Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cataclysm

OK, so I know there are very mixed feelings about Cataclysm out there right now, and there are enough blogs out there that have dissected all the new features, that I'm not going to go into a ton of details. I will say that there are a couple of things that I'm pretty excited about. The first is the revamp of Azeroth. As someone that is now working on taking their 5th and 6th toons through the Azeroth leveling process, I just find it incredibly painful at this point. The quest lines in Outland and Northrend are just so much better organized and flow better that I'm really looking forward to the old world reflecting more of the new style of questing (and hopefully quest rewards as well). Having new content to see will get me more excited about leveling addition toons to 80.

The other huge excitement factor for me is rated battlegrounds. I love PvP on almost all of my toons. And it annoys me to death that I can't get the weapons, off-hands and ranged / other pieces because I don't particularly enjoy arenas. So rated battlegrounds will solve that for me. Plus, having my performance in rated battlegrounds somehow contribute to my guild leveling is just another huge plus. And, I'll be able to completely gear out my toons in PvP epics! woo hoo!

Now, for a leveling update. With the addition of "Mangle" at level 51, leveling my druid has become much more fun. Granted, my rotation has become a lot less complicated (Pounce, or Faerie Fire, then mangle, mangle, mangle, ferocious bite..dead). But it works.

I've also found that unlike leveling my warlock or even my DK (which I did relatively early in the expansion), I'm extremely popular as a druid - wanna tank this, wanna heal that? Sure! I'm not really spec'd for it, but what the heck! So the druid now sits at a very happy 61 having done lots of Ramps runs in Outland. I do hate those starting quests in Hellfire. I headed for Outland at level 58 and I think that might be just a touch too early for a feral druid. A couple of the early quests were a bit frustrating. But we should be on cruise control now, and flight form at level 60 should make it a breeze from here.

I've also been playing the paladin a touch and she's currently sitting at level 26. Also, reading Darth Solo's blog and all his adventures soloing the instances of Outland may inspire me to shake the dust off my hunter, who is currently sitting at 58 in Outland (and who I am confident can handle those early quests courtesy of his thunderstomping bear buddy).

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Return of the Heroic

Without a doubt, one of best things in my mind about patch 3.2 is the return of interest in running heroics. As I've said before here, my schedule doesn't really lend itself particularly well to doing a lot of raiding, so doing heroics is one of the best forums for me to really participate in the PvE endgame, and with the changes to the new emblem loot systems and all heroics rewarding Emblems of Conquest, it now becomes possible for me and everyone else to get equipped in raiding level gear just by running heroics. Granted, it can take a lot longer, but for me it's great to still have that carrot out there.

I've also really enjoyed the new 5 man instance, Trial of the Champions. I've had the chance to run it a couple of times now on my warlock, Joar, and find it to be pretty interesting. I feel like it rewards me in another way for the time spent on some of the Argent Tournament stuff (and no, I haven't bothered to get all the way to Crusader), by making the skills that I developed in mounted combat relevant in another setting. The gear seems to be pretty good for a 5 man instance as well.

But for someone that had been spending most of their time in battlegrounds during the day because it was almost impossible to find groups for heroics, this new patch brings a very welcome renewal of interest in running heroics and (dare I say), it's almost easy to find a group at any time of day.

Now, for a leveling update. Because of vacations and such, it's been a while since I posted anything. I've been focused primarily on the druid and paladin lately. Branwyn the druid finally hit level 50 last night. One more level till I can start mangling everything in site. Now that I've finally figured out the mechanic of switchinig to bear form on multiple mob pulls (and gotten some of the talents to back that up) leveling with the druid has gotten easier than it was in the early 40's. I haven't been to my trainer yet to see what juicy goodness he has for me at 50, so that'll be something to look forward to this afternoon.

Joaridan the paladin now has her shiny new mount, but since most of the focus has been on the druid (or running heroics on Joar), not much progress to report here. She's a couple of bars from 24. Not sure why I set this one up as a female toon, so I may do a character recustom here at some point before Joaridan gets to be too high a level. It's not a dirty old man kind of thing - for some reason I just find the male blood elfs to be incredibly annoying looking. Can't put my finger on exactly why though. Would love to be able to do one either totally bald or with a full beard!

I'd read a post on another blog a week or so ago about chain running every Northrend heroic in a single day. It awards something like 54 badges. (You could get it up to 58 if you topped it off with a quick OS to close out the day...) I've currently got a good group on the calendar to try it this Saturday, so I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Isle of Conquest

One of the first things that I did after my realms was finally up was to head to the new battleground, Isle of Conquest. There certainly seemed to be a lot of qq'ing in battleground chat, but I for one thoroughly enjoy it. I worked to get the victory achievement on both of my level 80's the first night. I like the multiple resource and attack strategy element. It seems to combine a lot of the things that I really like about Alterac Valley and Arathi Basin with some aspects of Wintegrasp even. The hangars and the flying attack vehicles are definitely one of my favorites, although I'm never sure exactly how much damage I'm doing when shooting from those.

