Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pandas are imminent

Yes, I name my computers!

So Blizzard announced the release date of Mists of Pandaria- September 25. For me, the first thing that comes to mind with this announcement is that I will either need to upgrade my old MacBook to OS 10.7 and run the risk that it will run like crap on old hardware, or just suck it up and buy a new computer. I've been saving my pennies over the last few months in anticipation of the latter, so I will probably go that route.

I'm pretty excited about the expansion, even though I feel like there is still a lot in the current game that I haven't done. The things I'm looking forward to most in Pandaria are:

1. Collecting pets for Pet Battles! I think it will be awesome to explore the world in search of new pets. Not just for hunters anymore!

2. Rolling a warlock! This is one of the now few classes that I haven't been able to get to max level. The new changes to the class sound amazing, so I am going to try again in the expansion. I haven't decided what race she will be yet.

3. Rolling a panda! I like the female panda models a lot, so I will definitely be leveling one from scratch. I haven't decided what class yet- you see my predicament here, if I could roll a pandaren warlock I could roll two goals into one. Alas, this is not to be, so I will probably just try the monk DPS class.

4. Getting my current max level toons to endgame! I will likely start with my shaman Wapsi Horde-side, and my newly level 85 mage Fossegrimme Alliance-side (see below). I'm looking forward to the new level 85-90 zones, the new dungeons and LFR, and of course all of the beautiful new gear! I've really been inspired by the artwork for the expansion, and I'm nearly drooling over the prospect of experiencing it on a new computer that can run on better than the minimum graphics requirements!

So what would I like to do before the expansion drops?

FigurePrints FTW!

1. I haven't been running LFR with Wapsi because I'm just tired of getting no gear drops. It bothers me though that she has only one No'Kaled (second is transmogged Trickster's Edge from HoT heroics). So I may brave LFR a couple more times with her in hopes that the damned thing will finally drop, and she'll finally win a roll because everyone else has it already.

2. Fossegrimme wants to set Deathwing on fire! Yes, she dinged level 85, and is already geared to begin Cata heroics (some ilvl 333 drops, a JP robe and forgive me, a PVP helm from the AH). She's transmogged into the chest and shoulders from the BC Mana-Etched Regalia, Junior Technicians 3rd Grade Goggles from a Netherstorm quest, and non-transmogged Staff of Siphoned Essences from Grim Batol normal because it just looks cool. I would like to get her to a point gear-wise where she can solo BC heroics for transmog gear- I soloed a couple of them on Wapsi at level 85 and it was still possible for her to die if there were too many mobs on her, so I expect that Fossegrimme's squishiness might still be an issue even at max level. So, onwards to LFR she will go, with the goal of getting tough enough to do those BC heroics.

3. I have a lot of low-level characters that I will definitely not be able to level before the expansion drops. So I chose one to focus on: Aeshna the feral druid. I wanted to bring her over to my Alliance server with some cash to help Fossegrimme level her tailoring, soooo...I faction changed my beautiful Crayola troll! I wouldn't have done it if I didn't think the Worgen cat druids were pretty awesome, too:

I like her human and Worgen forms, too. I especially like the idea that an already shape-shifting race that can take additional forms. She's a human! She's a werewolf! She's a cat! Now if only she was a vampire she would be right out of an Anita Blake book!

Human form Aeshna! Still rocking the Hydrocane since a healer need rolled on the agility polearm from Razorfen Kraul last night!

Worgen form Aeshna, her feet busted right out of her boots like the Incredible Hulk!

I ran Aeshna through a couple of dungeons last night and wow, melee! I'm really out of practice with getting her positioned behind mobs. Also- that worgen voice that sounds like Marge Simpson's chain-smoking sisters telling me over and over and over "I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH ENERGY!" This was the thing I didn't like about playing a rogue, as well. I have to get used to standing there doing white damage while all of my buttons are greyed out due to lack of energy. So yeah, a lot of room to learn and improve on this toon!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is it still ninja-ing if you're just clueless?

I expect the answer is yes, so I feel bad about winning this trinket in a Grim Batol run on my mage (actually it was the Normal, not Heroic version). I looked at the tooltip and thought it sounded pretty awesome for a squishy, mana-sucking mage. When I won the trinket, the healer got cranky and I didn't know what exactly she was going on about (she never mentioned my name, or that I had rolled on a healer trinket, just a bit of ranting). When I logged off I looked up the trinket and read the comments on Wowhead and yes, it is considered a healer trinket, although not a very good one. Seriously though, I am a big enough person that if someone were just to say, "Hey, that's actually a healer trinket would you mind trading it to me?" I would have no problem whatsoever doing so. I don't quite understand why a person would rather rage than ask a simple question.

Anyhoo, Fossegrimme is at 84.5 after much dungeoning and questing this weekend. Questing in Deepholm wasn't quite as bad as Hyjal due to better gear, but she was still pretty squishy. Some of the quest rewards were actually kind of cool looking, too (she's got the Staff of Siphoned Essences from an earlier Grim Batol run that looks even better than the one in the picture). Damn am I tired of that Hyjal tabard though. One of these days I will need to play a toon that actually wears green so that tabard will match.

