Tag Archives: WoW Legion

Timewalking to Northrend

Timewalking has been in World of Warcraft for a while now.  This is where they open up dungeons from past expansions, reworked to support players in the current expansion.

Re-using old content and making it viable in the current context/meta of the game is something I am totally in favor of.  I just haven’t participated in the whole Timewalking thing up until now.

That is mostly because I haven’t been subscribed and playing for about the last year, so I missed the previous events.  Now that I am back though I took an evening to look into what was going on.

I was lured in by the fact that the current event is for dungeons from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, which was provably the peak of my interest in WoW.

That was the only expansion I stuck with from day one through until the next expansion drop.  Unfortunately, the next drop was Cataclysm, about which I have a list of gripes, and which started my pattern of starting expansions, go away for six months to a year, then coming back to finish them off after Blizz has unlocked all the content and fixed the more egregious issues.

(As an aside, Wrath of the Lich King was launched nine years ago yesterday.  That seems like a long time ago now.)

However, now that I am back and enjoying Legion, timewalking is also an option, of course I was going to indulge myself in the current even and travel back to Northrend and the instances I knew so well at one point.

I did a couple of the instances before figuring out that there was a quest for the event that would award some additional benefit in the form of vendor tokens, so I grabbed that and kept on going for a while.  Going back to the old haunts was a nice little break from Suramar, and didn’t slow me down too much.  I have been on a WoW binge for a bit now.

Slaying King Ymiron again

The event was popular so queuing for it in Dungeon Finder was quick, even as DPS.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the dungeons themselves and how they might scale or what drops one might get.  I was quite happy with the ilevel 880 timewarped Northrend gear I got, which was both an upgrade over what I was currently wearing as well as giving me a bit of the old school WotLK look.

Vikund and the Knights who say “Ni!”

There were also artifact boosts for every boss and vendor tokens along the way, though the drops from dungeon mobs themselves were still seemed to be in the WotLK level range.

Finding the vendor took a minute though.  When I completed the event quest it told me to go find the vendor in Dalaran.  However, he was nowhere to be seen in the Legion Dalaran, so I had to think about the best way to get to the WotLK Dalaran, the two co-existing in the game.

I decided to take the portal to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms in Pandaria from the Legion Dalaran, remembering that there was a portal from there to the WotLK Dalaran.

Passing through Pandaria

That got me to the correct Dalaran where I was able to find the vendor, standing in the center of town with a crowd around him.

The vendor is in there somewhere

The quest turn in actually gave me quite a few tokens to play with, tripling the tokens I had earned along the way.

The reward

The tokens can be turned in for various bits of gear… though honestly I got so many upgrades that there was only one piece that was a semi-side-grade for me… or tokens to up your standings with various Northrend factions… not helpful since I am exalted with all the factions for which there are tokens… and some expensive things like a mount.  I’d have to run a lot more dungeons to get there.

The list of things from the vendor are over at the WoW Head timewalking guide.

It was there that I also learned that there were only six dungeons in play for timewalking, which explains why I saw some repeats.

The limited rotation wasn’t all bad.  My main worry was pulling The Oculus, the gimmick instance most likely to cause a rift in a group in the entire expansion.  Dungeon Finder groups fall apart doing that on normal mode.

What is probably my all-time most run instance ever, The Nexus, was on the list so I got to run a victory lap there.  I even remembered to jump during the last fight.

Still, I wouldn’t have minded doing Utgarde Keep or a couple of the others.

Which leads us down to the experience of running the instances now, so many years later.

On the one hand, it was fun in its own way to romp through a few old places.  I even remembered how most of the fights went.

On the flip side the problems with both timewalking and Dungeon Finder were apparent.

The ilevel reduction to make the instances something of a challenge doesn’t seem to be enough.  This is doubly so since I noticed I was getting credit for doing Heroic instances in doing these timewalking dungeons.  The power/difficulty ratio barely put these on par with normal mode dungeons at level.

And then the real problem with Dungeon Finder, which isn’t jerks or the unhelpful, who tend to be rare in my experience, but the speed.  When you’re in a group with strangers you’re not there to share an experience but get the reward for completion.  So each of these runs became races through the content, made all the more hasty by the ease with which we tore through boss after boss.

