[WoW] Everything old is new again. 5.04 and preparing for Pandaria.

MoP_login

Yup, this is the Mists of Pandaria loading screen. The image of ‘two statues flanking an entrance’ bears (sic) a resemblance to both the Vanilla WoW and TBC login screens. Again, as with the intro trailer, the message is that the game is getting back to its roots thematically.

Has it only been a week or so since I last mentioned how I was getting on with WoW? It feels much longer than that. I was getting set to screenshot my achievements, note that I had tried a LFR pickup raid into Dragon Soul and comment that I’d cleared up two of my Cataclysm bucketlist goals by getting Pebble on my Warrior and leveling my goblin priest chick to 85, and running a few instances with her. So ultimately, although I had been feeling very antsy about running heroics again, I felt that I got back into the swing of things with a couple of characters.

I also ran through the Firelands raid with my guild, which was good fun. (I never really disliked it as a raid, and it’s nice to have been able to go down Ragnaros. Again.)

So yay for that, then patch 5.04 hit and everything changed. And of course, that meant all the addons too. And if anyone is interested,  Noxxic, Icy Veins and MMO Melting Pot have guides for every spec in 5.04, which will get you started if you’re feeling confused.

Residual Notes on LFR

The raid I saw was the second half of the Dragon Soul, which involves a few set piece fights,  of which the most memorable is where the raid attempts to pry metal plates off Deathwing’s back while he’s spawing antibodies and trying to throw everyone off with barrel rolls. It probably isn’t as interesting as that sounds, or at least not on LFR.

I didn’t find it fun enough to bother queueing for the other half. It was nice to see the raid, I guess, but the Hour of Twilight instances were a lot more fun and had a better storyline (for what that’s worth). It is entirely possible that the raid encounters are more engaging in regular 10/25 man mode.

Really the odd thing about this raid is that it really does play like a collection of set pieces. In some cases the raid literally teleports from one location to the next and I half expected to see scrolling text on the screen during the transition reading “X hours later …” I guess that gives things a cinematic feel but it was a step too far for me, I prefer my raids (and instances) to feel like actual locations in the world rather than film sets.

I am in favour of LFR as a concept, I just don’t think that raid was particularly engaging.

Shared Achievements and Pets

After the patch hit, the majority of achievements and pets have become account wide. Yes, that means Horde alts now have access to Alliance only quest pets such as Withers and the Faerie Dragon. It also means that any rare or no-longer-attainable pets (eg. the ones you used to get for logging in during WoW anniversaries) are now part of the account-wide collection. It also means that, having logged on all the various alts on which I have dithered since the start of the game, I now know on exactly how many alts I completed the mechanical chicken quest. (Two.)

Account wide achievements also mean that I could create a new character tomorrow and display a variety of titles and achievements which aren’t in the game any more – sadly the Vanilla PvP titles do not go account wide, not that I ever got very far with those but I did have a couple on a no-longer-played alliance priest. Effectively, looking at my list of pets and achievements now makes it look as though I’m far more of an achiever than I really am. I suppose that’s good, but I wonder if characters feel more like adjuncts to the account than individuals now.

Some of the achievements can now be completed in bit parts across different characters. So for example, you could explore the Night Elf areas on an Alliance alt and the Blood Elf areas on a Horde alt and get completions on both of them account wide. Or in other words, simply logging in all your characters post-patch is likely to have resulted in extra achievements being noted. I am quite proud that despite all this I still ‘only’ have around 7700 achievement points on Spinks, Achievements are not really my thing.

The pet list also includes all the pets that exist which you do not (yet) own, including the Pandaria ones. My first reactions are that:

1. There are a LOT of reskinned pets. I don’t expect Blizzard to work miracles, but even Pokemon managed to give each of the pokies their own unique look.

2. I am going to be SO addicted to pet battles. I love Pokemon so this was never going to be a hard sell, but you have pets associated with different types, each of which has a variety of attacks of different types, and the various types are strong/weak against each other. I suspect pet battles will be far more strategically interesting than most WoW fights. Plus I suddenly got more interested in filling out my pet list.

