Azsuna Zone Review: Ooh, Mana Crystal

First of all, it’s the worst zone name :) Seriously, Azsuna or Aszuna? You just can’t remember that :)

Just in case, the post contains story spoilers for Azsuna questlines.


Azsuna is most probably your first zone to explore for several reasons. Our habit to count and travel clockwise would naturally dictate your Broken Isles journey starting from Azsuna and finish your leveling in Stormheim. And the zone also has many profession guys accumulated here with starting quests.

Upon arrival the hero and Khadgar see a massive force of naga moving into the inlands from the sea. And Frozen Throne veterans will of course remember these naga behemoths which were absent in WoW previously – thanks for tickling our nostalgy, Blizz! Tidestone, naga – this all seems very logical in the air, but ground quests suddenly put us in Illidari camp to fight off a demon invasion. Erhm… ok. Forget about naga for now.

The Illidari part is probably the worst zone beginning considering comfortable gameplay. The Legion camp is just SWARMING with demons, and pretty much spoilt with hills and cliffs. Not once you’ll find yourself overrun by enemies on your erratic search of the correct path around the demon grounds. Once you band up with Kor’vas (btw, she’s my Legion starlight, I put her next to Yrel), you are lost in hostile cliffs where even bushes and rocks bite, and you have to run over and over around the cliffs to aggro packs of mobs and reach the captured Illidari. And while you’re fighting hordes of smaller demons, the wandering mo’arg tend to sneak behind your back and hit you very hard on the head. I hated doing this part every single time, even with shortcuts I learned to use.

Upon dealing with the Illidari traitor, you become friends with blue dragons, and they send you to their patriarch. Surprise: blue dragons live, and they are friendly. It’s like we didn’t farm Malygos for a forget-me-not pair of mounts… whatever. Here’s your relief: the road to the dragons from Illidari is smooth, broad and perfectly safe to ride. Enjoy it, cause it won’t be long.

I always hated the raw mana things, all the leyline business. It’s like my head and teeth start to ache and ring, and I feel metallic taste of arcane on my tongue. So a pair of cave quests is not a pleasant part, and also reminds you of dailies in Deepholm.

Yet the dragons don’t let you to starve underground for too long, and they send you to their whelp nest in the north. The next part is brilliant, and it’s my favorite.

The immersement here is achieved by a pair of things.

First, it’s helping the small whelps. You just forget about your dislike of mana or dragons on your errand to save the little ones. You heal them, carry them around, get a whelpling pet to own, one of the smaller ones is a quest giver, then the saved ones are your ultimate boomstick… You don’t even notice how you’re becoming a family member, and when you get that, it’s too late :)

Second, it’s the addiction theme. The Nightfallen are finally letting you know what elves really look like without mana. Blood Elves must be shivering at the sight. The exhausted junkies are really creepy and dangerous, their leaders are maniacal. When they abandon the leyline sight and head for the dragon nest, it’s also very scary and exploits the ‘swarm’ themes.

Third, alongside the creepy and soul touching things, the questline provides a comic relief. Runas, the junkie elf, is masterfully voiced by no less than Jim Cummings, and I think I’ve learned all his dialogues by heart.

My discipline is IRON! 

Like I said, the storyline my favorite.

The following major storylines are both good and bad. Bad goes first of course :)

First, I’m not happy with naga solo for 3/5 of the zone. Once you’re done with dragons and nightfallen, all you will see is naga, and you grow tired of them very fast. All the central and southern part is highly overpopulated with naga. Once you start questing from Farondis Palace, you never spend a single minute without fighting a naga by quest or fighting them while just trying to go by.

Second, I never cultivated any bonds with Prince Farondis – although I was supposed to. Mark you, he does and says everything right. He shows remarkable personal qualities: a rebellion against Azshara long ago, then he helps us on our quest, then he rejects Azshara’s cool offer, then he saves us. And still he does look like a pussy, not a leader of his people, I don’t know why. I smiled a lot when you accompany him, and other elves throw random insults. I don’t even like him giving briefing for World Quests, for Elune’s sake! I like his Court and his people, but not him.

The third drawback is the final questline: retrieving Sylvanas’ journal from the sunken ship. It’s just a plain boring grind. After a brilliant and inventive sea giant story which ends up in an epic battle, you must go kill some crab people and Vash’jir goblins in a dark, gloomy puddle. Meh. It just spoils all the possible zone epicness with a mediocre kill-me-ten.

