Saturday, December 03, 2011

25 Days of Azeroth :: Taking the Easy Option.

4.3 is about many things, but mostly it's about rogues. I see them, in Trade, asking for DS's 4th boss, so they can go steal the ring they need to start their Legendary Quest. I hope to do the same with my shameful excuse for a rogue at some point because I know the truth. Rogues are cool.

If you've not seen this video already, I'm ashamed of you. If you've already seen it, watch it again, and remember the days when Onyxia lived in Stormwind and the only chance you had to kill her was if you got her from behind... ^^

[Best soundtrack to a video since Friday, btw :D]

Friday, December 02, 2011

25 Days of Azeroth :: Lore, with a Bonus!

You Are Here!

Today, we'll be earning a lot of you 10 Achievement Points for a quest line which, if I'm honest, has become one of my complete favourites in Game. You'll need to head for Darkshore, and make your way to the Maw of the Void. It looks a fairly anonymous place, except for the seething mass of water below you. I'm going to ask you to cast reason aside for a moment and to throw yourself in. You heard me right: commit yourself to the void and you'll get a cut scene. I'm pretty certain this is the earliest one you get in game to boot...

You'll come to at the bottom of a very large cavern, the Bashal'Aran Collapse, where a single female Night Elf gives you the chance to leave. Ignore her, and kill the L12 mobs you'll find as you make up to meet the someone rather special: Telarius Voidstrider, Herald of the Dark Embrace. It's a Demon Hunter... in Darkshire! A sensible person would of course leave him well alone, but we are not sensible. We're going to dispatch him because we know he'd not be down here unless there were a reason... he drops some scrolls, which start a Quest:

So, off you go to Lor'danel (which now doubles for the wrecked Auberdine post-Cataclysm) to hand in these items and to get a glimpse into the life of a woman who's destiny is inextricably linked with one Illidan Stormrage...

Maiev Shadowsong
! My favourite NPC in TBC by quite some way! Even at L12 there is foreshadowing in game, if you know where to look for it, and for your leap of faith, you'll get an Achievement to boot.

WTB [More Quests Like This] please Blizzard, especially in Pandaland. You don't need massive cut scenes, or new stuff, you just need to remember you have a huge and rich history to draw from...

Plotting the Difficulty Curve.

You Are Here. Discuss.

So, I suspect a large number of people are waking up this weekend to a situation they've not found themselves in before: if you started early on the new Raiding Content, you're doing rather well. In our case, for instance, the above ranking's not correct as GuildOx isn't counting our third boss kill last night. If it did, we'd be ranked #20th. If we didn't know already, the difficulty curve for instancing's changed.

This is, I think, not a bad thing. There will be those who will lament this change as further 'dumbing down' of the content (undoubtedly) but I would counter this with the following: Blizzard wants more people raiding. This time around, it's the only way you can get Tier. It gives raiders a genuine advantage over non-raiders and places a sizeable incentive on the entire 10/25 man process. If you like your progression presented in a linear fashion, this is how it works for us:

Heroics -> New 4.3 Heroics -> LFR -> 10 Man -> 10 Man Hard Mode
(if doing larger raids, please replace 10 with 25)

It also gives those who raid earlier in the week a statistical advantage at present, which should not be overlooked. With no Hard Modes until next Tuesday at the earliest (and currently no real idea of how hard they will be) this is a brief and glorious time in the Sun for those of us who get how mechanics work quickly and have a team of people who can adapt and apply their abilities in the 10 man situation.

I find myself thinking on reflection that actually, these fights work really well. There is a decent balance between damage mitigation and grasping mechanics: yes, you need to not stand in sh*t but conversely you need to be able to move and damage in an intelligent fashion. The boss mechanics themselves are well-executed yet not overly complex too: all four bosses we tried last night were fun, easy to grasp in tactical terms yet presented a level of genuine difficulty. I'd go so far to say that last night was some of the best boss mechanics I've seen since the early days in MC: teamwork is paramount. Warlord Zon'ozz (aka the PONG BOSS) is a great example of 10 people being a) aware of themselves and b) aware of each other to build a stack of a debuff that then is used to boost dps. Yor'sahj the Unsleeping forces the raid to choose which abilities to deal with by leaving mobs up (which is a concept I love) whilst Morchock's a deceptively complicated opening encounter. We had Hagara the Stormbinder sub 50% before we called it last night and I confidently predict when we go back on Sunday not only will we have lost our Top 25 status but she'll be dead in short order.