I like the idea of starting Pandaria and favouring the pets I actually like best (usually due to having fond memories associated with them, like the mechanical squirrel that was given to me by a friend, or the crimson whelp that Arb gave me.)

Stoppableforce has a great post on Pet Battles in MoP, and I suspect that like me, he is a chicken fan. Ignore the haters, fun pokemon is fun.

Learning to play your class all over again

As has become the norm for WoW, the new class mechanics enter the game the patch before the expansion and they are currently live. I am still experimenting with my warrior but my first impressions are:

  • I like the tanking changes, I think it will be interesting and hopefully fun. But I wish I could do this with fewer buttons; warriors have a ton of utility and with the addition of an extra shield ability and the war banners, finding buttons and binds for them all is going to be a pain. I also think I need to find an addon to help monitor rage more closely.
  • Do not like the new Arms. It used to be such a fun, fluid rotation (I mean up until last week) and now it feels awkward, with lots of waiting around for crits and procs. I also think that one single target rage sink should be enough for anyone, so having two abilities that pretty much do the same thing (Slam and Heroic Strike) is just adding unnecessary complexity.
  • Fury looks OK though, my first impressions were mostly good. Also I’ve always wanted to try Bladestorm while dual wielding 2-handers.

The actual mechanics of being forced to relearn your class every expansion can get a bit wearing. As Beruthiel eloquently notes:

This is now the fourth time I’ve “relearned” to heal. The second time with massive mana changes. And you know what? It fucking sucks. I’m tired of trying to work small miracles with my toolkit, figuring it out, only to have it yanked out from under me and made to go through all the learning pains of learning your limits again.

It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for that position, especially for anyone who really quite liked how their character played in Cataclysm.

A proportion of the WoW player base expects both themselves and everyone else to learn the ins and outs of a new spec pretty much instantly, which does up the pressure. I personally expect to get some practice in from levelling through MoP and running instances, and will probably come back to how warriors play later once I have a better feel for the spec. (I don’t know about anyone else but I do usually fret for ages about which character to play as a main in a new expansion and then end up playing my Warrior again anyway.)

I’m also tanking ICC for a guild run later this week so we’ll see how that goes.

Preparing for MoP

The last few things I intend to do in preparation for the expansion are to finish up the Fishing skill on Spinks and level my warlock from 83 to 85. I have toyed with laying in some materials so that I could grab 10 points in Blacksmithing as soon as the crafting cap is raised (ie. by making PvP gear which is currently orange to me), I just don’t know whether I can be bothered.   My priestlet now has engineering and tailoring up to 500, which will let her pick up the Pandaria upgrades and my enchanting alt also has enchanting at 500 for the same reason.

As WoW players will know, it is extremely common for players to have a few crafting alts. I kind of wish Blizzard would just allow crafting skills to be account wide at this point, because no one should have to level enchanting more than once, ever.

I have also been selling off various bits and pieces, but without the sort of laser intensity or the scale that gold making glyph sellers apply to their work. Having said that, belt buckles and weapon chains both turn a good profit, as do bags (as usual) and crafted engineering pets. I will probably go into the expansion with about 50k gold on my main and 20k gold on a couple of alts, which is plenty for anything I might need to do. I also suspect that the main money making window for Blacksmiths will be in crafting entry level PvP gear at the start of the expansion and every arena season, at least if things follow the same pattern as Cataclysm.

Everything old is new again

In a few weeks time, the busy Cataclysm endgame zones will be quiet again. Only the starting zones will see an influx of levelling characters who will probably reach the expansion max and move on before ever spending time in the Firelands daily quest area or Twilight Highlands.

I flew round the now-deserted old TBC endgame zones, to remember again how this impacted previous expansions. Some drink to remember, some drink to forget.

netherstorm

How are you spending the last few weeks of Cataclysm, if you are playing WoW?

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25 thoughts on “[WoW] Everything old is new again. 5.04 and preparing for Pandaria.

