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.

The Shadowlands Follies

So much to do!

In the folly of my youth, yesterday, I dinged honored with the Court of Night. I had to use Wowhead to find the Quartermaster. It was 6am, first cup of coffee, the sun was rising in the East, the bell tolls for thee. I saw a bunch of cosmetic stuff and one was a backback type cape tmog that would make it look like you had big butterflies resting on a glowing orb. Cool. I decided to buy it and hence the folly; I thought that I was spending gold and, verily, I was spending anima. Once I realized it, it was too late. My plans of advancing the Anima Conduit on Reset Day are gone. No disaster, mere folly.

I am late to the Avowed. Kind of a hidden reputation bar-to-fill. The flight path to the Halls of Atonement has a building right there, go down the stairs and it is a short quest line to get started. An Alchemist has to do this for the recipes but I wish my main had discovered it earlier and my Halls dungeon runs would have added to the reputation bar.

The announced five hour shut-down/slash/reset has me jumping to see the Big Cache. I did down three raid bosses on Normal, the cache has it high-lighted and I’ll get a piece of gear. As long as it is not boots (my legendary slot) I’ll be happy because it will be a sure upgrade. If it is boots, I’m jumping into the Maw head-first. And you know that I didn’t get any raid drops, tsk.

The fish from Ardenweld (iridescent amberjack) are selling for 100g a cast. The bait lasts 30 minutes, I fish in the Queen’s Conservatory, and every day this week I’ve been earning 10,000 gold. I will soak this dry and, Elune willing, it will be weeks before the prices crater and whither and limp away.

Torghast. The five-man runs in classic dungeon set-ups are too hard! I can heal those guys but deaths can add up. I might try going Guardian and soloing it, reportedly a cake walk. I’d only have to learn how to tank! Yikes. A lot of time is poured into this instance and the payoff is only “okay” my BiS legendary doesn’t shake the earth.

The LFR opens today after the shut-down/slash/reset and I’ll be first in line. Clearing the wing will mean three raid bosses and a weekly cache reward. Also it is mythic dungeon week and I’m not sure what the reward will be but four M zeros will work for me. Sadly or happily, I’m not sure, my friends are far more ambitious.

There is a lot to do and it is a five hour reset!

Shadowlands: First Raid Day

My goodness, what a laid-back group. Our core team partied up with only one new guy that didn’t speak at all. As I thought, half the team was under-geared including me, two weeks is not enough time. As we gathered, our raid leader benched two and he lowered the ilevel threshold because so many of us were low.

We downed the first boss on the third try. We could not down the second, it was very clear that one of our tanks was not able to take the deciding blows on the swap and phase two of the second boss proved to be too much for our merry group of bravos.

It was okay. No one got snippy or expressed dissatisfaction. I noticed that we three healers all brought our own flasks, oils, potions and buff foods. There was not another flask in sight as the /readycheck proved. I passed some armor potions to our miserable tank and it was not enough. Even if everyone had flasked and more, we’d still not have the juice for the job. Will we be readier on Sunday? I don’t know.

Did Blizzard listen? I’m not sure but we did not have to wade through waves of trash to get to the fights. It was reasonable! One player even scored a BoE ilevel 200 cloak to sell on the AH, no one begged at all — “sell it!” we cried. The artwork is always well done in raids, the mechanics were so clear that it seemed like having DBM was over-kill.

In expansions past, we scoffed at Normal and would typically roll through at least the first wing on opening night; not this time. I’ll call this a dress rehearsal without costumes or make up. Maybe Sunday we’ll be ready to perform.

Shadowlands: Return of the Alt Army

I’m talking about professions.

The big hurdle over the past two expansions was that the game’s design was forcing every Alt through every thing; from rep to dungeons to raid recipe drops. I hated it because my own game design was to have an Alt Army supporting my main. And: I don’t have to hate it anymore.

Today my level 51 hunter, Feignlove, dinged max on Alchemy and just a few points shy on Inscription. My main, an herbalist, is ready for raiding with flasks, oils, potions and buff foods. I might have enough to last a month! She will never leave Oribos again — unless she decides to go for the Cauldron, but that can wait.

Encouraged, my beloved main from-the-past jumped in to do some mining. He is an engineer as is my main, thinking that raid repairs are valued. This expansion doesn’t offer much at all to engineers but why not level that up too? I have immediate access to all of the zones, they scale, I’m geared, it is bad-ass.

I really am excited. During Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria I had skinners and leatherworkers and jewelcrafters and alchemists (2 for the daily transmute), and inscriptionists, all cooking up goodies for my mains. I’ve never done tailoring or blacksmithing (except for my three bravos in the garrison making flexweave bags). Still, I am encouraged. Why not drag another Alt through the Maw and park in Oribos by the trainer and start making rings and gems again? It is possible!

Today I gladly say that I am happy to trade ranks away and not get extra potion procs. It is strictly 1:1. I know exactly what I’m getting and can farm exactly for what I want and then, praise Elune, stop.

Yay!

WoW: Loot is Loot

Like every other casual raider, and we are in the majority, I am trying to make the two-week transition from level 50 to being raid ready. There is a phenomenal amount of new content and new systems and new zones and new spells to learn, embrace and explore.

Frankly, I ain’t gonna make it.

I am upset and concerned and worried for our raid team. If the even some of the others on the raid team are like me, we won’t have the juice to down the first boss. The others who are not like me and have played at extraordinary levels and at a pace for success might, should and could go find another raid team; I’d not blame them one bit.

The chest-thumping “loot is loot!” in bold letters is fine with me. If we are to have fewer gear drops and no surprise gifts of higher ilevel and the loss of bonus rolls; then fine — once we are in the routine of raiding. I am all for playing the game as designed.

In a panic, I ran three mythic dungeons yesterday. The Theater of Pain, De Other Side and Sanguine Something. A total of 13 bosses (isn’t it weird that two of the dungeons only have four bosses?) and I got two pieces: a ring and a pair of britches. Maybe I am grateful and thankful and blessed to get my two gear drops, after all loot is loot.

My effort is mostly there. I have my legendary boots with the best-in-slot healing-for-raiding blessed bonus. I am renowned six. I’ve opened the mission table, the anima conductor and something else, the garden will get done by this weekend. I’ve done every Calling. My cooking and fishing are maxed so I can have my own buff foods and my alt alchemist can give me health pots and mana pots but not flasks, yet. I’ve put in the hours finding the WQs that offer loot and conduit tokens.

I have not chained dungeon runs. That will be my downfall.

There is no other avenue and so I have failed at the game. Watching the (very few) gear WQs pop up that might reflect my ilevel and offer a piece three points higher is fine, loot is loot and if I had a month then I’d get there and be ready.

Personally I don’t care if week one is a bust and we have to rely on the LFR the following week with one wing open and a scant chance for loot is loot. But, will our ambitious raiders be content to take that route? There will be many raids in the Looking for Group with spots open for those with ilevel. If my comrades continue with us, they will have far out-paced me in the gear race.

If our raid team doesn’t fall apart, then in one year we will all be used to it and the transition from old raid to new raid will be easy assuming old heroic to new normal.

But right now is the time, do or die Blizzard. Your loot is loot design is in place and you won’t even see the long-time raid teams dissolve and the uptick in the LFG raid scene, why it would be a positive mark to see so many involved in that sector.

I’ll be writing on next Thursday morning, the day after the debacle. We’ll see how it goes.

Peace.