Outlands (Again!)

In a way, I think that depending when you started playing the game you have a certain attachment to content.  I started playing about 3 weeks before the release of BC and spent quite some time at level 70 in Outlands before LK rolled out.  So though many people loathe Outlands, I have a special place for it in my heart, I probably always will.  

That being said, this past week was quite a fun time for me.  Though I have loved the new zones and leveling up alts through all the questlines in the zones, I still get really excited when I get to head back out to Outlands, the land I know so well.  Where I don’t need to look at the map to find where quest monsters are because I have them all memorized.  And though the quest hubs are weird and Hellfire is a terrible landscape that looks like they ran out of time for landscape so just painted it all red…I enjoy walking through the portals and getting gear and doing the dungeons that I am familiar with.

In the past week I managed to get to characters to level so that they can start Outlands.  Mouret my worgen warrior and Linus my worgen priest both dinged 58 and have/will venture into Outlands.  

Mouret followed the same path as Haydn did before him finishingSwampofSorrowsand then dinging 58 in Blasted Lands.  I didn’t finish up Blasted Lands like I did on Haydn but leapt right to Outlands with him.  A few quests and boom, he’s level 60 and flying about.  I’ll probably stick it out in Hellfire with him for a bit as I’m leveling with a friend who has never seen Outlands.

As for Linus, I spent some time on Kalimdor having just completedSwampofSorrowsand having already completed Blasted Lands, I decided I should go check out some of the new quests in Felwood and Winterspring.  I didn’t spend enough time in Felwood, but there were definitely some MAJOR improvements to the quests there.  Well done Blizzard.  I left the zone early, and did all of Winterspring to take me from 52 to 58.  I liked the Winterspring quests, again a huge improvement there.  After doing a bunch of quests for the Timbermaw, I did notice that I was revered with them, I turned in a few more and am over halfway to exalted with them.  I chuckled that my first exalted faction may be Timbermaw on that toon.  Having worked on them before on other toons, the reputation gains are much better now and very quick, I applaud this change as well…no one wants to kill 5000 furbolgs to get to exalted like you had to before.

So here I am, with two toons on the edge of Outlands.  I’m excited to run through it again as it has been a long time.  I may pick up tanking on the warrior if I can get some gear and I’ll heal many dungeons on the Priest and spend time at the Sporregar and Kurenai with him, a good first title may be Diplomat.

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Non-Raid End-Game

I promise I’ll get that post up about shaman hybridism soon.

But first, after many days of spending time on the water away from WoW, I came back to the game and logged quite a few hours on Monday.  Leveling Troutwort the hunter from 80 to 82 because he’s technically the GM and isn’t even friendly with the guild, so I can’t buy the extra guild bank tab (how embarrassing) and then played Haydn the rogue going from 64 to 66. 

Back to the point of this post though, and that is following a discussion I had with a guildmate about end-game content, and more specifically end-game if you don’t raid. 

I am pretty much a non-raider.  I haven’t raided in Cataclysm, my raiding experience in BC was limited to Karazhan and Mag’s Lair.  In LK it was Naxx, ToC, and Icecrown Citadel.  In all cases it was usually long after these things were current content and so there were those that had better gear than content.  The only one that I was really on par with was ToC.  Anyways, no raiding yet in Cataclysm.

So I’m basically at that age-old discussion of what do you do for end-game if you aren’t into raiding?  As it currently is, I have three toons at level 85, I think three at level 82, and then some others like 80, 75, 66, and 27 or something like that.  When I log-in there are times I stare at this screen trying to decide who to play.  Almost always the three level 85s are ruled out from selection unless I need one of their professions for something.  Since I don’t participate in the raiding I don’t have raids to prepare for, gear isn’t important to me, and their professions are maxed, so there’s usually little desire to play those toons–what else is there to do?  None of the heroic dungeons really excite me, I think I previously posted that none of them feel really epic/fun to me.  Typically then I pick up a toon that isn’t 85 and level them.  For me, leveling provides a sense of progression and accomplishment that raiding and getting new gear doesn’t provide for me.  With new levels comes new spells or abilities, new talent points, more character development.  But with raiding, just comes new dresses to wear. 

