Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pandaria Alliance Style

Pandaria Alliance Style

Comment - The Alliance version of the Pandaria launch was much cleaner and a lot less dangerous than the Horde version. The helicopter gun battles were fun and the ground combat relatively light. You alliance types had it easy. Oops, I is a alliance type now. Anyway, things are going quite well in the early going and Java quickly made friends with the pandas in Paw'don Village. Java even has a tag-a-long panda to help out on occassion. Kill-wise, Java can no longer one shot the enemy, but Java still has the edge while getting a nice level of experience. Gear-wise, she won't be winning anything better than what she already has, at least in the early going. Java has some gear over i400 while the pandas are wielding i372 gear. She still has her heirlooms, of course. Looking ahead, Java needs to start getting her post-heirloom gear together. Oh, and flying is verboten so far.

Pandaria questing as an alliance is as bloody and murderous as the Horde, but the quests themselves are extremely well organized and thought out. So far there have been only two serious glitches. The first was a familiar quest that both factions have - a series of cut scenes that involves a hidden sniper killing tigers until a series of places are visited. The quest refused to complete. After trying everything I could think of, I had the sniper shoot the quest giver. To my utter surprise, that finished the quest.

The second problem quest is a simple game to keep a line centered as part of a training thing by the Panda quest giver. The line refused to appear, the panda was annoyingly encouraging, and it just wouldn't work. Turned out it was a technical issue - I turned off my addons and the quest completed.

Otherwise Java kept on the move, enjoying the seemingly endless line of new quests that kept appearing even as Java was wrapping the completed ones. Level 87 and Level 88 came and went with almost no notice. If this were the horde Wild would still be mucking about in the mud at the first landing site. Wild is trying not to be jealous.

Tag on a few more completed quests and Java rolled into Level 89. She needs another 75% to reach level 90. And then the quests stopped, stranding Java and starting a scramble to find what broke the chain. Java returned to Paw'Don village with no quests available. Time to explore.

Java wound her way back to Dawn's Blossom where new quests arrived as if on schedule. Delivering those quests finally brought Java to the outskirts of Sri La Village to the north. More quests get done. Still left to do is the quest "Getting Permission" which Java will have to come back to. Java finds flight master Towsa on a rugged mission, but the grind is getting to her. She's tired, and decides to take advantage of the flight master to return to Dawn's Blossom and the Frozen Hozen bar. There she will eat, drink and eventually rest, knowing a new challenge awaits her. Java has reached Level 90. Her gear stands at i382. Stripped of her heirlooms, her gear falls all the way down to i347. All of the heirlooms are returned to storage. Java then started on the Auction House to pick up the level 90 gear. When she was done her gear level was i416. Tiphaine is ready with an i630 one-hand axe and shield to hand over to Java when she reaches level 91.

Now the real challenge begins. She sets her sights on Draeni.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Meandering March Through Expansions and Zones

A Meandering March Through Expansions and Zones

The places and names change almost by the hour, but Java remains focused on reaching level 100 before the Legion release only two and a half months from now. Consumed with her mission, she is only sketchily marking her progress as recorded below. In summary, though, her latest jaunt plumbed all of Uldum, followed by Deepholm, and stretched partly into Mount Hyjal. Looking for stronger challenges and perhaps better gear, she now has her sights on Pandaria.

Camels, anyone? Java took her level 83 self down to Tanaris far to the south of of Kalimdor. Java joined a caravan and entered the land of Uldum, a land reminiscent of ancient Egypt.

Java quickly tested the mettle of the place, learning that she could handle the mobs and that the experience she hoped to gain was sufficient to stay awhile. So far that has proven true, as Java completed the 30% experience she needed to reach Level 84. Uldum is a vast desert and Java hopes to fully plumb all of it's secrets.

Java did the whole Indiana Jones series of quests with far more interest and gusto than the first time Wild tried it - back then the quests were buggy, there were a lot of cut shots that made everything take longer, and the quests themselves required a manual to figure out what to do. This time is was just for fun and experience. Java cleared virtually all of Uldum, reached Level 85, and ground her way to 62% of the way to level 86. The experience was good, but dropped significantly when she hit Level 85.

