Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wildshard Ponders the Proving Grounds

Wildshard Ponders the Proving Grounds

Wild can’t help but scratch that raiding itch. Today he finally put away his Moonkin spec and activated Restoration/Healing. Wild is and always will be a healer in groups. Healing is what he loves to do. He was a bit worried that he would have to relearn druid healing from scratch, given how long it had been since Wild had entered a dungeon or raid. There must be a lot of changes. Well, on his first look, Wild was pleasantly surprised that nearly all of the basic healing spells were still there, a comfortable set of spells that Wild knew very well. Rejuvenation, Nature’s Swiftness, Lifebloom, Regrowth, Wild Growth, Swiftmend, Tranquility, and Wild Mushrooms. If they didn’t all fit exactly like a glove, Wild came close to it. Wild mushrooms was only a novelty to Wild, but its simple mechanic – set it and forget it – was easy enough to remember. There were some changes in how some other spells worked, but nothing dramatic.

More challenging will be to integrate a number of new and changed talents that Wild will also need  practice with. He has to get his mind around managing his mana again, protecting the tank and keeping the rest of his group alive. It wasn’t just Wild now. Wild got so excited he grabbed his Mission Specialist, Warmaster Zog, and told him he wanted a chance in the Proving Grounds.

WHAM! Just like that, Wild was there. Trial Master Rotun welcomed Wild into the round chamber of the White Tiger Temple dungeon. Before Wild had time to even think about what he was about to do, the Scenario began. Wild’s group ran in and the first wave of foes attacked.

The first wave was a baby wave of hostiles, but it got Wild’s combat juices flowing and he began casting heals. Pretty easy at first, but as new waves came things got hotter and hotter. I’d forgotten to see who the tank was, but once the poor tank started taking heavy damage, Wild caught on and laid the healing on him.

The fourth wave brought on the real heavy DPS which struck all players at the same time. Wild was up to it, though, casting Wild Growth and maintaining his Lifebloom on the tank – well, most of the time. The fifth wave doubled down and Wild forgot about how rusty he was and simply did his best not to let anyone die.

To Wild’s great surprise, Wild and his group defeated the White Tiger dungeon. I hadn’t provided Wild any prior testing, he had no addons to aid him, and I hadn’t set up any of the many talent spells that could have been used. It was back to basics healing.

Wild earned the Proving Yourself: Bronze Healer rank.

Wild’s guild noticed, too. Wild got a Gratz! in guild chat from Grrbaby, who I believe is the man working on Meitha’s plans for raiding. Coincidentally, the guild just announced that they are planning a Highmaul raid next week. It would be the guild’s first WoD raid, I believe.

Wild is going to work on getting the rest of his healing preparations completed. Could Wild meet the challenge of the more difficult Silver Rank? Stay tuned.

Update: Wild was so excited with his early success he made an unauthorized withdrawal from Happy’s bank to improve on his gear. Just to see what’s available, Wild told himself. Wild needed to reach gear level i615 for the LFR. I’m not sure what minimum is needed for a guild Normal run, but I think that there isn’t a minimum anymore and so it would up to the raid leader. Maybe Almond can fill Wild in on those details.

Wild also learned that the very nice i640 crafted gear was limited. Only three pieces of crafted gear can be equipped. That required a little bit of shuffling, but the end result is that Wild purchased a new cloak, a necklace, a pair of gloves, and a ring. Believe it or not, Wild managed to spend less than half of the gold he stole – uh, borrowed – to get the gear, including enchants. Happy hasn’t noticed the missing gold, yet, but Wild is holed up in his Garrison now, where Happy can’t get at him. By the way, Wild started the day with an i602 gear score. Now it’s i619.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wildshard Reaches Level 100

Wildshard Reaches Level 100

On 18 January, 2015, Wild reached level 100. There were no magnificent highlights to report, but the march through the quests was entertaining and mostly without any hiccups. This latest expansion seems - to me, anyway - pretty stable. It took Wild 59 days to complete the ten levels at a leisurely pace, once he gave up trying to level Jocy and Fist at the same time. By comparison, friend Almond did all ten levels in one long, protracted night.

