Category Archives: Expansions

I was not prepared?

image

As is customary in my WoW life, every two months or so I poke my nose back into Classic, continuing the epic adventures of a Dwarven BM hunter and friends as they advance through the ranks. My experiences thus far have been mixed – I like the game mechanics better, but also you can’t futz around – or you’ll find out.  Classic WoW is a lot more dangerous than Retail.

I haven’t been on since before TBC rolled out to Classic, and when I last left my guy, he was struggling through a bunch of Elite quests and areas in the high 30s to low 40s.   Pretty much everything green was Elite, and everything that wasn’t Elite was pretty much yellow, orange, and red.  With the limited toolset of the Classic hunter, there was a lot of struggling.  Not impossible, but I worked for every bit of it.

So I was nowhere near max level anyway (or even 58, when the cheaters head to Hellfire) so regardless of when TBCC rolled out, I wasn’t too concerned. And that was pretty much how I was thinking about the transition from Classic to TBCC. Probably have to reset talents, but no big deal, ya know?

In my defense I did not recall a lot of the differences between Vanila and TBC – I quested to around 54 on my highest toon in Vanilla, then quit, and didn’t return until just before the TBC launch, where I started all over again (we didn’t have character restores back then).

So I was not prepared for the complete night-and-day contrast between Classic and TBC Classic.

Hunter pets are more resilient. They hold aggro far better. Shot rotations are far less cumbersome. Hell, even mounts are cheaper! Those elite quests? Far more in line with what I expect for a BM hunter (i.e.: no sweat). Yellas, pretty much same thing.

Also, remember this gal? Wonder what she’s up to these days?

imageAlso, I’m very annoyed that Disco priest is so unpopular that the more popular strategy sites (looking at YOU, Icy Veins) don’t even HAVE a Disco guide.

That’s all right, I’ve been doing Disco longer than Icy Veins have been around. They can suck it.

 

Dragged it out, but here I am

image

Roughly a month after Shadowlands released, here I am at 60. I was in no particular hurry and have probably been left far behind by my guildmates. However, if you gulp you can get indigestion, so I’ve been chewing slowly and steadily.

My approach has been to take one toon up a level, then another, and then another, with a level’s separation between Grimm / Illume / Jasra / Floramel. So, today I popped 60 on Grimm which means when I next level Illume, she’ll pop 59, and so forth.

This has worked pretty well before, but there’s a problem with Shadowlands.

In the past, there has been a barely-visible set of railroad tracks under your feet, but they took multiple paths to max level. In BC we all started in one place, then took multiple paths out of there. In Wrath we started in two different places. Same for Cataclysm, with a reversion to the BC model in MoP and WoD and BfA, and a great multiple entry model in Legion (the best IMO).

But here, in Shadowlands, we’re locked on to very strong tracks, and they will not abide deviation from a given path.  You don’t advance from one zone to the next without achieving certain key points – Maldraxxus is the most blatant, with its five runes.  Get all five and you’re off to Ardenweald.

I do see that there are flight points available to all zones at some point, but I’m not sure if you can actually fly to one out of sequence.  Something to look into.

So, overall it’s been a slice, but it’s been an increasingly boring slice. Hopefully once I complete all the storylines I will have more choice in what I do next, but right now it feels like some bloke in Irvine is playing the game for me. The levelling game feels like it’s been written out of the story so we can rush into endgame.  Seriously, why not eliminate it completely if that’s how you feel? Publish a comic book and be done with.

I’m pretty sure that this game would be a lot more playable for my alts if I maxxed out one character before levelling any of the others, but that basically means I needed to have foreseen this and adjusted my playstyle before I ever played. Pretty stupid assumption if I’m honest.  Never trust a software engineer – or game designer – to be particularly smart.

The most annoying part of this is that Shadowlands would be easily playable as a four-starting-zones game, ala Legion. But they chose not to do it that way. Reflect on that.

Delayed

https://bnetcmsus-a.akamaihd.net/cms/blog_header/91/91RKJ6KC62PA1594365571485.jpg

Today we got the news: Shadowlands has been delayed until later this year. And the response has been … well, kinda mellow.

I think everybody involved was kinda aware that, a month out, the beta was kind of a hot mess.  I, personally, can not relate that one way or the other – even though I have a beta invite, I’ve never felt all that excited about unstructured testing of software that hid its design from the tester.  I come from a QA past, and I prefer my testing more structured.

