21/11/2020

New Old Levelling

When I fired up retail for the first time in years last month my main goal was to check out the revamped levelling experience, but then our trip to 50 through BfA ended up being so quick that you could blink and miss it, and the husband got all caught up in continuing to play at endgame, so I haven't really been giving the whole levelling thing as much attention as I'd originally wanted to.

However, I've greatly enjoyed reading about both Bhagpuss' and Wilhelm's sometimes very confused experiences with levelling since the level squish, so I thought I should really go back and have another look at it myself as originally planned. So I returned to the random Draenei shaman I created a month ago and continued levelling her through Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isle.

The Draenei starter zone has been a really interesting place for me to observe the changes, as I'm very familiar with it due to it being one of my favourites, and it's currently the oldest starter zone in the game, dating all the way back to 2007 - minor updates not withstanding (I keep being surprised by how many old and common creatures, such as bears and naga, have received graphical updates since I last played).

I finished Azuremyst Isle at level 15 and Bloodmyst at 27, and it was quite an interesting journey. Bloodmyst in particular used to have a very carefully designed flow, with higher-level quests gradually unlocking as you completed the lower-level ones first. With the new system, I was immediately greeted by a forest of exclamation marks on arrival, as I was instantly eligible for most quests bar a few that are part of chains, and it didn't matter what order I did them in as all the enemies always scaled to my level anyway.

Initially this felt pretty liberating, and I found myself forced to return to town due to the bag space needed to carry all the quest items more than anything else. However, towards the end it actually got a bit annoying as those quests that were parts of chains ended up sending me back and forth all over the place. In the old levelling flow they would have unlocked at just the right time to combine them with other quests of the same level so that you could clear out each area in one go, but this guidance was missing now. (And while I'm very familiar with the zone, it's not as if I had every single quest's original level and order perfectly memorised or anything.)

After the first ten levels or so, combat moved away from the boring "two-shot everything without losing mana or health" model and I actually found myself starting to use different abilities, which was nice! However, I also felt like I was getting weaker as I levelled up, with mobs seemingly taking off larger and larger chunks of my health and forcing me to use my heals more often, which felt less good, especially if it was the same mobs I'd fought before and they'd actually put up less resistance earlier. I guess it didn't help that useful quest rewards were pretty sparse in these zones, meaning that my gear fell pretty far behind after a while.

Still, I only died twice - once to fall damage after a badly judged jump (d'oh), and the second time after my first encounter with a Myst Leecher. I immediately remembered Rohan mentioning that the damage from some bleed abilities felt off to him in the new level scaling, and I can only guess that these spiders' poison falls into the same category as I soon learned that I had to keep spamming heals on myself for the remaining duration of the poison debuff even after the mob was dead. (I don't know how you're supposed to survive these if you don't have self-heals...) Also, this was when I learned that shamans in retail apparently can't cure poisons anymore; FML.

Leaving Blood Watch, I followed the old breadcrumb that gets you in touch with the night elves and used to send you to Auberdine, curious to see what had been done with that, but it just... dies. This huntress tells you that sure, she can send you to Auberdine, and then nothing. However, there are Hero's Call boards everywhere, and I used one of those instead to pick up a breadcrumb to see Chromie. Fortunately there's a portal to Stormwind in the Exodar now, and the guards even point it out if you know how to ask the right questions. I suppose I'll be off to Outland next.

Another subject I just wanted to mention briefly were professions. I noticed that for all the hand-holding the game tries to do in Exile's Reach when it comes to many aspects of the game, any mention of professions is conspicuously absent. I trained skinning, leatherworking and the still available secondaries anyway, but boy is it all a mess. There are different tiers for every expansion now, which makes some sense I guess, but the UI for keeping track of what's what is pretty horrid. I also don't know how you're supposed to farm the right type of skins now as the mobs level with you, so once they are high enough level to drop medium leather, you're just out of luck if you still needed light leather I guess? And here I thought the regular levelling was confusing...

17/11/2020

Shadowlands Pre-Expansion Patch

Hey, since I'm currently still dipping my toes into retail I can write about the same stuff as all the cool kids are talking about: the pre-expansion event for Shadowlands.

