Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First day in Pandaria

After much debating, I decided that Wapsi the enhancement shaman would be the first to explore Pandaria, mainly because:
1. All of her professions are max level, so she can mine/fish/prospect as she goes
2. I love enhancement shaman, and I want to get comfortable with the new talent system
3. Mail wearer + Stormstrike = unstoppable!

So off she went to the Jade Forest. As expected, everything was beautiful and the new questlines and NPCs were fun (aside from the "Scouting Report" questline that kept bugging out and dropping me in the middle of an Alliance town full of level 90 NPCs!). Best of all were the new critters- so many bugs!

Wapsi ran a couple of dungeons as well- 30 minute queue times for DPS weren't too bad since she had so much questing to do. The dungeons were visually stunning, challenging and entertaining. And I'm happy to report that by the end of the day, enhancement felt smooth and deadly once again and Wapsi was doing excellent damage.

All in all it was a good experience, and Pandaria will be keeping me busy for awhile. A few more random notes:

1. I love the look of the weapons that are dropping- Wapsi has already replaced her HoT and LFR axes with nice-looking blues.
2. Still getting accustomed to the new totem systems. Why, why, why can't we have Call of the Elements etc so I don't have to push as many as 4 buttons before each fight? I have Searing totem and Healing Stream totem bound to buttons on my Razer Naga, but I don't have room for anymore, especially not for the more situational totems. I really hope that "Call..." spells are added back in the future.
3. Gathering professions are very lucrative right now. Wapsi was mining Ghost Iron while she quested, which she then sold for 450G a stack on the Auction House!
4. Pet battles are entertaining, and it's fun going out in the world and collecting cool new pets. I really like that you can see potential battle pets as an icon in the minimap.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Returning to heals (briefly)

So I decided to level Pantha the elemental shaman just to pass the time before Tuesday, but after 10 levels of slooow questing I was ready for a change. So, I got up my courage, respecced her as Resto, and enjoyed the instant dungeon queues until my eyes were crossing and my head was pounding (about level 68).

Actually, healing as resto shaman was surprisingly easy. First, there seemed to be little damage done overall under most circumstances. Most of my time was spent as in the picture above: watching five green bars that hardly moved. I found that this lack of activity meant that I could get away with lazy healing, using mana-expensive Healing Surge on the tank, and just hitting Riptide and Chain Heal whenever anyone else's bar began to go down, or Healing Rain for heavy AOE damage during boss fights. I never used Healing Wave or Greater Healing Wave, not once. I think I ran out of mana twice over 8 levels of healing, and both times this was because I'd forgotten to refresh my Water Shield.

Still, nearly every group I ran with was GOGOGO, and I could get overwhelmed, especially if I was still in the last room looting corpses or if I was CC'd. So there were a few wipes. At one point the tank says to me "You just need to keep up," to which I responded "I'm an orc and I run very slowly." That diffused the situation nicely and I was proud of myself for not getting defensive.

I did get defensive when a mage complained about me needing on a spell dagger: "You're the only shaman I've ever seen that carries a dagger!" Really? I thought that any intellect one-handed weapon was fair game, and didn't see a single mace drop in eight levels.

One more set of observations: I found totems to be a real pain to use as Resto. It was hard to remember to even put down the basic ones like Magma, Healing Stream and Capacitor. Magma does such little damage that I often felt like it wasn't worth the effort to drop it. Tremor Totem had only limited use due to its extremely short duration relative to a long cooldown; I could save the group from one round of fears, but could do nothing for the next pull or two. Fire and Earth Elemental totems could be dropped on bosses, but I had to take the time to cast a shock spell on the boss to get the elementals started with dealing damage.

I have my totems keybound for Resto, and for some reason the Dominos add-on has been freaking out and causing my bottom row of keybinds to randomly disappear. Still, I found I could still heal just fine as the totems weren't turning out to be all that useful in most situations.

Overall though it was a good experience, although I'm ready to go back to elemental and do some questing in Northrend until Mists drops. So it's time to say goodbye to her home in Durotar for awhile.

