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!


My favorite raid encounters as a hunter in Mists…

All of them.

Ok, well not really – that’s just my own predilection for hunters shining through!

Today, The Grumpy Elf wrote about his three favorite raid encounters as a hunter in MoP, and Delirium followed with his top five. As I read each of those great posts, I got to thinking about some of the fights I particularly enjoyed because I was playing a hunter, even if I wasn’t in love with the fights themselves. Here then, in no particular order, are some favorite moments/mechanics:

Imperial Vizier Zor’lok

  • Disengage to the furthest shield during Force and Verve on Platform 1? Check.
  • Continue rotation uninterrupted – by casting on the move – while avoiding discs during Attenuation on Platform 2? Check.
  • Quickly change targets to burst down Converted players on Platform 3? Check
  • Combine all three on the floor in Phase 2? Good fun.
  • Jump-Disengage from platforms –> Deterrence to avoid Pheromones of Zeal damage when transitioning between platforms? Check.

T14 was a butt for my raid team. We struggled to get past certain bosses like Stone Guard, Elegon, Blade-Lord, Garalon… yeah. It was rough. But I had fun on Zor’lok.

I used to try to Disengage directly into my assigned shield during Force and Verve. The first time I did it, I called it a ‘three-pointer,’ although it was more like a hole-in-one. It’s the simple things, right? Not an amazing feat, but fun nonetheless. But while Zor’lok wasn’t necessarily a ‘use all the tools in your toolbox’-type of fight, I really appreciated being a hunter on that fight.

Lei Shi

Let’s see here… how about I start with running while casting during Get Away! ? Yeah, that was great. I enjoyed that benefit while playing my hunter, but my appreciation for cast-on-the-move grew when I took my frost mage and resto druid into ToES. What a difference.

I also got to use Wyvern Sting to CC Animated Protectors during Protect, because it was instant / more reliable than Freezing Trap.

On the other hand, one of the more annoying things was having virtually nothing to do during Hide. Watching mages and warlocks rain down ice and fire made me nostalgic for good ol’ Volley in that case. And, in general, that fight was a pain with all of the phase changes and so on, so I didn’t necessarily enjoy it. However, being a hunter certainly served me well against Lei Shi.

Thok

Thok has “hunter fight” written all over it. Both Grumpy Elf and Delirium wrote about how great that fight is for hunters, and with more detail and expertise than I could. Nonetheless, it has to be mentioned here. Casting not interrupted? Jump-Disengaging with Posthaste when Fixated, while still damaging Thok on the move? Tranq Shot if necessary on the adds? The fight is a lot of fun for hunters. I’ve only ever done the fight on one other toon – my resto druid – and it’s a complete pain in the ass. But for hunters, Thok is definitely a good time.

* * *

I could continue with my list, but most of it would just rehash the posts that inspired it. I have to agree with Grumpy Elf that Sha of Pride was great for hunters. Additionally, I absolutely love his ‘welcome’ speech:

“Come, face me. Give in to your pride. Show me your ‘Greatness’.”

So, so condescending. I love it.

So many other fights were good for hunters. Gara’jal, Tsulong, and Immerseus come to mind immediately when I think about taking out adds in something akin to a turret-style manner. There are many abilities one can use during Will of the Emperor for add-control. Disengage is handy in so many fights, from Feng to Sha of Fear, Jin’rokh to Lei Shen, and throughout SoO. I’ve used Deterrence a lot on Stone Guard, H Jin’rokh, Dark Shaman, Lei Shen, and so on; Concussive Shot on Tortos, Will, Immerseus…

It’s been great to be able to interrupt/silence, slow, root, and otherwise impede mobs in raids – while almost continuously dealing sweet, sweet damage – throughout this expansion. It’ll be interesting to see how that kind of thing pans out in Warlords with a less diverse toolbox. In the meantime, it’s fun to look back and remember how, in spite of variable class balance *cough*, Mists has been a pretty fun expansion in which to play a hunter.

Thanks to The Grumpy Elf and Delirium for the inspiration for this post, and for sparking some good memories!

* * *

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


Things fall apart

Away

* * *

Practically, nothing is happening right now.

Raiding

We still haven’t raided since early November.

Those of us that are left have either moved on to other teams (one person) or resigned ourselves to the fact that a long break is in the cards (the rest of us). There’s nothing happening on this front.

I did have the chance to raid with an old friend in her guild about a month ago. We knocked over Nazgrim, Malkorok, and Spoils that night. It was nice to reconnect with her, but I was just a fill-in.

Oh yeah, and last Thursday, this happened:

Ahead of the curve!

I got to fill a spot with my girlfriend’s team, which is halfway through heroic content. We downed the last seven bosses on normal mode in fairly short order (and no wipes), and I managed to finally complete my four piece bonus. I also didn’t suck, which was a relief considering that, in addition to worrying that I would be rusty, I had never seen the final two bosses before that night. It was pretty fun!

It was nice to raid again on both occasions, but neither is something that will happen regularly. I was just helping out.

