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Making the World of Warcraft more trivial, one post at a time…

Posts from the Cataclysm Category

Molton DoneI really, really wanted to like the Molten Front stuff, I really did.

Parts of it were great. I liked the silly Mylune quests in Hyjal, and the random NPCs in Setheria's Roost. I quite enjojed peak-hopping via spider's webs. But the whole Druids of the Talon area is just damn painful (I've only once got through the intro escort without dying on the way), and the much-vaunted random quest mechanism just didn't have enough variety in it. I made a big mistake by opening that up before the Shadow Wardens stuff, which was much more fun. 

In the end, there was far too many "kill x of y" and not enough interested and innovative mechanics. The "rune dash" area and "bird collection" quests were the only ones that struck me as noticably new in feel and tone.

I admired the concept, and struggled through the execution.

Finally, I opened up the last vendors and grabbed the ring I needed to push me to iLevel 359 in my healing kit. The screenshot above seems to have captured the Ancient in mid-Phase…

You?

To my mind, there are only a handful of undisputed successes in Cataclysm. One of them is the new levelling experience. I've always been a quester/leveller by nature, enjoying that more than the endgame. Cataclysm has only exaggerated  that. In fact, since Leafy hit 85, I've found it pretty hard to deveote much time to her and the various chores (and I mean chores) of the endgame. 

The main beneficiary of this has been Halesworthy, my worgen druid. He's feral-specced, so feels completely different to Leafy to play. I charged through the worgen starting area, which is just wonderful, and found myself sucked ever onwards by the narratives of each zone. The "go to a zone, do stuff, move on" feel of vanilla has been replaced by driving (and often phased) plotlines in each major zone. It's fun, dammit, and adds another element of addiction to an already pretty compelling game. 

I've started a little video series capturing some of the fun moments of the levelling experience. This probably covers Halesworthy up to his late 20s:

 

Halesworthy has mainly been following Leafy's footsteps through Kalimdor, as I wanted to see how much that experience changed. I can't wait to get started on another character and take them through the Eastern Kingdoms. 

And as for Ularia, my space goat pally, who was labouring through Ashenvale waaaay back in May 2008, over three years ago?

Well, one ding…

Oneding…leads to another…

ToanotherYes, I finally have two toons in the same expansion for the first time since… well… um… ever, actually.

So, yes, Cataclysm levelling rocks. Pity not a huge amount else does.

Sometimes the only way to get riding again is climb on the bike and go. And sometimes blogging is just the same. I’ve had lots of long posts in my mind for, well, months now. But I never seem to find the time to sit down and write them. So, just to break my duck, to ease my bloggers’ block and set the waters of ramble flowing again, here’s what I did last night…

Last night I had one of the best night’s raiding I’ve ever had. Why? I didn’t get any loot. We didn’t get any new bosses down. We weren’t in a new raid. No, we were facing this:

And it’s a great fight, isn’t it? Three distinct phases, with very different approaches needed to each. A great “climax” set, with a moving floor, lava, pillars and a general feeling of Epicness. The fight itself felt worth the battle to get there, and I can’t remember the last time a raid really felt that way to me. Arthas had too much of a dependance on “dodge the poop”. The Nether-based end to Kara was one that felt worth it, I think, even if the randomness of the Infernal drops made it all rather infuriating. So, it’s a good fight. And one where we all felt pushed to our limits. Each scrap of progress made was down to a group within the raid figuring somthing out. The tanks got the positioning down pat. Then the mages got the hang of crown-controlling the adds. And then, finally, it became the healers’ challenge.

And we struggled. My task for most of our attempts was to keep our Bear tank up – he was keeping Nefarion busy. And at least two wipes were down to that tank dropping. The fight really forced me to look at my rotations, my use of cooldowns around critical damage events and take a strategic view to my healing that I’ve just never had to do before. And I felt that I came out of it a better healer than I went in. That feels like progress

I’m still being out-healed by our guild shammy, who’s only been 85 on that toon for about five minutes, which is just soooo typical of him. 🙂 But no-one’s beating me for peak heals, which is encouraging. I’m not well-geared right now – iLevel 349 in my healing set – and that’s because I’ve not had a single damn drop from that place in a couple of months of raiding, which is utterly frustrating (and which might be contributing to my general malaise with WoW right now – but that’s a topic for a different post). But it feels like I’m doing good with what I’ve got.

I have a lot of problems with the Cataclysm endgame. A lot. And I’ll try to find the time to write about them later in the week. But this feels like something that Blizz has got just about right. The first teir of raiding is full of varied bosses and truly epic end fights. They feel like the reward skill and learning, and that time committed largely rewards you with progress.

We got Nef down to 29% on our second last attempt. That feels pretty good for an über casual guild’s first night on him. I’m looking forward to facing him again. 

So, raided for the first time in a while last night. We dropped Magmaw for the second time – which prompted me to remember that I never got around to posting about the first time. Here's the moment we dropped him:

Magmaw's deathI was actually in tree form for a boss kill! Sad that it's unusual these days…

And here's our team of mighty worm abusers:

Magmawkillers
So, that's something to celebrate. We managed some decent learning on the Omnitron Defence System last night, too, which was nice. Maybe the others will get them down on Monday, but I won't be there for what could well be our last pre-nerf raid. You see, much in common with the last few months, I've been bouncing from event to conference to country. And next, I'm off to Qatar.

