Saturday, November 29, 2008

Making it to the top!

The past week has been really busy. Apart from work I've also had a few other real life obligations, cutting my WoW time short. Nevertheless, I've done quite a lot and really enjoyed myself as usual.
Since my last post I finished up Grizzly Hills and got the Grizzly Hills quest achievement. After that I went for Zul'Drak and did a lot there. I made first contact with the Knights of the Ebon Blade there and have been questing for them ever since. The quest chain where you have to infiltrate a flying stronghold was really cool, leading to a satisfying end which is lore-heavy once again. After doing the major quests in Zul'Drak I hit lvl 77 and decided to head to other grounds. With my newly acquired cold weather flying I was ready to hit the big stuff! I took a flight to Icecrown and soon got reunited with the Ebon Blade once again. After a lot of questing I unlocked a few dailys for the Ebon Blade, and I'm doing those every day now. There's some sweet boots at exalted so I want to get the rep as fast as possible.

I ended up at lvl 79 last thursday, and today I had the chance to finish up that last level. I said my goodbyes to Icecrown for now and headed to Storm Peaks. The first few quests weren't too interesting, until I had to deal with a tribe of Nordic Amazon warriors. I ended up infiltrating into their tribe and questing for them (disguised of course), and it's been a blast ever since. I blasted through the quests with great pleasure, and the experience bar positively flew up. I ended my day neutral with the Sons of Hodin which hated me earlier today ("You have gained 22000 reputation with Sons of Hodin") and more importantly: at level 80! Yep, I made it to level 80. Not nearly as fast as some others, but still at quite a pace. It never felt like a rush though, and I've enjoyed myself a lot. I know there's still a lot to see, so now I'm going to finish up as much quests as I can to get some nice gear and gold. I'm still 1500g away from my epic flying mount, but I'm determined to get it this time around. I might finish up Nothrend exploration while I'm at it, so I can get the Explorer tabard and title, just for fun. Level 80 has opened up a lot of options, so I'll see what the game shoots my way.

As a finisher, here's me dinging to 80:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Halfway there

I've been questing along nice 'n easy for the last week or so, and things are going nicely. I managed to hit 75 earlier today, marking the halfway point. So far I've seen all of Borean Tundra, Howling Fjord, Dragonblight and Grizzly Hills, although I haven't done all quests in any of those places. I'm currently questing in Grizzly Hills, going through some nice quest chains. I even had the pleasure of being reacquainted with my favorite dungeon boss: Arugal! Gotta love him and his Worgen.

I've seen Dalaran and set my hearthstone there. Honestly, that place is amazing. Shattrath was pretty nice as well, but it had its negative sides. Dalaran just has it all and looks nice to boot. All the profession trainers in their own little quarter, Horde and Alliance quarters complete with inns, portals to all major cities (including Shattrath) and a spiffy new Battleground Chamber, and of course the sewers. The Dalaran Arena is situated there (quite appropriately), and also a Black Market, giving the sewers a real "underworld" feeling. And for a miner/blacksmith the Forge of Fate is just awesome. It's a normal forge, but smithing in it really feels good. Not some third-rate anvil in some small village, this baby's a class A forge. I expect there will be some items you can only craft at the Forge of Fate, so I'm merrily skilling up until that day comes.

The only setbacks to Dalaran I've found so far are the size (I can't imagine how crowded it'll be when the realm has leveled enough to maximize capacity) and the fact that you can't access it legally until 74. Shattrath was nice in the fact that you could get there as soon as you hit Outland, Dalaran takes a bit more work, and it feels more like a restriction than an achievement for hitting 74.

Money has always been an issue for me, which is mainly the reason why I don't have my epic flyer yet. However, I'm up to 3k gold at the moment, halfway there to both epic flyer and cold weather flying. Cold weather flying will be top priority (only 2 more levels!), epic flyer after that. I also want that brown bear mount, partly because it really fits with the environment. I'm riding on my trusted Hawkstrider now (as always), which feels a bit out of place at times. I'd much rather have an epic flyer though, so the bear will have to wait for now. The gold income is going fast enough anyway. The quest money is nice, and so is the income from quest rewards. Lots of gear that I don't really need, so off to the vendor. I haven't replaced a single item yet, although it's bound to happen sooner or later. So far I can solo a 2 or 3 man group quest every now and then, so I think I'm fine for now.