All the middle and southern part which involves sea theme is pretty exhausting, and you’re naturally happy when it’s over. Yet I can’t say Blizzard failed to show us naga invasion. They really feel dangerous, plenty, and they are perfectly incorporated into Pillar thing. It could be perfect to exclude naga from the slave storyline. If there were only giants, it could feel like a completely separate piece, and naga would remain an epic and dangerous climax wrapped around the pillar of creation. But naga leaked into sea giants, and it all suddenly feels like ‘Oh no, not them again’…

Two questlines are pure gold. Of course, it’s the giant wrestling arena and the following slave revolution. And Hogwarts Magic Academy, an easter egg from head to toes. They provide a nice safe spot to rest a while, and a small comic relief.

Yet when you finish your Azsuna leveling, all you will remember is: Naga, naga, naga, naga…

All in all Azsuna is a good zone to start. There is much attention paid to Pillars of Creation, there’s Legion present, and there is a bright, vivid foe – our old acquaintance.

Azsuna is all ruins, but very pleasant ones. There’s plenty of room to ride without danger, many safe roads. Yet it lack some ways from west to east. And the whole naga part is the one I would shun forever to visit again. There’s just too much of them – in every sense.

Azsuna Points

  • Storyline: 5/5 North, 4/5 the rest
  • Safe Hubs/Spots: All Suck
  • Visuals: 5/5, very beautiful zone
  • Travel Comfort: 5/5 North, 1/5 Center and South (cliffs, rivers, ruins, hostile swarms, lack of roads)


Leveling Zones: All About Comfort


This would be the first post of my Broken Isles review series, and I’m just gonna talk a bit about general issues.

Have you ever wondered why you like or do not like some particular leveling or endgame zone?

Well, one thing is obvious: it’s your personal attitude to this or that type of terrain and – to lesser extent – creatures inhabiting it. I’ve always liked grassy plains and snowy areas, so no wonder I could name Valley of Four Winds, Dun Morogh or Winterspring among my top ones in Azeroth. People who hate insects would suffer a lot somewhere in Dread Wastes which is basically scorpids and mantid lurking in the darkness. And so on.

But there’s one more important thing, and it doesn’t involve lore or visuals: it is comfort while you’re there. A comfortable experience could make even the worst zone at least bearable. I hate deserts and dusty rocky terrains, but Tanaris has always been one of my favs.

What makes a zone comfortable to be in? Three main points here:

  1. Easy traveling
  2. Hostile wild environment
  3. Safe spots

Let’s talk of them one by one.

1. Traveling issues. The worst thing you could do to a zone is making it hard to get to different spots and places. If there’s only one path to a location you need. If you fall off a cliff, and then you need to cross half of the zone to get back. Exploration is fun to an extent, but when you’re standing before a needed item and even see it a little above on a cliff, but you need to go a long way around to get it… When you get distracted for a second or decide to make a shortcut, you’re suddenly down there and need to go a 5-minute detour to return to the cliff. That’s just not my idea of fun. The main zone killers considering travels are, of course, ravines, hills and mountains.

2. Hostile environment. You may do well with cliffs, and you may not even object an extra ride if the scenery is nice. The question is: what kind of ride should it be?

When a zone is highly populated by hostile creatures, it just doesn’t leave a chance for you to like it. When each and every step could end up in a pack of mobs – it’s not what I want. You just can’t take a break. When you return with a cup of tea, perfectly sure you were way out of foe villages and towns and on the road, you see your breathless body stomped by some vacant yak or chewed by a random wolf. Again, not my idea of fun.

In my opinion every zone should be boasting at least some areas – and vast ones – where nothing bad could happen to you. Where you’re safe to ride either by the roads or between the trees and grasses. This just unwinds you a bit. Not all the world must be dangerous. You shouldn’t experience danger all the time if you took five steps from the flight master.

3. Safe spots. Flight masters are many nowadays, and couldn’t be overrun by wild animals or foes. And still, every area in my opinion should boast with at least three perfectly safe hubs where you could take a rest and do some things.

The important requirements about these safe hubs are as follows:

  • Not just a flight master and a tent. This is important. It should be a settlement. I’m thinking Talador’s outpost here: it’s a small, but vibrant place. It could be a place of your faction or inhabited by locals, but it must not be a temporary camp.
  • Not shoved where Elune don’t shine. Well, that’s obvious. Who would care for a safe spot if it’s no use and never visited? Of course, it should be located near vital points.

So, within the upcoming zone posts I will review Broken Isles zones one by one considering:

  • Lore and Storyline
  • Visuals
  • Comfort

Leveling Almost Done

I know I’ve been absent recently, and it was for two good reasons.