Warlords

The January beta that some were hoping for post-Blizzcon didn’t happen, just as I suspected it wouldn’t. Since Blizzard announced last week that PvP Season 14 is ending “in a couple of weeks” (or so), the month of February will be comprised of two weeks (or so) of that happening, plus another two weeks (or so) of sorting out the titles and such. By then, we’re either very near or already into March. Twenty weeks (give or take) of Season 15 puts us around the middle of July. With Patch 6.0 presumably happening around that time, a few weeks of that puts us into August, making the time between the launches of MoP and WoD longer than the time between the Cata and MoP launches.

And that’s if everything goes as it usually does. We could be waiting even longer…

This will also mean at least an eleven-month period where Siege of Orgrimmar is end-game – possibly longer. This would put it longer than Dragon Soul (~10 months), and almost as long as ICC (1 year). So much for shorter turnarounds (and best laid plans).

As Jasyla said, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” (a great post, by the way). Another thought: the news of another PvP season came down over a month ago. The current season is still not over yet. We’re definitely seeing more of the same.

This is me, beating a dead horse

Did I mention that nothing is happening? I don’t PvP regularly, so a new season is a definite stretch of four or five months (or more) where there is guaranteed to be zero new content. By the time that stretch starts, we will already be on the long side of five months with no new content. Without raiding, what’s left? Archaeology? LFR? Pet battles? Obsessing daily on the when? Waiting, breath to breath, for the promise/fallacy of “faster content” to morph into reality? “Faffing”?!

Yeah, I don’t think so. Not for me.

I love many parts of this game, but I’ve already done almost all that I want to do in Mists. My friends and I haven’t made it to Garrosh’s (temporary) downfall together, but that’s basically off the table at this point. And without raiding, my motivation to explore “other” just isn’t there. People I love to play with are absent. Pandaria itself has been done to death during my too-many journeys through the leveling and gearing process. If the expansion dropped next week, I have the five toons that I care about, geared* and perfectly ready to start the journey to level 100. I’ve already done “other.” Five, six, seven more months of lonely solo play (and crappy / repetitive PuG group play) through overly familiar content has no appeal for me right now.

*Geared means “out of greens.” I maintain that we will not need heirloom weapons to level.

Break time

I’ve been playing for seven years as of this month. I’ve taken a couple of breaks during that time, but I believe that the longest period I’ve ever gone without being subscribed was five or six weeks. I remained subscribed for the entire time between the release of Diablo III and Patch 5.0, even though I was relegated to playing on my girlfriend’s computer (when I could) because mine was broken. I created my hunter during the eternity of downtime before Cataclysm launched. Good things have happened in times like this.

But I can’t do it again. I can’t justify four to six more months of subscription payments when the game isn’t bringing me much enjoyment; when there is no new story, dungeon, or raid content, no raid team, and virtually nothing that I’ve left unexplored about MoP. And as much as I want to believe that getting hard-core into my Outland hunter (or another new toon, for that matter) right now could be worth it, I’m just not feeling it.

So I’ll be letting my subscription expire when payment comes due soon. And for the most part, I’ll be putting the blog on the shelf for a while.

* * *

The idea is to come back shortly before Patch 6.0 arrives. At that point, I can change my hunter’s second profession if I decide to move forward with that, finish bag-space-clearing, and do any other prep that I feel I need to do. This will give me time to adjust to the forthcoming class changes, and allow me to take part in any pre-launch event, if they decide to give us one.

In the meantime, I have plenty to do. I’ve been working on an unrelated blog recently, playing more guitar, and spending more time reading. I just picked up Fable Anniversary for the 360, and will definitely be playing through that a few times. I’ll also spend time with several other games that I recently picked up on the cheap. And baseball’s Spring Training is around the corner, which is great, because I’ve got some serious baseball fever right now!

I think this break will be good for me. Perhaps when I come back – refreshed – I can find a better situation (or the situation will have improved within my guild) for raiding. If not, I’m still excited about playing through the Warlords launch content, checking out dungeons and so on, and most likely writing about it! And then I’ll move on.

In the meantime: peace. I’ll see you on the other side of the desert.

P.S. Thanks (belatedly) for the encouragement, Kheldul. I appreciate it!

* * *

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


Beta/launch dates, “killing” the Greench, and what I’ve been up to

Mushan surveys the mess created when the Greench shoved Christmas into this cave.

Mushan surveys the mess created when the Greench shoved Christmas into his hole.

With the holidays in full swing, raiding has been on hold since Thanksgiving. As such, things haven’t been very exciting for me in WoW, and I’ve consequently been playing less. I’ve also been playing less because work becomes very stressful (and the hours more extreme) this time of year, so my life around the game is something of a cycle of boredom and fatigue. “Not much goin’ on..” and “Don’t really care.” It’s weird, but it has felt like we’ve been in the pre-expansion doldrums since October, and my real-life commitments haven’t helped to alleviate that feeling for me.

Anyway… I was, for some reason, uncharacteristically excited about a holiday for once. I’m a Christmastime baby, and have always loved the season, so perhaps that partially explains why I was looking forward to The Feast of Winter Veil so much this year. That, and that there’s not much else going on.

I haven’t been that plugged in to the community lately either. Yes, I’ve read blog posts; and I’ve hopped on Twitter on occasion, but Twitter seems to be becoming so much like Facebook lately that it’s.. it’s just difficult for me. So I’m not as in the loop as I’m accustomed to being, but I am, somewhat.

