On the ease of Leveling: Worgens, Whining and Warriors

It took a while but I finally found a hook to make me enjoy leveling my little Worgen Druid.

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Ever since level 40 ish, we’ve been running every single dungeon  as a two person group and so far, 32 levels later it’s been a blast. Not only has this helped me feel a lot more comfortable playing Balance (a spec I haven’t touched since Wrath) but I think this has helped crystallize my feelings towards the intended Proving Grounds change. Dungeons whilst leveling are too easy by far. We’re running a Prot Warrior and Balance Druid combo and haven’t had any issues even when I’ve accidentally thrown mobs at other packs whilst trying to pour a drink one handed. I know that I’ve played a Druid since vanilla and yes, Mr Harpy has tanked on a Warrior since Molten Core including 25 man heroic progression fights in the past but this isn’t about ability to play, we couldn’t fail if we wanted to. I’m not saying that will continue all the way to level 90 but we know that we can two man the first Pandaria dungeons because we’ve already done it at the right level albeit on different classes.  Yes, it’s leveling but that is meant to be where you learn to play, having to expand your toolbox usage with every new spell you get and personally I don’t think it’s fair to set the bar so low below the level cap and then suddenly force players to jump through hoops in order to essentially run the same 5 man content just tuned harder.

The game should be progressive, every 10 levels or so everything should get harder so you have to think about what you’re doing. However we know that with the ability to buy level 90s,  if anything the lower levels will get easier not harder which is going to contribute to the issues we already face in group content. If you can either faceroll your way to 90 or hand over your credit card then yes that does mean that there will be some people who struggle in 5 mans either as new players or on new classes but them having obtained silver in test which can be learnt by rote without the random input of players is pointless.  Without a challenge, there is no purpose… but that challenge should not be artificially inserted 99 levels too late and worse input in such a way that it doesn’t fully reflect on what you’ll actually be asked to do in a heroic dungeon. Why not just tune the normals correctly so that they require some thought  and quite possibly some crowd control and then limit entry to the heroic versions to people who have completed the majority of the normals*. That way people will be familiar with said dungeons, will have obtained loot which will help them run the heroics and more importantly will have played with real people.

On our road to Northrend, we also took a brief detour to Karazhan to see how that had changed, given that Mr Harpy tanked him way back in the first few weeks of the Burning Crusade on a warrior with similar health to his new alt.

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Yep, a picture is worth a thousand words. The only thing which hasn’t changed is the lack of a mount in the loot. In fact I suspect whilst we stopped here and went back to doing 5 man content, the only fight we might found painful would have been Chess but since that is soloable even that would doable.

On a slightly less whiny note, I’d forgotten how beautiful the Old Kingdom dungeons were. Who needs a Garrison, I’m planning on living here.

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*I would have said every one but the random dungeon queue adds an annoyance factor to that.

Shark Attack

I’ve been slightly absent this week, work has been a little full on but hopefully from next week I’ll be back to a more regular posting schedule. One involving more words and a few less pictures but in the meantime….

Mr Harpy tends to operate on a policy of “if it’s kill-able  it should be killed at least once just because” and although this has resulted in a few amusing deaths, it’s mostly been a rewarding little hobby.

Now we’re both rather fond of sea-life, sharks and whales in particular so when we spotted these two  swimming off the coast of Krasarang Wilds we knew we’d have to try and kill them.

Our very first experimental attack, carried out in the first few days at 90 didn’t go too well as it turns out these chaps pack quite a punch. However with a bit of refining and a lot of running, the tide turned in our favour.

The end result being a satisfying one although they don’t drop any loot to speak of.

Next up, we’re going to try the same technique on the Whale Shark.

Slumming in the Sunwell

As anyone who has read my scribbles for any length of time is probably aware, two gnoming (two personing doesn’t sound right and two manning is not particularly accurate) dungeons is something that my husband and I have done a lot of. Not only is it a challenge but it makes for interesting game play as we try and navigate around sticking points and compensate for the lack of other party members.