So one-half level to go and then I have my first max level Alliance toon!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reflections on the summer so far

My new window dressings- so nerdy!

My posting has tapered off a bit even though I'm still playing WoW regularly. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had a case of summer doldrums, this is actually an issue I've had for the past few summers and seems to be due to the unstructured time I am left with once the semester's teaching assignments are over. Having been indoctrinated into the GOGOGO workaholic attitude of the sciences, any break in the workload has become a source of guilt and distress. Added to this are some unhealthy behavioral patterns I have learned over the years for dealing with social stressors. So too much unstructured time + any kind of drama or conflict in my life can trigger a fluctuating state of severe anxiety and depression that seemingly feeds itself and can become uncontrollable. The good news is that I have learned a lot about why my brain responds this way from a behavioral and physiological standpoint, from reading and therapy, which reassures my scientist side enormously. Armed with a better understanding of how my crazy brain works, and with the support of my fabulously wonderful boyfriend, I've been successful this summer in pulling myself out of the doldrums and dealing with stressors in a healthy way. That's a quick summary of a lot of progress but I think that's all the detail I'm comfortable with in a public forum.

During this time, I have been using WoW as a relaxation tool more than ever this past few weeks. Fossegrimme's slow leveling progress has been full of exploration and achievements that I haven't acquired on any of my other toons. I set up an evening's playtime by saying something like, "Tonight I'm going to help the Wyrmrest Accord," and then send Fossegrimme to Dragonblight to see what she can do. With a few dungeons sprinkled in, she's acquired 1-2 levels a night this way and is now at level 81 and wearing her first set of Cata gear!

Shortly afterwards, she finished her studies with the Kirin Tor in Dalaran for the Higher Learning achievement!

She received a book in the mail, and a means to take it to Archmage Vargoth in his secret room in the Violet Citadel.

Impressed by her finding, he gave Fossegrimme a familiar to help with her future studies!

Yes! Fossegrimme even decided to go blonde for a bit to celebrate her recent achievements!

What's next for Fossegrimme? Well, I'm a bit burned out on the Cata questing content, so she will be finishing her leveling process in dungeons for the most part. This is also due to the fact that her opening quests in Mt. Hyjal were an awful experience: clothie in Wrath gear is so squishy! If she could get a Hot Streak proc off she was fine, but otherwise she was being pummeled unmercifully by every mob. Even once she learned to switch to Frost Armor and Mana Shield, it was a tough go. She spent about as much time eating mage food and corpse walking as actually doing quests. So needless to say I would rather brave Cata normal PUGs than continue that experience!

Not related to the paragraph below, just a cool picture!

Another cool thing that has happened is that I have transferred Fossegrimme to the Shadow Council server to play with a friend, and hopefully with his guild at some point. Unfortunately, the day after I transferred my friend's subscription ran out and he hasn't yet been able to re-up, but I hope that will happen soon. The good side of this is that I will very likely be able to run Fossegrimme with his max level shaman as  soon as he is back in game.

Shadow Council is an interesting server. It is lower population than my old server, Drak'Thul, and at first I was lamenting the scarcity of necessary items on the auction house (OMG Frostweave cloth 60G/stack!!). But just over the past couple of weeks I have come to enjoy the more small town feel of Stormwind, with just a small crowd of people hanging out and doing business rather than 300 arseholes blocking the auction house mailbox with their stupid l33t mounts. There is also a small but long-standing RP community here, so I have downloaded the MyRoleplay addon and filled out a description for Fossegrimme. We'll see if that leads anywhere, although interestingly I haven't run into a single person yet who is also using the addon. I'll keep looking though!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Northrend has no good transmog gear

Go Gnomeregan! I want my robot chicken mounts!

Fossegrimme is at level 76 and growing a bit weary of the grey and brown gear of the Wrath expansion. Even the JP vendors in Dalaran have very few pretties for a flamboyant fire mage. What a difference from Outland with its brightly colored quest rewards and even more stunning dungeon gear. I'm looking forward to hitting 85 on Fossegrimme in large part so she can solo some of the BC dungeons for gear.

Damned disappearing books!

Fossegrimme's home base is now Dalaran, where she can run circles around the city looking for books for the Higher Learning achievement (4/8 so far) in between dungeon runs and some questing here and there. She's keeping up with her herbalism and tailoring, and she's even been able to upgrade her gear a couple of times with crafted items.

She's set two additional goals for herself here in Northrend: achieve exalted status with Kirin Tor and Wyrmrest Accord. The former for a pretty nice robe, the Robes of Crackling Flame, and also because she's a mage and so she should be exalted with the mage faction. Wyrmrest Accord exalted because:

She's doing quests in Borean Tundra and Dragonblight for both factions, but she'll be using JP to purchase most of the necessary rep, which I just learned about and kind of couldn't believe. It sort of feels like cheating! But for 520 rep/16 JP, it's hard to pass up.

