Adjusting My Routines

The second wing up, third incoming, and having more things IRL to do, I’ve found myself lacking gaming time to achieve the weekly goals.

I definitely cannot cover the whole number of raid wings on every alt – in fact, not even half of them. My alt management from now on is as follows:

1. Warfronts are a thing, I am hunting transmog on every alt – especially the scenario reward items which are visually more awesome than drop ones. Them being 380 for Arathi and 400 for Darkshore doesn’t hurt. Also I collect medals.

2. Holiday bosses on every alt daily – and even if Arkeona the 54 Nightborne cannot get a rocket, it’s a half-level XP boost upon completion. Don’t miss the chance to help your low levels!

3. As for raids, I’ve decided I will be digging one armor type at a time – others join only if I have time left. For example, now I’m focusing on cloth – that means Micromantica, Jellica and Kargash will grind the raid until all drops for them will be ‘already known’. Actually I have only a boot slot left and several weapons. The cape has not dropped yet, but I am not hunting ‘world drops’ (that means: BoE from trash), and I consider a set complete without it.

The second wing runs on weekend were not cool. People have great troubles with Opulence – mostly because of boss resets. I think it should take a couple of weeks for everyone to get the idea – but for now it could be up to three wipes. My melee toons are dying on both bosses and trash, and mostly these are insta kills, where you have little to no time to react. Not as nasty as Uldir’s second wing, but it appeared to be not a ponyland walk as I previously wrote in my review.

I came to a conslusion that I don’t like the character race change – well, mostly because of transmog issues. I would have been happier if I could keep it from original toons. Fearella the goblin turns into a gnome, fully clad in knight armor, and it’s basically a walking helmet – a look I would never use on my gnomes. Well, I guess we will have to deal with it. But all in all it’s nice idea considering lore, so I wouldn’t think of it as Blizzard’s failure. The things to improve would be an option to pick a race through talking with a special NPC, and also keep the original transmog if you like.

With current state of events, the raid will keep me busy at least until the end of April (if gods of drop would be merciful), and then I will have a Nightborne and a Kul Tiran for lull time before Nazjatar. As always, alts keep me busy.

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Battle for Dazar’Alor: A Peep into Empire’s Fall / Death Bargain

The new wing is the first raid wing in WoW history where players try on skins of opposite faction. For now it’s the Horde in Alliance skins, and in two weeks it will be the time of the Alliance to try on red colors.

Obviously the raid is given from the Alliance point of view, so I’ll speak first about Empire’s Fall, and then mention its differences from Death Bargain.

opulence.jpg

Empire’s Fall

We pick up from the Grong platform, and fight our way to the pyramid itself where Mekkatorque’s mecha blasts a hole. Few enforcers on the way are suppressed easily, and we delve into the royal treasury to meet our first boss – Opulence.

The encounter is simple enough. The two guardian constructs lure the players through identical passages – make sure to divide in roughly equal groups. Anyways, the guardians share health, so it’s not that vital to have equal DPS. On guardian phase just make sure to follow them into the next room at the same moment it becomes possible and don’t stand in the bad.

There are also buffing gems in the room before last – make sure you know which to take beforehand, because in-game description doesn’t tell this. Micromantica grabbed shadow resistance – I guess it’s something for tanks, Kargash was lucky to get a 2% damage buff – this one is definitely a DPS one.

Guardians defeated, we fight Opulence straight away. The only thing worth mentioning is adds which spawn by the boss in the middle and start crawling to the sides. Pick your AoE and have fun!

The design is great, and the encounter is quite fun. Oh! Also Opulence shatters after defeat, and in addition to normal loot you get to loot the gold piles for expensive straight-to-vendor treasures! As a bonus, you get Gallywix’ whining about how Alliance doesn’t appreciate gold.

The next part is ascending towards the loa sanctuary where you fight a Klaxxi-Paragon-style boss, the loa priests. Like with Klaxxi in SoO, you fight several guys at once, but you should beat only one of them, because after a kill the other replennishes full health. The loa’s nasty abilities stay until the end of the fight, so when only fourth remains, you deal with four mechanics from different loa.

There was nothing complex about the boss – all the abilities are simple enough to avoid and cope with even without reading the manual. Just make sure you run TO pterrordax ghost to avoid AoE damage, not away.

We then ascend to Rastakhan’s throne room which we haven’t seen in-game yet. His golden seat in open world is obviously a thing for visitors, an outdoor residence, while this one is a proper throne room, a great and majestic hall.

