Friday, 28 September 2012

A Hard Days Night

I seem to be leveling on the slow side at the moment. It is like being back in vanilla when everything was shiny and new, and grinding took weeks and not hours. I appear to be easily distracted and try to cram everything into one 4 hour session a night. Even if I want hell for leather on just 1 character I doubt if I would be much past level 88. As it stands I have taken 3 of my minions to the shores of Pandaria, and last night I went exploring instead of questing.

The Godmother yesterday posted an introduction to the Tillers. I have no real interest in playing Pokemon or Pet Battles, but I was certainly more intrigued about the principle of running a farm. I have no interest in Facebook and have a couple of holding accounts for Bob Flintston and myself (I didn't really want my family to start calling me Bob and wondering why I had morphed into a hairy arsed Dwarven Hunter). Without an overwhelming interest to Facebook, I have never played Farmville and in reality I wish I had at least seen it.

Running a farm in WoW sounds like it might be of interest to myself, besides I can always use the produce for cooking or if nothing else just grow motes of harmony. I am still finding my feet with crafting in this expansion but I am guessing with motes being Bind on Pickup, I will struggle to grind motes the conventional way by killing mobs for all my crafting alts.

Spirit of Harmony will be the new roadblock to stop mass production from Auction House campers, in a similar way to how Chaos Orbs required Dungeon crawling to obtain. This will make sense to run at least 7 Farms, even on my alchemist who appears to only use Spirit of Harmony for the Riddle of Steel additional transmute.

At present I have started 2 farms, but it is highly probable that I will kickstart all 7 in the next few days. This kind of distraction will no doubt affect my leveling ability, but it is a reasonable trade off to start the mote of harmony production line.


Leveling Jewelcrafting turned out to be a relatively simple process, but I ended up making hundreds of gems that will no doubt get vendored in the near future. This is not uncommon and in every expansion since its introduction in The Burning Crusade, this has been the way to level Jewelcrafting. I have not yet started to understand the nuances of the new Jewelcrafting profession but will let you know my findings in due course. Using my super Draenei skills I have not quite maxed out the profession, still having 10 skillups to get to the 610 upper limit.

In order to fully understand the profession, I am currently doing the research, that I should have done yesterday, by reading the font of all knowledge, the underworld oracle, Kaliope's WoW Crafting Blog which fits in perfectly with the Crafters Tome that I referred to yesterday. The Zen Jewelcrafting guide states that besides the huge amount of recipes held by the Trainers in the Old Cities, there are more trainable recipes to be found if you visit Mai the Jewel Shaper in Jade Forest.


The profession that seems to have changed the most is Cooking. For more details as always refer to Kaliope's Zen Cooking Guide, the action is based around the Tillers out at Halfhill Market. If you have followed The Godmothers guide to starting a farm then you should already have the flight point and wondered why all these trainers are not giving you any recipes or quests. As usual I stumbled into this quest chain which is started by Sungshin, and completed the task by visiting a vendor in the Jade Forest hub of Dawn's Blossom. This left me with one recipe to skillup on, Rice Pudding which was orange. The ingredients are Rice and Yaks Milk, which are both sold by Sungshin. The recipe stayed orange for 1 rice pudding then turned grey, but apparently if you do things in the correct order you need to complete another 4 so that you can hand in the quest Ready for Greatness.

This is as far as I managed to get, but the principle is to master each of the different 'Way' specialisations. Each Specialisation buffs a specific stat:

  • Way of the Grill - Strength
  • Way of the Oven - Stamina
  • Way of the Pot - Intellect
  • Way of the Steamer - Spirit
  • Way of the Wok - Agility
  • Way of the Brew - Headaches and grandeur

  • I have not been very organised so far with my professions, but future attempts will streamline the process.

    Thursday, 27 September 2012

    House Of The Rising Sun

    Mists of Pandaria just gets better and better, casting aside the opening night fiasco, it is good to level in a new continent. Every night I have to tear myself away from the game, or else I will be playing the just one more thing routine until the sun rises or my wife gets back from work.

    I sometimes wish that I actually read the quests, but to be honest that would just take up too much time. I have no idea what I am doing with the Fish People in Jade Forest but there seems to be plenty of things to skin.

    I am wondering if skinning is a minority profession, after all on my 10 main characters I only have it on 2 of them. The 20 primary profession slots are 8 crafters (one of each) and 12 gathering, with 6 Miners to feed 3 professions, 4 Herbalists to feed to 2 professions and 2 skinners to feed 1 profession.

    Skinners hate fighting humanoids when they can be culling animals for their pelts. The result of the imbalance in the number of skinners is that people leave carcasses strewn across killing fields, and it is the job of skinners to clean the area up like vultures. In the old days there always to be a skinner hiding behind a tree waiting for you to move away from the kill so that they can sweep up after you.
    The tagging system was introduced to remove the friction in area like Tol Barad were daily quests involved killing 8 crocodiles and up to 12 spiders, to stop the gits that were skinning your kills as soon as you looted them.

    Mining nodes seem to be reasonable supply, and I have not seen the usual bun fight to steal nodes whilst you are dispatching the wandering mob. My Shaman is at level 542 mining so on the assumption that it is a skillup per node then I have have mined at least 17 nodes. With this much ore I have been able to level my Jewelcrafting to 553 without buying any additional ore or gems, and without producing any of the Cataclysm high end gear.

    The crafting system has improved on the model introduced in Cataclysm by providing additional incentives to make certain items. In the Cataclysm model Leatherworkers could gain extra skillups on cloaks which had terrible itemisation and had no resale value except for disenchanting.

    The supply of cloth is plenty to cover both First Aid and Tailoring needs. Random drops seem to provide an endless supply of greens for disenchanting. Enchanting also has a large selection of enchants to boost your leveling.