Wild's Garrison is coming along, now that Wild is level 100. I never figured out why I couldn't  improve Wild's barracks to level two. My best guess is that I got the plans via a quest, and then gooned up the process of installing it. No matter. The problem was solved when, at level 100, I was able to buy new plans (1500 gold, ouch). Wild's Barracks is now level 2. The Town Hall is now level three, and I'm finally starting to disperse my followers to their own duties. It's still a work in progress, but Wild is getting there.

Once Wild reached level 100 he got an invitation to the Proving Grounds. Wild played around with this when it came out in the Pandaria expansion. Basically,  it lets a single player work on dungeon and raid mechanics and hone their skills without having to form a group. Apparently, there are no changes to the Proving Grounds since Patch 5.4 (Pandaria), which surprised me. Many, if not most, guilds who are or are planning to raid now require players to show their competence by doing the Proving Grounds. There are Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Endless difficulty levels.

Why does Wild care about the Proving Grounds? Wild is starting to feel that itch - an itch to take down some elite raid bosses. Wild knows he isn't competent enough for that, yet. It's been more than two years since Wild last raided. But he's definitely thinking about it.

There are three raids (well, at least three that I have access to, not sure if there are others) - Draenor, Highmaul, and Blackrock Foundry. It also looks like Wild has at least the minimum gear level to enter the raids (Wild is at gear level i602). Theoretically, Wild is now able to join Looking For Raid (LFR) groups and Normal level groups right now.

Should Wild consider doing a few dungeon runs as both practice and to improve his gear? Of course, but I wouldn't want to subject "unproven" Wild to any group until I was sure Wild was competent enough. 

One word of warning, however: The LFR is what killed raiding for Wild. Joining a raid with a bunch of strangers and smash-mouthing our way to victory certainly helped Wild get nice gear, but it was boring and a waste of time if the LFR was all there was. The new raiding tiers give guilds incredible flexibility. Now, almost any guild can form a functional raid. If Wild's guild truly wants to raid as a guild, THEN the LFR is worth doing for the sake of helping prepare for real raids with a real guild and real friends.

That is the only enticement that might get Wild back into raiding.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Still Hanging in there after Ten Years

Still Hanging in there after Ten Years

I'm running late on the annual review of the Wild Family. In recent years there have been less to tell, and the gaps in playing time have grown larger. The year of 2014 may have been one of the quietest of Wild's playing days, but there was still many things to record and remember.

One amazing accomplishment is that the Wild family, along with the whole Blizzard community, is celebrating TEN YEARS of World of Warcraft. As one of those original players who've played all ten years, I received a really cool statue of a mounted orc. No charge, just a thank you for being there. The pic should be here:

In the first half of 2014 there were only 5 posts in total. Most of those posts revolved around the speculation of when the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor (WoD) would be released. Most of the Wild clan were off the radar, leaving only Happyface to carry on. Given the lack of activity, Happy made the most of it. He bought himself a dragon. Here is his description: "The Iron Skyreaver is a two-headed dragon. It's a sweet ride with a set of afterburners that light up when airborne. The dragon has a menacing roar and can do loops and rolls in the air. Truly cool. JB also took it out for some herb farming and had a blast."

There were two issues in April that, while not directly connected to the Wild family, caused an even larger slow down of game activity. First, I decided to build a new website to support my novel aspirations. That took a great deal of time. Second, I had promised to play League of Legends while WoW was more or less on hold, but I wound up too busy even to keep that much of a promise. My apologies.

That led to what some in the family feel is the biggest news of this year, which is the coming of age of Jocelyn. Jocy was a level 27 paladin lost in the far north of Azeroth. She hung out in Silvermoon City in Eversong Woods. It was a bland, boring life for the feisty pally and she wished for much more.

Her dreams came true when the magic of Boosting was introduced. Wild gave his blessing for Jocy to take that ride. On April 4th Jocy ascended the ranks from level 27 to level 90 in one fell swoop. She would start as a retribution paladin with a courtesy set of i483 gear, and enhanced that gear with i496 gear from the Timeless Isles that Wild and family had saved for her. The only drawback to that process was that Jocy lost all of her professions. She wasn't very far along, anyway, so it was no great loss.  Jocy was ready and anxious to see the world.

