Category Archives: A-delving we will go
I may have mentioned how running Torghast on my fire mage makes me feel powerful. Even running it at levels above what I am running on my Hunter (my main), I feel pretty good about my capabilities and capacity.
And then, I ran Floramel, my Warlock, at the same level.
Here’s the problem with Flora. For the past couple of weeks, she’s felt pretty damned (pardon) good. Hitting above her weight, blowing shit up, and generally having a good old time. True, she has a pretty big ramp-up as a Demonology warlock, but once the ramp is upped, we be seeing some pretty good boom.
So, Grimmy got us to, what is it, “level” 10 in Torghast. Illume handled it like a pro. So, when I queued up for it with Flora, I thought, what the hell. She’s gonna pwn this one too.
Er, not so much.
Listen, I admit it. I don’t understand the scaling in Torghast. And Flora was operating at, um, at least two tiers above what she’s rated at. But damn.
Let me essplain a little. Grimm is the main, Illume is next tier down, Jasra is next tier down after that. Flora is more or less my fourth-tier “main”, if that makes any sense at all.
Anyway. Each level’s end boss had some sort of major regeneration thingy going on. I never figured out what that was about, but on the first level I thought maybe it was because I hadn’t killed off all the other creatures on that level, so I went back and cleared the level and then went back and attacked him again – as our guild’s resident Fury Warrior with Rogue Complex frequently said, “no witnesses”. Still was a tough kill. And the one on level 2 was even tougher.
After three hours on two levels, I finally said “no more” and bailed. The Winter Queen was waiting for me, with a big ol’ plate of Humble Pie, but at least it was fresh.
I have frequently felt that BM Hunters and Demo Warlocks were damned near invincible. Tonight was a strong reminder that I ain’t got all the trump cards.
To wit: do I suck as a healer?
Let me lay the background on you. On my first three LFD Heroics, everything seemed to be okay. Keeping people alive wasn’t a big deal, and the 2nd one was especially awesome. The tank was so good, I could have stuck to DPS.
And then I got a string of bad ones. All of them sucked. Everybody died. In some case the baddies were easy to spot – the assholes that stood in the bad and then yelled at me for not dispelling them, that sort of thing.
But as a whole, it was a trend, and I started to have real doubts. Maybe … it was me. Maybe I was just that bad in this expansion. I mean, I didn’t feel any different, but maybe the rest of the game picked up and moved on, and I didn’t Get The Memo.
I was sad.
I had been avoiding running more, to be honest. Any excuse not to, I was taking it. I thought, maybe I’ll skip over Heroics and go right into LFR. Safety in numbers, that sort of thing. Nobody will notice a really sucky Disco priest in among a crowd of 25 or so, right? I mean, I was low.
So tonight’s run was a real conundrum. See, I had that quest that requires you to go into Tol Dagor and get that fourth key, in the Jaina Is Trapped quest line.
I could have wimped, and run it in Normal difficulty, but I felt dirty in that scenario. So in I went.
The first bit was pretty good. The tank was a Brewmaster Monk, very aggressive yet rarely below 50% even when he ran off into the boonies. But then we got to the last boss and toons started dropping like flies.
I don’t know if they were just standing in bad and expecting me to protect them, but both hunters and the ret Palli went down. Now it was just me, the tank, and the Boss. And for the next few minutes I shielded, healed, ducked, covered, and dodged like never before.
And we prevailed.
Everybody in the team was like, “Wow, that was awesome” and stuff like that. I was humbled and stoked all at the same time. We rezzed our fallen, no harm no foul, and all was good.
It reminded me of that time when the Bunnies were raiding Naxx and it was me and the Palli we called Spartacus doing the Safety Dance with Heigen. We took it almost all the way to the enrage timer as we danced our way to fame and fortune. It was an epic win, and this one felt the same.
So after tonight’s adventures, I’m willing to try a few more to see if maybe I just had some bad luck.
Amazing what one good night will do for one’s attitude.
Highmountain is full of flight points that are extremely convenient for some world quests, but which are not entirely clear on how to get to them. In many cases, there are no bread crumbs leading you there or anything like this.
And while there are no end of YouTube vids showing you how to get to them, I’m sick of YT/Twitch echo chamber celebs that aren’t really part of our tribe trying to cash in – it’s like clickbait, 2010’s style.
I digress. Sorry. Video/Twitch “celebrities” just bug the hell outta me.