Uldum is a Cataclysm zone. Java wants to take on another zone in Cata. Her picks are Deepholm or Mount Hyjal. The zones are familiar to her. There is also Vashjr, but I really don't like that zone, which is conducted mostly underwater. There is enough to do protecting oneself from attackers from the front, back and side, but also having to look out for enemies from below and above is just a little too much.

Her gear level rose from i281 to i335.

Java got the call from the Stormwind king to travel to Deepholm. It was already late into the night, but Java did some good in a short period, improving her experience from 62% to 73%. Java poked her head into the Stonecore Dungeon, but the level 85 elites there did not look friendly.

Sunday morning went smoothly in Deepholm. Java easily quested her way to Level 86 and 10% toward level 87. Her gear level is at i351.

Java began her assault on Mount Hyjal but got sidetracked by the Earth experience and was pulled into the very long multi-scenario about Thrall. That was fun the first time I did it, but I've lost count of how many times I had to go through it. Hoping to get around it. Java did hit Level 87.

Update: Mount Hyjal is proving to be too low level to garner enough experience to be worthwhile. Java is over-geared here and has little chance of improving. Java is setting that zone aside for now (she could go back to it if needed). Instead, Java is going to jump into Pandaria. Though not a fan of Pandaria, the early quests are pretty good and the experience should improve markedly. At least that is the plan. The Hero Board in Stormwind didn't list Pandaria. Perhaps it was confused because Java had made that short trip into Mount Hyjal earlier. Anyway, Java found Rell Stormwind in the courtyard outside the Keep with the quest to get everything started. The Horde version was pretty chaotic the first time Pandaria launched. At one point Wild found himself attempting to solo entire groups of enemies in those early battles. Flying wasn't allowed and Wild died many times earning his way.

Now Java gets to experience it from the Alliance side.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Icecrown Citadel and Blackrock Caverns

Icecrown Citadel and Blackrock Caverns

Sinnstarr and Java teamed up last night to take on one of the great raids - Icecrown Citadel. In Wild's day his guild tackled that tough citadel and its many dangers every week. It was fun tromping through familiar corridors and flaying the bosses that once haunted Wild's weekly nightmares. The highlight of that run was the battle with the Lich King himself. This level 80 raid and its elite denizens were a very tough threat for Java at level 81. She could handle single combat against one elite, but the mobs filling this great edifice were numerous and came in groups. Level 100 Sinnstarr led the way through the halls and pathways of this keep, slaughtering any and all comers, and taking down every boss. Java mostly stayed out of trouble and selectively tagged mobs to help with the primary goals of the mission - to have FUN, first of all, and in the process get Java some much needed leveling experience.

There was fun in plenty strafing through the halls of this great citadel, but the experience part of the run came up way short. When the pair entered Icecrown Citadel Java was 41% of the way to level 82. When the raid was done and the Lich King dead Java was a mere 46% of the way to level 82. Hey, Java was still happy to get to see the great battle with the Lich King and watch Sinnstarr take him down.

We changed tactics and took a look at dungeons that might provide a more prosperous take, and the Adventure Guide to dungeons suggested Blackrock Caverns. There are five bosses to kill and the run of the mill elite is level 85. Java's role was to try not to die. And pick up the toys from the corpses Sinn left in his wake. On our first run through the dungeon Java's experience exploded and she reached Level 82 even before finishing the run. We ran it a second time, faster this time, and then again, and again, until Java finally had to call it quits after the fifth run. Java had over a hundred pieces of gear packing her bags. She went from level 81 to Level 83 and is 70% of the way to level 84. What an evening!

Sinnstarr Slays the Lich King

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Violet Hold and Other Disappointments

The Violet Hold and Other Disappointments

Java decided to make her first foray into a real dungeon. Sinn suggested that a good place to start is with the Violet Hold. Java learned the basics of this dungeon through Wild (of course) and gave it a thumbs up as an interesting and entertaining slug fest with a variety of challenges.

