Triumphant Return!

halls-of-valorLong  time no see! No, I haven’t died or been forced to run from the authorities, there’s just been a perfect storm of events that’s kept me from blogging (and playing Warcraft too!).  First it was an uptick of school and other work but the bigger interruption came about a week and a half ago when my computer’s copy of WoW kept encountering a fatal error upon launch.  I spent almost every bit of free-time I had for the past week trying to troubleshoot the issue- I rolled back Windows updates, deleted my cache and WTF folders more time than I care to count, scanned for memory issues, even reinstalled the entire game!  In the end though, it was futzing around with the drivers that ultimately solved the issue and as of Thursday I have been able to play again!

Since getting access to WoW again, I’ve been trying to cover a lot of lost ground.  I recently hit 110 (making me the very last person to do so) and have been plugging away at the very first 110 quests. Friday night I entered my very first dungeons of the expansion with some of my awesome guildies, which is what I want to talk about today!

My wonderful guildie Vin offered to bring me through some dungeons once I hit max level and true to his word, he invited my sorely undergeared butt for some runs. I may have only been ilvl 784 but Vin, Lore, Who, and Romanova were determined to bring (read: carry) me through.

Despite me never having seen the dungeon before, we jumped right into Heroic Eye of Azshara.  One of the very first things I noticed was that, even despite how undergeared I was, my healing spells were healed for an overall smaller percentage of health.  It seems we are back to a more triage form of healing yet again, which could be interesting, provided the damage isn’t too spiky.  The second thing I noticed after that was just how overgeared my guildies were for the dungeon.  Even though it was far higher than I should have been in, my guildies had me covered.

Eye of Azshara is a very interesting dungeon.  It’s probably one of the most open floorplanned dungeons I have ever been in, allowing the players to pick which bosses they want to defeat when.  And even though I spent most of the boss fights dead on the floor, the fights themselves seemed to be the typical run of the mill dungeon encounters, with one or two interesting mechanics thrown in there for good measure.  I particularly enjoyed the ramp up of the weather in the zone after each boss kill; it really added to the overall atmosphere.

Also, this is the part where I mention seagulls being the spawn of Sargeras.

After Eye of Azshara was finished, we then moved to the Halls of Valor.  First things first, this zone was gorgeous. I got a strong Diablo vibe from the floating structures and the gold and red but dang, was this place just beautiful!  I also really dug the Norse myth tie-in, the Hearth of Revelry and the Fields of the Eternal Hunt in particular.

It did seem a little odd to me that Eyir was mad at us as alliance players, seeing as how we did rescue her from Sylvannas.  Maybe she just lumps all mortals in together?  Regardless, I’m glad we did not kill her champion, or really anyone in the Halls, we just beat them unconscious (out of context this sounds really bad). We’re getting better at not destroying everything!

Oh and the rainbow bridge! The first time I went up it, my guildie Lore told me to look backwards at the beautiful stain glass windows behind us.  So, of course, I swiveled my camera around to take a look.  And then, promptly fell off the edge of the bridge and plummeted to my death.  Yeah, I won’t be hearing the end of that soon.  My second try was much more successful and we finished the rest of the dungeon without a hitch!

While I’ve only done two of the (how many? eight?) new Legion dungeons so far, I am already impressed! The zones were thematic and atmospheric, the dungeons themselves very different from each other, and the boss fights entertaining!  I am excited to try out the rest and maybe venture into a mythic or two!  While I might be super far behind, Legion has been a blast so far!

Legion First Look

stormheimThe long awaited Legion expansion has finally dropped! Here’s Fussypants and Yotaan’s first impressions of the new expansion.

Fussypants: First things first, I want to give kudos where kudos are due, that pre-expansion event was AWESOME!  The quests, the invasions, the whispers, all were perfect for building up the excitement and anticipation for the final drop.  The Legion invasions in particular got me two new level 100s (a druid from 80 and a rogue from 64) as well as a bunch of shiny new gear to outfit out all my alts.  Two thumbs up from me!

Secondly, I’ve got another person to thank.  I would have had to wait several days for my copy of Legion to finally arrive had it not been for the super generous actions of one of my guildies.  Thank you so much Frandall for giving me the key that allowed me to enter Legion the day of launch!  You’re the real MVP!