I’m not sure why the Sunwell came up in conversation but it did and I have to admit that my original Sunwell memories are not the happiest but somehow I found myself talked into giving it a try. Back when it was fresh content, our then guild was locked in battle of wills with another guild on the server. We’d won the race to Illidan simply by staying up half the night but with the release of new content, the whole can of worms spilled open with a vengeance once more. The forums ignited and our GM became more and more bad tempered. Every time someone made a mistake, even if it was as small as pulling a trash pack by accident he erupted into screams of abuse directed not only at those responsible but the entire guild.

However, by the time we stood here, I was looking forward to rewriting those painful memories with some happier ones. Dear old Kalecgos provided a bit of a challenge simply because Mr Harpy on his rogue was struggling to stay alive whilst I was in the portal. After a few attempts, I popped back to Stormwind and exchanged my Disc spec for a Shadow one which made it far easier.

I’m surprised at just how much I’ve been enjoying Shadow, seeing tiny shadowy Gnomes with fabulous hair wander towards targets is wonderfully cute and macabre at the same plus I’m rather amazed at how big my numbers are. So once we’d saved the blue dragon, we found ourselves faced with this little guy,

To say he was a challenge would be an understatement, bearing in mind we were attempting him as a Holy Priest and a Rogue. I have to say Power Word: Solace is amazing on fights like this, where you need to conserve mana for high damage phases but also need to dps. In the end we had the last laugh, he died just after I did.

Aren’t Gnome corpses so pathetically cute?

Felmyst was amazingly easy in comparison, I went back to shadow and we just dodged nasty green clouds and nuked her. The twins were a bit more of a challenge but not by a huge amount. This time I stayed holy and bounced around spamming Power Word: Solace and blowing kisses. The poor Naaru wasn’t particularly hard either and before we knew it, we were clearing trash up towards the big bad guy himself.

I wish Blizzard would make these dogs tameable by Hunters, of all the demon dog models this has always been my favourite with Chromaggus a close second.

Compared to the first two encounters, Mr Demon was a walk in the park. I think that’s partly why I enjoy trying fights with less people than they’re designed for. The Kalecgos fight for example was at the time, perhaps the easiest fight in the dungeon but when there is only two of you, one wearing leather and one wearing cloth trying to tank demons and angry dragons it’s suddenly far more “interesting”.

Next up, Sarth 3D. Now I know that the fight is definitely two mannable but whether it’s doable without a proper tank remains to be seen but I feel if a rogue can tank Brutullus he should be able to manage a whole bunch of angry dragons.

Midsummer Screenshot Madness

Today’s screenshots are all influenced in some way by the Midsummer Fire Festival.

Midsummer is one of my favourite festivals, combining as it does faster levelling for alts and a reason to visit far flung locations. Running around picking up flames on all my characters has given me lots of chances to visit old familiar places, taking pictures as I went.

Winterspring –  looking tranquil as always. The Midsummer Fire Festival always seems out of place amongst the snowy landscapes though. Bet Ahune would prefer it here to that damp cavern he currently spawns in. The Ice Stone wouldn’t melt in Winterspring, bad planning on his part really.

Feathermoon Stronghold – looking mysterious and moody.

Terokkar Forest – Really they should light the bonfire on the bone wastes. I guess someone likes to live dangerously.

Grizzly Hills –  a certain outhouse that any Alliance who have completed the Amberseed quest chain will remember with mixed emotions. Nice to see they dress it up for the festival though.

Wonder if the blossom hides the smell?

Given the fiery nature of this festival we decided to visit the hottest place on Azeroth, Molten Core itself. I haven’t really been back since Vanilla (a small trip 18 months ago to kill two bosses hardly counts) and the first thing I noticed is how small it seems these days. The second and perhaps scariest thing was that a disc priest and a feral druid now do the same dps as a 40 man raid did back then. Anyway, insects we may be, but it was too soon for Ragneros and down he went. He still didn’t drop my tier 2 pants though.

