Monday, December 22, 2014

Ding! Level 100

Unlike other zones where you establish your Outpost and then get a turn in for a set of plans at the end of a long, zone wide quest chain, in Nagrand, you get the plans after a relatively short quest chain with Lantestor the Blade.



I enjoyed his quest line in Burning Crusade and it was fun to see this guy again on Draenor. It was even cooler when he offered to be a follower. I opted for the Corral, even though I really loved the idea of the Tankworks. From what I had heard, the siege engine you get from the Tankworks isn't that powerful and the speed boost from the always on mount is nice even if it does look a bit silly at times.

I've recently found the addon Garrison Mission Manager which help you build teams to go on missions. It has been a big help putting my missions together.



I did the quests at the Ring of Blood and didn'thave too much trouble except for the last one. The boss hits you with a blind on short timer. I came close to dying but a quick Lay on Hands stabilized me long enough to figure out I could out range the attack. It became a bit of a stick and move that melee have to do some times. Run, get a few hits and run out of range.

The storyline in the zone picked up when I got summoned to the Throne of Elements. This is another area I remembered from Burning Crusade. It became one of the chief farming spots for crafting reagents. I completed the first set of quests and I was really getting into the story. Gul’dan is up to his old tricks and as soon as I heard ‘weakening in the bonds that hold the world together’ I knew we would be fighting to stop Gul’dan from blowing up THIS Draenor like he destroyed the original. I was really surprised to see the Naaru. I didn’t think the Naaru showed up to Outland until it got blown up.



About halfway through the zone, I finally hit Level 100! Yeah. It only took me a month. I was a little disappointed no one in guild chat said anything, but they were all busy in Highmaul and I’m still not well known. I don’t know what I’m doing long-term guild wise. The plan was to get to 100 and figure it out. Well, half of that is done.



I went back to my Garrison. One advantage to having taken as long as I did was I already had all the Garrison Resources I needed to upgrade to level 3. I built a Barn, Stables, and an Alchemy lab. My final Garrison looks like this: Gem Boutique, Salvage Yard, Alchemy Lab, Trading Post, Barn, War Mill, and Stables.

I’d like to finish Nagrand to see what happens in the story, but I also need to start gearing up. I’m sitting at 604 iLevel and I need to get that up to 615 to do the Anniversary stuff and LFR. I also need to do the Proving Grounds scenario so I can queue for Heroics.

Blizzard did a great job with the Level 90 to 100 content. I've had a great time leveling up, but now a new game begins.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Spires of Arak

Spires provided the hardest Outpost choice so far. I really liked both the option of the Smuggling Run and the option for the Brewery. I'm behind the curve already so the Brewery's experience point boost and extra hearth were appealing. The Smuggling Run offers a Follower, a bag, and a toy. It didn't really seem like much at first. But it came down to looking at a short term versus long term benefit. The bag was a huge boon. It is a 28 slot bag and as much as I like to hoard old armor bag slots are welcome. The extra Follower was something that would help me for the rest of the expansion. I didn't think the experience point bonus would make it that much faster.

One of the first chains I did was to open up the blueprints for the Salvage Yard. After I could build it, I decided to replace my Enchanter's Workshop with the Salvage Yard. It will give a better chance for gear for both myself by getting random upgrades. Not long after I built it, a blue quest reward upgraded to epic and over 600 iLevel. While it was nice to be able to DE the greens with the developers breaking the Ore Shuffle and the greens vendoring for more than I could get for the dust on the AH, it didn't make much sense to keep that building.

The Spires shifts the story from the Iron Horde to the Aarakoa. I really felt like the story was buildign well through Talador so this diversion seems oddly paced. The Iron Horde do show up a little bit as a further pressure to the Aarakoa, but the main storyline was the rigid caste system in the Aarakoa society.

I found it interesting that the Arakkoa we see in Outland are all the fallen or shadow variety. The untainted Arakkoa look much different. They reminded me a bit of Rajh from Hall of Origination. Interesting also that Rajh uses sun and solar based attacks. The untainted Arakkoa follow Rukhmar and they have discovered advanced underground technology that also employs solar based attacks. As soon as I heard underground, ancient, advanced technology, I immediately thought about all the Titan facilities across Azeroth. Did the Titans visit Draenor as well? Will we discover that the Apexis were actually the Titans? The Arakkoa call Rukhmar the Sun God and Rajh is derived from Ra also a Sun God. The coincidences are striking.

