Sweet Home Azeroth – Summing Up a Bit

So I had the post about the great big return to Azeroth.  While it wasn’t really nostalgia, as the goal was actually to do something new, it still represented a return to an old friend.  I had a couple posts about the guild and things that remained the same, and then haven’t mentioned our adventures in World of Warcraft for… two weeks now.

Which, if you are a long time reader, might be taken as a sign that I stopped playing.  I tend to just go quiet on games I stop playing unless there was some big, breaking event.

However, such has not been the case with WoW.

In fact, if you look at my Raptr profile, you will see that WoW has been far and away my most played game for the last two weeks.  I log on every day and play a bit.

I just haven’t done anything really interesting.

We still haven’t formed a guild, remaining with Khaotica for all the level 25 boosts and bennies.

I ran my first character, Makawao through a number of zones, which has been fun enough.  The zones, while clearly still focused on being solo story events in the post-Cataclysm model, are fun.  I goggle a bit at how much effort must have gone into some of the locations or quests only to spend mere minutes in them at times.  The Stonetalon Mountains seems especially full of such locations.

But I am not sure I need to write a zone guide about that.  Maybe I could start tracking Blizzard’s seeming obsession with poop quests and balloons.  Balloons especially seem to be a post-Cataclysm motif.

I have been quite keen on pet battles.  I still have a full post in the works for that at some point.  I think I need to go further with it than I have currently before I come to any conclusions.  But I will say that the Pokemon-like “collect them all” is a big driver.  I speak as somebody who, at one point, had literally caught them all in Pokemon.

I ended up getting too far out in front of my daughter with Makawao.  It was fine for her to race ahead, but when I did it there are complaints.  So I stopped when he hit 40 and go the epic mount skill.

Which meant faster rides

Which meant faster rides

The whole account-wide mounts thing made that interesting.  And it will be more so when I get to flying mounts.  I have more choices than I remember.

With Makawao on hold, I started working on an alt.  I had rolled up a blood elf paladin, Banff, and decided to take him another path.  I picked the protection spec with the idea of running him through all of the instances as a tank.  I generally play the healer, falling back to DPS when somebody else in our regular group (usually Potshot) already has the role.  But I rarely play the tank.  Both Earl and Gaff insist on playing that role when they are around (which makes having them both around interesting at the rare times it happens), so I generally consider that somebody elses job.  (By my calculations, I have been healing Gaff the tank off and on for nearly 20 years.)

So going tank is another aspect of the “do something new in Azeroth” plan.

But doing instances via Dungeon Finder has been… a change.  More after the cut.

Ah, the Dungeon Finder.

It has not just been a change from the old days of the instance group, but it has felt like a big change from the early days of the Dungeon Finder.

When I first started doing Dungeon Finder back when it came out, I found the sub-level cap groups to be pretty decent.  People chatted, asked what to do on occasion, and did not do that many really dumb things.  Yes, there was always the almost stereotypical shield equipped protection warrior in the DPS role trying to taunt mobs off the tank to deal with.  It was like that was a special role at one point, I swear, but even that wasn’t a big deal.

But things seem to have changed since then.

I don’t want to get on the Dungeon Finder or DPS hate horses, but it seems like the system is failing the players.  People who join such groups as healers or tanks seem, more often than not, to know what they are doing.  But how you get those skills isn’t clear.  And for people who opt in for DPS… well, that does seem to be the choice for those who don’t know what to do.

And when you add on the goody bag daily random dungeon quest, the shortened versions of many dungeons post-Cataclysm, and the general reduction in difficulty across the board in that area and you get some really regrettable behavior that the system does not help you correct for.  Sure, once in a while something goes awry that ends up in a wipe.

And how we got there was even worse

And how we got there was even worse

But for the most part a decent healer and tank combo can thwart almost all dumb DPS moves to the point that there is no reason they shouldn’t just run ahead and chain pull stuff.  Certainly nothing bad happens when they do.  We just handle it, the healer and I.

I count myself lucky that being a pally tank at this point makes holding aggro pretty easy, even with a mass of adds.  So with lay hands, my own heals, potions, and that herbalism heal, along with a healer who is even half way decent, the situation is almost always saved.  Even when DPS runs ahead and triggers all the bowls in Blackfathom Deeps right after you told the group one damn bowl at a time.

Healer saves the day

Healer saves the day

That was a double win because, not only did one DPS essentially pull a whole staged event down on us in one go, but another DPS decided he did not want to come with us and sat at the zone entrance, hitting “need” every single loot drop.  And we couldn’t kick him because he was smart enough to engage the easy mobs at the start of the instance, because you cannot kick people who are in, or were recently in, combat.

