One of these is not like the other

From Vishanka, Jaws of the Earth:

To this:

The joys of stats-not-looks-upgrades while levelling. To the transmogger!

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Levelling like a very slow train

So far in Pandaria I have levelled my 3 85s to…85. I’m completely besotted with the scenery and so have spent the entire time just wandering around and /gasping. Pandaria is stunning, like an entire continent made of Nagrand beauty. So many nooks and crannies, sweeping vistas, and things to discover. This has been bad for actually getting anywhere, but so pleasurable to the eyes that I’m not fussed.

I parked my Rogue in Greenstone Quarry hoping to discover the Ancient Pandaren Mining Pick. Staking out rare spawns is a bit dull normally, but Pet Battles has made it entirely tolerable. Check the spawn spots, go into stealth mode to avoid the zillion mobs in the mine, then queue for a quick PVP pet battle. Excellent.

Meanwhile Angler, my ostensible Prot Warrior main, has just been wandering, gathering Ghost Iron, and fishing. Tonight he stumbled into Halfhill and may never leave. Can you tank with turnips and pumpkins, as it looks like that’s the only gear I’ll be getting for a while.

Which leaves Knive as my only hope. Being LFR geared means the mobs drop a lot quicker, and she’s less likely to get distracted by professions, so I guess she’s the one getting on the level 90 train. Although, gee, that escarpment looks beautiful, I better go check it out…

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Spirit of Harmony – Bind on Guild

After upgrading my Engineering, I sent a guild call out to let any miners and herbalists know that I had a nice pair of Mist-Piercing Goggles waiting if they sent through the mats.

Of course I’d neglected to take into account the fact that the new crafting mat Spirit of Harmony is BoP. Ugh. So no nice crafting for my guildies.

People have been asking for the SoH’s to be made BoA, which would be nice. Even nicer would be BoG – Bind on Guild. That way you would encourage guild stickiness, and give guild crafters some nice kudos.

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Mana bombs and the problem with Goblins

Theramore was an obvious misstep by Blizzard. As has been well documented, the problems are less to do with the scenario itself than with the story delivery, and more specifically with the expectations that were heaped upon it. We were all expecting a major pre-expansion world event, a-la the WotLK zombie invasion. I guess the ‘one week only’ news should have been an early warning, but really Blizzard could have hosed down expectations before making it available (rather than a meek blue post after the fact as spotted by The Godmother at ALT:ernative).

If it had have been promoted as a Scenario teaser, the grumbling might have been quieter – the failure to explain the lore would still have rankled, but who reads dungeon background details these days? Rades has the most positive take on it I’ve seen, using it as training ground for the Scenario runs to come. That’s exactly the right way to approach it, and how Blizzard should have sold it too.

When I played through Theramore on launch day I was completely nonplussed. Why were we here? What was going on? Are we the invading force? It was all over so quickly. As Horde, the last thing we did was rescue some kind of spy who proceeded to flirt with the players. Totally bizarre, especially not knowing who this spy was or why we were rescuing him. I guess this means we’ve taken Theramore for the Horde?

Then came the cut scene.

I was horrified. We were nuking Theramore? Killing everyone and everything? I had no idea this was coming – why didn’t we invade, fight the honourable fight Orc vs Human?

It reminded me immediately of the denouement to Stonetalon Mountains, where another Horde bomb is used for similar evil. I had the same sinking feeling, the same horror that I had participated in this act. But in that case it was severely denounced by Garrosh as dishonourable. His stance there was so strong that it made me rethink my previous Tauren-based hatred of the Warchief.

Stonetalon set us up to think that honour is Garrosh’s saving grace. In a masterful article at Stoppable Force, Stop nails it: Garrosh is “a jerk, but he’s a jerk who represents “old school” Horde values, such as honor above all.” Read his whole article – for Theramore background and deep speculation on the next Warchief.

Now, thinking back on it, I wonder, did he really turn a corner in Stonetalon? Or was it all just a show for the player? He knew there was a bomb. He knew we were trying to secure it. Maybe he didn’t want it set off just then, but he knew the potential. It was just a practice run for the Theramore monstrosity.

