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?

Another Safari Stripe

After a movie with Mrs. Amateur, I hopped online to get the Day of the Dead companion.  After doing so, I was more or less puttering around when I decided to see if I was close to completing any achievements.  After a short search, I realized I needed just 6 pets for the Eastern Kingdoms Safari.  Lava Beetle was easy enough, as I was surprised I didn’t already have it.  With the Wharf Rat being available in Tol Barad that was also a piece of cake.

The Irradiated Cockroach became frustrating.  I found more Fluxfire Feline than I could shake a stick at, and after battling or killing several I came upon a roach in the Toxic Airfield.  And then there were three.  Two in the Twilight Highlands conveniently enough.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think things through and took Tumunzahar to do this.  That meant neither would be a quick in and out for the notoriously awful trapper.  Still, I persevered with success.  I cared not that either was of poor quality (though I did later upgrade the Fiendling).

Wouldn't be right if he took less than three tries at it.
Wouldn’t be right if he took less than three tries at it.
Four tries apparently keeps it "sporting."
Four tries apparently keeps it “sporting.”

All that was left was a Snowshoe Hare from Alterac Valley.  Honestly, if you go hunting for this then save yourself the time and go read Wipebringer’s post on wowhead.  I followed it and it ended up being spot on.  I was even lucky enough to have the one I found be a rare.  All in all I would say it took me an hour and a half to finish off the list, but finish it I did.

EK Safari

I suspect that when the time comes, both Pandaria Safari and Kalimdor Safari will prove more difficulty.  Then again, so long as “Minfernal” is on the list, Kalimdor won’t even be attempted.

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.

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.

Third Time’s The Charm


There are benefits to a doctor telling you to be a couch potato for 2-3 days following surgery.  I had decided I’d try to make Liouxpold my third 90, and figured I could get there this weekend.  However, I went from 88 to 89 in just a few hours yesterday and thus the push was on. Clearly I made it, or you wouldn’t be reading this. During the last level I managed to pick up three Flawless Pet Stones (Aquatic, Beast, Dragonkin) without even noticing.  From a rare I also acquired my first Blood Soaked Invitation.  I’m looking forward to trying that out, as I was smart enough not to begin that one right before bed time.  It’s one of those things I had long considered buying, but I just wasn’t keen on heading into “Fight Club” with a Holy Priest and just had not gotten around to it with Saintvache. I think because I have less gold on his server.

So between the trip to the Tram and a destination upon the Isle of Thunder, Lioux will be blazing some new Amateur territory for certain.  However, I really need to clean up his look.  A transmogging we must go…after maintenance ends.  *sigh*

Surfin’ (Northrend) Safari

After running some scenarios last night, we were all at a loss as to what we felt like doing next.  I noticed I was closing in on 8k in achievement points (still no idea how) so I figured I would head off and do the Amphitheater of Anguish.  Some other people must have had the same idea because the place was packed.  So that plan quickly went away.

As I was out in Zul’Drak, I decided to fly up to the Storm Peaks and see if I could possibly track down an Arctic Fox Kit.  It’s bad enough they can only be found when it’s snowing, but it also was the only pet I needed for Northrend Safari and it’s been that way for well over a year.  I flew out over Thunderfall, which used to be notorious for having them until you actually phased into the zone.  This time there wasn’t even that tease.  There was nothing.  I flew up towards the Terrace of the Makers while explaining to guildmates what the kit was and how to catch it.  Then I landed in the snow and had a few pets show up on the screen.  When I saw one in particular, I couldn’t click fast enough.

AFKThat’s right, the Arctic Fox Kit.  I didn’t care if it was Poor.  It could’ve been laying there dead and I still would’ve gone for it.  Of course my biggest fear was accidentally killing it, but that didn’t happen and in rare Tum form it only took three tries to capture him.  The remainder of the fight was a cake walk as one pet did the trick. So I managed to knock off an achievement that had been bugging me simply because I had one thing left to do and for the life of me just couldn’t get lucky enough to even find the critter, let alone catch one.  But catch it I did.


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.