A Tale of Two Druids

On returning from our holiday, we used our free boosts on a Druid each. It’s class we’ve both played a lot, possibly I even have more play time on Druids than I do Priests as I tended to raid on the Priest, PvP on the Druid in vanilla so I was a bit taken aback by the “class familiarization” tutorial.

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I know that level 100s running around without a clue as to how to play the class isn’t a good thing but this little training school scenario doesn’t change that, especially since it forces you into playing dps. It does however explain some of the quite frankly weird behaviour I’ve seen from undergeared level 100s in the Broken Isles scenario, they must be brand new characters.

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However like a well trained Kitty, Heartsease ripped and shredded on command, stopping only to mourn the loss of “pounce” as a spell in it’s own right, oh and to quibble about being told what to do by a Human. Having survived the Broken Isles scenario (and possibly got more Alliance killed than the Burning Legion so far…people without stealth really shouldn’t follow stealthed cats into hordes of Demons) and sorted out a transmogrification, I was at a bit of loose end.

Then I remembered our Troll Druids, abandoned on the same server at level 30.

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It didn’t take long to sort out their bars, respec where needed and head off in search of the nearest Demon Invasion. A few short hours later, they’ve gone from level 30 to 59, made quite a lot of gold from selling the contents of their lock boxes since a level 10 item sells for the same as a level 100 one and are now hoarding boxes with a view to opening at what level they reach before Legion comes out.

Just as I intend playing my new level 100 Druid as feral, my baby Troll is a kitty too and playing almost from scratch is helping me get my Druid groove back.

We haven’t paused for many quests but one of the few chains we managed to complete between invasions was the Camp Taurajo one. Let’s just say it made defending Westfall from the Demons a tad tricky.

If I’d designed the Priest Class Hall for Legion …

Many moons ago, Mr Harpy and I spent a couple of months in Mexico. This is a photo of a place called Cholula (I’m assuming I took it whilst in a traffic jam) and the reason it’s in this post is that Church is not nestling on a hill but a Temple.

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That recycling and re-purposing of sacred spaces would be the theme of my Priest Class Hall. From the outside, you’d see a church sitting on a slight hill but inside, it would be so much more.

The Shadow Hall

Imagine if you will, a Temple to an Old God deep within the earth. Dank, shadowy and with something which doesn’t bear too close an examination dripping down the walls. The air is thick with candle smoke and pallid pools cast strange reflections on the ceiling. If you look too deeply into the water, tentacles (or maybe it’s just pond weed) wave, encouraging you to wade in.

At one end of the room, we find a library full of dusty books whose subject matter seems to involve flaying of minds and melting of souls. This coupled with a pile of empty coffins beside them doesn’t paint a particularly wholesome image.

A pile of abandoned Anathemas lie sadly in a corner.

Famous Priests:

Shadow Priest Allister, author of that famous tome “Holy Bologna: What the Light won’t tell you” can be found sitting at a desk in an alcove asking for help deciding on the title of his new work, muttering different possibilities aloud.

Mistress Natalia Mar’alith, High Priestess of C’thun tends to the pools, every so often chanting something sibilant softly which has the waters churning with what looks like blood.

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Vivienne Blackwhisper can be found playing cards with her Alliance counterpart Brienna Nightfell. In between hands they complain about their non Shadow Priest raid members in the Trial of the Crusader and discuss strategies for the upcoming Arena season.

Stairs rise up, twisting away from the fetid cellars. The space widens to provide a burial ground for those who died for their faith. Nightelf graves lie side by side with Troll, Tauren next to Gnome before narrowing again.

Discipline

At some point, the Night Elves were drawn to the power of the Temple below (or perhaps they thought building on top of it would help them guard it for the eons to come). Here within what was once a Temple to Elune, we find the Discipline Priests going about their business. One end of the room holds training dummies for the practical application of both Light and Shadow. Just like downstairs, there is a nook full of books although these seem a lot less forbidding, apart that is from the one that is shackled in an alcove. Through an Elven arch, we discover a Moonwell, complete with a statue of Elune, trees and benches make this a comfortable resting area.

