Classic Countdown – Holy Paladins & LBRS

All of these posts will focus on things you start picking up in dungeons starting around level 50. Suffice it to say, intellect is your best stat for a paladin healer, followed by crit. Why? At Rank 5, Illumination gives you a 100% chance to regain the mana cost for a spell if it crits. So crit, for a holy paladin, is not only good for your output, but it’s great for your mana regen. +healing and mp5 are decent stats too, but intellect also increases your healing done and gives you chance to critically strike with your spells and crit gives you mana back, so that’s generally the direction we should go.

Also, it’s possible that some of these mail recommendations may not drop for an Alliance group, so please be aware of that possibility. I’ll update these posts when I’ve been able to confirm this.

While I love the armor, Lightforge Armor is actually really awful for healing. Some of the pieces don’t even have intellect on them! However, it’s worth it to collect it, because the Tier 0.5 armor, Soulforge Armor, is not terrible. (It’s not fantastic, but it’s not awful. The 4-piece set bonus is pretty great and all the pieces have intellect and +damage/healing on them.) Later on, come Phase Five, in order to get the Tier 0.5 armor, you need to do a ton of things, including exchanging your T0 pieces for the Tier 0.5 pieces. So make sure you grab all your Lightforge so you’re able to exchange it for Soulforge.

Into the spire we go, folks!

Classic Loot for a Holy Paladin in Lower Blackrock Spire (LBRS)

It’s important to note that LBRS and UBRS are technically the same dungeon at this point in time, but you can’t get to UBRS without the Seal of Ascension. That ring is the end result of, what else, a long quest chain that starts with the drop of the Unadorned Seal of Ascension. You’ll need to get the three gems that drop from three bosses in LBRS (War Master Voone, Highlord Omokk and Overlord Wyrmthalak) and then talk to Vaelan within LBRS and then you’ll need to get Emberstrife, a dragon in Dustwallow Marsh, to forge it for you. Then you turn it in and you’ll get the ring. (More or less.)

Helm: Literally nothing in LBRS.

Neck: Nothing.

Shoulders: Wildheart Spaulders, the druid tier 0 shoulders, requiring level 55. They drop off Gizrul the Slavener, which is the big dog that comes running down the hallway after you kill Halycon. Another option is Sunderseer Mantle, requiring level 56 and dropping from Crystal Fang, the rare spider. (Not Mother Smolderweb.) Bear in mind that you should let any druids have the Wildheart Spaulders and any clothies get the Sunderseer Mantle, otherwise you’re just being a jerk.

Chest: Plate of the Shaman King, requiring level 55, drops from Highlord Omokk. It’s plate, with nice intellect and some damage/healing, so this should be all yours.

Cloak: Nothing.

Bracers: Brazecore Armguards, requiring level 55, drop from War Master Voone. They’re mail with 11 intellect and 3mp5 (3 mana restored per 5 seconds), so these are totally reasonable for you. As mentioned, these may not drop for Alliance groups. A potentially better alternative are the leather Bleak Howler Armguards, requiring level 56 and dropping from Gizrul the Slavener. They’re straight-up +healing, so if you’re healing the instance, these should be yours.

Belt: Devout Belt, the cloth belt that’s part of a priest’s tier 0 set, is a zone-wide drop within Blackrock Spire. Priests should have dibs, but if they pass, go for it. Additionally, the shaman’s tier 0 belt, Cord of Elements, is also a zone-wide drop and may be something that drops for an Alliance group.

Gloves: Fallbrush Handgrips, requiring level 56, are leather +healing gloves that drop from Crystal Fang, that rare spider. Gilded Gauntlets, requiring level 55, are mail intellect + 4mp5 gloves that drop from Mother Smolderweb. As mentioned previously, these may not drop for Alliance groups.

Legs: Highlord Omokk drops two different items that might be useful for holy paladins. Skyshroud Leggings and Tressermane Leggings, both requiring level 55. They’re definitely for cloth casters and moonkins, though. Still, if no clothie or moonkin wants them, snag them. Gizrul the Slavener drops Wolfshear Leggings, which are cloth, yes, but straight-up +healing.

Feet: Alas, the only thing really worth it for a holy paladin would be the Wildheart Boots, dropping from Mother Smolderweb. Let a druid get them before you do. They’re really not amazing.

Main Hand: Nothing here.

Off-hand: There’s a nice shield, the Rhombeard Protector, that requires level 56 and drops from Gizrul the Slavener. There’s also an off-hand, the Globe of D’sak, that requires level 54 and drops from the rare spawn Spirestone Lord Magus, who is, by the way, an ogre, who is in Highlord Omokk’s room, if he spawns.

Rings: The best one of the bunch is Rosewind Circle, requiring level 55, which drops from the optional, summonable boss, Urok Doomhowl. See how to summon Urok Doomhowl here. The Magus Ring, requiring level 54, is decent, and drops off the rare spawn Spirestone Lord Magus.

Trinkets: Nothing of interest for a holy paladin.

Next time…

Well, that’s all that’s worth looting for a holy paladin in Lower Blackrock Spire. Upper Blackrock Spire has some nice drops, but we’ll tackle that in the future. Do you think I missed anything here? Let me know in the comments.

Next time — Stratholme (Live)!

Classic Countdown – Holy Paladins & BRD

During Vanilla, I spent a lot of time raiding on my hunter, it’s true. But I also spent a lot of time doing stuff on Madrana. It was these experiences in Zul’Gurub, AQ20 and Molten Core that helped me to make the decision that I would heal full-time as a paladin in raids, starting in Burning Crusade.

These posts will focus on things you start picking up in dungeons around level 50. Suffice it to say, intellect is your best stat for a paladin healer, followed by crit. Why? At Rank 5, Illumination gives you a 100% chance to regain the mana cost for a spell if it crits. So crit, for a holy paladin, is not only good for your output, but it’s great for your mana regen. +healing and mp5 are decent stats too, but intellect also increases your healing done and gives you chance to critically strike with your spells and crit gives you mana back, so that’s generally the direction we should go.

Also, it’s possible that some of these mail recommendations may not drop for an Alliance group, so please be aware of that possibility. I’ll update these posts when I’ve been able to confirm this.

Additionally, while I love the armor, Lightforge Armor is actually terrible for healing. Some of the pieces don’t even have intellect on them! However, it’s worth it to collect it, because the Tier 0.5 armor, Soulforge Armor, is not terrible. (It’s not fantastic, but it’s not awful. The 4-piece set bonus is pretty great.) Later on, come Phase Five, in order to get the Tier 0.5 armor, you need to do a ton of things, including exchanging your T0 pieces for the Tier 0.5 pieces. So make sure you grab all your Lightforge so you’re able to exchange it for Soulforge.

All right, all of that said, let’s get on with it!

