Saying Goodbye To Pandas


In a few days, the current expansion will fade for most players as the past comes calling in Draenor.  Out with the old, and in with the new as it were.  But before we head off through the portal again, let’s look back on the last two years shall we?

Mists of Pandaria by all counts was not a bad expansion.  It was certainly better than its predecessor.  It doesn’t come close to Wrath (still the pinnacle), or the Burning Crusade.  But those first two expansions were both home runs, so to be fair the measuring stick is high if you want to reach those accolades.

First up, the villain was clear from the beginning.  We knew Garrosh was going to be the focus of our end game and the way we got there told a good story.  Landfall on Pandaria was an interesting turn of events as we were almost instantly introduced to the Sha, the proverbial secondary villain of the expansion.  As the two slowly intertwined, things got very interesting.

We received a new race and a new class for the first time.  Up until Pandaria, it was one or the other.  Pandas were not popular when the expansion was announced.  When they were played, however, they seemed to be seen in a different light and have passed Goblins, Gnomes, and Dwarves in popularity.  They also had the unique opportunity of choosing which faction to join, rather than be saddled with one right out of the gate.

The expansion seemed to be truly catered to the casual player.  From farms, to a plethora of rares, to dailies out the ying-yang, there was plenty to do if you only had a short time to log on.  Plus Blizzard later introduced the Isle of the Thunder King, the Brawler’s Guild, and the Timeless Isle.  For better or worse, these three features were successful.

Oh yeah.  There was this one other thing that seemed to do alright.  Perhaps you’ve done it once or twice?  Pet battles.  There was very mixed thoughts when this feature was introduced, but almost the moment it went live it was a huge success.  It continues to be, and is one feature that probably won’t slow down any time soon.  Whether it’s a time-killer before a raid, or you’re the Pokemaster of Azeroth, it seems most people have a reason to battle and are doing so to a great length.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m no different.

But where Mists has a hard time ranking amongst the expansions is for every positive step there was one sideways or backwards.  I’ve mentioned before that I never really felt connected to what was going on in Pandaria (aside from Garrosh’s antics).  Zangarmash, Dragonblight, Uldum.  Three examples of zones where I was hooked into what was going on within it and made me play that much harder, so to speak.  They made me want to be there.  Pandaria, despite visually astounding, did not ever have that effect on me.  I know for many players that’s not a huge deal, but there were more than few who agreed with me.  Perhaps it was a lingering effect from launch where I wasn’t that interested in the game to begin with.

I wasn’t alone either.  The game sold 2.7 million copies in its opening week, which was over half a million less than Cataclysm.  To be fair, many players had a bad taste in their mouth after Cataclysm and may have been hesitant to jump right in again.  Unfortunately, statistics tell us there may have been more to it than that as the game saw more than 3 million players leave in the two years of Mists.  There’s been a slight spike in the last two months, and it will be interesting to see what happens on Wednesday/Thursday.

So what else may have caused the decline in players?  Many of the things that the expansion did right, to be honest.  The new monk class, in my opinion, brings a somewhat fun class to the table.  I remember when it was announced I was somewhat excited as I could swear I heard the class would be the first to go cloth for 40 levels and then switch to leather.  But that’s neither here or there.  For whatever reason, the class did not take off and currently takes up about three percent of the player base.

The casual options were also their own worst enemies.  For most players, it became a case of almost too much to do.  Yes, you could do little things here and there as time allowed.  Unfortunately you just never seemed to have the time to do it all…or at least as much as you wanted.  I know for a fact many people were not happy with gated questing, particularly as it pertained to cooking reputations or the farming.

I’m not going to harp on the negatives because despite how things went, Pandaria wasn’t a bad expansion -just as I said earlier.  It was just a mixed bag, so to speak.  For each of us, mileage will vary.  When I think back on Mists, I won’t miss questing throughout it.  But I will fondly recall that it brought us scenarios, pet battles, Hozen (!), Pandaren, the Brawler’s League, and the Warchief Vol’jin.  So the good outweighs the bad.  Do you agree?