The encounter starts with defeating his bodyguard, a berserk troll. A properly skilled group may even manage to do it before Rastakhan even joins the fight. Then Rastakhan calls in Bwonsamdi. Bwonsamdi should be tanked away, as he is invincible, and all the rest pour their damage into the king. By the middle of the fight Bwonsamdi drags random players to the spirit world where we must take off half of Bwonsamdi’s health, avoiding multiple rolling death balls – the most annoying thing if you’re a caster. I can’t tell what happens in real world, because both of my runs I was dragged there. And then… Bwonsamdi just gets tired. He throws the players into the real world, and sits on the throne, just observing how we finish the king.

It’s a betrayal right away! The loa is sneaky, he thinks that dealing with Talanji will be more fun, so he just lets the king to be killed – no matter he helped him first.

I’ve expected the fight to be hard, but really it’s a mannequin with minor positioning issues.

The Alliance doesn’t get any cinematic (because they obviously run for their lives by the time when Talanji arrives). But they have their final campaign quest completed, and participate in the council by Proudmoore Keep.

Alliance Council.jpg

They hope to end the war in a matter of weeks – with Rastakhan dead, and most of Zandalari fleet destroyed, they could be no match for Kul Tirans. It’s a sad victory though, Mekkatorque lost in action (at least no one knows how to bring him back from stasis coma), Jaina severely wounded, many lives lost (all the Nazmir war party), and all of the participants are very somber.

There are no flags or celebrations. They acknowledge that the Banshee is the only reason for the war, and they want it to end asap to gain peace. Not even Genn or Jaina are voting bloodshed – as logical as it may be to press the attack with the full might of untouched Kul Tiran fleet now, all the Alliance leaders agree that it would be dishonorable to interrupt Zandalari mourning their fallen king.

The final hint to further events is Jaina asking Anduin about Calia Menethil and events at Arathi (described in the novel Before the Storm). They leave to discuss the matter in private.

Death Bargain: Horde’s Propaganda

The Horde’s version has minor but important tweaks. Essentially it’s an excellent example of war propaganda!

The players are clad in 7th Legion uniform – we don’t keep our transmogs. My demon hunter even kept one glaive, and in the other hand was some ugly axe. So they don’t come as heroes, but a regular army in the eyes of the defenders.

Second, the briefing Zandalari which tells the story, has her own comments in addition to the events, and they paint the Alliance black. Opulence is not a convenient way to the throne room, but apparently the Alliance couldn’t refuse themselves a pleasure to plunder the treasury – out of sheer greed. Next, they went to desecrate the loa sanctuary on purpose (not because it was blocking the way). And finally, they called the king savage, and offered him humiliating surrender conditions.

Whom to believe? The Alliance’s mild and heroic version, of course.

It is simple and obvious: the Alliance players are witnessing the events with their own eyes and participate in them. The Horde gets a bitter retelling of the story, by an enraged Zandalari, they do not participate in the events themselves. Genn’s behavior and words are simply out of character in the Horde’s version. And the Alliance’s council in the aftermath clearly says that they actually care for what had to be done and regret it.

Now I cannot wait to see the Alliance’s retreat and see the differences of the third wing!

Drops

It’s being only the third week of the raid, and my cloth toons are almost…

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The cape is a world drop only , so with acquiring the shoes I will consider the set  complete! But wait, there are also weapons…

Conslusion

All in all the first two raid wings appear to be quite easy – in fact, may be too easy even for LFR.

If you manage to cope with certain dangerous trash, and your tanks are not brain challenged during the encounters, it’s a training dummy roll. I would not say whether it’s good or bad… it speeds up farming on alts for sure.

And the lore is probably one of the richest, as every next encounter is significant and adds up to the lore and faction  knowledge. It’s the vital story told in raid, not just killing the climax big bad through nameless mooks. In fact, there are no big bads in the raid narrative… and I think it’s the first time we expereience it.

I quite like it so far.

A Hot News Streak

Lots of news came overnight.

The bitter pill is of course the mass employee reduction within Blizzard. I am not an HR or economy expert, so I can’t color the news balck or white. The reassuring information is that most of them were not the guys involved in actual game production – just supporting staff. It may be the reaction to the dwindling sub numbers during the current expansion, so there is no need for the lot of community managers, also the decline of HotS may have played the role. For now they do not need the jobs (not the people, the jobs, mark you).

