Archive for Outlands

Black Temple

Tonight, I logged on with the full intention of completing a few more quests in Borean Tundra. However, I noticed that there’s a run to Black Temple being advertised in the trade channel. I chance my arm and whisper the organiser. It’s full of 80’s so they might have been a bit funny to “lower levels”, but I got an invite to the run. It’s purely for the achievement from their point of view, but from Stormshaper’s point of view, it’s a chance of some decent Outlands loot. And – if the instance went to plan, she will have defeated Illidan Stormrage. She will have completed Outlands! I’ve never done this on my main Hunter or on the Death Knight!

What a scoop!

Anyway, the run went very, very smoothly considering it was a pug. Of course, it should go smoothly with a number of 80’s in the raid, but this was organised and marshalled superbly from start to finish. At each boss tactics were discussed by the raid leader, and followed almost to the letter. We had one wipe on the Ilidari Council and two wipes on Ilidan himself but apart from that, it went very smoothly.

In total there were between 20 and 23 players at various times. Of course, being level 71 and running around in greens, Stormshaper wasn’t going to register on the DPS monitors, so there was no point in fretting about it. I knew what I was there for. I bring buffs to the raid with the totems and with Heroic Presence. Just by standing there looking gorgeous the raid is buffed! Yay! Go Draenei!

I died a few times on trash mobs. I found it difficult to get in the right place at the right time – there were so many melee DPS’ers smashing down mobs. I was caught two or three times by AoE damage which meant I spent far too long out of action. However, I managed to overcome this by carefully skipping around the very edge of the melee and standing back behind the Death Knights and fighting from the very edge of melee range.

So, we do all the bosses one by one and I roll need on a couple of decent items. As luck would have it, Stormshaper won Rising Tide which dropped off High Warlord Naj’entus.
When Black Temple was end game raiding for the select few leading guilds, this was deemed to be one of the best off-hand weapons for an Enhancement Shaman (outside Sunwell). Big win!

She also rolled on and won Bands of the Coming Storm from Supremus. Considering she was in pre-outlands wrists before this, these are a major, major upgrade for her!

A couple more items dropped that would have been nice to have, but those rolls went elsewhere. I wasn’t too bothered to be honest. Two items like that, two major upgrades were more than sufficient for Stormshaper and soon she will return to Northrend to press on in Borean Tundra.

Oh, I nearly forgot – as Stormshaper was heading back to Shattrath, she found and killed the rare mob Ambassador Jerrikar in Shadowmoon Valley and gained the achievement Medium Rare. A nice bonus to a great evenings entertainment!

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Level 70!

Yay! Go Stormshaper, you’ve reached level 70. Woot!

Stormshaper reached the old, historical landmark level late last night, but she did it in a roundabout way. Basically, I really wanted to stay the Outlands route. I quested and quested moving out of zones only when the achievement was reached. Stormshaper was doing quests in and around Alerian Stronghold in Terokkar Forest, but the experience on offer from the starter quests in Northrend is massive in comparision to those she was doing in Outlands. The conundrum was this: Why quest for an hour in Outlands when you can receive the same amount of experience from doing two quests in Northrend?

I hadn’t realised it at the time, but the WoTLK expansion really did kill Outlands and all those amazing instances stone dead, and that saddens me so much.

Today, I went to Karazhan to start the quests to get the key to that fabled instance. I queued for Setthek Halls, for the first part of the key fragment and two hours later, I logged out, still waiting for a group. Basically there are no players doing Burning Crusade heroics any more. Everyone is frantically farming Emblems of Triumph and Emblems of Frost so that they can get to Ice Crown Citadel and defeat Arthas.

Brilliant.

Except I find the long, drawn-out demise of Arthas to be mind numbingly boring. I farmed ToTC to death on my hunter. In fact, it only took my old guild three visits to clear the place. Before that, we farmed Ulduar to death. Before that, we cleared Naxxramas. Over, and over and over.

When Ice Crown Citadel opened up and Blizzard introduced the Ashen Verdict reputation grind, my heart sank. I was bored beyond belief and for them to throw this out there didn’t inspire me at all, in fact, it made me want to give up. Which is why Stormshaper was created.

Okay, I could go and start on the hardmodes for various instances, but I’ve done them to death. They were fun and enjoyable and new, but I’m not a hardmode player. I don’t have the setup to do myself justice in hardmodes, I play WoW on a laptop that is four years old and I connect via wi-fi, and those two environmental issues are an instant performance inhibitor right off the bat.