I got the idea from Firelight to screenshot all my level ups, but I won't show them all. As usual I'm really bad at making pictures (both in-game and in real life), so I don't have much apart from those. Here's me dinging to 75 though, I'll leave it at that:

See you in Northrend!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Samsara!

Exactly one year ago, a group of people from the guild Mutinymamas split off from the rest and formed a new guild. Seven Voices were appointed to keep the balance, and they called themselves Samsara. Over the months many people joined and the guild got larger and larger. And at some point, the Council of Elderly joined forces with Samsara and together they strode on under the Samsaran banner. It is there where I got in.

We tackled Karazhan, we tackled Gruul. Magtheridon was slain by Samsaran spells and blades, and even the Serpentshrine Cavern wasn't safe. And now we're battling Scourge in Northrend, preparing for that final battle with the Lich King himself.

But not just that, we also had a lot of fun. Birthday parties, dodgeball games, and the usual good times in guild chat. A lot has happened, and we've had a lot of fun so far.

And today marks the first anniversary of all that. Today is the first birthday of Samsara as a guild! Whoo us! I would like to thank all the people in the guild for all the good times I've had, all the laughs and the serious business. It's been a blast so far, and let it be so for another year to come!

For Samsara!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The first day of Northrend...

WARNING: Contains spoilers (obviously). If you do not want to know what's going on in Northrend and with Death Knights, I suggest you stop reading here.

An e-mail last night confirmed it: my copy of Wrath of the Lich King has been shipped and should arrive in the mail today. And being the good postal service as they are, I got it today indeed! After about an hour of installing, upgrading and patching, it was time to enjoy the wonders of Northrend. It was my day off from work today, so I had all day to explore, quest and level!

First up was creating my Death Knight. I had a female troll already made, so with a quick delete and remake, I had Ryll the Death Knight. A beautiful female Troll, truly a woman not to take lightly. No time to start the Death Knight though, it would be crowded anyway and I wanted to see Northrend.

I hurried onto Vaadren, and my first thought was "holy crap, an exp bar"! It's not like I forgot what it looked like, since I'm still leveling Myczil, but it takes getting used to seeing it on your main. After taking a look at the Atlas maps I decided to start in Howling Fjord because it was greener there, and I like green. I took a portal to Orgrimmar, and found out that I could only go to Borean Tundra from Org. Oh well, off to the Tundra then! I ended up in Warsong Hold, a relatively small stronghold but with a boatload of trainers, vendors and other things. Compared to Warsong Hold, Thrallmar bites the dust as a "first town in a new area", this place has it all! After upgrading all my professions and getting some new consumables I went questing. It was quite hard sometimes, with 6 people going for the same mob, but not as bad as I expected. I positively blasted through the quests, taking on 3 or 4 at a time. Riding the new vehicles is fun, with the new interfaces. I wonder if they only did that for the new ones, or if the existing ones have been overhauled as well. Chess Event in Kara, anyone?

I took a small break from my (highly enjoyable and ass-kicking!) Paladin, and went exploring with Ryll. The Death Knight quests are very well set up, with the starting area changing with the events you're currently experiencing. In the same spot you were killing farmers 10 minutes ago, everything is now ablaze and you're killing hordes of soldiers! Buildings that are under enemy control at first, and suddenly burning and overrun with Scourge when you visit it for another quest further down the line. It's amazing how they managed to do it, and I can't figure out for the life of me how they pull it off. Are they phasing me into a different dimension every time I complete a special quest? I guess that's the closest I can get. Kudos to Blizzard for that anyway. Apart from that it's just very enjoyable to follow the path from serving the Lich King to breaking free and going back to the Horde. Very lore-heavy, which is a real treat for a lore junkie like me. The class itself works like a charm, the runic power and runes you have at your disposal allow for a lot of flexibility and fun. I decided to take the Blood tree since I felt it fit my style most, and it plays great. If I ever get Ryll close to 80 I'll make her tank probably, but for now I'm enjoying the DPS, still my favorite role in WoW. I ended Ryll at lvl 58, now a Knight of the Ebon Blade (Death Knights free from the Lich King) and parked in Shattrath. We'll see how much time I'll spend on her. I've had my taste of the Death Knight, so I'm happy for now. Quite frankly, Vaadren is my #1 priority, so I want to get him to 80 before even considering another project. Even Myczil will have to take a step back for a bit.

