Tag Archives: Warlords of Draenor

Meanwhile, Back in Azeroth

I haven’t written much of late about actually play World of Warcraft.  That hasn’t been due to a lack of play time really.  It is more a lack of doing anything worth writing about, a problem of sorts that I lay directly on the cumulative doorsteps of the five garrisons I have running right now.

The Draenor Contestants

My five garrison characters, pre-Draenor

Seriously, when I log in and go through each character, collecting all their work orders, checking all their buildings, doing all the harvesting, upgrading follower equipment and then sending them out on new missions, and then finally go through the various daily pet battles to continue work on my pet army, I am about done with time on an average weeknight.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  At least Blizzard has given me a reason to log in every day to check on things, but sometimes days go by before I do anything besides garrison maintenance.

But occasionally I do get out and do things.

I did, for example, run Alioto through the gnomish section of Spires of Arak in order to finally pick up the level 1 plans for the Salvage yard.  I am what, four months late in doing that?  And then when I found out you get a follower as well when you finish that chain I started pushing the rest of the Draenor crew through it.  I think only Trianis is left.

The instance group has not been completely idle either.  I see Earl, Skronk, and Ula on regularly, no doubt tending to their own garrisons and working on alts as well.

We also went out and did the Iron Docks as a group… like five times already.

Flushing out all the NPCs in the Iron Docks

Flushing out all the NPCs in the Iron Docks

It is kind of a neat instance.  There are several interesting mechanics that you have to learn as you move through the whole thing, so there was some trial and error, which is always good.  There is at least some satisfaction in figuring things out.

But once we figured things out the whole thing was pretty easy in normal mode.  Easy enough that the first two times we ran the instance Ula was not feeling well so we ran it as a foursome.

And, as an at-level four person party, we beat it on our first run through.  Granted, we died a lot as we learned the mechanics, but once we figured things out the fights were not all that tough.  So after our first run through as a team of four, we did it again.

Then the next time we were one, we ran it three more times with Ula in tow.  We did it that many times because, by that point, the run was pretty quick and because she was level 93 still and Blizzard decreed way back in Pandaria that you cannot even walk into a dungeon, much less enter it through the Dungeon Finder, unless you meet the minimum level requirements.  Heaven help the nanny state.

So our last couple of runs through we tried to maximize experience by killing every mob we would find.  We even tried to take on that big open area that you roll the giant iron wheels through to clear.  We did well on the periphery, but the big mass in the center overwhelmed us, so we rolled one wheel through to thin that out and then cleared the rest.

Of course, part of the problem is that Tistann and Earl are both over-equipped.

Tistann with the big gun and the big pet

Tistann with the big gun and the big pet

Tistann has the full upgraded purple engineer’s gun and a couple of the item level 630 crafted pieces, while Earl has a Garrosh heirloom weapon and level 630 pieces of his own.  So we have way more DPS than anybody would ever need to take on instances at level 94.  That advantage will get pared back as we level up, but right now we are OP.

If we were a more active group, I might even suggest we all just drive for the level cap and work on the heroic versions of all of these instances.  I am just not sure we are that active.

Still, we have conquered the normal mode version of the Iron Docks.

The instance group in the Iron Docks

The instance group in the Iron Docks

And then there was the whole 6.1 patch thing, which I have not yet begun to explore in any depth.  Garrisons keeping me busy and all that.

I was happy with how the heirloom changes turned out.  While Blizz warned us that we might need to log on and dig through every character’s bank in order to get all of the heirlooms we socked away over the years to show up in the new heirloom tab, mine seemed to all get picked up automatically.  I still logged everybody in all the same… that was kind of interesting to go visit some old characters… but it wasn’t really necessary.

All told I had 19 heirlooms, which was enough for three achievements.

HeirloomAchiI then turned around and went to the guild vendor in Stormwind and the heirloom vendor in Ironforge and filled out some missing slots by buying a pile of the now readily available for gold level 1-60 heirlooms.

I then used Darkmoon Faire tickets and ancestral coins from the Lunar Festival to upgrade some key heirlooms that I just bought, and which I thought might be useful in the near future, to the level 1-90 versions so I can drive some alts straight to Draenor when the time is ripe.

Blizzard figured out a way to get me to participate in holiday events again.

I mentioned my 2006 vintage Orc Hunter Garnatz as the prime candidate to get me a Horde version of the Garrison thing, because I clearly need more freakin’ garrisons!  Well, he is heirloomed up the butt to level 90 now.  I can have a whole army of forgotten and idle… but well equipped… alts now.

And, finally, I did take the obligatory selfie with the new camera.

Vikund in his garrison

Vikund in his garrison

So that is about all the news I have from Azeroth of late.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go attend to my followers.  Some of them might be idle!!!

By The Fifth Garrison I Totally Had It Down…

Over the weekend in World of Warcraft, after wrapping up garrison maintenance for four characters, running the garrison daily, doing a pet battle for tokens, and fishing a bit, I started thinking about actually… well… playing the game.

