Friday, November 21, 2014

The New Face of Justice!

After all my struggles, I managed to faction transfer and move to a lower population RP realm where one of my former guild masters had landed. My first order of business was setting up the bank mule. I elected for a Blood Elf since Silvermoon was always relatively quiet and a short walk from the starting area. I didn't count on the fact that I forgot where everything was, but eventually I found the bank and the auction house.

Next up, I had to get Honors switched over. He’s now a Tauren. This is the new face of JUSTICE!



From here on out, this a going to be pretty spoiler filled but I’m a week behind so I doubt that’s going to be a huge problem.

I sent my Timeless Isle gear and my Heirlooms to the banker and set out for the Dark Portal. I loved the scene as storm the portal with Khadgar, Thrall, and Maraad. Watching Maraad I felt a tinge of regret for not going Draenai, and as I watched Thrall I felt a similar twinge for not making my Shaman my main. Then we stepped through and saw the vast Iron Horde army arrayed against us. It was a definite out of the frying pan into the fire sort of moment. Thanks to my Garrosh heirloom, and a bit of Heroic gear the Iron Horde orcs melted before me. I freed Gul’dan, which felt really weird, and shut down the Dark Portal. Now I was stranded and on the run.

I really like the way they did the Tanaan Jungle quests, but it was hard to feel really heroic. Every big moment, it was Khadgar who saved the day by destroying a bridge, busting a dam or teleporting us out of a cave-in. I get that he’s the baddest mage in the whole dang town, but still, for all of him calling me Champion, he handled things pretty well. As we moved through Tanaan, we were introduced to each of the Warlords of the Iron Horde. Some of the names were familiar like Blackhand. It was cool to see who the actual Kilrogg was after spending so much Burning Crusade hiding from his eyes.

There was a lot of Burning Crusade feel to the early Warlords. I recognized the Path of Glory, but not a whole lot else. It was really weird seeing Exarch Maladaar who was a boss in Auchenai Crypts in Burning Crusade. I kept thinking about Kairoz’s musing to Garrosh about not counting the blades of grass. I did want to know how where I was in Draenor related to Outland. Counting blades of grass indeed.

Sidebar! Then I started to wonder if Cairne was still alive in this timeline, but of course, he would be on an alternate Azeroth, and not on Draenor. That alternate Azeroth is mostly likely ruled by the Burning Legion. Grom didn't drink the blood, and didn't take the Dark Portal to that Azeroth. No outside force lead to the original Alliance of Lordereon and there would be no Horde for the Allinace to join forces with at Mt. Hyjal. Given that the combined Horde and Alliance forces barely defeated Archimonde, the Iron Horde's Azeroth had no chance. Archimonde and the Burning Legion rule there.

My favorite quest in Tanaan was commandeering the Iron Horde’s tank and blowing up the Dark Portal.

Overall the story telling was strong and I felt pretty connected to what was going on. I do want to go back and do this quest on my Alliance toons to find out more about Yrel. I think eventually I'll have the Hunter and Shaman as my Alliance toons and Honorshammer plus maybe my Warrior or a boosted Monk or Rogue as my other Horde toon.

We were dropped off at Frostfire Ridge and started working on the quest to open up my Garrison. The developers made sure you weren't going to miss it.  One of the first things I had to do was chop down some trees. Here we go, clearcutting a forest. It is like Warsong Gulch all over again, sigh.


I was a little disappointed in that the early Garrison experience is fairly rigid. You have very little way of any choices to make. You are pretty much forced into building the Barracks as your first large building. You literally don’t have any other blueprints at that point.

The first time one of my peons (after I work his lazy butt up) said "Work Complete" I smiled. Many of the Garrison sound effects come straight from Warcraft III. That game was my first introduction to the world that would become Warcraft.

I did love the fact that Gazlowe was the one Zul'jin sent to build your Garrison and I especially liked the bringing back General Zog from the AQ days to handle your Followers. Here again, the experience was fairly railroaded. Your first follower is given to you and wouldn't you know it, he’s perfect for the first mission.

Those minor complaints aside, I did really enjoy the Garrison experience and I’m looking forward to further exploring it in the days to come. I ended my night working through the Bladespire Fortress and hitting level 91. I did miss the ability to fly on several occasions especially given the topography of Frostfire Ridge.

I can’t help but feel like I’m already behind. The 10th year anniversary stuff has already started not even a week after the expansion launched. The Developers say they don't want people burning through the content, but then why release the anniversary stuff so soon after the expansion launched ESPECIALLY given the queues on high pop realms the first week.

