Sunday Screenshots: Bad Moon Rising

The closer we get to leaving Draenor, the more it seems to grow on me.

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Merrily the Mage

Spurred on by the thought of the Mage Class Hall and the realization that everyone else seems to have multiple 100s, I made a final push to get another character to level 100 yesterday. With a bit of prior preparation, she went from level 93 to mid way through 99 in less than 15 minutes. Those Elixirs of the Rapid Mind are without doubt my new favourite thing about WoD.

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Merrymaker Merrily, cat “owner”, Fire Mage and Pyromancer (mostly the flames indicate death by fire) is now albeit temporarily at the level cap.

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She’s wearing the following:

Manaweave Robe: The reward from an old Mage quest, now removed from the Game. No idea which of my various Mages I completed the quest on.

Cilice of Suffering: Quest reward from Terokkar Forest

Pilfered Ethereal Blade: Quest reward from Netherstorm

Whilst I won’t be leveling her first, I do plan on getting her into her class hall and completing her artifact weapon as soon as possible.

 

Post Patch Positives

And perhaps the odd negative.

First up, I’m “Fabulous”. Who knew I was hoarding that many items of clothing. With the exception of my Shaman, everyone else is hiding shoulders and is likely to be doing so for the foreseeable future. I’ve also found so many things I didn’t know I had like the scythe off Ahune and the Blessed Leggings of Undead Slaying.

The changes to the Toybox have given me lots more bag spaces as well as the Robo-Gnomebulator.

Gnome Hunters…every baby Gnome I encountered at the start zone had a mechanical Bunny in tow.

Snow has decided to go back to her roots. The achievement for Benediction has made her very happy, even to the point that she let Sprout transmogrify Anathema.

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Playing a Holy Priest today though felt a lot less fun than yesterday. Now part of that is definitely the content I’ve been doing, we did heroic UBRS as a Protection Warrior/Holy Priest duo and then did a couple of the Pandaria raids with the same combination. Mana really wasn’t really an issue even when someone pulled all the first packs of UBRS at once (glares in Warrior’s direction) so I had the talent which lets your single target heals refresh renew. That meant for virtually all of it, I had to cast renew once per fight, then flash heals interlaced with smite spam, holy fire off cooldown and loot.

No inept Shadowfiend, no mind sear, no shadow word pain, no power word shield, no fear and no mind vision. I didn’t think I’d miss them but I do. Obviously raid/pvp healing will need more than those 3 spells to sustain a fight but I liked having a tool box bursting at the seams with spells.

The removal of Basil the inept Shadowfiend probably hurts the most. Not because he was needed for damage or mana but because I have fond memories of his ineptness during raids. In an ideal world, we’d get a cosmetic glyph which lets Holy Priests summon an “inept shadowfiend” which would bounce around being useless for 10 seconds on a minute cooldown.

On the plus side, getting Mind Control back gave me a big smile. I never felt I could justify the talent point on something so specific but it’s fun for duoing five mans at the appropriate level and it’s a great source of amusement in PvP.

Finally no more gold missions at the Garrison makes me very happy, okay it essentially paid for my mobile Transmogrification Yak but feeling I’ve escaped them even if it’s temporarily is a wonderful feeling.

Pre-Patch Nerves and “Fond” Farewells

Knowing the Patch is going to come and knowing exactly when the patch is coming have turned out to be two entirely different things, at least in the Harpy Household.

My plan for Wednesday morning has entirely centered around transmogrification and the long awaited Wardrobe feature. Can I imagine using “the Fabulous” title on any of my characters…absolutely not but from the little Beta testing I’ve done, the ability to hide shoulders along with cloak and helm makes me very happy. Especially because I love some of the older cloth robes and they just don’t have shoulders which match perfectly.

In fact my only bugbear is the way they’ve changed the mechanics behind the “hide” feature. Having to return to a Transmogrification NPC whenever you secure a new piece of equipment is for want of a better word annoying. I know in the grand scheme of the game, it’s a very minor problem and one that perhaps 75 percent of the player base won’t even see as an issue but it grates for me.

So I finally gave in and purchased this:

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It’s probably an accurate representation of the luggage I take for even the smallest trips too.

 

I’ve exchanged all my garrison resources for gold, I’ve mailed out all the bind on equip gear which my bank alts have been hoarding since the Wardrobe system was first mentioned and I’ve taken farewell pictures of Snow’s Chakras (I know I hated them, hated the giant “I’m a holy Priest come and try and kill me” targets on you in PvP, hated the noise they make whenever you switch but I’ll still miss them).

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Technically I’m ready for the dawning of a brand new age but despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy Draenor, I can’t escape that tinge of sadness.

Garrisons: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

When I first started playing the Beta, I was almost determined to dislike Garrisons because they weren’t player housing. I started out critical because on the back of playing Wildstar, the biggest thing I felt WoW was missing was my own little corner of Azeroth. I wanted to be able to decorate, to hide out and grow huge possibly man eating plants in solitude.

