Undercover in Warlords: A Few of my Favourite Things

Some spoilers included so look away now if you’re trying to avoid!

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently pottering around Draenor looking for bugs, exploring and generally getting a feel for the expansion. I had been feeling jaded with the game and had actually contemplated not purchasing Warlords at all. There is a lot going on in my personal life at the moment which has left me feeling extremely ill 90 percent of the time, plus I finish work in 4 days to start another University degree with the prospect of juggling that as well as personal stuff going forward into the autumn however it hasn’t taken me long to realise that this expansion hits my buttons like WoW hasn’t since Wrath.

I know a lot of people have been critical of various aspects of the game but I’m struggling to find negatives. Is Garrison player housing? No but it’s still nice to have your own slice of Draenor. Do I mind Ashran being my capital? No, it’s across between Dalaran and Theramore at least for the Alliance with a side order of PvP and personally I like that.

My new favourite toy has to be this:

WoWScrnShot_072614_232723

The Ancient’s Bloom is a drop from a rather nasty rare spawn in Shadowmoon Valley called Yggdrel which turns you into a miniature version of said tree for 5 minutes. Naturally you are rooted in place whilst transformed and so far at least, nothing happens when you /sleep, /cower or /dance but every so often you do a sort of roar animation to express your general grumpiness.

WoWScrnShot_072714_194459

Needless to say this will be one of the first rare spawns I attempt to slaughter on release but given that it was a rather messy kill with level 100s, it might prove tricky. It also goes into your Toybox meaning that acquire it once and you should have it on every character without having to lose a bag space.

My first new Draenor Pet:

WoWScrnShot_072714_200003

 

is a Teroclaw hatchling stolen from a random nest just north of Auchindoun. There is definitely a dinosaur feel to this little chap.

Finding Old Friends in the strangest of places:

WoWScrnShot_072714_203007

One of the aspects of WoW I like the most is the linking of content. We move from one expansion to another in search of adventure and having the NPCs do the same is a wonderful touch that makes the virtual world feel more concrete.

On The Revolutionary Concept of Women Assassins – Charlotte Corday and Ubisoft

I read Ubisoft’s explanation as to why there would be no playable female characters in the next installment of Assassin’s Creed without surprise. I merely raised an eyebrow when I read a male commentator who refused to believe that women played anything other than facebook games and I didn’t blink when a male colleague of mine claimed that men never want to play female characters in video games. In fact I nearly let the fact that I’m so used to being told I have no place in this environment (other than healing my husband in games with cute graphics that obviously he only plays to indulge my childlike mind) stop me from saying anything on the topic. Then I realized just when Assassin’s Creed Unity is set ….

When I think of Assassins and the French Revolution, one person comes to mind. I studied the history of art at school and in particular we covered the French Neo-Classical style. It was through the work of Jacques-Louis David, I first came across the name of Charlotte Corday, the woman who assassinated Marat in his bath with a kitchen knife.

445px-Charlotte_Corday

Posthumously nicknamed l’ange de l’assassinat  by Alphonse de Lamartine she was guillotined for her politically motivated act. After her death, her corpse was checked to see whether or not she was a virgin because the authorities refused to believe that a woman would act like this without a man pulling her strings. Just like Joan of Arc before her, they wanted to write her off as unclean, as a cancer which could be controlled before it spread to infect good docile women. Just like Joan, however, she was found to be intact and the regime had to face the unpalatable truth that women can and do kill.

Interestingly enough, given the current debate she caught the imagination of male artists en masse. The painting above is by Paul  Baudry and the perspective is definitely on her, not Marat slumped in his bath with this papers. Does she look like a killer, no and it’s impressive that not a drop of splatter marrs her dress. Edvard Munch came up with a rather disturbing work on the subject in which Charlotte is naked and Jules Aviat has her hiding behind the curtain looking like a lamb to the slaughter. Then we have Jean Joseph Weerts’s focus on her arrest and other works of her being interrogated. There are paintings of her just after the act, paintings of her in jail and sketches and cartoons of her en-route to the guillotined. Perhaps it was the nature of the crime which thrilled them, a vulnerable and one assumes naked man in bath stabbed (or penetrated) by a woman in an age where such behaviour would be deemed unnatural. In some, like the above she is portrayed as the victim or as France herself (implied above by her proximity to the map of France and her shadow falling across it) and in others, she’s barely human.