Finally, onto the expansion itself!  I, of course, started leveling with my Holy Paladin right off the bat.  The whole Class Hall and artifact introduction was very, very well done (but I do have to say, it’s a little weird to be the big man in charge of all the paladins in Azeroth; I’m much more used to being underling number three).  I totally adored that aquiring the healing artifact took, you guessed it, healing! My lifelong dream has finally come true, healing quests are a thing!

the-silver-handSpeaking of healing quests being a thing, you know what else is a thing? Leveling in healing spec!  That’s right, I’ve been shockadining my way across the Broken Isles since the first moment I stepped foot and for the first time, it hasn’t been horribly inconvenient.  In fact, it’s much more akin to tank leveling now- I can pull anywhere from 3 to 5 mobs, pop a few AoEs, toss a couple heals on myself, and widdle down each and every mob.  The process has probably been slower than if I were leveling in a dps spec but at the same time, I cannot die.  And really, compared to previous expansions (looking at you Warlords), the only drawback is that it’s a just a bit slower instead of taking twice the amount of time.  Healers rejoice!

Right now I am level 105 and have quested through the entirety of Azuna and a majority of Stormheim.  If I were to write about each zone in specifics, we’d be looking at several thousand words so instead I’ll just brief over a few things that really stood out to me overall.  The biggest and best thing so far is that I haven’t been hit over the head with demons.  Sure, the Legion is invading and all that, but there’s a plethora of other lore having nothing to do with the demons.  Vykrul lore and Night elf lore and heck, even current Alliance v Horde lore, it’s been everywhere and it’s been awesome!

The other thing that has really stood out to me is the development of little side quests and characters.  I feel like everywhere I go, there is some fun little tidbit to watch out for.  Some of it has been highly comedic but others side stories have been incredibly sad.  If I had to recommend side quests to look for, my top three would definitely be Runas in Azuna, Tehd’s demon in Azuna as well, and the Moonkin up in Northern Stormheim.  (The goblins in Stormheim might also join that list but I have not yet completed that particular quest chain.)

Legion has just been… wow.  The story is fantastic, the zones are gorgeous, the voice acting is superb, man it’s almost perfect!  Now my only wish is that Blizzard maintains this level of perfection into the endgame; if this happens we might be looking at Pants’ new favorite expansion!

This part of the zone was so beautiful, I have over 50 screenshots of it!

This part of the zone was so beautiful, I have over 50 screenshots of it!

Yotaan: I have to agree with Fussypants, I really, really enjoyed the pre-expansion event.  The quests were an enjoyable as lore building.  I actually began to like Khadgar!  I do wish the whispers that lead to transforming into a demon were a little different.  The RNG gods smiled on my toons twice for this, but I was not able to complete the chores to transform.  It was not entirely easy or clear what to do.  I was hoping to achieve this (ala the Scourge transformation in the Lich King pre-expansion event) as I wanted to rampage as a vile Legion demon!  Speaking of rampages, the Legion invasions were very fun.  Initially, I was thought they were too simple – I had quickly grinded out Nethershards on Yotaan and did not need any gear.  But then I learned that they scaled for alt leveling.  I jumped on Poopertunity (for some reason Fussypants does not like this toon???) who was a lowly level 13 Brewmaster monk.  He had rested experience, full heirlooms, and access to the monk only daily experience gain quest.   So he joined the fight against the Legion and leveled like a mad dog!  It was so fun watching him ding repeatedly during just one invasion.  The other interesting effect of the invasion scaling was Poopertunity’s threat generation.  He was tanking the elites!  I had not really tanked on a monk (outside of a little with Fussypant’s help) and this new challenge was fun and rewarding.  It got even better the few times a healer targeted me and I never thought tanking would be so engaging.  Ultimately Poopertunity made it all the way to 71 from 13.  Very impressive for just a few hours of play.

Demon hunters are fantastic.  Fussypants and I intend to write a whole post on this so I won’t say any more.

Yotaan has not traveled in the Broken Isle as much as Fussypants has.  He is level 102 and has gone thorough most, but not all of Azuna.  The scenery has been beautiful to say the least.  When I came across unicorns and rainbow winged hippogriffs, I immediately ran off to get my youngest daughter to show her.  She loved it and demanded that Yotaan stay there forever.  I can really appreciate the new draw distance and attention to detail even on my Mac.  So far the questing has been inventive and the narrative has been reasonably complex.  I did not always know where the story was taking me.  I am a little bit concerned about leveling too fast as I want to take this slowly, but then again, the scaling tech is allowing me to go anywhere.

I am not particularly thrilled about the profession leveling however.  While the quests are cool and unique to the prof, I’m not actually making anything I could use.  Perhaps when I get farther along it will improve.

