A new group forms

Having completed the Twisting Corridors we were looking for another Saturday night activity for the merry band of adventurers.

After a little discussion, thinking about getting a group of 50s to max level and some other ideas that didn’t meet a quorum we simply decided to start a new group of characters and level them to 50 for the Heritage Armor, because all 4 had at least one allied race that was lacking that achievement and so we brainstormed a group composition and landed on this:

  • Vulpera Shaman, Ele/Resto
  • Vulpera Mage
  • Nightborne Shadow Priest
  • Vulpera Blood Death Knight, me

So that’s a composition we can easily run instances with, otherwise we could’ve probably gotten by without a tank, but it’s a lot easier this way. I would’ve preferred Druid but I already have a Zandalari Paladin with the armor and Troll was too boring, thus Vulpera – the others were a lot quicker in their decisions but also less restrained.

We weren’t sure where or how we’d start but apparently Allied Race chars all start at level 10 and we just needed to get to Orgrimmar, grab the Chromie quest and make our way to Pandaria. Sorting guild invites, gold, bags, and other stuff took a while – but we managed to get to around Level 16 and run a first instance as well. Let’s see how this will work out in the long run.

Back to leveling for a bit

Not really enthusiastic about endgame grinds in WoW at the moment, so I dusted off my Death Knight who was sitting at 52/53 in Bastion, switched to Threads of Fate and pushed her to 58 now with dungeons and quests. Out of rested XP or I would’ve continued there I guess. My Druid is still sitting at 154 iLvl and I don’t want to spend time grinding dungeons and I also don’t want to spend gold on upgrades from the AH, guess I’m not enjoying the spec enough.

I stopped going for the Void Elf Heritage set a while ago (didn’t make it to 110 in time, so now the goal was 50) at Level 44, so I was at 150% rested XP and pushed through 3-4 dungeons and Spires of Arakk the last 2 days, hitting Level 50 an hour ago. Not that I particularly like the Ren’dorei set on a Rogue, but I wanted to get this done and now I can shelve her again. This was actually the last Allied Race on the Alliance side, except the Lightforged Draenei where I still haven’t started a character or decided on the class. Paladin or Hunter, maybe. Very much maybe.

Purple = good

With all the Alliance alts I leveled due to being active in the guild, I’ve quite surpassed the Horde ones. Highmountain Tauren and Nightborne still at 27, Vulpera at 13, only Zandalari and Mag’har finished at 45+50.

Maybe I should actually start Mage or Monk, or at least run one of them through the Maw intro and then see if I feel like leveling slowly, but realistically it’s either fast or not at all…

Horizon: Zero Dawn, finally

When I bought my new computer in late 2019 I held off buying a proper graphics card because my old one was still good enough (despite being 3 years old) and I only played WoW and SWTOR and other older things anyway. I looked around during 2020 and said to myself I’d buy one when Horizon: Zero Dawn would come out on PC, one of the few titles I’d actually been waiting for since the PS4 launch. Then it came out in August but I wasn’t really in the mood to play a game like it, so I put both purchases off. Then in December I started looking for a card and bought one around christmas.

Two days ago I finally also bought Horizon: Zero Dawn on GoG because it was on sale and despite not feeling like starting a new game, I started playing, because I’d put off buying it for such a long time…

Anyway, I’m 4h in and I’m loving it. I’m playing on easy because the moment-to-moment gameplay isn’t exactly my cup of tea but on this difficulty I can enjoy the scenery and experience the story. Right now my plan is to approach it slowly in 1-2h increments every few days, that’s also what pushed me through Borderlands 3, a game I wanted to see but didn’t completely enjoy from a gameplay perspective.

Aloy looking at things

Creeping through the corridors

We did it!

