Category Archives: World of Warcraft

April Fools at Blizzard 2020 is Centered on Overwatch

This year it seems it was the Overwatch teams turn to embrace the day, or at least be the theme of the day.

Googly eyes at the hero select screen

It has become something of an annual tradition here to cover what Blizzard has been up to every April Fools.  There have been years where the company has put a lot of effort into various items for the day and there have been years where April Fools has barely been a thing at Blizzard.

This year seems like an outlier, with a different feel altogether.  In the past the level of effort has often correlated to highs and lows with the company itself.  Last year, for example, was not a great year for the company, so it wasn’t surprising that people had little time for this sort of thing.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging around the world, I was curious to see if there would be any mirth on the first at all.  Blizzard has been giving players benefits in light of the crisis, like an xp boost in WoW and unlocking all the heroes in Heroes of the Storm and co-op commanders in Star Craft II.  It would be completely understandable to give the whole April fools thing a pass.  But a little bit of humor in the right dose wouldn’t go amiss either.

And some of these ideas take a while to put together.  I am going to guess that the giant cat that Bhagpuss wrote about over in Guild Wars II wasn’t rolled up over the weekend but planned well in advance.

Which brings us to Overwatch and its googly eyes on heroes at the select screen, and in the play of the game clip at match end, which I mentioned above. (This came as a tip from Blueline Basher.  The screen shot is one from many in the forum.)

Following on that, over in the Heroes of the Storm forums there were April 1st PTR patch notes posted that included the addition of a new hero, Mercy.  I got that Mercy was an Overwatch hero, but I know so little about HotS that I couldn’t really tell if the patch notes were a joke or if somebody on the team unironically posted an update on April 1st.  And then I watched the video linked in the patch notes, which doesn’t really reveal itself until the very end.

 

The other Blizzard games, Diablo III, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, and World of Warcraft have all been quiet so far as April Fools is concerned.  No news items or fresh blue posts with an April 1 date.  It is still early in the day on the west coast, so maybe something else will pop up, in which case I will add it here, but for now that is all I have seen.

Update: We now have the annual WoW April Fools patch notes, in draft form, for patch 8.8.8.  Icluded in the notes:

  • High Dwarves
  • Kul-Tiran Worgen
  • Highmountain Goblins
  • New Essences
  • Class Updates
  • New WoW Classic Flavors

If you are jonsing for a Blizzard April Fools joke beyond those your best bet is to look at past efforts.  You can look at the posts I have done over the last decade:

If you want to go back further than that, there is the official Blizzard April Fool’s archive, though that stops at 2015, which is probably meaningful in some way.

In a way I am kind of happy they did something this year, if only to keep the long tradition alive.  They haven’t missed a year since 1999, even if some years have been rather sparse.

For other games you can check out the post over at Massively OP where they are trying to round up the MMO front.

Other April Fools items:

March in Review

The Site

What a month.  There was nothing much of note new on the site, but gaming life and blogging time and all of that was subject to some changes as the COVID-19 pandemic confined so many of us to home.  Fortunately my job is doable from home, but being there at my desk all day long does suck some of the joy out of gaming or writing.  If I’ve already been in my chair for nine or ten hours, there isn’t a lot of joy in staying there for a few more to play a game or write.

At least I can go sit on the couch and play Pokemon Sword.

My new Switch Lite

Good thing I got that for my birthday early in the month, as they are sold out now.  I have not yet succumbed to the mounting pressure to get Animal Crossing: New Horizon though.  My daughter loves it, but she isn’t sure it is a game I would like.

Otherwise it has largely been a constant series of, “Wait, did that happen this month? It seems so long ago now.” moments as the world falls further into whatever it is that we have going on now.

One Year Ago

I dug up my old Macintosh PowerBook 190cs, which I didn’t even remember I still had, and thought about writing about some of the games still on it.  However, I was unable to get it onto the network, so screen shots were difficult to obtain and I ended up running out of steam on the whole thing for the time being.

Activision Blizzard was hedging a bit on what effect their layoff of 8% of the company might produce.

Perfect World Entertainment officially killed of the Foundry in both Neverwinter and Star Trek Online, ending their player made content experiment.

Steam decided that they really did need to curate games on their site, a decision pushed by their inept handling of Rape Day.  The Epic Game Store, always eager to capitalize on Valve’s foibles, declared that there would be no porn in their store.

Gamigo killed off the Rift Prime retro server due to lack of popularity.  It remains my opinion that the Storm Legion expansion killed the game the first time around, so having it do it again was no surprise.

A data center move brought down and kept offline Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online for longer than expected.

Over at Massively OP they were talking about “niche MMORPGs,” a term as ill-defined as most in the gaming world.  Honestly, one could argue that MMORPGs are a niche genre.

Over at GoG.com we got a version of the original Diablo, and while it felt primitive it was still very playable and pretty damn good.

Niantic finally allowed players to change teams in Pokemon Go, allowing me to swap from Team Mystic to Team Instinct.

