All KINDS of Warlords Stuff

I have not one, but two post about the Warlords of Draenor healing changes sitting in my drafts folder, but then I took a nap and when I woke up, the Warlords of Draenor pre-order (and included boost to 90) had gone live (along with the $60 paid version of the boost to 90).

It’s as though I have too many thoughts racing through my head to get any of them down, but, by golly, I’m going to try.

“On or Before December 20, 2014”

The thing that seems to be causing people’s heads to explode is that, on the pre-order page, it says quite clearly “Game is expected to release on or before 12/20/2014.”

First of all, they’ve already said that’s not the release date. They’ve said fall of 2014. So that’s somewhere between September 23, 2014 and, shockingly, December 21, 2014.  My money is on early fall, but they’re obviously being very Blizzard about things and hedging their bets, as per usual.

Still, people are upset because that means more than a full calendar year in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid instance.

This isn’t new, though. Icecrown Citadel, the final major raid of Wrath of the Lich King (no, Ruby Sanctum doesn’t fully count), launched on December 8, 2009. Cataclysm launched one year later, on December 7, 2010. Dragon Soul, the final major raid of Cataclysm, launched on November 29, 2011. Mists of Pandaria released, surprisingly, on September 25, 2012. Siege of Orgrimmar, the final major raid of Mists of Pandaria, launched on September 10, 2013.

Given that track record, it’s hardly news that people are going to spend a year with Siege of Orgrimmar as the “current” raid content. It is, however, quite disappointing to a lot of people, I would imagine. I would further submit that this is probably the entire reason why pre-ordering now gets you the level 90 boost immediately.

On the bright side, Blizzard typically has beta periods that last approximately 6 months. 6 months from now is, you know, September. In my opinion, this means we are very likely to see beta launching in the next month or two. So they’re going to try to keep players occupied with new toons at 90, the beta launch, plus their other properties. (D3’s expansion is coming out soon, Hearthstone is certain to be ending beta soon, Heroes of the Storm is on its way…)

I’m not surprised. I’m not even disappointed, although I know a lot of people are. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve not played much of this expansion and I’m fairly separated from what’s going on, or maybe it’s because I’m just that jaded, hah! I actually thought it wouldn’t be impossible to get things going for a June release, but apparently I was wrong. Ah, well. I do think it’ll be closer to late September than late December, but what do I know, eh? Clearly not a lot. ;)

Healing Changes in Warlords of Draenor

Honestly, over the last few days, I’ve written over 3500 words talking about these healing changes and I can’t make up my mind about them.

On the one hand, I’m in favour of absorbs being less potent (I’ve always hated absorbs and yes, I’ve played a holy paladin), I’m in favour of smart heals being less smart, I’m in favour of having time to make intelligent decisions about on whom to cast which spell.

I’m not in favour of the cast-times being added to Light of Dawn, Word of Glory/Eternal Flame, Wild Growth, Prayer of Mending (and other priest spells) and Uplift.

I’m not in favour of healers having to relearn how to do their jobs all over again. My previous drafts rambled a lot about this point, but here’s the thing: DPS basically still does today what DPS did when WoW launched. Tanks have changed a lot, I’ll grant you, especially with this whole “active mitigation” thing. But healers had to relearn how to heal for Cataclysm. I’m not saying that was a terrible thing or that healers didn’t need a serious retooling, but here we are, just 3ish years later, and they’re removing the “mid-level” heals (or whatever you want to call them). So much for the three-heal system. (Actually, I’m well-aware that the three-heal system was already out the window come the end of Cataclysm, with healers spamming AOE and smart heals, and I can’t imagine that’s gotten any BETTER throughout Mists.)

It’s not that healing doesn’t need to be reworked, because I’m certain it does. I just think it sucks that the burden of relearning falls to the healers. Again. As if relearning your specific class again doesn’t suck enough (and it can!), learning how healing works in a whole new system of healing can be painful. Blech. I read the healing changes and immediately did not want to heal, period.

Out of the many words I’ve written on the subject, perhaps the most poignant (for me) were those that made me see that perhaps I’m just too old for this stuff. I mean, not necessarily because I’m old (because I’m not, shut up!), but because I’m weary. Part of the reason I stopped playing is because rolling with Blizzard’s punches just got really exhausting after a certain point. After seven years of adapting to every change and all the retuning and retooling and redesigning, I was just tired. Heck, I still feel tired. It used to energize me to know that changes were on the horizon. I’d jump at the chance to learn anything new.

But I just… don’t, anymore. That lack of passion, lack of desire to learn, it kind of indicates to me that maybe I’ve truly outgrown the game…

But You Just Pre-Ordered! WTF?

Warlords of Draenor Pre-order
… yeah, I did. Guilty as charged. I bought the pre-order for two main reasons:

  1. I’m going to at least check out the new expansion. That’s never been in doubt, even if my lifelong dream of getting server-first skinning has been crushed. I also had the money to pay for it now, so why not spend it now on something I know I’m going to want to have later?
  2. Even if I don’t play much for Warlords of Draenor, I want my stable of alts to be ready for the expansion for money-making purposes. (I’ve quite enjoyed having a stash of over 220,000 gold sitting there, ready for me if I ever wanted to come back and raid seriously again.)

I’m also seriously considering resubbing for a bit, but I wouldn’t expect that to last through to release. Maybe I’ll spend the next month or two playing around a bit and then let things lapse before coming back at the 6.0 patch, at which point I will endeavour to learn how to heal all over again, unless it really makes me want to cry. (Which is a possibility.) Still, I feel as though I owe the community at least a 6.0 holy paladin primer. We’ll see.

That said, because I pre-ordered, I have a shiny new boost to 90 I could use, if I resubbed, and I am incapable of deciding. Here’s a poll. Vote for your favourite options and I promise to take them into consideration.

On Leadership

I have a staggering number of drafts in my draft folder, but at 3:53am, I find that I’m inspired to write a post about something that doesn’t exactly come up in any of the 30+ drafts of half-written blog posts.

That is leadership.

Brutall, the GM of Static of Arthas (H-US), has this little YouTube channel and did a video about me and my guides today. I initially wrote to Brutall a couple of months ago (good grief, that long ALREADY?) because I had started watching his videos and I knew that this random bald, bearded dude on the Internet (with an odd affinity for tacos) was on the same page that I was. I’m sure we have differences of opinion about small things, but so very much of what he was saying in his videos was stuff I had either said myself or had written down either on this blog or in my guides.

