LFR Note

… Azshara down on the first try. It’s official.

Soak bombs, kill all adds asap, squeeze every next drop from your cooldowns and overall DPS. You’ll be fine.

Apparently the encounter is tuned well after all?

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Lore Speculation for 9.0.: Updated & Enhanced

I think I have enough ideas to draw a layout for the end of Battle for Azeroth and the future expansion. The speculation is based solely on logic and expectations.

So, let’s start.

Battle for Azeroth – 8.3.

8.3. will deal with N’Zoth. He’s the Big Bad of the addon, and we will adventure in shards of the Black Empire (Nyalotha) for the final patch.

The final raid will be about us trying to stop N’Zoth’s corruption of Azeroth the Titan. With Tidestone in our possession and best magi in the world to operate it, it’s possible for us to wander any depths. It’s gonna wrap up the wound / Magni / MOTHER / necklace arc and justify the meaning of Battle for Azeroth as in titan Azeroth.

Most likely we don’t kill the Old God ourselves, although we may fight him in person. But defended hatched Azeroth will finish him. This will show us how powerful she is, and will give us an ending of cosmic value and epicness.

We will get a war campaign final scenario where Sylvanas is dethroned. Nathanos will be killed, but Sylvanas will not. After even the Forsaken “betray” her, she will flee – either at once, or breaking from imprisonment. She’s gonna be alone. Dark rangers and other fierce supporters will be killed, and the bulk of the undead will turn “good”. She’s gonna serve as the linking point to the next “death” expansion.

Kalia Menethil, who conveniently got an updated and unique Light-Infused Undead model, will be the new (and rightful) Queen of the Lordaeron Undead.

Baine will be the new warchief of the Horde, as an honorable guy who suffered most from Sylvanas’ reign. Thrall and Saurfang will lead the orcs together.

Alliance and Horde will make a peace treaty, and there will be a celebration rather than “we will crush you” reluctant Varian’s option at Mists’ finale.

Final Allied Races for the expansion will be Mechagnomes as a counterpart for Gnomes and either Vulpera or Kelpfin as a counterpart for Goblins. While I can easily picture both in Orgrimmar, I think that Kelpfin are more viable. They will get updated models along with Goblins, they have a zillion of customization options along with their wild skin colors. Vulpera, although cute and fluffy, are still more of locals than heroes, used to individual scavenging rather than be in the ranks, and they’re pretty happy where they are. Kelpfin are trying to find their place in the world. The requirements are obviously Exalted with Rustbolt/Unshackled, and probably completing the storyline for both zones, killing King Mechagon and Azshara respectively on any difficulty.

Expansion 9.0.

The pre-patch plot will see Sylvanas meet Bolvar, and the two will be plotting an undead invasion on Azeroth. WotLK 2.0. is at hand. Pre-patch will bring the Necropoli looming all over Azeroth and spewing out abominations, ghouls, banshees, frostwyrms and alike.

We will see Wrathion and other dragon flights playing a significant role. Wyrmrest is in the center of events again, and the dragons desperately try to survive the undead threat, whilst restoring their grandeur after the Aspects lost their powers.

Shadow realms is not an option, because we would never want to wander in the bleak and dark lands throughout 2-3 years. For what it’s worth, a tour to death realm is possible during a single raid encounter, a dungeon or a scenario.

My wildest, but best idea is: we will see a major rework of all continents – Cataclysm-style. Levels pruned to 60, we will get a brand new – modern – set of stories to playthrough during leveling. Gone will be the outdated Cataclysm plots, but stories like Duskwood, or eternal Booty Bay/Bloodsail fight may remain.

At least Night Elves and Undead will get their new starting questlines. Both will try to establish their new homes and fix the war damage – Undead led by Kalia restoring their home in Lordaeron, and Elves coping with Ashenvale and Darkshore problems.

Zones will be updated, as was Arathi, probably fixing Cataclysm damage to an extent.

All other expansions will be available as a leveling option – in a sense that you will always know that it was past, and you access there through a bronze dragon for leveling.

And of course, our final – and current – leveling destination will be reworked Northrend. There won’t be Dalaran, but rather a new city. I imagine one founded at the coasts of Dragonblight (as dragons will be our most vital concern), or on the ground under Dalaran. I think it’s gonna be a dragon-ruled city. All the terrain will be reworked – like with WoD’s Draenor, we may recognize some places, but the landscape will be a lot different. We should expect easy travel between zones on foot, and less impassable mountains. Like with WoD’s Draenor and Outland, it will remind of the old Northrend only vaguely – basically a new continent.

