I had intended to have a gaming weekend, complete with snacks and shunning the outside world, but it instead turned into a flu weekend, complete with naps and shunning the outside world. Fortunately by Sunday I was well enough to sit up but not well enough to do anything, so I had the perfect excuse to spend the whole day propped up in front of my monitor. I clearly needed… a project. Something not too demanding, and that preferrably didn’t involve level cap PvE. (I am so over level 85.) It seemed my mission was clear: it was time to make a twink.
Creating the monster
I chose to make a Worgen character because I hadn’t played the opening zones yet. Levels 1-6 or so were relatively fun and quick, although the matching goblin zones are better (duh). Upon hitting the first mailbox I collected a couple of heirlooms from alts (note: WoW really needs a “where the hell are my BoAs” button), bought the cloak and hat from the guild vendor, and snagged a guild invite.
So, if you haven’t leveled with all the new perks and heirlooms and gathering bonuses, let me just say now that +45% to XP is stupid fast. Literally. You level so quickly that it borders on idiotic.
Combine this ludicrous leveling speed with the fact that new worgens are trapped in Gilneas until completing a healthy chunk of quests, and the zone starts to feel pretty confining. I know Blizzard took time to create an epic background story and I should appreciate the cockney slang and wide cinematics, but after a certain point I just wanted to cash in my racial top hat bonus and get to an auction house.
I did some research on ideal classes for twinking, but in the end I just did what we all knew I was going to do and rolled another priest. (I may, arguably, get a little fixated on classes. My player note in RIFT right now is “STOP MAKING BARDS”.) My newest priest is disc and named Cerna, the Czech word for black. (Black! Like Death! Because I’m evil, man.) The worgen character model grew on me, although I’m still a little unnerved by wolf cleavage.
Time to kill
By level 15 I was free at last, spit out from Gilneas onto the shores of Teldrassil with a bunch of heirlooms on my back and a desire to kill some dudes in my heart. First things first, though: I quickly bought the BoA PVP trinket with honor on another character, because CC is da poop.
I know people love to hate Warsong Gultch, and I even understand why. It’s been around unchanged forever, it encourages cruddy turtles and graveyeard farming, and having to kill a heavily geared flagbearer can really highlight gear disparity. All these things are true, and yet it’s the one battleground where I feel a good healer can actually have an impact on whether the team wins or loses. I love using all my tricks and getting my bloody flag carrier alive to his or her destination. I like to imagine the Hordie DPS clutching their heads as they stare at their monitor and shout, “My god, man, why won’t you DIE?!”.
This feeling exists in 15-19 WSG too. It certainly helps that I’m still in the leveling bracket (at 15) with gobs of heirlooms and Flash Heal hits for about half of a player’s health. But I also really enjoyed the zen of only having a half dozen spells to work with at any moment. When you have fewer buttons to hit, you can focus on hitting them really well.
My plan for now is to level via PvP until 29, and then hang out there for a bit. I kind of suspect that true, xp-halted, twink BG groups will eat me alive — oh god, why didn’t I roll a rogue — but until then at least I’m enjoying the back to basics style of battle priesting.
I don’t want to jinx it, y’all, but every time the Guild Wars 2 team releases new information my heart does a little pitter patter. Last week it was dungeon details. I don’t know how much of all this talk will make it to the screen, but on the theory front, anyway, these guys seem to have a killer MMO in the works. (Or maybe Tigerfeet’s enthusiasm for the game is infectious!)
Attribution success! The story about the player who shunned raiding from my last post was from this interesting post on the casual response to raiding from Stabbed Up.
First off: I am not playing WoW again! I mean, I am a little bit, a few hours a week, but I’m not progression raiding or anything. I have a level 10 goblin! And I know where my bubble key is! That’s pretty much it.
Second off (what?): I miss writing here. I know I was a WoW blogger in my previous incarnation, but let this serve as official notice to anyone still following me that I intend to write about whatever game strikes my fancy.
(Oh, if you happened to get the last issue of the World of Warcraft magazine, I wrote the healing column. I am totally bragging about that because it’s pretty cool. Right now I’m working on an article for a future issue about going from “zero to hero” in Arenas that I think will be a fun read. Keep an eye out for it!)