Classic Loot for a Holy Paladin in Blackrock Depths

I freaking love this dungeon. There’s so much to do here. How about a bar run? Or Jailbreak? Let’s get attuned to Molten Core. Feel like an Emperor run? And so much more. That said, let’s focus on what’s of interest for a holy paladin here. There’s a lot of stuff. You are going to spend a lot of time here doing All The Things, though, so don’t worry if you don’t get everything you’re seeking in a couple of runs. I should note that, at least back in Vanilla, there was very little need to wear all plate. There was no bonus to doing so. As such, shaman-type mail and even some leather or cloth pieces are recommended. However, I’m not saying that just because you can wear all armour types that you should get dibs on everything listed here. Don’t be a jerk, please be considerate of the people in your group.

Helm: Foreman’s Head Protector, requires level 50. This helm drops off of Fineous Darkvire who you need to kill in order to get the key for BRD. That said, if there’s no cloth-wearer in your group, don’t be afraid to snag the Chief Architect’s Monocle! Sure, it’s cloth, but it’s 27 intellect, which is superior to the Foreman’s Head Protector. This is probably best for a priest, mage or warlock, but if none of them need it or there’s no cloth-wearer, go for it. Also, a note, if you intend to do any tanking and you see Golem Skull Helm drop from Phalanx, grab it if your tank is a plate-wearer who doesn’t want it, or if your tank isn’t a plate-wearer.

Neck: Absolutely nothing of use for a holy paladin.

Shoulders: Frankly, I don’t like most of the options here, just because there are better ones out there, but the Earthslag Shoulders drop from Lord Roccor and require just level 47. The mail Lead Surveyor’s Mantle is clearly shaman gear, but since the Alliance doesn’t have shaman, you can call dibs on this item, if they drop for Alliance groups. The shoulders require level 50 and drop from Fineous Darkvire.

Chest: Spiderfang Carapace, requires level 49. This chest drops off Hedrum the Creeper in the Ring of the Law event, which has random different mobs, so this isn’t always a guaranteed boss you’ll kill.

Cloak: Spritecaster Cape, requires level 47, drops from High Interrogator Gerstahn or the Houndmaster (currently uncertain — probably the Houndmaster, though). This is legitimately the only cloak of note in here for a holy paladin, unless you get a Nightshade Cloak of Intellect, of the Eagle, of the Owl, of Healing or of Concentration.

Bracers: Lord Incendius drops a variety of randomly-enchanted bracers of different armor types. As with the Nightshade Cloak, if you can snag of Intellect, of the Eagle, of the Owl, of Healing or of Concentration, those would be decent.

Belt: Chillsteel Girdle, requires level 52. This mail belt drops off of Warder Stilgiss, who’s in the Vault room. Again, this may not drop for Alliance groups!

Gloves: Hands of the Exalted Herald, requires level 54. They’re cloth gloves, but have intellect and +33 healing. Can’t really say no to that. They drop off Moira on an Emperor run. Additionally, your Lightforge Gauntlets drop off the Emperor. Get them, if only because why not? But they’re not something you should be using to heal with. When Phase Five of WoW Classic rolls out, these will no longer drop off the Emperor, mostly because that’s a serious PITA for some gloves that are not amazing. When Phase Five rolls out, they will drop off of Timmy the Cruel on the live-side of Stratholme. Also, I’m not sure how Classic is handling this, but the tier 0 gloves, belts and bracers were all Bind on Equip after a certain point.

Legs: Senior Designer’s Pantaloons, require level 50 and are cloth +healing pants with some intellect on them. They drop off Fineous Darkvire. Another option would be Leggings of Frenzied Magic, from Gorosh the Dervish in the Ring of the Law event.

Boots: Entrenching Boots, require level 50. These drop off of Grizzle in the Ring of the Law event. Yes, there’s agility on them, but 10 int and +7 damage/healing. Another option, requiring level 52, are the Firemoss Boots, which are basically resto druid boots since they’re leather and +healing, but if you’re healing and these are an upgrade, go for it. They drop from Hurley Blackbreath in the bar.

Main Hand: The Hammer of Grace, no, there’s no intellect on it, but it’s one of the best pre-60 healing maces in the game with a beefy +31 healing done. It’s one of the possible rewards from the event of The Seven.

Off-hand: Thaurissan’s Royal Scepter is a nice reward for an Emperor run, as it has some intellect and a pure +22 healing on it.

Ring: Bloodclot Band, requires level 52. Great healing ring, drops off Gorosh the Dervish in, you guessed it, the Ring of the Law event.

Trinkets: Second Wind requires level 54 and drops from Golem Lord Argelmach. Yes, it has an absurdly long cooldown of 15 minutes, but it also has a passive +22 healing, which is solid. Another option you have is Burst of Knowledge, which requires level 53 and drops from Ambassador Flamelash. This is more of a caster DPS trinket. However, the mana savings (albeit with an insanely long cooldown) is useful, as is +12 damage/healing. Also, if you’re doing any tanking at all and you see Force of Will drop AND your tank doesn’t want it, grab it.

Next time…

There you have it, pretty much anything I’d consider equipping as a holy paladin that comes from Blackrock Depths. Any surprises here? Any questions? Let me know!

Next time — Lower Blackrock Spire!

Classic Countdown!

One month to go until WoW Classic launches, folks! My brother and I are pretty darn psyched about this and have already spent hours discussing what we’re going to do.

As we enter the final month, I wanted to share some possibly useful advice for starting out in Classic. Now, please do bear in mind that I’m not in the Classic beta, nor was I around at the launch of WoW back in 2004. As such, my advice may not be applicable to what eventually happens a month from now, but I’m going to give it a shot.

Vendor All The (Grey/Soulbound) Things

As you level, you’ll invariably get a bunch of greys. Vendor all of them. Don’t not pick them up. Don’t destroy them. Vendor them. Every copper matters in the early days. Additionally, if you’re not an enchanter, vendor your old gear when you replace it (unless it’s gear that would work for another spec). If you are an enchanter, obviously disenchant that stuff!

Hot tip: If all your choices for a quest reward are all things you won’t use (or can’t use), then pick the one that vendors for the most. If you don’t have an add-on that’ll tell you what something sells for, a loose guide is: plate sells for more than mail, mail more than leather, leather more than cloth. Helms and chests are generally worth more than shoulders and legs, which, in turn, are generally worth more than boots and gloves, which are usually more than belts and bracers. Of course, a cloth helm might be worth less than plate shoulders, so definitely try to get an add-on.

Level Professions As You Go

There is little worse than being max level and having to go back to, say, Hillsbrad Foothills to mine Silver Ore. Seriously, it’s a pain to go back and pick herbs or skin leather or mine ore of a level that’s way lower than yours. I have done this at least four times on Kurn when I’ve dropped skinning for mining, then dropped mining for skinning, then picked mining back up and then, yes, picked skinning back up. (I’m done with that nonsense, I swear.)

This also includes fishing! You should have one toon who fishes. This isn’t as hard as it used to be Way Back In The Day, because fishing schools exist in the patch we’re getting. There should be bodies of water around the levelling areas, so take 10-15 minutes to fish for a bit and level that as you wait for an herb or a mining node to respawn.

