Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dungeons

Is there anything more fun than running the new dungeons?

They're lovely, designed with a depth of detail that we saw in raids but was missing from prior 5-mans, a length that feels "just right" in theory, and with boss-fights that are rarely tank and spank.

My favorite dungeon is probably Halls of Origination but Lost City comes a very, very close second, and I love Vortex Pinnacle and Grim Batol as well.

The other two dungeons - Stonecore and Blackrock Descent - are also good, but not as amazing as the first four. I especially love the storytelling in Blackrock Descent, even if I get a bit annoyed at Raz for all the rep-stealing he does. Speaking of rep-stealing, it's a fun mini game during the bombing runs in Grim Batol, to get the mob clumbs low but not to kill them so that all that lovely, lovely rep doesn't evaporate in a puff of dragon-breath.

I'm really glad to have a couple of dungeons in Blackrock to go beat on because of the nostalgia. I didn't play in Vanilla, but as a first-time leveler during TBC, I remember standing around that summoning stone on that floating chunk of rock and watching that black drake fly around and above us, a lot. It was gratifying to finallyfly in on my own black mount and scare off that silly little whelp.

The only dungeon that feels a bit retread-dungeon-ey is, sadly, Throne of Tides - I like it a lot, but the color-scheme is so Wrath of the Lich King that I kind of blot out all the cool stuff going on in there. The Kraken cut-scene should also be trimmed with a option to re-watch, but I'm not sure how to make that happen.

Speaking of retreads, I've been enjoying the ever-loving-hell out of Heroic: Deadmines, though I haven't had the pleasure of poking through Heroic: Shadowfang Keep yet. As a life-long member of the Alliance (more or less) I never had the level of nostalgia attached to that place as, back in the day, it was pretty easy to skip that dungeon entirely, the way it was tucked all the way fuck out of in the middle of nowhere as far as lowby-alliance-leveling was concerned.

One of the things I love about all these dungeons is that they are so rarely tank-and-spank. I've been running all the dungeons as both Retribution and Protection spec, and no matter what, I find myself doing cool stuff. Using Repentance on trash pulls, running in and out of fire all the time, managing boss-mechanics, staying on top of interrupts, switch-killing or picking up adds - dungeons are exciting.

It's too early to pick favorite bosses yet. But I'm enjoying the game a lot. So much I want to talk about!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stalled

I really wanted to talk about useful things like loot lists to start tanking Heroics with or easily accessible Ret gear from questing, but instead, I'm going to whine about my situation.

Things aren't going so hot with my guild. It hasn't helped that with how long Wrath ran, we lost a few of the really long-term members just to attrition. A rogue who needed a few weeks break just vanished completely. One of the core healers took a break for the summer and found real life instead. Another healer moved on to another guild while a fourth took a break and has no intentions of coming back. More DPS has walked through that revolving door than I can remember at this point, and the small, tiny core of about seven people that we've held together for the last few months is getting ready to raid and I find myself in the exact same spot I was in back in March when this guild started - with a small core and only PuG options to move forward and I feel like I'm solving the same organizational problems when I would have thought this would be when my work at keeping the guild together, motivated, and progressing would start paying dividends.

It's utterly frustrating.

One of the problems is that about half our members are in other guilds that are their first priority. Maybe I should've filtered those folks out, maybe I shouldn't have, I don't know, I enjoy raiding with them, but at this point, we've become a guild where people put their raiding alts and then go play in their real guilds.

The thing is, I know once we start raiding, filling in spots will not be hard. Historically, it takes people one or two runs with us to want to join up, and it's pretty gratifying when that happens, but I feel like I keep hiring mercenaries and of course, it keeps from any guild culture from evolving because really people only log on to raid and it gets difficult to do things like PvP nights or whatever.

