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Draenor – Avoiding The Oasis During the WoW News Drought June 13, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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6 comments

The Warlords of Draenor alpha is upon us.

Grom and Thrall talking

Warchief placeholders

Some people are very happy about this, to the point that getting an invite appears to have validated their very existence.  WoW Insider is running posts on every tidbit about the expansion they can lay their hands on and compiling it all into a guide page.  Blizzard itself is starting to put up official dev posts on WoD topics, like the multiplication obfuscation simplification of gear stats for the expansion.

And sitting here, possibly as far a six months from the launch of the expansion (assuming it doesn’t slip further out), with no hope of any additional content patches until the big pre-expansion drop hits, it is tough not to starting reading through those sorts of things just to give ourselves something to talk (or write) about.

On the flip side of that, I have noticed that there is something of an inverse relationship between how much I pay attention to news about upcoming content and how much I end up enjoying that content.  Cataclysm is the red-headed poster child for this phenomena.  There has been no WoW expansion I have paid as much attention to before launch… including playing the beta, along with reading all about it in the short-lived official World of Warcraft Magazine… as I did with Cata.  And, oddly enough, Cata is clearly at the bottom of my list when it comes to WoW expansions.

Now, the counter argument to that might well be, “But Cataclysm WAS horrible, whether you focused on it during beta or not.”  And certainly there was a lot there to dislike, including some uninspired new zones, the wholesale gutting of some beloved old zones,  having flight from day one in all of the new content, and the rush to turn all of the 1-60 instances into 30 minute or less “go go go” runs just to suit Dungeon Finder rather than having a few nice long runs.

But I think the fact that some of the fun or amusing bits of the expansion, like the goblin starting zone, were already old hat by launch probably stole some of the thunder that the expansion could have had.  And that fact that we went straight into the revamped, easy easy mode, old-world content with a fresh group of Worgen (my least favorite race in WoW these days) looking to experience something new and only getting watered down visions of how things used to be hurt a lot as well.

I have softened on Cataclysm since our return to WoW.  We did this year what we should have done back when the expansion launched, which was pick up our old characters sitting at the top of Wrath of the Lich King and carry on from there.  The actual five person content in the high level end of Cata is good, and the 85++ converted raids, Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub, ended up being some of the most fun we have had in a long time as a group.

So I am going to try to follow my general policy of averting my eyes when it comes to Warlords of Draenor.  I want to know as little as possible so as to maximize the impact of it when it launches.  In the end, being the beta and reading up in advance only seems to rob me of fun without much upside.

Still, WoD seems like it is a long way away.  Can I keep myself otherwise occupied with WoW until then?

The Long Road to Draenor April 24, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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14 comments

Back in September, a few of us returning to World of Warcraft felt like returning home to the comfortable, familiar game we had enjoyed for so long.  It was a happy time and we were happy to be back.  Happy. Happy. Happy.

A little later, after the BlizzCon announcement for Warlords of Draenor, the full instance group jumped back in to the game and picked up where it left off with the main group, way back at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, where we left off back before Cataclysm.  That was back in late 2009.

Victory over King Ymiron

At the throne of King Ymiron

And it was good.  And it remains good.

The instance group has moved along at a leisurely pace, knowing full well that we had to get to at least summer on Cataclysm and Pandaria content.  Not because we thought we might see WoD during the summer… I, rather optimistically in hindsight, figured September would be the drop date for the expansion based on some vague napkin math… but because we tend to go on hiatus during the summer as travel and other real life events take over.

Outside of instance nights, we have all been busy little beavers.  We have been leveling up alts, collecting mounts, going after achievements, running old content, getting the guild up to level 25 (finally there!), and generally immersing ourselves in Azeroth.  Fun, fun!

Or fun for a while.

Now more than six months back, with the guild taken care of, three level 90s at my disposal, having run all the level 90 LFR content at least once, and being exalted with all but two factions in Pandaria, I am starting to feel sympathy for those who really had their hearts set on a much earlier release for WoD.

My enthusiasm for logging in to work on yet another set of dailies or to get another mount towards my goal of 150 (I am at 132) has begun to wane some.