It also includes cooking. Do not underestimate the importance of food buffs when you get to level 55-60.

And, of course, it includes first aid! Killing mobs that are designated as “humanoid” will generally drop cloth, so make sure you keep on top of your first aid. It’s no fun to have to go around killing Defias Bandits to collect linen. When you’ve maxed out bandages of a certain cloth, you can go ahead and start selling that cloth on the auction house.

Fun fact: Cooking and fishing go hand-in-hand together and both professions are great ways to make more money.

Level Those Weapon Skills!

Weapon skills are a Thing. Sorry. They are. You should note that if you’re a night elf hunter, you’ll start with a bow, while a dwarf will start with a gun. Both should endeavour to pick up the opposite (as well as a crossbow) with cheap ammo to level up the skills in case you get a new weapon to drop. Less important are the melee weapons, but not wholly insignificant! Wing Clip requires you to, you know, actually land the attack to wing clip something. And that needs a weapon skill. I don’t like to let my primary weapon skills in other weapons drop more than 15-20 points from my max possible.

Train Your Spells & Use Your Talent Points!

Oh God, please, please, please train your spells. And please train new ranks of your spells. Please. Is it cheap? No. That’s why you need to vendor things and pick up fishing and cooking and level your professions.

As to talents, in almost all cases, you want to go straight for your 31 point talent as soon as possible so that you’ve got Trueshot Aura, Holy Shock, Swiftmend, Shield Slam, Ice Barrier, whatever it is, as soon as possible. Take the time to play with the talent calculators at Wowhead! Marksmanship hunters, this is what I’m aiming for, for my first 31 points:

https://classic.wowhead.com/talent-calc/hunter/-05251030513051

Holy paladins, this is what I’d recommend if you’re levelling holy (which, btw, I do not particularly recommend unless you’re chain-running dungeons):

https://classic.wowhead.com/talent-calc/paladin/05503020521251

There’s some wiggle room there, as the two points in Lasting Judgment are optional. Feel free to put them into Consecration and something else if you like.

Remember, it costs money to respec! That’s why I don’t really recommend going holy unless you’re doing dungeons because it takes F O R E V E R to kill things. Trust me. I did it. It was dumb. It took me 12 minutes apiece to kill the Kurzen Medicine Men in Stranglethorn Vale.

I’m planning on going holy at about level 50 or thereabouts. My talent tree will look something like this:

https://classic.wowhead.com/talent-calc/paladin/05503020521251

What’s your advice?

Any thoughts to share? Any plans you’ve got on how to tackle Classic? Let me know in the comments below!

Coming up next time, all kinds of holy paladin stuff. :)

6 Levels, 22 Hours, 1 120 Shaman

For the first time ever, my second toon to max level in an expansion is not my paladin. Rather, it’s my shaman.

And, for the first time in several expansions, I actually felt pressured to get to level 120 by a certain point. That point was by June 25th, the day of Patch 8.2.

The reason for both of these is that my shaman is my herbalist and scribe, while Madrana, the paladin, is a jewelcrafter/alchemist.

For whatever reason, it didn’t dawn on me until like, Sunday evening, that I would need to be level 120 to get to Nazjatar, one of the new zones in Battle for Azeroth. And that the profession trainers are in Nazjatar. As such, I “wasted” my weekend getting Kurn through almost all the requirements for Pathfinder Part 1 (just missing some rep) because I figured that flying is The Most Important Thing.

Except it’s not.

I went to bed early (for me) on Sunday and then woke up with a bad sinus headache at like, 3:45am. So naturally, I took headache meds and then logged on to WoW, whereupon I realized that:

a) My shaman was 114

b) My mage (miner) was 113

c) My paladin was 111

I wasn’t going to be able to benefit from any new profession stuff on any toon except Kurn. And, let’s be fair, I did not make millions of gold at the launch of the expansion on Kurn, who is a skinner/leatherworker. I made millions of gold on my shaman, making Darkmoon Cards and decks.

So by 4am on what was technically Monday morning, I queued up to heal dungeons on my shaman, something I haven’t done since probably getting through the last couple of levels in Mists or maybe Warlords of Draenor. Typically, since my shammy was my dual gatherer for quite some time, I just herbed and mined my way to max level most of the time.

Wearing the heirloom helm, cloak, shoulders, chest, pants and the Dread Pirate Ring (god, I love that I once won the fishing competition), I had 50% extra XP. I was also rested. So I went for it.

I hit 116 before going back to bed around 7:30-8am. Then I napped for three hours, then worked ’till 7pm and then cracked my knuckles and was like “LET’S DO THIS”.

My brother logged on to his rogue (114ish?) and we queued up for a couple of dungeons. By and large, these went fine and I got to 117.

However. There was this one dungeon we ran that I feel I must absolutely discuss: Tol Dagor.

Let us be very clear, neither my brother, nor I, know anything about this dungeon and its mechanics. I’d run it maybe twice before, once on the shaman and once on my hunter, maybe. My brother had also seen it once.

The run was off to a not amazing start when our tank ran and pulled a ton of stuff right before the Sand Queen, the first boss. And said in chat, “lust”.

I was like “wtf is lu—-ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, bloodlust. Meaning, heroism.” Because, of course, I’m a shaman and I apparently have that ability. So I blew it and we finished this insanely large pack of mobs and then dude pulls the boss without pause. Great. Anyway, we move on and it’s on the third floor, I want to say, where we run into trouble. We’ve done three bosses so it’s some trash on our way outside to the ramparts where we wipe… and our tank leaves. The group is composed of me healing, a moonkin, and two rogues, my brother and someone else. We got a tank and then proceeded towards the ramparts, but no one knows what they’re doing re: cannons. So we wipe and the tank leaves. Something bugged out and we weren’t in the queue for a new tank. I tried to leave the queue and requeue, like I used to be able to do, but I couldn’t do that, either. It was very weird. So now we’re in a room right before the ramparts part, literally five mobs from the boss, but have no tank. Oh, and the dudes see through stealth, so my brother can’t whatever the AOE stealth thing is to get me through.

TIME TO GET CREATIVE.

I told my brother to just run for the cannon, while I’d run in and drop my Earth Elemental (Josh!) and then we’d just take down the mobs with the help of the cannon. Boom, we succeed. Then the moonkin goes BEAR and we get the last two overseers with the cannon and some great heals. ;)

And then, the last boss, Overseer Korgus.

Everyone except the tank died on this fight. First the other rogue. Then me. Then my brother. Then the moonkin REZZES ME and we kicked some ASS and finally got him down! VICTORY.

It’s these hard-won victories that remind me of Vanilla. Like, in those days, I would have wanted to invite the moonkin to my guild.

Anyway, while we were doing this, our favourite football, Daey, shows up on Discord and is like “haven’t you done island expeditions?” and I’m like “what are island expeditions?”