So far it consists of three parts (though my understanding is that more will be added this week):

Part one has you talking to Genn Greymane in Stormwind and he tells you in the form of a cut scene that King Anduin was abducted by some weird flying creatures. As a sort of afterthought it transpires that other faction leaders were captured as well. It's all a big plot by Sylvanas! I'll admit that I've only been following the storyline of the current expansion from afar, but this all feels kind of ham-fisted and disconnected. I did like how you had the option to trigger additional conversations between the NPCs though if you're interested in that kind of thing (which I am).

Then you get sent off to investigate and deliver some reports about a Scourge invasion in the area, which involves slaying a couple of zombies but doesn't really feel very exciting.

Part two gives you a quest to kill Nathanos Blightcaller at the Marris Stead, where he just happens to hang out, waiting to be attacked. Doing this results in a cool cut scene, though it was a bit weird/buggy for us in a group. The husband and I got separated so he actually got his kill before me, but we were still grouped so I suddenly got thrown into a cinematic while flying over Arathi Highlands. I quickly escaped out of it so that I could watch it again later in the proper context, which fortunately worked. The husband on the other hand never saw the cut scene at all and had to go to YouTube to watch it. I thought that one was pretty neat, even if it involved an NPC kill-stealing from the players once again.

Nathanos also dropped an ilevel 115 weapon, which was more than double the strength of what I had. I'd read somewhere that you could kill him repeatedly if you wanted more than one (e.g. if you were dual-wielding, which my monk is), so returned later for another go but had no luck, as the two additional kills resulted in no loot whatsoever. However, at least this gave me an opportunity to try out the pre-made group finder feature, which was functional but weeeird.

Part three of the event has you flying to Icecrown and doing a couple of dailies there as well as the option to visit a world boss every twenty minutes. (There are twenty different ones on a rotation.) Doing so rewards you with a currency that you can trade in for some catch-up gear, which once again more than doubled my ilevel in those slots.

The most common opinion of the event from what I've seen is that people tend to find it okay but underwhelming. I actually kind of like it though, but then I'm probably not a good judge - once I started thinking about it, I only really remember the Cataclysm pre-expansion event and no others, as I have no memory of taking part in either the BC or Wrath ones.

Anyway, I do wonder whether this isn't intentionally designed to appeal to players coming over from Classic or more generally returning old-school players, because it certainly ticked several boxes for me:

  • Killing Nathanos at the Marris Stead is something Alliance players do in Classic as well, so it's a nice tie-in.
  • It's hard not to get the feels when returning to Icecrown. I always say that Wrath wasn't my favourite expansion and was when things first started to go downhill (in my opinion), but that doesn't mean that I don't have plenty of good memories of that expansion too. The bosses are all revived versions of Wrath dungeon bosses as well, uttering familiar quotes, so there's a lot of "a-ha, I remember you" going on. There's nothing quite like watching Falric fear several dozen players around an Icecrown rampart.
  • I've seen people complain that the twenty minutes between boss spawns are too long/slow, but personally I appreciate the somewhat slower pace. I'm not a completionist who's there to camp all the things, and I agree with Rohan that the timing encourages you to use the bosses to bookend other activities. In general I feel that retail is too much of a rush-rush game these days, but that's a whole different post to be honest.
  • The bosses also actually encourage some friendly community interaction as people will always helpfully share spawn times and locations in general chat (the new map ping system is really cool by the way). People being friendly and helpful to strangers in retail? Perish the thought.

13/11/2020

My Rhok'delar Story

It seems I'm on a roll with success stories, and I haven't even posted about my guild finally getting Viscidus down... nonetheless, let's add to the good vibes with this story about me getting to complete a very challenging and fun quest and finally becoming a "real" hunter.

Rhok'delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keepers is an epic hunter bow that can be acquired via a quest chain in Classic. It starts from a drop in Molten Core and requires the hunter to really live up to the class's reputation as a capable soloer, as it involves killing a bunch of elite demons that you have to challenge on your own - without your pet even, and certainly without getting any help from other players.

I'm guessing that back in Vanilla, seeing a hunter with Rhok was impressive and made that person stand out as someone who really knew their stuff. In Classic... not so much, as years of study and optimisation have not just led to a number of guides being written, but also to the discovery of some very what I'd call "cheesy" strats - not literal exploits perhaps, but ways of using the terrain in such a manner that it basically completely circumvents the demon's intended mechanics. A social hunter in my guild told me that it was basically super easy now, and any noob could complete the quest even in greens if they followed the right tactics.

