Tag Archives: Battle for Azeroth

Blizzard Wants to Lock You In with a Flying Rat

A different sort of Room 101.

With Tuesday’s post about the Visions of N’Zoth update for Battle for Azeroth, there was a short bit of discussion as to what else Blizz might do to keep people subscribed between now and the launch of the Shadowlands expansion.  I suggested that they might do another “free mount with a six month subscription” offer.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when less that 48 hours later Blizzard announced a “free mount with a six month subscription” offer.

Welcome Squeakers

The deal itself is the same as the usual 6 month subscription deal, which averages out to $12.99 a month in the US, saving you a bit over the usual $14.99 when you pay by the month.  You just get a free mount, which is a $25 value, because that is what Blizzard charges for mounts and the fans have established that they will pay that much.

Now with free rat

I don’t think you can get Squeakers on his own, but why would you want to? [Edit: Yes you can, though it is tough to find on the web site.]  And certainly Blizz wants to keep you on the books until the 9.0 patch and the warm up to Shadowlands.  And this will no doubt play well in Asia where the lunar new year is approaching, and with it the year of the rat.

The mount and subscription deal is a limited time offer.  You have until February 23rd to take advantage of this deal.  If you bought it on the  last day that would get you into August on your subscription, when I suspect we will see the Shadowlands expansion launch.

Of course, the mount does not apply to WoW Classic, where I have been spending my time, so I am not particularly interested.  I already have enough mounts in WoW retail and, due to the last six month deal mis-firing, I am still subscribed out until June anyway.

Battle for Azeroth Enters the Final Lap

Today we get the 8.3 patch for Battle for Azeroth.  At least it is today in the US and related regions.  Europe gets it tomorrow and I gather Asia will get it the day after that.

Titled Visions of N’Zoth, it is, if not the final patch, then likely the final bit of content the expansion will be able to call its own.

Visions of N’Zoth arrives

The list of things coming with this update is quite impressive.  It includes:

  • Corrupted Zones: Uldum and Vale of Eternal Blossoms
  • New Raid: Ny’alotha, the Waking City
  • Awakened Assaults: The Servants of N’Zoth
  • Horrific Visions
  • New Legendary Cloak: Ashjra’kamas, Shroud of Resolve
  • New Corrupted Items and Rewards
  • Deepwind Gorge Redesign
  • New Pet Battle Dungeon: Blackrock Depths
  • New Allied Races: Vulpera and Mechagnomes
  • Death Knights for All
  • Auction House Overhaul
  • New Quests
  • New Warfront: Heroic Darkshore
  • New Brawl: Teeming Islands
  • Darkmoon Faire Arcade
  • New Mounts
  • Updates to classes, dungeons, raids, items, etc.

That is a serious list, though it is probably the final list, the list of features that will close out the legacy of the Battle for Azeroth expansion.  There has been quite a bit of discussion by the dedicated aboutmany of the features, though I think the most buzz has been around the allied races… and specifically the Vulpera.

The Vulpera arrive

From the allied race announcement:

Clever and resourceful, the vulpera of Vol’dun have survived amidst the sands for generations. Eager to join the ranks of the Horde, their caravans have departed from the dunes in search of adventure.

The serpentine sethrak have taken to subjugating anyone they can as slaves, and the vulpera are an easy target for their machinations. If you’ve taken steps to liberate the vulpera from these overseers, they’ll join the Horde on the battlefield.

  • Available Classes: Hunter, Mage, Monk, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, and Death Knight
  • Racial Traits:
    • Bag of Tricks – Use a trick on an enemy to damage them, or an ally to heal them.
    • Rummage Your Bag – Change the contents of your Bag of Tricks. Now where did you put that…?
    • Make Camp – Set your camp location outdoors.
    • Return to Camp – Teleport back to your camp location.
    • Nose for Trouble – Take less damage from the first strike inflicted by an enemy.
    • Vulpera Survival Kit – Find extra goods when you loot humanoids.
    • Fire Resistance – Take less damage from fire.

The unique/cute/fun look of the Vulpera, along with their racial traits have led some to forecast how things will end up looking on the Horde side of the game soon.