Back to Vaadren, and back to questing. I spent an hour exploring because I wanted to go to Dalaran, but we can't get in yet unfortunately. Instead I went collecting flight paths, and now I have about 8 of them already. One or two more and I can go from the Tundra to Howling Fjord, but that's not too important. Since friday is always a non-WoW day for me, I was determined to reach lvl 71 at least, and it proved quite a struggle. Was leveling always this hard? I must have done most of Borean Tundra already. The Taunka still have a few things for me, but apart from that.... I don't know. I did reach 71 in the end though, and I'll probably visit Howling Fjord after I'm completely done with the Tundra. It should give me enough exp to get to 72 at least. No planning far ahead for me, I'm taking it one level at a time. A madman's race to lvl 80 isn't really my thing, and luckily we can still all play the game as we want to. Of course I'll try to keep up with the rest of the guild so we can do instances together and get ready for raiding again, but I'm certainly not going to rush.

I may play tomorrow, not sure yet. It kinda depends on how the day goes. But if not, I'll have the entire weekend anyway. Plenty of time!

I hope everyone is enjoying themselves in Northrend. See you there!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Northrend in sight! And PvP madness?

Achievements have changed a lot in World of Warcraft, as you all have noticed probably. Suddenly everyone is fishing, doing low level instances and jumping from high places. It's interesting how such a (mostly) non-profitable concept can make such an impact.

It has change world PvP as well. Lightbringer's best guild, Carpe Noctem, has already downed Tyrande and Velen, and will be going for Stormwind and Ironforge at some point in the near future. A few days ago a raid group of the best guilds on Alliance side downed the Silvermoon boss (and a well deserved congratulations to them), but overestimated their abilities by going for Sylvanas next. Me and a few guildmates teamed up to try and stop them, but the Horde counterforce was too small, so we decided against it in the end. Defending your home is one thing, but stepping into the fight with those odds is just asking to be nuked down.

We went PvPing instead, something I had never done before. We started off in Warsong Gulch, and I just followed a guildie to get the hang of things. Soon enough I was killing players left and right, and quite enjoyed it as well! We did an Arathi Basin as well, which was enjoyable but not as much as the Gulch. I've been trying out Alterac Valley and Eye of the Storm as well the last few days, and some more Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin. It's more enjoyable in a group, but still quite enjoyable solo. I like Warsong Gulch and Eye of the Storm the most, Alterac Valley the least so far, and Arathi Basin somewhere in between. I've never been against PvP, but never cared for it either. However, I think I'll be doing some more of it in the future, especially with that Strand of the Ancients battleground coming up. It could turn out to be completely evil, but just the name sounds so cool already! The mounts will be my PvP goal, a bit of work but I accept the challenge. It'll at least give me something to strive for.

PvP is only one of the things I've started doing. These last few days before Lich King have made me do more quest lines (the Greatmother chain in Nagrand atm, I'm aiming for lore-filled quest chains), and grinding rep for various random factions. I never paid attention to the Sha'tari Skyguard, but now I find myself killing Skettis for them. And I still don't know why, but I am. And it's not stopping me either. Odd.

