Torghast: Soul Forges

This might be the most difficult wing to run in Torghast. There is a non-stop fire DoT on you as you run. On my balance Druid, this is no problem at all, things like Ysera’s Gift make it simply a blur. However, on my hunter this is the real deal and you need a plan.

Yesterday I ran it at eight, the highest, because I needed the Soul Ash to make a different legendary. I hated my “best” legendary so much that I wasn’t using it. So: time to change.

The challenge was the first two floors. If I could make it to the third floor with the vendor, I could purchase the anima cell that you toss at a Flamecaster on the fourth floor and that mob will give you a cell that negates the fire DoT (I think it is 65%, but enough).

I used Embalmer’s Oil on my weapon to give me some heals while I was fighting mobs.

I ate the 1000 health back every five seconds food.

I brought cheap food to get my health up after fights without writing over the health-back-buff.

And, most important, I brought a spirit beast that has a heal every thirty seconds that I can force on myself off of cooldown.

With Exhilaration, by the time I was finishing the second floor I was no longer feeling the heat. Some of the anima cells that I picked up were to health. The final floors were a breeze.

The “toss the cell on a mob” anima cell seems to work specifically for each wing. I know that I can negate the black splotches that hurt and spread after you kill a mob and turn them into healing zones. The wing with the skeletons, when celled, will give you a bunch more phantasma. I’m not sure about the other wings specifically but it is probably always a good thing to do.

That Soul Forges wing can be really hard but with some fore-thought and patience, it can be done.

Fun Guss and More Pets

In this new simplified version of WoW, Shadowlands offers quite a bit of things to do; many of which I’d normally say “wait until flying”. I have been spending time on the Family Exotic achievements. With these, you battle a tamer with a family of pets. You can choose to run the string on a family or stick on one tamer and flip through magic, flying, undead and so on.

Fun Guss is my current favorite pet. As I recall, it is a rep pet from the Night Fae. It looks like a goofy plant with eyes. And it has TWO specials! If you stand still for a while, you’ll notice that in the chat line it will say something like “Fun Guss spreads his leaves to call for the celestial rain of Ardenweald.” and then you will some drops of rain come down for a few seconds. Quite refreshing to see in those very dry zones. And, this is nicely weird, every now and then a “curious squirrel” will show up to look at your Fun Guss. How odd. How delightful!

I am looking forward to the increased loot drops from raids. Last night we dithered about on the final bosses of Normal. And then downed Shriekwing and the Huntsman on heroic. No loot. I think a clear of Normal will give you about 1000 anima and ho-hum about that. We could use some loot upgrades from the early bosses on Heroic while we are learning the progression.

For me, a clear indicator of a good raid and expansion (with the qualifier that I know that it is the first raid and it is supposed to be a bit more simple than the later raids and I hope that they can sustain challenging encounters without using stacks of mechanics as the answer to challenging) is the attendance which sees 20 players with an interest in group play. And, second, so many people have done their professions! “I have the cauldron tonight” and “Let me put down the feast” or “Open trade with me, I have stacks of oils”. I have been the only one with feasts and cauldrons in past expansions and currently it is wonderful to see others put out the goods. People are playing.

Oh, I got the Love Rocket back in 2012. Good luck!

Twisted Corridor: Layer Three

It took me about three hours. At the vendor I got up and to walk around some. And, I had a great time.

Layer three was easier than layer two or one because I’m starting to understand it better. In a nutshell, expect to blow through layers 1 to 10, go a little slower 10 to 14, take your time and focus on 14 to 17 with 18 being the final boss.

Choose how you want to play. This is great. This time, instead of pouring my points into mastery or crit or power choices, I chose many of the more flavorful choices. It could be I got lucky on the floors, just a few irritating dive bombers but no fire or spreading ick on the floor, but it worked out fine.

I like it because it has all the challenges you might find in a raid or dungeon but I can do it solo and at my own old-man pace. I’ll keep soloing the layers until I hit a wall and then go hit the group finder and sign up as a healer.

I get my group fix in with our raid team. I like WoW both ways, solo and team-work. Torghast gives me something to do that is isolated and fun.

Our raid team is on the heroic version. Mostly, so far, it seems that they add one mechanic and it is not a new one or stupid. For an opening-the-expansion raid, this one is about right; no real reason to quit out of frustration.

A lot of people in my circle bought the package that is tied in with Blizzcon. They wanted the white bear that poops snow balls. I can’t blame them! But, not me, not this year.

