth it. Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case. You could do all the quests in a hub and sometimes it wouldn’t even be enough to level out of. You might head to another zone just to get topped up, and start a new trek. Combining that with the talent trees gave a feeling like every level after ten meant something.

Minus: Wailing Caverns 
I can honestly say I have almost no difficulty in any of the dungeons or raids from 3.3.5 and older. This one, though, is a whole mess of worms. Without the later introduced map tool for dungeons, getting lost is incredibly easy.  And then one wrong step or turn and you’re really running around in circles which isn’t the best in an already incredibly long dungeon.

Plus: Dungeons
No, I’m not contradicting myself. With this one, I’m removing WC from the discussion save for the fact it’s a good run if you want the Druid of the Fang armour. But that aside, I love the way things were. Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman aren’t 5-man’s. High Inquisitor Fairbanks is hiding behind the secret wall in Scarlet Monastery, Deadmines is back to the way it was meant to be (though Vanessa Van Cleef’s story was one of the better ones in Cataclysm).  The original dungeons had excellent stories, and you tended to farm them while leveling. Now the pre-80 stuff you might see two or three times if you’re lucky, again because leveling is so much faster.

Minus: Missing Race/Class Combos
Sure, this one is purely cosmetic (for the most part). But I miss a lot of the things we got in 4.0.3. For the most part they were changes that made sense. Human Hunters, Dwarf Warlocks, Tauren Paladins, Troll Druids, and so forth. There are a number of them I am quite fond of being able to create. That said, I do not miss the idea of a Gnome Hunter.

So there’s a handful of thoughts that have come about as a result of my time warp. I might be able to make the list a bit longer, and maybe even on both sides of the equation, but these are the ones that stand out the most. If you can think back that far, what changes are you happy for? Which ones do you wish had never changed?

A Warlock And A Hunter Walk Into A Fire…

Cim and Lioux, clearly impressed with Ragnaros' great election speech.
Cim and Lioux, clearly impressed with Ragnaros’ great election speech.

I made good on my promise to take Lioux to the Isle of Thunder. Unfortunately I didn’t consider how undergeared he still would be. The third scenario clearly illustrated that for me, though, and so I decided to putter elsewhere. I realized I didn’t have any of the Tempest Keep pets as of yet so that seemed like a logical choice.  As I was talking to Tome at the time, I asked her if she wanted to go and so off the two of us went.

Four bosses in Tempest Keep and three of them have the chance to drop a pet.  Well, none of them did.  I had this great theory that Kael’thas was just in a really good move and was saving our luck for the Ashes of A’lar.  Yeah, theories aren’t always that practical.  I followed Tome’s notion that we should then head into Molten Core.  I hadn’t been there in a little while, probably once ever on Liouxpold, so I was game.  Once again we had pet opportunities…and one managed to drop.  We both happen to have the Ashstone Core, so even that wasn’t a huge victory.

But, can you measure fun by the RNG?  If you could, I would probably be miserable playing this game.  No, the fun was had when just two friends on a whim decided to go bounding off into some old content.  We didn’t find any pets or great drops that either of us needed, but we did find a good time together.  Just the way it should be.

30 Days (April) – Favourite Dungeon Or Raid

Easily the most fun instance in the game, is Maraudon.  Newer players really don’t get to feel the full experience because it’s been broken up into two separate dungeons.  Back in the day it was one mammoth instance that you had to fight tooth and nail just to get into.  You also had to level several times before you could complete the whole thing, at least if you were doing it properly and not getting a run through.  There really was nothing like making your way through the heavily inhabited Desolace, killing centaurs along the way, only to bust down the doors of one of their holiest temples.  You would weave your way through a myriad of tunnels and cliffwalks, passing over and under.  If you wiped, man was it tough getting back on track.  But you would do it, and go as far as you could.  Then come back 1-2 levels later and do it again.

Ok, admittedly, I can’t do this anymore.  No one in their right mind would put Maraudon as their favourite dungeon and if you’ve read this blog at all, there’s a good chance you already know the answer.  If you’ve been a longtime reader or LBR’d with me, then you know for sure.  My heart lies, and always will, within the towers of Deadwind Pass.