After Jocy's coming out, the family disappeared from the radar for the next six months. They finally resurfaced in October. It wasn't a splashy comeback, beginning with this announcement: "I am going to restart this blog again. Somewhat paradoxically, the first thing I’m going to talk about is why I’ll be playing WoW even less than usual for a few weeks, even though a new patch is coming out in just three days." The post goes on to describe in great detail the changes that are coming with WoD, and the imminent release of the Pre-WoD patch, 6.0.

Jocy was the first of the Wild Family to jump into Patch 6.0 and participate in the battle that would open up the world of Draenor of 35 years in the past. She was the first to earn the Iron Horde title for completing that world opening. Both Wild and Fist would later also complete and receive the title. But Jocy was the first.

In November the Wild family began taking a look at the new Garrison, which is a special fort built specifically for a single character. Wild, Jocy, and Fist all have Garrisons now, in varying states of completion. Along with the Garrison there are Followers who are available to help out with the work of the Garrison. I'm still mostly in the dark about to make the best use of Garrisons and followers. Maybe the new year will bring Wild new insight, but . . .

Finally, I wanted to post some numbers on the Wild Family threesome that have settled in Draenor.
Name    Level        Gear    Followers
Wild     98+65%        i591    16
Fist       93+33%        i544    6
Jocy      93+13%        i547    6

Last year (2013) I didn't even attempt to address the raiding guild status as I usually do. I am bringing that report back even though Wild has not been raiding for a good long time. I still want to see how Wild's current and past guilds are doing and, who knows, Wild may eventually decide to join the raiding ranks again. Stranger things have happened.

So here is the Wild Family Tenth Year (17 Jan 2015) - 2015 New Year's Report

(1) Wild remains a long standing member of the Meitha guild. The guild is active and there are many familiar names popping up in guild chat. The two mainstays, Bloodknuckle and Talatiana, are still running things, though, officially, Porkkchop is the Guild Leader. There has been no guild drama that Wild is aware of, but then Wild does not participate in guild events yet. That could change when Wild reaches level 100 and the guild starts to get serious about raiding. So far there is only talk. JB is also a member of Meitha. Wild was not apart of any raid in the Pandaria expansion. That's the first time Wild had totally bowed out.

(2) The rest of the Wild family has gone off the radar. Beyond those already mentioned, Tiphaine has been about cleaning up her bags and helping Happy sell off a lot of ancient stuff that Happy had Tiphaine storing for him. Such mundane tasks don't sit too well with Tiphaine, but she has certainly mellowed and seems relatively content at level 72. No one else has seen any significant action this past year.

(3) The Annual (Sort of) Raiding Guilds Review:
* Meitha (MM2)- Prokkchop Guild Leader, Grrbaby 2nd
    - Members: 486 (2014) [386 (2011), 487 (2012)]
    - Total 100s: 76 (2014) [209 (2011), 85 (2012)]
Raids - The Siege of Orgrimmar (SOO) was the only raid of note in Pandaria. The guild did only the LFR, so there were no Normal, Heroic, or Mythic raids. They did kill all fourteen bosses. They have not started on WoD raids, either.

* Mayhem (MM) - The two guild leaders of Mayhem, Wightblade and Kira, are now in separate guilds. There is another Mayhem guild that is composed of no one I know. I have to conclude that the original MM guild is no more.That's sad.

* Fate Sealed (FS) - Ramux Guild Leader, Frohgurt 2nd. It's also nice to see that the original guild leader is still listed on the roster and even has a level 90 toon: Jomamma/Serenite.
    - Members: 176
    - Total 100s: 36
    Raids: SOO 14/14 LFR only, Highmaul (7/7) LFR AND 1/7 Normal. This guild is still actively raiding. Lots of familiar faces, too. Kikz is still going strong based on his raiding.

* Warchild (WC) - Grymshot Guild Leader (aka Rhonna), Amevia 2nd
    - Members: 69
    - Total 100s: 18
    Raids: SOO 14/14 LFR , SOO 6/14 Normal, Highmaul 7/7 LFR, HM 6/7 Normal. Rhonna still runs things and his guild is doing great.