But I digress.

While I was not involved in testing, I hear things. From people that were testing. And those things were along the lines of “damn this worries me”.

And then there’s Blizz’ contribution to the general zeitgeist. While they’re very clearly hiding the design behind very thick walls, they can’t hide the patch notes without, well, just not issuing patch notes – and we’re not there yet. So as each beta patch came out, and they indicated that yet again another system was reset, or tweaked, or redesigned, the mood among those of us that are noting this sort of thing becomes more and more uneasy.

Let’s be clear. A month out from the announced launch date, there should be NOTHING subject to redesign, rebaselining, or reset.  And yet, we’ve seen all three within five weeks of the proposed launch date.  So, let’s be clear, SHADOWLANDS IS A HOT MESS.

This evening Blizz announced via public channels that they were definitely not ready for launch, and via private channels (email) that they’d even refund your repurchase for Shadowlands if this for some bizarre reason caused you major butthurt. (They wrote it more diplomatically but I don’t give a damn about diplomacy so if you have issues with that, take your butthurt ass about a mile down the road and make a left turn into I don’t give a fuckland.)

out of my face

The upshot I have seen from most humans has been positive. They are aware of the issues currently in place (i.e. covenants suck) and are more than happy to wait for this to be fixed.  I agree. The 10% or so against that I’ve seen are basically the entitled asshats that bitch about anything, especially the ones that haven’t pre-purchased. Go demand to speak with the manager, Karen.

Back in the day, Blizz had a “it will ship when it’s ready” attitude. For example, BC was scheduled to ship in 2006, but actually shipped in 2007 when they famously delayed the launch to put in some polish (whereas “polish” means fixing game-killing bugs).  Side note: Day One of the patch was, in fact, a major clusterfuck. I was still levelling in Wetlands and the entire realm crashing when my guildies entered Hellfire was an experience I wish not to repeat.

So it’s nice to see that that attitude still exists.  I have no doubt that somebody will take a fall for this, and when they do, look for Activistion and Bobby Kotick to be holding the smoking gun. That will tell you all you need to know – who the hero(es) are, as well as who the villain is.

I personally am pleased that Blizz is committing to quality over schedule. As a former QA person, I am especially pleased, but, as a customer, I am also pleased. I feel comforted that somebody is trying to avoid pushing rotten code onto my PC.  I have enough rotten code sitting here already, so anyone pushing against rotten code is my hero.

Listen, guys, “later this year” is at most an 8-week delay.  8 weeks is nothing. The year 2020 has been what, 200 weeks long so far? We can do this.

Inscription in Shadowlands: some disappoint.

image

Investigating for YOU

I’ve foray’d into the PTR and, if it is accurate, there are zero changes regarding glyphs in the new expansion.

We’ve always previously seen some glyphs dropped, some added, in the pre-patch.  But in this expansion there are zero changes.

This is an incredibly disquieting development (or rather, lack of).  Kind of makes you wonder if we’re seeing the final days of Glyphs.

Okay, so, considering that there are zero changes regarding glyphs – all glyphs that existed before, are still there, and there are no new glyphs – then this is what is what Scribes can expect from the new expansion. Brace yourselves – it’s pretty disappointing.

Inks

We get, as best I can tell, three new inks.

  • Tranquil Ink (green)
  • Luminous Ink (normal)
  • Umbral Ink  (normal)

Each requires a pigment of the same name, plus Aerated Water and Rune etched vial.  Pretty much like we had in BfA – RGB.

Vantus Runes

The same old crap is carried forward.  Rather than per-boss as Legion did, we’re per-Raid as with BfA.  Which is fine by me, but, I need to point out, in these BfA required more in mats than it sold for. So I expect these to be of minimal usefulness.

Equipment

We get a few bits and pieces here. Past experience indicates that this stuff will be quickly outpaced by raiding content.

  • Fae Revel Masque (Cosmetic, so not likely to go “out of style”)
  • Soul Keeper’s Column (staff)
  • Soul Keeper’s Spire (staff)
  • Newly Departed Codex (off-hand) (and might I add, sounds like a Beetlejuice callback)

Darkmoon Cards

The usual dealy here. Crank a card. Get a random.  The Death recipe is the usual deal, except occasionally it produces a blank card of one of the four suites.  That’s where the other four recipes come in.