Coming up is Lunar Festival and Love is in the Air and lets hope for some designer investment in the holidays and we can earn some new toys, mounts or pets!

WoW: My Entertainment Dollar

Has the price of a subscription ever gone up or down for the World of Warcraft? It seems that it has been a solid fifteen dollars a month for a long time. Pretty good. I agree with the long-gone blogger Big Bear Butt that it is a pretty good deal if you play the game regular, that monthly price is the same as a movie ticket and popcorn; which is about three hours of entertainment.

I have been subscribed since Burning Crusade and I have played in some fashion the whole time. Last year, I changed to a six month sub because, after all of this time, I can guess that I’ll still be playing in six months.

Converting WoW gold to buy something has only been done once by me, it was for a virtual ticket to Blizzcon. My experience was not good, the video feed was choppy and rough all three days, dunno who was at fault for that, but never again.

When the token came out, several of my friends said “I will never pay for WoW again!” and then dived deep into the time sink of making WoW gold. They take much pride in having six months paid off. Still, it doesn’t sound like “fun”. I’ll gladly pay my fee and be fun and fancy free.

So, I was herbing early morning and saw a multi-box group of five druids running from node to node. Now, that would suck big time paying for five subscriptions by herbing! I hope that their battleground experience of pwning the other side is worth it, because herbing by multi-box must really be a sad chore.


Shadowlands: Easy Street

During Legion and BfA I longed for the game-of-yore. In WotLK, Cata, Panda, WoD; about eight years, I could level my healer until raid ready and then park the toon until raid times. Those times have returned with some pretty small exceptions like keeping up with Renown.

I like it. Callings are pure rep and gold and I do them but I feel no compunction. A little cash is welcome, especially if there are pet battles and profession quests in the mandate. So much of the possibilities from earning exalted are cosmetic that playing is easy street, rep will happen over the course of the expansion.

My personal experience is that I will run Torghast for the fun of it, there doesn’t need to be a reward and, because I am not feeling pressure to keep up with the many systems, a few hours of game play is something to do.

As a player, I am a bit of a gold junky. You can find me fishing or herbing in the early mornings. I like to stockpile potions, oils and flasks to the point where I stack them in the guild raid tab: help yourself.

Visiting the Wow Community Forums, I see all-in-caps complaining about the low loot drops in dungeons and raids. I think that they are looking at it wrong. The right way, it seems to me, is to look at your own ilevel. Mine is about 200 with a 9/10 clear so far of the current raid. That is about perfect.

I have gear pieces above and below 200 and a chest piece and/or weapon drop at 200 would be welcome. This is good. The game is working. I remember in BfA out-gearing the raid before we even started. The same in Legion, there would be times when we’d start a raid and all eyes were on the final bosses for chances of an upgrade.

With Shadowlands on easy street, it is not too hard to be patient and waiting for prices of the player-crafted legendary pieces to drop. No one has ever hassled me for not enchanting my gear, but I have done some of that out of player pride.

And, I can take my hunter adventuring! Finding a toy or treasure or achievement is fun in WoW, it always has been. Without the burden of oppressive fill-the-big-bar systems, it is nice to log and and go play.

Shadowlands: BrB, in Flight

As a game in itself, Shadowlands is proving to be pretty great. Mostly, and what a relief, you play for the fun parts. There are few “have to dos” and you choose where to invest your gaming time.

Callings reward rep and cash. That is about it. The rep leads to opening cosmetic rewards with a few profession exceptions. There is no hurry or pressure on Callings at all.

The Maw gives stygia and you earn rep to make Torghast easier. If you are not a high-end player, you can run Torghast at layer four and earn what you need to make legendaries. I’m set on that stuff and run Torghast for the fun of it. Today, we have The Beasts of Torghast, lets go play and find out.

Renown is important. The typically three weekly tasks are often done on Reset Day but it might take a few days more. If you fall behind, spend a day and catch up.

Our raid team is 7/10 as of last week. All my gear pieces are 200 or higher except for two pieces. The pace is of progress is just about right. We seem strong enough, so it is the fun mechanics that we have to learn. Shimmy! Boogy!

I’ve looked up conduit drops and find them in dungeons. That sucks. But, somehow, the desired conduits in my tree are all 200, so maybe the dungeon is not the only source. Either way, the pieces that I’ve wanted have come to me!

This week I completed two different campaigns and they were very different except for the “call to arms” theme. Shadowlands is about play and I want to take Alts through the other two campaigns to see what is what, not because I am compelled.