Insert EZ mode here. Daey takes my brother and I on like, three (?) island expeditions on his demon hunter, and I’m like, midway through 118 by the time my brother goes to bed around 11ish or so. Daey and I kept doing them and next thing you know, I’m 119. And there’s an assault up in Stormsong Valley, so heyyyyyyyyy, yes, I would like another 10% XP, THANK YOU KINDLY.

So I went and did those quests, got my buff and we got Daey done with his demon hunter and pally (almost) for the expeditions. Dude, I am not kidding, it took three island expeditions to get 18 bars of XP with my 60% XP buffs. DISGUSTING AND AMAZING ALL AT ONCE.

And for the last expedition of the night, I queued up with Daey on his pally and on Kurn, since I hadn’t done one on my hunter yet. So Daey got all his expeditions done on the pally, I got one done on Kurn (on Heroic, no less!) and my shaman is level 120 and ready to go herbing in Nazjatar.

More than that, though, my shammy is ready to learn the Inscription trinkets from Nazjatar.

And I am ready to make a crapton of gold.

Hopefully. :)

And that, my friends, is how I got from 114-120 in less than 22 hours (owing to sleep and work) primarily through sick XP boosts and island expeditions!

Give me the Energy achievement
So many expeditions!

Things I’m Looking Forward to in WoW Classic

So my last post talked a bit about things that were, well, not particularly amazing from back in the old Vanilla days, which I anticipate will be there in Classic. Obviously, regardless of those things, I’m very much looking forward to Classic, so I thought I’d talk about some things that I’m really eager to relive and experience again in Classic. Again, I’m not actually in the Classic Beta, so if I’m mistaken about anything here, please do comment and let me know.

Talent Points & Old Talent Trees

I know that a lot of the old-school talent trees were bloated. There were a ton of talents where you weren’t being “creative” or “thinking outside the box”, if you didn’t take them. You were just bad. It’s true that there wasn’t a lot of room for error.

This was a fairly standard Marksmanship Hunter build, where you grabbed Improved Aspect of the Hawk from BM, got all the way down into Clever Traps in Survival and put the rest into Marksmanship. That said, this doesn’t have Scatter Shot, doesn’t have Improved Arcane Shot or Improved Serpent Sting and you can take a point out of Entrapment to pick up, say, Scatter Shot.

Meanwhile, this is a terrible Marksmanship Hunter build. Why? Well, you’re not saving mana by skipping Efficiency, your damage is gimped because you don’t get Lethal Shots, Mortal Shots, Aimed Shot, Ranged Weapon Specialization or Monster Slaying. You’re wasting points in Parry and Improved Wing Clip and Deterrence — which was quite different back then — and there’s no reason for Thick Hide in BM when you could pick up more useful MM stuff elsewhere.

That’s not to say that there aren’t times when you might want to use an “unconventional” spec. If I were going to run the 45 minute Baron run for the Tier 0.5 quest chain all over again, without anyone but my pet tanking, I’d probably go for a build like this. (I did not, in fact, change my spec or even my pet at all when doing so, and he did surprisingly well, but this is largely because I had an amazing priest healing. <3 Cryptkikr.)

So I don’t necessarily miss the bloat of the old trees, but I miss having the ability to tweak a spec for a given situation. I also miss getting talent points every level! That was one of the main perks of dinging!

All The Abilities

The last several expansions all seem to blur together in my head, so forgive me if I’m mistaken, but I think it was in Mists where certain long-time core abilities became locked to specific specs. Exorcism for paladins is something that I miss regularly. Not having it available to me as a holy paladin was just wrong, in my mind. Of course, it was a damage spell and I suppose a holy paladin isn’t “supposed” to be a damage-dealer, but Exorcism being used on undead only didn’t really make it OP. It was situational. Same with Turn Undead (later, Turn Evil). And I didn’t like the lack of Cleanse for prot or ret pallies, either. (And I still hate the cooldown.) So I am really looking forward to my paladin having all of these core abilities again in Classic. What core ability are you looking forward to regaining?

No AOE Looting & Single Tags

But Kurn, you must be saying, why on earth don’t you like AOE looting?

It’s simple — I’m a skinner. There is nothing worse than rounding up a bunch of mobs, AOEing them down and then looting ONE, which loots them all, and then having some jackass come along and start skinning your mobs. It can still happen without AOE looting, but it’s much more difficult to do. It’s also just as annoying when someone takes one shot at your mob or mobs and then WALKS AWAY without looting, so you’re unable to skin the mob, so I’m very much looking forward to going back to single-tagging mobs. Like, no, sorry, that mob is mine, kindly GTFO.

Knowing What the Hell I’m Doing

When I think about some of the more complex raid encounters I’ve done in my life, like, oh, Heroic Blackhorn 25 or Heroic Sindragosa on 25, Firefighter 25, Heroic Putricide 25… then it truly boggles my mind that it used to take me hours to finish a Scholomance run. I used to come home from class on Tuesday nights and run a Scholo run with guildies that would take HOURS because we’d wipe so often. And yes, part of it was that we were clearly just bad in some senses, but other parts certainly had to be that we just didn’t know what we had to do.

I feel like I understand all the mechanics so much better now. Like, I’m PRETTY sure that Alexei Barov wouldn’t decimate my Scholo group if we were halfway geared, because I understand that he has a damage aura and has a curse that reduces healing, so you’d want a mage or a druid to decurse afflicted people and go tank the guy in the corner.

So even aside from my familiarity with the instances and bosses and such, I feel like I understand things a lot better and I am SO looking forward to taking this knowledge back into Classic with me.

Reliving My Youth

Okay, obviously, part of my excitement for Classic is the idea of reliving my (sort of) youth. I’m in my 40s now, but I started playing this game in my 20s, and I had SO MUCH FUN playing with various people. I mean, hell, I went to Majik’s wedding. Just last month, I went to another wedding — Huntertoga and Kamilla from my old guild got married and Majik and his wife and me and Darista and her BF all went to the wedding. Daey and Tiandrina were invited too, but couldn’t make it, unfortunately. But playing with these people (and more) made the game a lot of fun. While I might not play with them in the coming Classic version of WoW (who knows if they’ll play or not), I know I’ll have fun remembering doing a Dire Maul West run as I remember Dar’s panic over her first run there. I know that I’ll remember telling Toga how to kite General Drakkisath in UBRS. I’ll remember how my brother feral tanked our Jailbreak run and shifted OUT of bear form to cast Rebirth on our priest who died. (Oh lord, it pains me to think of how many Jailbreak runs I’ve done in total.) So even if my old comrades aren’t with me, I’ll remember them and the times we had. :)

What About You?

Let me know in the comments below what you’re most looking forward to in Classic, most dreading about old-school WoW, and if you’re even planning to play Classic!

WoW Classic & Rose-Coloured Glasses

Hi, folks! How the heck are you? How’ve you been in the last, oh, two and a half years?

