The new Molten Core is the first genuinely bad experience I've had this expansion

| Saturday, November 22, 2014
I'm not saying this expansion is perfect, but overall I've had fun and there haven't been many things that I've pointed at and said "this thing is reducing my fun." And then I queued for the Molten Core raid.

I was immediately dropped into a trash pull in progress, and it was not going well. A bunch of bosses were dead already, which made it odd that they were fighting at the entrance. And chat, chat was filled with people yelling. All of it was wrong. Somehow they'd become convinced that AoE attacks cause lava spawns to spawn or clone. Or maybe that AoE attacks did too little damage, which is true, but the better way to phrase that is "focus fire". People spent the entire rest of the raid yelling about how AoE attacks are terrible.

I opted to entertain myself by chatting with someone who had been there in vanilla and understood the absurdity of the situation. I might have also claimed that AoE attacks make Onyxia deep breath more often. I had just as much evidence as anyone else in the raid.

It was a slow, bumbling process of 40 people slowly bumbling their way toward bosses, without any idea of how they worked. People kept yelling nonsense directions in raid chat.

Apparently they'd been there for hours. I was sick of it after a few minutes, but I figured I'd see it through to the end. I got a hat and a mount. Wee.

Then I did things that were fun, such as heroics and follower missions. I'm going to have a hard time picking my favorite heroic, but so far, Shadowmoon Burial Grounds is winning.

We are the Warlords of Draenor

| Thursday, November 20, 2014
Orcs have warchiefs, not warlords. So who are the warlords? Us, of course. We are the warlords.

It was inevitable. We'd spent years gathering powerful magical items, built up reputations, amassed fortunes. And finally, we have our own private armies. People are seeing that when they throw their lot in with us, they get results, and tend not to die as often as when they go alone, or even join a faction. Notice how when followers join they don't say "I want to join the Alliance!" They say "I want to join you."

One could argue that we're more like Colonel Kurtz. We were sent out in an official capacity, and then took our mission to heart, seizing power locally in order to accomplish the goal given by our superiors. And then promptly went insane with power.


However, we are still in direct contact with our factions, receiving intel and the general strategy, rather than being off in the jungle while Sartin Meen tries to kill us. Those are how I interpret quests and follower missions; they can't quite tell us what to do, but they can reward us well and try to point us where they want us to go. However, before you think we are part of the organized military, we don't receive any sort of ongoing material support; it's all based on specific missions, making us appear more like an warlord for hire. Everything else is generated locally, from the production we set up and manage (gathering and work orders).

I rather like this situation. It feels as if we're finally getting our due. We used to run around murdering for trinkets and armor, then get called heroes, but rarely did our factions reward us for our deeds. Now we've set up our own armies and can finally take what we've earned. The mines we liberate send their ore to us. The soldiers we rescue join us. This world that we're pacifying is ours. We are the warlords of Draenor.

The best laid plans fall before the might of the overlooked detail

| Monday, November 17, 2014
I had it all figured out.

I was mere hundreds of experience away from level 100. I had to make it count and I had the means to do it: N.U.K.U.L.A.R. Target Painter. What could possibly go wrong?

I rode out of Telaari Station in Nagrand and found the nearest rare. I got line of sight and painted the area. Not the target itself; the AoE is pretty big.

Ten seconds later the area was covered in ash. A windroc was dead. My skin was charred. And that was it. Redclaw the Feral still lived.

It turns out that this is not a ground-penetrating weapon. It explodes on impact, blowing up everything outside the cave and leaving him entirely unharmed.

I returned to my garrison and resolved to find another rare, outdoors, with no pesky layer of invincible terrain to save it. While I was there I checked on my completed follower missions, and hit 100.

Please stop making exciting zones

| Friday, November 14, 2014
Jade Forest is a nice zone. It's pretty. The story is awesome, particularly on the Alliance side. And I never want to do it ever again.

In the title I don't mean actually exciting, but rather the highly-scripted, frequently-interrupted, linear "exciting" that has been an increasing trend since Cataclysm. Rather than informing us of the need to kill some quantity of reskinned rats, we are instead treated to voiceovers, flybys of things, and short vehicle events. These are all fun, the first time around, when the story is new, the events are new, the flybys are of new things, and the voices haven't yet been reused a few dozen times. I'm not saying Blizzard should higher a different voice actor for every single NPC. At least they don't have people with identical voices carrying on random conversations consisting mostly of hello, goodbye, and their hatred of mudcrabs.

The first time around the breaks in the flow come with a reward in the form of something new. The second time around, they're just breaks in the flow. Even worse, you know they're coming, so it's that much harder to kill into a rhythm of murder. On a related note, I actually like the ridiculous name floats for new enemies; gives it a Kill Bill sort of feel.

I propose a solution: Background Hero Mode.

