Monday, December 31, 2012

So I'm not a tank

(I wrote this post before the holidays, but somehow it didn't end up being posted!)

It wasn't much of a surprise, but I found tanking to be super stressful. I don't have the skill to find that perfect point of pulling enough to keep the DPS happy, and not pulling too much and overwhelming the healer. Even worse, my spatial memory is terrible. I've run every dungeon in game a million times as DPS and heals and there are few that I could find my way through from start to finish. Anyway, I found myself wanting to play Petrusian but stressing about the tanking part. So I finally gave in a specced him to fury. I had always intended to have fury as a second spec primarily for the purpose of dual wielding 2 handed weapons with Titan Grip. And as it turns out, fury is a lot of fun. The all out destruction with two weapons reminds me of everything I love about my enhancement shaman, and the male night elf animations are pretty awesome. So fury it is.

Petrusian just hit level 40 and the next goal will be building a transmog set in lowbie plate. In keeping with Petrusian's Peter Steele theme, it's going to be green (Type O albums, and Pete Steele's entire wardrobe were always in themes of green and black). Another theme of early Type O songs is, ah... axe murders. So Petrusian will be dual wielding 2H axes- I like how the one he has now has a green tint to it, so I'll consider that the first piece of his green man transmog set.

I seem to have caught the lowbie leveling bug again, and I even transferred over my Alliance warlock and frost mage to my Horde server. I've got it in my head that I need at least one toon of each race and class on my Horde server, and I've felt no motivation to play Alliance lately. So now I've got a goblin mage and orc warlock. I really debated making Iolae a blood elf for transmog purposes but I already have 2 blood elves and only 1 goblin who I won't play until I feel like I can put up with 5 levels of hearing "I don't have enough energy" 300 times on every fight. Iolae the goblin still looks pretty good in her night-elf transmog, and I still really like all of the goblin face and hair choices.

Beliele (spelled differently now) has transformed from a worgen to an orc. How awesome is it that she got to keep her top hat! At the moment I suspect she'll be chilling in Org, getting used to her new surroundings, until Iolae is finished with the cloth heirlooms.

My plan for the near future is to get Iolae and Petrusian to level 50 through LFD, and then attempt to plow through 50-60 on them through leveling. I don't think I can do the Black Rock Mountain dungeons again, and as much as I dislike Silithus and Blasted Lands for 55-60, I think they are the best options for leveling through this period. Overall I think this stretch is the worst part of the game, simply because there seem to be so few options for leveling (wonder if I'll eventually feel that way about Pandaria once the newness wears off?)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Secret project revealed!

Dailies are starting to get a bit old again, so my Hordies have been out in the world looking for new adventures. Wapsi has been back at archaeology in search of her Professor title, in addition to a few pet battles. And I've rolled a new toon to try my hand at tanking. Meet Petrusian, barefoot protection warrior!

Some time ago, I noticed that some of the male blood elf models hold quite a resemblance to Peter Steele. Since I don't typically play male toons, this seemed like a good opportunity to do so, as well as to try to level a warrior for the first time. Peter Steele's first band, Carnivore, was styled around the concept of post-apocalyptic warriors, so this class choice seems appropriate.

I've never played a tank, but I'm not excited about low-level questing right now. The lowbie zones seem like torture after leveling through Pandaria; so slow, quests scattered everywhere, generally not very fun. The instant dungeon queues seem like a more exciting way to level Petrusian. So I've geared him with all the tanking heirlooms, specced him protection, and sent him out into the wilds of dungeon finder. I'm looking forward to hitting level 40 and plate specialization with him, so he can transmog away this clown suit.

I feel like I've been doing a pretty good job as tank, although I still need to work on positioning a bit. I am apparently too slow though, which is not a surprise, I do like to loot corpses and finish dungeon quests. Much to the dismay of GOGOGO DPS who will "help" me by running three rooms ahead in Stratholme to pull bosses. To my credit, I was able to round up the mobs as they poured into the room and went straight for the healer, and no one died. I know it's just a lowbie dungeon, but I felt pretty good about that, despite the complaints.

So tanking lessons learnt so far: 1. Go fast. 2. Ignore the chat window. We'll see if I can manage that for 65 more levels...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pandaria factions love me

Wapsi is now revered with the Shado-Pan and honored with August Celestials. She's continued to be lucky in LFR and so now has two fist weapons from Gara'jal the Spiritbinder and the Tier gloves. She only has 4 blues to replace now, and grinding out VP for the Shado-Pan helm and Klaaxi necklace. An additional ring will hopefully come from LFR, and a trinket from Dominance Offensive when she gets to revered with them. And just for fun (and VP), she's running a few scenarios here and there for the pretty red mail Brewmaster's armor set. So far she's got the cape, helm, shoulders and gloves. Oh, and can't forget Halfhill, where's she's farming piles of veggies to level up cooking.

