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?
 

Revealing My Privates: Part One

Once upon a time I mentioned that I would share the members of the Private (server) Army. The problem for me and my stickler for things, is that I refused to do so until they were at a point where I was happy with them…Transmogrificantly speaking anyway. Yes, I’m choosing to make up the word Transmogrificantly. It’s gotta catch on better than “dab.” So while this is the first character I’m posting, none of the others are quite ready to make an appearance for one reason or another. But they’ll get there and I will post as they do.

When I rolled on the server I decided I wanted one of each class and no repeat races. Being as there are only 12 classes that meant one race was left out. Sorry Night Elf lovers. It came down to Trolls, Night Elf, and Humans and only Warlocks and Shaman left to assign. For today, though, we’ll focus on the Worgen, who takes up the Hunter slot.

Hunter
Soundwaive and his loyal companion, Tone’loque.

Soundwaive started out Marksman. However, I was doing some questing in Sholazar Basin when I hit level 80. I decided to leave the zone, but because I was close enough I decided to check the spot I had always seen Loque’nahar before (east of the Savage Thicket, up on a hill). Sure enough, there she was and that meant a change in spec. Absolutely worth it. Despite what Mrs. Amateur says, Tone’loque is clever.

Then I got the idea to put together an outfit that complimented the pet and I think it came together really well. The only thing missing is the Mechanized Snow Goggles, because I can’t find Borean Leather for the life of me…and my Skinner isn’t high enough to go get me some.

I made this outfit pre-100, so I found it convenient that the Titanstrike artifact for Beast Mastery is pretty much a perfect fit with the look. Here’s the rest of the components you see:

Head: None, but again will be Mechanized Snow Goggles
Shoulder: Mountainscaler Chain Spaulders
Cloak: Wyrmcultist’s Cloak
Chest: Kurken Padded Chainmail
Hands: Brazen Gauntlets
Waist: Padded Chain Belt
Legs: Bramblescar Legguards
Feet: Mountainscaler Chain Sabatons

Soundwaive is the third private to arrive in New Dalaran. With 100 levels under his belt he’ll be deployed to Aszuna soon enough. But first he’s going to spend some more time in his lab, further developing his Engineering and Alchemy.

The Battle Rages

So that just happened. Well, a couple of hours ago now but I wanted to wait until the “What’s Next” panel concluded before I posted any thoughts. Let’s start with the trailer. I loved Anduin’s helm. If you didn’t know it was him, it would come across very cold. Too bad he’s the opposite. And then there’s his opposite on the battlefield. She can turn into a banshee again? I get goosebumps every time I watch the trailer and that moment comes up.

That we got a cinematic trailer the same day Battle For Azeroth was announced was a great surprise by Blizzard. I think this one does a great job of setting up the expansion (so much for my “we don’t need factions anymore”). One has to wonder how she obtained the ability to transform and also what brought the Alliance to the doorstep of Lordaeron. Hopefully enough will be explained at some point before we head off to Zandalar and Kul’Tiras.

Given the theme of the expansion, I really enjoy the idea that the Horde and Alliance will go 110-120 in completely different regions. It puts a proper emphasis on the factions being strongly divided once more. Both zones look interesting enough from the previews we got but there wasn’t a whole lot of substance to that. I’m sure more will trickle out from the players who get to playtest it this weekend. Same goes for the two dungeons that were made available. Though I am very interested in the Kezan dungeon when the time comes. Who knows what the goblins have done this time?

There were many things touched on in the brief one hour but I’m not going to talk about all of them. I will mention a few other things that I found noteworthy:

