Splitting Focus October 20, 2012Posted by Ben in Classes, Leveling, Pandaria.
I told myself that I wasn’t going to send a second character into Pandaria until at least Halloween. I guess the week that Hallow’s End starts is sort of the same thing.
I’ve gotten the Paladin to a good spot where most of his immediate upgrades will come from heroic dungeons. I’ve accepted a casual enough play-style that while I’m making slow progress with The Golden Lotus/Klaxxi, I’m not concerned that I haven’t unlocked the Valor Point rewards yet (I don’t even have enough to buy anything anyway). I’m making good money selling what I grow on my farm and gaining four [Mote of Harmony] a day. I do Tillers dailies when I have the time in the morning after harvesting/replanting (I hate the days when I have to clear out multiple vermin from my farm, such a waste of time), but now I’m using that extra time to take a crack at the Headless Horseman for his helm, mount and ring. This is the first Hallow’s End where I’ve had a plate-wearing class that could use the helm, and thus far the RNG is quite spiteful on all counts.
So last weekend, I made the decision that another character would venture out. My initial plan had been for the Shadow Priest to go next. My Cataclysm main and Enchanter/Jewelcrafter seemed a good choice. Especially since he’s my only high-level Archaeologist. But his crafting professions are already maxed out, and my Hunter and her engineering are pretty much stuck at 575 until she gets some [Spirit of Harmony] or the Darkmoon Faire rolls around a few more times. And after leveling a character that seemed to need to spam Word of Glory just to stay alive at times, I wanted someone with a bit more survival, less down time and more offensive cooldowns. (And I won’t lie, the prospect of having some [Mist-Piercing Goggles] for my stable of characters is quite appealing, even if Ghost Iron does grow like a weed) So Thursday morning, the Hunter left the safety of Orgrimmar for the Jade Forest.
I’ve only gotten as far as routing the Alliance at Strongarm Airstrip (subtle name, Blizz), but already I can tell the difference. Retribution has always been more of a necessary evil to me when playing a Paladin, as I much prefer the Protection skill set, but Prot’s just a bit too slow for leveling. My thunder serpent and I are rolling along taking names. And while I’m not a role-player, I do have a sense of how my different characters would react to situations, and thinking in the back of my mind about the quests from the perspective of a merciless Dark Ranger as opposed to a noble Sunwalker is entertaining. Gotta recruit more soldiers for Sylvanas somehow, right?
Only two disappointments/hiccups so far:
- The Sha-touched tigers outside Honeydew Village don’t keep their cool black and grey striping after being tamed, and instead revert to the standard orange.
- I keep forgetting to transmog the gun I crafted into something a bit less…loud. Good lord that’s an annoying sound. Is there anyone out there that likes it?
So much to do, just not yet August 25, 2012Posted by Ben in Classes, Leveling, Pandaria.
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“The launch” is a month away.
In 31 days, I’ll go from wondering what to do with my time in the game to having a glut of options. And I’m a little overwhelmed. I feel like I need to make a “plan” of some sort.
Leveling – Obviously the first priority. Earlier this week, I laid out that I’m starting with the Paladin. And if I can manage it, he will be the only toon/character/avatar that ventures into the wilds of Pandaria until at least Hallow’s End. I learned from the intense zone burnout of Cataclysm that pushing the entire stable to max level all at once isn’t a good idea.
Monk – Back into the warm embrace of the dungeon finder. I think I want to go Tank/Healer with this, and I do have the heirlooms to support it. Maybe switching roles to help with the repetitive nature of running Uldaman for the umpteenth time.
Pet Battles – So excited. Building and leveling my new stable will require a fair amount of travel and being out in the world, so I think I’m going to designate the Hunter as my “pet trainer.”
Archaeology – Probably lowest on my priority list. My Associate Professor is my Priest, and I’m probably content for him to continue puttering through the Old World working on rares (like that damned Clockwork Gnome) until it’s his turn to level. Added side benefit: leveling Archaeology provides experience.