I was giving Path of Exile a shot again with their Synthesis update.

On the LOTRO Legendary servers the Mines of Moria expansion opened up.  That sent me off to Eregion in search of legendary weapons and such.

In EVE Online the March update brought new restrictions to Alpha clones.  They could no longer run level 4 or 5 missions.  People could buy skill books straight from their character sheet… for a bit of a markup.  CCP was also tinkering with null sec anomalies.  They were worried about too much ISK in the economy.  Skill Points though?  They were just handing those out.

There was a video of Burn Jita 6 in full 4K.

CCP Guard announced he was leaving CCP after 16 years of service.

In New Eden there were two notable ship losses, the first Komodo titan to die and a rare Gold Magnate.  I also got a ship blown up as part of my Myrmidon Experiment, though that was a much less expensive loss.

There was also the EVE Ather Wars tech demo, which went well enough, even if it did not get as many players in space as the company had hoped for.

But Katia Sai was being celebrated for visiting every system in New Eden.

I was pondering the proposed level squish for World of Warcraft.  My guess was that Blizzard would be too risk-averse to do it, but I was proven wrong later in the year at BlizzCon.  Blizz also revived Wintergrasp, the huge battleground from Wrath of the Lich King, which was fun to visit again.

Runes of Magic turned ten and I reflected on its place in the tale of the genre.

But the big news was EverQuest turning 20 years old.  I reflected on its history and celebrated its anniversary.  I covered what the team had to say, which included some good news as well as a bit of hubris.

And I was still doing my own play through of some EverQuest content.  I got a mercenary for my cleric, traveled to distant zones via dangerous paths, and even hit level 50.  It was a lot easier to get there than it was back in the day.  It was quite the tourist excursion!

Five Years Ago

I hit level 50 yet again.

The Elder Scrolls Online dropped the subscription business model.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign was still running.  I was wondering if they had a mid-game plan.  They really didn’t, but the campaign still brought in $1.7 million, double what was asked.

EA closed down Maxis as an entity within its organization.  It is what EA does best.

It was a Turbine roast as an insider spilled the beans on problems that have plagued the developer of Lord of the Rings Online.

Rift hit its four year anniversary, but it felt like it had been around for longer than that.

I was wondering what a progression server would look like with EverQuest II.  But it was Sweet 16 for EverQuest, which was getting a new progression server for its birthday it seemed.

Blizzard announced that they were going to go ahead with their PLEX-like idea, the WoW Token.  The instance group was in the Iron Docks and farting around in garrisons.

CCP was talking about the next stage of the proposed sovereignty changes for EVE Online.  There was the Scylla release, which was overshadowed by Fanfest.  Also, the members of CSMX were announced.

In New Eden I attempted to fly an Ibis from Immensea to Deklein.  Then there was a rumor of war as the usual suspects attacked our sovereignty in Fountain.  That called for a big old move op which, in post-Phoebe New Eden, meant caps taking gates.  Then there was that system our foes took.  And once they were evicted from Fountain, it was time for a punitive expedition to Delve.

And The Mittani declared that the power blocs of New Eden would never die.  We shall see.

My daughter and I tried out Diablo III on the PlayStation 3.

I put together a review of my Kickstarter history… I should do that again.

Finally, it seemed as though some of the MMO news sites were paying attention to bloggers again… at least briefly.

Ten Years Ago

With the March 2010 month in review I was able to announce that the site had passed the one million page view mark.  A minor milestone.

FarmVille.  We all tried it as research for Shut Up We’re Talking #60.  We didn’t inhale.

ran through GDC and had dinner.

I was waxing nostalgic for some flavor of Rome.

EA was saying very stupid things about how many subscribers Star Wars: The Old Republic would need.  It is never too early to set the bar for failure.  Also they were threatening to taint 38 Studios.

I was also wondering about greater challenges in MMOs.  Must all paths be equally easy?

I held an April Fools contest, which got a few entries.

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver launched and, after some delay,  I was picking that initial Pokemon.

I was still invested in Star Trek Online… I was trying…. well, they were giving us lifetime subscribers some perks.

In EVE Online I hit 50 million skill points.  I also had my first Tengu.

World of Tanks was staring to announce some of their progression trees, starting with the Russian and American sets.  Those have changed a lot since then.

The instance group was beginning to embrace the Dungeon Finder.  However, after Mauradon we found we still had to do a chunk of external legwork to prepare for our Sunken Temple run.  I also got a chopper along the way, on my birthday no less.

And, finally, that whole Derek Smart/Alganon thing was just kicking off.

Fifteen Years Ago

Monolith, backed by Sega and Warner Brothers, launches The Matrix Online in the US.  It hits Europe a month later. The title is soon taken over by Sony Online Entertainment, which runs it until its closure in 2009.

The Bloodline Chronicles adventure pack is released for EverQuest II.  It is free for Station Access subscribers.  Among other things it gives the game destructible walls.