Considering that I started Classic raiding when I did and got lucky with the crossbow drop in Blackwing Lair, I kind of circumvented the whole issue anyway... but I have to admit it kept nagging at me a little. Getting that bow still felt like a sort of coming-of-age ritual for a raiding hunter, and it was so ubiquitous as well! Literally everyone who'd ever brought a hunter alt to raids seemed to have the damn thing. Even as some of the other hunters told me that it didn't matter since the crossbow was better anyway, my personal pride was dented. How would I ever know if I was a "real" hunter if I never did that quest?

Cue a social Molten Core run last Friday. My main mission on the evening was to collect some lizard hands, and while part of me was still hoping to maybe get the Ancient Petrified Leaf one day, I'd also kind of made my peace with probably never getting it, especially as our Molten Core runs are "community runs" with pugs and open rolling. I figured there was probably always going to be some newbie hunter in there, and I couldn't abide the thought of potentially taking the bow away from someone for whom it was actually an upgrade, pug or no.

Well, as it happened the leaf dropped and nobody else wanted it. Even better, when we did Onyxia right afterwards, the sinew for the bowstring dropped as well! (I remember some guildies taking ages to get theirs...) Well, that was clearly a sign. I didn't immediately run off to get started on the quest as I had other priorities that evening, but I was on a mission now.

Two days later I visited the Ancients in Felwood and read the Wowhead guide covering the quest chain to give myself an idea of what I was up against. (I was hoping to do the fights "properly" to actually test my skills instead of relying on terrain exploits or anything like that.) I noted that there were several mentions of having to go into melee and wanting to have maxed-out weapon skill in your melee weapon, plus that a big two-hander was preferrable to dual-wielding for these quests. So I decided to start by slowly killing some furbolgs in Felwood with my Zin'rokh (really glad I greed-rolled on that in my last ZG run now) but I didn't even manage to get a dozen kills before I got distracted and agreed to join a guild group doing the Fallen Hero of the Horde quest chain instead. It wasn't complete loss however, as I at least raised my two-handed sword skill from 216 to 260. Later in the evening I killed some more furbolgs and got up to 282.

After that I didn't do anything for several days, until I decided to spend some more time killing furbolgs by meleeing them to death, also in order to hit neutral with the Timbermaw and finally get rid of those two quest totems in my bags. After I'd achieved this, my two-handed sword skill was up to 292, which I deemed sufficient, so I decided to have a go at the first boss, Artorius the Amiable in adjacent Winterspring.

On my first attempt I died pretty quickly - the guide had mentioned a dot that caused "high" shadow damage, but what's "high" exactly? I thought that maybe you'd be able to survive it by chugging a potion or something... let's just say that's not how it works, as the debuff will eat your entire health bar several times over. Despite of that, I found it a very promising attempt, as the boss lost about a quarter of his health even during the short duration of the fight, which I took as a sign that I just had to be more careful.

The guide had suggested that Aspect of the Cheetah should be enough to comfortably stay ahead of the demon, but as that wasn't really my experience I made sure to also use Concussive Shot on cooldown in order to stay at max range at all times. This time he went down right quick! Though he did manage to get the dot on me at the end, which meant that I just about had enough time to loot his head before I died as well. Still, a win's a win!

Emboldened by my success I continued down to Un'goro to meet Simone the Inconspicuous. She patrols quite a large area and to be honest, the most annoying thing was simply finding her and then waiting for her to wander towards the hot springs (which were recommended as the best place to kite her). This one wasn't all that deadly, but very fiddly and involved a lot of feigning and starting over while I was refining my strategy. Things went wrong in a lot of ways, from the pet running into the freeze trap instead of her or getting a resist on the freeze trap, to running out of mana and having both of them catch up with me, or killing the pet too far away from her so that they both simply reset.

Once again patience was a virtue though, and I got it down in the end by once again modifying the recommended strategy and not worrying too much about trying to nuke the pet quickly but instead putting Aspect of the Cheetah on and running in circles for a really long time, as Simone could never catch up that way anyway. When her pet was near death I intentionally slowed down to let her catch up so that she wouldn't reset, and once it was just me vs. her, I chugged a mana potion and the rest was an easy game.

I was hopeful that I'd be able to finish off all the Kalimdor demons in one night, but Nelson the Nice eluded me (somewhat literally). After dying on my first try, the subsequent ones all felt like they were going pretty well overall, but I tended to either run out of mana and health, or the boss decided to reset because I hadn't attacked him in too long after bandaging or being feared.

