It’s been quite a while since I chimed in here…
But now, with November 13th now solidly penciled in on the calendar, we have some long, long,
-awaited closure with respect to the Warlords of Draenor release date.
As I mentioned back in March, the 11/13/14 release date means, since it is indeed after October 21st, that
“Warlords will have both A) taken the longest time-after-previous-expansion to release of any expansion in the game’s history and B) given players the greatest amount of down-time after the previous expansion’s final content patch in the game’s history.”
So, we’ll have to see how this expansion unfolds, with respect to measured content updates and shorter downtime between final patches and new expansions. That will be another year or two (or more). Blizzard says that they are already working on the next one, but we’ve heard that before. They’re still bleeding subscriptions, and they failed to solve that problem this go-round, so we’ll see.
The question is, how many of us will see…
* * *
Anyway, how about that cinematic? I have to say, I loved it, in spite of the exclusion of anything other than male orcs and a demon. The setting was compelling, the production spectacular, and the action was thrilling. I absolutely loved the flying-Grommash-axe-to-the-head killing of Mannoroth.
I’ve watched the cinematic approximately twenty times. It makes me want to do two things: re-read Rise Of The Horde, and read all of the books post-The Shattering – in particular, War Crimes. That’s something to put on the list of things to get done within the next three months.
It was quite possibly the best cinematic yet. As good as Cataclysm’s seemed at the time, this and the trailer for Mists absolutely destroy it, in my opinion. Wrath’s was awesome too, and I loved the original WoW trailer as well. Darkbrew published a list of his favorites, and mine would be similar.
Here’s a recurring thought I have every time we get the expansion trailer: Blizzard should make a complete movie with CGI. I’m willing to be impressed by the live-action movie that will grace us in a couple of years, but I would love to see something killer like the past couple of cinematics become a major motion picture. Perhaps the cost/risk would be too great – I don’t know about these things. But hey, a guy can dream, right?
* * *
I’m still playing, although I basically stopped raiding near the end of June. My job has been stressful, and I wasn’t finding it a productive use of my time to come home from work and promptly beat my head against a wall until a couple of hours after midnight, particularly when I would have to be back at work early the next day.
In fact, I’m becoming convinced that my raiding days may be behind me. Barring a change of circumstances, I’m not going to have the time and focus to commit to raiding and raiding well. Real life comes first, and I am at an age and in a situation where I can’t let structure in WoW interfere with my future. The idea of not raiding can be a painful one, but the way I’ve felt the past few months, I don’t know that I can do it going forward.
With that (and other things) in mind, my plans for Warlords have been shifting over the past couple of weeks.
I had already planned to not race to level 100. What’s shifting may surprise the socks off of some of you…
I’m thinking of leveling a different toon first. As in, not Mushan.
* * *
Why not Mushan? I know, it seems anathema to lifelong hunters out there, but I’m not the average WoW hunter. I’ll be honest: I’m not terribly happy with what I’ve read about the changes to Survival. It seems like it’s a shadow of its former self. I know that’s a simplified way to look at changes to the spec – and I’ll certainly try it out when Patch 6.0 goes live – but I’m not feeling it right now.
And, while I feel a little better about Marksmanship than SV, it seems like, pre-numbers-pass, Beast Mastery is the way to go. And (here’s where I know I differ from other hunters) I don’t enjoy BM. To me, it’s like being a guy with a water gun and a remote-control car, and you shoot your water gun and remotely control your car, which sometimes gets stuck on a rock in the dirt or some other protrusion and ends up getting stepped on. Perhaps this reflects the true lack of skill I have in the game, but I’ve never enjoyed playing a hunter less in the post-mana era than when I went BM for Council of the Elders in ToT.
Anyway… *washes hands of the issue* I’ll be able to better make a decision on that when the patch goes live and I’ve had a chance to try out each spec to see if I like one of them.
* * *
As for what I’ve been up to in WoW, there hasn’t been much of note.
I’m steadily making cloth for Royal Satchels: So far, Mushan and my druid, Anacrusa, are fully Satcheled-up, with a few other Satchels on various other toons. Now that we have a release date, I’m certain that I will not have full Panda-bags on each of my main toons, but I won’t need that space immediately since I am not racing them all to 100 ASAP, so I will probably leave Modhriel (my Tailor) at Halfhill for the foreseeable future while that project is going on.
I’ve taken up PvP on my druid, which has been interesting. With a gear set largely composed of Timeless Isle gear, about a week ago I stepped in and started losing a lot of random BGs. Compounding the gear problem was my inability to play the spec well, and vice-versa. It’s been a long time since I PvPed regularly on my druid – three years or so – so there has been a lot to learn. I felt a bit guilty for holding my teams back, but I shouldn’t have – I wasn’t the main problem. Most games, we were getting crushed. Ana in full Prideful gear wasn’t going to turn most of those matches into wins, believe me.
Along the way, I’ve picked up a few pieces of Grievous, and the weapon will be next (and a huge upgrade). Things are getting better: I’m getting the hang of the spec, which is my #1(a) goal, with #1 being to have fun doing something that is both old and new.
Aside from that, I’m casually grinding Valor on my warrior, druid, DK, and paladin. My mage has had horrible luck getting a weapon to replace his T14 Sha-Touched sword, so I’ve basically given up on that (and on grinding other gear and Valor) with him. When he finally gets to Draenor, he’s going to destroy mobs anyway, so I’m not terribly worried about it. Frickin’ guy has a 544 ilvl, so I think he’s going to be just fine, even in spite of his 491 weapon…
I’ve also been hitting up some old raids on Mushan. A couple of friends and I went into Ulduar last weekend and wiped the floor with 25-player mode, which scored me a boatload of achievement points. Before that, we did the same in ICC-25. I also finally completed my Valorous Cryptstalker set on my hunter (at least to a point where I could use the gear), which I may talk about in the near future.
* * *
Without making this a book, these are just some miscellaneous bits from the world of Mushan.
More, soon. :)
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Preface: Laeleiweyn suggested recently that we altoholics could collectively celebrate alts, either on blogs, Twitter, or by starting/playing them in-game, over the course of eleven weeks starting on August 19th, and ending November 3rd. Each week will be themed by class – week one for DKs, week two for druids, week three for hunters, etc.
