New WoW gets thumbs up… for now

Well it’s been quite a long while since my last post. It’s been hard to find time to write something since I’ve been busy at work on a bunch of stuff. And at night, if I’m not taking care of our son (who has been sick for quite a while, the poor bear) I’m busy having fun in WoW.

Thankfully I have no regrets on resubscribing and I’m loving Cataclysm so far. Since starting on Christmas day last year, my goblin shaman has hit 84 and has just a few bars to go to 85. That sounds like I leveled pretty fast, and according to the in-game time played its just under 8 days. In fact I spent a large amount of time afk idling in game as well during times when I get called off to attend to a bawling little carebear, so I suspect the actual time spent would be about a week to go from 1-85. That’s a testament to how fast and easy levelling is now, especially with the dungeon finder.

New old stuff

In fact, just as many have said it’s almost too fast. I love doing the new revamped zones, but I also love the opportunity to run all the old dungeons that I never got to do in classic because it was such a pain putting a group together. Me and my wife used to run each other’s characters through some of them once we had high level characters, but it’s not as much fun as doing it at the level it’s meant to be done at. However, doing all the dungeons made me very quickly outlevel every zone I was questing in. 95% of the time I never managed to see the later half of each zone before the quests became grey. Personally I would have continued on finishing up the grey quests, but my wife was playing my shaman as well before she started work again and she’s the type who just tosses quests as soon as a next zone becomes available (not a completionist like me…). So I levelled though half of Azshara, half of Ashenvale, half of Stonetalon, half of Un’goro, half of Blasted Lands… you get the drift. The new quests are a blast, especially in the zones that received complete revamps like Azshara and Thousand Needles. Instances were fast, with the longest ones like Maraudon and Scarlet Monastery all split up into wings, and quest-givers are conveniently located at the start. No more running all over the world to pick up 4 quests! The goodie bag for doing a random also gives good blue gear for quite a few slots such as neck and rings that are otherwise normally hard to get. Plus there are in-game maps now for the dungeons, with bosses conveniently labelled. Man that’s so much better… Wilhelm from the Ancient Gaming Noob talks about needing 3 hours to do Wailing Caverns in the past, which isn’t an exaggeration since it was so easy to get lost in that darned place. Now it only took me 45 minutes!

Overall 1-60 went by like lightning, so much so that I really want to roll alts to see all the stuff I missed. I hardly even stepped foot on to the Eastern Kingdoms before I was heading through the Dark Portal… again.

Time warp to Outlands

A lot of people have said that there is such a strange disconnect between the Shattering and Burning Crusade. It’s really like going back in time, because everything in Outlands is supposed to be in the past from levels 1-60. Oh well, even if it doesn’t make sense I’m perfectly happy to kill 20 fel orcs for nice clown gear that has double the stats of my old Azeroth gear. Plus now that you can train flying at 60 (with a buff to normal flying speed from 60% to 150%), the quests in Outlands are really a breeze. They were obviously not designed with flying players in mind. Case in point, the quest in Nagrand which requires you to bounce on a trampoline on to a big bird nest to smash a giant egg. Previously I used to use the “epic mount with carrot on a stick” trick to jump onto the nest, since it was really tricky to time the trampoline correctly. Now you just summon flying mount and fly up there… Trampoline? What trampoline?

The quests in Outlands are unchanged, and unfortunately so are the dungeons. This means you have to do the prequests and pick them up from the usual NPCs outside the instances… boohoohoo no more bevy of questgivers awaiting the rabid click-fest at the entrance. This meant that I wasn’t particularly encouraged to do that many instances, especially since we had played a lot during BC and therefore were very very familiar with them. So I mainly quested through Hellfire Peninsula, parts of Zangarmarsh until 65, then headed to my favourite Nagrand where I hit 68. Sadly Outlands has been reduced to 3 zones, since there’s no reason to grind any of the old factions or try to get any gear once Northrend becomes available. I had never played Horde past 60 before, so I was looking forward to some unique quests but sadly they didn’t seem any much different from the Alliance versions.