It doesn’t seem as if the company is dying. By J. Allen Brack, there are more projects at work than ever, and they are enhancing developer staff too. WoW content is planned for years ahead, so there is no end of the tunnel either. Also a financial report says that the company earned a load of money last year. I’m positive in thinking that it will take a lot more than one bumpy WoW expansion to sink the ship.

We shall see.

Within the game itself, there are news things concerning patch 8.1.5., and these are good ones.

For completing Loremaster and War Campaign on both sides (I already did) we will get a couple of faction mounts:

alliance-wolf

horde-steed

It’s a nice move – like from Brewfest awards Alliance gets to ride a kodo, and Horde gets an access to a ram. Wolves could be great for dwarves or worgen, and the steeds are a cool choice for blood elves or undead.

We can already search YouTube for the dances of Zandalari and Kul Tiran allied races. I just need to post it here:

If there were any doubts whether I want a Kul Tiran alt, they died with this video. I do, and I’m rolling a toon as soon as it becomes possible.

The options are these:

  • Druid
  • Hunter
  • Mage
  • Monk
  • Priest
  • Rogue
  • Shaman
  • Warrior

I am already playing all the specs I want from mages, shaman, warriors, priests and hunters. Not a fan of droods in any of the specs due to their shapeshifting (even with all the upcoming wicker forms). I am thinking an outlaw/assassination rogue (too obvious!), or a monk – she would fit all the roles. I need to check the animations and the vibes.

Lo and behold, we’ve got the new raid wing tonight, and I’m going into Empire’s Fall. I anticipate the lore and the encounters of course, and it will be the first raid wing where we swap factions: my Hordies will come as Alliance players. Expect my traditional ‘A Peep into…’ post tomorrow!

Love is in the Air, and it’s already been 14 rocket tries by this afternoon. As long as this post doesn’t start with a big shiny pink screenshot, you may guess it’s been no luck yet. This is my yearly routine, and this is what I do these days :) Not chasing toys anymore though – I barely use them, and they are a dead weight in my collection tab. At some point they’ve just become too many.

I guess that’ll be it for tonight.

King’s Rest: A Journey into the Tomb

I couldn’t refuse myself a pleasure to queue into King’s Rest yesterday. I’ve picked Kargash for the run – for whom almost every 355 drop from the dungeon was most welcome.

Barely 5 minutes of dungeon finder, and there we go.

The dungeon is essentialy a tomb of ancient Zandalari kings, so no wonder we fight mostly ghosts and construct guardians there. For reasons unknown the tomb is abandoned – with all its gold inside.

Trash was very nasty. One time I didn’t even get what one-shot me – nothing was around me, ticking or flying in my general direction, and even recap was not available after death. I’ve used the whole range of my arsenal there – including sheeping, disenchanting Minions of Zul (yes, the very same ones from the raid), everything. Bosses posed little to no problem though.

For the first one, the skeleton winged serpent, you need to drop the golden spits somewhere away from others, and this is basically it. There are also adds coming which you must stop from reaching the boss, but once they arrived it was already at 10%, so we skipped this.

The second one is a big embalmer troll. He tries to make a mummy out of you! The mechanic is fun, he puts a random player in a random sarcophagus around the room, and the player must rattle from inside, to let the others know where he is and get saved :)

The third one is a boss trio which proved to be the hardest (not that we didn’t kill it on our first try though). The mechanic is very much alike the mogu chieftains in Mogu’shan raid. You fight the three zandalari guys one by one. Once killed, another pops up, but the most nasty ability of the previous one stays until the end of the fight. First you deal with the boss rolling towards a random player, and all others must step in the line to reduce damage. The second one launches moving blade circles, freaking dangerous. The third one casts multiple nasty totems in different sides of the room, and you have to deal with them, the roll, and the incoming blades while picking at the boss. Needless to say, at the end the battlefield reminds a mess where you simply cannot find a safe spot.

The final one is King Dazar – or should I say, a skeleton of him. I can’t remember anything too difficult about the encounter – we bombed him to 20%, then he launched a fast moving AoE around the whole room which we had to escape. He was down very quickly.

Kings-Rest

All in all the dungeon seemed a lot easier than Siege of Boralus – comparing the heroic modes. The most precious thing here is the Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider vibe. You certainly feel the adventure spirit while at Zandalar continent, but this experience just makes it complete. An eerie, majestic complex with passages, fathomless depths, gold everywhere and reeking of death and ancient riches – all that we like in the movies. It’s hell of an adventure, and strongly recommended.

