SPOILERS: the Possible Future of Theramore

MMO-Champion posted this video today with the following disclaimer:

As always, this is an early version of the area, previewed through unofficial means. This is absolutely not representative of the final version, it’s just a preview. We don’t have a lot of details about this area, as it is not part of the main map and could be part of a phased event.

Now the part I found particularly interesting starts at  the one minute mark.

It’s possible that the purple magic residue is all that’s left of some new and powerful Horde weapon, perhaps cooked up by captive Twilight Cultists in the depths of Orgrimmar.

However, we’ve seen something similar before.

Whilst I admit that this would definitely be my preferred solution for reasons I’ll go into later, I feel it’s supported by the fact that there is no sign of the Theramore Mage Tower. Most of the other buildings, despite being destroyed have left something behind, a few bricks, a burning joist, some fragment of their being to serve as a grave marker. Yet all that is left of Jaina’s Tower is a glowing crater.

I’d like to think that once it becomes apparent that this is a fight she can’t win or perhaps even before the Horde breach the city walls, she and her fellow Mages manage to move to the tower, ideally evacuating as much of the populace as possible (they better not forget Spot). The most likely destination would be Stormwind, perhaps floating over the Mage Quarter or parked in the Keep’s back garden. That way she can follow Varian around demanding he give her an army.

As to why this would be my preferred way of dealing with the destruction of Theramore.

Certainly I think Varian Wrynn for the Alliance really needs to be the kind of character that players really look up to and see as a major world figure. And I think if you ask players right now, they don’t quite see him that way yet.

Dave Kosak on Varian Wrynn. I was afraid that Blizzard’s end-game would involve the sacrifice of their Queen (Jaina) in order to demonstrate that Varian was worth following. The thought of a Mage having to rely on a Warrior for anything other than kiting practise is horrible and I’d much rather she managed to save herself and as many of her people as possible. Jaina is meant to be powerful and I want to see her stand on her own as a proper character instead being in the shadows of others.

Gone Fishing – A Blog Azeroth Shared Topic

The Blog Azeroth shared topic this week revolves around fishing.

Fishing is an odd sort of minigame in WoW and people I’ve talked to either love it or hate it. So what’s your take on the most grindy of sports?

If you love it: Why? Where’s your favorite spot to go drop a line and veg while waiting for a strike?

If not: Why not? What would make it more fun? Or is there a way to make fishing fun?

And lastly, for those of you with hard-won turtles and rats and lobsters ‘o doom—show ‘em off! :D (Because I’m proud of my stupid rat and darned if I’m not going to sneak my own screenshot in.)

Suggested by Martha.

I have to start this with a quick confession. Whilst in theory I love the idea of hanging out in some of Azeroth’s beauty spots catching fish, in practise I hate fishing. For the whole of classic WoW, I avoided hints subtle and otherwise that I might want to join the guild fishing parties for stoneskin eels. In fact it was only the introduction of the baby crocolisks in the patch which brought us the Sunwell which gave me the impetus to level fishing at all. That daily must have been the first one my server was offered because I remember one of our Gnome Warlocks showing up at raid time with the most adorable little croc and thinking I want one of those. Yes, it’s rather sad that the addition of mini pets pushed me into fishing when the pleas, threats and abuse of my old raidleader couldn’t make me although I did farm other stuff including lots of herbs and my own weight in nature resistance pots so it’s not like I didn’t contribute (although in the very unlikely off-chance he’s reading this, sorry).

However, despite my dislike of fishing, I have managed to collect quite a few of the fishing related pets.

First up was Muckbreath who much to the envy of quite a few guildmates I managed to score with an impressive fishing skill of 10.

Although this is Chuck.

(the picture is actually Chuck though)

From there I caught the rest of his crocolisk siblings before moving on to bigger prey. Again, I got lucky with the Crawdad, the pet came from the first Mr Pinchy I fished up.

Unfortunately the sewer Rat took quite a bit longer, in the end, he too succumbed to my bait.

However, my white whale otherwise known as the sea pony continues to elude me. This is entirely my fault, I manage to fish for roughly ten minutes at a time before getting distracted by PvP or dailies or ironing. That combined with the fact that the Faire is only available one week in every month means I have limited time and worse I’m putting in even less effort to catch it. One day though, one day.

