BlizzCon!!

The Hype Center!

The Hype Center!

Months and months and months ago, Yotaan and I wrote about our adventure at the WoD live cinematic premiere. At the time, we thought that would be the closest we were going to get to the Blizzcon experience.  Boy, were we wrong.

Fast forward to now and Yotaan and I are excitedly enjoying our very first Blizzcon!! So far, we’ve gone to the Con Before The Storm party as well as experiencing our first day of Blizzcon glory! Since so many sites cover the news aspect much better than Yotaan and I ever could, we’re going to instead focus on the personal impact of the con rather than the deets.  Here are some of our trip highlights!

Fussypants: Oh my goodness, I don’t even know where to begin!  Beginning, maybe? Yotaan and I attended the CbtS party on Thursday night which, while being initially intimidating to actually go up and meet all the people behind the names, was a perfect beginning to the con!  I was able to meet a number of awesome artist and community folks, people that I have chatted with or looked up to for a long time over the web.  I’m probably going to forget some but in no particular order; Bawk, Avaltor, Ratsel (thank you again for the pin and advice!), Malkarii, Faebelina, Skornflakes, Quel’Fabulous, Katch, Serephita, Battlepanda, and Lyeric.

Speaking of Serephita, thank you so much for letting me set up a little sign with business cards out in the vending area! That was also a really exciting opportunity; over 100 people grabbed a card with my name on it!

After staying up far too late, Yotaan and I came back the next day ready for con action! We’ve spent a surprising amount of time watching the arena championship; something about the energy of the crowd all cheering at once made even this die hard PvEr interested in some player vs player.  And hey, the go to PvP healer appeared to be holy paladins, which was totally awesome for me to watch!

blizzcon-slide

Wonderful picture, boat day?

The Legion: What’s Next panel was also an amazing experience.  It’s one thing to read about the announcements on Blizzard Watch but it’s quite another to live through the hype as it happens.  The energy on that stage was palpable! And man, am I psyched about those “micro-holidays”! And, the class flying mounts! And ARGUS! Gosh, even though it wasn’t an expansion announcement, I am super super excited to play WoW!

blizzcon-cosplayCosplay! The cosplay at the convention has been insanely awesome! Lots and lots of Overwatch (sooo many lady McCrees!) and a good amount of Warcraft as well! Some of the most impressive costumes I have seen was an absolutely perfect Deckard Cain, lady Varian Wrynn, an enormous Reinhardt, Chromie, one of the Feral druid artifact skins, and a stunning re-imagination of the Warlock Tier 2.  I think the most amazing part though, is the fact that these people are just wandering around throughout the enter con.  Turn around and suddenly, there’s yet another Dv.A sitting at the panel behind you.

My badge!

Ok well Yotaan wants me to wrap this up (we’re writing on my laptop) so I’ll just finish with, if you happen to see the two of us at the convention on Saturday, totally come up and say hi! I would love to meet some of the readers of the blog face to face and I mean, I’ve also got some pretty spiffy business cards left over!  Meet and greet the Pants!

Yotaan: By far my favorite time during this trip was during the Con before the Storm.  I accompanied Pants, of course, as we wandered the party.  I loved her excitement and enthusiasm as she met other artists that she admired.  They were all friendly and wonderful.  It is fantastic to see such a supportive atmosphere around artists and their art.  Frankly, our trip could of ended right there, and I would have been happy.

However, Blizzcon is pretty awesome and I saw some great stuff!  While there is a great community around WoW, its rare to run into other folks in the everyday world that know, much less play, WoW.  And then if you are lucky, you get to go to Blizzcon, where SO MANY people play WoW.  What a thrilling opportunity to share this great game with like minded individuals, this experience alone is a highlight.
But there is one more highlight.  One more small, but incredibly  important detail that I learned today…

I get to ride an air elemental as a mount.   A zephyr!  Yotaan will ride a flying, whirling, lightning filled TORNADO!!!

Oh yeah, say hi to us and all, but I’ll be distracted by thoughts flying by twister.

