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Ch-ch-ch-changes October 24, 2012

Posted by Stormy in Guild Stuff, Raiding.
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I’ll admit that I’m kind of odd: I love reading “what I’m doing in WoW” posts from other bloggers, but I never write them. I just assume other people don’t really give a rip what I’m doing in-game. Writing one of these once in a while never hurt anybody, right?

Toward the end of Wrath, Ben, Suzanne, and I packed up our things (along with some other disaffected guildies) and started our own guild, Sane Asylum of Garrosh. I love my guild beyond all reason. I love our founding principles, I love our open and welcoming atmosphere and our commitment to diversity, I love our commitment to helping each other out, I even love our tabard. We left our old guild in August 2010, and shortly thereafter a bunch of folks from our old guild followed. We built a raid team, and on the night we killed the Lich King I really felt like we’d accomplished something. Like all good things in life, it didn’t last.

The remnants are still there. I still have seven toons in Sane Asylum, and I’m still GM. A couple weeks ago I convinced a coworker to come back to WoW, and he needed help getting back up to speed gear-wise. Ben reached into his own bags and magically pulled out a bunch of Ghost Iron and made a complete gear set. My friend offered to pay for it or to exchange goods of similar value, and Ben declined. That’s just…how we roll, and it’s how we’ve always rolled. It’s irreplaceable, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else in the world.

However, the reality of the situation is that I am terrible at managing and growing a guild. I tried it for a long time, and failed miserably. At this point, every single person that I’ve recruited to join our guild has either left or quit the game. Sure, a lot of that is my fault, but a lot of it is that we’re simply too small to consistently offer the kinds of things that keep people around–organized events, PvP, a raid team, etc. Scenarios are going to be perfect for our guild because the three of us can do them together, but we’re unlikely to do much more than that.

As guilty as I feel about it, and as much as I feel like I’m completely abandoning the guild that I helped build, I need more, too. If I relegated myself to the things that I can do in a three-person guild it’s pretty much scenarios, occasional dungeon runs and leveling alts, and I’ve done all that. I did it all through Cataclysm, to the point where I had six 85s. But in the new Mists of Grindaria world, the thought of maintaining six max-level characters is mind-numbing, if not nigh-on impossible. I need more fulfillment from my WoW than that.

A couple weeks before Cataclysm ended I Twitter-stalked my friend Nymphy and moved my only max-level Alliance toon to Eff the Ineffable of Azuremyst, and they were kind enough to adopt a wayward shadow priest. Heck, ten minutes after I joined the guild they dragged my massively undergeared butt through a full clear of Dragon Soul, a sure sign that yes, they were willing to put up with my shit if I let them. I mostly sit on the sidelines of guild chat since I don’t really know anyone yet, but I’m warming up to a few guildies via Twitter. They’re all kind, respectful individuals who (mostly) behave like adults and treat each other well, and although I feel like an alien in a completely foreign universe, I like what I’ve seen so far. Our first official raid is on Friday evening, and part of me is so psyched I can’t even handle it, and part of me is scared shitless that I’m going to make a fool out of myself. I want to do well, and I want to smash faces in Mogu’shan Vaults. These guys deserve that.

(Side note because I’m a good guildie: We have a reasonably full, well-balanced raid team. As a member of #TeamPriest I’m scared to death of what’s going to happen to our priest healers (both Holy and Disc are getting their collective asses kicked on World of Logs), but we’ll manage. However, if you happen to be a wayward rogue or windwalker monk who wants to be adopted by a close-knit family of good people and help us smash faces, you can go to efftheineffable.com and we’d like to talk to you.)

And so, like sands through the hour glass, the tide marches on, and a whole bunch of other cliches. I did finally get my Horde main to 90 the other day and I’m looking forward to adventures with Suzanne and Ben, but this weekend I have a date with the inhabitants of Mogu’shan Vaults, and they’d better be ready. Eff the Ineffable is coming for them.



Splitting Focus October 20, 2012

Posted by Ben in Classes, Leveling, Pandaria.

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?

Things October 17, 2012

Posted by Stormy in Uncategorized.

Many random, discursive thoughts! Handle it!