The next morning I returned with some consumables in my bag, confident that they would be what would tip me over the edge. Spoiler: I just ended up wasting them all. The expensive shadow protection potion I bought was gone after the very first try, where it ate up the damage from one fear, just for me to have the boss evade shortly after. Damn it!

Funnily enough I actually ended up killing him on what I can only call the "famous last try", when I was all out of even basic things like drinks and telling myself that if I didn't get him this time I would have to take another break. Initially I tried to follow a recommendation that involved making use of a nearby ramp to kite the bug swarm he summons in a more manageable manner, but to be honest I only ended up doing worse than the night before that way. On the attempt when I was finally successful I just gave up on trying to control the bugs in any way towards the end and simply ran like hell away from the ramp (they are really slow and won't catch you if you keep running). I got the boss down with a sliver of health left myself and about a million bugs closing in on me, but they were easy enough to reset with a feign.

After a bit of a break I moved on to the last target on the list, Franklin the Friendly in Burning Steppes. I was curious about this one as I'd heard very mixed things about him, some stating that he was the hardest of the lot while the guide I'd read stated the opposite. I'm more inclined to agree with the latter, as the basic tactics are really easy: Scorpid Sting, melee twice, Wing Clip, run away and shoot once or twice until he enrages again, repeat until boss is dead. It's just quite a long fight and the hardest thing is basically sticking to your plan and not getting bored/tempted into trying to get an extra melee attack in before he's about to enrage again, because that almost always goes wrong.

The area where you fight him is the most active of the four demon's spawn areas and I was glad to see that none of the players that passed me by tried to interfere, as that would have killed us both. I was just a bit annoyed when a random mage stopped to stare and whisper me random advice about how I could exploit the fight - I mean, I'm sure it was well intended, but the last thing I needed was some stranger observing and critiquing my performance. I was actually kind of glad when Franklin chose that moment to despawn for a while, as it gave me an excuse to log off.

When I came back later, I got him down on the first try, with the only consumable used being a health potion when I found myself low. This was caused by the one thing that I've seen mentioned in some comments but that wasn't really explained in the guide I read - that if you ever end up using Concussive or Scatter Shot on him, he seems to gain a kind of immunity to the Scorpid Sting debuff for a few seconds, which can mislead you into thinking that it's safe to melee as he's got the sting on, but then he swings once and still takes half your health off.

Anyway, with all four demon heads lopped off I returned to the Ancients in Felwood and got my bow! It was a satisfying and educational experience. Lessons learned:

  • Guides are a good starting point but never be afraid to adjust tactics to something that works better for you
  • I suck at precision kiting but am happy as long as I can keep running forever
  • Nelson the Nice and his bugs can eat poop
  • I'm not entirely sure what's supposed to be so hard about Franklin as playing melee hunter was honestly kind of fun
  • While I was way overgeared, it kind of felt like this mainly negated/reduced the need for consumables, and I think I am in fact a "real" hunter now

Now to see if I can get in on an Azuregos kill for that quiver...

11/11/2020

I Am the Master Angler!

You may remember me writing about wanting to win the fishing tournament back in September. I didn't post about it again after that, but in game I kept at it pretty faithfully week after week... it became such a routine that even the husband knew that I was not to be disturbed between 1 and 1.30 pm on a Sunday because that was fishing time.

I also took a screenshot whenever the winner was called out each week, to be able to keep track of my progress. Unfortunately it was nothing to write home about most of the time - I'd usually have only between 20 and 30 Tastyfish at that point, so I wasn't anywhere near claiming victory myself. One time I even got so caught up in chatting with a guildie that I completely lost track of what was going on and even missed the winner being called altogether. There was only one exceptional run, where I was actually on 39 fish and casting for my 40th by the time the winner was announced... that one stung a little.

I didn't really get any closer to figuring out a secret strategy to winning throughout all those weeks. Besides the RNG of getting "trash" out of the pools sometimes, it mostly seemed to be down to the distribution of players along the coast, but that was very unpredictable as well. For a while it felt like I was doing pretty well for myself at the relatively unpopular, very northern end of Stranglethorn, but then it got busier every week, until one time I ended up competing with three or four people for a single pool there and decided to say "screw it" and relocated.

I also learned that one of my guild's main tanks had actually won the fishing tournament before, as he whipped out the trinket that allows you to turn into a fish when we went to kill the giant shark in Azshara one day. I asked him whether he had any advice for how to win and he responded with something along the lines of: "Nah, it's all RNG. Just keep at it and you'll win after a couple of weeks." As I had been trying for more than two months by that point, I wasn't feeling particularly heartened.