Twenty Years Ago

Sony launched the PlayStation 2. Available initially only in Japan, it had ten launch titles.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Overseer Feature, Progression Servers, and Free Heroic Characters Coming for EverQuest Anniversary
  4. The State of Voice in 2020 with a Poll
  5. The March Update Brings Market and Moon Changes to EVE Online
  6. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  7. The Windstalker Leaves Norrath
  8. The Passion of the Overseer
  9. Visiting the Katia Sae Monument
  10. An Uldaman of Vague Memories
  11. Blizzard in the Badlands
  12. Seeking the Hydrocane

Search Terms of the Month

camelot unchained massive refund requests after terrible announcment
[Somebody knows what they’re looking for]

online rpg apple iie
[That is going to be a bit or a stretch. A MUD maybe?]

does concord intervene during killing spree in eve online
[All normal CONCORD rules apply]

null sec infrastructure to spawn mining belts
[infrastructure hub]

what plane in war thunder has the most bombs
[Going to guess it is the B-29]

wilma flintstone memes
[I don’t even]

Game Time from ManicTime

Time tracking shows I spent most of my play time with WoW Classic.

WoW Classic – 64.13%
RimWorld – 13.25%
Pokemon Sword – 10.93%
EverQuest – 5.10%
EVE Online – 4.32%
EverQuest II – 1.92%
World of Warcraft – 0.34%

You would think I would be further along, but I always find time to potter about.  Also, Pokemon Sword isn’t tracked by ManicTime, being on the Switch and all, but the save page in the game gives you an elapsed time played report with each save, so I can include it in the mix.

EVE Online

While I did not spend that much time in New Eden in March, the time I did spend was fairly active.  There was a move op north to Venal, followed by some fights, and then a move op home.  Structures were shot, ships exploded.

EverQuest

With the 21st anniversary going on I decided to poke my nose in while my all access subscription was still running.  I used the heroic upgrade on my cleric from last year’s anniversary, which promptly made his spells an unfathomable mess.  But I did end up playing with the new Overseer feature.  While it has a mobile game air to it, the EQ version has more depth than the EQII one does, so I do keep logging into play it.

EverQuest II

I fear my momentum has faded in EQII.  After grabbing the expansion last year and driving a few characters up to the level cap, both for adventure and crafting, I sort of lost interest and wandered off.  I did a bit of the Overseer thing, but it isn’t all that compelling.

Pokemon Go

My drive to the level cap slowed down somewhat.  The friend rewards, which are worth 100,000 points when you hit the highest level, drove me the last couple of months.  However, daily gifts have tapered off as people hole up at home and can’t get out to Pokestops.

Level: 38 (83% of the way to level 39)
Pokedex status: 526 (+14) caught, 556 (+11) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Dewatt

Pokemon Sword

As noted previously, I got Nintendo Switch Lite and a copy of Pokemon Sword for my birthday, which was about a week before we all had to go into hiding, so that is some timing.  I am three gym leaders in so far and it is shaping up to be a pretty solid entry in the genre.  The villainous team is a little more buffoonish than normal, but we’ll see how that plays out.  I just have to get myself setup to pull screen shots from the game so I can post about it.

RimWorld

RimWorld got the Royalty expansion, which adds a new dynamic to the game.  I have that out and played through some.  But even if you do not get the expansion, the launch of it also brought a bit update patch for the base game that includes a lot of nice improvements.

World of Warcraft

As usual, my time spent in retail WoW was mostly around Darkmoon Faire, though I did log in to grab a map of Gnomeregan for a post, and found that I had forgotten that they had nerfed some of the outside area as well.

WoW Classic

A lot of time spent playing WoW Classic.  I was grinding for a mount and working on some alts, but the big effort was around UIdaman where, after three weeks, we took down Archaedas.  Now comes the time to prep for Zul’Farrak.

Coming Up

It is Blapril, so expect some blogging reflective posts and as much linking out to other participants as I can manage.

It is also April Fools tomorrow, though given the current state of the political scene in the US, I am not sure anybody will notice.  Much of the last couple of months has involved public figures saying things that should have ended with “April Fools!” but somehow did not… more so than usual.

EVE Fanfest should have been kicking off soon, but that was cancelled in what seemed like forever ago, though it was just a month back.  Still, it has been reported that CCP will have some news and a new trailer for us.

And it seems like a fine time for video games, especially online games.  But April promises to be as relentless with bad news as March was, so the end of the month will probably feel like another year has gone past.

SuperData and the Opening of the Coronavirus

March has become the “stay at home” month for many of us, even in jurisdictions where there has been no official order to do so.  Events have been cancelled, movie theaters shut down (drive-ins are back in vogue though), and we are not going out to do many things we might have otherwise.

And so home activities have gone up.  Netflix and other streaming services are seeing a boost in activity as are video game platforms.  Video game usage is up, Steam has seen a record number of people connected, and XBox Live has fallen over a couple of times due to the sudden surge.

And into this comes the SuperData Research digital revenue chart for February 2020.

