Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Darkmoon Faire boosted leveling

The Darkmoon Faire carousel gives you a buff called WHEE which is a 10% experience and reputation buff for up to 1 hour. Leveling the Monk, I had run out of rested experience. I remembered I had a Shaman languishing at 101 in Azuna, and a Warrior sitting at 93 in Shadowmoon Valley. Both are close to the cap. I decided to level them while I waited for some rested experience to build up on the Monk.

I abandoned the Shaman early on in Legion. I had switched him from Elemental to Enhancement because I wanted to see the story of  Doomhammer. It's an iconic weapon like The Ashbringer. I couldn't see Thrall parting with it, but that's what he did. Of course, now I was Enhancement and ventured into the world. It didn't go well. I died every other pull and the ones I didn't die on, I had less than half my health left.

I don't know what changed, but getting back on my Shaman, he no longer felt like he was made of paper. I tore through some quests and I was 102 in short order. Thank goodness, I thought, I can go back to Elemental. I had leveled up to 100 as Elemental and remembered enjoying it. The quest for the Fist of Ra-Den was painful, but I got through it. When I did the quest for Light's Heart, the boss is constantly putting stuff under your feet. I wasn't having fun again and switched back to Enhancement. Once more, I started tearing through quests.

The classes I've gotten up to high levels are Paladin, Hunter, Druid, Shaman, and Warrior. I'm starting to think I like melee more than Ranged. My Druid eventually went Feral. I know my Hunter is Ranged but Beast Mastery never hard casts anything. It's the most melee like Ranged spec you could have. Even at that, I'm finding myself drawn to the Battle for Azeroth Survival Hunter.

My Warrior had been Fury but after doing a little research, it appeared Arms would be better for leveling. I switched him over and started working through Draenor. Charge is still my favorite spell on my Warrior, followed by Heroic Leap. I love getting thrown into the air and charging right back into the mob's face mid air.

It didn't take long to remember why I retired this guy. Every combat is like an Aggro deck playing against a Control deck in Hearthstone. Kill them before they kill you. This is somewhat true with every class, but most of my classes have some way of healing themselves, or splitting the damage with a pet. With my Warrior, my only option is to get banging away, and hope my Execute spam kills the mob in time. I like the way Victory Rush rewards you going from mob to mob as fast as you can, but it creates a more frantic play style than I like. I still would like to get him to 110 because of how close he is.

By the time the Faire left town, the Shaman was 104, the warrior was 95 and my Monk was in the mid 40s. My biggest concern is if I will have enough time to get all three to 110 before the prepatch. My official prediction is July 10th, 2018. If I can, it would give me six options to play around with during the prepatch to see who I wanted to be my Alliance main.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

T-Minus 100 and counting

The Kentucky Derby was Sunday and Legion finds itself in the homestretch. In less than 100 days, we'll start Battle for Azeroth.

Both my Paladin and my Hunter have their +15 Mythic achievement, class mount and Mage Tower appearance. I'd still like to clear Heroic Antorus on one of them, but my guild has had some attendance issue and we've pretty much stalled out at Heroic Coven. 

I managed to push my Alliance Druid's ilevel up to 934, but it wasn't enough to get the Mage Tower down. I got some great advice on Twitter. The Lightblood elixir was a big help, but I'm still getting behind and dying even before the boss reaches 50%. Clearly, I need more skill, and by skill, I mean gear. My guild has let my Druid in on some M+ runs which should help.

My Tauren Druid has been spending some quality time in his Garrison leveling up professions in preparation for Battle. He's going to be Inscription/Herbalist. I've done World Quests on him to get his gear level up. Any improvements I make on him now will make leveling easier.

I'm still trying to decide on my Alliance main for Battle for Azeroth. Working on both of my Druids has shown me having the same class as a main for both Horde and Alliance isn't going to be something I enjoy.

I decided to try out a Monk. They can fill all three roles and I've always wanted to play one. I made one on the Beta servers, then made a trial character on Live. The trial helped with learning the spells and in retrospect, I wish I had done the trial and then the Beta. Still, trying to learn the whole spell book all at once felt like too much. Next, I decided to level one up. Lightforged can't be Monk and I don't have any interest in Void Elves so I made him, wait for it.... a dwarf.