Finally, here is Wild's raiding history - Wildshard has not raided since May 10th, 2012, more than two-and-a-half years.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Garrison Frustration

Garrison Frustration

Wild's plan to commit the time to level himself and both Jocy and Fist to level 100 has not worked out. There just hasn't been enough time. Jocy and Fist reached level 93, and there they have stayed. Wild pushed a bit farther, to level 95, and isn't far from level 96 (81% there). It's just been a very slow slog.

In the limited time Wild has in game, he has mostly just sent his followers out each day to get them to level 100 and do a few chores around the place. Wild has twelve followers now, eight of them at level 100. Frankly, I'm running out of useful things for them to do. Sure, he can still earn armor and weapon items for my followers, but what good is that if they don't do anything?

The buildings Wild has now include a level 1 Barracks, Enchanting Study, Storehouse, Trading Post, Mine, and a level 2 Great Hall. Wild finally received plans for upgrading the barracks to level 2. I have to admit that it's irritating that these plans drop randomly. There is no rationale for it, and if a set of plans won't drop there is nothing I can do about it.

At least Wild has that level 2 barracks plan. By upgrading the barracks, Wild will also be able to assign a follower to him, Vivianne, while leveling. Wild was finally a little excited, seeing progress was being made.

Well, not so fast. Wild opened the Architect Table and selected the Barracks. He clicked on the plans, and watched it open, rubbing his hands in anticipation. Nothing happened. The Barracks remained at level 1 and the plans were gone. Kaput. Talk about a downer.

Wild didn't even get mad. He just went fishing. At least he is competent enough for that chore.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jocelyn the Tank?

Jocelyn the Tank?

Well, not exactly. Jocy began her early life as a Holy spec paladin. She didn't know any better. So, when she was able, Jocy chose the Retribution spec as her secondary to improve her abilities and speed her advance. Jocy has been "Ret spec" since her boost to level 90. She's worked hard to get to level 91, but she still lagged behind Wild and Fist.

Skinnemuva, a long time friend with some expertise in being a paladin, suggested that leveling in Protection spec would speed her advance even further. Well, Jocy was not planning on using her Holy spec during leveling, so there was an opportunity to replace that spec with Protection to see how that worked. It took some maneuvering with the Paladin Trainer, but Jocy was able to shuffle her specs around and now has Protection as her primary spec with Retribution still her secondary. Jocy is losing a bit of time by making this switch, time which includes learning another spec, but now is the time to experiment. Jocy was 50% of the way to level 92 when she made the switch. Her average DPS in Ret spec was 2656 DPS.

After spending a couple of hours leveling with Jocy in Prot spec I have to agree that Jocy has become incredibly hard to even nick much less do any real damage against her. She crushes everything around her. She raised her DPS by a nice margin (3381 DPS), but its her ability to protect herself that is so impressive. Jocy reached level 92 and gained an i529 gear score.

Jocy has also outpaced Wild and Fist in one area. She is getting a lot more out of her Garrison and followers. She has four followers now she's keeping them all busy.

The maintenance was a real pain. I say that, knowing that it's actually pretty unusual for there to be any serious issues logging after maintenance. Not this time. For the past 45 minutes I've been trying to get to the Silvermoon realm with no success. Oddly, I did get to the Scryer's realm, where I still have three characters languishing in my short, now long abandoned effort on a role playing realm. Makeda is my top toon there, a mage at level 6. I also have a rogue with a name I'm holding on to - Ribsticker.Later in the evening I was finally able to log in. It was still not working at 100%, however, so around midnight I called it quits.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Natives are Restless

The Natives are Restless

Leveling three characters at the same time is proving to be a bigger challenge than I thought. The idea was that by giving leveling time to all three in sequence it would result in faster leveling overall, since the second and third time I did the quests the faster I should be able to complete them. That isn't working out so well.

The reason may be related to the changes in the game that eliminated a lot of the chain quests - ie, as each quest is finished a new quest is offered. Many players didn't like that and so there are fewer of such. I've been all over the map and still have scattered quests laying around and I still haven't gotten out of the starting zone. I hate leaving open quests in a zone - they should all be completed before I move on! The Blizzard gods also find it amusing to place the starting quest at one level of the terrain and then force me to climb mountains or into dark dungeons to complete them. Having coordinates don't mean much when you don't know if I should look up, down, or sidewise. Maybe I'm still kicking off the rust of not doing any leveling since Fist.

