We did the thing

So progress is over for this expansion, we killed N’Zoth yesterday with a moderately decent performance of only 219 tries in total.

The fight itself is a big improvement on the heroic version, with actually some rather interesting parts going on for healers with all the damage coming in though it ends up feeling somewhat finnicky with how precise all the timings one needs to hit are; a mistake a minute or so earlier with a wrongly used cooldown might lead to deaths later on. Still, it does make the whole thing feel a bit more like a precisely executed dance than anything else, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing though it can get frustrating when progressing the later parts of the fight with simply how long it takes to get there. Having to maintain a decent level of concentration for 10+ minutes before one even gets to the new and interesting bit can be difficult at times.

The secret phase was also something of a disappointement, with not that much going on aside from the usual healing and damage. Sure, there is the dance where you dodge a couple of swirlies and yes some people have to disarm the bombs, but overall it felt more like a bit of a lull between all the activity in the other phases while still requiring somewhat precise execution on timing, namely when the mob dies.

Overall though, the fight did end up feeling like a good end to the expansion, even if there might have been some fights earlier on that were interesting and the patch overall didn’t really “save” the expansion as one might have hoped. Now I guess we just need to wait for the alpha or beta to start in order to see how Shadowlands is progressing, though I am more pessimistic than optimistic of its prospects at the moment.

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Vulpera

So as mentioned, I was rather disappointed by the confirmation at BlizzCon that we won’t be getting cross faction play, mainly because I was hoping to get the chance to play Night Elf again but of course having the opportunity to play with some friends who are still Alliance was also a factor. With the release of the new patch however, that has lessened somewhat with the Vulpera being available.

So cute

They are obviously a completely different feel to Night Elves, but still, I think they are the first Horde race I can feel at home with though admittedly it is early days and time will tell. Just hoping we don’t get another raid like Dazar’alor where one gets turned into the other faction, since Mechagnomes are the Alliance counterpart and while I do find the concept cool, they just aren’t my jam at all. Though the race changes in Dazar’alor were somewhat random anyway, not following the counterpart rules of the Orb of Deception at all—played Forsaken, got turned into Human instead of a Night Elf for some reason.

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Benediction

I managed to find the Eye of Shadow in the auction house to a somewhat reasonable price of around 360 gold, and off I went to the Eastern Plaguelands in order to complete “The Balance of Light and Shadow” for the final part of the puzzle: the Splinter of Nordrassil. This was definitely the most difficult part of the whole ordeal: Molten Core is rather trivial and perhaps half the raid needs to be somewhat awake in order to get through it in a reasonable time and you just need to get lucky with the drop in order to get the eye from there; the Eye of Shadow mostly requires patience, either through farming or having enough gold; but this final part actually requires you to do something alone, or well, I did it alone at least.

To expand a bit on that, I saw some old comments saying other priests could actually help with the quest, as long as:

  • they only helped by healing and not doing damage
  • they also have the Eye of Divinity in order to see the NPCs
  • they don’t move, since apparently even moving potentially triggers the failure state

There was another priest queuing for the quest after me, but he decided not to risk it and assist me and I managed to complete it anyway which was nice.

The quest itself is somewhat curious, waves of ghostly NPCs spawn that you have to keep alive while they get bombarded by skeletal archers as well as melee skeletons that spawn, the melee skeletons will also aggro you once you start healing so some way to deal with this is recommended, I ended up using Oil of Immolation which made rather quick work of them and saved me a lot of mana. I also saw recommendations to use Stratholme Holy Water but that feels somewhat overkill since one would need a group to farm it and the oil made short work of the skeletons anyway. What I definitely would recommend however is a couple of big mana potions, the quest has you pretty much constantly in combat and healing so you will probably be stuck inside the five second rule meaning mana will be a problem; using Renew worked well for me, downranked to rank three as well as max rank.

What makes this quest curious however, is that while you are essentially spothealing a raid, you don’t get any of the usual UI elements which you would normally use to do this and instead have to completely rely on the nameplates. What makes this somewhat more annoying are the debuffs which the standard nameplates don’t display meaning you do also have to keep an eye on the NPCs themselves in order to see if they are diseased or not—curing the disease quickly is vital since it deals quite a lot of damage.

