31/12/2023

Classic WoW & Me in 2023

Alright, here it is: the by now traditional annual look at my Classic characters and what progress I made with them throughout the past year.

The first thing to note is that this was the first year of me playing Classic that didn't leave me in a drastically different place at the end of the year compared to where I was at the start of it. I was playing on Classic era at the start of 2023, and I'm still active there at the end of it, even if my activity levels have declined. That bit of stability has honestly been kind of nice, though it also makes me wonder what's in store for next year. I love Classic era for what it is and I do like my guild, but at this point, I also feel ready for something a bit different again. At the moment that's just manifesting in me playing a bit less and spending more time in retail or SWTOR, but let's just say I wouldn't be surprised if 2024 brought with it some kind of change to my play patterns again.

Classic era - Horde

Shika - Pyrewood Village

  • Level 60 Hunter
  • +7 days played

My hunter continued to see the most play, just living the endgame life for most of the year: farming materials and joining raids. I even got to spend some time in Naxx (as you can see from all the tier three gear she's sporting in this screenshot), something I hadn't really planned for initially. It just got too time-consuming/clashed with other things eventually.

Sadly, since I stopped raiding I've been feeling woefully unmotivated to play her, except to keep logging in and crafting/selling Gyrochromatoms and Mithril Casings on the auction house. Hey, someone's gotta supply those levelling questers!

Shilu - PV

  • Level 60 Druid
  • +6 days, 8 hours played
  • +54 Fishing (maxed out)

As my second most played character, my druid maxed out her fishing (with me adding another Stranglethorn fishing contest victory to my tally) and spent some time healing in the easier raids, mostly ZG. She actually hit exalted with Zandalar not too long ago.

She's still sporting her original feral/resto hybrid spec but I'm not sure I used it to tank even a single dungeon this year. I've just not felt motivated to do so.

Shintau - PV

  • Level 53 Shaman (+12)
  • +2 days, 21 hours played
  • +25 Skinning (maxed out), +33 (Tribal) Leatherworking, +37 Cooking (maxed out), +40 First Aid (maxed out), +18 Fishing (maxed out)

My first Classic character from back in 2019, I swear this gal is going to be the slowest levelled WoW character ever (in terms of real time passed). How is the still not 60 after all these years?! The current hump to get over is that I really want to do a Sunken Temple quest run, but... effort. I'll get there one day.

Shinny - PV

  • Level 44 Mage (+8)
  • +1 day, 3 hours played
  • +34 Tailoring, +22 Enchanting, +37 Cooking, +1 First Aid, +5 Fishing

Nothing too exciting to report here. I just made some progress through questing and running a couple of dungeons when the mood struck me. I also got my mount, woo!

Fooba - Mirage Raceway

  • Level 26 Warrior (+10)
  • +19 hours played
  • +40 Mining, 124 Blacksmithing (changed from Skinning), no change in Cooking, +12 First Aid, +6 Fishing
I enjoyed levelling my food bank alt for a while, and even switched one of her primary professions from skinning to blacksmithing. I also remember having a good time fury-tanking Wailing Caverns and Shadowfang Keep. But then I just... stopped.

Gemba - MR

  • Level 23 Warlock (+4)
  • +12 hours played
  • +32 Herbalism, +56 Skinning, no change in Cooking, +15 First Aid, +46 Fishing

My experience on my other bank alt was similar and I did play her a little, but not as much as I had planned. She still hasn't finished either of the quest chains for the succubus/incubus for example, even though I was keen to get to that a year ago.

Tir - Nethergarde Keep

  • Level 14 Rogue (+5)
  • +5 hours played
  • +53 Herbalism, +82 Skinning, +1 Cooking, no fishing yet, +50 First Aid

My little troll rogue just did a few more quests in the Barrens; that's pretty much it.

Classic era - Alliance

My Alliance characters basically became completely neglected this year and nothing has changed about their stats compared to last year except for maybe a few minutes of play time here or there from occasional logins to check on something or other. (My hunter and paladin bounce some mails between them occasionally, and sometimes I remember to use my salt shaker cooldown on my hunter for example.)

The only characters that saw a little bit of action earlier in the year were my warrior and my priest, and the reason for this was that this was when I was at my most involved with the census project on the Classic era Discord, to the point that I also wanted to keep track of the Alliance population, and the best way to get scans (which can only be triggered by clicking about a hundred times at certain intervals) was to simply do a bit of questing every day.

Razorr - PV

  • Level 33 Warrior (+3)
  • +8 hours played
  • +30 Mining, +57 Skinning, +12 Cooking, +46 First Aid, +4 Fishing 

I remember doing some questing in Stranglethorn Vale and I also seem to remember tanking a Razorfen Kraul with her, but I'm worried about my memories of this level range getting muddled with her "BC version".

Shintar - PV

  • Level 32 Priest (+2)
  • +7 hours played
  • +4 Mining, +31 Engineering, +35 Cooking, +3 First Aid, +12 Fishing

Based on the robe in the screenshot I must have healed a Gnomer run, and I also have vivid memories of questing in Hillsbrad Foothills. Not much else going on though.

Isa - Gehennas

  • Level 23 Paladin
  • 1 day, 4 hours played
  • 146 Alchemy, 179 Herbalism, 134 Cooking, 105 First Aid, 119 Fishing

Different server cluster, but since I did get her past level 20, I thought I should also give a quick shout-out to the little paladin I made on Gehennas. The "empty server experience" was fun for a little while, but to be honest I think I was hoping that things would pick up a bit with the way era was booming at the time, and when that didn't happen I eventually got bored.