And behind all this catastrophic behaviour are the Goblins. The Theramore cut scene has them hooting about what they’re about to do with typical misguided enthusiasm – cheering about mass murder basically. Same in Stonetalon. And in every quest and every zone they’re in, they are basically strip-mining or deforesting or some other environmental depravity. I hope they never get to Nagrand.

Playing through the Goblin starting zone drives home the point – Kezan is ugly, polluted, the landscape riven with smokestacks and paved with hideous racetracks. Horde players are complicit in all their scheming, often assisting with promoting their profit-above-all agenda. I hate playing the first few quests in Azshara now, as it forces you to ravage and plunder before eventually slaughtering an innocent Talrendis Ancient in a Goblin engineered tree killing machine. Aborcide? Murder more like.

There was an excellent question buried in the recent Warcraft Reddit AMA which asked why Thrall would let the Goblins into the Horde given their history of slavery. The answer was enlightening:

Thrall’s vision of the Horde is a refuge for people in need. He’s a helpful guy. The Bilgewater Goblins just had their home destroyed, and they were refugees (he can certainly relate to that). They helped him in the Lost Isles, so he offered them a home. Presumably he’d put a stop to any slave trade (the player characters don’t remain slaves once they join the Horde.)

Of course… afterwards he was no longer the Warchief. Garrosh was probably a lot more hands-off of the goblins, so long as they showed their usefulness – as they demonstrated immediately in Azshara.

‘Garrosh was…a lot more hands-off’. Let the Gobbo’s off the leash, see what happens. Mana-bomb development, I’m guessing.

They’re the pits.

In a final indignity after all my Goblinish pondering, our guild is named after them. Kezan Cartel. Created before Cataclysm and inspired by Gazlowe, denizen of Ratchet and self-styled saviour of Orgrimmar (he dug the Ragefire caverns to deliver water to the parched city). We figured it was a fun semi-RP name before the Goblins arrived in force. And it was for a while, as we gleefully hunted for treasure under Gazlowe’s auspices.

But after Azshara, Stonetalon, and now Theramore, I think it’s time for a Guild name change.

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WoW screenshot tweaking guide

Rades’ fabul(or)ous Guide to making your WoW screenshots look great. Always wondered how Rades (and the hopefully-only-temporarily-retired Cynwise – how great is that Deathwing shot) managed to make screen-caps look so good.

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Mists iLevel reference

I had trouble finding a ready reference to the ilvl ranges for Mists, so after hunting around all the usual sites came up with the following. I’ll revise this post if the numbers change.

Update 2012.10.03: Revised Heroic iLvl (was i440), JP iLvl (was i450), JP/VP rep requirements (no rep for JP gear, less for some VP gear), and added crafted weapons iLvl.

Source Requires Drops Comment
Quests n/a i372
Dungeons i358 i425-i450
Scenarios i425 i463
Heroics i435 i463/i476 i476 off final boss only
LFR i463 i476/i483 T14 tokens i483
Raid (N) i476 i489/i496 T14 tokens i496
Raid (H) i489 i502/i509 T14 tokens i509

So progression is pretty clear: Dungeons -> Heroics -> (LFR) -> Raid Normal -> etc. You can skip LFR by grinding out enough rep and VP to get into norlmal raiding.

Rep vendors sell i458 gear for JP (no rep required), and i489 for VP at Honored (neck/ring/cloak/bracers) and Revered. So planning your reputation priorities will be important.

Crafted epics are i476-i496. Crafted weapons are i463.

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Curious crate

It’s been a year since posting here, but with Mists lurking only days away it seems a good time to start posting a few things. A brief catch up first.

I’m undecided about who or what to focus on for Pandaria, but it’s likely to be my Warrior (now christened Angler) or Knive, my Hunter. I played Knive deep into Cataclysm and thanks to LFR saw the end game raid bosses for the first time. LFR was great for me because it allowed me to see the benefit in gearing properly and committing to a toon for a prolonged period. Watching my Recount rank slowly climb into the top 5 was immensely satisfying, as was the slow gear acquisition plan formulated via Ask Mr. Robot.

So Knive is an obvious choice. But I have an unscratched itch to end game tank again. Angler (nee Banehammer) has been in retirement for all of Cataclysm (after a tank cataclysm of my own at the end of WotLK) but it might be time to oil his rusty armour and see what he’s capable of. I’ve rolled about 8000 alt Paladin, Druid and Warrior tanks in the meantime and loved tanking through the older content. If I had an 85 Paladin I think that would be my first choice, but alt-itis means a lot of low level toons but nothing at max.