Overall the quest proved a positive surprise since I’m not actually expecting to find much difficult content in Classic which was nice, though the biggest challenge being actual UI problems as well as proper consumable usage does dampen that somewhat. The unecessary waiting between tries forced by the 20 minute or so respawn of the questgiver is also somewhat disappointing but still a lot better than the original two hour one, that was actually something I was very happy to see has been changed in Classic—or maybe it was changed in one of the later patches, not sure, though a lot of old comments indicate the timer used to be two hours.

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End of Year

So the year is slowly coming to an end with the holidays approaching and we had our last raids on Sunday and Monday, retail and Classic respectively. There will probably still be some non-mainraid activity going on, potentially an alt raid on Friday and an optional Classic raid on Monday the 23rd, though it will be interesting to see how far we get since I’m assuming attendance won’t be especially high.

Current progress on the Naxxramas set from Wrath of the Lich King

In the meantime, I think I’ll continue farming some transmog, with my current target being finishing the Naxxramas 25-man set. Only the gloves are still missing and they quite stubbornly refuse to drop, had an especially unlucky run yesterday with two pairs of set-gloves actually dropping from Sartharion but neither pair being the Priest ones unfortunately.

Another thing on the agenda will probably be finally getting the +15 achievement from mythic+, have somehow completely neglected that so far this season and it’s rapidly coming to a close so I’ll slowly be in somewhat of a hurry to complete it. Still, only 5 dungeons are missing so the bigger challenge will probably be finding the correct keys rather than actually completing the dungeons themselves, at this point in the season most of us are rather overgeared for +15 keys so they tend to go rather smoothly when we aren’t fooling around too much. I’ve also had a couple guildies mention they are happy to help, so getting the group together shouldn’t be a problem, it’s more the actually engaging and asking people that will be the “challenge” I think.

So that’s retail, as for Classic, I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled on the auction house since I got lucky and won the roll for Eye of Divinity on our previous Molten Core run which means I need the Eye of Shadow in order to do the quest for Anathema/Benediction.

Screenshot of Das Auge der Offenbarung - the Eye of Divinity
Das Auge der Offenbarung – the Eye of Divinity

Unfortunately, we actually somewhat recently transferred over from our overpopulated and Horde-biased server to a somewhat smaller server where we avoid both the rather long queues—an hour or two during the weekends and evenings—as well as the constat gank squads in the open world which is nice but the new server being smaller means both that the Eye of Shadow is somewhat more expensive here as well as a bit less available meaning it isn’t simply a quick matter of buying the trinket I do have to do some waiting. I did briefly try farming it with a guildie with no luck, unfortunately the droprate isn’t the greatest either and the mobs have a sufficient amount of health to make farming them somewhat tedious.

Still, I’m sure I’ll end up getting the trinket eventually, and probably still this year, but it is something of an unexpected setback in the sense of something I hadn’t considered while we were changing server.

All in all, I’m rather looking forward to this small lull in activity going forward, even if the two raids a week haven’t been exactly bad and actually quite fun so far, it’s still nice to have fewer things on the todo list for a while. Especially so considering 8.3 will probably be hitting sometime early next year, which means a lot more farming coming up with the cloak as well as new levels on the neck.

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Paladin Epic Mount

Yesterday we ended up doing something interesting in Classic, namely helping a guildie finish up their Paladin epic mount quest. Due to us all being much poorer back in the day, this was something I never did end up doing during the original release of the game and as such was something of a new experience for me.

The final part of the quest

Now, of course, me playing a Priest and not a Paladin I didn’t get see all of the quest, only getting some snippets here and there of the quests that we did in dungeons and even then I’m not sure I participated in all of the fun but still, it was interesting to see what all needed to be done as well as the Paladin-specific final event in Scholomance where we had to fight through waves of shades and finally a Death Knight in order to free the spirit of the horse.