Hardcore

Lossy - Stitches

  • Level 22 Mage (deceased)
  • 22 hours played
  • 134 Herbalism, 82 Mining, 123 Cooking, 87 First Aid, 91 Fishing 

My stint in hardcore only lasted for a little while, but it seems only fair to give a shout-out to Lossy the mage for keeping me busy for almost a day of real time.

Season of Disovery

Shintar - Wild Growth

  • Level 25 Priest
  • 1 day, 12 hours played
  • 140 Alchemy, 150 Herbalism, 150 Cooking, 129 First Aid, 122 Fishing

Finally, there is of course the new hotness, Season of Discovery. Aside from this priest, I've also created a few more alts there already, but as none of them have even hit level 10 yet, it doesn't feel worth calling them out at this point. I suspect that this might end up being my main Classic focus in 2024 (in one form or another), but only time will tell. Seeing all my era characters again does kind of make me want to play them again too...

29/12/2023

Retail WoW & Me in 2023

Ever since the release of WoW Classic in 2019, I've been doing an end-of-year summary at the end of December to track my progress throughout the game, by listing the characters I've been playing and what they've achieved in the last year. This has turned into a very interesting tradition, as a lot can happen in a year and my interests and aspirations have completely changed direction in that time more than once. Without this track record I wouldn't have nearly as clear a picture of that.

I haven't done the same for retail WoW, except for musing on the progress I'd made after a year back in 2021. As my investment in that side of the game has grown, that has increasingly felt like an oversight, so I've decided to fix that going forward. So without further ado, my retail characters and what they've been up to in the past year... and to some degree since 2021, since I'm not always sure when exactly I did certain things and only have that old post as a reference point right now:

Shindragosa

  • Level 70 dracthyr evoker
  • 14 days, 19 hours /played
  • Dragonflight professions: 90 Leatherworking, 100 Skinning, 100 Cooking, 100 Fishing
  • Other professions: 56 Northrend Skinning, 20 Cataclysm Skinning, 31 Draenor Skinning, 81 Legion Skinning, 7 Kul Tiran Skinning, 15 Draenor Cooking, 66 Classic Fishing, 5 Cataclysm Fishing, 15 Kul Tiran Fishing, 99 Archaeology

The hero class that's new with the expansion became my main, who'd have thought? Even though their healing isn't as obviously OP compared to other healers the way dps and tanking were for other hero classes when they were first released (at least as far as I'm aware), I've come to enjoy the unique play style... plus to be honest, at the start of Dragonflight, just the idea of being able to go into the expansion with an empty inventory was extremely appealing (as opposed to sorting out my monk's bags and figuring out what to keep and what to throw away after Shadowlands). For how generous retail WoW is with bag space, it also has a weird habit of filling your bags with absolute tons of crap at endgame.

The fact that her leatherworking is still not maxed out this far into the expansion is a reflection on how the changes to the crafting system haven't really worked for me, even though I initially liked the sound of them, but that could be a whole post of its own really.

Mehg

  • Level 70 night elf demon hunter
  • 10 days, 4 hours /played
  • Dragonflight professions: 100 Mining, 69 Jewelcrafting, 68 Cooking, 52 Fishing
  • Other professions: 16 Classic Mining, 17 Cataclysm Mining, 100 Legion Mining, 150 Shadowlands Mining, 18 Classic Cooking, 31 Legion Cooking, 75 Shadowlands Cooking, 74 Classic Fishing, 70 Legion Fishing, 27 Shadowlands Fishing, 800 Archaeology

The demon hunter that became my first max-level alt in Shadowlands is still my main alt, I think because it's a relatively straightforward class to play at a basic level among a sea of overly complex rotations in retail. Earlier in the expansion she felt a bit squishy (regardless of gear), but that improved a lot after one of the most recent patches. She also still has the same transmog because I really like that set from the demon hunter starting experience... I just change the look of her glaives sometimes.

Tilarea

  • Level 70 lightforged draenei priest
  • 5 days, 10 hours /played
  • Dragonflight professions: 64 Tailoring, 64 Enchanting, 16 Cooking, 37 Fishing
  • Other professions: 100 Classic Tailoring, 75 Outland Tailoring, 5 Northrend Tailoring, 2 Cataclysm Tailoring, 64 Pandaria Tailoring, 100 Draenor Tailoring, 65 Kul Tiran Tailoring, 100 Shadowlands Tailoring, 96 Classic Enchanting, 26 Outland Enchanting, 25 Northrend Enchanting, 11 Cataclysm Enchanting, 20 Pandaria Enchanting, 25 Draenor Enchanting, 16 Kul Tiran Enchanting, 49 Shadowlands Enchanting, 2 Classic Cooking, 6 Shadowlands Cooking, 15 Outland Fishing, 11 Shadowlands Fishing, 13 Archaeology

This was the first alt I levelled without any involvement from my husband, simply because I wanted to be a priest again! She's pugged dungeons, done some PvP, worked on her professions and run a fair few old raids for transmog (as you can tell from her sporting the old tier two set). I just still love being a holy priest.

