Savoring the slow crawl through Draenor.

When I’m in my favorite steak house, and the steak arrives and it’s cooked just right, I take very small bites, savoring each one.  “Mmmm mmm.  That’s some tasty steak.”

I’m doing the same with Draenor.  This is evidenced by having two eggs currently incubating in my bags (one on a 3 day timer, the other on a 7 day timer) and only yesterday hitting level 96 with my highest level character.  (He’s my soloist Death Knight.  And it really does feel like he’s outpacing the content.  I’ve vowed not to leave Gorgrond until I’m done there, and I just noticed he’s level 96 fighting level 93 mobs.  (What?)  No wonder he’s cutting through the bad guys with quest rewards like butter.  He did pop into the Spires of Arak, which wasn’t tough either, and after doing a couple of quests (picking up archealogy from one of the arrakoa npcs) headed back to Gorgrond.

The environments I’ve been through have been really cool.  The swampy area of Gorgrond is awesome.  So lush.  The mineral water pools of the desert interior look great.  And the forests I saw in the Spires looked really very nice.  (I’ve already gushed about Frostfire Ridge and Shadowmoon Valley.)

Part of my slow pace is explained by being a madman about garrison produced resources.  I’ve got 5 level 2 mines to harvests.  One level 2 herb garden, and more as soon as I can get it done.  These do take time.

And it’s cool that these garrison resources pretty much fill the entire need I have for crafting.  (I think that speaks to the limited crafting I *can* do.  The “good stuff” depends on work order output, which is a limited amount per day.  (Meaning I can’t ride endless loops through a zone filling stacks of materials, and crafting a full set *before* I set out and do any quests.)  The “common” stuff was gated by level.  (Lvl 91, 95, 98, or something like that.)  My blacksmith only knows 3 of the ? pieces of armor which just use ordinary ore.  Otherwise he’s learned plans for a full set of gear, OF WHICH he can only wear three of at a time??  Three of anything crafted at that level???  So I craft a Saber (100 truesteel ingots, this I’ve done), Shield (another 100, working on this), and then I can only take one more “good stuff” item??  Like a ring from my Jewelcrafter, or…

Maybe the point is to get me out there and earning the other stuff the “social” way.  (You know, by killing people and things.)

One of the cooler looking sets I managed to complete was the level 90 Deathknight PvP set.  (Transmog gear should Draenor not have me “complete” by the time I’m 100 and “done enough.”)

Before I wrap this up… houseplants.  I’ve got a sentient shrub wandering around my herb garden, and a walking tropical plant wandering around my garrison.  Very funny.

And Dagg, the funny rogue.  (With his “captured ogre” disguise.  Too funny.)

Draenor is a very tasty dish.

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Hearthstone and the Hearthsteed.

So I get this e-mail in the mail.  (My e-mail was the graphic with the steed on black, not the image below, which I grabbed off the internet.)

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I’m thinking “They’ll want my account info, password, bank info…” But, no, it’s legit.

I saw the Hearthstone  ads.  I saw the manufactured buzz.

I played MTG Online when it first came out.  (Heck, I’ve got cards from the 90s even.  When I naively opened them to actually play a live person with real cards.  Years later, the wife and I bought a couple of expansion packs current to the new decade and played.  We had the glass gem rocks for the health points.  The cards were in a big cookie tin, and are now preserved in card holders for the little one and his posterity.)

So I saw Hearthstone and figured “Eh.”

I’m playing Warlords of Draenor now (and who isn’t?) so that got me a perk within Hearthstone.  This card back.

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But, zounds, now they’re offering a mount.  And not a bad looking one.  I’d always wondered what part of the Panderia Expansion I needed to do to get that mount.

It wasn’t that at all.  It was just to play a little Hearthstone.

I’d gotten Hearthstone on my iPad a while ago.  (Free is good.) But wound up turning right around and deleting it so I could update the tablet to the latest iOS.