The most epic healer and tank win however had to be a Wailing Caverns run when the DPS, as a group, decided they didn’t want to come to the final boss fight.  Even after I asked several times, they all just sat at the entrance until the achievement hit, then left the group.  You can see in this screen shot that the achievement has barely popped and they are out the door.

Wailing Caverns Duo

Wailing Caverns Duo

Fortunately the healer was good and pally aggro management was working well.

Of course, the flip side of all of this is that when you get DPS that knows what they are doing… the instance is barely a challenge at all.  We had a rogue in Shadowfang Keep who joined part-way in after one DPS left because we were going “too slow” who absolutely killed.  It was one of the few times I haven’t been close to, or at the top of, the damage charts in an instance.

Always thank those who did well

Always thank those who did well

Which makes me wonder if bad DPS is actually a good thing, since it makes the dungeons less of a face roll.  I suppose I will see how that plays out at the higher levels.

Anyway, it has been an interesting experiment in the instances.  I am tempted to propose a heal-tank challenge to see how far you could get doing instances with just two players while staying within the level range dictated by Dungeon Finder.

Meanwhile, I we carry on in Azeroth.  It is still fun.  I am still seeing some new things.  It is still occupying the majority of my play time.

And, most of all, it is a comfortable place to be.

15 thoughts on “Sweet Home Azeroth – Summing Up a Bit

  1. Gripper

    I think at the early low levels the Dungeon Finder is like that but running the heroics at 90 the dungeon finder is great. I have not had any issues that you have had with people sitting at the entrance etc.

    I do like you last statement: “And, most of all, it is a comfortable place to be.”

    I have to agree with that the most. I have tried the FFXIV and to be honest, not sure if its the old age in me, but I really feel comfortable and at ease in Azeroth… just the ornery way I am.

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  2. bhagpuss

    I’m having my own adventures in dungeon-finding over in FFXIV right now. I have to say that my complaints are almost entirely with the system and the mechanics, not with the players, most of whom have been, at worst, silent and/or ineffective. Most of them have been either competent or good company or even, and not that infrequently, both at the same time.

    I also took your advice, belatedly, and signed up for the WoW Free-to-20 Eternal Trial thing. I had to make a new Battlenet account because either someone has stolen mine in the two years since I last used it (not unlikely) or the name and password I have written down are wrong. No matter, making a new one was simple enough and I’m half-way through the 22GB download, which I had to stop when Mrs Bhagpuss came home from work because it lags FFXIV out something awful, to coin a phrase.

    Not sure what I am going to do with 1-20 WoW when I get it but no doubt I’ll at least get some blog posts out of it.

    Shame your instance group is five people and FFXIV instances are either 4 or 8. I suspect it would work better for you than Rift did, and almost certainly better than will do for me when I get much higher than I am now. Ah well, the fishing’s good, at least :)

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Gripper – Hrmm, in the old time period to which I referred, while the sub-level cap DF groups were generally pretty chill, the level 80 heroics seemed to be a constant “Go go go go! Pull the whole room! Healers don’t need mana!” I wonder if they have swapped roles completely and why that might be?

    @Bhagpuss – Actually, the way things have been going of late, a 4 person instance might be a good thing. We have only been able to get all five of us on maybe three times so far this year.

    While I am sort of with Syp when it comes to FFXIV… FF doesn’t thrill me as an IP and, while that seems easy to dismiss, for my interest in the world is part of what drives me… our real problem with it is that we are plugged into Neverwinter for the time being. For me, having EVE, WoW, and Neverwinter going pretty much fills my dance card.

    We had the same thing going at our house when my daughter wanted to get back to WoW. She has a new iMac now and I had to download the 22GB client over three nights. At least the patcher is good about picking up where it left off.

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  4. Stabs

    Interesting what you say about the dungeon finder. It’s been about 2 years since I played WoW but I ended up always queueing as dps.

    Why?

    Because 3 random dps = 3 idiots whereas me + tank, healer and 2 random dps = only 2 idiots.

    (I am self-aware enough to realise that managing aggro is now an optional rather than a mandatory playstyle but I’m far too set in my ways to enjoy trailing behind an overnuking warlock and a rageless tank).

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  5. JameslikesGames

    I’ve got to admit, I really want to try tanking, but I am scared of the grief. As you say a good tank/healer combo can save most situations and so are critical. I know there are tanking guides all over the internet, but for me there is no substitute for doing it.

    I was in a raid (slightly different for dungeon finder I know) and as soon as the tank pointed out that is was there first time, there were calls (primarily from dps) to kick them.

    Has anyone tried the tanking proving grounds yet? I am looking for something to cut my Pallys teeth on.

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  6. Helistar

    Tank proving grounds: it’s a good test of your tanking skills. I’m up to silver (mostly due to lack of time, my main role is DPS and I did gold on that first). the good thing is that gear is capped as for Challenge modes, so you don’t risk “overgearing it”.