Tharisa

  • Level 70 human hunter
  • 2 days, 18 hours /played
  • Dragonflight professions: 18 Leatherworking, 100 Skinning, 14 Cooking, 23 Fishing
  • Other professions: 119 Classic Leatherworking, 205 Classic Skinning, 70 Northrend Skinning, 5 Cataclysm Skinning, 9 Draenor Skinning, 33 Legion Skinning, 129 Classic Cooking, 37 Archaeology

Ah, my old human hunter. I eventually levelled her up because I really wanted to have a better understanding of how retail hunter compares to its classic version. It's still a bit weird. I'm currently marksman spec because that has been my go-to for many expansions, but I don't know if it's still the best option for me in retail. I do still like having a pet, and with the new talent tree you can actually opt out of the "petless" marksman talent, but I have no idea how viable that is and haven't been able to find any discussion about it. Not that it matters, considering that I'm not doing any hard content on her, but I guess it would be interesting to know.

Groghue

  • Level 70 worgen rogue
  • 1 day, 18 hours /played
  • Dragonflight professions: 87 Herbalism, 105 Skinning, 4 Cooking, 35 Fishing
  • Other professions: 259 Classic Herbalism, 175 Classic Skinning, 23 Cataclysm Skinning, 21 Classic Fishing, 10 Cataclysm Fishing, 107 Archaeology

Enter Grogu (silent h, silent e), though she also responds to "rogue" (silent g, silent h). I created her during Shadowlands and actually made a post about it at the time. Considering how much time I spend running around aimlessly while levelling, I think her /played time goes to show just how fast retail levelling is nowadays. You can also tell from her professions that she's hardly seen anything of the world, having only really quested in the old world and on the Dragon Isles. I guess that's probably fairly typical of the modern retail levelling experience.

I also learned from levelling her that I'm terrible at playing rogue. Maybe it's just the subtlety spec, but in an interesting contrast to how the class works in Classic, it feels like you need to be hitting some sort of dps cooldown non-stop or you do basically no damage. In one heroic I did, I was struggling to out-dps the healer...

Oh, and she doesn't have a hump; that's a backpack. It just always looks a bit funny on the character selection screen.

Shinlu

  • Level 61 human monk
  • 22 days, 9 hours /played
  • Professions: 50 Outland Leatherworking, 16 Northrend Leatherworking, 150 Kul Tiran Leatherworking, 100 Shadowlands Leatherworking, 14 Classic Skinning, 75 Outland Skinning, 51 Northrend Skinning, 40 Cataclysm Skinning, 80 Legion Skinning, 175 Kul Tiran Skinning, 150 Shadowlands Skinning, 5 Dragonflight Skinning, 300 Classic Cooking, 75 Cataclysm Cooking, 48 Kul Tiran Cooking, 75 Shadowlands Cooking, 300 Classic Fishing, 39 Outland Fishing, 12 Northrend Fishing, 75 Cataclysm Fishing, 16 Pandaria Fishing, 100 Legion Fishing, 175 Kul Tiran Fishing, 200 Shadowlands Fishing, 678 Archaeology

My old Shadowlands main gained a bit of XP from doing stuff like the human heritage quest chain, but other than that she's mostly been chilling in Stormwind since Dragonflight. I feel a bit bad about it because I do still love her, but the thought of having to sort out her bags (there's probably still a dozen different kinds of anima in there for example) terrifies me.

Shinnins

  • Level 60 worgen druid
  • 17 days, 10 hours /played
  • Dragonflight professions:
  • Professions: 300 Classic Alchemy, 75 Outland Alchemy (Transmutation), 75 Northrend Alchemy, 75 Cataclysm Alchemy, 75 Pandaria Alchemy, 10 Shadowlands Alchemy, 300 Classic Herbalism, 75 Outland Herbalism, 75 Northrend Herbalism, 75 Cataclysm Herbalism, 75 Pandaria Herbalism, 43 Shadowlands Herbalism, 300 Classic Cooking, 75 Outland Cooking, 75 Northrend Cooking, 75 Cataclysm Cooking, 75 Pandaria Cooking (with all the different "cooking ways" maxed out too), 12 Shadowlands Cooking, 300 Classic Fishing, 75 Outland Fishing, 75 Northrend Fishing, 75 Cataclysm Fishing, 75 Pandaria Fishing, 22 Shadowlands Fishing, 608 Archaeology

My main from my brief flirtation with retail during Mists of Pandaria. Back in 2021 I bemoaned that I never even finished all the zones there, but I did actually get the husband to go back with me and do Townlong Steppes and Dread Wastes in Chromie Time. Then I did a little bit of Shadowlands, but I didn't even get to start on my covenant story before Dragonflight came out.

Pishin

  • Level 60 pandaren priest
  • 5 days, 13 hours /played
  • Dragonflight professions:
  • Professions: 4 Classic Herbalism, 100 Draenor Herbalism, 56 Shadowlands Herbalism, 21 Pandaria Inscription, 100 Draenor Inscription, 64 Shadowlands Inscription, 6 Classic Cooking, 6 Cataclysm Cooking, 105 Draenor Cooking, 17 Shadowlands Cooking, 100 Draenor Fishing, 17 Shadowlands Fishing, 117 Archaeology

Ah, my "piss priest", who levelled through WoD with the husband's monk and then did a bit of Shadowlands endgame. We actually never quite finished all of WoD - maybe once the level cap goes up again, I'll make him do the missing zones with me in Chromie Time, just like I did with the druid.

Other than that, I've been feeling a bit lost with this character. For a while, I logged her daily to tend her garrison, but eventually I had more resources than I could possibly use and gave up on it. I also levelled her as discipline, and regardless of the many changes Blizzard made to that spec over the years, I've pretty much disliked every single iteration of it. I thought I'd try respeccing to shadow, my original love, but all that nonsense with insanity and tentacles is just totally alien to me as well. It's weird to still love the priest class while not getting along with two of its three specs.