  • Going the Guild Wars 2 route with all zones of Azeroth. This seems long overdue to be able to have scaled questing anywhere on the planet. Glad they are finally not only bringing it forward but pairing up expansions as well (such as Outland and Northrend being scaled 60-80). I only hope that with it we can have a somewhat expedited xp boost. It still takes too long to level a character, even with heirlooms. New players get the instant boost, so they don’t have to do it if they don’t want to. But existing players are probably going to roll more alts. Why?
  • Allied Races. We are getting half a dozen subraces, with three to each side. Horde receive the Highmountain, Nightborne, and Zandalari. On the Alliance side it’s the Dark Iron Dwaves, Light Forged Draenei, and Void Elves. These races each need to be recruited but once you do, you basically unlock them as an alt that starts at level 20.
  • No Legendary Artifacts. Those are going to fall by the wayside and we’ll go back to standard weapons once more. Instead, we’ll have “The Heart of Azeroth” which is an amulet powered by Azerite (the very essence of Azeroth herself, seeping into the world). The more you get, the more you can do and it is used by three armor slots (helm is certain, my guess is chest and legs as well).
  • Realms are going to be streamlined so that there are no longer PvP or PvE realms. Instead, you will have the option on any server to simply toggle PvP on or off. In doing it across all realms, this gives the developers a chance to do things like Bounty Hunter quests or assassinations.
  • World of Warcraft Classic. You wonder where a guy is going when he talks about his two favourite ice creams being Cookies & Cream (yes) and Chocolate (meh)…until he mentions some people prefer Vanilla. It sounds like things are still in early stages, but the plan is in place to have throwback servers. Who knows how many, but they are definitely on the way at some point.

There was more if you didn’t get to see the segment (or find it on YouTube yet), but I want to wait and see what comes from the panel later today as well as the Q & A before commenting further.

30 Days (April) – NPC Race You Wish Was Playable

Right away my mind goes ETHEREALS!!!  However, I have to say that if they were a playable race I would probably get sick of them because everyone would have one.  Same with if they ever did Murlocs.  Well, that’s not necessarily true because I’d have less Murlocs than I have Blood Elves (click on Faces along the header to see what I mean).  The Vry’kul would be another popular choice for me, as it’s another race I’m quite fond of.  But if I had to base my answer off of what could actually work as a player race, I’d have to choose the Tuskarr.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are several races I would love to play before the Tuskarr. But I’m trying to look at it from the perspective of existing lore and what would make the most sense.  I think the Quillboar would be near the top of my list but they just don’t make sense with either faction.  At all.  The Tuskarr do.  Heck, they could’ve easily been the original Pandaren.

Given the way Northrend is set up, they could’ve been the game’s first neutral race.  One tribe could’ve gone to the Horde and another could’ve gone to the Alliance.  I can easily see Hunter, Warrior, Priest, Death Knight, and perhaps Shaman.  Give them a racial bonus to Fishing and Swimming and you’re set.

As I said, the question is a bit of a hard one for me because a number of races just don’t make sense.  Choosing something that I would really want, like perhaps Naga, that just doesn’t fit would be like Blizzard allowing Forsaken Druids or Draenei Warlocks.  Given the context of the game, that just sounds bizarre, nevermind how it would work within lore.  My head’s trying not to explode just thinking about it and the same thing applies to the other races of Azeroth.  At the end of the day I think the Tuskarr would be the best choice out of the NPC races.

30 Days (April) – Favourite Race

Of all the things I answer, this one should never ever be in question.  Yes, there are a number of races I’m incredibly fond of.  In fact, almost two years ago to the day, I wrote about them.  I would be hard pressed to think of any reason why that would change in the time since.  There really isn’t much more to add to the explanation that I didn’t say then, either.  It’s straight and to the point.  I guess you get a short read for a change.

Spelunking For Ooze

Last night after work I decided to hop online.  It was one of those instances where I had no real purpose.  I puttered around with Elcombe before deciding to get some experience for a few very low level pets (1-2).  After a few battles and a couple of pet dings, I remembered something I had read on Wowhead:

“I don’t know about anyone else but trying to farm this up during the day wasn’t going to happen. I was only able to get that to spawn at night. Keep this in mind when farming the pet up on your server.”

I had tried once before to get a Jade Oozeling, but had zero luck at all.  Granted it was during the daytime but that could be coincidence.  Still, Elcombe hopped on his flying carpet and off I went.

Upon landing in the Hinterlands I first knocked off the pet battle daily because who doesn’t like some quick and easy experience?  Then it was off to Skulk Rock to see if I could find a baby ooze.  The first thing I noticed was how many people were actually questing there at that hour.  I counted no less than six (and helped once any had tagged mobs), both Horde and Alliance.  I was a bit concerned that if I did get an ooze to spawn, I was going to lose it to one of them.

