The Broodmother returns

and she seems a little past her best.

Back in Vanilla Onyxia always felt a little epic. First there was the slow and torturous journey from Ironforge, by air, by sea and then finally the long ride around Dustwallow. Then the trash, in which at least 5 melee would sacrifice themselves to the fickle Gods of Loot before finally the swift buffing up and the whining about the lack of Dwarf priests by the Maintank.

Now its portal Theramore from whichever spot your raid happens to be in (obviously this is only the case if you rolled the the correct side:p). Pop path of frost and saunter across the bay, zerg trash and go “Oh, doesn’t she look smaller”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hung up on the glory days of Vanilla WoW at all. The game should evolve and change, and no, taking 15 minutes to get there didn’t add anything particularly awesome to the encounter but she’s a watered down version of her old self.

A few simple fixes would help make the encounter a little more exciting without making it impossible to anyone but the most hardcore of dragon killers.

  • She’s tauntable and no longer has a threat reduction. Why…… give the tanks something to worry about instead of bouncing around aoeing whelps. Besides watching her munch up all those little casters who nuked their happy little hearts out in phase 2 when she landed was one of the highlights of vanilla Onyxia.
  • More whelps. Who can resist lots of adorable little dragonlings trying to defend their mummy, besides dancing around spamming Holy Nova was pretty much the highlight of the fight.
  • Flame walls. Who doesn’t ❤ flame walls. Especially when they bug out and disappear on you. Every so often the flame cracks should join up into one massive tidal wave which chases random people around the cave.

That said, its a fun enough fight and the loot obviously helps fill in the blanks/makes for great alt gearing up. However my biggest issue comes from the Head Quest. Having handed in the 60 version in the past, I was expecting something a little more exciting than visit a dark and dangerous pub in the Mage Quarter and have some warlock hand out the item. No head over the gates, no yelling and glorifying of the slaughter, just a passing transaction. I’m at least hoping that come the next expansion, Zardeth of the Black Claw and his collection of broodmother heads will do something nasty and preferably deadly.

Also, in case anyone was wondering/worried, it turns out she still drops Draconic for Dummies VI.

The new Onyxia does raise one interesting question though, why did Alliance Mages get teleport Theramore and the Horde, teleport Stonard. Heroic Sunken Temple coming soon perhaps?

The flaws of gated design

I hate loathe despise detest Blizzard’s attempts to keep raid progress slowed down. One hour a week on Algalon and now the 50 tries per week on the heroic version of the Trial of the Crusader. Yes you can argue that bad players/play shouldn’t be rewarded and allowing people to mindlessly fling theirselves at content until finally by sheer brute force they bring it down is bad design. But wait a second, but that “bad design” is there in every other aspect of WoW. I can battleground and arena to my hearts content, I could spend as much time as I wished attempting Ulduar’s hardmodes… yet here I am limited. Why exactly is that? We have already had to wait 5 weeks for the heroic version to open up and now we have to battle bugged and laggy encounters, losing tries through no fault of our own.

Yes, our server is high population but even so.. zero lag whilst finishing off the normal which spikes to 2k to the second we pull on heroic is well …. frustrating. Add in despawning mobs and I can’t help wishing they stopped making loot pinatas like the 5 man version of said instance (although thats pretty bugged too) and focused on making sure raid content was actually playable.

In short, I would be happier with time or try based limits to my raiding if Blizzard could guarentee that their servers could cope with the load. Based on our experiences last night (and I checked the forums, we were not alone), its obvious that they can not.

I also don’t see the point of normal mode and heroic mode. Normal is far too easy and whilst Anub’arak is a fun fight, its way under tuned on normal for its loot. One shotting everything the first time you see it is just wrong. Ulduar and its hardmodes are far more challenging than the normal version of the Trial yet the rewards for facerolling through the latter outway the former. It just feels like another artifical mechanic which required little to no effort on Blizzard’s part (since all the gear is exactly the same plus or minus a few stats) to try and keep people occupied.

Yet the same people who think that tier 9 should be farmable albeit slowly from heroics won’t allow people to farm pvp weapons from battlegrounds. Shows a double standard I really dislike. The gear from the top tier of raiding and from the top tier of arena should only be available from those locations, effort should always be rewarded especially in a game which is all about progression. I don’t choose to arena, I’m fine with that and whilst I enjoy PvP I’m just not willing to make the time to commit to taking arenas seriously but I also don’t expect cutting edge arena gear. The same should be true of raiding, you don’t need tier 9 to raid heroics any more than I need the current arena gear to battleground on my priest.

I suppose this all boils down to the fact that Blizzard are not my parents and I find it really frustrating that they are trying to limit our play, either by artifical limits (1 hour/50 tries) or by making things not available through grindy methods (PvP weapons from Battlegrounds) yet in the same breath they are trying to push us into doing the daily heroic every day so we can improve our gear faster.

Faction Champions

It seems I’m in the minority here but I love this fight. Its fast paced, chaotic and requires more than hanging around not standing in the fire and healing other people. Is it a PvP encounter, no in my opinion.

  • Taunt works.
  • Fade works.
  • Shadowmeld works even when the rogue is in your face.
  • There is zero team work. So the dps warrior gets our resto druid into execute range and then wanders off to bully a warlock at full health. Random aggro is random. These NPCs need a little more bloodlust.
  • Tanked: In fact Prot warriors are wonderful here. Shockwave, shield slam dispelling hots and such like, annoying interupts/spell kicks.

Whilst I suspect the Heroic version will be a tad more challenging, the normal version makes even Battleground PvP look like a complex mix of tactics and awesome fighting.

What I do find interesting however, is the argument currently taking place on Blizzard’s own forums about whether PvP and PvE require different skill sets. My own personal take on that is no. Skills that serve you well in PvE will also help you succeed in PvP and vice versa.

