Saturday, December 04, 2010

Cataclysm Checklist :: Part 2

Happiness is a Full Quest Log... :D

This time around when the XP bar is reset for all L80's, there'll  be no rested bonus to benefit from. As a result it's probably a good idea to look for better ways grabbing an early experience boost. In Part 2 of our Cataclysm Preparation Guide well be looking at ways to maximise your 80's start into the new zones.

1. Time to Fill your Quest Log!

Normally an expansion is the time to clear out all the completed items in your Log. I'd argue that this time around you might be better off keeping some of those until Tuesday... and adding to the total. I've decided to do 20/25 quests on the Alt Family (allowing a bit of wiggle room to do the Daily Cookery and Fishing and continue to stockpile mats) for a concerted turn in, whether that be 11.01pm Tuesday night or at some point in the next few months. The combination of quests really doesn't matter: I've taken all the Dailies at the Citadel above on the Lock, but I don't have other Icecrown dailies available to me because I've not finished the zone, so instead I've done a combination of 'normal' quests, topped up with my daily JC-ing, Fishing and Cookery in Dalaran (which award slightly less XP but make for a more central drop off run when the time comes)

Keeping all your quests together should make hand in a doddle!

On Beta Server estimates, you could make up to 30% of a level handing in 'old' quests in this manner. If you have the time to do this before Tuesday I'd give it some serious consideration.

2. Don't Forget your JP's!

Once Cataclysm hits, your 4000 Justice Point cap should be raised. Sadly, if you're over 4000 on Tuesday/Wednesday you'll have your points total converted to gold, so if you're sitting on a load of points since the currency changed, time to spend them now. If you have the time to run some Heroics the closer you can get to the cap, which means you're in a better position to buy new shiny stuffs. I know you're already busy, but it's something to consider if you're at a loss for summat to do...

3. Pick your Starting Zone!

You have a choice of two areas to visit: Hyjal or Vashj'ir. The former has 115 quests, the latter has 160. There'll be 'breadcrumb' quests to send you to both zones in Stormwind, so it might be an idea to set your HS there and log out the night before in Dalaran so you can be ready to hand in your piles of quests. As I know you'll have gone through Part One of the checklist and will have clear bags, food buffs and will be generally raring to go, there's not much else to worry about... is there?

4. Don't Go Mad!

Unless you have a) taken a week off work or b) have no-one else who will be relying on you being capable, it's probably not a great idea playing all night Tuesday to Wednesday. I say that but I know several people who are eyeing the 'First to 85' title not only on my server but in my Guild. Needless to say, this content's not going anywhere, and you're likely to enjoy it far more if you don't do it all as quickly as possible to get back to endgame. Take your time! Having spent all this time preparing to quest, it seems only right you should enjoy the experience...

There are still some loose ends that need covering: Crafting, Enchants and Gems are three that spring to mind. We'll discuss those in the next part of the Guide.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Signs of Things to Come...

Quests be this way, yarr...

As is obvious by my wee Achievements widget, I've been doing a lot of quests over the last week. If I'm lucky I MIGHT (and I use the word advisedly) get all of the new Eastern Kingdoms quests under my belt come Tuesday. What I have found, in my travels across Arathi, Burning Steppes, Badlands, Searing Gorge, the Burning Steppes and the Blasted Lands is just how much the entire quest experience has altered, and in most cases for the better. I'm pretty certain the new mechanics I've seen will be popping up in Cataclysm too, so I'm using this time as a prelude to the main action next week.

Deathwing in human form, just before I punch him. Rar!

If you do one quest before Cataclysm, I'd recommend it's The Day that Deathwing Came, which you can find in the Badlands. It takes about five minutes, comes in three parts and is a great showcase for Blizzard's 'self contained cut scene' mechanic, that takes you out of the 'normal' game word and into a special window where you control a specific character. I've also encountered one of these cut scenes in the Burning Steppes at the end of the quest line that begins with Keenshan's discovery when you arrive in the zone. Their ultimate beauty is, I think, that you remain in the game world but are well aware that you're watching a cut. Although not as epic as the Wrathgate 'cinematic' there's something uniquely compelling about you being a part of what's going on. I'm really hoping there's a boatload of these kind of interactive experiences in the 80+ zones...

Goblin Signage: awesome AND obvious! This way, you say?

