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.


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!

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.


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.


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.


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 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!

Alt Appreciation, week 1: Death Knight

Preface: Laeleiweyn suggested recently that we altoholics could collectively celebrate alts, either on blogs, Twitter, or by starting/playing them in-game, over the course of eleven weeks starting on August 19th, and ending November 3rd. Each week will be themed by class – week one for DKs, week two for druids, week three for hunters, etc. 

It’s a fantastic idea, although I do not have an alt for every class. However, I do have several alts, so I plan on participating by writing posts on the classes I do have. Week one is Death Knight Week.

I have a long and un-storied history of not playing death knights.

I made a death knight shortly after Wrath dropped, played through the starting zone, got myself drafted into the Alliance. I got him up to level 62, and was working through Hellfire Peninsula, smashing enemies like they were made of papier-mâché. My death knight was freakin’ awesome.

Yet, for some reason, I let him lie dormant for several months. And when I came back to him, I found that the class confused me, and he wasn’t as powerful as he had been, and I didn’t like him any more. Soon after that, he became a victim of the dreaded Delete button, and was no more. This was sometime in 2009.

Thus began the long and empty saga of not playing a DK.

Between that death knight and 2013, I killed Anub’arak, the Lich King, Ragnaros, Deathwing, took a laxative in Grizzly Hills seven or eight times, watched Thrall get married, ate some Red Bean Bun, and did many, many, many other things, both in-game and in real-life. Death knights weren’t really on my radar for a long time.

However, in Mists of Pandaria I came to a point where I began to want to play one again. Perhaps it was the memory of that epic finish to the starting zone; or a small fascination with the mechanics of playing a DK tank, as compared to a warrior; or a desire to figure out how the runic system worked. Whatever it was, I started a new DK several months ago.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to:


Saldrahn, with some classic DK transmog action goin’ on!

If someone had told me a year ago that I would make and level a DK to 90, I would have laughed and shrugged that prediction aside. I really didn’t think it would ever happen.

From any type of end-game standpoint, there was no need for this toon. I made him purely for fun… and boy, was he fun to level! I leveled as Blood, and had an awesome time. I guess you’re supposed to level DKs as Frost, but I’m getting to be fairly experienced at leveling tanks, so I went with it. I leveled him casually: if there was a time when I was bored or tired of Pandaria or the Barrens, I could log in and rip some face on my DK for a while.

I’m still learning how to play him. I haven’t really read up on the runic system, so I’m still in the process of figuring out how it works, how to use Death Runes properly, and so on. I haven’t tanked any instances with him yet. That wasn’t something that I was interested in while I leveled – I just relaxed and had fun and didn’t really worry about interacting with others most of the time while I was leveling. So there are areas where I have a lot to learn, and his UI is a bit of a mess right now, and so on… but I hope to start using him to tank some dungeons before the end of the expansion, just to see how that goes.

On a side note, I finally leveled an engineer to max-skill for the first time. Saldrahn is that engineer. So I picked this achievement up, the same day I hit 90:

Master of All

Master of All!

That was another thing I never saw happening! Leveling engineering can be a frustrating process, for certain.

My DK is a toon that I leveled for fun, and it was totally worth it. It still slightly surprises me that he even exists, much less that he’s at max-level. However, he’s here now, and I look forward to more adventures with him in the future!

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

I pretty much don’t do WoW holidays any more

So we’re almost six months into the post-5.0, account-wide achievements era, and I have to admit something…

Ok, I guess I already admitted it in the title of this post.

Occasionally, I see people on Twitter talking about working on holiday stuff, and it occurs to me that I would like to work on some holiday stuff too. And then I remember that I’ve completed everything that I want to complete, achievement-wise, for that holiday – which, to be honest, for some holidays like Love is in the air, is “nothing at all” – and I decide to do something else instead.

I’m not a mount-chaser, so I’m not after the meta. There are so many mounts in the game, and I have enough that I’m completely content with what I’m riding (which, at this point, is some type of gryphon or hippogryph on virtually all of my toons – and the reasons for that would make up another short post altogether).

The Lunar Festival is ending today, and I realize that it’s been about two weeks long, and I haven’t even bothered to check it out. Since there was really nothing new, and I have the achievement for completing it, and have done it several times over several years/toons, I had no desire to get involved.

