10 Years – 10 Questions

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The lovely Godmother has issued a blogging/vlogging/whatevering challenge for the 10 Year WoW Anniversary called 10 Years: 10 Questions.  Find out more here.

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

At the time my brother (who lives in Australia) and I (living in the UK) were playing Guild Wars together; its one international zone, so we were able to – when both online together – muck about and enjoy each other’s company. Around the time BC came out, he’d signed up to WoW to check it out and told me to come join him. Neither of us were aware of the US/EU divide, and so I’d bought the game and rolled on an EU server, and went looking for him in the area he said he was in. When we couldn’t find each other, we realised what was up.

The reason why I *kept* playing despite no longer having anyone I know in-game was 1) I’d seen the South Park episode and wanted to get my character to talk (yes, I spent a good few days trying to figure this out – I couldn’t get his lips to move), and 2) the design of the characters was cartoony and fantasy-ish enough to be appealing.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

A dwarf (although this may be wrong, as I remember being around Northshire Abbey, but I also definitely remember being a dwarf – hey, it was a while ago!). Called Ironfeets. He was a warrior. I deleted him some time in mid-Wrath, but have sinced levelled another warrior, switched her to a male dwarf and renamed her to Ironfeets in tribute.

The first toon I ever really spent a lengthy amount of time on was my hunter Selleck (now called Stillwater and no longer a night elf with a big Tom Selleck-style moustache).

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

Whenever I played the original Warcraft 1 & 2, I’d always play human. Note: I *never* paid attention to any story detail or place name – I just always considered the Orc side to be the computer’s side, and when I could play as Orc I felt like I was cheating.

So when it came to playing WoW, Alliance was the only choice for me. I’m glad I did now since, although the Horde is so obviously favoured by Blizzard, Alliance is the one True faction – morally superior in all ways to the filthy, demonically-culpable Horde scum.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

I was in the mighty Flea Circus of Ghostlands EU, and we’d been working on ICC forever. On normal modes, the Circus being a casual guild. But we finally made it to the Lich King. Zoning in and seeing him on his throne sent shivers down my spine.

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

Adventuring. I love raiding, don’t mind questing, like trying all manner of classes, and even dabbling in PVP – but give me a chance, I’ll run around exploring any area of Azeroth I can get into just to see what’s around. I’m not hugely into the lore, so placenames and such have never had great significance to me – I just like being a sticky beak and getting my nose into things.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

I always feel at home in Grizzly Hills, but otherwise not really – I like Elwynn Forest (outside of Goldshire), and find it quite tranquil. Otherwise there are no zones that really draw me back.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

On Rel: 144 days.
On Rakiura (formerly Baym, my main in early Cata and latter Wrath): 36 days
On Ironfeets (formerly Rela): 22 days
On Atua (formerly Aotearoa, my PVP main in early Cata): 25 days
On Stillwater (formerly Selleck, my first ‘proper’ toon): 17 days

It doesn’t add up to very long – 244 days I guess – but I’ve been playing since the second week of BC, but quit after a couple of months til mid-Wrath. Since then, I’ve been subbbed continuously, playing a whole range of alts for varying lengths of time.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

Sometimes. Definitely not when levelling my main on it first run through an expansion. I try on alts, but soon I become bored and just want to get to max level again.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

There are some things I wish I’d done differently, or people I’d wish I dealt with differently (positively and negatively), but regrets are pointless – there’s nothing I can change about it, and I like where I am *now*.

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

Running a raid team made me more confident (somewhat). It’s given me something to think about outside of work and the usual domestic stuff – I think some people would call that having a hobby ;-)

I’ve met so many people – and in real life and all! Some that, while I don’t see them anymore, I still consider friends.

I’ve met people I will probably never see again, but having them in my life even briefly, and albeit virtually, enriched it.

I love WoW. Not just the game – which continues to amaze me – but the community, with its quiet positivity underneath the loud-mouthed complainers. It’s just a shitload of fun, even now.