The funniest fail came only a couple of weeks ago, when the yell about someone else having won went out and I recognised the name of another guildie who had joined only recently. I congratulated them and asked how long they'd been trying to win, just to get the response that it was actually their first time, and they couldn't even use the Arcanite Fishing Pole they'd just won because their fishing skill wasn't high enough. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!

The week after that I skipped the tournament in favour of an Uldaman run on my pally. I hadn't really intended to skip it, because I was kind of hoping that we'd be done in time for me to log back onto my hunter, but I didn't mind missing one week. In a way it turned out to be a good thing anyway as I had already positioned my hunter for the tourney but later found out that I'd actually forgotten to set her hearthstone to Booty Bay like I usually do. Imagine if I'd got my 40 fish and then hearthed back to Ironforge by accident! As it was, the guild tank used this opportunity to take part again and got his second win.

It was the week after that when things finally worked out in my favour. I'd like to think it was because a friendly mage (who is also the aforementioned tank's partner... I think?) made a point of wishing me good luck after I'd "let" the tank win the week before due to my absence. I ended up fishing along the middle stretch of the coast and for once it wasn't too badly crowded there. Also, another thing that might have made a difference was that I noticed for the first time that pools were actually spawning before the yell had officially announced the start of the tournament - I think I already had two Tastyfish in my bags before the event was supposed to have started "officially".

Anyway, I got my forty Tastyfish with only a minimal number of "wasted" casts, hearthed to Booty Bay, handed in and that was that! It was a joyful day. I was asked if I was planning to try for a second win to get the trinket as well but I honestly don't know. I don't care about that prize as much as I did about the fishing pole, and as hard as some may find it to believe, I actually found the tournament to be quite an adrenaline rush whenever I was having one of my better runs and it felt like I could be getting close to winning. I'm not sure I can deal with all that excitement a second time around!

07/11/2020

Naxxramas Looms

Alongside the announcement of Shadowlands' new release date, a short blue post on the forums also revealed that Classic's phase six will begin on the 1st of December, with Naxxramas unlocking two days later. I've seen a lot of grumbling about this from people who play both versions of WoW (or think that a lot of other players do), as it means that Blizzard will be dropping two major content updates within the space of a week, when the previous idea seemed to have been to keep players dipping into both versions by alternating releases for the two games.

I can't say I'm particularly bothered in that regard as I'm not currently planning to buy Shadowlands, but even so, hearing that Naxx is only a few weeks away has been a bit troublesome. I didn't care about Classic's raid releases before because I wasn't raiding myself (duh), and I was only invested in the opening of the AQ gates because I really wanted to be there for the world event. Now that I'm raiding though, the opening of a new raid means a major change of pace, and it just feels a bit soon - I don't really get the vibe that people are tired of AQ already and itching to sink their teeth into something new, but that's where we are. I'm guessing ActiBlizz is keen to round out the quarter with record subscription numbers or something like that.

When I was gathering nature resist gear for AQ I bemoaned the fact that I was so behind, and that surely all this farming had been much easier when people had weeks and weeks to prepare for the opening of the new raid. Well, this time I have those weeks to prepare myself... and I still don't like it much, haha. I guess I'm just too much of a casual. At the basic level, there are three levels of preparation to consider:

Attunement

The attunement for Naxxramas is extremely straightforward: be at least honoured with the Argent Dawn and pay them some rare materials and money. At revered level the cost is reduced, and if you're exalted they'll let you in for free. Now, obviously exalted reputation by the start of December would be ideal, but I also know that's realistically not going to happen, because I'm only a bit into honoured and getting to exalted within three weeks would require endless grinding of Strat UD and Scholomance.

I'm hoping that the Scourge invasion event tied to the launch will at least nudge me into revered, as I've been told repeatedly that it's supposed to be great for rep. If the effect of the AQ opening event on Brood of Nozdormu rep was any indication of how these things go however... we'll see I guess.

That leaves me with having to make sure that I have all the rare materials required to pay for access in the bank in advance, because I can imagine that if half the sever suddenly decides to go shopping for them on opening night, no amount of money is going to buy you everything you need if there just isn't enough supply.

Frost Resistance Gear

It's a bit of an unknown how much of this will actually be needed, considering that people have been running AQ40 with a lot less nature resist than back in the day as well, but the current assumption is that you'll still need the whole raid to have some frost resistance for Sapphiron at least.