Corridor Creeper

As I’ve written in a past post a duo run at the Twisting Corridors with Prot Paladin and Arcane Mage nearly ended in tears ( or more realistically in a damaged desk, so we joined up with a Resto Druid and Destro Warlock (I switched to my Warrior in Prot spec) and we chipped away slowly at the Twisting Corridors, doing one layer every Saturday (unless we had to move it), so after 8 weeks we finally did it yesterday. Most layers took around 2 hours, taking it slowly and killing every mob and the last 2 actually taking even close to 3 hours. But it was time well spent chatting on Discord, hanging out with people we couldn’t meet for months, and the added benefit of an achievement and a handy mount (which will maybe be obsolete when Patch 9.1.0 hits, we’ll see).

Yesterday we actually had a little oopsie when someone accidentally used the Ravenous Anima Cell on the floor 3/9/15 vendor in floor 3… but at least we could save up and still buy stuff in 6/12/18. Also surprisingly as a tank I only ever died once if I remember correctly, by failing to move from a poison bomb on the floor 18 end boss, otherwise it was only the others being oneshot or someone walking into a trap or falling off a ledge. Bit weird, healing was basically not needed up to layer 6 or even 7, only in layer 8 our healer wasn’t fooling around or dpsing and had to heal me like in a normal instance. Also Arcane Mage does get quite a few i-win buttons, but of course me being able to debuff enemies to take an extra 90% damage also helps.

Overall I’m really happy to be done and that I don’t have to go in there ever again. I’m all up for helping out people if they ask, but Twisting Corridors? No, we’d be talking a lot of money or cashing in the biggest favor I’ve ever owned someone. Nope.

Castle Nathria – meh

Apparently we had a little bit of guild drama and that’s one of the reasons I had to tank a lot more on progression the last 2 weeks, interesting to find out so long after the fact.

I’d finally got up and just ground out the remaining Soul Ash on the weekend so I could craft my Level 4 Tank Legendars, Reprisal (recently buffed with 9.0.5) and use that 235 item instead of my 235 DPS pants, and it felt really good, esp in the Denathrius fight where I can actually charge in P1.

Sadly there wasn’t a lot of progression, we got P1 finally down to 90% survival rate but we didn’t enter P3 with everyone alive a single time last night, but we started with only 10 and made it to 14 by the end, a month or two ago we were always raiding with 25 people… but we lost a few once we had cleared normal, so apparently that was enough and I can’t blame them. But I really, really, really want to get him down, and very preferably also get the Ahead of the Curve achievement, with buffed 9.1.0 gear it will be kinda pointless I guess. Still making too many errors myself, but I’m mostly tanking out of necessity and trying to improve, but the fight isn’t great for a Prot Warrior in P2 – a ton of magic damage and a lot of movement through the mirrors where the boss can hit you in the back.

Also I got a slight headache and we have our Layer 8 of Twisting Corridors scheduled for tonight, when the guild decided yesterday to run M+, so that will be fun either way, I guess.

Oops, I did it again

Actually wanted to run my 2 wings of Torghast last night because I want to craft the new Level 4 Tank Legendary, but I got a migraine and went to bed early. I think this also might be the second day since Shadowlands launch that I didn’t log into WoW at all.

So I got up before 8 today and started my first run with ~65 minutes until the daily reset (not sure if it’s also the Torghast/weekly reset on Wednesdays) and made it out the second wing with ~7 minutes spare.

I usually don’t play games before work, as I’d much rather start work early and not stay longer, but sometimes… and in this case it’s the second week in a row. Let’s see if I manage to get my 2 runs in tonight…

Magic Legends – First Impressions

I’m not even sure I had heard about Magic Legends before, but I heard about it yesterday. The Open Beta has started a few days ago and there’s supposed to be no wipe until the real launch, and it’s Free To Play, that sounds interesting!