Tidella

  • Level 48 Kul Tiran shaman
  • 1 day, 17 hours /played
  • Professions: 106 Classic Mining, 3 Cataclysm Mining, 140 Classic Engineering, 3 Cataclysm Engineering, 40 Classic Cooking

This character was part of a levelling group with guildies, but we stalled out after the issues we ran into with Wrath dungeons described in this post. Since then she's been sitting in that weird limbo where I kind of don't want to play her because I'm still holding on to the idea that we'll pick things up again one day and the reality of having to accept that this probably won't happen.

Violan

  • Level 46 void elf mage
  • 14 hours /played
  • Professions: 8 Classic Herbalism, 61 Legion Herbalism, 2 Classic Skinning, 74 Legion Skinning, 40 Classic Cooking, 8 Legion Fishing, 30 Archaeology

After unlocking all those allied races, I thought I should actually create some characters using them. I made a void elf mage because it seemed like a good combo and I didn't have a mage yet. She's currently levelling through Legion.

Marquess

  • Level 45 dark iron dwarf death knight
  • 11 hours /played
  • Professions: 139 Kul Tiran Herbalism, 80 Kul Tiran Mining, 15 Kul Tiran Fishing, 28 Archaeology

Same story for this dark iron death knight - plus I kind of wanted to level a plate-wearer to unlock certain transmog pieces. She's making her way through BfA one chunk of rested XP at a time, but because she's both a miner and a herbalist, she actually gets to do very little questing between all the gathering (which awards absolutely stupid amounts of XP).

Kehnan

  • Level 19 dwarf paladin
  • 7 hours /played
  • Professions: 71 Draenor Blacksmithing, 2 Classic Mining, 3 Draenor Mining

This was actually my first attempt at getting a plate-wearer levelled up, but I haven't logged into her in so long that, before I did so to get her /played number for this post, she'd been marked as inactive and eligible for the free gear boost. I had this idea for taking another character through WoD while also checking out the state of paladin tanking, but the garrison quickly sapped me of all enthusiasm.

Kara

  • Level 59 orc warlock
  • 1 day, 3 hours /played
  • Professions: 50 Zandalari Tailoring, 7 Classic Enchanting, 45 Zandalari Enchanting, 26 Zandalrai Cooking, 68 Zandalari Fishing, 80 Archaelogy

My one Hordie, about whom I've also written a bit here. She's currently level-locked at 59 to see the rest of Horde-side BfA without outlevelling it, and also picked up all the different quests to unlock the BfA allied races at the same time. She's got a long way to go, but at least it's something different.

25/12/2023

Level 25 in Season of Discovery

So this actually happened before my LFR adventure in retail; I just had the urge to write about that one while it was still fresh on my mind. But yes, I hit level 25 on my priest in Season of Discovery, woo! What an achievement.

Actually, I'm being kind of sarcastic here, but I do think people overestimate just how quickly the "average" player progresses. Blizzard released a video with some SoD statistics a week ago, and in that they said that only about 10% of the population had hit the level cap after the first week, and less than 2% of characters had cleared the BFD raid. I shared this with my guildies who were already talking about how they were "done" or bored and called them filthy one-percenters.

My own journey to the level cap involved more dungeons, as I predicted in my last post about SoD. I ran Wailing Caverns twice, mostly to finish off all my quests in there, though I got lucky and also won this excellent ring off Mutanus the Devourer in my second run. As a side note, I found it pleasant how easy it was to get all those collection quests done for a change. When Wailing Caverns is just one step along your levelling journey and you want to get everything done in one run, getting enough herbs, ooze and hide drops for everyone is always a pain, but with the dungeon essentially being "endgame" you can get endless runs in which most people will already have done their quests, with way less competition for drops.

Anyway, what was truly memorable about those WC runs to me was that they were complete opposites in some ways. In my first run I had a warrior tank who was massively overgeared for the place and who was just barrelling from one pack to the next one-stop. I was trying to eat dinner at the same time as healing (don't judge me, I like multi-tasking like that) and I could hardly get a bite in because the guy just never stopped. We were done in less than an hour, and that was with one of the damage dealers being AFK for the entire run, which was another funny thing to be honest. This mage was the last to arrive at the instance and then immediately put me on /follow. I think I saw him cast a fire blast once or twice, presumably so he wouldn't be logged out for inactivity, but that was all he did until the last boss, where he came back just in time to roll need on - and win - the caster ring. I learned from this that the infamous "ledge jump" is in fact so easy that an AFK character on follow will simply walk over the gap without falling, so if you ever do fall down that hole again, know that you're worse than someone auto-running.

In my second run on the other hand, our tank was completely clueless, didn't talk, randomly went AFK a few times, and otherwise just ran off in seemingly random directions. We ended up doing the right side of the dungeon before the left side (something I hadn't seen done before), and when we returned to the druid at the entrance we realised he wouldn't talk to us because by simply following our tank's errant pathing, we'd completely missed one of the bosses. It took me to take charge and lead the group back to him to actually finish the dungeon (something I was actually quite proud of as I'm not at all good at navigating the maze that is Wailing Caverns either).

Next I was off to Shadowfang Keep, which had fewer quests but which I knew offered several juicy cloth drops. I got incredibly lucky in that regard as well, as I won everything I could possibly want in only three runs: shoulders on the first run, belt on the second and the robe on the third. I can't say that it was all well-earned either as I body-pulled and caused deaths in "that room" (you know the one) in two of those three runs.