At any rate, I am playing a little bit almost every day, when I have the energy. I’ve been writing, too, and some of those posts may survive and be published at some point. In the meantime, I have some thoughts to share about topics that are getting old at this point (because I’m usually late to dinner when it comes to putting in my two cents).

Beta speculation

One thing that there has been much excitement about since Blizzcon has been speculation on beta and launch dates for Warlords of Draenor. In my small world, The Godmother has been the most vocal about it, recently organizing a pool of sorts, where people could pick release dates. She also writes consistently about the expansion at her blog, Alternative Chat. From what I can tell, she is both a proponent of a quick release schedule and believer that it is likely to happen. It’s all fun, and speculation is just that, but I tend to be much more skeptical about such quick roll-outs than (I think) she is.

After Blizzcon, I read people who wondered if a beta would release before the end of the year, or, at the latest, early January. Spring 2014 for WoD to drop. Faster patches, faster releases! I could never catch that excitement. I’m just not a believer. I’ve spent too much time over the years, pining for something new to happen “sooner-than-later” – to no avail – to now, all of the sudden, think that Blizzard is going to start pumping out expansions at anything close to their stated goal of one per year. And yes, this is in spite of the fact that it sort of seemed that Blizzard pumped out content for MoP faster than in the past…

I’m going to have to see how the cycle for the Warlords xpac pans out.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at “recent” expansion-release history:

Cataclysm cycle

  • Announced: August 21, 2009
  • Beta testing begins: June 30, 2010
  • Expansion released: December 7, 2010
  • Beta-to-release: 160 days

Mists of Pandaria cycle

  • Announced: October 21, 2011
  • Beta testing begins: March 21, 2012
  • Expansion released: September 25, 2012
  • Beta-to-release: 188 days

Warlords of Draenor cycle

  • Announced: November 8, 2013
  • (speculative) Beta test begins window: mid February to early April
  • (speculative) Expansion release window: mid-July to mid-October
  • (speculative) Beta-to-release: 135-180 days

Here’s the not-very-scientific way I came up with these vague predictions:

A) Once the holidays are over, players will be chomping at the bit to get into the beta. Given the experience that we have – historically – prior to every patch, beta, and expansion release, we’ll get to sit and simmer through two-to-four months of “When is beta starting??” “Soon(TM). Not yet, but Soon(TM).” So with the goal a quicker turnaround, but without sacrificing quality, I can see them getting some basic beta features up as early as mid-February, but I’m not holding my breath.

B) Based on the last beta period, which lasted a full four weeks longer than the beta for Cataclysm, I’m predicting that the best that Blizzard will realistically be able to accomplish from beta to release will be about 150 days, or approximately 20% less time than the MoP schedule. Allowing for them surprising me, I’m giving them a 15-day margin of error on the early side of that, and for the skeptic in me, I’m allowing for an extra month on the long side of that “goal.” Thus, the rough release window that I’ve given above.

More thoughts on beta speculation

While I have doubts that we’ll see Warlords in the spring or the beginning of summer, it’s not only because of the history of recent releases. To me, there are some features that don’t seem very fleshed out yet.

Those features include – to name a few – the player character model revamps, garrisons, adjustments to professions, and class mechanics changes. Some of these things will likely be refined and completed during the beta period, of course. However, it seems to me that the slow pace of updated model reveals could be indicative of how long it could really take to see the beta.**

I could be wrong: it’s quite possible that the beta will come out with just a few character models, with added models as the beta period progresses. But it seems that they would want to have a majority of the models playable at the start of the beta in order to facilitate a quick release rollout, rather than dripping them in periodically and asking for feedback over and over again.

**I say this about model updates, because it seems that they’ve been in development for so long that it’s unlikely that they’re going to whip out both sexes and all of the variables for all eight original models in a rapid-fire fashion at this point. After all, they announced that they were actually working on such a revamp in October of 2011 originally, so apparently a lot of work is going into them, and that doesn’t seem like something they can just finish up, publish, and move on from in a quick and efficient fashion.

So much is unclear about this and other features – which is par for the course, by the way, but doesn’t seem to be par for a faster schedule. It’s likely that information will come out much more quickly after the holidays end, but meanwhile, time continues to tick. Right now, with no beta announced, we’re just nine months away from the two-year anniversary of Mists of Pandaria. In terms of the history of WoW expansions and their beta lengths, that isn’t much time to cut the turnaround time from MoP to WoD by a whole lot less time than previous launch cycles.

The Greench

This may seem kind of mind-blowing, but this year was the first time I killed The Greench since he was revamped a couple of years ago. Hence, my photo at the top of this post.

When they revamped him, I was so uninspired (for whatever reason) by the idea of going to kill him like a world boss that I never even took the “You’re A Mean One” quest to kill him, rescue Metzen, and recover the Stolen Treats. I just never even thought about it.

However, this year, as a result of my excitement over the coming of Winter Veil, I decided to take the quest and see what it’s all about.

I got the quest in Ironforge, flew up to the Alterac Mountains, and found the Greench’s lair. There were dozens of players around, but no Greench. His cave was there, and as I landed, I got quest credit for freeing Metzen… without freeing him. All I did was arrive, and nothing else.