A little bit of back story, I learned about Magic: The Gathering in highschool in 1994 or 1995 and quickly became a huge fan. Homelands and 4th Edition were when I started, then came 5th Edition and Ice Age, and I played roughly until the Mirage Cycle (Mirage, Visions, Weatherlight) in 1997, with a bit of Rath Cycle iirc (Tempest, Stronghold, Exodus). Then I didn’t play for many years with new stuff, just grabbing the old decks once in a while and playing. Around ~2014 I tried to play my old stuff against a coworker with current decks (and mechanics) and he blasted me away without a chance. That’s when I stopped playing. Also I really, really dislike card games on the computer so anything Magic was completely uninteresting for me. Magic Legends sounded like a Diablo-like ARPG with cards/spells, but not a card game. So I downloaded it.

First of all you choose one of five Planeswalkers (according to the five colors of mana). While still knowing full well what each color means and what to expect, I was a little let down by the character descriptions, not sure why. In the end I chose a Red Mana Geomancer.

The game looks ok, but I wouldn’t call it overwhelming. I’m usually not one to criticize non-flashy graphics, but it’s a new game and it doesn’t look better than Diablo 3 (which is 8 years old) in any way, which is a little sad. Also the first cutscene/ingame RP was a little janky with the mouth movements and I’m not loving the voice work. Like, not at all. None of them.

Newbie Geomancer, no zoom available

So I’m Level 4 now, after following the story a bit, quests, doing a random event that popped up and a mini dungeon with 3 others. It’s all ARPG stuff like you’d imagine, but it all seems a little… unfinished. I know, I know, Open Beta. But I was trying to walk over some sort of walkway and I couldn’t spamclick because I was rubberbanding a little and pathing wasn’t exactly spot on. When in a town my toon was behind a wall/building with an NPC and I couldn’t see either.

Using Fast Travel isn’t very intuitive, you have to stand on the waypoint and then open the world map to use it. Or maybe you don’t even have to stand on it, but why can’t I interact with the waypoints, anyway?

Actually these are all very superfluous criticisms and I guess I could just ignore them or get used to them, but I think this game is not for me, for a completely subjective reason. The way combat works is like this: Left click is my default attack (in the Geomancer’s case it fills the shield by hitting enemies), Q and W are “unlimited” abilities with a short (5s?) cooldown, so far so good. But where it diverges from Diablo is that you don’t for example choose 4 skills from your “class list” and use those, but you use spells as in playing Magic, with your deck. So for example I use a Fireball and some sort of Pyroclasm (spells are on the digit buttons, 1,2,3,…) but if I used them they’re gone (for now) and after some time (not sure yet) some new cards(spells) are drawn from your deck and put into slots 1,2,3,4. So basically you can’t learn a rotation, but you need to “play the card” that you drew, and I hate it.

Maybe I’m actually terrible at games and need a proportionally long time to get my fingers used to some sort of controls (I am actually surprised I can play so many different classes in MMOs, but I always need a little time to concentrate when I switch), so having different spells on 1,2,3,4 every few seconds completely confuses me and I noticed I’m glancing down (while fighting) and trying to guess which spell exactly it is (they’re all kinda… red-orange-ish, except the creatures) and then hope for the best. Some have cones to target, some have circles, some are instant-cast point-blank AoE. I like the idea, really, it’s something fresh. But this is not something for me in real time, I could totally live with this sort of spell usage in a round-based game, but realtime clickfest and not knowing which spells are available? Difficult for me, very difficult.

I’ll surely try to play a little bit longer and also try another Planeswalker, overall it’s a really well-made game I think and it’s fun to see spells and creatures you know from the card game. But spontaneously it didn’t really click with me, so I don’t have high hopes for me continuing this game. Bummer.

Heroic Denathrius is a road block

Nothing too exciting happened in the last week, mostly a really good Wednesday raid with 9/10 Heroic down without overtime (despite me offtanking again) and then 2 nights of banging our heads against Sire Denathrius, if I heard it correctly we’re at ~115 wipes, far too many in P1. There was even some grumbling and blaming at the end of the last night, which is really uncommon for my guild. We’ll see how that develops this week.