    Even better than the new are the green Gems. Having missed out on the Epic tier of gems, these will provide a huge boost in the major stats.

    Even fishing seems to be easier in MoP, with 8 skillups from 1 daily and 3 fishing pools. I even have a Flying Tiger Gourami to hand into Nat Pagle, which will hopefully be the start of a beautiful friendship.

    For anybody wanting to get some real information on crafting, then as always I can only suggest The Crafters Tome and El's Extrem Anglin'.

    In my opinion Blizzard have certainly streamlined the process of capping professions leaving more time to do the activities we really want to do at end game.

    Wednesday, 26 September 2012

    Two Tribes

    Launch night might have been an unmitigated disaster, but Day 1 turned to be a much more pleasant experience entirely. My first problem that needed to be reconciled was that I needed to be Pandaria and not in Stormwind. The Gunship was gone, presumably hanging over the Jade Forest coastline. There were no portals near the Cataclysm portals, so I put in a ticket to remedy the situation, even though my assumption was that it would be days before anybody would answer my plea.

    I even tried to board the ornamental balloon hovering in Stormwind, when I noticed a portal underneath the balloon. The portal transports you to Paw'don Village, and you get a whisper telling you to get back on the Gunship, fortunately there is another portal that takes you there. (update MMO Melting Pot gives a far better description than me).

    Onboard the Gunship, it was very quiet. There was the Gyrocopter ready and willing to take me to war. I boarded the Gryocopter and it hovered above the gunship before moving off on its own. At this point I still had no controls, but upon reaching the shoreline my one button appeared and it was all action stations.

    From this point on it was business as usual, until  I reached the rested XP and decided to run the questline for a second time. Now I have a Hunter and Shaman at the half way mark on the way to level 86, I am going to take my time now and enjoy the experience by fully utilising the rest XP I should be able to make huge inroads into leveling all my characters.

    One thing I did notice was that the questing experience is better when there are fewer people in the area. It is a feature that Blizzard introduced a long time ago to improve the questing experience for new content, it increases the number of spawns and the spawn rates when the area is overpopulated. Unfortunately this can also lead to occasions when you have problems advancing because you are always fighting the instant spawning mobs.

    MoP impressions

    In general the blogging community seems to be playing rather than blogging which is probably a good sign. Blessing of Kings, is suitably impressed, especially with the SI:7 storyline. Tobold on the other hand thinks that Blizzard is still trying to corral us through content and storyline, using phasing. At the moment it is difficult to argue with Tobold, but I think that it is only natural for Blizzard to establish the storyline before letting us loose on the new content.

    Tuesday, 25 September 2012

    Stranger In A Strange Land

    January 2011, HQ Blizzard, Anaheim, California, United States of America.

    A meeting is taking place in the board room at Blizzard HQ. The team present are the senior members of Blizzard and the World of Warcraft Team. News had just come through that subscriber numbers were plummeting after Cataclysm had been badly received.

    Senior Management - "So Guys it looks like we need to pull out all the stops on the next expansion. Cataclysm is bombing badly, and we really need a return back to form. How is Mists of Pandaria shaping up?"

    Lead Developer - "The plotline is coming on great. So far we got some great fighting between the Horde and Alliance on the shores of Pandaria. Anduin Wyrnn is missing in action, King Varian Wyrnn is fuming as always, and sends in a crack team of his finest mercenaries to find the boy before the Horde get hold of him."

    Senior Management - "Sounds good so far, How do they get there?"

    Lead Developer - "At the moment we are thinking we can use one of the Aerial Gunship that we keep using in all the expansion since Wrath."

    Senior Management - "So, how are you going to get all the players off the ship?"

    Quest Designer - "I have a great idea, everybody loves the ROFLcopters right? Lets use them to attack the Horde drop bombs, and shoot up the Horde on the beach."

    Senior Management - "Dave, last time we tried ROFLcopters in Wrath at Steel Gate they were terribly buggy right?"

    Quest Designer - "Yes, but we fixed, by the end of the expansion the daily Steel Gate Patrol, nearly worked every time."

    Senior Management - "If you can pull this off, I like the storyline, bombs and explosions, its what every fantasy MMO needs. Is there any other news?"

    Lead Developer - "We have a great idea for squeezing the profit from the retailers, by downloading the game and running the upgrades through Battle.Net accounts. It means everybody will be ready to play at Midnight on launch day."

    Senior Management - "That is great news, extra profits and happier customers. Are you sure we can handle Millions of people storming out of Stormwind and Ogrimmar at the same time?"

    Lead Developer - "No Problem, just as long as we don't create any bottlenecks in the levelling process early on in the expansion. By The Way, after this expansion can I move onto the Titan project?"


    Midnight -  25th September 2012, Europe

    Millions of people across Europe are streaming out the Capital cities that they have been caged in for nearly 2 years. There appears to be a large gathering of people all trying to get on one ROFLcopter. You see Sky Admiral Rogers, standing with a swarm of people around her. You attempt to run towards her, but your controls are not working. You notice that you have no lag but the Framerate is stuck at 4 FPS, every press of the button takes 30-60 seconds to register with the server and sometimes it does not register at all. You crawl your way to the quest giver, but you cannot complete the quest, that would take several clicks to do.

    After several minutes you have handed in a quest and picked up the next. You crawl yet again to where everybody is stood. It is as if Blizzard has rewarded all the people who like to block mailboxes and NPC's with their oversized flying mounts and hairy mammoths. There is no way to beat the masses and win a coveted ROFLcopter. At last you see the green arrow and realise that all the thousands of previous clicks were for nothing. Several minutes later you start swaying and you realise that you have snagged a ROFLcopter. Problem is that it does not move, there are no controls except the disembark button sat next to your aspect buttons. Once more Blizzard cannot design a vehicle that likes Hunters. It took me back to WotLK Icecrown Citadel and sitting in baulked cannons, because it did not like the aspects or the fact that hunters have pets.