The biggest shock for me however was the gap in complexity between 10 man and LFR. The 'introduction' to raiding diminishes pretty much all of the finesse needed to complete these bosses: hug and nuke, and you'll manage. However, and I am amazed to find myself saying this, the tactical understanding I had of Harara from LFR translated really well down to our group, to the point that we got the entire fight far quicker than I suspect we would have done having come to it cold. As a result I'd urge everyone who can to go stick themselves into LFR if only to understand what you'll have to expect if you're coming to Dragon Soul for the first time. Plus you have a chance of 3/5 bits of T13Lite and 250 Valor Points to boot. It would be rude not to!

Added bonus last night? TWO EPIC LW PATTERNS \o/ Hunter and Boomkin/healer legs FTW. Frankly that was worth the trip alone... :D

Thursday, December 01, 2011

25 Days of Azeroth :: An Introduction

At this time of year, many of my Blogging friends go all festive on me. One in particular has been great over the years at offering me alternatives to the traditional Christmas music that I'm used to, for which I am grateful every year. It was with this in mind that I thought I'd have a crack at presenting you good people with something different from Azeroth: it's going to be a mix of past and present, of everything and anything that I've come across in the VERY LONG TIME that I've been doing this. That could be music, it could be in-game things that people don't seem to know, and to start this whole shebang off it will be, in my opinion, the best Warcraft Instance Video ever made.

Sadly You Tube won't allow longer than 10 mins, so it's 2 bits :(

Once Upon a Time, before there was LFR and 10 Man Raids, there were 40 mans. After you'd wiped horribly and repeatedly for loot that never dropped with 39 people all with more DKP than you completed Molten Core and Onyxia, you'd go to Blackwing Lair... except I never did. I saw the first boss for about three weeks and then TBC was announced, and with the realisation that old content would be 'irrelevant' my Raiding Alliance promptly collapsed. I've never done it as it was intended as a result and I'm really rather sad I didn't because this video still sends chills down my spine. This was the first time I'd seen a Horde team in action as well, I'd never even explored the Dark Side until that point, and I still remember looking at the Female Orc Hunter and thinking 'yes, you're way cooler than a Dwarf, aren't you?'

This is one of only three videos I have saved on my Hard Drive, and if this were a movie I'd probably be on my second DVD of it by now. I love it. If you've never seen it, you really really should, because it's no less epic than it was when it was first made.

Apologies for Absence.

Black is, of course, the new black :D

I am back. I was, of course, still around for the majority of last month but I wasn't really paying as much attention as normal (Novel's still not done, taking a break, coming back to it starting Saturday) but as of yesterday my head is very much here 'in' the Game. As a result I am 'behind' on my screenie posting, but 50 will come (just not in November, but it will be completed)

I would like to apologise however for not reading nearly as much as I was, especially to all those 'new' people who are here now and whose Blogs I now have access to not simply as a casual observer but as someone I 'know'. I'm still one of these people who looks at Friends Lists and only has people I've met on them (even if it's only once in some cases) so I'm not about to start expounding on depth of feeling and empathy. What I will say though is it's impressive to see that despite what some of my Guildies love to tell me that this game really isn't on it's last legs, in fact far from it. Yes, some notable people have gone, and it's always sad when you lose someone on your Reading List who were clearly not only great at blogging but loved the game. However, there's tons of great, entertaining and frankly brilliant people out there doing the business, and they're all worth a look.

Plans this month (yes, I have a plan) involve an Advent Calender and THAT Crafting Post. I suspect there may also be the final push to level everyone who's not 85 to get there, which means a new header (which I will do once I have better shoulders on P) I look forward to a productive and entertaining end to the Year... and the possibility of the Panda Beta sooner rather than later... :D

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

4.3 :: Weeellllll......

