Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Northrend Adventures

Northrend Adventures

The continent of Northrend started off great. Java had a lot of quests, plenty of things to kill, and a back story that kept things moving forward. That was the Borean Tundra. Then Java moved on to Crystalsong Forest and everything unraveled. Questing was a mixed bag. There were a few quests, but many of the threads were broken. Java's frustration grew when she knew she was in the right place but what should be there wasn't. I'm not sure when Blizz started using scenarios (basically, independent quest threads that existed only in that scenario). There is a term for it which I can't recall. Basically, you had to have completed certain things before other things would appear or not appear, or something. Frustrating. She's now moved on to Shalazar Basin which entails a lot of critter killing. Java lost some skinning leveling when she realized that pre-Draenor, she still had to go see the skinning profession person every time you reached a new level. Oh, and she reached Level 77.

Sholazar Basin - When Wild and the rest of the horde family were leveling to 80, Sholazar Basin was always our last stop. This is the place where Level 80 always arrived. The Nessingway Base is loaded with quests and a great many of them are kill quests that require nothing more than staying awake and hammering buttons and watching things die. Most of the time it was late at night with only a couple of guildies on vent to talk to. The Basin was never fully explored by the horde family because they were never that far from level 80 that they needed the extra XP.

For Java, though, she has the longer view - she can mine the quests and stories of all of Sholazar Basin - there is no reason to leave while quests and experience can still be had. Java was in awe of all the things that she is encountering that none of the Wild family ever saw. The Lost Lands, Powering the Waygate, and numberless others. Even Java started feeling like hitting level 80 was somehow special, not just the next jump to another expansion grind. So she took her time.

After getting in some work, she had to fly back to a real town, instead of the jungle basin, to clean out a completely full set of bags. She could have hearthed back to the Borean Tundra but took a shortcut to Fordragon Hold at Dragonblight. Yes, this is in Crystalsong Forest. That was a mistake. There is NO INN THERE! In fact, the hold has nothing but a barn. Why is there a flight path? She'd thought to save some time, but was forced to take the hearthstone all the way back to Borean Tundra anyway, and then take the boat to Stormwind.

Java refuses to complain. Sholazar Basin still has prizes to be had. More quests went down but eventually even Sholazar Basin was tapped out. But not before Java reached Level 78.

Now to Icecrown and the Argent Tournament. The tournament was kind of a bust. Java could have entered the tournament and gotten some experience, learning to joust and what not, but Wild's memory of that was drudgery to get it over with so he could do things that were more fun.

Scourgeholme is where Java spent most of her time killing beasts and beings by the hundreds and getting in a lot of quests that the Wild family had never seen. Java biggest conquests were a trio of level 79 elites. The battles were epic for young Java, and she needed all her skill. She persevered, and reached Level 79.

There is too much to show everything, but below are just a smattering of pics taken during this long grind.

View of Dalaran From Mountain Top

The Little white mount is Java's

Ouch! Very Big, Very Nasty, very dead..

Friday, April 29, 2016

Sistaphilia and the Ring of Trials

Sistaphilia and the Ring of Trials

The Trial of the Elements series of quests has always been buggy, but the many quests can deliver a lot of leveling experience. Sista took it on and was able to complete almost all of the quests. At the end, though, something triggered a crash, and when the game came back up the few quests still open before the crash were gone.

Sista wasn't about to stop. She was at 79% toward level 100 and moved on to tackle the five gladiators at the Ring of Trials. Most of the family has done these five one-on-one battles. Sista felt she was ready, and eagerly entered the ring against the first opponent. She won, but it was much harder than expected. There was a moment of doubt, but Sista grew a bit grimmer and waved the next opponent into the ring. That one went down a lot quicker, and as Sista's confidence grew, the longer faces she saw on those who had bet against her in the ring. She killed all five
Sista stood at 99%. There was this lone quest to kill some birds. She killed the required ten. The meter said 100%, but still short. Sista turned in the quest. BOOM! Level 100!

Sista went home to her garrison in a hurry. She now has a level 3 Town Hall, and begins the makeover to expand her garrison.

If things seem too quiet at the Auction House, well, Chaitee is maintaining a low profile. Gold is flowing out of the coffers for the garrison buildups but precious little is going back in. It's hard to point the finger at Chaitee - the market is at a lull, waiting on Legion, and every move is a risk. Even Happy feels it. Shipping half his gold to the other faction has ramifications neither Happy or Chaitee thought of. One can take greater risks if one is already rich. Now the two families are only half as rich between them. Autumn Tea Green has consumed 30k gold from their nest egg so far. And there is still much to be done.