    After half an hour of trying again and again, reloading the UI, restarting the game, I tried another cunning plan. Jumping off the gunship to my certain demise, my body several minutes later when it realised I was actually dead returned to the Gunship. I jumped off the Gunship and tried to find my body, the two things did not want to be reunited. I ran around Jade Forest looking for a graveyard, without any success. There appeared no way forward without waiting for a fix or trying another character. I was ultimately running out of time.

    01:20 - 25th September 2012, Europe

    In an attempt to achieve something from the night, I logged onto my newly created Panda. I wanted to call my latest stable buddy Bamboobob, to my surprise it stated that there was a rude word in my chosen name. I thought Blizzard must be having a laugh after all the complaints I have made about names in the last 6 months. Bam-boob-ob, so there it is, that softest of words was going to prevent me from having my name. I then went for my backup Eatshootslea - unfortunately I ran of letters but I did know this already from the Beta.

    The Panda/Monk starting area is very quiet with no lag and I was able to motor through the quests that I had already done on the Beta. I arrived at the farm which is further than I managed in the Beta version and then jumped into bed.

    80 minutes of utter frustration and 40 minutes of lighthearted adventuring. This is not what Blizzard needed, and after the buggy scenario I am really not surprised. Hoping for a better 2nd night.

    Monday, 24 September 2012

    Eve Of Destruction

    European realms - 12:00 a.m. CEST, September 25

    For some strange reason I thought I had another day, not that I am complaining.

    Nothing really to report so will I cover my weekend round-up on the Eve of War and the start of our Pandaren adventures. I was going to discuss Cross Realm Zones, but I see that this might just have been covered elsewhere.

    Cross Realm Zones

    The Godmother reports an increase in PvP, due to the new CRZ areas being part of a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The appearance of CRZ seems to have been a delayed event in Europe, and it finally hit melting point at the weekend. I spent time in Outland, Uldum and Northrend and encountered increased number of people everywhere, but it is almost as if it was implemented in the last few days, because the results are radically different than a week ago. Mining and Herbing are all increasingly difficult to make it worthwhile and the current content like Uldum is covered by CRZ, which in my opinion is a sad indictment as to the success of Cataclysm. Blizzard have stated that the Isle of Pandaria will not be on the CRZ model (for at least 18 months).

    I am guessing that the majority of problems encountered on the US Realms were based around the issue of Timezones, the European Realms to the best of my knowledge all use CET based on Blizzard being based in France.

    Now I have no evidence for the next statement but it seems that PvE and PvP realms are being teamed together. Wowikki states (based on a Blizzard post) that:

    Q. How will this work for PvP vs. PvE realms? Will these realm types be shared?
    A. No. Realm types will be matched with like realm types. So if you’re on a PvE realm, you’ll only be matched with other PvE realms. The same rules will apply for matching RP realm types and will be restricted to matching RP-PvP with RP-PvP and RP-PvE with RP-PvE. We plan to keep an eye on constructive feedback while testing this new technology.
    Under normal circumstances I might be interested to test this theory but with a new expansion on the horizon, I will let it slide. What I can say is that The Godmother and myself have both witnessed increased tension on what should be PvE zones, and PvE players mostly do their PvP in premades.

    The theory behind the design is:

    Q. Why cross-realm zones?
    A. For many years now, the significant majority of the player population online at any given time has consisted mostly of characters at or near the level cap. This has resulted in an environment where characters that are leveling up experience a world that has fewer other players to interact with than what the world was designed for. Cross-realm zones give us the capability to ensure that level-up zones retain a population size that feels more like the high level areas of the game, leading to a more fun play experience for characters of all levels.
    It is a nice idea to breathe new life into forgotten lands, but personally I like the solitude and to have my wicked way with all the resources in the zone, knowing full well that the next person to arrive in this zone will be hours away.

    The implementation is not right yet and there are definitely lag spikes going between zones, even buildings in Dalaran seem to be in different zones to the rest of the city. The most annoying bug is the Blizzard induced triplicate spam, with players loling and yodelling in General chat.

    The upside is that people are actually talking to each other (when they are not raging all out war).

    Mists Of Pandaria Preparation

    "Are You Prepared?", Ok it might be the wrong expansion but it is good question. Personally I am good to go. My bucket list has been changed several times due to underestimation on behalf. The following is my list:

    1. Achieve iLevel 380+ on all characters. Miss - missing on 3 characters with lowest at 372.
    2. Increase Treasure Trove by 100,000 Gold. Hit - in 3 months I made 120,000 due mostly to the new Glyphs.
    3. Fishing, achieve level 200 on all characters. Hit - sitting on 400 fishing (what a boring git I am)
    4. Archaeology, achieve level 300 on all characters. Hit- made it to 400 due to the increase in the number of fragments at each digsite.
    5. Increase my bags sizes - Hit - I originally made Embersilk bags to have a minimum of 22 Slot bags on all characters and then carried it on to include Illusionary Bags, I am armed with a minimum of 3 on all characters.
    My number 1 Hunter is primed and ready to go, I am enjoying the solo abilities of Beast Mastery, and I am interested to see how different MoP level 85's mobs are compared to Cata 85's. This is always a shock to the system when the health pools of mobs have tripled. Order of activities for midnight tonight:

    1. Create Panda Monk - to reserve name
    2. Logon with all characters to start the rest XP
    3. Logon with number 1 Hunter and hand in the dailies I have predone
    4. Fly to new lands with 20,000 other people

    One final question, do I take a power nap before the big event?