Undaunted I started killing all the maggots in the cave.  Then I killed them all again.  And once more.  I spent half an hour killing maggots before that magic little green paw appeared on my map.  I ran to the top of the cave in a flash, only to realize it was below me.  I quickly jumped down, and there it was.

Jade

Now I was smart enough prior to entering the cave in the first place, in that I made sure I had level appropriate pets to combat it.  Take a lesson from the Amateur, nothing is quite as detracting as finding a rare spawn or simply rare pet and killing it because you forgot to downgrade your pets, or worse you get cakewalked because all your pets were too low to do any good.  So in this instance, I was good to go and while the Oozeling was only a common, I did capture him a short time later.  I don’t know what it is, but thus far Elcombe is a significantly better trapper than Tum.

I haven’t decided whether or not to use a stone to upgrade it.  At a later time, I may even come back and try for a better quality one, though the stone seems far less dependent on a great deal of luck.  The important thing is that I’m now down to 10 pets to capture for the Eastern Kingdom Safari achievement.

Thought Bubbles

Thoughts

If each of those bubbles was a thought, there probably still wouldn’t be nearly enough in the picture.  People ask me where I’ve been as of late, and I can’t say it didn’t come without fair warning that I’d grow quiet.  Some suspected I had sent my laptop off for repairs, but that’s not the case.  It remains wired to a television upstairs, which actually works alright.  It’s just near impossible some days to read the chat window.

I’ve been asked a little bit on my thoughts about 5.2 and I’ll try to articulate a post when I actually care.  That harshness isn’t directed at Blizzard or the content or anything like that…I just…well my interest in a lot of things lately (including WoW) is there one moment and gone for many more a heartbeat later.  So when WoW’s not of interest, it can be hard to want to even write about it.  So aside from the Transmog Contest, I really haven’t had much to say for some time now.

It’s weird.  One moment I want to race change my Worgen Warrior to a Pandaren, and the next I’m ready to cancel my subscription.  I haven’t, and in the near future I won’t.  There are times when I very much want to hop into Azeroth, and so I’m not turning my back on it.  I’m sure a few of you have seen me pop on here and there for moments at a time…and yet I never logged in for the Darkmoon Faire last week and aside from the first two days, completely skipped the Lunar Festival.

That brings me to Laid Back Raids.  With everything going on (and yes, I know exactly why the things I’ve talked about are the way they are), by the time an LBR comes around, I can be completely exhausted.  I’ve pushed through it most nights, but it takes more effort not to (unfairly) snap on people over trivial comments or matters that come with booting through a raid.  Trust me, for those wondering, you never genuinely bother me in the slightest.  As the ex always tells us, “it’s not you, it’s me.”  That’s the case.

But, LBR is important.  It’s a tonne of fun and there are always people up for it on some level.  As such, I’m continuing to schedule them and will even show up I’m sure.  My appearances are just going to be sporadic for a little while (much like my WoWing in general).  With that in mind, I asked both Healblade and Repgrind if they would be contacts and both graciously accepted.  Their contact information is on the LBR page, and I can’t thank the two of them enough for looking after things in my absence, especially when the two of them can almost always be counted on to be in attendance and bring both wisdom and laughs.  Kinda suits the LBR model (not that I ever bestowed much wisdom).

I’m trying to work on more chapters of Posthumous.  Yesterday’s was honestly written ages ago, but I kept forgetting to pull the image from my computer.  Yes, I’m obsessive like that.  I couldn’t publish it without that little raptor image.  I’ll see what I can do about posting more soon.  It’s a matter of getting the writing bug and the time to dedicate to writing it.

Saw an article that Trivial Pursuit is putting out a WoW edition later this year.  That’s exciting.  Combines two things I happen to enjoy a lot, and Mrs. Amateur is a trivia addict (and an Illidan damn wealth of knowledge to boot).  I can see it ending up in our collection in no time…barring an elaborate price tag.  Personally, I’d like to see them replace the pie with a generic character that has spots for Legendary weapons instead of pie slices.  That would be sweet.

Speaking of Legendaries…I think I got the quest that starts Tarecgosa’s Staff with Tum.  I doubt I’ll get past that first part, much like Siori’s daggers.  I know folks were willing to help me, but if I’m not on much…let alone when others are, it’s kinda hard to complete.  But, I’m ok with that.

I guess ok is probably the best way to sum things up all around.