More 6.0 Observations

A few days in and we’ve definitely got a feel for the new flavor of WoW.   Yesterday I talked about the many immediate changes that bombarded us in the first minutes we logged in, but now the details can be absorbed a bit better.

Class changes are interesting.  The only thing I had to do on Saintvache was choose two new talents.  His action bars went nearly untouched.  I could not say the same for Tumunzahar, Siori, and Liouxpold.  Perhaps it’s an Alliance thing.  Speaking of classes, many people found Burnt Glyphs in their possession now.  Rest assured that’s just for Glyphs that are no longer in the game.

I completed the Iron Horde invasion on the Horde side, and while I don’t know the details of what is to follow, I really hope it isn’t done now.  I came out of it with a title and a new pet, but incredibly underwhelmed.  That and agitated because Thrally-Sue (which I think I’ll call him far more often now) had to be the one running around on the front line.  Really?  There couldn’t be anyone else?  The guy had a whole expansion dedicated to him (Deathwing was merely supporting cast) and still we get him shoved down our throat.  Not to rant too much, because up until the later parts of Cataclysm I actually liked Thrall.  It’s just that Blizzard has overplayed him.  Getting back to the Iron Horde, it seemed pretty linear and to the point.  I’ll have to flip over and give the Alliance side a try before I really assess it but I can’t imagine it is all that different.

One no longer has to spend so much time in Pandaria.  I logged into a toon and found it sitting at 100% XP, but hadn’t dinged yet.  There’s no way in Dire Maul I would ever let that happen.  The OCD in me would have to ding before I logged.  Particularly because that’s less than exploratory XP.  That’s more along the lines of “you dinged because the wind changed direction.”  Now, to confirm this is the case, I played for a little while and had six bubbles in half an hour.  At 88.  Hrm, this place really might not be that bad anymore.

The final nugget of “huzzah” is stacking.  Imagine my surprise when I had the bank open and decided to top up my stack of Dreamfoil and sell the rest.  Suddenly I had a stack of 28!  I began playing around with this immediately, finding eventually that stacks cap at 200 now.  Between that and the Toy Box my bags are bordering on empty (and the bag sort feature is fantastic).  But what it really excites me for is my guild banks.  For Claws, it just means having a cleaner bank.  For the auctioneer in me, it means more room to store goodies.  I mean, just look at the difference in one tab.


It wasn’t 100% good news, though.  On top of shelling out gold for some face lifts (I think I spent about 200g or so in total.  Obviously someone with more 90’s than I spent even more), I found that some gear held onto its transmogrification, while others reset.  Needless to say, many of my toons look incredibly goofy so I will have to correct that when given the chance to.

I’m sure many people knew about these changes already, from playing the PTR or reading about it.  For me, I have been incredibly removed from these details of the game as I’ve been merely puttering in it for the past few months.  I vaguely kept tabs on what’s going on and really didn’t read the changes ahead of time (of course I knew about character models).  Thus, it’s all a surprise.  It feels like a good surprise, and I have a feeling I’m not the only returning player to think so.

Warlords Are Now Calling Us

The news came across my Facebook page this afternoon, courtesy of Mrs. Amateur herself.  Blizzard announced players can now pre-purchase Warlords of Draenor for digital download.  As the above video suggests, that means you can now have your insta-90 character boost.  It’s true.  I was not prepared.  I’m still not.

When Wrath of the Lich King launched, I was ripped, roaring, and ready to go.  Even took a couple of days off work.  When Cataclysm launched, I was excited and ready to go but had grown up a bit and went to bed within a few hours of launch.  Mists?  I was definitely ready because at the time I wasn’t even getting it.  But this?  On, or around, December 20th?  I’m not so sure.  I suddenly feel like I have work to do and much of it revolves around leveling and character ideas.  When time allows, I’m trying to boost my Gnome Warrior to 90 the traditional way.  She’s one-third of the way there.  But then there’s 2-3 other toons that I’m considering for the insta-boost and I was supposed to have plenty of time to make that decision because I would just decide to level one in the time that remained.