SuperData Research Top 10 – February 2020

In February things were starting up around Covid-19.  I was in Portland, Oregon in the middle of the month and once we got back events were starting to get cancelled and the movie box office was already starting to tank.

Unfortunately, we cannot tell much from the main SuperData chart, as it is just a ranking without numbers.  The gaps between games as well as any change for a particular game, is unknown and unmarked unless titles change positions or falls off the list.

So we see the usual suspects on the chart.  At the PC end, the same top four remain in the same order.  CD:GO made it to fifth as Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot had its debut month on the chart then fell off.  World of Tanks surged a bit with some updates and events in February.  World of Warcraft stayed on the list despite troubles reported last month.

And Fortnite returned to the PC end of the chart.  Last month, as Bhagpuss pointed out, Epic Games was bitching to anybody who would listen that the SuperData numbers had to be wrong, though they declined to supply their own numbers and wouldn’t tell us where they thought they should be on the chart or even if they had the data to make that assessment.  Basically Tim Sweeney being Tim Sweeney.

As with the PC end of things, the console and mobile columns of the chart, aside from some jockeying for position, remained mostly made up of the same players, with the same titles topping the lists.  Jedi: Fallen Order and Pokemon Go both made their way back on to their respective charts.

So it will be interesting to see if, come the March numbers, if any of those mostly static lists change any.  Will something new take the public by storm?  Animal Crossing: New Horizons maybe?  Or will people remain set with their old standbys and just spend more time and money there?  Word is that Pokemon Go is already making bank.

The only detail we get is in the bullet points that SuperData provides with their posting.  The opening one did say that digital revenue was up:

  • Digital games spending totaled $9.2B in February, up 4% year-over-year. Much like in recent months, mobile revenue (up 16% year-over-year) made up for lower console and PC revenue (down 22% and 6%, respectively). A release schedule largely devoid of AAA games resulted in limited spending on console games. In comparison, February 2019 featured the launches of major titles like Anthem and Apex Legends, which contributed to the year-over-year revenue drop across the free-to-play (down 49%) and premium console segments (down 17%).

But that was a small bump and mostly in mobile, while the PC and console were down.  But SuperData is not unaware of what is going on in the world and the next three bullet points were related to, or might be related to, the current world situation.

  • The spread of COVID-19 had a limited impact on gaming habits in North America and Europe in February, but this is changing. The most significant containment efforts like business shutdowns and travel restrictions did not ramp up until March. Many titles have since had an influx of players and spending as consumers have turned to games as one of the few entertainment options available.
  • There are signs Japanese consumers gravitated to games over other activities in February. The Japanese versions of Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle and Monster Strike both saw jumps in revenue and user numbers. Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle in particular had its Japanese revenue more than triple from $24.8M in January to $78.0M in February.
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive monthly active user numbers climbed to 24.0M, their highest levels ever. Player counts for the nearly eight-year-old title have trended upward consistently since the switch to a free-to-play business model in December 2018. An update to the game in late November 2019, which featured a battle pass and cosmetic character skins, has resulted in monthly revenue that is approaching the game’s previous all-time peak in July 2017. Despite the renewed interest in the title, its surge in player count may not be sustainable given the runaway success of Call of Duty: Warzone and the pending release of Valorant, an upcoming free-to-play shooter from Riot Games.

I expect that next month their analysis will include their own interpretation as to how COVID-19 has impacted the market.

As has become the custom for this post, I will add the NPD February video games chart.  As always, NPD is US only, combines PC and console sales, and doesn’t always include digital sales.

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019 (2)
  2. NBA 2K20 (6)
  3. Grand Theft Auto V (5)
  4. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (1)
  5. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (75)
  6. Mario Kart 8* (8)
  7. Ring Fit Adventure (9)
  8. Madden NFL 20 (3)
  9. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* (7)
  10. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (4)

* Digital sales not included

The following number is the position the game was in last month.  I have tended to ignore that number, but this month I saw that Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 had jumped up from 75th on their list, implying that NPD keeps much more detail than they share.

I will be interested to see how this chart changes next month.  If it were physical sales only, it might go completely weird, but as it combines some digital with physical, we might just see Nintendo titles disappear from the mix even as Animal Crossing jumps up onto the SuperData chart.

The remaining bullet points from SuperData:

  • A free giveaway of The Sims 4 for PlayStation Plus users led to the title’s console players outnumbering PC users for the first time (2.5M vs. 2.2M). The title has long earned the lion’s share of its revenue from the sale of in-game content, so the giveaway presented a low-risk way to attract new audience members and potentially convert them to spenders down the road.
  • The social casino title Coin Master achieved its highest earnings ever ($87.1M) as it rose to eighth place in the mobile revenue charts. The game from publisher Moon Active combines slots gameplay with town-building elements. It now vastly out-earns other mobile social casino titles like Slotomania and DoubleDown Casino and celebrities like Jennifer Lopez have appeared in ads for the title.

And so it goes.  We shall see what the March numbers bring and if certain incentives… Blizzard has a 100% xp bonus going for retail WoW right now for example… change anything.