“Okaaay…”

There were several sparkling bags around, so I looted one, and got the Stolen Treats. I looked up at my Quest Tracker: the quest was complete. I didn’t have to kill the Greench at all.

“. . .”

I did anyway. I waited for him to respawn, he went down fairly quickly, and then I flew back, turned in my quest, and got my achievement.

But I was disappointed. While I understand (I suppose) why the quest works that way, I was disappointed that I didn’t even have to “face him,” as the quest text suggested. It sort of killed any kind of excitement and immersion that could come from such a quest.

Having done it a few times now, I don’t know if I’m going to do it any more. I don’t really care about the pet, and going up there and finding a dead Greench and a virtually completed-for-me quest has no real pull for me.

What I’m doing right now

Lately, I’ve been doing the following: leveling my new hunter, hitting up the Timeless world bosses on my hunter and druid, farming old-world mats as part of a hare-brained scheme that I may write about in the future, helping my girlfriend in old raids from time to time, and writing posts or post ideas and not posting them.

I’ve done LFR a couple of times over the past few weeks on my Resto druid as well. She’s up to 534 now, isn’t working on the legendary quest (because I can’t be bothered with the grind), and is fun to play when I do play her. And that’s what it’s all about at this point – having fun – so that’s been rewarding, particularly as one time I was with my friend Somb, who’s always a blast to play with.

I’ve also been playing other games. I picked up a bunch of cheap used games recently for my 360, and I’ll be bumbling around*** in some of those over the next couple of months as the spirit moves.

***Truth be told, I’m not actually a very skilled gamer.

As for what the future holds? Who knows… raiding is officially on hiatus until January, but we have unresolved open spots on the team. So all of that’s up in the air at this point.

We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I’m not sure that I’ll write a separate post on Christmas Day, so I’ll say to you now: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, my friends. I hope the season is treating you wonderfully.

***

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


Crossroads

Things have been quiet lately, here at the blog. Not apologizing for that… just acknowledging it. I know that there are people who regularly read what I have to say, and I’m grateful to you. The truth is, I’ve not said anything lately because I haven’t known how to say what I want to say… (the BBB post notwithstanding: that was a special circumstance, where distractions fell by the wayside in lieu of “I need to write this – now”).

There’s a reason that things have been quiet. There’s been something of a small cataclysm within my raid team lately, personnel-wise. It’s something that I won’t talk about in detail on the blog. The personnel changes don’t specifically pertain to me – I’m still there, with the other members of the core – but they have hit me very close to home nonetheless. And so we’ve gone from a team rolling with the changes to a team trying to rebound from some big changes.

Changes, meaning defections. Or, rather, abandonments.

By my count, we’ve lost eight people (more if I include substitutes) since we started raiding in November 2012. In business terms, we’ve had more than 80% turnover in the past year. This isn’t an entirely accurate number, since there is one tank position and 3 DPS positions that have been constant since the very first week. But if we had gone through that many people at the company I work for, it would be classified as more than 80% turnover. And it’s a lot of turnover.

Nonetheless, in World of Warcraft, on a “casual guild” level, it’s not necessarily unexpected. People come and go. It’s the nature of the game.

However, there is a personal nature to several of these departures. While Roy and Ben left of their own accord (Roy simply retired from the game; Ben left to go to dental school), I have a hard time not feeling responsible for others leaving. I can’t necessarily prove that I am responsible… but I find myself feeling guilty about them all the same, and all I can do is play on and try to contribute, in spite of all of that.

Anyway, the bottom line is that people left – and if it wasn’t one of the two above-named peeps, it was mainly because of substitution issues**, which is also a common thing around the game.

**In a conversation recently, Squid noted that most of these issues would have been moot if Flexible-Normal had rolled out with MoP instead of WoD. If that had been the case, we likely wouldn’t have lost a few of our teammates along the way.

The most recent cases of abandonment have seriously left us in the lurch. It has now been three weeks since we killed Nazgrim in 10N, and we haven’t been back. On Blizzcon weekend, we killed the first seven bosses in one night with some friendly substitutes from around the server, and had to cancel the second night due to lack of attendance. This past weekend, courtesy of Somb and his affinity for OQueue, we killed Malkorok through Siegemaster Blackfuse with 10-12 people in Flex…

…And, you know what? We had more fun than we’ve had in weeks and weeks, and weeks. We brought seven of our normal peeps – the most recent defectors had weeded themselves out. Sunday night, the seven of us joined with three friendly peeps from Uldaman-US and an extra healer, and spent a short evening learning the Siegemaster fight. And – I’ll be honest – it felt really good to get that kill. We had a good time, communicated well, learned the fight, made adjustments… and it felt like progression. And there was no drama.

I’ll confess, there were things about this past raid weekend that were awesome, and things that sucked on a personal level. We had fun and made progress – 12/14 flex, with 4 new bosses down that we’ve never seen before – but the gear thing…

Yeah… I know I’m probably alone on my team in this way, but I’ve only got two pieces as low as 540 (base ilvl) right now. So, while the Flex kills are very rewarding – and I did have fun getting them – there’s really almost no gear that I want out of Flex.

