Tag Archives: Warlords of Draenor

In Search of Hypnocroak

There were only four of us on last Saturday night, Earlthecat, Skronk, Bigbut, and myself, playing as Tokarev.

That meant postponing the question from last time, how will Draenor work out for a part of five playing through, to embrace the question of the moment, which was how will Draenor work out for a party of four playing through that doesn’t want to get too far ahead of a fifth member who is out for the week.

Skronk, who had been thinking of this in advance, suggested that we roam Shadowmoon Valley in search of rares and whatever else we might encounter.  That sounded like a reasonable plan, so we ran with it.

We met up right outside of the garrison border line and hit that “suggested three player but you can probably solo it” Elekk quest that is right there.  Knocking that out, we moved on into the zone.

Initially we were following Skonk, who was looking for rare locations in a browser window while we roamed hither and yon.  After a bit I grabbed an addon, MyRareFinder, that marks all the rares on your map and marks them off once you have killed them. (They are only good for one pass, after which they are just regular mobs.)

MyRareFinder map

MyRareFinder map

Of course, in an age of all ground travel, having something marked on the map doesn’t automatically mean you know how to get there.  In fact, I am beginning to suspect that we won’t get flying mounts in Draenor for a long while as Blizzard clearly spent some time making things a bit tricky when traveling on ground mounts.

In the north of the zone mobs were on one plateau or another and we had to find the right path.

At the Anguish Fortress, which was guarded by a forcefield because none of had done that quest with Khadgar yet, we had to find our way around into the place through a back door in order to get to Voidseer Kalurg.

Levitate let us drop right in on him

Levitate let us drop right in on him

I wonder if, when I do get to that quest, if I can just tell Khadgar that forcefield is no big deal because the Iron Horde left the back door open?

But our biggest challenge of the night was getting to the rare named Hypnocroak.  He isn’t just a Futurama reference, he is also a jumping puzzle, and one it took us a while to find.

We went to the spot on the map where his location is marked, which is up on a plateau, in a lake.  However, he was nowhere to be seen, though we could, when in the correct position, see his icon on the mini map.

The lake had a waterfall at one end that led down to another water area.  Standing at the edge of the waterfall, however, put his icon on the mini map behind us.  So we decided he must be behind the waterfall.

The waterfall

The waterfall

Standing on the edge of the waterfall, we thought we could just glimpse a cave opening.  I tried to see if I could get to it by dropping first onto the trunk of a tree sticking out from the waterfall, then jump to the mouth of the cave.  That did not quite work out as I expected.

Tokarev, dead on the rocks behind the waterfall

Tokarev, dead on the rocks behind the waterfall

But from there I could at least see the cave.  It was also clear that the cave was situated in a way to prevent us from dropping in from above.  Instead, we would have to reach the cave from below via a jumping puzzle.

Another corpse on the rocks

Another corpse on the rocks

As it turned out, I fell to my death at just about a perfect spot, as it marked the point you had to get to on one of the rocks in order to be able to successfully jump to the next. A death not in vain.

Scrambling and jumping and falling and trying again, I managed to bull my way up and into the cave without really being able to describe how I did it.

Looking down from the cave

Looking down from the cave

Earl made it up next, then Bigbut managed the last jump and was up in the cave as well, which left only Skronk working his way up.  And he was having problems, to the point that we were beginning to discuss whether or not this was a short race issue.  As the dwarf in a group with two Draenei and a human, Skronk was at a serious height deficit.

Eventually though, he was able to get past the two big jumps, which were really all that was standing in his way.  With a dwarf you have to time them just right.  So he made it up and we were able to slay Toxicroak.  His loot was a toy that lets you hypnotize critters so that they will follow you around.

The group in the mouth of the cave

The group in the mouth of the cave

From there, Skronk hit us all with levitate again and we were able to cruise on down to the water below and float to our next objective.

Levitation party

Levitation party

Levitate is kind of a creepy way to travel.  You just adopt a casual pose and float off in the direction you’re headed.  There is no look of “I’m moving” on your character.  It is, rather, one of some indifference.

From there we went on to hunt down a few more rares.

They all have their own special gimmick

They all have their own special gimmick

But it wasn’t much long before I called it a night.  We managed to find some rares, we all added a follower to our garrison, and we at least picked up the quest chain that unlocks the level 2 town hall upgrade, though we did not finish it up.  I went and did that the next day and ran the upgrade.

