So it’s been a(nother) couple of months since I wrote anything. To be honest this last couple of months have been hard. I noticed today that my activity and interaction with others on Twitter for example had tanked over the past couple of months, and there were even a handful of days where I made zero tweets all day, which is completely unlike me!
I had a bit of a late epiphany the other day. Call me slow, but I realised that given how much I love posting screenshots to Twitter, why wouldn’t I do the same sort of post here as a gallery?
Once upon a time dear reader, I was a member of the mighty Horde. I fought and lived and breathed Lok’tar Ogar, and followed my Warchief with unwavering loyalty, and then…
It’s week 4 of Battle for Azeroth, and the meat of the expansion kicks off this reset!
Battle for Azeroth has launched, and most of us by now will have at least one character levelled to the new level cap of 120.
So how did I find my first run levelling experience in BfA? Well…
Needless to say there are spoilers aplenty in this article for the second part of the War of the Thorns questlines, so if you’ve avoided it so far (how?), then come back and read this later!
Ok, so now we know that it wasn’t some third party like Azshara (that was not on my radar) or Jaina trying to provoke war between the factions by inciting the Alliance to go full on as revenge for the burning of Teldrassil.
Blizzard, when the burning was first teased at Blizzcon last year, told us not to jump to conclusions and that the story would be “morally grey”. Of course everyone’s first suspicion was that it would be Sylvanas, given she was in the official artwork for the scene:
So when Blizzard stated that we should wait for the story to play out, everyone who likes Sylvanas, myself included, breathed a sigh of relief and immediately began working out theories as to who it could be. Theories ranged wildly:
- Alleria Windrunner
- Anduin Wrynn
- Agents of N’Zoth
- And of course Sylvanas herself
I personally thought that it could’ve turned out to be the Alliance themselves, burning it in a Scorched Earth move to prevent it being taken by the Horde, giving them access to an important and strategically fortified location, especially so close to the Exodar and the home of the Draenai (like anyone would really care about the Exodar anyway!).
So yesterday the cinematic for Warbringers: Sylvanas was released alongside the second week of the War of the Thorns questchain, as it was finally revealed who burnt the tree:
Now, as a long-term player of the Horde for over 9 years, I got to know Sylvanas’ character pretty well. She was my favourite leader Horde side after Green Jesus decided to go off the reservation in Cataclysm. I loved her characterisation and her ice-cool cunning and desire to preserve her people’s way of life. In that, she was no different from any of the other leaders on either faction, and that’s acceptable.
However in Cataclysm things started to get a lot greyer, morally speaking. Sylvanas, after Icecrown and the defeat of Arthas, tried to kill herself by throwing herself from the peak of Icecrown to the ground below. However she was resurrected by the Valkyr and since then she has both been protected by them and used them to create more Forsaken in a somewhat similar fashion to how Arthas raised the Scourge.
This is how her character remained until Legion, when at the beginning of the expansion the Horde lost yet another leader in Vol’jin (his reign lasted pretty much a single, weak expansion), after losing Thrall to his doubt and the deposing of Garrosh. Up stepped Sylvanas, appointed by Vol’jin with his dying breath, stating that “many will not understand”. And he was right. For as much as I love Sylvanas, she has always been more concerned with the Forsaken than she has ever cared for the Horde as a whole. Baine or Lor’themar would’ve been a more solid choice IMO.
So for the duration of Legion Sylvanas seems to carry out her duties as Warchief with a degree of “Ok, this could possibly work”, but as the expansion began to draw to a close, things started to go south with her characterisation…
With the introduction of Allied Races, Sylvanas began to show players that she was more concerned with the player’s loyalty to her and her wishes than those of the overall Horde: “Serve the Horde, Serve ME well, and you shall be rewarded…”
Then came the War of the Thorns…
Jesus, that first week, as a horde character, was bloody hard to play through:
After playing through week 1 of War of the Thorns quests on my Horde Hunter yesterday, my reaction is pretty much:
Thank the gods my Druid isn't Horde. Because if she was, I'd feel like a complete and utter fucking bastard going through that.
That turned out to be a waste of time…
All in all I got a total of 26, with only Affliction Warlock and Guardian Druid done before the turn of the year. With the recent maxing of artifacts via the Artifact retirement questline I’ve run in a glut of 15 in just under a fortnight.