    Friday, 21 September 2012

    Like A Virgin

    Just finished reading the WoW Insider interview with Lead Quest Designer Dave "Fargo" Kosak. The interview is less revealing than I would have liked, and considering Dave is responsible for a lot of what was wrong with Cataclysm, it is not much of a apology.

    "We did a lot of cool storytelling with Cataclysm, and we ended up doing some very linear zones. That felt cool, definitely the first time you played through it was really neat to have a story that was presented in that way. But it got a little tiring with your alts, because you had to play every zone the same way every time."

    Yes thanks Dave, Hyjal was great on my 10th stomp through it.

    "The other lesson we learned in Cataclysm is that we really want to let people choose their own level of difficulty. We created heroic dungeons in Cataclysm that were very challenging, and that was awesome for the players that had a fixed group that they really trusted and wanted a challenge. It was less awesome for people that wanted to run through dungeons with a pickup group. And they really felt blocked by that content, like it was a hard dungeon, and you had to get the right pickup group, and if you didn't, you couldn't progress your character. That wasn't cool."

    Now this is actually more like it. We have all seen the layering up difficulty since Firelands and this is the concept in written down. Do what you want at the level of difficulty you feel comfortable with.
    If you are an average Raider don't moan about the idiots in LFR. Your content is the Normal Raid. If you are an Uber Raider, then get your Heroic kills in now.

    The same goes for PvP, Normal Battlegrounds, Rated Battlegrounds, Arena. Choose your level of skill and go for it. Dungeons have lost a level below and gained a level above in terms of difficulty.
    Heroic and Hardmode. Heroic will become WotLK ROFLstomps and Hardmode will need technique co-ordination and probably voice communication (Mumble and Vent).

    If you want a quick snack, Ghostcrawler thinks Scenarios can be done in your Lunchtime.

    There are more Dailies than you can point a stick at, you can chillout with the Tillers and play Farmville, or you can hardmode Pet Battles.

    Choose what you want and pick your level of difficulty. It is a nice design technique if everybody sticks in their places. I like it now I can see the philosophy behind it. My only worry is that people will try to do everything at once, and forget to eat and damage their health in the process. Take a break, you don't need to logon everyday.


    On a side note, I noticed the comments section and was tickled by the following:

    "I f*%@#!g loved Cata. Not everyone hated and bitched about it like pre-madonna's. Maybe because I played through most of the content. i.e. reworked world. WTF, does everything have to be endgame, we had every vanilla zone reworked people. If your bored, play quests and READ THE QUEST LOGS. The game has moe to offer than just raiding."

    The responses were:

    "Pre-madonna's? Seriously?"


    "Is Lady Gaga a post-madonna?"

    Maybe he was looking for Prima Donna?

    Thursday, 20 September 2012

    The Battle Of Evermore

    The Fall of Theramore, the debate rages on. The Grumpy Elf waded into the fray and actually came out with a totally different conclusion than I was expecting. I was going to reassess my feelings towards Theramore's Fall but first I wanted to examine some of the points raised by Grumpy.

    1. Too Long, the Alliance version appears to be longer than the Horde version (no shock there we know Blizzard loves Horde).
    2. Queue Times, Why does it take 30 - 60 minutes to find 3 of anything. LFR suffers from Healer shortage, and LFD suffers from Tank shortage. 3 DPS = 60 minutes??? There is obviously something not right with the system and with more scenarios lined up for the new expansion this is something that needs to be fixed pretty damn quick.
    3. Easy, Grumpy says not.
    4. Prelaunch Event, we all know it is not a prelaunch event, but have we been short changed? All other expansions have had an event, quests, bosses. The players all know that 2-4 weeks for a one-off event is a lot of development work for something that will never be seen again, but somehow 10 months without anything new as made us hungry for anything that does not smell as stale as Dragon Soul.
    5. The Reward, there is little to go on to persuade people to invest the time on multiple attempts. Worse than the tabard was the badly phrased Horde gloating of the wanton destruction of innocent lives, which brought back memories of the Twin Towers.
    On Tuesday I wrote about my experience of the scenario. On Tuesday night I ran it 3 times and last night just the once. The bugs have now been ironed out, which ultimately was my biggest issue with the scenario. I have also been considerably luckier with loot drops and from 8 runs have seen 3 Weapons and a Helm. Only one of these was actually useful but we all know what is in the loot table and the way the loot is distributed is similar to the LFR Personal Loot.

    Now the thing works as intended I can see it the scenario concept for what it really is. It is a nice time filler and should sit underneath LFD in terms of time requirements. It should be a sign up and a couple of minutes later off you go, with a 10 minute maximum time to complete, with a total time requirement of no more than 15 minutes. This is definitely not the case, with long waiting times and some poor groups having to go slowly and carefully.

    Ghostcrawler has recently stated, ""this is what scenarios are like", they're a new feature, a way to do content quickly, in a your lunch break, to get some more valor or gear." If this is Blizzards intention then they need to do some serious work on the matching up process, or make more resources available for running concurrent scenarios.

    Level 85 mobs with some Elites is not a big issue, they will nibble away at your health. The main problem is the sheer numbers involved in some pulls. A load of nibbles adds up to a big bite.

    My main characters have not had any problems, but my lesser known alts who are more in need of any potential loot, and are still way over the iLevel requirement have still encountered problems.

    My Warrior and Death Knight both assumed pulling roles and played a small meat shield for some of the feeble cloth wearers, and they have had mixed results. My unholy Death Knight was able to hold aggro in Unholy spec and survive once I changed to Blood Presence. My warrior needed to eat or bandage after the bigger fights. Plate wearers rock scenarios would be my general finding.