Sista is the cause of much of the costs but that is expected to level off now. With most of her money making materials starting to roll out of the factories, the drain on the budget should start to ease. Sista also unlearned Skinning in order to pick up Enchanting. Wild's best money maker, Sista hopes she can help the family further once that profession is up and running. Tailoring will eventually be added, but there is still vaule in the flower picking business at present.

A late night poker game had me still awake after midnight, which led to Java getting some leveling time in Crystal Song Forest. An hour later Java reached Level 76.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rakta on the Iron Docks . . . and More

Rakta on the Iron Docks . . . and More

It's hard to fathom the difference in perspective from the Horde foothold on the Iron Docks and the similar staging area from the Alliance perspective. As horde, I know exactly where to go and how to get there safely. As Alliance, poor Rakta is completely in the dark. She will be testing herself against multiple level 100 enemies, tracked and attacked by flying beasts, and keeping very aware of stalking, elite giants. Her only combat experience ended at level 20. And she is all alone.

Her first foray was pretty successful. Sort of. If being chased by three elite giants is considered a success. She managed to distract one of them with a spell that she randomly punched in desperation. The other two hung around a bit while Rakta gathered enemy fire and then the elites found something else to harrass. Rakta stumbled back into the not-so safe alliance area and killed at least six combatants before she was left alone.

She had to go back out to finish the second half of the quest she'd started, and that went much better. Quest completed. The run gave her a first look her DPS - 6995. Good or not, she didn't know, but that is the baseline she'll work from. Her other successful goal? She didn't die. She's going to need a lot more healing potions, though. It's hard not having a true healing spell.

Rakta returned from the Iron Docks, established her own shipyard, built her own ship, and joined the Alliance fleet in sailing to the Tanaan jungle. Here, at least, the scenario followed the same theme as the Horde. Rakta had a follower type helper that mitigated a lot of damage. Still she managed 7608 DPS on her own with spikes up to 9552 DPS with help. Rakta is still throwing everything including the kitchen sink at these battles without much thought. She has much yet to learn.

Her biggest fight dropped her and her companion at the main cannon we had to destroy. When Hordie Tiphaine did this one she carefully cleared out the many enemies first before attacking the cannon. Rakta took a different approach. Excited and full of blood lust, she leaped from her flying mount and right into a small army of enemies protecting the cannon. Holy Explosions! I thought Rakta was going to die, but she cast her way through every save me spell she had, one at a time, and still had 25% health when the cannon blew to bits and there were no more bad guys to kill. I think Rakta rather likes being a warrior.

With that success under her belt, she found her own way to the Alliance Lion's Den, her new home away from home in Taanan. For her next trip to Tanaan she'll pick up a Bodyguard, Delvar Ironfist. For once someone has a bodyguard who is shorter than the main character. Let's see if Delvar can stay out of the way a little better than the horde equivalents.

On the domestic front, Rakta decided (with help from Tiphaine) to take Alchemy and Jewelcrafting. And since many alchemy recipes require fish of varying sorts, learning to fish was also added her list. Tiphaine gave up her own fishing pole for Rakta to use.

All seemed well in hand. Until Java's email made it to Tiphaine. How about a little love for your Paladin? Yes, time needs to be carved out somehow for Java to keep moving forward, too.

Rakta Armored Up

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rakta's Big Boost

Rakta's Big Boost

Hold the presses! Rakta has taken the ride of her young life, taking the great Boost! from level 20 to level 100 in one great leap! Goodbye heirloom leveling gear, say Hello! to a suite of gear at ilevel 640. Fascinated by heavy plate armor, she accepted primary specialization as a Protection Warrior.
Accepting such honors got her a fast portal directly to the outskirts of her new garrison. Sista is jealous. She's still laboriously building her garrison, while Rakta's comes almost complete. See the comparison:

Sista's garrison at level 97: Level 2 Town Hall, Level 1 Trading Post, Level 2 Barracks, Level 1 Mine, Level 1 Herb Garden.

Rakta's garrison at 100 without lifting a finger: Level 3 Town Hall, Level 2 Barracks, Level 2 Forge, Level 2 Storehouse, Level 2 Lumber Mill, Level 1 mine, Level 1 Herb Garden. She still has one small, one medium, and one large plot to finish things up. I hadn't expected that Rakta would have a Forge, but for now she'll keep it. Tiphaine likes the idea of Rakta having a Forge (to suppliment Tiphaine's own).

She can still pick her professions as both were left blank for her own choosing.

Rakta starts with eight followers, two with three traits/abilities and the rest with only two. One of her early duties will be to find and collect more followers, which should be fun since she doesn't know the alliance followers at all. Tiphaine should be able to guide her, though.