Warlords Beta: Blood DK Changes (an initial view)

So I was very lucky to have been gifted a WoD beta key this week, thanks to a generous guildie, and as such I’ve spent a little time over the last few days fiddling around with the Blood Death Knight.

I’m not one for devouring actual content in a beta – I certainly didn’t do it during the MoP one – but I do like to try and see how classes are performing and what, if anything, has changed so as to impact how I feel about them.

Most important to me in WoD, of course, is the Blood Death Knight – the class I’ve played exclusively as a main since mid-Cataclysm (it was always my main-main since mid-Wrath, but I dabbled as a Tank/Healing Paladin for the first bit of Cataclsym).

So, now I’m in beta and able to see what changes are there, as well as what’s documented on sites like WoWHead, we can have a little overview of everything and how it impacts the class I’m aiming to continue to play.


 

Initial experience

No Rune Strike, no Blood Boil, no Raise Dead, no Heart Strike. Ability pruning has hit the DK hard. Instead you will:

  • Use Pestilence to spread diseases, and cleave groups of enemies
  • Use Death Coil to dump Runic Power
  • Death Strike seems to be under-resourced half the time so isn’t available anywhere near as much as it currently is in MoP

This all became surprisingly easy to adapt to.  Having two ranged attacks (Icy Touch and Death Coil) makes pulling a little nicer, although neither of them deal significant enough punch to out do a DPS critting on their opener.


 

Roundup of other Blood DK Changes

Mastery! Blood DKs now have a raid-wide buff other than Horn of Winter’s attack power buff, thanks to Power of the Grave. Not that with 20-man Mythic raids we should be missing any buffs, but it’s nice not to feel so noncontributory.

Army of the Dead is now Blood spec only (yay!) but doesn’t offer any damage reduction during casting (boo!).

Dark Command is now Blood spec only. I’m indifferent to this, but if we had a DPS DK who need to off-taunt anything (doubtful but ya never know) it’d require a Death Grip. But, not a big deal at all.

Improved Blood Presence means when you’re in Blood Presence, damage dealt is increased by 20%. Tasty!

Death Strike now only offers a 30% damage reduction shield, compared to 50% in MoP. It increases your attack power by 8% (which it currently doesn’t), but that’s still a hefty nerf.

Rune Tap now adds an absorb, rather than a chunk of HP. This would explain its appearance to be mediocre.

So that’s a very rough overview of incoming changes. I’m not 100% sure what I think of much of them, but for now the playstyle of Blood DK seems different but acceptable. I’m happy to continue on, which is more than can be said for some others (namely poor Disc Priests).

Reconnecting

I’ve been quiet the last few months. So quiet I even had one lovely twitter friend message me to see if I was still alive. I am, I’ve just been dodging curve balls thrown by life, and also ones I’ve thrown myself which have rebounded. Ive caught some and been bowled over by others.

I’m not in Harvest Moon anymore.  In fact Harvest Moon as a guild doesn’t exist; the guild is still there, with many of the same people, but it’s been renamed, has new leadership, and moved on without me. I got to the point of finally deciding if it gets to the stage where I’m thinking about leaving a guild I started and built, then perhaps I don’t deserve it anymore.

I achieved what I’d wanted with Harvest Moon; shown a limited-hours-a-week guild could progress, and build a decent guild on a very quiet server.

But in the end, the friendships I’d thought were there had changed or just weren’t what I thought they were. That’s fine; everyone has their own lives to live – including me.

So I’ve moved servers and joined a new guild and raid team where I can take very much of a back seat, relax and try and make sense of what I want from this game.

That’s where things get interesting, of course.

With Warlords of Draenor threatening to be so interesting I may pop, and with my own interests changing with the shadows, I’m still of infinite minds as to what I’ll do raid-wise. Obviously it’s a wider discussion to have with my team leaders, and make sure any decision I make suits us all.  Will I keep tanking? Or go easy-mode and play a ranged DPS? (shhh DPS, I’m – mostly – kidding!)