The sense of accomplishment, for me, really drops off at 85.  Usually it’s finishing up a zone or a profession and then maybe some dungeons and heroics and that’s it.  There isn’t a draw for me to continue to do anything.  So I level the next toon.  I understand that downing raid bosses is an accomplishment for a raid group, and I love hearing about the cohesiveness and success.  But I can’t sit and do one thing for 4 hours or commit to that sort of schedule of twice a week–it’s just not me. 

So I start to think about what I did at 80 or even 70.  I had 4 toons to 70 before LK and 7 toons to 80 before Cata.  So what did I do with them all?  Grinding reputations or doing dailies was different.  For example:  reputations in both LK and BC gave patterns for crafters, I would decide which factions were most beneficial for my crafters and focus on them, even if I didn’t ever make the pattern, knowing that I had it felt like I was still accomplishing something.  Fishing and cooking dailies took me all around the world, though people complained about travel time, it got me the F out of Dalaran, so that if suddenly I was in Sholazar for fishing, I might as well do some Oracles/Frenzyheart dailies or if I had to go to Borean for fishing, I might as well stock up on fish or try for that turtle.  Sending me to Nagrand to cook some stew would sometimes find me doing some Kurenai rep or else defending the PvP zone in the middle.  Since I was there, I felt a reason to do other things.

Fishing dailies being limited to Stormwind or other capital cities are quick and easy fishing skill points, but if you ask me…BORING.  And the lack of a fishing bag that has anything new to offer since LK is really lame.  At least in BC I could get a croc pet and LK had the strand crawler and fishing poles, but really, nothing new for Cata?  Why isn’t there an 80+ only fishing daily?  It doesn’t make sense, they didn’t really make a new fishing daily, they just offered it to level 10s.

Daily quests in Cata also are sorta of…bleh.  The Argent tourney in LK was nice, again rewards of pets, jousting to gain reputations, it wasn’t that bad–mounts and prizes were cool.  Tol Barad has them as well…but the inability to fly there makes them annoying…I’m tired of being dismounted by stupid spiders. 

The Isle of Quel’Danas dailies while not always awesome, were good in one way, there was a whole server progression there.  It felt like you were contributing to something when you did those and when after a few days a new section of the isle opened up, it felt awesome.  That was a brilliant idea–it felt like I still was contributing and progressing in the game. 

Achievements added in 3.0 added some sort of accomplishment as well, but let’s be honest, most achievements are “worthless” since the points don’t give you anything.  A few titles are fun to get and those additions were nice, but again, not enough to keep me going. 

Okay, long post is long, so what DO I want??  I have no idea.  I guess if there was some sort of accomplishment that would still feel like my characters are progressing and improving without it just being gear, that would be awesome.  I’d like daily quests outside of capital cities.  I’d like PORTALS back to all the cities so that I didn’t feel like I only played in Stormwind anymore.  I really feel disconnected too because of the way the zones are now.  With the new 80-85 zones spread out, it’s not easy to just fly over that ridge to the next zone and do what I want there…no, it’s hearth (load-screen), then fly to portal (load-screen)…there’s too much load-screening and not enough continuity.  I want to be able to do an herbing lap around one zone, then be close enough to the next to just swoop into that zone too, without load-screens. 

One other thing that would help is if archaeology felt like progression too…instead of still finding VooDoo dolls at max level if the things you found improved and the chance of lesser things decreased at least it would give a sense of geting better.  Fishing for example allows you to catch better things as you improve your skill.  Aside from a few rare items in archaeology, it really does still feel like you’re doing the same at skill level 525 as you did at skill 100.  Hopefully there will be changes to this later.

I fear that Cataclysm really isn’t living up to all the excitement I had for it.  Challenging heroics are good, but god, I hear more people complain about dungeons than I hear people say they love them.  So maybe there need to be at least a few that people don’t cringe over? 

I know it’s hard to build a game that feels like you’re still progressing after you’ve hit 85 and that isn’t about gear.  I’m not saying I know the answer, but I think there have been things in the past that might be good ideas to bring back.  Perhaps not.  It might just be the crotchety old man in me desiring times past.  I just didn’t feel so blah about my toons at 80…and I can’t figure out why I do now. 