Anyway, to the far east of Highmountain is a lonely enclave that is inhabited by an odd bunch of Taurens called the Prepfoot Tribe. These guys are preparing for the return of Deathwing – regardless of repeatedly being told that he came, we kicked his ass, and they totally survived it. By “prepare”, I mean they’re preparing by stockpiling stuff and wearing waterproof helms. They don’t offer any quests or rep, but they do have a flight point that is convenient to a number of world quests on the coast. But, since there are no quests or any other involvement with the rest of the world, it’s up to you to discover the way to get there.
First of all, go to the Skyhorn flight point. This is your starting point. From there, take the path to the south until you see a branch to the left – this will take you to The Sepulcher of the Sky. Depending on where you are in your Highmountain questing, the Kolbolds there may or may not be hostile to you.
Directly across from where you enter the area, there’s a grassy drop off. Go over to that, that’s the start of the path to the Prepfoots … er, Prefeet?
Run down to the path and follow it off to the right …
Looks like you’re going to fall off, but you won’t. Eventually you come to a switchback.
Make a u-ey back the other way and follow the path. At one point the path looks like it’s blocked, but it isn’t.
From there on out, it’s a more or less straight shot. Despite the rain.
And for your cork board, here’s the full path marked out on the map.
Once you get the flight point, you can go due north from there and find a steep path down to the sea, where a Kirin Tor puzzle World Quest pops occasionally, and if you continue north you will find some Highmountain WQs as well.
Okay, fine. You want a youtube? I’ll give you a youtube.
Though I am loathe to link them, wowdb has a pretty decent Artifact Calculator up. This is our first glimpse at the progression of our new main weapons in Legion, as well as some spells and abilities associated with specific specs.
Without chewing too long on any particular weapon, I do notice one big thing, which is this.
Old-school WoW players that enjoyed the pre-Cata talent trees (such as, me!) will probably like the look and feel of this new feature.
If you go over there and click around a little bit, you’ll see what I mean. All
talents Artifact traits are constructed in a very familiar way: start out here, which enables you go go here or here, possibly after you select this many of this talent artifact trait. They usually (as far as I can tell) offer two specific paths to follow, so you can emphasize in what area you like, or homogenize as pleases you.
Let’s look at the Frost Mage artifact, Ebonchill, as an example. You’ll see that two fairly distinct paths are offered – one heavier on defensive, one heavier on offensive, with some common traits and crossover paths between them. This is a very familiar mechanism to us old-schoolers.
And I kinda like it.
Given, these are all very early beta / late alpha stuff, i.e. datamined stuff and some speculation, which the underwriters of WoWDB excel at (the speculation that is). So take with a grain of salt. But the overarching way that the Artifact traits will be implemented and/or controlled.
It implies that there are realistic choices to be made, and that those choices will be dictated by your toon’s chosen lifestyle. For example, I can see a Questing toon go for the higher defensive path and later emphasizing offensive / DPS. \
I’m also assuming that there will be a respec / reset feature at some point available.
What’s interesting is that we’re losing a lot of “choices” in our glyphs – Major glyphs are going away, for example – while gaining many choices here. It’s apparent to me that character modification is moving into an area that is more blatantly relevant to the player, without providing the endless mini-game that was the WotLK talent trees.
I personally liked that mini-game, in that it gave me a lot of flexibility. But Blizz’s contention was that for most specs, there was one, and only one, true build for maximum raiding performance, so they normalized those non-choices out and left behind only “real” choices in the three-lane talent … trees we have today. Mind you, I’m not sure I agree with the terminology they use, as I continue to see cookie-cutter specs take over raiding and PvP as applies to the user, with the only real “choices” being between talents that nobody cares about anyway.
Normalizing to irrelevancy is not, IMO, a good thing, which is why I’m both excited to see the new Artifact designs, and apprehensive about the ultimate outcome.
It will be interesting to see where this is going, but for the time being it looks like it will take a predictable path, different from Vanilla in only the form which it takes. By the first week of beta, there will be just a few optimized configurations that render the maximum effect for each spec.
One last thing.
Datamining has revealed a Fishing Pole Artifact. Ain’t that a hoot.
The new Timewalking feature that is coming out in 6.2 will present you with the opportunity to run a dungeon of the past – say, BC or WotLK dungeons – with your iLevel and other stats scaled down to match that instance.
They’re also providing rewards that scale UP to your current Level 100 badassedness, which is kind of interesting. This is a clear example of how well the core design team has progressed in abstracting item and character statistics to the point that all they have to do is pull a few levers to tweak an item in a very precise way. Five years ago, this would have been unthinkable.
But as much as I’d like to go down that rabbit hole, I’m more interested in looking at the whole Timewalking experience, and the potential consequences of letting players romp around in old instances at appropriate levels with other players of suitable skill and maturity levels.