I still log in daily.  I tend my farm at Sunsong Ranch, though mostly for items I can sell at the auction house in order to build up my gold account.  I am working on a couple of low level alts, including a Panda monk with full heirlooms, just to see how ridiculously fast I get levels in a given play session.   He leveled three times doing Shadowfang Keep at one point.

But the fires have faded some.  I have joined the ranks of those who are starting to feel that Azeroth might need a little something to carry us through to the expansion at the end of the rainbow.

That feeling was enhanced this week with the Noblegarden holiday, for which I got all the achievements back in 2009.  I do not have the mount that was added in 2012, but I am not sure I can bring myself to run the holiday events even for that.  We’ll see.  And then next week is Children’s Week, the one holiday event keeping me from the holiday meta achievement because I refuse to do the battleground achievements.  Clearly some bitterness on my part there, and certainly not something that is going to raise my enthusiasm for WoW at the moment.

On top of that, we had what was effectively a narrowing of the gap as to when WoD will ship.

Previously Blizzard had said “Fall 2014,” conspicuously pointing out that “Fall” lasts until December 20th.  But the optimists in the crowd could at least console themselves with the thought that Fall stars in late September, so WoD wouldn’t necessarily have to be a “week before Christmas” launch.

Well, Blizzard has rained on those hopes, at least in my opinion, with the announcement of the dates for BlizzCon.

BlizzCon2014

BlizzCon will be November 7th and 8th of this year.  And, as Liore pointed out the other day, you really have to be a cross your fingers and toes optimist to think that Blizzard is going to launch their big expansion of the season BEFORE BlizzCon.  Who would let their thunder roar before the big convention?

It seems likely that we’ll get the pre-WoD patch before BlizzCon, which will give some people plenty to chew on as they work through the changes in order to be ready for expansion to drop.  But that is still likely to be out in October at the earliest, and that still leaves us with the window for actual new content somewhere between November 7th and December 20th.

Which is probably going to leave a fair number of people in the odd position of having purchased Warlords of Draenor in advance, yet considering unsubscribing until it actually launches.    How strange is that?

I suspect that, unless Blizzard has something up their sleeve, it is going to be a long summer of declining subscriptions.

That whole Azeroth Choppers thing… that isn’t going to be enough.

 

Blizzard Isn’t Giving You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor March 26, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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8 comments

More on the phishing front.  This arrived in my spam folder with the incongruous subject line:

Gift-Boost a character to Level 90 when you pre-purchase Warlords of Draenor!

That sounds like an announcement asking you to buy the expansion, but the graphic inside purports to have a code for a free copy of the expansion.

Congratulations

Congratulations

This looks to be built on the same template as the Reaper of Souls phishing attempt I mentioned back in January.  The game key is likely just as valid, which is to say not valid at all.

Of course, the most egregious part of the whole thing is the statement that the expansion will go live at noon on December 20, 2014.  I am not sure some of us can wait that long.

Warlords of Draenor to be a $50 Expansion? And Something About Insta-90s March 10, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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13 comments

And while we were on the topic of insta levels…

Blizzard has finally opened up pre-orders for the Warlords of Draenor expansion.  The price falls between my expectations and my fears.  WoW expansions have been $40 items up until this point, while the EuroGamer article two weeks back said the expansion would be $60. (Though they deleted that without reference when Blizzard objected.)

WoDlogo

The actual price, according to Blizzard’s announcement, is somewhere in between.   The standard edition will be $50, with the usual $20 bump to get the Digital Deluxe edition.  Presumably the physical Collector’s Edition will be an additional $20 on top of that, making it potentially a $90 purchase.  So there is your buy-in price for the next two years of WoW content… once it ships.

There were a couple of items of note in the announcement, starting with that potential ship date.

Pre-order announcement

Pre-order announcement

You probably cannot read it in the thumbnail, but if you expand it by clicking on it, you can see that they have tacked on a line about the expected release being in the Fall of 2014.  My September 9th guess seems even more optimistic at this point.  And, as somebody pointed out, Fall technically goes all the way out to December 20, 2014, though I would imagine that Blizzard would do all it could to get the expansion in the pipe at least a month before Christmas.  Like, maybe at the 10 year anniversary?  We shall see.  (Elsewhere Blizzard says, “Game is expected to release on or before 12/20/2014.”  If this were SOE, that would mean February.  And even with Blizzard, “expected” is a hedge and not a promise.)