Archaedas in the Foyer

The past weekend found us all at home.  Since we all live in locales that were under community lockdown guidelines… “shelter in place” they call it… thanks to COVID-19, we seemed to have ample opportunity to play.  Nobody had any reservations for dinner, a show to see, or a sporting event to attend certainly.

So we got together on Saturday afternoon to take another run at Uldaman and met up again in the Badlands.  If nothing else, we still had quests to finish up.  Uldaman is good at keeping your quest log supplied.  Our party for the afternoon was:

  • Viniki – level 44 gnome warrior
  • Ula – level 43 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 43 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 42 night elf druid

The still seemed shy of what we might need for Archaedas… but, quests!

Before we went in though, we had to get out quests aligned.  Viniki had gotten ahead with one in the Badlands, so we spent a little bit of time getting everybody back on the same page.  That meant finding a dead dwarf then slaying some troggs.

The troggs are over there

The annoying bit was having to run back to Loch Modan to get the quest update, but three out of four of us have mounts now while the hold out, Moronae, is a druid, which means he has a travel form, so it didn’t take as long as it might of to get the quests set.

Another week in Uldaman

The missing one was Agmond’s Fate, and it was another “collect a few things” quests, in this case it was four urns.  But like the power stone drops and the fungus, there didn’t seem to be many urns about.

It didn’t help that, once again, things were a bit busy outside of Uldaman.  We were not the only ones sheltering at home.  We did find out way to one quest objective outside the instance, a large stone chest.

Well, we got this at least

But otherwise we were in competition with other groups for mobs and drops and harvestables and whatever.  The place was stripped clean, like the paper goods aisle at the store.  So the instance seemed to be our best bet.

So dramatically lit too

Inside we followed what has become the usual path.  We cleared through the troggs, met up with the lost vikings, got the bits for the Staff of Prehistoria, slew Revelosh, and set up to fight Ironaya again, just because.  Seriously, we could just bypass her, but calling her out doesn’t take much extra time and we all live in hope of a nice blue drop.

Fighting Ironaya again

I like that screen shot because Ula’s spell is in flight and because I got off a disarm on Ironaya, which always pleases me for some reason.  Ironaya’s revenge was to drop some mail bracers, and nobody in our group needs that.  Her chamber was, as usual, empty.

Again, the paper goods aisle at the store…

I like that they went so far as to put cobwebs on the shelf to emphasize their emptiness.  I was hoping they might at least have an urn.  But we were denied.

We carried on, following the left wall mostly, taking down Galgann and Grimlok in their turns.  We bypassed the Ancient Stone Keeper and went from Grimlok straight to the Hall of Crafters.  It was time to get things cleared for the big fight.

All those groups in there again

Here is where a couple weeks of practice began to pay off.  After all of the fights… and a few deaths… last week, we had finally settled on a routine that worked for us.  The rhythm for these groups was for Viniki to engage and get aggro and Moronae to call the target marker color the the current DPS focus.  Previously we had tried targeting off of Viniki or having me call the target, both of which have problems.  I use push to talk on coms, and mid-fight my fingers are sometimes too busy to get that extra key, while targeting off of Viniki can fall apart because he has to change targets to hold aggro on whole bunch.  But Moronae taking the lead on that made everything much smoother.

So we plowed through the three groups in the first room, did the golem event easily enough, then did the next set of groups, all without any major issues.  That brought us to Archaedas again.

There he is

On last week’s post Rebeard left a comment suggesting a different strategy for fighting Archaedas.  This involved starting the fight and then running back up to the room with the golem event and fighting Archaedas there.  That was supposed to slow down the arrival of the adds so that, towards the end, when he summons the his final minions you can kill him before they show up and ruin the party.  So we set up to give it a try.

Ready to start Archaedas

The whole thing nearly fell apart seconds into the event.  We started the event and then paused to make sure Archaedas would follow.  As it turns out, the doors to the chamber close and we just barely managed to squeeze out through them.  I believe you can open them up again, but I didn’t stick around to check and even if you can, doing so with Archaedas beating on your seemed like a bad plan.

And then, with Archaedas hot on our heels up the stairs to the golem room, he began beating on Skronk.  Skronk was losing a lot of health and Archaedas seemed to be able to shrug off my taunts.  Somehow we managed to get up to the top of the stairs and into the golem room and get things sorted.  The fight began.

On the plus side Ula, Skonk, and Moronae all leveled up along the way before we started this fight, so we were better equipped.  But being away from Archaedas’ room only slowed down the arrival of the first add.  After that it was the same routine, hitting Archaedas, swapping to burn down the latest add, then on to Archaedas again.  There was a question as to if we would know when we should go all out on him, but his shout of “To my side, brothers! For the Makers!” seemed to be the hint we were looking for.  We focused on Archaedas and were so very close as the big golems arrived and started pounding on me.

Getting so very close

And then he collapsed and the fight was over.