By the weekend surely…

The new Alliance allied race, the Mechagnomes, pale by comparison.  I mean, sure, there are some out there for whom “more gnomes!” is an incentive, but how many are there?  From the announcement:

Though they once sought to mechanize themselves completely, the mechagnomes now seek a balance between flesh and steel. Emerging from years of isolation on Mechagon, they bring both ingenuity and aptitude to the Alliance.

They left Gnomeregan to construct a metal metropolis, Mechagon. However, their once wise and ambitious ruler King Mechagon now ruthlessly rules over them with an iron fist.

Work together with the Rustbolt Resistance to overthrow their tyrant so these mechanical mavericks will join the Alliance.

  • Available Classes: Hunter, Mage, Monk, Priest, Rogue, Warlock, Warrior, and Death Knight
  • Racial Traits:
    • Re-Arm – Automatically heal yourself when your health drops to a low life total.
    • Combat Analysis – Get stronger as you fight the same enemy.
    • Hyper Organic Light Originator – Summon decoys of yourself to distract foes.
    • Skeleton Pinkie – Open locked chests.
    • Mastercraft – Function as a personal set of crafting tools for professions.

Both allied races have a faction grind you must complete and a list of achievements you must obtain before they can be unlocked.  But we’ve known about the requirements for a few months now, so I am sure people are prepped to get there.

The downside, for me at least, and I have unlocked most of the previous allied races, is that you end up with a level 20 character and a 100 levels between you can the cap.  But Blizz has discounted race and faction changes by 30% in anticipation of this.  Discount available through February 3rd.

And that will be the end of Battle for Azeroth.  There are reportedly no plans for something like an 8.3.5 patch.  This will be where the expansion is done and we’ll have been given all it has to offer.  Work by the WoW team will no doubt be focused on the upcoming Shadowlands expansion.

Battle for Azeroth will depart with something of a mixed legacy.  There was a lot there to like.  Kul’Tiras and Zandalar were both cool and interesting areas.  But it also seemed to include something to irk just about everybody.  From the burning of Teldrassil to the counter-intuitive level scaling to the dissatisfaction with classes to the simple, unfavorable comparisons with how things worked in Legion.

I had great hopes going in.  I had Horde and Alliance characters lined up so as to experience both sides of the story.  But the expansion just wore me down.  Playing a pally in WoW Classic felt better than playing one in Battle for Azeroth.

And the legacy of the expansion will be short lived.  By the time summer rolls around Blizzard will be getting ready to roll out the pre-Shadowlands patches, which will include the risky level squish.  That will make everybody at the cap level 50 and turn all of the past expansions into parallel paths to get players from level 10 to 50.

The new leveling flow from BlizzCon

I am waiting for Blizz to come out with their final plan on the squish… they could still make every expansion annoying by putting the BFA level scaling scheme into them… but it will let you pick your favorite expansions to level in, and even swap between them mid-way, while allowing you to avoid the ones you did not like.  I am not sure Battle for Azeroth would be on my list were I to level up another alt.

Anyway, today begins the final round of the expansion.  For its fans, I hope it will add up to a good send off.  I remain mixed on the whole thing, which has made me skeptical about Shadowlands as well.  But we have months left before I need to worry about that and WoW Classic is still running along just fine for me.

WoW Classic is just about Three Weeks Away

The great big test of nostalgia in Azeroth kicks off in just 25 days.

Classic is as Classic does

At my end, there has been some interest from the old instance group.  A few email messages have gone around, people have re-subscribed to World of Warcraft, and it looks like we will be giving it a go.

One of the problems starting off is that many of the communication channels we have used in the past have disappeared (Raptr) or become unusable (Skype, Yahoo IM).  Re-establishing a coms baseline is under way.  I think Discord might be our solution since it is pretty easy to setup, has voice support, and mobile clients.  While my default Discord behavior is to join popular Discord servers only to leave in annoyance when the discussion ends up being lowest common denominator stuff (though that might also be related to the nature of EVE Online Discord channels), I have found success there as well.  I didn’t have to rejoin the Blaugust Discord this year because I never left.  So Potshot and I are tinkering with that.  With a small group it ought to be manageable.