Java entered the Violet Hold and was immediately set on by several elites - but it was so easy Java could one shot just about everything. And none of the boss elites came out of their pens to attack. I belatedly realized I had to talk to the lieutenant standing patiently next to Java in order for the event to start. I restarted the instance and the monsters began to turn out and attack. Java chose Normal mode first (the easiest mode) in order to gauge Java's gear and talent. That mode proved too easy but Java went ahead and killed everything as they came out, clearing the entire dungeon with ease. Two nice pieces of gear dropped but neither were plate.

Java reset the dungeon again and this time selected Heroic. I expected a higher level of difficulty, but wow, did things get rough in a hurry! Java did everything she could to keep up with the attackers, and fought bravely, lasting three rounds. But her health pool couldn't recover the level of damage she was taking and the time in between each new next attack was too quick for her to fully recover. Java died.

Sunwell Plateau

Java later attempted Sunwell Plateau based on some vague memories of the instance. The mobs were higher level than Java's usual fair, and far more numerous, but they were no problem. Kalecgos, the first encounter, would have been a success if only it could be soloed - alas, I didn't know it required two people. Sigh. Supposedly this can be done solo now but I tried it twice, getting to the demon Sathrovar and both times I was taking him out when I was ported back to Kalecgos in his invisible form and I couldn't touch him. Call it a draw.

I gave Brutallus, the second boss, a shot too. Java fought that beast a very long time, working her attacks and heals against the beast's stacking fire debuff. I'm sure there are easier ways to kill him beyond Java's blunt attack. Java came very close but the debuff took her out at the last.

Mea Culpa - All of that work, however, got Java a whole 2% experience bump. Things are not working out very well for her. Her gear score improved but not her progress toward leveling.

Gear: From i190 to i224
Leveling: From 39% to 41% of the way to level 82. Which sucks.

Looks like Java could use some help running a few dungeons. Sinn? Help!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath of the Lich King

Java bloodied up Howling Fjord in Northrend and earned her way to Level 80 in a morning of bloody slaughter. There is still a lot to do here, but Java needed to get back to Stormwind. Unfortunately, her hearthstone was still set to Borean Tundra. So, by wild chance a boat turned up in Dagger Bay that looked suspiciouly like one from Stormwind. Java hopped aboard to see where it went. Well, it didn't go to Stormwind, arriving at Menethil Harbor. That was almost as good. Java caught a convenient flight path to Stormwind. The reverse course can be made as well.

Java got herself cleaned up and checked out the Auction House, finding four items she could improve on now that she was level 80. Her weapon and shield were still in good shape, but she got upgrades for belt, rings, and necklace. The new gear raised her ilevel from i168 to i190.

Shortly after getting to the Gilded Rose Inn Java received an urgent message. Naraat the Earthspeaker demanded Java accompany her to the Eastern Earthshrine in the city. Tired but intrigued, Java decided to go with her.

False alarm. Java was brought to the Tol Barad portal, apparently unaware that Java must be level 85 to enter the PvP arena. Sigh. And Java had just settled in for a nap, too. Ah well.

Back at it later in the day, Java flew back to Menethil Bay to catch the boat to Howling Fjord. She boarded the incoming boat and discovered too late that there is more than one boat - Java wound up at Theremore Isle. Gah, alliance boats suck. Java had to wait for the Baradin Bay boat to arrive to get back to the Fjord. But the Fjord grew boring and the experience less than overwhelming. Wild had good memories of hunting in the Grizzly Hills, so Java decided to try her luck there. After a bit of a search Java found Amberpine Woods and a flight path. The enemy were largely level 70s.

In Grizzly Hills their danger rose slightly to level 75. Java wasn't worried. What does worry Java is her lack of interest. She keeps pushing for more deadly enemies and instead finds pretty scenery, lost children, and quests that meander through the forest and then fail to complete. Java is at a paltry 19% of the way to level 81 and Java is bored, bored, bored!

She's going into Zul Drak ... hoping for more excitement. Java did have more fun here, but after a full evening she still fell way short of expectations, just 47% of the way to level 81. The Wrath of the Lich King may be too tame for Java.

