Another Year of WoW and Blogging

Today is my last workday in this year – after that I am off for my long anticipated and well deserved 10-days New Year holiday time. As usual, me and my wife are spending it at home with cats, movies, gaming (in my case) and short quests for food to the nearest supermarket :)

I’m not a huge fan of writing posts from home, so we’ll meet again after the first decade of January. Meanwhile it’s nice to revise the passing year.

Legion

The first half of the year was devoted to cleaning up the remnants of Legion’s final invasion. I’ve been collecting transmogs from Antorus, completing multiple achievements (Field Medic and anglers reputations being the most remarkable).

I was collecting paragon mounts, and this expansion-long project finally paid off. It was July when I finally got the last one. This endeavor left me with exhaustion and a definite hate towards paragon farming.

I’ve been leveling all the new allied races which was done mostly for achievements. I like leveling alts, so that was not a chore, but a fun trip. Sure enough, as they doubled the existing classes, they did not live very long. My highmountain druid even made it to Legion, replacing the main druid, until I decided that it’s not the class I enjoy.

In general, Legion left me stretched thin. Like a lump of butter being spread over a too big slice of bread. The necessary grind of 12 classes – 12 toons not to miss a tiniest piece of story, or a mount, or a transmog set. The grind of paragon reps – on all toons to make it most effective. The bleak landscapes of the Broken Isles and most depressing Argus and Broken Shore terrains. Long story short, I have anticipated the new expansion a lot.

And it has come.

Battle for Azeroth

I am not exactly unique in feeling broken after the introduction questlines for this expansion. Many expansions started with a disaster: Deathwing shattering the most appreciated locations (serene Loch Modan!), Garrosh genociding out Theramore, my most loved city in all of WoW, Gul’dan and demons killing the adored leaders of both factions. For some reason, nothing felt as bad and disgusting as Teldrassil destruction. Mind you, Garrosh’s genocide was far, far worse – there were no survivors, and they didn’t have a chance like Teldrassil did – at least some were saved from the tree.

I do believe it has everything to do with the Horde’s leader – Sylvanas cares not the very least about honor, the thing that makes the Horde proud. What is worse, she doesn’t care about the Horde itself. The only thing she’s excited about is her Undead. The only motive for this war is wiping out the Stormwind humans and raising them as the new Undead – enhancing the only race she cares about. Orcs, tauren, trolls, goblins serve merely as means to achieve that. No wonder both Alliance and Horde stepped into the new expansion with a heavy heart.

As I wrote before, I certainly see the beginning of this expansion’s plot as dark times in Azeroth history. The war is by all means unnecessary and both factions are even not ready for it. Yet I never said that this is bad writing. In real history the kings and queens made even worse decisions, over most ridiculous reasons. And I don’t even start with the secrets we are to unveil further into expansion: the Old Gods’ influence on the minds of Azeroth leaders. Vol’jin story is a shout-out for the big dark secret unveiled, and I’m eager to find it out.

The only thing I hope for is that Blizzard would be able not to crumple the further story WoD-like according to player base dissatisfaction and deliver good and logical telling. I think we will have at least two new sandboxes – Nazjatar and N’Zoth empire, and I hope they will be delivered logically and without scratching out the linking chains and content in a rush to transfer to the next expansion.

The major drawback of the current game is of course the failed combo of azerite / azerite armor / island expeditions. As I’ve wrote before, not every idea could work, and this didn’t.

Apart from that, I’m happy with Battle for Azeroth. World quest, incursions, warfronts are something I like to do, and they keep me busy and motivated to login. Transmogs are cut down to 4 options according to armor class, and this is definitely a relief after Legion. Mission table is santa’s little helper rather than a chore. There is a shower of gear, and now you really can define the ways you want your character to grow in power – in fact, choose your gameplay style. Scrapper is an interesting addition, and I’d say it works.

Blizzard delivered a solid story writing within the zones of Zandalar and Kul Tiras, and presented us the long-anticipated nations in full. The zones are an eye candy, they are definitely worth living in – unlike the bleak Broken Isles. These are the lands I would gladly return to with pleasure in the future expasions. Despite driving the Horde and the Alliance apart to different continents, they did a great job of providing travel means – this is convenient, and you never feel like walking on a mine field while at the enemy’s continent.