Professions – Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, Enchanting, Tailoring, Inscription, Leatherworking, Alchemy, Engineering. All over 500. I’ll be watching the Auction House like a hawk for great deals on herbs, because none of my herbalists will see the fields of Pandaria for some time.
Dailies, Scenarios & Dungeons - Follows directly after completing leveling, and is the other reason I’m going to try to focus on a single character. Burnout is the enemy, and I am determined to keep him at bay.
Raids - Given the super-casual nature of my gaming, this will be LFR-only, and I’m okay with that. Given the recent announcement of how they’re going to extend the rollout of said dungeons, I’ve got two weeks before the first one is open and now close to two months before it’s all available. And while I think this staggered release is caused by stupid complaints, I’m more than happy to have the flexibility to not work my way through Pandaria at my own pace.
Well, looks like I want to do pretty much everything…except PvP. How about you?
Main Change August 22, 2012Posted by Ben in Classes, Leveling, Pandaria.
Burning Crusade? Rogue.
Wrath of the Lich King? Druid.
Each expansion has seen me with a different main character. Changes to leveling (and elimination of deadzones) allowed me to level several classes to max level in Burning Crusade, and I discovered a love for a new class by the time Arthas attacked. A server change to join a Horde guild made the Blood Elf priest I’d leveled as a side project and grown to enjoy a more economical option. And I stormed the gates of Icecrown in Shadowform. Now as Deathwing’s sparkly death fades into memory, I find myself shifting again.
Up until a few weeks ago, I’d intended for the Priest to be the first to make landfall in Pandaria. He’s an Enchanter and a Jewelcrafter, and those are two things the rest of my stable will need. Another character was sure to follow quickly on the heels, because well, our little gang was going to need some support roles, and I have just never been fond of priest healing (not that I can honestly given it a real chance). But then Stormy and I were chatting, and he reminded me that what fun it was to be slogging through Deepholm for the third time in the first month of the expansion, and I remembered by my formerly Primary Alt (the Druid who was my main at the start of wrath who’d had an unfortunate accident with some Gnomish technology and become a Tauren) didn’t reach level 85 until a few months ago. Okay, part of it was that I didn’t enjoy Balance’s Eclipse style in solo play, and was too afraid to attempt healing, but mostly it was because somewhere in the middle of Uldum, I just couldn’t force myself to do another quest. Even now, other alts that land in Deepholm or Uldum find their leveling speed drop significantly. So, I’ve decided that my main has to change again.
Mists of Pandaria? Paladin.
I get to benefit from short queue times by leveling a tank first, and faster Holy Power generation will make questing as Ret less like watching paint dry (although I remember leveling as a DPS Holy paladin back in BC, and that was truly glacial). Plus as Mining/Blacksmith, he can split the ore between his own profession and the Priest’s jewelcrafting. And our intrepid triad of guildies won’t be all-cloth (Stormy’s a Priest and Suz a Warlock).
How about you? Is your MoP main going to be different from the one who started Cataclysm
Blizzard wants you to have fun July 19, 2012Posted by Ben in Beta, Classes, Pandaria, Raiding.
How’s that for a controversial title? No? Well, anywhos…
It was revealed recently that the number of dailies available to be completed each day in Pandaria is going to be about 48. With the removal of the daily quest limit, that’s the potential for a fair bit of gold to be earned on a daily basis (and valor points)
But yesterday, someone took to the pages of WoW Insider to complain about this number. It turns out that they hate daily quests. And they think they’re going to be forced into doing them. In fact, because they award valor points, they’ll be forced into doing all of them. Every day.
And that’s not true.
Currently, you can get yourself to the cap of 1000 Valor Points in the following ways:
- Complete up to 7 Random Dungeons a week (max 1,050 VP)
- Complete each half of the LFR Dragon Soul (max 700 VP)
- Kill bosses in Regular or Heroic raids (max 800 VP from DS)
If you were to do all of these things, you’d far exceed the weekly cap. In fact, you could exceed the cap without ever setting foot in the raids.
So in MoP, assuming that the cap remains the same, you’re just going to have an additional option to get to the maximum number of points.