My previous dissatisfaction with playing melee has mostly disappeared. Wapsi is geared enough that dailies are not as perilous, and I've learned the fights in LFR and am not having so much trouble with standing in the poop (although Will of the Emperor #@#$@$!! I can not figure out how to get out of the way of those Devastating Arcs! I am thinking that maybe I need to pan my camera waaaay out for that fight as the bosses are so big that I can't see what direction they will swing in. When the notice comes through DBM, I pretty much just hop around and hope and I don't get whacked).

I really like the way Wapsi looks now, too. The gear this expansion is beautiful, and I've had no desire to transmog any of it. Fights also look awesome too, with those two big melee weapons smashing away. As nice as ranged classes are for slaughtering things in relative safety, it's never quite as satisfying for me as running up to bad guys and smacking them in the face.

I am enjoying the lore of the game more than ever before. The new Dominance Offensive dailies, and their tie-in scenarios, have been a lot of fun. I like that Garrosh is turning into a Lex Luther-type super villian. The lore in LFR has been amazing, and I actually got goosebumps during the battle with Empress Shek'zeer, although like Matthew Rossi I am also confused by the relationship between the Mantid, the Sha and the Mogu. On that note, Rossi's and Anne Stickney's Know your Lore columns for this expansion have been a fantastic complement to the game. Overall, the story of this expansion has more depth for me than anything previous, and it's really been a blast watching it unfold.

So Wapsi's efforts lately have been focused on progressing through the endgame content. Every so often however, she needs to take some time off for pet battles! I was close to 150 unique pets so one evening I sent Wapsi down to the southern tip of Eastern Kingdoms to pick up some new pets. I didn't bother with getting rares as for now I just wanted the reward for 150 pets, the celestial dragon. And here she is, woot!

My boyfriend and I are nerds. We picked up this fine swag at WalMart the other day. The Winter Veil tin contained 3 TCG packs, one of which contained a pet, the Eye of the Legion!

 But lo and behold, it's kind of tiny and not terribly impressive. I was imaging it would be like the eye that floats around the orc encampment in Hellfire Peninsula. Oh well, it's a pet, but I'm really glad I didn't buy this particular loot card off of Amazon. 

That's about it for the past week. In the upcoming week Wapsi will continue here Dominance Offensive and August Celestials dailies, and LFR and scenarios for valor and shinies. If there's time I'll run Blatella the shadow priest through a few instances as well. I'm not to the point where I really feel like repeating dailies on her, so her gearing process will be slow, but that's quite alright with me. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Existential conflict over alts

I have a lot of alts, but I don't like multitasking in order to play them all. So I tend to focus on one at a time, only switching to another when I reach a goal (level 90, geared for LFR for example). But I would like to try to stay active on my alts this expansion. For example, Wapsi, my "main" and explorer of content, is now revered or higher with all factions aside from Shado-Pan and August Celestials. With the rep changes in today's patch, she will likely complete the grind to exalted with Klaaxi, Golden Lotus and Anglers for the mount rewards. She's decently geared and finally starting to get the feel for the LFR fights (at least the first two blocks, she's only run Heart of Fear once). She won't do any serious raiding, but I would still like to continue to upgrade her gear through LFR. In addition, she needs to get back to making flasks so she can put them up on the AH, as her beginning-of-expansion largesse is beginning to dwindle.

Blatella is also beginning LFR, and can now begin grinding rep with Golden Lotus and Klaaxi at 2x speed thanks to Wapsi's earlier efforts. As ranged DPS, she is my toon for running LFR when I don't feel like being melee and subject to endless cleaves and stomps. She is an herbalist and inscriptionist but selling glyphs on my server is like pulling teeth. However, she'll be working on the inscription staffs as she collects motes from her new dailies.

I was stuck on the question of who to level next for a couple of days. I hopped onto Panthalassa the resto shaman on a whim and leveled her to 85 by healing dungeons, despite the fact that she had awful, awful gear from questing 80-83 in Vash'jir. She did very well, well enough that I decided it would be nice to have a healer in Pandaria as well. So she respecced to elemental for questing, made her way to Pandaria, bought all the spirit mail she could find, and is now preparing to try her hand at healing normal Pandaria dungeons. I've seen healers have all kinds of problems this expansion, so I'm a little apprehensive, but I'm ready to give it a try, in part because I'm also not really feeling the love for elemental shaman. I think this is mostly due to Lightning Bolt as a filler spell being so much weaker than Mind Flay with my Shadow Priest. I would really like if Lightning Bolt were a channeled spell doing the damage of Mind Flay, rather than a long cast spell for a tiny amount of damage while I wait for a Lava Surge proc. I honestly don't understand why so many players choose elemental over enhancement, as I find enhancement to be far more satisfying and fun to play.

Aside from Panthalassa, I think I will play Gallore the BM hunter from time to time primarily because I would like to tame some rare Pandaria pets. So with two toons to level 85-90, in addition to end game activities, I'll still be plenty busy for some time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Farmer Wapsipinicon

So yesterday I decided to log on as Wapsi and play on the farm. Upon checking her reputation with the Tillers, I was somewhat amazed to see that she was very, very close to Exalted! I don't know how I missed that! Anyway, two rounds of dailies later and now Wapsi is Farmer Wapsi with a full 16-plot field and some sweet goat mounts. Now I suppose she can get to work on growing the rather ridiculous quantities of veggies she will need to max level her cooking.