I've made it to level 40 and tried out all three specs. It's been great for learning the spells one by one and getting to know the class a little better. I love the mobility of the Monk class. I can whisk myself all over the battlefield in ways I never could as a Paladin. I healed a couple of dungeons as Mistweaver, but people too so little damage I ended up DPSing as much as healing. I don't understand Brewmaster tanking. I never died or even came close to dying, but it's going to take some time to understand Stagger and how to use all the various Brews.

I also tried out the Survival Hunter on Beta. I had no idea what I was doing. Most of the videos are more explaining the changes. There isn't really a consensus yet on the best way to play it.  Survival is now more of a hybrid of melee and Ranged, but mostly melee. You fire a couple of shots from range, harpoon in, and do some DPS. If its about to get messy in melee, you can pop Aspect of the Eagle and DPS from range for about 10 seconds, then harpoon back in to melee.

While the numbers turning will help, the crux of the decision (Hunter v Monk) is do I want the option to heal/tank. While my guild would never pressure me into a role, if we're missing it, and I can fill it, I'm going to pressure myself.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Battle for Azeroth Plans (Blizzard Media Day)

Disappointing news out of the Blizzard Media day event. The first Allied Races in Battle for Azeroth are not the Zandalari and Kul Tirians, but instead the Mag'har Orcs and Dark Iron Dwarves. This is great news for anybody stoked about rolling those races, but it means my dreams of playing a Zandalari dinosaur Druid will have to wait until at least 8.1, if not longer. 8.1 won't drop until at least November, maybe even December.

It reminds me of the situation around the flail reveal during the Legion Beta. I was on the fence as to what I was going to play. Retribution had the strong appeal of wielding the Ashbringer, but I love to tank. As Beta progress, Wowhead datamined the flail model and when I heard it was to be a Protection Paladin only weapon, I was thrilled and decided to stick with Prot. I got on the Beta servers and the subsequent PTRs for the next year looking for clues as to how the mysterious weapon would be obtained. Of course, in due time, we learned of Mage Tower and I beat my head against it until I mastered overgeared it.

Nightborne / Highmountain Recruitment

I've leveled my Tauren Druid, Tivonicus Thunderwatcher, to 110.

As soon as I did, the Nightborne and Highmountain scenarios unlocked. I'm sure most people have done them, but if you haven't and you don't want spoilers, skip down to the next section.

Still here? Okay.

The Highmountain scenario was the better of the two, and it left me with more questions than answers. Why are the Old gods so interested in Highmountain? Is it just because they want to turn Ebonhorn into the next Deathwing? There seems to be some connection between high mountains and power. The Zandalari claimed the highest peaks of Zandalar mountain. Nordrassil was planted on the high peaks of Mount Hyjal. Several NPCs refer to Highmountain as a holy mountain. Could this association between high places and mystical power be related to Elune? If Elune is represented by Azeroth's moon, the highest places of Azeroth would be the closest to her.

The Highmoutnain scenario was great, and its easy to see the Highmountain joining their brothers from Mulgore in the Horde despite the aid the Alliance Champion gave to them.

The Nightborne scenario was the one I was most interested in. After everything we did for them, I wanted to see why Thalyrssa stabbed the Alliance in the back and joined the Horde. What I got was a little disappointing. This was the shortest of the scenarios, and some of the writing felt forced. Lor'themar starts out aggressive towards Alleria for .. reasons? In both the Highmountain and Nightborne scenarios, the Void / Old gods attack during the meeting, but in the Highmountain one, Baine goes out of his way to not blame the Highmountain for the attack, when Ebonhorn's presence is the exact reason. Meanwhile, Lor'themar immediately blames Alleria, a hero and daughter of Silvermoon, and tries to have her arrested.

There was certainly animosity between Tyrande and Thalyrssa during their meeting, and I wonder if it doesn't hearken back to some rivalry between the Highborne (Thalyrssa) and the Priest of Elune (Tyrande) even prior to the Sundering. As the Highborne mages grew in power and influence, the Temple of Elune and her priestesses would diminish. Tyrnade might not have wanted the Nightborne, who are about as close to Highborne as Azeroth has these days, coming in and again threatening her power.

Legion Goals

Two of my major remaining Legion goals are now completed. Future Dino is 110, and I've unlocked all the Allied Races. I've also knocked out the Mage Tower on my Hunter.

I've got two things left I want to do. I want to get a Mythic +15 on Honor's Hammer, and I want to get the Mage Tower Feral Druid skin.