I'd like to build guild culture, I'd like to have some stability so I can focus more on enjoying the game and not on solving the same problem over and over and over again. Either that, or I'm doing something horrifically wrong and I should just give up trying to run a guild and find some existing guild to join that fits my schedule where I can sit in the back and be Paladin #63b.

Ugh.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Zones Are New And Exciting

When Wrath came out, my leveling was guided by the highest level zone that I had access to. As soon as I got to a point where I could go from, for example, Grizzly Hills to Zul'Drak, I jumped ship and started questing there, for the better quest rewards. I liked the quests fine, but didn't feel compelled to continue the storylines, or see how the zone evolved. There was something missing there that I couldn't identify.

Cataclysm is the complete opposite. I started in Vashj'ir and couldn't get enough of the zone as I said earlier, but I wound up completing every single quest I could find (~140 of them). Hyjal was the same deal, and also in Deepholm and Uldum. The storytelling is just in a whole new zone, and while there are rough patches, I think they can definitely get smoothed out over time. However much I enjoy the PvP and Raiding game now, I'm a lore-nerd at heart and Cataclysm's questing feels like a love-note from the developers to those of us who've obsessed over the game and its story for years.

I'll be writing up reviews for the individual zones and what I liked and didn't like about them over the next couple of days.

--

Now that I have hit level-cap, I'm eager to get geared up before going into Heroics and farming them over the next week. I'm hoping to get into some PuG raiding this week/weekend. I'll post a list later today or tomorrow of the super-easy-to-get pre-heroics blue gear without depending on dungeon drops or a ton of Justice Points that I think should serve well enough to get us started.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vashj'ir is awesome

The night before launch, I sat in my chair, coffee in hand, capping professions on alts, buzzing with excitement for the chaos to come. Most of my guild-mates had reasonably gone to bed while I stayed awake with one other person, my Australian friend and as midnight approached, we nervously logged out and then logged back in.

The Stormwind flight pad was absolutley CHOKED with people, AoEing everything in sight. Good thing I had my interact with target key-bound and quickly learned flight, ran out to the city and mounted up on that bony Icecrown drake. A second later I was doing laps around my beloved Stormwind, tiles on rooftops shimmering in the Ultra-settings and I was shocked at just how huge it is. I mean, I always thought it was big, especially after the changes, but perspective was great to see it all in a new way.

I really wanted to explore, but instead, I flew down to the portals, completed my quest and then started flying to Vashj'ir before I realized I should probably take the boat as instructed, even if it was utterly overstuffed with people and mounts and pets so that I couldn't see the NPCs while they bantered on the way in.

I only did a few of the starting quests before turning in around 4:30 AM and then a day of work ensued. I got home, and couldn't log in for ages due to some computer issues that cropped up with the latest build, and when I finally made it in, I was able to quest for a bit but Vashj'ir has a lot of specific NPC and loot-item quests which are difficult to do when the entire server is trying to do them. But I powered through somehow and once I moved out of the Kelp'thar Forest, life become better almost immediately.

By the way, if you're waiting for an NPC to spawn, and there is someone in your faction also waiting, throw out an invite, everyone is always happy to accept and it makes life easier for them and you. Also, it gives you another buddy to help steal the mob from the Horde and that's always awesome. Tagging mobs as a paladin is pretty easy and fun - Holy Wrath and Consecrate make it pretty much impossible NOT to tag something. Also, leveling as Prot has been slower than Ret, but pretty fast and I never have to worry about dying. So far, the gear is okay, but I've been DE'ing for mats right now rather than upgrade. I'm sure that'll change.

Anyway - the quests in Vashj'ir are great, the storytelling is much stronger, there is a ton of new tech in place that makes the game compelling and I'm super-excited to keep leveling. I hit 81 last night and will keep on leveling in Vashj'ir until I run out of quests. Haven't decided where to go after that - maybe Hyjal, maybe Deepholm.

And there are still dungeons to do, rep to grind and a lot of work to do still.

I'm super happy with Cataclysm so far. :-)