I finally ran LFR on Blatella the shadow priest yesterday, and thanks to good groups and somewhat knowing the fights I really enjoyed it. Blatella even won a necklace so her armor upgrades continue, she has just a few 450 items left now.

After that, I figured what the heck lets try LFR with Wapsi again. This time around was much more pleasant for her, again knowing the fights a bit makes everything go so much more smoothly (no falling in the hole on Elegon, whee!). And surprise surprise, during the first four bosses she first won some bracers, and then a most awesome fist weapon! With these upgrades, she now has the 470 ilevel necessary to run the third portion of LFR. Sooo...maybe I won't be retiring her after all. She's progressing so well, I think it's worth keeping up with her, especially with the prospect of a legendary weapon in her future!

These next few days will be filled with holiday things and little time for serious WoW-ing, so it will be a good time to decide where to go next. I am feeling a tickle in the back of my head telling me to level my little baby warlock...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Embrace the shadow!

My goal over the Turkey Day holiday was to get Blatella leveled and into LFR. Well...she's already there. Much easier than I thought it would be. She dinged 90 on Saturday and Sunday-Monday ran heroics until she reached the magical 460 iLevel. I really like the heroic gear BTW, looks awesome on a shadow priest!

Honestly I didn't think it was all that much of a grind the second time around. So much complaining in the Blizz forums about Pandaria questing and dailies- is it honestly that much more difficult than leveling through the past expansions' content? It hasn't been for me. I wonder if people just want an endless torrent of new quest zones and instances, but then Blizz is attempting that this expansion with new LFR and quest hubs added with patches, and still people are unhappy. So I guess I'm a little confused by all of the rage in the forums community.

One bit of QQ that I can understand is that over the 8th anniversary gift. It was clearly an embarrassingly last minute, poorly executed effort (regifting last years rep/xp tabard, in addition to the letter referencing Cataclysm).  This was a missed PR opportunity, as simply tweaking the rep gains to include quest rewards would have addressed some of the concerns about the Pandaria rep grind, at least temporarily.

Anyhoo, Blatella has checked in with all of the daily quest hubs but won't be doing dailies in earnest until patch 5.1 and double rep for alts. She's maxed her inscription and herbalism and will be making the Inscribed Serpent Staff mainly because it looks cool. I'm looking forward to running LFR on her to see if it's less of a PITA to stay out of the crap and do decent DPS than it was for Wapsi.

Another happy change with patch 5.1- entering old raids no longer requires a group. Will Blatella be able to solo a couple of Sunwell Plateau bosses for the above Dark Sunwell gear? I do wish this old raid gear was BOA though, so I could just gear up my death knight, learn to play blood spec, and farm cool frocks for my squishier toons!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Shadow priest = WIN

Undead shadow priest in Pandaria is scary!

I am really loving playing Blatella the shadow priest. First off, she looks really cool in the gear available this expansion. Second, she kills mobs quickly and doesn't take much damage, meaning that questing is stress-free. Third, she does very good damage in dungeons, as she doesn't need to dance around the mechanics like Wapsi did as melee, and even when she does, her DOTs are ticking away. Although it doesn't mean so much for a non-raiding altoholic, I'm ready to consider Blatella my main for the time being.

Wapsi has paved the way for her in many ways. First, she gets the awesome archaeology umbrella off-hand, ilvl 450. Second, her rep grinds with Klaaxi, Golden Lotus, Tillers and Cloud Serpents will be quicker since Wapsi is already revered with them. Although I dislike having to repeat the Cloud Serpents experience so soon, I want Blatella to have Cloud Serpent riding for the kickass black cloud serpent mount she'll get when she's exalted with the Shado-Pan.

Right now Blatella is halfway to level 89 and questing through Kun-lai Summit, doing a lot of quests that Wapsi missed. So she's washed some yaks and now she's helping the grummles, and will eventually ding 90 in Townlong Steppes somewhere. As much as I enjoyed the Klaaxi story, I don't feel like running through Dread Wastes at the moment.

It still feels like there is so much to do in game right now. Despite her current retirement, Wapsi will probably run LFR here and there. I have my Alliance toons too, especially my three clothies I've moved to the Feathermoon server. Pet battles will catch my attention again in time, too, and with patch 5.1 and the removal of the requirement to run old raids in a group, I will be checking out some of those old instances for transmog gear. So I feel pretty busy, but in a good way!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yes I'm still liking Pandaria!

There have been several threads in the Blizzard forums on whether the enjoyability of playing alts has changed in the latest expansion. In a nutshell, many players feel that the 85-90 content is too long and the endgame dailies are too grindy for running multiple times on alts. The recurring theme is that players have several alts stalled throughout the Pandaria content with little motivation to continue playing any expect their mains through endgame.