You just can't get the minions these days

The hardest boss for us was Sulfuron Harbringer. We were struggling on the dps front (stupid healers)  until I remembered I had mana burn and then it suddenly became trivial. We did however both get the achievement which was fair enough for Tabby, after all that druid has only existed since March but my priest farmed Ragnaros for a 9 month period.. grrr. In which time I think my guild saw one pair of tier 2 pants drop, about as many priest pants as we got priest dresses from Nef in fact – random loot maybe random but it sure doesn’t feel like it when you get hunter/warlock loot for the 10th week in a row. Unless of course, you are a hunter or a warlock in which case, it’s random and well deserved.

Finally, we have a spot of Dark Iron art. This beauty can be found hanging on the walls of Blackrock Depths.

Happy Midsummer Fire Festival and may your loot bags drop scythes and mini-pets!

On a bicycle made for two

The other morning whilst browsing my favourite mini pet site I learnt that the rather flimsy looking gates of Zul’Aman no longer needed a party of five to knock them down. Naturally being a rather squishy cloth wearing type, soloing was out of the question but what a hunter can solo,  a warrior and priest can most certainly two man. So we loaded up the bike with supplies and snack food (might as well make a picnic out of it) and headed off to troll country.

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I really do feel Blizzard missed a trick by not adding a troll instance to Northrend. Icetrolls up to no good would have fitted in perfectly and would have been a lot more interesting to play with than the Faction Champions and tired bullied Yetis.

Took around 15 hex sticks and the killing of 2 out of the 4 beast bosses, but with 10 minutes to go before the server shut down for some “emergency maintenance” I stopped rescuing random idiots and found the ultimate frog.

mojo01So thats another mini pet ticked off the list. Although its reaching the stage where I’m just going to grit my teeth and start farming for the rest of them.

 

Utgarde Pinnacle

This is definately one of my favourite WotLK instances.

  • Slightly gothic, very dirty and cobweb filled castle, check.
  • Zombie attendents including awesome ones who turn into wolves, check.
  • Sexy Vrykul women, check
  • Appearance of the Lich King (what self respecting castle would be without him), check

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Besides I love the principle of it. We invade the castle of the King whose wife we already slaughtered. Do we stop off and fill our bags with his gold supplies or steal some ancient statue thats propping a door open. Of course not, we rampage our way through the ancient corridors kicking up dust and killing his servants (can’t help wondering why the undead servants don’t displace the cobwebs.. maybe the dust is allergic to them). Since you get to leave through the treasure room I suppose it makes sense to slaughter first, loot afterwards when no survivors can see you sneaking out with your swag bag.

In the past we had tried to 2 man this before but always got stuck in the Trophy Room (wonder how the King feels about only having one worm in his cabinet) or if we skipped that, we got stuck on Skadi. However given our previous success in instances previously too hard for us like Heroic: the Culling of Stratholme we were somewhat confident (arrogant?).

Our strategies go something like this:

Yes, I’m assuming you are a priest and from my experience Discipline is best – bigger stronger shields and penance with prayer of mending added in make up the bulk of the healing.

Trash: On the early mobs you can use mindcontrol. I tend to go for the Seers for a couple of reasons. Their chain lightning/lightning spells are annoying plus their heal is somewhat large (wtb really).

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It is however best to let your pet tank charge in first just incase you get any resists.

Svala Sorrowgrave:

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(I find it fascinating that the Lich King manifests himself in a variety of different sizes from the gigantic as illustrated here to the rather more mundane human sized version, yet his armour always fits.)

She of the totally wonderful name, here we go for brute force rather than anything subtle. Standing close together to make sure prayer of mending bounces when she makes the braziers burst into flames. I keep shields up on us at all times and when I get sacrifriced the Gnomeling kills one with direct attacks (nothing like doing all the stuff you aren’t supposed to :D). The sword descends and I leap from the altar spam healing myself. Rinse and repeat your way to a badge of conquest really.

The Undead trash can be shackled, depends what type of tank you have (or whether you can train them out of aoeing everything).