Given my love/hate relationship with fishing, it may come as a surprise that I have a MoP fishing wishlist, but I do.

First up, fishing boats. Looking back through my post history, I’ve actually been in pursuit of these for a while now but Blizzard still haven’t provided. Azeroth’s waterways are littered with small boats of all kinds which would be perfect to be re-purposed into seafaring mounts.

Some could be made through professions, the canoe for example would be perfect as a leatherworking item. Others could be made through engineering (possibly with the chance of being capsized every so often) and perhaps blacksmithing could produce some sort of submarine. There could also be a quest chain for keen fishing enthusiasts to create some sort of ultimate fishing vehicle complete with beer fridge, cushions and an umbrella to protect you from the heat of the sun.

New fishing rods would be nice as well. I still use the Kalu’ak one as fortune has never favoured me with the jewelled one but a few new options would spice things up. Perhaps a jade one for MoP or one made from fish bones as recyling is always good. It would of course make you smell like rotten fish but surely that’s going to help you catch a big one. Perhaps using it would have you periodically attacked in deep water by a large and random shark.

We have a fishing hat but what about a few more accessories? How about waders or at least a shirt with fish on it.

Finally mini-pets. With the addition of pet battles, the world of mini pets is really opening up so there should be lots of opportunity to acquire aquatic critters.

I’d like to see the following:

  • An Octopus
  • The baby shark that briefly showed up in the Wrath beta
  • A giant catfish ( I like their whiskers)
  • A heron who either steals fish from your line every so often or catches a fish himself

As a final final thing, can we please have a fishing trainer who is a reference to Jeremy Wade, I might dislike fishing in WoW but I find River Monsters strangely addictive.

Mog Madness – Round Two (Wild at Heart)

I got a pleasant surprise on Sunday, when I discovered I’d made it through into round two of Mog Madness. The small print however gave me cause for concern. An outfit for either a Hunter or a Druid incorporating the Glaive of the Pit or Marrowstrike (same skin). My worst fears were confirmed once I checked out the Glaive on Wowhead. After much bouncing around trying first my Hunter and then my Druid,  I finally settled on this.

I decided to use the Glaive because of it’s added orange glow (the only difference between the two weapons). That allowed me a slight flexibility in my colour choices, being able to play around with orange as well as bronze and blue.

As you can see from my screenshots, I decided to use bronze as my main focal point, with just the odd hint of blue (in the shoulders, bracers and chest) and of course the orange skirt as a bit of a statement.

Never rains but it pours.

Names blurred to be protect the angry and the innocent.

Tol Barad on my server is always “interesting”.  It seems like buses, these things come all at once.

Out of curiosity, who do you think is in the wrong (if any one) and why? There was no further discussion in raid chat nor was there anything out of the ordinary said prior to this.

BETA: Thoughts on PvPing as a Healing Priest in MoP.

Disclaimers and stuff: First Beta build and everything is likely to change between now and live. Blizzard have admitted that the Priest Class still is a work in progress and things are missing/being switched around.

Crowd Control

Fear is back as baseline and Holy still has access to Chastise (the disorient).

Our other cc options can be found on Tier 1 of the new talent trees and they are:

  • Dominate Mind. 30 second cooldown. (appears to replace our current Mind Control) and is usable on all but mechanical targets.
  • Pysfiend. 45 second cooldown. Summons a Pysfiend that stands in place. The Pysfiend casts a Psychic Scream on a nearby enemy within 30 yards every 1.5 seconds, preferring targets which attack the Priest. Psychic Scream causes enemies to flee for 30 seconds, damage caused may interrupt the effect. (Given that Fear is back as a baseline, this may change. Due to diminishing returns, it’s unlikely to be my preferred choice in PvP).
  • Void Tendrils. 30 second cooldown. Summons shadowy tendrils out of the ground, rooting all targets within 8 yards for 20 seconds. Killing the tendril will cancel the effect. (Wonder if the Freya root macro could be re-used  for tendril killing).

Damage Prevention

First of all, it looks like that staple of Disc PvP, Focused Will is gone for good. Disc does however hang on to both Pain Suppression and Power Word: Barrier.

Other options available to us will include:

Glyph of Inner Sanctum: Spell damage taken is reduced by 6% while within Inner Fire, and the movement speed bonus of your Inner Will is increased by 6%.