Two quests awaited her at the garrison. The first is "To Tanaan!" Which is the welcome quest. Then comes "We Need a Shipwright." This one will launch the naval force and all the work that comes with it. I had hoped to bring a bodyguard, but the Barracks, though level 2, was not offering bodyguards. Yet.

Rakta, still feeling very much the level 20, stared about and had to ask, "Is this all mine?"

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Shock to the System

Shock to the System
Note - I added this post after already posting Chaitee Takes Stock

All this time I've been railing at the system that wouldn't let Rakta have a mount and I could have fixed it - or at least had the right information on what I could do - if I'd only taken a longer look at the Heirloom Hoarder achievement. This achievement grants the entire account to use the Chauffered Chopper that comes with the achievement, and can be ridden at level 1. Ground mount only, but still a mount. How hard is it to get the achievement? This is where I screwed up. Had I bothered to look earlier, I would have found out that all that's required is to have at least 35 heirlooms. When I checked, the account showed 32 heirlooms. It took five minutes and 1500 gold to reach the achievement. Of course, by that time Rakta had walked her shoes off and said F it and leveled to 20 so she could have her own ride. Lesson learned.

Just to be thorough, here is the official information from the GM:

Under level 20, the only mount available is the Chauffeured Chopper
Level 20, you can train to ride 60% speed increase mounts, but only on the ground.
Level 40, you can train to ride 100% speed increase mounts, but only on the ground.
Level 60, you can train to ride 150% speed increase mounts that fly in Outland.  You can also get the Flight Master's License to allow you to fly in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms.
Level 68 , you can learn Cold Weather Flying to fly in Northrend.
Level 70, you can train to ride 280% speed increase mounts that fly.
Level 80, you can train to ride 310% speed increase mounts that fly.
Level 90, you can learn Wisdom of the Four Winds to fly in Pandaria.

There are 2-seater mounts available, that allow a higher-level player to carry a lower-level player, which may be where you see lower level players flying, but that's not the lower level players flying themselves, they're being carried by another player.  Otherwise, yes, characters that are under the levels listed above that are flying or riding on mounts they shouldn't be able to, are exploiting something in the game, or otherwise hacking.

Chaitee Takes Stock

Chaitee Takes Stock

Chaitee made her first major AH purchases on Friday, burning about 3k gold to buy up mats that Autumn Tea Green needs to grow. She also put out a number of items for sale to help defray the start up costs. In making the transfer of goods between the factions Happy made one significant mistake by failing to provide a stock of sorcerous mats required in the crafting of special weapons and gear. "Oops," was all Happy would say about it. These mats are typically cheap (1 gold or less each, although enormous amounts are required), but of course right now they are selling at twice that amount. Thanks, Happy. Tiphaine needs the mats NOW. One wonders what other "oops" Happy has up his larcenous sleeve.

Rakta News -

Rakta got bad news this early Saturday morning. A way too happy Game Master Ankunine responded to Rakta's complaint about riding training. The GM used the explanation point in every sentence. You'd think he was ready to hand the reins over to Rakta and let her fly to the Broken Isles. Unfortunately, the response was the exact opposite.

Quoting, "I understand you see others lower than level 20 riding on mounts and you're confused!"
Second sentence didn't even make sense: "So if anyone is below 60 and flying. There's an issue because there's no way to do that without hacking!"

Forget quoting, I need to summarize this gibberish. He says that the Chauffeured Chopper and Heirloom Hoarder achievement is the only way a player under level 20 can fly. Other than Rakta, Chaitee is the lowest level toon I have now, and she's level 21. She can use a ground mount but can't fly. So maybe I'm wrong about this. It's been too long. But I still don't mind tweaking the noses of the GMs.

Don't miss the pics of Rakta and "her boys" at the bottom of the post!

Sista News -

Sista has decided to spend more time working on her Moonkin skills for awhile. Cat form is fine but eventually starts getting boring. The Alliance Moonkin is also better looking than the Horde version (sorry, Wild). It took a little while to get the addons tweaked and Blizz didn't help by crashing a few times on Saturday. For an hour it appeared like the days of old, waiting around for a raid/dungeon/something else and hoping the game would stay stable.

So it was later in the evening when Sista, mostly on a whim, turned to her secondary spec, Balance, and went to work against all those flying things in Arak that Wild loved to shoot out of the sky. She just happened to be doing the quest where there is an attack that has to be defended. To Sista's horror, she failed the quest and died. Twice.