I’m currently playing Wolfenstein and I have no issue whatsoever with the fact that my character looks like this:

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-06-14 22-52-38-710
Character customization is not a thing in the game, killing people in many different ways yes, choosing what colour shirt to wear whilst doing so, no, Everyone who plays it will look the same and that’s fine, after all Blazkowicz and I have a history together. Do I need a female character to play a game, no anymore than I need a female protagonist to enjoy a book or a film but when a studio pushes the customization aspects of it’s game especially in cooperative mode, then I expect to be able to pick female if I want to.

That becomes especially true when I can’t help feeling that they’ve missed a trick. Would Marat have let a man into his house whilst he lay defenseless in a bath? Somehow I doubt it. It’s not about complaining that Ubisoft chose to make their main character in the story based aspect of the game male but that in this particular time period it would have been perfect to let an assassin called Charlotte loose on the people of Paris backed up by historical fact. Regardless of what the Ubisoft supporters say the French Revolution did involve debate about the role of women, did involve women who wanted to bear arms, who wanted the right to vote (which incidentally they didn’t get in France until 1944) and who, like Charlotte Cordray participated in the violence.

Wildstar – My Beginnings

Having had a fairly depressing week at work I thought I’d reward myself with Wildstar so this weekend I’ve been alternating between sunning myself in the great outdoors and exploring on my Aurin.

Teasel.140608.184330
My plan is to take my time, Teasel my little Esper is after all an Explorer and therefore needs to climb every tree and swim in every pond, lake and sea. No hill is safe from her bouncing and every single mushroom will be used as trampoline. This naturally slows down the leveling process but should allow me to get a good grasp of the world I’m currently inhabiting.
Teasel.140608.190749

Not only am I getting ideas for the sort of decor I would like in my house to be but I’ve also been hit by a fairly naughty bug. When I was younger, I loved Dolls Houses decorating them and also making them from scratch for myself but also for friends and family. Therefore the urge to try and recreate an Aurin house as a Dolls House is too much to ignore. The devil as always is in the details so I’m grabbing as many screenshots of things I feel might be useful to recreate like those lovely flowers in their plant pots which is slowing me down even more than climbing mountains.

Teasel.140608.191555
One thing I have found really interesting so far is that in quick succession, I met not one but three potentially interesting female characters in the shape of Queen Myala Evenstar, Avra Darkos and Belle Walker all in the start zone. Sure they might suddenly develop boyfriends or die in strange circumstances but it was a refreshing beginning, especially after the whole having to save someone’s wife as a hors d’oeuvre.
Teasel.140608.191507
I am still playing WoW albeit currently rather offhandedly. I have my various projects lined up that I want to finish which include getting my Warlock to 90 and green fire before the expansion hits as well as farming myself a spot more gold and sorting out transmogrifications to go with those swords I mentioned a little while ago. The lure of Alpha information is also whetting my appetite for Orcs ever so slightly but everyone needs a vacation and this is mine.

Women in WoW – Why it’s not about preaching but all about teaching

This is yet another post about women in WoW.

I wasn’t going to write this but then whilst reading the news about the tragic events in California, I found myself being redirected to a number of sites where the venom spewed out against women made me feel sick. I learnt that my worth is entirely dependent on the eggs inside me, that as a white, educated women I’m letting the planet down by not reproducing and that my husband is a weak pathetic man for wanting our marriage to be a partnership of equals. I know these are extreme views and that I’ve seen the same sort of rhetoric from the other side of the spectrum in the shape of one of my tutors at University who when drunk once admitted to thinking we should exterminate men having first harvested their sperm but couple that with Blizzard’s attitudes as vocalized by Rob Pardo and I can’t help feeling we have a huge problem. You can read a transcript of some of the interview with Rob Pardo  here as well as an interesting article on the subject. The whole interview can be listened to here.

 

The Comic defense

I read a lot of comics too as a child/in my early teens. My father has always been fond of routine, in fact sometimes growing up I think he forgot I was his daughter, not one of his men and so every Saturday at 2pm, when my mother and I returned from shopping in which ever town we were currently residing, we would head onto the base for coffee (my parents) and cherry coke (for me, the only day of the week I got a fizzy drink until I was 16). Daddy would buy every newspaper he could lay his hands on and I would get one or two comics. Now because my father struggled to tell the difference between a 10 year old girl and a 20 year old squaddie with tattoos and a crew cut, he would pay for what ever comics I put on the counter and my tastes quickly changed from the likes of Mandy to 2000AD, the Eagle and Wildcat. I fell in love with Judge Anderson,  Tyranny Rex and Halo Jones because they gave me hope, I could be a master criminal, a soldier or whatever I wanted to be. Yes, they all have sexualised bodies but then so do the men in these comics. For every women in a skintight jumpsuit, there is a man with his top off showing his six pack to the world but the important bit, at least to me was the characters themselves. Women who are respected in their fields, women who are capable, competent, powerful and treated as equals. If reading comics taught the Blizzard staff to draw women as sexy and sexualised then it should have also taught them to write women as more than just helpmates, mothers and stereotypes or are we just meant to assume they just looked at the pictures?