  • Death – Randomly one of the four suits
  • Putrescence
  • Repose
  • The Indomitable
  • Voracity

Optional Reagents

These items represent a new feature of crafting. Basically, depending on whether you have learned them, these can be applied as an optional reagent to gear you are crafting. I’m not sure if they are soulbound or not, but, if they are, they’re immediately worthless.  It looks like all professions have a version of this, which also means the market will be flooded if they ARE sellable.

  • Novice Crafter’s Mark
  • Crafter’s Mark I
  • Crafter’s Mark II
  • Crafter’s Mark III
  • Crafter’s Mark IV

New item type, ensures an item has a specific spec.  This works similar to the Crafter’s Marks.  From the looks of it, only Scribes can make these, so it looks like this might be a source of income.

  • Critical Strike
  • Haste
  • Mastery
  • Versatility

Contracts

We know what these do. Past experience indicates that these quickly devalued and cost more to make than they sold for.

  • Court of Harvesters
  • The Ascended
  • The Undying Army
  • The Wild Hunt

Books and Scrolls

Not sure why we have to have a codex/tome per expansion for this. Seems pretty stupid TBH. (and thus, Grimmtooth is forbidden early access in the future. Suck it, Blizz).

  • Codex of the Still Mind
  • Tome of the Still Mind
  • Writ of Grave Robbing – this is basically a lockpicking scroll.

Mass Milling

So these are the various herbs that we get to harvest?

These appear to follow the pattern of BfA, more or less, in that particular herbs are not bound to particular zones.

  • Deathblossom
  • Marrowroot
  • Nightshade
  • Rising Glory
  • Vigil’s Torch
  • Widowbloom

Accidental Joiner

image

Minding my own business in Dalaran (Wrath version) and this guy appears with a quest icon over his head.  Says I, “this looks interesting” so I clicked on him.

imageAfter that, I looked him up on WoWHead.

Maybe I should have done that first, since he shortly disappeared. Turns out that he’s summoned by using the special mount that you get when you buy the deluxe version of Shadowlands.

So basically the only way I will be able to turn in the quest, assuming it completes, is if someone near me summons him.  I think.  It would be just typical if I couldn’t actually turn in.

I thought about dropping it, but I think I’ll hang on to it and see what happens.

Legion was a Bad Idea

image

Okay, hear me out.

Throughout WoW, there was no big bad badder than the Legion. We were told, this was the ultimate goal.  We were even teased that the war against the Legion would continue into Anduin’s old age.

And then came the Legion expansion, and we chumped Sargeras and, somehow (?) the Legion was rendered moot.

Now, we’re in a strange place where instead of hopping world too world after Dem Legions, we’re fussing around with Fancy Trolls and Thicc Bois and blowing each other up. And something something Teldrassil, and “anticipating” an adventure in the land of the dead.

It’s weird. Pursuit of the Legion had enough built in content to keep this game going for decades, with a wide diversity of possible worlds, multiple opportunities to switch things up, and ample opportunities for engaging new races and characters and maybe even classes.

Compared to this, Shadowlands feels – to me – like flailing about wildly for “what’s next”, a Dr. Strangesque excursion into a place that we didn’t really feel compelled to go in the first place.

I’m not sure who’s idea Legion was at the point that occurred, but I really feel “don’t schedule the endgame until you’re ready for the endgame” seems to be fairly rational advice, and I can’t believe nobody gave this advice to that person.

I’m surely giving Shadowlands a fair shake. But I feel somewhat less than excited to do so. BfA at least stirred my blood with the burning of Teldrassil, but this time I feel like, “can we just close the gateway and leave her in there?”

Hey, there are a few things I am truly looking forward to, starting with (and primarily) the new appearance options we’ll get for our characters. But everything else I’ve seen so far leaves me feeling flat.

I wonder how others are feeling about it.  I imagine the hardcore raiders / pvpers are indifferent, as long as they get new raids and stuff. 

Inscription is Facked.

FACK

I’ve been long delayed in my report on BfA inscription.  A large part of that delay has been Blizzard’s delay in implementation of a reasonable system for Scribes to create Glyphs.

Lemme essplain.  No. Is too much. Lemme summarize.