Helping the Dragon Flights is gonna be one of our major goals – we may even guess that flights will be the new zone reputation factions. Blues will reign Borean Tundra, Greens are bound to Sholazar, Yellows may link Nozdormu and Ulduar, Reds in Howling Fjord. Blacks is the most vulnerable faction, and Wrathion may operate the new central hub city. Only with their restored might combined we could hope to defeat Bolvar and end the undead threat.

Grizzly Hills will be again devoted to Worgen curse, and it will bring the new Allied Race for the Alliance – a Worgen counterpart. Genn Greymane will play the major role there and guide us to help the new worgen “race” and make them join us. Zul’Drak will be interesting to explore along with Princess Talanji, helping ice trolls and making them join the cause against the undead, restoring Gundrak in all its former glory. Basically this could be a faction-heavy zone pair, a nod to BfA’s separate leveling. I could imagine Alliance working in Grizzly Hills to gain Exalted with Worgen, and Horde putting effort in Zul’Drak for Exalted with ice trolls.

Tinker class is possible in either role – be it tank, healer, dps – but whatever.

The new – and final – Allied Races will cover Undead and Worgen, as the only ones remaining without a pair. The new Undead will be Light-Infused, as is Kalia Menethil. For Worgen, we may adopt another strain of Worgen from Grizzly Hills.

Let’s save this post until Blizzcon and see what of it is true :)

Azshara’s Eternal Palace: A Peep into Circle of Stars

Circle-of-Stars-Win

Alors, the Circle of Stars was won yesterday. Both bosses appeared to be quite brutal, and required 3-4 attempts to finish them.

The whole raid appeared to be quite uneven in terms of bosses’ difficulty. First three bosses were tank-and-spank with braindead mechanics to accomplish. The second wing didn’t pose that of a challenge as well – if your tanks know the drift, but also punished you personally and severely if you ignored the tactics.

Not so much at the wing 3.

Za’qul requires all the raid’s efforts. The core difficulty is managing the insanity realms – that is, enough people should walk close to the summoner adds, use action buttons for transit, and nuke them. You should also leave the realm in time to get healed. Eventually I grasped the idea, but nevertheless spent 1/3 of the winning try kissing the ground – I just walked into the wrong puddle with little remaining health. There are lots of multicolored pools, so I have to learn those too. And a killer tentacle without an anticipated void zone doesn’t help either.

All in all it takes experience to learn the encounter, and that is quite beatable.

Not like that with Queen Azshara.

This one is brutal in every sense. A lot of player coordination is required which is certainly the major LFR problem. A lot is happening that you simply have no clue about, and you can’t figure it out on spot. Worst of all, the encounter is way overtuned.

It required us three stacks of determination to be successful – otherwise we lacked DPS, and worst of all, HPS. Yes, healers have some very hard time in one of the transition phases, and whatever they do, the whole raid is just gradually and inevitably dying. I’ll check this part with Jellica the Priest this week, but it seems that I’ll be out of mana by half of the encounter.

On DPS camp, I felt that all the adds were not dying fast enough before we acquired some stacks. You can’t be lazy here – all cooldowns should be used right away when available, and you should squeeze every last drop from your rotation.

People are also activating titan consoles which may kill you on spot or give a powerful buff. I was lucky to get an overpowered buff, and this was something. Frost mage’s spell Flurry is the most powerful in the whole arsenal, but its cast is so long that it should be used with procs and procs only which make it instant. When I got powered, ALL Flurry casts became instant. So I spammed this insta-spell for a good deal of 40 seconds before death got me. This random is something new, but I’m not sure I like it.

The whole encounter is more of Archimonde type – one of the hardest LFR encounters ever. It’s messy, long, complex and requires a good deal of gear/determination to feel confident, save executing multiple mechanics. It’s not supposed to be on easy farm too soon, and hopefully it could be nerfed. Literally every nerf is welcome, but merely reduced boss’ and adds’ health pools would be just fine.

Lorewise, I liked the finale a lot. As I predicted, the accumulation of Azeroth blood unleashes N’Zoth, and we were silly enough to bring it to his cage. Azshara’s motives to let us survive and make it this far are crystal clear.