Because Blizzard wants you to do the things at endgame that you enjoy. And they want to make those things a viable way to progress your character. Doing daily quests isn’t going to be the most efficient way to get more and better gear, that will always be reserved for organized non-LFR raiding, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help. Because Blizzard wants each and every one of the players who are paying $12-15/month to get enjoyment out of the game every time they log on. And for this more welcoming concept, I am grateful.
Because it means that when my stable of characters (9 that are level 83+) reach level 90, I’ll be able to set each of them on somewhat different tracks and perhaps stave off the ennui that can settle in when gearing up the next alt.
What I was doing/am doing now:
- Priest: Dungeons & LFR
- Paladin: Dungeons & LFR
- Shaman: Dungeons & LFR
- Hunter: Dungeons & LFR
I could do the following:
- Priest: Dungeons & LFR for gear; Lorewalkers dailies (my max level Archy)
- Paladin: Guild groups for Scenarios & Tank Dungeon Challenges
- Shaman: Cooking/Fishing daily quests; Dungeons & LFR
- Hunter: Daily quests and Scenarios
And that’s just four of the characters. No longer will my character select screen be a choice between doing the same thing with different classes, but I can potentially have significantly different things to do with each character.
And doesn’t include the Pet Battles that I’m pretty excited about.
Pandaria is going to be fun.
The Beta Shadow Priest: First Impressions April 21, 2012Posted by Stormy in Beta, Classes.
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When I started The Asylum Wall I honestly didn’t have a “plan.” I knew I wanted to rant and rave about the good and the bad in Azeroth, but I didn’t have much to bring to the table in terms of class information, guides, raid strategies or the like. I was never going to be The Authority on Holy Paladins like Kurn or the Oracle of Resto Druiding like Jasyla. I didn’t even really have a “main,” and in fact eschewed the whole concept of having one character that monopolized most of the time I spent in WoW. Over the past year or so, though, I’ve fallen madly, deeply in love with a raven-haired badass chick named Tormenta, a Silvermoon native with a sharp wit and a flair for the dramatic. Affectionately known as Tori, my shadow priest is now my official pet, mount and achievement collector, my aspiring Loremaster who’s simultaneously working toward the Exalted title. I love all my toons, but Tori is the one I’m emotionally attached to, the toon I actually talk to out loud while I’m sitting at my computer (yes, I’m nuts!). In short, Tori is*gasp* my main.
I finally got my beta invite in this last wave (*shakes fist at Blizzard*), and although I’m looking forward to exploring Pandaria and getting my hands on a Mistweaver monk, my first and most immediate goal was to investigate the changes to shadow priesting and get Tori’s feet under her so she could hit the ground running when Mists is released. Tori will be the first of my toons to 90 and will most likely be my focus for the first several months as I work through rep grinding, gear purchases and the like. When I went to log into the beta I was forced to change Tormenta’s name to Ilahi (“divine” in Turkish), so she’s a shadow of her former self…(get it?).
I headed for a target dummy, and here’s what I found:
1. I have no idea what’s going on with hit rating in MoP. She’s apparently just short of hit-capped in Cataclysm terms, but way over the hitcap for MoP.
2. I’ve always loved the self-healing and raid-healing baked into shadow priests. I felt like I brought a set of tools to the table that was just as compelling as a mage’s crowd control abilities or a warlock’s dynamic portals/lock candy combo. In LFR/LFD wipes I’m often the last one standing because the health regen baked into Vampiric Embrace and Devouring Plague makes me damned difficult to kill. Removing Devouring Plague and replacing the DoT-monitoring component of Dev Plague by forcing us to refresh Shadow Word: Pain manually doesn’t make shadow priest play any more compelling than it was previously, but does take away the baked-in survivability advantage spriests had in Wrath and Cata. I could wantonly cast Shadow Word: Death on cooldown (I’m sorry, it’s really a habit at this point) and not worry about the teensy bit of damage it did, because it would easily be healed up by Dev Plague within a second or two.
