Category Archives: Class warfare
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?
Also, 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.
I’ve often said that the people claiming that leveling up a new toon were making too much of a big deal out of how long it would take to get from level 1 to max (currently 50). So I rolled up a new toon just to measure how long it would take.
I was also curious about the leveling experience once Shadowlands rolled. Shadowlands was our first ever level squish, meaning we start Shadowlands at level 50, and everything else is squished in between level 1 and 50. So this experiment is also commentary on that.
The toon in question is a Night Elf mage named Tride (I tried, er, tride to get the name Trial, or Trile, but they were taken). I went with Frost spec as I felt that would be more challenging than Fire, and I know squat about playing Arcane. As it turns out, that choice was revelatory.
The rules are simple: leveling at the most casual rate possible. No dungeons or raids, no instances of any kind that WoW didn’t railroad me into. Follow the natural progression of the questlines only. No special events.1
The starting experience posed an immediate choice to make. In Shadowlands they introduced a new, generic starting area for all new toons. So I had a choice between that and going old school. While I was curious about this new starting area, I elected to go old school and start in Teldrassil.2 By the time I was level 10, I was camped out in Darnassus.
Once based out of Tree City, I had a few decisions to make. The results were as follows:
- Mining and Herbing, because raw materials always sell.
- No to fishing, I don’t need to give up a bag slot and it’s a waste of time.
- Maybe on cooking, to keep a little buff going.3
There was a little bit of cheating. I logged in on Jasra and bought myself some good healing potions and bandages with her money.
Once out of the Tree, it was time to get moving. I’m still annoyed that we’re dealing with the post-Cataclysm world here instead of based out of Auberdine, and the broken landscape is beyond frustrating.4
However, even at level, this part of the world doesn’t pose too many real issues. There was some dying, yes, especially when I got my aim off and blinked into something nasty.
The Tower of Athalaxx was the only intractable quest in that zone, and this illustrates the first problem with the new leveling experience. Namely, scaling.
In all zones now, mobs are scaled to match your level. If you’re level 25, expect to see level 25 mobs all around. And that’s fine, to an extent, but in the case of elites like the denizens of that tower, you either need to group (a no-no for this experiment), or get beefy and outlevel the boss. And now … that’s not possible. Blizz need to tune some of the beefier mobs out there to work better with the leveling experience.
In Classic, one of the quests that gets you out of Darkshore and into Auberdine is “The Sleeper Awakes” or something like that. I am glad that one’s gone. Hella annoying it was, and on several toons in Vanilla / BC / Wrath, I just skipped that one completely.
Another difference is that pre-Cata, you get sent to Astranaar first thing, but post-Cata you get sent to Orendil’s Retreat for a mini quest-hub and then it keeps progressing you further in until you do end up in Astranaar.
This is where your home base will be for a good 15 levels at least.
Chromie Time – I hit a wall
Here’s where a big disconnect happens.
Pre-SL, progression in these zones progressed normally. Post-SL, when you hit level 30, everything just … stops. No XP from killing anything. All mobs are level 30. Quest completion offers a fraction of what it did. And this applies to all mobs, in all eras. Go to Shattrath, and everything’s level 30. Go to Northrend, same dealy.
There aren’t many bread crumbs here, but the answer is that you really need to be on Chromie Time. What that is is that you speak with Chromie in Stormwind5 and select an era that you want to play in. You then get an introductory quest to get you started in the era you wish to quest in, and then off you go. So if you choose Burning Crusade, for example, you could proceed immediately to Hellfire and start leveling there.
And if you choose not to go to Hellfire, well, all mobs in all zones now scale from levels 7 to 50. So you can continue to level on Azeroth. One annoying thing about this is that Chromie doesn’t offer this as an option, you just have to guess. The other is that if you don’t start in Exile’s Reach, you end up having to figure this out on your own – the Command Board did not light up with a quest marker on the map, but it DID have the quest available to go see Chromie.
So I’m not sure at what point you’re supposed to pick up Chromie Time, but I do know that you have to do so no later than level 30.
This throws a huge error into my numbers – I spent over an hour figuring this out.
I got better
One reason I chose Frost for my spec was that canonically, right now it doesn’t hit as hard as other specs, and, as I mentioned, I had no clue how to play Arcane (I’ve tried in the past). And I did, I struggled a lot early on, even using some Fire spells out of desperation.
But as I progressed, so did my toolbox. The big one was when Brain Freeze became available, this opened Flurry as an insta-cast, and later on that allowed it to buff Ice Lance. Between those two, as well as the Frozen Orb, by level 35 I was really kicking butt.
So this underlines a huge flaw in the Frost spec, and maybe others – at lower levels they’re really not up to the task that they’re assigned. It isn’t until you’re halfway through the talent tree that you can really feel like you’re getting somewhere, and, I suspect, all zones are currently designed as if you have access to all talents and spells.
Bottom line: that was a lot of work, retuning the old world to work with the level squish. But you really need another pass, Blizz, this time with toons at appropriate level.
Having gotten my leveling thing worked out, I finished off Stonetalon6, and forayed into Desolace at level 39, where I dinged level 40 and quickly ported over to Stormwind7 to get my fast flying8.