I know.  Getting a toon to level 90 does not take that long.  Many could take all of my toons and get them to 90 by the end of May, I have no doubt.  Heck, with a slightly better schedule I could probably do it as well.  But, we’re dealt the hand we hold and I’ll make the most of it.  Still, it’s weird to feel a bit under the gun now and at the same time incredibly excited.

All of the previous expansions had a pretty obvious story to them.  The Burning Crusade had heroes head to Outland and take on the obvious baddies out there.  Wrath of the Lich King was going to lead to the inevitable confrontation from the moment it launched.  Deathwing reshaped Azeroth (mostly) and had gotten loose.  Pandaria showed up randomly and we took war to its lands.  Now?  Now we know Garrosh evades his sentence and thanks to some bronze assistance, goes back in time and sets to work on an alternate timeline where his ancestors leave the blood in the fridge this time.

But when do we deal with that?  I’m thinking Garrosh is dealt with by 92, and his helping hand by 94-95.  Then comes the Warlords and their involvement in the story.  How each will play out is pretty much a mystery at this point, as well as what else the precursor to Outland has in store for our heroes.  Either way, I’m certainly excited about it (self-imposed work to do not included, of course) and Christmas can’t come fast enough.  What about you?  What was your initial thought on the announcement?

90-2 (not 92)

Much DingYes, Saintvache finally capped this morning.  As you can see I picked up a sexy set of achievements in the process.  Better late than never.  Despite a higher survival rate than Tumunzahar, I definitely found the leveling process to take longer.  Perhaps because there was such a hiatus in the middle of Tum’s go that it didn’t seem so bad. I will say, quite obviously, it improved when I ended up in a new guild.  The XP boost was nice.  But even so, I found 89-90 was smoother than the rest of Pandaria.  I think because even when I couldn’t really hop on and bang out some bubbles of experience, I could still take about 10-15 minutes and do three little quests to get me close to a million xp per day.

CookI would start with the Cooking Daily.  On Horde side, my personal preference is Thunder Bluff.  They’re all pretty simple and if you land Mulgore Spice Bread, you’ve really got it easy.  I will say a Fishing Daily will help even more, but few of my toons have fishing (two come to mind).  After that I took the Blasted Lands portal, where I headed to Karazhan for the Pet Battle Daily, and then back to the Blasted Lands to go through the Dark Portal and do the Pet Battle there.  As I said, three quests, almost one million experience.

Pet Battles For what it’s worth, you need just over 18 million experience to go from 89 to 90.  If you did just this every day and used your time for other toons, you would ding in just under three weeks.  Sure, that still seems like a fairly long time, but not when you’re only popping on for 15 minutes at a time.  You’d be there before you know it (toss in the Darkmoon Faire around the same time for a couple of easy Profession Quests as well and you’re laughing).

So now what?  Well, I joined said Guild last Saturday or Sunday and thanks to the Lunar Elders and the rest of my ventures, I’m halfway to Exalted.  Since I helped them unlock the Dark Phoenix mount, I find myself beckoned to finish that rep and get said mount.  I’m sure part of that will come via the Timeless Isle.  Once again, it has more appeal as a class that can throw out some damage and survive, versus my Holy Dwarf.  Along with that, it’s probably time to start boosting the rest of the Amateur Army.  I know Liouxpold is on Pandaria, but I can go without the place for a little bit.

Fear And Loathing In Pandaria


It’s a well known fact that when Mists of Pandaria launched, my interest in it added up to zero.  It did nothing for me.  Then some folks bought it for me, “just in case.”  Well, as it turned out, I really love the female Pandaren.  I have two, and I can see eventually having another.  But all in due time.  Right now, it’s all about getting some of my many faces ready to go back in time.  The problem is that I have to go through Pandaria to do it.