  1. Hah, you approach the game very similarly to how I do, sounds like. My guild needed a tank, and they took me along to Dragon Soul 10-man. I was the underdog gear-wise, for sure, and was rather intimidated by the threat output of the DK I was tanking with. I got to tank all the 1-tank fights, and I was surprised how many of those exist. Because of the nerfs, they actually 1- healed at least two fights (Ultraxion and Warmaster, I think). While I was still watching cinematics, everyone else was discussing loot, hah. This raid kinda lacked heart for me, something just seemed off. You rush from one spot to the next, it’s just not cohesive. I did enjoy the return to the Nexus for Hagara, to see Malygos’ platform again.

    I only have a little over 7k achievement points myself. I never do world events and such, and only half-heartedly pursue achievements. I am however working on Bloody Rare at the moment, which is the achievement for killing all the rare mobs in Outlands. It reminds me of the good old days. As the zones are all deserted, I have cleared multiple zones of all its rares and only have Nagrand, Shadowmoon Valley and Blade’s Edge left. I also got the Might recolor from TBC instances, paying visits to places I know like the back of my hand. It’s like I remember every pull.

    I am leveling a priest now, because I like healing. Almost 81. I also rolled a feral druid on another server where friends are, because I wanted to be a neon-colored troll druid. :-) Also, I will probably run Twilight heroics til I puke because I want those blasted shoulders from Hour of Twilight, just to get the Cataclysmically Epic achievement. Bah!

    I really enjoy the new Fury warrior, btw. The old fury was very micro-managey with enrage management and such, and the new fury has more rage, less waiting, more buttons to press. Bladestorm as fury warrior is awesome!

  2. Last few weeks will be spent in thumbing through my alts to see if any will replace the DK as my main (doubtful now) and farming for mounts in MT Kara and UP, and then doing dailies for gold. Not spectacular, but enough to distract.

    • I try to fit in UP runs too when I get the chance, still no blue drake though ;/ But its where I have been practicing my new rotations. Plus you do get a decent amount of Frostweave.

      • I have a love-hate relationship with the blue proto… maybe more like hate-hate since I’ve run UP over a hundred times without getting the damn thing. I WANTS IT, MY PRECIOUS! lol@me

  3. I honestly have no sympathy for anyone who has a hard time ‘learning’ these new abilities. I’ve played since Launch and every expansion it has gotten easier to learn the basics. Especially as a healer, each expansion has gotten better at the “easy to learn – hard to master” portion. And if everything still worked and played like it did in vanilla, the only people who would be playing it, are those 32 people who are currently on a hacked vanilla server.

    • I am always amazed how some people would want to play a game where nothing changes, especially a game where you pay a monthly fee “Here’s my money. Take it and make sure you do nothing to the game except increase the level cap and make a few dungeons. Thank you.”

      Would you expect junior school to be the same same as college or university, or work. Stuff changes, deal or get out.

      I have to admit, it has been a bit weird relearning stuff, but run a dungeon or two and you figure it out. I’ve never found it a big deal.

      • Everyone needs change in their lives sometimes. But there’s a big difference between deciding to make changes yourself, and having them forced on you when you don’t want them and find them off-putting.

  4. Great post! Just wanted to agree about the addiction to pet battles. I always saw Pokemon as something like the cartoon… for preschool kids etc. I was wrong. I had a blast searching for the rare quality pets and loved every moment. They have made it difficult (the battles) enough to please me. I can’t wait for it to go live!

  5. The LFR Spine fight is probably the most heavily dumbed down LFR fight, with only two elements of the fight remaining active. This is because in the normal version it is a very complicated execution fight with an added dps race element that requires people to pay attention to what they’re doing for whole minutes at a time. It seems like a group of people who can’t grasp the concept of not dpsing the amalg or actually kiting it near the plate might have an issue with that.

    Also, it’s worth noting that the Horde has been able to get withers and the faerie dragon for a while. As to how they’re meant to get withers, I’m not entirely sure how anyone ever found that out on their own.