    @Stabs: I do the same on LFR runs :) At least I know that one DPS is good… :P

    22Gb download: with the streaming launcher, you can play earlier on, just expect VERY slow zone transitions. But when you’re leveling you don’t hop around all the time, so you should be ok.

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  7. André

    I want to get back in Wow too… (never got past level 32), but the one thing that put me off last time was the professions. I’m not sure how to handle them. I started of a dwarf last time with mining and smelting as it seemed the easiest skills to choose for a loner (I don’t get much time to play). But somehow the professions fell behind my questing and I was in zones I couldn’t mine anymore… I’m waiting for my Panderia expansion (ordered it recently) – then I’ll try out one of the Panda areas – this time trying to pay more attention to my professions.

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  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @André – I have out run my ability to harvest in WoW as well. The skill progression was designed back when things were a lot slower and you didn’t get experience for nearly everything.

    They tried to fix this by taking all the harvestables that took a skill of ~100 or less and made them all harvestable at skill level 1. Which is great. But you still zip through zones and now there is a huge wall in later zones where you need 125 to harvest. So you have to take some time and go on harvesting trips to keep your skills up.

    I have gone mostly harvesting professions in order to sell materials at the auction house to make money. I have done a lot of the professions in the past, but aside from Engineering and Inscription, I never found pursuing them very worthwhile.

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  9. R

    When leveling my latest monk (sans heirlooms) I decided to try a few instances as a dps while still being in the appropriate level range (ie. can queue for it in LFD but usually at the higher end of the range).

    I was able to do the handful that I tried (I’m sure some wouldn’t be possible) although some required some creativity (one, Uldaman, required switching to tank spec for the last fight, just too much incoming damage in dps spec). ZF was too much at the 40-45 range to solo but I brought in a roughly equivalent level monk buddy and we 2-manned the place as dps… took a few hours, though, and lots of CC.

    In the past I’d also nearly soloed BFD on my Warlock right after Cat hit but I messed up the last room (used all the bowls… didn’t know any better) and couldn’t deal with all the linked mobs so I never had a chance to try that last boss.

    Note – I’m not a master soloist by any means, just took patience and a decent knowledge of what the buttons do. And not all classes will be able to do this, some self-healing &/or having a tank pet might be required.

    I found doing all of those very enjoyable, even when they took a long time. I imagine a tank/healer combo would be able to comfortably do most/all of them, albeit slowly, so you might want to up the challenge a bit from there if that turns out to be the case… dps/healer, maybe, or dps/dps or tank/dps if possible. The other issue with leveling instances is that the mob level ranges can vary HUGELY even within the same instance… ZF, for example, apparently has mobs from 30-49… so going in at 45 or 50 will likely be doable while going in at 39 may not be if you can’t actually hit some mobs.

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  10. André

    @Wilhelm … thanks for clarifying what happened to me. So am I right in choosing the mining and smelting and then maybe also look at doing engineering and inscription for another character ? I’d like to focus my other characters on something different if I could, but don’t want be too dependent on acquiring source materials for the profession.

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  11. Dà Chéng

    I don’t want to pour cold water on your healer/tank love-in, but I have to say that Stabs and Helistar have identified a DPS problem that I have also noticed: people are queuing as DPS who actually don’t know how to do it very well, because they are normally tanks or healers.

    Of course, I’m sure that Helistar and Stabs are excellent at DPS just as they are excellent at tanking. But you may be surprised to learn that sometimes the players wallowing at the low end of the DPS charts are really tanks and healers who queued as DPS to take a break – chilling out from their normally responsible roles – or watching the fight to learn it; and in the process giving the DPS a bad name.

    Of course there are plenty of genuine DPS who give the DPS a bad name as well!

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  12. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Dà Chéng – I do not see any evidence that the “tank/healer” on a break demographic would necessarily be the people to whom we have referred.

    I would think/hope they would end up being the DPS that doesn’t do the really dumb things since they ought to understand how silly it is to, say, pull extra mobs from the next room in the midst of a boss fight or run ahead and pull things while the tank already has their hand full.

    So you haven’t poured any cold water as far as I can tell, because you haven’t built an argument that would hold water in the first place. The closest I have come is a warrior who queued for both DPS and Tank roles and didn’t immediately realize that he had been assigned DPS. But he did notice it quickly and apologized for jumping ahead of me and pulling aggro.

    There have been plenty of adequate to very good DPS in my groups. It just so happens that, in my experience, when there is somebody really bad in the group, it tends to be the DPS. But DPS is also 60% of the group, so random chance alone could account for some of that I suppose.

    And this is just for sub-60 instances. When I did some WotLK heroics as healer and DPS quite a while back, the “rush, rush, pull the whole room, who cares if the healer has mana” tanks were the prime problem I ran into.

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