    I have mentioned that I am the world's worst Rogue, although Grumpy thinks he is worse. I can now state that I have seen a worse Rogue, unless Grumpy also has a European account. In a group comprising of 2 Rogues and Warlock, which would be nice for PvP, it resulted in nobody being able to pseudo tank. The Warlock and myself were doing considerably more damage than the other Rogue so naturally we actually more attention. The other Rogue was skilled in stealth, vanish and sprint. The result was several deaths to the Warlock and Myself. There is no penalty for dying in a scenario, except the usual repair costs, so dying and running back to your body is not a big problem. There are no respawns to worry about and you can just continue where you left off. In some respects it would be better to have a timer on some of the activities just to create a little bit of a challenge.

    If I am a bad Rogue, there is one other class that I play far worse, and it happens to have seen some major gameplay changes. My Gnome Destro Warlock was placed in a party with a Warlock and a Mage. In an attempt to provide some tanking abilities, we both ended up popping Voidwalkers. After that it was a nice smooth run.

    The scenario concept is not easy and neither is it hard, the objective is always obtainable it is merely a question of how long it takes to complete. It is interesting how they will stack up in the level 90 versions.

    Tuesday, 18 September 2012

    Keep On Running

    I have always enjoyed playing a Mage, the power and the fragility, the archetypal glass cannon. I have managed to master the fragility but never the power. Frost Mage was always going to be my chosen spec, the need to keep you at arms reach whilst blasting you to smithereens.

    Last night I took my Mage to Theramore's Fall to see if Frost was any better in the MoP era. During the last 2 expansions Frost Mages have been shunned in PvE and feared and hated in PvP, was it now my time to shine or shiver. I was grouped with a Cat Druid and Rogue, lots of sneeky stabby, swipe, swipe. It worked well, with me freezing the masses while the AoE went off, Fan of Knives, Blizzard and whatever it is that Druids do with their claws out.

    The run was smooth and easy as the content should be until The Last Stand - Protecting Jaina while she attunes to the Focusing Iris. The Horde charged, the Druid disconnected, the rogue became a greasy smear, and I ran around like a headless chicken.

    Actually for once I kept my head and took the stance that this was actually possible to solo. I froze the Horde and cast Evocation to make sure I had some health and full mana. I managed to top up my health to about 50% before setting up a rotation of Freeze, Ice Lance and Blink. I took out the adds without too much hassle, but I was keeping my eye on Warlord Rok'Nah. I was stupid enough to catch a couple of reflected spell, but learned from the experience.

    I managed to keep this going for what seemed like ages but eventually my health was heading South and I knew 5% did not give me any room for chance. At this point the cavalry arrived, we had a Rogue and Druid to finish off the job.

    I may not be the best mage in the world but I do know how to stay alive. I know there are DK's and Pallies that would solo the whole scenario, but I am pleased with myself, for completing the scenario, without it bugging out. It is easy content for 3 but it is less pleasant for a solitary injured Mage.

    Letter From America

    There is no doubting what the main topic of the day is going to be. Just in case you have emerged from under a rock, the main topic is going to be the brand new scenario, Theramore's Fall. If you want a detailed walk through then there is one supplied by WoW Insider.

    What is the Scenario Theramore's Fall? WoWWiki describes it as:

    Theramore's Fall is the first scenario available that presages the Mists of Pandaria expansion and will be available to level 85 characters for one week before the official expansion release (September 25, 2012) around September 18, 2012. On the release of the expansion, the scenario will only be available to level 90 characters.

    Horde player will execute Garrosh's plan to sack Theramore while Alliance player will try to drive out the Horde.

    If you want to do it in it's current guise, then get your skates on it is here as a level 85 scenario for one week only.

    There are 2 scenarios, one for the Alliance and one for the Horde. There is a summary below:


    • To the Waterline! - Rig powder barrels on all six ships.
    • The Blastmaster - Inform Blastmaster Sparkfuse of your success.
    • Gryphon, Down - Slay Baldruc and his gryphons.
    • Tanks for Nothing! - Destroy Big Bessa and sabotage any unmanned tanks.
    • Fly, Spy! - Slay Hedric Evencane and free Thalen Songweaver from Foothold Citadel.


    • Welcome to Theramore - Defeat the Horde in the harbor.
    • Cleansing the Filth - Destroy any remaining horde in the ruins of Theramore.
    • Find Jaina - Find Jaina Proudmoore in the ruins of Theramore.
    • Destroy the Destroyer - Destroy the Horde siege engine at the west gate.
    • The Last Stand - Protect Jaina while she attunes to the Focusing Iris. 
    The news is that Horde version seems to be reasonably playable, but the Alliance version is very buggy and the slightest issue can cause the scenario to not register the completion of the current phase.

    Personally I had a 50% success rate which is not very good. There have been many complaints that the scenario was not tested on Beta or PTR, and the result is a sub standard product from a company that boasts that they only issue when it is ready. The Godmother was not in the best of moods this morning, and described the Scenario as a "Dumper" which is a bad film that tries to make it's money by releasing without being reviewed, in the hope that people will watch it early, before they realise that the film is a steaming pile of dung.

    The main criticisms seem to be that Theramore's Fall is:

    1. Bad content at the end of a bad expansion
    2. Poorly executed with far too many issues
    3. A poor substitute for a pre-expansion event
    4. The mid part of a story that happens outside of the game in a new book

    Blessing Of Kings is very scathing of the move towards Lore happening outside the game, in books, comics, blogs and cartoon strips. I personally have no interest in the Lore, but in this case we are parachuted into a story with no beginning, no build up  and no interest.