Ideally I would have liked to go through these old instances in a pre-made group, preferably the old instance group, to savor a bit of the history, to sit a while and listen to what the bosses have to say, to actually enjoy the fights.  But you go with the options you have, and random Dungeon Finder groups are the only choice some of us have, so you have to make the most of it.

Through Suramar and the Class Hall Quest Line

The Suramar zone has a lot of quests.

As noted previously I floundered about a bit figuring out where the lead-in for the zone was, eventually catching up with Khadgar and getting on the right path.  But that is quite a path.

To start with there is a whole quest chain series to run through… not a zone’s worth relative to the other zones, but maybe half that amount… to get the Nightborne up and running and willing to start you off on the actual series of quest chains for the zone achievement that is on the path to unlock flying.

Suramar itself is in the shape of a section of a circle, an arc with open countryside and ruins on the outside two thirds of the arc.

Suramar Zone Map

The outside boundaries are a bit rough, but it is mostly an arc.  It is in this outer area where you start to delve into the tale of the Nightborne, their deeds and sites, and their huge mana addiction.

Basically, the whole story is about a bunch of isolationist night elves who became junkies, slaves to their mana addiction, how they got tied up with the Legion, and the search by one underground group to rid themselves of the Legion and to find the mythical mana methadone equivalent.  You seriously have to get the quest givers a fix before they’ll talk to you if they are Jonesing.

Fortunately bits of mana are literally sitting all over the countryside and by a few quests in you’ve been given the power to see such mana nodes on your mini-map, all the better to keep your Nightborne buddies lit and sweet.

There is even a sort of mana pool game you have to play.  When you start out there is a hard limit on how much mana you can acquire, but one of the rewards you get as you move along is boosts to the total pool you can have.  Nothing like ending up in a mana rich area and finding you’re already full up, though at least some of the nodes yield crystals, good for 50 or 100 mana, that go into your inventory as a secondary storage which can be accessed later.

Once you have followed through setting things up in the outer arc, the quest line begins to focus on Suramar City in the center of the circle.

Gonna go down to Suramar City…

There you get in touch with the underground seeking to overthrow the Legion and their Nightborne allies.

Suramar City itself reminds me a bit of Annuminas in Evendim back in LOTRO, at least in its semi-circular form around a central bay/harbor and the somewhat overwrought grandness of its structures.

Gazing across Suramar City

I like how fantasy cities all seemed to have been built by one architect.  Nobody dares violate the style guidelines.

The city has an interesting game mechanic.  To those running the city you are a hostile outsider who is kill on sight, so the underground hooks you up with a disguise that mostly fools the bads.  However, some of those bads possess “true sight” which allows them to see through your disguise.  Fortunately for you, you can spot them a mile away by the glowing blue eyeball hovering above them when you are disguised.

Skirting past some true sight guards in a sedan chair

If you get too close they call you out and you have to either get away quickly or kill them.  Once combat starts… or once they identify you… your disguise drops and any other guards in the area will also join in.

And so you do your bit for the underground, avoiding true sight and recruiting allies, assassinating foes, and generally sowing discord.  It can be a nifty and immersive experience.  Also, the grapple mechanic from Stormheim is a thing in Suramar City and you can get up onto the room tops at various points… though you mostly do that to find treasure boxes and bits of stray mana to keep everybody sweet.

There is one guy along the quest chain who wants 1,200 mana to carry on, which at that point is most of what you can carry and he just asked for 800 mana a bit ago, so I spent some time just refreshing my supply.  It is a good thing that the stuff is lying about all over, to such an extent that you might wonder who couldn’t keep themselves supplied, but maybe they’re all just high and can’t be bothered.

Still, while this is all good fun, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, there are some kinks in the plan.  There are a series of solo quests that require you to run through the Moonlit Landing area of Suramar city in order to speak to people, pick up a few items, or kill a few foes.

However, what distinguishes the Moonlit Landing is that most of the guards both have true sight and are elite.

Yeah, yeah, out in the open world “elite” doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in a dungeon or a raid.  For the most part an open world elite means that you can probably solo it with some effort/competence, but that getting a couple of them on you is bad news.  The problem is that the true sight elites are packed in tight so the idea that you’re going to get spotted in the middle of the area and only have to fight one at a tight is unlikely in the extreme.