When I got the e-mail advertising “Just win 3 games” I figured “What the heck.”

I downloaded it on the PC from the Battle.net launcher.  Easy peasy.

First off, and I’m just one voice in the choir on this, but Blizzards quality and polish is second to none.  Nobody does it better.  (Well, maybe Bond.  James Bond.)

I’ve always figured “Other people are Hell” (okay, Sartre did that first) and had planned to game it by playing the wife 6 games.  (So we’d get our 3 wins each.)

First off was the five battles of the tutorial.  (Which you have to complete before you can play for reals.)  The voice acting is good.  But, and Sartre would no doubt agree, slightly annoying.  (But, now in hindsight, fine.)  And I pretty much steamrolled the first four.  Up comes the final, Illidian, deciding I was not prepared.  Little pop-up notes “This is going to be tough.  Blame the developers.”  And when he personally attacked me with his glaives I figured “Yeah right.”  But, no.  “Who’s prepared now, bitch?”  (Watching the entirety of Breaking Bad in a few short weeks at the end of my deployment, you pick up a little color.)  So I cleared the tutorial and was ready for prime time.

Last night, in about 45 minutes, I met, and conquered, 3 “worthy opponents” and got my 3 wins.  The Hearthsteed was mine.

The wife said she didn’t think she’d like Hearthstone.  Missing the land, and the colors, it appears less complex.

But, with the mana ramping up each round, that kind of replaces the land cards.  (It’s actually a guaranteed ramp up, for both sides of course, whereas playing cards you might have a drought of land and lose through bad luck.)

I liked the Jaina deck.  It felt very mage-like.  Sheeping big mobs down to 1/1s, then doing a gentle arcane explosion nuke and clearing away all the 1/1s, then the big 6-pointer fire balls.  Thrall’s Shaman deck, which I haven’t tried yet, appropriately had totems, some of which were offensive, some provided buffs, and were very shaman-like.

If you know your WoW classes, you’ll know the archetypes in the Hearthstone decks.  Very nice.

And the thoughtfulness required, same as in MTG, of what to play and when, is what earns you the win.

Too, my Alliance garrison picnic area has a Hearthstone table set up.  Wouldn’t it be very, very cool to have this actually be a functional link to the Hearthstone game, that you could play, in-game, while waiting for a dungeon group to come together?  (I do.)

If you were undecided about the Hearthstone thing:  Give it a try.  What can it hurt, and there’s a mount in it for you pretty much the first step or two in.

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Have fun storming the castle.

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I’m doing something wrong.  Or, I’m doing something right.  Either way it’s funny how my team/s is/are out leveling me.  In one case, I’ve got three followers all at level 100.  I’m at 91.   The character with the most followers is also the highest level.

I enjoy watching them walk out of the garrison on their way to loot and adventure.

And I think Blook has an attitude.  He seems to drag his feet getting up and hitting the road.   Long after I issue instructions he’s still hanging out in the garrison.  We’ll never see eyes to eye I guess.

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An awful lot of goodness, this WoD.

There’s so many changes with this latest expansion, it really does feel “all new.”  Honest.  (And ten years on, it’s still an enjoyable game.)

The introduction quest for Warlords of Draenor introduced all the major players, you included, along with a run to the boats to escape.  A combo quest-cinematic.  The graphics of each major villain, introduced with a marquis and subtitled trash talk, was very cool.

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I’ve spent the past few play sessions in Frostfire Ridge, and it’s a great feeling place.  (And a couple of epic followers, an epic drop, and some new toys, it’s like Christmas morning already.)

And if I’m “killing rats” it really doesn’t feel like it.  Not really.  At least not the old way.

And the garrisons are a blast.

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Very compelling in that I feel I always want my followers to be up to something.  (I’m up to 6 now.)

 

 

 

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My level 2 Garrison.  (It’s all mine.  Thrall came to visit the other day, for crying out loud.  Thrall. *The* Thrall.)