I know, I know, all that other stuff is part of the game.  But each feels like its own little thing and apart from what I think of as playing WoW, which is leveling out in the field and running instances.

With three level 94 characters in Draenor, I had my choice of classes to play and level up.  Alioto was high on my list as, having the inscription trade skill, I wanted to unlock the garrison herb garden for him.

So what did I do?

I logged in my rogue, Trianis, star of my doomed attempt at the Loremaster achievement over the summer, to see where he stood.

He was level 88 and just a ways into the Valley of the Four Winds.  He had been a possible contender for “who goes to Draenor first” back before the expansion hit, but I had ended up leaving him behind with Pandaria unfinished.

I did a few quests there with him, rode out to Halfhill Market and boosted his cooking skill from ~280 to 525 with the set of “catch up” recipes available, generating a cooking achievement every couple minutes.  Then I flew him back to the road into Kun-Lai Summit and picked up the starter quest for the zone.  My goal was to see if I could get him to level 90 and to do the quest for the Grummelpack, the 24 slot bag that is a quest reward about half way across the zone.

As it turned out, that was about the perfect set of goals as he literally popped to level 90 when I turned in the quest for the Grummelpack.  #winning

I swapped in the new big back, recalled to Stormwind, and headed straight to Khadgar and into the Warlords of Draenor starter zone.  It was just after I committed to that path that I realized I had not done much about my gear.  I was actually still wearing several pieces of the 1-85 heirloom gear that had allowed Trianis to speed through the Cataclysm expansion.  I never got around to replacing them while in Pandaria.  The drops I got there all had a better item level, but the heirloom gear stats remained competitive.  Side effect of the great stat squish I guess.

But now I was going into Draenor wearing that stuff, while back in my bank I had a full set of Timeless Isle leather gear to open up and wear.  Those purples, at item level 496, would have clearly been better than what I was wearing.  But it was too late, so I pressed on through the expansion intro.

Come on Khadgar, move your ass

Come on Khadgar, move your ass

The fifth time through… well… I was at the point of being optimized for the experience.  And doubly so as a rogue, where you can stealth through things.  I still have to resolve the dichotomy of the full on rogue play style and the feral druid pseudo-rogue play style, as they are not identical.  The feral druid just does not have the damage capabilities of the rogue, but can cast heals… and since I got the random druid specialization that lets Alioto cast a heal while in cat form, he is even more survivable… while the rogue has to vanish and run away if he gets in too far over his head.  That, or die a lot.  Dying a lot reminds you to vanish eventually.

Anyway, I made it through, took the ride to Shadowmoon Valley and launched into garrison creation.  Again, having been through Shadowmoon Valley four times before, I know which quests to run to get followers and what I need to do to unlock the level 2 on the garrison.  In pretty much “zip zam boom” fashion Trianis was sitting in his level 2 garrison with 9 followers.

Another town hall

Another town hall

I did have a couple of new quests to run.  For trade skills Trianis does enchanting and tailoring, the “no need to harvest” combo.  That meant he had to go find the quests for both trade skills and run them down before laying down the Enchanter’s Study and the Tailoring Emporium.  No extra space for a Storehouse, so he’ll have to travel to do his banking.

On the bright side, the raws he needs to run his crafting material production orders had been accumulating on a couple of characters, so he was set to kick those off.

I had to decide what to do with my medium slot.  I wish that the Dwarven Bunker was a medium building, as I have gotten a huge amount of benefit from it with Vikund and his garrison.  Hi followers are bringing back item level 645 gear at this point due to all of the follower upgrades.  Absent that, I decided to go with a Lumber Mill, if only because it was a building I haven’t played with as yet, and Trianis is behind in his garrison resource accumulation.

So now I have another character in Draenor and another garrison to tend.  And all of the candidate characters I had listed for Draenor back before the expansion launch are into the thick of things.

The Draenor Contestants

The Draenor Contestants – all now in Draenor

So now I should work on leveling them up.

Of course, I say that, but then I saw this on the WoW 6.1 PTR release notes:

Alchemists can now transmute for Savage Blood

And what trade skill do I NOT have in Draenor yet?  And how badly do I want/need savage blood for crafting?

But, you know, I do have an alchemist.  He is a level 83 druid, so he isn’t THAT far from the level cap.  And how much more work would six garrisons be compared to five?

This is how I get mired in side tasks.

The State of the Garrison Address

You came from Draenor? How does that even work?!

Nate Pagle, in Pandaria

As I sat last night thinking about what to write for today’s post, I looked back at the week and realized I had written nothing but posts that were attempting to be meaningful, relevant, or topical.  And while those are great for the looking back sections of my monthly review, I don’t want anybody to think I am putting on airs.  So rather than yet another “thinking about games” piece… and I still have a few of those on my “to do” list right now, including a look at the “OMG we have some already?!” CSM meeting minutes and some mildly optimistic thoughts I have had on LOTRO’s future… I’m going to go back to dull old writing about stuff I’ve done.