Due to my good loot luck I was only level 24 at that point, and there was another wave of competing healers sweeping LFG, so I decided to just earn the rest of my last level via questing. While doing so, I found one more priest rune in Silverpine, which brought me up to a total of four. I didn't catch the actual level 25 ding, but I levelled up after handing in to Kadrak at the Ashenvale border as seen below.

A funny side effect of the season's timing is that everyone's running around with winter hats because there are very few useful head slots available at this level so you might as well wear the fluffy hat for fun.

What now? Well, I was keen to get into BFD, but with the imminent holidays there weren't enough guildies available, plus I had some family obligations as well, so that adventure will have to wait for another day.

I had a brief look at the Ashenvale PvP event, which seems to be occurring quite frequently and appears to be quite rewarding, but I don't know if I care enough to make it a focus. I did notice that it seems to involve shared tagging, as when I ran up to an Alliance boss and asked to join the raid group there, I was told they were full, but I was still able to contribute from outside the group and received both loot and kill credit for the boss.

At some point I'll probably want to look up the runes I'm missing and go hunt them down. There's at least one very powerful healer rune that I'll probably want to get before setting foot into the raid.

My professions are another thing to work on. While I've been levelling them as I've been going along, I'm only maxed out for my level in herbalism and cooking, so alchemy, first aid and fishing all have some ways to go to be truly useful.

And of course there is questing - Blizzard made it so that like when you quest at level 60, "unused" experience point rewards get converted into money instead, which means that completing any at-level quest at the cap of 25 rewards at least one gold, which is pretty huge. Again, I don't think I'll make a habit of grinding these, but even just doing a few adds up quite quickly. I can't see many people having issues affording their mount at level forty if they get to spend any time at all playing at the level 25 cap and accumulating quest reward money.

20/12/2023

My Experience in Amirdrassil LFR

As of today, Dragonflight has the (dubious?) honour of being the first WoW expansion since Cataclysm in which I (technically) saw and cleared all the raids while they were current content, even if I only did so in LFR. I say "technically" because, well... we'll get there.

I had set it as a pre-Christmas goal for myself to do all of Amirdrassil in LFR, and with me being off work already, today seemed a good day to do so in order to secure some boss kill credit for next week's great vault. I decided to putz around planting seeds in the Emerald Dream while waiting in the queue, but pops were so quick as a healer that I never got to finish a full growth cycle between wings.

Wing one was nothing too special or exciting. The bosses fell over with no great difficulty and despite my usual habit of going in blind, I wasn't too confused about what was going on, except for having no idea what to do with Igira's spears, as DBM telling me "Spear!" was not particularly helpful. I just tried to imitate the people around me in placing them in a loose circle around the boss.

Wing two initially made me raise an eyebrow as wing one finishes with you killing Smolderon, and then wing two starts with said boss suddenly being back to life and yelling things. Why, Blizzard? I get that LFR isn't the priority when it comes to designing a raid, but surely you have the power to group the bosses together for LFR wings in a way that makes more narrative sense? I just don't get it.

That aside, this wing was probably my favourite. The Volcoross fight was very atmospheric, with the looming tail coming out of the lava to smash people during the trash already and then being a mechanic during the boss fight as well. Mechanically, I really enjoyed Larodar, Keeper of the Flame, and how it gave healers something slightly different to do by asking us to heal NPCs to trigger certain mechanics. I just thought that was neat.

I was just thinking about how much I was enjoying myself with everything going so smoothly and the colour palette being unusually easy on the eyes for a raid, when I ran into my first hiccup in wing three, where my group wiped twice on Nymue for reasons not entirely clear to me. If group chat was to be believed, it was because one of the tanks moved one of the tree adds into a bad place (twice). This wasted some time, but ultimately wasn't too bad. I just found myself wondering why we were killing the bosses in this wing in the first place, as they didn't seem like bad guys or even "corrupted" in the way WoW bosses so often are.

Then it was time for the final wing! Now, I'd learned during Dragonflight's previous tiers that the last boss of a raid could be quite a shitshow even in LFR, so I tempered my expectations, but what actually happened still caught me by surprise.

We started the fight with "T. Swift" (as Calcas calls him) and after a bit of skirmishing he flew away. Everyone around me jumped on their dragonriding mount and I followed suit as quickly as I could. I'd heard mention of there being a fight that involved dragonriding and kept muttering "oh no" to myself as I had no idea what I was doing, but I made it to the next platform just fine. Here the cycle repeated, except when the boss flew away again and everyone mounted up to follow, my mount icon remained greyed out. I ran in circles for a few panicked seconds, when I suddenly remembered a reddit post in which I had seen this fight mentioned, where someone had made a comment about needing to run over a feather. Those fiery things that looked evil and like you should definitely not stand on them? Yup, touching one finally unlocked my mount and I raced after the rest of the group as quickly as I could.

However, I had lost too much valuable time already and suddenly found myself dismounted in mid-air. I could see that I was close, and being a dracthyr, I was hopeful that I'd be able to safely glide down to the platform with the rest of the raid on it, however a painful damage-over-time effect kicked in and killed me before I could land, leading to me plummeting to my death just under the platform.

The boss died anyway, and I waited a few seconds to see if I would get a revive, but I wasn't sure whether that was even possible with me being dead on the ground underneath. Anyway, no res indicator popped up, so I released and found myself back on the last boss's starting platform, seeing no other option to get off than to talk to the nearby green dragon, however that just took me back to the previous wing, so I had to immediately revert.

