What’s going on with the Red Crane Dailies?

I’ve been working on the August Celestials dailies and I can’t figure this place out.  We get a quest to duel training students but they are hostile by default.  In addition, they run around in roving gangs.  When we defeat these students, they bow and leave, but if three or more of them attack you, they beat you to death.  I just don’t get it. /rant off

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What’s the new hangout spot for MoP?

It’s been a week since Mists of Pandaria has been released and a good number of people have leveled through the content and hit level 90.  As with every expansion, there is a new hub of activity to set your hearthstone to.  For MoP, this is the Shrine of Seven Stars for the Alliance or Shrine of Two Moons for the Horde.  But…it doesn’t feel like the other hub cities in the past.  It’s not a sanctuary city like Dalaran and Shattrah, and there is good reason for that.  War is coming so that wouldn’t make sense.  But this isn’t new, we hung out in separate cities in Vanilla WoW and during Cataclysm, so why does it feel bad this time round?

As a hub city the VoEB Shrines have the essentials; portals to other capitals, banks, crafting stations and training dummies along with the essential inn.  What it doesn’t have is a reason for players to hang out there.  There isn’t an auction house (unless you are an engineer) and there are few daily quests.  The daily quest hubs are far busier with tons of people in the Cloud Serpent training area and a crowd at Halfhill.  Right now, if you want to show off that expensive Grand Expedition Yak or stride around in your Jeweled Panther, there is no where to do it at the Shrine.  You would have better luck hanging out in Halfhill.

It’s still early in the expansion, so I can be hopeful that things will change but right now, the Shrines are just a place to hearth and log.  There isn’t even a Justice point and Valor vendor in the city.  Blizzard wanted people to be out in the world and if this was their intention, they have succeeded.  But it comes at the cost of the community feel of the cities.

Working in Harmony – Contributing to the raid effort

Mists of Pandaria is almost upon us.  Perhaps you’ve already noticed more names reappearing in your friends list?  Or smiled at masses gathered around the training dummies in the capital cities.  It’s that wonderful time, right before an expansion.  Guilds are once again recruiting and everyone is reading up on the coming expansion.  When the gates to Pandaria open on the 25th, we’ll be leveling up with guild mates, looking to get new loot and ultimately get ready for a new tier of raiding.  Our guild crafters have the additional responsibility to level their crafting professions and get crafting new enchants, glyphs,  feasts and flasks for upcoming raids.

This expansion, non-crafters finally have an easy way to help contribute to guild supplies, in a time when materials will be scarce and expensive on the auction house.  Spirit of Harmony tokens, are gained from combining 10 Motes of Harmony, which are in turn gained from killing any mob in Pandaria.  You average 1 mote every 10 mobs and so 1 Spirit of Harmony from 100 mobs.  Spirit of Harmony tokens can be exchanged for trade goods likes Golden Lotuses (used for flasks), Ironpaw tokens (used in exchange for vendor only materials for feasts) and many other items.  By the time you have hit 90 and have access to the vendor in the Shrines in Vale of Eternal Blossoms, you will have a least 8 – 12 tokens.  Using these could help your guild get the materials needed to maximize stats for raiding, leading to quicker progression.

Troubleshooting the MoP Beta

Pandaren Concept Art

I just got the MoP Beta a day ago and with much joy started to download it.  However I was running into a few problems getting it to download.  So In case you are having problems, here’s a few things you might want to try:

1) Make sure you are running the beta launcher as an administrator and the agent.exe program as well.  If you can’t find it bring up your task manager, right click on the process to bring up properties, set it to run as administrator and then terminate the process and relaunch the beta downloader.

2) If that fails, it might be due to a corrupted download.  So delete the c:\programdata\battlenet folder and the setup files and launcher will be re-downloaded the next time you start the beta download.

3) Another strange error occurs when your agent.exe is tricked by old unused internet connections.  Open your networking properties in your control panel and check to see that there aren’t any up-used dial-up connections or vLan connections listed.

4) If all else fails try downloading the setup file again in case it was corrupted.

5) Blizzard also advised keeping your graphics drivers up to date as the set up will complain about it.

6) Lastly, make sure you don’t have a firewall program blocking the downloader.

Hopefully one of the tips helped if you are having problems getting the beta up and running.  There are also lots of useful posts on the official techinical support forums so don’t give up.

Catch-22 : The unanswered problems with the proposed LFR Loot System

Ghostcrawler just posted a Dev Watercooler Blog addressing the proposed LFR Loot system for Mists of Pandaria.  A system that was not clearly articulated in the press interviews when it was revealed during the MoP Press event and a subject that has caused much heated discussion in the official forums and other fansites.  While the article does clear up a few questions, in my opinon, the bigger and more troubling questions remain unanswered.