3. The new Shadowy Apparition mechanic is clunky and really highlights the deficiencies in the stock WoW UI. The first thing I’m going to do when addons are enabled in the beta is find a better and easier way to track shadow orbs so my eyes aren’t constantly glued to the upper left corner of my screen. I hate the overly-complicated and bizarrely convoluted Power Auras, so I’m thinking TellMeWhen is going to be my new best friend in Mists.
Moreover, I’m concerned by the trend toward giving every class its own form of combo points. The basic mechanic of “use this ability to build a stack of charges that will affect the strength of another finisher ability” was originated in rogues, then copied in paladins with Holy Power, and now in Mists we’re seeing it in shadow priests’ shadow orbs and monks’ chi*. I don’t want to be That Guy who rants about class homogenization, but I love the idea that all of my toons have a distinct and interesting playstyle, and I get annoyed at the notion of having to monitor combo points in my priest, paladin and potential monk.
(*Side rant: it’s “chee”, as in “life force”. Not “chai,” “ki,” “kee,” or anything else. It’s “chee.” There is no debate about this.)
4. Unless I’m missing something, it seems like the Shadowy Apparitions have a mind of their own. The tooltip suggests that casting Shadowy Apparition once will consume all of your current shadow orbs to determine the strength of your Shadowy Apparition, but in practice it seems to either a) work as the tooltip suggests, or b) consume one shadow orb, requiring you to hit Shadowy Apparition more than once if you have more than one shadow orb. I’ve also seen it actually launch two or three shadowy Toris instead of just one super-charged shadowy Tori. Bug or feature?
5. As I’ve said before I’m not a theorycrafter. I’ll wait for someone smarter and more mathematically-inclined than I to do the math and figure out whether we’re taking Power Infusion (15 sec. lowered mana cost and increased casting speed every two minutes) or Twist of Fate (15% increased damage on targets below 20% health).
6. I’m beyond confused about what’s going on with mana in Mists. From a healing perspective I understand that everyone is given a flat 100,000 mana and we will depend on spirit to constantly refill that mana bar. (Which raises another issue entirely: previously the length of time a raid could spend beating on a boss was inexorably tied to the limits of healers’ mana bars. When your healers were OOM everyone died and the encounter was over. In Mists, if a healer stacks enough spirit they could theoretically keep healing indefinitely.) I have yet to find a cogent explanation of how this is going to work for caster DPS. I remember working on regular Magmaw in early Cata and being hampered by a tiny mana bar as I chain-casted Mind Sear, and by the end of Cata, between the mana return from Replenishment, Shadow Word: Death, and Dispersion I don’t think I could empty Tori’s mana bar if I tried.
Anyway, that’s my bleary-eyed two cents after spending a whole hour messing around with my main in the beta. It’s early and there’s lots of finagling and finessing to be done between now and Mists’s launch, but for now I hope this is some food for thought.
[beta] Weaving the Mists March 31, 2012Posted by Ben in Beta, Classes, Leveling.
I’ve now put some significant time into a low-level Pandaren monk, and I’m ready to share my impressions.
The ability has gone through a little bit of a change since last week. The ability has 2 charges each with an independent 20 second cooldown. In the first beta patch, it didn’t have an animation for male Pandaren, but now it does. It’s so fun. And since at this point, Pandaren don’t have mounts, it’s the only way to make traveling a little faster.
I chose to make my monk a Mistweaver (Healer) when he reached level 10. Since there is no way to change specs at this point, it’s all I’ve got.
When it comes to healing, you have two spells at this level. (all values are from my level 26 toon)
- Chi Wave (costs 2 chi, 15 sec cooldown) – You cause a wave of Chi energy to flow through friend and foe, dealing 233 damage or 279 healing. Bounces up to 5 times to targets within 15 yards.
This ability is actually kind of worthless for healing groups at this point. It works similar to Prayer of Mending. If you target a friendly player, it will heal them and then jump to a nearby hostile target and do damage. Then it will jump to a friendly target and heal, then a hostile target and do damage, then a friendly target and heal. You get no control over this. So…it’s fun, but not useful in groups. HOWEVER, it is amazing when soloing. Because it only has you and your target to choose from, it bounces back and forth. It is THE primary source of damage you have out in the field.