Before we get into it, I don’t have either a Rogue or a Priest at 110, so that was 6 specs I wasn’t going to do right off the bat. I do have a Shaman at 110, but she was horribly under-geared, and I didn’t really want any of the available appearances.
So with that in mind, for the other 9 classes, the ones I got in order were:
- Affliction Warlock (July 2017 – 911 ilevel)
- Guardian Druid (Dec 2017 – 923 ilevel)
- Marks Hunter (Mar 2018 – 943 ilevel)
- BM Hunter (Mar 2018 – 943 ilevel)
- Survival Hunter (Mar 2018 – 943 ilevel)
- Feral Druid (Apr 2018 – 920 ilevel)
- Frost Mage (Jun 2018 – 933 ilevel)
- Windwalker Monk (Jun 2018 – 900 ilevel)
- Frost DK (Jun 2018 – 920 ilevel)
- Destro Warlock (Jul 2018 – 954 ilevel)
Everything below was post artifact Empowerment in July 2018:
- Havoc DH (917 ilevel)
- Prot Paladin (941 ilevel)
- Protection Warrior (923 ilevel)
- Vengeance DH (923 ilevel)
- Fire Mage (932 ilevel)
- Fury Warrior (926 ilevel)
- Unholy DK (917 ilevel)
- Balance Druid (939 ilevel)
- Arms Warrior (926 ilevel)
- Demonology Warlock (958 ilevel)
- Blood DK (923 ilevel)
- Arms Warrior (926 ilevel)
- Brewmaster Monk (918 ilevel)
- Resto Druid (939 ilevel)
- Holy Pally (932 ilevel)
- Arcane Mage (930 ilevel)
So what is my impression of this addition of challenging solo content to the game?
Some of the scenarios were laughably easy, whereas some of them were stress inducingly difficult.
The Impossible Foe
This was a fight against Agatha, the Imp Mother. For half of the specs I ran through this scenario it was a one shot. Helped enormously because you could cheese this scenario to a degree, as it was counted as being on the Broken Isles, and all the buff pots and food that work in outdoor areas in BI also worked here, although I didn’t find that out until I did my last one, Fury!
However even without those, the scenario itself was largely very easy.
Feral: For my disco cat appearance, and absolutely destroyed it thanks to Brutal Slash basically decimating everything in its path. One Shot!
Unholy DK: Despite not having the first clue how to play the spec, was also a one shot.
Fire Mage: Took a couple of pulls, due to the lack of self heals available for Mages, but it went down in 4 pulls regardless.
Fury Warrior: This was definitely the hardest spec to run in this scenario, and surprisingly this took a good 10 pulls before getting it down.
This one ranged from easy to difficult…
BM Hunter: Without the healing legs or Pet Spec ring this was very difficult and I had to leave it until a later time. Once however I got both those legendaries (within a day or two of one another) this scenario became a complete joke. Main problems here without leggos are interrupts and self heals.
WindWalker Monk: Given the monk’s toolkit, which includes self heals and a plethora of interrupts and stuns this was a cakewalk. In fact this was the only Mage Tower I completed at less than the recommended MT iLevel of 905, when I completed it at iLevel 900, less than 8 hours after hitting 110. Mind you I had gotten pretty handy with the WW after spending a lot of time in the weeks beforehand levelling her to 110 for the Void Elf heritage armour. 8 vastly under-geared pulls and done.
The God Queen’s Fury
This was a slight step up in difficulty, depending on the spec.
Ret Paladin: I went in here and just destroyed this on the free pull. 940-ish gear mean I overgeared it to a decent degree.
Demo Lock: Took a few goes until I got some handle on Demo as a spec. I’ve not played Demo AT ALL, and yet it still went down in about 4 pulls. Mainly wiped here due to missed interrupts on Sigryn’s Blood of the Father cast, but overall my Warlock’s high gear level (958) got me through this.
Arcane Mage: Weeeelllll. This was definitely the hardest spec to complete this challenge on. I did this at a lower ilevel (930) than any of the other two classes I finished it on, and man there was a WORLD of difference in difficulty. Whereas Ret had access to damage reductions, stuns, speed boosts, self-heals and two different immunities, and my Warlock had high gear, a pet and self heals, Arcane had a far harder time, especially with the lack of self healing.