I couldn't think of anything else but to mount my own dragon and try to manually find the platform on which the boss had died, but the map was completely useless and of no help. Someone did a ready check, which I obviously declined, followed by him immediately pulling the boss. Someone else did gripe about that in chat briefly, something along the lines of "dude, WTF do you pull when not everyone's here" but I seemed to be the only one affected so they did just fine without me.

After a bit of flying I was suddenly killed mid-air again and got an achievement for dying to Fyrakk. My body appeared next to the corpse of Mr. Swift (whom I'd been unable to locate until then) and which was sparkling at me tantalisingly. Annnd... that's where I spent the rest of the raid, never even seeing Fyrakk until the raid completion achievement popped up. This is why I said I "technically" saw all the bosses at the start of this post, because in reality I never even saw him. I'm not sure whether I should go back and re-do this wing at some point just to actually see the fight.

I'm glad I've got a blog to spin this into an amusing tale, because otherwise I might've been somewhat annoyed by how that last wing went. The postmaster didn't even send me whatever loot I had on Mr. Swift, and I didn't get loot credit for Fyrakk at all (which is fair but was still a bit annoying as well since I did get the lockout). Once again LFR delivered on an experience that was mostly inoffensive in terms of gameplay but also a terrible way to experience the story. I'm just glad I was able to tick all the raid boxes for an expansion for once, considering how much importance WoW still places on this content above all else.

11/12/2023

Discovering the Level 25 Dungeon Endgame

I last talked about my priest in Season of Discovery in the context of her hitting level 15 after running Ragefire Chasm once and doing some questing in Silverpine Forest. I didn't want to spend too much time questing in the Barrens - I have no particular love or hate for that zone, but solo questing as a priest can be a bit tedious in general. It's not necessarily inefficient - shield, DoT, wand plus being specced into extra wand damage and spirit tap means that you can keep grinding mobs one by one with almost no downtime; it's just not particularly fun (in my opinion anyway).

At least for me, being a priest is about playing with others and forming a team that's more powerful than the sum of its parts, so I focused on doing the quests in and around the Barrens oases to get all the dungeon quests for Wailing Caverns. I was level 18 and about halfway to 19 by the time I was done with that... those raptor horns, man. Because of how busy it was, I actually found it hard to find many Scytheclaws alive, and a quick check on Wowhead revealed that they share a spawn point with ornery plainstriders, so in the end I just picked a corner with a lot of those birds and went on a killing spree to actually get some raptors to respawn.

With all the quests sitting ready in my log and my bags freed up as much as they were going to get at this level, I opened the LookingForGroup channel, expecting to find a group quickly, considering how many of them were running at all times. However, as is Sod's law, what I found instead was at least three other healers specifically looking for Wailing Caverns groups. I rolled my eyes at how typical that was, but then spotted a tank looking for dps and a healer for Deadmines instead. And I thought, why not? There are no quests for that on Horde side, but it still drops some nice loot, and it would be something different. So I ended up whispering him for an invite and made my way to the zeppelin tower.

On the zepp I actually met up with our tank in person, another shaman like I'd had in RFC. I wistfully recalled the launch of Classic and how I visited the Deadmines on a Horde character for the first time. I remembered getting there by swimming along the coast and was planning to do so again, but when we arrived in Stranglethorn, the shaman set off straight into the jungle, and my inner urge to trust in and follow the tank kicked in, prompting me to follow. Of course, I then saw him get eaten by raptors within less than a minute, which quickly caused me to swerve back to the coastline, but I hadn't counted on just how many crocolisks were lying in wait there, causing me to die quickly too.

However, my spirit then appeared at the graveyard in northern Stranglethorn, and I saw the shaman take res sickness and continue north from there. That actually seemed like a pretty clever idea, so I followed his example. He immediately died again as he got eaten by a panther, but his death allowed me to get past without drawing attention myself, and I actually made it into Duskwood without further incident. From there I just followed the road to Westfall and was lucky enough to not encounter Stitches or any other mobs on the road. The shaman followed a couple of minutes behind.

It took a little while to fully fill the group and get everyone to Moonbrook as we had no summon available, but eventually we were off, with a group of all melee (our shaman tank was supported by a feral druid, a rogue and a dps warrior). They killed everything incredibly quickly, as they were all above level 20 and pretty well geared already. I thought how interesting that was, considering that on a regular server, people usually try to run dungeons at as low a level as they can get away with, to maximise XP and gear rewards before moving on the next thing.

Despite a mess-up on the boat that led to a massive over-pull and two people dying, we finished the dungeon in something like forty minutes. Since we were already there, I was happy to just reset and go again, and so was the rest of the group - with the exception of the warrior, who had to go. He was eventually replaced by a hunter... who was in Orgrimmar, so it took something like another half hour until he was actually able to join us in person.

I tried to make good use of the time at least by doing some herbing and fishing along the coastline. I also learned that the Defias Profiteer on the first floor of the Moonbrook inn is happy to trade with Hordies as well, which was handy for bag-clearing between runs.

We then did the dungeon two more times, which is kind of nuts to me because I usually never chain-run dungeons like that. But it was just going so fast, and it had been such a pain to get there in the first place that it made sense to make the most of it while we were there. I didn't get much XP out of it, probably because of how high-level the damage dealers were, and I only gained about a level from the whole adventure, but I got very lucky with loot, picking up several greens as well as the Emberstone Staff and the Corsair's Overshirt. Those were huge upgrades and I could immediately feel the difference in my mana regen after I equipped them.

