Weekend snapshots

Lotsa healing!

I’ve been leveling my priest and jumping at every opportunity to run a dungeon with her.  I always say yes to guild runs and I’m always in the LFG while questing, just in case something pops up.  As good pugs are finishing up, I ask folks to send me a tell if they ever need a healer.  I’ve been taken up on this quite often and have several tanks on my friend list now, too.  🙂  It’s additional incentive to ride this wave, leveling the same speed as the folks on my friend list.

I think my priest might be my new main.  Lots of other folks in the guild seem to be focusing on their healers, too, so it will be interesting to see what happens with raiding as we all hit 80.  Some of us may actually have to respec to DPS builds!

Farewell to the Fjord

My priest finished up the Howling Fjord quests.  What an amazing zone!  I was a little sad to leave it behind… I headed over to Dragonblight and did quite a few quests there, but got bogged down with some of the Venomspite ones.  They were just … icky.  I know we run through this game slaughtering animals and humanoids and looting their remains, stealing things, and blowing things up.  Torture is different though.  Killing prisoners that can’t defend themselves?  Ick.  There will be some that call it hypocrisy that people have issues with those specific quests and not the rest, but for me they evoked an icky feeling and that is that.  So, I decided to head to the Borean Tundra for a while instead.  I had run out of rested xp, so killing green mobs would speed up the leveling significantly, too.

Bore-an Tundra

Haha, just kidding.  Some of the quest have been really cool, actually.  I’m not a huge fan of the zone itself (perhaps because I always feel like I’m running around in circles in Warsong Hold), or at least I don’t love it the same way I did the Fjord.  I certainly haven’t found myself stopping to take screenshots of the horizon.  It’s not a terrible zone though.  I loved the KTR bit comparing the two zones as pasta dishes, but in the end, I agree with Zenke — they’re just different.  I would recommend the Fjord over the Tundra if someone asked where they should start, but ultimately, I’d suggest that people do both.  You’ll want the quest achievements anyway, right?

Cuteness

The baby bear pet that Blizz sent for the 4th anniversary of WoW is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in the game.  It seems they’re bind on account, but I went through and picked one up on every alt on my primary server anyway.  I even made a death knight and logged into it.  Fuzzy baby bear doesn’t go along with the badass image of a DK, but … cute!

I am slowly working on collecting pets on each toon for the achievements.  It bums me out a little that I’m compelled to do this because for the longest time, each of my toons had a particular pet that I’d chosen for them to go along with their character. I don’t like it that they all have all the pets now (aside from a few that are different — the Children’s Week reward pets, for example). I do limit which pet I pull out when I’m playing them, so there is some illusion of keeping each character unique,  but it’s not quite the same.

Progress

My priest is the furthest along, about 90% of the way to level 75.  My hunter is the only other toon I’ve taken to Northrend and she’s still hanging back at 71.5.  I pulled her out once this weekend to run an instance with the guild (group already had a healer), but that was it.  Initially, I thought I might level her a bit ahead of my priest so that she could scout out the quests.  (Being able to track mobs really does make it easier to get things done.)  I had also planned to just level on rested xp.  I gave up this idea on Saturday though.  I wanted to play my priest, so efficiency be damned, I’ve decided I’m just going to keep playing her.  I’m having a lot fun with her, and in the next couple weeks I’d much rather have one 80 than two 75’s.

We now have two 80’s in the guild, one is an officer and the other is an initiate that I don’t really know very well.  After that, we have a handful of 77’s, including a death knight!  That guy is also an initiate and he plays a lot.  Holy moly.  Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ll hit 80 by the end of the holiday weekend, but since we’re not traveling, it is a possibility.  I will potentially have a lot of play time, unless we decide to have a movie/tv marathon or something.

I was just looking at my blog entries from this time last year, recapping my progress over the long weekend.  I’d just gotten my new computer and was enjoying the boost in fps. My hunter had made it to 52, my mage hit 40 and got a mount, and my priest wasn’t too far behind.  Heh… makes me wonder where I’ll be in another year.  How many 80’s will I have?  If I’m still playing, that is.  (I suspect I will be, though one can never tell.)  Will the guild be raiding?  Might we have enough for 25-mans this time around?

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If you think it’s too easy…

…pug.

Seriously. I hear a lot of people talking about how even the instances are too easy, but I can tell you that even if you’re decently geared, they can be challenging with a pick-up group.  Pugs offer some unexpected variables.

Last night, my priest ran instances with three pugs.  I went to Azjol’Nerub for the first time (Aahhh! Spiders!!).  The tank was level 71 and wearing what he described as “crap gear,” but we did pretty well.  It was definitely challenging enough to be fun, I thought.  Afterward, I did a second Nerub run with the same tank, but all different DPS.  The DPS was lower in this second group, so it got dicey at times and there were several wipes.  Nobody complained though.

