Merry Christmas

Ever slightly behind the times, the UK has turned into Northrend just as the Wow-world sheds its heavy coat and heads south for warmer climes. Stranded travellers unable to fly, unreliable public transport and extensive drunkeness – we’ve got it all.

In the midst of this, Bryn and I have ventured north to spend Christmas with our families, play a million games of Trivial Pursuit and eat and drink ourselves into a calorie coma before making the journey back to London to see in the new year.

Here’s hoping you all have as much fun and friendship as you could want over the holiday period, and that 2011 brings delight, joy and other shiny things (purple or no) to you in huge quantities.



A blogging cataclysm

I’m having quite a lot of fun questing through the new zones — Ano did Vashjir for openers (the giant dying creatures made me sad) followed by Deepholm and then went to Uldum. Thanks to running a few normal instances with guildies, he hit 85 last night just before the battle for Nefernet City. And yes, every time I’ve seen “Neferset” I’ve mentally substituted “Nefernet”. Well, it kept *me* entertained. Cent, sneaky little so-and-so that she is, claimed that she needed priority as “enchanting was more useful to the guild”, and bullied me into playing her to 85 a few days back1. I took her to to Hyjal first, which I think is probably a faster zone to level in. No z-axis confusion and lots of familiar-looking mobs = easy movement from quest to quest. She then had fun in Deepholm, found a frustrating clipping bug on the airship (it’s easy to clip through the wall of the captain’s cabin when mounted and get stuck under the stairs — jump *through* the stairs to escape), and after Uldum did a few quests in Twilight Highlands before hitting 85. I found arcane to be an excellent levelling spec; whilst dealing with multiple mobs can be tricky and require the use of escape abilities like invisibility, the slowing effect of arcane blast means that regular quest mobs rarely get close enough to inflict any damage, and burst output is high enough to deal with most “boss” quest mobs quickly and easily tool.

One thing which has been a little strange is the rise and fall of damage output — going up with gear upgrades only to drop after each new level as the point-to-percentage ratios for haste, crit and (especially, it seems) hit change. Whilst it doesn’t matter *what* damage you do provided your quest mob dies before you do, the occasional glance at recount has made for interesting viewing.

Outside the game, my blogroll has been “interesting” over the past couple of weeks. It feels like a huge chunk of the community are now focused on producing and re-producing pre-dungeon/pre-heroic/pre-raid/best-in-slot gear lists for <class>/<spec>/<critter>. I don’t doubt for a second that, in a few weeks’ time, I’ll be happily and thankfully making use of the various lists to find out where I need to go/which faction I need to charm in order to replace the last few persistent quest greens, and when I do, I’ll be massively glad that someone took the time to pull the information together so I didn’t have to. I’ve got to say though — they don’t make particularly interesting reading during my lunchbreak.

Perhaps I’m warped or something, but I really *liked* all the weird and wonderful posts and conversations which took place quite possibly because all of the useful things that could be said about ICC had already been said a thousand times. I loved the odd things people posted about (check out archives from the blogs listed in Near and Dear section of my blogroll for fine examples) and the millions of ways people found to amuse themselves at the end of the expansion. Loot lists are great, but they’re a bit like your DSL router. Hugely useful (perhaps even essential), the product of time and skill, but ultimately not something you’d chat about in the pub.

Anyway, I’ve got two characters at 85 and I’m finding myself a little torn. Normal 5-mans with guildies have been great fun. I’ve only done one “random” run (with two other guildies); the first two tanks were still largely following the wrath “grab the room” playstyle, with not-always-successful results but it was ultimately successful and we had a good old chatter in /p. So dungeon running to gear up and questing for cash and rep is going to be great. But there are so many other things to do…

Tremble is halfway through 80, with XP gained purely from mining/herbing (and killing the occasional mob standing on a herb or node). I’m going to take him to Uldum to continue mining and herbing, to feed our blacksmiths with ore and possibly to sell/save for Grammy. I *do* want to level him as I want to start tanking on him again before I forget the two or three things I learned; I’m still a bit scared though. I was a ‘nub’ tank in Wrath dungeons I knew well and which were ‘faceroll’. Lord knows what I’ll be like in the Cataclysm ones. Must find guildie alts who will be nice to me when I get them killed.

