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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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 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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So, well, we killed Za’qul. And, well, it feels like there isn’t that much more to say about the fight from a healer perspective that I haven’t already said. It’s basically: keep the tanks alive, handle the bursts of damage from the dreads preferably with some sort of damage reduction cooldown—making Priests and Paladins good—and for the rest, just play the mechanics. Sure, there is some jumping between the different realms—specifically the fear realm in the later stages—but even there you just have to follow the rest of the group and go down at the correct times.

This means the fight is a bit boring to talk about since it’s all more in the execution than any specific exciting mechanic, and while the fight does get a bit more intense with time it isn’t overly intense. We also ended up running four healers for this fight, though I could see the rekills starting to get done with three healers quite quickly, since there really isn’t that much healing to go around. So overall, a bit of a disappointment after Queen’s Court, but still we got him down which is always nice.

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So I’ve mentioned having leveled my Hunter on Alliance before and in recent times due to some old friends who still play Alliance having returned to the game, it has given me the opportunity to play her a bit more and try out being a damage-dealer for a change, a role I very seldomly play in World of Warcraft. The experience has actually been a surprising amount of fun, with us doing mythic+ a couple of times per reset and Marksmanship proving to be a suprising amount of fun even with Barrage not being as good of a spell as it was in early Legion making the spec a bit less fun.

Screenshot of Lyrre the Hunter on the character selection screen
The not so Hunter-y looking Hunter

There is however, a bigger frustration I have with the spec and that is the somewhat silly way AoE damage works, with one target being good, three or more clumped targets being good, but two targets ending up as basically single target which can be very frustrating depending on the dungeon and the tank since one gets the feeling one isn’t contributing as much as one should on two-target pulls. From what I know, this is the primary reason our hunter in the mythic+ group I had Horde-side earlier in the expansion was playing Beast Mastery—a spec I do not really enjoy at all, and he I believe also didn’t find as fun as Marksmanship—which I feel is unfortunate. It’s a very strange feeling, seemingly being unable to anything sensible on certain packs.

Another slight frustration with the Hunter doesn’t really come from the class but rather from bad luck, with me not having looted a single new weapon in the three or so weeks that we have now been doing mythic+, leaving me to run around with a world quest reward weapon with very suboptimal item level and somewhat suboptimal stats. It’s frustrating especially knowing that we have several times done dungeons where an upgrade could have dropped and me at times even using a bonusroll in hopes of simply getting something decent yet constantly simply having the bad luck of not getting an upgrade.

Despite those frustrations, the experience overall has been rather positive and somewhat more relaxing than my tanking adventures—though those are enjoyable as well—and has given me the opportunity to do something completely different amidst the current mythic progress which is a welcome change.

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Queen’s Court

Hofstaat der K├Ânigin, in English Queen's Court, mythic achievement

So this is actually a bit of old news, but we managed to kill Queen’s Court on mythic!

The fight is actually a perhaps surprising amount of fun, being one of the more hectic fights so far as a healer with a somewhat constant barrage of high incoming damage on the group through the sparks along with the edicts that at time makes executing on healing cooldowns rather tricky, especially Repeat Performance as a discipline priest since it forces you to change the way you apply Atonement by silencing you after two consecutive casts of the same spell. This was fairly easy to work around by alternating between Shadow Mend and Power Word: Shield, but it was just another thing to keep eye on in a somewhat hectic fight.

Still, it’s also a fight that one can actually learn with the sequence of edicts being known and the bursts from the sparks being fairly predictable so once you get it down it starts feeling, well not easy but at least manageable.

Now with the kill being a few days old, means we have also had a decent amount of tries on Za’qul, which to be fair actually feels a bit more boring so far than Queen’s Court. The problem really, is that while there are some pretty large bursts of damage early on through the fears the rest of the time it’s mostly a case of doing damage even as a healer and playing mechanics—mainly the tentacles that on mythic come in threes—which just doesn’t feel quite as interesting as the previous two bosses. It does get better on in the later stages of the fight with the stacking debuff, but it feels like mosts tries so far we are losing people to the “simple” stuff of tentacles or simple bad luck with the spawn of the Maddening Eruption landing in the middle of the tentacles causing a wipe. So the fight is still tricky, it’s just that we haven’t consistently gotten to 40% where the fight really begins in earnest and the way there is something of a slog. Still, those last 40% will probably prove very interesting indeed and I’m looking forward to our progress there.