Starting in the expansion following (3.0) the introduction of Glyphs (2.0), Blizz offered a mechanism for Scribes to create glyphs that were introduced in every expansion. In short, the Ink Trader.  The Ink Trader allowed you to exchange whatever the current expansion’s primary ink for inks from previous expansions.  So, for example, if you were in the Cataclysm expansion, you could exchange Blackfallow Ink for any ink required to create glyphs in Vanilla, BC, or WotLK. In MoP, then you could exchange inks from that expansion for older inks. And so forth. I hope you’re keeping up.

Which brings us to the most notable absence from the current expansion.  Normally, at the introduction of the x.0 patch for an expansion, the Ink Traders in all faction hubs (Stormwind, Shattrath, etc as an example) would provide an exchange of whatever that expansion’s most common ink was for any other ink in the game. For example, in Legion, we could exchange Roseate Pigment for inks from previous expansions.

But now we’re in weird territory.

When BfA rolled, we expected an Ink Trader in the faction cities to accept one of the inks from the current expansion (we figured it would be Ultramarine Ink) for inks from previous expansions. But we found nothing. At that point, the previous expansion (Legion) still held sway. So the only way to create inks for all expansions was: farm Legion inks (Roseate Pigment) or go gather herbs on the continents from the previous expansions, and mill them. This was less than optimal. In a world where we expected to exchange Ultramarine Ink  for other inks, we were met with disappointment, at a massive scale. And now we are in 8.1.0, and there is still no sign of an ink Trader in Boralas, much less Stormwind.

So what we are doing, here in the first content patch of BfA, is farming Legion herbs.  BfA herbs are almost useless – there are three Druid glyphs in this expansion, and that is it – so we are currently either selling them off – a poor financial investment – or banking them against an expected future where they are actually useful.   At this point, I am becoming cynical.

So what is actually going on?  Those that are willing to attribute an  actual plan to all of this are welcome to comfort themselves in the actual market, but those of us that are embedded in the current market are doubtful. Currently, Dreamleaf (https://www.wowhead.com/item=124102/dreamleaf#comments) is the king of the Inscription market due to its secondary conception of Roseate and Sallow (especially Sallow) pigments. BfA Inscription is pretty much dead. And the WoW customer service accounts are pretty much silent on the topic after multiple pokes.

That is: currently. Aside from Cards of *, it is currently impossible to turn BfA herbs into a profit. And Blizzard doesn’t seem to care even so much as to stroke your ego. Sorry.

BtW: in case you were thinking of switching to Alchemy:

image

Herb-related crafting in BfA is, to be quite brutally honest, a cluster-fuck.  You’re best served in just selling the herbs (especially Legion herbs) than trying to make a profit at Inscription or Alchemy.

Burn, baby burn!

port 2018-12My mage has been, but for a brief time in Vanilla, Frost through and through.  But when Legion came around, Frost took a big hit in effectiveness. Reluctantly, I gave fire a try … and over the course of the expansion, got to like it – a lot.

When BfA came out the sims were showing Fire had declined and Frost was once again ascendant. Not entirely happy with the rotation, but I took it up and got into the swing of it again, and it was reasonably serviceable, and my numbers were not hideous.

But looking at the charts, I found that the sims seemed to be not entirely accurate – fire was, in the raid charts, far higher up on average than Frost. 

So here I am again.  The old rotation is  gone (that rather required that famous sword and its attendant abilities) but the current one doesn’t feel as broken now as it did at the start of the expansion.

And when those crits pop … so satisfying, I can’t really put into words how amazing it is when they string out one after another.

The downside is that this is a short-lived crit train … once the party’s over, I have to build up some procs again, and that’s usually boring old fireball after fireball.

The charts also show that Arcane is king of the Mage specs right now.  I tried Arcane once.

ONCE

Never could get the hang of it.

But setting things on fire … that never gets old.

So about that thing

If you’re not up with the latest happenings of the past hours (i.e. the commencement of War of the Thorns Pt. 2 and the animated Sylvanas Warbringers story) and care deeply about spoilers, close this tab now and come back when you’re caught up.  There will be no further coddling.

.

.

.

.

.

I want to say first of all a few words about some peoples’ reactions.