I guess I'm in the same place with my alts, but in contrast to posters in the forums, I don't feel like this is a problem. Instead, I feel like I have several options for what to play each evening when I log on, and when I get bored or frustrated with one toon, I can easily move onto another. For example, Wapsi, who I consider my main, has been played much less since she reached revered with Golden Lotus and Klaaxi. The reasons for this are twofold: first, I am a bit tired of running dailies on her, but since she doesn't raid, that's OK. Second, I feel like melee is very challenging in LFR right now, and this decreases my motivation to continue gearing Wapsi. Despite being decently geared, Wapsi's numbers in LFR are crap as I feel she spends more time running away from boss mechanics than actually hitting things. LFR feels like a chore to run on Wapsi, whereas I felt it was pretty enjoyable during the Dragon Soul content. I'm beginning to think that for a person of my skill level, Pandaria might be an expansion for playing ranged DPS or maybe even heals if can get my resto shaman leveled up.

Perhaps this is why I'm currently playing not one, but two mages Alliance-side. I just sent Fossegrimme into Pandaria and she is now almost level 86 in Jade Forest. I've enjoyed seeing the Alliance side of the expansion so far, although the first few quests were painful as I learned how to play a fire mage with the recent talent changes. Mages are SO SQUISHY, but once I worked Ice Barrier into my rotation Fosse's survivability improved a lot. I'm also really liking the new system for proccing instant Pyroblasts following two crits, the first of which is random and the second of which is guaranteed with Inferno Blast. The level of complexity is just right: I'm still learning to make things click, but I'm just proficient enough to stay alive and kill things reasonably quickly.

Iolae the night elf is my other Alliance mage on Feathermoon. In keeping with her role in an RP guild, she's doing a lot of questing and exploring in the night elf areas in Kalimdor, and working on her professions. I feel like I kind of stink at frost mage right now, freezing and ice lancing mobs is not easy in dungeons where other players are hitting everything and the bosses don't seem to be freeze-able. I imagine this will improve as Iolae levels and learns new skills however; looking at the endgame rotations on Icy Veins and Noxxic I see a lot of skills that I haven't learned yet.

The one thing I don't like about playing my Alliance mages right now is that they are SO POOR. Fossegrimme is making good gold in Pandaria, but Iolae spends it right away on transmog gear on the AH. I also brought Fosse's herbalism up so she can pick herbs in Pandaria, so hopefully that will bring in some cash. But I'm sorely tempted to transfer one of my Hordies over with a bunch of cash, but which one?

Because right now I really feel like playing my shadow priest. The rotation feels so much better than mage for some reason, she's not at all squishy, and I love playing an undead (thus I couldn't faction change her and use her to carry funds over to my Alliance toons). But right now Blatella sits in Krasarang Wilds because I have felt a bit obligated to play the above-listed toons. Is this a problem though? I don't think so. I LIKE having so many options for playing each evening, and I know that eventually, everyone will be at level 90 even if I am working on them until the next expansion. And if I get tired of leveling, hey, there's always farming, pet battles, loremaster, old dungeons and raids for transmog, etc etc. And that makes my $15/month worthwhile.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Back to the Alliance!

As mentioned, I rolled a new Alliance toon on the Feathermoon server in order to join a new guild that I read about on the Blizzard forums. I'm really enjoying chatting with people in the guild while I level, and I'm looking forward to our first attempts at some role playing. As far as playing a frost mage, Iolae is level 25 and has learned Ice Lance and the Fingers of Frost passive, so questing has become a heck of a lot easier. I like the mechanic of freezing things and quickly throwing out an Ice Lance for Shatter damage. The next thing I'm looking forward to is reaching level 30 and grabbing the Ice Barrier talent so she's not so squishy.

Of course I'm transmogging Iolae's gear too. I really like the Robe of the Moccassin from Wailing Caverns, and the Double-Stitched Woolen Shoulders go nicely with the grey theme and her silver hair. The Mystic's Gloves go pretty well and she's still wearing vendor boots but they barely show. The belt needs improvement. I have my eye on the Silver-Thread Sash, which is on the AH but out of my price range. I'll keep watching through!

Since I'm enjoying playing Alliance right now, I thought I would put my Hordies on vacation for a moment since I don't have time for both. However, the biggest problem with my Alliance toons is they are all so poor! So, I sprung for a server transfer for Fossegrimme the human fire mage so she can begin questing in Pandaria, collecting herbs and making some gold. Since she's a tailor she can also kit Iolae out in some stylin' gear. I've already had Fossegrimme make the Deathsilk set so Iolae can jump right into Cata dungeons when she hits level 80.

So for now, For the Alliance!