At first, I blamed this personal trend of omission on the account-wide achievements. Stupid account-wide achievements; whereas, in the past, my pals and I would faithfully work on holiday achievements on multiple toons, driven by the achievement bug or whatever, now we all already have it, and so there’s no point from that perspective. (Stupid account-wide achievements. Mumble-mumble-mumble.)

However, while the change to achievements is certainly partly to blame for my apathy toward holidays now, there’s also the fact that not much has changed when it comes to the holidays themselves. Perhaps that’s just the nature of holidays – we have our traditions at Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving or Halloween, and part of the fun is living those traditions each year. But I guess it doesn’t really feel the same way in-game. I have no desire to visit the all of elders again. If I see one, I will generally honor him or her, and it’s a small, special occasion. But I’m not going to trek all over Azeroth and Outland to honor the elders for the Xth time.

I guess the big problem for me is that, after so many years, most of the holidays haven’t changed much at all. For Winter Veil, they changed Metzen the Reindeer, and the Greench so that I don’t even care to try to kill him anymore. The only thing that is remotely interesting is opening the presents under the Winter Veil tree to see what this year’s cool gift will be. And yes, I have the footballs. They are fun to use in short spurts. Freezle and I always like using them after we kill the Spirit Kings, when Loremaster Cho starts going on about how “these halls have not seen footfalls in many years” or whatever. It really, really sounds like he’s saying “these halls have not seen footballs…” and so we get out the footballs and start rapidly kicking/passing them back and forth between each other for a couple of minutes before the trash pulls to Elegon. That’s fun.

But almost everything else is the same. There aren’t lots of new holiday activities to do from year to year, and my desire to revisit the same old same old seems to diminish each year as well.

The other factor is something that Blizzard probably considers a success: there is so much to do in Mists of Pandaria that holidays fall by the wayside, particularly if you have alts. I have three toons that I play regularly: Mushan, Modhriel, and Droignon. Each is generally raid-ready to varying degrees, and that has taken a lot of time to accomplish. With little-to-no new holiday content, there is little incentive to interrupt my regularly-scheduled gearing/dungeoning/raiding program to revisit (what feels like) stale holiday content. Since Pandaria, the only non-Darkmoon holiday activities I’ve participated in have been Direbrew-farming and opening my new footballs.

Perhaps that’s intended. Perhaps the holidays are new and exciting for newer players, and not intended to be a big deal for veterans or raiders. That doesn’t seem 100% correct, though. At a time where the developers are concentrating on keeping us busy, holidays seem to have taken a back seat, but I don’t necessarily believe that they intend for us to forget about holidays.

But generally, I do just that.

– – –

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

Perspective (the Tranquil Master)

Mushan the Tranquil Master

Mushan the Tranquil Master

Last week, I had the opportunity to fill in for my girlfriend’s guild’s weekly Sha of Fear kill.

Squido, our raid leader and main tank, has been filling in with them over the past few weeks on his hunter, due to some personnel issues. And when they had another opening for that particular kill, he asked me if I wanted to “beat up on Sha” for a bit.

I thought he meant Sha of Anger. I flew up to Kun-Lai Summit and looked around for a minute before he corrected me about which Sha we would be “beating up on.”


Eventually, I got to the right place, and we fought the Sha of Fear. And we wiped.

I hadn’t asked any questions. I was feeling weird that night, and for some reasons I didn’t feel comfortable raising my hand and saying, “anything different about this fight from LFR?”

A big reason for my discomfort is that I like to research fights like this before I participate in them, particularly when I’m playing with strangers or “with the big boys.” And I had never really researched Sha of Fear, because – for reals – the chances our guild team sees that fight on normal before 5.2 drops are only slightly better than those of an elephant attempting to fit through the eye of a needle, as they say. I’ve been resigned to that assumption for a while now.

Anyway, after a clarification on how we would try to focus down adds, we attempted it again. It was intense – I remember it as sort of a whirlwind for me. I remember being yelled at by my girlfriend during an Ominous Cackle phase because I wasn’t collecting Sha Globes. Hell, I had never even noticed them before. Never heard of them, never saw them, never read about them. So I started picking those up, which was good. And I spewed out my shots to the best of my ability, and did my part focusing down adds, and avoided what damage I could avoid, and…

The Sha of Fear died.

I am now “the Tranquil Master.”

I was happy to have gotten the opportunity to see the fight, happy to hold my own with their other DPSers, happy that they seemed to appreciate that I helped them out. Always happy to run with Squido, obviously. And I was extra happy that, on the bonus roll, I won the helm token. Awesomeness.