Today’s video that he released rendered me actually speechless. ME. I know. Inconceivable to think of me as “speechless”, right?! The video was exceedingly kind and positive. It helps that he called me a “young lady”. I don’t think he knows I’m older than he is… ;) But, honestly, I feel honoured that Brutall felt that we ARE on the same page when it comes to World of Warcraft and raiding and leading, because this guy is so charismatic and cheerful and positive and insert all kinds of awesome adjectives here. I feel we are united in our goal to help people out by leading them through problems, helping them to avoid common pitfalls and generally, just to be better at what they aim to do.

In the video, Brutall says that you can recognize a good leader by their passion. Someone who’s genuine, who cares about what they do and where they invest their time. (I feel awkward repeating that because the implication is obviously that I am those things… but bear with me.)

While I like to think that I’ve been a good leader over the years, I wanted to say something that I’m not entirely sure I’ve discussed adequately here before.

I was not born to be a good leader. I learned to be a good leader.

I had the good fortune to go to an all-girls’ private school for the majority of my time in school. Among those people, my classmates, I was pretty much the least ambitious, the least-willing “leader”. I was somewhat apathetic. I didn’t join any sports teams, I was only in a couple of clubs… I didn’t stand out. I didn’t want to stand out. In my final year of high school (that’s Grade 11 up here in the province of Quebec), just about everyone in the grade was given a position of some kind, to better hone their keen leadership skills.

Folks, I dreaded that part of Grade 11. I didn’t want to be a leader. I didn’t want to be the yearbook editor, I didn’t want to be the music head (which was a position my amazingly talented best friend filled). I didn’t want to be a prefect or a house official. I didn’t want to run the school paper. I didn’t want to do any of those things. I ended up being the Head Ambassador, because I was pretty darn passionate about my school, despite not wanting to do a lot of extra-curriculars. I’d spent 11 years at that school and was a “lifer” and, to this day, I still love my old school. So they made me the Head Ambassador which basically meant I organized about 50 girls (Ambassadors) from Grades 9 and 10. I had to organize which girls gave tours to prospective students and their parents and there were also some points where I, along with the Head Prefect, would go to events to represent the school. I’d served as an Ambassador in the new program the year before and was fine talking about my school, my second home, for 30-45 minutes, but managing people? Being a representative for my school? C’mon, now. Ugh.

Aside from the fact that I got to fill in on tours for Ambassadors who were out sick (I missed SO much French class in Grade 11, no joke), it wasn’t so bad. But I still graduated from school kind of wishing that someone else had done it. There was stress involved, lots of time involved… But I did it. And I did it well.

Kurn, seriously, wtf does this have to do with leadership?!

Right, right, sorry. But the backstory was important. :)

I learned, in Grade 11, that I could do a job when I had no one else upon whom I could rely to get the job done. I learned that I could do it well, too. I would just have preferred to have followed a “real” leader around. Years later, I would look back at being Head Ambassador and term myself “a reluctant leader”.

Guys, my entire experience in World of Warcraft is exactly that — me being a reluctant leader. I didn’t want to be an assistant raid leader when my guild first started dipping into Zul’Gurub, but my guild master was relying on me and others weren’t stepping up. So I did. When that very same guild master abandoned our guild, I stepped up. (I maintain that Majik tricked me into stepping up, but he refuses to admit this even years later.) When we formed Apotheosis on June 1 of 2007, we made our buddy Toga be the GM. I assumed half of the raid leader responsibilities and later, the healing lead duties. And later still, when Toga had to step down, I stepped up.

When Apotheosis crashed and burned in early Wrath of the Lich King, I moved to another guild and, within two months or so, I was suddenly an officer and eventually the healing lead. In my next guild, my RL Friend the Resto Druid was my healing lead but then she had to step away for something like three or four months, and GUESS WHO became the unofficial new healing lead? Yeah, that was me.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, I keep stepping up when I need to. To this day, I maintain that as long as I am being adequately led, I will be more than happy to follow. But when I think about it, what is it that leaders do? They care enough about the various situations they’re in to identify problems, then come up with solutions those problems and then execute them. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail, but they care enough to try to fix things when they see something’s not working.

It ties in with what Brutall was saying in his video: leaders are passionate people, who put in the time and effort to do what they really care about.

Anyone can be a good leader. It’s easier for the more extroverted and charismatic among us (cough, Brutall, cough, Majik), but by nature, I’m an introvert. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t lead a raid. It just means it took practice. It took work. Like being a kick-ass raider, being a leader, of any kind, requires some effort. Those who want to lead their team (hockey team, raid team, it’s all team stuff!) to victory will give it their best shot, because they care.

My guides give you a lot of solid info, a lot of practical “do this if this happens” stuff, but one of the most important lessons to learn from me isn’t what to say or do in various situations. What I really want you to walk away with is the knowledge that you can absolutely be a great leader, that no tiny subsection of the population is BORN into leadership. It simply requires passion and it requires a lot of effort. But ultimately, if you care enough, if you are genuinely passionate about things, it hardly seems like work at all. :)

 

Being a Kick-Ass Raider

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to say that my newest project, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider, is now LIVE! You can go read Sneak Peeks or purchase it over at Kurn’s Guides.

It was an interesting guide to work on. I definitely wanted to share the lessons I’d learned while I was a raider, but how could I do that when I have no idea how to play various classes like a rogue, a death knight, a warlock or a monk?

I decided to take an approach that relies on teaching the fundamentals instead of the specifics. I mean, the game changes too much and too quickly as it is for any kind of detailed, mechanical guide like that to have a very long shelf-life. So I focused on the lessons I learned about being a raider instead of being a hunter or a paladin.

So what are some of the fundamentals of being a raider?

That took me a while to narrow down. I went through two major rewrites of the content, trying to figure out what, exactly, I wanted to talk about, plus there were certain announcements at BlizzCon that rendered some of what I’d already written completely useless, alas! But I got it down to four major sections where people could really improve on.

1) Knowledge. So many people are completely unaware about how to play their classes and this is the first step in determining what the problem is in terms of someone not playing well. Do they know HOW to play? I indicate a few places where people can check in on what specs they should be playing (in the case of pure DPS classes, for example) and basic priorities and rotations. This also includes a fair bit about understanding your abilities and how they work together, plus planning for encounters and practicing, since practice makes perfect, after all!

2) Avoiding Mistakes. This is where we get into the more detailed stuff about user interface, various types of AWARENESS (the best friend of the truly kick-ass raiders!), buff durations, cooldowns, keybinds and the like. I even dissect my hunter’s awful UI and point out all of the mistakes. Worth it just for this section, I think. ;)

3) Being a Team Player. Raiders don’t exist in a vacuum. They are individual parts of a larger team. Section 3 deals with how to be a kick-ass raider in the sense of being an awesome member of the team. I talk about reliability and what that means, helpfulness, critcism, whining/complaining and how to know when a guild is the right fit.