The reason was pretty obvious when Sista took a closer look. Most of her gear automatically changes from +agility based to +int when changing spec, but - duh - some don't. Like her weapon, rings, cloak, necklace, and trinkets. That's a lot of agility gear completely useless to Sista in moonkin form. Sigh.

Sista needs a real gear set for Moonkin if she wants to be taken seriously in that form. Back in feral cat form, Sista again ruled the roost in Arak, clearing out the Admiral Taylor quests and finding herself in Southport. Southport! Wild has memories of that place where a very difficult quest had to be done under the eyes of the Alliance. Now Sista is walking among them. Sista took advantage of a rest at the Stockron Brewery she helped build there. She recommends the place, particularly because it is here that she reached Level 97.

On Sunday morning Sista made a point to return to Stormwind and get a real moonkin gear set. Tiphaine helped by crafting an inscription two-handed staff and even tossed in one weapon crystal, putting the staff at 2 of 6 crafted. There was enough gold in Sista's pocket to make some modest purchases off the AH, and she now has a solid moonkin gear set. It's far below her feral set (feral is at i579, moonkin is at i561). Sista has yet to test the moonkin gear in actual combat, but she is anxious to give it a shot.

Heirloom Gear Twins

Boxing Match in Lakeshire

Rakta and "Her Boys"

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Apprentice Troubles

Apprentice Troubles

Tiphaine is not the patient type. Her new apprentice, Rakta, is expected to be a fast learner and quickly productive. So far things have not panned out that way.

Of course, Rakta had no problem playing in the level 1-10 kiddy pool for new recruits. She was outfitted with heirloom gear and could kill most anything with little more than a strong word. Once she was released from her training Rakta made her way to Goldshire, the nearest town to Stormwind. By the time she was level 10 she was starting to get a little peeved at all of the walking she had to do. Officially, new players must reach level 20 before getting their riding mount. But that rule is ancient, and Rakta saw many riders, both ground and airborne, with less than the twenty level requirement.

Tiphaine wan't very sympathetic. "Figure it out," she demanded. "Quit wasting time and fix it."

Rakta slogged her way from Goldshire back to Stormwind and visited Gryphon Master Dungar Longdrink. She had the money to buy a mount, but the Gryphon Master refused to sell her one. She pointed to her left. Flustered, Rakta followed Longdrink's pointing finger to Bralla Cloudwing, the flying trainer. Aha, now she was getting somewhere. However, all Bralla would say is that she needed to find a riding trainer. Where does she get a riding trainer? So she talks to the gryphon keeper, who sells the mounts. Rakta is told that she can't sell her a mount because she already purchased them, ie "already known." Rakta tries to take one of the mounts from her collections tabs and is gruffly told she "requires apprentice riding skills."

Tiphaine contains her fury, doing her best not to kill Rakta outright and find another apprentice.
Confused and desperate, Rakta is determined to kill her way to level twenty while keeping herself out of sight of Tiphaine.

Rakta retraced her steps back to the Eastvale Logging Company, where there is a riding trainer, Randal Hunter. Another fail, he gave Rakta the same runaround all of the others have given her.

Disgusted, Tiphaine put in a ticket to the Stormwind Mount Academy and verbally slayed them for a half hour for incompetance. Rakta got word of that second hand from Chaitee. Rakta is even more nervous, now, after watching a level 18 ride by on his motorcycle. Worse, following in the rider's wake is a level 7 on her wolf mount. Rakta thought about slinking into the Lion's Den (appropriate) and hiding. Instead, she resolutely headed out to kill things, hoping for a miracle.

There were no miracles. Rakta walked. And walked. And walked. It took time, but she killed things along the way and eventually entered the Redridge Mountains. Shortly after that she came upon Lake Everstill and the town of Lakeshire. Rakta picked up a flight path and started collecting quests. It was a busy little town, exactly what Rakta needed. When she was done, she still had plenty of daylight, but she wrapped up her business and took a flight back to Stormwind. Rakta was Level 20.

Rakta breathed a very large sigh. She paid the riding trainer the sum of four gold and change for the pleasure of earning her first riding lesson. Her red gryphon can cruise at 170% speed - on the ground only - and Rakta simply enjoyed the wonders of riding for awhile. She even tried to fly, and fell in the lake, and laughed the whole time.

Her pleasure was considerably blunted, however, when she learned that the next level doesn't come until level 40. This isn't right, but so far there has been no explanation.

It wasn't all about Rakta. Sista managed to get in some work, finally getting to the Iron Docks battle. With Talador wrapped up Sista made her way to the Spires of Arak. She is at level 96 +56% and with Rakta settled for the moment she should have more time.