- Soothing Mists (9 mana, plus 9 per second) – Heals the target for 339 over 8 seconds. If your healing done by Soothing Mists is completely effective, you have a 25% chance to generate 1 Chi.
This ability is way overpowered, and I would not be surprised to see it be nerfed before too long. The tooltip looks like it should do 339 healing spread out over 8 seconds, when it fact it does 339 healing EVERY second for 8 seconds. There was a brief period where you didn’t get this until level 18 and your only heal was Chi Wave. This has since changed. You now get this at level 10 and Chi Wave at level 18.
Only two healing abilities, but at this point that’s really all I need.
Your other primary damage abilities are Tiger Palm (which does more damage to mobs over 50% health and costs 1 Chi) and Blackout Kick (which is an execute style ability that costs 2 Chi, but refunds 1 Chi if the ability kills the target). I’m not sure how these abilities will scale as I level as their coefficients are sure to be tied to Attack Power and not Spell Power, but for now they are helpful while you’re in the cooldown of Chi Wave.
Also fun is an ability you get at level 22. [Touch of Death (4 Chi, 1.5 minute cooldown) - You exploit the enemy target's weakest point, instantly killing them. Only usable on non-player targets who have equal or less health than you.] This ability is quite entertaining. If you pair it with a lvl 24 Mistweaver ability [Jasmine Force Tea (0 mana, plus 54 per sec) Channeled - You regenerate 1 Chi every 2 seconds for 6 seconds.] as you’ll be able to kill something quite quickly.
This is Beytarush drinking his Jasmine Force Tea. I’m pretty sure the size of the keg is a bug, because my other tea-based ability has a much smaller container.
Overall, the feel of the class is good. There seem to be fewer abilities than the previously existing classes have, but that could be a result of other classes having seven years of bloat that needs to be cut loose. The order of when you learn some skills seems jumbled (for example, at lvl 20 you get a talent that adds magic effects to your Detox spell, but you don’t learn Detox until level 36.) And the tooltips for abilities also use Chi and Force interchangeably, which I assume is a remnant of the original idea that Monks would have both light and dark forces they generated that has been streamlined. I’ll share more as I continue my way up.
Questions about monkery? Ask in the comments!
[beta] a few spriest notes March 22, 2012Posted by Ben in Beta, Classes, Pandaria.
Got my first peek into the beta. Didn’t have time to do much and I’d copied my priest main over to “Lost Isles.” So I decided to see what was different.
Oh boy. Is it different.
Shadow Orbs – Now created by casting Mind Blast. And consumed by CASTING Shadowy Apparitions. One for each orb consumed. And mastery increases the chance that when your shadow clone hits the target, you get an orb back. This is going to be interesting,
Damage – This just might be an early beta bug, but my damage was INSANE. I’m talking about non-crit Mind Blasts of over 100,000.
Devouring Plague – Gone. Farewell, old(ish) friend. It was nice playing with you for two expansions.
Vampiric Embrace – Now a 15 second buff that heals you and your party for 50%. With a 3 minute cooldown.
As for talents, I couldn’t say yet. But I do appreciate that Silence and Psychic Horror are now baseline abilities rather than something you have to weigh the pros and cons of.
Also…um…having no add-ons is totally weird.
Rush’s first thoughts on the MoP Deluge March 19, 2012Posted by Ben in Classes, General Whinging, Leveling, Personal, Raiding, Zones.
This is all just first impressions and bullet points as I consume the information.
Pandaren & Factions – I like the way they’ve decided to have you choose your fate. It’s not just a flat choice, but having to choose between two philosophies could make for some interesting questing for the little furballs.
Female Pandaren - I think I like them. It isn’t quite what I expected, but as I can’t put my finger on what I was thinking, it’s okay. They’re more “cute” than I anticipated, but certainly better than the female worgen (which I wasn’t as averse to as others)
Expansion Story – Patch 5.0 is Pandaria, Patch 5.1 starts “The War” – This idea really gets me excited, and reminds me of the original game. Each of the expansions has had a track it has moved on, with one big bad guy waiting for you at the end. (Although BC did throw the Kael’thas/Kil’jaden twist at the end after it seemed that Illidan was the xpac’s baddie). This is going to be a much more evolving story, and reminds me of patches from the past like The War Effort that preceded the opening of AQ. As someone who loves this game as much for the story as the actual gameplay, color me giddy.