All in all, I had my hands full in the first 6 months. I’m looking forward to the new stories, new activities (starting with the coming raid). By now my major toon roster’s goals are almost complete:

Dec29

By Dazar’Alor siege I will be done with all reputations and hopefully Uldir tmogs too.

I am somehow relieved to have less goals, less pressure than we had in Legion. The whole expansion state now calls for a smaller and quicker sessions – and it’s cool just to login daily for a smaller time to have fun, not feeling like you’re doing a job and lacking time to do it. I don’t know about you, but for me this relaxed style of playing is much appreciated.

I am looking forward to 2019 in Azeroth.

Finally, blogging.

Stats-2018

I’m happy to say that my stats are booming again :) I need to thank you all for reading, liking, commenting and all in all being the great community which is a pleasure to be a part of. The sky’s our limit!

See you all in 2019 – and have a Happy New Year!

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Roleplay: Exploring the Evil Side

I’ve been thinking about the place my new toons could have in my character roster. Just leveling them for achievement sakes is definitely fun in the process, especially during lull. But leveling what would be a THIRD cap level fire mage and deleting it afterwards ultimately feels like like a waste.

I’ve found the answer in roleplay. It struck me hard as a sledgehammer: I’ve always been extremely enjoying the NPC parties, banded up from completely different individuals. They are of a different race, class and everything. It is important that they are individuals: not the Twilight Hammer mooks, but characters having a name. We will have this kind of boss in Dazar’Alor: I believe it’s a monk and a fire mage (an orc and a blood elf for the Horde side).

When I come across this kind of a party in the wilds or in dungeons, it always intrigues me to learn their backgrounds. How did they meet, what are their goals, how they started to cooperate – the presumably hostile, suspicious and egoistic persons from different factions?

I thought it’s a great idea to roleplay my three under-120 toons as this kind of party!

Let me remind you about them:

Melaris – the Havoc Demon Hunter (110)

Melaris

Jagda – the Elemental Shaman (60)

Jagda

Kargash – the Fire Mage (33)

Kargash

I haven’t woven their common story yet (this happens on the shores of Kul Tiras and Zandalar), and not even their individual stories yet. I’m carving their ways on the surface of Azeroth, and only starting to think of their backgrounds and what led them to evil.

My major alt roster is generally good. This means that they support their faction efforts (more or less willingly depending on the toon), eager to fight the big bad to save the planet.

But this. This would be the ruthless trio, pursuing their own goals, loyal only to themselves and their band mates. They will never ever work for greater good, seeing the big bad and faction war mess only as means to make themselves rich and powerul. Ambushes, betrayals, deserting, assasinations – everything necessary, the goals justifies the means.

I’m pretty excited about leveling them and weave this kind of story into my experience :)

The binding theme for all the three is flame. Fire mage orc, fel fire demon hunter, and a naturally attuned dark iron lava shaman. This calls for a badass name, and I’m excited to think of it too :)

See, hype doesn’t come only from the game itself, but comes from inside your head too :) I am hyped. On to the speedy leveling!

Trivia: Warfront Drop Hunt

Sabertooth-Darkshore-Mount

With emissaries gradually dropping out from my grid, I’m replacing them with warfronts.

Good news: Arathi now also offers world quests instead of silly x20 grinds. I’m still not a fan of visiting the warfronts on a daily basis, but why not do them while in queues? :)

My minimum per iteration is completing a scenario or doing patrols for mount, pet, toy and transmog hunts.

Tip: when in pet/mount/toy journal, type ‘Arathi’ or ‘Darkshore’ in search bar. Here goes the list of what drops you are missing – and from which bosses. Just don’t forget to tick ‘Not collected’ :)

With the introduction of world quests, warfronts actually offer a cool option not to collect a chaotic rare-kill band. For example, if you’re hunting for a donkey mount from Overseer Krix, just wait until his WQ shows up – voila, there will be a bunch of people trying to kill him. Here goes your warfront medal and a mount try with little nuisance.