They had a rocky launch, true enough.  Just the millions coming back for another heaping helping of goodness.  And the DDOS thingy.  (Punks hate success.)

It’s good.  Good in the Warcraft ‘hood.

 

 

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Welcome back, Pointers.

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I am so going to the Argent Tournament for a little while longer.

;)

And so I try again tonight… no connection possible.  Absolutely unable to connect to anything Blizzard related.  No WoW, no forums, nothing.

:)

Patience was rewarded.  And the wife got in as well.  We sent our Orcs to go help Kadhgar and Thrall and disappoint the Iron Horde’s invasion plans.  Portal destroyed.  Forward Operations Base underwater.  Portal back to Orgrimmar created.

Mmmm.  What’s the problem?  Oh, you want me, *me*, to create my own garrison here among the Frostwolf Clan?  Sure. … And now that I have … crap.  Where’s that portal again?

And I don’t know about you, but having Drek’thar in my base, *my* base, makes me a little nervous.  I played enough Alterac Valley to know what happens to him.  Often.

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Best loot drop ever: Ding, Level 90!

My DK slugged through Panderia on his own.  As did my Paladin.

A Warrior went through the land along with my wife’s Shaman, and my Druid with my wife’s Druid.  From the Jade Forest to the Dreadwastes.  We tromped a lot of miles.

We also managed to avoid Panderia by boosting two 60’s, my Warrior and my wife’s Warlock, by pre-ordering.

But, otherwise, I can say I’ve seen plenty of Panderia. (And there is a lot that’s very enjoyable to see.)

But that left a few more characters yet I needed to take care of.  I’m thinking now’s the time to strike while the fire’s hot. The end of the last expansion, the next expansion not yet out.  Folks are going to be as well geared as they’re going to be, and if they’re going into the dungeons, they’re going to do so in pretty good gear and with pretty good handle on the events.  I was not wrong.

My Molten Core/Naxxramas raiding Shaman, languishing on an alt server, was at level 82 for easily more than a year.  I pretty much leveled him to 85 by doing archeology (while after the dragon mount alchemy recipe).  And upon hitting level 85, I sent him to the Jade Forest to get the starter gear, and then into the dungeons.  That’s where he dinged level 90.  He did a couple of starter quests in the Jade Forest, but left it intact before Horde and Alliance created the Sha that destroyed the jade statue, and never had a need to venture into the farmlands and beyond.

Once I told the wife about this she thought it might be a way to get our Paladin/Mage couple leveled up without doing all of Panderia.  And so we did.  We quested in the Jade Forest while we waited for dungeons to pop.  We visited maybe half the quests in the forest, the jade statue remains intact, horde and alliance haven’t engaged, and dinged level 90, with full sets of decent (for us) gear.

And the Hunter I undeleted at 85, having sold all his gear and weapons before deleting him, came back, did the starting quest in the Jade Forest to acquire a weapon, crafted a few pieces of gear, bought a few more off the auction house, and he’s level 88 1/2 now, with a full set of gear, needing to upgrade the starting weapon (but holding his own damage-wise without doing so) and he’s barely scratched the surface in the Jade Forest.  He’s just rescued the Humans from the Hozan and gotten down to the Jinyu camp.

My Shaman and Hunter learned the dungeons, the tricks, paths, tactics, and our Paladin and Mage did pretty well.  Tonight they to the portal and do the intro (Iron Horde Invasion) quest.

(And I hope my Hunter can get this as well prior to the 13th.)

And that leaves me, with a small child that gets some attention, and following a 14 month break while I deployed to Afghanistan, and a year before that mostly living out of a motel room, with 8 level 90s before the expansion.  That’s the most “expansion ready” characters I’ve ever had.  And a testament to the accessibility of World of Warcraft.

Dungeon Finder’s been a hoot.  We saw some places we’d never been, killed some bad guys we’d never seen, and aside from the raids, can feel we’ve seen more than we expected to.

Kudos to Blizzard for taking care of us casuals.

