100

Beyond The Dark Portal

Beyond The Dark Portal

I started playing Warlords on launch day – November 13th – during the day. I took my time with it. Regardless of my decision not to blow through the content, I didn’t have much of a choice anyway. In real life, I work retail, and during the past month-plus the place has been devouring all of my time and energy. As such, I started playing that Thursday, spent the next week doing little more than a few quests at a time when I could snatch an hour to play, and finally hit 100 eleven days later, on Sunday the 23rd.

(And here I am, nine days later, finally writing about it. Yeah.)

I had a good time. The game looks beautiful; I took more than 2800 screenshots along the way to 100, both to have a record of quest progress and to simply capture the beauty from time to time. I read the quest texts, and will re-read them the next time I take a character through.

An ancient road in Gorgrond

An ancient road in Gorgrond

However, now that I’m 100, I don’t know what to do. Since I am not raiding, I’m not trying very hard to gear. The only real post-100 gear that I’ve been going after, very occasionally, is PvP gear. More on that in a moment. I’m basically spending time at 100 doing Garrison dailies, a little bit of PvP, and trying to decide which toon to bring to Draenor next. And that’s about it for now.

Anyway, here are some of my early thoughts on the expansion…

Gearing for Leveling

So far, only Mushan has stepped through the Dark Portal, so I can only vouch for how this worked for that character. However, I can tell you that early-Pandaria heroic dungeon gear is more than adequate for leveling on Draenor.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I started WoD with an item level of 471 (upgraded Heroic dungeon gear). I kept every piece until I was a good way past 92, at which point I picked out the best pieces I had gotten from quests and rares and equipped those. This brought me to ilvl 511. Then, I kept all of those pieces equipped until I was 95, at which point I swapped gear again and bumped my ilvl to 543.

Second gear swap on Draenor

Second gear swap on Draenor

So halfway through the leveling process, I was still basically wearing gear roughly equivalent to Siege of Orgrimmar flex, before upgrades, with no set bonuses.

Before I go further, let me also mention that I did the first couple of levels without a pet. My first use of a pet was during my first Garrison invasion, before which I tamed a wolf because I felt that it was time, and because I did not know what to expect during the invasion. Before that, though, I did the group quest where you kill the elekk elite near your fort by myself, with no pet. I took some hits, but I managed to kite it well enough that I was able to persevere and take it down with little problem.

Anyway, I kept that gear until I was level 98, and when that swap was complete I was up to 580 and had finally eclipsed my top Mists ilvl.

Third gear swap on Draenor

Third gear swap on Draenor

 

I rode that gear until I hit 100, and then I made my final mass-swap and jumped up to 604. I haven’t built much upon that since, although I haven’t had any real problems out in the world with that gear.

I like that I was able to get some use out of the gear acquired through leveling. I enjoy that part of the leveling process – getting gear as I progress – and I believe it helped me appreciate the enemy encounters along the way much more than if I had Husqvarna-ed my way through Draenor with SoO gear.

It was also nice not banging my head against the wall in SoO over the last couple of months trying to get gear and the heirloom weapons (or legendary cloaks for my alts). I got weapons at regular intervals throught Draenor, as I had suspected I would, and they served me well. It was a much less stressful way for me to play.

PvP

After hitting 100, I went to check out Ashran.

After about an hour and a half of play there over three occasions, I don’t have many thoughts on it, other than that the same two bosses always seem to be engaged, and that the fighting always seems to be taking place on the road in the same place. The zone is pretty cool – I’ve enjoyed exploring around – and has been compared to Wintergrasp, but my early impression is that it doesn’t hold a candle to Wintergrasp. I’m pretty disappointed overall. I still want to try out Southshore vs. Tarren Mill, and get my feet wet in some other BGs again. But overall, my time in Ashran has caused me to be more interested in leveling my next toon than in PvP.

Garrisons

I’ve enjoyed the Garrisons more than I thought I would have. I’m glad that I didn’t fuss over them extensively before the launch. It was fun to have the ins and outs revealed to me as I progressed.

I decided to go with the Barn and Tannery to supplement my Leatherworking and Skinning. This has turned out to be beneficial, since I don’t really have time to go out and acquire mats for the daily cooldowns. I also went with the Salvage Yard, Stables, Storehouse, Barracks, and Gladiator’s Sanctum. I’m still leveling my buildings, since I missed a lot of days leading up to and during the holiday. It’s fun, but it also seems like a lot of busy work.