The ONLY Hunter in SW wearing this outfit says hi... :D

So, it's been a long day. A VERY long day, with kids at home and stuff run. As a result, I'm capable of bullet form and not much else. Gimme time to digest it all and I'll have some proper observations, but for now...

  • New 5 Mans are either hard or easy, depending who you talk to. They're either a waste of effort or massively awesome. I've not met anyone yet who's just gone 'meh' so that's something.

  • LFR has potential. Yes, I was amazed, three bosses in 90 minutes. One wipe. Same warrior won two pairs of tier legs on first boss and promptly left. That could probably use some work. Needless to say, if it's that easy in 25 man, how long before Deathwing's dead? ^^ More importantly, how will this go down with the raiding community?

  • Baradin Hold's a waste of time until next week. Just saying: no Valor points from anyone EXCEPT the new boss, and she's on a break...

  • You're more likely to guess next week's Lottery numbers than work out what criteria they used to allow stuff into Void Storage. Seriously Blizzard, WHY. Why Winter Hats but not clothes? Why Summer Fire Festival hat but none of the rest of the gear? Why half my tabards and not the other half. The Scepter of the Shifting Sands though, I'll give you that. I don't want that in storage, that stays on the mantle.

  • Mogging is not nearly as prevalent as I thought it would be. I got complimented on my outfit today \o/ I also made 1000g from crafting Vanilla Shite :D

  • Orbs are gonna be 50g by the weekend. Whoever put theirs up at 500g each this morning... good luck with that!

  • The number of people with That Flying Mount today is saying to me that Warcraft's not as dead in the water as some people might claim it is... ^^

  • THE FAIRE ARRIVES ON SATURDAY. Go read the patch notes and stop asking dumb-ass questions!

If you want me, I'll be running Heroics... :D

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Take THAT to the Bank!

So, did the taxpayer pay for Mr Bankworthy's outfit?

Sitting on the sofa this morning, feeling sorry for myself because I have a temperature and a sore throat, I found myself considering my fiscal situation in game. Let's be honest from the outset: I'm not a church mouse. I have a decent sum sitting in the bank (WTB [In Game Interest] ) and I do not find the business of generating cash either stressful or difficult. With 4.3 already rolling out across the US, there is likely to be lots of reasons to spend money in the coming weeks, especially as the first wave of Epic Gems and BoE Epics starts appearing on the AH. Part of me is already quietly resenting the fact I'll need to dip into my savings to keep my Main raid-ready, but it won't stop me doing it. What then becomes the issue is how I recoup the losses and continue to generate an income.

With a large family of alts the potential to make cash in lots of different ways is always there: farming, raw materials, specific items... you name it, I've done it. However at this point in the Expansion I have an option to consider that frankly looks a damn sight more attractive than it has done for a while: questing. With the shoulder enchants from Therazane stubbornly refusing to become BoA, for instance, I have a slew of Alts that don't yet possess the rep to buy. Most of my alts still need to grind Gilneas rep to maximum, quite apart from the other Cataclysm factions that aren't pushed to Exalted. Sitting this morning, looking at my characters on the Armoury, it occurred to me that thousands of gold are locked up in this process, and that I'm beginning to enjoy the business of grinding again after the nightmare that was the Molten Front. Oh yeah, and I STILL need the Tailoring bags and the BS patterns from there for the Mage and the Shammy...

I sat down with pen and paper and looked at three alts this morning, and the combined cash that could be generated with them alone will be more than enough to be able to sustain the upcoming high spending period. Now all I need to do is set out some proper plans: while I do the new 5 and 10 man with the Main, I can use the first alt to go quest, to grind my shoulder enchants and pull in a decent side income to boot, and if I find myself complaining that I'm bored then it's probably time to log off altogether and go write something anyway.

I will be interested to see just how much income can be generated this way over the coming weeks.

IntPiPoMo :: Things to Look at When Unwell...

I appear to have caught summat unpleasant, via my kids. However this has not prevented me from trying to run a PuG Heroic today on the #2 Hunter, so it should be no hindrance either to me catching up on my IntPiPoMo. Yes, I know I am behind /shame.