The net result is that I'm in über-casual mode right now, spending more time levelling my pet puppy Halesworthy, than doing development on Leaf. And I'm not reading many WoW blogs or keeping up with WoW podcasts, either.

But I'm hoping all that will change when I get back from Doha. My life resturns to something resembling sense from then onwards (for a while), and myabe Patch 4.2 will relight my fire. 

Oh, Lord. I just made a Take That allusion. Time to end this post.

Wow. A whole month without posting. March missed completely. That's only happened once before on this blog – I missed the whole of November 2007, too. But March 2011 was a dead zone on this blog.

And I'd like to thank you all for your concern and enquiries after my health or status with regard to the game. I'd like to, but I can't, because nobody cared. sob

However, I'm aware other people have bowed out of WoW while I've been away and – frankly – I came damn close to quitting myself. I hope to find the time tomorrow to blog about that, what caused my flirtation with /quit and what has (for now) brought me back from the brink. But for now, here's a few screenies, just to prove that I have been doing something.

The Useful

HammeredHello, shiny belt.

The Unexpected.

Chef
Kinda freaky. A bit psychedelic, in fact. But just an unexpected achievement from buying the latest guild perk recipe

GourmetHave chef's hat. Will achieve. (Been doing my dailies, like a good little tree)

The Slightly Shameful

Hardstonecore
Uh, yeah. That's the normal Stonecore achievement. At, um, 85. With heroic level gear. cough

IntoheroicsThe time has finally come. My average iLevel has crept over the magic 328, so a-Heroicing I shall go.

And, let's be honest, I was a little nervous. From every blog post I read, from all the chatter on Twitter, Heroics in Cataclysm have more in common with the nightmare days of the Burning Crusade, than the facerolls of Wrath.

Sunday morning. A druid doing dailies. A guild heroic run looking for just one DPS to make it an all guild group. 

Reader, I joined them.

It did not go well.

The random number generator through us into Grim Batol, a dungeon I've yet to run on normal, let alone Heroic. The trash – wasn't too bad. We had a single death in the entire run to the first boss, despite the ineptitude of a confused druid meaning that the bombing run was less effective than it should have been. But the boss. Oh, the boss. After half a dozen wipes with little sign of progress, we called it. And I'm going to call it as my fault. I'm not used to DPSing in instances, I'm not used to Heroics, and I'm new to the dungeon. It wasn't to be.

We hit the RNG again, and dungeon findered our way into Throne of the Tides. This one I have done. And the trash went swimmingly again. But the first boss saw our little part-time boomkin spread over the floor by a whirlwind. And that was that. At this point, I bailed in favour of a better-geared and more experienced guildmate, and they went on to clear the instance. 

At this point, I wasn't feeling great about my readiness for Heroics. And that was just super timing – because tonight was guild Heroic night. In the build up to starting raiding next month, we're having a night a week of Heroics, just to help the old gearing-up. The group formed, with me in my familiar healing role, some well geared-guildies and one slightly under-geared warlock. And off we went to Vortex Pinnacle.

The trash went down pretty easily. That seemed familiar.

We got to the first boss. That seemed to be familiar.

We one-shotted him. That most certainly wasn't. (And we were ahead of the other Heroic group at this point, which was satisfying).

The second boss? Down on the third attempt.

Another couple of wipes on trash between there and the end, and the  we engaged the windmill for the final boss. Half a dozen wipes, mainly due to casters getting caught outside the magic, sparkly triangle. A final attempt, when I finally, completely ran out of mana, with my potion and Innervate blow, with the boss at 5%. The result?

1stHeroicLet's see that again, in slow motion:

Achieve
My Heroic cherry is well and truly popped.

My conclusions? Yes, Cataclysm Heroics are hard. But they repay skill, organisation and persistence. I felt way more comfortable as a healer than a DPS – but then I've been healing instances for five years, and barely ever DPSed seriously. We were on Vent, we had a skilled tank, and a DPS who could guide us through the fights. It was good natured, and we persisted and saw the results. Yes, gearing does play a huge part. Our under-geared Warlock was getting brutalised compared to our well-geared Mage. That's life. Some more Heroic and Justice gear will give us a little more room for error. 

I think I enjoyed tonight's Vortex Pinnacle run more than any single Wrath Heroic I ever did. And that, I think, is rather the point. 

Don't you hate it when you have everything lined up for a lovely, lovely ding screenshot – and somebody flies into shot at the crucial moment?

Leafy81Gee, thanks.

I made sure that didn't happen for the 82 shot:

Leafy82
Which mean that, yes, I'm at 82 and levelling nicely. And yes, I'm taking my time. If we're two years from the next expansion, I don't see any point in blowing through all the levelling content in the first week. That just seems like an utter waste to me. 

Even so, I'm hitting the levels so much faster than I did in Wrath. Ding 1 took 24 hours. Ding 2 a further week. But as we're only getting 5 levels this time, I'm at the equivalent of ding 74, which took over six weeks.

I'm really hoping that Blizz has the next expansion in a state to release in significantly under a year, or that the content patches bring a whole load of extras, or this will be a really quickly consumed expansion…