In other news, I have 6 characters at Renown 40 and for 2 more I just need to hand in one of the 2 weeklies, I was simply too lazy last week. My Horde Rogue is at 33 and needs a little more focus, I really want to have all factions to Exalted on him, but I might wait for 9.1 to do that. Moonkin Druid is 55 and I’m still running a random daily dungeon whenever I have time.

Most alts have transitioned to “log in once per night to run some adventures, log in once per week to do the world boss and fill up to 1000 anima”, which is nice and relaxing. Sure, sometimes a calling, but mostly focusing on Warrior, Paladin, and Shaman now. I got my “Fun Gal” title on the Warrior for getting Marasmius to Exalted, and I learned that it’s a very boring “Mycologist” in German WoW clients, guess they couldn’t translate the pun at all.

I’m actually just waiting for Heroic Denathrius to drop then I might actually skip a raid (so far I have 100% attendance since we started mid-December) not because I am completely burned out or annoyed, but that was my goal and I really want to play some more EVE and not have 3 fixed evenings occupied per week. I’ve never been a huge fan of farming instances (except to get gear to be stronger to progress), but I think I want to complete my Heroic Plate set for transmog.

Oh and we had to move our Saturday Twisting Corridors run, so only did Layer 6 last night, uneventful and Arcane Mage with the right perks is the secret weapon. I’ve also been blasting through Layer 8 Torghast solo as Fury, I simply don’t understand if they changed it again since my failures in Layer 4/6 or if it was simply the most unlucky combo of wing + perks ever for me and I formed a wrong opinion…

Castle Nathria progress

Yep, we’re still raiding. We got Stone Legion Generals down not long after I posted about our first tries in February, actually just 2 days later and since we’ve been working on Sire Denathrius (not extending, doing a full clear of Heroic and a skip clear of normal still). Like on Normal , we’re not really good at phase 1, and until last week Phase 2 was also still hard. But something clicked and in a very small raid of 10 people last Sunday we actually saw Phase 3 for the first time. Then a few latecomers joined and by the end of the night we were at 25%. Very far from a kill, but not always failing in Phase 1, which is nice.

Today at ~23:00 I finally gave in and tried Layer 7 (Upper Reaches) of Torghast. Yes, I know, with my 215 iLevel it should be a joke but I still remember how much it sucked on Layer 4 as Fury and then Protection Layer 4 and 5, then failing at 6. Now this was a real walk in the park, just as most people have told me it is. So after that I went into Layer 8 of Mort’regar and that also wasn’t a problem. So maybe my Layer 6 try was so early that it was before the nerf or I don’t know. Weird experience. Anyway, nearly at 2k Soul Ash now and I guess I can just plan 2 Layer 8 runs in the coming weeks until I have enough for a Level 4 Tank Legendary.

About the Army of Alts: My Rogue (and Warrior Main obviously) is at Renown 40, and I have 6 more classes at 39, so will hit 40 next week I guess (Getting the 1000 anima together is just about how much effort I can muster for most of them). Paladin and Shaman are above iLevel 200, 4 of them are at 195ish and the Priest is lagging behind at 185 but I didn’t bother buying all the Covenant set piece upgrades. My Horde Rogue is close to Renown 30 and at 175, I want to get LFR done once for the achievement, otherwise no real plans to play Horde at the moment. Oh, and I’ve been leveling my Druid as Moonkin via 1-2 random dungeons per day when I have time while reading stuff during the queue time. It’s fun to play but I have no grand plans for her once she hits 60. That would be 9th class at max level already, 4 months into the expansion – missing Mage, DK, and Monk.