My time away from the game has given me some perspective on it, I think. It’s amazing how quickly one adapts into ‘civilian’ life and things that seemed routine back in the day suddenly become strange and outlandish. My taste for progression raiding is certainly over. There are times when I can feel a twinge for it, but that’s mostly abstract competitiveness and not any real yen for raid content. In my natural habitat I have become truly casual, and the idea of spending even six hours a week in obligated game-playing gives me pause. That’s not to say that competitive raiding isn’t good, but at the end of the day I think it is no longer for me.
So here I am, fresh from the sunny elf-less void, and I have a few observations on the double-edged swords of WoW.
1. Too many numbers. I can imagine back in the day when Blizzard was developing WoW that making so much of the math available to the public seemed like a radical geek idea. And really, it was. I know plenty of folks — myself included — who deeply enjoyed burning the midnight oil calculating the exact efficiency increase between offhands. Heck, the Elitist Jerks community wouldn’t exist without mathcrafting! The problem is that by making those calculations available, they suddenly became mandatory.
As poor beleagured Ghostcrawler said in a recent post: “I’d love to have the discussion some time about how close two similar specs need to be before players will play the one that is most fun for them and not the one that does theoretical higher damage. Is it 5%? 1%? 0%?” It’s hard to defend playing the fun spec when the raw math is staring you in the face. In retrospect I wish WoW had held back some of the information to create a little fuzziness around that 5%.
2.Too many choices. WoW revolutionized the idea that an MMO can suit any lifestyle, and honestly now I think that was a critical mistake from the design perspective. Cross-server LFD? To hell with server community, or any community for that matter. Respecs whenever you want? No excuse not to be have a “perfect” spec in your back pocket. Addons to customize your UI? Gearscore!
To be fair, I feel a little silly demanding that MMO developers stop giving us so many options. And I am certainly not saying that progression raid guilds shouldn’t emphasize individual performance, although in all honesty I think most guilds that seriously raid make themselves crazy over that 5% damage difference when in fact it really only matters to Paragon and Premonition. Are we just not able to accept the great responsibility that comes with the great power of having a company attempt to cater to our every gameplay whim?
3. Too many people. So I have a confession to make. I didn’t reappear here entirely because of a love of writing. Recently someone I trusted as a person and as a guildie not only left our community (which is always sad but understandable) but attempted to pull the whole thing down with them on the way out. I will spare you the dramatic details, but suffice to say my retirement became “semi-” because I’ll be damned if I let the bad guy win. MMOs and other group games give us the opportunity to meet new people, make friends, and feel like part of something larger than ourselves. They also, occasionally, remind us that people can be dicks.
I guess really that’s my point for this whole piece, such as it is: perhaps Blizzard gave us the tools to be dicks to each other, but we’re the ones who use them.
Last night myself and two other guildies decided to head to the PTR and check out the new troll instances. The executive summary of our trip: while I’m still kind of meh on more recycled content, Zul’Gurub is a pretty fun little instance with some mechanics we haven’t seen before.
PTRs are strange little clusters of the WoW universe. Everything is selling for 10 gabillion gold on the AH, and uber angry hardcore kids end up mingling with windowlicking premades who can’t figure out how they blinked into a corner. The PTR, anyway, has a queue option for “any random Zandalarian heroic”. Terrifyingly, it took ~3 minutes to get two DPS for our team. Not many people were queueing for the new instances, but there were a whole ton of people LFM for ICC which makes no sense at all. After sloughing off the first two lame puggies we got a warrior and warlock who knew their stuff, and we were off!
New ZG vs. Old ZG
There are a few areas from old ZG that are blocked off now, like what was once Jeklik’s room (bat boss) and Mar’li’s cave (spider boss). You can’t get into Mandokir’s old area, but both he and his raptor are out front for you to fight. The tiger boss is no longer present but instead somewhat surprisingly replaced with a giant void miniboss. There are still fights in the panther room and Jin’do’s corner, but they are with different characters. The old alchemy boss is now an archaeology boss. Hakkar’s ghost is on his platform, but the actual final boss is.. someone else you’ll recognize. I didn’t have a chance to check the old fishing knoll, but I was eaten by a “Spawn of Gahzranka” at one point so he may still be around.
Frogger and Other Gameplay Elements
There are a few tank and spank fights in Zul’Gurub, but there are equally a lot of neat new concepts. There are at least two moments where trash has “Frogger”-like elements, requiring players to weave around obstacles on the fly.