It’s also a self fulfilling  problem, Rob and the other Blizzard designers use the comics they grew up with as a defense for not trying to portray women as anything other than mothers and wives in skimpy clothing which then leads the next generation of developers to grow up playing WoW and say “oh we grew up playing WoW.. this is how we see women”.

 

It’s all women’s fault

But it’s a struggle for us because the diversity within our workplace is unbalanced. “

I read English Literature at University and in my final year, one of my tutors came into class and handed around a sheet of paper covered in paragraphs from various books. None of them were labelled and most of them were fairly obscure missing out character names. Our task was to try and determine from around 100 words whether each one was written by a man or a woman. Naturally we assumed that we would be able to tell the difference but apart from the ones we could identify because we recognised the text, we failed miserably resorting to guessing. In order to create interesting female characters you do not need a vagina, literature teaches us this over and over again. Shakespeare created a diverse range of female characters, from the villains, to the strong sensible women who saved the day to the simpering milkmaid types. Brecht’s Mother Courage got a German feminist newspaper named after her for a spell and Dickens wrote some fabulous female characters. I particularly loved the calculated cruelty of Miss Havisham and the sheer wickedness of Madame Defarge. Yes, you could argue that both of these are simply portrayals of Mother Nature at her most capricious but you can’t deny their fascination. I could go on with more modern examples but I feel if men could manage it when women didn’t have the vote, then there is no excuse now.

I suppose what angers me is that I feel it’s a gross simplification to assume you can’t write strong female characters because you aren’t female. The ability to make decisions, to be driven by something other than hormones, to be capable and competent, these are not the preserve of men only. Women are not just emotions on legs, we are as diverse as the characters we are asking for. I played with action men just as much as I played with barbie dolls, I had toy guns and toy rolling pins, I loved sharks and dinosaurs more than fluffy toys.

If setting out to make a character female and strong is too hard, then write a strong character you are happy with and make it female. The characteristics of a leader don’t change whether it’s a man or a woman, the only real difference is the physical body. If we look at female politicians versus male, the vast majority of what drives them is the same, ambition, ego, arrogance.

 

Missed Opportunities

When I first saw the teaser video for MoP, I thought of Conan Doyle’s the Lost World. That Victorian “boys trip” into the great unknown with epic mustaches and lots of testosterone. Fast forward to now and it seems we’re doing Victorian Literature yet again for Warlords. Now that would be ok (and I use the word loosely) if this was roughly 1900, when women were still effectively property, disenfranchised and not treated too dissimilarly to children. However it’s not, the rest of the world has mostly marched on. We aren’t going back to our Draenor and so if the timeline has changed in some ways, why can’t there have been some seismic changes in terms of female characters. Couldn’t Griselda Blackhand have taken on her father in a coup d’etat  and won. Why does Yrel need a lover who happens to be both dominant and male? Take Onyxia, she started out wonderfully, lurking in Stormwind Keep clearly plotting to overthrow the kingdom and ended up in a cave in a marsh surrounded by eggs….. I think that’s what is frustrating, Blizzard do try, take it so far and then revert to type. Tyrande cleaved to Malfurion and became a Victorian stereotype with an overdose of emotions thrown in to make Varian look good, having previously managed to lead her people absolutely fine. Jaina, Sylvanas, Mankrik’s wife… the list goes on.

 

End Game

In conclusion, I know all creative endeavors are personal. I know having something you slaved over, shedding blood, swear and tears for criticized is painful but ultimately Blizzard have a massive audience and a percentage of this are young. Just as Blizzard learnt from the comics they read as boys, this next generation will learn from WoW. We all want WoW to be fun, after all, gaming is a release from reality. It’s something we do to unwind and to relax. However “fun” and “We’re not trying to bring in serious stuff, or socially relevant stuff, or actively trying to preach for diversity or do things like that” are not mutually exclusive. In fact I’d argue that managing to write half a dozen female characters that women can identify with shouldn’t be classed as “preaching”, merely good storytelling with one eye on the future generations. Once again we return to Adrienne Rich and her poem “Diving into the Wreck“.

a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Gaming is not the preserve of men, any more than sewing is done only by women and the sooner companies realise this, the better for all of us. Going back to my first paragraph, when you have men out there who for whatever reason refuse to see women as anything more than their bodies, having these ideas reinforced by mainstream gaming companies like Blizzard is dangerous. We’re not asking for real world parallels to be drawn, just for Blizzard to accept that their excuses are not good enough and to try and improve their track record when it comes to anything which isn’t male, heterosexual and macho.

