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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?