The Trophy room:

trophyroomThe longboat is a lovely touch I always think and probably the best trophy in the whole room, although the pyscho teddybear has to be worth a mention.

The only one of the four mini mini bosses that really presented a problem was the worm… (weird really, we aren’t phased by two, but one gets us all scared). We fight them in their room (having tried various locations all over the castle) and I basically hide out of los so we only have to deal with one poisoned target. I would recommend wearing some extra stamina gear however because of Gortok Palehoof’s nasty withering roar. I was down to 6k health when he died.

Skadi:

The gauntlet is annoying to say the least. However once we have grounded him I stay close enough for prayer of mending in case I get the poisoned spear. You just have to be ready to run if he targets you with whirlwind.

King Ymiron himself:

king01Another example of a leader who allows his minions to be pulled back and slaughtered in front of his face, although in his case I tend to be charitable and suppose he is blind with grief.

  • The spirit strike: You just have to heal through it
  • The spirit burst: Prayer of mending and shields pretty much take care of that
  • The spirit orb: Run away
  • The spirit adds: Tank picks them up and you just ignore them

Finally loot and try not to look surprised when the pet tank picks up the red sword of courage 8 months and 3 tiers of content too late.

It takes two baby, it takes two

One of the reasons I enjoy playing WoW so much is the clear progression you can see in your character. As you advance both through levels or tiers of content you (nerfs not withstanding) become stronger, things become easier and its obvious that you are moving forwards.

Now I’ve mentioned before that the Gnomeling and I find two manning things not designed to be two manned (two personned sounds stupid) relaxing. We had great success with Heroic Old Kingdom back in the first weeks of being 80 and managed to pick off a few bosses in various of other heroics as well. However we hit a brick wall with two particular bosses:

Trollgore in Drak’theron Keep and Meathook in the Culling of Stratholme.

No matter what we tried we just couldn’t get past the stacking debuffs they cast. However months have past and we have both collected a variety of loot since then so we thought lets try again.

Heading to Stratholme first (my favourite instance ingame), I was my usual holy build and I have to admit I was a little nervous. Neither of us can do particularly awesome dps and my memories of the last time we tried were a little depressing. When he spawned, Tabs positioned him against a corner so I was out of line of sight of the evil abomination to avoid the constricting chains. Aggroing a passing zombie in the first few seconds of the fight, it turned out that prayer of mending bouncing between us (hooray for zombies) was enough to cope with the bulk of the healing with the odd direct heal thrown in.

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All in all, it really didn’t seem as it were on heroic. Sure, I think we will need either a massive increase in prot warrior dps or another 10 levels before we can do the timed event with us 2 of us. We did however clear the rest of the instance without any issues. I was actually asleep for 90 percent of the Mal’ganis fight which doesn’t say much for demon dps.

All happy with our success beating those naughty time changing dragons, we headed off to Drak’theron Keep to take on a big angry Troll. The last time we tried, we tanked him in the doorway and I tried to kill the trolls as they came down stairs whilst sustaining the healing required to keep up the gnomeling. It was a total failure. We felt the stategy was probably correct and just had to hope this time “I had learnt to play”. I managed to kill two out of three trolls everytime because the healing required was so miminal but I’m still going with it being skill not gear (its my blog and if I say its skill, it is, honest). On a side note, disc is completely awesome for doing this (I made my second spec disc for our General “I’m a great big annoying bluebottle bug thing from hell” Vezax hardmode tries and whilst I adore holy for raid healing, disc has surprisingly grown on me). Turns out from a 2 man perspective at least, Novos and his stupid blizzards are far more annoying to heal than the cannibal troll.

Stratholme and Drak’theron are both pretty similar in boss design. You have your dps race (or tank/healer test when 2 manning) first. Then you have some annoying caster type with randomish irriating stuff and for desert you have two completely trivial bosses who require virtually no effort from anyone. Which from a design perspective seems a little odd, surely the last boss should be the hardest not the easiest?

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