Arcanist Miluria, popularity vendor!

Of course there are some green places in Northrend- some of the dragonshrines in Dragonblight, and of course Sholazar Basin. The Basin will be Fossegrimme's next questing stop, and combined with a few dungeons will hopefully put her to level 80 by mid-week!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Still kicking around Outland, Alliance-side

Fossegrimme is still taking the leveling slowly, combining questing, dungeons and working on her professions. She spent a little time questing around Telaar, establishing herself with the Kurenai in case she ever decides to rep grind for the Talbuk mounts. She hit level 67 last night, and was presented with the choice of continuing her path to either Shadowmoon Valley or Netherstorm. Where should she go?

Why Netherstorm of course, since a quest there will reward her with a Red Pointy Hat (see above pic from Wowhead)! Here's a secret: transmoggable quest rewards are a big determinant of whether I decide to quest in a zone, or dungeon my way through that level range. Overall Netherstorm has a lot of cool red cloth gear for my fire-y fire mage, so that is where she will go!

And yes, Fossegrimme has been working on her tailoring, and crafted herself a flying carpet! And with tailoring at 300, she was finally able to craft some level-appropriate armor for herself (Netherweave Vestements). So far leveling this profession hasn't been too bad of a grind. I would say about one-third of the cloth she needs she gets from her adventures, and the other two-thirds from the AH. It gets a bit expensive, but she makes the money back with her herbs and BOE armor from dungeon runs.

Finally, here is Fossegrimme's current transmog set. Try to ignore the Gnomer tabard, she wants some mechanical chicken mounts!

Helm: hidden
Shoulders: Embersilk Mantle
Chest: Cindercloth Robe
Shirt: Orange Mageweave Shirt
Hands: Starfire Gloves
Waist: Gossamer Belt
Staff: Frenzied Staff

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Through the Dark Portal

Fossegrimme the fire mage has made it to level 60, trained flying, and passed through the Dark Portal. She took her time with leveling this past week, doing a lot of questing and a few dungeons here and there. Aside from getting to level 60, she had just a couple of goals- finishing the Burning Steppes questline for the Flamefly pet (seen above), and getting her herbalism leveled so that she could pick flowers in Outland.

Questing has been pretty simple; perhaps due to her heirlooms she's not too squishy, and the fire spec does a lot of damage. She hasn't even had any mana troubles the past 10 or so levels. I'm still enjoying all of the little perks of being a mage- portals, conjured food, blink etc.

More fossils! This time in the Mage Tower in Netherguard Keep in Blasted Lands. I'm itching to have her level her Archaeology, but after spending a couple of hours on herbalism yesterday, I didn't have it in me to fly her all over in search of dig sites.

Oh how I love acquiring the flying skill on a new toon. Free at last!

However, the Flying License alone kind of broke the bank. Fossegrimme had to wait until she made more money on the AH before she could have a hippogryph of her very own...

That didn't keep her earthbound, though, as she had a Winged Guardian in her bag! Freed from the chains of the earth, she gathered herbs until she could afford her hippogryphs, and was read to go through the Dark Portal!

I've heard so many players talk about what an amazing experience it was to fly through the Portal for the first time. So I took time on Fossegrimme to appreciate that she was going to be entering an entirely new world...and it worked! I had major goose bumps as she went through the portal and landed on the other side for the first time!

She made her way to Honor Hold and queued up for a few BC dungeons. I plan to level her this way until she is high enough level to quest in Nagrand. I've done Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh a lot on my Hordies, and I don't feel like running through them again even from the Alliance side.l

So that's it for Fossegrimme's progress over this hot July week. I leave you with this totally trashed dwarf she met in Badlands. She had gathered a bunch of beer for him from the dwarves next door, and he apparently drank it all at once :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Here comes the apocalypse

Once again, not much WoW time this weekend, but given that I was without power for two days when I was nearly missed by a tornado while visiting my boyfriend's family in central West Virginia, I think that's fair! My phone also decided to cash it in, which in a stroke of luck that is entirely not typical of me, occurred just two days before I was due for my two year upgrade. So fiddling with my new iPhone took precedence over gaming for most of yesterday.

When I am playing, I've been focussing on exploring and questing with Fossegrimme. She quested in Eastern Plaguelands until she outleveled it, ran Dire Maul on LFD, and finally made her way to Fuselight in Badlands. Her plan is to make her way to Burning Steppes so she can do the Tiny Flamefly pet questline, and then to Winterspring so she can work on getting her Winterspring frostsaber mount. So she has Things To Do, but she's going about them in a pretty relaxed way. Her heirlooms and the Midsummer Fire Festival buff ensure that Fossegrimme levels fairly rapidly, but I have enjoyed the feeling that I am just meandering about on her. I'm in no particular hurry to get her to level 85.