A Brawling we will go

Entirely by accident I found myself in the Brawler’s guild yesterday. I wasn’t planning on doing anything as messy as stepping into the ring but then I realized that I was completely alone. The rest of the server were either running around on the Timeless Isle or busy hanging out at the Darkmoon Faire in search of Moonfang related goodies, therefore if I fell flat on my face with my silly Mistweaver DPS, no one would know. So with my heart racing, I spoke to that Worgen gentleman and waited. A mere heartbeat later I was in the ring, waiting for an oversized crocodile to eat me alive. Surprisingly he didn’t although I didn’t notice this until I was ported out because I was too busy staring at the chomp cast bar. Heart in my mouth, I queued up again and again and again, ticking off ranks 1 through 4.

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So I’m now the proud owner of Clock’em, ok it’s months after everyone else but I did do it specced as a healer which has to count for something right? Can I get all the way to rank 10 as a Mistweaver? I suspect not, at least not without some major gear upgrades but I do intend to try. I also need to see if it’s doable on other classes as Sprout would love to be Brawler.

Day 26: A Screenshot A Day

Today’s prompt is “Curve” and I’ve chosen to interpret that as a “learning curve”.

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I entered the Proving Grounds torn between self doubt and over confidence. I thought it would be a walk in the park, after all I’ve been playing a Healer now for more years than I care to mention and yet at the back of my mind a tiny goblin sized voice whispered away. As it turned out, perhaps there was more “proving” to be done that I expected. I made a choice not to see how other Monks were doing it which led to quite a bit of experimentation on my part, something which with hindsight I’m glad of. In the end I had to reforge my stats quite a bit as well as change my talents and am probably stronger as a result of that. I’d also forgotten exactly what some of my tooltips said (the joys of not doing anything more serious than random battlegrounds and questing) and this forced me to start thinking about my cooldowns, my spells and all the utility my class brings.

In short, I found the Proving Grounds to be frustrating, annoying, addictive and somewhat maddeningly awesome. I’m so close to getting “You’re doing it wrong” and the silver dps challenge as a healer and I want to at least get Bronze for Tanking too. In the meantime I’m working on Endless with my first try getting me the achievement for over 10 rounds which I know is nothing in the grand scheme of things but to someone who is facing their first “proper” raid since the start of Cataclysm this weekend, every little confidence boost helps.

In case anyone else is struggling as a Mistweaver, the secret of my success (once I’d got a reasonable amount of spirit) was these happy little curvy balls. Wonderful for pre-positioning under the Hunter and Mage as well as brilliant for clearing “chomp”.

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Also Xuen is well worth it, not only for helping to clear annoying packs faster but for teaming up with your serpent statue to help with the healing. Leg sweep in my experience is also better than the ring of peace and chi brew used every time it was available got my mana under control to the point that I ended on 70 percent mana. Also don’t forget that we can disarm and kick so something which shows enemy name plates and their buffs, debuffs and cast bars really helps.

In the end my first proper reforged go with spirit was the slightly stressful zombies lurking behind trees and werewolves in the bushes walk in the park I’d first envisioned.

I’d also recommend adding “Chomp” as a custom debuff to whatever raid frame addon you’re using.

If that happens to be Vud’ho, go to debuffs -> custom  and then type “chomp” into the window and set it up accordingly. Personally I had it changing the whole bar to a disgusting shade of brown which had my subconscious itching to remove it before the rest of my recognized what was going on.

What I love about the whole concept is that there is always going to be room for improvement, always another wave to survive and that it allows experimentation with spec, with spells and indeed with alts in a private space where the only ego which can get bruised is yours.

Endgame: The Monk’s Gambit

So I bit the bullet and leveled. My monk is now 90 and having a surprisingly large amount of fun. Ever contrary it seems that as everyone else is losing that WoW feeling, I’ve got my groove back.

This weekend I found myself uttering the words I never expected to slip past my lips, “Let’s just queue to Strand of the Ancients because it’s the call to arms and it’s amazing”. As it turns out, on monks it is a great place to pvp because of all the utility which comes as a standard regardless of spec. No one else slowing vehicles, fine, I can do it myself at no mana or chi cost to myself. No one else cc’ing chasing opponents, no problem, slow one, paralyze one, silence one, disarm one and rinse and repeat. Finally I have the control my control freak nature appreciates.

I’ve also being doing a lot of Tol Barad as it’s an easy five hundred honor per game. It’s just a shame that the Horde on my server don’t see the point of queuing up. This is one zone that I really wish was cross realm as I miss the massive battles with three raid groups we had the start of Cataclysm when it was new and shiny and gave semi useful rewards.