Almost over, one non-elite arrived late

Strewn about us were the corpses of many adds… though they seemed to fade quickly even as the fight was going on.  During the fight we pulled out all the stops.  Moronae hit Skronk with innervate part way through the fight and I managed to consume three superior health potions along the way.  Not a short fight.  So we lined up to take our screen shot by the fallen Archaedas.

Victory in Uldaman

That accomplished, it was time to run back down stairs to the treasure room.

The treasure room has opened

I have to say, the treasure room in Uldaman is one of the biggest teases in the game.  You run into that room and see a giant chest and piles of gold and gems and what not, but what you walk out of there with is… not much.  You go through the final quest bit, get a bit of lore

Ding! Your discs are ready!

The chest contained a couple of leather items, and Moronae only wanted one of them.  Our loot drops for the run were not great.  But we finished the instance, killed the boss, and got into his vault.  One last screen shot there, then it was back to Ironforge.

The treasure is so bright we have a backlighting problem

Back in Ironforge, after a bit of run around, we got the real prize for the whole venture… a 14 slot bag! (Plus some potions to replace the ones from that last fight.)

The best quest reward

And so we were done.  Viniki still has two unfinished Uldaman quests in his log.

Urns and fungus

But I am not sure either is worth finishing up.  After three weeks there it might be time to move on.  Next on the list is Zul’Farrak, home of the famed Carrot on a Stick trinket.  I think I still had that and the Argent Commission in my trinket slots well into The Burning Crusade.

And, as I have done with past instances, here is a replay of the group’s experiences from both the distant and the recent past:

Oddly, February and March seem to be when we visit Uldaman.  No other months will do I guess.

Seeking the Hydrocane

We returned to Gnomeregan few times, back when we were doing Gnomeregan, in search of a couple of specific drops.  Moronae, for example, wanted the Manual Crowd Pummeler drop from the Crowd Pummeler 9-60.

Moronae with the Manual Crowd Pummeler

Having moved some levels beyond Gnomer, I figured I wouldn’t be going back.  But then I wanted to wrap up some of the Mirage Raceway and Stranglethorn Vale quests, which include a couple of underwater runs in the Vile Reef off the coast.

I gave it a try with Tistann, but the time limit for being under water was pretty restrictive.  WoW Classic is hard mode these days when compared to retail.  I thought, perhaps, I could work around the underwater issue with water breathing.  Warlocks have the spell, but I didn’t have one handy to keep it on me.  Water breathing potions are a thing, but I was not inclined to waste cash at the auction house buying them.  But I remembered that the first real boss in Gnomeregan dropped the Hyrdrocane, a staff with water breathing as an attribute.

The Hydrocane

All I would have to do is run into Gnomeregan, get to the Viscous Fallout, that first real boss, slay it, and loot.  The odds were not bad for the drop and Skronk had been talking about rogues sneaking in to farm the Viscous Fallout for the dagger drop.  So in I went.

It isn’t too far into the instance even.  You just zone in and run to the edge of the of the pit in the Hall of Crafters.  It is visible from the entrance.  Just watch for the mob that runs past that spot… though he is non-elite… and even if he was elite, you’re here to kill a boss so you had better be able to take on a single elite.

Gnomeregan Map segment from Retail WoW

From there you just jump from the ledge onto a big gear down below.  The fall knocks you down to about half health, but that isn’t so bad.

You can see the top of the gear from here

The Viscous Fallout wanders around down there.

A picture from later in the story, but you get the idea

You just get him alone, easy enough, and take him down.  My first run in went very smoothly.

Unfortunately, he dropped the Acidic Walkers instead of the Hydrocane.  And then I had to get back out.

I could, of course, stone out.  But that is a once-per-hour thing.  I decided to see if I could just blast my way out.  Rogues have stealth to solve this problem, but a hunter with a pet… you are not very stealthy and your pet is bouncing around a bit so you cannot slip past mobs.

So I tried to do a runner and died.  Even gray elite can bring you down if there are enough of them.  So I ran back to the instance, revived, then stepped out again to reset the instance.  Once reset, I ran back in and did it again.

With the same result.  Acidic Walkers.

So I fought my way out more slowly this time.  It took a bit, but I got out safely, reset the instance, and did it again.  Acidic Walkers again.

Finally, on the sixth try I got the Hydrocane.  I had already trained staves on Tistann, so I could wield it, I just needed to run on back to the Vile Reef to finish things off.  Worked like a champ, especially since I didn’t have to fight with it, taking on the murlocs at range with my gun.

Later I had Viniki with the same set of quests.  Again, I figured the Hydrocane would be a good choice.  I had even learned a thing or two from my first runs.  Also, being small and without a pet wandering around him, he was able to bypass a lot of the mobs, and simply absorb hits from others being a warrior and all.

Viniki slips past the troggs with ease

It was a good thing that I learned a few thing, as it took even more tries this time around.  Viniki had four Acidic Walkers and two daggers drop before he got the Hydrocane.

Hydrocane in the loot finally

From that set of runs I learned that if you try to reset an instance more than instances more than five times in an hour the game will stop you and make you wait for a while.  Ah well.

