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.

Real Virus Harkens Back To Virtual One

The untold truth of World of WarcraftSports organizations throughout North America are suspending activities indefinitely, in an effort to curb the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. Officials in China, Italy, and more are shutting down amid what the World Health Organization has classified as a pandemic.  Here in Canada we’ve not been strongly affected. Yet. I recognize it’s coming and I work front line when it comes to germ control and contamination. Today isn’t about the real plague we’re dealing with, but instead one that most players probably were not even around for.

The day was September 13th, 2005. Blizzard rolled out a fresh new patch, which included the Zul’Gurub raid instance.  Obviously players and guilds were anxious to get in there and take on the denizens inside, including the final boss: Hakkar the Soulflayer. Now the raid itself was pretty straightforward with fights and challenges, but the end boss had one little difference. During the fight he would cast Corrupted Blood on players. The spell healed Hakkar but was also hit-point draining and incredibly contagious for players.  It made for a tough fight. Even pets and minions could be infected.

And that’s where the problem started.

One ever so tiny oversight nearly shut down the game. You see, if Warlocks or Hunters dismissed their pets and re-summoned them, they would still be infected.  Low level characters didn’t stand a chance. And players certainly would summon their pet or minion innocently enough, only for the Corrupted Blood to latch onto those lower level toons and literally wiping them out. Cities, like Orgrimmar above, suddenly looked like skeletal genocide. Eventually, among the three servers most affected, the cities were empty ghost towns. People were getting their characters out of them as fast as they could. The saving grace was if you died, the debuff vanished. But again, if you were in town and went back to your body, well rinse and repeat essentially. However, once in the outer areas it wouldn’t spread faster than the players were dying.

As you might expect, the reactions varied. Many players felt it was a fantastic world event. There were lowbies who couldn’t do much but would help players get out of the city to a safer location. High level healers would offer their services (much like we did when the Wrath pre-event launched). And of course, you would have the Rudy Goberts, sorry I meant idiots, who made a point of trying to spread the disease.

In the end, it took several hard resets and some quick fixes to deal with the issue. The developers switched the mechanics so that pets and minions could no longer be affected by the Corrupted Blood debuff. As a result, on October 5th, 2005 (about three weeks later), the plague was over.

Two years later, a number of medical institutes talked scientifically about the plague, and compared it to what a worldwide epidemic would be like. It was compared to biological illnesses, and more importantly than anything it showed how hosts would behave – something all the theoretical studies in the world couldn’t accurately replicate. 15 years later, we’re dealing with the real thing. However it doesn’t endanger everyone necessarily. It spreads through whomever it seems to decide to, while being a risk to those with low immune systems and the elderly. Who knows, maybe some of the research from Corrupted Blood will help in some way as the world deals with the coronavirus.


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?

Rise of Azshara…and the Amateur?

Patch 8.2 went live this week, the latest incarnation of events aimed at spicing up World of Warcraft and advancing the plot(s) further. Above everything else, the lore is something I’ve kept up with. Gameplay, um…not so much. It’s part of why there is nothing more than cobwebs and a few sparse comments over time. I haven’t been playing. Well, that’s not entirely correct. I’ll go a few weeks where I actually accomplish things and then a couple months where I don’t. As if that didn’t make things difficult enough, I play on a private server still. I’ve actually decided to write a post about that experience in a more detailed manner, but the preview of that is current content is easier said than done. And older stuff might not get done at all.

Funny enough, it isn’t the new content that brought me back. No, it looks like quite recently someone went back and read my entire blog. Every single post. Now, I have no idea who this individual was or what brought them to my humble little world. I would love to thank them for doing so, though. It reminds me of the time I’ve invested in Azeroth courtesy of the way they invested the time in reading all my musings, insight, and quirky thoughts. But imagine playing WoW and then you couldn’t because it just randomly stopped. All you got was a gallery of your mounts and pets. With no notice, that would be frustrating for certain. And I wondered if this person felt the same when the blog just stopped at that top 10 mount list from last year.