Anyway, Both Wild and Fist have made it to level 92, leaving Jocy still to get there. If I were leveling one toon, that toon would be at level 94 by now, or at least close to it, given that the later levels tend to get harder. I'm not giving up, though. I know from past experience that if I level one toon before starting another, those left behind probably won't be leveled any time soon. I'm going to stick to my plan.

Stat-wise (Level, gear, weapon):
Fist (Level 92, i526, with an i522/i532 pair of one-handers)
Wild (Level 92, i534,i630 staff)
Jocy (Level 91, i522, i630 one-hand sword, i494 shield)

I'm still learning the whole Garrison thing. I did learn more about the hostile Frostwall Goren camped outside Jocy's garrison. Apparently that's where the local mine is. Periodically one of my men will go over there and the Goren kills him. Periodically I go out and kill the Goren (sometimes there are more than one). I can't actually use the mine, and there's no mine outside either of the other Garrisons, so I'm still not quite sure what its all about.

Wild's Outpost has been upgraded to a Fort and has been completely redesigned.It's very disconcerting having everything moved around like that. The Frostwall Goren is here, too, and there is a quest available - if  Wild decides to go kill the Goren and see what it is. Wild did decide to take the Goren on. Wild won that fight and now has a working mine he can use. Have to let Jocy know about that, but she needs to get to level 92 first.

Jocy is going to get some extra time to get to level 92 and will get first crack at level 93. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Home Away From Home

A Home Away From Home

Garrisons are a new development found only in the world of Draenor. Garrisons have almost all of the same amenities as a large city, even when it's still in the building stage. I like Garrisons. Having a home away from home is so fundamental I wonder why it took so long to implement the idea. The concept is great. The execution of that concept - well, I'm still trying to figure that out.

Wild was the first of the family to build a Garrison. What struck Wild first wasn't what was in the garrison, it was what was missing. Was it an oversight that there is no access to either Wild's personal bank or the guild bank? More likely that was intentional, forcing Wild to have to return to a city when he needed access a bank. It's not that much of a burden, though. Wild still has his hearthstone, for an instant return to his selected city inn. Another nice feature is that Wild's garrison has its own hearthstone, so Wild can instantly return to his garrison at need. There is no access to an Auction House in the garrison, either, but I can understand that. Auction Houses have always been limited mostly to the larger cities.

Going beyond those basics, things start to get more complicated. Owners of a garrison have an opportunity to build more structures. In addition to that, garrison owners will begin to collect employees. They are called "followers" and I think they're the key to being a successful garrison tycoon. Creating anything requires supplies, and it's the followers that are sent out on missions to collect supplies and perform other functions, so that more "stuff" can be created.

Things then get truly murky. In an attempt to help us new property owners, a series of quests are available. Well, more than just available. Most of the garrison based quests Wild has come across so far are mandatory. If not completed, further progress is stymied. Getting past that, things open up a bit. Wild was able to build an Enchanting Studio using supplies and the architectural plans to build it. At this still early stage Wild has little choice what to build, because he doesn't have the building plans. Unfortunately, Wild doesn't really know how to go about using his Enchanting Studio beyond being able to disenchant things - which Wild, as an enchanter, can already do. I'm missing something here, I'm sure. Anyway, Wild has a follower that has completed his first mission. I'm not quite sure what he's doing now, though. It's pretty confusing.

Broadening things a bit, a lot of what garrisons offer involves professions, like Wild's enchanting profession and Fist's leather working profession. Building things that can aid in professions is one way to use a garrison, because they can replace/complement? professions Wild already has and add professions that Wild doesn't have. I haven't really seen it in practice, yet.

Finally, Garrisons seem to have several names. I've seen Town Hall, Outpost, and Fort so far. I think it depends on what building level has been reached - there are three levels, and each new level grants more building and access to more plans. Wild is already tinkering with that, but I'll leave that discussion for another post. Wild's friend Unbleached has even more experience, and I'll get her thoughts in the next post as well.

The leveling process continues for the triplets:
Wild's gear level is now i524, he is 60% of the way to level 92.
Jocy is i520 and is 9% toward level 92
Fist has only i516 gear but has gotten most of the game time, now 82% toward level 92.