It is often the case that a scripted sequence features someone in an endless battle, off to the side, barely in the camera. Endless slaughter is kind of our thing, so why not have an option to play as that person? Let the scripted stuff run its course nearby, while you spend the time happily drowning the grass with blood. To spice things up a bit, give bonus xp if you kill a certain number of enemies during a sequence, or let us run some of the off-screen machinery, such as crashing Ogrim's Hammer and carrying boxes while asking everyone nearby if they're going to give them more work.

Best End of Expansion, Ever

| Monday, November 3, 2014
I've had a great time in the weeks leading up to the expansion. It's not because Mists of Pandaria is ending. Maybe a bit... But actually, I think this is due to a few things added during MoP that only recently have I taken advantage of.

Soon before the patch I finished the legendary cloak on my paladin. It was a profoundly anti-climactic moment. I effectively got a legendary for running LFR a lot, and for putting up with the utterly ridiculous need to win two specific BGs for a PvE chain. If it had merely been two generic BGs, or even to win two Pandaria BGs (including the same one twice), that might have been okay. I was glad to get it, but I think I've gotten bigger thrills from finding khorium nodes.

Then I heard that the Brawler's Guild was closing. I misinterpreted this as being permanently gone, or that the entire thing would be scrapped and return in some vaguely familiar, yet wrong form, as happened with Naxxramas, or Azeroth. This led to me spending pretty much my entire weekend before the patch trying to get to rank 10. I managed to do it, beating the paladin the morning of the Monday before the patch. Hexos, the first boss in rank 8, was probably the hardest thing I'd ever done in WoW.

My warlock had tried to get green fire, which meant flying to Black Temple and dying a lot. I'd not expected this to be a skill check. Gear helps, but it's like Hexos: it can reduce the length of time that you need to play well, but you still have to play well for a solid 5-6 minutes (Hexos was only two minutes, but was also even more unforgiving during that time). The result was that she died a lot. And then more. I looked it up and found that this wasn't typically people did with an ilevel of 490.

She had puttered around for a while, never even gone to SoO, barely done any LFR at all. That had to change, and that was the first part of the fun. All this time I could have gotten better gear, but for what purpose? Higher numbers for their own sake aren't that appealing to me. But, when they have a purpose, then I very much enjoy the collecting of near gear. Some time on the Timeless Isle (no idea how long) got her a couple timeless items, one of which replaced a blue. (did I mention that her gear was awful?) Some LFR brought in a necklace, Ordos donated a very nice belt, and a Celestial gave her her first tier piece. I gemmed, enchanted, upgraded as much as I could given my lack of lesser charms of good fortune (she was so neglected that she barely even had the currency they gave out for sneezing).

I flew to Black Temple and proceeded to die a lot. I was doing this fight, not perfectly, but I think pretty darn well, except for my one inexplicably stupid habit of running away from cover and getting killed by a chaos bolt. It was as if I'd were being possessed by a Spirit of Stupid. I yelled at that spirit. Then I ignored it. I focused on my pretty red and purple flags on the ground. "Stay near those flags and everything will be okay", I told myself. I didn't and I died. I explain the fight again, "stay alive and stay near those flags. It's not a DPS race until late in; just survive until then." And finally I listened and I downed the boss.

Now I have green fire. This has the unexpected downside of making all of my spell icons look different than I remember, and all the same. But by golly, I have green fire, a weird title, and an Feat of Strength.

In other news, the price of arcane crystals has skrocketed on Blackhand, for no apparent reason. I knew my odd habit of farming thorium would pay off someday.

The Victims of the Stat Squish

| Tuesday, October 28, 2014
When you hear the One Ring, do you think, "To rule them all?" Well you're wrong! Everyone knows that The 1 Ring is, "Not quite as good as the 2 Ring". Thankfully, it can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, which does not exist, so everything is fine.

The 2 Ring is, obviously, "Vastly superior to the 1 ring." It was a glorious sight to behold, with a magnificent 22 of every stat. What paladin could ever say no to a ring with strength, stam, intellect, and agility... and I guess spirit is allowed to be there. Alas, the fires of Patch Doom (6.0) have damaged it. Now it is a mere 10 of every stat. It's not the 10 ring! The 10 ring is a terriying thing to behold. This is just... a joke, killed by so-called "updates". Just like this. REND IS SUPPOSED TO BE BAD. *ahem* The worst part is that they were so close. All they had to do was make it The 01 Ring and everything would be okay.

This brings us to the last one, The 5 Ring. "This ring appears to have eaten the 3 and 4 rings." It has 17 stam, 17 crit, and 17 haste. Add up all the digits and you get 24, which is 6. 5+3+4 is 14 which is 5. Basic math says that this patch ruined everything.

I take it back, there is SO MUCH to complain about.

What's there to complain about?

| Sunday, October 19, 2014
I love a good complain. Change anything and I bet I can complain about it. And that's why the pre-warlords patch has me so angry. I'm at a loss for legitimate complaints. Oh sure, I have a few, but it's just not enough for a frothy-mouthed rage.