Travel time is a topic. If on a flight from Oribos or worse, from zone to zone, I get up and walk away from the game. That can’t be good design. My main has the engineering wormhole and that changes everything and I recommend it.

I keep going over the systems and worry that I am missing something important or basic. But, so far, so good. My expectation is that we will see a lot more anima to earn. Maybe from the mission table we’ll soon see six anima missions that we can send six teams to go farm it up over four hours and then rinse and repeat on our phones. I don’t know. All of the cool cosmetic stuff and rep mounts and more cost a big amount of anima, yet it can be seen that the mushroom and conduit and mission tables have finite upgrades and, once that is done, we only have cosmetic stuff to buy!

Twisted Corridor: First Look

Too long; didn’t read: It’s fun, try it.

I gave it a go, on a lark, Tuesday night. I thought I’d get a taste and leave because it was pretty late. A few hours later, it was very late and I was still playing. Eventually I died on the final door boss on the 16th floor and was glad to die, I was tired.

If you like your class, you will have fun. If your class fantasy is a beast-loving hunter who likes to trap, then those things will be amplified a lot. I mean big time! I had gone on my druid and I kept putting anima powers into my roots until I could root and wait and kill anything faster than I could by direct engagement. Next time I’d like to try pushing mastery or whatever; the choices go on and on. Sure it is RNG which anima cells that you’ll get but when you’ve had 64 choices, you can surely pick a something.

It was layer one and the goal will be to finish by doing eighteen floors with a scary final boss, I’m sure. And then try layer two, I suppose, as we get more and more geared. How far you are on Maw rep will matter because the purchases will be telling. My latest buy was to have more Epic chances and that was a big one. I hate the Maw, but might go back to rep up some more.

Next time, I will be much more aggressive on the first six floors for sure and probably the first ten. I was timid at first, not knowing what to expect. Trust me, you can blow through the first floors. I didn’t buff up and I won’t next time. A flask buff would be so tiny after getting the major power-ups inside the game.

From my first experience, I’d say floor 13 and on were much more challenging with stacked bosses and the like but it is all familiar; you’ve done all of these floors before. There is nothing new and different except the length of the encounter – more floors and more power-ups.

You do it for fun. I was seriously re-thinking my action bar layout. Spells I don’t often use, like cyclone, became common. Cyclone will hold a boss or mob for some seconds and give you a chance to heal up and take a quick glance at cooldowns. It is your full tool kit and if you like your class and class fantasy; you will have a good time!

WoW: Renown 21

I think that we’ll ding 21 on the Conduit Talent Tree today or this week. On my tree it will be an endurance slot, which is always welcome. My best guess is that we’ll fill out the tree by mid-February. And then what? A new patch? Maybe an expansion of the tree? Some of those conduits are powerful, I can’t imagine adding them all up but we will see!

Torghast should bring us the Endless experience. I don’t know. So far I really like logging in and doing a Torghast run with a set aside hour for the experience. I like the power-ups and the mob stacking puzzles to solve. Never ending sounds frightening!

Our raid team is 6/10. This means that we spent some time on the council-style bosses. Many in the raid team were dreading it because it is hard to do but, once I got a look at it, I was laughing! I hope that the LFR version opens today because I’d like to see it again with less stress on success. Shimmy!

More on Torghast, my main has been buying the permanent changes from the Maw vendor. These seem to be account-wide so my Alt skips the Maw but plays Torghast. My problem is that I can’t find where to look in my UI to find that which I bought! What buffs to I own?

Finally, the honeymoon is not over for insane gold-making. You can still earn between seven and ten thousand gold from fishing for half-an-hour. Maybe because of the really high prices of the legendary pieces, we have gotten used to throwing our gold about. The WoW economy is nuts.

Torghast in December

The biggest problem with Torghast was that it gave a terrible first impression. Last week (or two weeks, time is different in the Shadowlands), Blizzard applied a massive across-the-board nerf and then went into detail for specific mobs and monsters. Getting past that first impression was hard.

I have a Druid and a Hunter, the Druid is up to layer six and the Hunter is up to layer three. And I now find myself doing Torghast just for the fun of doing a run, “climbing” up through the layers. Finding a friend was even more fun.

It feels like this space was ultimately designed for speed-runs while you gain power-ups. But, there were traps and treasures and souls to free and pots to smash. So, I can’t figure out how this place was supposed to be run. I am learning the power-ups and some simply suck even though they sound great. It will be your choice to pick the fun flavor or to prime for that final boss and that will be a tough call.