I am going to write about my garrison.  Again.

We are now past the two months marker for Warlords of Draenor and I am still not sure how I feel about my garrison (or the way trade skills have been changed).

Chieftain Cheat Sheet

Also, I don’t run into these guys like I used to

Actually, I have four garrisons now.  Working from the idea that garrison resources might be a scarce commodity and the fact that you can just earn them over time by simply having a garrison and logging on every other day to collect them, I ran one alt, then another, and then a third into Draenor.

Then, of course, I got a follower for each, but thought I should push on and get a couple more.  And if I just got another level then I could have another building or upgrade the mine or whatever, when suddenly I found myself with my main at level 100 and three alts in the mid 90s and, if I sent my followers on shorter missions, a seemingly infinite loop of logging a character in, checking followers, sending them on new missions, collecting some resources, topping up work orders, to the point that there have been a couple of evenings where I have done little else in Azeroth.

So I am really not sure if I want to get another alt in the mix, as five garrisons might represent a breaking point.  As it is, I am mostly playing with my garrison or doing minor garrison related tasks.  But when it comes to the whole Garrison Campaign, I am clearly still in the “Wait, What?” category.  I am not yet sure if I have advanced my garrison to the point where I would get into the campaign… or how I would know if I was there.  And am I supposed to be getting garrison invasions or something?

Anyway, I am going to stop and review where things stand… building by building.  Now is the time to click on a link to elsewhere if you have no interest in this. (EJECT!)

Vikund's Alliance Garrison

Vikund’s Alliance Garrison

Building roll call after the cut as I just go on and on.

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Last Minute Molten Core

Blizzard has had a few things going on to celebrate the World of Warcraft 10th anniversary.  You got a molten corgi pet just for logging in during the anniversary period. (November 21 to January 6th now January 13th, see addendum at the end of the post.)

There was also the special Southshore vs. Tarren Mill 40 vs 40 battleground.  I played through a few of those, was on the winning side my first time out, so go the achievement and the “Tarren Mill Terror” title right away.  And, I must admit, despite my skepticism about this being able to bring back the ad hoc PvP battles that used to rage where Horde met Alliance in that zone, it was actually pretty fun.

When the goal is just to kill the other side you tend to end up in two big groups with people trying to run out and snag people, with the road running outside of Tarren Mill being something like the line of scrimmage.  It worked and felt chaotic enough.  In that first match we were absolutely stomping the Horde for a while, then ended up chasing them well past the road and into the area where the guards roam.  They jumped on us and suddenly our big lead fell by the wayside until we got everybody back on our side of the road again.

Another anniversary event was a special Molten Core raid.  It was the classic, 10 boss, 40 person raid redone for level 100 players… well, level 100 LFR players… with some special drops at the end and a mount in the mail for everybody who got to the end and killed Ragnaros.

That catch was that you had to get to level 100 and get your item level up to 615 before the event expired… and it expires on January 6th, just about 24 hours after this post should go up, if I read things right.

Not that getting to level 100 is that hard… I managed to meander there with a month to spare… but the item level aspect takes at least a bit of effort, and after the first few weeks of Warlords of Draenor I wandered off to winter in EverQuest II for a while.  So I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to give the whole thing a go.  I ended up at item level 614 with about a week to spare largely due to my garrison followers picking up items, my engineering goggles, and a couple of lucky upgrades on drops.  But that wasn’t enough, so I slouched forward into action.

I ran through the Proving Grounds and got my silver rating for DPS on the first go.  It actually didn’t seem like that big of a deal, which appeared to be a good sign.  Maybe I had actually, you know, learned to play after all these years.

With that in hand I was able to queue up for heroic instances.  However, those did not go very well… or, rather, they went exactly as well as heroic instances tend to go in my experience.  I have no achievements for heroic WoD instances because I did not finish a single one in four tries.  But I only needed four incomplete tries, as during the fourth instance an item level 630 cloak dropped, which was enough to boost me to 616.  I didn’t even mind when the tank kicked me from the group after we wiped on the final boss… on our first try… because I did not keep him alive after the healer went down.  I had my item, so good riddance to all that.

I got up Saturday morning, logged into WoW, and queued up for Molten Core.  The queue, was predictably at that time of day, a bit long.  I was going to wait for an hour or so.


I did my garrison routines, ran out and did the fishing daily, trapped enough game that I should be able to get the achievement required to upgrade the bard to level 3 by next weekend (125 work orders required for the achievement, they take 3 hours each (well, actually 4 hours each, as somebody noted in the comments), and you can only stuff 19 in the queue, so it takes a while), and wandered about while waiting for the instance to pop.

I did get a bit concerned at one point when the queue started showing very short average wait times.


I am going to guess that the person who did this queue timer previously did the timer that estimates file transfer times in Windows explorer.  I did have a moment of “something’s broke, I had better leave and queue up again,” but decided I had better not.  And a few minutes later the queue eventually popped and I was in.

More after the cut because of too many screen shots.

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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.


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?