This final event proved surprisingly interesting, mostly when the caster shades arrived since they spawned and started casting on the nearest person it seemed, leading to a close call with myself and another party member before I managed to shackle one while we killed of the rest. Aside from that though, the event wasn’t overly taxing though this was probably partially due to our somewhat strange party composition consisting of two healers—myself and the Paladin.

Everything before the final event was mostly in the category of “do the dungeon normally, but the Paladin needs some quest items or needs to activate something for a quest” which meant it wasn’t really overly interesting from an outsider perspective though doing the dungeons was fun as usual.

Still, it was all well worth the experience and fun and now our Paladin doesn’t get left behind while running to the raid since he too has a fast mount so that’s an added bonus!

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Fast kitty

Screenshot of Night Elf on Swift Frostsaber

So I managed to get myself a fast kitty in Classic, in other words the epic mount. It was actually surprisingly easy, considering how short a time Classic has been out and I haven’t really done any moneymaking activities in the game, mainly just ran dungeons. Sure, those dungeon runs were fairly successful and with a mage so my costs were low—not even water—but still, wasn’t expecting it to be this profitable especially consindering I played back in the day and was always pretty poor, always sitting around 50-100 gold.

Because of that, felt nice being able to achieve this in Classic, something I never managed back then only buying my epic mount while leveling in Burning Crusade though there I did later manage to afford the epic flying mount.

In general though, the epic mount seems much more common than back then, not sure if this is due to the patch we are playing or if players are simply that much more skilled or knowledgeable these days, I know that’s the case for me but it’s still interesting to see. What probably also helped me is that I’m just a lot more motivated to play the game now than I was back then somehow, and actually set goals and achieve things. My playstyle used to be a lot more aimless with several breaks which probably is what caused me not to achieve too much back then.

Still, with how seemingly easy it is to get the epic mount now, I would recommend it since the extra movement speed is nice even for someone like me who spends most of their time in dungeons or raids. It’s also one of the few sensible places to invest one’s gold I find, so that helps as well.

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Classic

World of Warcraft Classic was released pretty much exactly two weeks ago by now, Tuesday morning at one in the morning. The launch uptill pretty much the last few days actually went surprisingly poorly considering how well Blizzard handled both Legion and Battle for Azeroth, with the game being unplayable for most people due to the queues on the servers. Basically if you didn’t log in sometime before midday you probably weren’t getting in in a reasonable amount of time which at times proved problematic for me with the queue being longer than the time until the next raid. I was rather disappointed to see this, since Blizzard had specifically deviated from the way the original game was launched and introduced layering in order to avoid this very problem, but apparently they didn’t go far enough with this approach.

Beyond that pretty much utter failure on Blizzard’s part, Classic has actually been a ton of fun and it has been interesting to see how differently people approach the game now that everything is a bit more well known than it was at the start as well as how the different pace of modern games seems to influence it as well. I think the most notable example of this are the “bombing runs” of dungeons that seem to really start when Scarlet Monastery becomes available and then continues in Zul’Farrak and later in Blackrock Depths. It seems to basically boil down to the Legion-style of large AoE pulls of packs which then get nuked down in order to level up quickly, not really doing the dungeons for the loot but for the experience. It is quite an effective method, especially with the amount of players on the servers since all of the outdoor content is very heavily farmed, so having your own instance to farm is quite a bit more efficient. I’m sure some of the professional levelers have more efficient methods of leveling, but for the more normal player like me this has been a very effective and fun way of keeping up the pace.

Gear in Classic tends to be a bit of a mishmash, but I kind of like the idea of you just looking like an adventurer that has picked up the gear most fitting to the task.

Doing the dungeons, it has also been interesting to see how my approach to healing in them has changed or rather stayed the same. I’m still trying to get in as much of my healing as possible through Greater Heal only, in order to stay as manaefficient as possible—the big difference to back in the day is that due to how big the pulls are I still end up running out of mana with this strategy, while that only used to happen when we had a really bad pull back in the day. Actually kind of used to pride myself on being able to do dungeon runs without needing to sit and drink, but that just isn’t realistic when you pull several packs and the tank is in need of pretty much constant attention.