No a bad evening.  We will see if we can get back to the party of five next time.

Nagrand – The Moment

There I was last night, turning in a quest when it happened, I made it to level 100 with my first character in Draenor.

Level 100

Level 100

Certainly not the fastest run to 100, but it still seems like it went by pretty quickly, given I how much I dawdled and played other games, plus spending a few days reviving my computer.

One benefit of moving a bit more slowly than some is that I had more time to accumulate garrison resources, so I was able to jump right in and upgrade my Town Hall to level 3.

Garrison Resources and Gold

Garrison Resources and Gold

Now I have a whole bunch of things to unlock and upgrade there.  I have to work on some pets to take on the three battle pets in the garrison, a requirement to unlock the menagerie.  I have a few level 25 pets, but as with Pokemon, you can wander through the world and succeed with any number of combinations, but once you get to a boss-like fight, you need the right set.

A Table for Five in Draenor Please?

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we finally managed to get everybody at home, online, on coms, and in World of Warcraft together, so we could face the specter of how this expansion was going to work out for us.

Chieftain Cheat Sheet

Are you ready?

Of course, we didn’t really have an answer for that, so we did what most people do and started rounding up the details in hopes that the big picture would resolve itself when the time was ripe.

So we spent some time working out who would be playing what in Draenor.  Mike was tired of Bungholio the warlock, a member of the team since we formed up in 2006.  Actually, all the characters on the team have remained static since 2006 except mine, which I am sure says something about somebody.  Anyway, he had his insta-90 option to hand, so we had to run through who might want to play what class and what role.

Nobody really wanted to change roles badly, so Earlthecat remained the tank… and he’ll be fearsome with his Garrosh heirloom sword… and Skronk held onto the healing role, while the rest of us stayed on as DPS.  Chris had Ula and Scsla into Draenor, so she could stick with mage or go with pally power for her character.

I was keen to drop the feral druid… after playing a rogue from scratch to level 88, a feral druid feels like a pale imitation, flight form aside… but haven’t really committed to what I will play.  I could go hunter or I could catch my rogue up to the group.  For the evening though I decided to get out my Draenei death knight, Tokarev to run with the group.

And, after some deliberation and discussions around flexibility, Mike went with a Draenei monk named BigBut.

He isn’t big on the role play compatible names, but I think we had figured that out after Bungholio, Shooty, Chicken, and TruckNut.

Anyway, with that… if not fully decided, at least as settled as it needed to be for the moment… we moved on to the next task, which was just getting into Draenor.  We were not very well  coordinated on that front.  Rather than running through the starter zone together, we ended up strung across various bits of the intro.

Assault all around the Dark Portal

Assault all around the Dark Portal

That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  We all got to go at our own pace.  I, on my third trip through, was probably less interested in the story or the fights than Mike, who was both playing a new class and seeing the story unfold for the first time.  I held back a bit, in case he needed help, but he seemed to be doing okay, so I moved along, catching up to Skronk.

Tokarev and Skronk

Tokarev and Skronk

I was pleasantly surprised that the game did not duplicate our followers for that stage.  I wonder if we each saw the other with different companions.  The game was also less punishing of running solo quests in a group than it has been in past zones.  Not everything counted across the group… we each had to pick up our own pile of weapons at one point… but kills and the like seemed to work.

When we arrived at the final battle, Skronk asked what would happen if we just didn’t shoot anything from the giant tank.  Would the quest fail?  Would the bomb carts destroy us?

Bomb Cart

Bomb Cart

We didn’t quite have the nerve to try.  However, I did test to see what happens if, when you are supposed to run for the docks, you instead take off at a course 90 degrees off from your intended destination.  Once you stray too far, you get teleported all the way back to the dwarven quest giver at the Blackrock Quarry, about twice as far back as seemed necessary.  So now we know.

Eventually I stopped screwing around and, like everybody else, made it to the docks to be whisked away to Shadowmoon Landing and the first “being there” achievement.

TFFWelcomeToDraenor

It occurs to me now that the portal icon on that achievement is green, which was the Burning Crusade portal color, and not red, the Warlords of Draenor portal color.  Where is Red Shirt guy when you need him?

Anyway, we ran off to found our garrisons and what not.