Monday, November 5, 2012


This weekend, Wapsi, Gallore, Fossegrimme and Panthalassa collaborated to finally acquire the World Explorer achievement. Wapsi and Gallore had already begun most of the zones, Gallore through questing and Wapsi through Archaeology, and Pantha was leveling through Vash'jir which was my last Cata zone to explore. I also "cheated" a bit and had Fossegrimme the human mage port to Exodar to explore the two Alliance starting areas I had left, Bloodmyst and Azuremist Isles. Much easier than trying to avoid angry NPCs on a Horde toon!

Overall, finishing the Explorer achievement was pretty easy and took maybe about 3 hours. Much more painful, however, was finishing the Loremaster of Cataclysm achievement in Vash'jir- Panthalassa had to complete 130 quests, and made it to level 83 before she was finished! I think Vash'jir's beauty rivals that of the Pandaria zones, and I really enjoyed the questline in which Pantha relived the naga fight against the Valkyr. But when that was finished, she still had 20-30 quests to go until she had completed the zone for the achievement! That really felt like work, and I'll be happy to not visit Vash'jir again for a very long time!

This kind of puts a damper on my desire to get the global Loremaster achievement- I still have several long zones in Outland and Northrend to complete, and I suspect they will all be as painful as Vash'jir was.

Explorer was much more fun. I found a lot of nice little places that I have never quested through- this little night elf area in Blade's Edge Mountains, for example. Overall though, I was impressed by how much more rich the graphics are in Pandaria than in most of the old world, especially Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms. Lots of square treetops and low resolution textures in the old zones!

Last night I saw this post on the Blizzard forums and thought that joining a new guild for new RP-ers sounded like fun. So I began a fresh new Alliance toon, Iolae the night elf frost mage, on the Feathermoon server. I chose night elf because I still haven't leveled one completely, mage because I love the night elf casting animations, and frost because it seems to be a good spec right now. Now I need to think of a story for Iolae, which will be likely be percolating in the back of my mind while I'm at work all day!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

On pet battles

I'm putting off going through Cata content on Panthalassa by leveling up my battle pets and catching some rares along the way. Why can't I catch gazelles though? I get them down to low HP and the trap never lights up, with the tool tip saying that I can't catch that pet. Poo!

I've been battling pet trainers in Kalimdor, and I'm stuck right now on Cassandra Kaboom and her #$@$ cheating-ass mechanical pets. They heal, resurrect, hit multiple times in a turn, fly so I can't hit them and all sorts of shenanigans. I've lost to Cassandra twice with her last pet at 5-20 points though, so I think if I get my pets up one more level I will whip her!

This is my pet team right now- a dragonkin and two captured rares, a mechanical squirrel and a turtle. Aurora has one super powerful move but is also very squishy. Trill is overall pretty decent, and Knox is really tough with a shield spell. They're pretty good for battling out in the wild, but we'll see how they do with the higher level pet trainers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rep grinding isn't so bad

Wapsi is quickly making friends in Pandaria. It's 5 weeks out from the start of the expansion, and her rep status is as follows:
Lorewalkers- Exalted
Order of the Cloud Serpents- Exalted
Klaaxi- Revered
Golden Lotus- Revered
Tillers- Revered
Anglers- Honored
Shado-Pan- Friendly
August Celestials- Neutral

Given all of the QQ in the Blizzard forums about how hard it is to grind these reps, I'm really surprised at how easy it's been given that I've approached the process very casually. I don't do a set of dailies on a particular day unless I feel like it, and I took a lot of breaks on the Klaaxi and Golden Lotus. Furthermore, by the time Wapsi reached revered with Golden Lotus, she had enough Valor points saved for the epic shoulders, so that was nice.

It all worked out pretty nicely in my opinion, but then I would probably feel differently if I had to work 2-3 hours of dailies in addition to raiding into my play time. Also, Wapsi has been super lucky with gear drops in LFR when using her Elder Charm of Good Fortune option. She's picked up a trinket, boots, gloves and chest in just 1.5 runs, so between that and valor purchases when she can manage it, I think she'll be good for future LFR content as it comes. This also makes dailies much, much easier, she cuts through enemies like butter now!

Wapsi reached revered with the Klaaxi just last night, and revived the last two Paragons. Eventually, Wapsi will continue Klaaxi dailies just because I am really enjoying this storyline. One suggestion from the forums that I really liked was granting the title "Wakener" upon reaching exalted with the Klaaxi. I would wear that title and the Klaaxi tabard proudly, friend of the insects!

This past weekend I had some time to play Blatella the shadow priest. Shadow seems stupid easy to me, Blatella cuts down enemies easily and takes very little damage. Her numbers are very good in dungeons, too. I feel like she's easier to level due to her survivability than Wapsi was, which seems strange for a clothie, but I suppose that's the benefit of doing the killing at range.

I've been taking the leveling very slowly with Blatella, never running out of rested XP and doing all of the quest she can find. So she was the first toon who got to help Lorewalker Cho at Serpent's Heart, unlocking an amazing cinematic that gives me goosebumps right now just thinking about it! I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't done the quests, but it really made me sad for what the Horde and Alliance are bringing to Pandaria. 