My Night Elf Druid is better geared than my Tauren one. He's sitting around 915 ilevel. I switched him from Balance to Feral and  I'll try to get the Mage Tower done before it's too late. Wish me luck!

Battle Plans

With Zandalari pushed off, I'll put my time into leveling up my Alliance toon, and then work on my Horde toon later. I still want to be a Dinosaur Druid, but with them coming with the first content patch, I've got time to get my Horde toon leveled after the Alliance one.

Assuming my guild doesn't change its mind and go Horde, I'm still undecided on my Alliance toon.

The other bit of disappointing news out of Media Day put another mark in the Hunter column. Azerite Armor will not change based upon your spec. Despite everything they've done the past two expansions with gear switching stats between specs, the developers now feel having multiple gear sets for different roles is interesting and healthy for the game.

I was all set to main my Hunter and even planned on getting on Alpha to give the new Survival a test run. The major sticking point is my guild has no less than four other players interested in rolling a Hunter in Battle. With the developers stating over and over that teams will want a diverse array of classes, having so many Hunters (I'd be the fifth) won't be good.

Time for plan, what letter am I on now? D? D is for Druid!

My current thinking is I'll be a Druid for Battle of Azeroth. Granted, it might be weird having two max level Druids, but there's less if any emphasis on class story in Battle so I doubt I'll be missing out on as much as if I did this in Legion.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Battle for Azeroth Plans (Alpha Build 26131)

By the Holy Light, did you see the new Zandalari Druid forms? I echo Rossi's sentiment.

I want this more than I’ve ever wanted anything and I forgive the Horde for every horrible war crime they’ve ever committed or ever will commit for the chance to have one of these dudes. Look at him.I am not 100% sure I’m capable of containing this much excitement and it’s probably a health hazard but I do not care.

Most of the worst things the Horde has done were under the leadership of Garrosh. My Zandalari wouldn't have been party to that. I'm sure both factions will do terrible things in Battle for Azeroth because as one of the developers said at Blizzcon,the faction conflict is "the beating heart of Warcraft." While I don't agree with this sentiment, it's not going to change.

For the Horde

I discovered a major flaw in my original plan.

I was going to level my Goblin Mage, Kishuf, from 100 to 110, unlock Nightborne/Highmountain, then level him to 120 in Battle. Along the way he'd unlock the Zandalari Allied race. Based upon the existing Allied Races, I except an involved quest chain and reputation grind.

Once I unlocked Zandalari, I would boost my new Zandalari Druid to 110, and then level to 120. I would have to do all the 110 to 120 over again with the Druid and get him caught up to wherever the Mage had been. I'd be repeating a lot of content.

Then I remembered an old Tauren Druid, the original Tivonicus. I had leveled him during the Wrath to Cataclysm content lull, and even did some Trial of the Crusader with him. He has been in Orgrimaar ever since. I could level him to 110, unlock the current Horde Allied races, and then take him to 120. Once he unlocks the Zandalari, I race change him and boom, instant Level 120 Dino Druid with gear and reputation.

I love this plan! I'm excited to be a part of it! Let's do it! - Peter Venkman


The first choice I had to make was if I was going to level him through Cataclysm or Pandaria. Both expansions had some great moments, but in the end I opted for Cataclysm. The Twilight's Hammer, who seem to be making a bit a resurgence in the new Silithus quests, are a major antagonist in Cataclysm, and it had been longer since I had seen the Cataclysm content.

I started in Mount Hyjal. The stories had a strong Druid component. You are helping the Ancients, now known as Wild gods come back into the world. In one quest, I ran into Thisalee Crow, who goes on to become one the Champions in the Druid Class Hall in Legion.

After Hyjal, I went to Deepholm to do the Stormcaller Mylra quests once again. I had forgotten how Deepholm ties into the Uldum story. The Twight's Hammer is building a waygate to connect the zones to help their forces there activate the Reorigination control at the temple. After I did both zones, some of the end game quests opened up. I helped out Thrall and got to witness his wedding to Aggra once more. At the end of my questing, I hit Level 88.

There's some weirdness. Everyone is talking about Garrosh, but the quests in Orgrimaar come from Saurafang. I'm going to finish up Cataclysm in the Twilight Highlands recruiting the Dragonmaw Orcs. Between these quests and the ones were did for the Taunka in Northrend, shouldn't those two already be Allied Races?