So, that’s the update. Let’s see what happens.

/cracks open the curious crate…

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Salty Banehammer

Banehammer & Nat Pagle

1 thoroughly read copy of “Nat Pagle’s Extreme’ Anglin.”

1 Magical Crawdad.

1 Dark Herring.

1 Lucky Fishing Hat.

1 Arcanite Fishing Pole.

2 server transfers.

40 Speckled Tastyfish.

5826 fish caught.

3492 other stuff caught.

9318 total casts.


Master Angler of Azeroth.

Accomplished Angler.


Salty Banehammer.


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The Watcher

Thinking more about how people could learn the game without YouTube or Tankspot, it seems that an Observer mode would be an excellent addition. Some mechanism which allowed you to join a fight in progress as a watcher only, hovering above god-style, kind of like you can hover around when dead and see what’s going on.

I’d love to be able to follow a Warrior tank who was running my chosen bête noire, to learn how they handle the adds and time their cooldowns. Or to hover over a new wing of Naxx once our guild ventures in for the second time.

This would allow you to watch and learn fights that are new, or that you’re struggling with. It removes the element of surprise when encountering a new instance or boss, but then very few approach a new fight without first watching a strategy video or reading a debrief. In fact Observer mode would be much more involving than those kind of meta approaches.

You’d probably need some kind of way to allow or disallow observers, so as not to be encumbered with additional stresses or having strangers judge your skills. But given people Livestream their attempts already, I’m sure it would be a pretty popular feature.

eSports depend on the ability for an audience to join a game as observers and hence participate in the event like they were at a real sports game. The venerable Quake engine allowed god mode overview for tournament play, Starcraft II will feature some kind of observer mode, as well as replays, so why not offer it in WoW too?

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The Interwebs are bathed in the fiery afterglow of the Cataclysm class changes, with the main response being: “NIMBY“.

It’s a little disconcerting reading bloggers whose opinions are usually well thought out and rational going a little crazy in response. I guess most active bloggers are pretty serious players, so any changes tend to be leaped upon with vigour, and horror if there’s even the slightest hint of dramatic change.

  • Responding to the new Priest ability Leap of Faith, the normally very sane Tobold offers his services to Blizzard as a Chief Social Engineer because “I really don’t understand why nobody at Blizzard considered the consequences”. Really Tobold? No-one at Blizzard has considered the consequences?? Please.
  • Similarly the always angry Rilgon gets even angrier after reading the Hunter preview: “Focus: F*ck it. This sh*t is f*cking worthless”. And that’s mild compared to his twitter stream. Overreaction, much? All this without having even tried it, or giving Blizz any credit for perhaps being able to make it work. It works for Rogues, why can’t it work for Hunters?
  • The Escape Hatch disses the Warrior: “Based on this preview, I will be shocked if there is not a mass exodus from the warrior class come Cataclysm”. Why? Because there aren’t enough “cool” changes. Are people really going to abandon a class they love because Heroic Leap isn’t exciting enough?
  • Even Tamarind goes nuts: “Is this April Fools Day leftovers? It’s now not enough that I’m expected to heal the moronface standing in fire I’m expected to yank him out of as well?!!”. At least Tam has the good grace to realise it’s all a bit ott: “I’m sure, in practice, it’ll all be fine and I’ll be a Stupidity Grip convert, eating my words and looking small and silly”.

From all the class announcements, about the only change that I can see would cause real angst is the change to Druid Tree form. This one is a fundamental change to how you enjoy a class, not to a background mechanic. Hunters will still be able to shoot and have pets despite the change from Mana to Focus. A Tree Druid who’s not a Tree? That’s more problematic – support Tree Bark Jacket’s campaign!

For the rest, surely we can have just a smidgen of faith that Blizzard, um, know a little bit about what they are doing?  That they aren’t trying to break their game and drive everyone away to SW:ToR. That we’re grown up enough to adapt to the New Thing and enjoy it just as much as the Old.

Garwulf, in a thankfully balanced review of the Hunter changes, summed it up best for me: “FFS, quit yer bitchin’!”

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