To be built on the spot: A Garrison

To be built on the spot: A Garrison

Everybody landed at least at level 91 by the end of the evening, with level 92 being declared the “do not pass” mark.

So there we were.  Op success.  Mission accomplished.  Live and in Draenor.

But we still do not really have an answer to the big question, how this expansion is going to play out if we try to take it on as a full group.  My own, perhaps ill-formed impression, is that Blizzard has mostly punted on the leveling game and has attempted to move content to the level cap where it will at least stay somewhat relevant to players over the life of the expansion.  I was a bit heartened to see that there were at least a few quests about that recommended you tackle them with three players… or I was heartened until I realized I could solo them despite that recommendation.

So there are things to do, quests to run, rares to stalk and all of that.  But what should a team of five really expect if they want to move through the expansion together?

Another Busy Night for Blizzard

I don’t know if it is a continuation of the Warlords of Draenor surge, the Blizzard store sale (where I am tempted to finally pick up StarCraft II for $10), or just an evening where everybody wants to play online games, but I ran into a new type of queue.

Battle.net queue

Battle.net queue

Fortunately, Blizzard was smart enough to not make Battle.net the gatekeeper for their games.  You can click on the “go offline” option at the bottom of that alert (not shown) and then bring up World of Warcraft and log in the old fashioned way.  Going that route I was able to get into game.  Unfortunately, there were other issues.  I seemed to be okay in my garrison, but when I flew out to the Spires of Arak to pick up where I left of question (but not fishing), Vikund got stuck for a couple minutes just trying to summon his mount.

He looks like he has an evil plan...

He looks like he has an evil plan…

It was then that I looked at the network status and saw the ping time was exceeding 2K ms.  As I was writing this Blizzard CS reported that there was a DDoS attack under way.

It looks like a night to play something else.

 

Moving Slowly in Warlords of Draenor

So here’s the thing.  Despite the last week being mostly talk about the expansion and such, I haven’t really been playing a lot more World of Warcraft.

Part of that is because I was binging pretty hard on the game during the two weeks preceding the launch.  Such a sprint usually leads to some time away from game.  So, in the midst of the big launch weekend I spent time in EVE Online getting myself home from the last deployment.  I also spent a couple hours messing around with the Isle of Refuge prestige home in EverQuest II.  And I downloaded and played the demo for Combat Mission: Red Thunder, the eastern front expansion to the revised Combat Mission series.  As with the original series, the Normandy scenarios don’t excite me, but the eastern front is wild.  I many need to buy this when I have some free time.

Not that I did not find time to play World of Warcraft.  Given the binge of the last couple weeks, I probably played more of it than I might have otherwise because of the expansion.  But I am clearly in no hurry.  I took some time out to level up my rogue, who made it to 88 over the weekend, getting me closer to having four alts ready for Draenor.  I even did some pet battles, finally getting my first trio up to level 25.

In Draenor itself I have been moseying along at a more leisurely pace, trying to move Vikund forward on a broad front, which means taking some time out from strict adventuring to cover other things.  As such, he just made it to level 94 last night.

WDLevel94

If you were stuck behind queues all weekend, that probably seems like a lot of progress.  On a server that was open for most of the launch, that wasn’t too tough.  I think Earl got there with his alt in the first 24 hours… and then he made a new alt because he has a friend who is giving WoW a try, so he is off playing with him.  But you can find people who have hit level 100 pretty readily at this point.  Too fast?

As for Vikund, in following the story, that puts him through the first pass in Shadowmoon Valley, through much of Gorgrond, and back into Shadowmoon Valley, with an outpost setup in Talador.

The Draenor you have

Draenor Zones

That’s been fun.  The quests have been good.  I think I have finally gotten used to the little hand icon having replaced the little cog icon for things you need to click on during a quest.  I realize that has been in place since Mists of Pandaria, but age sometimes means it takes longer to get used to change.

The zones look really good, certainly when compared to how things looked back in the days of Outland.  I have always been a bit biased against The Burning Crusade in part because the zones did not really click with me.  Hellfire Peninsula, as a place to start, set a negative tone for me on looks alone.  The Warlords of Draenor zones so far have been stop and gawk good.  I am also a bit jealous of my daughter who has both horde and alliance level 90 characters to play.  As always, the horde architecture, in their towns and garrisons, looks interesting and exotic while the human themed alliance garrisons look rather staid and maybe a bit dull.  I might need to work on a horde alt at some point.