One other thing that would be AWESOME, is that once you complete a zone or storyline on one toon, the zone would be changed for the next.  Example:  I have put the world pillar together 3 times already.  Why the F do I have to keep doing it?  One time is cool, but the second time I come through, can’t the world pillar be put together already and now I work to defend new attacks or work on cleaning up the mess left behind?  That would feel better to me from a leveling stand-point.  Doesn’t have to be every zone, but ones with really dramatic storylines such as that seem sort of lame the next time you have to do it.

85/24

I’m pretty terrible with the screenshots, and though there were two big events last night I failed to capture either one.

The first was one I knew was coming.  Schubert was just 4 bars from 85.  He was finishing up Deepholm.  And after finally doing all the Therazane quests and saving Azeroth by completing the World Pillar (seriously, I can’t believe you guys left it broken for so long), I headed back to Stormwind and helped our budding priest Anduin, or whatever his name is, uncover some cultists.  The humans really have a bad time with letting the naughties into the throne room.  And also what sort of priests and paladins don’t realize all the trouble in the basement of their own cathedral?  I mean seriously, someone just waltzed in with those explosives without any question?  No prophet saw it coming? 

And so Schubert dinged 85, did a random normal (since I only did Vashir (halfway), Deepholm, and Mt. Hyjal, my gear isn’t that great) and got some new shoulders with the JP points I’ve been accumulating.  He also hit Exalted with Darnassus thanks to the tabards.  Those capital city ones give way more rep than the Cata ones, I switched to Therazane and it was probably half of what I was getting per kill for Darnassus.  So I’ll have to go get him some kitties to ride on. 

Shortly there after, I was dinking around on Schubert when the second awesomeness happened:  Crits and Giggles has reached Level 24!  Nice.  We were not going to hit Server first to 25, Apparently a Horde guild with like 900+ members got it last Saturday, whoops.  Too bad for us.  Also I heard an Alliance guild also got it, but to know we are pretty close to keeping up with the Jones’s is pretty awesome.  10% less vendor costs really makes some interesting prices.  Yes I would like a skinning knife for the awkward price of 17 copper. 

So that’s really two awesome things in one night.  Yay!

As for Schubert hitting 85, it felt good, he felt like I felt like it should feel.  (Nice sentence.)  My point is that Rossini felt rushed, Elgar happened on accident from archaeology, and so Schubert was the first one I was actually leveling with the intent of leveling.  I felt anxious and excited to hit 85, so that was good.  In fact I’m starting to get the itch to really move along some of the other alts.  I know I should finish up my reputation grinds and dailies and all that good stuff, but I’ll get around to that eventually.  So for now I’ll keep running some dungeons on Schubert, Rossini, and Elgar.  Cloth FTW, I mean I still have professions to finish up too, Rossini hasn’t maxed either enchanting or tailoring (there’s a wall at 515 that he can’t get over).  And though Elgar is maxed, transmuting still needs to happen.  It’s getting to that point where I have multiple max levels and start to feel busy and get to do all the putzy “character enriching” things I love about this game.

Moar Mage-in’

So last night I was over at a friend’s house for some LAN WoW.  Good times.  She plays a mage, so I convinced her that it would be best to focus on Vashir instead of Hyjal which is where she started.  So I grabbed the level 80 druid and headed out there with her.  I would imagine that being melee doing Vashir would be a nightmare, ranged is totally fine. 

We burned through the quests and since Sibelius is JC, I got myself some really nice trinkets which I made once I dinged 81.  I really enjoy Vashir overall.  I like the way the zone looks even if it feels very “Little Mermaid” and sorta makes me want to listen to the soundtrack while I play. 

But is was a great time.  I hopped on Schubert once I got home and went back to Vashir, finally reaching the Earthen Ring quartermaster and dinging 84.  Holy goodness, 84 already?  Again, I’m feeling like I’m going to be max level before accomplishing much.  I’m going to try to ignore that and just keep questing on him.  I enjoy the mage–all that frosty goodness.

I did however fail to read carefully and need to respec him now.  They changed Torment of the Weak to only affect Arcane spells.  In LK it was all spells, so I put points into it before realizing the change.  D’oh!  Fortunately the respec should be pretty cheap since I’ve been frost for a long time.  😛

No play time tonight, but my guess is that Schubert could be 85 by Sunday, it depends on if the kid I mentor is coming over. 