It’s a fantastic idea, although I do not have an alt for every class. Furthermore, while I love the idea, I don’t have the interest in playing or doing things in-game with certain alts just because it’s a focus during a certain week. It’s just not how I operate.
Nonetheless, I’m an altoholic, and I have several alts that I play on something of a regular basis. I have 7 90s, for goodness’ sake. So while this week is #HunterWeek – and there are sure to be a ton of great hunter-related things going on in-game and around the interwebs (check out the hashtag all week for the latest news!) – I’m putting my own spin on it this week, because my hunter is my main, and the love of my WoW-life, and he gets appreciated here at Mushan, Etc. so much that he’s developed a bit of a complex at this point!
Therefore, without further ado…
…this week is Dungeon Week in my world.
With Patch 5.4 now just a week away, I’ve been prepping the troops. With goals in mind for some of them – some of which are long-held ideas, while others are newer (*cough* @ the mage) – I’ve been getting ready for 5.4 in several ways.
Goal #1 is to get the toons I’m interested in playing in 5.4 Valor-capped. While Mushan has been capped for weeks, I’ve been working the DK pretty hard, buying him the Shado-pan trinket last week and then capping, with 800 to go to hit 3000 this week. I have three other toons that are close to the cap, and I think I should have no trouble VP-capping them all before the 10th.
Goal #2 is to get as many Justice Points on these toons as possible pre-patch. This includes Mushan, for reasons I will describe below. Disregarding him for the moment, the reason for this is that pre 5.2 Valor gear will be purchasable with JP in 5.4. And while this means less than nothing to Mushan, my alts are each in a position to use some of this gear in some way or another; even my druid and warrior, who won’t sacrifice set bonuses for “Justice” gear, have off-specs that can use that level of gear to fill in OS slots.
With these things in mind, I offer a completely self-interested look at my main/fave toons and their states of preparation, and my plans for them for this week.
Mushan (SV hunter – duh? :P ); ilvl 535; 3000 VP; 543 JP; 3908 HP
Mushan has been a pretty bored archer lately. Not much raidin’ goin’ on, no new gear when he has raided, and so on. However, I recently took him to Stormwind in order to swap as much JP as possible for Honor, because one of the changes coming in 5.4 will be that it takes 500 JP to buy 250 Honor, which is a nerf to JP, I suppose. I haven’t PvP’d much at all since 5.2 dropped, but I don’t want to completely discount the idea that I may actually want to do so in 5.4. So I’ve put myself in the best position possible regarding Honor: I’m almost capped, should be able to pick up 2-3 496 pieces right off the bat after the patch, and then continue to fill out the PvP set from that point on.
Since he’s already Valor-capped, it’s highly likely that he will not work to snag any more JP through dungeons or any other means this week, but I’ve maxed out my conversions at this point anyway, so the rest can come once I actually need more JP for more post-nerf conversions…
Droignon (Prot warrior); ilvl 507 (prot) 477 (fury); 2765 VP; 1808 JP
Droignon hasn’t gotten much love lately. Since playing him is somewhat arthritis-inducing (/nods at Hass for the reference), and I’ve been working on the DK lately, Droig has mainly done his Halfhill stuff and not much else. However, he’s still someone I take seriously – he is a frickin’ huge night elf warrior, after all… I kid, I kid – and so I’ll be making sure he’s VP-capped. Seriously, it’s not going to take much effort. I’ll probably get there solely from Halfhill Ironpaw dailies and tripping over rares on the Isle of Thunder. And the fury spec is a joke, the way I play it, and not of much importance. So he may sit out of dungeons this week, but you never know – I may take him into a couple on the short path to the cap, in order to get a few more JP.
Anacrusa (Resto druid); ilvl 506 (resto) 480 (guardian); 2588 VP; 1186 JP
Like Droig, Ana has been keeping a low profile lately (/glares at Saldrahn…). And my biggest problem with her in 5.4 will not be gear, but rather learning to use Swiftmend as the insta-heal that it will solely be at that point. Nevertheless, I’ve been debating how I will go about actually reaching the cap with this one; this may be hard to believe, but she has healed exactly zero dungeons in MoP. I’ve healed scenarios and Champions of the Thunder King groups with her, but the vast majority of my healing experience has come in Raid Finder this expansion, which is why my JP-fund is so anemic. The Guardian spec, which is my questing spec, is in need of some hole-filling, so JP will still be important to some extent. So I may try to take her into a few dungeons this week, in order to grab some extra JP for that gear set. Because seriously, folks, questing as a guardian sucks extra-hard, and the better the DPS I can pull / the more mobs I can handle at once, the better.
Modhriel (Frost mage); ilvl 486; 2192 VP; 2077 JP
This is where the dungeon-running is going to get extra-serious. This is where Mushan’s Dungeon Week comes into its own.
Modhriel has, with very few exceptions, been sitting at the furthest, loneliest end of the bench since 5.2 happened. For proof, checking his armory shows that he has killed each of the first six bosses in ToT-LFR exactly one time. And that’s it. While I did open up Isle of Thunder with him, I set him down before I had enough VP and rep to buy anything. He has exactly zero pieces of 522 gear on. Poor guy…
With all of the time I spent on my hunters, warrior, druid, and DK during this tier, Modhriel took the back seat, limiting the sum total of his activity beyond April to Halfhill and cloth cooldowns. However, I jumped on him this weekend and ran a few dungeons, and MAN was it fun! He hasn’t gotten any gear in months, but he still absolutely ripped face. And I remember him doing well the couple of times I took him into ToT as well. I realized that I missed him this past weekend, so I think that, with my raiding picture a bit clearer now (since Ghilleadh the Worgen Hunter is done raiding), Modhriel is going to be back in play in 5.4. I’d like to cap his Valor and Justice this week, so that he can be on the road to being eligible for LFR as soon as it launches.
Saldrahn (Blood death knight): ilvl 480; 2200 VP; 390 JP
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had a lot of fun with this toon. I’m a death knight fan now. However, this toon is a fun, casual toon, and I’m looking forward to playing him in dungeons in 5.4.