After the quest chain was over, Blatella received a breadcrumb quest inviting her to Valley of the Four Winds. It seemed that by following this quest chain she was treated very differently in the Valley than Wapsi was (although maybe I just read the quest text more carefully this time!). Whatever the case, I really, really enjoyed the story arc Blatella experienced, and I am glad that I have decided to go slowly and uncover as much story as I can with her. The story also works well with my "in my head RP" for Blatella, who has struggled with her affiliation with light and dark since becoming forsaken, so it's been fun to imagine how her Pandaria experiences have impacted her inner conflict. 

Finally, this Sunday I felt like I had spent a lot of time in Pandaria and needed something different. Wapsi's guild has acquired the heirloom legs so I bought the intellect mail set for Panthalassa and set her to work as a healer in the last 5 levels of Wrath dungeons. Healing as resto shaman is still faceroll easy (way, way better for me than Holy Priest was), so with her heirlooms and a bunch of rested XP Pantha was at level 80 in just a couple of easy hours. 

Next, I'll set her to questing all the way through Vash'jir as Elemental so I can get the Loremaster of Cata and Cata Explorer achieves on my account, and then I'll finish leveling to 85 as Resto in dungeons. My primary goal for Pantha is to have her be my pet battle toon once she gets to level 90.

One last nice little surprise- I found out that as a Pandaren, Pantha is now able to purchase the turtle racial mounts! So I added a bunch more mounts to my stable!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Elegon lols

This is what it looks like when you fall through the platform on Elegon, which Wapsi accomplished not once but twice in LFR. Movement is not my strong point, and by the time DBM warns me to move Wapsi is too far from the edge to avoid falling to her death. Luckily, no one else was so clumsy the second time, Elegon went down, and Wapsi won a nice trinket. Combined with bonus roles from the first half of LFR earlier this week, Wapsi has also upgraded her gloves and chest. So I'm pretty happy with where she's at now.

Since I don't raid, I feel like Wapsi can focus on Anglers and Tillers dailies, and just do Golden Lotus and Klaaxi whenever I feel like it. I find the Anglers dailies to be relaxing and fun, similar to Cloud Serpents, and I am excited about getting the waterstrider mount. I haven't quite figured out the logic behind the Tillers, but I like planting veggies on my little farm and delivering dishes for people around the countryside.

Wapsi's alchemy profession has also been a real boon this expansion. Flasks and living steel are bringing in a lot of gold, and my Drak'Thul hordies are now richer than they have ever been. For the first time, I have been able to consider purchasing a mechanohog, although I think I'll save my gold for the various exalted mounts. It's nice to finally be financially comfortable!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cloud Serpents

I haven't even gone to work yet and already I'm a winner. YES!

Of all the Pandaria faction dailies I've run so far, I've found the Order of the Cloud Serpents the most enjoyable. So that's probably why Wapsi hit exalted with them first, of all of the daily-providing factions. The option to collect Onyx Eggs was a big help too; each time I logged on over the past week, Wapsi flew around Windward Isle to check for eggs, typically finding 1-3 each time. I would estimate that about 1/3 of the rep Wapsi needed to get from revered to exalted came from these eggs.

Uh, hi floating panda lady? I'm really lost aren't I?

I think Wapsi got lucky with daily quests too- thankfully she only had to run the race once. Given my poor spatial skills, Wapsi was hopelessly lost in no time. But upon reaching the finish line...she was awarded first place! The rest of the competitors must have stopped off at a pub or something.

I guess it's a metaphor for real life: some hard work, some stupid luck, and Wapsi won her prize!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Enhancing and Shadow Priesting

On Saturday I had time to send Wapsi around Pandaria to find all of the Lorewalkers scrolls, using the coordinates posted here and the TomTom addon. I was in need of a nice shiny reward after a week of only being able to do dailies and archaeology due to crappy hotel WiFi while I was out of town. Archaeology has been very fruitful for Wapsi- she's max level now, and has uncovered all of the Pandaren and Mogu rares, and is now trading her completed Pandaria artifacts for Tol'Vir fragments in hopes of finding the Scepter of Azj'Aqir bug mount. I think she's 5 rares away from the Professor title too, woot!

Wapsi has run the Headless Horseman instance a couple of times it would be nice to get the mount, but the masks are pretty cool too!

Dailies are going slowly, and Wapsi is about halfway through honored with both the Golden Lotus and the Klaaxi. Due to not running heroics and scenarios this past week however, she is really low on Valor points. She spent some on a 489 ring from the Golden Lotus (supposed to be available at revered, but she got it at honored, strange), so now I guess she needs to focus on collecting more. Maybe she'll run a few heroics today, as she still needs a couple more armor upgrades to get into raid finder.