And then he had to go train staves and skill it up because to use it under water he would have to equip it as his weapon.  There was some work in that, but it ended up doing the job.

So when Wilhelm, my paladin was at level 38 and looking at the Vile Reef quests my mind immediately went to the Hydrocane.  I figured he could manage getting in at level 38, so I flew him to Ironforge and ran out to Gnomer for another run.

Like Viniki, he was able to slip past the troggs on the way in by running up the rail outside the instance.  Once in, he went to the edge of the pit and jumped in.  The Viscous Fallout rolled by him and he took it down and, on the first try, he got the Hydrocane!  Mission accomplished.  No need to worry about sneaking out, he could just stone home.

Once he recalled back to Stromwind I ran over to the weapon trainer.  I needed to train up staves and get Wil working on skilling that up, when I tumbled over a fact I should have remembered.  Paladins cannot train staves.

I don’t know why.

As I complained to Skronk in chat, a paladin can train polearms.  Those are pretty much sticks with a blade attached to the end.  Wil’s weapon even then was a polearm.  And a stave is pretty much a stick without the blade bit.  But I guess paladins need that sharp bit to get things done.

So he ran out to Vile Reef and did the quests the hard way, holding his breath, diving down, then rushing back up to the surface.  It didn’t take too long.  Less time that it would have taken to do eight runs at the Viscous Fallout most likely, as I had done with Viniki.  But it is still nice to have the water breathing on hand, just in case.

And I was able to stop Skronk from wasting his time trying to get the Hydrocane with his pally.  Or anymore time.  He’s already gone zero for four trying to get it as a drop.  Lessons learned.

I was thinking about Alioto, my druid, who might be doing those quests some day soon.  With cat form he could stealth on out of Gnomer.  But druids also have aquatic form, so maybe he won’t need it.

Visiting Archaedas

As we gathered up again this past weekend, the question was what should we do.  We had taken down almost all of the bosses in Uldaman the week before, but our group, as it stood, seemed a bit wee to challenge Achaedas.  We started out on Sunday as:

  • Viniki – level 43 gnome warrior
  • Ula – level 42 gnome mage
  • Moronae – level 42 night elf druid
  • Skronk – level 42 dwarf priest

My inexpert opinion was that we probably didn’t have much of a hope unless we were all at least level 43.  Archaedas is level 47 and our past experience shows that when you are five levels below a boss they will resist your spells and abilities with alarming regularity.

However, we still had a good number of quests to finish up in Uldaman. As nobody had a better idea when it came to leveling up it seemed like a worthwhile venture to head back in.  We all had the same five on our list this week.

Our quest list

So off we went to the Badlands.  Ula and I got there first.

Waiting for the group

I had sold everything not nailed down and scrounged gold from my alts to get a mount for Viniki, which felt like a necessity after I had run back and forth across the Badlands a few times.

As it turned out, somehow Moronae never obtained the flight point at Thelsamar in Loch Modan, so he had to run out from Ironforge.  I was less concerned about the delay than how he managed to get this far without that flight point.  Anyway, he got it this time and joined us out in the Badlands.

We figured we could work on some of the quests that require drops outside of the instance, but it was a busy Sunday around Uldaman and the mobs were being hunted by several groups besides ours.

Into the tunnels

Even inside the tunnels it was slim pickings.  We did go update one quest and, after a bit more hunting, decided to just head on into the instance and carry on there.

The area around the instance was bare

There we made our way to the dead paladin, which in turn started another quest that required us to pick up three gems.  That required killing a few bosses, so we figured we might as well clean out the ones we did last week one more time.

We did stumble a bit at Ironaya.  We forgot to get the bits to make the staff to unlock her.  We could have just passed on by, but that seemed wrong, so we headed back, got the items, made the staff, and went through the summoning routine again.

Staff in place to call her

The fight went smoothly.  The whole run through the first part of the instance.  The scorpion traps and such did not cause us any real problems.

Scorpions! We’re Back!

We worked our way around and took down Galgann Firehammer hammer again without issue.

Galgann gets it again

For the quest we needed to go take care of Grimlok as well, so we cut our way into the troggs and got set up for that fight.

Eyeing Grimlok

This time around we put Grimlok third on the list, with the basilisk taking second position since it caused some problems last time.  Grimlok went down pretty easy with that ordering and we were able to update the quest.  The update had us pointed at the vault guarded by Archaedas, so it was on the list for later.

That done, we took a side trip over to the Ancient Stone Guardian, managing to keep Ula alive in the trash this time around.  He was another quick fight, after which we still had some time.  So we figured we might as well see how far we could get on the path to Archaedas.

First there are the troggs outside the Hall of Crafters.  They come in groups of four and are a step up from a lot of the earlier trash in the instance.  Early on you run into a range around 38-42 or so.  Now it seemed to be 43-45.  Still, we managed to get them cleared out and made our way to the big door.