One last thing though: new mount joy! With the recent increases in guild XP, Nachtmystium the DK reached exalted with her guild during all of her questing, and purchased this sweet, sweet scorpion mount! I've been drooling over this mount for ages, and I'm so glad to finally have it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dear Blizzard

I'm trying really hard to like my elemental shaman. Her spell animations and sounds are awesome. I like playing a tough orc lady. But she is so, so underpowered! She's in full heirlooms but it just took her one and a half hours to go from level 54-55 questing in Silithus. Thank Jeebus she can heal herself or playing her would be nigh intolerable.

But! Look at what she found on a Dredge Striker! That's two pet drops in one week!

So what's going on here? Is this my lucky pet finding toon? Are pets dropping more frequently in preparation for pet battles, or to encourage players to get back out in the world? Whatever the case, I like it, and at the rate I'm going on this poor shaman, I will have every pet in the game by the time she hits level 60!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Last week of Cataclysm

Nachtmystium the death knight is level 85! I feel particularly good about this achievement, having resurrected her from the cobwebs of Outland, powering her through the last 20 levels, and coming out at the end feeling like I really, really like the post-patch DK. So much so that I think she'll be my first toon into Pandaria. So here she waits in Orgrimmar by the mysterious Pandaren encampment with adventure just around the corner!

So what to do this last week before the expansion? No point it endgame activities, so I began playing Panthalassa the elemental shaman in hopes that I could get her to level 60 and buy her flying mount, making future leveling efforts a bit easier. She started out at level 47 and is now at 54. My thoughts so far:
1. pre-50 was awful. Why are my talents so dull? Awful damage, three buttons, oh, my totems! I hate lightning bolt spam, so slow and so little damage! I can has Fireball?

2. post-50 is a bit better. Lava Surge and Earth Shock procs! Getting the hang of totems- think of them as DOTs, cast the appropriate ones before you start your rotation. I still hate lightning bolt spam, beware quest mobs I will NIBBLE YOU TO DEATH!

The elemental shaman exercise was also a prelude to figuring out enhancement again so I can get Wapsi into Pandaria in a timely manner. The opening of the Theramore scenario on Monday seemed like a good time to blow the cobwebs off of Wapsi and get used to her rotation again. My thoughts on this process are as follows:

1. Shaman talents- still kind of dull. Can't wait for Ascendance, Blizzard, I have FAITH that you are balancing wet noodle pre-90 shamans around this AWESOME talent!

2. Theramore as Horde. I zoned in a bit late and the other 2 people in the party were already sabotaging ships. Not too hard to follow the map and instructions to get up to speed though. I seem to be getting more oomph from my healing spells which came in handy. Still doing decent damage but then Wapsi's ilevel is over 380. Overall the scenario was kind of a faceroll and since I haven't read the book it didn't make a lot of sense. I might run it again on my mage for the Alliance perspective but that's about all.

3. Ran Madness on LFR to get a little more playtime in on Wapsi. Whereas I was usually in the top 5 on DPS for this fight, this time I was hovering around 10-12. Short Searing Totem stinks, need to set up an add-on for reminders. Dropping 2-4 totems at a time rather than all in one keypress is messing me up a bit too. My biggest complaint though: Enhancement to me used to feel smooth and deadly, bam bam bam Laaaava Burst bam! bam it feels clunky, with a lot more dead space. The instants don't seem to "fit" as well as they used to, and no more Lava Burst? Am I missing something I should be doing when everything else is on cooldown? So yeah, I'm not happy with enhancement now. I hope the rotation smooths out for me during questing from 85-90.

Something good did come out of that shaman-y evening, something that NEVER, NEVER happens for me: I got a random pet drop! Panthalassa was killing oozes in Winterspring and found this!

I believe my exact reaction was something like this:

I don't even want to know how much I could have sold this guy for on the AH. I learned him immediately! Cute fat little dragon!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Midweek highlights

Oh, I have a pile of grading to do, but the interwebs has been providing me with tidbits of entertainment!

