A lonely impulse of delight: On Flight in Draenor

They say honesty is the best policy so before I start, I thought I’d nail my colours to the mast. As a girl flight fascinated me. The Wright Brothers were heroes of mine and the first Latin I learnt was the motto embroidered on my Father’s uniform so that it lay across his heart, Per Ardua ad Astra or Through Adversity (or Hardship) to the Stars. I loved the angry roar of his squadron’s fighter planes as they powered down the runaway and shot upwards into the sky. Like Icarus I wanted to soar amongst the clouds on wings of my own, seeing the world below as if it were nothing more than a patchwork quilt spread on a old bed. Even now, I get a physical kick from flying, the harder the take-off the more that jolt of burning flame hits my stomach so when Flying was first introduced into WoW whilst I had major misgivings for World PvP over all, I was secretly excited. After all the world looks so different from up there, you’d get a whole new perspective and so many more screenshot opportunities and I couldn’t quite shake my feelings for the Irish Airman who W.B Yeats had utter these words:

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

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Somewhere over Canada

As it turned out, Flying did kill off World PvP but that tide was turning anyway, so many battlegrounds and arenas meant that fighting over tiny strips of non instanced land didn’t interest the majority anymore and like many things it became a convenient habit especially with mounts like the Headless Horseman’s available.

Fast forward to Draenor and when I first read about the lack of flight, my gut reaction was one of a backwards step. Blizzard had given us something and now they were taking it away which whilst always within their rights to do so was frustrating. I thought about the various Flying Mounts other’s had purchased from the Blizzard store for cold hard cash and that only added to my annoyance. Surely selling things and effectively making them obsolete in the current version of the game was a tad unscrupulous. I went on a tour of all the little secret hidden places I love so much, the borderlands, the gap between the hedgerows where anything and everything seems possible and thought how much I’d miss finding places like this in Draenor. The thought of no flying built itself up and up becoming almost a deal breaker for me.

Then with drums and crashing servers, the expansion arrived and somehow my opinion suffered a sea change. I found myself tightrope walking in the Spires of Arak desperately seeking archaeology fragments because no bit of purple rope was going to get the better of me. I spent time figuring out how to scale giant mushrooms to win myself battle pets in the shape of pretty spores and I fell both up and down cliffs in pursuit of trifles wrapped in sparkly boxes. For the first time in a long time, I had to engage my brain and think about the best path to places, levitate and goblin gliders have both been invaluable I admit but more than that, it’s been fun. I haven’t been knocked off my mount and forced to fight to the death against a horde of pesky mobs as I feared which given that I’m a Holy Priest who hits like a wet noodle is a very good thing but more than that I feel engaged in the world around me. The sight of something glittering amongst the trees, well that’s the beginning of a puzzle. Yes some are way harder than others and at times Mr Harpy has a distinct advantage as a cheating, leaping warrior but the sense of satisfaction seems so much greater than just swooping down out of the sky would do.

At no point so far have I felt let down by being grounded. Most cliffs are climbable somehow, the trick is figuring out where. I don’t feel particularly slowed down by having to ride across country either and having a level 3 Stables takes some of the potential bite out of that anyway. We no longer need to physically get to raids so that’s another potential issue removed entirely. I don’t even miss the convenience of being to go straight from A to Z without having to stop off along the way. Of course, when I return to the old world, I still fly but we accept that there are different ways of doing things in the real world so why not in Azeroth. Perhaps when the last patch brings the shadow of Draenor’s final curtain then flying would be appropriate but in the meantime, I think we’ll survive.

Four Things I have learnt about my Garrison this week

The more time I spend in my own little oasis of Shadowmoon Valley calm, the more I’m enjoying my Garrison. Life however is very much a learning curve and thus I thought I’d share with you all the handful of facts that I’ve only just figured out despite having been level 100 since the 16th of November.

1. Getting a Follower as Green or Blue whilst obviously not as awesome as getting them as Purple is not the end of the world.

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Exhibit A

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Exhibit B

As you can see from my rather messy UI, both of these screenshots depict the robot belonging to Snowflower. The first one shows him in the state I found him in and the latter shows his condition many missions later.

2. If your minions have good enough gear, you can potentially get better items than you can get from the Raid Finder purely through missions.

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Kit a bunch of them out in item level 630 gear (the Salvage yard is great for this) and cross your fingers. So far Mr Harpy has received a 645 chest and 645 boots from letting his Followers take the strain whilst he’s been out at work. I must admit I have mixed feelings about this, should NPCs essentially go and fetch you higher item level gear than you get playing with other random people in a multi player game but it does give you options when you’re looking to gear up for raiding.