As I suggested, I’ve been playing here and there. I’ve been following things plenty. I know Blizzard supposedly confessed to mistakes as far as the classes go, in that they went too far. I liked how each spec felt when Legion hit, but I can understand a lot of the concerns the player base has had ever since. I can’t comment too much since I know my server is still in the process of tweaking some abilities. Some are broken in a bad way and some are overpowered. I suppose it’s like a PTR in that sense.

So what does someone do who is barely a casual player anymore, doesn’t play the game live, and is disgruntled about much of the WoW model at this time write about? Well, in this case he doesn’t. Or didn’t. It was as if I no longer felt what I was going to write was actually going to contribute anything to the game or the community. At least, not like I felt I did at one point in time.

But that can change with one viewer. That same thing can be said about any media platform. A viewer. A listener. A like, a tweet…you get the idea. I was honestly sparked in part by discovering that Tome had returned to blogging as well. And then seeing someone go through all my posts, it was humbling if you haven’t already gathered that. But it made me do the same. Indeed I also went through everything I’ve wrote over the years and I came to a realization. It wasn’t so much what I was writing, but that I was writing. If you wanted to read or learn about something specific, you know doubt had a handful of sites and blogs that provided that. I was never about that. Well, I did do a fair bit in the infancy of transmogrification. But I wrote about anything and everything. Whatever suited my fancy at the time. At some point in my negative view of the situation I managed to lose sight of that.

With the new clarity does not come new promises. This time of year, admittedly, my schedule gets a bit tougher and with it writing does too. Particularly when I’m a legit writer now as well. Well, legit in that my work for a company has been printed and it did well enough I’ve been asked to write more. But more on that another time. For now, I’m simply going to sit back, take it all in, and then start churning out the thoughts of Azeroth and more that have sat bottled up in my noggin’ this past year and more. The engine might churn fast, and it might churn slow. But I’ve put myself in a state where it’s likely I won’t take the key out of the ignition.

Worth The Cup Of Coffee


What’s a mount worth? No, not the simple in-game currency or lengths one must go to in order to obtain them. If you had to buy the mount with the money in your pocket, how high would you be willing to go? The most I’ve ever spent on a mount is 150 USD, but that was a Mottled Drake for Mrs. Amateur and it was a Christmas present. Worth every penny. Would I spend it on myself? Not a chance. There isn’t a mount in the game that I would spend that much money for. But a cup of coffee? That’s a reasonable price.

So as you might have guessed, the Swift Spectral Tiger cost me a whole dollar. The in-game shop (remember, not Blizzard) sells donation points for cash. The lowest rate is 10 points for two dollars. While I opted for a higher package, that doesn’t change the fact that for those 10 points I could get the spectral kitty. Well, actually, it was half-price at the time. So indeed I spent a dollar for one of the nicest mounts in the game. Normally you would be looking at between 1.5k-2k for the same mount. I’m sorry, but I’d rather pay my mortgage than have a shiny ride in a digital world.

Now the argument can be made the price is warranted because it’s so rare. Well, every day the TCG rewards become more and more rare. Eventually, they’re going to be gone. Or at least the current means of obtaining them will be. Should they be gone forever? Some mounts I think should. Not the TCG ones, but the ones that required a true Feat of Strength to accomplish and obtain. Instead, I see no reason Blizzard couldn’t offer many of these in their own shop. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be the rarest of the rare. You could put the Cenarion Hippogryph in there, for example, for those who don’t want to grind the reputation but still want the mount.

“But JD, then the mounts become more prominent and lose their uniqueness and awe.”

Not necessarily. More people would have access to them, but not everyone is going to buy them. And you can still only be on one mount at a time. So even if someone buys 10 different mounts, they’ll not all be out at the same time. Heck, since I picked up the Spectral mount a couple of weeks ago I’ve only seen one other person riding it. In a game that charges nothing to play, the window for it to be more common is certainly there. Imagine what would happen on a server where you have to pay your monthly fee on top of buying mounts. I don’t think you would have a massive influx of any mount in particular, but instead a few more of each would start popping up and that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Having said that, Blizzard doesn’t give things away. I can’t see any mount in the game being sold in the shop for 1-2 dollars. If they sold basic mounts for 5 dollars and harder to obtain for 10, I still think that would be high. But then I also don’t think they would list them that low. Either way, people still wouldn’t be pushed to run out and buy whatever they want. The tipping point isn’t quite high enough. Now, were Blizzard to suddenly go against a decade plus business plan and reduce the monthly fee then it might change. But that’s not ever going to happen. And neither is getting a mount for a dollar.