As for WoW Classic itself, my baseline goal is just to run Deadmines as a group once again, with anything after that being gravy.  Others are more ambitious, but there will be plenty of comedy along the way I am sure.

We shall see.

Among the changes we face, we will be about 13 years older than we were the last time we set off on this same venture. (I posted about the humble beginnings of the instance group as it happened.)  A lot of things can change in that time span.  Jobs, kids, health, geographic location, and the simple ability to stay up late all come into play.  In 2006 it was a chore for me to get up before 8am.  Now I can barely sleep past 6am.  Earl, who used to stay up into the wee hours of the morning on the east coast in order to play with us likewise reports that age has made an earlier bed time much more of a thing.  Also, he might be in Japan.

Anyway, I have that to look forward to, which is good, because I have otherwise pretty much fallen off the Azeroth wagon.

I was ready, really ready, for the 8.2 update.  The Rise of Azshara was going to bring some new content as well as the ability to unlock flying in the Battle for Azeroth expansion.  I had my main all set to go.

Then I didn’t log in the day the update dropped.

Things were busy in EVE Online for a start.  I put off getting dug into the expansion for over a week, until the first weekend in July.  At that point I got the quests, went through the new zone intro, then was distracted by Darkmoon Faire for a bit.  And then I stopped logging in at all.

Rather than being well on my way to unlocking flying in Battle for Azeroth, I pretty much just have a camel that can walk on water at this point.

Ship of the desert… and now the water

And that was thanks to the fact that, having done the work to earn the Azure Water Strider mount back during Mists of Pandaria (best mount reward ever from the most underrated of expansions), I was given the mount gear for water walking with the8.2 update, an item which applies to all my mounts.  It isn’t just camels walking on water.

Otherwise, I have been pretty much neglecting WoW.

I wouldn’t necessarily blame my current Azeroth malaise on Battle for Azeroth.  As expansions go it is mid-pack.  There is a lot there to love, but also a lot that really isn’t all that exciting.  It has many of the usual problems of expansions.  Blizz changed enough things to annoy a segment of their core fan base, but not enough things for the game to feel fresh, new, of different.  So some of the core is (loudly) annoyed by BFA but there isn’t anything that would bring back a lapsed player.  And so it goes.  As I noted back in February, expansions mean change and there is a balancing act as to how much or how little change will lead to success, and the margins within which a company can find success seem to narrow with each successive expansion.

I don’t think the expansion is necessarily my problem.  Time has shown that I just tend to be cyclical with my WoW passion.  I play for stretches, then fade for a while, only to find renewed interest when I return again later.

I will probably be back to BFA later.  I have not forsaken the flying unlock yet, having managed it in every expansion so far.  But that will probably be at a later date.  I suspect that my next login will probably be for WoW Classic.  I hope to be refreshed and ready for that in under a month.

But if I want a sampler there is always that last stress test event coming up next week, open to everybody with a live account.  Also, name reservation day is on the 13th I understand it.  And I still need to consider which class to roll up for the big day.  Maybe it is good that it is still about three weeks away.

The Rise of Azshara Update brings Flying to Battle for Azeroth

The long discussed 8.2 update for World of Warcraft, the Rise of Azshara, goes live today in Azeroth.  The servers might even be up by the time this goes live.  There was an extra long downtime scheduled. (Also, too much stuff happened today, so now I have my fourth post of the day here.)

The 8.2 update splash screen

This is a pretty major content drop for Blizzard.  There is a lot of stuff coming, practically enough to qualify as a full on expansion for some other MMORPGs.  The update notes go into things in detail, but we were given a brief summary a while back.

Rise of Azshara Features

That ought to be enough to keep people busy over the summer as we wait for WoW Classic to show up.

Of course, new zones and new raids aside, the big item for me is the second part of the pathfinder achievement which, when unlocked, will grant you the ability to fly on your flying mounts in the Battle for Azeroth expansion.

Flying is Coming

You even get a flying mount for unlocking the ability to fly in BFA… and the bar doesn’t seem so high.  At least not for me.  They tweeted a little video about what you had to do to unlock flying.

