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Mini Pic Post: Loti Attack. December 10, 2012

Posted by Ben in Pandaria, Zones.
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I promise it’s not a hack…

Screenshot 12:10:12 1:22 PM

Wow.

 

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Daily Quests: The Good and The PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME! December 7, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Pandaria.
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The WoW Blogosphere has been endlessly debating the idea of daily quests since we landed on the shores of Pandaria. Whether they’re required, how many are required, blah blah blah. But I think the biggest problem, is that not all of the daily quests provided to us are “good” daily quests. Or put another way, they aren’t quests that are enjoyable.

But what makes an enjoyable daily quest? Ignoring the people who don’t like questing at all (sorry guys and gals, but you’re already a lost cause) what works and what doesn’t?

For me, a daily quest loses its fun-ness when:

  • NPCs are stacked so closely together that I’m forced to either always fight multiples or respawn so quickly that you always fight a long chain.
  • NPCs needed for the quest are sparse
  • Drop rate of quest item is low
  • Quest mechanic is difficult in a way that skill doesn’t help with

Examples of these quests are:

  • Unleashed Spirits in Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Has anyone ever killed only 12?
  • The Spirit Trap in Krasarang Wilds. If there are more than three other players in this cave, good luck.
  • Specimen Request in The Dread Wastes. And I already mentioned Fatty Goatsteak.
  • Stunning Display in Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Objective is right at the water line, and has a limited time before it swims away, some dev was feeling spiteful.

I’ve thought a fair bit about this since 5.1 dropped and introduced four new sets of dailies with the arrival of the Horde/Alliance on the shores of Pandaria, because I think this might overall be the most successful reputation grind they’ve ever put together. But of the clusters, only two of them are truly successful in my mind. From the Horde perspective, the clusters that takes place directly around Domination Point and Lion’s Landing are well-crafted. They strongly highlight the war aspect of the story without forcing any actual PvP on players. The NPCs to be killed are plentiful but loosely spaced, and the quest objectives/mechanics are interesting but not overly difficult. The cluster centered around the Goblin oil drilling/deforestation is a mixed bag. The story of the patch is lost in collecting crab meat for a goblin princess we’ve never seen before. The questing area is too loosely packed and some of the quest objectives are too sparse, but it’s not a bad overall experience.

And then The Ruins of Ogudei is just a mess. I’m a huge fan of questing in caves in WoW. Part of it goes back to when I played on a lesser computer and caves were less taxing on the system, allowing me to play more easily, but this cluster of dailies almost ruins all the goodwill towards caves I’d built up. I already mentioned the Spirit Trap quest, but this cluster also includes clusters of mobs that are tightly packed together, resulting in larger than intended pulls. A pool of water in one cavern that seems to serve no purpose other than to cause grief. And except for killing 12 Alliance soldiers, there is little connection to the greater story of the patch.

So what makes daily quests work for you? What makes you turn away?

Splitting Focus October 20, 2012

Posted by Ben in Classes, Leveling, Pandaria.
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I told myself that I wasn’t going to send a second character into Pandaria until at least Halloween. I guess the week that Hallow’s End starts is sort of the same thing.

I’ve gotten the Paladin to a good spot where most of his immediate upgrades will come from heroic dungeons. I’ve accepted a casual enough play-style that while I’m making slow progress with The Golden Lotus/Klaxxi, I’m not concerned that I haven’t unlocked the Valor Point rewards yet (I don’t even have enough to buy anything anyway). I’m making good money selling what I grow on my farm and gaining four [Mote of Harmony] a day. I do Tillers dailies when I have the time in the morning after harvesting/replanting (I hate the days when I have to clear out multiple vermin from my farm, such a waste of time), but now I’m using that extra time to take a crack at the Headless Horseman for his helm, mount and ring. This is the first Hallow’s End where I’ve had a plate-wearing class that could use the helm, and thus far the RNG is quite spiteful on all counts.