I'm now planning to spend most of the rest of my time levelling to 25 in Wailing Caverns and Shadowfang Keep. I know that's perhaps not exactly in the spirit of making discoveries in the outdoor world, but it is in the spirit of being a healing priest, and I can always do more exploring later, once I hit the current level cap of 25 and have geared up a bit.

As an aside, when I said goodbye to my group, I did so without any expectation to see any of them again, because I'm such a slow leveller nowadays, everyone else always gets away from me almost immediately. But one of them said "see you soon in BFD" and it hit me that I actually might see them again, because at least for now, they couldn't out-level me any more than they already had. And that was an oddly nice feeling.

05/12/2023

Level 15 in Season of Discovery

Season of Discovery has been out for less than a week but apparently the no-lifers have already run the BFD raid to death and are bored. I haven't heard any complaints in my guild, but I've certainly seen my share of min-maxers there as well and I've got to admit it makes me a bit anxious. I'd forgotten how quickly the threat of "being left behind" looms when you're playing with people like that, and I'm glad they at least have nowhere else to go past level 25 for now. I hope Blizzard stick to their guns and give this phase time to breathe, without being tempted into raising the level cap too soon just to appease certain loud voices.

My little undead priest is level 15 so far and probably won't get to 25 for a while as SWTOR is deploying a major patch today. In my last post I talked about how I found my second rune, but I didn't mention what it was: it's called "Homunculi" and conjures three little mini-yous to fight by your side. The spell's cooldown and duration are the same, so you can have them up all the time unless they die. They don't hit particularly hard, but they do apply some very useful debuffs to your enemy and can serve as life-saving distractions in tough situations. Though they also do the opposite sometimes, by running off to attack a random mob by themselves that you didn't actually want to fight. I'm not sure about the logic behind that... either way, it's a fun little spell.

Around level 12 I left Tirisfal to pick up all the quests for Ragefire Chasm. One of them has a pre-quest in Skull Rock in Durotar. I wrote a bit about just how deadly that place is in the context of the orc voidwalker quest, but it's well-known as the deadliest place on Horde side in hardcore mode as well. Still, all the knowledge in the world couldn't have prepared me for what I encountered there in SoD: it was absolute carnage.

The moment I stepped inside I found the whole floor littered both with dead NPCs and player skeletons. There were both people and hyperspawns everywhere, which led to the bizarre situation of it being both hard to tag things and easy to get overwhelmed by respawns at the same time. An orc shaman threw me a group invite which I immediately accepted; later we were joined by two hunters. I was quite happy to let them do most of the killing and just do some healing. They seemed quite pleased with that and responded with friendly emotes more than once. However, both of the hunters left quietly the moment they'd completed their quests, so then it was just me and the shaman again. At one point I died - no shade on the shaman there, as I said it was weirdly easy to get overwhelmed out of nowhere - but then he just looted his quest item and also dropped group quietly, leaving me to run back to my body by myself. I've got to admit that felt kind of crappy.

I later joined another group and eventually got my own quest item, plus one of the mobs dropped a third rune for me. All in all, I must have spent about three quarters of an hour in that cave though, which is definitely too long.

On the plus side, getting into a group for RFC was fast and easy after that. When everyone arrived at the instance entrance I asked who was tanking since it wasn't obvious, and it turned out to be a shaman. Funnily enough, my first thought was "ah yes, I guess at low levels shamans can tank too" and only my second thought was "oh wait, in SoD shamans are meant to be legitimate tanks". It was only then that I noticed that they had a buff on them that indicated increased health and threat. Their tanking seemed to involve totems somehow - I'm not sure how it worked, but they did a good enough job with it. We only had one scary moment when we accidentally overpulled and the tank died... however, I managed to survive with something like five hitpoints, so we were able to res up and continue.

While in Org, I also saw Monty again, the priest who first gave me the Loa buff in Tirisfal Glades, asking for someone to /pray and give him the two buffs again. It felt like proper karma to be able to return his favour so quickly.

I've now moved on to Silverpine but will probably start working on the Barrens soon, if nothing else to get ready for Wailing Caverns. I haven't found another rune since the one in Skull Rock... but my plan is to just go with the flow until 25, and maybe then look up what I missed.

I've also been levelling all my professions on the side because that's the kind of thing I always enjoy. I've been surprised by how easy it's been to find herbs; I would've expected every zone to be absolutely picked clean with how busy it's been, but maybe Blizzard just made the respawns really fast in this iteration of the game or herbalism is a less popular profession than it used to be.

02/12/2023

Kneel Before Me, Fellow Priest

My first day of playing Season of Mastery has been absolutely delightful. The combination of the familiar with strange new things that nobody knows what to do with is definitely a winner. To give an example of what exactly I mean, let me tell you about my experience with priest rune acquisition. This will contain what you could call early gameplay spoilers for undead priests I guess, if that's something you care about, but it all happened before level ten, so...

As I mentioned in my last post, you get your first rune at level two. As an undead priest, you're told to go to the Deathknell graveyard and kneel there to meditate. This involves doing a /kneel emote there, at which point you gain a four-hour buff called "Meditation on Undeath" with the description: "Your mind is expanded by your meditation, granting you the clarity to learn new spells from Memories found throughout the world." This allows you to use a green item in your bag whose name I don't remember right now but which is what actually grants you the rune.

I didn't give much thought to when, where or how I was going to find more runes but simply continued to quest as I would normally. However, while killing Scarlets near the Solliden Farmstead, one of them dropped a green item like the one that had taught me the first rune. Aha, I thought, I know this! Another rune for me! However, trying to use the item didn't work, so I double-checked the item description and it said that it required two meditation buffs to use. A conundrum! How was I going to get a second buff? I decided not to worry too much about it just then and once again simply continued as I was, figuring something would end up presenting itself sooner or later.