I don’t need to see Emmelina Pankhurst, Gnome inventor and Suffragnome chaining herself to railings in Ironforge although to be fair that would be pretty awesome.

Random Musing – On Timelines, Pre-expansion Doldrums and how I’d spend the expansion budget before the expansion

On our way home tonight, fog slowed down the journey and so to distract from the frustration, we got to talking about WoW. Primarily as is perhaps common these days, we discussed the lack of content and this post was born of that.

I wanted to think of ways in which we could have content without distracting too much from the focus of Warlords so this is a rough version of what would happen in the doldrums between now and the expansion if I were in charge (and they gave me lots of money).

For the purposes of this, the events of War Crimes have taken place and Garrosh, that naughty Elf/Dragon and Wrathion are currently lost in time and space. Chromie being that sort of Dragon is desperate to put things right but obviously this doesn’t go particularly well and whilst she keeps assuring your group that she’s tracked down Garrosh and opened a portal to his location, when you arrive on the other side…. well it’s a different story altogether.

Perhaps you’ve zoned into Icecrown Citadel, only this is another timeline and it’s Jaina who sits on the Lich’s frozen throne, having first murdered her innocent prince. Maybe you find yourself a top Blackrock Mountain but instead of finding Nefarion lounging on his chair admiring the view, you find his sister laughing over his corpse because after all if you could choose between a palace and a cave… Imagine a timeline in which Keristrasza managed to slay Malgyos herself, ruling in his stead as consort elect and rather than ending her misery, your mission was to restore balance and free her. Maybe that baby fire elemental from the Fire Festival would have the last laugh and turn up as the end boss of Molten Core.

The fights would remain essentially the same merely scaled up and yes, there would need to be model changes/voice acting but balance that against the whining, the people threatening to quit and the lack of people on-line at the moment and I wonder whether it would work out worth it. Not to mention the fact that the possibilities could be limitless, even Hogger could become the Lich King in one reality or another and who wouldn’t want to see that?

Naturally Chromie would be apologetic that she’d got it wrong but since you’re there, you might as well kill whatever is facing you and hope to fix another strand of the time line whilst getting awesome loot. Plus you would arrive at the boss you were going to fight, so you wouldn’t have to drag yourself through eight side bosses and 1000 trash packs because Chromie isn’t that much of a sadist.

Of course there would need to be items but then that could be as simple as taking all the iconic loot from specific fights and scaling it up to whatever item level would motivate people. You could also have vanity items and /or battle pets which would only be obtainable whilst the pre expansion event was in progress to add icing to the carrot on a stick. The Jaina as Lich Queen encounter for example could drop a sort of mirror which when clicked on would spawn a reflection of Jaina in her Lich state to follow you around whispering those who target her with suitably nasty things about how their blood will freeze or Onyxia in Blackwing Lair could give a whelping pet in the style of lil’ Tarecgosa.

The reward for “fixing” all the timelines in pursuit of Garrosh and co would of course net you a suitably adorable lil’Chromie battle pet which (out of combat) be able to switch into a Gnome for 10 minutes every hour and would wander around after you talking science. There would also be achievements to pursue and maybe a title to show that you’ve surfed the twisting nether and come out of it relatively unhurt.

If you had access to Blizzard’s budget how you would fill the content void between now and the release of Warlords?

On Writing

Somewhere towards the end of May lurks the sixth anniversary of my blogging adventures, so with that milestone up a head and the fact that the Newbie Blogger Initiative  is in full swing once again, I thought I’d write about a topic dear to my heart.

Words, they spill from us. Look around in any public space and you’ll see them, bold brassy words yelled across a pub, soft silver lullabies whispered beneath a duvet or the blood red gothic lettering of arguments flaming forth like hammer blows. They catch on the air when spoken aloud, letters unfolding as illuminated text or spiraling across the page like heartbeats. Formed with care, they carry meaning beyond their letters. Without them we’d have no stories, no spells to mesmerize and fascinate us.

In person I get tongue tied. I struggle to pronounce things, my lips feel swollen, clumsy, useless. I can argue passionately and convincingly but only when I have time to prepare, to learn my speech as if for a play. The rest of the time I’m back to being that little girl, the one who needed speech therapy and struggled to learn to read. The one whose parents were told she was thick, stupid and would never amount to anything.