All I know is: I’ll enjoy WoD, I’ll find my place again, and in the meantime keep poking things to see if they squeak.

Looking to 5.4 and back at 5.3/5.2

So – 5.4, whereupon we go and kick Garrosh Hellscream in his huge orange nads, is due to hit servers on September 10/11, depending on you being US/EU-side. I don’t know about anyone else, but for me it’s high time to be getting my teeth into something new.

5.2, with its ISLAND FULL OF THUNDER and the huge Thunder King raid and dailies and Jaina being all shitty, was pretty nifty. The raid is gorgeous, the encounters amazing (for the most part), and the dailies… well. I actually did some. YEAH I KNOW.  5.3… Umm. What was in 5.3 again?

Oh yeah. TROLLAGEDDON! Everyone – EVERYone – is helping the Trolls prepare to kick the arse of Hellscream. Even those of us on the Alliance. Because Blizzard loves the Trolls SO HARD they think we all should 1) help them in their endeavours to overthrow the Big Orange Bastid, and 2) love Troll stuff in EVERY SINGLE PATCH.

Seriously… enough Trolls. Please.

For me, it’s been a decent month. We finally cleared Throne of Thunder on normal modes, and this past week even managed a heroic Jin-Rokh kill. Yes, we’re officially (albeit barely-technically) a heroic-mode guild now. We should have been 2.5 months ago, but – as Chris Metzen is want to say – whatever-whatever.

And so, it’s come to looking towards the next raid and content patch – 5.4 Siege of Orgrimmar.

 

Looks exciting, no?

The final patch of the expansion – or the final raid patch, at any rate – will be a make or break for Mists of Pandaria in my eyes.  The raid itself needs to be epic, but also have a story which evolves into something satisfying for both sides of the Red/Blue divide.

There’s no doubt that the Alliance have been relatively shafted with decent story – or favourable ones at that – for the last 3 years. Cataclysm was ALL THRALL, ALL THE TIME and MoP has so far been all leading up to Garrosh being the (much-maligned) centrepiece. I’m sure, though, that Blizzard will provide a conclusion to the patch that Alliance can be proud of.

It’ll probably involve Trolls, though.

Catching Up – Where has 10 months gone?

So the last time I wrote here, we were preparing for Mists of Pandaria after the long, long wait through the final 12 months of Cataclysm. Can you remember Cataclsym? I barely can. I remember the excitement of MoP on the horizon though – that feeling of something new just beyond our reach (although dabbled with, by me, in the beta). Mists was going to amazing! It was going to be a complete breath of fresh air after the initially-great-but-soon-rather-rinse-and-repeat expansion that was Cataclysm.

Yeah.

As it happens, it did turn out nicely. The zones were beautiful; the quests interesting (if, you know, you’re into quests); pet battles became This Huge Thing quite quickly. Even the Tillers proved interesting to many people as they worked to unlock the extra plots on their farm.

I took it slowly, as far as dailies and rep grinds went. It was weeks before I even considered working on faction rep with our new Pandarian allies. As it was, I began hearing of the Golden Lotus dailies. How they were… ooft. And you had to do so many of them before you could open up the next two factions.

But that’s all by-the-by. We’re into 5.3 now, with 5.4 breathing down our neck, and the game is in that mid-expansion weird bit. Things are no longer fresh, and even with what promises to be an OMG FREAKIN’ HUGE patch coming in 5.4, many people are focussing on what’s next…

At this stage, I’m happy to still be working my way through the game. The guild is going better than ever; our raid team stronger than ever. We still have some issues to iron out but at this stage of the expansion’s life, those issues – quiet nights, tired players – are common.

So much has happened in the last 10 months, though. Things I’ll write about in due course. Many opinions have been forged; friendships made; battles won, and battles which almost broke me. In due course.