There seem to be a lot of disagreements over strategy on this one at the moment. The zerg the middle and capture the workshop, then pound away at the gates strategy seems to work pretty well some of the time. Others swear that capturing the hangar and then parachuting folks into the keep and taking down the gates from the inside with Seaforium bombs is the best way to go.

I haven't heard anyone yet argue that capturing the docks is especially crucial, but could definitely see the catapults being used in combination with the parachute from the airship strategy being particularly effective. Also, the glaive throwers are a ton of fun. I haven't figured out their value strategically yet, but holy crow are they a blast. Let's throw giant spinning knives as people that do personnel and siege damage! Sign me up!

The one main thing at the moment is there seems to be some confusion about what it takes to actually win this one, and on that point, this one is exactly like AV - you kill the other team's general, you win. So you don't have to get down the main gate to the enemy keep, just the interior gate, and there are seaforium bombs inside their keep that can be used for that purpose. Then, inside the interior and up the stairs and it becomes a typical tank and spank, just like AV. So a combination airship / parachute / catapult strategy could definitely work without ever capturing the workshop.

I could also see this battleground becoming a great one for farming honorable kills as folks tend to clump in the middle. Finally, if you're one of those squishy types (like my warlock) that feel like you never get to capture anything, the quarry and the oil refinery on this one are isolated enough that it's not unusual at all for those to be completely unguarded so can quite often be an easy cap - even for a squishy!

After hearing some of Ghostcrawler's recent comments about focusing more on battlegrounds and trying to produce more new battlegrounds, if Isle of Conquest is what we have to look forward to - I'll be looking forward to the next installments.

One thing on this one though is that it doesn't seem to generate quite as much honor as a good Alterac Valley or Strand of the Ancients can generate. I'm not sure if Blizzard isn't giving as much credit for various objectives or for final victories, but most of my battles, even victories, have finished with under 1,000 honor. I've heard others claim as much as 2-3,000 honor from a single Isle of Conquest battle, but I haven't seen anything close to that yet.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Patch 3.2

Looks like patch 3.2 is dropping today and I for one am totally excited. I really can't decide what I want to do first (after the realms come back up that is). I expect I will jump straight away into the new battleground with both Joar and Tormal to see how that is. Sounds pretty cool!

Also, my level 22 paladin is safely parked in Orgrimmar waiting for her ability to get her mount before continuing with leveling.

Oh, and Branwyn, my level 44 druid, is going to need to head to the barber for a flea bath and to fine tune the new kitty form.

A couple of things that I noticed while perusing the patch notes:

New dungeon loot system - holy crap - why didn't this get more press! The ability to trade soulbound items among raid members for 2 hours! No more issues with the loot master accidentally giving the loot to the wrong raid member and there being nothing you could do about it. Or something you wanted more dropped later on? Arrange a trade perhaps? What a great thing!

Anyway - gotta respec the Death Knight too! Can't wait for the realms to go live.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Leveling Updates

As much as I had planned to just park all of my alts and leave them until the new patch hits and leveling becomes significantly faster, I just haven't been able to bring myself to do that. I've been focused mostly on the druid and the paladin over the last week or so since returning vacation and have gotten Branwyn the druid to level 43 and Joaridan the paladin to level 21. I was planning to stop at level 20 with Joaridan and wait for the mount post-patch, but I was having so much fun playing this toon, I just couldn't stop.

It's actually made leveling the druid a little frustrating. Stealth? Why stealth when I can just storm in, attract the attention of everything in the neighborhood and then annihilate them all! That seems like faster leveling to me! I've actually contemplated putting the druid on the shelf for a little while and focus on leveling the paladin. The realize that the paladin is more than 20 levels behind, but it seems to progress so much faster that I almost irrationally feel like I could make that up. My real goal for both of these toons is to use them primarily for PvP / battlegrounds along with the occasional 5 man heroic and guild / pug raid. My mind is telling me that the druid is better suited for that plan, but the paladin is just so much fun! And the paladin is certainly great for farming HK's in battlegrounds, being almost impossible to kill.

In any case, my shaman, Mograwn, hasn't been getting any attention lately as a result! Oh well... I still plan to finish the trek to 80 on my alliance hunter as well, but at the moment, he's safely parked in Honor Hold waiting to start Outland at level 58.