So last weekend, I made the decision that another character would venture out. My initial plan had been for the Shadow Priest to go next. My Cataclysm main and Enchanter/Jewelcrafter seemed a good choice. Especially since he’s my only high-level Archaeologist. But his crafting professions are already  maxed out, and my Hunter and her engineering are pretty much stuck at 575 until she gets some [Spirit of Harmony] or the Darkmoon Faire rolls around a few more times. And after leveling a character that seemed to need to spam Word of Glory just to stay alive at times, I wanted someone with a bit more survival, less down time and more offensive cooldowns. (And I won’t lie, the prospect of having some [Mist-Piercing Goggles] for my stable of characters is quite appealing, even if Ghost Iron does grow like a weed) So Thursday morning, the Hunter left the safety of Orgrimmar for the Jade Forest.

I’ve only gotten as far as routing the Alliance at Strongarm Airstrip (subtle name, Blizz), but already I can tell the difference. Retribution has always been more of a necessary evil to me when playing a Paladin, as I much prefer the Protection skill set, but Prot’s just a bit too slow for leveling. My thunder serpent and I are rolling along taking names. And while I’m not a role-player, I do have a sense of how my different characters would react to situations, and thinking in the back of my mind about the quests from the perspective of a merciless Dark Ranger as opposed to a noble Sunwalker is entertaining. Gotta recruit more soldiers for Sylvanas somehow, right?

Only two disappointments/hiccups so far:

  1. The Sha-touched tigers outside Honeydew Village don’t keep their cool black and grey striping after being tamed, and instead revert to the standard orange.
  2. I keep forgetting to transmog the gun I crafted into something a bit less…loud. Good lord that’s an annoying sound. Is there anyone out there that likes it?

Pokem…err, Pet Battles October 3, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Leveling, Pandaria.
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My blogging partner, Stormy, has given his opinion about Pet Battles. He doesn’t like them, isn’t interested in them. And that’s cool. This feature is probably the first WoW feature that is totally optional.

However, I find it enthralling. And for a number of reasons:

I played (and continue to play) Pokemon sporadically. I’ve owned at least one of the cartridges from each generation of the handheld version of the game, and a few of the console versions. Pet Battles take the best part of those games (the battles) and leaves out the more annoying aspects (stopping every five steps in a cave to fight another Zubat that awards negligible xp). Now I have one of my pre-WoW game obsessions available to me in my current game obsession!

It gets me back into the world. I have too many characters that have been practically been parked in Orgrimmar since they reached level 85. So my hunter has become my unofficial “pet battler.” She can stay in whichever inn she likes closest to the appropriate level mini-pets (currently level 10). And when I have a level 1 critter to get going, one of my Org-bound toons can kill some dung beetles to get going. Then, once I’ve unlocked the “dailies” portion of the content, I’ll probably designate an alt to each continent to cut down a little on travel time. I may eventually abandon the capital city altogether.

It’s fast. In the mornings before I leave for work I usually have about 20 minutes while I eat breakfast to putz around the internet. It’s not enough time to make any significant progress on daily quests, but I can now devote this time to doing daily profession gem cut discovery/glyph research and then squeeze in a handful or two pet battles before I have to head out the door.

The speed of the battles will lend itself to filling in those small gaps of inactivity better. Waiting a few minutes for that third guildie to be ready for a scenario or LFD? Suit up your mini-gladiators. LFR queue? Pet battles. Got fifteen minutes to kill before the raid? Go.

But not to be entirely gushy about the feature, I do have a few criticisms:

I wish the matrix of strengths and weaknesses was a bit more complex. Only having one type of attack that’s good against a certain type of pet is limiting. I know Blizzard wants this to be a simple mini-game, and I’m not asking for mixed-type pets, but if Beast attacks could be good against more than just Critters it’d make picking a team a bit more interesting. Especially early on when almost all the pets in the early zones are either Beasts or Critters.

There’s also little information about the relative accuracy of certain attacks. My Darkmoon Monkey has an attack that drops three stacks of bananas on the target, and then does damage over time. Except it seems that only one of the three stacks of bananas actually hits the target. A certain chance to miss is obviously required, but tell me so I can be prepared.