Since I have done all of the part one pathfinder tasks, it looks like I just need to get two factions in the new areas to revered standing and I will be there.

In the process there are two new zones to explore and a raft of quests to complete.  Blizz even has a survival guide video for the new content.

 

It is time to set aside my alts, with whom I have been tinkering for the last month, and get back to focusing on my main.  My summer goal for Azeroth is set.

Waiting for Flying and Leveling Up

We have slowly been getting bits and pieces of information about the World of Warcraft 8.2 Rise of Azshara patch.  Blizzard has released some info of its own accord while a lot more has been data mined from content on the public test realm.

The 8.2 update splash screen

What hasn’t come out way is an actual date for the patch.  I was hoping we would see it this month, but we’re almost to the mid-point already without a word.  To my mind June works well because we haven’t had a big drop in a while, it coincides with the tail end of the six month period that Blizzard locked a bunch of people into with that special mount offer, and it is far enough out in front of the late August release of WoW Classic that some of us can get in there, get flying, and be ready to swap to the old school.

However, what I think doesn’t necessarily mean anything down in Irvine.  Blizzard will move at its own pace, which is both a luxury it enjoys as well as being a bit of a curse.

While we have been waiting I have finished up all of the prerequisites for unlocking flying.  I am exalted with everybody, the ilevel on my main is high enough that mobs in the world are easy again.  I am well over that hump.  Feeling done there, I am on to some alts.  I think all of my level 110s are at least 111 now due to various activities, but I went all in with my hunter, traditionally my main alt, and got him up to the level cap.

Tistann to level 120

I leveled him up the straightforward way, through the quest content in the expansion.  And, as with my first run through that, there clearly hit a point around level 118 where the mobs out in world were clearly getting a lot tougher relative to my own power.  Up until that point just upgrading with the gear awarded by quests was enough to keep me feeling viable, but then there is that jump for the NPCs and suddenly one add is a disaster and you wonder if something has gone really wrong with your play style.

But it isn’t you, it is the game.  I still don’t know why Blizz thinks this is a good idea, but there it is.

I did start lining up some upgrade gear for level cap as I went along.  As it turns out leather working now yields a ranged weapon, and my hunter does skinning and leather working, so I was ready to go with that.

I made myself useful gear in WoW?!?!

Fortunately the hunter class, at least in beast mastery, is somewhat resilient to bad situations.  You can always sacrifice your pet and run away or feign death.  You do spend a lot of time healing your pets… and I oddly found my tanking pets harder to keep alive than my DPS pets… but you can power through.

Once up to level 120 I was able to start gearing him up via world quests and he is pretty much over the hump and back to feeling a bit more powerful in the world.

Such is not the case with my feral druid.

As I mentioned in a past post, my druid was my first alt to 120, and I did that entirely via pet battles.  That was a mistake.

I decided to see if I could get some world quests done with the druid and, as it turns out, being level 120 with all your 110 gear is not at all viable.  Running around in cat form makes you a bit squishy to start with, but this made even single NPCs a dodgy proposition.

Of course, I figured it could just be me.  I read up on Icy Veins, got an addon to help with my combat rotation, and I still managed to die horrible way too often.  Gear upgrades via my hunter did not tip the balance.  My druid is stuck at the bottom of an ilevel hill and working my way out of it feels like more effort than I want to expend.  It could still just be me being bad, but I have leveled him up normally in the past.

However, he might just be a pet battle character from now on.

I do have a couple of tougher alts, a DK and a warrior, that might be options.  But I am not sure I am feeling it for leveling up again at the moment.  Knowing that hill is waiting for me around level 118 is a disincentive to dig into that again.

Claiming the Pets of Children’s Week

It has been quite a stretch since I have done anything with Children’s Week in WoW.  I cannot even remember when I last did one of the quests, which probably means it has been a few expansions.  But for Battle for Azeroth the added in a new set of quests with a new set of pets, and once I noticed that I was pretty sure I had to give it a look.