Then there are the in-game items you get with the Digital Deluxe and Collector’s Edition.  A mount and a pet are the key items, and you get them as soon as you pre-order.

Dread Raven mount and hatching pet

Dread Raven mount and hatching pet

The other items, StarCraft II portraits and Diablo III banners don’t really thrill me.  Blizzard does insist on these cross-game items though.  Occasionally they are good.

And then there are some details about how the insta-90 process will work, including a 2 minute tutorial on YouTube, and what you will get with your character after you wave the magic level-up wand over it.

  • 150 gold
  • 4 Embersilk (22-slot) bags
  • A stack of 20 food items
  • Full set of spec-appropriate Item Level 483 (blue-quality) gear
  • If a boosted character was already level 60 or above, their existing Primary Professions and First Aid are bumped up to level 600
  • A faction-specific flying mount—a traditional Wind Rider for Horde or Gryphon for Alliance
  • Artisan flying—that’s one rank below max flight speed
  • Northrend, Kalimdor/Eastern Kingdoms, and Pandaria regional flying skills trained

That isn’t a bad list of items.  I’ll happily take one with the expansion, though I am not sure I will fork over $60 for any more after that.

Four 22 slot bags are more than any but my main have on them.  The gear is a decent start on things in Pandaria.  The flight boost, including opening up all the areas that require specific skills, certainly saves you some gold.  And then there is the boost to your primary professions and first aid.  No cooking, no fishing, and no archaeology I guess.  Have to level those up the old fashioned way.  But that is still enough to keep my Death Knight in the running as I try to decide which class to boost to 90.

So there we go.  This will have to keep us all busy… or not… in Azeroth through the summer.

Will Blizzard be able to keep the subscriptions from ebbing between now and then?

Monday Morning March Musings on WoW March 3, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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Here we sit.  It is the first Monday in March.  It is wet and cold, even here in California. (If only briefly. It should be 70 degrees by the end of the week again.)  Still, spring seems a long way off, and in the overcast I started musing about the state of various things in Azeroth.

Warlords of Draenor Progress

No word on beta.  No word on pre-orders.  And certainly no word on a potential launch date.

I know that Blizzard works at the speed of Blizzard… which, admittedly, is still at least 2x the speed of Valve… but we are in a winter of at least some mild discontent here.  People were chanting the dungeon finder group cheer, “Go go go go go!” when Blizzard announced Warlords of Draenor, hoping for a spring launch, pinning their dreams on Ghostcrawler’s “Feels like we are farther along…” statement during BlizzCon.  And there still isn’t much out there to grab onto.

While we are still effectively staring a tea leaves and trying to divine the future here, the only tangible benchmark for the current situation I could find… six months from start of beta to go live that seemed to work out for previous expansion… is starting to make my September 9th prediction seem a bit optimistic.  I am not ready to declare for 2015 yet, but I am starting to tap my fingers on the desk in a sign of impatience.

I know software projects always take longer than expected, but there are a lot of people looking at you right now Blizzard… and, subscriptions.  I suspect that we will see some new “just stick with us and we’ll give you a shiny” plan to show up if the fall starts to look dicey for the expansion.  After all, they still haven’t tied Hearthstone into a plan to shore up WoW subscriptions yet.

Veteran’s reward for insta-90

One attempt to keep people interested in WoW while waiting for Warlords of Draenor involved announcing that players would be given their insta-90 boost as soon as they pre-ordered the expansion (when we get to that), which will lead to some hard choices once that becomes available.  I’ve already started pondering which class to boost.

To help muddy the waters… or maybe it provides clarity… Blizzard has thrown in a hitch.   If you choose to boost up a character that is level 60 or higher, you also get max level professions to go along with it.  That suddenly makes the idea of boosting up a death knight a lot more interesting.  My current DK, sitting at level 69, was in part rolled up with the idea of getting the guild a jewel crafter, that being an under represented skill for us. (Engineering seems to be the thing with us, followed by alchemy.)  Getting a level cap DK AND getting jewel crafting in with the mix is quite tempting.  Then again, I returned to my warrior alt this past weekend, pushing into the 40s, so he could be in contention as well by the time push comes to shove.