A more efficient way to heal a single pet would also be appreciated. There’s the eight-minute cooldown heal everyone button and the “whenever you want for 10 silver” heal from the Stable Master, but I don’t have a way to top off one pet in between battles. A crafted First Aid bandage that healed a set percentage of health (say 40%) with a cooldown short enough to be used after every other fight or so would smooth things out. Sometimes you get a bad match-up of types or an unlucky string of misses (either attacks or in capturing), so why not? Although it is nice that Stable Masters now have a purpose for the other ten classes in the game.

Pandaria: The First Week October 1, 2012

Posted by Stormy in Pandaria.
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Many greetings, friends of the Grummles! I feel like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” is such a cheap and cheesy way to organize things, but I’m going to do it anyway…

The Good:

1. Pandaria itself. Pandaria is beautiful. Valley of the Four Winds is, hands down, my favorite zone in the game. I’ve always loved Nagrand and Tirisfal Glades, but Valley of the Four Winds blows them all away. When I first saw the giant fountain/dam carved into the mountain in the Valley I just sat there in awe and took screnshots. (Valley of the Four Winds gets a 9/10 from me–I’m deducting a full point for the Larry the Cable Guy reference simply because it completely jerked me out of my immersion and made me think “A Larry the Cable Guy reference? Really, Blizzard?” Visually this is some of the best work Blizzard has ever done.

2. I know I’m a weirdo, but I love “kill ten rats” quests. They’re easy and quick, and they actually let me play my class the way I want to play it.

3. Also on the questing front, I love the “inhabit the body of an NPC and do a mini-scenario in their shoes” quests in Jade Forest. They can be buggy, but they’re fun to do and very immersive.

4. Most professions seem fairly easy to level, and mats are plentiful. You can’t swing a dead hozen in Jade Forst without hitting a ghost iron node, which provides a steady income for my orphaned raiding toon on Azuremyst and a steady supply of mats for my jewelcrafter on Garrosh. I do think it’s interesting that they’ve brought back location requirements for crafting, at least for Imperial Silk, which must be crafted in Silken Fields in the Valley of the Four Winds. I was under the impression this had gone the way of the dodo in Wrath.

5. I. Love. Halfhill. I know I’ve already gushed about Valley of the Four Winds, but Halfhill is my new favorite place in the game. If only it had trainers and an auction house I’d never leave. (As it is, I’ve taken to logging out of the game and posting my auctions with my phone–mobile AH for the win.) I haven’t yet figured out how to crack open the vendors and start earning rep (and I don’t appreciate the Golden Carp gatingfor the so-called easy cooking leveling) but I don’t even care. Halfhill is amazing.

6. Wherein I am slightly hypocritical: I was pretty vocal of my hatred of the pygmies in Uldum. They’re brown, wear turbans and speak gibberish. They’re racist, plain and simple. So why is it that I love their Pandarian equivalent, the Grummles? They’re so adorable, yet loyal and friendly, and I can’t get enough of them!

The Bad:

1. I’m sorry,  I know there’s a debate raging about this in various corners of the internet, but the leveling grind is too damned long. I have, at a minimum, four toons that are going to need to be leveled to 90 ASAP (both my priests as my co-mains on the Alliance and Horde sides, my jewelcrafting druid and my paladin the scribe) and the prospect of doing this four times just makes me nauseous.

2. Something’s going to have to give when it comes to Spirits of Harmony. I’ve been questing since last Wednesday morning and I’ve collected a grand total of three of them. They’re BoP, extremely rare, and not really farmable like Chaos Orbs. You can “grow” them at your farm in Halfhill, one mote at a time, at the expense of all your other cooking mats if you wish.

3. Look, I know database space isn’t cheap, and I know Blizzard is actively cutting expenses when it comes to WoW (Oh come on, you really thought CRZ’s were there to help the playerbase? With CRZ’s Blizzard only has to run 5 copies of Outland, not 200+). I can respect that. There are over nine million active accounts, and given that most people have at least ten toons, that’s a lot of database entries to track all the crap in our bags. I get it. Still, it’s time for more bag space. If we’re going to have transmog sets, a gazillion different crafting materials, tons of cool trinkety-things with on-use effects and all that nonsense, it’s time for more bag space. I’m not even a hardcore transmog fan or hardcore crafter and I’m already screaming for bag space.