I like having followers. There are some cool people hanging out at my Garrison now: I really like having Admiral Taylor, Rulkan, and Lantresor of the Blade around. I like doing missions, although I’m somewhat handicapped by the fact that I have no followers who can mitigate spells. I’ve got, like, 37 rogues, 12 priests, 15 warriors, and 26 paladins. At least, it seems that way. For now, though, I don’t really mind. I’m still not done doing everything in the game yet, like some of the quests and all of the dungeons, so we’ll see what happens.

I just wonder what spending time in my Garrison will look like six weeks from now…

Dungeons

As much as I love dungeons, I haven’t gotten into any of them yet. I got invited to one last week while I was partially afk, and didn’t have time to do it. Other than that, though, I’ve only been doing content that I can leave at any time, because, as I mentioned, I’ve been very busy, and when I get home from work, I am usually extremely tired.

Story (Alert!! Possible spoilers below, if you haven’t finished all of the questlines yet!)

A couple of random story thoughts…

- Deaths. AU Velen, I was feeling a little shocked, but I understood and admired his sacrifice. Maraad, I was quite saddened by. AU Orgrim, I thought to myself, “oh shit, no way!” but that didn’t affect me like Maraad’s death, and I was just glad that AU Durotan was still alive.

However, I absolutely loved the cinematic at the end of the Nagrand storyline. Dude had it coming, and he got his in epic fashion!

- At the end of the Auchindoun questline, we defeat a demon, and then take the gate to Auchindoun, where Exarch Maladaar and Soulbinder Tuulani seem to have different and somewhat bizarre reactions to the disappearance of Gul’dan and Teron’gor…

The Exarch is happy that we slayed several baddies. His reaction is completely without regard to the situation on the ground, or in Auchindoun:

Yay, we won! :P

Yay, we won! :P

Meanwhile, Tuulani is saddened and mystified:

What happened?? :(

What happened?? :(

Apparently neither really knows how instance portals work…

Generally, the leveling story was pretty good, but I felt there was something important missing at the end of this questline. Any normal player/hero knows that they jumped into the instance, which took them out of PvP. Right? And Teron’gor is a boss in the Auchindoun dungeon, so… yeah.

It just didn’t seem written well at all.

Huntering

Man, I miss Scatter Shot.

I also kind of miss Arcane Shot as Marksmanship, but I’m okay without it. In Warlords, it would have made rotations smoother. But I generally enjoyed MM for leveling: the Aimed/Chimaera double-whammy was nice on single mobs. And while Multishot seems terribly ineffective, Explosive Trap is awesome when you pull a bunch of little podling b-holes…

As I said, I had no problem leveling with no pet for a while, and with simply using the leveling gear.

Closing

There are a lot of words in this post, and not a heck of a lot of substance. Oh well. I hope you don’t mind; I just wanted to check in since I have a rare day off and the servers are down for maintenance. I’m still here, and checking the game out a little bit at a time.

I’d like to decide today who I want to take over there next. I’m actually thinking of starting more than one: I have a mage, warrior, and death knight, and I’d like to see which of them I want to take to 100 first. The problem with the plate toons is that I don’t know if I want to level them as tanks or damage specs. I’ll probably stay Blood/Prot, because ultimately I’d like to tank some dungeons once the holidays are over and I (theoretically) have more time, but we’ll see.

If I get all three into Draenor this week, I can start on their profession stuff, which will be nice.

Until next time, hope you’re all having fun!

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Follow me on Twitter at @MushanEtc. Comments are welcome!


Mushan’s New Journal: Preparing for the Iron Horde

Mushan, awaiting orders in Stormwind

Mushan, awaiting orders in Stormwind

Hello.

My name is Mushan. In order to protect my online privacy, I will not be disclosing my surname.

I am a hunter. I can do almost anything that hunters around the world can do, but I specialize in pinpoint marksmanship, and I always have. To be certain, I have spent more than my fair share of my time working different magics into my arsenal, but lately I have been trimming the fat from my shot selection. In my opinion, there is nothing more satisfying than eliminating an enemy with carefully aimed, heavy, devastating shots.