Another important thing is a piece of lore. Throughout the whole dungeon, right from the entrance, Shadow of Zul is haunting you and is responsible for awakening most of the ancient trash spirits. His final goal is to wake the King Dazar and make him a servant of G’huun, but once we beat him, the king thanks us and urges to hurry end the G’huun’s plague. Another piece of puzzle in the lore of Zandalar. Could we live without it, already motivated enough for Uldir? Yes. But does it spice up the overall story? By large!

My drop was an ugly dagger – 340->350, not the feet that I hoped for, and it brought my ilvl only 348->349. But what do you know, the first rare kill upon arriving in Arathi just gives me these feet, and now all nine level cap toons are into the latest raid :) Is this luck, or Blizzard have adjusted the drop chances?

P.S. Alert! Love is in the Air!

New Routines

The diversity of my gameplay comes to an end, as new alts have almost completed their catch-up.

Jagda the Dark Iron Shaman has become eligible for Dazar’Alor and went on her first run, immediately winning a raid shield model. I’ve completed all the questlines with her, including dungeons and Jaina’s final one.

Good news: if you haven’t noticed, Siege of Boralus and King’s Rest are now available for heroic mode and dungeon finder! We had no wipes in SoB, even if some guys were new to the dungeon. What mistakes would kill us on mythic, were not that punishing in heroic, so it was a clean run. Note: I need a tour trip to previously ignored King’s Rest now.

Melaris the Demon Hunter was already able to go to Dazar’Alor, but she had a piece of Vol’dun and final Zandalar Forever to complete which I also did.

Kargash the Mag’har Mage has grown to 348 over weekend, and questing is also done. Now the last thing I need is replacing her feet slot from 315 to a reward from a world quest (currently I’m offered 340), and we’re good to go raiding.

It is interesting that the only wiping boss in LFR Uldir now is Zul’s trash. All the other kills, including G’huun, are completed in a breeze, but this one still wipes the raid :) The same situation is happening during Horde’s run in Dazar’alor. The worst boss are 7th Legion’s Cavaliers. Their charge ability tramples half a raid into the ground, taking off half of players’ health, and they also cast For the King! ability – if not interrupted, it increases their damage by some insane amount. So every next charge when buffed will just wipe you out. Cavalry, indeed.

Now that the leveling/item leveling steps are complete, I’ve ended up with my routines shared in two major activities. Of course, it’s a raid run for transmogs, and hunting warfront rares while in queues or completing warfront scenarios.

The warfront rhythm dictates my faction choice for the day. It’s better to queue if your faction is on patrol so you could go for warfront rares and dailies while in queues. So, if one of the warfronts is on siege and the other is on resources collection stage, I would choose a patrolling faction to queue for the raid.

Throw in an occasional incursion and the next raid wing opening this week, and you’ll see that I’m head deep into the current content. Blessed be the routines which are plenty and blessed be an army of alts :) No time to get bored!

A Busy Weekend

Just as planned, my weekend was devoted to clearing up the remaining raid/warfront cooldowns and dragging up my fresher alts.

Several things to report:

A warfront scenario quest provides you with an improved version of gear – not only in ilvl, but visually. For example, a Horde chainmail shoulder for Darkshore will have one skull as shown in the set appearance tab, while an improved one will have three skulls.

This improved set does not show anywhere as a set, so the only way to check if you got that thing is going to the general appearance tab and check if you have both. I guess it requires a new tracking chart.

Two more runs of the Horde’s first raid wing on Melaris the Demon Hunter and Fearella the Warrior. Definitely trash is deadly for the Horde – we wiped three times, but not once on bosses. What you need to do is work as a team during Jaina’s interference, and keep a keen eye on Cavaliers, their charge is a raid killer.

The first boss is solved though. The new tactics is driving the adds away and completely ignoring them. The goal is to melt the boss asap, so the fight becomes incredibly easy.

The third boss is also solved :) Yes, the circle maze can and must be avoided with class/racial abilities. Warlock teleports, mage blinks, warrior leaps, demon hunter gliding, outlaw rogue hooks – all take you to the barrier in no time. It may be harder with mage blinks, because you cannot specify the landing spot – I’m eager to try it nevertheless.