My personality, though, is one which compels me to gear him as fast as possible, even though there is no pressing purpose for doing so. I’m fighting this compulsion with everything I have. The last thing I need is to hit a complete roadblock with yet another toon, held back by LFR and LFR alone. He’s not a raider, and he’s not a sub, and he’s always been for fun, so I’m going to take it easy with him post-patch. However, since there is almost nothing going on right now otherwise, I’ve been working hard recently to get him some gear and get him Valor-capped for 5.4 (I can’t help that!). The JP can come now or later, though. I don’t really care which. So I may do some dungeons if I get bored toward the end of the week. Or I might save him for later. Either way, I win, because it’ll be fun to continue to progress him casually.
Level 90 toons “not pictured:” other hunter (going somewhat dormant); paladin (is always dormant).
Ghilleadh is done with normal-/heroic-mode raiding. I’m back to only raiding on weekends with Mushan and my normal team, and that’s it. So in a 100% anti-#HunterWeek fashion, I’m relegating him – my “other 90 hunter” – back to “make enchants for me, farm turtle meat, and do Fatty Goatsteak dailies”-status. And I’m fine with that. For several reasons – some of which are completely unrelated to him, but others of which are definitely all about him – I haven’t enjoyed him anywhere close to as much as I enjoy Mushan.
And the pally is, as I mentioned above, always dormant. Always there to make flasks and potions and do transmutes for me, but otherwise, yeah… dormant.
I have no qualms about either of those situations.
So the plan for this week is to get three toons VP-capped, picking up some JP along the way. I like heroic dungeons, and queues don’t seem to be long right now even for DPS, so it should be a fun week.
I’ll shut up now. This turned into quite a long post!
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!
Three years ago, I created Mushan, who is my third*, and oldest surviving, hunter.
It was the dog days of Wrath, when I was long done with raiding ICC, and there wasn’t much to do that was more important than finally leveling a hunter. I had been listening to the Hunting Party Podcast for a good portion of the year, and was really getting excited about the class. So I decided to create and level Mushan, and it was basically the most fantastic leveling experience I have had compared with any other toon.
I loved his name, and the way he looked, and the way the class played (I leveled as MM). He was so much fun to run dungeons with as I leveled, with the added benefit that it was relaxing and enjoyable to step away from melee range for a while and just shoot things. It was great to level through the old world zones one last time on what would turn out to be my all-time favorite toon (and the toon that I’ve played the best). He gave me a renewed energy for the game; in reality, he saved me from letting the game peter out for myself.
Mushan is the realization, the fruition, of my affection for hunters. I had had hunters in the past, and I had loved various aspects about them, but he and I paired up for what became, and continues to be, an epic run. We’ve leveled, we’ve done extreme soloing, we’ve raided, we’ve PvPed together, we’ve explored the game together in many, many ways.
Additionally, without him inspiring my imagination and my play, I don’t know that I would have ever created this blog – and if I had, it would probably be a very different animal!**
So, wherever I may go, and whatever other toons I play from time to time, he is the one whose birth and growth I remember the most fondly. We’ve had great times together, and will continue to have many more!
Happy Birthday, Mushan!
Notes about the picture: 1) Love that old guild tabard, although the one I came up with later on was even better; 2) Stupid melee weapon…; 3) He’s pictured with his trusty gorilla, Korak. I still have that pet – he’s just a regular gorilla, but he’s still badass!
*The first two were deleted; the first, early in Wrath, had languished at level 63 for a long time; the second, during the middle of Cata, was only 24, and I immediately used his name for another hunter, who still exists. :)
**Droignon, Etc.? The Balm of Ghilleadh? um… I really can’t think of anything good. I’m really, really bad at naming blogs, obviously!
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!
The past few weeks, I’ve been filling in with a heroic raiding guild on my alt hunter, Ghilleadh.
Ghilleadh isn’t the best geared wolf out there. While his ilvl has risen to 508 over the past few weeks, with a Thunderforged weapon and 2p T15 bonus, he has nothing from the legendary questline, still has two blue pieces, and so on. Compared with Mushan, he’s still almost a tier behind, average ilevel-wise. And of course, he is way behind on the legendary.
The experience of bringing this alt with that guild has been mostly positive, with large doses of caveat-ish-ness stemming from the fact that it feels like I’m playing with my arm tied behind my back. I get absolutely smoked on the meters, which is symptomatic of the fact that I simply do not have the kind of power that I am accustomed to playing with, relative to the content.
Other symptoms include feeling like I am shooting the adds on H Horridon with a wet noodle, shooting the turtles on H Tortos with a wet noodle… in other words, Mushan has many advantages – although those advantages are largely the result of many months of persistence and hard work – over Ghilleadh when it comes to gear and power and so on.
I’m trying not to let it bother me when I run with these people, and, in all honesty, it’s relatively easy to do so for farm content, where my under-geared presence doesn’t necessarily hamper their evening.
However, on heroic progression content, each person’s damage matters. And when poor damage directly affects mechanical performance during the fight, my predicament with Ghilleadh and his poor gear is laid bare.
Case in point: H Tortos.
Last week and this week, we’ve been smashing our faces against H Tortos. As a ranged player, my responsibility is to ensure that turtles die. As the worst damage dealer (by a long shot), my other responsibility is to ensure that turtles are kicked at appropriate times. And as a person on the team, my third responsibility is to ensure that I get a Crystal Shell on me in enough time that it can be fully charged before each Quake Stomp.
There is no priority for this. They are all my number one priorities…
I’m fine with the Crystal Shell. Although there are times when the turtles are buttholes and knock me around while I’m trying to have my shell charged, it’s something I can generally handle.
Kicking turtles and killing turtles are a little more difficult. By the way, this is not because I stink at kicking turtles, per se. I’ve been kicking turtles just fine for weeks, and when I consider all of the experience I’ve gotten with them, the isolated act of aiming and kicking is pretty simple. However, since I am not very powerful, it takes longer than I would like it to, just to kill them. I mean, I pop CDs on turtles in order to help us not wipe on the first Ferocious Stone Breath. And although we can almost always accomplish that, there are the other turtles to deal with – including the fact that sometimes, they will take me out right when I’m ready to interrupt the breath, in spite of my best efforts to make them think I’m not going to be there (at the point of the kicking) when the time comes. This is the joy of H Tortos; or rather, it is one of them.