Overall, I’ve been doing well. However, an update on my life is not while I’m writing today. No, today, I’m writing because I can’t sleep and because WoW Classic is coming out on August 27, 2019.

Naturally, I am psyched. Anyone who has spent any appreciable amount of time reading this blog or listening to various podcasts of mine will be wholly unsurprised that I am psyched. (Also, my brother is psyched! TOGETHER, WE ARE SO EXCITED.)

That said, since the launch date announcement was made, I’ve been wondering if the 13ish years or so since I first started playing WoW (October of 2005) have perhaps dulled my memory a little.

I know that I have rarely had as much fun in this game as during the Tier 0.5 questline. The thrill of getting my Rhok’delar is still, to this day, a highlight of my WoW career, if you will. Downing Venoxis for the first time on April 1, 2006 (no, for real!) was amazing because it was my first real raid boss down. So I had a lot of fun back in the day. Just the fact that I have frequently said “back in the day” over the course of the last decade or more proves that I have some very, very fond memories of Vanilla WoW.

However, having played Vanilla WoW for more than a year before Burning Crusade came out, I remember a lot of things that, well, sucked. I thought I’d write a bit about them here. Now, it’s important to note that I am not in the Classic Beta, so if you are, please feel free to let me know if I’m dreadfully wrong about something. What I’m talking about is based entirely on my Vanilla experiences and memories, and perhaps some Wowhead Classic info.

Getting to 60

Listen, I don’t care who you are, or how much you love levelling — getting to 60 was a grind in Vanilla. For quite some time, there weren’t enough quests in the world to get you to 60. A common happening was people getting a couple of stacks of mage food and water (yes, separate stacks, if they were mana users!) and hitting up the Eastern Plaguelands for a few hours. Regularly. Now, I know that they did fix this at some point and I would presume that’s prior to the patch we’ll be starting at, but it was still a pain to get to 60. It took me 30 days played — full, actual, real days of my life — to get to 60 on Kurn. It took me less time on Madrana, but I did get a lot of experience by healing my way through dungeons.

Mounts

No mount until you’re 40, no epic mount until you’re 60 and you should expect to spend a fair amount of money on that epic mount unless you’re exalted with your Alterac Valley faction. Or a paladin, in which case get ready for an epic quest chain that culminates in a really difficult fight in Scholomance. Or a warlock, in which case you should expect a truly insane quest chain that ends with craziness in Dire Maul. (Why yes, I HAVE healed both of these encounters on my paladin, thank you for asking.)

Combat Ratings/Stats/Skills

Defense rating. Hit rating. Parry thrashes. Alllllll of these were things you had to be aware of. Now, to be fair, I only ever made sure I was hit-capped when I was fighting Magmadar in Molten Core, because I had learned Tranquilizing Shot from the drop off Lucifron, so it didn’t really make too much of a difference to me until I realized its importance in Burning Crusade. But defense rating mattered if you were a tank. Knowing you could get parry-thrashed was literally something I only learned in Wrath of the Lich King, but has been around since Vanilla. Oh, and who can forget weapon skill?

Hot tip: if you’re level 60, go to the Blasted Lands and beat on the Servants of Allistarj around the Dark Portal for a couple of hours to grind up your weapon skills. They’re basically unkillable unless you kill the thingy they’re bound to, so you can keep beating on them to level up your weapon. Or, better yet, work on your weapon skills as you go, swapping weapons whenever possible to make sure you get them up there. There is little that feels more like you’re wasting all of your time than upping your weapon skills.

Ammo

Dear hunters, Blizzard hates you and, as such, you have to use a dedicated bag slot as a quiver or ammunition pouch and you have to use arrows or bullets. Well, you don’t have to, I don’t think, but you should because most of those quivers/pouches have a ranged hasted bonus. Also, ammo could be expensive! There was rep-based ammo you could buy that did more damage than the typical stuff, but hooooo boy, was it expensive. Also, you could run out of ammo. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR AMMO. (Who me, speak from experience? Never!)

Reagents

Mages had to carry Arcane Powder for Arcane Brilliance. They also had to carry Runes of Teleportion and Runes of Portals. Paladins had to carry Symbols of Kings for all their greater blessings (which only lasted 15 minutes apiece, FYI – compared to the normal ones that lasted 5 minutes!), plus Symbols of Divinity for Divine Intervention. (Okay, real talk, I HAVE MISSED DIVINE INTERVENTION SO MUCH AND I WILL HAPPILY CARRY ANYTHING I HAVE TO IN ORDER TO CAST IT AGAIN.) And so on for druids and Gift of the Wild/rebirth (battle rez) and and priests and fortitude. Basically, if you had a buff, you had a reagent for the longer version of it.

Spell Ranks

Now, let’s be clear — I always trained up my spell ranks and I made great use of spell down-ranking, particularly as a holy paladin, so to me, this isn’t something that was unpleasant. However, other people not training their spell ranks was a thorn in my side throughout, well, my entire WoW career until they removed ranks entirely.

Keys

Again, I loved the hell out of my keys. I really, truly, absolutely did. What I did not love was the bag space they took. In my research, I see that the keyring was added in Patch 1.11.0, so this should be available in WoW Classic, once you get your first key. This is good because no one wants to wait for someone to fly all the way back to Ironforge to get the key they left in their bank so that they could enter the instance. Which instance? MANY INSTANCES required keys. The back door to Stratholme required a key. Dire Maul North and West required keys. Scholomance required a key. UBRS didn’t only require a key, it required you to FORGE the Unadorned Seal of Ascension with gems from bosses in LBRS and then it became a RING. At least the patch we’re starting out with has a bunch of Unadorned Seals dropping and many gem drops in LBRS.

I should note that Engineers with a Powerful Seaforium Charge or rogues with levelled lockpicking could open most locked doors.

Rep & Cooldowns & Professions

Kurn was a skinner/leatherworker from day one. In the last 13 odd years, I’ve dropped skinning for mining on at least two separate occasions. I always come back to skinning. And it served me well in Vanilla! I was a dragonscale leatherworker (and thus made FREQUENT trips out to Peter Galen in freaking AZSHARA) and could craft the entire Black Dragonscale Mail set. Actually, Kurn can still craft every single dragonscale recipe in the game, thank you very much. And even the Red Dragonscale Breastplate, the recipe for which only dropped off of General Drakkisath in UBRS. But it was a pain to get to 300 skinning and especially hard to get to 300 leatherworking. What was more of a pain was doing the various rep grinds to get those sweet patterns.

  • Timbermaw Hold to Revered to get all kinds of feral Druid leather patterns
  • Thorium Brotherhood to Revered for all kinds of fire resist stuff including Black Dragonscale Boots
  • Cenarion Circle to Exalted to get nature resist stuff and some sweet agility mail

I don’t think I did quite all of that at the time. I probably got to Honored with Timbermaw and definitely got to Honored with Thorium Brotherhood. To be fair, I did not have it bad. I did have a cooldown (Refined Deeprock Salt – every three days!) and not a ton of rep to grind.