    This is the first in a string of Scenarios, and should have been so much more. Even a Wrathgate style stand back and watch the action, because we are going to win even if I don't do anything, but isn't it an epic storyline would have been better.

    Letter to Blizzard, "World of Warcraft is a computer game, not a media franchise. Take the paying customer on a journey through swords and sorcery. Tell the epic tales that need to be told, and for god's sake stop delivering content with so many bloody bugs in it."

    Monday, 17 September 2012

    Waiting For An Alibi

    Looking For Raid (LFR) words to send a shiver down anybody's spine. I have partaken twice this week and have had flawless raids on both occasions. I apologise to anybody who was in these raids because I was definitely in the bottom quadrant on both occasions. At least I do actually know what I am doing and didn't bring in the extra slimes or upset Yor’Sajh the Unsleeping and bring him into the fight whilst the slime where still up.

    I am not even going to discuss the 45 minute wait, for 5 healers to show up. The change to the UI now shows the make up of the party and with LFR it is always a healer shortage. I have mentioned this way to many times in the past to discuss it now.

    Today's topic is the new Personal Loot System. Now the old system did not work properly and almost everybody is in agreement on that. The system could be manipulated in several ways:

    1. Guild runs - in which everybody rolled Need on all items to then pass on to the lucky recipient.
    2. Individuals rolling need in hope of battering for something they actually needed.
    3. Individuals rolling need and then doing the job of distributing to the most needy.
    The system was in build with it's own QQ and griefing, people would beg for items and scream in Raid chat and pester in whisper.

    Now in theory the new Personal Loot System, is designed to avoid all of the above and make the system fairer. Does it work in practice? Here is the description from Wowpedia.

    Loot rules

    Raid Finder uses a system called Personal Loot. When a boss is killed, every player has a fixed percentage chance of receiving a loot item. For each player, the game will decide based on a fixed percentage chance whether the player will receive loot. If so, the game will then select a class-appropriate item from the boss's loot table and immediately deposit the item into the player's inventory. All players who do not receive a loot item will instead be issued a bag of gold. All loot gained through this method is Bind on Pickup and can not be traded with other players.

    Blizzard maintains that statistically you have more chance of being rewarded with this system. The big question is what is the "fixed percentage" ? The answer seem to be that nobody knows or else nobody is saying. So far I have killed 6 bosses and I am now personally 150 Gold richer.

    If the droprate is 25% then I am just unlucky. If the droprate is 12.5% then you would have to complete the full Dragon Soul LFR to have a realistic chance of loot. If the rate is even lower then you can't even rely on a drop every week and then it is RNG gods as to which piece each week you might win. As I am writing this, it obvious that the Valor system does a much better job of assigning the right gear to the right person. So why no make it 600 Valor for each wing, put the LFR Tier gear or iLevel appropriate gear back in the Valor vendors inventory and let us equip solely through tokens.

    Alternatively match loot with peoples inventory and/or  iLevels and make the percentages higher at the lower levels, and reducing with every item obtained. Do not distribute Tier shoulders to somebody with 5 already in their bags but without a helm after 12 runs.

    Honestly I really want this system to work, but in it's current format it is going to end in tears.

    If you are not in position to raid every week or even at all, but can jump into LFR due to unsociable hours, shortage of time, unwillingness to join a normal raid, then LFR is not offering a suitable gearing path, and is purely a tour bus of the current content. In my opinion it will be an empty bus in a few months.

    Saturday, 15 September 2012

    Driving Towards The Daylight

    Mists of Pandaria launches at midnight 25th September 2012 CET, for the UK that means I will still be playing as part of my normal routine with it still being 23:00 GMT on the 24th September in the UK. This time there will be no waiting for the morning post to get my DVD delivered, I have ordered the game online and so the expansion should be available instantly, similar to the Darkmoon Faire.

    My question to everybody and more importantly to myself is, What to do on the launch of Mists of Pandaria?

    To be brutally honest, I have not got a clue. In previous expansion, I have always been slightly behind on the main rush, with the expansion only being available the day after launch and the requirement for me to actually go to work. I know that Pandaria itself will be carnage with thousands of people attempting to level as quickly as possible and other desperate to get their hands on Pandas and Monks.

    Wrath of the Lich King was a riot with boats full of people setting sail from Stormwind Harbour heading towards the Borean Tundra (I wish I still had the screenshot taken with all the excited chatter and hundreds of people bouncing up and down). Cataclysm was chaos at the 2nd hub in Hyjal, with too many bodies all looking for tiny embers/acorns or widgets on the floor. The leveling process only got easier once the phasing started to separate out the masses.

    At the start of Cataclysm, I seem to remember that I had a crazy notion of handing in precompleted dailies, and gaining XP from mining, herbing, and archaeology, and rotating my alts to benefit from rested XP over the first few weeks.

    The new starter area is the Jade Forest, which is reached by Gunship for the Alliance and Zeppelin for the Horde, this will involve some preliminary quests before leading to the first major hubs at Paw'don Village and Honeydew Village depending upon your colours. How much of a bottleneck this is remains to be seen. The assumption is that Blizzard know what to expect and will have respawn rates according to the number of people, hopefully they will use the shared kill model introduced in Molten Front dailies.

    Of course I am no expert and plans can and will change, but the main thrust for me will be to level a Hunter, Shaman and a Mage. That will give me access to Leatherworking, Tailoring, Enchanting and Jewelcrafting. I will be able to use my gatherers in the months to come when more nodes will be available and less road rage will evident.

    Can anybody suggest a better strategy? Is there a better way to get ahead of the angry crowds?