As might be expected, I'm a bit peeved about the switching of UBRS. And at first I found it to be terribly boring. Then I remembered an old pet peeve: people who watch TV while playing: paying no attention, making mistakes without even noticing), and generally making me wonder why they're even logged in. I'd become one of those people.

Pausing Netflix, I turned the sound back on, and focused on the game. Suddenly I could heard what I'd been missing, and generally notice. I pulled more carefully, rewired the gun turrets to help us, and soaked in as much fun as I could. Turns out, there's actually a bit of fun to be had. Maybe when it isn't half an instance I'll enjoy it more. In the meantime, it's nice to run a place where I can actually die if I play badly. I need to remember to bring my ring from LBRS to see if I can get a second Vael.

On the other hand, I like how the weird squish-non-squish has screwed up the already-broken tuning of old raids. Everything dies as if it were meant to be soloed, perhaps because Blizzard realized that people are typically running these solo or in small groups. I wouldn't say they're "tuned" for that, not in the sense that they're remotely challenging for such groups. It was fun to be able to just run straight into some of these places and knock them out without trying to rally friends to the cause, what with their annoying habits of having lives outside of outdated raids.

The invasion event was mildly interesting, though also almost an exact copy-paste between Alliance and Horde. Oh no, my filler content wasn't carefully customized for each faction! At this point the Iron Horde seems somewhat generic, but it probably doesn't help that I've seen literally nothing about the expansion outside of the game and whatever I saw on wowhead while looking for UBRS loot.

People in trade are mad about the squish, or some ability being removed, or... something or other. It's an enlightened bunch. Someone claims the squish ruined everything. As best as I can tell, in practical terms nothing changed, except that my Thunderfury, due to a fully-powered proc, seems to work just fine. (I got buffed! Wee!) I am still in the habit of trying to refresh Inquisition. I asked in trade if hunters still need mana; someone replied that they never needed mana. Jokes are wasted on some people.

I'm glad to have an enchanter; strange dust is selling well in pairs, thanks to the Fire and Poetry event, though I'm guessing that will slow down as people finish the quest. And then pick up again as people realize they haven't finished the quest.

Trolls look weird when they run.

Farewell, Brawler's Guild

| Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Since The Great Betrayal soon after Cataclysm, I've been a bit spotty on the raiding front. My rogue did some in Cataclysm, but mostly LFR and I saw nothing outside of Dragon Soul beside a few wipes on whatever the first boss in the first raid was. Mists of Pandaria has mostly been LFR for me, because finding guilds is not my strong point and I'm not interested in PUG raids.

As a result, I've been missing on the challenge high, of failing over and over until I get it right, and then feeling amazing. Unfortunately, I didn't give the Brawler's Guild much attention. The best time to do it is first thing in the morning, which is also the best time for me to forget what I was planning to do.

Then I heard rumors that it would be gone. I misinterpreted this as gone gone, gone forever, Cataclysmed gone. So, with no time to lose, the Friday before patch day, I started Brawler's Guild. And then immediately wished I'd started sooner. It turns out that, despite my ranking as the number one level 90 paladin with a partial Justicar transmog on my server, I couldn't one-shot everything.

It all began with Hexos. In a way, that was a great boss, because it forced me to actually learn how to DPS without paying much attention. A momentary distraction from the pink of death was death. Over the many, many, many attempts, I reworked some keybindings, finally macroed my gloves, potions, and wings together, and stopped clicking rend. Then I died some more, until finally, I won, and then worried that I'd pass out because a pot of coffee does not constitute a complete breakfast. Good times.

 From there I learned that, those things which are fought least are also fixed least. The snake was awful, filled with either bugs or just bad behavior. It would stop for no clear reason and get a stack, one of which is enough to end the fight. It would drop poison directly in its path. I hated that fight, not for being a crazy gimmick like Hexos, but for being a badly-made fight. The fire elemental angered me almost as much, though it at least took fewer tries. The stun would fail and the elementals would seem to go out of their way to run into the fire. But I beat them, and it felt great because it had not been easy and because I'd gotten better in the process.

Then finally the paladin. While it took fewer tries, I think it was a more accurate skill check than Hexos. Adapting movement to a rapidly-changing situation, seeing small changes, identifying the goal, timing, and finally winning a harsh DPS race. That's almost everything someone would need for an actual raid, beside other people.

And yet, there were other people. It had some of the social elements of raiding. There was the begging for a res from the person who had gone AFK and blamed you for dying. There was the delay as other people failed in their own unique ways. There was the every-growing repair bill. And there was the congratulations, because when everyone is trying to get the achievements on the last available weekend, they tend to stick around and recognize each other. We'd offer advice, learn from them, and cheer and smile as they finally beat a boss. It was a temporary crowd, but somehow, this solo activity seemed to bring people together better than LFR.

So here's to you, Brawler's Guild!

Next time, please have more arenas; it's not fun waiting 15 minutes for a fight.
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