I also like the normal weekly quests at warfronts – particularly the 12-rare kill one. I can easily solo most of these mobs on any class, so it’s just a breeze and an exciting lottery for transmog gear.

Long story short, warfronts are now polished quite decently and surely provide weekly routines with both guaranteed faraway goals for currency and random, but quite possible drop chances right on spot. Me likey :)

Darkshore Warfront: Horde

The warfront is up for the Horde side, and I did two runs with both of my toons.

The experience is different from Arathi – for whatever reason I expected to start at the goblin platform and clear towards south. I’ve totally forgotten patch notes – the experience is the same as with Alliance. We go in the very same direction from the very same point in Ruins of Auberdine.

I’d say that I am not moved to the very least by the undead and brainwashed dark rangers guiding the assault. What a surprise, huh :) At least there are goblins to which I am attuned (as you know, both of my Hordies are goblins). But frankly as you hear Nathanos shouting ‘Blight it all!’ I simply want to go in the corner and get some sleep, or even sabotage my own troops :) Sira the Brainwashed Undead is also not convincing in the very least. So no, I’m not running this warfront with the pleasure – fighting for the Alliance here feels right.

Altar of the Storms offers some cool options though. The Night Elves obviously offer to turn you into some druids, and that’s what I hate to associate myself with – I always played Balance with a glyph of stars. The Horde side offers an awesomesauce choice of driving a goblin mecha, guiding an abomination (my love ever since Warcraft 3 RTS) and a third option – probably alchemists, I’m not sure.

I think it is high time to get busy with achievements – capturing all the flag points, executing rare kill events, hiring all types of troops, and at Darkshore – turning into every type of creature through Altar of the Storms. I’d better not put them off until expansion end.

Tides of Vengeance: New Routines

Dec20

First of all: my chart is being painted orange, and by the new raid I’ll be done with initiate Exalted. Even now the busy days are only Champions and Tortollans.

Second: G’huun gave us its shield, and there is very little raiding time left per week. One Mythrax, one Vectis/Zul and quick tries to get the remaining gear from Taloc.

The next chart I made is about faction incursions:

Dec20-Incrusions

Having completed Drustvar in one sit on all toons, I’ve decided I’m not doing them like this. It’s not gonna be all alts for every incursion. I opt for one Horde and one Alliance toon per iteration – this way the experience is different, and you don’t get exhausted. My end goal is completing the chart – that is, getting the achievement for every toon. Also every iteration brings slightly different quests, so this way I’m gonna see them all.

While a defence final quest is always a somewhat grindy airship rumble, attacks are much more inventive and fun – totally worth doing. Guiding a void-infused T-Rex, or a trio of deadly voodoo masks is precious!

Incursions grant only 5 medals upon completion – it’s not a big deal if you’re grinding them for prizes. Warfront activities pay off a lot better.

The new Titan Residium currency effectively defines what you do with acquired gear. All azerite armor now doesn’t have a sell price, and obviously goes into scrapper for the new currency. Currency will buy you new gear – I’m longing for at least transmogs, for example, the rogue’s vest is outstanding and a must have. Non-azerite-armor I either disenchant or sell for extra gold.

So, the plan is:

  • Incursions whenever they are up
  • World bosses for Uldir Normal tmogs
  • Uldir LFR tmogs
  • Finishing Exalted

So, multiple currency prizes are up for hunting, and I’m just gonna enjoy myself. No particular plan, no deliberate grind – just all in all I feel like the game takes me to short, fun and effective sessions daily.

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Oh yes, I’ve seen the Saurfang story! Now come spoilers:

Sylvanas learns that Saurfang had escaped the Alliance custody, and sends us to find him with Dark Ranger Lyana. We find a sewer exit in Elwynn Forest, and follow his tracks across Elwynn and Redridge. After we learn that he escaped to Swamp of Sorrows, Lyana tells us to do nothing without extra orders and leaves to report to Sylvanas (presumably).

Zekhan the Zappyboi then approaches us and asks to help Saurfang. We may refuse – which takes us back to report to Sylvanas and get a pat on the head. We may say yes, and then we encounter a dozen of deathguards and Lyana herself to protect Saurfang. All dead, Saurfang hits us in the eye as an alibi, and we report to Sylvanas that he escaped. She’s VERY suspicious, but lets us go.