Actually saying that about the hard modes, my old guild did Ulduar hardmode and I complained that Flame Leviathan with the towers up and all the crazy-assed AoE shit that was going on was made “hard mode” because of the random number generator. Random events, random missiles, random AoE damage….random, random, random. People who do it, fantastic reflexes, incredible spatial awareness, but throwing out more random stuff isn’t what I like. I already know the lore of the instance, the kind of mobs to face, my role in the raid, the tactics of the fights. I know this because I have researched it and I’ve learned to play it with my raiding party. Changing that by simply throwing out extra random AoE shit to make your progress harder doesn’t interest me.

I can be quite effective in raids. My hunter chucks out 5K-6K DPS, the Death Knight is about the same, perhaps a little more. But in hardmode instances, your DPS output is only part of the story. Faster responses are required. A solid, perferably hard-wired connection, a decent graphics card, a faster CPU. I could perform in the hard modes, certainly, but I don’t think I could do myself ultimate justice. For me, hard modes are like arenas. I know they’re part of the game, but I have zero interest in them. If I win the lottery, my interest may change, as I’d spoil myself with a system to die for, but until then….

So, it seems that my intention to turn off Stormshaper’s experience gain at 70 will be futile. She can remain 70 for a good, long time, but if no-one else is interested in the BC heroics, or Karazhan, Zul’Aman or Serpentshrine Cavern, then she’ll be a very lonely shaman, sat, looking for companions in some inn in Shattrath for a good long time.

With Cataclysm just around the corner, it looks like she’ll be doing the same as every other alt in the game, and staying in Northrend, waiting for someone to finally put Arthas out of his misery.

The one good thing about the Northrend quests – they are very, very difficult for Stormshaper. Each pull requires a bit of thought. Perhaps because she is quite undergeared. Remember she only got as far as Zangermarsh in Outlands, so, to go from there to Northrend is a mighty step up in terms of gear. In fact, that’s the one guarantee I can make, any quest reward item is going to be at least twice as powerful as what Stormshaper currently has equipped.

So far, she’s replaced a mace, her necklace, a cloak and her gemmed and enchanted leggings she won in Hellfire Ramparts with a basic Northrend green item that doubled every stat!

Another thing I have noticed is that as I have replaced her Outlands gear (she’s still in pre-Outlands bracers), her MP5 has dropped like a stone, so after a couple of fights, she’s out of mana completely regardless of mana spring totems or anything else. This, in a perverse way, means that while I’m sad for the demise of Outlands and all that amazing content, there is something for me to try and strategise in terms of questing in Northrend to get her gear that can bring her up to an acceptable performance level.

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68 Reached and I Take a Northrend Item to Outlands

As Stormshaper completed the quest that gave her the Mysteries of the Marsh achievement, she also reached level 68. There are still a few quests for her to do in Zangermarsh, for the sporelings of Sporregar. Some of those quests will send her into Underbog as well. At 68, she’s probably a bit too high for Underbog. Certainly there’s not much gear there for her. As a result, I am thinking seriously about inhibiting her experience gain so that I can at least try and do BC heroic dungeons.

However, it has to be said, I did take advantage of the fact that she can quest in Northrend. I sailed to Valance Keep, ran a few starter quests and received the Solidier’s Spiked Mace as a reward. I ran an item comparison between it and Storm’s other mace using Wowhead’s Item Comparison tool – and while it’s not a very fair comparision, it does show you just how overpowered the Northrend items where when they became available.

Now a part of me could quite happily exploit the fact that Northrend is available and I can complete quests around the starter areas and pick up gear that is massively greater than anything available in Outlands for Stormshaper’s level. At least until she starts running heroic or 10 man instances. I don’t know if that’s the moral thing to do – but then, saying that, Stormshaper has been in BoA gear from level 6, so morality hasn’t played that much of a role in her levelling as yet. I took the mace back to Outlands and used it to devastating effect in Terokkar Forest. It made something easy so much easier!

Levelling in Outlands has been an absolute blast truth be told. I’ve completed just two zones (I regard receiving the zone achievement as completion of the zone), and I’m about 10% of the way through Terokkar Forest and Stormshaper is already 69 and on her way to 70. I can recall just how long it took my hunter to move from 69 to 70 back in the day, questing hard in Area 52. With Storm and her XP gain, she’s just blasting through content.