Simply stated … what if, in the process of timewalking, players come to realize that the old instances were a lot more FUN than the current batch?
Or, conversely, what if longtime players find out that their memories of older instances were somewhat skewed by the influence of nostalgia?
I have one specific instance in mind. Hellfire Ramparts. You remember it, I’m sure. The endless, slogging, crawl up that front causeway only to end up in a densely packed terrace full of angry mobs ready to rush you if you twitched the wrong way. The planning. The CC. The precision required, especially at Heroic difficulty.
Was Ramps an exemplar of a well-done instance that called for the best in a group, or was it a poorly implemented meat grinder that people saw WAY too much of?
It’ll be interesting to see how people react to this when 6.2 goes live.
WoW is in a similar position to a lot of high / gothic fantasy and terrestrial MMOs, in that adding new play areas is often a case of the game designers pulling new zones out of their metaphorical asses. WoW is in a lot better position than most in that there are plenty of other canonical worlds out there, though oddly they’d rather go the time traveling grandfather killer route than actually explore those other worlds ((And if you take that to mean that I think that the WoD premise is just plain lazy storytelling, you might be onto something.)).
While I usually look forward to exploring other worlds, the thing I actually am enjoying when I do that is the exploration of new zones, regardless of where they are, and the discovery of fun things. But I’m very sensitive to the harmony of the zone with the established dogma of a fantasy world, and I often feel the “new world” approach is very disharmonious with the established dogma when it comes to my completionist makeup.
What is he going on about?
Let me put it all out there: I think that the three worlds we know now – Azeroth, Outland, and Draenor – are only partially explored, only partially revealed to us.
Draenor and Outland are, at this point, only conjecture on my part, but it’s common sense. Looking at the tiny island that makes up what we know of Draenor, there are only two possibilities. The first is that Draenor as we know it is a speck of land half the size of Khaz Modan and an ocean the size of Azeroth. The other possibility is that Draenor as we know it is just one land mass among many, that the world of Draenor is largely unexplored by ourselves.
This does of course open all sorts of possibilities, including lost tribes of Draenei, Orcses, Ogreses, and other denizens of Draenor that we have either encountered or been hinted to.
And since Draenor as we know it is the bedrock upon which Outland is built, that also means that for every lost continent of Draenor, there is a possibility of the same lost continent of Outland, only with more shatteryness. For lore purposes, it also opens a lot of possibilities since we have 35 years of Azerothian lore on that shattered land mass and its supposed compatriots.
Alleria‘s gotta be hiding somewhere, right?
Closer to Home
But what I’m getting at is this.
Azeroth only makes sense, from a climatic point of view, if you assume that it is only half explored.
Kalimdor and Khaz Modan make excellent sense climatically if you assume that they are northern hemisphere continents. Both continents are arctic to subarctic in the north, and tropical or arid in the south. Khaz Modan’s northern half is very European, while its south is very tropical. Kalimdor’s northern parts are very North American, and its south is very African – arid, dry, desert.
If Kalimdor and Khaz Modan were truly global, you’d expect Tanaris and Stranglethorn and Pandaria to be subarctic at the very least, rather than the tropical – dare I say, equatorial – climates they exhibit.
It only makes sense that the equator of Azeroth passes somewhere in the vicinity, or just south, of Pandaria, rather than in between the Arathi Highlands and Wetlands as depicted on some representations.
You Can’t Prove a Negative
Mea culpa – the possibility that those two continents are northern hemispheric does not in any way prove the existence of one or more southern hemispheric continents. It merely opens up the possibility. It provides an opening into which these land masses could be inserted.
For all we know, the southern hemisphere of Azeroth is an empty ocean, devoid of little more than the occasional island kingdom that would provide a content patch’s worth of exploration at most. But there is one or more expansions’ worth of space in this alleged southern hemisphere, and not exploiting it seems to me, as a certain fictional astronomer’s fictional father said, “a waste of space”.
The Solid Case Against
There is, however, a solid case against the possible existence of these alleged continents. In fact, there is a solid case against Kalimdor and Khaz Modan being northern continents rather than globally spanning. There are three such cases that I am aware of, in fact.
Hard to see detail, admittedly.
The first is revealed either when raiding Black Temple, or doing the Warlock “Green Fire” quests. At one point you can look up, and see, in the sky above you, the planet Azeroth. I have absolutely no explanation as to why this is – you can’t see Draenor from Azeroth, after all – and from any other point on Outland, you can’t see it. But from that particular point, you can. And the planet you see shows the two continents spanning the planet from north to south. This makes no sense whatsoever on many levels, but it is there as established game lore, and that’s that. Azeroth, as seen from The Black Temple, has no missing southern continents.