So yeah, only a few more days. I already pre-ordered my copy, but somehow I doubt it'll arrive on thursday. Friday probably, but my fridays are always filled with work and friends, so it'll probably be saturday before Vaadren will set foot on the snowy fields of Northrend. I'll immediately make my Death Knight so I have her ready to play in a few weeks, when the initial madness has died a little. I already reserved a name for her. Ryll the Female Troll Death Knight. I always wanted a female Troll Warrior, but Warriors are a pain to level in my opinion, so I never made one. The Death Knight should provide me with the armored, ass-kicking blademistress I envisioned long ago. I'm already looking forward to the entire experience called Wrath of the Lich King!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The good, the bad and the shiny

It was a good day today in most respects, slightly less in another. First up, the bad news:

As the (now-infamous) Ghostcrawler has informed in this thread on the Beta forums:

We are looking at some way of making Avenging Wrath and Divine Shield mutually exclusive. This may be through Forbearance, if we can reduce the Forbearance duration through a hotfix. The bubble is intended as a defensive measure. Yet bubble+wings currently is used a lot in BGs and Arenas and helps contribute to the feeling of being destroyed by a Retribution paladin while you are unable to respond.

In summary, this comes down to Avenging Wrath being tied to Forbearance again, and Forbearance having been cut back to 2 minutes. This is basically a step back from TBC even, since the "Wings" gave a higher percentage of damage boost then, and Forbearance was only 1 minute. I've already had a few ffs-moments with that, and it's amazing why Blizzard did this of all things, with numerous better solutions flying around on the beta forums.

Oh well, we'll see how it turns out. On to the better news.

I started today with a heroic Magister's Terrace, in hope of the Netherforce Breastplate. It didn't drop unfortunately, but I did get the Shard of Contempt, so I'm a happy camper. I initially decided to swap out my Darkmoon Card: Crusade in favor of Bloodlust Brooch, but after tweaking and trying each combination out, I found that the Brooch was the one needing to go.

Lots of loafing around later, and I got asked for a ZA guild run (another DPS backed out or something). No real loot from there, I got some mail healing shoulders that are nice, but not overly special. No one else needed them anyway, so it's not like it mattered. Shortly after the run a guildie asked around for a few people for a Gruul & Maggy PuG. I happily went along with a few other guildmates, and ended up at Magtheridon's doorstep first. He went down easily, and I managed to get a whopping 1400 DPS off him, topping the charts! He dropped one pally T4 token, and with a bit of luck I rolled 91 and won. Whoohoo, a new chestpiece! Time to get rid of that mail ZA chest I was wearing.

Off to Gruul next, and with a bit of a sloppy start of the Maulgar pull, we managed to get them down one by one. No one cared too much, as it was all fun and games in Vent, which made it a very good PuG, especially for a raid. Maulgar wasn't so kind as to drop the long-wanted wristbands I so crave, but he did drop two pally shoulders. I rolled 13 for the first, the second highest number. I silently hoped they'd just go for first and second places, but they treated them individually. I rolled a mediocre 51 on the second one, which surprisingly didn't get topped. Then, another person rolled a 54 and I thought I had lost again. However, the person rolling was a warlock who had no use for the token (and most likely was a tad disoriented), so the shoulders went my way anyway. Off to Gruul himself, and time to smack him around. It went very fast, getting im down during hit 5th growth. Only two shatters were executed, and I lived through both easily.

A very enjoyable raid with people from several highly respected guilds of our server. I got to know a few, and they were all nice people. True good players, not just achievement freaks but enjoyable people who enjoy a laugh. Good times.

After the raid I went to get my new gear, waved my mail chestpiece and Ragesteel Shoulders goodbye, and put on my new shiny stuff! I'm sporting full T4 now, and it looks awesome. Let's see about those things getting enchanted tomorrow!

In other news, I've been trying out my DPS on the training dummies, and managed to get a solid 1250-1300 when going all out. Very respectable, don't you think? Also, somehow I'm not going OOM in 4 minutes anymore when going all out. I tried it before when Blizzard announced the JotW nerf, and I believe it happened then. Now, not anymore. Well, you don't hear me complaining!

So everyone, remember your Forbearance when you want to use your Wings or Bubble. Apart from that, enjoy the last few weeks before Wrath of the Lich King comes out. I know I will!