Yet when I write the words come easily, springing fully formed and delicate onto the page. There is no struggling and no stuttering. The transition from brain to page is as fluid and organic as a dolphin diving through the surf. No one pities me when I put pen to paper (unless they’ve read any of my teenage attempts to write sex scenes in fan fiction) and no one feels the need to rush to my rescue when I submit written reports. My readers don’t coo over my accent or find my tendency to add the letter R to everything amusing. All they see  is my choice of words solid and strong against the page, no prejudging just those shapes conveying meaning.

I thought about giving blogging advice in the spirit of the NBI but then I spend all my working days giving practical and sensible suggestions which I always avoid following myself so instead I thought I’d leave the guidance for others. Instead, I thought I’d end like this…

Ultimately though writing is like any other creative pursuit. Do it because you have to, because the words inside bubble up, threatening to burst, blowing your heart to smithereens amidst an alphabet of shrapnel. Write because you love it and because you’d be lost without it.

Long Weekend Away – Photo Heavy Post

This is totally not a WoW post although I’ll be happy if my Garrison ends up resembling a few of these castles in their heyday.  Mr Harpy and I have just returned from an idyllic couple of days away wandering around in the great outdoors and these are a few of the pictures we took in the process.

Edzell Castle

DSCF1312

 

Falls of Feugh

WP_20140425_14_01_26_Pro

 

Drum Castle

DSCF1341

WP_20140426_13_04_19_Pro

I never thought I’d end up saying this but now I love wandering around the walled gardens far more than I do clambering up spiral staircases and staring wide eyed at suits of armour. The walled gardens at Drum really are beautiful especially as you have to wander through a wonderful wild area before you find the wall with the wrought iron gate set it in.

DSCF1333

 

Crathes Castle

DSCF1354

 

IMG_0880

IMG_0853

IMG_0847

IMG_0861

If you’re ever passing through Scotland, I’d definitely recommend stopping off this way and taking a look for yourselves.

Liebster Love Part 3

Here are the answers to the next 22 questions I was asked as part of the Liebster Lovage.

Liebster-award-rules

Amerence’s Questions

  • When did you start blogging , What it’s all about and why? My very first post was in June 2008, which looking back is a surprisingly long time ago. I’ve blogged about various things including food, books and computer games but writing about Warcraft has definitely taken up the bulk of my efforts.
  • Post your most favorite Screenshot of all time!

#17

  • Favorite city in WoW you hang out to and why? I spent most of my time hanging out in Stormwind, it’s got easy access to all the amenities plus the different districts mean that regardless of your mood, there is somewhere to sit. 
  • Do you play other games besides WoW? Any console you using besides your PC? At the moment I play WoW, Hearthstone, Transport Tycoon Deluxe (nothing beats building a transport network when it comes to chilling out), Dragon Age Origins and a couple of app games regularly. 
  • What’s your favorite Trasmog gear? My Benediction teamed up with the Virtuous set.
  • How many WoW characters in game do you have? Do you equally play them a lot? I have a lot, around 45 I think but I tend to only play a few at any one time. 
  • What’s your current achievement score? Whats the most favorite one and why? 14100. Choosing a favourite is tricky because all of them conjure up memories, some positive and some negative.
  • What was the most memorable experience since you started playing WoW? The two most positive experiences which stand out are getting my Benediction and killing C’thun for the first time. On the memorable for all the wrong reasons side it would be have the various guild dramas I experienced, especially during the original incarnation of the game and then in The Burning Crusade. GM’s “hacking” guild forums to read your personal messages to other guild members being just one example of “interesting” behaviours.
  • How many total deaths of critters do you currently have? What are your thoughts about these creatures since they can battle now with your own Pet collections too. On my mostly main, 7605. I suspect most are casualties of Holy Nova and Mind Sear.
  • First word comes in mind when you think about WoW and why? Time sink. Yes I know it’s not technically one word but hey… 
  • Warlords of Draenor is coming up soon, its the new expansion everyone is talking about, What are your expectations and why? I’m hoping it will grab my imagination all over again. At the moment I’m struggling to find a reason to log for longer than half an hour at a time. I don’t enjoy PvP much at the moment, random battlegrounds are really hit or miss with far too many premades going up against pugs. I can’t raid due to my self loathing although how I’m expecting the expansion to fix that, I’ve no idea and there is a limit to how many characters one wishes to level. Plus the few character slots I have left on my server are already earmarked so I’m a bit hampered there.  