Learning the anima cells was key. My guess is that I might have seen half of them. If I invest in the Maw vendor, my choices should go up. This was a huge part of the experience, designed per class with a ton of variety. The worse was when you had to choose one when both suck. I wonder if you can leave that cell behind.

Shrugging off any idea of reward changes the perspective, there was not a lot on the line and failure does not have to be painful; even after a forty-five minute time investment. After experiencing some of the bad runs of RNG anima cells and way too many mawrats to be fun and also getting big time buffs, one has to be doing it for the fun. You might say, “oh my, this is horrible!” but you’d say it with a laugh.

It could be miserable on my hunter. Very few anima cells buff the health of the hunter pet. Playing around the dying of a major character, my pet tank, slows the game way down. The health buffs from the stuff on the floor don’t apply to the pet. The anima cells will offer trap buffs and that, my friends, will be a slog. Yet, that is the game-as-designed.

I was reminded of the tier sets in expansion past. They would emphasize a spell that you should have been using all along, sometimes you had and sometimes you had not. The anima cells buff your side spells, not the major heavy hitters. Never starfall, yes on moonfire or never on mend pet, yes on traps. As a design idea, reinforcing our use of the full toolkit was a very good idea. Playing Torghast should make us better at playing our class.

Shadowlands: Weekly Report

/cast bubble wand
/cast Honorable Pennant
/cast Soulshape(Night Fae)

Those toys will change but entertain for the moment. Adding /rfp for a random favorite pet will happen soon enough. It’s fun flavor.

I was glad to do the weekly of four mythic dungeons for the 213 reward (a belt). Once I agreed to run with the hardies I heard, “Hey, I have a three key!” “Me too!” “It might be a challenge but we are up for it!” I am very happy, sooper-dooper happy to be a healing druid right now, my stun roar and run-fast roar are awesome in dungeons! Cyclone, Mighty Bash, Ursol’s Vortex can keep me busy whilst the tough guys narrow in on the baddies.

Raiding (on Normal, of course) we got four bosses down on the first night of the second week. The fourth boss, the suggestive language lady, puts out steady shadow damage to the raid and that, my friends, is shine-in-the-light resto-druid greatness. On Sunday, we’ll be in progression with my sole hope of downing three more so I have yet another option in the Great Cache on Reset Day.

My gear is all over the place. My over-all ilevel is 182 yet my shoulders are 155, it is disgusting! The gear WQs seem to have disappeared. I see plenty up for my leveling 54.

This expansion is very relaxed and I am glad for it. As one of the Faithful, I’ll do the daily tasks like ride the mushroom and go to the theater, dahling. My Alchemy Alt is 54 and working her way through some of the zones, a-questing. No hurry, it’ll happen.

I brought my skinner through the Maw. He’s a crusty old Worgen and has been around for a long time. It feels really good, very familiar, to be pulling three mobs with Misdirect and letting my pet tank them down. Working my way up and down in Ardenweld and the Undying Army zone, I feel strong again and farming is something that can be done without nasty traps or deaths or interference. I am glad to run out of Rested because I don’t really want to level out of my bad-ass BfA gear, but it will happen. It’s okay.

Somehow, and I’d ask if it is the same for you, I am making gold. Like between 150,000 and 200,000 since this expansion began. Now, some of that is active dropping fish in to the AH every day, but not near all of it. I think those Faithful daily tasks pay off pretty well.

After the Torghast nerf yesterday, I did a level four all alone. It can be done, at least the choice of instance that I ran. So, my clumsy version of a Balance Druid made it through with no deaths. Good news.

If I see this right, the activities in the Maw give a currency that make Maw runs and Torghast runs easier. And Torghast gives the currency for the Legendary. That’s it. Therefore, that Legendary must and has to be worth those efforts. With no other reward beyond an occasional mission board guy or the (terrific) go-save-a-lore-figure; it might be too easy to drop the whole thing. I guess that eventually we’ll have extra gear in our bags to swap out a legendary for a specific task like single-target vs AoE. But, they don’t seem very awesome to me.

On the other hand, the conduits add up. If one conduit adds about 3% to player power, then three conduits will add up to 9% which then seems like a lot. I have four active right now, two of my own choice and two built-in to the tree and Renown 13 is next week and will add another. This is a powerful system. As we watch for stronger drops of our favorite versions — this system design will feel very good as a player. I like it and we can swap them out if desired.

There is a lot to do in Shadowlands but end game is far away and here we are in our new zones; playing, getting lost and having fun.