Although I think it’s unlikely that she or her master were the reason behind the interfaction war:

  • We would have collected azerite anyways, as Magni claimed necklace to be the means to heal Azeroth.
  • War or not, eventually both factions came to the cage and fought together.
  • Azshara didn’t want us to come there weakened – she lured the mightest heroes of Azeroth to the Old God prison. A hero with Heart of Azeroth could have easily got killed in the war, so all efforts of accumulating azerite could go in vain.
  • Last, but not least: N’Zoth has always prefered to act in shadows, to corrupt. It’s of no use to him to make us weaker – he needs the strongest champions fighting for his cause, both heroes and NPC. So the idea of the strongest killing each other is not cool. Naga alone are not enough to conquer the surface, even if kngdoms exhausted each other in the bloodshed.

When you finish the final quest, faction leaders have a small talk. Lorthemar openly declares that time to finish the war has come, and blood elves will stand against Sylvanas. The priorities are set: Sylvanas first, N’Zoth second, because he could be defeated only with combined forces. And that makes me happy.

The next thing we’ll see in the lore is an open revolt against the current “warchief”. Stakes are set, and the Horde is finally ready. I can’t wait to see the sequel and turn all the might of my toons, blades and magic, Alliance and Horde alike, against the Banshee.

Tell her: we – are – coming!

What-now

Anticipation!

Azshara

In less than an hour I’ll queue into the last raid wing.

I’ve tried watching Hazelnutty’s traditionally excellent boss video guides and reading tactics. But there’s so much going on in both of them that I just closed the window. We’ll decide that right on spot, as real adventurers must do :)

I’m most intrigued to see how these complex encounters will be played in LFR. We’ll learn that very soon :) A Peep into… post is coming tomorrow.

See you on the other side – with N’Zoth unleashed upon Azeroth!

Just in Case

…I’ve reserved a couple of characters for Vanilla.

They are a replica of my very first toons during WotLK’s first login. Obviously I saved Micromantica the Gnome Frost Mage, a pre-decessor of my current main, first of her name.

The second one – which was actually my very first toon – is a Gnome Rogue named Joyhickey, named after a character from “My Name is Earl” series which I was watching back then :) I’m not sure what spec should I choose in Vanilla for her. I always liked Assassination, but swapped to Subtlety due to Haste issues from Legion and on.

If I’m gonna play Vanilla at all, you may find me at Mirage Raceway realm, non-RP and Normal. A gnome-related realm name is awesome :)

Trivia: Of Toons, Goals and Raiding

The past week’s been my vacation week, and apart from some travel and sightseeing in cities around my hometown I managed to get all my toons through the raid wings.

Cloth toons will be the best to report: they have obtained every piece from Eternal Palace!

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Not only the full set, but all weapons are mine now as well. By the way, it was news that priests of all clothies can wield maces, but I got that too! The only thing now I lack for them is a staff which drops from Azshara only, and after that they could go on raiding standby until next tier.

Not that lucky with other armor types, but they have crossed out several items as well, weapons too. It’s a relief that I can skip some bosses already.

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I feel like I’m done with Mechagon grinding for now. I’ve raked through the achievement requirements, and frankly I’m not in the mood to continue. Most of them require some insane amount of spare parts (and it’s gonna be just mid-achievements), or RNG at its best for drops. Operation: Mechagon re-runs for drops are also to be executed, and that’s not what I’m gonna do, no sir.

For what it’s worth, Mechagon has become a hard and grindy version of itself at this stage. And… with achievements off the table, I feel like my goals there are completed. I feel like it was a cool and engaging sandbox, but I’ve already played with all the toys there :) I’ve explored every bit of it, I’ve seen all the stories, met all NPCs, and I’ve defeated a big bad.

Pins is still gonna spend some time there. I may want to finish the remaining 5 rares, 5 daily quests, and of course kill Rustfeather until the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious gyrowheel mount drops from it. But no daily routines for now, not until I’ve had a good rest from the island and miss them. Leaving it for lull?

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In Nazjatar camp though I feel like the achievements are way more sensible, and meta-crab mount is already within my grasp. Every next day is a step forward with Micromantica, and I feel like making a significant progress towards completion. I’m fishing out the remaining puzzle world quests (2 to go!), collecting manapearls on my way to 1000, making a small run for hidden chests from time to time, leveling followers, visiting Mardivas lab weekly for a new amalgamation, and trying to cross out at least one more rare on a daily basis.

Other toons’ goals are making it to Exalted with Ankoan/Unshackled and leveling at least one follower to cap. Manapearls on the way boost their benthic gear – my goal is crossing the 400-405 ilvl threshold which I believe will be enough for the next tier. And raiding of course.