Monk Class – I don’t even know how to begin handling all this information. The abilities sound exciting, but until we actually get our hands into it, the rotations are a complete mystery. But I’m not yet dissuaded from rolling at least one (probably two), especially since we are getting an ELEVENTH slot!
Scenarios – Instanced group questing. For <Sane Asylum> this sounds awesome.
Questing – The zones seem to have interesting stories, but even Cataclysm had that (if a bit linear), so we’ll see how the replay-ability works out.
- Tillers – I’ll wait to see how this looks, but I’m intrigued by the very personal progression here. Seems an extension of the Molten Front concept which I really enjoyed.
- Cloud Serpent – This is just an extension of the Venomhide raptor and Winterspring Tiger mounts.
Dungeons/Raids – These are what they are. 9 Heroics and 14 Raid bosses (and the availability of LFR) mean I’ll have plenty of opportunities for variety when my characters reach max level. And what more is there to say after: HEROIC SCARLET MONASTERY! Oh, and Beer Elementals in the Brewery dungeon? That sounds like potential for some hilarity.
Pet Battles – PokeWoW as it’s been called. I like it. Account-wide pets is huge. Sounds like a fun thing to do while waiting for dungeon/raid queues. Haters gonna hate, but this is only list of things I’m eager to try out.
Yet another 85. Almost. January 12, 2012Posted by Ben in Classes, General Whinging, Leveling.
Tags: random number generator
This weekend will probably include the final “Ding!” of my Tauren Tankadin. It’s a slog that I’m glad to see ending, but there have been some great times along the way. I only used heirlooms from 60-80 so that I’d be able to actually benefit from (and see) the gear that I collected in the low-level dungeons. And the Random Number Generator has been less than kind. When I reached level 80 and needed to meet an ilvl requirement to get into the Cataclysm dungeons, I discovered that I was still equipping a pair for trinkets from the Sunken Temple and Lower Blackrock Spire. I’ve run Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle almost a dozen times each, and have received exactly ZERO drops. The tanking sword did drop once from the High Priestess, but I was out-rolled by the Warrior DPS.
But all of this won’t matter when I reach that final (for the moment) level. I’ve been levelling Blacksmithing as I went (my Mining is long left in the dust, and thankfully I have other characters to farm for me), and will have the ilvl 359 chest, belt and shield. My longtime lvl 85 priest and shaman have ceased needing JP yet again, and have used theirs to purchase the BOE 378 bracers and 359 boots. The tankadin himself will have enough JP to purchase the T12 legs and gloves, and I picked up the Gurubashi Punisher for a good price this morning. (Yes, I know, not an ideal tanking weapon, but beats the 289 I’m currently equipping, and as I said, the RNG has not been kind). Then there’s the “Thrall’s wedding” questline which will net me a ilvl 365 cloak, and once I unlock the Molten Front, there’s a pair of rings as well.
Why all this prep for level 85? Because I don’t want to be crushed under the Heroics. I think I’m doing a pretty good job at tanking, but I’m not sure I’ve been fully tested yet. Sometimes I see my health dip pretty low, and the PuG healers aren’t great (and by which I mean they don’t at all) about telling me if it was my fault or their own. Well, one of them did admit to having tabbed out of the game during a series of trash pulls in which I repeatedly almost died. (Thank goodness for Lay on Hands) I see the “Oh, Sh*t!” buttons on my bar, and I try to practice using them, but here’s hoping that this slew of shiny new gear (freshly enchanted by my Spriest, and gemmed by Stormy) will keep me upright.
Also, it occurs to me that this will be my sixth character to max level (the largest number of max-level toons I’ve had at one time), but my Resto/Balance druid has been sitting at level 84 since last January. I just can’t bring myself to finish that little bit. Maybe it’s time to bite the bullet before Diablo 3 and the MoP beta…
Any advice for a paladin about to dive headfirst into heroics?