The Ugly:

1. Just one: Kun-Lai Summit. Kun-Lai Summit reminds me far too much of pre-Cataclysm Aszhara, and not in a good way. It’s dark, cold, dreary and depressing, not to mention far too long and repetitive. “Oh, look, my friend is possessed by a Sha! Kill the Sha! Kill it again! Kill it six thousand times!” OK, I get it. It’s also nearly impossible to get around in without a flying mount. I understand the decision to make us live without flying mounts until 90, but Kun-Lai is far too difficult to get around in without it.

I should probably be doing less blogposting and more leveling. I’m only halfway through 88 on my first character, and I really would like to get at least one Alliance toon and one Horde toon to 90 as soon as possible. I knew I was a slow leveler, but this is insane.

 

EDIT! I completely forgot to complain about the one thing I actually came here to complain about!

The Ugliest:

1. A few weeks ago during the beta I wrote a post about how pet battles was the lamest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Now that I’ve had a chance to actually play a pet battle on live, I stand by that assessment 100%. They’re boring, they require exactly zero intellectual investment, and they have zero effect on your character whatsoever. If someone at Blizzard actually wanted to take the time to program this, they should have bought the rights to the Pokemon IP from whoever owns it and released Pokemon Online. As it is, there are plenty of bugs (CRZ I’m looking at you) and plenty of other things that could have/should have been implemented with the MoP launch (Theramore story I’m looking at you) and yet they spent god-knows-how-many man hours coding and debugging this garbage.

One Week In October 1, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Leveling, Pandaria, Zones.
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I spent a very large chunk of the weekend wandering Pandaria. And I think we all need some refreshers on basic questing/leveling/farming etiquette.

  1. You are not entitled to the node. If we’re both racing towards the Ghost Iron Deposit, whoever gets there first gets it. No reason to use nasty emotes. Same goes for kills and quest items.
  2. If someone is killing an NPC next to a node or quest item, consider it tapped. Don’t steal it out from under them. We’ve all been on the receiving end of this one, when we tried to get to the ore, only to have something spawn nearby. You hate it when it happens to you, don’t do it to other people. The only exception is when you’ve watched that player pass up other similar herbs/ore.
  3. Invite other players of your faction in the immediate vicinity to help with killing a rare mob. I’ve noticed that many of them hit like trucks and more people increases your chance of success. You might have to share the loot, but a dead player gets nothing.
  4. If  a quest area is particularly heavy with players and the quest is a simple “Kill 10 of X.” Don’t be shy and try to group up to share kills.

*****

As for a personal update, Bullrushed is now 89 and nearing the end of Kun-Lai Summit after clearing Jade Forest, Valley of the Four Winds and Krasarang Wilds. I’ve tanked Temple of the Jade Serpent, Stormstout Brewery (twice) and Mogu’shan Palace (I think that’s the name) with a fair amount of success. Some boss fights I can only describe as chaotic, since reading about the mechanics doesn’t always do much for understanding what will happen.

Despite other people’s complaints about the way quests reward gear, I’ve had no problem maintaining both my Retribution and Protection sets. Of particular use is the dungeon quests that award a spec-specific item. They may not be optimal stat-wise, they are staying within 5-10 ilevel points of each other. My biggest challenge has been trying to stay near to the Level+2 hit & expertise caps, especially with Orgrimmar now so out-of-the-way to run back and reforge any new piece of gear.

Profession-wise this is the best expansion ever. I’ve mined up somewhere close to or over 1000 Ghost Iron Ore, because I chase every yellow dot on the screen I can get to. As a result, I have gotten Bullrushed’s Blacksmithing to the point where I’m waiting to get to level 90 to learn more patterns. I’ve prospected huge piles of gems on Elrush (Auto-Prospect is a feature that Blizz would do well to add) and am now doing the daily blue gem learning discoveries. He’s gotten enough things to disenchant from crafting and Bullrushed’s BoE green drops that he’s at 596 Enchanting. My mage-tailor (Rushie) has been on the receiving end of lots of cloth and had gotten about as far as she’ll get (585ish) until it’s her turn to adventure and is crafting gear for herself and my warlock who dinged 85 and promptly camped in Orgrimmar in gear from Deepholm. All in all, I think Blizz has finally figured how to make leveling professions flow nicely.