While getting all the achievements for Children’s Week is an annoyance with which I haven’t bothered, the actual main quest that earns you a pet generally isn’t all that tough.  As has been the case in the past, the BfA version is a tour of some locations.  Once I found Orphan Matron Westerson it was the same routine as past versions.  Having hit level 120 with my main and done all the story lines and explored all the places… or most of the places, though I may have just forgotten some I visited so long ago at this point… that I was able to run through the quests little orphan Liam doles out easily enough.  And once I returned him to the orphanage the quest line was done and I was able to claim one of the four new battle pets.

I chose one and thought about how it was going to take three more holidays… three more years… to get the rest.  It has been long enough since I did Children’s Week that I think I only had my main in position to do the quests back then, so I collected the pets slowly, over years.

But after Warlords of Draenor and Legion I have a ton of alts… well, at least six… in place and able to run around Kul Tiras.  I just got an alt to level 120 last week.  So I got him out and found that, at some point, I had done the intro quests for BfA.  So I took the portal from the fancy new portal room in Stormwind (Orgrimmar got a better room) and went to the flight master to take the ride over to close by where the orphanage was.  However, the flight master didn’t have anything for me.

When you’re new in town

I could walk to the orphanage, that was just on the other side of town.  But the rest of the locations… well, I could ride there, but it wasn’t going to be as lickety split as having the local flight point.  Then I remembered something I bought from the 7th Legion supply office after I hit exalted with them and was picking up all the things they had on offer.  It was some sort of scouting maps that said something about flight points.  I had clicked on it, but it didn’t do anything for my main, so I wasn’t sure what it might really be for.  But it was bound to account, which meant I could send it to alts.  So I sent it to my druid.

The 7th Legion comes through

And sure enough, after I clicked on that the flight path options expanded greatly.

What you get after you show them your card

That made getting through and running the quest easy enough. My druid hadn’t upgraded his gear, save to buy a weapon at the auction house, since at level 120 the artifact weapon from Legion looked puny compared to green drops available on the auction house, and upgrading just that would keep his ilevel down, avoided the bad half of the difficulty ramp.

So I had two pets.

I got my hunter out.  He was level 112 and had been in Kul Tiras since early on.  He even had a few flight points.  But once I sent him the scouting report he had them all and soon enough I had three of the new pets for Children’s Week.

But at that point I was out of easy answers.  Anybody else would have to go through the intro story to get into BfA which I recall being long and tedious after a while.  Still, I thought I would give it a shot.  I picked my Dranei death knight.  I had started him on the pet battle run to get some levels.  He recalled to Stormwind, picked up a better weapon at the auction house, stopped off at Darkmoon Faire, then went to find Mathias Shaw.

Why yes, I have been to the fair. How did you know?

Fortunately my memory of the intro includes a bunch of the pre-expansion stuff from last summer.  Instead off all that you jump straight to Siege of Lordaeron, skipping past all that tree burning build up.  It is still a group event and you have to queue up for it, but there are enough people still doing it that the queue popped pretty quickly.

Fish Head in Lordaeron

That ran pretty well and did not take as much time to get to Sylvanas as I thought it might.  She got her big monologue and escape and then it was back to Stormwind for discussions and then the task to sail with Jaina Proudmoore to Kul Tiras.  I groaned a little bit at that as, while I enjoyed the whole jail break scenario when it was new, I had done it a couple of times already.  Fortunately Jaina is a good commander and has her troops covered.

Or you can just skip all of that…

There is still a little intro quest, but the fourth stop is the flight master and I was headed there anyway.  I had sent the scouting map to my DK so he was quickly at the orphanage.

Is this were I rent an orphan?

So little Liam rode around with my DK and saw the sights of Kul Tiras.  For the fourth run it was a bit of a whirlwind tour.  I had all the trigger locations set and didn’t hang around for conversations or tours.  Sorry Liam.  But he still seemed as excited at the end.

And you have that battle pet for me, right kid?

And so I ended up with all four of the Kul Tiras Children’s Week battle pets.

All in my leveling queue

Now I am trying to remember if I did claim all the pets for the earlier versions.  It might be time to go check before the event ends tomorrow.

Addendum:

I was missing one pet from the Burning Crusade version of the event.

Legs acquired

That has been taken care of now.