But it took me a week to enable the title, “the Tranquil Master.”

They were going to work on Heart of Fear next, and didn’t need me for that, so I was done. In, kill Sha, out. It was a good time and was great experience for me. But something felt hollow about “the Tranquil Master.”

Most people wearing that title have killed everything, or almost everything. The achievement says, to paraphrase, “kill all the Shas.” Which I’ve technically done. But most people with that title have cleared Heart of Fear and Terrace up to, and including, the Sha of Fear.

I’ve killed Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. Twice. Barely. And that’s it. I didn’t really earn the opportunity to even fight the Sha of Fear, technically. It felt like a carry – and not because I didn’t contribute, as I said, but because I didn’t do the work to get there like they had.

So I decided not to wear the title. And for the past week I’ve dropped “Destroyer’s End,” too, because everyone and their cats have that title now, and I went with “Elder,” because I got that all by myself, and I like that title, and it’s not a title that brags that I killed something that everyone else has also killed.

– – –

Today, I changed my mind, as a result of time passing, conversations with Squido about the state of our raid team, and the experiences of our most recent raid activities.

Last weekend, we brought a mage that we’ve run with in the past, who is an alt of Daggan, the tank from my girlfriend’s guild, who tanked for us a couple of weeks ago. He recently hit 90, so his ilvl is very low, but he performed as well as any of us could have expected, given his gear situation.

(This guy essentially replaces our monk, who has disappeared, which nobody cares about because he is unreliable and was generally a complete pain in the ass to play with and to listen to in vent. So it’s a change for the much, much better.)

We killed the first four bosses in Mogu’shan and worked on Elegon (8 wipes) on Saturday night.

On Sunday, we attempted Elegon nine times, killing him on the final attempt. Then we wiped a couple times on Emperor and called it once again.

By the end of the night, I was mentally and physically exhausted, and wired. And frustrated.

Here is the damage meter, from WoL, for our Elegon kill:

Elegon 10, Jan. 13, 2013

*As a side note, we used a strategy where melee killed the Celestial Protectors and ranged stayed on the boss during Phase 1. Our two warriors play their hearts out, and they did great. We’re actually going to try it the opposite way this week, in order to keep the melee on the boss longer, the theory being that increasing their uptime on the boss will shorten the fight for us.

Without saying much about it, I will say that I left body and blood on the floor on these attempts; not because I want to be leet, but because I want to kill the boss. I want. to kill. the boss. And our damage should have been better. It should not have taken us 9:18 to kill Elegon, based on the collective gear level of all but one of our DPSers.

The DPS situation on our raid team is one I’ve shared previously, and has plagued us throughout this tier. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m looking forward to when Daggan gets his mage geared, so that we have four consistently competitive DPS. It gives me a smidgen of hope, now that he’s around.

But anyway, I’ve said in previous posts that this disparity in damage distribution has caused me to feel a burden to do more. I feel pressure, mostly from myself, to take it to the next level so that we can get to the next boss, so to speak. Not that I carry our raid team – we’re a team, after all, and DPS isn’t the only part of the game – but there are elements like enrage times that require a certain level of overall damage in a certain amount of time, along with things like adds that need to be killed quickly, and so on. And so what am I going to do – not try to do more damage to make that happen if it seems like we might not have the overall firepower? That’s anti- what progressing seems to be about, at least from my perspective.

– – –

So, to come back to “the Tranquil Master” and my feelings on earning it… I decided (pardon me), “Fuck it, I’m wearing it, proudly.” Because I want to be there. And I know that if I played regularly with the folks who asked me to help them kill it last week, I would be a successful part of that team. Instead of considering it a “carry,” I’m now considering it an achievement, as well as a validation that I’m doing what I need to do to perform at the level I want to play.

– – –

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

No, and yes. A tale of two raid weekends

The weekend before Christmas was pretty terrible for our raid team.

We killed a grand total of three bosses in almost six hours of raiding on the nights of December 22 and 23. I am trying to decide if I even want to talk about it in detail. It was frustrating, having to substitute some less-than-optimal players for those who either were AWOL or, in the case of one of our friends, had a really sick dog. The substitution game resulted in some pretty unspectacular results when combined with the fact that we really only have the first four bosses in Mogu’shan on farm at this point.

All in all, it was a mostly forgettable experience. And that, my friends, is all I’ll say about the first weekend. On to the second (better) part of my tale.