I finished the available content in Cataclysm months ago, as soon as I had finished the three new Hour of Twilight randoms and Dragon Soul LFR. There just wasn’t any more content to see. I spent the next few months in Outland and Northrend, getting Loremaster, grinding rep with the Oracles, Sha’tari Skyguard, Cenarion Expedition, etc. I was done with the current expansion’s content, so I went back and did content from the previous two expansions. I expected my playtime to significantly increase with the release of MoP, and I was beyond excited to have new quests to do, new rep to grind, new dungeons…a whole new universe to explore. My playtime in MoP has actually been about half what it was in Cataclysm. I had today off, and I had the best of intentions to spend most of the day online getting my Horde main to 90, and yet I’ve logged in just long enough to turn over my crops and pick up some auction proceeds. The things I want to do are locked behind such an insurmountable wall of things I *have* to do that WoW is really starting to feel like homework. Instead of sitting here writing this post I *should* be online getting a few more heroic gear drops for my Alliance raiding main. I *should* be online getting my Horde main to 90 so I can engage in dungeon/scenario shenanigans with Ben and Suz. I *should* be doing Golden Lotus and Klaxxi dailies. I’ve actually resorted to blogposts as a way of procrastinating.

Kun-Lai Summit is the most depressing place on Azeroth. I hate everything about it, save the Yak Wash. Townlong Steppes isn’t much better, and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms isn’t either. You’re introduced to Pandaria in the Jade Forest, a verdant, lush landscape full of life, where you meet peaceful, jovial Pandaren who love a good beer and a good story. Then for the rest of your Pandaria experience you’re thrust into a landscape more boring than pre-Cataclysm Aszhara, where it’s cold, rocky, snowy, and…brown. Just…brown.

I’m not going to waste a lot of pixel ink bitching about dailies. It’s been said before, by people smarter than me. Most of the problem with dailies comes from a disconnect between the way Blizzard intended the dailies to be run, and the unbreakable mentality among the raiding set that all the faction reps and all the raids MUST BE DONE RIGHT NAO NAO NAO. It’s a year’s worth of content, and yet there’s a mentality that you’re some kind of subhuman slacker if you’re not exalted with the Golden Lotus, Klaxxi, Order of the Cloud Serpent and the Anglers right now, three weeks in. The one point I *haven’t* seen anyone make is that for most of the other rep grinds in the game, completing a daily gives 250, 350 or 550 faction rep. Golden Lotus dailies–with the guild perk–give 110. What. the. ever-living. fuck?

Yesterday, Apple Cider Mage posted an insightful post about sexism and rape culture in Mists. Really, this surprises you at this point? Blizzard has been coddling rape culture from day one, and they’re not about to stop now. I cringed and nearly lost my lunch the day the female Pandaren model was released–she’s a submissive, giggly geisha with vacant eyes and human breasts. She’s a celebration of a culture that objectifies and subjugates women. This isn’t some subtle nod to a tiny subset of the playerbase. It’s an extension of a culture that Blizzard has created and nurtured all along. If you can get through a random battleground pug without hearing the word “rape” at least five times, I’ll give you $100. Posters on the WoW subreddit are celebrated for having PvP “rape” macros. It’s not new, it’s not a secret, it’s not a small subset of the playerbase, and it’s not going away.

And so I sit on my quiet little farm in the Valley and reminisce about the good old days with my friend Farmer Yoon. I hope he gets the votes he needs to be a Tiller. Occasionally I’ll go take a whack at Darkmaster Gandling (I *love love love* the remodel of Scholomance and Scarlet Monastery) for loots. Until I can summon the energy to get my Horde main to 90, everything else is just homework.

Patience October 15, 2012

Posted by Ben in Uncategorized.

I decided yesterday that it was time to jump into Heroic 5-mans.  Since I only do “progression” dailies twice a week, this is going to be my primary means of getting better gear right now.

On the first spin of the wheel, I got Scarlet Halls. I’d done the level 30 version with my monk already, so I knew the basics of the fights, and this dungeon went fairly smoothly. At an avg item level of 446, I’m a bit squishy of a tank, but liberal use of Sacred Shield and Word of Glory along with a patient healer and we made it through. (Except for when I made a stupid mistake on New Herod and got caught in his Whirlwind, but he was almost dead anyway)

Feeling confident, I queued again. And got Shado-Pan Monastery.