3. If you possess a Stables, favourite the Mounts you want on the Mounts collection screen and watch them turn up.

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Here are my favourites and yes, they can all be loosely classed as horses. Below you can see half of my level 3 Stables complete with said Horses wandering around.

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4. Mining is a nightmare with a level 3 Mine, however the best way to make it as pain free and quick as possible is to use the Goren Garb because it makes you roll both cuter and faster. The egg you loot this from does however take seven days to hatch so the sooner it’s picked up the better. You loot the egg from a Cracked Goren Egg in Gorgrond and instructions on the actual location can be found on the WoWhead page.

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There is definitely a world of potential out there with the Garrisons and it will be interesting to see how Blizzard keep taking it forward as we move through the patches.

A Home from Home …

As a child I spent much of my childhood growing up in the real world version of Garrisons, military outposts set up on foreign soil. Instead of Santa bringing presents in something as pedestrian as a sleigh he would arrive in our school playground dangling from a Chinook and for the squadron party, he would turn up in a Harrier Jump Jet (perhaps not surprisingly given that’s what the squadron flew, with hindsight this also probably explains why my Father refused to let me aged 12, long legged and big eyed sit on Santa’s knee despite Santa’s attempts at insisting). Christmas abroad was taken far more seriously than at any school I attended in my own country. Ignoring the interesting ways in which they managed to spend the Defense budget when I was a child, I have to admit I’m finding the lack of festival related fun and games in our Garrisons both short sighted and rather sad. Nothing motivates the troops garrisoned in some foreign land like reminders of what they’re fighting for, therefore I feel Blizzard are missing a trick here.

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There should be a bountiful table laden with food sitting in our garrison just as when Winter Veil rolls around we should get wreaths and a giant tree.  Even better of course would be to let us decide/purchase decorations ourselves perhaps with garrison resources so that it’s a choice whether you want to cover your fountain in candles or hang axes from fir trees.

A Crisis of Confidence

This is a bit of whine so feel free not to read.

So I’ve been level 100 for over a week now and already I’m questioning what next. My gear has an item level of 620 and I one shot the silver healing proving grounds so logically the next step would be dungeons. Yet I can’t bring myself to hit queue. This expansion I’ve run exactly one dungeon, Skyreach for the legendary ring chain. Despite people standing in fire, the tank either doing insane damage or most of the party doing lacklustre, not sure which and the fact that we had no issues what so ever, I hated every single second of it. I keep telling myself “tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll ask in guild if anyone wants to run dungeons” but as all procrastinators know, tomorrow never comes.

What frustrates me is the lack of understanding of how I came to this, we started playing WoW in early 2005. All through the original game I ran dungeons and raids without a care in the world, I could help Marshall Windsor escape with my eyes shut, I attuned most of my first raiding guild to Molten Core and don’t get me started on the UBRS runs… I often solo healed 15 man groups. We did silly things like 4 man LBRS with me healing and 3 dpsers all trying to out do each other.

The Burning Crusade, again we ran loads of dungeons. I even healed fellow healers through the Black Morass for the Karazhan attunement in the early days because they couldn’t do it. I raided without a thought.

Wrath the rot started to set in but I don’t know why. I still raided without issues but my confidence started to wane. I’d make Mr Harpy two man current heroics with me rather than ask three other people to come along. I’d avoid 5 mans like the plague unless specifically asked in guildchat or under the influence of alcohol.

Cataclysm, I took a break not long after the start and when we returned, I just played casually, focusing more on PvP than PvE. I didn’t run dungeons because I didn’t need to.

When MoP dawned I told myself it was going to be different. I did some leveling dungeons on various characters and we even ran some heroics in those first few weeks at 90. I joined a guild again despite having sworn off them for life and even attended a few raids where nothing horrible happened and we killed stuff but then the confidence monster caught up with me again and I withdrew completely.

So here we are again, everything is new and shiny and yet, I’m still standing at the back trying to find a reason to walk away. I’ve played Priests for almost 10 years now, I’m comfortable in my own ability and I’m happy to heal in PvP so why do I have a mental block about PvE… I wish I knew.

I’m pretty sure there are no easy answers and not wanting to take part in PvE is a fine choice if you’re making it because you have no interest in that sphere of the game, but being limited by yourself, well that is something else entirely. Right now, despite this being in my opinion the best expansion Blizzard have released, I’m closer to quitting now than I ever have been because I don’t see a path ahead.

I thought perhaps if I wrote this down, I could try and analyze why I feel the way I do, could perhaps find some understanding of why I allowed this to happen in the first place. We will just have to see whether that is the case or not.