But as we get closer to 5.4 and 6.0… remember: slow down.

A final look back at Cataclysm, and forward to Pandaland

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. An expansion that showed so much promise but which, eventually, would become something of a disappointment even to devoted fanboys.

Cataclysm was the first expansion I got to experience from Day 1. The changes it brought were, at first, something to get used – including the (now seemingly) minor change to the talent trees and spell abilities. The revamped 1-60 content, and being able to fricken’ FLY in Azeroth, was amazingly-well done and much-needed.

And that first tier – the new, hard heroic-mode dungeons; the 3-dungeon raids; the whole race to world and server first that I was able to follow was brilliant. Seeing the realm-first achievements popping up, and throwing a random strange a ‘GRATS!!’ really seemed to give the entire thing a huge buzz.

Trollolol
Then, we waited for the next content patch. And it had 2 dungeons, and no extra raid. And the sense of disapointment was astounding. I wasn’t even PROPERLY raiding at this point. I found the trollroics difficult but, in time, fun to run – but it was hardly enough to last us through to 4.2.

Firelands
The Firelands patch was much-anticipated. Not only a new raid tier, but a whole slew of new dailies which opened up gradually, revealing more story as you progressed. Sounds fun, don’t it? And it definitely sounded fun when pitched to us, but getting into it and finding out what a charmless grind it was… ugh. I still haven’t opened the second tier yet on my main. It was ruthless.

And the raid, by all accounts at the time (my guild at the time were still chipping away at T11 normal modes) was difficult, painful at times, and… red. Ragnaros not only wiped many raids, but also seemed to have killed a number of guilds through the sheer difficulty.

Dragon Soul
By the time DS came out, we knew we’d be having Pandaren in the next expansion; this was the end tier, and it needed to carry Cataclysm out with a bang. Instead… it whimpered.

The new 5-mans were fun, fast, and full of story (however subtle, and missed by some). The raid, now available to everyone via LFR, was OK. It had the amazing Spine of Deathwing encounter (another guild breaker), the fun BUTTON OF DOOM Ultraxion fight (“JUST PRESS THE FUCKING BUTTON”), and the platform-oops-you-fell fun of Madness. But it was all a bit… meh.

I enjoyed Cataclysm. But I didn’t love it. I loved Wrath – the entire continent to explore, the gorgeous art throughout – but Cataclysm was like little weekend getaways to various zones that are just next to ones you go to all the time. It lacked the sense of adventure and travel that Northrend and Outland gave.

The renewed 1-60 content is great, but unless you want to level alts for a living then there’s not much to offer. And, with the general lack of end-game – especially for non-raiders – there wasn’t much else to do than level alts or unsubscribe. Guess what many people chose to do?

Tonight, we get Mists of Pandaria.

It’s needed. It’s wanted. And it looks gorgeous. This will be the make-or-break of WoW for many players. The game needs to have substantial end-game, or replayability, to retain people in the long run. We’ll soon see if this will offer it (personally, I think it will, but then I’m unlike the majority of players it seems).

I’m going to be diving into it, wringing as much as I can out of it.

The differences for me, on a personal level, are that:

1. I am in the guild I always dreamed of being in
2. The scenery in MoP is breathtaking
3. There just seems to be so much to do: raiding, 5-mans, challenge modes, scenarios, farms, pet battles, OH MY.

This blog will hopefully be updated a little more regularly now that I’m not just spinning my wheels in WoW. If I get time to post — I’m off to adventure through Pandaland, dontchaknow?

MoP Planning #2: Embracing The Adventure

I’m a man of two minds. There is the half of me which admires and strives for accomplishment, regardless of obstacles (real or imagined), and the other that yearns for adventure, be it in the real world or through my imagination.

My two favourite memories from my childhood are winning the ‘Junior Boys All Strokes’ swimming competition at my school (despite not knowing I was in contention for it – I just liked swimming and winning), and the other was me, 8 years old, laying on the back stairs of our family home at the time, in a sunbeam, listening to bees buzz amongst the flowered-vines that lined the walls while I day dreamed.