Let me start off by saying that the opening of the gates chain, the idea of the Sha, and faffing about on the Timeless Isle are all things I don’t mind.  There’s the occasional quest here and there as well.  But on the whole I just cannot get into this continent.  I hate the fact that I have to go there to level, let alone five levels…and coincidentally the last five levels of the game.  I’ve hit 90 once, and have two more toons currently there (Liouxpold and Saintvache).  Try as I may, the interest in the stories and such just isn’t happening and I absolutely love the lore of Warcraft.

I can’t even put my finger on what it is.  Whether it’s Kun Lai Summit or Krasarang it doesn’t matter.  When I’m going along leveling, it’s like I’m crawling at a snail’s pace and am just completely disinterested in what’s going on for the people I’m helping.  Yes, as I mentioned, there are the occasional exceptions.  I do mean occasional.  I can’t figure out why it is, either.  So many people absolutely love Pandaria and everything about it.  I find it visually amazing and then lacking substance despite the developers clearly putting in a sound effort.  The Pandaren start zone was incredibly enjoyable, so what is it that makes this so much more painstakingly difficult?

Sure, it’s my own fault having a love of alts.  Many players racked their way to 90 once and don’t have to suffer through it again.  Those of us with more than one (okay, twenty) toon to entertain us means having to do things a little more often.  But it never bothered me in Wrath or even Cataclysm (and let’s face it, Cataclysm leveling could be a pain in the butt).  This time, I can’t get through it fast enough.

Perhaps that’s the problem.  It’s a “watched pot never boils” type of syndrome.  That blue/purple bar seems to barely move at times, which is a detriment to the fact I want out of there in the first place.  It’s why Saintvache isn’t 90 yet, or why Liouxpold hasn’t done much in the Jade Forest (well, that and the fact I barely recall how to play him).  I can only take so much of the place at a time.  I want Warlords of Draenor to take it’s time being released so that I have several crew members ready to go there, but at the same time I don’t know how many times I can bring myself to go through Pandaria before that happens.

Banana Chucking Surrender Monkey (And Other Thoughts)


I took Tumunzahar out last night for about an hour as I try to come back.  Aside from lowbies, he seems to be the one (class?) I still remember how to play pretty well.  I didn’t queue for an instance or anything, as I wasn’t sure what my window of opportunity looked like.  But, in that hour, I did come to a few conclusions:

  • the auction house is as easy to make quick gold off of as it ever was.  I’ve played maybe 5-6 hours since coming back and made 5k.
  • No, I’m not an auction junkie again, I just realize I left the game somewhat broke.  It was totally worth it though!
  • The Ironforge cooking dailies are still simpler and faster than Stormwind.
  • The chickens in front of Ironforge no longer run around like their head is cut off when you need to catch them.
  • Oh Illidan.  The chickens sparkle.  Twilight jokes aside, it’s like they think the players can’t see that it’s a chicken, or might be confused that it might not be the right chicken.
  • I still don’t like much of the Jewelcrafting dailies in Stormwind.  Oh, yay, look, back to Cataclysm.
  • If it isn’t the goo, it’s no doubt the gems I don’t have and will cost 40g each on the auction house.
  • Pet Battles are just as I remember them, and so is my affinity towards having one of each.
  • I seriously need to remember to heal them first.  That or I need to level a lot more.  That might actually not be a bad idea, as I can see my son really liking that.
  • They mark rares on your map now?
  • There are a tonne of rares in Pandaria.
  • There are a tonne of rares in Pandaria when there’s no one around to kill them.
  • As a Holy Priest, I cannot kill very many of them.  In fact, I finally killed one on my own with Tum last night.
  • It’s the Nannermancer up there.  I swear, Tum’s underneath him there quite alive and quite well.
  • Yup.  The next rare I found slaughtered me.  The dog he summoned was doing more damage than I was.
  • The Pandaren lore still doesn’t pull me in.  There are nuggets of interest, but for the most part it’s just “there.”
  • In the rest of Azeroth, I’ve always wanted to read the quest text.  Now…*shrug*
  • This game still has way too many “collect x of this, while killing y of these and activating z more of these things.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed myself.  Smite spamming isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but Tum is 88 and at the moment I’d just like to get him to 90.  I’m in no rush, and will heal dungeons when I get the chance.  I’m just a bit too busy to commit to one without going “afk” more often than I would like.