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We managed to kill Orgozoa yesterday, and honestly my thoughts from the PTR kind of still stand. The fight is really rought to heal, yes, and has to be executed well purely from a mechanical standpoint, but as far as really interesting things actually happening during the fight? Not really overly so.

Phase two still really felt like the easier one of the two, mainly because from a healer standpoint you are basically back at the beginning of phase one with almost nobody having the debuff. Sure, there are some other things to watch out for like the stomps and we did have a few deaths and consequently wipes to those but that I think is mostly because the area of that ability is somewhat unclear and people had to learn that, but overall phase two just doesn’t have that much more going on—always having the adds there for DOTs was nice as a discipline priest though, getting that extra healing going on.

And phase one, well, it got really rough towards the end even with us five-healing it, but it feels like such a slow burn that while it is challenging it doesn’t really feel exciting or overly dangerous most of the time with potentially the exception being during the Arcing Currents when players have to spread out in order to avoid spreading the Incubation Fluid to unaffected players so they are outside of many area healing spells yet take a burst of damage, but even those weren’t really lethal if the players were topped properly. That was still the primary point we lost players especially towards the end where almost the whole raid needs constant healing so it is something to watch out for.

After we killed Orgozoa however, we did have a decent amount of time left to get a few trys in on the Queen’s Court which proved much more interesting. Now, I was slightly skeptical of the fight at first because even though some of the decrees can be annoying on heroic like Repeat Performance, they’re mostly somewhat ignorable. On mythic however, the pure damage coming in from the orbs along with the much tighter timing on both the decrees as well as things like the charge made the encounter much more interesting than I was expecting. Also, there always being a decree active and them rotating in a set manner makes the fight more interesting as well, since that allowed the designers to put in really harsh sequences like the orb explosions during Deferred Sentence which then very quickly gets followed by Obey or Suffer. That combination really ended up being the most difficult part for us so far and the one which I think we will need to work on the most.

So I think we have some very fun progress ahead of us, once we manage to reclear everything this reset.

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Method Queen Azshara world first

So Method managed to snag the world first on Queen Azshara as is somewhat usual, though it seems to have been a rather close race with Limit this time around, moreso than the last couple of ones.

That however, isn’t really what I wanted to talk about, but rather the somewhat unusal setup they ended up running for the boss, namely: only running with two healers on the first kill of the last boss of a raid. Now, playing a healer myself this is obviously something that doesn’t feel overly nice since it means that more healers will be benchend than usual and to me it already felt rough having three healer bosses since I like my fellow healers, but also from what I know this is somewhat unprecedented and it feels like it points towards some heavy flaws in the encounter design of Queen Azshara for this to be possible at all.

One large contributing factor to this being possible was the maximum health reduction debuff that you need to take in order to keep the different seals charged which mean there has to be overall less damage coming in or it would simply be oneshotting players. This was also a large contributor to Method’s decision to run two discipline priests I think, since shields give you that extra buffer on that low health—of course, discipline also brings with it some decent extra damage, and them already running only two healers indicates every extra bit of damage is welcome.

But secondly, as noted above, the fight on heroic as well just feels like it has very little incoming damage, with me on our kills generally spending more time doing damage than healing. Sure, there is some decent burst in the last phase but aside from that the fight felt kind of boring from a healer perspective and I guess that is now simply getting validated even on mythic which I think is sad to see.

It’s odd, all of this makes me kind of not look forward toward Azshara that much, since it makes me feel like maybe the fight won’t be that interesting. Now granted, Method still needed several hundred pulls to get the boss down, so I’m not thinking it will be easy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the fight will be interesting which is unfortunate for the end-boss of a tier especially for one with so much lore tie-in. I guess I’ll have to see once we get there, but for now my excitement for the end-boss is down somewhat though we still have a long way to go so there’s time to change that—I also somewhat doubt we will be running a two healer strategy since we only have one priest at the moment, but we’ll see.

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