Sprinkled through out the whole instance are cauldrons that imbue the players with a particular helpful power for 30 seconds. These are, if I recall, nature resist, a freezing stun, and an AoE fire nova. These are always extremely helpful if not downright mandatory for certain trash pulls, and one of the bosses requires you to run around clicking the right cauldron at the right time.
It’s the PTR so I didn’t really pay that much attention to gear, but the new panther boss did drop shoulders that will be my next upgrade unless Cho’gall stops holding out on me. Each boss dropped one epic, except for the last one who dropped two.
So my party all had good gear with a number of raid epics. Three of us had not run the new ZG before, but the same three were also on Mumble with each other. It’s hard to say how much my group reflected an “average” group, but I can say that this instance was pretty tough! I was often very low on mana, and there are a number of things that cause a great deal of damage to the entire party at once.
My opinion is that as of last night’s PTR build, Zul’Gurub is going to be quite difficult for your average LFD user upon launch. My guildies and I found it to be a really fun challenge, though, and we’re all looking forward to trying Zul’Aman out soon.
So it was 4.06 yesterday and whose idea was it to raid on patch day with a new UI and a new gamepad? That doesn’t seem very smart at all. Did I do that? Why would I do that? Sigh.
I realize it’s evolution, and soon the sleeker layout and new buttons will improve my performance (which, for me, is fun), but right now it’s like playing while wearing mittens. I just sort of bang fruitlessly on the keyboard and shout spell names at my monitor. That doesn’t work, by the way.
The 4.06 secret Chakra change just confuses me right now. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing, but I’m kind of bemused that the patch had a change to our core mechanic and totally redid a talent and it wasn’t mentioned in the notes. I’m moving my talent points from State of Mind to Divine Touch, I guess, in the hopes that the buff to Renew means that Renew spam is back in style. I’ve been a Renew-oriented priest since Molten Core, and I miss it.
Anyway, on an emotional level I’m kind of irked by the change. Chakra went from being somewhat dynamic to something we press once a minute to prove that we’re still at the keyboard, I guess. The official priest forum was rumbling that this makes state switches easier, but I can’t figure out how. (Which doesn’t mean they’re wrong — I do not claim to be a priest theorycrafter!)
While I’m here, who had the bright idea of removing The Exalted title? I actually totally understand their reasoning: rather than continue to make subsequent watered down titles and achievements for each expansion, why not reuse old ones? I think done properly it’s a good idea, but this was not done properly.
Up until now the paradigm for PvE titles and achievements is that they are permanent. Well, they might disappear, like The Keymaster, but they’ll never be revoked. This was a big change for Exalteds and a big change for the understanding of achievements. I don’t know what the Blizzard community team has going on, but even I think they needed to gently escort this topic on to the forums, and I’m the woman who is so unobservant I accidentally deleted my entire WTF folder in the middle of last night’s raid.
(That was fun. I quit WoW for at least 25 minutes while stomping around the house declaring it was dead to me. Then I reinstalled my UI.)
So basically I haven’t really even had the chance to play with the patch yet but I see that ret pallies are amazing again and I still don’t know what the hell is going on with Chakra. Que sera sera.
The title of this post is a bit glib, I’ll admit, but there’s been quite a bit of bad voodoo in the WoW community lately about Cataclysm and it kind of baffles me. I mean, I’m no arbiter of universal taste so if someone isn’t enjoying the expansion that’s their prerogative, but some people are angry about Cataclysm. They feel sad and betrayed, and I find it kind of mystifying personally because I’ve been just pluggin’ along having a fine time of things.
I’m hardly a Blizzard fan girl (many of the negative feelings some folks have now are very similar to how I felt during the last six months of Wrath of the Lich King), but I’ve given a great deal of thought to why at this particular moment I’m pretty happy with WoW. I know I don’t have all the answers, but I think I can break it down into three main things:
1) I am no longer as emotionally invested in WoW’s gameplay
This could sound like a bad thing at first, but I actually consider it a positive aspect of playing a game for this long. There were times, mostly 5+ years ago, when I had a bit of an unhealthy relationship with WoW. I played too much, spent far too much effort on the game and my characters, and just sort of poured my dissatisfaction with other areas of my life into making my time in WoW as perfectly efficient as possible. Now years later (and certainly some modicum of personal growth later as well), WoW is no longer the shiny unknown siren that it once was. That perpetual reset of gear and goals that drives some people crazy in fact soothes me.