At first the guild's official line was that it would be good to try and gather some pieces in the current environment already, which I did, but then it changed to: Actually, we'll get much better frost resistance pieces from the early Naxx bosses and other new sources included with phase six, and since we won't be getting to Sapphiron right away anyway, we'll probably be better off going for those better options then.

The good thing about this is that it means I won't actually have to worry about frost resistance gear much until Naxx releases, yay! Though one thing I could/should do is upgrade my AV trinket - I'm still only friendly with the Stormpikes. Then again, AV as Alliance, ugh... that could be a whole post of its own.

Consumables and Crafting Mats

There are two dimensions to this: One is that tier three doesn't drop as fully formed pieces of gear, but rather tokens that you have to trade in with the Argent Dawn alongside some rare crafting materials such as arcanite bars etc. The other is that a lot of consumables such as flasks and resistance potions will be good to have as we're progressing through Naxx... though I don't think it's known just how much of each type we'll realistically need. The guild has put out a call to arms to farm up as many herbs, fishes and elemental parts as possible.

This is the one I find hardest to find motivation for, and I think it's for two reasons: One is that I'm just not that into farming. I don't actively hate it or anything, but most days there are a hundred other things I'd rather do, so it's just never really a priority either.

The other is that what goal to achieve for Naxx launch is kind of fuzzy. The number of materials I'll need to get full tier three is finite of course, but as I won't be talking into Naxx on day one and getting a full set, there seems to be little point in aiming to have everything ready for release day. For all I know I might never get full tier three anyway, seeing how luck with drops plays a role as well.

Likewise the consumable requirements are not very clear either, and with bag space being a precious commodity, I don't really fancy filling up my bank with various potions "just in case". I guess I'll be aiming to send some Stonescale Eels to the guild bank to make myself feel like I've done something, but realistically I can't see myself pushing for more than that.

Interestingly, the thing I feel most like doing and that might end up being beneficial in a different way is to continue levelling my paladin and my druid (yes, I have a night elf druid as well now). The pally is almost at the point where she can mine Thorium, and being able to hunt for Arcane Crystals myself would be a real boon. The druid has a longer way to go, but being able to gather at least some lower-level herbs might also be useful already, plus I would eventually gain my own Arcanite transmute cooldown as well.

Classic is all about playing the long game.

02/11/2020

A Confusing Retail Journey

Pretty much as expected, my interest in retail is already fading again, but the husband seems to be quite keen on it so we're still doing some questing together. Yesterday was also the last day of Hallow's End, and I had a couple of event quests left in my log that I hadn't finished yet, so I decided to do that. What followed was pretty much a perfect encapsulation of how foreign and confusing retail feels to me nowadays.

The two quests I had were Hallow's End Treats for Jesper and A Time to Lose. The former requires you to visit NPCs in Stormwind, Ironforge and Darnassus (yes, really), and the latter asks you to put out the Horde's Wickerman at the entrance to the Undercity.

I started in Stormwind and then realised that due to my monk having been ferried straight to Kul Tiras after Exile's Reach, she had zero flight paths unlocked anywhere in Azeroth. No biggie though, she'd unlocked the ability to fly on her own at this point, so I put on auto-run/fly and set off northward. Making it to Ironforge and finding the relevant quest NPCs there was easy enough.

After that I continued northward to Tirisfal. I actually saw the Wickerman but there was an optional objective to speak to Ziodormi to "visit Tirisfal Glades in the past". I'd read somewhere that the zone had been revamped after the BfA intro that saw the Alliance attacking Undercity and now existed in two versions, and that a member of the bronze dragonflight could be consulted to allow players to switch between both states.

As there was no quest marker for this optional objective however, I got a bit lost and eventually had to consult Wowhead. I couldn't find the NPC in the location described there either, however there were helpful comments talking about also being unable to find her, and finally one that stated that you had to be in the past version of the zone to be able to see the Wickerman and do the quest. At this point it dawned on me that I was apparently already in the past by default... just with no option to go into the future. Or at least the whole Battle for Lordaeron scenario had not been part of the new levelling experience; I'm not sure if you can still go back and do it later. Either way, I accepted that the optional objective was clearly not for me, doused the Wickerman and moved on.