Those three sections, adding up to 69 pages or thereabouts, are included in all the versions of the guide, but the Epic version gives you a bonus section: Technical Difficulties. This is where I talk about other things you may have to overcome to improve yourself as a raider, including upgrading your computer, improving your framerate, how to reduce world latency, reducing input latency and such.

The Legendary version of the guide includes all four sections, plus a bonus guide on how to apply to guild or raid team. Because, sadly, people out there really need help with this. As a former GM who would occasionally receive applications that would render me close to tears, I felt this was needed. (Actually, I felt it was SO necessary that it’s available to buy separately from the rest of the guide, too! Just scroll down to the bottom of the Kick-Ass Raider page!)

My next project is going to be a guide on how to be a Kick-Ass Raid Leader… but I think I’m going to take a nap before I get started in on that one. ;)

Thanks to everyone for your support. I wouldn’t be able to do this without you!

Crazy or Crazy Like a Fox?

As North American realms came back online today, after the application of Patch 5.4.7, a new option became available for a short while: Boost a Character to 90. The price was set at $60 USD.

As I understand it, this option was not supposed to go live, especially since it vanished quickly thereafter. Still, it certainly gives one food for thought.

1) Is $60 a reasonable price to bring a character up to level 90?

Obviously, this depends on several factors.

a) Do you have a lot of disposable income? If so, $60 is going to seem a lot more reasonable to you than someone who only just manages to pay $15/month for their subscription to the game. It also means that you’re likely to see fewer new-to-90 characters, which may (or may not) be a way for Blizzard to throttle the number of people who have no idea what on earth they’re doing at max level.

b) Is the character level 1 or level 60? Level 70? Level 80? Level 85? Obviously, if the character is brand-new, you’re getting more bang for your buck. 90 levels divided by $60 is basically 1.5 levels per dollar. But what if you, like me, stopped playing regularly after Cataclysm and your characters are mostly level 85? 5 levels divided by $60 is $12 per level! That’s the point where I’d be all “well, eff that, I’m going to go spend 12 hours or so and get to 90 on my own!” Actually, I’d probably hit that point around level 70 or so, but that’s just me.

That said, time is money, friend, the goblins tell us in-game. What’s that time worth to you? That’s what it ultimately comes down to. For myself, I would have expected something around $25-$30 USD. I know that I would have paid easily that much to ding a few characters to max level, but remember, this is only max-level for a short period of time! The boost-to-90 option will still be available once Warlords of Draenor comes out, I imagine. Will there be a boost to 100? Maybe, but maybe not. You’re not paying for a max-level character for Warlords. You’re paying for a level 90 and, in just a few short months (I’m still saying June 10th +/- 2 weeks), that’s not going to be max-level anymore. Does that devalue it for you, going forward? Should it? Perhaps.

2) Did they mean to allow the option to be available?

I don’t think it’s impossible that this is a way for Blizzard to gauge reaction on a price point. Most people’s reactions seem to be “that’s way too much, they’re crazy!” Could it be that they “accidentally” left the option in the build, gave people enough time to see it and then hotfixed it out? If so, then perhaps they’re crazy… like a FOX. All of this market research! Not to mention all of this buzz. And potential buzz if they drop the price later on when it actually goes live…

Then again, I’m not sure this is the case, because there were rumours of people getting a question about this in a Blizzard survey/email or something a while back. Still, nothing can prepare someone for the reaction of announcing something to the world, not even surveys and polls. Maybe this was their way of doing that. Maybe not.

3) But seriously, $60???

I keep coming back to that price point because I think it’s somewhat ridiculous. The way I understand it, and I could be wrong, is that people started talking about buying multiple licenses for Warlords of Draenor in order to get multiple characters to 90. If the average price of a World of Warcraft Expansion is somewhere in the realm of $40 USD or thereabouts, then why price the level 90 boost to be ~150% of that? If kept at this price, a level 90 boost would be the most expensive purchase you can make for your character, exceeding even the realm-and-faction transfer fee of a $55 USD, combined.

4) The conversation has changed.

Hilariously, the conversation regarding 90 boosts, say, two months ago, was the fear that people who didn’t know what they were doing would infiltrate a highly-skilled playerbase. Ignoring the fact, of course, that much of the playerbase isn’t all that skilled to begin with, the conversation on whether or not people should be able to boost their characters to 90 has now been replaced by why does it cost so much? which neatly removes a lot of controversy amongst people who were concerned that the overall level of player ability would drop. (I’m still concerned about that, because I like thinking about how things affect the overall community.) The controversy now is “if I want to buy a level boost, it should be affordable, it shouldn’t be the equivalent of FOUR MONTHS’ worth of WoW!”

Lots of food for thought. We have a lot to look forward to on this subject, as well as the pre-order and, of course, beta testing for Warlords of Draenor. It’s going to be an exciting next few months, that’s for sure.

Speaking of excitement… My newest guide, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider is launching next Tuesday, February 25th! And don’t forget to join in the Twitter Q&A on Sunday, February 23rd at 3pm ET (noon Pacific) with the #AskKurn hashtag. :)

A Slight Delay…

So it’s been a crazy few weeks here, which means that, unfortunately, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider is being pushed back by a week. Instead of being released on Tuesday, February 18th, it’ll come out the following Tuesday, February 25th.

It’s due to a combination of family stuff (grandmother in the hospital, but is stable and doing well) and freelance work, which just haven’t allowed me to work on it much for the last couple of weeks, so I’m behind schedule.

That said, I feel pretty good in saying that it’ll be out the following week, since my freelancing is wrapping up and my grandmother’s doing well.

That also means that the pre-launch #AskKurn Twitter Event will be pushed back a week to Sunday, February 23rd at 3pm ET (noon Pacific).

On the plus side, the delay means my daily tweets with the #KickAssRaider hashtag will be extended to 32 raider tips instead of the originally-scheduled 25! So be sure to follow me on Twitter. :)

So that’s what’s going on with me. I’m looking forward to chatting with you all on the 23rd and I’m really excited for the 25th. I think you guys will really enjoy the new guide. Take a look at the Sneak Peeks, in the meantime and be sure to sign up for my announcement list to be reminded of all upcoming sneak peeks, releases and such!

Save the Date!

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that the next guide in my Kick-Ass series of guides, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider, is scheduled to come out on Tuesday, February 18! Hooray!