The Storm Peaks helped to atone for Howling Fjord. There was mayhem aplenty, mountainous terrain, frozen winter snow, and female warriors bundled up against winter and the dangers surrounding her. Even Java found herself encased in winter clothing and riding great beasts both bound to the earth and in flight in the skies. And Java reached Level 81.

Secret Meetings

Java is on the Right

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Surviving the In-Between Time

Surviving the In-Between Time

One of the worst decisions I've made in WoW is when I retired a well run Horde family under Wildshard and turned the reins over to the alliance family under Tiphaine. I completely ignored the situation and the damaging ramifications of such a decision.

The Draenor expansion is fading into history and entering the no man's land between wrapping up the old expansion and anticipating the new expansion, Legion. This has a huge affect on the Auction House and I pulled my expert, Happy, off the case at exactly the wrong time and gave the job to a game but utterly inexperienced Chaitee. She's doing the best she can, but the 148K gold nest egg given her is now down to 137K gold.

To top that off I went on vacation for over a month with very limited access to the game. This was neither Wild's or Tiphaine's fault. All the fault rests with me.

I doubt things will improve until Legion gets here and Chaitee can get into the AH groove, learning the new mats and the other items that comes with it.

The three active garrison holders, Tiphaine, Sista, and Rakta, can manage on their own for now, getting the daily work of the garrison done. Their focus will be on raising and improving followers, which has languished. There is still no word on the fate of garrisons in Legion, so the work has to continue. The three have been mostly hermits over the past month and will have to get their butts out there if they want to be ready for the leveling grind that is coming.

I haven't forgotten Java, either. She is only level 79 and is running out of time to reach level 100 in time for Legion. The goal is to spend almost all of my available game time getting her to 100. For that I am going through all the gear stockpiled by everyone - including the gear Sinn has been sending - and feeding everything to Java that she might be able to use. The rest of the stuff will be sold off to help defray the many other costs the family has to deal with. She has a complete set of heirloom gear that will help her until she reaches level 90 (plate gear, strength based) to aid her but will continue to need upgrades from now to then:

Java's Current Gear status (i168):
Neck - i100
Wrist - i175
Hands - i162
Waist - i146
Boots - i162
Rings (2) - i162, i93
Trinket - i174
One-Hand - i150
Off-Hand - i142

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Post Vacation Restart

Post Vacation Restart

Yesterday Judi and I returned home from our month plus vacation. Our home for that month was our twenty-seven foot Class 'C' RV with me, the missus, four cats and our dog. Was it crowded? Not really, once we were all settled in and into a routine. We visited family in North Carolina, Virginia, and parts of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. On the way to and from our visiting we stayed at KOA campgrounds each night all across the country along Interstate 40. We had several days of heavy weather - mostly pounding rain and wind - but for the most part the weather stayed clear and hot. The 1993 Shasta RV held up very well with nothing worse than a slight leak in the bathroom ceiling fan that will get fixed with a little caulking. The 450 Ford engine struggled a bit on the long up hill grades, and jounced a bit despite the heavy shocks when facing bad roads (Interstate 40 road repair and construction was a constant obstacle). We enjoyed the traveling and especially the visiting, but we are happy to be back home.

Prior to the trip I had designed an adult coloring book based on my own designs. I brought a handful with me on the trip to get feedback from friends and family. The books were a hit, and I gave away every copy I had. I am going to look into publishing the books for sale as there is currently a market for adult coloring books. More on that later.

On the Warcraft front I am anxious to get out and see the Warcraft Movie next week. I am keeping my expectations low as I know movies of this sort don't usually fair well. I intend to enjoy it for what it is and applaud Blizz for getting it done and into theaters. The Wild and Tiphaine families have been mostly dormant during the vacation trip so there is little to talk about. Chaitee did the best she could to keep tabs on the Auction House. Happy wasn't too pleased that Chaitee lost more than thirty thousand gold during that period, but the bulk of it were needed purchases to build up the alliance family gear in preparation for Legion. The alliance garrisons were kept up to date despite difficulties with the modest computer I had to work with. Overall I have no complaints. Oh, and many thanks to Erik and Tanis for for keeping me up to date on the doings of their many toons.

Now its back to working on getting our routines back in place after the month long haitus.