Another parallel to Uldum is the proximity of the catlike Bloodmane tribe. In Uldum, you had the catlike Tol'vir in close proximity to the Halls of Origination where Rajh hung out.

As I traveled through the zone it was interesting learning about the deities of the Arakkoa: Anzu, Ka'alu and most importantly Sethe. Sethe is portrayed as the force of shadow and as as 'dead god'. It is Sethe's blood that deforms and warps the Arakkoa into the outcasts.



Eventually, you help Anzu fight Sethe again and I couldn't help but notice the similarities between Sethe and our old friend Hakkar from Zul'Gurub.

It was also cool learning the story of Terokk. In the Burning Crusade, Terokk had vanished and the outcasts didn't not know his fate. Terrok's Quill was a popular 2 hander. I didn't get another single player scenario but they used the phasing approach. You become Terokk and live his story sort of like how you did the Naga quests in Vashir.



Overall, Spires was a fun zone and I enjoyed the stories, but ultimately it seems like a sidebar to the main Warlords story. The Shattered Hand show up but they a minor role.

I finished the week at Level 99 and ready to head to Nagrand.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Auchindoun

I started by my making some minor changes to the Garrison. I swapped my Barracks for a War Mill. The War Mill is one of the buildings I planned for my max level Garrison. It provides "a better chance for quest rewards to get a rare or epic upgrade and it increases the potency of the upgrade." Thank you Wowhead! I also swapped my Lumber Mill for a Trading Post.

Once I got back into the field, one of my first jobs was cleansing the Tomb of Lights. There was a similar quest in the Tomb of Light in Burning Crusade. I'm not sure what it is about the Tomb of Lights that attracts the bad guys, but if you ever find yourself working as a Vindicator and you get assigned to the Tomb of Lights, ask for a transfer post haste!

That led to a series of quests chasing down Teron'gor, one of the Gul'dan's lieutenants. If I don't miss my guess, this Teron'gor is none other than Teron Gorefiend, one of the bosses in the Burning Crusade's Black Temple raid.



I chased Teron'gor through a couple of portals. One of them left me on the ruins of a world called Xandros. I was greeted by a Pit Lord with the title Destroyer of Xandros. Apparently, this was a world the Burning Legion had already consumed.



I was able to take down the Pit Lord with the help of Vindicator Maladaar and Lady Liadrin. I thought it odd for a the Blood Elves and the Draenai to be working together, but the Draenai of Draenor don't know anything about the factional lines back on Azeroth. The Draenor and Blood Elves did combine their forces to form the Shattered Sun at the end of the Burning Crusade.



Maladaar rocks an ALD (Aldori Legacy Defender), my favorite shield in the game. At least he has good taste.

I thought the angle of enlisting the help of the ghost Ogres was interesting if a little unsettling. One of the quests was to disable a series of towers. I could clearly see the impact of not being able to fly. With flight, I would have flown up to each town and deactivated the Shadow Beacon. Without being able to fly, I had to clear through many mobs to reach the tower and clear more mobs as I ascended the tower.

As a bit of trivia, I discovered that Auchindoun is also the name of a castle in Scotland. I wonder if that is where Blizzard got the name.

I'm still no where near 100. I keep on keeping on.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Shattrah, Iron Docks and Being Behind

Shattrah turned out to be even better than I expected. When I finally arrived, I was put into one of the single player scenarios that have become synonymous in my mind with something awesome about to happen.

It happened.



The Battle for Shattrah was on. I was a little confused when the NPCs started talking about an Iron Horde super weapon. Either I missed a quest chain somewhere or that’s revealed in the Alliance side of the story. I rolled through the Iron Horde and made my way down to the docks. An earlier quest had me help Durotan confront Ogrim Doomhammer. Thrall is always saying “FOR DOOMHAMMER!” so I assumed Doomhammer would be a good guy but when you first met him he tried to kill Durotan and me.



That’s definitely puts him in the ‘bad guy’ category in my book. But when we reached Blackhand, Doomhammer had had second thoughts and the battle was on.

The cut scene at the end of that battle with Yrel, Maraad, and Durotan was just amazing. It’s right up there with Wrathgate and Grom versus Mannoroth. I really, really want to go back through and level up one of my Alliance toons after I get Honors settled at Level 100.