Overall I’m still not 100% sure I’ll keep the warrior for the next raid tier. Fury is absolutely fun to play on most fights, you bring some amount of utility (or even a lot on some fights), but I am so not happy with my damage output. Of course it doesn’t seem to be the class, I just don’t seem to be really good at it. Looking at Warcraftlogs it’s mostly green parses, some grey even, and on Normal only blue and never purple :/ At least I’m not dying all the time and I’m usually straight in the middle of our guild’s dps rankings, and I can offtank and usually not mess up moving seeds or other specialty tasks, that’s at least something. Still very unhappy as I was pretty much used to topping the damage meters on my Rogue in my old guild, or at least competing for the top 3 with others, depending on boss and raid.

Defining expansion features

Reading Shintar’s blog post about WoW TBC Classic and the mention of the pre-patch enabling people to already start a new Draenei or Blood Elf character made me think about what changes in WoW really mattered to me personally (and although I had heard about this change at the Blizzcon panel already, reading about it again gave me the idea for this post).

So let’s start with the Vanilla patches, because some of them brought some important things, although I was such a newbie that I probably didn’t even notice most of the important changes…

  • Patch 1.9.0 (January 2006)
    • Ahn’Qiraj raids (I went to the 20man one later)
    • Linked Auction Houses
    • Multiple Battleground Queues
    • Gates of AQ (read about this, didn’t take part)
  • Patch 1.10.0 (March 2006)
    • Weather effects
    • New Final Destination Flight Paths
  • Patch 1.11.0 (June 2006)
    • Naxxramas raid (not for me though)
    • The cost to unlearn talents will now decay over time
    • Temporary item buffs (e.g. poisons) will persist through zoning
    • Detect Traps is now a passive skill – Swirly Ball 🙁
  • Patch 1.12.0
    • Cross-Realm Battlegrounds (I was still doing a lot of PvP back then)

After writing the list I actually do remember a few things, the linked AHs were huge, especially as a newbie. Also the BG queues and being able to use the flight master and go AFK.

On to The Burning Crusade – the first expansion! In Europe it launched in early 2007 and I’d already played long enough to be actually excited and I’d been actively waiting for it.

  • Release (January 2007)
    • New races: Blood Elves & Draenei
    • Alliance Shamans & Horde Paladins
    • Flying mounts
    • New profession: Jewelcrafting
    • Arena
  • Patch 2.1.0 (May 2007)
    • Druid Epic Flight Form (Druid was my main alt)
    • Ogri’la & Nether Drakes – my first long grinds
    • The Black Temple raid
  • Patch 2.2.0 (September 2007)
    • surprisingly… nothing?
  • Patch 2.3.0 (November 2007)
    • Zul’Aman 10man raid
    • Guild Banks!
    • Vendor Discounts based on Rep
    • Blue exclamation marks for dailies
  • Patch 2.4.0 (March 2008)
    • Sunwell Isle zone & raid

While I didn’t immediately start a Paladin, many people did and it made complete sense to have both classes on both sides. Jewelcrafting shaped the meta a lot, depending on the expansion (not so much nowadays). Guild banks were a very welcome addition to the game and the dailies have been a staple since TBC. For Druid players flight form was huge.

Wrath of the Lich King, the second expansion is next:

  • Release (October 2008)
    • New class: Death Knight (never was a fan)
    • 51-point talent system revamp
    • Rogue Poisons don’t need reagents anymore
    • Achievements!
    • New profession: Inscription
    • Barber Shop!
    • Focus Frame
    • Pets & Mounts are spells/casts now
  • Patch 3.1.0 (April 2009)
    • Ulduar raid
    • No more dismounting in water
  • Patch 3.2.0 (August 2009)
    • Trial of the Crusader Raid
    • Raid IDs can be extended
    • 25man raids are no longer called Heroic, it’s 10+25 N+H now
    • Rogues can use 1h Axes now
    • Uninterruptible casts have the shield icon now
  • Patch 3.3.0 (December 2009)
    • Icecrown Citadel raid (one of my alltime favorites)
    • (Cross-Realm) Dungeon Finder

The first new class, being added to a 4 year old game. Some QoL improvements for Rogues. Focus Frame is so important in high-level play these days. Another new profession. Extending raid IDs is a big thing and the shift to less server identity in full swing here. Also achievements. Overall pretty much important and good changes.