This took a good couple of hours worth of solid work in order to get it done, immediately off the back of my last healing Mage Tower. This took a lot of practice at shield usage, judicious use of healing orbs and kiting like a madman in order to pull it off successfully, not to mention on-the-fly learning how to play Arcane Mage 😛
Not an appearance I was especially eager to get, but it was the last day before pre-patch, the final spec I could complete any Mage Towers on, and decided “Feck it, let’s at least try it, if only to get the last appearance for the Mage”.
Completed it 90 minutes before the servers went down for pre-patch 😀
Closing the Eye
This was a scenario I ran 4 times:
Frost DK: Not bad, took a good 10 pulls or so but got through it ok.
Survival Hunter: Despite not playing Survival at all, gear got me through this on the free first go. One shot, mainly thanks to being decently geared.
Havoc DH: Man, this was fun. Havoc was able to jump over the Razor Shards, but it took a while to get the hang of it. Was a close call, as I never play Havoc with my DH, but it went down after a handful of pulls.
Arms Warrior: Hooo boy. This was a bloody close one! I was always getting to phase 2 with the Corrupting Shadow boss, but had difficulty getting the adds down in time. Took a few pulls to get a handle on it, but then on the 4th pull I had just about run out of room, the boss had 20% health left (19 million) and it just started summoning in the adds and if the adds touch the boss he regains 15% health per mob. Luckily Executes were chunking him for about 5-6% of his health per hit, so I was just about able to down it in time before I lost my last centimetre of free space and adds begun to move:
The Highlord’s Return
Now we get to the harder scenarios.
The tank challenge, man it was fun. This was the only scenario that I completed in totality, having finished it on every single tank spec.
Guardian Druid: Well, this was one of those challenges that was either ridiculously easy if you had the right legendaries (Luffa’s, which increases the range and damage of Thrash by 25%, Ekowraith which buffs the Affinity talent effects by 75% (more Thrash range and damage again!), or Lady and the Child, a Boomkin legendary that increased Moonfire damage).
Needless to say I had none of them. As such this was pretty damn challenging. Lack of Luffa’s and Eko meant I couldn’t out-range the Aura of Decay, and even with that, getting about the platform as a druid can be a bit ponderous and plodding at times. And with infernal knockbacks… yeah. But I got there in a few dozen tries. Worth it, because the Werebear appearance is one of my favourites.
Prot Paladin: I’d tried this pre-empowerment, but kept getting dinged about the platform by infernals in P2. So after finding a decent strat and talent setup I gave it another bash and went in and DESTROYED Variss pretty damn quick, which meant only one infernal in P2, and therefore a win!
Prot Warrior: This was one appearance I didn’t think I was going to get at all. My Warrior was still 106 about 6 weeks away from the then-estimated date of the pre-patch, so I needed to get her levelled to 110 and get her geared, but I was busy levelling the Monk at the time and working on my Frost Mage MT. So after hitting 110 I left her for 4 weeks(!) while I worked on the Monk & Mage, then came back to her…
It took about a week while I geared her and got her 2nd leggo Order Hall upgrade. This one was pretty hard. Took a good 33 pulls for without a doubt one of the more difficult tank challenges, but it did reward one of my favourite appearances.
Vengeance DH: Oh My God. Pull 1? Wipe.
Pull 2? I wiped at this point:
I got knocked off towards the very end, was gliding back on and checking mob positions mid-glide, slid face first down the only crack in the entire platform and Velen died with Kruul sub 1%…
Either way, this one was very easy, and went down in about 6 pulls all told!
Blood DK: Velen man, fucking Velen. Worse than a terribad LFR player, this guy dying to adds caused more wipes (10) than anything else. However once I put together a couple of macros for Variss interrupts and Gorefiends grasp to pull mobs to ME, then it went down. The weapon though? Eesh, pretty damn ugly.
Brewmaster Monk: This honestly was one I didn’t think I was going to get. Time was running out, I was 900 ilevel, I’d not touched a Brewmaster since very early Warlords, and back then I was awful at it, so I didn’t hold out much hope. But with a few days left before pre-patch I decided to spend a couple of days gearing in order to give it a bash, just to see how hard it was and to round out my Tank challenges.