The lack of flying mounts has been interesting.  It has certainly put me back in touch with my collection of ground mounts and I have selected a few that seem appropriate for the expansion so far.  For example, talbuk mounts fit fight in with Shadowmoon Valley, where wild talbuk roam.

Cobalt riding talbuk

Cobalt riding talbuk

Getting back to ground mounts also exposed what having constant access to flying mounts for nearly year does to me.  I hit 90 in Pandaria with Vikund almost exactly a year ago, and at this point I have three alts there with him.

At first, navigating around the new expansion, once I was out in Shadowmoon Valley, seemed really difficult.  I was having a really tough time getting to locations for quests and such.  I was ready to chalk this up to some sort of Blizzard design flaw.  Then I went back and played Trianis for a bit, running him through the Jade Forest quests in Pandaria, and noticed I was having the same problems.  Basically, I had become so used to flying that I was automatically just heading straight towards objectives, oblivious of what the map might indicate, and running into all sorts of obstacles.

So I am back to looking at the map now, charting a route, looking for paths to follow and landmarks to use for navigation.

I have also been working on trade skills.  I managed to get all of them unlocked for Draenor so I can level them up to 700 now.

Vikund's Various Professions

Vikund’s Various Professions

I am getting used to how trade skills work and new recipes get unlocked.  No more visits to the skill trainer.

I am way out ahead on mining, thanks largely to the the mine being unlocked in my garrison.  I upgraded that to level 2 which yielded a huge jump in ore plus there are now mining carts scattered about the mine every day to harvest as well.

Mining cart fun

Mining cart fun

I have also been dumping the draenic stone I have been pulling up mining into work orders that turn it into ore, so I am well supplied with ore for now.  I then use some of that ore to feed work orders at the engineering works to turn that into gearspring parts, the universal engineering component for Draenor.  I am saving those up for a Blingtron 5000 at the moment.

And, to my joy, I also unlocked the fishing shack, which involved me running out to do a fishing quest.

On the Shadowmoon Valley shore

On the Shadowmoon Valley shore

There was a pond in my garrison, but until the fishing shack was built, all it yielded was junk with a value of 1 copper.  Now I can fish there.  And I was able to upgrade the fishing shack to level 2 almost immediately.

Hey, upgraded fishing shack

Hey, upgraded fishing shack

Having the fishing shack not only opened up fishing in the garrison, but also gets me a daily fishing quest so I have a reason to take fishing on the road.

Fishing in Gorgrond

Fishing in Gorgrond

I also managed to fish up a blue quality fishing pole early on, which gives me +100 fishing skill.  A hell of a catch, and enough to make me go back to actually using a fishing pole for the bonuses.  I stopped doing that in Pandaria as you no longer need to equip a pole to do simple fishing.  But for a +100 skill boost I will trade out my weapon for a pole.  I just have to remember I have it equipped.  Last night I slowly beat several mobs to death with my fishing pole.  That won’t do, I might damage the pole!

Finishing in turn put me on to cooking.  That took a bit with the new process where by you have to collect a stack of a particular fish… anywhere from 5 to 20… before you can process them to extract meat for cooking.  The reagents bank tab on Vikund is now filling up with partial stacks of various fish. (Also, I am about ready to purchase a second reagents tab.  I love the concept, and it is the one place where I use the sort button religiously.  But I am a pack rat and the damn thing is nearly full already.   Am I going to have to wait until the next expansion for that.)

Cooking the basic recipes gets you new recipes, but I am now waiting for some recipes to take advantage of some of the meat I have stocked up in the reagents tab as well.  It all comes down to bag and bank space again.

So despite my uncertainty as to how the whole garrison thing fits into the world, it is keeping me busy and engaged.  I am also keeping my followers busy, though it looks like I need to take some care not to focus too much on leveling up a specific follower, as the highest level follower seems to drive the level of missions you get to run.  With a level 97 follower I realized that I needed to use the two level 92 followers in my pack lest they be always at a disadvantage.

Overall, the whole expansion has been good for me so far.  I am enjoying it even if I only feel compelled to move forward slowly.  There is lots to do, but I haven’t seen anything yet from Blizzard to indicate that we won’t be hanging out in Draenor for another two year stretch.