It also doesn’t appear to have Pandaria or Northrend, either. So the infallibility index of this sighting just took a dive. If you’re gonna use this sighting as an example of why the North is alone, it needs to at least include all of current lore within it. And the weak tea excuse of “But it was made before Northrend was part of the map” also works for “But it was made before the southern continents were part of the map” as well, now doesn’t it?
Moving on, then.
Dungeon delvers in Ulduar are familiar with the room just prior to Loken’s in Halls of Lightning. It bears within it a holographic representation of Azeroth. And, just like the BT sky-orb, this holo-orb shows no indications of there being more to Azeroth. It also doesn’t show Pandaria, so once again we have no evidence that this ancient holo-orb is actually accurate, or if the Titans are trolling us.
Finally, we have the globe that Algalon uses as an instrument of destruction against Azeroth. Not only does it show no more than the other two representations, it also shows one of Azeroth’s moons as a crescent, which is just weird if it’s supposed to be an accurate representation. Clearly it is not, nor intended to be.
These are the facts
The facts are, there is no evidence that there is a southern hemisphere beyond the shores of Tanaris and Uldum. No sign of a missing southern continent. No support for a theory that there is more to Azeroth than we can see right now. But there is also no solid evidence against it, nor against a missing continent (or raft thereof) on Outland and Draenor.
All we have is this.
- in 2007, there was no reason to believe that Northrend or Pandaria were real, and they were not depicted in any available representation.
- The physical climate of this imaginary world of Azeroth makes absolutely no sense without an unexplored southern hemisphere.
- Draenor and Outland are too small to be entire planets. There must be more.
The Possibilities are Endless
We know that Blizz is near the end of its planned story arc for WoW. This arc, so widely known, has proven to be a burden that they’ve fought hard to shake off, coming up with the ridiculous plot of WoD as a way of bucking the system and shaking up our expectations. But even if the next two expansions adhere slavishly to that timeline, there is so much potential left in that prophesied timeline of Azeroth.
But imagine an entire set of southern continents equal in size and scope with Khaz Modan and Kalimdor. What might we find there? Feral Elves that predate the Titans? A whole continent of Trolls? What of Draenor / Outland? Might we find an entire land where the Draenei reverted to Eredar ways? Did Turalyon and Alleria start a new Alliance-based ((Did the Alliance as we know it even exist then? This might be retro-futuristic Alliance, if not.)) trade empire just out of sight? Where might there be dragons? A lost Ogre empire?
There are clues. That anonymous bit of land to the southwest on the Draenor map. The ports on Draenor! Why build massive ports unless you are trading with people that you can’t reach by land?
The stories for these places are completely unwritten. But, like Pern’s “Southern continent”, bursting with potential.
I hope we get to see them.
I’m a sucker for a good questionnaire, and this one is relevant to my interests.
I’ll let the Qs speak for themselves. And if you want to chime in, go over to her blog (link above) and give her an earful!
When did you start playing video games?
In the 1970s … when they started appearing in the Pinball arcades. Yeah. Pinball arcades were a thing back then, and as video games started coming out, the video cabinets started displacing the pinball machines. But pinball was my gateway drug to video gaming, no doubt about it.
What is the first game you remember playing?
Video game: Pong … when I could find someone to play with me.
Game in general … checkers.
But it was strategy (board) games like Squad Leader or Star Fleet Battles or Submarine (in fact, most of the Avalon Hill lineup) that positioned me to get into AD&D, and that was my gateway in general.
PC or Console?
Standup console … this was before we had video games in our homes. But the first one of THOSE that I played was on a friend’s Sears Pong console. The first one I actually OWNED was a Magnavox Odyssey 2. It was wretched, even back then.
XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?
Jesus H. Christ on a unicycle, how young ARE you? My first two vid consoles were the aforementioned Odyssey 2, and a used Mattel Intellivision 2. Neither of which you probably heard of, from the sound of it.
What’s the best game you’ve ever played?
I would never be able to nail that down to one game. Railroad Tycoon on the Amiga ((A computer platform from the days of the Platform Wars. “Platform” used to mean something slightly more profound than “AMD or Intel”.)) kept me playing for years, until my miggy finally died from fractured PLCC socket woes. Close behind it, Civilization III on the PC. Civ I was great, and I played it until my miggy died, but Civ III hit a sweet spot.
What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?