The Goblins and Worgen's introduction to the game is seamlessly handled, even at this low level. It's hard to believe we survived without the Goblin's Beach Party presence in the Swamp of Sorrows, for instance, which with the Blasted Lands are two of the zones I've enjoyed questing in the most. The Swamp makes very clever use of the phasing technology, allowing you at one point to fight as Alliance inside the Horde town of Stonard to help secure the Alliance's dominance of the zone. I think this is a great step forward as it allows the feel of actual storyline progression. The Steppes is still very familiar: you're called upon to stop the cultists in the area from summoning a Demon you may already have banished once before, but the story line's a little more complex, and this time encompasses the Dark Portal's involvement. Most importantly for me it gives the first real look at the Worgen's involvement with the Alliance... and frankly it doesn't go too well. I'm sensing the people of Gilneas aren't having the best time of it of late, all told. I hope things can improve with the the Night Elves helping them.

Questing post The Shattering is something I recommend everyone has at least a look at before Tuesday. You might learn something about the grind ahead :D

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Character Not Taken.

Earlier this evening, I got Glory of the Ulduar Raider.

I have a great deal of respect for anyone who did that at level and/or in only 219 gears because frankly, it was insane. However, I don't want to talk about that. I'd like to take a moment and think about the people who didn't get it tonight.

This game can be incendiary, as has often been discussed. It can make people do crazy things, and I know from first-hand experience how that can be meted out to others. When we first had a crack at downing Yogg Saron in 10 man, back when it was relevant content, I deliberately took myself out of the team that first downed him because I knew if I went there'd be an argument. Not because of me going per se, but because of who would have to be left behind. When all is said and done, and given a choice between not having a fight and causing one, I'm not that bothered. Yes, I would have loved to have gone that night but me not going, in the long run, was the better option.

Last night was the culmination of several week's work, and I think I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pleased to finally have Yogg's demise ticked off the To Do List. Had I not gone, or had we not got the kill, I wouldn't have lost sleep over it, but that doesn't mean I don't understand the frustration of those people who want to go but for whatever reason can't, or those who get left behind when selecting a team. It's a horrendous balancing act, and it's by far the worst part of the job as a GM or Raid Leader. I've lost count of the times that people have abused me for not taking them, or that they're being left out for whatever reason and it's not fair. I'm kinda glad last night I wasn't the one picking the team as a result, but as soon as 10 man content in Cataclysm rolls around again it's going to be my job and I'm not looking forward to it one bit.

It's hard to rationalise content when you get to do it and others don't. It's even harder to explain to people that it's only pixels when I know for a fact that most people want to raid not simply for the rewards, but the team play aspects which you simply don't get in five mans or soloing content. All I can hope to do, as I have done many times before, is make sure I'm the character not taken, and hope that this shows to people that if the GM of the Guild is happy to bench herself for the sake of the greater good and to allow everyone a fair crack at the new stuff, then it maybe won't hurt so much when they're not picked.

When all is said and done I'd rather spend an evening chatting to friends and pottering about if it means that everyone gets a go, especially if they've made the effort to be geared and prepared to do so. It's not hard to sit out when the reason why you play isn't for the rewards, but for the people you play with.

I know that's not the case everywhere, but it's certainly so here.

Return of the Chest!

Yes, Chests are BACK.

Of course, in a lot of the Old World they never went away. Cheese was the best you could normally expect to find if someone had plundered before you... however, since The Shattering things seem to have noticeably improved. This baby is a Silken Treasure Chest, and I've been lucky enough to find three of these in my questing spree with P. They seem to be in the 40+ zones of the (New) Old World, and seem to guarantee a blue quality item plus gold on opening, plus (if I am to believe Wowhead) XP on looting. I'm kinda hoping these fellas might appear in the new zones too...

I've made over 100g thus far selling the contents of these babies. Long live the new chests!

The old-style treasure receptacles also seem to be about, but are now renamed as Silverbound Treasure Chests. Ironically at present no-one is able to open these, regardless of level or location. Rumours are you could need a key to crack them but my money is on these chests being related in some way to the new Archaeology profession.

More news as (and when) we find it!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Cataclysm Checklist :: Part 1

Officially less than a week to go now, folks. Time to start doing some serious contemplation. Step #1: Preparation for Leveling, which means making the final decision on who goes out first.

Nothing like a cheap graphic to make summat look important!