In an earlier post I complained about the shaman elemental artifact, a fist weapon.  The quests for Yotaan to obtain The Fist of Ra-Den were unusual and I liked the traveling beyond the Broken Isles.  The artifact tree totally reminds me of spec trees back in Burning Crusade.  All that is good.  Still don’t like the pointy claw thing and the teeny tiny shield.  I’m actually motivated to transmog….

Despite the very few missteps I overall really really like Legion so far.  I haven’t had a chance to play as much as Fussypants, for that I am jealous.  And, patch 7.1 is looking very exciting.   See you in Azeroth!

Full Circle

Malk's Raid
What’s the name of the Archimonde Feat of Strength again? That’s right, it’s Time Is A Flat Circle.  Sure, the name is a pop culture reference to some TV show or another but to me, it’s got another meaning.

Full circle.  I’ve completed the circle.

At this very same time last expansion, I was frantically trying to get into a group to get my Garrosh AotC achievement.  I was dedicated, that’s for sure, but my gear and numbers left much to be desired.  Last expansion I was pugging into every group I could, hoping to get that one extra drop I needed to be able to get into a successful Garrosh group.

Last expansion, a truly wonderful person named Khizzara and her guild <That Guild> helped me finally achieve my expansion long goal.  They graciously took me under their wing and brought me in for my Feat of Strength and mount, just a few days before the patch dropped and removed the AoTC forever.

And now this expansion, I return the favor.

It’s a Monday afternoon, about one week before the launch of Warcraft’s next expansion, Legion.  I was browsing Twitter as I am wont to do when I happened across a tweet of particular interest.  Malkarii, a twitter acquaintance of mine, was looking to set up a last moose carry run before the end of the expansion.  She wanted to run a low-key sort of event, just a group of friends hanging out in Twitch/Mumble, getting mooses for as many folks as we could before they disappeared forever.

I checked my calendar and found that I was free on the day of the run.  So, I shot her a DM, offering my services as a healer (or tank or dps should the need be great).  We chatted for a bit, I mentioning that I could ask a few of my guildies if they wanted to come since most were geared to the nines at this point.  The time of the run was established and we parted ways.

Fast forward to Saturday evening.  I’m hanging out in a raid with my guildies Rainspirit and Lorenyth (later to come are Bodhirana, Cloud, and Xunam).  Us, along with about a dozen others are all grouped up and ready to start wailing on Archimonde.  Then, we bring in the carries.  It’s a scattered assortment of friends and guildies.  Some more experienced than others but all eager and dedicated.

The first couple of attempts are admittedly rough.  We wipe a couple of times but keep coming back up and trying again.  Then, we start rolling.  The stacks are stacked and the spreads spreaded and Archimonde comes crashing to the ground.  It’s one successful run down.

At this point, I unfortunately have to step out of the raid for a little while.  I ask my friend Bodhirana if he’d like to come in as I don’t want to leave without finding a replacement healer and I’d trust Bodhi with my virtual life in a split second.  Bodhi generously agrees to come with (you can read about his experience in his most recent blog post!) and I duck out for a while.

After taking care of my real life responsibilities, I join back in the group.  At this point, we are rolling.  It takes more time to get every grouped up and explain the fight than it does to actually take Archimonde down.  Malkarii is great, explaining the fight before every single pull.  Yes, this may be a carry run but she doesn’t want folks to tap the boss once and go and stand in some fire.   Everyone is working together as a team to accomplish this, let’s all try to remain standing at the end if we can!

One run goes by, then another, then another! Pretty soon, I’ve lost count.  Dozens of hopeful folks come in seeking mooses and head out with the quests for their shiny new mount.  And even though it’s the same boss over and over again, I still was having a ton of fun.  I was chatting, cracking jokes, laughing at jokes, and getting to really make a difference for some folks.

Call me cliche and call me corny but the truth of the matter is, I loved being able to do this.  Just one expansion ago, I was one of those folks.  Determined on getting the AotC mount but not lucky enough to be on a raid team to do it.  Working on gearing up but running into the inevitability of pugs.  This was me.

And now I get to give back.  Now instead of being the carried, I get to be the carrier.  I’m offering these folks the opportunity to get the mount, I know from personal experience, they’ve worked so hard to get.  Just like myself, they are getting in their mooses just in the nick of time due to the kindness of friends, guildies, and even complete strangers.  I am giving the gift I once received myself.

It’s a wonderful feeling.

Huge, huge, huge thanks to my fellow guildies for coming along for the ride!  Rainspirit (though I know you found out and joined independently of me but still, I’m going to mention you here!), Lorenyth, Aestalas, Cloud, and Xunam, y’all are totally amazing folks and we couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you so much for joining me on this (totally optional!) adventure!