As I was making my repairs after the second run, a DPS warrior from the first Nerub run whispered and asked me to heal his group for the Nexus.  It was already 10:30p, but I told him I could if they were ready to go.  I asked if they had a tank.  A few moments later: “Oh, I’m sorry.  They thought I was the tank!”  Heh… so he stepped out of the group, but they still invited me to heal.  We got a tank, did a bit more shuffling (there was a DK that wasn’t high enough level to be summoned, someone else had to drop to go eat dinner, etc), and finally all made it to the instance.

After healing a 71 warrior tank in Azjol’Nerub (recommended level 72-74), I was looking forward to a relaxing mission, healing a 73 warrior tank in the Nexus (recommended level 71-73).  To my surprise, the tank was getting hit really hard at the beginnings of each fight.  The damage let up after one or two of the mobs died, but when he was getting hit by four or five things during that first minute of each fight, his health repeatedly dropped below 50%.  If I didn’t cast successive Greater Heals on him, he’d be dead.

As I was pondering this weirdness, he said, “how the healing going?”

“Fine, I guess.  Having to toss some unexpectedly big heals on you, but no trouble with mana yet.”

“Good to know,” he said.  “I’ll equip my shield when we get to the bosses then.”

I had to laugh.  I’ve often heard of folks running with priests that played like mages, smiting instead of healing.  It seemed I just encountered my first warrior that was trying to tank like a death knight.  In all of my Outland pugs, I never once ran with a warrior tank that didn’t use a shield.

We worked our way up through the hall where the groups are frozen until you break them and wake them, and an extra group was accidentally pulled.  Oi.  I mostly kept folks alive, but the mage died and the hunter survived only by feigning death.  The problem was that with having to cast successive large heals on the tank, I couldn’t heal anyone else.  Big heals have long cast times and I had to cast them one after another to make sure enough healing got to him in time.  I mentioned this and the ret paladin suggested, “just cast lots of short heals.”  Er… heheh… I explained that 1) I’d run out of mana, 2) the tank would still die.  He was taking too much damage too quickly, even for that.  “Ok,” said the tank.  “Dual-wielding was a luxury anyway.  I’ll use my shield.”

I told my guild about it and a couple people laughed, “Wow, bad tank is bad.”  Heh.  I don’t think he was necessarily a bad tank for that, I think he was just having some fun.  I often run guild stuff with a druid tank that likes to tank with her cat gear when she’s running a lower level instance.  I think this is about the same idea, except the tank didn’t outlevel the instance.  He was pretty cool about switching to his shield, too.  He realized the issue.  A bad tank wouldn’t.

My only real complaint about the tank was that he was impatient and maybe a bit sloppy.  He wasn’t good about letting folks rebuff after wipes or before boss fights.  He also rushed ahead of the group, skipping mobs, thinking the rest of the DPS could just “take care of them.”  Again, this was a bit of a strain on me as the healer.  I didn’t complain about it, but sometimes the rest of the us fell behind because we were trying to get healed up, loot stuff, etc.  Then, the tank would be out of range of my healing and there would be three mobs between us and him once again. *sigh* We wiped more than once due to this.  “How’d you get so far behind?” he asked.  “How’d you get so far ahead?” I countered.  He responded by putting a skull raid mark above his head.  /eyeroll

He liked to skip groups of mobs, too.  When we were in the Arcane Sanctuary-looking bit, he’d jump down to lower platforms to skip several groups, and inevitably, some of the skipped stuff would get pulled when someone stepped too far back.  Sometimes this was me, sometimes it was someone else.  Sheesh.  I think if I got into tanking, I’d just demand that we do full clears (within reason).  Sometimes skipping stuff saves you time, but it seems like often enough, the mobs get pulled anyway.  A corpse run takes longer than killing an extra group.

ANYway, we killed the final boss just before midnight.  The paladin had forgotten to complete one of the quests, so he tried to run back as the rest of us headed out.  Guess what he found… skipped mobs!  It went like this:

Tank: Hey, could I get a port to Shatt?

Paladin: Uh-oh…

Paladin has died.

Mage has died.

Priest has died.

Tank: Looks like that’s a no.

Tank has died.

The hunter had hearthed out, so was the only one that made it out safely.