Sid Meiers’ Rails! was one of the biggest disappointments of all time. OF ALL TIME ((Anyone else think it’s funny that both my favorite and least favorite games come from the same guy?)). In the vid cabinet world, I loathe and abhor Tempest.
Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.
Quake. I enjoy the FPS genre, but I felt Doom2 was the pinnacle of iDs output at the time; Quake seemed to be a poorly executed implementation of Doom in 3D.
Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
I really liked Wizardry 8 and am really glad I got in on the pre-purchase … those that didn’t, didn’t even get the disks.
What are your favorite game genres?
God Games / Strategy games. Games like Civ, RRT, Populous, Settlers
Who is your favorite game protagonist?
Jaina Proudmoore. I keep hoping that someday, she’ll remember she is powerful.
Describe your perfect video game.
Keeps me coming back time and time again. Not story driven. Not scenario driven (unless those are randomly or procedurally generated). Has many layers (think of Star Fleet Command’s galactic versus tactical levels). Never ends. Never plays the same twice. Scalable difficulty.
What video game character do you have a crush on?
I prefer my own species, thanks. "Crushing" on vid game characters seems to be a post-FF-VII thing, which was not my jam.
But Fanny Thundermar … she does make me think twice about that from time to time even if I don’t have an arse like an anvil.
What game has the best music?
Descent / Descent 2. Can’t beat that with a stick. I was le disappoint with Descent 3 for not carrying forward the tradition.
Most memorable moment in a game:
Most of the games I play have no real dramatic moments in them. Sepiroth doesn’t reveal he’s Luke’s father as you take over his company in RRT.
But there’s the time my guild downed the final boss while he was still relevant. Or the Wrathgate event (which actually crashed my computer the first time). Or that time that (SPOILERS) Yoshimo turned coat in the big bad’s lair (didn’t see that one coming).
Scariest moment in a game:
Eye of the Beholder on the Amiga … the sounds of lurking monsters, just around the corner or on the other side of that wall? The Amiga team for this game did an outstanding job of making the ambient sound dial up the creep factor.
Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:
I have no heart. For otherwise I would care about video game characters. Baldur’s Gate II tried real hard for me to care about the wingless elf’s plight, but she just came across as whiney and clingy and resentful. Note to dialog writers (and this is true especially of Blizzard’s): show, don’t tell.
Well, there’s Socks ((Socks! Nooooooooooooooo!!!)).
What are your favorite websites/blogs about games?
I have a giant list. Perhaps you have seen it in the sidebar. I am somewhat voracious.
What’s the last game you finished?
The kind of games I generally play don’t have "finishes". But if I look back far enough … Descent 3. I think that’s the last story-driven game I purchased that I actually played all the way through. Maybe Riven on the PS2, but I don’t think I actually finished it. Wasn’t interesting enough for me to remember, if I did. Homeworld 2, possibly, though I might have stopped playing because of the interface. But I did finish Homeworld. Was that more recent than D3?
What future releases are you most excited about?
Elite: Dangerous. Between this and Star Citizen, I have hopes of finding a space trader game that isn’t Eve. If Braben can find the sweet spot between Frontier and Eve, that would be great.
Do you identify as a gamer?
Why do you play video games?
Not because I feel obligated. I play for fun. And the daystar burns, so outside is not an option.
Is that a cop-out? Am I supposed to write something deep and interesting here? If so, I fail, for it’s nothing more than that. It’s recreation. Nothing more than that.
Our weekend routine generally involves each of the 80s running the daily random, and, since three of them are DPS, a lot of fishing or gathering. Since fish leads to fish feasts and herbs lead to glyphs and other stuff, it’s a win all around.
Usually our experience is pretty good. Oh, there’s hurry hurry stuff going on, and occasional oopsies, but generally it’s been a positive experience. Between the four of us, we’ve had three or four failpugs so far.
And yet, yesterday, I deliberately dropped out of a pug before it started. Oculus, you say? Nope. I’m down with Oculus. No, I dropped from Heroic Halls of Reflection.
The reasoning behind this is difficult to explain, but suffice it to say that generally speaking it’s a very frustrating experience for ranged DPS. The most difficult aspect is reaching agreement on targeting priorities when nobody is willing to speak. Inevitably we fail to focus fire properly, the healer goes down, and it’s all over until we do the monochrome marathon, if we don’t have one or more quit as well.
So, Flora, Illume, and myself just won’t do it with strangers. Friends, guildies, sure. Pugs, no.
The ironic part of this is that Jasra doesn’t mind healing it at all. It’s challenging, yes, but if she gets killed by mobs, nobody’s going to claim she was at fault. Dying’s part of the game.