Snowing again

Once I reached 68, it was time to train cold weather flying and head to Northrend. Again, flying really makes things a breeze, especially with the fact that you can mount up in water. Makes the shaman water walking spell almost redundant actually, unless you really want to fish in the middle of the ocean or something. The Horde quests in Northrend are actually quite different, so it was kind of refreshing and I mostly quested all the way with a few instances done here and there since once again you have to do all the pre-quests first before the instance quests become available. The Outlands clown suit thankfully was replaced pretty quickly with Northrend stuff. At this point I dropped mining for alchemy since I wanted the alchemy trinket for healing at 85 and figured it was a good time to start training up. Plus alchemy should be a decent money maker too, better than flying around mining at least.

I went from Borean Tundra to Dragonblight, some Grizzly Hills, Sholazar Basin and then finally on to Icecrown where I hit 80. Also finally saw a few Alliance players, which were like an extinct breed up till now since Thaurissan is heavily Horde dominated. Even though it is a PvP server, it plays almost exactly like a PvE server. I encountered a gnome DK at a quest giver at Icecrown, but just spent a few moments staring at each other before going our way. I later met him again fighting an elite mob as part of the same quest I was on, and killed him while the mob was on him. I got quest credit for the mob kill too… but I felt kinda bad about it later since he hadn’t done anything to me. I don’t know why but being on a PvP server initially made me crazily try to kill every Alliance I saw for no reason but now I’m much more inclined to just leave them alone.

After hitting 80, I was initially tempted to try to do the new ICC instances which I had never done before such as Halls of Origination and Halls of Reflection. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to because my gear level was too low, plus I needed to do some quest to unlock the instances. So too bad, it was off to Cataclysm!

New shinies

I started in Vashj’ir, after first doing some frantic googling to find out how the hell to actually get there. I really enjoyed the whole zone, not sure how much of it was due to it being totally new. But all the quests flow nicely together and tell a nice story, plus the seahorse mount is so cute. The zone design is amazing and makes me think of Nemo or One Piece, especially all the random sea monsters swimming around like a giant boss whale shark that blots out the sun and some huge elite shark boss too. I wonder if they drop any loot…

Since it’s a new zone my wife was pretty keen to play too, so I think she actually did most of the quests. I felt a bit lost sometimes when logging in because I would be in a totally different place, but that’s ok I’m sure I’ll get to do the quests with one of my numerous alts. The gear is amazing, especially considering I went in with lousy Northrend greens. It was pretty hard to kill mobs initially and I had to heal myself like 3 or 4 times just to kill a single crab, but after getting a few gear upgrades which had like triple the stats of what I was wearing my shaman started WINDFURYing things to death in 2 seconds again. I mean really… some mace dropped with 871 spellpower on it wtf. I think my previous caster mace from Northrend had 303 spellpower… I guess most people were decked out in the free epics from facerolling the later half of WotLK and probably wouldn’t have been as impressed but I still feel shocked seeing gear with like 400 stamina on it. Can’t help but recall the times when I was raiding Molten Core and people would drool all over the Azuresong Magebladewhich had… gasp! 50 spellpower!!!! Funny how the game has changed…

The end of the quest line leads to the new Throne of the Tides instance. I tried it out as DPS first, since I hadn’t done any healing till now and didn’t want to go into an instance totally unfamiliar with my bars and spells. On that topic, respeccing seems to have changed a lot now. I was expecting the usual 10 silver cost to respec for the first time from my elemental dual-spec to resto, but it cost 29 gold instead… seems to be related to how many talent points have already been spent. Not only that, but the dust to change glyphs cost 10 gold per glyph change for characters above 80! Ouch… Anyway, back to Throne of the Tides. Was quite an interesting instance and not too long. A bit confusing since I had no idea what was going on, but that’s why I went in as DPS. Spam buttons and piakpiakpiak!!! The boss fights are quite interesting and much better than the Wrath-style fights which all boil down to “hit boss, move out of bad stuff kill, adds when they come”. I especially liked the squid-headsucker boss, he reminded me of a Justice League episode I had randomly watched about Starro the facehugger starfish. I’m sure someone at Blizzard must have watched that too, the similarities are uncanny. Anyway a dps shaman makes Starro cry, since his Lava Bursts instantly got interrupted and his Absorb Magic buff gets immediately purged. Ahh I love my shaman…

After finishing Vashj’ir, I went to Hyjal even though it was the same level as Vashj’ir. I need to get Hyjal rep eventually anyway, so might as well. I think the Blackrock Caverns instance is unlocked here, but I never managed to run it (although my wife did) and now I can’t go back using the dungeon finder since I’m too high level. Hyjal quests were fun but nothing really much to say about them, although I did like the final battle against Ragnaros. Seems strange to fight him until he retreats and Cenarius says “We can only defeat him in his own elemental plane” when I very obviously killed Ragnaros dozens of times in Molten Core 🙂 It’s not like he retreats there either, I mean he obviously drops down dead in front of the raid and gives you his hand.