Reason one, the last week I spent on tour with my band Svartby through Czech and Poland. The tour was awesome although tiresome, as every journey. It is interesting how every trip to another city or country is a test on my gaming addiction. When I’m at home, WoW is one of my major leisure activities, and it’s always interesting for me to check if I miss the game on my travelling or not, because under no circumstances I take my laptop with me. Yet another test passed: I was glad to return to the game of course, I was glad to run through Azeroth again on my return. But during the trip itself I was quite busy and happy with new impressions and activities, so I didn’t even remember about the game the other day.

Reason two, is that my current gameplay before and after vacation is a long leveling journey for my team of twelve toons. I’m glad to report that leveling business comes to an end now. Let’s see how my chart has filled since before and then talk about it a bit (the picture is clickable):


So, leveling. The big ‘+’ under the zone name means Loremaster, the one beside means Explorer, and the third one is the corresponding Pillar of Creation which requires to complete a dungeon (except Val’sharah). With 120 levels to go for 12 toons in whole, I have done 110.

As you can see, I have each zone to be completed for the last time now. And it’s gonna be a slow ride. Once again I will be reading all the quests like for the first time. I will be saying goodbye to storylines – it was a productive, interesting and compelling journey.

Meanwhile I’m having new goals now upon reaching 110 with my toons.

  1. Artifact Knowledge – I know now that it’s one of the most important things to spend garrison resources at. You must always have an order running. The range between artifact power acquired by Micromantica (AK level 10) and for example Hexen (AK level 5) is frightening. I may want to collect as much Knowledge as possible before even starting to properly do Suramar questlines.
  2. Opening Suramar for World Quests – yes, all the toons need the first two or three questlines to open world questing. World quests are fun, different, fast and very rewarding. So that’s top priority to get my toons busy.
  3. Class Order Hall Campaigns. Also top priority. Not only it gives a nice boost on resources, ilvl, and all, but it’s also a very different lore storyline for every toon.

My main, Micromantica, is still far away from completing Suramar questline. Being at 3000/21000 rep, she got two quests to Suramar dungeons which are Mythic-only, LFG-unavailable ones. This could really, really be a problem. Are they obligatory for Loremaster? Because this bothers me in huge scales.

I’ve completed LFR Emerald Nightmare with her, and I can’t say I was quite moved by the story. I don’t feel like I wanted to fight the bosses in the first place. It’s not my job. It’s a local and very class-specific problem. My druid – yes, she could add this to her duties. And probably it’s also because these ‘out there’ locations seem like they’re not real anyways, just an alternate versions of real locations, and OMG we’ve been fed up with that.

I have many posts planned about Artifact Weapons, leveling zones and everything. Leveling comes to an end for me, and with new routines I’m gonna sum up this experience.

P.S. Not so grindy about the Halloween horse this year. Just an occasional run or two during the day :)


Traditional small thoughts in between the milestones:

  • Nomi was probably tuned a bit, as he granted two recipes for 7 orders to Hexen and one recipe for 4 orders to Melaris. But may be it’s still RNG at work.
  • Sitting at 9k/12k Suramar rep with Micromantica, and yet again saving the main storyline Suramar piece for a slow, relaxed questing evening
  • Not Revered yet with any factions
  • Artifact level: 15
  • Killed a second world boss!
  • Did some world questing in two zones, and wow, this was a significant progress in all of directions
  • I know my main should get more attention. And yet I’m all into toon leveling now
  • No, not boring, although I skip reading most quests of course now. I will read them carefully again when the last toon will do them
  • Scaling and choosing routes and quest hubs is awesome
  • Just want to drive all characters into level cap routines I guess
  • Still savoring dungeon runs for pillars for later on most toons
  • A pair of toons are 104, three are 110, the rest are 106 and up
  • Like I planned, doing quest hubs for whatever character I feel like playing at the moment. I could drop doing a quest hub in the middle and switch to another toon if I feel like it
  • The next goals upon driving them all to 110 would be Suramar campaign, class order hall campaigns, leveling professions and world questing for Artifact Power
  • Raiding really seems like a side dish now, one of many activities to do. And I think it’s good
  • All the 36 artifact weapons are mine, and there will be a blog post coming of course
  • I’m planning a series of posts about zones as well.

Have a nice day!

A Peep Into Emerald Nightmare – Darkbough

The first wing of Emerald Nightmare went live in LFR yesterday, and my main met the item level requirements to pay a visit.