Kamalia has been doing a great series on the transmog sets of all of her toons, posted by class. Beautiful outfits and screenshots! They're motivating me to spend more time on my artistic interests in game, which in turn makes me even more excited for all of the pretty new things coming in the expansion. Need moar eye candy!

Warcraft Lounge has become one of my favorite podcasts, and I was happy to hear that new episodes will be coming more frequently when Mists is out. There's a lot of QQ, but I find that I learn an awful lot about the game in the process; it's kind of like listening to a couple of old scientists debating the state of their field over a couple of beers. Entertaining and informative!

Finally, not WoW related, but the new Devin Townsend album is streaming here. I listen to Devin because his early albums remind me of dark times, but his later work reminds me that there is much that is right in the world. The new album in particular is beautiful in places and standing-on-mt-Olympus-shooting thunderbolts heavy in others, which means I absolutely be buying in when it comes out in a week. New music always makes my day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Still slogging along

I was reading blogs this morning with my coffee and was surprised by Altaclysmic's post on the fates of blogs from the New Blogger Initiative. Apparently only 12 of us are still posting; and I at least am not posting at the rate I was this summer (no excuses!). It's motivated me to post a bit more often, even if I feel like I don't really have much to say (is that a good thing?). So here are a few thoughts and bits of news that have been occupying my gaming space today.

No! Not here again!

Nachtmystium the DK has made it to level 80! But I'm so, so tired of the Cata levels. Starting quests in Mt Hyjal feels like a lot of work, but I'll probably pick away at it over the next 2 weeks since I really want to have her at 85 for Mists.

I was bored enough by the prospect of grinding 80-85 again that I did some reading on Guild Wars 2. My god it looks like a beautiful game! But- only available for Windows. With all of the WoW gaming I do, I sometimes forget that most games aren't Mac friendly.

I learned something new about Recruit-A-Friend perks today: for every 2 levels my bf gains on his warrior, he gets 1 level to give to any toon of mine (must be same faction and server though). How nice! I happen to have a little dranei enhancement shaman who just finished the starting zone and now sits at level 10 in Darnassus. Maybe she'll be the recipient of the leveling boon?

The bf and I did a bit of questing in Stonetalon Mountains yesterday, and gained another 5 levels thanks again to Recruit-a-Friend. Belielle and her Voidwalker are both surprisingly squishy- the bf's warrior Allaso is of course pulling everything and never dying, while Belielle has to really be careful. Still, I'm glad she's a clothie so she can wear her top hat forever!

In another fit of ennui, I looked up the current rotation for combat rogues, and moved buttons around in preparation for maybe playing a little on Goetia again. I'm feeling more confident about melee since leveling my DK, but rogues have the same positioning requirement as feral druids and I just don't seem to be much good at that. I'll run her through a couple of dungeons though, and maybe even do some battlegrounds. I've been saying that for awhile I know, but someday!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mac bugs and nervous gaming

I'm not the most computer savvy person, but I could still tell that my shiny new MacBook Pro was running awfully hot on WoW since the patch. Upon checking the Blizz forums, this is a now-known bug that will hopefully be remedied with the Tuesday update. Using a $20 laptop cooler on top of a laptop stand and keeping track of temperatures using the free Temperature Monitor app has allowed me to keep temperatures down to a reasonable level so I can still play a bit. Still, I'm having some graphics issues and every time my screen gets shatter-y I panic a little bit. I feel like I'm crossing my fingers and knocking on wood every time I log in. Yuck!

Luckily, Diablo III has been running smoothly, and the bf and I have finished the game on Normal difficulty, which was pretty easy. I'm really enjoying the witch doctor, and the bf is enjoying smashing and yelling at things on his barbarian. The only complaint I have is on the lack of drops of blacksmithing pages of training in Normal mode. We have already outgeared our blacksmith's meager abilities at our current level, which reminds me a lot of the problems with crafting professions in WoW.

Despite worrying about the computer, I did of course play a bit of WoW this weekend, and even ran a couple of dungeons with the bf. Hooray for the XP boost from Recruit-A-Friend: we ran Shadowfang Keep and Wailing Caverns and each gained 7 levels! I didn't feel like I did very well at warlockery however, as my attention was split between playing and explaining things to the bf (don't stand in the green stuff!).