I ran a few dungeons today, just to break up the levelling grind and was lucky enough to meet a nice group of people. Isn’t there a tragic irony that good groups don’t get a mention? Anyway, this group was fine. We had a paladin tank, a druid healer, a hunter, warrior and me as DPS. (No death knights – WIN!).

We ran through Setthek Halls twice and Auchenai Crypts without a single wipe and I think, only one death. Brilliant! Some quests were completed in each instance, gear was passed around fairly and we all received our bags of helpful goods. I got three rings from the three runs, each one miles worse than the rings already equipped. So much for “helpful”. Still, its a few gold from a vendor, so better than nothing I suppose.

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Northrend or Outlands? Turn off Experience Gain or Press On?

Stormshaper quested her hooves off last night and reached level 67, while still in Zangermarsh! She’s now five levels above the content she’s questing in, such is the increased reputation you can get from the BoA items. I didn’t run any further instances last night, I want to try and complete the whole Zangermarsh area and move to Nagrand, but I think she’ll hit 68 before leaving the beautiful, serene marshlands.

So the question is, do I immediately leave Outlands and follow the throng to Northrend? I can remember as The Burning Crusade was nearing the end of its life, and the Scourge Invasion envent was upon us, people talked about Northrend greens being better than Tier 4 gear available from Karazhan, Maggy and Gruul’s Lair.

Of course, the reality was somewhat different. My Hunter, decked out head to toe in Tier 4 gear (I never got further than SSC in BC on him) was able to progress to somewhere near level 76 before he finally replaced all his gear with stuff from Outlands, and even then, some of that was the entry-level crafted gear.

So I’m not sure what to do. I could turn off Stormshaper’s experience gain when she hits 70, which won’t be long at this rate, but then I’m at the mercy of “fun runs” to Karazhan and Gruul’s. No-one ever tries to go to Zul Aman any more because there’s no war bear mount to be had, and, well, its pretty damned difficult. I’ve never seen a fun run to SSC – do people even know it exists? Black Temple and Sunwell? People at 80 can’t do those raids, and I doubt Stormshaper would get an invite – I saw a level 80 Death Knight trade recently refusing to allow level 70 players join their raid to Gruul’s as they didn’t want too many “low levels” along.

If I turn off her experience gain, I could be a long time waiting for people to go to visit the BC raid instances, and I’m really not sure anyone would do BC heroic five man runs. Well, maybe Magister’s Terrace, but I can’t see anyone wanting to run heroic Hellfire Ramparts, for example.

I am torn. I could be stuck at 70 for a long, long time. It would give me a chance to perfect my rotation at 70 of course, but the second I turn the experience gain back on, I have to re-learn new talents…..At the moment, I’m really not sure what to do.

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Outlands

Stormshaper has reached level 58 on a day of complete dungeon frustration. I was in seven separate dungeon runs and not one of them was completed. It seems that the near-end game five mans of vanilla WoW are still too tough for today’s players based on the evidence I’ve seen in the last couple of days.

No fortitude, no desire. Tanks unable to hold aggro. DPS completely ignoring the tank’s target. Healers healing themselves before the tank?!? Then, upon the first wipe, that long run back through Blackrock mountain? Forget it. People leaving parties left, right and centre.

Despite all that, level 58 was reached with the Skeleton Key quest chain, which is remarkably simpler these days than it was way back when. I managed to get the skeletal remains, then hopped over to Gadgetzan, made some Thorium bars, paid a goblin a lot of money, zipped into Un’Goro (Stormshaper never went there), up the mountain and forged the key. Done. When I returned to Plaguelands, and handed in, level 58 was reached. I was given the quest to slay Ajal the Summoner again, but I will leave that quest in my log as Stormshaper will head to Outlands now and start work in Honor Hold.

Before Stormshaper walks through the Dark Portal for the first time, here is what she looks like, in all her glory.

Stormshaper Stands Before The Dark Portal

Full inventory of equipment

Head – Horns of Eranikus
Neck – Heroic Commendation Medal
Shoulder – Mystical Pauldrons of Elements
Back – Cerise Drape
Chest – Mystical Vest of Elements
Wrist – Bindings of Elements
Hands – Gauntlets of Elements
Waist – Earthbound Girdle of the Marksman
Legs – Ferine Leggings
Feet – Greaves of Withering Despair
Finger 1 – Tumultous Ring of the Battle
Finger 2 – Blackstone Ring
Trinket 1 – Mark of Resolution
Trinket 2 – Chained Essence of Eranikus

Be interesting to see at 68, how much has changed.

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