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Although the windows to the outside must be nothing more than illusions as the Temple is covered in rock and gardens, the moon is clearly visible through them at all times of day.

High Inquisitor Whitemane (yep, she’s still refusing to stay Dead and I don’t care what other classes think, she’s a Priest!) is teaching some Acolytes the art of resurrection.

Argent Confessor Paletress is in charge of the Confessional, step inside to confess your deepest darkest sins and receive a suitable and fitting penance. Every so often, you’ll discover one of the NPCs has beaten you to it and is admitting all sorts of scandalous stuff.

Moon Priestess Maestra has relocated from the Post which holds her name and can be found in conversation with Tyrande (a much more logical class “leader” choice given the Night Elf theme of the expansion.

Sister Aquinne has finished her training and been promoted to Full Priestess from Novice.

Thomas the Altar boy from Stormwind Cathedral runs errands between the NPCs, bringing one a book they need or another a bottle of holy water or a glass of wine.

Again the stairs climb upward, this time when they widen out, a small infirmary has been built into the alcove. Run by Chief Surgeon Gashweld and her Gnomish minions with assistance from some Goblin Priests.

Holy

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Finally and more recently an intrepid (or lost) bunch of Humans or maybe Worgens came along and found the ruins. A whisper of the power once held inside captured their imaginations and a church was built, capping off the two Temples which came before it. In honor of the Priest takeover and our Draenic friends, the gardens outside have been given a distinctly Draenei flavour and inside the Church, proximity to the Naaru has caused things to begin to alter. Regardless of the time of day, sunlight streams through the windows.

A Lightwell glitters by the altar and Priests come and go in the pews, listening to sermons, chatting, praying quietly.

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High Priestess MacDonnell has finally lost interest in Scourge Cauldrons and moved in search of a newer enemy to fight.

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Random Details

The ghost of Erin Havenfire wanders randomly through the Class Hall, talking to herself about the balance of light and shadow. When clicked upon, she offers to show you why that balance is so important. If you want you can see a short video of her pressing some random Priest into service to help her gain the redemption she sought.

Books from all three “Faiths” move through the Class Hall, occasionally dueling each other with much smiting, mindflaying and a touch of holy nova from the glittering Holy books.

NPCs wear a variety of Priestly outfits, all the tiers are in use somewhere across the Class Hall.

The various Priest Class trainers all make appearances, conversing about such topics as their most terrible trainees and debating points of theology (I so want a Male Priest answering every question on religion with “that’s an ecumenical matter” and if you haven’t watched Father Ted you should).

In the gardens outside, you find dueling Priests and in a rose covered arbor, a two Worgens sit watching. The Trolls have distributed their Loas throughout the complex depending on where their beliefs lie.

 

Toys, Trinkets and other awesome stuff

A Spirit of Redemption combat pet, if you kill a critter with her out, she tells them it’s not yet their time and resurrects them. Should you aoe a whole bunch of cute little bunnies, she casts mass resurrection.

Devouring Plague, a pet.

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Every so often, she enters shadowform and casts devouring plague on a critter, cackling.

A Travelling Sermon, yep if you can’t get your raid to come to listen to Paletress, you can take a miniature but equally loud and annoying holographic version of her to them…one of the less discussed “benefits” of letting Gnomes and Goblins be priests.

Mini Benediction/Anathema, follows you around casting sparkles every so often (think holy nova but either gold or shadowy). That way, even Shadow Priests can still have their Anathema out whilst using their Artifact weapon.

Holy Priests can purchase a toy entitled “Inept Shadowfiend”. On a 3 minute cooldown, you can summon an “inept shadowfiend” for 12 seconds. It will appear, stand around looking a bit dazed and confused for a bit, hug your feet, drool on the floor and then vanish back from whence it came.

Titles

One of the “flavour” aspects which drew me to the Priest Class was the race specific spells we used to have. In order to recapture that idea that we’re very much drawing on different religions, the titles reflect the differences between the races.