    Friday, 14 September 2012

    New Years Day

    "All is quiet on New Year's Day"
    It might well be quiet on New Year's Day, but it seem to be even quieter in Azeroth. Everybody is making final preparations to say goodbye to Cataclysm and welcome in the new expansion, Mists of Pandaria. There is no news to report because it has all been said already, and we are definitely facing the calm before the storm.
    I sat down to read the Reddit AMA all eager to hear the snippets of excitement from the key people at Blizzard, and quite frankly I got bored half way through it. Why do these things always get hijacked by the dullest saddest people, the Lore Nerds, the Anorak and Thermos Flask brigade.
    Everybody is waiting for the new expansion and there is no real news to be found.
    On a personal note I am still sorting out my characters one at a time. Last night I took my Rogue into LFR, it must be stated at this time I am the world's worst rogue, but this is one character that could really benefit from some gear upgrades before the new expansion. On a scale of priorities from 1-10 the Rogue features at number 9 for leveling purposes, so it is not a major issue that I get some Tier gear before the expansion. It will be 12 months before she gets leveled providing we have some decent end game content.
    The first thing I noticed was that my venoms had all corroded their vials, and without enough time to investigate I went into LFR without any applied. It is only now that I have checked the Patch Notes that I discovered my mistake:
    • Poisons are now Spellbook abilities that affect both weapons at once.
    • Poisons are divided into two categories, Lethal (Deadly or Wound Poison) and Non-Lethal (the rest), and you may have one poison of each type active at once.
    I shall chalk this one down to experience and will be better prepared next time. By the way, don't expect this to be my last noob mistake.
    Patch 5.0.5  dropped this week and was mostly just tooltip changes and bug fixes. It killed my version of Altoholic and now have no way of keeping tabs on my army of alts. After doing a spot of fishing on several characters it looks like the skillup rate as been fixed and is back to a more back breaking average of around 7 catches per skillup instead of 4.
    I have spent some time recently trying to fix my LUA errors, deleting WTF folder and addons. I have been unable to fix the main problem but I am getting far less messages when I open the mailbox. At one point in the process I could not log into any of my characters. It was late at night and decided to go to bed. In the morning it was fixed, so I put this down to be a Blizzard issue, just bad timing on my behalf.
    Looking forward to doing the Theramore scenario, sounds like the Alliance are going to be retreating and the Horde attacking. At least it will break up the monotony.

    Wednesday, 12 September 2012

    Simply The Best

    It pains me to use the title but it goes with the tongue in cheek nature of this post. On Monday I mentioned that Blizzard wants us all to play Druids, Paladins and Monks. In case you have not worked it out, it is the fact that they don't need to party, they can swap specs and do it all. Hunters, Mages, Warlocks and Rogues you are sad buggers who can only deal damage, how pitifully inadequate you are.

    Here are the reasons why Druids rock Azeroth:

    1. Not content with 3 Talent trees, (sorry they will always be talent trees to me) they needed a 4th so that they can Tank, Heal, Melee DPS and Ranged DPS. The rest of us can all go home and tend to our farms and do pet battles.
    2. Instant flight form, no waiting for the Druids. Press that button and fly away.
    3. Picking herbs whilst still in flight form. Nothing will annoy the general populace more than a Druid who sweeps in and steals your herbs. Also Feeling Crabby? you bet when you spent minutes looking for crabs in Stormwind Canals, only for a druid to swoop overhead and pluck it from the canal.
    4. Not content to slum it in Humanoid form why not change into a Cat, a Bear, an Owlkin or a Tree.
    5. If those 4 form changes are not good enough for you, then try another Tree form, or an Aquatic animal (some strange seal/otter hybrid). Also you can now choose an Orca, or a Stag (if you want people to ride on your back).
    6. "If you die in a combat zone, box me up and ship me home", not with a Druid around because they can combat rez your sorry ass. Next time don't stand in the bad.
    7. If you like to heal you can even have a companion pet that looks like you. Also if you spend time as a large bottomed Owlkin you get a companion pet to suit you as well.
    8. A free Portal to Moonglade anytime you like. Oh I am so jealous.
    9. Druids even had a boss that only they could summon.
    10. Druids know where to find all the best drugs, they even carry around Magic Mushrooms.
    So now you know, why Druids are so special, go and get a class transfer now. You know it makes sense.

    Tuesday, 11 September 2012

    All The Young Dudes

    Back in May, the New Blogger Initiative was launched to give a platform to new and newish bloggers. The idea was brilliant and it had a huge buyin from several established bloggers. I decided to do a Where are they now? expose, to see what happened to those fresh faced writers (No, not really I was just mooching around for an idea). I did see some familiar names, people who had been daft enough to start blogging. Many of these people are well established now, with plenty of content and lots of visitor traffic.

    The flipside of this, was the amount of Blogs that never made it out of May, or ran out of steam in June. A veritable bloggers graveyard, at a rough guess of the WoW blogs around 50% are still writing, which is pretty much a good result.

    Using the figures from Jaded Alt for WoW based blogs, 24 joined the NBI and only 13 are still active in September 2012. Not a bad guess at 50%.

    Congratulations to everyone who is still going, and a big thanks to all the contributors who organised the initiative in the first place. The following is the list of active bloggers:

    Bad Tauren
    Musings of an Altoholic
    Scattered Thoughts
    Priest all the Things
    That Was an Accident
    Unliving a Death Knight
    Goetia’s Letters
    Image Heavy
    Auction House on Farm
    Unwavering Sentinel
    Healing Mains

    There is a new expansion on the way, it is a good time to start blogging, and it is certainly a better time to start blogging than at the dog end of an expansion like I did.