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In between PvP, I’ve started leveling archaeology. My goal for this week is to cap it out and also hopefully acquire as many of the interesting items as possible. The pick up, put down nature of it suits being interwoven in between battleground queues and the screenshot opportunities it provides suits me down to the ground.

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I’m almost completely geared in the current honor set and my conquest point count is climbing nicely so the next thing on the agenda will be to run those scenarios so I can experience the Battlefield which has become the Barrens prior to the patch. Given all those happy days I spent pvping in the Barrens it seems only fitting that my journey should take me there again.

 

Fear of Flying (and being 90)

My Monk is just on the cusp of 89 and endgame is so close I can almost taste it. My honor point stash is close to maxed and I’ve got plenty of justice points to play with too. Yet I almost don’t want to hit 90. I love the class, pvp is so much fun and suddenly battlegrounds that I hated on Sprout, I now adore. Strand of the Ancients being one because if no one else is slowing vehicles well I can bring them to halt plus healing whilst nuking annoying people in the face… always awesome.

So therefore my rough plan is to force myself over the finishing line and then start both pvping with the big boys and at least hanging out in the Isle of Thunder and running scenarios with the intention of getting a look at the Battlefield Barrens carry on before it’s removed. Here’s hoping I still have enough time to get the Hordebreaker title, after all, it’s some what appropriate in oh so many ways.

I also need a proper transmogrification outfit because I can’t always hide like this:

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Baby panda + zen mediation = Cuteness

I’m also planning on tackling my left over achievements in a reasonably sensible fashion. Got far too many left to tick off to suit my list focused brain. Besides this might slow down the march to 90.

The Leisurely Stroll to 90

This week WoW insider asks if leveling in WoW is too easy? The quick answer would definitely be a resounding yes. However the part of Robin’s post that I found the most interesting was this:

Is the speed and ease of leveling in the eye of the beholder?

Personally I think speed and difficulty or rather the lack of it are two separate issues.

There are a plethora of ways in which we can boost our experience gain per hour, from seasonal buffs to the Darkmoon Faire Carousel ride and the Monk daily. That’s before we even factor in the bonuses questers get from being guilded or from wearing heirlooms. Not that only, the options for the discerning leveler have never been more varied. You can pick herbs, mine, pet battle, quest, dungeon, battleground, dig artifacts out of the ground or mix and match your way to 90.

Yes, things are exceedingly fast these days. I think my recent Monk managed about 45 quests to go from 80 to 85 with a few flower picking sessions plus a bunch of battlegrounds thrown in. That’s about 10 per zone. However I don’t see this an issue because even ignoring the fact that I could have stripped off my heirlooms and not bothered buffing up with experience buffs, if I really wanted, there is nothing to stop me doing the same content I would have done whilst leveling at 90. In fact I will still pvp, quest and pick herbs on my Monk when she levels. It’s just that former should get a bit harder, the middle bit easier and the latter remain the same.

Dps might be a tad too high, especially when kitted out in decent gear. As a Mistweaver I probably shouldn’t be kicking monkeys in the face for 70k (half their health). Which brings me onto the bigger issue in my opinion. Difficulty or the lack thereof. The hardest part of AoE grinding is finding enough mobs to pull at once. Dungeons can be two manned and can often be completed without a tank, especially at low levels like Wailing Caverns. Most of the complex dungeons have been neutered, not to mention shortened. My first Blackrock Depths run took five hours and by that point we still hadn’t found the bar. Now whilst I admit this might not have been awesome game decision but it did help you get ready for raiding, even if it was just getting used to the idea of spending five hours in the same place whilst the people around you argued about tactics.

Even with my predisposition for wandering around taking screenshots and not paying attention, there aren’t any real nasties lurking in the undergrowth, no more Stitches patrolling the road or the Crimson Courier riding about looking to make mincemeat out of non-believers. Perhaps I’m looking at the game wrong but I’ve always believed that as you level not only do you learn to play your class correctly but you also figure out new aspects of the game as and when you encounter them. For example I’m far more understanding of a tank who can’t tank in the Deadmines than I would be in a LFR situation. Equally I’m fine explaining how a particular battleground works and that I can’t hand in their flag until our team wakes up and returns ours in a level 20 to 25 WSG than I would be at end-game.