So…Pandas. November 14, 2011Posted by Stormy in Classes, Leveling, Zones.
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Call me fashionably late. Call me smart for waiting until the dust settled on Pandapalooza 2011. Call me a moron for not jumping to cash in on the flurry of panda-monium. Call me a slacker for not taking a few minutes to sit down and hammer out a blogpost when the content was still relevant. Just don’t call me late for dinner.
WARNING: Long, rambly post ahead. Don’t expect much organization or a coherent train of thought…but then again, you never expected that from me anyway, right?
I’m so excited about the actual continent of Pandaria that I could plotz. There is so much that Blizzard can do with an entirely new Asian-themed continent, and from initial reports it looks like they ran with it. While we’ve certainly heard a lot of complaints lately about class balance, raid setups, and other “mechanical” aspects of the game, no one quibbles with Blizzard’s ability to create a beautiful and immersive game universe. It’s what they do best. If you don’t get a little tingly looking at the fjords in Howling Fjord or the imposing facade of Orgrimmar as seen from Razor Hill, you need your head checked. I saw the preview video for the Stormstout Brewery and I was instantly excited for Mists of Pandaria.
One of the biggest failings of Cataclysm, in my ever-so-humble-opinion, was that it lacked the scale and wonder of an actual expansion. We got a few new zones that were just kind of glommed onto existing territory, a new vertigo-inducing water zone that was a much better idea on paper than it was in practice, and the vast wasteland of Deepholm. Once you were done kissing Therazane’s ring there was no reason to go back to Deepholm–and I will never, ever, ever go back to Vashj’ir except under extreme duress–so the world just isn’t any bigger and doesn’t hold any wonder. Once you finished the six new reputation grinds a month into Cata there was really no reason to ever leave Orgrimmar or Stormwind except for raiding or dungeons.
I think Blizzard learned that lesson and is heading in the right direction with Pandaria. There’s an entirely new world to explore, new races and factions to get to know, and an entirely new subsection of WoW lore for us geeks to loregasm over. It’s possible to wander around Outland or Northrend for hours exploring little nooks and crannies and finding new, out-of-the way quests and things to do, and this experience was totally missing from the Cata zones.
As for the Pandaren themselves…meh. I love the idea of a completely new, well-developed faction we currently know very little about, but the screenshots I’ve seen of the Pandaren are far too cutesy. I’ll definitely roll one to see the new starting experience, but if it’s as horrifying as Kezan, count me out. While I’m personally not looking forward to rolling a monk–melee is not my friend–I appreciate that we’re getting an entirely new class to monkey around with, and I hope a whole new crop of monk bloggers joins us here in the Twisted Nether.
I think the biggest wild card in the game is going to be the new talent system. Part of me wants to march into Blizzard HQ and find Ghostcrawler and shake him; “Stop. Dude…just stop. Stop messing around. Stop burning it down and starting over. Just…stop.” Part of me wonders if Blizzard’s idea is an amazing one that’s going to crash and burn not because it’s a bad idea, but because of the community’s inability to let go of the min-maxing, “there is a right spec and a wrong spec” mentality we’re so used to. I think their current philosophy is to basically equal out the damage and/or healing done by a particular spec and then let us use talents to add utility and customize our specs so that no two paladins/priest/druids are the same, but I doubt the WoW community is going to stand for that. We’re so used to theorycrafting and poking around for the “right” spec, and I doubt that mentality’s going to go away. That said…Divine Star and Bear Hug? YES PLEASE.
For now…I tread water. I’m glad this Gnome Clone project came along, and I’m having a total blast with it. Every night this week I’ve logged in to check on things on my home server and I just feel instantly bored and want to go play with my Lillies. I transferred my orphan priest from Moon Guard to Durotan last night and I may actually start a new fleet of Alliance 85s over there (I know, I know). I’ve found that I have a ton of things to learn about how the Alliance works–the boat system in SW completely vexes me–so I’m looking forward to throwing some energy into that. Still, bring on the Pandas, and the sooner the better.