Finally, Nachtmystium the newly resurrected DK is ready to start Cata content! I like her very Wrath-y outfit, but she'll soon be replacing it all with quest greens from Hyjal. I'm curious to see how quickly she gets to level 85, as the patch also brought substantial XP decreases to those levels. I'm all for it, as I am sick to death of the Cata quest zones.

Haven't figured out what to do after that, since there's no point in gearing up level capped toons so close to the expansion. I could level my professions on one of my Alliance toons...

Friday, September 7, 2012

5.0.4 and revisiting forgotten toons

I'm still loving the new patch and all of the little quality of life changes it has brought (AOE looting in dungeons rocks!). The big dilemma has been who to play, which essentially means who am I going to relearn to play. As excited as I was to look for improvements in the feral druid, now that the patch is here I haven't been so motivated to play her, or my hunter. So who else on my roster is at a decently high level, with the potential to reach level cap by the time Mists drops?

Let's try frost DK again! I had previously been frustrated by the DK rotation, but 5.0.4 provides a good opportunity to try again. I'm glad I did, as I'm finally, finally feeling the death knight love this time! Above is how poor Nachtmystium looked when I brought her out of storage. Mismatched BC gear, wrong shoulder heirlooms (bought the tanking ones by mistake), still wearing the belt from the starter zone. Clearly, she would need some work!

I did some reading on rotation, and moved the appropriate skills to her action bars. For all of my various toons, I've come up with a placement schematic on my Razer Naga mouse that groups skills by type. This helps enormously when switching among all of my alts. So from 1-12, DoTs go first (diseases for DK), then the remainder of her damage dealing skills. Number 9 is always a cooldown- Pillar of Frost. 10 is an interrupt (Mind Freeze), 11 is an "extra" or a panic button (DKs don't panic, so 11 is Death Strike that she uses whenever none of her other strikes are up), and 12 is a ranged pull (Death Grip).

On to talents! For Tier 1, I tried Unholy Blight first but found it unnecessary, as she can spread her diseases easily enough with Pestilence. So I switched to Plague Leech, which allows me to draw diseases off a target in exchange for a regenerated rune. This is much more helpful, I use it during long fights whenever I have that dead space where nothing is off of cooldown.

For Tier 2, I tried Lichborne, but again found that I wasn't really using it. I never seem to have enough runic power to use Death Coil on myself, which is possible once I hit Lichborne. Also, I have a way better self-heal coming up at Tier 4! Anyway, I eventually chose Purgatory, which is a DK Cauterize. It's come in handy in a couple of dungeons already.

For Tier 3 I chose Chilblains, as slowing things down makes it easier for me to get where I need to be to smack things around. As I've mentioned, I'm a bit slow and uncoordinated so I need all the help I can get.

Ah Tier 4. I love, love, love Death Siphon. Totally OP while questing. Hit the mob for about 50% of its HP, in return healing me for about 50% of my HP. Death Knights shouldn't need to eat food to gain HP; with this talent, if I'm getting low on HP I just have to hit something with Death Siphon and I'm doing fine. This talent also fits nicely with the DK lore in which DKs survive off of dealing pain. Oh yes!

Nachtmystium made level 77 yesterday, and at 75 chose Runic Empowerment as her next talent, to improve her ability to regenerate runes during fights. I'll admit I chose this primarily on the basis of what I have been reading in the DK forums.

So once I had Nacht's talents and skills laid out, I wanted to do a lot of killing so I could get used to the rotation. She was at level for Nagrand, and the Nesingwary quests there provided an excellent opportunity for wholesale slaughter in the name of learning to DK. Since then, I've done my usual combination questing and dungeoning, and have become comfortable playing a DK for the first time.

A couple of side notes- Nagrand is such a beautiful zone, I also took the opportunity to pose for pictures on my new Albino Drake, which showed up in my collection after reaching 50 mounts with account-wide mounts.

So glad to be flying around on the DK mount again, too! So here's to patch 5.0.4 and resurrecting (undead) toons!