Favourite Zone


With six expansions, and a seventh on the way, there is a lot of World in the World of Warcraft. From Draenor to Deadwind Pass, most areas feel incredibly unique and you get what they’re about. Sitting down today I thought for a while about which zones are my personal favourite and there are two that stand out. Before I get to them, let me just give an honorable mention to Deadwind Pass…because it terrified me the first time I went strolling out of Duskwood into that area. I had no idea what was going to be around the corner.

Now, the first zone, is from Wrath of the Lich King. Older readers will know just how enamored I can be with Grizzly Hills. The rivers, cabins, wildlife, and PvP. Everything about it I enjoy…and who doesn’t love a good port-o-potty quest? I’ve done most of the quests for each faction. Funny enough, though, I’ve never done the Furlbog stuff. I think my next character to go through Northrend will have to rectify this. The music, like most of Wrath, is spot on for the feeling of the zone and if I recall correctly I even listed Grizzly Hills as the place I would live if I had to take up residence in Azeroth.

The other zone, is much newer and I have to include a subzone with it. When Zarahi hit the Broken Shores I immediately headed to Stormheim and instantly fell in love with it. Where Grizzly Hills was all about location, location, location, Stormheim is more about the content. The Vrykul are always fun to interact with and the quest chain that explains the Val’kyr is a wonderful ride as Horde players follow Sylvanas throughout the zone. It ends in a pretty well known moment, and one of the best cinematics of the expansion.:

But what made the zone even better for me was losing, and being sent to Helheim. The Stormheim zone in itself was good, but the lead in and out of Helheim made it even better (to say nothing of how enjoyable Helheim was on its own).

What about you? Are you among those that love the beauty of classic Nagrand? Maybe something even more original like Winterspring or Stranglethorn Vale? And will one of the new zones be even better than the ones we’re talking about now?

You Want To Bring War? Then Bring World War!

We know the line is being drawn once more between the Horde and Alliance. After a couple of expansions of working together (brought on by bat-crazy Garrosh), it’s going to go out the window all over again. But that’s the heart of Azeroth (no, not the necklace) over two decades. Two sides that just can’t exist together for one reason or many others. The Battle For Azeroth focuses on one specific area. The stretch of sea between Zandalar and Kul’Tiras. We start on our own island and once reaching the level cap we will be able to start venturing on the other side. Not to mention the 3-player expeditions to islands between them. Then there are Warfronts as well. But as far as we know, that’s it.

The Battle For Azeroth shouldn’t happen over just a tenth of the (known) world. It should be all encompassing in more than just (likely) scenarios for high level characters. The effects should be felt everywhere. This actually ties in with something I have felt for a long time, in that the events and quests that take place throughout Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms need to evolve and change. I had this idea that every month or so, one of the region’s could get tweaked.  Maybe the Gnolls are no longer encroaching on Redridge. Or the Trolls of Zul’Aman come further out into the Ghostlands. Those kind of things. Perhaps a quest-giver is gone or has moved somewhere else and has new ambitions.

Regardless of how it played out, it feels necessary. It would make the game feel more alive and we haven’t had any real change since Cataclysm seven years ago. Much of the change that came then was well done in principal, but the execution left a lot to be desired. Still, the world was changed. So why can’t it change again? We don’t need land masses drastically altered like things were when Deathwing arrived. But something would be nice, and this is the perfect time to do it in a story sense.

So much comes from war and conflict and when you’re talking about a battle for a planet then it should involve the whole planet. Accidental casualties, espionage, gathering supplies, constructing machines of war. All of these things could be spread out throughout places across the land. Not every place, mind you. After all, what’s Loch Modan going to contribute in the grand scheme of things? But a few zones (aside from what looks like Undercity and Teldrassil) would be nice all the same. I want to feel like it really is global conflict rather than just a few islands in a fresh expansion.