Squishing Stats and Abilities

Blizzard put up a post about the upcoming squish which basically said they are doing it because they are afraid all those big numbers scare us.  There was some talk about the squish being required because of raid boss hit point inflation, which is admittedly climbing up there in digits.

Too close to fail this time

Too close to fail this time

That made me wonder how they were handling their data.  A signed 32-bit integer  will get you to two billion, and unsigned will double that.  But who knows how their software is structured and what made sense a decade back.  I once worked on a platform where, 15 years earlier, somebody decided that the magic cap would be 500.  Then processors got better and suddenly, one day, 500 seemed like a serious restriction.  But it was in the foundation of the product, to the point that it became easier just to hack together a method two run two copies of the main process to get around it.

Going along with the “too much for our players” thread, Blizz is also talking about paring down various class skills and racial abilities as well.

The promise is still there about being able to roll through older content as easily after the squish as before.  But I am still bouncing through things like Obsidian Sanctum for big bags now, because my ability to beat each mini-boss timer seems to rest entirely on my putting up huge DPS numbers.  Not sure how that will translate post-squish.

Inscription Recipes

One thing the wait for Warlords of Draenor has allowed me to do is catch up a bit on things left undone from past expansions.  For example, there are innscription recipes from Wrath of the Lich King.  There were something like 80+ recipes I needed to research through Northrend Inscription Research, a once per day recipe, along with Minor Inscription Research and the Pandaria version thereof.  I have been diligently logging on and doing that every day, to the point that there is now light at the end of the tunnel on that front.

A few Northrend recipes left

A few Northrend recipes left

That will leave me with just Pandaria recipes to pick up, most of which are drops within the expansion, so I will have to get out there and actually play the expansion.

Guild Level 21

Our guild made it to level 21 this past weekend.

TCLevel21

This turned out to be a surprisingly important level for many of us because it unlocked the Ride Like The Wind guild perk, which boosts the fight speed between flight points by 25%.  And, as much as it helps to spend less time on the bird crossing great distances, I think the real problem was that a number of us were tired of being passed all the time by people in guilds who had that perk.  We wanted to be fast too!  And now we are.

Factions in Pandaria

Along with the inscription research, I have been pretty good about working on factions in Pandaria.  Blizzard really sank the hook on that front by giving them all mounts you can only buy when you hit exalted.  But it hasn’t been all that much of a grind.  I just can’t do more than one or two at a time.  Some were quick, silly fun, like the Lorewalkers.  Some of the dailies were fun and easy, like the Golden Lotus.  I still do a couple of their dailies if I am in the neighborhood.  Fun is fun, and 20g is 20g.  But I am getting down to the last few factions now.  I am going to finish up The Klaxxi this week, which has gone kind of slow.  (And how many bugs do I need to kill?)

Once The Klaxxi are down, I will be left with the Kirin-Tor Offensive (which I guess is Jaina Proudmoore and Isle of Thunder), The August Celestials (I have no idea where they live), the Shado-pan Assault (which I started on a bit), Emperor Shaohao (which means Timeless Isle), and the Black Prince.

I’ve gotten far enough ahead in trillium production for living steel that I have been doing some of the farming dailies for faction, just to help move things along.  We will see how long I remain motivated for mounts.  Emperor Shaohao might be left behind, as the charm of Timeless Isle wore off rather quickly.

Pseudo Server Merges

Blizzard has been carrying on with their connected realms operation, where servers are joined together in order to boost population numbers.  The linkage is just shy of a server merge, so nobody has to change their character or guild name. (Good news for the 200+ guilds named “Bloodbath and Beyond.”)

This past month our server, Eldre’Thalas, was linked up with the server Korialstrasz.  I wasn’t sure we really needed that.  Eldre’Thalas seemed to be humming along pretty well on its own, though that can be hard to determine.  There was already cross-realm shared zones and all of the various grouping and matching services work across multiple realms, so by this point I think we’re all pretty used to seeing people running around with a different realm appended to their name.

The one place that was still realm exclusive was the auction house.  So that is where I actually could see the change.  I run the Auctioneer addon to scan the auction house and keep track of pricing.  The number of auctions… and thus the time it took to run the scan… pretty much doubled with the change.  That, and the price of some key commodities, living steel for example, dropped in price due to an increase in sellers undercutting each other.