I find that I’ve got that typical “I’d like to bring my alt” feeling creeping in from time to time when it comes to Flex. I certainly don’t make it an issue, because I can help the team most, 99.99% of the time, by bringing my hunter. But there is still a nagging feeling that I’m overgearing it… and so I think, “hey, I could bring my resto druid; she could use the gear, but is already geared enough to contribute…” which is something that is, at this point, somewhat hard-wired into our brains as raiders, as the carrot on the stick that makes raiding that much more special on a personal-character level.

Of course, that’s all silly: my favorite toon is Mushan, and I love playing him, and my team probably needs him more than it needs the druid. And I had no problems playing him in Flex. I’m just saying there’s that itch to bring the druid…

(anyway…)

(OK, it’s gone… for now…)

Ultimately, killing those four new bosses was progression for us. It was fun and rewarding on an achievement level. But the fact remains that there are relationships that have been harmed as a result of recent events – and that sucks.

And that’s why it’s been quiet here lately. While I can speak in generalities and evasively, as I have in this post, I have otherwise not really known what to say. And the “has affected me personally” thing has really affected me enormously, to the point where I’ve been considering taking an indefinite sabbatical from the game itself. Any thought of blogging about WoW has been out-shined by all of these raid-related things that have affected me so. And so, while I’ve come to WordPress with fully-completed posts over the past week or so (twice, before this one) where I address Warlords of Draenor, I haven’t been able to polish and publish them. Every time I’ve tried to do so, I’ve found myself attempting to instead avoid despair and inner conflict regarding the subject (which drives me away from the keyboard and to some other activity, for my own emotional well-being), as well as trying to avoid saying something that I could regret later. And those feelings are not going to magically go away for a while yet.

At any rate, I’ve pulled into my shell a little bit, lately. I’m leveling a new hunter. I’d like to talk more about him later. I’m raiding whatever my friends can raid. But I don’t know what the future holds, beyond the start of the next xpac. At this point, I’m taking it little bit by little bit, enjoying the company of my friends and doing other things as the spirit moves me.

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


RNG has a funny sense of humor

The day finally arrived. Friday was the day that my girlfriend finished making 21 Hardened Magnificent Hides, so we got together and exchanged mail belts in the evening.

First, she made the belt for me on her druid…

My Gorge Stalker Belt - yay!

My Gorge Stalker Belt – yay!

Then, she switched over to her shaman, and I made her the Int Mail belt…

Krasari Prowler Belt

Her Krasari Prowler Belt – yay!

And then, I finally ditched my Tier 15 2-piece gear by equipping some new shoulders and making myself the mail legs. I figured, what the heck – it’s just a game, and these hides couldn’t possibly mean more to me if used for anything other than new hunter pants, even if only for a short while.

This trade was necessary because, betwixt my two Leatherworkers, I still had not learned the belt pattern on either (in 50 days X 2 worth of cooldowns). It worked out, because she was able to help me and I was able to make her a belt to compensate her – she was able to get her belt as soon as she was able to make it, and I was able to get mine in the face of possibly never learning the darn pattern. As I said in a previous post, there’s something fun and immersive – and elusive – about mutually beneficial activity when it comes to professions, and I’m glad I waited for the experience, rather than just buying a belt at the Auction House.

Of course, the next morning, this happened:

"Congratulations, you have learned a now-virtually-useless pattern!"

“Congratulations, you have learned a now-virtually-useless pattern!”

*and palm met face*

Ah well, at least we each got our belts – no harm, no foul. Although, regarding the legs, I fully expect to win the tier legs or some Warforged ones during the next week, now that I’ve used four weeks worth of mats to make the crafted ones. That’s how RNG works, right? Manipulative, playing with our emotions, torturing our hopes and dreams, laughing in our faces… It would not surprise me in the least!

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


Patch 5.4: Over before it arrived?

With Blizzcon drawing nigh, there is a lot of excitement and buzz about the unveiling of a new expansion to come. And with the announcement that the new MOBA – formerly Blizzard All-Stars – will be called Heroes of the Storm, which was trademarked in September, there are no actual titles out there…

…taunting us with their “I’ve been trademarked, so I could be the title, but nothing’s official” statuses at this point.

I’m personally having a hard time getting excited about all the speculation. In fact, I’m fighting this feeling inside – the feeling that the current expansion is already done. And I’ve been fighting it for a couple of months now.

Don’t get me wrong: I do certainly think about the next expansion. I’ve variously referred to it as “BC2,” “6.0.Whatever,” and “World of Warcraft: 100″ in previous posts that have touched on a smattering of topics that relate to what’s coming in the future. But that doesn’t change the fact that it feels like Patch 5.4 came out and was “over with” in a week.

  • August: Blizzcon buzz starts to really pick up steam, along with “when is 5.4 coming?”
  • September 10: Patch 5.4 released. Lots of commentary over the next week or so about Siege of Orgrimmar, Flex, Timeless Isle, Timeless Isle, Timeless Isle…
  • September 17: LFR wing 1 and Heroic SoO released. The race to world first becomes almost secondary to the rapidly-ongoing transition from Timeless Isle and LFR to the next expansion amongst the community.
  • As weeks pass, most of what I read becomes about the next expansion. I’ve never seen a major raid patch swept under the rug as fast as this one…

Obviously, this is just a general impression, not hard numbers. Nonetheless, it’s the impression I’ve gotten.