20,000 Leagues Under the Great Sea

Inspired by a tweet from a Warcraft Dev, myself and my two awesome guildies Zanima and Vall took to the seas last Friday night to search for hidden secrets and treasures! While we didn’t find much in the way of clickable objects (much to Zanima’s dismay) we did have a wonderful time exploring the ocean and stumbling onto some really really neat areas!

(To note, the tweet was later followed up by this and this which means we probably weren’t going to find the big patch 7.0 secret but hey, still led to some amazingly fun exploration!)

The night started out rather innocuously; a group of my guildies and I were hanging out in Mumble as we all did our own tasks while chatting about nothing in particular.  I personally was wandering around Highmountain looking for Foxflower when I came upon a rather large cliff.  Being a naturally adept climber and skillful in-game manuerver, I promptly fell off the side of the mountain.   The always on her toes me forgot both my gliders and my paladin bubble and managed to die in the most awkward and hard to reach spot ever on the side of the mountain. Go Pants!

After laughing profusely about this in Mumble, I began my long trek to find my body.  Zanima and Vall came out to help try to rez me (or in Vall’s case, steal my soul) and after almost half an hour of sliding down mountains, I finally managed to rez.  The three of us continued down to the bottom of the slope, ending up out in the sea just north of all those murlocs on the very tip of Highmountain.

This is when the fun part began!
wowscrnshot_102216_002718Almost right off the bat, we came across a really intriguing find – a Salty Kraken just chilling on the top of some night elven ruins.  The three of us promptly attacked the beast but it didn’t seem to do anything really.  We killed the creature without it raising a tentacle to attack us back!

Next we came across an absolutely enormous Toothless Great White guarding a shipwreck in an underwater cleft.  Zan astutely pointed out that the exact same mob guarded one of the orbs of Kosumoth so we excitedly searched the areas for secrets.  We didn’t find anything out of the ordinary but we did kill the shark for good measure.  You never know!

Thus began our night of exploration.  Over the course of several hours, we made our way from the Northernmost point of Highmountain all the way around to the uninstanced Eye of Azshara, traveling clockwise.  We encountered two more krakens guarding other ruins and shipwrecks as well as two more sharks.  After the cut are the highlights!

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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!

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!

Trading Talents and Tomes

WoWScrnShot_052916_201246This blog post technically contains Legion spoilers.  However, they pertain to the cost of switching specs, something that will undoubtedly change before the game is officially released.  There are no lore or class change or even artifact spoilers here.  But if you are avoiding everything Legion, read on at your own risk.

A couple weeks ago, Blizzard announced a change about something I had previously dedicated an entire blog post to: the gold cost of changing specs in Legion.  You can read their full post here but the gist of Watcher’s post was that players already considered changing specs to be a significant shift, rendering the gold cost intended to add weight to the decision to switch specs rather redundant.  The gold cost would be removed.  While this argument was different from what I had written, I am still extremely happy that Blizzard reached this decision.  Despite what some naysayers would think, Blizzard is listening to feedback!

The second part of the post was less universally loved.  Watcher went on to talk about how instead of a spec changing barrier, there would instead be a talent changing barrier.  Details were a bit vague but the general idea was that you could only change talents while in a safe area (somewhere where you are in the rested state) or near a scribe-created tome that allows player to re-talent.

I, for one, am 100% behind these changes.

Firstly, this change will help make Inscription an actually valuable profession again.  Retalenting Tomes would be a necessity for any group content and demand for both the Tomes themselves and the scribes who make them would remain constant over the course of the expansion.  Scribes would have a reliable and constant cash flow.  Professions (or at the very least, this one) would matter again.  After the cluster duck that was Warlord’s professions, this would be a nice change of pace.

WoWScrnShot_052916_200957

Soon, screencaps like this will be ancient history

More importantly, this change actually allows for more options.  When you think about it, the actual mechanic of changing talents won’t change.  The name and source of the tome is changing but it is still, in essence, a consumable item that allows you to change your talents.  The gold cost of said tome may increase, this is yet to be seen, but in the base functionality, it is identical.

