Sep 29 2010

Boren Coren


I’m going to join in the chorus: this year’s Brewfest boss, Coren Direbrew, is badly broken. Click, queued in the LFG, wait a few seconds (for a healer, that is), blip into the instance, 15 seconds later collect the frost badges and loot. I don’t bother to throw down buffs or even heal.

I’m guessing that the designers and developers are just full throttle on the 4.0.x releases, and they are so close to dropping that it just wasn’t worth updating. And the bright side was that all the free frost badges got Belmann his fourth Tier 10 piece – the closest I’ve ever had a character to having a complete set. Combined with some nice drops from ICC, he’s looking quite fine.

I have an uneasy relationship with GearScore. It is widely misused. On the other hand I installed it so I could see the number by which others were measuring me, and found it a handy tool for PUG heroics. I wave my cursor over the other four at the start to gauge how the run will go – if the tank show up well geared he or she is probably experienced enough to make a smooth run. If someone shows low, they’re probably a new 80 that doesn’t know the fights (I do wish that you could not queue for a heroic instance if you have not done the normal version). All of which is an aside: it was gratifying to see the magic number finally tick over 5600, even before I finish enchanting, gemming, detailing, folding and spindling the new stuff.

Pictures to follow – that’s one evil looking dwarf priest.

Sep 25 2010

Low Drop Rates Make Dwarves Cry


Belmann is well on the way to finishing the Loremaster achievement, which is really going to feel like an achievement. He’s proudly sporting the Seeker title, and has finished all the Vanilla quests needed, and most of the Outlands zones – the Northrend zones were finished as he levelled, which was an awesome way to experience the new zones fully. I intend to do the same with any new content dropped in Cataclysm, other than end-game stuff.

As I write he has all of Netherstorm to finish, and is on 82/86 quests in Blade’s Edge Mountains. Which is where this rant is going to begin.

Blizzard, for the love of all your player’s sanity, please don’t do another zone like Ogri’la area in Blade’s Edge. Ok, I can understand that building all the stories around the need to gather Apexis Shards is cool, but if you are going to make all the quests dependant on gathering ridiculous numbers of the crystals to be able to finish them, don’t also make the drop rate on the Shards something like 1 in 5, and also make the mobs who drop them have long respawn timers.

I’ve spent maybe 6 hours today running around in that area, and killing everything that moves, and still only looted about 40 of the damned things. Ok, yes, some of the quests award 15 of ’em at a time, which helps, and yes Wowhead lists the drop rate at around 33% rather than 20% but…

Hmm. In a “d’oh” moment I see that the drop rate is higher from mobs in the Bashir’s Landing area, so I’ll go gathering there.

And another thing… the mini-game built in this zone is just annoying, not fun. It’s the worst possible kind of game: it gets increasingly difficult, and stuffing it up has huge repercussions. It’s not epic. And taking 30 days to grind from Neutral to Exalted doing it is not epic. It’s just an annoying grind.

The only thing that makes it bearable is knowing that I won’t be doing the whole grind, just a few more quests, and that all the evidence from Northrend and WoTLK tells us that Blizzard have indeed learned not to make annoying, grinding, dull quests.

Sep 18 2010

Further Picture Spam


Two posts in one day? What ever is the world coming to?

Some quick notes about some raiding fun that’s been going on.

Belmann still is not seeing much of ICC – with the fall-off of interest prior to Cataclysm, combined with the general lack of time that I had to play for most of the year, Belmann keeps getting runs that go through the first few bosses in ICC then stop, and don’t get picked up again. I’ve done the lower spire, the gunship battle, Saurfang, Festergut, and Rotface quite a few times. I’ve seen Putricide about six times, and never been with a party that took him down. I’ve seen Valithria Dreamwalker and Blood-Queen Lana’thel… but no more than seen them. And I really, really wish I could see more. There’s an innate problem with the end-content raids, I’ve found over the years: if you are not in the first wave doing this stuff, you cannot gear up sufficiently quickly to get in on the end of that first wave, and generally by the time you are geared, nobody is interested in running the instances.

Oh, well, mustn’t be negative. Have some pictures.

A few weeks ago we went into Naxxramas to do one of the weekly quests. We were waiting on a few people to get ready, I still had the Noble Garden toy for turning people into rabbits… by the time we finished there were about 20 rabbits hopping around. I was particularly taken by Feggas our über shadow priest showing up as a sinister black bunny in the midst of all the fluffy white ones. I guess I’m easily amused.

Speaking of Saurfang, how many people hang around to watch the cut-scene (for lack of a better word) when Saurfang goes down? Varian and Jaina Proudmoore show up, and talk for a bit. Then Varok Saurfang, Dranosh’s dad flies in to reclaim his body. There’s a great speech, and some nice by-play with Varian and Jaina. By the way, don’t you think that (a) Jaina always seems a bit emotional? Needs chocolate? (b) Jaina would look better with a belly-button ring, and maybe a tramp stamp?

Do yourself a favour the next time you go through here, and wait for this little play to play out. We tend to think of the Orcs as being rude and brutish, but they have a very deep lore, and many of their sites and monuments have a rugged and majestic melancholy. Have you ever tracked down the monument to Grog Hellscream tucked away at the bottom of Ashenvale? You should, while it’s still there.