============

So, yes, pugs.  Not that these instances are necessarily where you want the challenge of your game to be, but the challenge can be there.  If you only run dungeons with your very competent and well-geared guildmates, then maybe yes, they are going to be easy and you will coast through with nary a wipe.  Maybe this is the point now?  If you’re always with a competent group, your challenges won’t come until end game instances and raiding.  They’ve been trying to make raiding more accessible, so perhaps this is part of that plan.  And to those complaining that someone has already beaten the game by finishing all the raid content, my question is: has your guild finished all the raid content?  If not, then don’t complain (yet).

I find it interesting that people are complaining about (or maybe lamenting is a better word) how easy leveling is, too.  It’s as though they secretly liked that grind they said they hated.  Of course there are times I’m not in the mood for it, but as I’ve said before, I find that positive work/reward ratio very satisfying.  It’s a big part of why I enjoy the game.  I don’t think Northrend is particularly easier than the Outland zones either (so far, anyway).  Hellfire was always a little tough initially, but once you got through the first round of gear replacement, it was easy there, too.  I think it’s that leap in gear quality they removed that’s making the difference there.  We’re were promised a smoother transition to Northrend than folks had from Azeroth to Outland and we got it.  I think that’s why we’re coasting.

Northrend is…

Gorgeous.

The new zones are stunning.  There were zones in Outland that I really liked, but only Zangarmarsh made me say, “Ooooooh” when I first walked in there.  So far, each of the new zones I’ve seen in Northrend have left me with my jaw hanging open.  I’m exploring entire areas not just for the achievement, but because I want to see the view from every cliff top.  My screenshot folder overfloweth.  I’ve not died exploring yet, but I’ve had a few close calls with getting too close to Alliance camps and stepping off cliffs when I accidentally hit my autorun keybinding instead of the screenshot one.  (This latter type of close call is especially exciting when you’ve got the camera zoomed in all the way so that the view is first person.)

Not as crowded as I thought.

It was a great move on Blizzard’s part to offer several different starting zones for folks coming into the expansion.  Dividing folks between Borean Tundra and the Howling Fjord, not to mention the death knight starting area, has meant that although there is some competition for mobs, it’s not ridiculous.  There were a few moments on Thursday evening where I had to wait for a respawn, but again, nothing like the frustration of trying to do collection quests in the beta.  As the weekend continued and folks got more spread out during their questing, it got even easier.  I still see people as I’m riding around, but it’s a far cry from the mad rush the day that everyone stepped through the portal into Hellfire Peninsula (from what I’ve heard — I wasn’t there for that).

Stable.

I was concerned for the folks in my guild that decided to take several days off work to play the expansion right away.  I thought they would have nothing but downtime and severe lag to look forward to those first few days.  Our server has been very stable, however.  I haven’t been disconnected a single time, in fact.  There was a little bit of loot lag and latency yesterday, but it didn’t last long.  I didn’t even have trouble with my addons!

Filled with jealous, petty people.

I think it’s really cool to see the server firsts pop up.  Our realm’s first 80 was Horde (woo!), which made me proud, but there wasn’t much rejoicing in General chat.  Instead, it was all speculation about how that person was wasting their life for “just a game.”  Uh, that’s what we’re all doing to some extent, dude.  Get some perspective.  For these kids, anyone who plays less than they do is a noob and anyone who plays more is a basement dwelling virgin.  General chat was actually sort of enjoyable until the realm firsts started hitting — lots of folks helping each other, discovering the content together, etc.  But after, it was all this jealous crap.  Lame.  In any case, our realm had their first level 80 on Saturday afternoon and their first level 80 death knight on Sunday.  True to my altoholic form, I have two 71’s.  (I’ve leveled my hunter and my priest, while my mage is gaining rested XP).  We have one 75 in the guild at the moment, a handful of 74’s, and I’m guessing a bunch of folks will hit 73 this week.

Filled with helpful people.

I did run into a lot of helpful people, too, as I was questing.  I had no problem finding folks to complete group quests, and in some cases found groups by just wandering in the area where the quest was.  This is certainly because there are so many people doing these quests at the same time.  Coming to Outland so late, I guess I’d become accustomed to having to ask for help or watch something ninja’d out from under me.  In my experience, people in Northrend have been generous, in comparison.  I’ve always loved WoW, but right now, It feels more like what I’d hope an MMO would be.  If I’m waiting for a respawn next to someone else, there’s always an invite (well, unless they’re alliance).  Nice.

Very well-designed.

I love the way the quests are presented.  You pick up a few quests, finish them, and when you turn them in, a couple more quests pop up.  It’s not like some of the Outland zones where you arrive at the town and get 15 quests at once that are scattered all over, so you have to dig through them and figure out how best to nest them.  The game feels slightly more linear in Northrend.  My quest log is more manageable and it makes it a bit easier to pay attention to the story, in a way.

Fun!!