Perhaps Blizzard is not prepared to answer these questions as its still in the design stage and cannot be fulled answered but at the same time, they are answers that need to be answered before the end of beta.  Let’s look at the Loot system more closely after the break.

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To Beta or Not to Beta

MoP Beta Launcher

Unfortunately I have not been invited to the Mists of Pandaria (MoP) Beta; but having signed up for the Annual Pass deal, it’s just a matter of time.  That said, I know several people that have been invited; and if you read your server’s trade chat, it is easy to find plenty of people who have gotten in.  So the question remains: would you, should you, will you participate in the MoP beta?

Some personal thoughts on the subject, after the break…

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Nemain – Hitting 85!

It has been a week since Cataclysm launched and what an awesome week it has been.  I started out leveling my Warrior, Nemain as I had mentioned in the last post and leveling with my Rogue friend hit 85 in four days.  We didn’t rush much and took time to read all the quests text going through.  However, in the chaotic frenzy of the first few days, having a small group to work on kill quests and save your ass with the insane respawn rate made leveling a lot quicker.

Camping a named Quest Mob in Vashj'ir

Camping a named Quest Mob in Vashj'ir

I really liked how the leveling through questing experience has really been refined this expansion.  The flow from quest to quest is consistent.  There are numerous scripted cutscenes that show rather than tell us how the story progresses and there are a liberal amount of “blue” item rewards peppered throughout the quest chains.  The instant quest complete window that shows when you finish some tasks help to reduce the time needed to go back to the quest giver to turn in the quests.  For some quests like the new Crucible of Carnage chain, the Cataclysm version of Ring of Blood, it prevents a lot of the anguish of not completing the quest before the next round begins.

There is also a nice ramp up in normal creature difficulty which builds a foundation for dungeon grouping.  From the start at 80, the health pools of the creatures triple from the 10.6k health from Icecrown mobs to about 30k.  This truly lets you work more of a rotation in before they fall over.  By the end gear levels in WOTLK, even heroic dungeon mobs were dropping like flies, giving the game an almost Diablo 2 zerg mentality.  By the time you hit Deepholm at 82-83 mobs start using abilities that were previously exclusive to dungeon bosses.  you’ll see mobs that use void zones, spells that should be interrupted, and spells that can be avoided by moving.  All important for the dungeons.

Naga Visions Chain

Naga Visions Chain

Speaking of dungeons, they are now much harder.  No more watching the Daily Show on the second monitor while you faceroll heroics.  Forget heroics, even the new dungeons are challenging.  All of the creatures have deadly abilities to be aware of.  The general rule of thumb is this; If your class can use crowd control, you need to know what it can be used on and have them on your action bar in a easy to use spot or if you can find the place for it, keybinded.  If there is a spell with a long cast time (more than 2 secs) that can be interrupted, interrupt it if you can.  In most cases, the longer the cast time, the worse its going to be when it gets off.  Finally, if you see pools of stuff on the floor don’t let the mobs stand on it and if its on fire, you should get off it too.

In what must be training for raiding, dungeon bosses are more complicated than ever and in lieu of voice communication requires everyone to know the fight mechanics and some planning.  A sure sign of a bad group is one in which the tank just charges into the boss without a ready check and the dps charges pass him after the first taunt on the boss.  Most bosses use modified mechanics from WOTLK raid bosses, so veteran raiders will have an advantage.  For example, General Umbriss from Grim Batol uses Blitz, an attack similar to Icehowl’s charge attack from the Argent Tournament.  They also use new unusual mechanics like needing to position yourself up wind of Altairus the new dragon boss in Vortex Pinnacle.  The key to learning the dungeons is to read up on them on other websites and also to check your combat log when you die to figure out what killed you.  If WOTLK was defined by the mantra, “stay out of the fire”, Cataclysm is going to be the expansion of “stay out of the fire that follows you.”

Ragnaros Awaits...

Ragnaros Awaits...

So finally at 85 what is there left to do?  Lots!  There is a great sense of elation upon hitting 85.  But its also like climbing to the top of a long flight of stairs to see a huge chasm with another flight of stairs beyond it.  Unlike what many experienced in Wrath, hitting the terminal level does not mean its time to start doing heroics, rather, you’ll need to gear up in regular dungeons to get your gear up to snuff before doing heroics.  As a consequence of the new stat system, it has never been clearer how much better or worse an item is.  Items of the same level with have identical primary stats.  So if you are a warrior like I am, any blue level quality 333 ilevel chest will have the same amount of strength and stamina.  The only variation will be which two secondary stats are included from the list of critical strike rating, hit rating, expertise rating, haste rating and the new boy in town, mastery rating.  You’ll notice your health climbing rapidly as you replace your precious purples from WOTLK.