I’ll admit that while doing ‘normals’ this was my least favorite of the dungeons. Trash mobs without loot tables and not readily obvious mechanics (like the cast-time invoking clicking of the dead panda being required to kill the associated mobs) made this dungeon often more frustrating than it was worth (especially once I’d reached level 90).

But we’d downed the first two bosses with little trouble. Then I committed Grave Tank Error #1. “Thou shalt be aware of your healer’s mana bar.” So we wiped on the second sha trash pack immediately following Master Snowdrift. The wipe was caused by caused by me committing Grave Tank Error #2 on the previous pull. “Don’t stand in the bad shit.” It turns out that something I didn’t learn on normal is that one of the sha trash mobs breath out this swirly black death that hurts pretty bad on heroic mode. And I was taking it right in the face and not moving out of the way. So my healer had to exhaust his mana to keep me alive, and then I took off for the next pack.

Wiping on trash is a pretty embarrassing thing for a tank. Or at least it is for me, so after we’d run back and rebuffed and then proceeded to wipe again on the same trash pack, I fully expected to watch the group fall apart. One of the DPS did leave, but after the healer asked my gear level, he continued to soldier on. I moved out of the bad and we continued on.

The Sha of Violence is fairly straightforward as a tank. Or so I thought. Hold aggro in the center of the room, and get it back quickly after Disorienting Smash. I also try to throw the occasional Judgment or Avenger’s Shield at the little shas to help kill them.

First attempt: Only one dpser was killing the little shas (my wonderful partner Suz) and the healer was swarmed. Other dpsers weren’t moving from the spikes. Wipe.

Second attempt: I tried to put more focus on killing little shas, but repeat of previous attempt.

Third attempt: Success. Mostly. The healer and one dps were dead on the floor, but so was the boss, so we collected the loot and moved on.

The rest of the dungeon went fairly smoothly, except for my rapidly fluctuating health bar. And please people, for the love of all that his holy (or whatever your healing spec might be called) stop standing on Taran’s the purple ring of death!

All this is a long, round about way of me figuring out that I need to invest the Spirits of Harmony into buying the Blacksmithing patterns for the ilvl 450 gear, and to thank the kind Monk Healer who was so patient and willing to stick with the group through five wipes.

Thank you, Taifu of whatever realm you came from.

Tilled Soil October 10, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging.

*stares at the dead horse*

I’m sorry. We’ve beaten you pretty hard.

*picks up a plank* *sets plank back down again*


I’m not jumping into the fray of “required” dailies. I’m too casual to care. And besides, I’m having too much fun with the potential of my farm. (and the Anglers and my golden Cloud Serpent)

I’ll admit that in the list of features for Pandaria, the Tillers wasn’t something I was that interested in. I’ve tried playing Farmville type games, and I just couldn’t get over the “wait X minutes” to harvest. If I have to wait, I need a way to augment the speed (like in The Sims or SimCity) or I need something else to do. So when a farm that I harvested once a day was announced, I was indifferent.

But now that I’ve got the farm half-open (with another section opening in the next day or two) and with the prospect of actually “farming” mats for professions. I’m super excited, and every day working through Tillers dailies to open up my farm. And I’ll probably have farms going on all of my maxed level toons eventually.

For two reasons:

  1. Motes/Spirits of Harmony

Anyone who has ever leveled Leatherworking knows what a pain that profession is. You have to pair it with Skinning, and is the only gathering profession that requires you to kill the node before looting it. And then usually only rewards one piece of leather (compared to the 2-9 Ore from various nodes) or even worse, scraps that have to be sewn together eventually. And while leveling, you’ll be killing things anyway, it becomes the worst kind of tedium when you’re at level cap.

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.

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).

Dark Choices September 20, 2012

Posted by Ben in Narrative.
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The continuing adventures of a Tauren Paladin…

I was grateful that our mission did not involve lurking in shadows. I had concerns when I was assigned to lead the incursion and the team was composed of two blood elves who delved in shadow magic. Tori had been recruited to be a soldier of the Light, but found greater pleasure in wielding shadow magic to exact retribution upon her foes. Suzanne had been a student of shadow magic from the beginning, and she treated her Felhound servant as others would treat a beloved dog. I’d worked with the pair of them occasionally during the campaign against Deathwing and knew them to be capable and honorable, but I remained cautious.