Most of the guild is already looking for groups for Normals, and I’m worried that by the time I’m ready for Normals, everyone will have moved onto heroics. But there’s not a bloody thing I can do about it. As John Fox used to say when he coached the Panthers, “it is what it is.” I’m serious about sticking my ‘casual’ approach to Warlords.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Warlords Weekend


I had heard about the issues and the DDoS attack on Thursday during the day and didn't even try to log on Thursday night. I did try Friday and found myself in a huge queue. After five hours, it was after midnight and I called it a night. This repeated on Saturday and I opted to not even try again on Sunday.

I haven't even stepped through the Dark Portal yet. There's a feeling of everyone else being at a cool party, but I'm stuck outside. After being behind the curve for the last month or so, I was really looking forward to being current again. Now, most of my friends are already Level 100 and doing group stuff.

I decided my best bet would be to go Team Red and faction switch. All my old WoW friends are now Horde and when I look back on it, I've spent a good chunk of my in game life as a Horde toon. I had originally decided to stay on Zul'jin and work out the guild thing at 100, but with the queues the way they are, I'm thinking the smarter move would be to transfer off. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Haven't Seen That In a While



I'm debating a couple of different options for my new Warlords home, but all of them include some level of risk.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Free Agency

I'm come to something of a fork in the road.

I've been trying to keep the guild stuff on the blog to a minimum. It’s the kind of post where I can too easily say too much. With due caution in mind, let's continue.

When I came back to WoW, the guild I had been in when I left WoW was gracious enough to offer me an invite. Months and months prior to my return, the raid team I had been running with when I left had dissolved and the surviving members got absorbed into another team. That team’s schedule didn't fit well with my schedule and they didn't really have any spots open. The guild had one other team but the tanks were a husband/wife pair who ran the team so if I tank spot came open it would mean something pretty dire had happened to the whole team.

I talked things over with the guild leader and I decided to check out my other options. After a little time, I found a guild that I thought would be a good fit and ran Siege with them a couple of times. I got my title and my heirloom.

After three weeks, that guild has decided that I’m wasn't a good fit for them and they removed me. I’m dealing with all kinds of emotions, but disappoint is the biggest one. I am, however; pretty happy with the way I handled it. I thanked them for the runs and wished them well. Bottom line was that if they didn't think I was a good fit, then I wasn't a good fit.

This situation has sapped much of my enthusiasm for Warlords. I log in now and I feel sort of aimless.

My goal had been to get established in a guild and get ready to make the run up to 100 in Draenor. That is not going to happen.

Door #1: Go Solo - Blast my way up to Level 100 and look for opportunities once I'm there.

Door #2 : Go Searching - Try to find something now and hope it works out when we all get to 100. If you think you have a place I should check out, but you first want the nitty gritty details about why this last guild didn't keep me past my trail, contact me and I'll talk to you privately.

Ideal guild: 2 nights a week, starts 9:30 EST or later, ends by 1:00 am EST, PVE server, Alliance and needs a tank.

Door #3: Go Red - I've heard from some of my old WoW crew and nearly all of them are coming back for Warlords (though not all to the same server - but BTag should solve that). The problem is they are all going Horde. I've always said it would take a remarkable set of people for me to play Horde. My old WoW buddies are a remarkable set of people.

Door #4: Go Dark - Finally, once and for all, get off the train. Don't buy Warlords, cancel the sub and put this hobby in my past.

My free time is what it is. The days of me logging 20 hours a week in game are long gone. Can I get enjoyment out of WoW in less than 10 hours a week ( I’m not talking about less than 10 hours a week raiding, I’m talking about total time logged into the game). I'm pretty sure I can. Is it reasonable to expect I can find a place to play that will let me take on a Tank role with my limited play time? That's harder to answer.

Warlords is days away. I’m not sure what to do.



Let me know if you have any advice for my situation. Thanks.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

DatOrangeDoe

I went back to the Inn and Wratharion sent me to the Timeless Isle. After we had our little chat, I had two quests: "Secrets of the Timeless Isle" and "The Emperor's Way". I had the coins for "Secrets" as soon as he gave me the quest. But I was once again frustrated when I saw "The Emperor's Way".

On my server, we have a slight faction imbalance. The Timeless Isle is pretty much a Horde zone. Lucky for me, it's a PVE server, but groups for the Celestial's form rarely. In fact, I don't recall seeing an Alliance group on my server since I arrived (not that I was paying real close attention). I thought about checking OpenRaid to see if a group was scheduled there. I figured someone on a more Alliance friendly server might have a group and I could get the achievement done.