We’ll see what happens when Warlords of Draenor comes out and we get a surge of players logging in more often.

Warlords of Draenor to be a $60 Expansion? And Something About Insta-90s February 25, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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39 comments

A controversial bit of information slipped out last week when Blizzard accidentally let the “boost to level 90″ option show up in the in-game store at one point during patch day.  The error was quickly fixed, but the word was out.  WoW Insider had a screen shot indicating that Blizzard was not only officially on-board with insta-levels as a paid character service, but that the price to get to level 90 appeared to be $60.

The alleged price of level 90

The alleged price of level 90

There were discussions on various sites as to whether that price was right or not and whether it was too much or not enough.  Lots of theories were put up that seemed most based on who the assumed audience was for such a service really was.

My gut feeling on the price previously was that it had to be more than any current individual character service… so greater than $25… but less than the cost of the Warlords of Draenor expansion.  After all, if you made it more than the price of the expansion, which comes with an insta-90 character boost, why wouldn’t I just buy multiple copies of the expansion to boost multiple characters if the expansion costs less?  Since I assumed that the expansion would be the usual $40, I pegged the level boost at $35.

Over in the comment thread at Herding Cats I added in two additional thoughts:

Conspiracy theory: It will be $60 for exactly that reason, to push more WoD boxes to set an expansion sales record.

Fear: This is actually a signal that the expansion will be $60.

Today however, Blizzard has been over talking to EuroGamer about the price point, defending $60 for the insta-level 90 in terms of maintaining the value of leveling up yourself, and one of the first items put out there in the article is that the expansion itself will be $60. [Addendum: As noted in the comments below, EuroGamer has since deleted that from the article without any notice of a correction.  Because EuroGamer.]

And my initial response was, “Really? We’re going $60… the defacto price of a new AAA game… for an expansion now?”

See you guys in the fall?

Orc Chieftains don’t work cheap

The sad part is that I will pay the price anyway.  Heck, I was already toying with the idea of the collector’s edition and I never buy the collector’s edition.  But with past CE’s being double the price of the standard ($40/$80) I have to wonder if Blizzard is now going to go all the way to $120 for the CE, or just cap it at $99.99 to stay within the realm of sanity. (Said the guy who bought the EVE Online Second Decade Collector’s Edition.)

$60 for an expansion.

On the one hand, you can always argue that I will get at least as much entertainment value out of the expansion as I will from any new AAA game you care mention.  On the other hand, I am also paying that subscription fee every month to play, so it isn’t like I am not supporting Blizzard enough as it is.

You charge what you think the market will bear.  Of course, into the mix is the fact that expansions aren’t holding their price point nearly as long.  Burning Crusade was still $40 a year after it shipped.  Mists of Pandaria was on sale at half price a few months after it launched.  As I have been trained by Steam sales on this sort of thing, I now have to ask myself if I need the expansion on day one, or if I can wait… as I did with MoP… until the price comes down.

I don’t actually need a level 90.  I will easily have three by the time the expansion hits.  Maybe they will throw something else in with the pre-order to sweeten the deal a bit.  Or maybe I can just think of it as buying the expansion and getting two-thirds off of my first insta-90. ($40 + $20)

What do you think?  $60 for an expansion?  Even with a level 90 boost?

As for selling the insta-level 90 for $60, I am somewhat indifferent.  It isn’t a service I expect to use… I cannot even decide what to do with the one I will get with WoD… and I find any argument about it being too expensive to be more foot stomping than anything else.  How much should a level 90 character cost?  It is a luxury item after all.  And anybody returning to the game who wants a level 90 will likely buy WoD to get one along with the new content.

And what happens when the price of the expansion comes down, as it inevitably will?  Eventually Warlords of Draenor will be $40 or $20 on sale and then will end up as part of the World of Warcraft Battle Chest.  What happens to insta-90s then?  Will Blizz remove the option from the expansion at some point?

I suppose we shall see how this plays out.

Addendum: I like where Ars Technica says “Only 67 cents a level” in their Economic Reality post.

Quote of the Day – More Pessimistic Than I About Draenor February 12, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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9 comments

There’s also no mention of expecting Warlords of Draenor to boost 2014 sales. It feels natural enough to infer that the expansion won’t launch until next year. While this expectation wasn’t exactly uncommon already, it seems at least a little more credible now.