Now I’m 84 and questing in Deepholm. I’ve since also done Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle as resto. Stonecore isn’t very enjoyable to heal and feels very long, even on normal. Plus I once had to heal a 4 melee group in back-to-back runs. Talk about ouch… Vortex Pinnacle is much easier to heal although the bosses are a bit more boring since they are almost tank and spank. I can’t access the other dungeons yet because I haven’t discovered the entrance yet, so I’m going to be holding off on instancing for a while until I hit 85 and unlock the other dungeons. After 85 I still intend to go through Uldum and Twilight Highlands, not to mention Tol Barad and the new BGs.

So far there’s still tons of content left for me to enjoy, so I’m looking forward to seeing lots of new stuff. Even though I haven’t done any heroics yet, I really hope Blizzard doesn’t listen to all the whiners out there and revert back to Wrath-style stupidly easy dungeons. I love the new instances so far, especially when done with proper CC and nice pulling. During my first Stonecore run, some idiot rogue started chafing that the tank was too slow and pulled the first pack by himself (“gogogo!”) while the tank was marking the kill order. I was still setting up my bars when suddenly the whole group started taking massive damage. The next 5 minutes were filled with me spamming my buttons like a blind monkey trying to find the “open” button in front of a peanut dispensing machine. Greater Healing Wave! No wait that’s too slow, Riptide! What’s this Unleash Elements thing, mash it mash it! Oh wait I don’t have earthliving weapon on… I’m running out of mana?!? Doh water shield fell off… chain heal! Bugger that only 1 guy in range??? Mummy!

Somehow we got through that without anyone dying and after being berated by the tank for pulling, the idiot rogue initiated a vote kick against the tank for being “too slow”. Well guess what, he gets 1 strike for being a rogue (therefore useless by definition). 2nd strike for being from Jubei’thos, and I hate the name Jubei (there was an annoying griefer in Duris who went by that name). This was the 3rd strike since I like tanks who mark kill orders instead of charging in like stupid Wrath babies. So I rejected his vote kick and vote kicked the rogue instead for being annoying. Guess I wasn’t alone in my sentiments since he instantly got booted and no one was surprised when a replacement DPS got in immediately. Kek I like this kick feature.

Hopefully the tougher instances will actually teach players how to play properly, or at least encourage the stupider portion of the player-base to quit. That would instantly raise the quality of WoW drastically and make Cataclysm a resounding success in my opinion.

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New year, new(ish) start

Well that was an extended holiday. After spending a week at my in-laws place, I then managed to skip work and stay at home for the next two weeks due to Christmas and end of year holidays. So what was I doing?

Mean and green

Yeah I’ve been bitten by the WoW bug again and resubscribed for Cataclysm, despite all my earlier attempts to convince myself not to. I had started getting the urge to resubscribe before going on my trip, but decided to hold off until after to make the decision. No point paying Blizzard for 1 week when I’m not going to have internet access. But I discovered that I could make a trial account and play through the starter areas for free for 10 days, which is a pretty good deal since the revamped starter areas and lowbie zones in Azeroth were one of the big features in the expansion. No Burning Crusade or Cataclysm races though, just the plain old classic characters. Of course first I had to go through a few days of IT hell trying to get Blizzard’s new streaming client to work, but eventually discovered that the problem was due to my still using Windows XP Service Pack 2 instead of the 3. After upgrading, everything was good to go and some other applications that weren’t working before are now ok too, which was an added bonus. So after getting everything set up, I puttered around with a gnome warlock and human hunter for a few days to see if I still enjoyed WoW enough to resubscribe.