Have a great weekend everyone!  Good adventures and raiding!

Mage Questing

So I’ve been working on the mage, he’s dual spec’d fire and frost but pretty much runs in frost 100% of the time.  I suppose for dungeons I should do fire on AOE, but meh. 

I took him to Mt. Hyjal first since I did Vashir with Rossini and wanted to see a different zone.  I can say that I thought Mt. Hyjal was a little bit interesting, but in the end just found it to be long and dragging out.  I was ready to be done with Hyjal.  On the flip side though, I was happy to have collected enough mining nodes to put me at 515 mining by the end of the zone.  It was happy times but also a little surprising that in just one of the starting zones I could get so many mining nodes.  My tailoring only went up 30 points or so. 

I generally liked the look of Hyjal, but really was only so-so impressed with the story-line.  By the end of it, I was tired of fighting cultists.  And having dinged level 83 before the end of the zone, I really felt like I was almost going too fast.  I did a few dungeons along the way though too, so that pushed me further in the XP. 

I was so happy to be done with the zone, I know I will have to revisit it in the future, but probably not anytime soon.

Last night I started in on Deepholm since I heard it was lousy with Elementium and I figure I’ll need some for some professions later.  I really don’t like Deepholm that much because of the layout.  The one center Inn and no real flight paths kinda bugs me.  I would like to log out, rested, right where my quests are, but I’m always traveling back and forth to the temple when not needed.  Also, because they sometimes send me in opposite directions I’m not sure of the “flow” of the quests.  I dunno, it just feels clunky to me and I am generally unimpressed.  At the same time I feel obligated to do Deepholm for now…at least until Therazane shoulder enchants are changed to BoA.

Another little complaint I have about Deepholm is the lack of Earthen Ring Quartermaster.  For as much ER rep that I get there you would think there would also be a quartermaster there, but no, that’s not the case.  So next, before finishing Deepholm, Schubert will head over to Vashir to at least unlock/quest up to the spot where the quartermaster is.  I guess the nice thing is I’ll get to see the Kraken attacking the boat again, which is one of my favorite cut-scenes.

Nothing else exciting.  Feeling good just working on the mage for now.  He’ll be 85 before I know it I’m sure.

Therazane > Sons of Hodir

To continue my “push” to 85, (I am honestly going as fast as I can, I’m just not a power-leveler!) I worked on the Warlock some on Monday night.  I hadn’t logged into WoW in almost a week due to holiday stuff and again over New Years I’ll be out for a bit.  I know that the fastest way to level would be to hit up each new zone that I could start questing in as soon as it becomes available, but I am still in Deepholm due to my completionist style with questing. 

At first I thought, “Wow!  This is crazy, I’m level 84 and I’m only in my second zone?”  But then I started to think of Northrend.  I’m pretty sure that some of my toons made it to 80 by only questing in Borean Tundra, Grizzly Hills, and Sholazar Basin…with a few quests here and there in Dragonblight and Icecrown.  So there I was leveling 10 levels in just 3 of 7 zones.  So we’ll say 50% of the zones.  I think there are 5 new zones in Cataclysm, so that if I hit 85 in 3 zones, again that’s roughly 50% of the zones.  It’s a little weird to me that you don’t have to do everything, and yet at the same time, I think it’s a good thing because if there’s something you don’t like, you can just bypass for a zone you do like. 

I did like that the quests in Deepholm that lead you to Therazane Rep (which have the shoulder enchants) didn’t take nearly as long to do to get friendly or even honored with them.  Sons of Hodir, the equivalent in Northrend, had that horrible traveling across all of Storm Peaks as well as a long questline before that.  This time the Therazane just fit right into the zone and in a matter of a handful of quests I was honored with them.  I should go see their quartermaster.