On to Cataclysm, the third expansion:

  • Release (December 2010)
    • Revamped zones
    • New races: Worgen & Goblins
    • New race & class combos:
      • Dwarf Mages, Shamans, Warlocks
      • Gnome Priests
      • Human Hunters
      • Night Elf Mages
      • Blood Elf Warriors
      • Orc Mages
      • Tauren Paladins, Priests
      • Troll Druids, Warlocks
      • Undead Hunters
    • Reforging
    • New profession: Archaeology
    • Guild levels & perks
    • 3 new raids: BWD, BoT, Tot4W
  • Patch 4.1.0 (April 2011)
    • nothing?
  • Patch 4.2.0 (June 2011)
    • Firelands zone & raid
    • Dungeon Journal!
  • Patch 4.3.0 (November 2011)
    • Dragon Soul raid
    • New Legendary: Fangs of the Father
    • Raid Finder in its current form was introduced
    • Transmog! & Void Storage
    • Darkmoon Faire moved to Darkmoon Island

This expansion has the second key point why I though this post would be interesting, the new race / class combos, my Shaman is a Dwarf and I had planned to change my Blood Elf Paladin to Tauren for ages, but ultimately didn’t. Many people were in love with their Troll druids as well. The Dungeon Journal is immensely helpful and I love it and use it a lot. Also as a Rogue main of 5ish years I was very happy to get my Legendary Daggers, as we didn’t get any Warglaives.

And of course, most importantly I guess, Transmog! I had dutifully kept all my Tier sets from Vanilla, TBC, and WotLK and could finally display them.

And then Mists of Pandaria, the fourth expansion and my final one as a regular player:

  • Release (August 2012)
    • New race: Pandaren
    • New class: Monk
    • The big talent revamp with 6? rows with 3 choices each
    • Account-wide Achievements, Mounts, and Pets
    • AoE Looting
    • Cross-Realm Zones, further nullifying server identity
    • Poisons are changed again: Lethal and Non-Lethal
    • Dungeon Challenge Modes
    • Pet Battles
    • 11 Character slots per server
    • Sunsong Farm, the first weird type of housing
  • Patch 5.1.0 (November 2012)
    • Brawler’s Guild
  • Patch 5.2.0 (March 2013)
    • Isle of Thunder zone & Throne of Thunder raid
  • Patch 5.3.0 (May 2013)
    • Raid loot: Choose a specialization
  • Patch 5.4.0 (September 2013)
    • Siege of Orgrimmar raid
    • Flex Raid difficulty
    • Timeless Isle zone
    • Proving Grounds
    • Connected realms

Of course I tried out a Pandaren Monk like everyone else, but I never loved the class. It felt a bit like a gimped Rogue, despite being powerful. Account-wide achievements & mounts were huge for me, and the expanded character slots. Proving Grounds were fun and much better than Torghast, strictly optional and quick.

Wow, that was quite a list. As I stopped actively playing in early 2014, at the time of 5.4.0 and the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, I’ll also finish this post here. That’s nearly 10 years of WoW changes already! (although only close to 8 years for me personally). And this all started when I was thinking about how Blood Elf Paladins were introduced in TBC…

Giving the contents here a last hard look I’d categorize the bullet points into these categories: Rogue changes (incl Legendary Daggers), UI changes (Focus), Dungeon/Quality of Life changes (LFR, Dungeon finder, char slots per server), non-game-breaking awesome changes (Transmog, Pet Battles, new races & combos), and game-breaking changes 😛 (raid sizes, talent revamps, new classes).

I only included the new raids because that’s how I mentally sort my timeline (Expansion X, Raid Y) and only then can backtrace what year it probably was and which guild I was in, etc.pp.