Recently, I received a summons from King Varian Wrynn, and so I reported for duty in the Blasted Lands. For those who are not familiar with the situation there, Orcs calling themselves the “Iron Horde” are flowing from the Dark Portal, which is now red. Interestingly, they are attacking both Alliance and Horde alike. They allied with the ogres in the region, and took both Nethergarde Keep (killing several friends of mine) and Okril’lon Hold. I was charged, by Vindicator Maraad and other Alliance officers, with a variety of missions designed to weaken their offensive, destroy their commanders, and, from what I understand, allow us to begin to set up a defensible situation there.

Once I had completed those missions, I reported to King Varian, who recognized that this incursion by the Iron Horde is a serious threat. I left him to come up with his plan, and assume that he will be contacting me within the next few weeks with further instructions.

Since then, I have been preparing for the worst. I am not privy to the king’s thoughts, but to my mind, the “worst” is likely to mean that he will be sending Alliance forces through the Dark Portal again. It has been years since I was there last, and I have no idea what is on the other side. I assume that Outland is our destination, but without having walked through it yet – and, assuming that the Dark Portal is still a two-way portal… and that I come out on whatever is on the other side alive – I cannot say for certain. However, as I mentioned, I am preparing for whatever journey the king and his commanders deem necessary.

Preparations have included many tasks.

First, I cleaned out my bags. I will take what I need, but I intend to travel light. In addition to not knowing where I will be going, I will not risk losing valuables in a possible trip through the Dark Portal.

Once the bags were ready, I prepared food packets to take with me. I do not expect that I will not be able to provide for myself wherever we go. After all, I am a hunter. However, without knowing what kinds of fish and game are available on the other side of the portal, I could do worse than having dried noodle soup available when I need it. Perhaps by now the entirety of Outland is completely devastated like Hellfire Peninsula was years ago. If that is the case, I cannot rely on the availability of boar, talbuk, clefthoof, and other game.

Nevertheless, I took some time on a recent Saturday to clean, oil and test my bow and supply my quiver. I also made certain that my tackle box was well-stocked. If there is still fishing to be done over there, I will be fishing if time allows.

A major decision that I made was to jettison the armor that I picked up during the Siege of Orgrimmar. If you have yet to see what was available there, it was heavy gear that made me look like a cyborg. I prefer something far more more lightweight, for both comfort and style.

I packed various supplies into a couple of bags. I have bandages and potions, thread, leather and other supplies for repairing my gear and skinning beasts, traps, a charm that will allow me to breathe underwater, various other charms and gadgets that could prove useful, an anatomical dummy for target practice, my inflatable fishing raft, various tools, and writing materials. I also packed extra bags, since they have a variety of uses in a pinch.

Everything else I will leave at home or put into storage.

I have several pets, but I will not be bringing them along with me through the Dark Portal. It is simply too dangerous. I am willing to put myself at risk to defend the lands and citizens of the Alliance, but I will not put my friends in danger. They will be in good hands. This weekend, I am going to hire someone to look after those that choose not to simply wander the land while I am gone. I consider myself capable of defending myself against Orcs, and will be better able to do so with the peace of mind that comes from not worrying that my pets could be ripped to shreds by potentially unstable forces during the journey through the portal. If there are beasts to be found on the other side, I may tame one there.

Of course, I have also been practicing my marksmanship and woodcraft, running and exercising, and trying to sleep well. With so much uncertainty about the near future, I will treasure the remaining nights that I am able to spend sleeping in a bed.

This entry does not do proper justice to the amount of effort I have put into making preparations for my imminent journey. However, I intend for there to be many more entries, and thus more details.

Until then, Ishnu-alah.

* * *

Editor’s note: Dear readers, this is the first journal entry that Mushan has ever given me. I didn’t even know that he journaled; however, I’m happy to pass along whatever he is willing to share with you.

Sincerely, “Mushan at Mushan, Etc.”

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Follow me on Twitter at @MushanEtc. Comments are welcome!


Warlords of Draenor cinematic, release date, and other miscellaneous thoughts

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,

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.

Etc.

More, soon. :)

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. You can follow me on Twitter at @MushanEtc. Comments are welcome!


Revisiting Outland with a new hunter

Ah, the low level greens

In my “free time” – which, in World of Warcraft, generally constitutes time spent “not advancing” my level 90 characters or professions in some shape or form – lately, I’ve been leveling a new hunter.