Priests get nerfed? Eh, we’ll get buffed again. Lost all my groovy epics to leveling greens? I’ll see more of those over time. Spirit important again? Frost mages overpowered in PvP? Have to retire my legendary? Heroics 5s are difficult again? Que sera sera!
2) La la la, patience is a virtue
This is not to say that I have completely avoided the sense of panic that comes with “keeping up with the Joneses” in the guild, but it’s definitely less this time around. I think those last six months of WotLK taught me to chew my content 100 times before I swallow it.
There is no need to rush. I haven’t finished two of the new heroics, I’ve barely touched Archaeology. When I log on I am just as likely to spend a couple of hours crafting and posting auctions or leveling my 30-ish tank as I am anxiously pounding out improvements to Liore. This is not to say that I’ve abandoned my main, and I certainly maintain a baseline of character progression so I can contribute fully to my raid group, but I know for me personally controlling my content consumption means I enjoy myself more.
3) I love my guild
This is probably the most controversial of my points. I know that some people don’t like having a guild and I am certainly not saying that solo play should be ignored in WoW, but my enjoyment of the game is hugely a result of having a wonderful group of folks to play it with. Actually, I think it’s a plain fact: WoW is better when enjoyed with friends. Heck, everything is better when enjoyed with friends. You (yes you) will enjoy the game more if you have a friendly group of people to play it with.
Guilds of all kinds provide a variety of benefits. You have a pool of people to do activities with, from lowbie leveling to raids. Even if you can’t get a group going, you’ll have friends to chat with while you do whatever it is on your own or with LFD. A guild can provide group goals, such the guild achievements now, that help give direction some days and make you feel collectively good when you accomplish them.
And of course with the return of content that isn’t a pushover in heroics and entry-level raids, an experienced guild group is going to have a huge advantage over a group of strangers who have been thrown together by the LFD system or trade chat.
Cataclysm has absolutely changed to put more emphasis on groups and guilds, and I will not lie that those of us who were fortunate to be in strong guilds before it even hit are in a great place right now. We have content to sharpen our teeth on, institutionalized guild goals, and perks for being an active group of friends.
All this is not to say that people don’t have valid reasons for disliking Cataclysm. Heck, it’s been six years — some folks want to move on, and I can’t blame them. One day it’ll be my turn. But as it turns out, unlike what I was kind of anticipating Cataclysm does not seem to be that time for me. Thanks to a few attitude adjustments and honestly the very hard work (shared by many) to keep the guild thriving during the horrible lull of latter LK, I’ve been having a great time and I’m glad some of y’all reading this have been as well.
I know, there’s so much to talk about, and yet I am still so very tired. It was a busy weekend of WoW interspersed with Christmas obligations, but I managed to get to level 85 late Saturday night.
So many people in the game and in my guild have gone totally nuts over heroics. It consumes guild chat: What’s the item level for heroics? Can I just stick extra level 333s in my bag? Did you run this heroic yet? Does anyone want to do a heroic? Are you ready to start heroics?
While of course everyone should play what they wanna play, I don’t get the urgency. I love this stage of the expansion cycle! Now that I’m at level cap, I can play with alts (Lunedi is 81!), work on cooking, fishing, and archaeology, see the Worgen and Goblin starting areas.
And even without all that stuff, I don’t want to hurl myself right into heroics. Remember TBC, when we would farm regular instances for gear and rep before moving on to heroics? I believe that is the intended paradigm for Cataclysm, too. I mean, if you’re someone who likes the extra challenge, then go for it! But the forums are flooded with people who leveled to 85 in 3 days, virtually skipped over regular dungeons, and now want heroics to be nerfed.
We have 18-24 months to become jaded and bitter about content in WoW! My advice for folks at the level cap is to run the regulars, seek out and earn the best rep reward gear, stockpile Justice Points, and keep testing your new skills to see how they best work for you. Don’t just consume the content to the point where you’re sick of it in three weeks.
But on to the important issue: hats. Priests have had a bad string of ugly hat options lately, so I didn’t know what to think when I saw our new JP hat. It’s a unique model at least. But when added to Disc wings and a great backdrop (Vortex Pinnacle is sooo pretty!!) I kind of look like I might be a character in a Persona game, which is pretty rad.