This contrasts to where I am in-game. In Siege of Orgrimmar, we’re 8/14 and making our typical “march to the end-boss” – and we’ve still only done the first eight bosses in Flex. And so on. At any rate, there’s a lot more raiding to be done before we complete the tier/expansion.

So for me, the story is still going on. We’re going at our own pace. And since we’re less than two months into the patch, it feels like we’re in a fairly normal place.

But it seems like all of that is moot in the big picture. More than with Dragon Soul, and even more than that compared with Icecrown Citadel, it seems like this particular “final raid patch” has happened under the cloud of future content.

I’m not criticizing the community, by the way. Rather, I think that this probably stems from two basic circumstances:

1) The calendar vs. the game. Blizzard released 5.4 two months before Blizzcon – the first Blizzcon in two years, by the way – and the several months before Blizzcon are usually abuzz with speculation about what they’re going to announce, quite understandably. As a result, Blizzard has somewhat drowned their own content by releasing it under the cloud of anticipation about the announcement of more new content – content, by the way, that more people are interested in than what is happening in the game right now.

This is a consequence of pushing content out at this pace after taking forever to release patches/expansions in the past. This year, the calendar has lined up unfavorably for Patch 5.4.

2) More than ever, it seems that people are looking to the next expansion as something of a “make or break” expansion. Fairly or not, since MoP continues the downward trend in subscription numbers since Wrath and has had it’s share of problems, people are looking to the new xpac to cure those ills. If too many problem-aspects of the current game remain, people will leave. If the theme and/or story and/or raids aren’t awesome, people will be disappointed.

There are legitimate problems with the game, and many players are anxious to see how Blizzard is going to fix them. And to look at it from another view, people love the game and are simply excited to see where the story will take them. I am definitely in both of those camps.

Speculation is a natural part of this whole experience, and I am no exception. As I said, this post is not intended as any type of criticism of current community discussion. Speculate on! I know I will, to some extent. However, I can’t help feeling like 5.4 was over before it started – like Mists of Pandaria is already over, already on the back burner in the minds of many – and that feels like a shame to me. Perhaps it’s just the calendar/release schedule, or perhaps it speaks to the flaws in the game and things like the Timeless Isle, but this feels different than it felt in the past for me.

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


Raiding update: 13 months in

Iron Juggernaut goes down in a plume of oily smoke.

Iron Juggernaut goes down in a plume of oily smoke.

This is a late update, but as of last Sunday (October 20th), we’re now 6/14 in Siege of Orgrimmar.

Last week, we aborted our normal “Saturday Night Flex” run when someone dropped after one wing and we found ourselves with just our core 10-person group. The suggestion was made to burn through the first four bosses in order to finally spend some quality time on, and get past, Galakras. Said suggestion was readily agreed upon, and said mission was duly executed that evening.

Sunday night, we managed to kill Galakras, and then Iron Juggernaut died as well. After a prolonged delay – when one of our healers went afk and never returned – we then spent some time checking out the Kor’kron Dark Shaman encounter. I think it’s not going to take us a whole lot of work to get that fight. Having ten people will help…

I like Siege of Orgrimmar. I feel we could be further along, but I’m happy that we’re not stuck. It’s not my favorite raid ever, but it seems to be going well.

Outside of raiding, the game has slowed down quite a bit for me. This is mainly, I think, due to the fact that a few of my friends only play on raid nights / weekends, along with other factors such as the ‘lack of new dungeons’ thing and other issues that I have with Mist of Pandaria’s end-game. Also, the expansion has been out for 13 months as of today, and I’ve put a lot of time into it.* So there’s that.

*See: my last year’s worth of posts.

While I don’t decide what we do on raid nights, I’m hoping we can take a week off from Flex and work on maybe getting seven bosses down this week, so we can start working on Nazgrim. This will depend, of course, on who shows up and other factors, but we shall see…

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


Alts: what do you do best, and where?

Second attempt on Armsmaster Harlan. Yes, you read that right.

Second-attempt kill on Armsmaster Harlan. Yes, you read that right.

During each week, I have certain priorities that I like to complete on my main:

  • Cap Valor Points
  • Kill a Celestial and Ordos
  • Be supplied and ready to raid
  • Raid

Additionally, there are professions to take care of on a daily basis:

  • 2 Blacksmithing cooldowns
  • 2 x 2 Leatherworking cooldowns
  • 1 cooldown each for Alchemy, Engineering, Enchanting, Jewelcrafting
  • 2 Tailoring cooldowns
  • 7 x farms
  • Check raid/food supplies and shuffle items accordingly

Beyond that, though, my time is basically mine to use as I wish. Since the second week of 5.4, I’ve mainly used it to play my Resto druid, although my Prot warrior has gotten some love lately, and I’ve played my mage on and off. One thing I’ve noticed is that, although I’m moderately proficient with each of these toons in certain areas, there are certain places where I do well, and others that I enjoy less.

Healing

This really started to come to mind when I began taking my druid into heroic dungeons for Valor Points recently. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had healed exactly zero dungeons. I had tanked a couple of dungeons early on in the expansion with that toon, but virtually all of my healing has come in LFR. Since the druid is an alt – and therefore Valor Points are not vital – I’ve simply gotten my healing fix in LFR and left it at that.