Night Elves: Moon Priest/Moon Priestess

Gnomes/Goblins: Chief Surgeon

Humans/Dwarves/Troll: High Priest/High Priestess

Tauren: Seer

Draenei: Anchorite

Forsaken: Shadow Priest/Shadow Priestess (Torn on this one. The lore might say one thing, but not all Undead Priests are shadow).

Yes, this is a very Alliance centric vision but so is the one we’re getting in Legion. There would obviously be more Horde NPCs but in my admittedly quick look, I was struggling to find that many unique Horde Priests who stand out.

Edit: If this post leaves you with the idea that I’m not hugely taken with the Priest Class Hall that Blizzard have designed, you would be correct.

 

 

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.

A Bittersweet Return – First Thoughts on WoW following Seven Months away

On Tanaan

Three days in and it’s been bittersweet so far. I’m glad to be back, WoW is a distraction like no other in many ways but my thoughts on Tanaan are mixed. It feels much like the Barrens campaign did, lots of disjointed wanderings around slaughtering things for rewards which much exceed the effort required. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy with my three bits of 675 gear I’ve acquired to date but I’m still not convinced that it’s the right model moving forwards. If most people raid for gear (this is my cynical experience from many years in high end raiding guilds) where is the incentive to encourage those on the fence so to speak if you can get better gear than you need for grinding/questing purely from grinding and questing. I know there was an issue with the vanilla model and whilst I was lucky/responsibility free (choose what you think is applicable) enough to experience high end raiding during that period, I know most people didn’t or couldn’t so something had to give but I think things have shifted too far away from organised scheduled content to random throw your hat into ring chaos. What I loved about WoW in those early days was the multi player aspect and I feel that’s definitely been a casualty of the move towards being all inclusive. You don’t need a guild anymore thanks to the Raid Finder, dungeon groups etc and I’ve gone from knowing everyone on my original servers to speaking only to a handful of people. When you run Dungeons people err towards the unsociable and often down right rude end of the spectrum and many of the Garrison missions like the one Yrel gives you for Auchindoun can only be done by people on the same quest which is why my poor Priest had the time to be taking selfies rather than be healing Mr Harpy. Having one party member being able to disappear down a hole in the group whilst the other just stands there doesn’t smack of multi player.

On taking Selfies
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I now have this sudden desire to have Snowflower wander around all the dangerous locations taking selfies whilst being beaten up… a sort of living on the edge collection.

On the Navy

This was a surprise. I made a point of not reading patch notes whilst the game was updating and I’ve been a bit too busy to read many other blogs so this came out of left field. Despite the odds of failure seeming awfully high, I like this addition to the Garrison but I’d be hard pushed to express why.

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Here is hoping that at some point we can make fishing boats and something a little less warlike in our shipyards.

On the Death Recap Button

I must admit to being disappointed with this. I was hoping for a “Horrible Histories” style video replay of my demise and so having to sing the “stupid death” song myself whilst looking at a damage log isn’t quite up to par.

On the Garrison in general

So far apart from the new exit (which I don’t like on roleplaying security grounds), I haven’t noticed many Garrison changes although either I’ve got much better at pet battling or the opponents have been heavily nerfed, I’m assuming it’s the latter.

On what I’m most excited about

Flicking through the achievements list in search of new ones, I couldn’t help but notice a new Raiding with Leashes and seeing that M’uru drops a chaos pup, something I’ve wanted for a very long time so that’s definitely high up on the list. I’m also becoming a bit obsessive with those races at the Darkmoon Faire.. so close and yet so far. Given that my approach to time is now more like a Goblin one, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to do more than dip in and out of Azeroth for the near future at least, although the little one does find it fascinating in short bursts so I will be focusing on the exploring, the curious and strange rather than raiding and PvP. The biggest question though seems to be what’s next, which feels a little disconcerting less than a year after Warlords launched. What ever it is, I can’t help but feel less Orcs would be a good thing.

The bottom line though is I’m back and I have a camera… oh and apparently I still enjoy playing WoW 10 years after I started (see Mrs Hill… I’m capable at sticking at things I like so nah!!!).

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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?

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