I've figured some things out about enhancement shaman too, better late than never! I'm now monitoring 3 target debuffs/caster buffs using the addon NeedToKnow:

Unleash Elements applies Unleashed Fury and Unleash Flame, the former of which is followed by Lightning Bolt (with at least 3 Maelstrom Weapon stacks), the latter of which is followed either by Flame Shock (single target) or Fire Nova (AOE, after spreading Flame Shock with Lava Lash). The third buff is good old Searing Flames from the Searing Totem, which I thought had been dispensed with as of 5.0.4 along with Lava Burst for Enhancement. Turns out Searing Flames stacks on the caster now, and at 5 stacks doubles the damage of Lava Lash.

So monitoring these buffs/debuffs and hitting the appropriate buttons has taken care of some of the downtime in the enhancement rotation. Combined with the various utility spells and totems and cooldowns, Enhancement feels busy and interesting. I am looking forward to utterly destroying things as Wapsi's gear improves!

I've been spending a bit of time leveling Blatella the Shadow Priest too. This spec feels really smooth and powerful right off the bat, compared with how clunky Enhancement felt at first. I was worried about being super squishy in Pandaria, but as it turns out, Blatella takes very little damage even without her shield. Also, Mind Sear seems to have been tweaked so her AOE damage is acceptable now too. I'm glad that shadow priest feels so good, it's a nice change from Enhancement when I'm tired of doing melee.

Blatella has been trick or treating at inns in the Jade Forest, and has twice been transformed into a pirate- kind of a nasty trick to play on a Forsaken! Is this what Blatella looked like when she was human? I imagine she spent a lot of time looking in the mirror in this state, wistfully remembering what she used to be...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On the evolution of intelligence

We are fascinated by the question of where our intelligence arose, and how our ancestors transitioned from clever apes to humans with big brains imparting the capacity for abstract thought and a life of the mind. This week, real life intersected with WoW life and I have been thinking on this specific question and the more general question of how large brains and complex behavioral repertoires have arisen in a number of lineages spanning nearly every major branch of the animals. In Azeroth, we know of one driving force that has the ability of "elevating" a species to a higher level of intelligence, which manifests as the ability to use magic to shape the world. That force is the Well of Eternity.

From JadedAlt, because I don't have any screenshots of my own!

The Well of Eternity is a font of magical waters that drove the physical and magical evolution of the night elves from troll-like ancestors. The silithids were also affected by the Well, although not to the extent of the kaldorei. Now that we have arrived in Pandaria, we have learned that the Mogu also arose from humble beginnings, reaching great intellectual and magical heights due to their interaction with the waters of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. It would appear that a second source of the Well of Eternity exists in Pandaria. The Well was put upon Azeroth by the Titans, a race of god-like world creators, for reasons unknown.

A sentient race placing an object on a planet to drive the evolution of intelligence in its creatures? A familiar theme in science fiction as well, such as Arthur C Clarke's 2001.

The religions of earth have of course adopted a similar approach to the question of the origin of intelligence, but invoking an omniscient god to infuse the first humans with intelligence or to provide a guiding hand to facilitate its evolution.

In my business, evolutionary neurobiology, we look for driving forces, selective pressures, here on earth. The consensus at the moment is that environments that provided cognitive challenges drive the evolution of behaviors to deal with them, and the large brains needed to support those behaviors. The question that is most difficult to solve is what would be that cognitive challenge. In insects, my model species, the need for visual cognition: learning and associating visual cues, and learning to orient in a larger world using visual landmarks, is associated with the acquisition of large higher brain centers in at least three separate groups of insects (the ants bees and wasps, the cockroaches, and herbivorous scarab beetles). In vertebrates, the cognitive demands of social living are often invoked, but this may not hold up outside of our species.

From link

Whatever those selective pressures were, they had a rapid and dramatic effect on brain size in a number of animal lineages. The above graph shows just how dramatic: after a period of relative stasis in brain size, hominid brains expanded rapidly beginning about 2 million years ago. Similar trends are seen in cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and elephants, as well as in the insect group Hymenoptera (wasps of all kinds, as well as ants and bees).

Something here on earth is providing a Well of Eternity-like selective pressure to some of our creatures, resulting in rapidly increasing brain sizes, expanding behavioral repertoires, and in the case of humans, the evolution of sentience. One of my primary goals as a scientist is to gain a better understanding of what that might be, using the endless diversity of insects to give clues as to what behavioral capabilities might have provided such an enormous selective advantage that they warranted a greatly increased investment in energetically expensive brain tissue. And since evolution tends to take similar paths even in distantly related species, it's likely that insights provided by insects will shed light on the evolution of brain and behavior in vertebrates and even humans.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sha of QQ

Yes I stole that from the Blizzard forums during yesterday's server restart debacle. It's interesting to me how much griping is going on in the forums regarding the expansion. Maybe it's because people feel entitled to more since they pay a monthly fee, but I still don't understand why they don't just move to another game if WoW has become unbearable for them. Maybe I just have low expectations?

I have my own little QQ too: The dead space in the enhancement shaman rotation is continuing to drive me nuts! It's worst when I'm running a dungeon and I need to switch mobs during the dead space, and I have to just stand there until something comes off of cooldown. I think I'm going to have to pull the autoattack button out for those situations, which seems like a pretty clunky solution. Another solution might be to just start playing my death knight again, but I really want to put off leveling new toons until Wapsi has done her rep grinds due to buffs in alt rep grinding introduced recently.