This is basically our current talent in the Disc tree swapped to a glyph.

Talent: Phantasm (tier 2) – Any time you Fade you remove all movement impairing effects from yourself and your movement speed will be unimpaired for 3 seconds. In addition to this, you are no longer targettable by ranged attacks for its duration.

This combines a reworking of the current PvP set bonus with an old shadow talent of the same name with some new goodies.

If the “duration” means Fade and it keeps the same cooldown/duration it currently has, that could be 10 seconds out of every 30 that ranged spells just can’t hit you. Ever the optimist, but I’m not sure I see this going live as is.

At the moment, the other choices on tier 2 are purely movement speed related and since a boost to movement speed is no use unless you first clear snares, I’m erring towards this as my PvP pick.

Spectral Guise looks as if it’s making a come back as our lv 87 ability.

Instant cast, 30 second cooldown. Your shadow blurs into the darkness, leaving behind your true form. As a shadow you are invisible but remain in combat. Lasts six seconds or until your true form is hit by 3 direct attacks.

I’m currently  undecided on this one. If those “3 direct” hits include white damage, I’d say this is a fairly useless party trick. If not then it has possibilities. I’d like it to work like this,

/cast Spectral Guise. Then working on the same sort of principle as the Highborne Soul Mirror,  my shadowy self splits off  from my “real” body. Whoever is currently using me as a punching bag, keeps hitting the “fake” me whilst the real me gets to wander off, re-appearing a few yards away.

Dispels.

Instead of having an offensive and defensive dispel and a remove disease, we now have one defensive dispel which removes both magic and disease effects from a target and an offensive dispel. (This was my preferred solution when I discussed dispels a few weeks back although I’m still not convinced that adding a cooldown to dispels makes their use  any more intelligent than when we could spam them willy-nilly.).

Purify (new spell) – 8 second cooldown, removes all magic effects and diseases  from one friendly target. Is only available to Holy and Disc.

Glyph of Purify: heals your target X% upon successful removal of debuffs.

Dispel Magic – now has an 8 second cooldown and removes one buff from an enemy.

Glyph of Dispel Magic: Your Dispel Magic spell also damages your target for 0 Holy damage when you successfully dispel a magical effect.

Glyph of Leap of Faith: Your Leap of Faith spell now also clears all movement impairing effects from your target.

Mass Dispel is still with us and since it appears to be an option for Symbiosis, it seems as if it’s going to stay that way.

Offensive Magic.

According to the spell lists, Holy and Disc are losing access to most of the Shadow magic abilities (mindblast and mindspike). I have to admit, I’m  not particularly happy about this as I’ve always preferred using my shadow school when fighting melee, that way if I do get kicked, I’m not locked out of my heals.

We still have Shadow word: Death to annoy Mages though.

Glyph of Holy Fire: Your Holy Fire spell is now instant. Having another instant is always good in PvP and this might combine nicely with Atonement.

Atonement is also meant to be making an return as a glyph but hasn’t put in an appearance yet.

Cooldowns.

Disc has Pain Suppression, Power Word: Barrier and Hymn of Hope (even if we don’t know how that’s going to work just yet, however given that according to the data-miners, Symbiosis may give Disc Priests Tranquillity, I’d put money on the fact that it’s not going to be a heal).

Holy has Divine Hymn (on a 3 minute cooldown), Lightwell (which now has 15 charges as baseline) and Guardian Spirit (which hasn’t changed).

Talents offer us a few more possibilities.

Desperate Prayer is still available as a talent but it’s currently a choice between that, Voidshift and the new version of Angelic Bulwark.

Voidshift has now shifted itself to tier 4 of the talent tree. “You swap health percentage with the current friendly target. After this effect ends, whoever has the lowest health is automatically healed for 25 percent of their total health”. This has a 3 minute cooldown.

Tier 6 of the talent tree offers Vow of Unity. “Can not be cast on Tank specialized players”. 15 second duration, 2 minute cooldown, all healing on both targets is shared, and a portion will travel in both directions as well. The small print means this is rather lacklustre in PvE. I’d like to play around with it and binding heal as Holy. However since quite a few battlegrounds revolve around flags and flag carriers are often tank specced, I’m not as excited as I was before they added the caveat.