Something else that’s a bit different this time around is that I’m now assining spell damage and healing a somewhat higher value than before, since it does seem to be one of those stats that no one really realized was good back in the day. I still really like spirit, but it of course doesn’t help much when my primary task is spamhealing the tank though that is getting to not be as important as we have moved into Blackrock Depths since we can’t quite do the pulls we did in Zul’Farrak and we also kite the mobs a bit more than before. Still, my higher priorisation of spellpower probably means I will need to start thinking about downranking at some point, something I purposefully avoided back in the day since I didn’t feel like stepping into the five second rule more than necessary was a good idea hence trying to only use my most powerful and manaefficient spell but spellpower naturally changes the HPM calculation on all spells.

Personal experiences aside, I also have to say, overall with the implementation aside from the queues Blizzard has been fairly successful keeping most things as they were along with some small interface improvements like the new raidframes which I don’t really mind since basically everyone used an addon for those anyway. There is a small list of things I’ve found so far that they’ve missed though:

  • K was completely unbound instead of being bound to Skills like it used to be
  • T was also unbound instead of being bound to auto-attack
  • As introduced in Legion, you can’t buy partial stacks from vendors which at times is somewhat annyoing especially with water or the like
  • Warlock pets despawn too quickly, making me unable to ressurect them

Now, admittedly, all of these are very minor things and the first two are easily fixed by going into the keybindings, but they were still things that stood out to me as deviations from the original.

The final deviation is of course the Battle.net integration and layering, but both of those were pretty much forseable so they’re not really worth mentioning—and layering is getting removed at some point in the future anyway so.

All of that summarised means I’ve actually been quite happy with Classic at the times I’ve gotten to play the game and this has lead me to putting in quite a significant chunk of time into the game which has been a rather welcome diversion from Azshara progression. Here’s hoping Blizzard sees this as a success as well and considers Burning Crusade servers since from the people I’ve spoken with quite a few of them would probably enjoy those even more it for many having been one of the best if not the best version of the game.

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Queen Azshara kill

We did a thing

We did the thing a few days ago actually, just been too busy with Classic to post. I don’t really have much to say about the boss really, except that it’s probably the most complex and annoying boss I’ve played so far and from a healer point of view not overly fun, which was kind of to be expected when the world first was with only two healers. Still, finally getting the kill felt really good, probably even moreso due to that!

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Quiet times

So despite our Queen Azshara progress still being in full swing, not much has been happening lately for me in World of Warcraft. Sure, there was that heroic Eternal Palace run that was rather fun, and my hunter has finally managed to find herself a new weapon after a long search but aside from those things it has been bussiness as usual, a bit of mythic+ here and there but overall not that much going on.

I did also finally stop slacking and got my neck up to 60 for rank three of the Crucible essence since it seems I had somewhat underestimated the damage potential of that one—or maybe I just didn’t want to spend the time farming Azerite—since I figured it could prove useful for the Azshara fight considering it isn’t that healing intensive. This puts me way behind the average in my guild, with several members already having pushed to 65 for the second minor essence, but I’m fine with that since I know I have neither the time nor the motivation to get to 65 before the progress is over and after that it doesn’t really matter anymore and before 65 there are no more significant gains for me to reach even if getting 62-63 should be fairly trivial without too much time investment.

Regarding time investment, one of the reasons I haven’t had so much time to spend playing World of Warcraft is that I’ve spent the last month or so at our summer house, enjoying the company of my parents as well as helping out with some of the projects they have going on here. It’s been a nice time overall even if I’m not quite as engaged with the projects as they are and I think the change of pace and priorities from city life does me good even though it does make some things more difficult, like finding time or things to write here.