I have a hard time not believing that if I were attempting the same task with Mushan (and his much-better damage), Skull Turtle would be long-dead, and X Turtle would be dead – or close to it – by the time I needed to interrupt the first breath.
This is what I mean when I talk about gear affecting mechanical performance.
Last night, during our many attempts on this repair-bill-piñata, I started thinking about my situation (under-geared heroic raiding) and its relevance to the far-fetched (for WoW) notion of getting rid of stats altogether, and the raid tuning issues that could come from massive changes to the way WoW works in this regard.
(It may have been a huge stretch, but bear with me, because even if it is, I still thought about it!)
As the game stands, here’s what I bring to the table with Mushan: a good player with generally good awareness, knowledge of the fight, properly gemmed/enchanted/reforged, and appropriate gear level.
With Ghilleadh, it looks similar: same player, same awareness, same knowledge, same gemming/enchanting/reforging, not very close to the proper gear level.
With Mushan, whose gear is fairly close to the levels of the other toons, I would fit in seemlessly. I am at the same level, relatively, in almost every regard, to the other team members – including having reached the end of the legendary questline to-date.
With Ghilleadh, there is one glaring issue. Mentally I fit in, but physically (in game) I just cannot approach the level of power that the rest of the team has.
OK, I think that’s fairly clear.
So I was thinking: what if, in a vacuum, Blizzard demolished the idea of stats on gear, while leaving the raiding structure the same? Meaning, of course, that leveling < heroic dungeons < Raid Finder < raids < heroic raids, as far as the hierarchy of group content goes…
The reason behind this thought was, if it was all about skill, and I were a good enough player, I could take my other hunter into a heroic raid, learn the fight, and perform as well as my main hunter would. (Ah, the simplistic thoughts we think sometimes…)
I could kill turtles just as fast, kill adds on Horridon just as fast… There’s no place like home… there’s no place like home…
Wait, what? Sorry, I was fading off there for a moment…
It couldn’t actually happen in a vacuum, obviously. While some people have advocated for such a change in WoW, Ghostcrawler has consistently maintained that gear progression is so ingrained in the game that it would be tough to remove it. (I’m paraphrasing here).
I don’t have a quote for that, but I know that I’ve seen his short comments about it here and there, and my interpretation of those comments has always been something along the lines of “Yeah, I guess people are so used to looting and bringing their item level/gear score up that it would take a huge chunk of fun out of the game, and I guess they’d have to come up with new ways for us to get our power, and, ah, yeah, (I guess I don’t care about this enough to think about it much more than I already have)…”
But last night, as I was thinking about it, I realized that, on the surface, GC’s words (as I remember them) only hint at how this would affect the game. Because the truth is that this would fundamentally change the game at its core.
At its core… beyond the “me want lootz” nature of WoW as we have always known it. :)
Changing WoW to a game without stats on gear would not be as simple as we might think. The tuning process for everything combat-related would have to be rebuilt. This includes PvP, where, in a vacuum-like situation (with the game as it is), if we just took all our armor off, wore tuxedos and/or holiday/RP (stat-less) clothing, and fought one another at level 90 with starting zone weapons, players might never die. We’d have a lot less health, but we’d have much, much less power.
There would have to be major changes to how players get their power. There has to be some power in the game, after all. It might be a system similar to talents, like in other video games where you put points into abilities you want to use, or where you fill up a strength or magic or skill bar with experience until it is full.
There would have to be major changes to bosses and boss progression. In my example, while Mushan is geared for heroic T15 content, Ghilleadh is not. In our new version of WoW, it seems to me that boss fights would have to be based less on power and more on skill. People might complain about “the Dance (TM)” in the current game, but our new WoW’s bosses would be all about strategy, skill, execution… heroic bosses couldn’t be X times as powerful as normal bosses, because we might not be X times more powerful than we were when we took on their regular counterparts, because we weren’t getting “better” gear.
Now, I could see some change where, in a 12 boss raid, you get a slightly more powerful weapon when you kill the third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth bosses, each with more power than the one before, allowing for some power progression. But ultimately, boss fighting would become even less about power and more about skill and execution than it is now, possibly vastly more so.
I’m just scratching the surface of this topic. And, while I wrote the first half-dozen paragraphs of this post last night after two hours of smash-face-against-H-Tortos, I don’t remember everything that went through my mind during and after the raid, unfortunately.
But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I understand that the notion of a stat-less gear version WoW is a notion of a very different game, to the point where if it happened, it would probably have to happen in a WoW 2 or something.
People float the idea of getting rid of stats on gear from time to time, and it’s an interesting idea. However, the amount of work that would have to go into it is difficult to fathom from this side of the dev/player divide, because of how such a fundamental change to how we kill things in-game would affect so many parts of the game, including how drastically the things we kill would have to be changed as well.
Additionally, it would be a huge change for players. After years of progression, in part, through gear – at every combat-related level of gameplay, from leveling to HMs – such a change, if pulled off by the devs, would still be a massive shock to players’ familiarity with WoW. Financially, it would probably not be a good idea, both from the perspectives of “time investment vs. moving the game/story/action forward” and whether all of that work would be worth the money for them as a company / attract new players / retain old ones…
…although it sounds like a fantastic idea for a new game.
The item squish theme is making the rounds again in the worldwide WoW community, and many are predicting that it will be a significant feature in 6.0 and the as-yet-unannounced next expansion. I don’t generally have any pressing thoughts about the subject, because I would rather hear what the devs have to say now – as opposed to what they were saying about it two or three years ago – before I ponder it too much. I am interested to see where they go with it, if it is indeed something that we’re going to see in the near future.
Thanks for reading this crazy-long post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!
Frostheim, co-creator of Warcraft Hunters Union (and all that that site has done for us hunters), progenitor of WoW Hunters Hall, long-time Scattered Shots (WoW Insider) columnist, long-time member (and poet laureate) of the Hunting Party Podcast, writer of several amazing odes to hunters, staunch defender of facts and math and balance, advocate for cool new stuff for hunters, recoverer of his own cloak, and generally fun and awesome guy, announced last Saturday on the Hunting Party Podcast – and later that day on WHU – that he is retiring.