Orc Villains, Best Villains – WoW Passes 10 Million Subscribers Again

IRVINE, Calif.—November 19, 2014—On November 13, millions of Azeroth’s champions enlisted for the war against the Iron Horde with the launch of World of Warcraft®: Warlords of Draenor, the fifth expansion to the world’s #1 subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game.* Blizzard Entertainment today announced that as of the first 24 hours of the expansion’s availability, more than 3.3 million copies had sold-through and the game’s global subscriber base had passed 10 million, with growth across all major regions.

Blizzard Press Release

It looks like orcs might trump pandas (and destroying the old world) when it comes to igniting the WoW player base.

Chieftain Cheat Sheet

Warlords who get it done

I am not sure what it means when you have more than 10 million subscribers, up 2.6 million in the last month and a half, but are talking about moving 3.3 million units of the expansion in the first 24 hours.  Does that 3.3 million number include all the early sales?  Is that an indication of what the US/EU player population is, as the rest of the world was waiting for the expansion to drop? (It launched in South Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau today according to the press release.)

Subscriber numbers (what constitutes a subscriber is mentioned in the press release) had dropped to 6.8 million in the second quarter of 2014, down further from the slight dip to 7.6 million in the first quarter when the first blush excitement for the expansion had passed, and which was likely only that small because Blizzard said they sold through 1.5 million pre-orders of Warlords of Draenor back then to people interested in getting their insta-90s early.  Then in the third quarter subscriptions bounced back, hitting 7.4 million, with the announcement of a date for the expansion.

Now WoW is back above the 10 million mark, something we have not seen since the post-Cataclysm climb down from the 12 million subscriber high water mark before pandas appeared on the scene. (First quarter of 2012 the subscribers were listed as 10.1 million.)

Now, where will the number be in a month and a half, when we close out the fourth quarter of 2014?

Addendum: Visual aids from Twitter on subscriptions.

I am surprised that WotLK held as many subscribers as it did over its two year run.  I mean, I sat there and ground out everything in the Argent Tournament during that second year, I just didn’t think so many other people did as well.

Blizzard Offers Up 5 Days for Draenor Launch Problems

As I suspected, once things calmed down a bit Blizzard came out with some compensation for the troubles people were experiencing with the launch of Warlords of Draenor.  This was posted in the forums earlier today.

WoW Community:

I know how much everyone was looking forward to this expansion, and once you were able to get in and start having fun, all the comments I’ve seen indicate that this is one of our best yet. But the quality of the content does not excuse the subpar launch experience we delivered, and I apologize for that.

The first two days of the expansion were not a great experience, with many of you facing high queues or significant gameplay problems. We worked around the clock to tackle the demand issues and technical challenges, and fortunately things started looking better on Saturday. While millions of you were able to get in and play over the weekend, with many already reaching level 100, others still ran into very lengthy queues, particularly on the highest-population realms.

To help address this, we’ve expanded the new instancing tech we used to improve queues on Saturday and we’re continuing the process of applying that to raise the capacity of all realms again. This will result in approximately double the prelaunch capacity on each realm, which should greatly reduce queue times for most realms if not eliminate queues altogether.

In recognition of the difficulties so many of you ran into when trying to play over the first few days, we’re adding five days’ worth of extra time to every subscription in the Americas, Oceania, and Europe that was active as of Friday, November 14. Things are already in a much better place than they were going into the weekend, so I hope you’ll now be able to focus on having a ton of fun with this expansion.

I also hope you’ll accept my apology and keep your faith in us. The support voiced by many of you as we worked through the challenges was immensely appreciated. We’re extremely grateful to be part of such a passionate community. We love World of Warcraft, and we’re very proud of this expansion, so stumbling out of the gates like this was very disappointing for all of us.

On behalf of the World of Warcraft development team, as well as everyone at Blizzard, thank you all again for your patience and understanding.

See you in Draenor.

Sincerely,
J. Allen Brack
Executive Producer, World of Warcraft

Looking at my account history… which is kind of strange, as it runs back to 2005… this 5 days will mean that Blizzard has comped my account a total of 19 days for various reasons, not including a “return for 7 days free” offer.  It is also the largest credit, the previous high water mark being a 3 day credit awarded back in November of 2008, which corresponds with the launch of Wrath of the Lich King.  I don’t remember what I might have gotten the credit for, but there were queues going on back then as well.