After the Battle of Shattrah, I met with Aarakoa.



I really enjoyed their quests in Burning Crusade and it appears we will have another Aarakoa rep in Warlords. I decided to try out a dungeon for the first time and queued as both a Tank and a DPS. You can guess which one popped. I got Iron Docks, and I warned the group it was my first time in the instance. To my surprise two others in the party said the same. The dungeon was pretty cool. The Developers have really upped their game with the Dungeon Journal. I was able to take a quick glance before most fights and know the basics of what I need to do. I’m feel like I do so much better as a tank than I am as a DPS. I have no idea why. Fundamentally, it’s the same sort of thing: target switching, positioning, reactions. I managed to score some pants off the final boss and I’m starting to replace the Heroic gear I got while I was a trial on Zul’jin.

I finished the night percentage points shy of Level 96. True to my earlier fears, one of my Followers Olim Umberhide actually hit 96 before I did.

Yes, I’m behind because I lost the first three days of the Expansion to queues and DDoS attacks, but I’m only Level 96. Raids opened Tuesday and the team from the guild I’m in starts their runs tonight. Would I be 100 if I had had those three days? The answer is most likely not. Even if I was Level 100, I would be only beginning the gear grind and I still might not be ready to join them. I really would like to raid, and I would love to do some tanking, but no one owes me a raid spot and certainly not a tank spot. Raids are opening and I’m not anywhere near ready.

I’m going to have to play this like I did back in Vanilla. I got to max level well after the raiding started. I will continue to plug away, enjoying the zones and the stories. Once I’m max level I’ll see if I can find my way onto a team, preferable one in the guild, or at least on Shadow Council. If I can’t, I’ll go looking for a team.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Garrison Planning

I got the quest to open my Fishing Shack and decided to give Prot leveling a try. It wasn't bad, but I could tell it was slower than Ret so I switched back.

Out of all the zones I've seen so far in Warlords, Talador is the most similar to its Burning Crusade look and feel. It appears this area was the least affected when the original Draenor broke apart.

It turned out the flight to Talador didn't take me to Shattrah. Instead I found myself in the Talador Outpost and facing a decision on what to build. There really didn't seem to be much difference between the Arsenal or the Arcane Sanctum. In the end, I went with the Arsenal. While Honors uses spells, he's much more a warrior than a spell slinger.

When I finished Gorgrond, I was awarded Outpost Building Assembly notes and was told to take them to Ashran. A goblin there offered to trade them for various Level 2 blueprints. I really want to spend this well, so it's high time I come up with a plan on what I'm doing with my Garrison.

In the end, I'll have 3 small building, 2 medium buildings, and 2 large buildings. I've already built a Lumber Mill (Medium) and a Barracks (Large). It is disappointing that the game basically forces you to build a Barracks that takes up your only Large building plot. You must tear it down later if you want a different building.

One of the advantages of being a little behind the curve is that you can learn from the experiences of others. I've already heard how some players are struggling for Garrison resources once they replaced the Lumber Mill.

Medium building options are the Barn, Inn, Lumber Mill, Gladiator's Sanctum and Trading Post.

Gladiator's Sanctum seems to be aimed at PVPers.

The Barn is the only way to get Savage Blood which I assume I'll need later for crafting. It also seems to tie into cooking and is the way to make the best feasts. I'm sure Guilds will have dedicated feast makers but it is something else I can do to contribute.

The Inn has daily quests for gear and Apexis Crystals (the 'Valor Points' of Warlords). It also lets you really customize your followers and has several pet and toy rewards.

The Trading Post gives more crafting materials and has a transmog which doesn't appeal to me.

The Lumber Mill is a great way to harvest resources but already in Talador I'm running into trees that need a Level 3 Mill to harvest.

I think the Barn and the Inn are the two I want, but I'll need the Mill for a while. I don't know that it makes much sense to upgrade the Mill when I plan on tearing it down. My next Medium plot that opens up I'll build an Inn and then once I'm Level 100, I can tear down the Mill for a Barn.

Large Building options are the Barracks, the War Mill, Mage Tower, Stables, and the Goblin Workshop.

War Mill increases Followers item level and gives you more missions. I like missions. It also gives a free Bonus roll for Raiding and some transmog.