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I’ve made some toon roster adjustments too. First, I’ve dismissed both of my Mag’har. I grew to unlike how transmogs look on them – due to their skin color which blends with most sets. Kargash the Fire Mage was dismissed completely, and Gorgul was race-swapped to a basic orc race. With Thrall back in the fold, I’ve rekindled my admiration with one of the most basic and classic orcish looks :) And that certainly means color green.

Gorgul.jpg

I’m collecting him the Blackrock Foundry mythic set now – it’s pretty savage, very bright compared to bleaker Honorbound gear, and red has always been cool in combination with green skins. In the picture above, his transmog is almost complete – I lack only the burning set belt which I’m now farming.

There was a doubt if I need two warriors… I’ve seriously thought of deleting one, and this thought was dismissed. Fearella the Goblin is too cool with her transmog, and her maces  commuting the brawler type… Who else is gonna smash bosses’ ankles and knees?! And I like how she fights, how she moves, how she’s everything. An awesome character I’m not ready to say goodbye to.

Fearella.jpg

And no matter how I love the Fury spec, I don’t feel like it fits well with an orc. I’ve tried, and Gorgul is great with Arms and Protection. So yeah, these two can’t replace each other.

Raiding has left me with the thought that plate and leather armor toons are not in an equal position nowadays. With a click I’ve restored Anibell the Paladin, deleted at the beginning of BfA, and I’ve realised I missed retribution :)

Anibell.jpg

Half of day played and with benthic gear, the absolutely naked toon is now on the rails with the others, and already had her first Eternal Palace run!

Now I’m thinking of bringing my 120 monk back in 15 days, considering the catch-up went so well. Most probably I’ll also race swap from Gnome to initiate Pandaren and make her a mistweaver – I remember I liked monk healing during Antorus very much.

Then I’ll have it this way:

  • Micromantica, Jellica, Myrki – cloth.
  • Melaris, Pins, Chitsuro – leather.
  • Nikkeli, Jagda, Schlitzchen – chainmail.
  • Gorgul, Fearella, Anibell – plate.

Is twelve toons my perfect number?

So Much For Vanilla

 

Vanilla.png

Well, I’ve made it through the queues and entered the magic world of Vanilla on the final stress test day.

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There were lots of people – the starting field was littered with wolf corpses that are the goal of the first quest. Still, the respawn was great, and I’ve managed to make it through several initiate quests.

Once the first excitement and adjustment was gone (Square asses! Gnomes were hunchbacks! Loot only by right click! You must drink after every mob! and so on), I’ve put myself on the questing rails – i.e., gameplay – and I didn’t like it. A lot.

My overall concern is: Vanilla is a waste of time.

I’ve played for 1,5 hours, and I made it through maybe 10 quests in total, capping at level 4. You have to search mobs. You have to drink. You have to search for questgivers when you return. The quest text is not enough, and you don’t know where to go.

I’ve killed 14 trolls (my, what a grind per single quest!), and then I got a quest to retrieve a stolen journal from “boss”. As I remember from WotLK routines, you should grind your way back into cavern through the very same mobs you just killed and find the “boss” there. I did so, and there was no boss. I waited enough for respawn, and nothing happened. I explored the open areas, and he was not there. The quest text is not specific about where he is. So I called it quits.

Lack of gold, battle systems, lack of bag space, a need to visit class trainer and everything else – I could live with it. What I can’t and will not tolerate in my game is wasting my time for “exploration” for a mundane task like killing 10 boars. I’m not spending my time on returning and killing same mobs over and over. I’m not spending my gaming time Alt-Tabbing to Wowhead, while quest directions are simply not enough. And this is just the beginning. They didn’t even send me to Kalimdor to retrieve a half of an apple or something.

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Back before internet era, we’ve exchanged rare metal records on tapes, and later CD-Rs and DVDs. To listen to an album you should have arranged a meeting with your friend, travel half of town and bring it back home. That hardship definitely inflated the value of the album, even if it wasn’t that good by itself. Back then, you’d listen to it first song to last because you’ve invested your time and desire to get it. Today, you would stream a couple of songs and turn it off if it’s not good.

As much as you can feel “yay!” upon completing a simple troll-slaying quest, it’s not about how good the quest is. It’s not about challenge. It’s about relief after doing a grindy, mundane task.

Vanilla is not about adventure. It’s about endless run without sufficient clues, a long grind with little story. It’s 95% of travel time and 5% of actually doing something. And that’s just not my piece of cake.

Excuse me, but Nazjatar awaits :)