I spent a ridiculous amount of time writing up a truly (IMHO) comprehensive Kick-Ass Guild Master guide last summer and launched that in August.  (Seriously, that sucker comes in at 358 pages.) It was a pretty successful project for me, so I elected to follow it up with a whole series of kick-ass guides. Since November, I’ve been pecking away at a (much shorter!) Kick-Ass Raider guide. I’m actually not quite finished yet, but I’ve always worked better with a deadline. ;)

The Raider guide covers a lot of things that are common across all raiders. I don’t focus on a particular class or spec rotation or abilities — the game is way too dynamic and constantly changing for that to be remotely useful for longer than a single patch cycle. Instead, I focus on the fundamentals that go towards distinguishing a truly kick-ass raider from an okay raider. We’re talking about specific sections about class knowledge (and how to improve it!), avoiding mistakes (and what you can do to get better at avoiding mistakes!) and even a section about how to be a better team player. There’s more, too, obviously, so do check out my sneak peeks.

I’m also planning on a Raid Leader guide (which will be next up) and probably a role officer guide, too (you know, people in charge of melee or ranged DPS, the healing lead, etc), all of which should be coming out this year. It’s a lot of writing, but honestly, what else is a retired GM/RL/healing lead supposed to do? ;) No, seriously, I’m looking forward to it.

So what should you do while waiting with baited breath for the Kick-Ass Raider guide to come out? Glad you asked!

  1. Follow me on Twitter (@kurnmogh) and keep an eye out for a daily tip (#KickAssRaider). Every day from now until launch, I’ll be tweeting a single, helpful tip in 140 characters or less, to help you become a better raider!
  2. On Sunday, February 16th at 3pm Eastern (noon Pacific), I’ll be hosting another #AskKurn session on Twitter for an hour! Hop on and ask me your questions about how to be a better raider, a better teammate or anything to do with raiding. (Note that I have very little experience on specific MoP fights, so I can’t really help you out there, but just about anything that isn’t fight-specific goes!)
  3. Keep up to date with my sneak peeks! I aim to release one every Tuesday, so we’ve got a couple of weeks’ worth of sneak peeks left before the launch.
  4. Sign up for my announcement newsletter, either over at Kurn’s Guides or over here on the blog (there should be a box that shows up on the right-hand side). Subscribers get advanced notice on a variety of things, plus special subscriber-only discounts! It’s a very low-traffic list and you can obviously unsubscribe at any time.
  5. If you want to help support my efforts, check out the affiliate program I’ve got going on. If you’re responsible for sending someone to my site and they purchase something, you get 50% of that purchase!
  6. Finally, guild masters and guild officers out there, be aware that we’re entering the period of time in which you should seriously start looking at stuff for Warlords of Draenor according to my Expansion Planning module from my GM guide! Start planning now!

So there you go, lots of stuff to do while you wait for February 18th! Guys, I’m super-excited. :D

In other news, I know I have a lot of blogging to get down to. I’ve been (happily) swamped with freelance work and I’m obviously working on finishing up my Raider guide, but I do hope to get a decent blog post out there soon, talking more about the LFRs that I experienced while I had my free week of WoW back over the holidays.

I’ll leave you with this amazing tweet from the one and only @AngryOrc1, which seems rather appropriate:

WHEN YOU THINK YOU ARE HAVING A CRAPPY MONDAY REMEMBER, SOMEWHERE, RIGHT NOW, SOMEONE IS A LVL 17 GNOME HOPELESSLY LOST IN WAILING CAVERNS.

— ANGRYORC (@AngryOrc1) January 27, 2014

 

Level 90 Boost on Pre-Order

Over the years, I’ve been, shall we say, less than adoring of the way Blizzard has handled a variety of things. Blizzard has made a lot of mistakes, in my opinion.

Giving out the free level 90 boost at the time of pre-order is not a mistake. It’s pure genius.

I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? There are no new races and no new classes coming out with Warlords of Draenor, so there’s no death knights or monks, draenei, blood elves, worgen, goblins or pandaren to “save” your boost for, so why not try to stave off end-of-expansion malaise by offering a free boost to level 90?

While I don’t have any hard numbers to prove it, I think everyone has anecdotal data that shows that the last six-to-twelve months of any expansion leads to boredom in World of Warcraft. While I’ve never quit playing during slow periods (I’ve managed to keep raiding and such), I’ve seen countless raiders in my guild just stop playing because they feel as though there’s nothing else to do. Of course, that’s kind of ridiculous when you think about how much content World of Warcraft has to offer. (Hint: there’s a lot.)

One of the things you can do is, obviously, roll a new toon and level it. A lot of people enjoy the levelling experience. While I’m mostly “over” levelling, I do enjoy the initial grind to the level cap on my hunter. But that’s usually just 5-10 levels. The idea of rerolling, from the start, going through Teldrassil, Dun Morogh, Goldshire… it all kind of makes me want to cry. If I were bored by the game, the last thing I would personally want to do is go through the starting zones yet again. (Even though they were changed somewhat in Cataclsym, the idea of going through Goldshire again makes me ill.)

So why not remove levelling from the equation entirely in the time prior to Warlords of Draenor?

With the Timeless Isle (or the Island of Phat Lewtz, whichever you prefer), it’s ridiculously easy to gear up. My hunter is sitting at a 503 equipped item level after spending less than a week going through various LFRs and spending a few hours out on the Timeless Isle.

The idea of getting a free express pass to max level in the dying months of Mists of Pandaria is a stroke of genius, just to continue to engage the playerbase. Even if it only ekes out another month or two of enjoyment (and thus, subscription), it’s totally worth it for Blizzard to allow people to boost to max-level, even if it’s just for a short period of time. (And perhaps, one might imagine, this experiment will allow Blizzard to gauge how they and their customers feel about paying to get to max level, skipping the levelling process entirely!)

I haven’t even touched on the fact that Blizzard has confirmed that they’re thinking about ways to get you other boosts to 90 for other characters, without buying multiple copies of the expansion, which, I would imagine, is going to be another bit of revenue for them.