I’m having a blast.  The new types of quests are really cool and even the standard fare (kill X mobs, collect X thingies) often has a twist.  I’ve had a chance to run both Utgarde Keep and the Nexus a couple times with my priest and have met some really nice folks.  Both dungeons are pretty cool, too, particularly the Nexus, part of which reminded me of the Arcane Sanctuary from Diablo II (without the portals — can you imagine if it had them?).  I found myself wondering if they might toss in a boss called The Summoner who would two shot me if I got too close to his platform.  Hee hee… It’s also nice to see so many folks from our guild who had taken time off come back for the expansion.  We’ve also been recruiting lately, so we have a crop of new folks to add to this, and I’d guess we have 15-20 folks on each evening.  There’s lots of grouping, instancing, and guild chat has been very lively… Woo!

On the whole, I’m really impressed with the expansion so far.  I’m not rushing through, but I’m still playing quite a lot.  I won’t be the first to 80, but I won’t be the last, either.  🙂

The Calm

Well, the blog has been calm and quiet, anyway.  Real life has been busy and I’ve been playing quite a bit, as well.  It’s hard to believe that we’re just days from Wrath.  I’m looking forward to it, but in a way, it feels a little bit soon to me.  I don’t suppose I could ask Blizz to wait until I feel I’m done with the content, considering the way I dawdled my way to 70. 😉  I know my guild is ready to move on.  I think I’m one of the few that still actually enjoys Karazhan.

The Highlights of In-Game Stuff

– We put together an impromptu ZA run one evening (how awesome is that, that we could casually throw together a 10-man?), and I took my priest.  It was the same healing pair as that last ZA run, and this time, we were able to heal through everything!  Woo!  Bit of redemption there.  My priest has also healed a couple of heroics now.  Whee!

– My hunter spent four days parked in Ironforge in the “secret” fishing spot, hoping to catch Old Ironjaw.  It is a rather sneaky spot (described in the wowhead comments), though I did overlap with a few other Horde fisherman while I was there.  I was only bothered by a couple hunters, but it wasn’t a big deal.  If they seemed to be getting too interested in me, I logged out and came back later.  After about 1200 casts, I finally gave up.  Oh well… at least I maxed my fishing skill.

– My hunter has been leveling her very own gorilladin.  It’s pretty fun.  I still miss my original cat, but taming the raptor has gotten me used to the idea of having multiple pets.  I’m considering taming a fourth pet for PvP, though I don’t do battlegrounds much, so I may save the slot for an exotic when I’m higher level.  Although I’m not too attached to the new pets, I know it would be a little tough to abandon them.

– Part of the reason I pulled my hunter out of Ironforge was that I’d offered her up for a Kara run Sunday night.  This was planned to the be final hurrah there, where we’d go in, mash up the place, doing our very damnedest to speed through and top the damage meters.  The raid leader said that if we had an AoE on cooldown, we should use it, and he even wanted to see the healers trying to top each other.  If we weren’t pulling aggro, we weren’t doing it right.  It was really fun for the tanks and DPS, but I can’t imagine what it was like to heal that run… heheh, nobody complained, but sheesh.  If you stopped to drink, loot, or had to take a bio, you were pretty much left behind.  Nobody wanted to leave their seat, lest they drop on the Damage Done chart.  We ended up clearing the entire place in just 81 minutes.  Fun!!  And my hunter picked up her Tier 4 helm — what a nice surprise!

– My little warrior is making her way toward level 20.  She tanked RFC with a little priest she knows, plus two little up-and-coming DPSers.  It was super-fun.  Tanking is a very different mindset than DPS or healing, and a nice change of pace.  I doubt she’ll ever be my main focus, but she’s a fun vacation alt for when I need a break from the chatter of the guild or the pressure of getting to 80.

Real Life Stuff

– I had a job interview.  Went ok, though I’m no longer 100% certain (or even 75% certain) that this is the job I want.  I may even turn them down if they offer it.

– I found another job listed that sounds even better.  It would put me into the realm of writing/editing, working at home as a freelancer, and what they’re calling for fits my skills and professional background perfectly.  Most of my free time at work has been put toward constructing this cover letter.  As you can imagine, I’m editing the living hell out of it before I send it.

– Our internet connection at home is borked.  We have wildly fluctuating upload and download speeds.  I can’t seem to bypass the router to see if that’s the problem (it never finds the connection), changing the ethernet cables makes no difference, and I can’t seem to predict based on what I’ve got going on on the internet whether it is about to speed up or slow down.  The cable guy is supposedly on his way, time frame closing in about half an hour.  *Peers out the window*  Stupid comcast.  Nice to have a day off, in any case, but whyyyy did it have to be on maintenance day? 🙂