I’m also looking forward to/dreading the launch of Classic, since I think it will be a nice distraction from the current state of the game as well as something that can instill some form of joy in some of the changes implemented since then that one tends to take granted now. There is however one big niggle with that whole thing: it seems most of my guildies want to start on a PVP server while I was looking to start on a PVE one which makes me have to think whether I join the people I know I’ll like playing with and have more readily accessible for spontaneous game sessions on the PVP server or if I go with my preferred server type and have to find new people to play with there. It’s a tough choice since if their interest vanes quickly and mine doesn’t I’m kind of stuck on a server type I don’t enjoy but on the other hand if I go off alone I can’t really join in on potential spontaneous post-raid (retail) dungeon runs (Classic) making it more of a consious effort to play Classic. I still have a few days to decide and have my name reserved on both servers, so that shouldn’t be a problem at least, but it’s still an unfortunate choice to have to make.

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Eternal Palace heroic?

So with me playing the Hunter more frequently in recent times and many of the people I play with on Alliance not necessarily being active raiders currently, there was some interest in taking a poke at the new(ish) raid and see what the bosses in there were capable of and it also gave me a good opportunity to potentially get some more gear—unfortunately no luck with that.

We started out with a core of seven players, meaning we were a few short of being able to reasonably enter the raid necessitating looking for randoms to fill out the ranks. This lead us to the decision of going with the more PUG-friendly raid-size of 20 players, with the usual 2/4/14 setup—two tanks, four healers and 14 damage dealers. The bigger raid size allows for more individual mistakes from each player which tends to be a very good property to have when you are relying on players whose capabilities you have no idea of.

The raid started out well enough, with us killing Sivara on our first attempt though admittedly with heavy losses—it seems the decision to bring a larger group paid off, since several people clearly had no idea what they were doing in this encounter. I tried my best to explain the general tactics to our own group on TeamSpeak, knowing that they had little to no experience in the raid and this seemed to work out well for them for the most part.

After a successful kill we moved on towards the next boss, Behemoth, who did provide us with one wipe since several of our randoms did not seem familiar with the healing immunity magic and consequently didn’t get the buff allowing them to be healed—one of our own had also missed out on us killing the pufferfish on pull, meaning they didn’t get the buff at start and also ended up dead. A short couple of raid warnings later on the second pull we managed to down the boss with no casualties which was a relief since I don’t find the boss particularily interesting to play.

Radiance of Azshara again went smoothly, without many casualties and I believe only one try needed to kill the boss. To be fair, this boss’ mechanics are more standard faire than Behemoths’ and anyone who did some dungeoning in Legion and remembers Wrath of Azshara from Eye of Azshara knows something like 80% of the mechanics on this boss already, making success with inexperienced players more likely.

This, however, is where our moderately good run ended. We unfortunately got stuck on Lady Ashvane trying the relatively standard two-phase tactic but unfortunately not quite making it with our best try being with around 500-thousand boss health left. I probably should’ve done some more stringent pruning of people who weren’t performing or perhaps switched to the potentially more easy-to-execute three phase strategy if we had people failing, but the wipes eventually lead to the raid dissolving with the extra players we had found leaving. Luckily, this nicely coincided with a healer we know coming online who we knew and was reliable, so we decided to continue the raid in tighter setup of 2/2/6 though still needing two random damage dealers—for Ashvane we actually ran 2/1/7 since we still wanted to make the damage check for two phase and we knew our healer could handle healing it alone.

We rounded up the evening by killing Orgozoa without too much fuss and Queen’s Court with a lot of fuss, and I have to say though the first half or so of the raid was much easier with the larger group it was much more fun having mostly people we knew in the raid and being able to communicate properly even when we were having significant problems such as at Queen’s Court.

Overall I had a rather fun time doing some “casual progress raiding” in a somewhat more relaxed atmospehere than my normal progress raids, where while I did know the encounters many in the raid did not and I also had to play them very differently, not only because I was playing a completely different role from normal but also because of the small raid size towards the end necessitating me more frequently playing and paying attention to mechanics that I could probably normally safely ignore in heroic—it might actually be rather fun if we get this small raid going on a somewhat regular basis, at least for a while, and there seemed to be interest in doing so. Here’s hoping we find enough people to get going next week without having to look for extras!

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