Again, as I gained levels I gained in power. This is one good thing that Blizz has accomplished, is the notion of spell ranks once again, but this time it isn’t just scaling – each spell rank can (and usually does) bring additional effects with it. So, as you progress in levels, you genuinely do feel more powerful, one of the key values of leveling.
As a result, clearing out Desolace was a pretty trivial task, though I did bite off more than I could chew on the ghost magnet quest. Other than Stupid Hunter Tricks (as payed on a Mage), Desolace was a cake walk.
One thing that puzzled me was that while I was expecting to be sent to Feralas once I completed that zone, instead I had no choice to go resume my questing in Southern Barrens.
Southern Barrens and Theramore
As I completed the final quests of Southern Barrens, I dinged 49 and was directed to Theramore, where I picked up a bunch of quests to go kill things and save a surprisingly ancient hermit and come to the rescue of some Goblins (no, really!). My journey to 50 was almost complete, and I realized at this point that I had been cheated.
Specifically, the World of Warcraft had shrunk. I had slavishly stuck to my home continent as I leveled up just to see what would happen. What happened was that I only barely saw Thousand Needles and Feralas in passing, with Tanaris, Un’Goro, Felwood10, Azshara11, and Silithus completely missing from my quest log. I suspect that the same would have occurred had I chosen Ironforge or Stormwind as a starting point. And that’s really sad.
While the level squish is mostly done well, barring a couple of technical issues which I suspect will never be fixed, it emphasizes exactly why I was against such a move. The problem I just described above has always been there since Cataclysm. When they revamped the zones for Cataclysm, then never went back and adjusted things so that you could visit the whole world. Quests would go gray before you were finished a zone, and you’d be off to Outland long before you completed other zones. Hell, Winterspring was so infrequently visited that I even forgot about it in the previous paragraph.
And that was never addressed, and that will never be addressed. The World of Warcraft is reduced to your general neighborhood. The Neighborhood of Warcraft.
Thoughts and Conclusions
At the end of the day, I ended up at 54 hours /played to get to Level 50. Subtract an hour for my confusion at level 30 if you wish, but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t.
What this adds up to is if someone played 8 hours a day it would take just under a week. A more realistic 4 hours and we’re talking around two weeks. I’d call it three weeks of dedicated playtime to get to the point that you’re ready to start leveling on whatever the new expansion is.
My conclusion here is that while it’s certainly not a gigantic burden to level up to 50 in a reasonable time, three weeks is probably longer than the endgame-eager “hardcore raider” mindset. Hell, ONE week is probably longer than they’d be willing to put in, and any time put in for this sort of thing is probably done grudgingly.
I still think that paying for a boost is appropriate in this case. I am forever worn out and tired of Blizz bending over backwards to a tiny sliver of the population and wish they would spend time making the journey to endgame more interesting. There are years’ worth of adventures locked away behind a poorly designed and paced leveling experience, and it’s a damned shame that nobody has any reason to visit them – much less enjoy them – other than the completionists out there dragging their max-level asses through content that they don’t even appreciate because how can you if you’re life isn’t in danger?
Tride the Frost Mage’s days are over, and I thank him for his service. I understand the process better now, and will no longer feel that people that don’t want to do even this little bit of leveling are necessary lazy or unwilling to put in the time. It’s a not insignificant amount of time that obviously I don’t begrudge12, but others might.
A new player just getting started will forever be missing what the rest of us experienced, for good or ill. How to explain to someone in the future that all these Chromie Zones were once played in sequence? I’ll leave that up to wiser heads than myself.
My adventures as a leveling toon ended when I dinged level 50. Chromie let me know that I was about to be kicked out. She gave me a countdown, and then booted me to present day, at the courtyard of Stormwind Keep. When I tried to port back to Darnassus, I was dropped at Darkshore, where all that was once our home lay smoking on the horizon13. With a heavy heart, I sighed and ported to Ironforge where I sold all my stuff, mailed the cash to Jasra, and quietly ended the enterprise.
- Okay, the Lunar festival was running at one point and I cleared a few Elders because those unanswered quest markers on the map were driving me MEGA HELLNUTS CRAZY.
- So sue me, the War of the Thorns is still fresh for me, OKAY?
- At some point I did cheat and bought stuff off the AH to level cooking.
- Why is it that the Night Elves are getting it in the teeth every other expansion and yet somehow we’re supposed to feel sorry for the Orcs and be okay with them cutting down every tree that they can see and then some? Give me a break.
- Of course, Stormwind. Always, of course, Stormwind.
- Having never visited the peak, once a must-have! (addendum: a later quest took me there. Duh.)
- Of course, Stormwind. Always … wait, I’m repeating myself.
- No, that’s not cheating – neither the teleport, which is a Light-given Mage perk, nor the fast flying. The assumption here is that I’m leveling an alt for … whatever the leveler needs that level 50 toon for. One assumes that the leveler already has mounts, and, as you are well aware now, SIR, mounts are account wide9.
- If someone was leveling a new toon, this would be very, very sad. I’ll essplain later.
- Where even is the bread crumb for that zone?
- Same question.