If you’re very patient you could probably get through with stealth.  If you are very lucky you could probably get through skirting the edge of detection circles while speeding through.

For the rest of us, there are alternative means.

There were a couple that I managed to do by using the good old Goblin Glider kit to jump off from the vineyard level above Moonlit Landing to glide on down to the person I needed to speak to or the dingus I needed to acquire or modify.  From there I used the whistle you get when you open up world quests… and this may be the best thing ever for those who don’t have flying yet… that summons a flying mount to take you to the nearest flight point.

And then there were a couple I did by the brute force corpse and revive method.  I didn’t start out with that as a plan, but I had to speak to three NPCs in the midst of the area and I failed at stealth and speed, so I just ran to a safe spot near the first one and died.  Then I ran back as a spirit, revived, spoke to the NPC, then ran for the next one, died in a safe spot, revived, and then again for the third one.

Finally, I had to kill some of the elites for drops.  Again, killing one is possible, but getting a group means you die.  I found a couple on the periphery and pulled them out into the water to take them down, a plan that worked three out of four times.

Fighting my pull in the water

The first time I did it I didn’t see the other guards behind something on the dock, but still managed to slay my target before dying, so I could loot him after I revived.

It wasn’t horrible, and it did provide a challenge of sorts with a few possible solutions, but I could see those quests being a real barrier to some people.  I told my daughter that when she gets there I’ll help her out, either healing for her DK if we need to brute force some of it or flying her in for some of the trickier ones.  But she might not need my help as she is generally more savvy at that sort of thing than I am.

The other issue turned out to be less of an issue than I thought it might be.  You get sent off to slay Xavius in the Emerald Nightmare raid.  On the plus side it was doable with the LFR version of the raid, so I queued up for the Xavius section of that thinking that I might be a couple hours getting through it.

However, that section of the raid is a few quick fights and then Xavius shows up.  Our group took him down without issue and I was able to run off to Cenarius, pick up the required quest item… which doesn’t drop with Xavius but is stilling next to Cenarius… and be done.

After the fight

I spent more time waiting in the queue for the raid… maybe 10 minutes… than it took to get through it.  It went so fast I forgot to take a screen shot until I was done.

The raid and that final venture into Moonlit Landing were the last real hurdles.  There were a pair of quests that required me to do Heroic instances, which I felt would be a real problem… everybody is fine with sloppy in easy normal mode, but in Heroic people start hating strangers when the difficulty ramps up… but those turned out to be option for the achievement.

So I finished out the quest chain which knocked out a couple of achievements for me, the important one being Loremaster of Legion, one of the five required for the Broken Isles Pathfinder (Part One) achievement that gates flying.

Meanwhile, along the way I also managed to complete my order hall class quest. I had a little bit of trouble figuring out where this quest was and ended up getting both of the other paladin artifact weapons… the same orange punctuation heralds both quest types… before finally getting on the right path.  That also rained down some achievements on me.

Class Hall Quest Results

You get the new champions as soon as the chain is done, and they are 110 to start with, so that is a twofer right there if you’ve kept your other champions trained up.

Now my Ashbringer seems bigger and even more glowy than it did before.

Behold My Ashbringer… which is totally not exactly the same as yours

Now I can turn undead to little piles of dust even more quickly!

That also knocked out another section of the first Broken Isles Pathfinder achievement, leaving me with two to go.

The first is Variety is the Spice of Life, for which I have to run 100 different world quests.  If you look on the side of one of the screen shots above, you can see that I am tracking that achievement and sit at 71 out of 100.  I should be able to knock that out.  The only issue is remembering which world quests I have done before.  I’ve done some I could swear I was hitting for the first time, only to not see the number go up, while I’ve done others I know I’ve done and they count.  There is some confusion possible as a lot of world quests seem to be re-worked versions of normal quests.  Either way, if I run enough I know I’ll get there.  I still have not done any Broken Shore world quests, so those will boost that number.

And I know I will be running world quests because the last bit of the Pathfinder achievement is the Broken Isles Diplomat achievement which requires you to get revered standings with a list of factions.  I have a ways to go there.