    My own pre-mop plans consist of getting Pebble, which I’ve been forgetting to do all expansion and…that’s about it. Maybe getting that last peice of Bloodfang. My guys are in a pretty good place.

  6. I’ve been soloing all the old Burning Crusade heroics. Partly because I enjoyed doing them, but mostly because the achievements are completed by one character but not by my new main, so they show as the golden ‘complete’ colour but in the incomplete section of the achievements. That’s the type of stuff that messes with my OCD head.

    Other than that I’m not really doing anything different than I would do. Don’t get me wrong I’m looking forward to World of Pokemon, but this is the fourth time round the expansion block so although it’s new stuff, it’s not going to be THAT new.

  7. Netherstorm…. ahhhhh, I remember that zone fondly. Still my fave time in WoW was TBC. WOLK was OK and Cata was bad. Everytime I think of returning to WoW it’s pretty much due to how much fun I had with TBC.

  8. I don’t understand the “o noes, everything is changed” complaining – I actually look forward to a major patch like this. I like exploring new abilities etc.

    I do have a little sympathy with Beru on the not-being-top-of-meters front, as up til the patch my levelling Arcane mage usually was way out in front on boss fights, simply because I could spam Arcane Blast for the whole thing. Now, though, I’m lucky if I even beat the tank in Arcane spec. So I switched to Fire, and now it’s all good (Living Bomb is amazing on trash packs. News at 11).

    • Change is fine if it’s for the better. In this case, the talent redesign (if you’re a Protection warrior particularly) is appallingly poor and has gutted the fun of playing my half-decade old character.

      No matter how good the theme park, nobody likes getting round in a busted car some kid puked in. That’s what playing a warrior is like right now for me.

      Gutted.

      • Is it the talents that bother you, or the new “active mitigation” / build rage with attacks and spend them on defense style? They’re sort of separate; you could have one without the other. All of the tanks got something of the latter, and as a lifetime tank I do worry about keeping my active defenses up. Then the pull finishes with the healer at near full mana and I start to wonder what I’m actually worrying about.

      • I absolutely do not agree that the talent redesign is appallingly poor. Yes, some talents probably need a bit of adjustment, but like Celendus said, this is a separate issue from the overall class design, or even the role (tank) concept (active mitigation) itself.

        “It was fun before but now I don’t like it” is a perfectly valid opinion, and I can see your point to some extent in that some classes, e.g. warriors in your case, have played largely the same since the beginning, and to have these changes come along could indeed make the class no fun to play.

        However, I have faith that Blizzard will fix the things that are broken. That’s what they do with WoW, and they certainly don’t want people abandoning a class because it’s no fun to play. I don’t think the fundamental idea behind the changes is a bad one, it’s just got some initial implementation details that need work.

      • To answer the question, Celendus, it’s both – active mitigation is a wholly unnecessary development thanks largely to Vengeance, while the talent redesign has essentially robbed Protection warriors of almost all of their options and provided a tragic six choices… That you have next to no choice in.

        I’ll expand, and try to keep this brief.

        Vengeance, for the most part, made threat generation passive and completely devalued hit and expertise. If you were a Protection warrior, tanking was already largely active in WotLK; Shield Block, Disarm, Shield Bash, Spell Reflect, Shockwave, Concussion Blow, Demoralizing Shout, Thunderclap and major cooldowns were all routinely used in addition to your threat generation abilities, not to mention sunder maintenance. That’s extraordinarily active. Further, threat was something every tank I knew found fun and gearing with expertise was something I did throughout that expansion, as did most other warriors I knew.

        Bringing in Vengeance tried to fix a problem that NEVER existed, and now they can’t balance it properly and had to come up with “active mitigation” as another reason to give value to hit and expertise. The snag with this is that it’s either too visceral and, thus, far too punishing on beginners, or it’s not visceral enough and ends up practically meaningless.

        This isn’t a subjective whine, really, it’s a fundamental change in game design that’s now had to have sticking plasters rammed all over it.