Given his recent stretches of absence from the WHU and the HPP, to say that I didn’t see this coming would be incorrect. And he is not quitting the game, but is shutting down his personal commitments to his blogging / podcasting activities in order to devote his time to other ventures. He’s also apparently going to put away his white-quality weapons and lessen the amount of time he spends shooting at target dummies as if they’re trying to invade his city, and actually devote more of his WoW time to playing the game! This is a good thing.
Personally, though – and I know I speak for untold numbers of players out there – I Will Miss You, Frost.
I’m A Hunter
I wasn’t always a hunter. But one of my earliest toons was a hunter back when I started playing shortly after the release of Burning Crusade, although since I was a terrible player (and that’s all the info anyone needs) back then, I failed to get him to level 70.
During the spring of 2010, when the Lich King was dead and we were in the midst of the longest stretch of meaningful-content-less boredom in the history of the game, I started listening to the Hunting Party Podcast. I forget how it happened; the best I can remember is that, as a reader of WoW Insider, I liked Frostheim’s Scattered Shots posts more than just about anything else on the site.
(I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was probably ready for a change at that point… but anyway, to continue…)
Of course, the header on each of his posts mentioned that he was from Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast, and so I checked them out. And let me say, when someone charismatic like Frostheim is available to be both read and listened to, it can be a powerful combination. I wasn’t much of a podcast-listener in those days – my only constant at the time was the WoW Insider Show, which I haven’t listened to in almost a year now, and I had tried out several others that either didn’t grab me or didn’t stick around. So when I found Darkbrew, Euripides, and Frostheim, I was hooked. I downloaded and listened to every single episode that was available on iTunes, and they were my companions that summer and fall as we inched our way toward the launch of Cataclysm.
Meanwhile, I started a few hunters. Mushan stuck, and the rest is history (which I’ve laid out in previous posts). Playing the hunter that summer and fall, leveling the hunter, doing dungeons on the hunter, was every bit as fun as I had imagined it would be while listening to the HPP. As a player who now had some general skill, I didn’t have any of the problems I had had in 2008 with my long-deleted original. I was topping meters, learning to use my utility abilities, enjoying playing the movement/Auto Shot game, and seriously thinking about making Mushan my main. Which eventually happened.
I was “Ana” back in the day, but now I’m “Mushan,” and that is indescribably largely due to the influence of one Frostheim.
Things lately have been quieter on the Mushan/HPP front. I often work on Saturdays, so I don’t get to listen in live when the show is recorded anymore. And the shows have often taken weeks to come out on iTunes, and so over the past several months I’ve only listened a handful of times, and I expect that to continue.
But I’ve always enjoyed listening to Frostheim, and I’m going to miss that. He has given so much to the hunter community at this point that it’s almost a cliche to say so, but I don’t care. Why?
Because without Frostheim, it’s almost certain that there would be no Mushan. And that’s of some importance, at least to me. He literally rejuvenated my WoW experience by unknowingly reintroducing me to the hunter class. He changed the game for me. Without Frostheim, I might not have switched over to a hunter. Without Frostheim, I might not even be playing the game anymore. At the very least, without Frostheim, this blog would certainly not exist in this form.
The first paragraph of this post probably makes me sound like a bit of a fan-boy. Am I a fan-boy of Frostheim? Hell yes! I think my previous paragraph does a pretty good job explaining why.
And so, to Frostheim, Thank You for all you’ve done for hunters. You’ve been a gift to us these past several years, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll be following whatever you do in the future – stay in touch!
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!
Today I want to feature links to a few of the posts I’ve read over the course of the past week or so. They may or may not interest you, but I like to share things I find interesting. There’s some variety here, definitely not all hunter-related stuff. At any rate, let’s get started.
1. Cynwise’s Warcraft Manual - Class Distribution Data for Patch 5.3
Cynwise has been doing this for several patches now, and it’s fascinating stuff. He digs into sources such as RealmPop and puts together several tables showing how class population has changed from patch to patch, with samples of heroic raiding, PvP, general populations, level 90 toons, 86-90 toons, and so on. It’s interesting to see how the populations fluctuate with class balance changes, new raid encounters, and other design changes, and to contrast PvP to raiders to the general subscriber base, etc.
2. Warcraft Hunters Union - Volunteers for WoW Hunters Hall
Frostheim has been very busy lately. For those who don’t know, he’s changing jobs and moving east this week, and this has understandably taken up a great deal of his time. Arth has been doing great over at WHU in his stead, but with the news that Tabana is leaving WoW/WHH as of this week, Frost is looking for volunteers to take over the maintenance of that site’s content, in order to keep the WoW hunters’ web portal alive. If you’re interested, let him know! His email link is in the post if you’re interested, although he may not get back to you until he gets situated and has real internets and stuffs.
3. Restokin – Becoming a WoW blogger and growing the community
Every once in a while, someone like Lissanna writes an important post such as this one, and it’s always needed.
It can seem to many readers, once you’ve been reading blogs for a while, that the number of blogs that start to stagnate in your feed can grow pretty quickly. This is fine, because people move on, but it can seem that more blogs are dying than are being born. While that’s not necessarily true, it can feel that way.
However, this is why you are needed! Have you ever thought about starting a blog? Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’d love to write about this-or-that experience” or “I’d love to share my knowledge” or “There’s nobody writing a guide for [fill-in-the-blank]” before?
As Lissana says at the start of her guide, the WoW out-of-game community is a remarkable phenomenon, and part of that is how it continues to grow and rejuvenate itself with new contributors. I was once one of those myself, with a small blog, and then I stopped, and then I made a new and better one. The bottom line is that there are people out there who love to read about the game, whether it be about guides and theorycrafting, lore, roleplaying, questing, fashion, exploration/screenshots, PvP, the in-game music, creative writing, fan art, funny things that happen in guild chat, and so many other topics. If you were ever thinking about getting into blogging, now is not too soon! There is a very good chance that there are people out there who want to read what you have to say. The community always needs more bloggers, and Lissana has some great advice for those who were thinking of testing the waters. I highly encourage you to check out her post!