Richard Aihoshi, MMORPG.com post looking at Blizzard’s Q4 financials

And I was called out for predicting early September for the Warlords of Draenor expansion and then feeling that Blizzard might have been hinting at that themselves.

See you guys in the fall?

See you guys in the fall, right?

The whole post strikes me as working to try and take a negative spin on anything Blizzard said.  No doubt there is some link bait appeal for the site in that. (It worked on me.)  But I cannot recall anybody saying before that Warlords of Draenor might not ship until 2015.  Is that something new?  Has that been going about?  I mean, I thought people who were calling April for the expansion back during BlizzCon were way off base, but this seems a bit of an excess in the other direction.

Of course, he didn’t say where that expectation wasn’t exactly uncommon, so maybe it wasn’t uncommon in his own mind.  That would fit in with his whole post.

No Warlords of Draenor until 2015?  Credible or not?

I am sticking with September 9th… of this year.

Will Warlords of Draenor Pre-orders Help Hold the Line on WoW Subscriptions? February 6, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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4 comments

The news is out.  My prediction from the beginning of the year actually came to pass.  Amazing, right?

There was apparently enough excitement/interest generated by the Warlords of Draenor announcement at BlizzCon that Blizzard saw a small uptick in Word of Warcraft subscriptions in Q4 of 2013.

See you guys in the fall?

Thanks for the help guys!

As part of general good news from Activision-Blizzard, subscription numbers were reported up, going from 7.6 million subscribers to 7.8 million;  a small percentage for them, but enough players to float any number of other MMOs into profitability.

Now my prediction went on to say that subscribers would then drain off slowly until the expansion actually shipped.  That assumed that Blizzard wouldn’t offer up anything special, being engaged in the Diablo III revamp and expansion plus Hearthstone plus whatever else.

But then Blizzard announced that you would be able to use your insta-90 character boost as soon as you pre-ordered the expansion, and that the pre-orders would be available “soon.”  That got people talking about what class to boost.  But it also opened up another possibility.

My gut says that if they could get the pre-orders in place by March 1, they have a chance to get another modest increase in subscribers as people come back to see what life is like at level cap.  And with those people invested in the expansion, they might be able to hold those increases until the actual ship date… which I still think is further out that many hope.

What do you think?  Will Blizzard be able to keep the number steady, or even grow them slightly, between now and whenever Warlords of Draenor ships?

The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost? January 24, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, polls, World of Warcraft.
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18 comments

The question of the hour in our guild is, “What class should I level up to 90 with the Warlords of Draenor expansion?”  For some of us, it represents an opportunity to change up the group and play something new.  For others… well, me… who have changed up their character a couple of times already, it is still a chance to try something new after all these years without having to go through the work of catching up.

Through the years in Azeroth

Through the years in Azeroth

This question became all the more pressing when Blizzard announced that your free insta-90 boost would be available as soon as you pre-ordered the expansion. (If you pre-order the collector’s edition, you also get the pet and the mount and whatever else in-game they offer.)  Leaving aside the “that sure sounds like we won’t be getting WoD any time soon” aspect of the announcement, it seems like we could be granted our level 90 boost in the near future. (My pre-ordering as soon as it becomes an option seems per-ordained.  I am pre-pared… or something.)

So this seems like a perfect opportunity to bore people and start arguments by looking at the classes in World of Warcraft and my relationship with them.   And I might as well break them up into arbitrary categories to further horrify people.  So on with the debacle!

Already 90s

Classes out of the running for an insta-90 boost because I already have one at level 90, or will have one there before WoD ships. A look at what I guess I like in WoW.

Paladin – Back in March 2005, when I finally broke down and bought World of Warcraft, having been otherwise devoted to EverQuest II since November 2004, the first character I made was a dwarf paladin.

That was a mistake.  The paladin’s life was a hard one back then.  The only ranged attack you could pull with was limited to undead and demons.  Judgement was a strange beast.  Their epic mount quest was a serious chore, and no cheaper in the end for all the work.  Warriors were better tanks, priests were better healers, and just about anybody was better DPS.  The joke was that a paladin never dies, but neither do his foes.  Add in the fact that the snowy dwarven starter area that was the least interesting of the bunch and that I started out hating the dwarf character models and you might begin to understand why it took me some time to warm to WoW.  I deleted that character after not too long.