So if boosts are going to engage a bored player for another month or two (at minimum, I would imagine), thus staving off end-of-expansion malaise, how about all the revenue they’re going to get for the expansion several months before it even comes out? You only get the boost on pre-order, after all. That means a bunch of people, God only knows how many, are going to happily plunk down their $39.99 or whatever, perhaps even before we have a release date for the expansion (my money is still on June 10th, give or take two weeks)! You can probably include me in those numbers as well, even though I’m still not resubbed and I still don’t know what character I would boost to 90…

Some may be wondering how I feel this will affect the playing community… and I’m going to say that this is probably going to have less of a noticeable effect than if it happened all at the launch of Warlords of Draenor. Why? Well, first of all, even though I suspect there will be a large wave of freshly boosted 90s as soon as pre-ordering is possible, they’re going to be dinged to max level amongst groups of players who already know and outgear most of the fresh-at-90 content. This is in opposition to a large population of players who probably don’t know what they’re doing being unleashed upon the regular population who might know what they’re doing, but are struggling to level up to the next level cap. Anyone remember how crappy heroic Stonecore or heroic Shadowfang Keep or heroic Deadmines were before people understood the dungeons, the abilities, the pulls? Gear helps, so boosted characters will be able to gear up relatively quickly, if my hunter’s experiences over the holidays were any indication, and chances are they’ll LFG into a group where at least one person knows what they’re doing… Honestly, I think dungeons and early LFRs will be okay (not 100% pleasant, but when are dungeons and LFRs guaranteed to be pleasant endeavours?) even with people dinging max level instantly. Certainly, the flood will be less noticeable than having a bunch of new 90s unleashed on the population and learning their abilities as they are also grouped with random people who are trying to get through the levelling dungeons.

So, really, this is a huge win for Blizzard. They get:

– more monthly revenue from otherwise bored players who might have quit for a bit before the expansion comes out
– more money upfront for the expansion than they would have garnered otherwise, perhaps
– perhaps more revenue by virtue of offering a boost-to-90 option
– valuable data on how people react to being able to skip the entire levelling process

Plus the players don’t have to slog through 90 levels of quests, dungeons and exploring before they can actually play “the real game”.

(Note that I do find some use for the levelling process, I really do, but I’ve done it a lot and I have no desire to revisit the lowbie experience.)

Well-played, Blizzard. Well-played.

What do you think? Is this good? Bad? Brilliant? Stupid? Tell me which character of yours will get your level 90 boost!

Paying the Way to Dinging

Man, you play one week of WoW and you have blogging material coming out your ears!

Today’s topic is about that survey some players are getting, about how much you might be willing to pay to have a character instantly boosted to Level 90 (in Warlords of Draenor, where the level cap is 100).

During this year’s BlizzCon, Blizzard announced that purchasing Warlords of Draenor would come with one free character boost to 90. Why 90? Because that would enable you to skip all the previous content and jump right into content that comes with the expansion and, ultimately, that’s what they want you to do — get through previous content and be able to play with your friends faster if you ever took a break from the game.

So there’s a survey going out that’s asking people what they think a fair price is for the expansion (with and without the one character boost to 90) and what they think a fair price is for the boost alone.

Naturally, I have Things to Say. ;)

On the One Hand: No. Just… No.

While I do think there are some good points (which I will explore below), let me first tell you the story of Gneiss.

My brother, Fog, played a resto druid for most of Vanilla. Actually, he played a feral/bear druid and then was forced to swap specs to heal for raiding (as was the way of things back then) by the guild he joined. In order to avoid being asked to heal MORE often, he decided to level a dwarf priest (fear ward!) for fun, not yet understanding that he’d still have to heal as a priest at 60. So he played the priest, Gneiss, as his alt, playing as shadow, primarily. He soon tired of people asking him to heal in groups (this was pre-LFG, remember), so he abandoned Gneiss and started playing Slovotsky, a rogue. He loved his rogue and got him to 60 and geared him pretty well and showed up to some raids as a rogue (although he’d usually heal if asked). Gneiss lay abandoned and unused.

When Burning Crusade came around, my brother was focused entirely on his rogue, abandoning his druid, Fog, and never touching his priest.

Meanwhile, I was interested in learning more about the priest. So I took the priest and levelled Gneiss (who I name-changed to something else) to 70 and spent a lot of time running around Nagrand mining ore and collecting motes of air (Gneiss was a miner/engineer) after my raids, chatting with my Real Life Friend the Resto Druid as she wiped her way through Black Temple and Sunwell progression.

I didn’t do a whole lot with the priest, although I joined a guild for a short period of time and did a tiny bit of Tier 4 raiding as a holy priest.

Still, I never felt as though I really understood the class. So when Wrath of the Lich King had been out for a while, my brother reclaimed his priest, but then promptly abandoned it again to level a paladin tank. And, naturally, this meant that I was going to level a character with him. As I already had a paladin, a shaman and a druid, I elected to level a priest. We dungeoned our way through everything together and eventually both got to 80.

I thought I knew “enough” about priests during the bit of time I did stuff (apart from mining and such in Nagrand) in Burning Crusade, but I hadn’t really levelled the toon. My brother had. He had learned some important bits that I felt I didn’t know. I know I didn’t know that Dispel Magic was able to be used offensively until someone informed me of it. (Should read tooltips…)

I never really felt “prepared” on Gneiss. Not the way that I felt “prepared” on Kurn or on Madrana. But when I created my own priest, that sense of preparation came back. It’s as though the levelling process allowed me to really acclimate to the character and learn how to play it better than when I’d basically taken over my brother’s priest somewhere in the 40s or something.

So while I find the idea of instantly dinging 90 to be fairly appealing, I can’t help but think what it means for the community at large. Is the community going to suffer because of brand-new 90s running around who don’t know how to play their new classes at all? I can only guess that the answer is “yes”.

On the Other Hand: Hells to the Yes!

At present, I have several characters in World of Warcraft spread out over three main servers (Eldre’Thalas, Skywall, Proudmoore).

90s: Kurn & my shaman alt.
85s: Madrana, Baby Pally Madrana, mage, disc priest, guardian/resto druid
80: Prot warrior
58: Death knight (bank alt)
53: Mage
5: Rogue (bank alt)

And then I have a bunch of level 1s for storage/bank alt goodness.

I still don’t know who is going to receive my level 90 boost for Warlords of Draenor, but it might be the prot warrior (since I literally keep her around for inscription/profession stuff). Or maybe I’ll roll a DK on Eldre’Thalas and boost that to 90 and pick up engineering/blacksmithing, which are the only two professions I don’t have covered. However, it’s clear that I have a lot of characters who would greatly benefit from being bumped up to 90 instantly. And I still think it would be hilarious if my rogue bank alt hit level 90. Hilarious. He’s been level 5 for, oh, seven years. And he’s only level 5 because that was the level you needed to be to pick up a profession. So I picked up enchanting and was able to disenchant just about anything — until they put in a level restriction for the professions, meaning he will forever have enchanting no higher than 75 unless I ding him.

Anyhow, I digress.

For the experienced player, perhaps, a level 90 boost isn’t terrible. But even then, I wouldn’t queue up as, say, a death knight tank if I boosted to 90 on that character, because I wouldn’t want to inflict myself on others.

Other people are perhaps not quite so polite.