Our small craft drew close to the piers of Theramore as the main thrust of Garrosh’s assault withdrew from the city’s main gates. The attempted invasion hadn’t gone well, but an important blood elf mage had been taken hostage by Proudmoore’s forces, and Tori and Suzanne slipped off to search the boats in the harbor as I provided watch. My weapon and shield at the ready, I silenced the few soldiers patrolling the docks.

Tori and Suz soon reappeared at my side, grinning in a way that made me slightly uncomfortable, but I healed their wounds as they informed me that the mage must be somewhere inside Theramore. We had moved about a block into the city itself when I felt the force of a massive explosion behind me. I spun around to see all six ships moored in the harbor aflame and sinking into the water.

“No escape.” Suzanne mumbled with a dark glee.

“That was not the plan,” I said gruffly.

“Not your plan.” Tori replied. “But we don’t have time to debate it. We have to find the mage.”

I adjusted my grip on my shield as I reluctantly continued forward. My reservations with Garrosh’s methods had been steadily growing, but it seemed that not all members of the Horde shared my views.

My contemplation was interrupted by the screech of a gryphon above us. I raised my shield just in time to deflect the electrified hammer of the Wildhammer dwarf riding the fearsome beast, but I was still knocked to the ground. I managed to regain my composure as my companions assaulted him with shadows. I leapt into the fray releasing my Holy Judgment, demanding his attention be diverted from my less armored friends. The fight was intense but short, and the gryphon’s blood mixed with the dwarf’s on the stone street. I readjusted my armor as I continued down the road.

“Where are we going to find the mage in this city?” I asked no one in particular.

Tori smiled. “We could ask someone.”

A lone guard stood at the next crossroads and he hadn’t yet looked our way to see our approach. Tori spoke a few words, and I saw his posture shift slightly before he turned and walked towards us.

“Tell us where they’re holding the elf,” Suzanne demanded.

“He’s in the basement of the main keep. Just north of Jaina’s tower.”

“You’ve been very helpful.”

I watched as he brought his sword to his chest and pushed it through his own body. Tori released him from her control as he collapsed to the ground.

“That was unnecessary.” I said.

“We were going to kill him anyway.”

“Let’s get this over with.”

I tried to control my frustration, but with each group of guards we dispatched, it boiled closer to the surface. As we rushed into the keep, I could feel fury radiating off of me with each blow of my weapon. The guards were no match for me in this state, and Suzanne and Tori were racing to keep up with the path I cut through their lines. When finally I stood the cellar before the captured mage, I was gasping for air.

“Are you going to unbind me, or do you have something else in mind?”

Suzanne and Tori snickered, but I just cut loose his bindings.

“Not a moment too soon, this place is about to be reduced to a crater.”

All three of us looked at him in shock.

“The assault was just a diversion to get the airship in place. I was captured after I placed the beacon for the device.”

“Device?” Tori repeated with fear in her voice.

“A deliciously strong mana bomb is going to be dropped any moment.”

The mage summoned a portal out of the dank basement, and stepping through we found ourselves on the deck of the very airship he’d mentioned.

“Bombs away,” the goblin captain cackled as I watched the glowing purple sphere fall towards Jaina’s tower.

The explosion was immediate. I hadn’t seen a mana bomb explode before, they’d been outlawed under Thrall after witnessing their long-lasting destructive potential in Outland. There was no sound to the explosion, just a quickly-expanding translucent purple sphere that was centered on the base of the tower. The soldiers who had been celebrating what they thought was a victory were now screaming in terror. When the bubble encompassed the entire island, it pulled in on itself in a blink before a white light blinded me.

The wreckage of the city was almost absolute. Some of the thicker structures were still partially intact, but Jaina’s tower was gone. A glowing purple crater all that was left. I went below decks to be alone with my thoughts, not sure if I could continue to be a part of Garrosh’s Horde, or even if I had that choice.