The Hall of Crafters door

Past the door we faced a room with three groups each made up of an elite and four or five non-elites.  However, the non-elites were where we had fallen down in the past and they caused us problems again.

Looking into the room with the groups

The opening idea was the old plan of I hold elite and the rest of the group does AOE to burn down the little guys.  Only the little guys were now our level or higher and one or two of them were casters, so tended to stand back out of the AOE and pelt our own casters.  Ula went down with the first group, though we were far enough along that we finished them off.

The second group saw Skronk go down, and from there it was a near run thing to finish off that group.  Also, to get Skronk back Moronae had to use his combat ress, which has a 30 minute cool-down.  So we were a bit on edge and decided to change up out plan.

Instead of me holding the elite, I would grab the group and pick a non-elite to focus on.  Everybody would target off of me and we would quickly burn down all the small guys with single target damage, after which we would take on the elite.

That seemed to go much more smoothly and we cleared the final group in the room.  But now we had an event to pass through, involving the four golems in a circle.  Again, vague memories were with us, but we were not solid on how the event really ran.

In the room with the Golems

You get three people to click on the pedestal in the middle, which starts the event.  That much we remembered.  But how would the fight run?  We decided to press the button and find out.

As it turned out, the golems activate one by one.  You kill one and the next one goes live.  Four single target mini-boss fights was no big deal.  It helped that Skronk leveled part way through the fight, so got a refill of mana, but we were on it either way.  Soon they were all down and the far door had opened up.

Golems down and the door open

On the far side of the door was another group based on an elite.  But he had six non-elites.  Or maybe it was seven.  I know we had to use all of the target markers to mark them.  That proved to be a couple too many mobs for us to handle.  We ran down the little guys like last time, but eventually damage builds up and Skronk has to start laying heals on me, which then pulls aggro.  I have a taunt to get everybody back on me, but it has a ten minute cool down, so it is a once a fight deal, and after I used it the wheels came off anyway and we had a wipe.

We released and decided to try and run back in via the back door, which we managed to find.  I am not sure how.

The cave to the back door as seen in dead-o-vision

Going in via the back door mean we had to kill the Obsidian Sentinal, a boss we bypassed because it only has a drop for the mage quest and we got that last week.  Again, not a tough fight and we were soon back in the Hall of Crafters.  Fortunately we had pared down the group that we wiped on, so were able to finish off the rest.

There were two walkers going up and down the halls, which we managed to get solo.  Then there were more groups, the last of which was another “use all the target markers” in size.  Somehow though, we managed to get through them with a wipe, or even a death.

Which left us standing at the door of Archaedas.

There he is!

We had gone all that way, we were certainly going to give him a shot.  Again, vague memories and the layout of the room suggested how the fight might go, but we were not certain.

Standing in the room

He has a series of inanimate dwarves around the edge of the room, then some bigger ones in the circle around him, and then two more even bigger ones at opposite ends of the room.  We had out theories as to what might get activated when, but decided to figure it out by kicking off the event.  We got three of us on the pedestal to start things going.

Waking Archaedas, or whatever it is we are doing

The basic plan was to tank Archaedas, focus on him when we could, but kill any add as it appeared.  And there are a lot of adds.  Archaedas starts lighting up the outer circle of dwarves one by one.  They are non-elite, so died pretty quickly, but there are a lot of them and they just keep on coming.

That seemed to go okay.  When his health was down by about a third he woke up that inner circle of dwarves, which we managed to get through.  But even as we were working on that, more of the outer ring dwarves were getting lit up.

A lot of animated dwarves down

We were not doing bad, but we were falling behind.  And then a little too much healing landed on me and they began going after Skronk and the wheels started coming off the wagon.  We had Archaedas about half way down at that point.

Last health check on Archaedas

But then we wiped.  If the boss is on Ula it generally means we’re about done.

After the wipe

It wasn’t a horrible wipe.  Three out of four of us were level 43 by that point in the run, Ula having leveled up as well, but Achaedas was still resisting attacks fairly regularly.  And, again, there is a DPS check aspect of this that we, as a group of four, are going to have to work hard to get past.  But I think we might manage it.  We may have to be 44 or even 45 as a group to ensure success, but our one run at him didn’t feel like it had no hope.

Still, we were not going to go again.  It was getting towards dinner time and home life was calling, so we released, ran back into the instance to revive, then recalled back to Ironforge to call it a night.

With all of that, plus the grinding he did to buy that mount, Viniki is close to 44.  Ula shouldn’t be too far back from that and Skronk is at least a ways into 43.  We might need to look into getting the group a level or two next time.  But the best way to do that might just to be to head back into Uldaman.  We still have quests to finish after all.  We all need some more power core drops and nobody is close to done with the fungus harvesting.

Blizzard in the Badlands

I saw this ogre shout while out in the Badlands and had to laugh.

Tell us how you really feel…

At this moment there is almost an aura of nostalgia about this being the top gaming news item a few months back now that we have Covid-19 and uncertain future ahead of us.

(I named my hunter pet “Blitzchung” back then and saw no need to change it.)