For the Alliance

Don't let all this Horde talk fool you. My raid team is staying Alliance, and so am I. We're now 6/11 in Heroic Antorus after taking down High Command and Imonar this week. I don't know if we'll get AotC Argus, but I'd love it if we could.

I've been with these guys for a long time. Some of them were part of my first run in the original Karazhan in Burning Crusade. Regardless of how excited I am about the Zandalari Druids, I'm not leaving the team.

Battle for Azeroth

I'm still not sure what I'm going to main for Battle. Why wouldn't I stay with Honors Hammer? We've got several people interested in tanking, and I'm open to the idea of letting someone else grab one of the tank spots. I tend to level slower than the rest of my team. If I'm not Prot, I'm not sure how much I'll want to play him. I don't enjoy Holy. This is in part because it was forced on me in the early days, but also because I don't like Light of the Martyr. Great spell from a flavor and fantasy standpoint, but I'm not a fan. I'm also not a huge fan of Ret DPS.

I've seen over and over again in Legion how much easier it is on Ranged DPS than it is on melee. If I want a character capable of Ranged DPS, and still able to tank, Druid is the only option, otherwise, I'm headed into the melee pile. I would have two max level Druids, one Horde and one Alliance. Both named Tivonicus. I'm going to have to rename one of them.

If I want a tank capable toon, and I don't worry about being melee, Paladin, Warrior, and Monk are all in the mix.

If I'm willing to give up tanking for a bit, there's the Hunter and the Shaman. I didn't like the Legion Shaman at all, and abandoned mine at level 101. The Hunter has been great fun throughout Legion. He's as well geared, if not better, than my Paladin and it's my Hunter, not my Paladin, that got the M+ 15 achievement. The changes to Survival look interesting, but I'm sure there's many iterations to come. Hunters do tend to level quick. They seem to be easy and straightforward to both play and gear. They are a popular alt class for a reason. If I'm going to try to pull off two mains, one on each side, having a class that makes a strong alt might be a good choice.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Battle for Azeroth Plans (Pre Alpha)

My philosophy is the make the best decision I can based on the information I have available to me at the time. The raid team is planning to stay Alliance. We're currently 11/11 N and 3/11 H in Antorus.

All I know with certainty is I want to play a Zandalari Druid. Their travel forms are dinosaurs and some of the data mining hints ALL their forms might be dinosaurs.

My highest Horde toon is Kishuf, the mage I boosted in Warlords. I decided to level him rather than use the boost I got with the Battle for Azeroth preorder. Once I get him to 110, he can do the Nightborne and Highmountain recruitment. I'd love to see those stories. Then once Battle is out, he'll level to 120 and do whatever is required to unlock Zandalari.

I have no idea what I want to main for Battle on the Alliance side. Honor's Hammer, my Paladin, has been my main for every expansion except for Cataclysm where I started out with Theogrun, my Hunter. Even then, I switched back to Honor's Hammer about halfway through. He's a hard habit to break.

The other option I'm giving strong consideration to is going Druid on the Alliance as well as the Horde. I already have a max level Night Elf Druid alt, Tivonicus. I wouldn't have to learn another class as I bounced between my Alliance toon and my DinoDruid. Druid's have the most flexibility of any class in the game allowing me to waffle on my role choice for quite some time.

My other max level Alliance toon in my Dwarf Hunter, Theogrun. He's a great deal of fun to play, and an Engineer which is my favorite profession in the game. While its never been a strong money maker, it looks to be getting some fun items in Battle. Hunter provides the least amount of flexibility. If I get the tanking itch again, I'd have to start over with another toon.

I'd eventually like to level a Monk as an Allied Race but the only option on the Alliance side is the Void Elf . I know I'm weird but I'm really not all that enthused about the Void Elves.

I am excited about the Lightforged. I plan on making a Lightforged Priest once I get exalted with the Army of the Light. I have a max level toon of every armor type except for Cloth. I have heard Discipline is the least squishy cloth class you can level. He'd pretty much always be a transmog farming alt as I've never liked the fantasy of Shadow. It's not something that appeals to me.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It goes to 11 (or 10)


This weeks' combination of Sanguine and Overflowing was about as easy a combination as we could ask for. The frustration came from our keys continuing to upgrade to the same dungeon, Vault of the Wardens. You could say I've spent some quality time with Cordona last week. 