Now, there is no need for me to make a new hunter, at least for the sake of hunters per se. I already have three hunters on my realm, and two of them are max level. However, I do love the class, and so when the time came to work on a new project, it was a fairly easy choice for me.

Anyway, I’ve got this new hunter. And this hunter has a purpose. Due to this purpose, it’s extremely likely that he will never reach max level.

* * *

If I think about the history of my experience in WoW, with an eye toward my favorite parts of the leveling experience, something interesting happens.

Some people love(d) Vanilla WoW. And, the truth is, I did too; I didn’t start playing WoW until the month after TBC launched, but I did spend a ton of time leveling through the “Vanilla” parts of the game when I started playing – I didn’t have my first level 70 toon until just over a month before Wrath launched! And while there were frustrating and faulty aspects of that part of the game, I have a lot of good – fuzzy, but good – memories from that time.

However, that part of the game is gone. Forever.

It’s not 100% gone, of course: there are areas of the game that survived the revamp (the “kill 10 Young Stranglethorn Tigers -> Stranglethorn Tigers -> Elder Stranglethorn Tigers”-type questlines come to mind, for one), but they’re relatively few in number. As a whole, the Vanilla WoW experience no longer exists.

As such – and this is the interesting thing that I realized – the earliest “nostalgia-era” content that is still available in anything collectively resembling its original form is The Burning Crusade. And Wrath follows that, of course… and those two zones are the reasons that I made this new hunter.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, as well as some of those from before, you may know that I’m at something of a crisis point as far as the game goes with me. A lot of times, what’s needed in these situations is a break from the everyday endgame experience (or lack thereof), and that’s what I’ve been looking for lately. Looking at the game, I realized recently that I had no characters that could play in Outland at-level – seven 90s, an 85, and two toons at or below 30. One of those lowbies is a hunter, and the other a shaman. I don’t enjoy the shaman as much as I had hoped, and the other hunter is reserved for a different project, should I ever return to it.

Anyway, I decided that, while I’m not a fan of leveling the revamped content on Azeroth, I wanted to take another toon into Outland and Northrend… and I didn’t feel like leveling a second DK (not that that isn’t fun, but my DK is the last toon I leveled, so I’d like to give DKs a bit of a rest for the moment). So, hunter it was.

But, why Outland?

When I look back at the past few years and think about the toons I’ve brought to max level, starting with Mushan and including a (now deleted) mage, warrior, replacement mage, second hunter, and DK, I realized that my favorite zones to revisit during the leveling process are Outland and Northrend. They were the continents/expansions that I played before I raided, which means “back when I sucked.” Back when I had no idea what was going on, or how to play. Back when the world was a complete wonder to me. When things were scary and new.

For some reason, nostalgia brings me back to those zones, to those expansions’ content. To a simpler time. That’s the number one reason. The revamped Vanilla content was okay for the first play-through, but there are certain aspects to the leveling process that make the experience uninteresting to me, including the lack of virtually any challenges along the way and the updating of the content to the current-as-of-Cataclysm time period.

* * *

I’ve set some parameters to encourage discovery, exploration, and learning… and also to ensure that I do not simply blow through to the higher levels like I usually do.

Heirlooms

No heirlooms past level 58. I did use several heirlooms through level 57, because the goal here was absolutely to zip through large chunks of the pre-58 content at a time. Once I hit 58, I did away with them, replacing them with quest greens I had saved for exactly that purpose. I even equipped a level 15 (ilvl 22) cloak as I prepared for Outland, because that was the last one I had saved. Not that that mattered – everything has been nerfed, so the simple fact that I had something appropriate equipped in every slot ensured that questing would still be very easy.

I’m also not in a guild, for guild perk reasons (including the bonus XP perk).

Locking XP

Based on past (post-4.0) experience, a player can hit Hellfire, Terrokar, Nagrand, and SMV or Netherstorm, run a couple of dungeons along the way, and easily be 68 (and ready for Northrend) before completing any zones, and skipping the vast majority of the Outland content. My aim with this toon is to spend time in Outland, so skipping content is anathema in that scenario. Therefore, I went to Wowhead and looked up the required levels for quests in each zone. For instance, virtually all of the quests in Hellfire are available by the time players hit 61; thus, when I hit 61, I lock my XP. This means that, once I finish the zone, I can unlock my XP, move on to Zangarmarsh, and continue gaining XP until I get to 62 (when all quests in Zangar become available). Then, when I finish Zangar, I can start Terrokar with unlocked XP and re-lock it again at 64 for Nagrand. This preserves some semblance of “I’m playing at-level,” which is another goal that I have. I could do each zone and run each dungeon without locking XP, but I would quickly outgrow each zone well before I finish it if I did it that way. I’m likely going to spend more time in Outland with my XP locked than unlocked, but that’s ok.