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However as with most things, my feelings towards them have softened the more exposed I am. Sure there are still things which bug me, for example I’d love a shared Guild area attached to our own private space, perhaps with some of the functionality of Stormshield, i.e an Inn minus the quests for drunken parties or a banking facilities where you could hang out but on the whole, the positives outweigh the negatives for me.

The Good

Familiar NPCs as Followers

Having for example the Firebeards spending their extended honeymoon tending the Alliance Stables is a lovely touch for those of us who helped them get married back in Cataclysm. It’s always good to be able to tie the current incarnation of the game to what came before, giving that sense of a real world in which it’s not just us the players who change but the NPCs too. They grow up, form relationships and decide to explore new frontiers as well.WoWScrnShot_121214_133959

Your Battle Pets strolling around and following you

Okay, it’s a bit disconcerting when your buildings are besieged by your creepy crawlies but it adds a personal feel to the whole place. The only thing I’d suggest to make it better would be if it worked the same as the Stables, picking favourites rather than at random but really that’s a minor change.

The choice of Buildings

I’ve visited garrisons belonging to others as well as having seen screenshots and it’s interesting just how diverse they are. Mr Harpy and I have almost the same buildings but managed to lay them completely differently which means I keep getting confused and annoyed whether I’m visiting. I also liked the fact that I wanted more buildings than the game allows which gives you motivation to push alts if you have them although I can imagine this being exceedingly annoying if your not an Alt person.

The Weekly Garrison Campaign

It’s just not the extra 800 apexis crystals you get for completing the bonus objective but the rewards and storyline I love about these. So far I have a mole machine outside my Garrison which takes me to Gorgrond, a bundle of garrison resources and the title of Blood Champion not to mention this rather attractive disguise:

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I also like the potential this has as the game progresses, each patch can add more of these campaign missions to explore lore, hand out followers and fancy toys. According to the Followers list for example, we should be able to recruit Thisalee Crow or Choluna depending on your Faction at some point in the future through these.

Missions: The Rewards

On the face of it, I do question whether 645 loot should be obtainable by sending your minions out to fight whilst you sleep, work or watch tv but given that it does happen, it’s a great way of gearing up especially if you’re slowly leveling alts in the background. Whilst RNG hasn’t been that kind to me, Mr Harpy is currently working on his 4th or 5th piece. My little Shadowpriest already has 615 gear waiting for her despite being level 92 because her followers are already lv 100 and it will be interesting to see if once those followers have geared up, she can start stockpiling 630 and then 645 pieces. I also like the fact that you get toys, tokens for old mounts and followers from the missions because you never know what will show up next in your list.

Garrison Attacks

Attempting to get better and better scores makes these attacks fun in my book. I also like the little details, rescue civilians caught in the open, catch snipers or saboteurs before they can wreck havoc.

The Bad

Missions: The Timesink

Feels a bit like those free to play games you get on your phone where they want you to check back every 30 minutes to 12 hours to start off a new project. In order to maximize the rewards you get, there is that feeling that you need to check regularly and make as much use of your minions time as possible.

The choice of Buildings.

Ignoring aesthetics and personal favourites, if you are a completionist the easiest way to tick off everything available from Garrisons will be to have multiple alts each working on different things.

 The lack of Festive decorations

I’ve mentioned this once or twice before, but I feel our Garrisons need that tie with the old world more than anywhere else in Draenor. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a Winter Veil tree and some candy canes next week.

The Ugly

Garrison resources

To be fair, this is mostly the fault of RNG as Mr Harpy got two followers with the scavenger trait straight out of the gate and has been capped on Garrison resources for a while now, whereas I wasn’t quite so lucky and am hanging in there at around the thousand mark because every time I get more, I need to upgrade something. However having listened to guild mates complain about their lack of resources I suspect it’s a problem for a lot of people.

Herbing and Mining

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Don’t get me wrong, I love my herb garden but I do question why I who has neither profession should have a bank full of mats without having to use the Auction House or trade them from a friend or alt. This is the first incarnation of the game in which I haven’t had to spend any money whatsoever on leveling Engineering and it does seem a little unfair to those who were hoping to make some money from their professions.

Finally these are a few of my hopes for my Garrison going forward.

Seasonal decorations: When it comes to the various Festivals in WoW surely these will be mirrored in our Garrisons as what better way to show our troops exactly what we’re fighting for and also to make a tiny corner of a foreign planet feel a bit more homely. I mean we don’t want them deserting in droves do we.

The Druid Tree in the corner of the Alliance Garrison which is currently a little quiet, a little reserved: I hope that at some point, perhaps tied to the Garrison Campaign mission concerning Thisalee Crow which appears not yet implemented will make a better use of this tranquil space.

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Some sort of building which makes reference to your either your class/race or both: Obviously as a Nightelf Priest, a Moonwell would be the obvious choice but coming up with something for everyone shouldn’t be too hard. For Human, Dwarf and Forsaken Priests it could be a chapel, although the Forsaken version would look like the chapel you begin your Forsaken career in. Rogues might have a trapdoor leading to a secret lair and Warriors something reminiscent of Fray Island with their followers stacking the stands.

What if anything would you like to see added to your garrison?

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.

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.