Then one of my guild mates told me about the new Group Finder. Apparently, there's a new option called Custom Groups. He told me to pull it up and look for a group doing Celestials.

Great Jumping Jehoshaphat! There it was.



I queued as tank or DPS and got an almost immediate invite as a Tank. All the Horde players around me vanished, and I was standing in pretty much the exact same spot on the Timeless Isle where I had been. I realized I must have been transported to another server. There was a huge group of friendly Alliance faces: Humans, sesssy, sessy Dwarves, Night Elves, Draeani, Gnomes, and even some Worgen. The first Celestial up was the Jade Dragon. We had four tanks and one of the Druids took her and solo tanked it. A bunch of us ended up dying to the Flame Wall, but she was defeated soon after.

A bunch of people left the raid and I feared that might be all I got out of it, but then we started filling up again and soon we were ready to pull. We killed Chi-Ji and the pattern repeated. People dropped and new people came in. We killed Nuizao.

Now, I just had Xuen left. I was the 'senior' tank in the group so Xuen was all mine.



It was a fun fight and he went down without too much trouble.

I had completed "The Emporer's Way".

The new group finder tool might be my favorite new feature of the whole prepatch. I don't know if I could have completed the quest so quickly without it. There were groups for the frogs I keep hearing about and many other things. I might even try to use it for "Share the Love". Clearly, Blizzard is paying attention to things like Open Raid and I'm thrilled they've put them in the game. Now, they need to seriously consider putting in an Open Raid style reputation system.

I flew out to the Seat of Knowledge and met Lorewalker Cho and Wratharion. What happened next was probably one of the coolest moments I've seen in the game in a long time.



Lorewalker started one of this vision stories, except this time it was my Dwarf that was the hero. It showed the entire chain from Mogu'shan Valuts, through Operation: Shieldwall and the Throne of Thunder.

At long last, Wratharion gave me the essence and I used it.

DatOrangeDoe



It was the first Legendary I've ever had in World of Warcraft.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

DatPurpleDoe?

I entered the night with 9 Titan Runestones. I knew Sha of Pride was a guaranteed drop as was Lei Shien, but I knew at some point I would need the "Heart of the Thunder King" from Lei Shien so I didn't want to kill him until I was on that step if I could avoid it.

I opted for the Vale of Eternal Sorrows knowing that it would give me four shots at a Runestone and I was guarenteed at least the drop from Sha. Immereus was a swing and a miss. Here we go I thought, another night of nothing. Then Protectors cooperated and dropped one. With Sha that would be 11, but then, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Norushen dropped one too! Now I knew Sha would give me my 12th as long as we could kill him.

The new patch removed any drama from that event. Healers might be struggling to adjust but tanks appear nigh unkillable and DPS is through the roof.

I flew my happy little dwarf behind back to the Veiled Stair and sure enough, Wratharion gives me the quest to kill Lei Shien for his heart. I queued up for Pinnacle of Storms and apparently the odds were ever in my favor. I was dropped into a group that had just killed the Twins and was pulling through the trash to Lei Shien. We get to Lei Shien only short a tank. After a few moments, I nervously spoke up and offered to tank. Well, I was nervous at home, but I guess no one in the LFR could see that as I typed.

The Monk tank agreed and I switched. I'm not sure I needed to. I don't know if the raids weren't balanced around Resolve or what it was, but the Monk was nigh unkillable even with Decapitate on him. I taunted off on queue, but he grabbed it right back. I watched his health, ready to taunt if he got low but that never happened. We lost a couple of people through the transitions, but in short order I was looting the Heart. I double and then triple checked to make sure I had it before I dropped group.



I hadn't actually gotten too far from the Veiled Stair so it was a short flight back. Wratharion ate or drank the heart, I'm not sure which.



I have no idea who this Final Titan is or how we are supposed to build him or what that has to do with us going to Draenor. I'm worried this will be another of those stores in Warcraft that never comes to conclusion.

Wrath (we are tight now so I call him Wrath) asked me to go with him and talk to the Celestials. I started with the Jade Serpent, then moved on to Xuen, Chi-Ji and Niuzao.



Now came the hard part. I had to decide which challenge to do. I thought that the challenge I chose would determine the kind of cloak I got so I wanted to choose carefully. I'm a Ret Pally now, but I'm still a tank at heart. I've done this entire challenge solo and progression is over. The guild wiped out SoO with me dead most of the night. If they really need me, it will be as a tank.