Seven Days In – Thoughts on Warlords

So seven days have gone flying by since we passed beneath the portal…  Despite all the server “issues”, Mr Harpy and I arrived at the level cap on Sunday which I must admit surprised us both, especially since he was working Thursday and Friday. We’ve got level 3 Garrisons, ticked off the Silver Proving Grounds achievements for our respective specs and are planning to head into dungeons in pursuit of gold, gear and toys courtesy of the Garrison Inn quests at the weekend. In the meantime though I’d thought I’d talk about my over all feelings towards the expansion as a whole.

The Good

The whole leveling experience itself. At least from the Alliance perspective, the quest chains were powerful, interesting and used cut scenes to convey emotions and show things which wouldn’t have worked in cold hard quest text. Compared to say Uldum and it’s cutscenes where I found myself reaching for the ESC button the second Harrison Jones appeared, this time around, it’s a completely different story.

Yrel as a character also surprised me. I don’t think Blizzard fell into any of the myriad traps they could have with her. Yes, she starts out unsure of herself as a leader, but everyone has to start somewhere and as you progress through the zones, she’s not the weak annoying character she could have become. Her voice does grate slightly though.

The sheer quantity of pets and toy items to be discovered hiding around the world.

Garrisons (when they choose to work). On paper at least, I wasn’t a fan but now I have this quiet corner of Shadowmoon Valley which is mine and mine alone, my feelings have changed. Already I have my own little hideaway where I can sit, watching guildchat go scrolling by.

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The Bad

We hit 100 and were left looking at each other. We have five dungeons on normal if you could Skyreach which we’d already run for the legendary ring quest and the proving grounds quest in our Garrisons but there didn’t seem to be a clear path towards better gear. Yes, there are level 100 elites who have a chance of dropping something, you can buy things with Apexis crystals and of course make things if you have the relevant profession but we essentially stumbled our way into these things. Perhaps a bill board in the Garrison suggesting where to look would have helped, instead of pushing people to search the internet themselves.

The Ugly

Ashran. From everything I’ve read on the forums, every Ashran seems horribly unbalanced. On our server, there is around 100-150 Horde plus a large rock guy sitting in the Alliance base slaughtering the 15 or so Alliance brave enough to enter. I don’t understand why they didn’t follow on from the Tol Barad method where numbers are capped, for example if there are 20 of one faction, the other faction can only have 30 players to at least give tactical play a chance. If Mr Harpy and I had any intent of PvPing seriously this expansion we would have to server transfer to ensure we weren’t miles behind when the area season starts and that to me is just wrong.

 

All in all, I’m having the most fun I’ve had in WoW in a long time. Yes, the launch wasn’t brilliant and I admit I had a minor rant to Mr Harpy who develops software for a living, pointing out that if his work went live so prone to falling over, he’d be out of a job by now. His rational and reasonable response was simple, 10 million people aren’t all trying to use his software at once and should they do so, no doubt it would be a disaster. Plus, apart from the odd queue last weekend and one or two sticky episodes where my Garrison’s gravity trapped me for an hour or two, we didn’t have many issues.

 

First Days of Draenor

Draenor.. it’s certainly been an interesting ride so far.

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On Snowflower, despite the fact that she’s level 92 her garrison lies unloved and mostly untouched mainly because I daren’t set foot in it. I spent most of yesterday afternoon stuck to it, attempting to leave only to be ported back and told my transfer was aborted. Clearly Garrisons have rather strong gravitational pull. Sproutling, perhaps because she’s a Gnome and thus has lower mass has had a lot more success and might actually manage to develop hers beyond a Barracks.

Questing has been far more successful. Shadowmoon Valley is without a doubt beautiful and the quest chains fit together nicely.

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I also love the sheer number of “treasure” dotted around the landscape, whether in the form of rares or just little trinket boxes hidden around the place. In fact I’d argue my biggest bug bear, apart from the Garrisons of course is the fact that half these items don’t seem to go into the Toy Box meaning bag space fills up just as fast. My favourites so far have to be this very fast and quite unpractical mount who drops from Shinri, a rare spawn in Shadowmoon Valley.

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Shinri’s Ghost – a very fast mount only usable in Shadowmoon Valley which lasts for about 20 seconds

and my Ancient’s Bloom, a toy I fell in love with on the Beta and made sure to grab as soon as possible on live. It drops from Yggdrel and whilst also impractical in that you can’t move whilst tree’d, I love it’s look.

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All in all, my experiences once away from the Garrisons have been fairly positive, although I see from Trade Chat that many don’t agree.

#IntPiPoMo – The Last Hours of Pandaria

Pandaria whilst beautiful has never been one of my favourite expansions. I’m much more a frozen tundra, fractured ice or burning broken land sort of girl. That said, I still have favourite bolt holes dotted around and I thought on the last day of the expansion that it was only fitting to show you a few of them.

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The fertile fields of the valley have always been one of my favourite places to relax #8

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