- Obviously not, I just blew three weekends on a silly experiment.
- As I said, War of the Thorns is still a bitter memory for me.
Unfortunately, the mace mog collection is unburdened by cool looking maces.
So we went with a two-by-four with a nail in it.
Don’t fuck with Discipline priests. I guarantee it’ll hurt.
Eventually, I “mained” my Priest, because that seemed to be the best way to serve my guildies and get us into raiding and shit.
After months of inactivity in our guild, we’ve reached Phase 3, which is where I realize that no matter how attractive I am to my guild, a guild that isn’t interested in raiding is a guild that isn’t interested in raiding. So now, in Phase 3, I’m promoting my Hunter to Lead, which is really where he belongs.
When I advise someone, I always say, play what you like.
Time for me to take my own advice.
My 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.
Never could get the hang of it.
But setting things on fire … that never gets old.
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.
Today, 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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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
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.
- 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.
- No pocketses, precious. What is this, anyway?
Oh hai! The good news is that I’m still around. That is also the bad news. I just haven’t had a lot to talk about since the BfA announcement – that goes a while back, I know, but there ya have it. What was that, BlizzCon?
I’ve started a number of posts, but ran out of gas before I got them up to our usual low standards of publishability. I haz opinions, but really haven’t felt like any of them were worth your time.
I’ve even gotten in on the Alpha – hard to say who hasn’t – though I haven’t actually done anything with it. Matters of theorycrafting and so forth seem to be beyond my grasp – I’ve barely figured out how to properly use the Best in Bags tool at AMR. That’s assuming I am, of course. AMR agrees with my own calculations enough to earn extra side-eye.
So anyway, watching all the news about BfA and our new
Associated Allied races has me wondering about future installments on this already popular feature. We all know about the Zandalari Trolls, some sort of Orcs from Outland (?), Dark Iron Dwards, and Big Chin Humans from Jaina’s Home Island. What else might they be cooking up? Here are some ideas!
I think that we’ve all seen this one coming from a mile away. The only thing holding them back has been the rather insensitive-to-lepers name, but now that we’re in the second year of the Trump administration, sensitivity is for the birds! Bring on the possibly radioactive Gnomes!
Probably still won’t end up in the next cinematic, though.
Similar to the Big Chin Humans, but these folk trace their roots back to when the Curse of Flesh was first weakening the races of Northrend. Smart folks, these relatives of the Vrykul got out of there before it got too bad, and also stayed hidden for thousands of years before revealing themselves. They’re cool like that.
Racial Bonus: they use regular sized humans for shoulder gear. Cool.
Somewhat related to the Really High Elves, these folks only appear in Winter, spending the rest of the year in communes in Northern Kalimdor.
Obviously if seasonal Associated Races don’t work out, this will be the only ones we ever see.
Nocturnal by nature, Nasty Orcses have a racial bonus when fighting stupid hobbitses. Precious.
Limited to Warriors and Paladins. Obviously.
A somewhat embarrassing chapter in The Lich King’s campaign in Lorderon; these are the people who’s relatives gave up on them before they were actually dead. Arthas took them into the Scourge and never heard the end of it.
Made for some awkward war councils, too.
“I remember you. You told them I was dead!”
“Didn’t turn out so well, for me, either.”
“If you think that makes it okay, let me tell you …”
“People, can we focus on the counterattack from Alterac?”
An offshoot of the Highmountain Tauren, these folks really rock.
Probably hinting at the eventual introduction of the Bard class. You know how Blizz is.
I’m guessing this offshoot of the Pandaran race will line up directly opposed to the Gitauren. This might even be the basis for the conflict in the expansion that introduces the Bard class. I’m calling it now – “World of Warcraft: Battle of the Bands”.
There’s no sound reason, lore-wise, for this to ever happen. Therefore it will happen.
You get a Furbolg, and you get a Furbolg …
The perfect cross-over from Erfworld, these highly avaricious and clever subterranean creatures will replace the mobile auction house. Their native resource, Juice, will replace Mana / Energy / Rage / etc for all supported classes.
The quest line Visage of the First Wakener takes you on an adventure that eventually gets you a new appearance for Skull of the Man’ari – Thal’kiel’s Visage. He’s a chatty fellow, but also, with his new fleshly accoutrements, He’s quite the expressive fellow.
There’s the yawn.
There’s the slack-jawed yokel.
There’s the yawn.
Okay, you know what? He’s actually kinda rubbish. All that’s missing is a string of drool hanging off his chintacles. Let’s “face” it – he’s ugly with a capital UG.
Grimm spent weeks stalking and finding his first spirit beast, Gondria. Since then, he’s been content with what he has, but always been on the lookout for additional members to the stable.
Unfortunately, that’s never happened. Oh, we’ve seen plenty of other exotic spirit beasties in our travels, but never when logged in as Grimmtooth. Flora saw Skoll a couple of times while pugging, but of course Grimm was never nearby when it happened.
And now, this week, Flora’s encountered Bulvinkel, a spirit beast moose (as promised by Ghostcrawler). Grimm was half a world away, and, of course, by the time he arrived, the beastie had been tamed (or worse, killed).