But would I make use of a pay-to-ding feature? To avoid going through umpteen expansions? Almost certainly. Hell, back in 2010, I was writing about how I would pay Blizzard $25 to start a toon at 68

It’s not an elegant solution to the fact that you have to go through Vanilla content (1-60), BC content (60-70), Wrath content (70-80), Cata content (80-85) and then MoP content (85-90) before you’re ready to participate in Warlords of Draenor, but it’s a solution. There are two kinds of people I think would take advantage of this: the new people who want to play with friends who are already there and people like me who have been through the other expansions’ content so often they want to cry at the thought of saving Corki again or trudging through Grizzly Hills once more or dealing with Vashj’ir yet again or even slogging through the Dread Wastes even one more time.

So is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Selfishly, I think it’s wonderful. If I were playing consistently and that was available, I would probably take advantage of it more often than not, were it something able to be purchased from the Blizzard store. If I ever wanted to roll a monk (not really something that’s interested me), that’s certainly something I would do.

But as I explained above, I do think it’s not going to be great for the community as a whole. Will it be good for Blizzard and for their bottom line? Sure. People get to play with friends, people can pay for a shortcut to the current expansion, all that jazz, it’s great. People are happy they don’t have to do Borean Tundra (and let me tell you, there is a LOT boring about Borean!) and Blizzard is happy to take their money. Everyone wins, right?

But I’m not convinced that’s the case. I’m concerned that it will lower the overall skill of the playerbase which, to be honest, is already pretty poor, when you look at people in random, transient content (LFG, LFR). I’ll write more about this tomorrow, but in one of my LFR adventures last week, there was another survival hunter in the raid with me… who used Explosive Shot a single time. Once.

I would argue that, as painful and tiring as the slog is, levelling is worth the time and effort if only to learn how to play your class.

The trouble is, of course, that people aren’t bothering to do that now. They have 90 levels in which they get to learn how to play and they still don’t know how to play.

It’s not a “casual” vs. “hardcore” thing, either. We’re talking about the core ability for a survival hunter. Not using Explosive Shot is, well, not how the spec was meant to be played. It’s like Cory Stockton said, about the talent trees when they announced Mists of Pandaria, a fury warrior who didn’t take the Raging Blow talent wasn’t being unique, but was being a bad fury warrior. Now you have people who have the abilities given to them, baked into the specs themselves, and they’re still not using them.

Is boosting these people to 90, throwing them into the deep end, really going to make those people worse players? I’m not sure that’s possible. But what boosting people to 90 will do is it’ll inflict them upon other people more quickly. Hit 90, start questing, queue up for new dungeons and then wipe your group because you are doing 300 DPS instead of 3000 DPS. Or, worse, they queue up as tanks and healers (for the faster queue) and then wipe their groups because they don’t know how to hold aggro on more than one mob at a time or don’t know how to cast on someone. (The latter does happen, even now. Trust me.)

I guess what I’m saying here is that the underlying problem, which has been increasingly apparent ever since LFG came to be in Wrath of the Lich King, is that people don’t know (or care) how to play their classes and these people are being let loose upon the game. Boosting to 90 will be incredibly beneficial to a lot of people, believe me, but, especially at the start of the expansion when so many people will have that boost to 90, I expect to see a lot of failure stemming from fresh 90s.

I don’t think it’s a problem that’s easily solvable, per se, but one way it can be addressed is to force the boosted 90s to pass Silver Proving Grounds for any spec they’re going to queue up for, forcing them to repeat it for a spec they haven’t queued up for yet. Silver is something most people should be able to easily attain and since Proving Grounds were made for 90s, it’s perfect for fresh, boosted-to-90 characters. Let them quest alone, sure, but make them prove themselves before inflicting them on other people who play the game. Even if the person is level 96 before they queue up, scale up the Proving Grounds for that level and make them work for it a little bit.

I’m someone who spent something like six months straight doing a daily heroic dungeon on Madrana once that feature launched in Wrath of the Lich King. I would queue up as a tank AND a healer (because I had enough gear and knowledge at the time to be able to tank or heal “heroic” dungeons adequately) and would invariably have anywhere between 1 and 3 people who didn’t know what they were doing. I’ve done my fair share of random dungeons throughout Cata. I did a bunch of LFRs back when that was first introduced. I’ve just spent a week doing a bunch of LFRs of MoP content. In short, I’ve spent a lot of time playing with random people in this game and, honestly, I’m not looking forward to fresh 90s who don’t know what they’re doing at the start of Warlords of Draenor. If Blizzard isn’t willing to educate them, I hope they’ll use the existing technology to restrict people from inflicting themselves on others. It’s an artificial barrier to entry, but if you just skipped 90 levels, can you really complain about the idea of doing proving grounds to show you know how to do your role appropriately? I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I would welcome the challenge, myself. If that (and, say, $25) was the price to pay to skip 90 levels? Bring it on!

What are your thoughts about boosting to 90? What repercussions do you think this could have on the larger community? Would you pay for a boost?

LFR Tales: Mogu'shan Vaults 1 & 2

Early in the morning on Tuesday, December 24th, 2013, I took advantage of a seven-day free trial for World of Warcraft that was in my Referrals and Rewards section of my Battle.Net account. My unofficial goal for myself was to gear myself up and go check out the raid content (LFR versions at any rate). I wanted to see each boss once, with a specific focus on wanting to see Garrosh defeated, because I’ve hated that dude since the Faction Champions fight back in Trial of the (Grand) Crusader.

By Tuesday afternoon, I’d gotten a couple of pieces of gear from the Timeless Isle. Those pieces brought my ilvl up from ~458 past ~463, so I was then able to queue for Mogu’shan Vaults.

I will preface this by saying that I did absolutely no research for MSV LFRs. None whatsoever. I knew bits and pieces about the fights (I knew about Elegon’s platform, for example) but I went in pretty blind, which is not typical of me. I like to be 100% prepared and ready to go. I just couldn’t make myself go through raid strats for entry-level raids, though. At worst, I figured I could read a quick guide if there were issues during the instance.

To be clear, I don’t recommend going in blind. It added a certain degree of panic to which I am not accustomed…

Anyhow, we walk into MSV and clear trash and then, all of a sudden, we kill a boss.

What?

Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t realize The Stone Guard was actually a boss fight. I thought it was slightly more difficult trash. No ready-check, no pause, nothing from the raid group to indicate it was a boss fight. I didn’t use a single cooldown.

So that was my experience with LFR Stone Guard. The fight lasted 2:36.

On to Feng the Accursed.