        As for the talent redesign…

        It’s a complete mess for Protection warriors. The self-healing tier? I could pick up Second Wind, Field Dressing, Blood Craze and Impending Victory if I wanted good self-healing before. Now I have zero baseline self-healing, and three dreadful talents that I don’t want any of. I can Charge once every 20 seconds, I have Intervene every 30 seconds, and can glyph Heroic Leap for 30 second availability. In which case, the first tier is superfluous to my needs. Alas, I have to take one from both tiers, despite the fact they’re utterly underwhelming and I’d rather a combination of Avatar and Stormbolt.

        Compare that to what we’ve just come from.

        Blitz, Field Dressing, War Academy, Second Wind, Drums of War, Deep Wounds, Blood Craze, Cruelty, Piercing Howl, Incite, Blood and Thunder, Gag Order, Last Stand, Concussion Blow, Vigilance, Thunderstruck, Improved Revenge, Heavy Repercussions, Safeguard and Impending Victory were all optional; good arguments could be made for any of these to be taken or omitted, and in limitless combinations because they weren’t exclusive to one another.

        Too many people are spouting this “it’s six REAL choices now, not just going to EJ”. But this is just Blizzard-endorsed claptrap that people are shortly going to wake up from. There are clear choices throughout most tiers, and they’re not performance related which makes them effectively meaningless. As for going to EJ, sure, some people did that; but they were never a boon to their raid group. I took all the self-healing talents for heroic Cho’gall because phase two was stressing our two healers, while I picked up Drums of War and Gag Order for interrupt duty on heroic Nefarian.

        Neither recommended, both game-changing for MY raid group.

        That’s a bit long, but I feel it’s important that I try to accurately convey how thoroughly disappointed with all this I am.

      • Tanking feels OK to me, I like the extra defensive cooldowns, and it plays similarly enough to pre-patch to feel vaguely comfortable. But I feel there are a few too many cooldowns at the moment, if you include offensive ones and situational ones as well. (Like berserker rage, which you probably want to hit whenever it is up, etc.)

        I am not fond of what they have done with Vigilance though.

  9. I’ve started a Rogue, and I’m going to level her via BGs. I figure I’ll learn the class that way and also learn how to defend against the Rogue as well. Since this is going to take a while, I’m pretty sure I won’t need Mists at all until, say, November at least.

  10. Pingback: Mists of Pandaria: Pre-expansion Hunter Changes - | The Zombie Chimp

  11. Having learned over the years to play five different classes well enough to raid effectively, both as a tank and as dps, this latest round of Changing All The Classes In Order To Justify Keeping The Entire Class Development Team On The Payroll is one too many for me. There’s still a lot of WoW I like, and I’m going to keep playing, but I’ve informed my raiding guild that in MoP my main will be a mechanical squirrel named Morbinex.

    • I’ve disagreed with large swathes of what you’ve said in the past, Ratshag, but you’re bang on the money here as far as concerns me. I love the look of the new zones, the Lorewalkers, pet battles and the new raid content, while I think cooking is potentially going to be more fun than it’s ever been for me.

      But the class overhaul, particularly for the two specs I love (Protection and Arms), has turned them into something I don’t find enjoyable at all. Warriors are now, essentially, death knights with shields and, though their performance will be fine, it’s not what I want to play.

      At all.

    • It feels like a ton of changes to process, especially if you have a few alts. I’m aiming to get a feel for one spec on a couple of alts without worrying about minmaxing or getting all the cooldowns perfect, with the aim of getting some practice in on the Pandaria levelling zones.

      I think the pressure to learn everything instantly is one of the downsides of MMOs. The learning process should be fun, relaxed, and you need to be able to experiment without having a group breathing down your neck.

      I still think I’m going to be hooked on the pet battles though. Maybe I won’t even care about instances ;)

    • I’m not sure if those are in yet on all servers? I haven’t seen anyone from any other servers in PvE (and I have been doing some fishing in Outland so I guess might have picked up on general chat if anyone was around).

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