Turns out I did. The new starting areas are a blast, and the quests are hilarious. I am convinced that the main target of this expansion is not new players, but actually ex-WoW players. There must have been a very sizable number of people that cancelled their accounts in Wrath of the Lich King, judging by the feedback from developers about how they tried to improve Cataclysm. The various changes in the lowbie areas would make much more sense to returning players who would know what it was like before the Shattering. I think a really new player would be quite puzzled at being told by the quest giver that “this area that used to have lots of trolls has now been taken over by troggs, which were forced out of their underground lairs by Deathwing!” To them it would be like… “um ok so this place has troggs… that was a lot of extra information that meant nothing…”

I was also particularly tickled by one quest in Dun Morogh in which you have to protect a ram farm from being raided… and the rewards were a bunch of white gear called Robes of the Endless Raider and Boots of the Nightly Raid 🙂 Really reminded me of my old raiding days haha, and again something that would be totally lost on a real new player.

Anyways after finding myself enjoying the trial, I was kinda still twibbling about it until my wife told me to just go resubscribe 😛 The monthly sub isn’t a big deal since she was going back to work, and I think she was getting tired of me wuffling around and would rather me just be happy. She’s such a sweetie when it comes to me. So with the permission of the Chief Financial Officer, I paid for the Cataclysm digital download and resubscribed for 1 month since I wasn’t that sure how long I was going to play. With the current low USD exchange rate, it’s not that much although I later found that I could buy the box version cheaper. So that was my Christmas present of sorts.

Since I had decided to start afresh on a new server, we picked Thaurissian since one of our friends was playing there and he said there were a ton of Singaporeans on the Horde side. Fits all my criteria, since I wanted to play Horde having never gotten past 60 with a Horde character, and I wanted to try a PvP server just to see how it was. Turns out that the Alliance side on Thaurissian has been thoroughly beaten into submission though, the server is just totally Horde dominated and to date I think I’ve only ever seen 2 Alliance players so there wasn’t even much PvP.

The economy on Thaurissian is totally insane though, or maybe I’m just not used to the gold inflation that has been going on since I stopped. Thaurissian is also one of the older Oceanic servers, so maybe there’s a lot of excess gold floating around. A single goldthorn herb can sell for 20 gold, and simple peacebloom and silverleaf sell for about 70 silver per herb. Prices fluctuate insanely, with stuff selling for 1 gold in the morning that can be resold for 5 gold in the evening. This is really surprising since the server population is high, and all the players are concentrated on the Horde side. I’d have thought that money-minded Singaporeans would dominate the economy, but it turns out that all the usual money making tricks still work and there’s plenty of room for arbitrage. My wife has taken over the trading activities again and in the short span of one week has gone from 0 to 3750 gold. Ok fine many people make thousands of gold per day, but we’re starting out with absolutely nothing here. At least we don’t have to worry about gold for training and mounts.

I say we because my wife has actually been playing just as much as me. I created a goblin shaman, to play through the goblin starter zone and because I love shamans. The plan is to eventually go resto with elemental dual spec, so I can concentrate on caster gear. But for levelling, enhancement still seems faster with no downtime so we are currently enhancement with elemental dual spec. I had thought that she was sick of WoW and hadn’t shown any inclination of wanting to play, but surprisingly she seems to be enjoying herself a lot levelling the shaman and running through instances with the new (to us) dungeon finder. Which has actually been a great surprise too, queue times as DPS are still quite fast and most of the instances have been great, if a bit rushed. Of course there were quite a few failures and assholes but it’s much less than I was expecting. It’d be perfect if she decided to resubscribe too, then we could play together on a few nights. She won’t be able to play as much once she starts working though, so I doubt Scrooge McDuck will be willing to spend the money on herself even though she’s happy to let me spend it, despite it actually being quite insignificant compared to the money we easily shell out for our son’s toys. In the meantime, with the holidays and both of us being at home, the shaman has made it to level 55 in a single week. Wow, seems pretty fast… flying mounts in 5 more levels!

Another of our friends has decided to resubscribe and start a goblin shaman on Thaurissian too, so I also made a new Tauren pally to play together and tank through instances. I’ve never played a prot pally before, so it’s something totally new to me. Guess it’s a good time to learn since I don’t have any preconceptions about the class and thus won’t be confused by the huge changes to paladins. The plan is to get to 15 and start doing random dungeons together, me being the tank, our original friend creating a goblin priest to heal and the goblin shaman will be one of the damage dealers. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some instance runs in at night without being too interrupted by our son, who at least seems to be sleeping a bit better now.