However. Did you know that it takes two Felcloth to make one Mooncloth? And that you can only make one Mooncloth every four days? And that the recipe for Mooncloth is only available once you reach Friendly with the Timbermaw?

There are a lot of things that no longer have cooldowns that once did, and the grinds for the reps are a lot harder than they once were. Exalted with Timbermaw can take you a day now, but back then? Back then, it was a months-long undertaking.

Oh, and one other thing — flasks were super rare because you could only make them at an alchemy lab. That meant either Scholomance or Blackwing Lair.

Respecs

This was pre-dual spec. And respeccing cost gold. And it got quite expensive to swap back and forth. It wasn’t uncommon for people to level as one spec and then eventually respec into their “raid spec” that they would use more frequently. For example, when my brother hit 60 on his druid, he went from being a life-long bear to being a resto druid. This is about when he started levelling a rogue…

Meanwhile, I levelled my paladin as holy from day one. It took me forever to kill things, but damn, did I ever know how to heal things. Back in the day, a holy priest as known as the only kind of healer you really wanted in a dungeon with you. I did a Strat UD run at like, 56 or something on Madrana as holy, wearing a bunch of Blue Dragonscale mail (didn’t have the bonuses that came with wearing all plate back then), and the ret pally in our group, who had been a bit wary of me, was like “HOLY CRAP, I HAD NO IDEA PALLIES COULD HEAL SO WELL”. Honestly, the fact that any healer can heal any instance these days is something I’ll miss, because it was legitimately difficult to heal a bunch of things as a paladin back in the day.

And?

There are other pains from Vanilla, I’m certain of it. These are a few. And I don’t even mind a lot of them. But they’re things that came up as “oh mannnnnn” moments as I’ve been thinking about Classic.

What are you looking forward to most about Classic? What are you least looking forward to about it? Are you even going to play Classic?

You Must Act Now, Champion

My dear fellow WoW players,

On the heels of the tenth BlizzCon, where everyone learned more about the upcoming battles they will face across all the different games, there is another battle to face.

Ladies and gentlemen of the United States of America, November 8th, 2016 is the day you get to go out there and do your part for what you believe in.

It’s your chance to slay Ragnaros, Nefarian, C’thun and Kel’Thuzad as part of a 40-man raid.

It’s your chance to defeat Prince Malchezzar and Gruul and Magtheridon and Lady Vashj and Kael’thas and Illidan and Kil’jaeden as a small part of a greater whole.

It’s up to you to do the real-life equivalent of clearing through Naxxramas, Ulduar, Trial of the Crusader and defeat the Lich King in Icecrown Citadel all on heroic 25-man difficulty.

It’s up to you to exercise your constitutionally-assured right to voice your concerns, to show you have confidence in one candidate or that you lack confidence in another.

As a Canadian, I can’t do much except implore you to exercise your right to vote. Would I like for Hillary Clinton to win? Absolutely. But I won’t tell you not to vote if you don’t support her. What I will tell you is a short story of how a single vote can matter.

Picture it, October 30, 1995: my home province of Quebec has decided to hold a referendum on whether or not Quebec should secede from the rest of Canada. (Ludicrous. Also, not the first time they did this!) I cast my very first vote that day, never having voted before in any election. It was a nail-biter. The No side (meaning no, let us NOT secede from Canada) won. The final percentage: 50.58% to 49.42%. In real numbers, that is a difference of 54,288 votes. That was it.

93.52% of all 5,087,009 registered Quebec voters voted. That left 329,638 people who did not vote. Imagine if everyone had voted. Quebec could now be its own separate country. It could have caused the collapse of the Canada we know today. It could have gone either way. The number of people who didn’t vote is more than six times the difference between the two choices. SIX TIMES.

And yet, the thing is, that is a crazy high percentage of voter turnout. It’s the highest turnout for voters in all of Canadian history.

In 2012, only 57.5% of eligible US voters voted in the election.

57.5%.

If you don’t like what’s happening in your country, you have a voice. If you don’t think someone can lead your country for the next four years, you have a say. History is decided by those who decide to show up. One vote CAN make a difference. And you know what? It’s not just one vote. There are propositions to vote on. Down-ballot candidates. Senate races. House races. You can have something like 20 votes on one ballot! Don’t ever doubt that you can make a difference. You can be that rogue evasion-tanking the boss while the rest of the raid gets those precious few seconds to finish him off. You can be the clutch player who just battle-rezzed a tank, or you can be that healer who just got battle-rezzed to make sure the rest of the raid stays alive. You can be the freaking shaman who puts on a shield and tanks after a warrior dies while tanking the priest on Council in Black Temple, leading to a first kill. (SHOUTOUT TO DUPER!)

You can be the hero.

You must act now, champion!

Some things to do or bear in mind (you know, the equivalent of reading strats or watching videos, then flasking, eating buff food and using potions in a fight!):

So. Are you ready to go out there and tackle a real-life raid boss? As Akama would say, the time has come! The moment is at hand!

Pulling in 3… 2… 1…

Legion, the Journey to 800 LW and Skinning Rants

(Spoilers abound for Legion, especially around Leatherworking. You have been warned.)

I’m quite enjoying Legion, but there are a couple of issues I have with professions. Don’t get me wrong, this is probably the best expansion since Wrath, I just have some… questions and comments regarding professions.

800 leatherworking

First of all, everything Gravenscale and Dreadleather for a Leatherworker goes grey at 780, assuming you don’t have any rank 3 recipes. By itself, this is fine, in my opinion. I knew we’d have a challenging expansion in terms of professions when I had to hurl myself off various cliffs and waterfalls, chasing a moose. (That’s a whole other story!)

The problem here is the acquisition of the various Rank 3 recipes. Let’s look at Gravenscale stuff:

  • Armbands: From elite Skrog Tidestompers/Wavecrashers at a ridiculously low rate
  • Grips: Drop from Advisor Melandrus in Court of Stars (Mythic only dungeon)
  • Hauberk: Drop from Latosius in Black Rook Hold only on Mythic
  • Treads: Drop from Cordana Felsong in Vault of the Wardens
  • Spaulders: ???
  • Girdle: Strap Bucklebolt in the Underbelly in Dalaran for 1500g and 500 Sightless Eyes
  • Leggings & Helm: Exalted with Valarjar

Of these items, the cheapest to make are the Armbands, which require no Bloods of Sargeras, though 110 Stormscale. The Treads, Girdle and Spaulders (who even knows where that recipe drops?!) all require 12 Stormscale and 2 Bloods of Sargeras, which is at least somewhat better than the Leggings, Helm and Hauberk, all of which require Felhide. (Though, interestingly, the Hauberk does not require Bloods…)

Of all of those items that drop in dungeons, none are a 100% drop rate.