Making things too easy has a dangerous flip side, especially when it comes to certain toxic elements in the community. Convenience is a wonderful thing but so much was learnt through necessity previously (including the whole avoid the roads in certain zones on pain of death and don’t touch the Blood of Heroes).  I learnt to kite on my Hunter between levels 1 and 10 when I was pet-less and you either had to slowly melee things to death or figure out how to jump kite.

I can’t help thinking that a few simple changes would help. For example we now have mobs whose health pool increases depending on how many people are in combat with them. How about taking that and increasing quest mobs in relation to the item level/health of the person engaging them as well as party size. The AI especially for named mobs should be more exotic too. We have kicks, slows and cc for a reason. Things would be far more fun and challenging if just like the Monk quests, we actually had to use them whilst leveling. Or alternatively if all classes had access to dailies like the Monk ones which require you to use certain abilities because no one should get to end-game without understanding all their spells. Dungeons really shouldn’t be doable with two, especially if neither of those are tanks and “elite” mobs should make you think twice about charging in at half health.

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Of course making the game harder would also have the knock on effect of making leveling take longer too so it could be a bit of a win win situation for some people.

In short the game should make you think and should present challenges all the way through. In many ways Cavafy said it best:

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Although whilst many people see leveling as a means to end rather than a game within itself, I suspect that we’re going to see the levels before end-game get easier and easier and quicker and quicker.

Some Minor Glyphs are more Equal than others

I’ve had a hate hate relationship with minor glyphs ever since the start of MoP. Playing a Holy Priest didn’t exactly leave me with much choice outside the cosmetic and whilst I’ve nothing against cosmetic, when other classes have something useful to fill their slots it’s a little frustrating.

Sure things like being able to sprint over water and fall great distances safely are essentially niches but they take an existing useful spell and add something to it, making it more useful in certain situations with no negatives at all. Perhaps it’s easier for classes like the Rogue who despite having three specs has only one role but Priests have definitely suffered when it comes to fun minor glyphs which give you an edge over the cosmetic ones.

Confession is amusing for about 10 seconds, although if you could edit the confessions to suit the people you cast it on, it could have far more potential (although I can see why Blizzard would never ever allow this). I do like turning into a Val’kyr  but wish it altered the spell somewhat, perhaps you stay “alive” for three quarters of the time the normal Spirit remains for but it allows you to cast smite too. Not having to die to get any use of the glyph would be even better though. There are 10 Priest minor glyphs, four of these are Shadow specific, 1 Disc and 1 Holy. Of the four non spec specific spells, 3 are straight up turn this spell effect into that one and the final one is confessions.

Which brings me to the Monk. Here we see a variety of minor glyphs, ones which completely alter spells giving you variety and extra options. Take the Windwalker glyph Blackout Kick:

Use: Permanently teaches you this glyph.

Your Blackout Kick always deals 20% additional damage over 4 sec regardless of positioning but you’re unable to trigger the healing effect.

For situations where you don’t need to heal yourself, this is a great glyph. I admit my Monk currently rocks the completely cosmetic glyph of Crackling Tiger Lightning but my other 2 slots are filled with mostly practical glyphs and besides pretending I’m a Sith Monk is useful, honest. I fell in love with the glyph of Zen Flight the second I tried it out. Okay it’s not as fast as my mounts but you can cast it whilst falling, always handy especially when you’ve used crackling lightning to punt a mob off a cliff and had a slight accident whilst trying to loot it. You can cast your proper mount whilst smugly sitting on your cloud having not fallen to your death. You can mine on it four foot off the ground as well as complete pesky pick up quests under the noses of aggressive mobs. You can pose on it and chill out on it and perhaps most importantly you don’t need to die to use it.

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In many regards I wish Blizzard would return to the three type model for glyphs. Major spell altering ones, which always do something nice to your abilities, lesser ones which like the Blackout Kick above offer you a situational choice and finally the minor glyphs, always cosmetic and always fun. At the moment it feels like discussing minor glyphs is comparing apples with oranges which is wrong because it should be apples with apples and the Priest ones shouldn’t be windfall, mushy and filled with maggots when compared to other classes with their shiny pink ladys and golden delicious.

Summer Sun: Transmogrification

As it’s Midsummer, I thought my Monk really needed an appropriately hued outfit. Something which acknowledged the fiery orange blossoms picked at this time of year and also reflected the deep oranges of the rising sun. Summery but yet still practical for kicking in faces whilst keeping her zen face on.

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I have to admit that it comprises a few of my favourite bits and pieces.

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All that’s left is to get those shoulders to drop and of course to find a bonfire or two to help ward off the evil spirits.