And to all the other carries, those from twitter and those from somewhere else in the great wide world of Azeroth, thank you as well! Had there not been our two trusty tanks or our dependable dps, I would not have been able to complete the circle.  Thank you for running with me!

And finally, Malkarii.  I know you don’t want to be showered with accolades or follows or anything but I do want to say, thank you.  Thank you for organizing this, for making the call to run the extra hour, for bringing together all the carriers to make this run a reality.  You rock lady!

Time may be a flat circle, but now it’s also a complete circle.

Prepatch: INVASIONS

WoWScrnShot_081216_154013The Legion has arrived!  With it has come demon hunters and lore and content and, of course, demons!  But of all the new stuff to do, I’d have to say, my absolute favorite are the Legion Invasions.

For those who haven’t done one yet, Legion invasions are pretty rad.  Every four hours the Legion invades two of the leveling zones in Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms. During those four hours players of almost any level can enter the zone and help fight off the Legions demons who have started to overrun the area.

The first phase, Stage 1, involves killing demons attacking the main town of the zone.  Once that stage has been pushed to 100%, Stage 2 begins.  A number of named demons, lower ranking officers, materialize and attack the town.  Once again you defeat the demons and the trigger Stage 3.

Stage 3 is my absolute favorite part of the invasions.  In Stage 3, the Legion decides to full out invade the entire zone.  Huge demonic structures grow out of the ground, enormous Legion commanders walk the zone, packs of lose demons roam this way and that, felfire rains from the sky, it is chaos, it is mayhem, and it is awesome!  In order to push back this invasion, players can destroy the structures by taking out their powering crystals, take down the mighty demon elites, or go around healing and inspiring the denizens of the zone.  Lots of action and lots and lots of Legion!

Once Stage 3 is completed, you end up in the Final Stage.  At this point, the Legion Boss in charge of this particular invasion appears in the main town.  All the players come flying back and together start wailing on the demon lord.  Depending on which demon comes down, the final stage can be a cake walk or it can be a graveyard run.  Once the final demon is beaten, you’ve completed the invasion! Congrats!

The invasions work with a nifty type of phasing in which entering the zone pulls you into a specific version where the Legion has just started invading so you can work your way through.  There are multiple versions of the zone, all on different stages of invasion.  This means you can complete an invasion in twenty minutes but the Legion will still be invading that zone for three more hours so you can swap to an alt and beat the invasion all over again.

WoWScrnShot_081216_154318Man oh man, Blizzard has totally knocked it out of the park with this one.  This is everything I could have ever wanted in a pre-expansion event and this isn’t the only part of it! I love that the town leaders get to shout dialogue across the zone and that you  can recruit the NPCs in the zone to fight.  I love that there are demons literally everywhere and the whole zone takes part.  And most of all, I love that I can participate and actually help out as a healer!

The damage that the demons deal, particularly the big ones, is nothing to snooze at.  Without the aid of a friendly neighborhood healer, it is very very easy to go splat when tanking the final demon boss.  And even before that, I can help push the percentages higher in Stage 3 by rescuing NPCs instead of fighting.  For the very first time I’m getting to play my healer as a healer outside of instances.

As fun as invasions are by yourself, they are even more fun in groups!  I’ve been organizing what I call “Guild Invasion Groups!” where me and all of my guildies who are interested in running invasions all group up and go and kill some demons together.  Like one big bonding experience!  Once we complete the two invasions points on our mains, we then swap to our alts and do it again and again until either we get bored or run out of alts.  I’ve run groups with as many as fifteen people in them and it’s been a total blast!

The invasions also award armor, weapons, a new currency, a pet, and a couple of Feats of Strength but honestly, I would do the invasions if there was no reward at all.  That’s just how atmospheric and awesome I find this event!  Blizzard has really knocked this out of the park.

And I can’t wait to see how it will ramp up!

Short Story: TRAPPED (Part 1)

WoWScrnShot_080516_191028Today we’re breaking from the norm yet again; I’ve got another short story for you all! Because of the longer length of the piece (it’s nearly 6,000 words!) I’ve broken it up into two parts and placed this first part behind a cut.  Part Two will be coming soon so stay tuned!  And now, I present to you….

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Why I Do Not Use (many) Addons

(Pretend LootCouncil_Lite isn't there, that seems to be a graphical error because it is well and truly uninstalled)

The lonely few addons I use!  (pretend LootCouncil_Lite isn’t there; that seems to be a graphical error because it is fully and truly uninstalled)

This has come up again and again and I’ve finally decided to sit down and address it once and for all in it’s own blog post.  The topic at hand? Why I, Fussypants, do not use (many) addons in World of Warcraft.