Other Useful Things.

Inner Focus is still Disc only and Strength of Soul (that crucial PvP talent) now appears to be a glyph.

It seems like Reflective Shield is also becoming a glyph. This makes me happy because I’ve beaten lots of people in 1 v 1s that I would otherwise have lost without it.

Other Priestly Beta Links: (will add to this as I find them)


I’m sure there is loads of things I’m missing but on the whole, so far I’m excited about PvP in Mists.

To Mate or not Team-mate

This is the post I never intended writing. I’ve never been comfortable exposing my private thoughts or talking about what makes me tick. However a couple of recent posts struck a cord with me and I wondered if seeing my thoughts on “paper” would help me get a better understanding of them.

First though, I want to go back a few years.

When I was little I wanted to be fighter pilot. My parents have pictures I drew as early as four or five of a multi coloured stick person sitting on a rocket which I swore was a realistic rendering of a plane. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my reply was always the same, I’m going to fly. Helicopters, planes, it didn’t matter, if they could fly I wanted a ride. That feeling in your stomach as you soar into the clouds, watching the world fall way beneath you, it was like a drug to me. When we flew commercial, in the days before Sept 11th, I’d charm my way into the cockpit so I could see what they saw, watching their hands move across the instruments. I grew up on a series of Air Force bases and my father’s squadrons always had a laid back attitude towards kids so I spent summers hanging out by runways and playing in hangars. I suppose I should have seen it then, the look on their faces when carefree I told them what I wanted to be. Maybe I did and I just ignored it, after all I’d always got my own way on everything else.

I was fifteen years old and sitting in the cockpit of a Tornado. I was joking around with one of the engineers about how the plane could have been designed for me . Just enough leg room for my legs, perfect width for my shoulders. He grinned and said “pity you’re a girl otherwise it could have been yours in a few years time”. I guess he saw the look on my face because he added “they call it a cockpit for a reason” loud enough for it to echo around the hangar.  Everyone else laughed and I could feel my anger starting to tick over like an engine. Someone added “Besides, you’d only want to paint it pink, girls have no place in the military”. Overcoming the urge to kill the lot of them, I got out of that plane so fast, I tore a strip of skin from my thigh, my world crashing and burning around me.

That was lesson one. It didn’t matter how much I knew about the planes, it didn’t matter that I could have probably put one together again in my sleep because I’d studied the manuals over and over again at home. It didn’t matter what I was like inside, they only saw the exterior, they saw a female and that’s where it stopped. I hated myself for a while after that.

Lesson two came after I left University. My first “proper” job involved interviewing foreign nationals for a Government department. A lot of the men who came through the door of the interview room couldn’t believe that “this slip of a girl with a voice like a whore” had any official power over them (and yes that’s a direct quote). Sometimes even before I got to open my mouth, they had made up their mind about me because of my gender. I shouldn’t be there, I was taking the job of a man, I was clearly deviant (because I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring). Every other day, there was some guy attempting to come on to me or calling me names or quite often doing both at the same time.

Again, people were only seeing what was on the outside. Only seeing the fact that I was a woman and judging me wanting because of that.

Which brings me to WoW. One of the things I love about Azeroth is the anonymity. The randoms I play with have no idea of whether I’m a sixteen year old boy, a highly evolved cat smugly bouncing on the keyboard or a woman. They have to judge me solely on one thing, my ability to play and that’s all that matters. Can I stay out of the fire, can I keep people alive under pressure, can I keep myself alive with four dpsers trying to squish my gnome into little pieces. The rest is irrelevant.

I don’t hide my gender, I make no secret of being female here in my own personal space. There is even a picture of me somewhere on the blog. Whenever I join a “new” guild though, I don’t broadcast the fact until I’m comfortable being there. Until people know me as a good player first and foremost. Given the “voice like a whore” I really do try and not speak on vent unless pushed because I hate the combination of my accent and the huskiness of my voice. I also hate speaking on the phone at work for the same reason.

Anyway, this is where it gets weird.

I was in Isle of Conquest. It was one of those games, the long drawn out ones where everyone is on defence. We’d just cleared the Horde out of our Keep courtyard when I spotted a lone warrior going 1 v 3 outside. Now being a “team player”, I popped outside and helped him which is where the trouble began. In battleground chat, the warrior said “Thanks Sprout”, to which I replied with  a quick “Np” and returned to victimising a passing Goblin hunter I’d found. The warrior (clearly the politest WoW player out there), added an extra “thanks mate” and that’s where things went downhill fast in a rather surreal fashion.