It seemed to me that getting the Rank 3 belts for Dreadleather and Gravenscale were my best option. It took me a couple of hours, but I got all the crap I needed in the Underbelly and got my recipes (both Rank 2 and Rank 3, btw).

I was able to get to 790 pretty quickly, as my new hobby is farming basilisks for scales and Bloods of Sargeras, and then, disaster — the recipes turned green. Still, it wasn’t intolerable. I was able to get to 795 with a bit of effort and then 796 and finally, 797.

Ladies and gentlemen, getting from 797 to 798 required that I make nearly 40 belts. (I think the official count was 38, as best as I can tell.) That is 456 Stormscales (not a problem) and 76 Bloods of Sargeras. That’s where the problem was. Look, make it take 10, even 15 crafts to level up on a green recipe, but 38?! THIRTY-EIGHT. With two BOP items for each?! Ridiculous.

I guess RNG worked out for me though because I got from 798 to 799 on 13 belts and then, hilariously, I got from 799 to 800 with one single belt.

I hit 800 Leatherworking last night, before the Darkmoon Faire arrived, which was my goal. I don’t think that waiting for a monthly event should be your best chance of getting those last five skill points. I mean, it was good to know it was happening and, had I been stuck under 800 before the Faire left, I certainly would have taken advantage of it, but I don’t think it should almost be a requirement. I managed to get to 800 LW the old-fashioned way and I’m pretty pleased with myself, but the journey to 800 was difficult and I have spent way too much time killing way too many basilisks. (Current count is somewhere over 3000.)

And now, now we turn to Skinning, because there are some Issues.

First, I should note that miners and herbalists have it good, these days. No one can steal your node. Nodes exist for everyone and deplete for people individually. This is a great change. As someone with at least two herbalists and one miner, I can appreciate this. (I don’t want to talk about the quests related to these yet, though. More on that when I’ve maxed out those professions.)

Skinners, however, get screwed.

In this expansion, they got rid of mob tagging. On the whole, a great change. If you tag the mob, other people can tag it and you can all loot after you defeat the thing. (Well, same-faction tagging, anyway.)

Skinners, though, have the problem in that they need to have everything off of the corpse before we can skin. So if I’ve looted the body but my brother, Fog, who killed it with me, has not, then I cannot skin the corpse until my brother has looted the body too.

This is problematic for a couple of reasons:

  • Some people just don’t loot their mobs (which I do NOT understand at all! Looting is practically the whole point of the game!)
  • Other skinners will purposely tag all your mobs, let you do all the work and then deliberately will not loot, waiting for you to leave before they loot and then can skin.

The fact that when you loot, you loot ALL nearby bodies makes things even more difficult, because you can start skinning a couple of mobs and then other skinners can come running up and skin the rest. This used to be mitigated by not looting a corpse until you were ready to skin it, but that hasn’t worked since before AOE loot was introduced. This not only is still a problem, but is exacerbating the problem of other skinners purposely tagging your mobs, because if you loot one of them, you loot them all, giving them the ability to loot and start skinning when they feel like it.

That said, I’m pretty good at dealing with this nonsense, personally. If someone tags my mobs, I will go forth and tag ALL THE MOBS and just sit back and wait until they take off. I will feign if needed, I will get my pet to feign, and they may end up dead due to pulling all of the mobs. The lesson here is that if you’re a jerk to me, I will do whatever I can do to kill you in-game. Don’t mess with me, I farmed Elemental Plateau in Burning Crusade!

But we shouldn’t have to do that. If I have tagged a mob initially, you should not be able to prevent me from skinning it. Period. That’s where the problem lies.

Additionally, skinning in Suramar is a nightmare if you have a small cap on your Ancient Mana, because if there’s Ancient Mana on the mob that you cannot pick up, surprise! You can’t skin the corpse. That needs to be remedied ASAP and is, honestly, one of the main reasons I haven’t done a lot in Suramar yet.

Finally, Felhide. This is only acquired by skinning the Felhide Gargantuan when it shows up as a World Quest. This severely limits the number of Felhides that exist at any given time. On the one hand, that’s fine, because it means Felhides are valuable, but on the other, the demand and supply rise and fall with the RNG of the World Quests. I’d rather they be an extremely rare skin, even rarer than the Bloods of Sargeras, to be honest. There were two Felhide World Quests today and the price of Felhide is currently hovering around 300g apiece. Last Sunday, it was around 800g apiece. Do miners and herbalists have this RNG-World-Quest nonsense for any of their items? Honestly, I’d love to know.

Anyways. I’m enjoying the expansion overall. Kurn is 110 and I’ve still got a lot of quests to do in various zones. My shaman is 101 due entirely to mining and herbing and I’ve got Madrana halfway to 101 after opening up her class hall. (Loved the Dalaran Crater bit, check out this screenshot. We’re twins! Lightforge Armor and the Stormpike tabard FTW!)

twins

Oh, and I’ve finally hit more than a million gold. Yay! How’s Legion treating you?

Yet More Privacy Ruminations

So Overwatch is out and it is amazing. I love it. I play it basically as much as I can. I’m playing Lucio primarily, but am also enjoying Widowmaker and have dallied with Junkrat, Reinhardt, Hanzo and would like to play around with Mercy and McCree.

I typically play the game with friends, because friends make things a lot more fun and you also have a much higher success rate if you’re all on a voice chat together (we haven’t really used the in-game one, but I hear it’s not terrible) and there’s chatter. “There’s a Reaper top left window!” “Got it!” is just one example from a recent match wherein we were defending Hanamura Point B.

However, not all of these people are really my friends.

There’s Majik, of course, plus my brother, Fog.

Then I also play with Majik’s brothers, Sephden and ChaosMarine. Sephden used to be a raider with us in Apotheosis way back in the day, so I’ve known him for a while. I’ve only really known Chaos for a few months — although I did meet him at Majik’s wedding three years ago.

I also play with Palantir, who was also a raider of ours in Burning Crusade, and was Majik’s college roommate. He and Maj came up to Montreal a few years ago and so we hung out and we’ve played together a lot — but not for a number of years. (Although we did walk down the aisle together at Majik’s wedding.) He and Maj and my brother play a lot of League of Legends together. (Which I do not. For a lot of reasons.)

Then I play with three other people, all friends of Sephden’s or Chaos’. C, E and JollyPenguin. I think E (I could be wrong) was a short-term raider in Apotheosis in Burning Crusade, but I don’t know C at all and I only know JollyPenguin because we also played Minecraft together.

I even played a few rounds with Fusionsnake, who’s a friend of Sephden’s, who was a badass rogue of ours in Burning Crusade. (It was nice to chat with him for a bit.)

I am probably known for being extremely protective of my privacy and my BattleTag, yet I have recently decided to let a few, select people get added to my BattleTag list. At first, it was just Maj’s brothers. Then I added Palantir. My thinking is — hey, I’ve met them all “in real life”.