Barracks lets you change the orcs in your base to your race, in my case, Tauren. Oddly, that is very appealing to me. It allows more Followers and more Follower experience and gives you a Bodyguard which I really don't need. Barracks also has the not negligible benefit of already being built.

Mage Tower - Quick travel all over Draenor with Waygates. Nice, but not a contender compared to the other options.

Stables is great for mount collecting and lets you gather while mounted in addition to increasing your mounted speed. I really loved Crusader Aura back in the day. This would be a small way to have it back.

Goblin Workshop gives me my very own Siege Engine to drive around the open world. That is very appealing.

I really like the Stables, and I'm torn between the War Mill, and Barracks. I don't need a bodyguard, at least not yet, but I do like the racial guards and the patrol missions, but the Tempered Seal and item upgrades from War Mill is tempting as well.

For Small buildings I have the Gem Boutique and the Enchanter's Study. My next one is going to be a Forge to help make me some gear.

My final Garrison looks like it will be Gem Boutique, Enchanter's Study, Forge, Barn, Inn,  and Stables.

Here's my final plan in the WoWHead Garrison Calculator with everything maxxed out.

http://www.wowhead.com/garrison-calc#GwsoIQMBKEE3YBR-FiQBccGEMBmFOz8D-JQ4cFGo

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Genuflect in Gorgrond

I found a tunnel through the landslide Drek’thar had brought down and made my way to Gorgrond. The questing here was good and I really liked the introduction of the Botani. They are a new twist on the undead and I liked the quest lines surrounding them. At one point, I found a Genesaur fighting what looked like some kind of rock creature.



I never did find out who they were or why they were having a battle. The elephants were dancing and I wanted to be sure I wasn't around when they stopped.

I chose the Lumber Mill Outpost instead of the Sparring Arena. The Sparring Arena sounded like it was connected to the PVP centric Gladiator’s Sanctum. Me and PVP don’t get along anymore. Actually, we get along just fine. It stays over there on PVP servers and Battlegrounds. I stay over here on PVE servers and Raids.

Working with the Laughing Skull felt really weird and I like how Draka was waiting the whole time for the "sudden but inevitable betrayal" that never came. I also really liked working with Penny. She is a great character and I’m excited that she is now one of my followers.

I’m slowly starting to replace my Mists gear. I do have a hard time letting go of gear once I get it. I never know when some quest reward will be really good for a transmog I want to put together, especially the belts, backs and boots. Those are always the hardest pieces, but it’s turned me into Horder’s : Warcraft Edition.


Gorgrond ended in another single player scenario where my two companions for much of the Gorgrond story, Draka and Kaz faced off against General Gog and one of the Sons of Gruul. If I don’t miss my guess that Son of Gruul was a world boss in Burning Crusade who patroled around Oshu’gun in Nagrand. It was another “repel the waves” kind of assault and I struggled a bit. The Iron Horde strapped a huge Gattling Gun on the back of the Son of Gruul and I got caught in it. I loved how you used the Genesaur artifact you chased through the entire zone to give you an edge during the final assault. I’m really enjoying these set pieces to conclude the zone story. If they want to do that for every zone in Warlords I would not complain. Nope, not one little bit. (My son's favorite new bedstory is Cat in the Hat).

I still have a couple of quest lines to finish in Gorgrond but I've finished the main story line. Part of me wants to be all completionist, but the teaser for the next zone of Talador mentioned going to Shattrah. I have a warm place in my cold heart for Shattrah which became my online home during Burning Crusade. The Aldor are probably there, but there won’t be, or at least there shouldn’t be any Scryers. I really want to see Shattrah of Draenor. Maybe I can leave those unfinished quest lines for an alt.

I finished the night at hitting Level 94.



My second Draenor perk was Enhanced Hand of Sacrifice. Of course my first one was Enhanced Forbearance. Weeeee. I’m actually considering doing some Prot leveling to see how it goes, especially if I can score a Glyph of the Consecrator. I have no idea if it’s close to Retrubution leveling. I’m sure I’ll still gaze at Gladiator Stance Warrior with green eyed envy.

The Garrison is pumping along pretty well. I’m sending out my followers on missions via the Barracks so often that some of them might get to Level 100 before I do. I finally figured out that I was supposed to use the Draenic stone I've been gathering from mining for work orders at the mine. Oops.