Oh, and I’ve got a team of level 10 mini-pets. Woo!

Rush’s First Impressions September 27, 2012

Posted by Ben in Pandaria.
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Quick Post!

  1. Holy Multiple Profession Skill Points Per craft, Batman! – I’ve already leveled Blacksmithing into the 560s range and I’m not done with Jade Forest yet! The only downside is the severe lack of items to use as disenchant fodder.
  2. Gorgeous Vistas! – I played through the original Alliance quest line in the beta, so I knew the zone was gorgeous, but if it’s possible the northern part of the zone where the Horde lands is even more spectacular. It’s also great to see Blizzard return to crafting zones in a way that allows for the little subregions to be defined by hills or forests
  3. Quests – I thought the introductory chain with the assault on Thunder Hold was great. I was playing it Tuesday evening, and while there were a good number of other players, there were plenty of Alliance to slaughter (although when I got to the Sha phase the dynamic respawn did get a little hairy).
  4. Gear Models – I’m loving the golden color of my paladin’s gear, and I was a little disappointed that the 2h mace and axe I was awarded early on were downgrades. Thank the Blizz for transmorgification! (Also helped hide the hideously clashing 397 belt that is stubbornly refusing to be upgraded)
  5. Being tied to the ground – Except for missing out on being able to easily get to mining nodes, I’ve hardly noticed that I can’t fly. Plus I’m finally getting to enjoy my Sunwalker Kodos (leveling through dungeons doesn’t lend itself to many opportunities to mount up).

A Hero Emerges September 15, 2012

Posted by Ben in Pandaria, Uncategorized.
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When I Stormy invited me to start writing for this blog, I had a vision of writing about the zones themselves and exploring their changes. One post that I wrote was of particular popularity (The Moral Quandary of Westfall) where I wrote a first-person perspective of questing through the zone and how the events left me feeling less than heroic.

I want to write more things like this as Mists of Pandaria unfolds. As my Tauren Paladin quests through zones, dungeons, scenarios and eventually raids, you’ll see his adventures reflected here, in addition to my own ramblings about game mechanics and such.

But without further ado, an introduction to our hero…

********

I miss being a youngling on the rolling plains of Mulgore. Standing on one of the towering bluffs of my people’s capital, I could see the village of the Bloodhoof clan nestled into a curve of the largest lake in the region. I remember learning to ride a kodo along the shoreline, racing my fellow paladin initiates, being scolded by our mentors for indulging our pride.

With a sigh, I look back down at the letter than had been delivered earlier that day. The aid that I’d been able to provide to Thrall and the Dragonflights against Deathwing had raised my profile considerably. But when the Maelstrom no longer threatened to rip the world apart, I only wished to return home.

Colonel Bullrushed Sunwalker,

The Horde has need of your service once again. We have received word of Alliance activities in Theramore that must not be allowed to continue. You are required to present yourself to the Warchief with all due haste.

Lok’tar Ogar!

General Lorak Stonejaw, 3rd Army of Orgrimmar

Shield and mace slung across my back I climbed the wyvern roost as the time for my departure neared. I was far more comfortable making the trip on a light-blessed kodo of my order, but the urgency of my summons would not allow that luxury. I summoned the strength of the Light to overcome my fear as I mounted the tamed creature.

As the city faded into the distance behind me I prayed for a smooth flight and that Lady Proudmoore’s reputation for peace and diplomacy wasn’t undeserved.

So much to do, just not yet August 25, 2012

Posted by Ben in Classes, Leveling, Pandaria.
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“The launch” is a month away.