While doing a bit of reading up on reddit and forums to see more of other people's first impressions of Season of Mastery, I came upon a post that talked in vague terms about unlocking runes as a druid and how the poster thought that it was very appropriate for their class fantasy. This was the first time that it really hit me that the process for unlocking runes might actually be very different for different classes. I wondered what the devs had decided the priest class fantasy was supposed to be. Was it meditating at a graveyard? Did I have to meditate at other graveyards?

I tried /kneel-ing at the Brill cemetery the next time I was there and it did nothing. However, I also noticed one or two people in general chat asking for a troll priest, which was an... oddly specific request. Did I need to meditate on other races? That seemed a bit odd and like it would be very punishing later on when the starting zones were no longer heaving with people, plus how would you even mediate on a random troll anyway? I'd buffed a troll shaman earlier and it had done nothing for me.

As I left town, I walked past another undead priest... and noticed that he did in fact have a second meditation buff on him, called "Meditation on the Loa". Okay, that definitely had something to do with trolls, but how had he got it? I decided to go the direct route and simply whispered him to ask.

"I got it from a nice chap here," he replied, which made me raise an eyebrow a bit. I was thinking about how exactly to word a potential follow-up question when he threw me a group invite (which I of course accepted) and ran over to me. Was he gonna show me?

"Kneel" he whispered. I barely hesitated, having only the briefest flashback to 2006 and a male character pretending that my kneeling knight elf was fellating him... but who can you trust if not your fellow priests? I did as instructed, and he did another emote in return that stated that he was saying a prayer for me. And just like that, I'd gained the loa buff and my undead meditation buff had been refreshed to its full four-hour duration as well.

I immediately learned the new rune that had been waiting in my bag and thanked my fellow priest profusely and excitedly. I imagined him smiling as he simply said "help others" before dropping group. Thanks Monty of Wild Growth-EU! What a lovely little mechanic, and I really loved how it became clear to me slowly and gradually over the course of the play session. Plus it really made me curious how other classes get their runes now... but no, don't tell me. I want to find that out organically too.

Also, in hindsight the priest trainer totally gave a hint about all this that completely went over my head at the time, as the last paragraph of the quest hand-in for the level two rune says: "As you grow stronger I recommend spending some time with the trolls of the Horde. Though their culture is primitive, the 'loa' they revere have some connection to undeath. They may provide insight into our nature." Guess it's important to read quest text again!

01/12/2023

Season of Discovery Is Here!

Season of Discovery was scheduled to launch at 9pm in my time zone last night. I'd been planning to be there right as the servers opened, but ended up making it home a bit later than expected. I logged on as soon as I had a chance (which was about fifteen minutes after the official launch time) and was immediately presented with a several-thousand player queue and an estimated wait time of forty minutes. Oh well.

I kept myself busy doing some other things, so it's not as if I was staring at the queue screen the entire time, but even just taking a look at the estimated wait time every so often showed some pretty wacky numbers. It started at about forty minutes, got down to about twenty, and after about forty minutes of actual waiting it was back up to predicting forty again. At some point, with more than 1.5k players left ahead me, it decided that from now on, it was going to say six minutes forever.

I think in the end it took me about one and a half hours to get in. I was excited to create an undead priest with my name on the European PvE server and jumped right in. During the flyover intro cinematic, I recognised the flash of another priest casting Penance and immediately got excited by the idea of how overpowered that must be at such a low level.

However, I wasn't really going to find out that night, because the launch night crowds were just as bad if not worse than they'd been for hardcore, and layers or no layers, it was almost impossible to tag any mobs. I ran around for five to ten minutes, getting credit for about three kills in that time, and then just logged off, deciding to not waste any more time on that but to instead come back the next morning, like I'd done with hardcore.

This morning, things were indeed better, though still very crowded. There was one quest in particular to kill Rattlecage Skeletons that was still pretty impossible to complete. I saw people trying to form groups for it in general chat, but in my entire time questing in Deathknell I only saw a single (un)living skeleton and even that died too quickly for me to get a tag in with my instant Penance. So I just did everything else and abandoned that particular quest. I gained a bit of bonus exploration XP from a quick detour to Orgrimmar to sign the charter for our guild, so I was still level six by the time I reached Brill, which is about where I'd expect to be.

Everyone gets their first SoD-specific rune (basically an extra ability or talent) for free at level two, with a simple quest instructing you on how the whole system works. As mentioned, priests get Penance which definitely added a punch to my early questing.

I also suffered my first death very early, at level three, as I unexpectedly found myself mobbed by four spiders in Night Web's Hollow even though there'd been scores of people around a moment before. I just considered myself lucky that this wasn't hardcore. In spite of this I wasn't off to a bad start in general as I'd found two six-slot bags by level four.

General chat was abuzz with people talking about runes and where to find them. There was one spoilsport who complained about people asking questions and that they should just use Google, but they were rightfully laughed out of general by everyone else. Do you even know what server you rolled on?

Just from listening to the chatter I gathered that a mysterious new chest that I'd noticed in the cave but couldn't interact with was meant for warlocks, that mages had to do something with melons, that warlocks were also after a "frozen murloc" and that some people were bamboozled by what to do with a bunch of severed heads. I also saw others link mysterious new items, such as scrolls with funny names that supposedly needed decrypting. I wonder what these are for and I'm happy that most of us have no idea right now. Season of Discovery working as intended so far!