One rotten development of this is that a lot of people have been harassing Christie Golden and others associated with the writing of this game, the shorts, and related media. I don’t care if you don’t like the direction a character is taking, harassment is out of line.   It’s one thing to analyze the story without mercy, to call shit out, and express even disgust with the proceedings. Fine. Be as dramatic as you want about a video game.

(I don’t care how many years of your life you’ve “invested” in it. That just makes you look bad when you couch it in those terms. Stop making a fool of yourself).

But personal abuse of any sort is way beyond the pale. Take it down or get the Bitch Slap of the Apocalypse for your troubles.  That’s my personal promise.


Back to the story.

We’ve known for a year that Teldrassil would burn. We’ve known that likely Sylvanas would be the burner, and that Azerite might in some way figure into all of this.

Blizzard assured us that Sylvanas wasn’t going full on evil, saying the world was “gray, not black and white”, or words to that effect.

Aaaand Sylvanas then turned full on evil.  She burned that tree down for spite’s sake.

I don’t want to hear how she was better off not fighting a Resistance so it was a good tactical move. She had full on planned to capture until Delaryn Summermoon sassed her, telling her she would never defeat hope. And Sylvanas, morally grey Warchief of the Horde, who until then had other plans, ordered the tree burned. AND forced Delaryn to watch it. Deliberately, sadistically.

This is not me RPing angry Alliance, this is me saying that the character they depicted shows all the signs of a sadistic, evil creature not too far removed from Garrosh Hellscream himself. Cruel, capricious, and, from what I can see, just plain greedy. She’s missing a moustache to twirl, but so is Elon Musk.

And that’s a problem for Horde players that have been “we’re not evil” for all these years.  Granted, this is the same Horde that Pearl Harbor’d Theramore and Scourged Gilneas, but otherwise a peaceful, pastoral group of people that were just trying to get by, farm grain, murder elves, same as everyone else.

The Horde now have a maniac in charge again, and I think this time it’s breaking them.  I have seen a LOT of people revolting. (I’ve seen some revolting people too, which we’ll speak of in a moment). They are not happy and they are making themselves known.

In a way it’s kinda comforting to know that some people, when confronted with what their nation has become, will not, in actuality, go along with it.  It feels like maybe we’ve learned something from the Nazis after all. Refrains of “Not our Warchief” reflect the real-world cries of “Not our President”. In a way, I wonder if Blizz isn’t making some sort of statement here.


jas and teldrassil

Sliding back into the story … it’s hard to take it all in.  I have two Kaldorei toons, both noob’d on Teldrassil back when getting to Stormwind was a harrowing journey through high-level dangers. I have a lot of memories associated with Darkshore, Teldrassil, Auberdine, and points beyond. A big chunk of my WoW history is literally up in flames now. Others are taking it even harder. Some people are tremendously attached to their gentle elvenfolk and feel as betrayed as the Hordies that can’t cope with their murderer-in-chief.

Right now the Kaldorei and Gilneans are camped out in Stormwind Harbor (seriously, Anduin, can we get some housing here?) and presumably they will be in search of new digs after all of this settles. Though, personally, I think, after they fill in that nasty basement, Lorderon would make a fine new home for our displaced friends.  And maybe they’ll team up and take back Gilneas as well – that’s a huge waste of a beautiful city otherwise.

Maybe once the Sindorei disavow the Horde and join the Alliance, they will reunite with their sylvan relatives, we can fire up the jets, and Kaz Modan can fly off to Mars like a rocket ship.

Hey, you never know. Haven’t you read ElfQuest?

How to Disco: BfA Prepatch Edition

anduin-poseToday, WoWHead released a guide to changes that will take place in each class in the BfA pre-path on July 17. Not all guides are created equal, and by that I mean that the rest of the guide owners are probably PISSED at Bendak, who pretty much overachieved on all levels for the BM Hunter guide.

The Disco Priest guide is a little less thorough.  I’m not hating – Bendak sets a high bar to clear on any occasion. That aside, I feel like a little bit of fleshing out is in order.

Say Goodbye

Light’s Wrath is gone, of course (I actually approve of this as it means we’ll get more choices on weapons and stuff), and with it are its abilities.  That means that our massive healing nuke is gone.

The other biggest change you will notice is that the Global Cooldown now applies to a number of spells. What this means is that you won’t be able to cast a spell on Global Cooldown until the Global Cooldown cools down. This is not true for all spells, so pay attention to the spell descriptions.

