Bloodless Mountain Lions

I haven't spent that much time on Kronos over the past couple of weeks because I needed some downtime to clear my bags. I'm serious! I had levelled my hunter's leatherworking and crafted a whole bunch of chest and leg pieces that were good enough that I knew they would sell well on the auction house and yield a fair bit more money that way than if I simply vendored them. But you can't flood the AH with ten of the same item, you've got to let them trickle in one by one... so my play sessions consisted of logging in, emptying my mailbox, re-listing things on the AH and logging off again.

This weekend I would have felt like playing some more again, but the Kronos team decided to use Saturday of all days to take the server down for maintenance. I have to laugh at the people who think that Blizzard could just "throw up" a bunch of Vanilla servers and nobody would mind the imperfections. They clearly haven't seen the reactions of people who've been deprived of a completely free service provided by volunteers for a mere couple of hours...

That said, I've since taken my hunter to Hillsbrad Foothills. It was an annoying trek, but I had a breadcrumb quest and I was going to be damned if I had to abandon it. There were some nice quests there too.

I didn't witness any epic Tarren Mill vs. Southshore battles, but the steady stream of Alliance players travelling to Alterac or the Scarlet Monastery was certainly noticeable. I got killed two or three times and got away another couple. In fact, I got quite close to nearly killing a level 30+ paladin but ended up aggroing all kinds of wildlife during my clumsy kiting so that I eventually had to retreat to Tarren Mill to get some health back.

There was one quest in particular that stood out: Elixir of Pain, which is part of a chain. This part asks you to collect ten blood samples from mountain lions. I had cleared the area of cats all the way to the Hillsbrad Fields before I saw my first quest item drop - in fact, I had already begun to wonder whether I was killing the right mobs. Old Wowhead comments also bemoan the bad drop rate, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology I could check Kronos' own database for the exact drop rate on this server: 15%. Ouch! You do the maths for how many mountain lions one has to kill on average to get ten blood samples then...

I'll be honest: I considered abandoning it. But then I realised that I'd need more leather anyway, so to hell with it. I think I gained almost a whole level doing nothing but hunting mountain lions while listening to some random podcasty-type videos. As I've said before, grinding isn't always bad. I needed that leather anyway.


I saw the Warcraft Movie!

... and it wasn't bad. It wasn't fantastic either, but overall I enjoyed it.

It manages to bring the cartoony world of Azeroth to life in a convincing manner while maintaining its colourful charm. Everything from the acting to the effects is at least solid (though I thought the orcs' voices sounded a bit hollow and hard to understand sometimes).

I could tell that they made a lot of changes to the lore, though I was never that good with the details from the RTS games as I never actually played them. So most of the changes just sparked a "hm, I'm pretty sure that's not how that went in the original version" while I scratched my head a little as I couldn't actually remember just how that particular part of the plot was supposed to go. At least I could usually make a good guess as to why they made a change at that particular point (e.g. to make a character look more sympathetic or to provide a simplified explanation for something that's pretty convoluted in the "real" lore).

I think the film's biggest problem is that while it keeps events moving at a brisk pace and never gets boring, it fails to really get its claws into the viewers on an emotional level and get them to care about what's going on. To make a Lord of the Rings comparison, it's missing its "Shire", the part where we get introduced to the beauty of the world of Azeroth and develop a connection to it, seeing it as something worth fighting for. There is a lot of jumping back and forth between different characters, but few of them get enough screen time that you can really connect to them. And the few that do either aren't all that likeable (in my opinion) or end up dying. (Khadgar is the notable exception here.) It's not so bad if you already know who all these people are and have a previous investment, but I can definitely see how this could cause the film to fall flat for uninitiated audiences.