Someone I vaguely know from the PvP forums launched into what can be best described as a “rant” aimed at both me and the warrior. By not correcting his/her “mate” I was letting every other woman who plays WoW down. I should have been yelling my gender from the rooftops because this was an opportunity to prove to all these male troglodytes out there that women can play. I was so stunned my goblin prey almost managed to escape alive.

The warrior drew their ire because he or she had assumed I was male (due to their usage of “mate”). Now I played hockey at school and my friends and I called each other “mate” all the time. It was short for “team-mate” and based on that, the warrior was perfectly right to call me that. I was a team-mate, the only one who came to help in fact.

Of course battleground chat devolved at this point with the “troglodytes” revealing themselves. In fact we lost because people were so busy arguing about whether women could play or not, they didn’t notice the Horde knocking down the gate and killing the boss. Later on, standing in Stormwind I was rather bemused by the whole thing. Experience has taught me that revealing my gender tends to come with negatives, people hitting on you, people making assumptions about you and I hate that. I am so much more than the sum of my parts but am I doing it wrong?

On the one hand I feel that by mentioning my gender, whether it’s to say “Look didn’t I do awesome and btw I’m a girl” or to taunt the bad tempered lv 1 who just got his or her ass kicked in PvP that I’m diminishing women even further. Guys don’t bring up the fact that they are guys so why should women do it? I know plenty of females who play computer games, it’s  not as if we’re mysterious and special snowflakes. I am good at the game, I know that and I feel that adding “and I’m a girl” as my acquaintance wanted me to only encourages people to think that I feel gender is important in a game of all places and worse, that I performed well despite my gender. WoW is an equal playing field, my husband is bigger and stronger than me but I can still kick his ass in a duel because his size and strength doesn’t matter. Also to reverse it, anyone saying “you played well, for a girl” is definitely being insulting but yet she was asking me to insult my gender under the guise of standing up for it, by saying basically “I did well even though my gender is subpar”.

On the other, posts like O’s, Navi’s and of course pretty much everything Apple Cider writes makes me wonder if I am doing it wrong. If by ignoring or trying to sideline a part of who I am because of all my negative experiences, I’m subconsciously encouraging the cycle of abuse.

I excused my silence on the grounds that one voice won’t make a difference. That even if I manage to convince one guy that women can play computer games, drive cars and do all the other things we get accused of being bad at, they won’t see that as being all women. As someone said to me recently, “you’re just the exception which proves the rule”. Then I realised something when I was writing this post, something so fundamental I’m not sure how I missed it the first time around. It’s not just about being one voice in the darkness because when we compare experiences, most of us tell the same story. Different voices, different accents, different languages but the words are the same.

Will I be telling random people randomly that I’m female, no (because that’s just weird) but I am going to stand up for myself more. If people have a problem with women, that’s not my problem, it’s theirs.

Dead as a Doornail: On World PvP

Looking back at my time in Azeroth, many of my stand-out memories involve World PvP. The ebb and flow of old school Southshore / Tarren Mill battles. Advancing one minute, running for my life pursued by a pack of deathguards, three blinking mages, two shamans and an angry warrior the next. Aoeing the deathguards and then sitting down to drink and being ambushed by the obligatory rogue skulking behind enemy lines. Attacking Crossroads and being flattened by the always awesome Sergra Darkthorn (who should definitely be the next War Chief). Retreating back to Ratchet or hiding, shadowmelded and praying that the aoeing mage won’t come any closer.

So it will come as no surprise to learn that one of the things which stood out the most to me in the avalanche of MoP data we’ve just been handed was this:

With some of the changes it’s pretty enticing to get out into the world and mix it up. By accomplishing some of the outdoor PvP quests and objectives I can actually raise my weekly Conquest cap, which means I can build my PvP set that much faster. I’ve flown over some pretty intense looking outdoor battles, and I can’t help myself as I jump in and work toward increasing my cap for the week.