Broken Isles Diplomat standings

The Nightfallen is our Nightborne friends in Suramar, and I managed to squeak into revered with them on the last quest in their chain, so I am covered, there.  But as for the rest, it will be world quests ongoing.  Lots of work to do on The Wardens as they are only Friendly at this point.

And that is just the Broken Isles Pathfinder Part One.  There is the Part Two portion, which extends things to the Broken Shore.  Fortunately that seems to be a single zone worth of exploration and a quest chain to do along with another faction to revered.

Anyway, some progress made and I continue to track myself as I go over at WoW Head.

Lost in Legion

I did it.  The cool weather and the longer nights had already triggered within me the desire to get back to the serious business of playing a fantasy MMORPG.  I had just been debating which one, all the while averting my gaze from World of Warcraft.  Why go back to the obvious one?

But there I was on Saturday afternoon, looking at Steam and wondering if I wanted to open up RimWorld yet again to eat up a few hours.  I had a couple of colonies established that I could pick up, but they had entered that mid-to-end game state of being established and secure and on an obvious path forward where it is just a matter of dialing up the speed and reacting to events now and again.  As SynCaine noted on my post about RimWorld, “A game design problem as old as (Civ) time itself.”

So I wasn’t feeling it.

I like the idea of a goal, but I don’t necessarily want to micro-manage my way forward.  Workers have automation in Civilization games for a reason… except in Civ VI, where they only last through a couple of improvements.  What the hell?

And, as noted, I was feeling the fantasy MMORPG urge.  So it came down to me listing out which candidates I could get back into and have a viable goal to pursue.  Being on the outside looking in for the last year or so on that front has left my knowledge of goals… goals beyond just “level up”… pretty hazy.

But then there was World of Warcraft sitting there saying, “How about unlocking flying in the Legion expansion?”

It was speaking right to my need with that.  And, after all, hadn’t I done the same thing with Warlords of Draenor?  I played that at launch, burned out on garrisons and not much else to do, then came back later once the flying update had dropped and settled down to pursue that, enjoying it quite a bit.

Seemed like a plan.  I mean, how hard could it be?  This was just WoW after all.  So I activated my account, logged back in, and found Earl logged on and working away.  Amongst the people I know who play WoW, he is the most dedicated.  Everybody else logged out and went away nearly a year ago, but he carried on.  He has more fully upgraded alts than anybody I know.

Anyway, activating your account again is easy enough and soon I was logged in and standing around in Dalaran wondering what in the hell to do.

This is always the problem with returning to an MMORPG, at least for me.  It is like the knowledge gap that opens between seasons of Game of Thrones, where you go away with most characters solidly in mind only to show up a year later having skipped the “previously on…” segment and wondering who half the people getting lines and screen time are.

I left myself in a state with most of the initial zones done, save for Suramar, but a dozen or so quests dangling in various states of progress.  That gives me something to “do” but not the feeling that I am getting on track to make progress on the whole flying thing.

I started off by just trying to pick up threads left dangling in the form of quests.  This didn’t go horribly, though my attempts to go straight across country to a couple of locations sent me off in odd, sometimes bad directions.  At one point, thanks to me being clumsy, I managed to vault over a barrier no doubt placed there to keep people from falling off of what looked to be the highest waterfall I have ever seen in WoW.

Of course, I couldn’t get back over the barrier and, bowing to the inevitable, went over the falls.

Such a long way down…

There was a respawn point very close by however, clearly anticipating the falls of fools like me.  If only I had that engineer parachute thing… or remembered that I was an engineer and could make such a thing before I reached this point.

Also in my attempt to pick up threads I managed to get the paladin tank artifact shield.

Guards you from the Truth at least as well as CNN

I wasn’t actually trying to do that.   It was just another quest I had started on already and thought it might have been a class order quest or something that would further my way forward towards flying.

Eventually I stopped trying to just wing it from memory and breadcrumbs.  I was starting to think that just starting from scratch in the Broken Isles with another character might be the best plan.  But then I started looking stuff up on the internet.  That led me to WoW Head as usual, which reminded me of their tracker for getting flying in Draenor, which they have updated to include Legion now.

That started me off in a more constructive direction… like getting to Suramar to do the quest chains there.  I never quite got there before.