My priority is gearing up, so it’s the first thing I do on Kargash and Jagda upon login. A quick check of emissary and WQ rewards, completing them, and then I go into shoveling the bulks of the remaining lore questing and war campaigns. It’s definitely worth doing, because azerite rewards are great, and azerite levels also raise your ilvl – not to mention the available +5 traits on higher gear slots.

I could definitely say that one Uldir run is enough to hunt for extra gear pieces – by the next cooldown you simply outgrow the raid via open door questing. I guess it’s perfect, as your toon gets an achievement and doesn’t need to run extra older raid. Btw, are the drops from normal dungeons now 340? It’s some news indeed. Well, I’m still doing them for final zone quests only.

I bumped into the 7th Legion reputation requirements during war campaign, and that sucks. I hope they remove it, because at this stage it’s definitely overdue.

I’ve made a new Jagda’s tmog:

Jagda

The key goal is showing off her as much of her skin as possible, because that’s what makes the dark irons unique. At the same time I didn’t want it to be a slutmog, so I guess I’ve found the golden middle. Also there is a mythic staff from Blackrock Foundry which perfectly fits her lava/iron fantasy.

Speaking of class fantasy, I’ve been re-thinking some of my classes. You see, the class name just doesn’t fit with some of my toons and what they represent. For example, a mage is not only a guy who can into arcane, fire or frost – it’s a whole layer of meanings. He’s a scholar, a person who spends his time in studies and libraries between battles, a seeker and keeper of knowledge. Micromantica definitely fits, and she calls herself a frost mage, but Kargash?

Kargash

Damn it, she wields the same bone dagger that non-mage mag’har carry for a hunt and a fire crab, both enchanted into glowing flaming tools. I simply cannot imagine her sitting in a library. She learnt to operate fire from her tribe’s shaman, in the Draenor wilds, and she cannot even fucking read. Flamebinder or something like this would suit her best. But not a mage, definitely not one.

Schlitzchen the goblin is an enhancement shaman all right, because she learnt the art from Thrall himself. Jagda though, as a Dark Iron, I’m dubbing her as Lavabender. All the same, the Bronzebeards/Wildhammers aren’t shaman imo, they would fit the fantasy of thunderlords or something like that.

What of the others?

Jellica the Gnome Holy Priest – yes, a Battle Medic. Not a religious person, very practical. She’s into Light as long as it works. If it suddenly doesn’t, she would shrug it off like a broken cog and look for something else.

Pins the Gnome Subtlety Rogue – a Spy. She pretends to be a normal citizen at all cases while doing her job of eavesdropping, talking, buying information and an occasional poison or stab. She can lead a perfectly normal life between her assignments.

Baisa the Gnome Marksmanship Hunter – a Strider. As in ‘Aragorn the Strider’, she likes wandering on her own in the wilds without pets, a gun her only companion.

Melaris the Demon Hunter – well, she is one. She does not dedicate her life to Illidan and fighting the Burning Legion tho, an egoist who is in search of power and wealth.

Fearella the Goblin Fury Warrior – no, not a fierce berserk or a proud defender. I’d label her as a Brawler, mastering the art of beating the shit out of her opponents with clubs. You know, like guards in goblin cities – those clubs and maces are quite handy in the narrow streets.

Arkeona the Nightborne Protection Warrior – well, she fits the class name. Warrior she is, I’ve always wanted to explore the stout and noble alignment of elves, and she appeared to be perfect for that. The thing you admire in LotR movies when seeing elven army ranks.

I guess that could have been a separate post, but oh well :)

Attuned for Raiding

I’m rapidly moving my remaining alts towards the tops. Yesterday there was a shower of gear, and easily obtained as such.

Our favorite world quests for rare kills in Nazmir and Vol’dun, all within 1 minute of travel + a Tortollan one have granted Melaris and Jagda 5 shiny pieces each to roll over the required ilvl threshold.

My weekend plans are now as follows:

  • Fearella – Battle for Dazar’Alor
  • Melaris – Battle for Dazar’Alor
  • Jagda – Uldir and warfronts
  • Kargash – get to 120 from 119

When done, I may cover the remaining questlines on fresh alts, story questing and war campaign, which are plenty. The idea is to clear the quest logs to nil.

Really, the catch up system in BfA is the best one. Your fresh 120 alt is rushing into the current raiding content in no time. And it requires barely half an hour of gameplay for three days in a row.