The highest our group has done is plus 9, and we decided to make our push for plus 10. Since we had gotten so much practice on Vault, that was key we chose. Our other option was Halls of Valor which I've only done on Mythic0. 

The run didn't start out well. My mic cut out right before we started. I managed to get it fixed, but it cut out again after the first boss. I could still hear, but my team could no longer hear me. Towards the end of the night, it died completely. I've only had the thing about 3 months. It was a Logictech, and I've always had great luck with their products. I guess I finally got a dud.

We knew were pushing the limits our group. Plus 10 gives the bosses a metric ton of health to burn through. The first boss did a mechanic where a beam formed between his glaives. I've never noticed it before. I'm not sure if we killed him too quickly on our earlier runs or he uses different tactics each time. I didn't handle it well and ended up wiping us. The second go at, I understood the mechanic and he went down. Whatever small margin of error we had going on evaporated.

We one shot the rest of the bosses and hustled our way to Cordona. We pulled her with under 3 minutes on the timer. My team gave it everything we had, but in the end, we wound up about 20 seconds short. If we hadn't had that wipe in the beginning, we would have had it. We can try again next week, but the affixes will be tougher (Teeming, and Skittish). Maybe we'll finally see some Maw keys.


Voracity is clearing the early the bosses in Nighthold with little problem. Even our old nemesis, Spellblade, has been one shot the past two weeks. Our gallant band of heroes has hit something a small roadblock in Tichondrius. We tried my friend's suggestion of killing the adds during the 'run and hide' phase, but we found our tank damage was too high, and the healers didn't want to continue with that strategy.

We've got the mechanics down cold, and we are hitting the enrage time on every pull. Either we aren't getting any of the bat phase buffs, or DPS is spending too much time on adds, or something.

The Developers announced a hotfix for Tichondruis on the 17th.

Health reduced by 10% on Normal difficulty.
Enrage timer increased by 60 seconds on Normal difficulty.

With those changes in place, I feel confident we will get Tichondruis down next raid. Our team still has time to finish Nighthold before Tomb of Sargeras drops.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Necrotic and the Paladin Tank

My crew took on Black Rook Hold+9 with the prefixes of Necrotic and Teeming. Necrotic meant that every mob put a stacking Damage over Time debuff on me that reduced the effectiveness of healing. It stacked quickly, especially on the larger pulls, and pretty soon my Light of the Protector was healing for single digits. The way Necrotic is generally handled is with coordinated group stuns and kiting.

I'm Stunned -- actualy I'm not

One of the problems I ran into is that Paladins lack an AoE stun. Sure, we have Blinding Light, but it's a disorient, and it breaks on any non-Holy damage. It's great when you are soloing, but unless you run with all Paladin group, the disorient is going to break in about a millisecond. Other tanks have true AoE stuns that do not break on damage. They can assist with the stun rotation. I can't. Consecrated Ground / Divine Steed helped a little bit with kiting, but I still was wishing for a true stun like other tanks have.

Phenomenal Cosmic Power, Itty Bitty Health Pool

The other problem I had is that Paladins are balanced around our ability to self-heal which leads to us having the smallest health pool of any tanking class. Necrotic takes all that self-healing away. I died on many pulls. The spider and bat gauntlets were painful. At one point, I wasn't sure we were going to be able to clear those bats. Druids have a giant health pool, Warriors have the incredible mitigation of Ignore Pain. Monks have the 100% avoidance built into Exploding Keg.

First time in a long time I felt like being a Paladin tank was a significant hindrance to my team. 

Even though we slogged through and finished the dungeon, we failed the timer. It felt like Necrotic had exacerbated every one of my weaknesses and while I knew it wasn't true, I felt responsible for the our lack of success.

Digging Deeper

I was frustrated and angry when I logged off and banged out a rant of a blog post that thankfully stayed safely in the 'Draft' folder. The next day, I could look at it with a bit more clarity. At about 875 item level, +9/10 is about the limit of our group right now and Black Rook isn't the easiest dungeon on Mythic +anything. I also hit up Twitter and Discord and discovered that there were elements of my kit like Blessing of Spell Warding or Final Stand that I had not considered. I face-palmed pretty hard.

I love playing my Paladin tank and I enjoy the way our healer roots are incorporated into our tank kit. In a strange way, I'm looking forward to Necrotic coming up again in the rotation to see how much better I can do with what I've learned.