Sofia at Altoholic Anonymous

  1. What other games do you play? Dragon Age, Dragon Age II, Transport Tycoon, Diablo III, Harmony Isle and various other app games which catch my interest.
  2. What else do you like doing apart from gaming? Reading, sewing, sketching, cooking, gardening. Our garden was a big factor in selling the house to us and it’s fast becoming an obsession. I’m actually excited that my father-in-law is going to give me some tomato plants. I already have strawberry plants sitting in the green house waiting warmer weather and I can’t stop adding to my herb collection.  My latest plant related interest is trying to create little gardens in tubs and plant pots and I’m working on a Gnome garden at the minute. I’m planning on painting a stone to resemble a cottage, adding a bit of height at the back and possibly some blue/green glass to suggest a pond. Then it just needs a little path and my Gnome’s home from home will be done.gnomegarden
  3. What is your best WoW (or other game) memory? Comprehensively owning my brother in law at Age of Empires not just once but twice. He’s never asked for another go… I can’t imagine why.
  4. What is your favourite colour? Azure blue, the colour of tropical seas.
  5. Read all the lore or speed level? Read it all. I’m usually the person running into walls reading the quest text whilst the rest of the group are off slaughtering things.
  6. Are you a one character kind of person or an altoholic? I’m trying to become a one character person at least until I’ve achieved everything I want to but I’m not convinced that it’s possible.
  7. If you could design one aspect of WoW, what would it be? Quests. Long complex quest chains of the sort that Blizzard probably never wish to see again.
  8. Horde or Alliance? Alliance for real (as opposed to undead) horses, Gnomes and the Deep run Tram.
  9. Do you have any pets in RL? Not any more but I grew up with a slightly mad spaniel.
  10. What inspired you to start blogging? Reading other people’s, realising that I had enough screenshots to paper the house and knowing that I desperately wanted a reason to write regularly but that I lack the discipline to do that without a proper purpose.
  11. What is the first video game you ever played? Harrier Attack. I can’t remember how old I was but I know it was Christmas time and despite everyone telling me that girls couldn’t play computer games I demanded a go because it had Harriers in it.

 

Grumbles about Garrisons

Don’t get me wrong, Blizzard most definitely had me at “Mage Tower” but there is a distinct hum of rebellion in the air.

library

If Garrisons are going to be such a part of our new lives on Draenor, then we need to love the aesthetics. My first character was a Human, a Warlock with a temper which belied her innocent bovine smile but she’s been the only Human I’ve managed to get anywhere near the level cap. My last attempt, a Paladin languishes in the Redridge Inn picking flowers and wondering what she did wrong. I play Gnomes, Elves, Dead Humans, Orcs, Aliens with hooves, anything in fact apart from Humans and yet, it’s Human architecture being forced upon me even on a brave new world.

We knew we wanted the Garrison to feel like a big new feature, but we also wanted to keep it familiar, like bringing a piece of home to Draenor. There is just something about running into Stormwind or Orgrimmar that evokes that sense of faction pride

(From here).

Yes I have an idea of just how unreasonable it would be ask the development teams to create unique artwork for every building but then why couldn’t certain buildings reflect different races? For example the Jewelcrafting one could be based on something Draenic and for the Alliance, your flower garden could take on a Night Elfish feel. You’d still have the same number of buildings to design but it would allow those of us who aren’t particularly keen on granite, stone and wood (or spikes and red banners for the Horde) to have a tiny place to call home in this savage world.

We (or at least I) already have a clear idea of where my characters reside and whilst I know that the Garrisons are meant to be front line encampments on dangerous and foreign soil, so that things like Mentzelia’s home from home as shown below really wouldn’t work, it’s hard to shake free from those ideas.

WoWScrnShot_021514_152217

My second and perhaps more serious concern stems from beginning to realise just how important these Garrisons are going to be. I hate being told what to do. The second someone strongly suggests I should carry out a specific course of action my hackles come up and the pig-tailed brat masquerading as a devil on my shoulder sticks out her tongue. I must admit it surprises most people that I manage to work for an organisation very much into hierarchy but what I don’t think they (including my boss) actually realize is that 99 percent of the time I do what I want. Luckily this currently mirrors official policy fairly closely so my inability to follow anything which sounds like an order isn’t particularly obvious. Show me a line and my automatic response is to cross it so yes, perhaps a chunk of this is motivated by the fact it’s not going to be optional like the farms.