On top of that, I remembered my experience with the Proving Grounds. When I first came  back, I did some proving grounds to get my head back in the game and remember how to play without affecting other people's play. It took me only two times to get the Tank challenge (Silver). It took me like 8 times to get the DPS challenge (Silver). I never got any higher than that before they shut down. I'm more fluid with the tank.

Off to Niuzao it was.



Maybe the post squish balance wasn't right or maybe I was a bit overgeared from the SoO run, I don't know. All I do know is that after reading up on the challenge on Wowhead, I managed to beat it on my first try.



I returned to Mason's Folly and after a pretty cool cut scene, I had my choice of cloaks. I had been wrong in my assumption and I once again faced the choice of what cloak to get. Since I had already worked it out in my head, I stayed with my decision and grabbed the Oxhorn Bladebreaker.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Conqueror of Orgrimmar

One of my goals before the expansion was to see the end of Siege of Orgrimmar. I could have done this in LFR by now, but I’ve bene concentrating on the legendary quest line and by the time I ran the last two wings of Throne of Thunder and the first two wings of Siege my week was pretty much shot.

I got offered an invite to the guild’s raid team, but it was with the understanding that the Tank spots were taken. I would be joining as main spec DPS with a tank off spec. I looked around various places like the Official Forums, Wowhead, Tankspot, Maintankadin, MMO-Champ, etc. There didn’t seem to be many (any) guilds recruiting Tanks. I decided my best chance would be to get established in a team and hope to get a role as a fill-in tank and eventually get promoted from within to a dedicated tank role.

The night before the raid, I got myself gemmed, and enchanted and read over the fights as best I could. Since I had been concentrating on farming Titan Runestones, I had only been up through General Nazgrim on LFR. The guild would be running Siege of Orgrimmar on Heroic (which was the old Normal). Through a combination of LFR and the Blasted Lands quests, I had gotten my iLevel up to 511 but I was still pretty under geared compared to the rest of the raid.

I was invited as they started on Malkorok with the understanding that I may have to step out if my low DPS caused the raid to get stuck. We pulled and I died on the first Breath of Y’sharrj.

That wasn’t exactly the first impression I was hoping to make.

We moved onto Spoils of Pandaria which was a little weird in that it was a SWTOResque raid event rather than a Boss fight. I followed my assigned group, but something happened with the other group, and we got overwhelmed and wiped. We pulled again and got it down on the second attempt. Next up was Thok the Bloodthirsty. This was a fun fight, and I handled the Fixate fine, but ended up dying to other mechanics.



They kept me around despite the fact I was considering a name chage to SirIDieAlot. We headed up to Siegemaster Blackfuse and one of the tanks had to go. They debated asking me to fill in. This was exactly the scenario I had hoped for, but my iLevel was still pretty low and they decided to bring in one of their alts. I stayed away from belt duty as I didn’t want to wipe the raid, and somehow I actually managed to survive the encounter.

Paragons of Klaxxi were probably the coolest fight of the night. It was sad to have to fight my old ‘friends’ but Korvan did warn me they would fight for Y’sharrj if the time came. I guess Garrosh was close enough. We had some close calls with Hungry Kunchongs but we managed to kill them. Finally, we came to the big guy himself, Garrosh Hellscream. I got the instructions from the raid leader and went to town. The first phase went well, but then we got transported up to what looked like the Terrace of Endless Spring. We start running and then *boom* I’m dead. I watched the rest of the fight and it looked pretty cool. I was nervous they wouldn’t have the DPS to down him since I was tanking the floor, but I was luck in that they have a very well geared and very skilled Ret Paladin and Warlock who were putting up some great numbers. Garrosh went down. I was a “Conqueror of Orgrimmar”.

I had selected Ret as my loot specialization so I got the two-hander heirloom. Most of the raiders had all the gear they needed, but I still tried to limit what I rolled on (they were using a simple need/greed system). If any of their regulars mentioned any interest in a piece I would defer. I managed to snag two tier tokens, one for gloves and one for shoulders and a Heroic Warforged Helm off of Spoils.

I was torn about which piece to redeem the tokens for. The guild was clear that they have their designated tanks. I’m now main spec Ret with a Prot off spec. With the change to stats, Ret and Tank gear should be very similar although the SoO stuff won’t change the set bonuses like the Warlords gear will. With the huge iLevel jump, even the Ret tier gear should work for tanking if I’m called upon.