However, I have healed a few dungeons recently. And there have been mixed results.

Don’t get me wrong – I am overgeared for these dungeons. Grossly overgeared. I’m geared enough that I can heal in wing #1 of Flex (and have done so, a little) and not do too badly. This means that when I go into a dungeon, usually one of two things happens: A) if the tank is overgeared for the dungeon, I’m bored. B) if the tank is grossly undergeared for the dungeon, or does things he/she can’t handle relative to his/her gear, that tank can still die… much to my chagrine.

In my limited experience thus far, I’ve mostly run into tanks who are fine and can handle whatever they try. However, last night I ran into a Prot paladin who had 387k health (buffed), but played like he had twice as much.

Pro tip: if you’re at the level where most of the gear that drops for your spec in heroic dungeons is still an upgrade, and you’re the tank, chain-pulling and repeatedly going out of line-of-sight of the healer is not going to be a good recipe for continued survival.

Things came to a head in this instance – which was Heroic Scarlet Halls – when we got to Armsmaster Harlan. I was still halfway up the stairs across the hallway when this tank jumped down into the pit and lost almost all of his health. I barely made it into the room before the door shut, and kept him alive, but then he was smart enough to get caught up in Blades of Light (and died). He also did this on the second pull, although the DPS managed to still kill the boss. The DPS then kicked him, and we finished the dungeon with our DK, who switched to Blood and pulled things in a more manageable fashion.

Anyway, I was frustrated with the tank, but I was also frustrated with myself, because I couldn’t keep him alive. Then again, I suppose that even great healers might have a problem with a tank in bad gear playing badly.

LFR/raiding is a different story. I think I enjoy it more. Perhaps I would feel differently if I were running dungeons with friends, but that doesn’t happen anymore in my circle of friends/guildies – if any such grouping happens, it’s usually for LFR. And whether I’m running with friends or not, I generally enjoy LFR more on my healer. LFR still sucks – don’t get me wrong – but since it’s not imperative that I finish it, and I’m doing it because I want to rather than because I have to, I can just go in and do heal-y stuff and not worry about it too much.

Gekkan bites it in a timely fashion

Gekkan bites it in a timely fashion

Tanking

Things are pretty much totally opposite for me when it comes to tanking.

I’ve always preferred tanking dungeons to tanking raids, especially LFR. I can generally tank just fine in any situation, but I prefer dungeons because I’m in control. It doesn’t matter if there’s someone there with a legendary cloak or if everyone else’s average ilvl is 450: the dungeon will be completed if the tank is moderately skilled, around or above ilvl 500, and doesn’t make boneheaded mistakes.

As a tank, the group goes through at my pace, and I’m comfortable enough with both the dungeon and my own familiarity with Protection warriors that I can gauge how much we can pull at one time, which way we’ll go, and how to handle emergency situations on the fly.

Of course, I’m to the point where I’m tired of all of these year-old dungeons, so I’m not the dungeon-running nut that I would like to be at this point in the xpac. However, if I’m in the mood, I can do a few, snag some VP, and have a decent time along the way.

This is my preferred tanking mode. I’m just not interested in tanking enough to do so in LFR. I expect many tank-players feel the same way. If necessary, I would tank in normals or flex, but that would involve coordination with familiar players, which has its own enjoyable qualities. And at this point, I’m not needed for tanking.

Ranged vs. Melee DPS

I play a hunter. I’m pretty good at it. I enjoy the ranged aspects of playing the class. I also enjoy not having to be up close to the boss’s hit box* in order to be doing damage.

*Obviously, you have to be close to the boss to tank. But if you’re tanking correctly, the boss wants to be close to your hit box, so it’s a win-win situation.

While mages have a different toolkit than hunters, I do enjoy playing my mage, in part because it’s also ranged, so I don’t have to deviate much from my positioning habits in general as I play. With both my hunter and mage, I am proficient at both raids and dungeons. So I don’t necessarily have a preference, although I will say that I’ve usually taken my druid into LFR rather than my mage, in part because of queue times. But if I’m going with a group of friends, I’ll bring the mage along, and he’ll do fine.

Melee, on the other hand, is a different story. At this point in the game, just about the only melee I enjoy playing is as a tank. Perhaps it’s because I’m out of practice, or because I’ve only tried it on a warrior this xpac (I suck at warrior DPS, period). But in general, I’m not a fan of the limitations of melee. Perhaps it’s something I should explore more, perhaps in PvP…

Anyway, if I’m going to DPS at this point, I’m either going to DPS at range, or I’m not going to DPS at all.

“Conclusion”

Things are pretty clear for me, with regard to the alts I play the most.

DPS: I like ranged, without question; doesn’t matter where.

Healing: I’d rather be raiding, but I can heal dungeons I suppose.

Tanking: Dungeons all the way – unless I’m tanking with a friend-tank. Which rarely happens.

Here’s my question for you. What do you do best, and where?

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


New hunters: where to go for help/advice/info

On Monday, I got my first ever hit via Reddit.

Wait… what?

That’s what I said to myself when I saw that. As far as I know, I have never been linked on Reddit before. Since I was curious, I followed the link back, and it was to a thread by someone who is new to the game and chose to roll a hunter.