Karazhan is a hard instance to put into words.  It can be simplified as Medivh’s playhouse, but that’s hardly fair.  It was the first 10-man raid in the game, setting the stage for what would become the norm in the days following it.  We still have 25-mans, but ten made things much easier for smaller guilds.  But that isn’t what the appeal is.  Karazhan has an elegance about it.  For a place filled with demons, spiders, banshees, ghosts, and more, it’s still beautiful and classy.  I’ve said it in the past, but the closest Blizzard has gotten to the appeal of Karazhan, is Ulduar and it’s significantly larger.  Perhaps part of it is the lore that ties into the tower, of which there is plenty.  There’s also much mystery tied in with it.  Whatever it is, it pulls me back in to this very day.  It’s why I still hold out hope that rumours of it being changed in Warlords does not come to pass.


30 Days (April) – Favourite Major City

When I sat down to think about this, I knew the answer right away but it was interesting to realize I’m not really a huge fan of any of the racial cities.  I don’t mind Silvermoon but it’s out in the middle of nowhere and I could barely tell you where the bank is.  I spent more time in there doing For The Alliance than I did as a Blood Elf.  Thunder Bluff is about the only one on the Horde side that I would consider “nice” otherwise.  The Alliance side pretty much starts and ends with Ironforge.  Dalaran has the best story.  I mean the mages actually moved their city to hover in the sky.  That’s pretty impressive.  But in this case, impressive is bested by tragedy.

Let’s face it, the old human kingdom suffered a lot.  Lordaeron is now dormant on the surface, and the Forsaken ruling the tunnels (sewers?) below.  Stratholme’s story is well documented.  In fact, thanks to my favourite Caverns of Time instance, you can experience that history firsthand.  You get to join up with Arthas and essentially help him burn the city to the ground.

The tragedy of Stratholme is, of course, a key point during Arthas’ descent into becoming the Lich King.  Knowing that the grain was plagued, it’s hard to say whether he was actually in the wrong in his actions.  Logic tells us he was, but it is most certainly open for interpretation.  What cannot be done for Stratholme, is change.  It burned…and still burns.

When the players were introduced to Stratholme, the city was one of the larger dungeons because it was essentially two dungeons in one.  One half of the city was run by the Scourge, while the nutbars in the Scarlet Crusade had the other side.  Though, the SC was actually being run by a dread lord in disguise.  That revelation was always fun when you took a player in there for the first time.

These days it’s fun, but it doesn’t have quite the same feel that it did pre-Cataclysm.  The dungeon is now two separate instances instead of one whole place, though instead of the Scarlet Crusade you get their undead versions.  The otherside is still Scourge heavy.  I think if you kill the leader on each side there’s actually a scenario of the Argent Dawn coming in to clean up the place.   Oh, the city still burns just fine, but for whatever reason it doesn’t have the same feel that it used to.  Perhaps the CoT version stole the thunder or perhaps it’s the division into two completely separate instances.

Even if it isn’t what it once was, it is still one of the best places to venture through and in terms of cities it probably does have the most tragic of tales.  It’s been key to the stories of Arthas, Jaina, Tirion, Etrigg, and more.  It’s a true cog in the Warcraft lore and that’s why it tops the list for me…despite the fact the Baron (and now his son) never gave up the damn horse for me.

Ideas of March

My efforts thus far to get where I want to be for Warlords has been met with limited results.  It’s entirely my own fault as I’ve been spending my time Hearthstoning when free, usually in an effort to complete a daily each day.  Yes, reader, that one has its teeth sunk in but good.  Fortunately with some free time last night I finally got in some actually WoW time and took to my Gnome Warrior.  The Mrs. and I did some puttering around but actually got into a dungeon pretty quickly(!) and I picked up a couple of levels in Blackfathom Deeps.  After that she was kind enough to run me through Stocks before calling it a night.  Another Gnomeregan run this morning and she’s now 27, on her way to 28.  Go figure, as soon as I lament queue times, I have two occasions where it was less than 20 minutes.  But, now that I’ve actually been productive to some degree, I figure I can increase said productivity and give myself a proverbial kick in the rear to do so…by jotting down some goals for the month.

