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.

emerald_nightmare

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.

Bosses

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.

People

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!

frostmage

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

earthbenders1

Elemental Shaman After Hotfixes

earthbenders2

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

chart

September 27

gnomecore-legion-leveling

Now you can see how this strategy pays off.

All Weapons To Be Acquired…

In the coming week I’ve decided to acquire all artifacts for my toons. You know, lore-sake.

Of course I have no problem with all-DPS toons.

Artifact quests are easily completed in other specs. I had no specific problems with getting all three Mage artifacts while Frosting them all, all three Rogue artifacts with Assassination, both Shaman artifacts in Elemental. I’m pretty sure I will easily nail all Warlock weapons in my Destruction.

I even nailed Hunter’s Marksmanship quest in Survival, although it required ranged shooting and kiting by design – because mobs dealt strongest AoE around them. Now I’m sure I can get Beast Mastery artifact too – with Marksmanship weapon if Survival won’t work.

DPS artifacts were a piece of cake for tanking toons in tanking specs: both for Warrior and the one for Monk.

Now, here comes the trouble: I need to get tanking and healing artifact weapons for DPS-only toons.

Tanks

Mindebad the Death Knight – I’ve never touched Blood, ever, and I don’t even know how it works and what the spells are. I would try to Frost through the quest, even if it means a bit dying.

Melaris the Demon Hunter – I’ve played a tanking demon hunter during invasions, I’ve caught the general idea, so I will switch to Vengeance if things go really tough.

Mayluna the Druid – I’ve worked through several Hellfire Citadel LFR bosses as a Bear, so I think I’m gonna win this easily. Rumors are that bears became even more healthy in Legion.

Gardell the Paladin – I have only 15-36 level tanking experience, I think I will fail and fail.

Healers

The most trouble are of course healer artifact weapons. I’m no healer, I hated the role when I had to do it, and it’ll be all sweat and blood. But I need to get:

  • Priest: 2
  • Shaman: 1
  • Monk: 1
  • Paladin: 1
  • Druid: 1

I have little to no experience with all these specs. I’ve tried only Holy Priest for Mechanar dungeon and Restoration Druid for 15-64 levels while leveling. And I’ve never even specced into paladin, monk and shaman healers.

Six disasters are coming.

The healing experience might be fun albeit for the weapon quest only. But is it possible to DPS through them if things get tough?..

Just Playing Legion…

Yes, this is an ultimate goal and advice for me now.

When we just arrived into the new expansion, there was a sort of rush. Not even once before I saw this kind of nervousness at the first weeks of expansion launch.

People seemed to feel extremely uneasy at suddenly having their character aspects non-maxed. I wonder why, as most aspects were the same: actual level, item level, professions, reputations. We’ve inherited followers from Draenor, so it’s not that new as well – and besides, the followers are few now and their missions really pay off. Artifact weapon is a bit new, but it upgrades on your way.

I blame a pair of things for the rush. First, it’s confusion about the amount of content, and second, the gating system behind profession quests and reputations. 

I think it’s time we’ve started to unwind.

For myself, it’s no rush to be ready for raid nights this week. I am waiting for LFR which opens in the end of September – and it’s gonna be just the first wing. By the time we have three LFR wings, I’ll probably max all of my 12 toons to 110 and have them prepared for it. It maybe even better, as I will miss the first wipes and moans, and come there with people a bit experienced and geared up.

I’m in no rush because LFR raids in Draenor stayed relevant up to the last month of expansion – you could run even Highmaul and queues were not so long.

Micromantica, my flagship toon, will try and squeeze herself into the wing openings to see the raid – she’s very curious. I have her at 817, and I need very little to cap her to 825, the level required for LFR.

I need her to be prepared for every content opening – the new Suramar questlines, Karazhan, and everything. But she’s not in a rush. Just doing some small thing or two for her daily, and she progresses.

Meanwhile I’m dragging all the other toons further. My weekend was marked with getting extra artifact weapons (two more for the rogue Hexen and one more for the death knight Mindebad). Bons the warrior has finished all loremaster and explorer beside Suramar. She has fought in Ulduar for class campaign and she also ran the Maw of Souls dungeon – as a cowardly dps with valarjar blades level 1, not a tank.

After the Pawn Move – getting my toons to 101 – my focus now is capping the other toons one by one. And yet again, there’s no rush. I simply take the one I feel like playing and lead the toon to the zone I want to play at. I’ve demon-hunted Azsuna in full, but today’s morning was suddenly death-knighting class order hall campaign, and then paladining Stormheim which I will paladin to the end tonight. Just like this :)

Leveling this way is extremely satisfying. You have your obligatory leveling to do… and yet there is variability not only among zones, but within zones as well (except maybe Stormheim, but it also has a storyline fork in the end). Replaying the questline you feel like to replay at the moment, and a small chunk at a time – I don’t grow tired with this many toons, no. The fighting style of every class is very different which is different experience, and also they are doing profession questing which adds to the variability.

Eventually we will all be there, in Suramar and 110 with our profession maxed and leveled for the next content. I’m having fun.