Overall though, I have been enjoying the sheer amount of things to do in Pandaria! Dailies are not dragging me down yet, perhaps because they are pretty challenging; both Golden Lotus and Klaaxi dailies require fighting mobs that can still overwhelm Wapsi if she pulls to many. I've begun the Cloud Serpent Riders dailies just because they're a little more relaxing, and I love that Wapsi has to use all of her secondary professions to complete them.

The heroic dungeons and scenarios are also challenging, but in a good way. Perhaps because everyone is learning the new instances, the groups I have run in so far have been very polite. I ran Gate of the Setting Sun yesterday (heroic dungeon) and although I'm getting a lot better at not standing in bad, I still need improvement! The last boss, a giant bug named Raigonn, required a couple of wipes before we figured out the mechanics of using the cannons to get up to his face and break down his armor. The cannons were a bit glitchy for me and kept dropping me rather than shooting me at the bug, but we eventually got the kill and it felt like a real accomplishment. Scenarios are also a burst of manic energy, with Wapsi using every skill she has as well as offhealing when necessary. My only wish is that heroics and scenarios awarded a bit more Valor, as despite being pretty busy this past week, Wapsi is still pretty far from being able to purchase any valor gear. LFR will have to wait a bit, it seems.

Finally, I learned two important bits of information this weekend:
1. In archaeology, finished common artifacts are not just for vendoring! Right click to convert to a Restored Artifact, which can then be turned in to Brann Bronzebeard for fragments of any race! Wish I had known that earlier!

2. Enhancement shaman Spirit Walk is not just for breaking out of movement impairing effects, but also gives a nice little speed boost a la feral druid Dash. Coupled with Ghost Wolf, this is very handy for running away when things get a little hairy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oh, oh!

The Klaxxi are metalheads, of course!

On to the end game

Wapsi reached level 90 last night and purchased her Pandaria flight license immediately (as well as going back and spending JP to finally purchase that Wyrmrest Accord mount!). Despite all of the complaining I've seen on the forums, I didn't think that leveling 85-90 was all that bad. To me, it was definitely more pleasant and less of a grind than 80-85.

So now I guess it's time for some dailies and rep grinding with Pandaria factions and running heroic dungeons. The ilvl requirement for heroics has been reduced to 435 so Wapsi just qualifies. As for rep, I've decided to focus on the Klaaxi and Golden Lotus first. Reaching honored with both will allow me to purchase epic rings and necklace, and revered with both will open up epic legs, waist, shoulder and chest armor. Together, she'll be into LFR in no time.

I'm really happy to have Wapsi flying again, and I'm looking forward to continuing to explore Pandaria and doing some archaeology and fishing along the way. I'm also excited about reaching exalted with all of the Pandaria factions and purchasing some mounts! I don't think I have to worry about the gold needed, as Wapsi is still making a killing selling ore on the AH, and will be leveling her alchemy...

...with herbs picked by Blatella, who I just started in Pandaria this week. It will take me a while to get used to Shadow Priesting again, but I'm motivated by some of the pretty cloth drops she'll get as she levels.

One thing that makes me a little apprehensive about leveling another class is revealed by my current UI.  Wapsi has SO MANY BUTTONS, and she uses them all! The top left group are her keybound actions, top right are situational use totems and a couple of other things, bottom left is healing (using VuhDo) and CC, and bottom right are cooldowns. So much to keep track of that I need to keep it in the middle of the screen, along with IceHUD HP and mana bars. It feels like I'm pretty good at playing a shaman, the I'm not entirely looking forward to the learning curve in getting to that place on another toon.

Also, about halfway through level 89, something changed and Wapsi started experiencing dead space in her rotation again, in some cases requiring her to rely on white damage for 3-5 seconds or so. Pre-5.0.4, I filled this space by casting Lava Burst with 5 stacks of Searing Flames applied by the totem, but post-patch enhancement shaman no longer have Lava Burst. My suggestion would be to maybe take Earth Shock off of the same cooldown timer as Flame Shock? I just started using Earth Shock again anyway for the Weakened Blows target debuff and would be nice to not have to alternate it with Flame Shock.

Despite these little issues, I'm still enjoying playing enhancement overall. Her AOE damage and cooldowns are awesome (wish she could cast Stormblast more than 2-3 times under Ascendance though, but I suppose that would be totally OP)!

And I had another crazy thought while doing my first Golden Lotus dailies: it's kind of awesome to have a friend, even if it's an NPC. Wouldn't it be cool to be able to select an NPC companion to accompany you on your dailies and talk to, kind of like you can in Diablo III? Maybe you could unlock the ability at honored with a faction, if not immediately upon begin dailies. Either way, Wapsi would totally have a Klaaxi buddy with her everywhere! I for one welcome our insect overlords!