And last, but certainly not least!…
4. The Grumpy Elf – Why are the Casual Guilds Hurting?
The Grumpy Elf does such a good job discussing the plight of casual guilds in the current iteration of WoW that I haven’t felt the inclination to add much of anything to the discussion. This post from last week breaks down many of the issues that current ‘casual raiding guilds’ face in a time of LFR, tougher normal mode content, bad luck with loot, and simply ‘being casual.’ He and I are both in situations where we’re struggling to deal with the halting progression that guilds like ours can make, and I think it’s a topic/issue that is very present and real in the game, even for many who haven’t thought that much about it or who don’t read blogs like TGE’s, but are also slogging through raid content at Tortos’ pace…
I hope you found these links useful and/or interesting! :)
This is not likely to be a “regular feature” at Mushan, Etc. I don’t know that I have any of regular features, actually. However, it’s been a long time (and at least a whole blog ago, for me) since I’ve done one of these, so I may post one here and there as the spirit moves me.
Thanks for reading this links post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!
If I remember correctly, patch 5.0 hit servers on August 28th. Around that time, I stopped doing battlegounds on my hunter, and I haven’t entered one since.
I’ve generally been content with that omission*. Raiding is my main passion – that, and raid prep – and I haven’t missed PvP very much at all.
*I don’t want to say “decision” because, while I decided not to PvP in patch 5.0 (pre-MoP), I never decided not to PvP anymore on the hunter. I just didn’t decide to PvP on the hunter after that, due to laziness, lack of interest, preoccupation with PvE content, or something.
In fact, now that I think about it, the major time sink that dailies/reputation grinds brought to WoW with Mists of Pandaria likely killed my desire to PvP. After leveling the hunter, I also leveled my bear to 90, then my warrior, then mage. I also have another hunter at 89, and my pally is 88. So it wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice, but PvP became “this thing that I don’t have time for, really.”
However, a singular set of circumstances has forced me to reconsider PvP, and the main circumstance is the quest from the Wrathion legendary questline entitled The Lion Roars, which requires a win in each of the new-for-MoP battlegrounds. When I got the quest, because I’ve reserved my knowledge of the legendary questline to in-game discovery for the most part, my reaction was “are you kidding me?”
My first thought was to go ahead and try the new BGs in my PvE gear, but with implementation of PvP Power and PvP Resilience, I decided that I didn’t want to go into BGs as something to be completely mowed down by the opposition.
In addition to this, I’ve also found myself at an odd point in the expansion. Raiding progress has been slow, and – since I have alts that I enjoy in addition to the hunter – I usually race to the VP cap on Mushan in order to get the Valorous bonus for those other toons. Since we raid on weekends, this means that, other than raiding, there isn’t all that much for the hunter to do from Friday night on, once I cap Valor.
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I’ve slowly started putting together a PvP set anyway, ever since I started JP capping, so I’ve been converting JP to Honor and occasionally buying the Honor gear as I get the opportunity. I have five pieces as of the end of the last raid lockout, and I may begin to actively pursue Honor points this week, if I have the time. Tol Barad seems like a pretty good place to do this, particularly if I hit up several battles this weekend, and I’m hoping to add a couple more pieces to what will be a motley combination of PvE and PvP armor.
I’m actually kind of excited about PvPing again on Mushan, although I have no illusions about my abilities. It’s been so long, and I was never that great anyway. I’m not excited about ripping up my off-spec, which I use for questing and raid soloing, and rearranging my UI for PvP, but I don’t really have a choice if I want to keep up with the questline. And I think I’ll enjoy having something different to do with my hunter on weekends. This should bring some life back to the game for me, something old that’s new again.
I may not write about PvP much after this – particularly if it ends up being a disaster – even if I start doing it regularly, but when it comes to raiding, the show must go on. I really want to move forward with Wrathion on this character, so I will be doing some PvP in the very near future. For better or for worse. :D
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One of the topics that seemed to come up a few times in my reading during the past several weeks has been the idea that Hit Rating and Expertise Rating are essentially redundant – which Matthew Rossi wrote about in October at WoW Insider – and that there may be changes in the future around those two stats.
Of course, any commentary by a developer will bring out all kinds of internet people suggesting drastic changes and issuing ultimatums (for example, “if you don’t ________ I’m going to unsub for good” is a grossly-overused classic). Regarding this topic, “Please remove reforging” is one such sledgehammer-to-the-game suggestion, lifted from a twitter exchange on December 6th between Ghostcrawler and @HunterSalty. I picked it up by reading MMO Champion’s blue tweet highlights on December 28th.*
*Not sure why this came up over three weeks later on MMO-C’s blue tracker, but I digress…
Here is @HunterSalty’s tweet:
@Ghostcrawler @Saraphite Amen. Please remove reforging. Also eliminates need to go to external sites to tell you how exactly to reforge.
For the full exchange, click the link above to see how ping-pongy a conversation can go on Twitter… or, here’s me paraphrasing it:
@Saraphite says: Gemming, reforging, enchanting, upgrading is too much stuff to do.
@Ghostcrawler says: We agree. Back in the day, you wore what you got.
@HunterSalty says: Amen. Remove reforging, etc. (see above)
@Ghostcrawler says: Actually we like reforging except for hit and expertise.
@CM_Zarhym says: Actually, I look forward to getting new gear and reforging between stats and hit/expertise.
@Zarasz says: Many people enjoy it. If it’s not fun for you, don’t do it.
@Ghostcrawler says: Can you explain how reforging is fun? Many players use a spreadsheet to make those decisions.
PING pong. ping PONG.
It’s a real conversation, and yet it’s all over the place. Yes, all of that is too much. No, reforging is fine except for hit/exp. Wait, how do you find it fun?
Wait, Greg Street. “Fun” is a broad term. An extremely broad term. I suppose my answer to your question would be that, on a process level, I like the challenge and process of using what parts and pieces I have available in order to come up with the best possible stat combination for me. And on a meta level, I like that the freedom to do so is available. Is that good enough? I’m not so enamored with mathematical challenges that I feel the same feeling – exhilaration, or whatever – that I feel after a new boss kill; nor am I so in love with the look and feel of Mr. Robot’s website that I just can’t wait to go see if I can use it again. So it’s not fun in that sense. It’s interesting, and it provides satisfaction, and it’s currently a (somewhat passive) part of the recipe for betterment, so I like it from those standpoints. But no, I don’t think to myself, “It’s a beautiful day, I think I’ll go on a reforging binge” or something like that, like pet battles or PvP weekends or chain-running heroics with friends on our alts on New Years Eve.
Yeah, that’s what I did on New Years Eve. It was most definitely a lot of fun.