Apparently, she wants him killed. Likewise, Vol’jin was stabbed in the back by Garrosh’s henchmen in MoP. Nothing new under the Azeroth’s two moons.

I’m waiting for the story to continue.

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Also had some alt time. My demon hunter is now 110 and free to go to BfA content if I wish so, and my dark iron is now 54. No rush, it’s if I’m in the mood routine :)

BfA: Unveiling The Big Picture

I’ve been observing sadness in blogs I’m reading about Tides of Vengeance. I’m not experiencing the same, and let me explain why.

The core problem about BfA plot so far was that it felt disconnected from everything – and frankly it felt falling apart.

In Legion: we never saw any massive demon armies after our defeat except for a small Azsuna enclave. We went somewhere else to get the pillars, forging a new plan. Any demons we met on the way were some minuscule raiding parties. Players asked why are we fighting some drogbar, vrykul and naga instead of demons?

Likewise in BfA. After the climactic battle for Lordaeron, both factions understood they cannot do anything else in their current disasterous state, and they left to different corners of the world to lick their wounds and win some new allies. Logical as it may be, we were distracted by new zones and their problems, and the narrative just didn’t feel connected.

I think one of the major problems was also dividing the Horde / Alliance leveling experience. The zones in itself are gorgeous, with awesome ambience and stories. But both factions got little to none development at the enemy continent – the best we had acquired were small hiking camps, not any significant outposts. During world quests we were fighting the local wildlife or hostile savages, running Magni’s and Tortollans’ errands. There was nothing too epic in the vein of the main narrative. Even the one and only warfront looked like a battleground, a friendly match rather than war. And that’s what discouraged us.

It is all being fixed in Tides of Vengeance now.

  • Tyrande is undergoing the merciless transformation. This could be compared to Illidan accepting the power of the Skull of Gul’dan which granted him demon powers, or Arthas embracing Frostmourne.
  • Night elves are driving the most brutal assault to claim their home back. It is no longer a freindly match with your momma jokes, it is a battle for mutual eradication, merciless and cruel.
  • The new war campaign is no longer a stealth mission (mostly), but it launches massive armies on the enemy shores. It is not a careful stab in the back and fleeing before the patrols arrive – these are well-prepared military invasions. Incursions count as well.
  • We see many races putting their forces into battle, trying to actively undermine the enemy’s efforts and not in stealth raiding parties, but with direct bombardment of the major cities and heavy machinery.
  • Finally, we see Jaina and Sylvanas in person making their appearance and actively participating in the war effort – putting them in front line is a sign of the coming storm.

I see now how all the events are starting to spiral around the one stem, the one core. Not that we didn’t expect this before, but now, when you see it with your own eyes, do you feel this all connected?

I think of Brennadam: it never had a chance to bloom as a Storm’s Wake capital in our hearts. The most part of it was destroyed by war upon our arrival. Shouldn’t it be better if we grew to like this city first? And deal with its citizens before it was attacked?

BfA just had to introduce Zandalar and Kul Tiras, tell their stories before the actual war was launched on its lands. During the past months we learned the significance of the points we are attacking now, what happened there and what is to be expected from the local communities. These are not no-name places now, but points of interest we care about. This had to be done, the only question is: how much time should we have had for the initiate problem solving and acquaintance?

Should the patch be launched a month sooner? Maybe it would have fixed the attitude, because surely 8.0. felt stale for myself by the end of November.

And yet, the world has got a new breath now. I do feel the work and effort we’ve done in the past months is starting to pay off. We know the core stories and the continents as our own fingers, and it is time to paint them with new colors (mostly bloodred). Both continents and factions now intertwine to form a common narrative – a narrative Bllizzard has always delivered.

Blizzard sees the big picture, and they are damn right that we will appreciate the expansion after we see it too. Maybe too much hope put into island expeditions, but content pace has definitely failed them in this autumn.

But it is already happening. The big picture is unveiling. The reason to be happy about every new bit of content. I am.