My First WoW Alt to 120

I finally have an alt up to level 120 in World of Warcraft.  120 was the level cap introduced with the Battle for Azeroth expansion.  That expansion launched over seven months ago, so this isn’t anything like a brag.

The moment – who can tell me where I am?

In a way, it is something of the opposite of a brag.  Because the funny thing about my alt, an alliance druid named Alioto, is that he hasn’t been to Kul Tiras or Zandalar yet.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is that while he did go to the Broken Isles in Legion, and has his feral spec artifact weapons, I fell off the wagon there after a couple of levels.  The changes to druids between Warlords of Draenor, where I played him quite a bit, and Legion were enough to put me off the class.  And that didn’t seem to get much better with the coming of BFA.  Still, I might have given it a shot save for the next item.

Second, there is/was/remains the whole bit about how mobs scale up faster in difficulty than you do as your level and ilevel go up.  That was a serious drag with my ret pally main, and I felt pretty good about playing him otherwise, and led to all sorts of angst in the community about levels and what not.  Even I was wondering what the point of levels were if they actively made you feel weaker against the exact same content, and I kind of like levels despite their problems.

I am past that with my pally.  He hit level 120 months ago and has boosted his ilevel past the point of punishment and it is fun again to go out and do world quests and follow the story line.  When the expansion stops punishing you for upgrading things are pretty good, because aside from that I have enjoyed the zone content and the story line.

But I am not keen to dive in with alts quite yet.  I will probably wait until I unlock flying on my account before I dive into that.  And I am certainly not hankering to dive into BFA with alts that are classes that I feel weak playing to start with.  I’d probably be okay with warrior, hunter, or death knight, all of which are ready to go, but my mage, rogue, and druids… those all feel like they would end up being an unhappy slog.

Basically, BFA has made me focus on my main even more than Legion did, and Legion really felt geared to make you focus on a single main to start with, something that was a bit jarring after the alt happy Warlords of Draenor expansion, where I ended up with a bunch of characters at level cap.  And all of this was compounded by the fact that allied races came in with the run up to BFA, so Blizzard was essentially pushing alts by giving you a passel of new level 20s to grind up, while delivering an expansion that made leveling up alts feel like a chore.

Is it any wonder that Blizzard is fretting about levels and talking about crazy things like a level squish?  In hindsight they seem to have set themselves up for trouble.

All of which is part of the public debate about WoW, but leaves out how my druid managed to get to level cap.

He got there via pet battles.

And not just any pet battles, but the battles against grand master pet tamer NPCs in the Warlords of Draenor and Mists of Panaria.

Due to the quirks of the way pet battles have evolved over time, the easiest way to level up your battle pets is to run through some daily NPC pet battles in those two expansions.

I have been over how I can run a level 1 battle pet up to level 25 daily without a lot of effort.  With the right set of teams it is not a big deal, save for the occasional bad luck with the RNG. (I still highly recommend the addon Rematch for managing your pet leveling queue and teams.)

The side effect of running these pet battles, which are all in areas where the level cap was lower so they are pretty safe to travel through even if you haven’t unlocked flying, and completely safe if you have, is that they also yield experience for your character.  They are all daily quests, but due to the fact they are pet battles, they scale up with your level, handing you a solid at level quest worth exp with each one.

Seriously, from where ever through to level cap each battle gave my druid nearly 4% of a level of experience. With Legion, and carried on with BFA, the master trainers became world quests, which means you need to unlock access to them and can only battle them when they are up in rotation.

While there is a limit to the number you can do on a given day… you can only battle each master trainer once… doing enough to level a pet up to 25 each day gets you a good chunk of a level.

In fact, I think the master pet trainer daily quests in all of the content up through Warlords of Draenor do the same, and there are a lot of them.  There is even an achievement for doing them all in a single day, which I will do some day (with an alt well shy of the level cap).  I haven’t done it yet because, for me at least, pet battles are best done in small doses lest they become tedious.

Anyway, there is a way to level up an alt.  I’ll probably start in with another character… probably my mage, which is the level 110 alt I am least likely to ever play… and carry on with the pet battle dailies.

Addendum: I am not the only one on about mob scaling in BFA today.