“Here lies Grommash Hellscream, Chieftain of the Warsong Clan.
In many ways, the curse of our people began and ended with Grom. His name meant “Giant’s Heart” in our ancient tongue. He earned that name a hundred fold as he stood alone before the demon Mannoroth — and won our freedom with his blood.
Lok’Tar Ogar, Big Brother. May the Warsong never fade.
— Thrall, Warchief of the Horde”

And just to show that we’ve got no bad feelings toward the Horde, Thes organised a large chunk of Selected to kill all their faction leaders last night, going back to kill Thrall a second time because it was so much fun the first time. I took MacMorris along for the run, in order to pick up the black bear mount for him, and also just to have fun hitting things hard with a sword. There was a great deal of chaos, fun, and not much resistance from the Horde players until we went back the second time to kill Thrall. I think they were getting a bit sick of us… We posed on the steps of the Dalaraan bank with our new bears, then went on a very slow walk around Dal, pausing only to moon the Horde camp, and wave our ePeens all over the screen

Sep 18 2010

Can You Dig It?


Larisa over at Pink Pigtail Inn asks whether anyone is planning to take up Archaeology come the Cataclysm, and I respond with a definite “Yes”. There are two reasons for this.

To begin with, I’ll train Belmann up as an archaeologist, because he’s the only toon I have that I concentrate on for achievements, pet collecting, and general fun stuff. He’s enchanting and tailoring because back in the day everyone said that’s What Priests Must Do. And I’ve got to say that enchanting is boring and expensive and kind of useless – if there was enough of a market for enchanters it would be a good money maker, but their really isn’t, and there is very little he can do of benefit to the alt characters. But the other reason is that Archaeology looks like fun, and fits nicely with the mythos of the world.

I’ve been pursuing the Loremaster achievement with Belmann, and particularly wanted to do the old world parts of that in the old world while there still is an an old world. I know that Blizzard said that you will be able to get the achivement post-Cataclysm, but somehow it didn’t seem right to do it with new content instead of the old Vanilla content. And what a journey that was. The Eastern Kingdom part is reasonably simple, but the Kalimdor component really had me scratching for the last few dozen quests. And oh, the things that Belmann has seen. Things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. He watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain…

Oops. Distracted there for a moment. One of the great things about the game is not just the depth of the lore (even if it’s subject to frequent changes, and littered with inconsistencies), but the way in which the designers have managed to make the world feel old. Many places are littered with ruins of past civilisations, there are traces of past cataclysms, and ancient mysteries. What are these friezes  around Uldaman? Who are these titanic figures, and what do they mean? And how will this post look with all these images glued into it? The WordPress editor is not entirely clear!

It was great fun finding so many hidden secrets around the old vanilla world, and I hope to revisit some of them and write them up here for posterity, rather than just a usual general hand wave about how cool the world is. There was a certain melancholy about visiting much of this world for the last time, but then again the old world is often tinged with a certain melancholy. It seems to pool up in the hidden back corners.

One of the odder things I stumbled across was the engineering trainer and his wife tucked away on the southern shore of Azshara. I have a feeling that Blizz intended some quests to begin here, and never got around to finishing this area. It’s a little west of the stretch of beach where the crew of a sunken ship waits eternally for rescue, with half-finished quests and hints of a story line that was never told. I just wish that all the time I spent levelling through Azshara I’d known about this engineer though… it’s a long run back to Talrendis Point from anywhere for repairs.

And we have to be sad that Daisy the race starter is likely to be washed away in the flood. Or should we look forward to seeing her in a swimsuit?

I continue to be amazed at some of the lighting that shows up in game. How many more times will I see Tanaris baking in the afternoon sun?

And will the naga ever manage to get their gods back?

This is the sort of thing that Belmann sits and contemplates.

Sep 6 2010

It came from the pug


I’m sitting outside my office building waiting to get back in after a fire alarm, so thought I’d relate something you don’t want to hear in a pug.

Belmann was off in the wilds, in shadow spec, pursuing low level quests, and so queued for a random heroic as DPS. When it popped he looked around and saw his fellow dungeon crawlers were fairly equipped, other than a brand new healing Druid. The tree apologized in advance, and Belmann said he’d pick up the heals if things went bad.

Off we go with our… Oddly… Equipped paladin tank. Second group of trash, the pull was somewhat ambitious, a mob got away, and ate the brain of the melée DPS for breakfast before Belmann melted it down. Whereon the tank spoke up:

“sorry, didn’t see I’d lost aggro, I was watching television”

We went on with no further mishaps, the new healer did fine with a little occasional help, and the paladin was much more reserved with his pulls.

Sep 1 2010

Ruby, Emerald, Amber


Driving home from work today I realised why, in an Oculus PUG fortuitously made up of Guild mates, Belmann got the Experienced Drake Rider achievement … he climbed on a Ruby drake rather than an Amber one. And the healer climbed on an Amber one as well. Which explains why we took some time to down the final boss.

I will chalk that one up to inattention, and being over tired from Real Life.

What’s your noob deed of the week?