In 31 days, I’ll go from wondering what to do with my time in the game to having a glut of options. And I’m a little overwhelmed. I feel like I need to make a “plan” of some sort.

Leveling – Obviously the first priority. Earlier this week, I laid out that I’m starting with the Paladin. And if I can manage it, he will be the only toon/character/avatar that ventures into the wilds of Pandaria until at least Hallow’s End. I learned from the intense zone burnout of Cataclysm that pushing the entire stable to max level all at once isn’t a good idea.

Monk – Back into the warm embrace of the dungeon finder. I think I want to go Tank/Healer with this, and I do have the heirlooms to support it. Maybe switching roles to help with the repetitive nature of running Uldaman for the umpteenth time.

Pet Battles – So excited. Building and leveling my new stable will require a fair amount of travel and being out in the world, so I think I’m going to designate the Hunter as my “pet trainer.”

Archaeology – Probably lowest on my priority list. My Associate Professor is my Priest, and I’m probably content for him to continue puttering through the Old World working on rares (like that damned Clockwork Gnome) until it’s his turn to level. Added side benefit: leveling Archaeology provides experience.

Professions – Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, Enchanting, Tailoring, Inscription, Leatherworking, Alchemy, Engineering. All over 500. I’ll be watching the Auction House like a hawk for great deals on herbs, because none of my herbalists will see the fields of Pandaria for some time.

Dailies, Scenarios & Dungeons – Follows directly after completing leveling, and is the other reason I’m going to try to focus on a single character. Burnout is the enemy, and I am determined to keep him at bay.

Raids – Given the super-casual nature of my gaming, this will be LFR-only, and I’m okay with that. Given the recent announcement of how they’re going to extend the rollout of said dungeons, I’ve got two weeks before the first one is open and now close to two months before it’s all available. And while I think this staggered release is caused by stupid complaints, I’m more than happy to have the flexibility to not work my way through Pandaria at my own pace.

Well, looks like I want to do pretty much everything…except PvP. How about you?

Main Change August 22, 2012

Posted by Ben in Classes, Leveling, Pandaria.
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Burning Crusade? Rogue.

Wrath of the Lich King? Druid.

Cataclysm? Priest.

Each expansion has seen me with a different main character. Changes to leveling (and elimination of deadzones) allowed me to level several classes to max level in Burning Crusade, and I discovered a love for a new class by the time Arthas attacked. A server change to join a Horde guild made the Blood Elf priest I’d leveled as a side project and grown to enjoy a more economical option. And I stormed the gates of Icecrown in Shadowform. Now as Deathwing’s sparkly death fades into memory, I find myself shifting again.

Up until a few weeks ago, I’d intended for the Priest to be the first to make landfall in Pandaria. He’s an Enchanter and a Jewelcrafter, and those are two things the rest of my stable will need. Another character was sure to follow quickly on the heels, because well, our little gang was going to need some support roles, and I have just never been fond of priest healing (not that I can honestly given it a real chance). But then Stormy and I were chatting, and he reminded me that what fun it was to be slogging through Deepholm for the third time in the first month of the expansion, and I remembered by my formerly Primary Alt (the Druid who was my main at the start of wrath who’d had an unfortunate accident with some Gnomish technology and become a Tauren) didn’t reach level 85 until a few months ago. Okay, part of it was that I didn’t enjoy Balance’s Eclipse style in solo play, and was too afraid to attempt healing, but mostly it was because somewhere in the middle of Uldum, I just couldn’t force myself to do another quest. Even now, other alts that land in Deepholm or Uldum find their leveling speed drop significantly. So, I’ve decided that my main has to change again.

Mists of Pandaria? Paladin.

I get to benefit from short queue times by leveling a tank first, and faster Holy Power generation will make questing as Ret less like watching paint dry (although I remember leveling as a DPS Holy paladin back in BC, and that was truly glacial). Plus as Mining/Blacksmith, he can split the ore between his own profession and the Priest’s jewelcrafting. And our intrepid triad of guildies won’t be all-cloth (Stormy’s a Priest and Suz a Warlock).

How about you? Is your MoP main going to be different from the one who started Cataclysm