I’m also not a great fan of single player content in WoW and I can’t quite shake the concern that if questing and leveling is linked so thoroughly to your Garrison then this will play a part. I really didn’t enjoy the single person scenarios leading the story line on the Isle of Thunder for example, primarily because doing them as a undergeared healer hurt. Of course the obvious response to that would be “spec damage” but at the end of the day, being forced into a spec you don’t enjoy playing takes the fun out of something just as much as struggling to do it because you hit like a wet kitten. I rarely play alone and certainly when it comes to leveling up through an expansion, that’s definitely something me and Mr Harpy do together. However we’re both interested in different things, he’d like his Alliance garrison to be covered in spikes and dripping with the blood of people silly enough to come around to borrow the sugar. I want gardens and a little bridge over the river. I want a wreath on the door and somewhere to reflex, whereas he’s more likely to spend the minimum amount of time he can there because unless you can grow your own Horde to kill… he’d rather be out in the “real” world.

Am I being negative? Sure I am. I have a chest infection and a tendency to think the worse at all times, it’s part of my coping mechanism. I want to love the Garrisons because they have Mage Towers full of books and a garden but that’s also tainted by doubt. Perhaps it will be just like that other game with a Mage Tower in it, I start out determined to do one thing whether that’s not date Alistair or not love Garrisons and the opposite happens… who knows.

Screenshot20140416222157039

This is definitely not a portent of things to come!

One thing likely to win me over is customisation. The devil is in the details. Give me a tiny Hearthstone board and NPCs playing it in my Inn because I play Hearthstone sometimes. Let me grow some plants for artistic value rather than their ability to be grinded into potions. Give us the chance to reflect a tiny part of our character’s personality, not just in things like the mounts in the stables and what battle pets we have lying around in the shade but in the books, trinkets and followers we have.

 

 

 

A Holy Priest’s Thoughts on the Alpha Information Overload

Having given myself time to take in and digest the Blizzard released and the data mined Holy Priest changes, I have to admit I’m feeling pretty positive about Holy Priests going forward into Draenor. Yes, everything is subject to change but there are some definitely well overdue positive notes in amongst the lists of information released so far.

Changes to Chakra

I think this change is long outstanding but if I’m being honest, I’d argue that it doesn’t go far enough. There is still a penalty for being in the “wrong” chakra, albeit a much reduced one. The addition of the new “perk” will help, after all that’s why I hate switching from my PvP gear to PvE because I miss the reduced cooldown on chakras but if Blizzard want us to be constantly and actively switching depending on the fight, then they need to make that as hassle free as possible. In my ideal world, chakras would lose both the glittery “I’m a Holy Priest, come spank me with your over sized sword” look and ditch the healing increases to single target/aoe at the same time. On that topic, I’d sell someone’s soul for the ability to glyph away from disco lights around my feet, if the Boomkins can do it… why can’t we. What about red, yellow or blue wings depending on your chakra or halos? Something delicate and subtle not smack you in the face and ruin your screenshots brash.

  • Chakra: Serenity now increases healing of single-target spells by 10% (down from 25%).
  • Holy Word: Serenity now heals for 40% more than before.
  • Chakra: Sanctuary now increases healing of area-of-effect spells by 10% (down from 25%).
  • Holy Word: Sanctuary now heals for 60% more than before.
  • Rapid Renewal no longer reduces the global cooldown of Renew.

Quality of Life Changes

  • Prayer of Mending from multiple Priests can now be on the same target, and can be on multiple targets from the same Priest.
  • Angelic Feather, if cast on players, will always prefer the casting priest over others, then pick the player closest to the targeted location. If there are no players where it is targeted, it will still create a feather that can be picked up, as before. Additionally, when collecting multiple feathers, the duration will be extended, instead of replaced.

These two make me oh so happy. I can’t believe it’s taken so long for the former to be added to the game but will make a massive change to any raid with multiple priests.

Changes to capping

  • Halo and Divine Star now follow standard AoE capping rules.

The thought of seeing Divine Star no longer hitting all 40 people awaiting the gates of AV opening makes me slightly sad but I know it’s a needed change.

No Longer Instant Cast

  • Prayer of Mending
  • The level 90 talents, Cascade, Divine Star and Halo.

I can’t say I’m particularly concerned about these particular spells gaining cast times. The first Prayer of Mending tends to go out before combat begins anyway and fitting subsequent ones into a routine shouldn’t prove hard.