However, I did return to the class later, and stuck with it in the end.  Paladins have evolved over time and I have been happy enough playing one.  Picking up engineering as a profession filled in some of the class gaps back in the day.  I was always fond of the wrist mounted rocket launcher enchant that engineers could add.  The character I consider my “main” in the game is Vikund, my one and only paladin. (Ignore that low level blood elf! He means nothing!)  He was my first to level 60, 70, 80, 85, and 90.  He’s the guy, my “do all the things” character.  I don’t need another paladin.

Hunter – The go-to class for a lot of people when they want to solo.  I have always enjoyed the class, I have several on various servers.  If my pally was first to all those levels, my hunter, Tistann, was second.  He just hit level 90 this week.  I have always enjoyed the pet taming and interaction aspects of the class.  And while people often groan aloud when they see a beast mastery hunter show up in their Dungeon Finder group, you can be quite competitive with other DPS if you play right.  But I don’t need another one at level 90 just yet.

Druid – I think everybody has a class they are dumb for.  I would have told you that, for me, the class is hunters.  Then I noticed I had five druids over level 60, including two above level 80 on the same server in the same faction.  So as Earl has his warriors, and my mother has a collection of hunters, I have an army of druids.  There is a lot to like.  I tell people I have two druids on the same server so I can play all four druid specs… druids are so special that they get four specs… but I think I really just like flight form.  I jump off of high places just to invoke flight form mid-fall.  It is too cool.  But with two druids in the 80s, at least one of which will be level 90 before WoD drops, I don’t need to use my boost on this class.

The Mid-Level Blues

Classes I have worked on at various points, but which have never quite made it to level cap.

Death Knight – This seems to be cheating a bit as Death Knights start at level 55 and are close to 60 by the time they get done with their starter zone.  Mid-level at birth, depending on where you set the bar for “mid-level,” I never really thought much about DKs until I was pushing druid #2 through Outland and Northrend as a healer.  Then I noted how durable they were and figured that maybe this was a class even I could play the tank in.  So I rolled one up and he currently sits at level 64.  My main problem with him is that he is in 5th place after my pally, hunter, and two druids, so I do not get around to him very often.  But DKs totally seem like a class I could play up to 90… once the two druids are there… so perhaps it would be a waste to use an insta-90 on mine.

Priest – The first thing I rolled up when our old TorilMUD guild finally said, “screw this!” to EverQuest II, just as Kingdom of the Sky squelched onto the scene, and headed to WoW, was a priest.  This never quite worked out.  For me, a priest is a cleric in the D&D vein, wearing heavy armor, wielding a mace mostly for show, and dispensing heals while taking repeated punches to the face.  So it was in TorilMUD, EverQuest, and EverQuest II.

In WoW a priest is a holy guy that wears cloth vestments.  On what sort of Bizarro world does that make sense?

Plus we never really formed a group where I could be the healer, so my priest made it solo to about Stranglethorn Vale before I said, “To Hell with this!” and just focused on my pally and hunter.  The pally was the cleric I really wanted to play in any case.  Now though, with Dungeon Finder, having another healer around wouldn’t be a bad thing, and I am still pretty sure I wouldn’t want to level one up.  So there is possibility here.

Rogue – I actually rolled up a rogue for the instance group back in late 2006.  Blintz was going to be our DPS, lockpicker, and stealthy scout.  He is in at least one of the group shots at the top of the post.

And then as soon as the group hit 40, I swapped out Blintz for my paladin and barely ever played him again.  The rogue class and I aren’t very compatible.  Attacks are very positional, I never had a good feel for the skills, and I can never quite use stealth right.  These are things I also struggle with as a feral druid, but at least with the druid I can claim status as a backup tank and healer when Ula and Bung are blowing me away on the DPS chart.  So I am not sure being a level 90 rogue would change any of that.

Still, I keep thinking about him.  Every once in a while I will play him for a bit.  He has managed to make it to level 46 in the last six year.  But is a level a year really progress?

Never Got Very Far

And then there is everything else.