To be honest, even reading a description of this boss, I don’t have much recollection as to which boss this actually is! I do remember getting Wildfire Spark once and running away from people because, hey, if you’re stacked up and you get a debuff on you, you PROBABLY want to move away. So I did. Other than that, I just gotta say that Deadly Boss Mods is wicked for someone who doesn’t know what in the hell they’re doing. Great warnings. It’s not as though I never used DBM before or anything, but I certainly gained a new appreciation for it.

I basically treated the fight as a tank and spank with some crap on the ground. I took the third-least amount of damage from Epicenter, and when I noticed it was nature damage, I instinctively looked for Aspect of the Wild and then remembered they tossed that out (along with the pally auras). Oh, and despite not taking much fire or epicenter damage, I took a crapton of damage from Arcane Velocity. Whoopsiedoodle.

All-told, not a particularly memorable encounter.

Then it was Gara’jal the Spiritbinder.

For various reasons, I was vaguely aware that there was a secondary realm in this fight. However, I never visited it. I wasn’t banished there or anything, so… I didn’t click on a totem to go to the other realm. I also never got the Voodoo Doll thing. So I just sat back and shot at the boss. I have to admit that I quite enjoyed being the noob, for once, and neglecting to do anything of importance in a raid environment. Over the years that I raided, I did some of the tough jobs, I always knew what was going on and it was really nice to just sit back and fire arrows at a boss without too much concern for anything else.

On the other hand, my pride is somewhat damaged now because I feel silly talking about how I was “that scrub”, but hey, wait ’till you read up on my encounters in Siege. Lordy…

I logged my adventures in MSV 1 and looked at the WoL parses (although I plan to upload all my logs to Warcraft Logs to play around, soon!) and sighed heavily because I’d ranked on Feng and Gara’jal. Me. Ranking. After not playing for a year. Obviously, Gara’jal is because I didn’t actually enter the spirit world, but there’s no earthly reason that I should have ranked on Feng.

I looked at the other hunter in the raid and, to prevent public shaming I won’t link to their armory, but:

470 item level (439 equipped — no cloak! WTF?! And not just “no legendary cloak”, I’m saying NO CLOAK AT ALL.)
2 empty glyph slots (both major)
6 unenchanted items
7 empty sockets in 4 items
missing Living Steel Belt Buckle
No items have been reforged
This character doesn’t use any gems.
Hit: +4.66%
Expertise: 2.28%

There are two small positives to this guy:

a) At least he’s wearing all mail.
b) At least all the gear is agility stuff and not, say, intellect mail.

Oh. And he was Beast Mastery. Know how many times he cast Kill Command throughout the whole instance? Five times. And they all missed because he’s nowhere near hit or expertise capped. And yes. He was in for all three bosses.

On the bright side, even after a year of not playing, I was not as bad as that guy. (It’s a personal point of pride for me to be hit-capped and now, I guess, expertise-capped, even though I hate expertise and I’m sort of glad those two stats are vanishing in Warlords of Draenor.)

Anyway, moving on, that was on Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t play much, if at all, on Christmas Day, but spent some time playing on Boxing Day (Thursday, the 26th). Among my adventures, I did the back-half of Mogu’shan Vaults.

I should note, at this point, that there were no wipes in my first-half. It was remarkably smooth. Not exactly the case with the back-half… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Spirit Kings

I think Spirit Kings went pretty well. I avoided damage from Flanking Orders, Massive Attacks and Annihilate. Only took two hits of Volley. (I miss Volley…) While Flanking Orders was kind of fun to run around (Disengage is amazing), there wasn’t a lot to this fight. Sure, more abilities retained means more chaos, but none of it was really chaotic to begin with. Again, I know that this is LFR we’re talking about, so I shouldn’t be so cocky, but honestly, this was kind of a yawner. A six-minute yawner.

Elegon

Thus commenced the wipes. And, by the way, Ellegon is the name of a dragon in the Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg. I loved the hell out of those books and it’s hard to imagine that Elegon is not an homage to Ellegon.

Anyhow, the wipes started here. Not surprisingly, we wiped the first time because a bunch of people fell in the hole. I have to say that I’m really pleased to see that there’s an actual spell that kills you (Obliteration) as opposed to “fall damage”. Good job, Blizz! Makes diagnosing wipes a lot easing.

The second time, only two people (instead of like, 10) died to falling, so we were able to get through the fight pretty easily. Kill adds/pylon things. Don’t drop to your death. I’m probably missing something (although I got the whole buff/no buff thing), but this seemed pretty simple even for an LFR fight.

Ranked pretty high for this, compared to the other fights in the last LFR, but that just makes me sad. I’m assuming that half the reason I ranked is because I didn’t plummet to my death. Sigh.

Will of the Emperor

Well, I screwed up which adds to kill first. I focused on Rage, then Strength, then Courage, just because I was flying blind. I reasoned that Rage sounded worse! Lordy. Too funny. That said, I only took two Devastating Arcs. Others took 20+. I feel okay about myself now. I’m assuming that it’s okay I focused on just one of Jan-xi and Qin-xi, since they share a health pool. It just took us one attempt to down this fight.

All told, not a particularly exciting fight from the perspective of a hunter in LFR. And I ranked again. Terrible. Undergeared, rusty hunters like myself should not rank, especially when they don’t know the fights at all.

In Conclusion

The LFR version of MSV bored me. I liked seeing the Elegon fight due to my affinity for Ellegon and that series of books, but most of the fights were boring to me. Again, I know, it’s LFR. LFR does not represent Flex, Normal or Heroic. I get it. I’m sure the fights were ten times more interesting on actual difficulty levels.

That said, none of them really left much of an impression on me. I struggled to remember which fight was which as I wrote this, so I looked them all up and went “oh, right, THAT one”. Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar fare better in my memory, I think, but much of T14 seemed meh.

Further, this summary was probably not terribly entertaining, but there are more summaries coming. In the meantime, tell me about your impressions of MSV, on any difficulty! Did you like the instance overall? What about your LFR experiences there? Anyone as bad as my fellow hunter? Share your tales of woe!

Seven Days in WoW

A week ago, I took advantage of the seven-day free trial that was tucked away in the Referral and Rewards section of my Battle.Net account and returned to the World of Warcraft for the first time in thirteen months.

What did I do? Well, I geared up my hunter pretty well, hah! I had started somewhere in the realm of ~458 as an average equipped item level (I’m not 100% sure, but I know it was below 463 and that seems about right) and finished the week with an average ilvl of 503 equipped. I replaced all my greens (!) and blues and got the Mystically Epic achievement. (I actually think that it took me longer than this during Cataclysm for Kurn to hit Cataclysmically Epic because it took me FOREVER to get a bow for Kurn in the last expansion.)