Last Saturday

So this past weekend (December 29 and 30) was a different story, for the most part. While we made no real progress in Heart of Fear (1/6), we had a breakthrough in Mogu’shan Vaults. A breakthrough, a success – but there’s a catch. More on that later.

On Saturday, we were missing a damage dealer (our monk, who may have quit the game for all we know). With no real options for DPS substitutes that night, we invited Daggan, a friend of ours who tanks for / leads my girlfriend’s main raid team, which is one of the better teams on the server (but wasn’t running that week due to the holidays). We had two tanks already, so we had our DK tank switch to Frost, and proceeded to have little trouble killing our Mogu’shan farm bosses, clearing to Elegon, and having a few goes at him.

Since their guild is already well into heroic modes, Daggan was able to explain the Elegon encounter in a way that helped some of our raiders who probably weren’t as comfortable with certain mechanics, including killing sparks and pillars, clearing stacks, and so on. After a few tries, during which Daggan was encouraging and instructive, we ironed out some things before calling it a night.


Sunday night, one of our warriors was a scheduled absence, and his scheduled replacement never logged in (the story of our lives, at this point), so we scrambled for a bit before picking up a warlock named Des, also from my girlfriend’s raid team. This excited me to no end, because these guys are very good, and have great gear. I got some comments about having someone to compete with on the charts, but – and I don’t know if some people think I am happy to be doing 10%-50% more damage than everyone else on our team, but I’m not – I was very interested in seeing how we could do with a powerhouse DPS in the raid.

We started with Elegon, and, on our third attempt…

Elegon, December 30, 2012

Elegon, December 30, 2012 **

—we got him!

/queue cheering!

It was awesome. With Des there providing experience and firepower, and by working together as a team, we executed the strategy almost to the letter on the kill. We did have a couple of casualties toward the end, but it was a very satisfying kill, all things considered.

We then proceeded to one-shot Will of the Emperor. Not much to say about that – Mogu’shan Vaults 6/6.

We spent the rest of the evening in a series of epic battles against Imperial Vizier Zor’lok, ending the night with a kill where he died, and then the last living raiders died. Yes, it was one of those… but it was nice to at least end with a kill rather than getting so heartbreakingly close and failing, as we seem to be doing so often on that fight.

A personal achievement

Something happened on Saturday night which I never imagined would happen.

A little back story: we started logging our raid nights at World of Logs several weeks ago after Squido asked me to do so, in order to have a better idea of where we go wrong in certain areas of our individual and collective play. At the time, Squido told me that his biggest problem with WoL was forgetting to start recording the combat log, and that has come to be the biggest problem for me as well. As such, if you were to check out our guild at WoL, you’d see that some nights are not logged, and others are missing the first boss, or the first two bosses. /sigh. But overall, it has been interesting to be able to look at my own performances and use the information to tweak and improve my play.

Anyway, after Saturday’s run, I uploaded the log, and soon noticedHoly crap, I ranked on Feng!

As I said a few sentences up, I never imagined that I would ever rank on a fight. I didn’t rank “high” – but apparently I did well enough to show up on the Survival hunter list. Whatever it means to whomever, it was exciting for me. I don’t try to “rank” when I play, but I do my best to execute both strategy and damage to serve the needs of the team from fight to fight, and so this was a nice result to have within that context.

“The catch”

All in all, it was a good weekend. It was nice to break the wall down and finally finish up Mogu’shan for reals.

However, the catch is that we have to replace one of our regular DPS with another, and we won’t have Daggan or Des with us again, since they were back to business as usual with their own team last night. Even going back to our normal roster would mean that we’d have a great deal less damage and a much less experienced tank, so I wonder if we’ll be able to replicate the feats of last weekend any time soon. We shall see.

It was really nice to run with someone who could smash the charts on Sunday. I was happy to be able to relax, play my game, and know that there was someone killing it DPS-wise – and I think I played better because of that.

As I’ve said before, doing a bulk of the damage on boss fights has become something of a heavy burden for me. Of course, that’s easier to swallow when we succeed. But progression has been slow this tier, and while the ups make me feel somewhat heroic, the downs make me feel like I’m not doing enough. It’s not necessarily logical to feel that way, but in the absence of change, “it is what it is” means that I need to keep pushing myself.