Warrior – I’ve rolled up any number of warriors over the years, but never found the time to focus on one.  Way back in the day there were drawbacks to being a warrior, at least if you didn’t have a healer along.  You needed potions, bandages, and lots of food around.  I chose a paladin to avoid all of that, and of course ended up with another set of problems.  Later on, when that was less of a big deal, I did tinker with warriors now and again.  But like the Death Knight, warriors were never high enough on my list to get enough play.  And the question remains, what would I do with one at level 90 is I had one?

Shaman – I recall leveling up a shaman once into the 20s, but I can’t remember when or on what server.  I think I was horde.  Maybe.  Clearly the class never stuck.  As with warriors, back in the day the class used to be a bit of a trial to get used to.  Later, with things smoothed out, it was simpler, but it still didn’t do anything I couldn’t already do, which is what you get when you play two classes that can do it all I guess.

Warlock – I rolled up a warlock once, but only played a couple of levels in.  This was back when warlocks were completely OP, as opposed to just being mostly OP.  Still, everybody I know who has a level cap warlock can burn stuff down like no other, so there is some allure there, even if I have never been good at the DPS caster role.  But if Bung decides he wants use his insta-90 boost to swap out his warlock and try something new, I might be up for the challenge.  The utility value of warlocks, with health stones, soul stones, and a variety of pets, is high enough that I would feel useful.  I’d just have to learn the class, though you could argue that I need to do so even with the classes I already have at level 90.

Mage – I do have a mage who is in the 30s.  He was part of the Worgen instance group we rolled up for Cataclysm.  I never really liked him all that much.  In part because of the Worgen thing… which I could stand until I found out the racial mount was just them running around on all fours… but also because of the “I’m not really a cloth wearing caster type,” which I have mentioned above.  I do not find the mage all that alluring as a class, so even if Ula decided to trade out, I am not sure I would step up to play one again.

Monk – And, finally, there is the latest class added to Azeroth.  I rolled one up and played it for a bit when we first jumped back into WoW last August, but wasn’t really fond of it, so I never bothered to get him out of the Pandaren starting area.  So I went and made a hunter… and a druid… because that is apparently how I roll.  The one thing that the monk has going for it is that it does fit my pattern of playing classes that can be all the roles.  Paladins and druids can play tank, healer, or DPS, and so can a monk.  If I play to that type, the monk should be good.  But, as I said, I didn’t enjoy the class when it started and, for no good reason, Pandaren monk tanks annoy me.  I cannot explain why.  So this is not a sure thing.

Make a Choice Already

So those are the options.  And, honestly, I am not sure what I will choose.  It likely won’t be until the very day the option becomes available… and maybe not even then.  There will be a point when I will press the button and do this, and I guess  I will just stew until then.

I will say that, at the moment, the leading contenders are the warlock, the monk, and the death knight.  My gut response way back when WoD was announced was a warlock.  But I could easily be swayed elsewhere.  I will be watching what other people say on the topic.  I see that Liore already has a post on this.  I expect that others will follow suit.

In the mean time, I’ll throw out a poll asking what you would do.  You can, of course, attempt to influence my decision in the comments.

Did Blizzard Just Hint at the Warlords of Draenor Ship Date? January 17, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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It’s the New Year, and 2014 is going to be a big one for World of Warcraft. This November marks the game’s 10-year anniversary and the 20-year anniversary of the entire Warcraft series. We’re looking forward to celebrating these milestones with everyone, but in the meantime, we’ve got a few Warlords of Draenor–related updates to share.

-Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor Scouting Report Post

Okay, it is a stretch, but kicking off a Warlords of Draenor post with references to events coming up in November?  It is enough to make you go, “Hrmm…”

See you guys in the fall?

See you guys in the fall?

Plus, when you add in the fact that the post goes on to say that now would be a good time to opt-in for the closed beta, which means that it is probably at least weeks, if not a month or more away, and the timeline for the Warlords of Draenor expansion starts to look more and more like something we’ll see when summer has faded and autumn is upon us.

My 2014 prediction for the expansion release is September 9th.  Am I looking warmer now?

And, while we’re on the subject of predictions, Blizzard is talking about finding a way to sell players additional insta-level 90 boosts.  That is another on my list. (And it sounds like Blizz is going to give you your insta-90 as soon as you pre-order… once pre-orders are available. No waiting for the expansion to launch.)

In the mean time, I still have plenty to catch up on in the game.