This is where things got tricky because I realised that to complete the second quest, I'd have to move to the western continent. My last memory of retail was that they had changed the boats in some manner that confused me, but I flew back down towards Menethil Harbour anyway. As I picked up the flight point there, I was reminded that it's been underwater ever since the Cataclysm and that boats were redirected to the (then new) Stormwind Harbour at that point.

So I continued my trip back down the map and flew around the waterfront in Stormwind for a bit. There were some boats parked there seemingly as decorations but I couldn't find anything that I could clearly identify as a functional pier. I tried looking for an NPC that would tell me what boats were going where since I remembered that being a thing at one point but had no luck on that front either.

Remembering the portal room in the mage tower, I decided to try my luck there instead and found a portal to the Exodar. Close enough!

From the Exodar, I rode to the Azuremyst Isle pier, where I was greeted by... another portal? This one lead to Darkshore, so once again I clicked on it. It took me until my arrival there to remember that Darnassus does in fact not exist anymore in retail, and that Darkshore, too, has undergone a transformation in the latest expansion. Fortunately I had no trouble finding the time-travelling person in this zone, who sent me right back to the Cata version of Darkshore, from which I could then fly to Darnassus, casually defying space-time to have a cheerful innkeeper there hand me some marzipan.

At that point I was glad that my hearthstone was on cooldown, because hell if I knew how to get back to the Eastern Kingdoms manually.

I don't know if my scattered memories of how things used to be are actually helpful or more of a hindrance at this point... but navigating a world with all these portals, no directions, and now also time-travel on top honestly seems pretty confusing to me.

29/10/2020

The Social Hunter

It does strike me as deeply ironic that I ended up joining a raiding guild on my nelf hunter, a character I created on a server where I didn't know anybody, with the intention of doing nothing but level through the solo content (and maybe do the occasional dungeon pug), while my poor little cow shaman, whose big aspiration was to level as part of a group and heal her friends, sits lonely and abandoned elsewhere.

People in the guild have started talking about potential re-rolls whenever Classic Burning Crusade comes around, and I'm definitely considering the idea. I've started working on some alts and could see myself returning to my true calling of healing... but things will obviously depend on what other people want to do and what sort of revised roster we end up with. I'll also still definitely level and play Tir either way as I did enjoy hunter back in BC a whole lot too. Good old Pukaja was pretty much my main alt back in the day, and I even remember taking her to Mount Hyjal at least once (for whatever reason) and comparing dps numbers with our raid leader (who mained a hunter as well).

Regardless of what class I'm playing, the way I'm playing Classic in general has changed massively since I got involved with Order of the Holy Fork. I've found it to be one of the most common criticisms of MMO endgame and raiding that it's totally different from how you play while levelling, and while I've always thought that this was technically true, it was never really an issue for me personally as I genuinely enjoy both play styles, and I also tend to transition into group content more gradually.

In Classic though, it feels like the change has been super abrupt. While I was playing on my own, I would only log on fairly irregularly, with very modest and objective-oriented goals, such as "get that one quest done" or "farm some of these mobs". My play time tended to be fairly quiet and zen, and at times I even viewed it as a way of getting away from people for a bit while still playing an MMO (if that makes sense). At the same time, individual play sessions tended to not be very long as I'd either get bored fairly quickly or feel quite exhausted after a single dungeon pug.

Since joining a guild, most of my play time has been following heavily regulated patterns, because you can't herd 40+ raiders without some sort of structure. I'm not a big believer in the whole buff meta, but heart and head drops tend to be very regular on Hydraxian Waterlords, so it's easy enough to log in 20 minutes early and go AFK in Booty Bay for a bit before setting off to the raid instance.

Even outside of raids, I find it pretty much impossible not to be social though. I'll just log onto an alt to check their mail and I can rarely be online for more than fifteen minutes without someone suggesting some group activity or another. I've got into the habit of constantly checking the guild roster because I know if certain people are online, some sort of action is pretty much imminent. Play sessions can last hours and hours as it's tempting to just do one more thing as long as others are willing to go along with it.

I don't regret this at all because it's terribly fun, but it is kind of weird how I'm almost finding it difficult to get certain solo tasks out of the way because it's so easy to be roped into doing something else instead whenever I'm online in game. Plus it means that in terms of overall activity balance, you could say that I'm currently a bit overbooked in the grouping department (especially when you take my SWTOR guild into consideration as well) while having very little online "me time", so to speak. It's just something that makes me think and that I suspect I may need to address in some way sooner or later.