Spell Changes

Another significant change is that only three spells will lay down Atonement now.  We also lost one spell (Plea) that applied it instantly.

Before this expansion, my favorite rotation was more or less this:

  • PW: Shield on myself; then PW: Radiance to spread out Atonement; then again, to get another 5 people covered, then Evangelism to extend Atonement for all 11.
  • Keep DoTs up on the boss (SW: Pain and Shadow Squid), hammer the boss with Penance and Smite until it was time to lay down PW: Radiance again
  • PW: Shield where it was needed, mindful of its cooldown.

It was a pretty simple rotation, but it got me through LFR fairly well.

The new rotation will be changed due to changes in the various spells used.

  • PW: Radiance is relatively unchanged.  It is one of our Atonement spreaders.
  • Evangelism is relatively unchanged.
  • PW: Shield doesn’t have the limitations we had before; it is now our defacto spam. It applies Atonement to whatever it shields. In effect, Rapture got baked right in.
  • Shadow Mend is relatively unchanged.  It also applies Atonement.
  • Penance is relatively unchanged, however, is now generally better spent as a direct heal than Atonement healing. Unfortunately, it does not spread Atonement when used directly.
  • SW: Pain (or Purge the Wicked) is relatively unchanged, and I think that Penance still spreads it when used for damage. This of course will also increase your Atonement healing.
  • Smite is still Smite, with its damage component and its shield component.
  • Halo is unchanged, and is still an optional damage / heal AE spell.
  • Holy Nova is now also a Disco spell, giving us a ‘native’ AE spell that relieves us of having to choose Halo over something more interesting. It also applies to Atonement healing, but only the FIRST target struck does so – additional targets struck by Holy Nova do not provide Atonement healing.  I think this is rather shabby.
  • Rapture now increases the duration of all bubbles by around 7 or so seconds. In my opinion, this improves it massively.

So basically it boils down to:

  • PW: Shield on myself; then PW: Radiance to spread out Atonement; then again,
    to get another 5 people covered, then Evangelism to extend Atonement for all
    11.
  • Keep DoTs up on the boss (SW: Pain and Shadow Squid), hammer the boss with Smite until it was time to lay down PW: Radiance again
  • PW: Shield where it is needed. Cooldown isn’t so relevant now, so anywhere you see a need, drop it.  Use Rapture on CD to extend that.
  • Save Penance for big heals unless fairly certain that it won’t be needed for that, in which case share the love via Atonement.

You may notice that Shadow Mend isn’t top of the list.  I tend to only use it in emergencies.  The long cast time and odd pain/pleasure dynamic makes it far less than a winner to me.

Stats

As before, Spell Power is the primary component of all of our spells.  Only PW: Shield varies on that, in that it also improves on Versatility. I’m pretty sure Crit will feature in a lot of the calculations, but those are your two main stats of interest.

Conclusionish

As has been the case for ever, my main concern is in how clumsy healing can be.  It requires a lot of direct or mouseover targeting, which means one hand mousing while the other is keying the commands required. During high-movement fights, healers are at a huge disadvantage when compared to others. PW: Radiance was a good step in the right direction in this regard, giving us a way to propagate Atonement without making it about as clumsy as an elephant on a high wire.

However, it appears that Blizz did not expand on that theme, and instead moved us away from that mode of operation. I mean, I’m kinda glad that we’re moving more towards bubblePriest mode, but it does require a lot of mousing around to get the shields distributed around, which is dependent on a lot of things, not the least the clumsiness of the wielder Smile

I am also bitterly disappointed that yet again, Disco priests don’t have the Frisbee.   I mean, what is Disco without the Disc? In my mind, I see the Frisbee as method #4 for spreading around our Atonement Goodness.

But overall, this looks like a very viable spec going into  the new expansion. As always, it will require a bit of play time to learn for sure where we stand.

Oh, and also? New expansion, new mog. While I loved the look of the silver haltertop and skirt I affected in Legion, it had a couple of real issues.

  1. It was a skirt, making running problematic. Remember, sometimes it isn’t whether you’re faster than the monster. But it matters if you’re faster than at least one other person in your party.  As Flora and Illume have proven before, nothing beats a good pair of jeans for adventuring.
  2. No pocketses, precious. What is this, anyway?