    Monday, 10 September 2012


    What is going on with Elemental Shaman? Last week The Grumpy Elf wrote a post entitled How Much is too Much? The general gist was that we now have too many buttons to press, and a later article by Grumpy suggests that the amount of difference by not pressing some of them is not worth the added complexity to the rotations.

    I have 20+ spells for damage dealing and utility on my BM hunter, when I went through the offensive skills for Shaman it did not even fill a complete bar. Now I normally only use my Shaman for healing, but in preparation for MoP I needed to make sure that I am good to go with a damage dealing spec.

    1. Lightning Bolt
    2. Earth Shock
    3. Flame Shock
    4. Lava Burst
    5. Chain Lightning
    6. Earthquake
    7. Frost Shock
    Compare that with BM Hunter

    1. Cobra Shot
    2. Arcane Shot
    3. Kill Command
    4. Dire Beast
    5. Lynx Rush
    6. Bestial Wrath
    7. Readiness
    8. Focus Fire
    9. Serpent Sting
    10. Rapid Fire
    11. Kill Shot
    Macro managing a pet, traps and keeping the Focus regeneration going by weaving in Cobra Shot/Steady Shot the two just do not compete. The Shaman can change the totems around to bring out the elementals and hex for crowd control. Speaking of totems what on earth have they done to them. No more bulk planting totems, this would appear to be a step backwards, in both development and historical terms.

    At this stage it felt like a good time to compare a few specs to see how complex the rotation and priorities are. I am going to use the guides set by Icy Veins as they have a history of producing good guides. For the sake of simplicity I am only comparing single target rotations.

    Beast Master Hunter

    1. Apply Hunter's Mark on the target.
    2. Apply and maintain Serpent Sting to the target
    • it will be refreshed by Cobra Shot so it only needs to be done once, normally.
    3. Cast Kill Command on cooldown.
    4. Cast Kill Shot (only available below 20% health).
    5. Cast Focus Fire when your pet's Frenzy reaches 5 stacks (the icon will glow)
    • do not cast Focus Fire if you are about to use Bestial Wrath(see below)
    • Currently on the Beta, the DPS difference between using Focus Fire wisely and not using it at all (i.e., having your pet have 5 stacks of Frenzy at all times) is practically non-existent.
    6. Cast Arcane Shot to dump any excess focus.
    7. Cast Cobra Shot.

    (6 spells, Hunter's Mark can be Glyphed or applied before the fight)



    • Bestial Wrath, Rapid Fire, Dire Beast, Lynx Rush, and Stampede should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. Stacking these cooldowns is not beneficial, and stacking Bestial Wrath and Rapid Fire is actually detrimental.
     • Rabid (an ability your pet gains if you choose the Ferocity specialisation) should be used as many times as possible during the encounter. You should try to stack this ability with Lynx Rush, Bestial Wrath, or Rapid Fire whenever possible.
     • Glaive Toss should be used on cooldown.
     • Readiness should be used immediately after using Bestial Wrath, Rapid Fire, Lynx Rush, and Dire Beast, in order to reset their cooldown.

    (7 Cooldowns)

    Elemental Shaman

    1. Keep Flame Shock up on the target. Refresh when there are 3 seconds or less left.
    2. Cast Lava Burst on cooldown◦watch out for its cooldown being reset by procs of Lava Surge.
    3. Cast Earth Shock when you have between 5 and 7 charges of Lightning Shield.

    4. Keep Searing Totem up.
    5. Cast Lightning Bolt as a filler.

    If you chose Unleashed Fury as your Tier 6 talent, then using Unleash Elements on cooldown becomes your highest priority.
    If you chose Elemental Blast as your Tier 6 talent, then using it on cooldown becomes your highest priority.

    (5 Spells - Lightning shield and Flametongue Weapon should always be present and are not part of the rotation)


    • Ascendance is your Mists of Pandaria ability. This ability causes your Lava Burst to no longer have a cooldown and your Chain Lightning to become Lava Beam, a more powerful AoE ability. Ascendance has a 3-minute cooldown and should be used whenever it is available. You can also save it to line it up with periods during which you deal increased damage.◦For single-target damage, simply spam Lava Burst and do not let Flame Shock drop, while Ascendance is active.
    ◦For AoE damage, spam Lava Beam while Ascendance is active.

     • Fire Elemental Totem and Earth Elemental Totem are important DPS cooldowns (especially the former, which is by far the most powerful), they should be used whenever your Elementals will be able to attack the boss for 1 minute without being interrupted (unless you are using Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem or you chose Totemic Restoration as you Tier 3 talent). The Elementals will adjust to your statistics over the course of their duration. As such, it often is a good idea to cast them when you expect to receive an Intellect or a Haste buff, for example.
     • Spiritwalker's Grace should be used when you need to move, so that you can keep casting. If you are using Glyph of Unleashed Lightning, you will find yourself using this ability a lot less often.

     • Thunderstorm is both◦an AoE DPS cooldown, which you should always use when you have 6 or more enemies to attack and;
    ◦a mana management tool, which you should use on cooldown if you are having mana issues (most likely from spamming Chain Lightning).

     • Stormlash Totem is a raid-wide DPS cooldown that causes every players within 30 yards of the totem to deal additional Nature damage for 10 seconds. Use it when the raid will deal increased damage (while Heroism / Bloodlust / Time Warp is active, for example).
    (6 Cooldowns)


    Although there is one 1 less spell and 1 less cooldown. Elemental seems to have a far easier rotation, Totems, Shields and Weapon buffs are standard fare and as such are not part of the rotation. BM Hunters also have the added complexity of managing a pet. The feeling is that Mages and Balance Druids will also have easier rotations making Hunters more difficult to play and according to most theorycrafters (not including Blizzard) that Hunters will be bottom of the pile.