I also tried a few dungeons last night, Blackrock Caverns and Stonecore.  Both were quite fun and neither one dropped anything for a caster.  Oh well.  I did manage to get some quest reward upgrades and now the T10 is being steadily replaced.  I was surprised that people seemed excited when they asked if I had Fear glyphed and I said yes.  Are there honestly warlocks out there that don’t use the glyph of fear?  It’s almost needed and really gives one of the best CC’s since it isn’t limited to a type of mob like say polymorph or sap.  I have noticed that now that I am fearing, it actually takes me a little more thinking with my pet since I can’t just leave it on defensive to attack at will since it almost always wants to break fear, I don’t know if that’s intentional.  I think that pets will not attack sheeped or sapped target or those in traps, so maybe they will do the same with fear, though I could see that in PvP you might want them to keep attacking a feared target.  Who knows?!  I think though I will have to macro the pet attack to my immolate spell, that way it will not attack something that I’m not attacking.  That should do the trick.

I’m now more that 20% completed with level 84, it’s going quickly still especially with our 10% XP bonus from the guild and the 5% rep bonus it’s going very nicely.  I’ll get some more time tonight and a little on Wednesday, maybe I’ll be 85 before the weekend, but with travel again this weekend, otherwise I should be 85 at least early the next week.  So I guess I’ll still have made it to 85 in one month.  That’s not SO bad is it??

Moar Moonfire and WPL

After a couple Kalu’ak dailies with Elgar (I know, he should have done them ages ago), I logged into the Rogue again to see more of the refurbished zones.  I was back in WPL after some quick PvP, hitting level 40, and picking up fast riding. 

Okay, more spoilers…so I continue on my way, more phasing in Andorhal as I help Thassarian (close enough) deal with the remaining scourge and the Forsaken in the area.  Then a short video cut away?!?!  Awesome!  Oh no!  Val’kyr?!?  In WPL?!?!  I slay some and am on my way!  It was pretty awesome!  But I was more excited to get back to my little friend, the troll druid Zen’Kiki.  So Zen and I are supposed to go shoot down some diseased hawks.  He pulls them out of the sky, and then I chop them up.  In between pulls, he’s up to more of his usual antics of moonfire spamming himself or turning himself into aquatic form.  We continue on to save some bears and disrupt some cultists.  He’s a little more helpful, but still cracking me up.  He told me he was gonna learn how to heal if we did a good job. 

After finishing up that round of quests, I headed up to the lumber mill.  I few more Argent quests up there involving taking out some gnolls and rabid fox!  It’s the first time I saw the fox in the game and they are pretty cute, but they had a 20% dodge buff which made them annoying to kill…for a melee anyways.  There was a quest that I picked up and didn’t really read that showed on my quest log as 0/25 spiders…  so I go kill one, and it doesn’t show up as 1/25.  I look closer, oh, 0/25 spiders frightened.  So I hop on a horse which proceeds to scare all the little spiders away, easy enough.  The next quest is to scare 10 spiders back to the mill so that they can be killed by the guards.  Okay, this is the ONLY quest I didn’t like in WPL.  It was clunky, because you basically had to do one spider at a time.  I tried doing a couple, but they didn’t scatter in the same direction, so it made it a little more challenging.  It was okay, but really was the slowest part of the whole zone.  I’ve never been a fan of vehicle quests anyways. 

Finished up the quests there and then off to Hearthglen.  The area is dramatically changed and instead of being full of elites, it’s now taken over by the Argent Crusade and our good old friend Highlord Tirion is up there.  So I run around doing some quests for them, taking out some gnolls and such, and before I know it, I’m Friendly with the Argent Crusade!  That seems really weird to me.  But I’m not going to complain about it.  I continued to do some quests for them and there’s one Cauldron quest left at Gahrrons Withering or however you spell it, and there I picked up an old painting and a book as memorabilia for Gahrron himself who is now part of the Argent Crusade.  That was kinda cool.  Then I basically had the quests to carry me into EPL and was already halfway through level 42. 

The whole questing experience is far more awesome now.  I don’t feel like oh, well I’m out of quests here, I guess I’ll fly down to another zone and finish up there.  They have done a nice job of making smooth flow between the quests and zones.  Again I applaud Blizz.  With WPL done and loving that whole zone, I will DEFINITELY repeat that, I will head over to EPL and see what things they have to offer me.  I’m curious to see if the Argent Dawn is out there or not.  It appears they are still a faction, but since WPL was all Argent Crusade rep, I’m not sure what to expect in EPL.  We’ll find out tonight with more adventures in Rogue and hopefully some special troll druids to help me out there too.  I would love to see Zen’Kiki appear somewhere else later in the game.