5.2 Thoughts

Property of Warcraft Pets
While you wait for the second round results of the Transmog contest (sorry, work slipped in the way…I should’ve looked at the calendar when I set the round two dates), which will be up later today, I figured now is as good a time as any to share some thoughts on the next big patch.

Isle of the Thunder King
This interests me, though I have a long way to go before I get to it.  In the same context of the Isle of Quel’Danas, it’s the new Daily Quest Hub.  Alas, I think it’s still going to have a Molten Front feel to it and I know that’s not going to go over well with many players.  That one can choose whether to do PvE or PvP quests is a nice touch.  Also, parts of the island become available based on a Realm level rather than an individual one.  That has mixed potential, but we’ll have to wait and see. 

We still don’t have dailies for every profession, which I think is absurd.  However, the Smiths are getting some love.  Proceed far enough on the Isle of the Thunder King and you’ll come upon the Lightning Forge.  Apparently this will allow for the creation of some very unique items, including old weapons that I’m guessing have been removed from the game over time.  Oh, Moggers are giddy with anticipation…or just me.

New World Bosses
I’ve always liked World Bosses and I’m sure the folks farming the Sha would love something different. Two bosses will be coming in 5.2.  One is part of the phased island, but it seems Oondasta the giant armoured dino will be found north of Kun-Lai Summit right from the get go.  Also with this comes a slight change to the World Bosses themselves.  Blizzard refers to it as “Tap to Faction.”  If your faction tags the mob, so long as you take part you have a chance for loot -whether you were in the initial raid or not.  However, you can only earn said loot once a week (and the bosses will spawn more frequently).

Pet Battles
-Pet bandages are now bind to account…thank goodness.  This will most assuredly save me some bag space (they also stack to 25) instead of having several on several toons. 
-The Nether Roach will no longer die during an Apocalypse.  I mean, it was unique and fun that it was the one that could, but roaches be roaches.
-Players earn xp for pet battles as well, so long as the battle is within five levels of your highest level pet (so for most of us that would be any pet battle in the 20-30 level).
-PvP Pet Battles can also drop Battlestones now.  Interesting.  It would be more ruthless if you had a chance to win one if it was in your opponent’s inventory.  Stealing it outright would cause pandemonium, but being able to receive an equivalent to the one in their bags would be fun. 
-If you flee a battle, the pet you were fighting no longer disappears, but the fleeing squad will suffer some damage.  I like that.  Penalty for a tactical retreat and it makes sense if you’re running from the critter that it doesn’t disappear.
-Elite Battle Pets.  Oh my.  I know people where these will become the bane of their existence.  They spawn by themselves, too, so I suspect Pet Battlers are going to be in for one hell of a fight.  But, if you can beat them all you’ll receive a Red Panda pet (yep, the one up top there)

Buy The Farm
Even now that Tumunzahar has started questing out there, the whole farming thing does nothing for me.  Not even for potential gold profit.  Seriously, get it away from me.  Having said that, I know exactly how popular it is and the chance to own the deed for the land you’ve been cultivating is no doubt exciting to those indulging.

Notable Class Stuff
Pretty much every class (at least the ones I am familiar enough with) has some sort of notable changes going on.  I would suggest checking out the notes for what’s coming to your favourite role.  Warriors losing a 10% damage reduction for defensive stance is certainly one of the ones that jumped out at me. 

Green Fire!
Speaking of class stuff, Warlocks are dancing in the streets…if they’re into dancing.  The opportunity for Fel fire spells is finally coming to pass with the quest line now in-game.