Hunters. Is there anything they can't do? :D

I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: if I could retire to any Zone in game, it's likely to be Uldum. This may seem odd for a Dwarf, raised in cold climbs, but I love the contrasts the area has to offer. There are lots of areas hidden away that you can explore, and all are full of activity. The
Ramkahen Legion Outpost, for instance, is always training soldiers for battle, and has many quiet niches where a Hunter can sit and consider her significance.

This zone needs more Huge Imposing Statues... ^^
It's a fabulous place to fish and skin too, plus there's never any shortage of things to do, whether it be failing to find Camel Statues flying for pleasure or failing to find Archaeology items digging. It is undoubtedly my favourite place to mine as well.

Rare Spawn spot, just after I'd killed it and it had despawned :D

It also has at least two Rare Spawns, the drops from which are always decent sellers on my server, so the area has a decent fiscal significance... but let's face it, it's not about the money (though it helps) It's my love of Egyptology generally and the Lore associated that keeps this zone being interesting.

History. You can just smell it, or is that the camels...?

I remember being fascinated with Uldum well before the zone appeared, when the Discs of Norgannon lead you from Uldaman to the sealed up area to the far south of Tanaris. There were hints then of the potential power trapped to the south, and of greater secrets to be revealed by the Explorer's League. I suspect that is the main reason why this zone's the one that's been completed by the most alts to date: Harrison Jones and Brann Bronzebeard can really do no wrong (dodgy voice acting talents aside of course)

Steps of Fate (above) and Obelisk of the Stars (below)

The zone is undoubtedly my favourite of all the new Cataclysm areas, and one I will never get tired of returning to. I'll also admit that, wherever possible, I like to fly overland to arrive there and not use the SW Portal. As a result, you'll find me flying up via the Gate of Unending Cycles.

The Gate of Unending Cycles: from Uldum and approaching from Tanaris.

I hope the new 'zone' in Pandaland has as much attention to detail, and as much of a sense of having always existed inside Azeroth as Uldum has.

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Week, I Will Be Mostly...

Bloody Nora, that's a big Obsidium Vein...

  • Recovering from NaNoWriMo, even though I have not actually finished my Novel, per se. To 'win' you need to hit 50,000 words, which I did this morning... but I've nowhere near done. I'm not even into Act Three. I will therefore be continuing to write, but now without any of the clock-watching or frustration that I was last month.

  • Working out what I am actually going to do when 4.3 hits, because frankly I've not actually given it much thought. I don't doubt there'll be some faffing in 5 Mans, and in the 10 Man, but apart from that I'm not really as organised as I'd like to be. I suspect the writing has something to do with this and I will spend some time this afternoon considering my options.

  • Making more money pre-patch to spend on Void Storage. A girl's gotta have bags ^^

  • Considering getting my Palalalalaladin to 85, AGAIN :D I should rename her Procrastinate, though I am betting that's too long :p

  • Working out who needs to complete Cataclysm Questing so I can clean up on the cash front there as well.

  • Doing Darkmoon Faire preparation. Post incoming!

...and we're BACK!

Hunter #2 Sorted. WTB [Gears]

I have achieved a fair bit IRL over the Weekend, which makes me a Happy Bunny [TM]. Surprisingly some of it was actually Game-Related, with the Secondary Hunter hitting 85. I ground the last 14 bars (yes I still use bars) in Deepholm using Treasure Finding Potions x 2 (took me two hours with Rested and the Anniversary Tabard) which should mean when I log in this morning I've made a decent sum as a result. This is not a moment too soon as it appears that 4.3 is this week. I could do a huge post on what to prep for but frankly, if you're not set by now you're not gonna be in 24/48 hours ^^ You can put this sanguine attitude down to the fact I expect to break 50k on NaNoWriMo today and 'win', even though I'm nowhere near done. I'm cool, me :D

I am aware I've gotta post a ridiculous number of screenshots in the next two days. I can do that, especially as I expect we'll see extended maintenance Wednesday and my kids are forced out of school that day anyway, so I suspect I'll not be far from a PC.

Anyway, I'm back. Once I've had breakfast however I'll be off again... ^^