However, the talent changing mechanic gets a lot more interesting in two ways.  For one, instead of being a personal item that changes talents, the new scribe-made tome would allow all nearby players to swap as many talents as they please for an amount of time.  Personally, I love this change.  In a group environment (where I personally would be using this the most), this means that before a boss pull, you just have to drop one more additional item.  Buffs, feasts, and now, tome.  In a sense, this is actually easier than individuals carrying around Tomes of the Clear Mind.  If one person has a tome then everyone benefits.  And for players who might not be as good about remembering to swap their talents for a specific boss fight (not that this would ever be me, nope!), the tome could serve as a reminder to do so.

The second way this talent changing mechanic gets more interesting is that it now has a time cost as an alternative option to the gold cost.  You could drop some change on scribe tomes, or you could make your way to the nearest rested spot.  So for those just leveling out in the world or swapping talents in the capital cities, well they’ve just saved a good amount of gold.  As someone who is chronically poor in WoW, I am always a fan of adding time costs as another method of doing something.  But I know there are people who have all the gold in the world and not enough time, so by having both options Blizzard can tailor to both types of players.

I really think Blizzard has nailed it with these proposed changes.  I was already ecstatic about the removal of the spec change tax and the talent swapping change is just icing on the cake.  Swapping one consumable tome for another, when the new tome can be used by more than just one person, and gaining a time cost alternative?  They’ve won me over!

What do you guys think about these changes?

To Beta or not to Beta: Legion Edition

Legion BetaThat is the question.  Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer in anticipation of the expansion release, or to take arms within the expansions beta and by doing so, spoil yourself.  To test, to know.

Hamlet aside, Fussypants and Yotaan again address the eternal question: will you be participating in the Legion expansion beta?

Fussypants: Not to Beta! I’ve already written on this earlier but I have no intentions of entering the beta or even reading up about the beta news. So yes, I’m the reason you have to have spoiler tags, sorry guys!

But seriously, the reason why I chose not to beta is two-fold.  For one, waiting until that set point when it drops builds the excitement better for me personally.  If I were to get a taste of what the game would be like or learn of the story early, the actual launch would be less special and fun.  Waiting builds anticipation!

For another, I’d be a pretty bad beta tester.  I’m not super great about filling bug reports and the fact that everything would be wiped all the time would mean that I’d quickly lose interest.  Why spend so much time on something when it’s all going to be deleted?  I’m just not good beta testing material.

But this means, with beta now launched, I’m going to have to be very cautious on the internet.  I haven’t been spoiled yet but I’d like to keep it that way!

Yotaan:  This is my fourth beta “opportunity” and I am going to pass.  But, unlike Fussypants, I do read a little about the beta news.

For me, I want a good story.  When I sit down to read a book or graphic novel, I read from the start to the finish.  Unlike a certain reader I know (Fussypant’s Mom/Yotaan’s wife) I don’t skip to the end to find out what happens.  The build up of the story, the twists and turns of the plot, and the grand finale is what I look for in a novel.  In many ways, playing WoW is just like reading a novel, especially if you read the quest text and watch the cinematics.  So how could I participate in the beta!  I’d be skipping ahead in the story!

Now, I have been reading about the class changes and game improvements.  I want to be ready to understand how Yotaan and my assorted alts will be modified.  My poor little shaman has undergone drastic play style changes in the past several years.  But I don’t dive into quest discussion or even much about the new zones for fear of story spoilers.  So I carefully read news on just the mechanics.

I wonder what kind of beta tester I would be…  I suspect I would be diligent.  As my (temporary) character moves along the leveling, I would dutifully report all bugs and such.  This doesn’t sound like fun.  This sounds like work!  If you have been reading my few posts on our blog here, you know that I am not interested in working while gaming.  So, no beta testing for me.

Then again, if I do test, I could taunt Fussypants with spoiler knowledge…..  Hmmm….

And what about you guys? To Beta or not to Beta, which have you chosen?