Raid Design 

The raid itself is very beautiful. These shades of red color are really an innovation within WoW. It’s so rich, colorful, and at the same time corresponds the intended dread of corruption. I was impressed THIS much only at Dread Wastes in Pandaria – you know, when you take a first look at the skies… Oily, oozing black and white sha colors were also new and intimidating.

Yellowish fel green and ‘proper’ fireland fires have grown pretty old: we’re being fed by it throughout the expansions. This red feels pretty fresh – considering we are doomed for Fel Green by expansion storyline.

Most of all I liked the floors in the middle room: those batches of small nightmare tumors/pimples are something I stopped to take a closer look at. They are amazing. I want my personal nightmare puddle in Class Order Hall now where I can plant those. And pop them for fun :)

I like the ‘apocalypse’ themes where a familiar landscape goes bad – and then it heals. Haven’t seen the healing yet, but a look at disrupted Thunder Bluff was awesome. Didn’t feel anything about Un’Goro – I didn’t recognize the place even if I’ve been in every corner of the zone. The highlight of Un’Goro is a small volcano and tar pits among the jungle. I couldn’t recall an important tree there in the open world, so I’ve no idea where this was happening.


The encounters were pretty simple. Well, Highmaul’s first wing was easy as well. Although bosses of EN didn’t seem like utter trash mobs (Butcher…) – the fights were long enough.

I think that people are so experienced in different mechanics that it’s very easy for them to overcome most of the boss abilities.

Draenor has trained us to kill adds, and people now switch to adds by instinct. We were not overrun by them ever. We were trained to step out of the bad, and people stepped out of the bad. We are keen dragon slayers, and so we fight dragon hitting in her side scales, never at a tail or in front of any breaths. When we catch a debuff, a small peep in the journal is sufficient to cope with it: whether you bring it in the raid or out of it.

Il’gynoth wiped us, but just once. Exactly half of the raid didn’t step out of the room, so we deliberately lay down, and our next try was flawless since we knew what to do.

All the other times we were almost at full health, and everyone performed well and behaved correctly.

I confess I have some encounters in previous expansions where I still don’t understand a bit of mechanics or fail to follow it – even if I ran them dozens of times with many alts. Here in EN everything was clear yet, I felt total control of my actions.

The bosses as EN bosses are beautifully designed. They do feel like foes, they are dangerous by plot, and they totally fit the storyline. You are motivated to kill them, and that’s important.


Now, that surprised me most. I expected bitching, I expected pompous assholes, I expected wipes for just being silly, blaming and all that. You know, LFR.

The raid was perfectly polite and behaved like humans. I could blame it for excellent run through – people tend to explode after failures after all. But no. There wasn’t a single bad word after our wipe at Il’gynoth.

Moreover, after every boss people actually SHARED their loot to the others. I mean: WHAT? People asked if someone needs their item. My own luck was 5+5+5 gold, but… After the first boss someone – I didn’t even manage to read the name – just walked to me without a word and gave me the loot ring. It was ilvl 850, while I boasted a pair of 800 and 805, so it was a great improvement. To say I was surprised is to say nothing.

What’s going on?

Class Hotfixes!


Just my feelings and thoughts about latest class tunings. I won’t repost the whole list, you can read it for example @ BlizzardWatch.

My general message has two edges, good and bad.

First of all, did we really have to wait for the first raid to launch, and fix classes only after?

We’re celebrating the first month of Legion in the coming days. During the month, most players have leveled to 110, run dungeons, and are way into Suramar and world quests which is a hardcore gameplay for some of us. That is: the whole variety of content was covered, and it was NOT a pleasant ride for some specs.

While a number of specs suffered to the extent I hated to login with them, I’m mostly talking Frost Mages of course. It’s been the first time in my WoW history when my main just HAD to switch spec to Fire – not to die from a wind’s blow. Frost was tears, sweat and blood, and it was pain, and it was deaths, deaths, deaths. The whole leveling and Suramar experience for Micromantica was ruined at a large scale.

It required the first raiding week stats for Blizzard to see Frost mages at the very bottom of DPS table – HALF worse than the best DPS spec. Just think of it: whatever you do, you are 50% power from MM Hunters and Havoc Demon Hunters.

I don’t care much of squeezing the last dps drops from my specs, but the gameplay was so uncomfortable that I feel like I’m unloading iron when fighting common mobs.

It was a bitch ride. Yes, I think the big class hotfixes should have come way earlier – at least two weeks into expansion, and little tweaks after raids.

Second: the hotfixes are here, and thank gods they are.