Hopefully we’ll continue to have some success before this tier of raiding becomes irrelevant. Patch 5.2 is probably close enough that we won’t clear T14 by the time Throne of Thunder opens up. And I’m all kinds of excited about Throne of Thunder – which is purportedly “the new Ulduar” – but that excitement is tempered by the heavy doses of reality we suffer from week to week.

I’ll say it right here: I want to defeat every boss in Throne of Thunder. Normal mode, not Raid Finder. We’ll see what happens in the near future.

** My UI looks a mess in that screenshot, I know. But a third of that stuff is hidden in combat, so it’s not really as bad as it looks. ^-^

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Stuff in my bank: Lamenting the loss of screenshots (Oh, and the Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade)

One of the many things that I’ve lost with the death of my iMac is a lot of screenshots.  While I’m not necessarily a screenie-holic, I did have several that are not really replicable.  Some of these I was saving for future posts, and had prepped them in iPhoto, but never uploaded them into WordPress.

One of my favorites happened when I ran Scarlet Monastery recently on my hunter to, among other things, get the achievement.  As everyone probably knows, one of the most coveted, and rare, drops in there is the Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade.  Many have farmed the crap out of that place to no avail, including me (on my druid) – and I think I’ve seen it drop only once, when I was on a low-level alt, and I lost the roll, and never saw it again.  Wowhead claims it has a 2% drop rate, which is pretty low, but I pretty much never see it.

That is, until this recent trip.

When you kill Herod at the end of the Armory wing, a flood of weenies comes down to exact revenge, or whatever.  So I killed Herod with a headshot, and these guys came down, and I promptly destroyed them.  While I was looting them, I was overjoyed to find that one of them had a Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade on him.  Woo hoo! – screenshot.  Yes!

So I finished looting – oh!  Wait a minute!  Look at this!  Another Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade!

Yeah.  Usually, it just doesn’t drop.  Hardly ever.  I’ve tried to get it many times before, since I’m a tabard hoarder on my druid.  And it just doesn’t seem to drop.

Until this time, when it dropped twice at the same time.

I got an error message telling me that I couldn’t loot another of those items, so I took a screenshot of that too.  But those screenshots are both gone now.

At some point, I plan to crack the old machine open and attempt to extract certain kinds of files from the hard drive, including screenshots.  However, that likely won’t be for a while.  In the meantime, I’m S.O.L. with screenies until I get a new computer and start taking more of them.

On the plus side, I now have the Scarlet Crusade Tabard, although I will probably never use it on Mushan.  Now, if my warrior had it, that would be a different story, since I have a sweet new plate transmog that I plan to use in Mists of Pandaria, and that tabard would go well enough with it (it has some red in it, which is good enough for me!).  Ah well.  Maybe someday…

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Heroic Hagara is dead!

After four weeks of attempts (and one week – the weekend after Diablo III’s release – where we left the fight alone for the sake of time), we finally downed Heroic Hagara last night.

This was one of the tougher fights so far.  It took us just short of thirty tries to defeat her, with the 20% nerf.  But now, including the first three bosses and Ultraxion, we find ourselves 5/8 H.

We’ve made several adjustments over the past couple of weeks, and so I won’t go into detail about them.  Probably one of the biggest, though, was the one we made right before we killed her, and it involved handling the Ice Lances after the transition phases (Frost or Lightning).  We were taking a lot of damage; even with assignments, everything gets screwy when you come out of the transition, Hagara is in the middle, and people are everywhere.  Once we made a conscious effort to not worry about damaging Hagara as much as executing the Ice Lance switches correctly, things seemed to fall together with the rest of the work we’d done over the past several weeks.  Shortly before midnight, down she went.

Once again, I forgot to snap a screenshot, so that’s another /facepalm on my record.  However, there’s this:

The toughest Heroic boss so far…

Depending upon several factors – such as whether people continue to show up, and how well we actually have the Hagara fight nailed down – we may start Heroic Warmaster Blackhorn next weekend.  However, it honestly feels like the end is nigh, as far as progression goes.  Diablo III has really sucked the life out of WoW at the moment, and with the summer impending and no new content expected for at least a couple of months – content that will see us replace every piece of gear anyway – players have little gear-related reason to continue farming seven bosses and working on one.  I could be wrong, and maybe pride will continue to drive us as a group, but this could very well be my last “progression – woot!” post until we start downing bosses in Mists of Pandaria.

All told, though, it was a good win.  I like raiding with the team – we have some great talent – and I’m excited about the future, whether that means more Heroic Dragon Soul or progression in MoP.