By the way, I discovered the other day that locking XP also interrupts the accrual of “rest,” which, for these purposes, does not disappoint me. Knowing that I won’t be out-leveling a zone quite so fast makes for more fluid progression within the zone than 30 bars of rest would – to a point, of course.

Mounts

Ground mounts only. Some people may think this is crazy, but I’m determined to play it very much like I did when I first took Anacrusa through it in 2007-08. And I couldn’t fly back then. Taxis (flight paths) are allowed, of course.

Additionally, while I do have a vendor mount, I will not use it with this toon.

Dungeons

There are quests in zones, once you get to a certain point/level, that send you to a dungeon that corresponds with the story; in Hellfire, it’s Hellfire Ramparts. In the interest of playing through the story, I will run the dungeons. However, I will only do this while XP-locked.

It’s fairly clear, at this point, that managing the throttling of XP-gain is a large part of this endeavor. Part of this is an experiment to see how it affects immersion; I’m of the opinion that while going back several times to Stormwind to (un)lock XP is a slight annoyance, it’s no more immersion-breaking than any other non-core activity in the game, such as doing my farms every day on max-level toons, or raiding the same instance every week.

* * *

It’s an imperfect science, obviously: there are several aspects of the game that are impossible to recreate. LFD didn’t exist back then, there were group quest elites, stats and specs and talents have been revamped, glyphs have been added, and things have been heavily nerfed. There’s no way to go back 100%, but that’s something I was fully aware of as I began the project.

The goal is to immerse myself in Outland. Revisit and enjoy the lore, and experience it as authentically as possible from a playstyle perspective. Revisit some memories of formative times in my WoW-childhood. There really isn’t a way to completely and accurately replicate that experience any more, but I can do things to mitigate the hyper-leveling paradigm that plagues** old content.

** “Plague” indicating a certain perspective; I know that there are many who are absolutely done with Outland in every way, but I also know that there are a lot of people who love TBC and love spending time there. So for my purposes, leveling quickly is the opposite of what I’m interested in. However, for others, it’s a necessity.

At any rate, along the way, I am taking a lot of screenshots, reading quest text, and completing each zone the best I can.

By the way, I’m leveling as Marksman on this hunter, which is what I leveled Mushan and Ghilleadh with back in the day. I don’t play Marks anymore on those toons, but it is absolutely killer for leveling. I approach the mob. I plant, and (unglyphed) Aim, and Shoot. 95% of the time, the mob either dies from a single shot or is critically injured (and is subsequently finished off with a Kill Shot). For elites or higher-level-than-me mobs, I do the “Aimed/Chimera” combo, and if it doesn’t kill them, it usually does serious damage. Even without heirlooms, the damage is punishing if it crits, and with Careful Aim, that happens quite often…

Playing this way makes me feel more like a ranger than just about anything else in the game. And that’s a fun aspect of this project, too.

* * *

As I mentioned above (and in a previous post), there’s no way to 100% accurately replicate the experience of playing WoW or a new expansion for the first time – once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. However, there are ways to revisit it. I’m a leave-my-poor-arms-at-the-emergency-room-afterward raider, but I also love leveling, and I love some of the old parts of the game. It’s fun and relaxing to lose myself in my new character, imagining him seeing this content for the first time and experiencing that wonder and awe with him. I’ve seen it before, but I also like seeing it again. And perhaps I’ll learn something new along the way.

Of course, this dovetails somewhat nicely with the idea that it’s nice to see Outland as it was a couple of years ago on the eve of Warlords of Draenor, since a great deal of that lore (along with that of the relevant books) will be somewhat pertinent to that expansion as well…

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Mushan is 3 years old today!

Mushan - created August 22, 2010. Shown here in Blade's Edge on September 22 of that year with Korak, his trusty gorilla. (I still have that pet!)

Mushan – created Aug. 22, 2010. Shown here in Blade’s Edge on Sept. 27 of that year. He was level 67 then.

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!


I Won’t Miss You – a tribute to Frostheim

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!