I’m listing the specs of importance to me – today’s morning I tested them all first hand.

Frost Mage – yes, yes, and yes. I did a daily in Suramar for a test, and it’s all as it should be. Our frost power is back, and I’m finally playing, not crawling through a thorn thicket of mobs. I don’t mind minor tweaks, but it’s all is just that good now. Mage is in place. I’m happy.

Elemental Shaman – got some buffs, and it was really needed. Shaman was squishier than a Priest – imagine that. When I end a fight while leveling, I end up with barely 20% of health bar. If it wore cloth, it would die more often than a mage – yes, it’s possible. And shaman are not about ‘plink’, they’re about unleashing and smashing.

Elemental Shaman Before Hotfixes


Elemental Shaman After Hotfixes


Retribution Paladin – they got some buffs. Pally was not exactly squishy, but yes, I felt underpowered. Thank you.

Frost Death Knight – we got our powers back. I got used to Death Knight as a swift blades master, it was a perfect machine of delivering death. In seconds the fights were over. I’m glad I can play that way again. The previous pre-hotfix version was slow as a tractor, and it didn’t compensate with hard hitting.

I Didn’t Ask For This, But Thanks:

Assassination Rogues, Destruction Warlocks, Survival Hunters were buffed too. And it was a significant buff. I never complained about any of these specs, they felt very, very confident in battles against common mobs and taking out elite rares solo. Well… thanks! I don’t mind at all.

Raiding begins for me today – you know, I’m an LFR creature, so it’s gonna be my first glance at a raid in Legion :) I’m stepping in with my Mage – she’s the only one ready for LFR by now. And yes, I’ll be doing it as a Frost Mage!

Legion Alt Management: Chessboard

Playing 12 alts simultaneously, I’ve slowly come up with a plan of their development.

Our goal with alt management is to keep them pushing forward with little effort.

At the same time you keep developing your main, doing reputations, world quests, preparing for raids or whatever you’re up to.

Like at a chessboard, you don’t take out the queen and start jumping across the board. Like in chess, you can take small steps at a time.

The idea is to take one alt and do a small progress, then switch to another. You’re doing a pair of quest hubs, and when you’re tired, you put them in Class Order Hall to do missions – 1 minute per session. So they grow in power while practically doing nothing. But you need to accomplish some significant steps.

Tip 1: It is important that you take your profession quests asap, as they often lead you to a specific zone. Doing so, you won’t have to grind the same areas twice. When you take a profession quest, try to schedule your leveling there along with the main storyline.

Tip 2: Upon leveling, please do and aggro every rare mob, pick every treasure you come across, and by all means complete the fill-the-bar quests within your main storyline. This all means a huge bunch of Order Hall resources which we NEED.

Tip 3: Try to postpone the Pillars acquiring quests in dungeons until later levels. The loot will be better then.

So, our moves then – here’s your guide to alt management in Legion.

The Pawn Move – the first move is taking your pawns one square forward. You take your toons to level 101. Then you will be able to do Order Hall missions. The initiate resources may be enough for a whole week or even two.

Queen Comes Forward – it’s your main. It comes forward asap and does progress every day. At least small one thing at a time, but every day. She must be the first to reach 110, complete storylines, and start doing quests in Suramar, do dungeons and world quests.

Castling – that’s optional, but strongly recommended. Here you do the Heart of the Light questline in Exodar, and acquire extra artifact weapons. You’ll be able to do that all at level 102.

Rook Takes Pawn – courtesy of Coffee Cakes and Crits. Your next goal is advance through the Order Hall campaign. The initial post says Level 105, I say you get your Class Order Hall campaign step earlier – at 103-104 level. Don’t save it for later. Order Hall campaign will grant you more followers, and it will result in faster progress. Before you make that move, you can do only one mission at a time (two at best).

Mittelspiel – it’s your toons leveling 103 -> 110. Don’t forget profession quests while leveling!

Check – your toons have reached 110, now they can finish Class Order Hall campaign and gain Artifact knowledge.

Checkmate – you launch at Suramar, complete some few initiate questlines, and you are ready for world quests upon reaching Friendly with the elven junkies.

My playstyle is a little at a time. Once I get bored of casting, or slashing, or the area I’m currently questing in, I immediately switch to another toon – it has his own goals and hopefully is in another area.

And charts.

*Note: Every leveling zone in charts has two fields. The bigger one means loremaster achievement, the smaller one means explorer achievement. In my case both are obligatory :)

September 14


September 27


Now you can see how this strategy pays off.