First things first, what do I mean when I say that I don’t use many addons?  Depending on who you talk to, that could range from a hundred addons to zero.  In my case, I have a grand total of five addons installed.  Skada, DBM, oRA3, Iskar Assist, and XRP.  Of those five, I currently have just one of them enabled, which is Skada.  All of the rest I have used at some point in Warlords of Draenor but as they became less useful to me, I slowly began to disable them.  Right now, DBM, oRA3, Iskar Assist, and XRP exist in the disabled void.  So when I say I don’t use many addons, I really mean it.

Alright I think we’ve pretty clearly illustrated my lack of addon usage so here’s going to come the ringer.  A lot of times when I tell folks how few addons I use, they assume I don’t have many because I must harbor some deep seated loathing of any and all addon.  I won’t download Master Plan or Vudho or Altoholic because I despise them with all of my soul.  And that’s simply not true.

I do not hate addons.

I just don’t find them very useful in my particular situation.

Again, I’m going to pause right here and reiterate, all of this applies only to me.  These are my feelings and thoughts about my gameplay and I, in no way, assume they apply to anyone else.  If they do, great, we have something in common! But let it be known, I am writing this completely and solely about myself (what a narcissist!).

Ok, back to the subject at hand.

I only use an addon if it does something that I absolutely need in order to play.  I have Skada so I can gauge my performance and see if I am where I need to be.  I had oRA3 to keep track of several pieces of information that I needed for raid leading, chief among them battle resurrection timers and flask and food buff checks.  I had Iskar Assist for the Iskar encounter in Hellfire Citadel (but in reality, I rarely thought to use the addon and instead clicked the new action button almost every time).  I had XRP to facilitate roleplaying, the one time a friend and I rolled characters on an RP server.  And I had DBM to inform me ahead of time when certain encounter abilities and phases were incoming.  Each of my addons fills a specific roles that I need and otherwise would not have.

If I find I need to be able to do something and the default in game UI is not clear enough or I can’t keep track of it on my own, that’s when I start looking into an addon to fill that gap.  That’s how I ended up getting Skada; I needed a way to quantitatively test my specs and see how I was performing.  When I encounter something in game and I can’t play happily the way it is, I start searching Curse for a tool to do the job.

This also means that once I no longer need the addon, I’ll get rid of it.  With Hellfire Citadel soon becoming obsolete, I will be uninstalling the Iskar Assist addon.  I am not currently raid leading so I will probably dump oRA3.  And I know all of the boss fights in HFC well enough that, for the time being, I’ve disabled that too.  Addons are only useful if they are doing things I can’t do by myself.

I am well aware that with certain addons, I could most likely be just a tiny faster, better, more successful, whatever you have it.  But that has never been my goal in game.  I don’t play to be the best, I play to have fun.  Sure, a lot of times being good at what I do is fun enough on it’s own but I’ve never felt the urge to eke out that very last percentage of uberness.  Call me lazy, call me casual, both are probably correct and neither really bother me.

So why fix something that isn’t broken? Why would I install an addon to be just a little bit more productive if I’m already perfectly content where I am?

My healing set up

My healing set up

Let’s use an example.  My most favorite thing to do in game is fill the healing role in raids.  I have one of every single healer and I spend 85% of my times in raids healing.  However, I do not, and will not get the addon Vudho (or any of the alternatives).  People have asked me, and even told me to get a healing addon but at the current, I don’t see any reason to.

As it is, I heal just fine.  I might not be the best, I might not be the worst (at least I hope not!) but I genuinely enjoy the act of healing.  Of clicking in the raid frames and then hitting or clicking a button to heal.  To me, it’s fun! It’s how I relax.  It’s how I challenge myself.  It’s how I game.

If I someday got to the point where I couldn’t respond fast enough, perhaps then I would download a healing addon to help with that.  I won’t rule out that possibility.  But right now, I seem to be doing pretty good.  I don’t really need it and so I don’t plan to download it.

This is not to say I begrudge the folks who have hundreds of addons.  Play the game how you’d like, I’m not going to judge you!  If you use Vudho or Healbot or Grid or Clique to heal, power to you!  If you’ve modded your UI into a completely different form, go for it!  If you have a tracker and timer for every spell effect, go hog wild!

But also, to those folks who play with the basic UI, have a blast! To those folks who use the basic raid frames and in game timer, you do you!  The way you play is not in any way worse. As much as we’d like to joke about it, there’s really no wrong way to play World of Warcraft.  Make your own fun your own way.

And stop telling me to download Vudho!😛