The wrong motivation

A while ago, I ranked on Feng-10N as a SV hunter.

I’m not going to deny it – it was awesome. It was particularly so because I was not expecting it to happen. It was the first time I had ever ranked, and you can only ever have that first time once.

Since then, I haven’t ranked on anything. For a short time, this caused me to wonder if my damage was going down, but it hasn’t been. There are just more guilds beating Feng – and therefore more hunters – and so I can’t seem to crack the top 200. Which is fine, because that’s not my motivation.

Ranking again would be cool. Killing more bosses would be way, way cooler.

However, last night something happened which caused me to consider doing something this weekend that, upon reflection, seems asinine.

What happened was that a player I know ranked ridiculously high on Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. When I heard about it, I checked WoL and found that this person – normally a situation-appropriate SV/BM hunter – ranked as MM.

It was an interesting temptation. My girlfriend said, rather flippantly, “I guess if you want to rank, go as MM.”

Yeah, I thought. I could spend a couple of days practicing, and then bring a new MM version of Mushan into Mogu’shan Vaults, etc. on Saturday night. Most people don’t play MM anyway, right? If I applied myself, I could probably get my name on a few of the charts. My heart was momentarily excited.

Then, within a few short moments, I came plummeting back down to earth and realized that that was probably one of the dumber ideas I had had in the past year or so.

Yes, maybe I could rank on a few fights. Maybe I could rank on Zor’lok, too.

But would we even kill him, if I fought him in MM spec?

- – -

As a guild, we’ve defeated Zor’lok three times. The last time he died, which was last Sunday, it was the closest we’ve had to a full guild run / our regular team. He’s still rough – we’re fine until the floor phase, and then it gets shaky. I’m playing as close to the top of my game as I can, trying to avoid damage and deal as much damage as possible myself. Everyone is the same – we’re all playing with lightning at our finger-tips, dancing around and fighting as well as we can, trying to kill him before he kills us.

Taking MM Mushan into a fight like that would be a bad thing for several reasons.

1. It’s a selfish, stupid f@%king reason to play a spec like that. For serious.

2. I’d like to play MM again someday, but I’ve played SV consistently for more than a year now, and even with the changes the spec/class has gone through, I’ve been constantly familiar with it – SV fits me as close to a glove as any spec could in this game right now. On the other hand, even the idea of playing MM seems foreign to me right now, and at this time I don’t necessarily think I really even want to play the spec.

3. Making my teammates work harder to kill any of the bosses – even the “easier” ones – goes against how I view my role in raids, ethically and even morally. And it’s almost certain that I would be less effective playing Marks than I am as SV.

4. Who really gives a crap if I rank on anything in 10N? Or on any fight? You don’t, do you? No, you don’t. None of the other hunters, whether they themselves rank or not, cares if I rank. My guildies really don’t care if I rank. Nobody cares if I rank.

I don’t even really care if I rank, to be honest.

5. Ranking as MM would feel hollow.

I know that BM is supposed to be the best spec, but SV is the best spec for me, and I bring my best “me” to my raid team when I’m playing SV.

And the truth is that most hunters are playing SV or BM, which is evidenced by things such as the fact that the threshold for ranking as MM on Zor’lok-10N, as of last night, was only 64,268 DPS(e) – a number that, as SV, I regularly top by a good 15-18K. The threshold for ranking as SV was 94,523 as of Sunday night, which is a full 47% higher than the MM threshold. There is an obvious disparity there – the true competition is in the SV/BM ranking charts. And so, really, I don’t even know that I would feel good at all if I managed to rank on anything as MM – as a “bigger fish in a relatively smaller pond” – particularly when taking into consideration the potential detriment that my inexperience with MM and my lack of usual performance could hurt my team.

So it turned out to be a pretty bad idea. Thankfully, I didn’t try it.

- – -

To those who love and excel at playing Marksmanship, I salute you. I would love to play MM and play it well, but right now I’m sticking with SV, rankings be damned. SV feels right, and it also feels like the right thing to do. Someday, I’m sure I’ll pick up MM and give it a whirl, but it will be for the love of the spec and the game, not because I want to try to faceroll* onto an ultimately meaningless rankings chart.

*Not saying I would definitely faceroll onto the MM charts – I’m just self-directing some sarcasm with that comment.

- – -

Thanks for reading this (description of a thought process) by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


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