  • Get Semblance the Warrior (27) to 35.  My original plan was 25, but I accomplished that quite easily yesterday.
  • Get Paramita the Priest (41) to 45.
  • Get Elcombe the Mage (68) to 70.
  • Finally have Elcombe learn Alchemy, and then actually power level it to some degree.
  • Max out Saintvache’s Herbalism, currently 310.
  • Get his Enchanting (487) up over 500 as well.  Who knows, might even Max it as well.
  • Get Junkshot the Monk (7) to 20.
  • Clean up Claws of Nature Guild Bank.
  • Get Liouxpold (85) at least one level in Pandaria.
  • Reach 2,500 Daily Quests

Not a vast list by any stretch, and many of the goals are pretty simple to obtain.  I average about an hour and a half of free time a day, so I can’t be shooting for the moon.  If I get all of these accomplished then it will feel like I’ve done something and will push me on towards the next ones in April.  Let’s face it, many little things can add up to one big thing and in this case that one thing can be momentum.  It wouldn’t hurt for me to have some of that the closer we get to Draenor.

MIA: Mid-level Folk

I have made a startling (to me) discovery as of late and can’t actually understand why it’s happened.  The issue?  Looking For Group seems to be a deserted blackhole after roughly the 30’s.  Whether it’s 41, 53, 70…I can hear a pin drop these days when I try to queue up for something and it doesn’t matter if it’s first thing in the morning, lunch, or after midnight.  Monday.  Thursday.  Sunday.  The same thing.  Now I realize I’m not necessarily the first person to make the discovery, but I’m still quite surprised because of where it is in the game.

We’re at the end of an expansion when there really isn’t a great deal of activity to do.  Oh we absolutely have things to keep us busy, but there certainly isn’t any new content to soak in…unless your are leveling.  Well dungeons aren’t for everyone but you have to think a good many would still want to do them for the quick and easy experience.  Plus, some of them are actually fun.  Either way, the question to ask now is where is everyone?  I can think of several possible explanations.

  • The first is some folks are just content to play their capped toons.  Heck, some have been playing so long they already have one of every class at max level.  Regardless of how many they have, we’ll call these people the non-levelers for obvious reasons.  They’re content to be where they are.
  • The questers.  Whether new players or old, some are happy to do things the old fashioned way and grind it out via questing.  Perhaps they want the lore of certain zones, or even the Loremaster achievements.  Or, they just plain like to quest.  Heck, there are many in the game that are a lot of fun.
  • The pet battle min-igame was a huge addition to Azeroth, and the moment it began granting xp it became even more popular.  Do about four pet battles and you have the equivalent (roughly) of a quest.  Sometimes, they’re even faster than said quest(s).  I know more than one person who has leveled an alt via pet battles, just to level their pets in the process.
  • Those who are afraid.  It could simply come down to a lack of confidence in playing the game, or the class they’re using.  Unfamiliarity, fear of failing, whatever.  It could also come down to the fact that LFG has a reputation now for being a lake of all that’s wrong with the player base.  The scum of the servers seem to be found more than the fun folk, or so I’m told.  Either way, it’s hard to believe that happens only at max level.
  • Finally there are the anticipators.  These are the folks well aware of a big feature coming soon, even sooner if you’re buying the next expansion digitally: instant level 90.  Of course.  Warlords of Draenor = Boom! You have a 90.  The average player is going to already have a character at 90.  Why start to level an alt (or continue with a lower one) when you’ll be able to insta-boost it and save a tonne of time and energy in the process?  This is a big deal that Blizzard has introduced and one has to believe the ramifications are being felt already, and with whispers of the Warlords Beta coming soon you have to believe it’s even more so.

Is it any one of these explanations?  Is it all of them?  I can’t say for sure but something is certainly up.  In previous years when we hit this part of an expansion it was easy to queue.  Of course it was easier if you were a tank or healer but the fact is people were LFG’ing below the cap.  Now I hear of wait times between 20 minutes and an hour or more.  I’ve personally had half hour waits and they seem to be more common than not.  Whatever the reason, folks who want to run at-level dungeons in the near future might just have to stick to their guilds and friends lists in order to achieve that goal.