W, P and N will be leading my primary attack on the new lands of Azeroth. I'll be sending P out first to Hyjal, and W shortly afterwards to Vashj’ir. N will be available for early instance healing and general tomfoolery, and as my first tier Enchanter is looking forward to the large number of green items she'll be able to shard and dust. I will also be sending M the Rogue into the new areas for herbing and mining, and I hope she can gain XP solely based on gathering.

Here's my checklist for initial readiness...

1. Bags Clear, Bags Suitable.

20 slot bags, at this stage, are pretty much a must. Most of my team are also packing at least some 22's but it's not essential, what is more important is their emptiness. If you've not done so already, it's high time you had a clearout. You'll want as many slots as you can free for anything useful that might drop on your travels: remember, even grey items are going to be worth more cash to sell. Cash is King at the start of any expansion, so optimise your money-creation ability early.

P will be taking her leather bag with her too. I've told you a great many times how useful profession-specific bags can be, but it does mean you need to be very good at keeping your other containers clean, because you're effectively swapping a 20/22/24 slot space that will carry anything for a bigger space to carry only specific items. I'm hoping Volatiles stack in a leather bag :D

2. Food for the Journey.

This is the time to use up all the old Wrath flasks, food and potions you might have clogging up your bankspace. They'll be useless in a couple of months anyway, and a smart traveller will be looking to upgrading all their food and drink options asap. Use what you have left as a way to speed up your levelling experience, and make sure you remember a supply of health/mana potions (if you need the blue stuff) If you've been hiding in a well the last six months, you may not have heard that Cataclysm five mans are a bit more of a challenge than the Wrath ones were. Nothing like being prepared, anf you may as well use what you already have rather than spending a load of cash on new stuff.

3. Clear that Questlog!

The Force has a plan for going into Cataclysm, which I'll be detailing in a separate post tomorrow. To do this they're all going to need clear quest logs, so it's time to go hand in everything low level you've left festering or finally delete the quests you know you won't get around to doing before next week. It's a good way to draw a line under your Wrath experience. Needless to say, with the Low Level Quest Finder and the Achievements window it's pretty easy to go back and pick quests up again at a later date. If you're bored in six months it'll make a nice change than being owned in Five Man Heroics ^^

4. If you can Maxx, Do So!

We'll be getting and entire new secondary profession to worry about next week (more on that too later in the week). As a result you don't want to be fretting about your cookery or first aid skill. My husband's spent a very amusing couple of days desperately trying to maxx Cookery after managing 1-300 during Pilgrim's Bounty on his Secondary Tank. If you are still short on points you'll find this is probably a good time to finish these off. Cloth's pretty cheap on our AH currently (and there's an achievement for bandage making to boot) and the high end food buffs will benefit you as has been previously mentioned. If you want to get your fishing skill up a bit too you could do a  lot worse than make a bunch of Fish Feasts and make fellow dungeoneers happy by dropping one in your first Cataclysm Dungeon. Fish Feasts help you make friends. Trufact!

If you're covered on all that, congratulations! I'm STILL not set on at least one for the Force, so if you'll excuse me it's time to set that straight (assuming maintenance hasn't been extended) before we move on to the issue of what we actually do with Experience before the Expansion hits...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Beautiful Things

Today has been all about the shiny.

WTB Expansion. NOW.

If I even needed an appetite wetter for next week, this view does it all. Uldum looks staggeringly beautiful, even in a sandstorm, and I find myself realising just how excited I am for the Expansion. Seven days. Bloody hell.

I'm constantly discovering new and amazing stuff in the Old World. Today will be continuing in Arathi and then onto the Badlands with P, whilst the family cycles through the rounds of SW dailies. Whilst looking for confectioner's sugar yesterday I happened upon a new bag vendor in SW:

These are all the minimum size 'speciality' bags, like the ones you could initially buy in Outland at TBC launch, branded (I suspect) with the RP community in mind at least. The Enchanting Evening Purse especially caught my eye: it's great to think someone at Blizzard took the time to think about every single aspect of the game like this. I for one am grateful. I mean, look at how much effort goes into the vanity pets:

I can haz Moonkin. I also have the Lil' Ragnaros. Note to potential buyers: Ragnaros also doubles as a cooking fire. I will, oh yes...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fessing Up.

You'll notice a number of retro-active posts of late. There's a good reason for this. I hope to get back to something resembling 'normal service' next week.

Your patience is appreciated.