Missing bit: Suramar

Even that had me stumble a bit as I had done the first couple of steps for the lead-in quest chain for the zone, but then for some reason dropped it.  Fortunately Khadgar was holding it for me and once I found him again in Dalaran I was off to Suramar and on track.

Okay, this is the right path now…

That got me through the introduction story and into the actual quests for the zone.

Yellow punctuation is all I really need, right?

That also got me introduced to the Nightfallen faction, residents of the zone, so I could begin working on reputation with them for one achievement and to unlock world quests for another.

That was all I needed, a nice solid foundation from which to work.  A zone of quests to follow and some reputation to grind works for me.  I still have to figure out the class order quest thing, but at least I am making progress.

Meanwhile, some things surprised me a bit on arrival in Azeroth.

When I left I was bitching about how I was getting drops for 50 to 250 artifact power to upgrade my copy of Ashbringer, the ret pally artifact weapon, because I had hit a point where the cost to unlock had jumped up to an incredible 8,000 power.  So imagine the look on my face when I started seeing drops and quest rewards that included artifact power boosts like this:

One BILLION artifact power!

So my Ashbringer went from being miles to go to being fully upgraded in fairly short order, with no doubt enough left over to upgrade the artifact weapons for the other two Paladin specs.  Achievement unlockd and all that.

Anyway, I seem to have found a path to follow.  After a couple of evenings flailing about and falling off of things, I am no longer feeling lost in Legion.  I think I have made it over the usual hump that comes with returning to an MMORPG and trying to figure out where you left off.

Onward towards flying!

A Barrier to My Eventual Return to Azeroth

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, what I am playing is driven as much by what I am in the mood for as anything.  No amount of “I should be playing…”  will get me to launch a game.

And moods come and go.  Today I am playing a lot of Pokemon.  Next week I might tire of that and move on to something else.

But mood alone can only go so far.  Mood gets me to log in, sets up the scenario.  Then I need a task, a direction, a place to go.  I can be very task oriented, so I need a plan or a goal to work towards.  I was in the mood for EverQuest II back in December, but the plan for progress never solidified and I walked away.

All of which brought my thoughts to World or Warcraft.  I am not playing it currently, but I expect that I will eventually.  Curse has been keeping my addons up to date.  The Legion expansion lost my interest after running through all the zones and finishing up the quest lines.  Beyond that and hitting the level cap I ran out of goals there.

But the 7.2 update introduced both new content and a good goal.

now running in Azeroth

Unlocking flying in the Legion expansion is the sort of task I could see myself coming back to the game to run down.  It requires a lot of work, but the tasks themselves are not insurmountable on their own… they were even reduced in scope… and knocking them out as I went would provide a feeling or progress.  Progress feeds the soul of the MMORPG achiever.

The problem is that Blizzard threw a monkey wrench in the gears for me with the 7.2 patch.

The new feature where mobs scale to your item level seems bizarro world bad.

Yes, I know they cut it back a bit.

And I even understand the problem they are trying to solve, a problem I have bitched about myself, the trivialization of content.

You can see that issue just by starting a new character in WoW and running up to level 30 or so.  If you insist on running all the quests… which is to say, you want to consume the actual content and see the various zone story lines through to their conclusion… you will soon find you have out leveled the quests as they go gray on you while any foes are now so weak in comparison that Blizzard actually made a piece of gear that was effectively the “false swipe” move from Pokemon that would not kill mobs so you wouldn’t sneeze and slay an NPC you needed alive. (I think it was the toy foam sword, though I could be wrong.)

So there is an issue there.  This was addressed to a certain extent in the Legion expansion at launch by making the initial set of zones auto-scale to your level.  After you were done there, everything else would be at level cap.

You still had to keep up with gear progress.  But that wasn’t so bad, and gear progression is one of the things in WoW that makes you feel good, especially in the case of weapons.  Few things make you feel like you’ve grown stronger than being able to smite down a foe more easily than before.

But now when that hot new piece of gear drops and your item level count goes up, your foes get tougher as well.  That effectively kills the good feeling you get with gear progression, at least out in the open world.  If you’re running instance or raids it is a different story.  And, as somebody with a strong achiever streak in them, this rains on my achiever parade.