I approach WoW with two minds, as well. There’s half of me what yearns to build a strong raid team, or accomplish the things I’ve wanted for so long (un-nerfed kills! overcoming difficulty through sheer determination and pig-headedness). The other half has me wanting to take things slowly, to take in the world of Pandaria, to find the little nooks of adventure that others race past on their way to the end-game.

To do both, I don’t necessarily need to sacrifice one in the short term to accomplish the other, but sometimes it feels like it. Doing the first requires some commitment, discipline, and bringing together others to all work towards these goals as a team. The other allows me to just fart-arse about however and whenever I please. I like fart-arseing about.

Is it possible, though, to be balanced with both without necessarily being behind the curve? I’m not going to be pushing the limits of either, but nor do I want to be leaning against the back wall.

In my last post, I covered how my experience in Cataclsym was spread across multiple characters, leaving me to linger too long in the mid-field without really accomplishing anything. I don’t want to make the same mistake in Mists.

While I do have plans to level up a few non-main toons, Reliq will be my focus. And he is a mighty adventurer (even if he does trip over things and fall to his death far too often). It will be his boots which are first muddied by the misted shores of Pandaria, the wind in his hair and soy sauce in his epic beard.

I honestly can not wait until those first moments of stepping into the game and seeing the world anew (albeit covered by hundreds of other players stealing your quest items).

Perhaps I’ll spend the first few days just driving around, as I have done in the beta, to see the world as launch day presents it to us.

I will imagine the sun on my char’s neck, the sense of adventure tingling his skin, the weight of the weapon on his back, and go forth to his inevitable death!

To Pandaria!

MoP Planning #1: Concept of a ‘Main’

When Cataclysm launched, I put my then-main Reliq, a Blood/Unholy Death Knight, to the side and instead focussed on levelling and gearing Baym, my Holy/Protection Paladin. My thoughts were that the guild I was in would benefit from having a healer/tank all set to go when we inevitably began raiding soon after launch.

As it was, the officers decided at launch, or soon after, that raiding would be on the back burner for some time to allow the guild’s members to focus on enjoying the content. By then, I was already set on Baym being my first level 85, and so he would be – and would remain my main focus in the expansion for the first 3 months or so, leaving Reliq to inch his way to 85 whenever I fancied a break.

I moved on to play my shadow priest, Aotearoa, around this time as a break from PVE, and got half-decent on her as a PVP mind-melter. Good fun. But in due course, my attention was being dragged back to what was, in my heart, my first love: my death knight, Reliq.

He is the toon people know me by. It’s the name I use on Twitter, everyone who knows me in-game refers to me as “Rel”, and if you shouted the name out in the street I’d respond (although probably keep walking, because humans confuse me).

So, finally, about 6 months into Cataclysm I took to playing Reliq properly. I’ve levelled and geared other characters in the last 12 months or so, but Reliq has always been the main priority, especially since branching out earlier this year and starting my own guild and raid team. Reliq is our main tank, with only occasional-appearances by other toons (usually my shaman Pakeha), but I now have a definite main.

The crux of the matter, and reason behind this post, though, is my feeling of lost time from Cataclsym; I spent so much time faffing about, that my experience of this past expansion seems fractured due to not having a focus at the start.

I don’t intend on making that mistake in Mists of Pandaria.

While I do intend of levelling each tanking class to max, and getting them geared enough to raid (in time), my main focus will be Reliq. He is the one I will run challenge modes and scenarios on. He is the one who will have his own farm and work on his Tiller reputation. He is the one with the raid achievements first, and priority for everything else.

MoP looks to be an exhaustingly-exciting expansion, based on what we’ve seen coming for end-game content, especially the non-raiding content.

Mists of Pandaria Cinematic – Favourite Shots