Basically you can sum up the Faction Champions PvP abilities by looking at their hunter, Ruj’kah and his fearsome pet cat called …………………………… “cat”. Says it all really, bet he moonlights in Azshara farming Azure Whelpings with lots of other hunters who haven’t bothered to name their trusty companions.

Ding dong the witch is dead!

Or rather in this case, rescued from the evil influences of a tentacled monster. Finally people stopped lounging in sunbeams, blowing up plants just as Freya cast ground tremor and chasing each other about with nature’s fury.

knock01This was turning into my white whale so to say I’m glad its done… well that would be an understatement.

School’s in session!

I’m having a bit of a retro week, brought on in part by the nostalgia value of the Fire Festival.

Scholomance. Even the name sends whispers down your spine. A school of dark magic, where the tortured screams of the damned still drift across the water and even heroes fear to tread.

To enter you need a key. I must admit if I were going to make a school for sorcery and general evilness, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the door openable by anyone who bothers to run around the world giving gold to goblins and climbing volcanos. Impregnable fortress seems to be a concept unknown to the Scourge, think Scholomance, Stratholme and Naxxramas, all easily accessed by any wandering hero. Although I suppose it has its advantages, must make getting fresh body parts that little bit easier if people just come sauntering through the front door like lambs to the slaughter.

Key Quest Chain

Other less orthodox methods of gaining entry include

  • Warlocks can hellfire themselves to death and pop under the door whilst ghostlike (Lifetap first otherwise it takes a while).
  • Paladins can DI a friend and do the same
  • Rogues with the necessary lockpicking skill can be roguelike and pick the lock
  • Blacksmiths can use their all purpose keys
  • I believe you can also fling yourself from the battlements like a jilted lover and res beyond the door

Part of my fondness for Scholomance comes from the fact it was the first instance I set foot in at 60 and its gothic feel attracted me from the start. Its a huge sprawl of a place, with summoned bosses, extra bosses and hidden treasures squirreled away. One visit really isn’t enough to learn all of its dark secrets.

Quests: These are engaging, drawing the reader into the tragic tale of a noble house whose members found darkness, death and slaughter was the path to immortality.

As I read through Eva Sarkhoff’s tragic tale of torture I was sold.

The undead surrounded us, constantly tormenting us with horrifying acts of depravity. Finally, he came. He introduced himself as Doctor Theolen Krastinov. We came to know him as the butcher…We finally understood what the screams were from. The Butcher exposed us to pain that we did not know existed. He used us in countless experiments to devise a plague. The days turned to weeks. We would have died on that first day had it not been for that cruel bastard keeping us alive through magical means….We feel nothing. Our souls remain here, in limbo. We are unable to leave until our remains are found and spirits laid to rest.”

You have a purpose. Its obvious these people are evil, they commited terrible terrible crimes. As you venture into their unhallowed halls avoiding the cobwebs, you are bringing justice to the anguished dead. I wanted to help them, to give the butcher a taste of his own medicine and steal his shirt.

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Visual Looks: Just like any good gothic horror Scholomance makes an impact even as you cross the bridge into Caer Darrow. Riding up to the Castle through the ruins of the village sends a shiver down your spine. A feeling reinforced as you enter the cellars, all those books on magic, necromacy and other such unspeakable things. So many students working away over broken body parts and things raised from the dead. The fact they haven’t dusted since they cut all the servants up into little bits helps add to the atmosphere.

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The place is obviously evil, even small children know that cobwebs, dusty tomes and skeletons mean haunted. Add in candelabras loaded with wax dripping candles and wrought iron and if this was a movie, I would be behind the sofa.

scholo09Undead Ted. Makes you wonder what horrors those cross stitched eyes have stared blankly at. Wonder whose toy he was? One of the Barov’s or perhaps a servant child’s, either way its likely his or her owner met an unfortunate end.

Unique looking NPCs. Too many instances give us exactly the same mobs as those outside and quite often we get a whole instances full of the same looking creatures with little distractions. I want the opportunity to make a shadow priest who looks like this. A nightelf who exposed day after day to the corrupting shadows has been altered phyisically.

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Boss encounters. The last two expansions have gone for small instances, quickly run with 4 to 5 bosses usually in a linear fashion. I rather like the sprawl of Scholomance in comparison. Jandice lurking in the basement, the bane of level 60 PuGs. The fact that when you add in the mini bosses around the ring you have most types of fights included, melee hard hitting bosses, magic ones and those with horrible auras. Then for the final course we have Gandling and his grand entrance, “School’s in session”. Including the summoned bosses and mini bosses, Scholo has a grand total of 13 bad guys compared to the average 4 in Wrath of the Lich King. Thats a huge difference.

I would love to know how Kirtonos went from running a funeral home in Stratholme to feasting on the blood of innocents with a succubus as a stewart.

Left Luggage.

Reasons for running Scholomance as a Level 80

  • Tier sets –  For RP reasons or simply for nostalgia reasons, pick up the very first tier set ingame.
  • Sawbones Shirt – One of the 4 BoP shirts ingame.
  • Darkrunes – Whilst they have lost most of their usefulness, they still work on General Vezax.
  • Felcloth bag recipe – worth picking up for warlock alts/tailors who want every recipe
  • Alchemy recipes
  • Quests – For both the Loremaster and Seeker achievements
  • Argent Dawn rep

In conclusion, to me at least Scholomance is one of those majestic old Grand Dame instances. Its still got a faded beauty hidden away beneath its veil of dust and cobwebs. Plus I had so many bad experiences with Jandice back when every warlock wanted their dreadmist shoulders for Molten Core, I relish the opportunity to pay her a visit these days and chaos bolt her face.