I’m just playing Legion.

Trivia

The barrage begins… now!

Endgame

Micromantica, my flagship ‘main’, is extremely enjoying the main Suramar questline, as it opens more and more stories when she makes some reputation progress. The lessons of Krasarang are well-learned and finally put in use since patch 5.1.

I even put half of a questline on hold till the next day to savor the lore.

Micromantica ran her first heroic dungeon – Black Rook Hold. It was fun! The encounters were easy enough for the group to work through them. I had only a few seconds to peep into dungeon journal just before bosses to learn the major mechanics, and I didn’t fail. Funny thing: after an Illidari boss, me, the other dps and the healer jumped to the ground floor and couldn’t find our way back. So our tank had to return for us and lead us again. The dungeon is extremely labirinthy. You could wander there for ages on your own.

She got a 830 belt and effectively wasted 7k garrison resources to improve her Class Hall items 810 -> 830. I guess all I need is to find a third artifact relic, and I’m good for the first LFR. Either way, I’ll be running heroic dungeons for achievement.

I got a quest from Class Order Hall which sends me to mythic Eye of Azshara. They say it will enhance the power my artifact, and I’m eager to learn how.

Auction prices for cloth are finally reasonable, so I bought a pair of silk stacks and completed the next quest for Tailoring – you need to craft the basic Legion things. Guess what? The next quest asks me to craft some very-very old items in presence of the quest giver. Items from Vanilla and WotLK! How cool is that? The idea is awesome, because long-forgotten recipes are still relevant!

The Pawn Move

The Pawn Move is a term I’ve invented myself. Imagine a first move of your chess pawn one square forward to gain initiative and establish a position.

In WoW, whatever you do – you must move your alts to at least 101 level. It will take you completing approximately half of the first zone – 1-2 hours at most.

Then you can set them in their order halls, and they begin to use mission tables to upgrade artifacts and followers with 2 minutes of your attention daily. It’s the most important thing now.

I’m glad to report that the last two of my toons made that step: Paitsu yesterday, and Microfury today. Now I’m logging in 12 garrisons daily. AP levels, character experience and follower experience grow very fast. The rewards are really, really meaningful at this stage.

Do it. Make the Pawn Move for your alts, and then you are free to prepare you main for raids or whatever it does. Once you want to grab your alt, you’ll find it at artifact level 7 and a level or two up. And your leveled followers will not gate you from completing order hall campaign later on.

Bons

My tanking warrior gnome Bons is likely to be my focus in the coming couple of days. She just dinged 109, she has the final battle in Highmountain left, and then she will burst through Val’sharah storyline to complete her leveling and become my second 110.

Legion: Alt Management and Goals

It’s been a while since I set up goals for my toons. I guess it was around the Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry introduction time. It is interesting that situation is very similar now: my toons are at very different stages, many things to do, so we must set a focus for them.

Here goes my progress chart, which defines my daily routine:

chart

Goal 1: Micromantica

Micromantica has always been my flagship. She’s the first to experience quests, stories, dungeons, raids. She’s the one to dig archaeology and gain reputations. Obviously she already got farther than the others.

As you see, she’s already Loremaster and Explorer of Legion zones. She completed class Order campaign and is Honored with Suramar. She just dinged 810 ilvl and ready for Heroic dungeons.

My daily routine is doing something with her – at least something small. A profession hub, a dungeon, some reputation quests – she’s the one to ascend every day at least a little. Her current major goal is to experience all the Legion lore possible and be ready for Emerald Nightmare raid – LFR-style when it comes out.

Goal 2: The Pawn Move

As you may have noticed, only 2/12 of my toons are not 101 or higher yet. There is a reason: getting your alts from 100 to 101 is one of the most important things now.

At 101 you will immediately get quests at your Class Order Hall. This will give you followers and missions. I can’t stress enough how important this is.

Missions mean Artifact Power and leveling your followers. Sitting at your Order Hall and doing ‘Garrison’ routine with your morning coffee you are leveling your artifact weapons and alts (and yourself – Schlitzchen dinged 102 -> 103 via follower missions).

Gardell and Mindebad both did only half of Stormheim zone. They were sitting in their garrisons ever since. Gardell has her Ashbringer at level 4, Mindebad has her swords level 7. It came from missions, nothing else.

I call this ‘The Pawn Move’. Like in chess, move your alt one square forward and gain initiative.

Goal 3: Leveling alts

Well, that’s obvious. Eventually every toon will be at 110, so I just pick up the one I feel like playing today.

The best thing is that I can do a quest hub or two, and then switch to another toon if I feel so. In two hours I’m able to get some progress for two to four alts! They are also questing in different zones, so I pick up the questline I want to play now.

This bit-by-bit leveling is extremely enjoyable, because you’re not getting tired at all. You’re just eager to do the next questline, because you know you can stop any moment! And when you leave the game, you feel you did a very significant progress – because it’s on many alts.


I am in no rush, I am enjoying the game. The pace of everything is slow, there’s many things to do and experience. And I like it.