(taken from here).

and this:

With world PvP, what we’re trying to accomplish is identifying what will naturally emerge with world PvP and then have the game support that better. In the past, I feel our attempts to create an area for world PvP haven’t been particularly successful, at least from the standpoint of them actually feeling like world PvP. Wintergrasp was a neat zone, and it was cool for the first time to go knock down a fortress with a tank, and Tol Barad was…alright, in that it gave players things to do as far as going out there in huge numbers and taking over these bases, but it didn’t really feel like world PvP. Really, what it felt like was a big battleground, and as you saw, kind of over time, it became more and more like an instanced battleground, because that’s the direction things take when you have a natural push for objectives. 

World PvP is kind of best when it happens on its own, when the conditions of the game naturally encourage the PvP to happen. What we’re hoping to do is identify places where that naturally happens, and then give players a bonus for winning those areas–the conquest point cap will be raised. An example is, back in the day with vanilla wow, we would have done something along the lines of ‘oh hey, if you take over Southshore or Tarren Mill, we’ll give you an increase to your conquest point cap for the week.’ It gives you a reason to engage in world PvP without being really heavy-handed. Instead of ‘ok this is the only way to get your awesome armor,’ it’s ‘hey, taking over Southshore is fun.’

(taken from here).

Ignoring the fact that I am one of those few people who does like Tol Barad, I got really hopefully and excited when I first read these two posts. Thinking it over in my head, however I hit a bit of snag which brought me back to earth with a bang.

Every single server I have characters on is heavily skewed in favour of one or the other faction. Take the server I currently call home, the Horde are an endangered species. We’re lucky if peak time provides 15 of them in Tol Barad. Without some sort of artificial system in place, they will always be on the losing end of spontaneous world PvP, which makes it less attractive for them to get off their flying mounts and participate. It also makes transferring to a realm which either has a more balanced population or one in which your faction of choice has the higher numbers more attractive, especially if you take PvP seriously. This has a knock on effect, as more of the weaker faction transfer out, the issue then gets worse and worse for those left behind (on both sides).

World PvP in which you hugely outnumber your opponents or are vastly outnumbered is not particularly interesting or exciting for either side, especially if you’re on the smaller team. Attempting to balance the teams is of course one way around this issue but that comes with it’s own set of problems. Artificial constraints, whether in the shape of balanced numbers, instancing in the zone and so on is also a direct contradiction of this statement “World PvP is kind of best when it happens on its own” and neither does it contribute to the “fun” element. I find the most frustrating factor about Tol Barad right now is that I rarely get to play with the people I want to play with because we can’t ever get in together. So if Blizzard wants pure World PvP, the opposing factions congregating  somewhere and slaughtering each other for kicks, then they can’t have artificial limits but somehow they need to balance populations better. Otherwise on servers like mine (in fact all of the three servers I play on), then this is never going to work.

I remember Wintergrasp on Kazzak EU as Alliance before balancing was introduced. Our half a raid group going up against a veritable horde of Horde. If you could get a demolisher within spitting distance of the Keep it was a good day (to die repeatedly), not to mention my fond memories of being graveyard camped by two full raids. Managing to kill the cocky mage who strayed too far from his healers was considered a success in the face of such overwhelming odds. I have to admit the masochist in me actually had fun but the vast majority of people, well they just stopped participating. The rewards just weren’t good enough to inspire people to try. Which is another aspect of the issue, the second you add a reward, however insignificant, it changes the game. Back when I was first introduced to the joys of World PvP, the honour system hadn’t been introduced. We killed each other because we could and because it was fun. Like-minded people were drawn both to certain locations and to each other. Then the honour system and it’s rewards were added and suddenly people who had no interest in pre-patch World PvP were all clambering over each other to join in. Fast forward to now and rewards (whether it’s in the shape of an increased conquest cap or anything else) means that people who aren’t necessarily into World PvP without rewards will participate, further screwing the smaller faction.

Is it time to start merging servers so we can all have a balanced and happy MoP, full of boisterous and spontaneous world pvp? I don’t know but if Blizzard intend making good on this, on servers like mine something needs to change. Otherwise it’s going to be as much fun as taking the towers in the Bone Wastes is at the moment. If you actually see a Horde, you have to blink to make sure you’re not hallucinating and then, once you’ve proved they’re real, you end up letting them go because endangered species need nurturing not pounding to a messy pulp.

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