Anyway… when I started this article on Dec. 28, the GC “fun” tweet hadn’t been made yet, and my thought was “Thank God Ghostcrawler is smart enough to take the ‘absolutes’ that people tell him on Twitter as what they are – individual perspectives.” Now, however, I don’t know what the hell to think. At any rate, I started writing this post, and I intend to finish it, keeping in mind the nature of Twitter conversations and their inherent limitations.
The error of a personal absolute
I find it both amusing and tiring when I see people, both in-game and on the World Wide Webinator, get all upset about reforging. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past several days, and for me, it boils down to this: if you play competitively – that is, whether you PvP or raid or Brawl or extreme solo, etc. – you’re min-maxing anyway, shuffling gems and weighing enchant options and deciding which side-grade has slightly better stats for you and whether last tier’s 4-piece is better than this tier’s 2-piece. Reforging further allows you to squeeze as much power as possible from your set of items by refining your available stat pool to knife-edge perfection. And if you’re not playing competitively, then it matters quite a bit less, and you’re probably not working to maximize your output, because it doesn’t matter as much for quests and so on.
This is a generalization, of course.
However, so is “get rid of reforging” – it suggests a thorough hammer-smash treatment for a game feature that someone doesn’t like, even though that feature is something that many people find fun (O.o, see “fun” part above), interesting, and challenging. Reforging has been part of the game for more than two years now, and is as big of a component as gemming and enchanting and gear selection, more or less, to varying degrees.
We wore what dropped
I remember back in Wrath, when (for instance) I would get a new piece of gear that had Crit and Haste on it, and I would have to make a decision about whether to use it in place of something that had Hit and/or Expertise on it. Deciding either way could at times mean that I sat down with a piece of paper and made a diagram of each slot and its secondary stats and sockets, and figured out whether I could swap in enough Hit or Exp gems without losing too much Armor Pen, or whatever, and still have the piece be a DPS upgrade. Now, I didn’t necessarily dislike this process; in fact, stat management has long been one aspect of WoW that I’ve enjoyed over the years.
However, with the advent of reforging in 4.0.1, things changed quickly. It was like the stat world opened up, and a whole new realm of possibilities with it. Instead of building something with only big blocks and small blocks like before, you now had big blocks and small blocks and blocks that you could cut into two pieces so they would fit better, making for better optimization and giving players more choices when it came to setting up their gear.
If we wore what dropped, today
If reforging didn’t exist today, but everything else remained unchanged, the following circumstances would be real and brutal in my own WoW life:
1. My hunter would be way over the Hit cap, and way, way under the Expertise cap. I would subsequently be missing (dodged) a lot and hitting with less power, less frequently, with less chance to crit, due to all of the stat budget wasted on excess Hit Rating.
2. My prot warrior wouldn’t have a chance in hell of even approaching the soft Expertise cap, making active mitigation much more difficult due to the dodges and parries of even quest mobs, and his passive mitigation/avoidance stats would be extremely unbalanced (not enough Mastery and Parry, too much Dodge).
3. My mage would likewise be way under the Hit cap. See above.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that a reversion to reforging being non-existent would require massive changes that would approach the scale of the gear changes that took place in 4.0.1 and Cataclysm.
Possible required changes
(A tip of the hat to my friend Squido, who reminded me of some key points on this issue when I was discussing this post with him last night.)
If reforging were removed from the game, there would have to be big changes to gear, and perhaps to classes, in order to make things work. It’s easy to imagine that – taking for granted that, for instance, most (if not all) DPS specs need to be at either 7.5% Hit/7.5% Exp (physical) or 15% combined Hit/Exp (spell) – stat itemization would have to be adjusted fairly radically in order to ensure that players had a fair chance of meeting caps. And for tanks, there would have to be appropriate amounts of avoidance stats on gear…
Which leads us to an even greater issue: that of class individuality as it relates to both gear and stats. For example, as many people know, different tank specs prioritize different stats. Regarding secondary stats, my warrior prioritizes Hit/Exp to caps > Mastery > twice as much Parry as Dodge, in general. On the other hand, Squido’s paladin looks at stats very differently, with Haste, which is virtually worthless to prot warriors, having some benefit for prot pallies.
In order to make a non-reforging world work as well as a reforging one does, some combination of these changes might have to happen:
1. They homogenize role specs to the point where they value the same stats. “All Agility classes value Crit over Haste,” etc… I can’t imagine how wrong and how utterly boring that would be. That would be a big step in the wrong direction, in my opinion.
2. They make a lot more pieces of gear available from each boss, as well as from Valor Points, etc. in order to cover all of the statistical bases if they don’t homogenize similar role specs. That way, there’s a chance, however minuscule, that the perfect piece will drop for you. Then again, that means every boss will be a loot pinata with a loot table approaching the size of Sha of Anger’s or Argaloth’s or Archavon’s. How many people will have super pissy-fits in that type of situation, due to the fact that, while their piece drops off this boss, it never drops because there are so many things that it could drop that the common drop chance is diluted? I know, right?
3. They put less passive stats and a lot more gem slots on gear, so that each piece has some level of customization, so that those players that don’t get “the perfect piece” (and there will be a lot of those) can still add stats to make up any shortfalls dealt them by RNG while still allowing them to raid competitively.
4. Absent these things, they make bosses “easier” since hardly anyone will have the opportunity to optimize their gear. Or…
5. Absent these things and keeping bosses at current difficulty levels, there is less progression, leading to less raiders, more frustration among the player base, and, eventually, lower subscriber numbers, due to a massive design downgrade.
Ghostcrawler obviously understands this, and so it’s likely that whatever solution he and his team working on won’t be a knee-jerk, hammer-smash change that certain people in the Internet think will be just jolly-good-fine. At least, I hope that’s the case…
As a side note…
Contrary to the beliefs of some, reforging does allow for choice, even if that choice can be stunted by the need to meet caps for Hit and Expertise.
Jasyla has written about how she doesn’t max out her Spirit on her resto druid, preferring to enjoy the mana management game and concentrate on throughput, whereas many healers I know of are loading up on Spirit like going-out-of-business Twinkies.
Tanks can choose to maximize Hit and Exp to smooth out their mitigation rotations, or they can take a walk on the wild side and max out their passive mitigation stats and ride the spike-damage coaster.