Fusion and C had requested I add them and I declined those, because while it’s nice to play with Fusion and I don’t mind playing with C, it’s like… I don’t really know you. Do I really want you to be able to see what I’m doing in Blizzard games at all times? No.

In fact, I don’t want anyone to see that at all times.

The more people you add as a BattleTag friend, the less privacy you have, period.

“So I saw you were hanging out in Stormwind,” Palantir said to me this weekend. “Making gold?”

Awkward. Yes, I was hanging out in Stormwind, yes, I was making gold (or trying to). But how did he… oh, right. We’re Battle.net friends now. As such, he can see:

a) if I’m online
b) what game I’m playing
c) what WoW realm and character I’m using and even which zone I’m in

True, I can see the same info of his, but I remain uncomfortable that anyone of my BattleTag “friends” can see detailed information. I posted my ideal solution, oh, four years ago, and it’s disappointing that essentially nothing has changed.

In fact, it’s gotten worse, because our BattleTags are clearly evident in the various official Blizzard forums. I’m never going to post on the official Overwatch forum because with one click, you can see all of someone’s posts — under their full BattleTag. True, you would have to accept the invitation, but I’m very guarded and I don’t want to be constantly spammed for invitations by random people. Would this definitely happen? No. But I’m long-winded enough and critical enough that it could happen.

Hell, Palantir spammed me by requesting to be friends over and over again. Thankfully, I only saw the one invitation, but if I’d declined each, I’d have gotten new ones repeatedly.

And those invitations follow you everywhere. You see it when you log in to WoW — so and so and requested to be friends.

You see it in the BattleNet app.

Yeah, I get it — someone requested to be my friend. Now knock it off.

And I’m not even someone who has problems with people stalking them. What about those people, who live in actual fear of people with malicious intents? Just having that information out there might not be a problem for you, but it is a problem for some.

While I appreciate the free BattleTag change (yay!) and I appreciate being able to play cool games with my friends, I would urge Blizzard, again, to please look into refining the system. Sometimes I don’t want my friends to know I’m playing WoW on a little-used alt. Sometimes I want to snipe people in Overwatch without my friends seeing I’m playing the game at all. Sometimes, I just want to play and not think about how I might offend someone if I didn’t accept their group invitation.

As I said in that old post, there’s no reason we should have to deal with these inelegant (at best) tools when it comes to human interaction. Blizzard can do better and we should encourage them to do so.

 

On New Games and New Players

Hi.

(looks at date of last blog post and sighs heavily)

Well. It’s been quite some time, eh?

I’m sorry. Life is work and work is insane and that leaves exceptionally little time to do much beyond my (sometimes weekly) podcast, The Kurncast. (You should listen.)

That said, I have this week off from work, which is delightful. So I’m going to throw my hat in the ring and chime in about Overwatch. But not about how gorgeous the maps are (they are) or how awesome the animation is (it is) or even about balance or characters.

I want to talk about being a new player in a new game and learning to play and being an experienced player in a relatively new game. I want to talk about talent and practice, work and understanding.

Let’s be quite fair — this blog is resplendent with examples of my frustrations with other Warcraft players. But I’ve also done a fair amount of trying to help people play their holy paladins better, be better raiders, be better guild masters

So I understand the frustrations of some, particularly people in a game that has been around as long as World of Warcraft has been and if they’ve been playing that long.

But… I remember being a scrub, myself. My history is filled with dumb things. Of note:

  • did not tame enough pets as I levelled, thereby not teaching my old pet new abilities (Growl Rank 1, anyone?) Of course, this mechanic is long-gone.
  • often forgot to dismiss my pet, causing a pet pull. (Whoops.)
  • “tanked” a dungeon with a melee weapon as a hunter instead of using my pet (Blackrock Depths) (long, long, long story)

Part of why I was able to do such dumb things is, of course, that the game wasn’t mature at that point. So many people were still learning. Do I have higher expectations of both myself and others in WoW nowadays? Yes. It’s been out for 11 years. The population of the game is declining. Most people who are playing WoW should know some basics. What basics?

  • what a tank is
  • what a healer is
  • what a DPS is
  • what bad environmental shit looks like
  • how to stay out of bad environmental shit

I wouldn’t even expect most players to know how or when to interrupt spells, or to know necessarily that healing causes aggro. I wouldn’t even necessarily expect them to know various fights, particularly fights that I do know, because I’ve run BRD like eighteen billion times and it’s their first time in the dungeon.

I do expect people to do a bit of research on their class. I do expect people to ask questions if needed. I do expect people to follow instructions if they’re unsure.

So now we come to Overwatch. The newest Blizzard game on the block, it’s been in beta for a few months and some people have had the good fortune to be in the beta this whole time. Others are just now getting their first look at the game.

Overwatch is a first-person shooter game that’s very reminiscent of Team Fortress 2. I enjoy TF2, I’ve spent many hours of my life playing it (nowhere close to my time played in WoW, mind you) and so this format of the game is not terribly foreign to me. But I imagine it’s foreign to others.

That said, as a newer player to Overwatch myself, this is what I feel I need to know:

  • what offense, defense, tank and support roles are for
  • what assault, escort, control and assault/escort maps are
  • what my particular choice of heroes can do in terms of basic and ultimate abilities
  • a general idea of when it would be useful to use my abilities to best help my teammates

The first thing I did during the Overwatch stress test a couple of weeks ago was play a LOT against bots. Easy bots. Medium bots. Eventually hard bots. Then I played with friends, primarily, against real people and realized I was still a scrub.

Playing with friends is great, particularly if you’re on Skype or Mumble or something of the sort (ugh to the in-game voice chat) because you and your friends can correct each other and learn from one another. Majik used to do that in arenas in WoW — he’d experience the arena and then discuss the reasons for failure with his teammates. It’s a smaller version of what I’d do as a raid leader, where I’d post a review thread and discuss the various items that needed to be addressed where we, as a group, had fallen down. So playing with friends is bound to help you out.

So new players should know the basics. I think everyone should be okay with knowing the basics I listed above. That’s not asking too much.

What is asking too much is that someone have amazing aim or know where all the medpacks are or even knowing the names and abilities of all the characters. If you think I know more than a handful of hero names and abilities, I’ve got news for you… I don’t know where anything is on most maps. I don’t even always feel like I’m using the right hero in the right situation. But I’m playing and practicing and learning. And I’m improving. I am, by no means, innately talented at FPS games, by the way. I am pretty bad to begin with — most people are. And that’s okay. As long as I keep trying and practicing and learning, I’m going to improve. The only way for me to go is up.

For those Overwatch “experts”, who have a lot of previous experience with FPS games (particularly TF2), I can understand your dislike of newbies. But we’re here. We’re learning the game. Give us a chance to catch up! This is our first real look at the game and there will be more newbies incoming on launch. Feel free to give us instructions if you see someone doing something “wrong”, but remember that we’re learning!

Oh. And here’s a pro tip for you: people are more likely to listen to you if you say it nicely. :)