Level 80 gear will match ilvl 251 gear for stats if you have epic gems and enchants.  Once you get to level 82 greens, they will completely overshadow 2264 gear from ICC 25.  They only reason to keep those would be for an awesome 2-piece set bonus.  By level 83 greens you’ll want to switch, mainly for the raw increase in primary stats. you’ll start having 50-60k of health by this point and it only goes up.  A fresh 80 in quest greens and blues will have about 80-90k health and when you are ready for heroics, 100k and more.  This applies for dps and healer classes too, not just tanks.  Even with this massive stat and corresponding health increase, you will notice your dps drop as you level.  This is painfully true for Fury Warriors.  The stat formula changes each time you level, requiring larger and larger amounts of the secondary stats like hit, crit and haste to give the same percentage increase in accuracy, critical hit chance and speed they once provided.  As a fury warrior it amounts to about 5-6% hit lost per level if you do not increase your hit rating.  It is a noticeable lost of rage generation.  Basically with upgrades, you will hit harder, but hit and crit far less often.  If you use a dps meter, it means your dps stays mostly the same or for warriors, slighty lower than what you were doing at 80.

So sitting at level 85 now, I am slowing down slighty, taking time to level my professions, do the dailies for reputation and finish questing in Twilight Highlands.

PS.  The picture above comes from standing in the fire in Twilight Highlands for the Deathwing achievement.

PSS.  Amusingly I hit 85 doing the uncovering the conspiracy quest in Stormwind as part of the chain for the call to arms to Twilight Highlands.

Cataclysm is Here!

Cataclysm is finally here.  Its also my 100th post on this blog.  When the changes go live, my plan is to log in and start working on Nemain again as my main character for Cataclysm.  She’s logged out at Ebonhold and will start off by turning in the 22 daily quests I have saved for a bit of an xp boost and then learn all my new profession levels.  Finally I’ll hearth back to Stormwind to learn Azeroth flying and then discover the Blackrock Caverns entrance so I can queue for it in the LFD Tool.  Then its a quick decision of whether to start off in Vashj’ir or Mount Hyjal.  I am leaning towards Vashj’ir as it seems everyone on my server is going to Mount Hyjal.

Preparing for Cataclysm

With less than a week to the Cataclysm launch, what steps are you taking to prepare yourself for the expansion?  I’ve taken the time to prepare both in-game and out of the game for the expansion.  How does your checklist compare to mine?  Find out after the break.

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Shockwaves – Returning to the Grand Age of Travel

Zepplin Travel

Zepplin Travel

Shockwaves is a column focusing on editorials on upcoming changes to WoW especially but not exclusively related to the upcoming expansion Cataclysm.

As I write this, Caine is dying, Deathwing has risen from Deepholm and is taking a celebratory piss over Azeroth with lava.  The world you knew for the last six years is no more. As we dust ourselves off in patch 4.03a and prepare for the vengeance we’ll dole out (with great justice) in Cataclysm, the biggest impact felt will not be just the scars left by Deathwing across the land, but also by the travel restrictions put in place.  As many will realize upon logging in, the portals to capital cities in Shattah and Dalaran have been replaced by class trainers.  Likewise the portals to the Dark portal from capital cities have also been removed.

Like travel restrictions in the light of 9/11, this will slow travel across Azeroth to a crawl.  A real real pain for players like myself that have been working on finishing achievements before Cataclysm.  It’s a return the old days of vanilla WoW where travel took time and the Horde and Alliance weren’t running around together in the same city.  Its time to relearn your Zepplin Routes, Boat schedules and Deep Run tram passes.

Its going to be a rough two weeks before flying is enabled for Azeroth.  I am working on getting achievements for my Outland fishing and cooking dailies as well as some of the dailies in Northrend.  Removing the portals will triple the amount of time taken for the dailies without being able to hearth back to Dalaran and using the portals to get quickly between the different cities.  If you are in a similar situation, plan out your travel before hand to minimize the travel needed and if you are an altoholic, doing the dailies in shifts switching out characters between hearths to cut waiting time.  Remember to use portals like the Dalaran > caverns of time portal or the Dalaran rings as a secondary hearth and a way to set two separate hearths.  It is also the best time to mage a new mage friend.  And if you use mages, remember to tip.