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A Pre-expansion Exposition

Ah, the upgrade to 6.02.

A pruning of abilities.  New character models.

It’s been good.  When my Warrior partied up with my wife’s Shaman, she granted me a Mastery buff, and I granted her a Vengeance buff, both done automatically it seems.  We were synergizing by grouping, not clicking on buttons.

I *think* I’m missing a few buttons that I used to use, but I’m not missing them.  There’s enough left that give me something to do.  (And top the damage chart on the Headless Horseman fight with my Warrior.)

The character model changes are a mixed bag.  The Night Elves changes looked okay.  A particular moustache style became a fu manchu style, so it was a trip to the barber shop for several of them.

The Tauren looked incredibly improved.  The Orcs all seem Warcraft parodies of themselves now.  “More work?”  They look good, but I wish I was more Thrall, and less Peon.  The Troll upgrade was subtle, but an improvement.  The Undead were also improved.  Human males, though, it was tough finding an appearance I liked.  My Monk previously had an asian appearance.  Brown, slightly slanted eyes, black hair.  Now he’s very caucasian, with the same black hair, but he’s looking paunchy and short now under it.  I had to give him gray eyes because the brown eyes came with wrinkles that aged him to 70 plus.  Of the races that got upgraded, the Human Male graphic upgrade was the least successful I think.

Heirlooms for sale.  I don’t make much gold in the game.  I don’t sell things on the auction house.  I figure if I got it, folks can just get their own.  Who would buy a stack of leather on the auction house?  (Guilty hand raise.)  But I’d accumulated a few thousand across my 80s and 90s.  So I picked up the 4 heirloom cloaks, and 2 heirloom helms.  My plate wearers and shammy are going to have to go commando.

My mage, a solo character, does have cloak, helm, chest, shoulders, staff, trinkets, heirlooms, and he’s pretty solid.  I seem to be leapfrogging content, which is not a bad thing.  I can see the places long enough to get a feel for the changes to the place, and then move on.

It’s funny, but there are SOOO many changes from Vanilla WoW to pre-WoD WoW, in the old vanilla areas, it’s crazy.  I remember the naked frun from Teldrassil to Ironforge through the Wetlands.  Because the Night Elf capital may as well have been the most forgotten place on the planet.  Ironforge, with the Auction House, the most sought after place to be.  It’s funny though, Stormwind City is now the place to be, and Teldrassil is still just as abandoned, and they’ve all got auction houses now.

If they want Teldrassil to have some zing, they need it to be the stepping off point for adventurers to travel through to the Emerald Dream.

And put the launching off point for our conquest of Argus out in best spaceport, that of Netherstorm in the Outlands.

I didn’t mention the stat squish.  We’ve got 1/10th the health we had previously.  And the decrease isn’t even noticeable in practicality.

What is funny, is my level 85 Paladin, who’d gotten a crafted helm with decent stats to start adventuring in Panderia with, donned his Headless Horseman’s plate helm which he picked up at level 80 a few years back.  The difference in stats (crafted lvl 85 Panderia green versus level 80 epic) would previously had been HUGE.  Now it’s a couple of points.  … Interesting.  (This suggests gear should last longer in the leveling path.)

And I got my Hunter back with the undelete function.  I’d deleted him at level 85, and he returned to me naked as a jaybird with just a tabard on.  Ironically, it was the Tabard of the Protector from the FIRST dark portal event back in 2007.  I sent him some leather and he crafted a couple of pieces, and I bought 3 more pieces, and I’m still missing gloves, neckless, rings, trinkets, and sent him to Panderia to start the last expansion’s questing.  He didn’t do too poorly, and soon scored a new weapon.  But rather than quest in Panderia I’ve sent him back to Sholazar Basin to look for the cat rumored to be there that I’ve never, ever, seen.  (Except as pets belonging to other Hunters.)  So he logs in, looks for Loq’who?, and logs out for another day.

It’s good in the WoW ‘hood.

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