LOL – Easier than the Vengeance DH even 😀
4 pulls in total! Talents? They made this one a complete breeze tbh. Statue took care of the adds, and kept them off of Velen, and Niuzao Ox tanked Kruul for me for 45 seconds towards the end of the fight, saving me a lot of hassle!
With those two talents this essentially became a DPS challenge where I had to interrupt Variss & Kruul now and then, as well as avoid infernal knockbacks. Definitely the easiest tank challenge of all.
Thwarting the Twins
FUCK ME PURPLE. If I never see Karam or Raest again in the years I have left on this Earth, it’ll be too soon. I fucking HATED this scenario. This was, by far, the hardest scenario out of all the Mage Towers I ran.
This scenario, in the later phases (there were 5 altogether), was ridiculously overly-complex. The mental bandwidth required to execute this MT was just stupid.
- Kiting a Mob (Karam) that will one-shot you.
- Kiting adds that will seriously hurt/one-shot you.
- Hand spawns that cast a spell that will one-shot you that needs interrupted and burned ASAP.
- Watch for rune spawns that need to be stood in for several seconds, while hoping Karam doesn’t catch you. If not stood in they spawn an add that will kill you.
- Kill Raest to complete the scenario.
Balance Druid: This was my first experience with the scenario back when the Mage Towers were first launched. Balance was my main at the time, and I was trying to get this done. I had a torrid time, so much so that I gave up and swore never to do this scenario again. Shortly after I changed main to…
Affliction Warlock: Well FML. Back here again, but this was cheesable, and so wasn’t quite as difficult as Balance. The Warlock leggo ring that makes Corruption do more damage also slowed mobs by 60%, and combined with the talent that makes Corruption permanent and the ability to AoE mobs with Corruption? All of the mobs were able to be slowed permanently which made kiting them a damned sight easier. Done at a now fairly low-ish ilevel of 911, this was far easier than Balance.
Marks Hunter: BLAM BLAM BLAM DED. I’d been playing MM for a few weeks beforehand, and an ilevel of 943 made everything just melt. Which was fucking satisfying.
Frost Mage: Right, pull up a chair…
55 Pulls. At least. I switched from Bigwigs to DBM after a good couple of dozen tries at least because Bigwigs shockingly had no great module for the Mage Tower challenges (yes, it took me a while to realise).
This was, by far, the single hardest encounter in the game for me. This surpassed even the Green Fire fight against Kanrethad back when I was undergeared for that back in Mists. This was actually vastly harder than that.
Karam could be slowed by some of the Frost toolkit, but if you didn’t get him into the next phase quick enough he began to DR (become immune to) the slow and would begin speeding up until he was running so fast it was impossible to kite him any longer.
Combine that with most of the Frost spells having cast times of at least 1.8 seconds with my level of haste, which meant kiting Karam was a tough job when Hands had to be interrupted and burnt down ASAP.
In short, with the number of things needing done towards the final phase in that encounter (Kite Karam, Avoid Adds, Stand in Runes, Interrupt & Kill Hands, oh and kill Raest to actually beat it) I found the mental throughput to be exhausting and overwhelming. However, eventually, I beat the damn thing, and was shaking like mad when I did, and nearly felt like crying from relief. This was an appearance I really really wanted to get, now that I have a Mage to play again.
I did it pre-empowerment, and empowerment might’ve made it a lot easier, on the other hand it may not have, but I was proud to have done it while it was still rock hard.
Balance Druid: Yes, I came back again, both to the scenario and with this class. This was post empowerment, and I had to be convinced to give it another bash. I one shot the fucking thing, and both Karam and Raest just melted. Man that was cathartic 😀
End of the Risen Threat
One of the biggest changes coming in BfA is perhaps one that has flown under the radar the most in Alpha & Beta, one that has the potential to fundamentally change the social fabric of the game for a significant portion of the player base – the very fabric of Guilds and guild membership.
So it’s around that time of the expansion, especially with Battle for Azeroth’s Alpha now live for “influencers”, that the rest of us non-streamer plebs start guessing as to what class we might look to main for the new expansion.