In an attempt to solve what I will cop to as a legitimate problem it feels like they have just made a new one.  It reminds me of the tale where a guy gets cats to chase away the troublesome mice, then dogs to chase the troublesome cats, and so on until he ends up with elephants and has to get the mice back to rid himself of the pachyderms that are literally knocking his house down; it feels like a solution that just changes the problem rather than solving it.

Of course, I haven’t actually resubscribed and logged back into WoW to give it a try, but the feeling that this may suck makes that less likely to happen.  And all the more so since I haven’t seen much about the topic of late.  Maybe it wasn’t that bad.  Maybe people quit and left over it.

So how bad is it, or is it that bad at all?

Flying Comes to WoW Legion

Today is the day, the day that the Tomb of Sargeras update, Patch 7.2, goes live in World of Warcraft.

Available now!

The update has been a while coming.  Blizzard was talking about it back at BlizzCon in early November.

But the patch delivers quite a bit of content.  The release notes are full of details.  The Broken Shore is now available, there is a new dungeon, pet battle dungeons, new incentives to grind reputation, new class campaigns, and, most of all, flying.

I haven’t played WoW for a while now.  I tapped out of WoW Legion before BlizzCon, having done all the main zone story lines and being otherwise uninterested in the daily rep grind or queuing up for random dungeons.  Flying makes me think about going back, but then I think about all the items on the list to get there and any thoughts of whipping out the credit card to re-subscribe fades.

Still, for those who remain invested, there is a bunch of new content available now.

WoW Legion Gets Its First Content Drop with Patch 7.1

What we will focus on at BlizzCon is how the team is committed to making sure we bring you a steady stream of content going forward, and we can’t wait to share what’s next for Legion.

-J. Allen Brack, WoW Community Manager forum post

We’ll get back the the top part of the post that quote came from on another day.

The promise from Blizzard, explicit, implied, or otherwise, was that the WoW Legion expansion would not leave players hanging for a year without any new content.  You might have thought they would have learned this after Mists of Pandaria, but I guess the subscriber count didn’t drop low enough during that drought, so they let it happen again with Warlords of Draenor.

The problem was compounded by some of the choices made with Warlords of Draenor .  I know, everybody likes to beat up on garrisons, but the subscriber numbers indicate that they were not a big hit.  We’ll never get any sort of “real” player housing in WoW after garrisons.

But that was the last expansion and we are now eight weeks into WoW Legion and the first post-launch content drop, WoW 7.1 – Return to Karazhan. The date has arrived, the patch notes are final, and the content is upon us.

Recycling content is generally good

Recycling content is generally good

The headline item for the release is a five person mythic run set in the Burning Crusade era raid Karazhan.  While being a mythic level dungeon means I probably won’t see it until we get a couple more expansions down the road, I still think this is a good use of their time.

Then there is a new Trial of Valor raid opening up in normal and heroic modes, with mythic and LFR tourist modes opening up some time down the road.  Again, content for a core demographic in WoW.

For the rest of us, there is the continuation of the campaign in Suramar and more world quests.  Eventually I will actually START on Suramar and world quests, but I cannot hold my lagging behind against Blizz.  Both of those do sound like “things to do” for players out in the open world.

So, more content with the first patch out.  But I think Blizz has always managed to do that in the past.  They will manage a 7.1 and a 7.2 based on past experience.  But will we see a 7.3, 7.4, and even a 7.5 patch and beyond with content as the expansions ages?

Meanwhile, the patch notes are full of other little items, including changes to classes, changes to professions, to some of the skills new players get for levels 1-10, to a quick join feature that will let you see what people on your friends list have queued up for and allow you to join up with them in the queue.

My own personal favorite line item from the patch notes is:

  • Nameplate options made less confusing.

I like that because nameplates were the first thing I noticed when I logged in on day one of the expansion.  I generally have them set off as much as possible, but the redid the configuration and, as part of that changed, turned everything on by default.  So I was standing in Stormwind in a sea of green nameplates.  I eventually got it back to my usual minimalist setting, and I suspect that I will have to do that again with this change… but it should be less confusing now, right?

And finally, I guess this is the Chris Metzen emote for the game.  Gone (from Blizzard) but not forgotten:

  • Added new “For the Horde” and “For the Alliance” emotes.

I am a bit surprised this wasn’t a thing much sooner.