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New riders of the purple Frostsaber

Shortly after I spent three weeks at the end of March and beginning of April doing the series of dailies that leads to exalted rep with the Wintersaber Trainers on Anacrusa, I decided that I wanted to do the same for Mushan.

The questline is fairly simple.  You talk to Rivern Frostwind at Frostsaber Rock in Winterspring.  He selects a cub from a collection of cubs that you round up for him, and you have to feed it, play with it, and train it to hunt.  After 20 days of this, you bring the cub and the materials for a saddle back to Rivern, and he gives you the Reins of the Winterspring Frostsaber.

Three cool cats – fun with Winterspring Frostsabers.

I decided that I wanted the mount on Mushan, even though account-wide mounts are imminent, because I already had a purple frostsaber hunter pet.  So now, thanks to Impatience, I can match up a night elf with purple hair, a purple frostsaber hunter pet, and the mount.  Some people hate dailies, or these dailies in particular, for various reasons, but I thought they were a refreshing diversion each day.

They were also cute.  Panther/saber cubs in WoW are amazingly cute, which is good, since real kittens are also amazingly cute.

My favorite quest was Hunting Practice.  For this quest, you’re training your future mount to hunt Arctic Hares.  You lead the cub to snow-covered burrows, and the cub pounces on them, attacking the hares that are presumably under the snow.

In my opinion, it’s one of the cutest quests in the game!

Frostsaber cub pounces on a snow-covered burrow. Snow flies everywhere!

Here’s a side-view…

Overall, it was a fun, heartwarming, and rewarding way to earn a new mount.  While I don’t get warm and fuzzy about most non-combat pets, the process of earning this mount – along with another exalted faction – was something I actually looked forward to working on each day.

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Sartharion-10 down on an otherwise off night

Last night, only about half of the people showed for our alt raid, so Anacrusa ended up having to sit this week.

Since there wasn’t much else on the agenda, I decided to finally bug my girlfriend to help me defeat Shadron in Obsidian Sanctum.  For those who don’t know or remember, Shadron is the one Lieutenant of Sartharion that forces you to go into the Twilight Realm to defeat his acolyte.  It’s impossible to solo Shadron – when the Twilight portal opens, you have to send someone in because he’s immune during that time –  so, because of that*, I had never tried to solo Sarth before.

*Also because, basically, I’m lazy.

However, last night she helped me with Shad, and then she left to solo Attumen the Huntsman on all of her toons before the lockout reset, and I stayed to attempt Sartharion.

Sartharion, May 14, 2012

It was very easy.

I was having an off night, and ended up flubbing all over the place – even getting hit by two firewalls because I just wasn’t paying attention – but the fight is simple, and I really overgear it, like I do with Sapphiron-10 and others like it.

After Sarth, I went back to Naxxramas to try Gluth.

The Gluth bug is not working for me.  I’m either not doing it right, or it’s been stealth-fixed.  I’d be willing to believe that it was just a result of me being stupid, except for the fact that I can’t get the Crypt Guards to despawn for me when I FD on Anub’Rekhan either, and that worked for me several weeks ago.  So I’m not sure what to think.

Anyway, I decided to give Gluth a few tries with a legit strategy, but I didn’t do very well.  Durendil calls Gluth the second-hardest boss in Naxx, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too badly.  However, I do feel badly.  I usually move pretty well in raid situations, but I was kiting like a jackass, and I just wasn’t getting much past the first Decimate on my best attempts.  So I decided to leave that alone.

Ever have a night where you feel like you completely failed at competently using skills that you normally use without any problems?  I’ve had a few of those nights recently, and this was one of them.  It’s frustrating on a certain level.  For me, letting it go for a couple of days usually does the trick.  So I guess I’ll rest a couple of days in order to clear up any residual fatigue from working on Heroic Dragon Soul last Sunday, before I attempt any raid-like activities on the hunter.

I think that – fatigue from bringing my A-game for progression attempts on Sundays – contributes to a lot of my problems on Mondays…

Anyway, on the bright side, I got the glove token from Sarth on my first try, so now I just need the chest, legs, and the complementary pieces (belt, boots), and I’ll be ready to rock the Heroes Cryptstalker look whenever I decide to do so!

I also picked this up, of course:

By the way: the names of Sartharion’s lieutenants – Vesperon, Tenebron, and Shadron – are, in my opinion, three of the cooler names in WoW.  Just had to throw that out there.


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