Grammy is level 66, and I feel oddly motivated to level her through Northrend. Partly that’s because she’s my engineer/alchemist, and I want her to be able to level to 525. But also, I was having *lots* of fun playing her before the Cataclysm launch. Affliction questing is fun (even after the nerfs).

I also have a some new worgen lowbies — a feral druid who’ll pick up a resto offspec at 30 and a warrior, who I rolled mostly because male worgen are stupidly hypertrophic and I thought it’d be a fun look. Unfortunately, warriors get charge practically from birth these days (level 3? 5?) and mobility is fun. No! Must leave the lowbies for later.

It’s a good problem to have, but there’s too much potential fun, and not enough fun-time in the day. WTB winning lottery ticket please!

  1. I’m also increasingly worried by how much of an distinct personality she’s becoming. If she was any more independent, I’d have to give her a posting account on MB! []

Ravenous Jaws

No posts for a few weeks then two in two days? Blogging like buses1 is something I usually try to avoid but I couldn’t help notice a line in the latest hotfix patchnotes. Specifically

Ravenous Jaws off the coast of Icecrown grew strangely large and have been returned to their normal size.

That’s a relief. Tremble got quite a fright in this encounter…

That's a pretty big-looking shark...
Holy crap! Run away, run away, oh wait. He's dead!

‘Scuse the weird-looking UI, by the way. Since 4.0.1, resizing the world frame with Sunn Art has caused graphical artefacting with sunshafts. I generally turn sunshafts off and resize the frame for serious activity, but leave all the shinies on when just out and about in the world — but it does mean UI elements creep pretty high into the play area. I’m also unable to switch on antialiasing without weird water issues. *sigh*

  1. You know, nothing for ages then two come along at once. Well, not like buses in snowy London, where there wouldn’t be anything except a vague “yeah, sorry mate, bad wevver innit” []

Last wrathful moments

Now that the shattering has happened, most people seem to be sprinting around the new old world, exploring and questing and fishing and the like. Meanwhile, I’ve been getting ready to say goodbye to Wrath of the Lich King and taking Tremble on a tour of Northrend. He’s tanked in all of the dungeons except the ICC ones (which he’ll do over the weekend, I expect), maxed his gathering skills and just the other day finally hit 80. He’s even managed a genuinely random heroic — I only realised I’d accidentally queued for heroic, not random regular, when achievements started popping halfway through the dungeon. I apologised to the group when I realised…

Anyway, through Tremble I was reminded of a few standout moments and saw a few more Northrend vistas that made me pause.

I *love* this quest. And yes, those *are* caster mail shoulders.
Cold, but beautiful
Not so much of a blight

As the only Warcraft I’ve ever known, I can’t really join in the various Wrath was great/Wrath was shit/No, Wrath was fine, it was just for n00bz-type arguments that are going in on forums and blog comments. I think I’m glad — no-one ever changes their position, so the arguments always seem to devolve into two groups of people shouting “you’re wrong AND you’re an elitist” or “you’re wrong AND you’re a nub”. Screw that.

Rather than QQing in trade (“wah no portalz/Stupid wrathbaby, we didn’t get mounts til level 703 in the old days”) we decided to go back to Ulduar hardmodes. Y’know, ‘cos Ulduar is pretty. So on Tuesday we did the hardmodes for XT, Kologarn, Assembly of Iron (fusion OUCH), Thorim, Hodir, Auriaya and Freya-the-annoying. Some of us had done some of these before, but none of us had done all of them. It was a fun evening, but I was a bit vexed that my DPS *sucked* all night long1. Thankfully other guildies were pumping out the big numbers.

Last night, I joined the healing team and we regrouped for Mimiron. The red button fight. I pushed the button.

Actually, a few of us pushed it, as we had a few unsuccessful attempts before we managed to get him down and earn our Firefighter achievements, which my stupid screenshot addon totally failed to capture *grumble*. Firefighter was the last achievement we needed to unlock Alganon.

Planetary what?
Find a place of power
Cast your eyes to the skies

It wasn’t pretty (well the encounter was pretty, but our play wasn’t) or elegant. In fact it very nearly qualified for Michael Bay status. Who cares though? For more than one member of our team, this fight was the one thing left that they really, really, *really* wanted to do, so with it done, we’re officially ready for Cataclysm.

But first, there’s still time for a few more loops of…

  1. *sigh*. I thought I had the new ret DPS thing all sorted, but I evidently forgot whatever I’d figured out. Oh well, plenty of time to relearn []