The link to Mushan, Etc. was put there by my friend Cheap Boss Attack, who referred to my blog as “a nice hunter blog.” To which I say, thanks! and /salute! @ Cheap Boss Attack. :)

But at the same time, I was troubled, for two reasons…

1) While this may be a decent blog – and perhaps even fun to read from time to time – I don’t know that I have much specifically helpful hunter content to offer a new hunter here; and

2) There is no longer quite as long of a list of places to send a new player/hunter for advice.

Nonetheless, in case other brand new players come to my blog looking for guides or whatever, there are a few places that I can, in turn, recommend.

Resources for new hunters/players (Not a complete list by any stretch!)

Scattered Shots – the hunter class column at WoW Insider

WoW Insider is a wonderful site. It’s extremely active, with many new posts a day concerning most aspects of the game. There are weekly class columns for most of the classes, including hunters. WoW Insider is also a great source for up-to-date news, lore, commentary on the design of the game, daily Breakfast Topics to promote reader discussion, raiding and PvP columns, a weekly podcast, and much more. It’s a site with something (or many things!) for virtually everyone, and has a very large base of active commenters. Additionally, there is information in the form of new-player “getting started” guides there for new players (of any stripe), which can be very helpful for someone just beginning to explore this huge game.

Scattered Shots – specifically – is the hunter class column. It has been written by different people over the years, and went through a long hiatus during the spring and summer between columnists. However, it is currently active and is being written by Adam Koebel, who seems to be doing a great job. The previous columnist, Brian Wood, wrote Scattered Shots for several years until this spring, and although the game tends to change from patch to patch and expansion to expansion, the pre-Adam posts are definitely worth the read if you’re looking to get a feel for the history and culture of the class and the hunter community.

WoWhead

If you’re looking for a site that is chock full of information on gear/items, quests, NPCs, professions, loot tables, and more information than I am willing to categorize in this post, WoWhead is your place. It’s a massive database/news site/blog that has a just a ton of info on just about anything you could need to find. Definitely a place to bookmark and visit often.

Icy-Veins

For good basic guides on how to raid with your class once you hit the max level – as well as dungeon/raid boss guides, news, forums, reputation guides, lengthy quest lines, etc., Icy-Veins is a great resource for any class.

The Brew Hall

Darkbrew (The Brew Hall) not only blogs about hunters, but he’s a co-founder of the Hunting Party Podcast, which is the podcast for World of Warcraft Hunters. He posts each episode on his site, and you can also find podcast information at OutDPS!, which Darkbrew recently took over when the podcast’s co-founder, Euripides (founder of OutDPS!), retired. The Hunting Party Podcast is both entertaining and informative, and listening to back episodes can provide a further look into the history of the hunter community, and of the game itself.

MMO Champion

For all the latest news, datamining, first looks at new gear/quests/mounts and pets/blue posts and changes, etc, MMO-Champion is a great site. Not only do they have frequent posts (and updates to those posts) with info on the game as it changes, but there are also forums with helpful guides to many aspects of the game. Additionally, in the past couple of years they’ve put together a great site in WoWdb, which is, among other things, a comprehensive item database with some excellent search-filtering features. Another great resource.

Petopia

Have a question about hunter pets? Wondering what special abilities certain pets have, which pets are best in certain situations, or which pets bring which buffs to your group? Want to know which food you can give your pet without him spitting it back at you? Petopia is your one-stop shop for pet info!

El’s Extreme Anglin’ – World of Warcraft FIshing Guide

Fishing can be both an enjoyable and profitable activity. If it interests you, or if you need to find certain fish, or have any other questions about anything fishing-related in WoW, El’s Anglin’ is the top resource. He cover’s fishing, cooking, achievements, and related topics on his site.

WoWpedia

WoWpedia is the wiki source I use whenever there’s something I want to know about the game that I feel they might cover better than most. There’s information on almost everything – I tend to use it most for lore and history, but over the years I’ve gone there for information on just about anything you can think of.

Ask Mr. Robot

Looking to optimize your gear and character for end-game raiding, dungeons, or PvP? Mr. Robot can help you gem, enchant, and reforge your gear, as well as find upgrades, and also has an in-game addon for all of that. There’s a lot to explore on Ask Mr. Robot – I use it all the time. Check it out!

As I noted above, this is nowhere near a comprehensive list of resources. There are also some important links to resources that I didn’t include on this list at the right side of my blog, so feel free to check them out. Additionally, check out resources you can find on other peoples’ blogrolls, and links to great sources of info in articles on the sites I mentioned. There’s a lot of info – and fun stuff to read – out there, and I don’t even know about all of it!

World of Warcraft is a big game – and by that, I’m not referring to how many copies it sells or subscribers it has. What I do mean is this: we’re four full expansions past the game’s release, and looking at possibly a fifth during the next year, which is also the 10th anniversary of the game’s release. That’s a lot of lore and history and community and commentary to discover: you could theoretically lose yourself for hours on some of the sites I mentioned above, and for days on others!

I hope that someone finds this post helpful. I’m not a guide-writer or a theory-crafter, and I’m not even a nine-year “been here since WoW-beta” veteran. But I’ve been around a while, and have found all of these tools useful. Hopefully, sharing them with you can open your eyes to new things as well.

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


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