Certain DPS classes can prioritize Crit over Haste, or Haste over Crit, with little difference in results but a big difference in playstyle.
So there is choice, within limits, and it’s not quite as contingent on that next gear drop like it was before.
“Eliminates the need to go to external sites…”
Let’s do a little Q&A…
Q: How many classes have best-in-slot gear lists and rotation/priority advice written about them on blogs and forums for each patch?
A: Come on, really? All of them. In spades.
So yes, if reforging were removed, people wouldn’t have to go to the Internet to reforge, logically. I’ll give you that. But they’d been going to blogs and forums and sims and podcasts for several years before reforging was available. WoW is a game where many people spend a lot of time on the game outside of the game, and it’s been that way for a long time. So it won’t stop if reforging is removed.
In fact, with reforging removed, gear lists – both their sizes and their viewership – would likely go through the roof, along with gemming strategies and other related topics, because of #2 in the above section on Possible required changes. So if there’s a “problem” with people going outside the game for information – which is, by this point, a time-honored tradition – then getting rid of reforging will certainly not “fix” it.
I just don’t see how reforging is so bad that it needs to be removed. I don’t think that most of the progression raiding/PvP playerbase thinks that way, either. Maybe I’m completely wrong. If so, then I’ll just be wrong.
There may indeed be changes on the distant horizon with regard to Hit and Expertise, and when the time comes, I’m interested to see how they solve their perceived issues with it. But I don’t think reforging is the problem. Hit and Expertise are the problem. (Edited for poorly used quotes, etc.)
I see reforging as a very valuable tool that’s preferable to what came before, and I also think that it helps to smooth out some of the RNG issues that, while still frustrating, can be mitigated to a certain extent through “stat-swapping.” I was happy when it arrived, and I don’t want to go back to when it wasn’t.
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Last Friday, Tabana posted a great article about leveling 85-90 as a hunter in Mists of Pandaria. I’m telling you right now, it is highly recommended reading.
Titled Hunter Tips for the First Week in Mists of Pandaria, this article contains links to many resources at both WHH and other sites for leveling hunters of any stripe, as well as many of Tabana’s insights from her own leveling experiences on the beta.
Featured topics include spec, pets/buffs, glyphs, talents, questing, gear, scenarios, and the changes to factions and Valor/Justice Points and how they’re now intertwined.
I’ve been reading up on, and preparing for, the leveling experience for a while now, and I’m sure most of you have as well. However, it certainly didn’t hurt me to take a look at her article, which is both concise and fairly exhaustive. There were a couple of points that she made which caused me to re-think a couple of my talent choices, and, as someone who had not set foot in the beta, I found her comments about scenarios enlightening.
In all, the guide is a great resource for most hunters, from those who plan to enter the expansion with wide eyes – taking screenshots, soaking in the scenery and learning the lore quest by quest – to those who hope to reach 90 quickly and begin raid or PvP preparations.
My post about this is intentionally vague in many ways. Tabana did the work, so I’m not going to copy it. Hop on over to WoW Hunters Hall via the link at the top of this post, and see for yourself the great stuff she put together for us!
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As of today (Friday, August 23), we’re four weeks and change from the release of Mists of Pandaria. While this blog has been kind of dead for the majority of the summer, I am still very excited about the expansion – particularly excited for the thought of reuniting with my raiding friends as we sink our teeth into the first tier of raids that will come along with it.
I haven’t been writing much about hunters this summer. Since my iMac went down for the count on June 26th or so, I haven’t been playing Mushan much at all. I have, however, finally gotten my new mage (mentioned in previous posts) up to 85 (as of the middle of last week) and close to max level for both Jewelcrafting and Tailoring. so I am good to go with respect to leveling those professions once MoP drops.
However, my hunter, despite the lack of attention, is still my great love, and my greatest interest in the game, come Pandaria.
As such, I must pass along, without further ado, a must-see site if you are looking for hunter info for patch 5.0.4 (August 28 pre-xpac patch) and MoP (9/25):
WoW Hunters Hall (Tabana = curator; follow her!!) has been amazing over the life of this pre-expansion period, and her collection and linking activities have really increased quite rapidly over the past couple of weeks. A lot of bloggers and theorycrafters have been putting a great deal of time into testing out hunter specs, glyphs, new abilities, gear, and stats, as well as raiding and pvping. There is a wealth of information on WHH, and Tabana has been working very hard to bring all of that and even more discussion to your eyes and mine.
And I haven’t even mentioned the work Tabana has put in when it comes to gear lists and general MoP hunter guides. She has a living, quickly-updated set of guides available, and as new info comes out that pertains to hunters, she is on it immediately, culling and presenting it to you and me and thousands of other lucky players.
She also has a great list of hunter resources, including blogs, hunter Youtube channels, podcasts, forums, theorycrafting resources, tools, and other references for just about anything you need. It’s really the mandatory hunter portal for serious hunters in World of Warcraft.
I’ve definitely benefited from following WHH. So add the site to your RSS, follow it on Twitter, do whatever it takes to make WHH a constant part of your WoW-related reading if you’re a hunter. I’ve personally been salivating over the gear list, glyph info, updates on buffs and nerfs and changes, and the thoughts of my fellow hunters as we blog and play our way into MoP and beyond.
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I’ve been trying to decide how I’m going to replace my iMac’s corpse, and I’m leaning toward building my own PC. I’m going to hazard a guess that this will (financially) become reality around Sept. 15th, at which point I will hopefully be re-downloading all 23GB of the stinkin’ game and getting things set up. Once I’ve accomplished that, I will absolutely be playing my hunter more, and will be able to include screenshots and what-have-you in my posts again, and all that good stuff.
I have plenty of writing material on my mind, and will be playing my hunter hard-core – and he will be the first toon that I level through MoP, of course. In addition, I’m also excited about leveling my warrior and druid tanks, and I may post about this in the coming weeks. Active mitigation is an idea that fascinates me – as do the reactions of those players who feel negatively about it.
At some point, I will think about a monk. I’d love to level a Brewmaster, but I’m afraid that doing so will make me forget about my warrior. Is that weird? It probably is. But it is what it is…
Anyway, go visit WoW Hunters Hall today. You won’t regret it!
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