As I said in a previous post, I spent a lot of time on the Island of Free Lewts and then a lot of time queueing for various LFRs. The sort of unofficial goal I had for myself was to do all the raid content on LFR. Tier 14 went pretty well, Tier 15, not so much. I only saw half of the instance, because my priority was to see all of Siege of Orgrimmar’s content, so as soon as I hit 496, I moved on from Throne of Thunder (with every intention of going back to see the back half!) and started queueing for Siege. In two days, I did a ridiculous amount of SoO queueing and very few runs where we actually did anything. Countless groups fell apart before me, leaving me stuck and frustrated, because you can’t queue for the next segment when you haven’t gotten the achievement for the first segment. Frustrating, but understandable if you’re thinking about not letting people access the final bosses when they don’t have the first clue as to what they’re doing.

It took me two days of LFRs to get through all of Siege of Orgrimmar. My trial expired around 2:30am ET this morning (Tuesday) and do you know at what time I actually defeated Garrosh? 1:57am. CUTTING IT A BIT CLOSE, AREN’T WE, KURN? Granted, the denial of service attack that brought Battle.Net down earlier in the day didn’t help, but I only had two more LFRs to do and I didn’t think it would be a big deal.

Silly Kurn. I forgot the cardinal rule of LFR: the later in the week it is, the worse the groups probably are. I went through THREE LFRs before I got one that could do the Spoils of Pandaria fight (which, btw, seems like the stupidest fight I’ve seen thus far).

Still, I defeated Garrosh, just in time, and it was pretty satisfying, even though it was on LFR. I’ve disliked Garrosh since Faction Champs, so that was nice. ;)

I’ll talk more about raiding in another post, because I do want to talk about my experiences in each LFR I did, but I did some other stuff, too.

I did Bronze and Silver Damage Proving Grounds. I tried Gold a few times, but I’m still pretty rusty and hadn’t set up TidyPlates for mobs and such. As such, some of the AOE-heavy rounds messed me up because I was too far out for the standard nameplates to show up (hunters are a ranged class!) and there was so much crap on the ground (freezing trap, explosive trap) that I could hardly see anything in the center of the room. I also ended up trying to do it as Marksmanship so that I could have access to Silencing Shot.

This brings me to a hilarious story, which I’m sure everyone will enjoy, mostly because it’s somewhat humiliating.

When I logged in to the game, there was an empty spot on my bars. Here’s what my main action bar on Kurn looked like when I stopped playing in November of 2012.

emptyslot0
You can clearly see Silencing Shot there at number six. (Ignore that there’s nothing at the – position.)

So I logged in and… what the eff? Silencing Shot is gone.

emptyslot1
But it was there in my Marks spec. So I figured “oh, they took Silencing Shot out of talents, explaining the free talent point, and gave it to Marks and only to Marks.”

Kids, this is where reading up on class changes comes in supremely handy. At no point did I think “oh, I should go read up about Silencing Shot’s change”. Nope. Instead, there I am in guild chat, chatting with a DPS warrior raider and a hunter who was in the guild as a friend rank. And the following conversation occurs:

Me: I miss Readiness. And Silencing Shot. (Wasn’t Silencing Shot a talent available to everyone at some point?)
Warrior: It was.
Me: That explains why my 6 button on my bars is empty.
Warrior: All hunters got was Counter Shot which functions as an interrupt which is all I cared about really.

I paused. My jaw dropped. I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I opened up my spellbook for the first time all week and found an entry for something called Counter Shot.

Me: Holy shit.
Hunter: I didn’t know Counter Shot existed until 3 days ago
Me: Guess who just learned about Counter Shot.
Me: haha
Hunter: lololol
Warrior: Marks just gets Silencing Shot, something something balance specs in pvp something something

Worst of all, I had this conversation on Monday afternoon. I’d been playing for six days without opening my spellbook or questioning the lack of an interrupt (barring Scattershot and Intimidation, neither of which are ACTUAL interrupts, but disorients and stuns that will function as an interrupt).

Yup. I’m that good, ladies and gentlemen. /facepalm

I don’t really even have a reasonable explanation for it, either, which is even more upsetting. Maybe if I’d stayed Survival for Gold Proving Grounds and used Counter Shot, it would have worked better. (Serpent Spread is lovely.) Anyhow. Gold Proving Grounds didn’t happen but I learned about Counter Shot, so my overall knowledge has improved, which is the important thing. I just wish it had been improved a week ago instead of yesterday.

I also wish I’d known about it before deciding to tackle the last of my Glorious! rare spawns. What with everyone out on Timeless Isle or otherwise absent from much of Pandaria, I had very little trouble finding the various spawns that had eluded me during the last time I’d played. The trouble was this one panda mob in Townlong Steppes, Yul Wildpaw, whose Spinning Crane Kick kept killing my pet while his Healing Mists was doing a sick amount of healing to him. With a 24s cooldown on Silencing Shot (I was Marks for this, remember), I was using Intimidation and Scattershot as other ways to interrupt the mob, so the goal was to burst down the mob before my pet died from Spinning Crane Kick. This did not happen, even using my turtle and his shell shield thingy and even his Last Stand. My turtle died often and the platform he’s on is just a bit small for my tastes in terms of kiting, but I finally got him down  with a bit of a kite at the end. Then the last mob I was missing from Jade Forest spawned for me and so I got…

glorious

Yay! I’m not sure why I feel so good about that one. Maybe it was that it was about 3/4 done before I quit last year, I don’t know. But that felt pretty good. :)

What else did I do… Honestly, a lot of reforging, regemming, re-enchanting. Spent a ton of gold, like, 15,000 or so, and made virtually nothing. I’m okay with that, too. That’s what my 222,000 gold was for.

Apart from that, I chatted a bit with guildies, new and old, though I didn’t get a chance to say hi to everyone (hi, Apoth!) and generally winged my way through LFRs.

Anyway, all told, it was a satisfying visit, but I’m not resubscribing until closer to the expansion. Once I do that, I want to level Madrana to 90 and get her a bit of gear and such to see if I can pull off some kind of 6.0 guide for holy paladins. To this day, my most popular page on my blog has been my 4.0 guide, followed by my pre-T11 gear list, followed by my 5.0 guide. We’ll see if I can manage to get something for 6.0 going, but that’s going to take time and research pre-6.0 launch. And, aside from dinging Madrana 90, there’s not a whole lot for me to do (well, back-half of ToT, I suppose), so I’m going to put that off for at least a couple of months and we’ll see where we’re at when Blizzard announces more about Warlords of Draenor. :)

More posts to come about my experience in the raids, but in the meantime, happy new year to everyone! Here’s wishing that the very best of 2013 is the worst of 2014. :)