Removed Altogether Spells

  • Divine Fury has been removed. (Made obsolete by the removal of hit)
  • Heal although just to confuse things Greater Heal is now going to be known as Heal.
  • Holy Nova (Becoming Disc only)
  • Hymn of Hope – I think we should throw a party for the removal of this one. If Blizzard wanted us standing still whilst we channeled to regain mana, they should have left the five second rule alone.
  • Shadow word Death – becoming available only for Shadow Priests. There was a time when I would have been heartbroken from a PvP perspective but they’ve changed this spell around so much anyway…. plus we might be getting a “glyph” to do much the same thing.
  • Void Shift – I’m a bit surprised at this one only last one expansion but then we already have Guardian Spirit as an “eek” cooldown.
  • Inner Fire – Out of all of these spells, this is the one I’m saddest to see bite the dust. I suspect I know why it’s going but still I almost hope it’s baked into the class. I know there is something fundamentally wrong about cloth wearers having more armour than monks/druids in leather but priests don’t have the same level of mobility and with the cutting back on instant casts it’s all a trade off.
  • Inner Will – Can’t say I used this much once the glow from the first few weeks of Cataclysm receded. 
  • Pys-fiend – This talent is being replaced by Fear which will no longer be baseline. There were some excellent uses for this, namely placing to fear people into the Alterac Valley boss room when they weren’t quite ready but then Spectral Guise and Fear works just as well. Everyone is going to lose some CC and out of that particular tier of talents, this would be my choice to go as it almost mirrors a spell we already have, especially compared to mind control and void tendrils. 

 

New Additions

Glyphs – These are the ones which right now claim to be available for Holy Priests. Again the labeling may change as the testing progresses.

I can’t say I’m squealing with anticipation for any of these but then my love affair with glyphs died ages ago. I keep forgetting to switch them and then bemoaning the fact that I don’t have x or y for a specific activity. For PvP, I do rather like the idea of Shadow Magic assuming it A. makes it to the live game and B. is available for healers.  Redeemer I will be refusing to learn on principle because glyphs to improve my performance once dead offend me by existing.

Level 100 Talents

The first thing I love about the 90 talents is that they’re different depending on your spec. These are the Holy versions.

wordsofmending
clarityofpurpose

savinggrace

I particularly find the idea of the last one interesting, given that it appears to be a trade off. Sure, you’ve got an instant “eek” spell but there are consequences for spamming it. Perhaps rather than reducing the number of instant cast spells, that’s how they should all work, cast too much and suffer for it.

Perks

The datamined lists from both WoWhead and MMO Champion for Holy Perks appear the same. Therefore I can only imagine that Penance is a place holder for Holy. These spells which we’re randomly going to gain on the road to 100 are purely there to boost our existing spells. Out of all these my favourite has to be Enhanced Chakras which personally I feel should be baseline anyway but given that it’s not, I’m glad the current 4 piece PvP bonus is staying on in a renamed fashion. The one aspect of these perks I really don’t like and I know it’s temporary is that we’ll gain them in a random fashion en route to 100.

 

PvP Thoughts

Happy Moments.

  • All players now have a 100% chance to hit, 0% chance to be dodged, 3% chance to be parried, and 0% chance to glance, when fighting creatures up to 3 levels higher (bosses included).

We  might be able to glyph to break certain types of CC.

Concerns

Holy will no longer have any way of stopping multiple enemies from capping flags as Holy Nova won’t be available to the spec and our level 90 talents won’t do damage. Yes, we’ll have fear if we talent for it but that’s got too much of a cooldown to much use.

  • CascadeDivine Star, and Halo no longer heal allies but are instant cast for Shadow Priests, or damage enemies for Discipline or Holy Priests.

General Thoughts

Couple this lot with the changes to Healing in general and yes it’s going to be an interesting road ahead but I don’t see anything here which has me going “What are they thinking?” I know a lot of people are still scarred by those first months of Cataclysm but by the same token, the amount of healing certain abilities and spells were spitting out was ridiculous. Not to mention, even playing as  a Healer, the amount of sheer health certain classes could put whilst running around in circles is frustrating when you’re trying to kill them.

After all, it should be hard to argue with statements like

 We want players to use multi-target heals, but they should only be better than their single-target equivalents when they heal more than two players without any overhealing. This way, players will face an interesting choice between whether to use a single-target heal or a multi-target heal based on the situation.

and

However, we still want healers to think about their mana when deciding which heal to cast, and so the mana costs and throughputs of many spells are being altered to give players a choice between spells with lower throughput and lower cost versus spells with higher throughput and higher costs. 

Whether they’ll manage to balance this across all five healer classes still remains to be seen but mostly I’m pretty positive at this point. Sure it’s impossible to know until we actually start testing but we’ve always survived before.

All information pulled from MMO-Champion, Blizzard and WoWhead.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,268 other followers