I don’t use any Work Orders at the Enchanter’s Study. I barely have any dust since BoEs aren’t dropping as much as I remember in previous expansions and they took out the simple green crafts from Jewelcrafting. The toy is the only thing I've crafted with Jewelcrafting thus far. The one neck I could use needs like 100 Taladrite crystals. Yikes! That is going to take weeks of work orders.

Onward to Shattrah. I can't wait to see the place.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Onto Gorgrond and Professions

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that you continue to check in on the blog from time to time to see how I'm doing.

I continued questing through Frostfire Ridge. I enjoyed the interfamily politics of the Frostwolf clan with Durotan and his brother.



My favorite quest was the final one in the zone where you are tasked with defending a pass against an Iron Horde army while Drek’thar (this version apparently won’t be in Alterac Valley anytime soon) works on bringing down the mountain on them. You enter seamlessly into a single player scenario. I really like this implementation. It reminded me a bit of the excellent SWTOR class stories.

For the first time in Draenor, I really felt like a hero. There was no Khadgar to come save the day this time. While Drek’thar would bring down the mountain, this time it felt more collaborative with me, Gan’nar and Durotan helping to hold off the Iron Horde while Drek’thar did his thing. I love the giant Eleeks that the Iron Horde brought to bear.



It gave the fight the impression of a mini-Raid and especially on the heels of Siege of Orgrimaar, it reminded me a bit of the Galarkras fight. The interplay between Durotan and his brother comes to a climax and it was a strong and poignant moment in the story.

Sidebar II: I realized that Alternate Azeroth, the Azeroth the Horde from Alternate Draenor was supposed to invade before Garrosh messed up the timelines likely doesn’t even exist anymore. Algalon the Observer showed up, and there were no heroes to stop him since they had all likely been lost to the Burning Legion invasion. Algalon triggered the re-origination of that Azeroth. The Cairne, Zul’jin, Sylvana and all the others of that world who we knew are no more.
Over the course of questing, I upgraded my Garrison to Tier II.



I built my Gem Boutique, Mine and an Enchanter’s study. I love being able to disenchant all the green BoEs I get questing. I’m not entirely sure what to do about the work orders. I can get fragmented Temporal crystals, but I’m not sure what I would do with them. The mine reminds me of a mining plot from Wildstar. Mining nodes spawn every so often and I go into there and harvest them. I haven’t gotten a quest for the Herb Garden or Fishing shack yet.

Flattery will get you somewhere with this commander.



I was a little on the fence if I was going to stay Jewlecrafting for Warlords. There isn’t a real combat benefit to Jewelcrafting and supposedly very little gear will have sockets. I've always loved Engineering and if professions are supposed to be about choosing something you like, I think I would choose Engineering for the 3rd (or would it be 4th?) time in Honors career. My very first follower was a Tauren Jewelcraft so I went ahead and started the chain for Jewelcrafting to see what it was really like. At the end of the chain, I was able to make a toy.

Check out the flavor text. When I’m tanking, I go into battle with my battle cry “Hey Bossman, it’s HAMMERTIME!” It was inspired by Ben Grimm aka The Thing and his battlecry of “It’s Clobbering Time!” With Hammertime, the old MC Hammer references always come into play which makes this the BEST. TOY. EVER.



I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing with JC at this point. I’m making some Taladrite crystals. It’s cheaper to make them through the Gem Boutique than it is through using the raw materials. I've made one Secret of Draenor Jewelcrafting and bought a recipe for a sweet neck that I could already equip but it needs a bunch of crystals plus some other materials I don’t have yet. I’m not seeing the benefit of buying a bunch of stuff of the AH yet especially when I’m still plowing through everything with relative ease thanks to my 550 iLevel. The only thing I've replaced from Mists so far is my Throne of Thunder tier pants.

I do wonder if some of the people currently playing will once again leave WoW in 3 months and some tank jobs will open. Love it or hate it, there’s really nothing incredibly different between Warlords and Mists. I may end up being wrong (be far from the first time), but I think I will stick with WoW for a while. There is just so much potential between Garrisons, Raiding, Brawlers Guild, Archaeology, Professions, and Pet Battles. The biggest reason I left WoW was to try other games and devote time to other hobbies. I didn't enjoy the other games as much as I thought I would and I’m working WoW around my other hobbies (instead of the other way around). Hopefully I can find good groups that will let me do some tanking for them while at the same maintain a better balance between time in game and out of game than my previous times raiding.