BFA: The Journey to 120

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…

The Burning of Teldrassil: Morally Grey or downright Evil?

So now we know who burned the World Tree Teldrassil, and boy it was a doozy of a reveal…

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:

Sylvanas, Nathanos Blightcaller and Saurfang stand before an as-yet unburnt Teldrassil…

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
  • Malfurion
  • Azshara
  • 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. read more

Choosing a main for BfA: Part 2

So after I initially went through the list of possible mains for BfA a few months ago, and had come up with Hunter, plus some Druid and Warlock action, Alpha and Beta continued apace, and with that came Alpha access for me, and the ability to judge classes and specs first hand.

That turned out to be a waste of time…

Membership of guilds is changing forever in BfA

Battle for Azeroth launches in just over 2 months, and with it will come, as is the norm with any new expansion, many changes to game systems, classes and new locations.

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.

Choosing a Main for BfA

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. read more

A new Dawn: These clouds have an Argent lining…

So following the betrayal and collapse of Treehugging Hippies, Azrel and I, alongside Alternative Chat have decided to launch a brand new guild on Argent Dawn!

This is going to be a relaxed guild, with a mixture of social, alt levelling, casual raiding and whatever else takes our fancies!

We will likely raid to some degree in BfA, but we will not be stepping foot in Mythic raids at all. Not that we’re not capable of it, the previous year with THH confirmed that we are, but the cost of running a guild through Mythic content is too high, and puts the very survival of guilds at stake once a clique starts getting greedy and decides they want moar, MOAR!

So we’ll be running heroic at best in BfA, and I for one will be partaking in a lot more mythic+ runs. I didn’t get as many of these done throughout Legion as I’d have liked, but when a group gets together and regularly runs them together, to the exclusion of others, cliques form and potentially give rise to problems. Which is part of the reason why THH collapsed: a clique formed and ripped the heart out of the guild once they decided they were better than some others 🙁

And as you may already know, Argent Dawn is indeed an RP server, however that will not be one of our focuses at all. Sure if members want to RP then have at it! But AD was not chosen for the fact that it’s an RP realm, more for the singular fact that it was the 2nd largest Alliance server outside of Silvermoon. Once BfA hits it’ll become 3rd largest, but none of us wanted to move to Ravencrest while the Legion style, no opt-out, world PvP was still in place.

Oh, and the name of the guild?

Smart Casual!

We have a few THH members who will be coming over with us, but we will likely recruit most of our players from those present on AD itself. I’m looking forward to this. Starting a new guild is a fun challenge, and for the three of us it’s close to our last throw of the dice in WoW. We’ve been burnt and burnt out by attitudes of elitist kids, and we just want to relax, have fun and enjoy playing the game, because after all that’s why we began playing in the first place, isn’t it?

Aside from that I’ve gone decidedly Allied Race crazy since the last post, and BfA pre-purchases went up!

So far I’ve race changed my Warlock & Hunter, rolled a new Priest, Hunter and boosted a mage. All of whom are Void Elves 😀

This was pretty much inevitable, given how much I loved playing Blood Elves when I was maining Horde side, so given that this is essentially the same race, just slightly bluer, then it was a given. And I even made my mage a MALE Void Elf!

I usually roll with females, but the Void Elf males are just so much more Gothic-cool than the Blood Elf males, so using one is actually acceptable to me, for now 🙂

I’ve also rolled a Male Lightforged Draenei Warrior named Sarms (yeah, hush :P), and will probably race change my Paladin at some point to female Lightforged. Maybe.

And the header is the wonderful piece of art I commissioned from Zaelii on Twitter. The full tweet from her with the finished piece is below, and I’m completely in love with it! It’s obviously of my now void elf Warlock, and if I choose a different main in BfA then I’ll probably re-commission her again 😀

Finished commission of a Void Elf Warlock for @nerdrooted ✨#Warcraft #BattleForAzeroth pic.twitter.com/O2xItrKsyC

— Zaelii ✨ (@ZaeliiJay) February 22, 2018 read more

Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?

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This week has been an extremely hard one.

As of this moment, whilst it still exists, Treehugging Hippies as a raiding guild is largely no more. Certainly at the very minimum for the remainder of Legion, and perhaps into Battle for Azeroth as well.

We still have a handful of casual players playing every day, but essentially most of our former raiding players have left the guild, in the main for one other guild, but I’ll get to that later (and it’ll explain the above image and title).

On Sunday nights we had been running casual normal mode guild runs that were scheduled in our calendar, for alts and for people to get their Pantheon trinkets and upgrade tokens for their mains, and of course for a chance at the legendary trinket from Argus. This Sunday I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d be able to make it, so I signed up as tentative, expecting that if I was available that I’d get online and we’d run through normal mode as usual.

So it turned out that last minute I was able to change plans and get along to the raid, so I posted in the Officers’ Discord channel shortly before raid time that I would be logging in and coming along.

No response.

Ok… So I got online a few minutes later, logged in and normally I get thrown an invite to the raid straight off, but this time there was none. I checked the guild roster in game and sure enough there were those that had signed up in Antorus, at I presumed the stage of clearing trash or sitting about to pull the first boss.

No reply to anything I said in /g or /o, which was again more oddness. So out of curiosity I popped up the LFG tool, and sure enough, there were the people who had signed up for our raid in an LFG group, led by one of our raiders, sitting in a raid group that had already cleared 8/11 bosses, with the time on the group having started over an hour previously.

I was confused, and a little bit pissed off that the scheduled raid had been screwed around with, because on Sundays with it being a casual run, people don’t necessarily have to sign up, they can just turn up and ask for an invite there and then and off we go. But no, it turns out this core group of players had taken it upon themselves to start the raid much earlier than planned.

I posted into our raid chat in Discord (as I got no response in-game) something along the lines of “So we’ve apparently been raiding for over an hour and are nearly cleared already? That’s what I get for turning up on time I guess”. Snarky yes, but not unjustifiably so.

Still no response. In fact not a single one of the people involved in that raid made any sort of response at all the entire night, neither Raider nor Officer. So I went to bed that night in a bad mood because little consideration had been shown to those that show up either on time or are invited from outside the guild (we had at least one regular who would come along with us every Sunday from outside the guild, and had been since Nighthold).

The following morning there was still no response from anyone involved in the raid the previous night, which I honestly found to be incredibly rude. Not a single response from anyone? 🙁

So I asked again in raid Discord that if anyone from the previous night would like to be arsed to explain why our regularly scheduled raid time had been dicked about with, leading to players missing out, that would be great, thanks. Again, yes it was snarky, but I found this ongoing lack of response to be progressively ruder by the hour, especially considering most of them were sitting active in Discord at the time.

Still no response from anyone involved. One of our raiders, a death knight, who hadn’t been at the raid on Sunday started vociferously defending them, unjustifiably IMO, which I found to be pretty odd considering he hadn’t been online at the time.

In fact I went for the next 24 hours getting no response from these same players either in Discord or in-game. At this point I was beginning to feel like I had been ostracised from the rest of the raid team, for no apparent reason. Yes I had posted the above few narky posts in Discord, but tbh I was entirely justified in doing so, given what had happened and the rude manner in which I had been ignored since before I even logged in on Sunday.

I posted in Officers’ Discord that given I was being ignored by most that I would be unsigning from raids for the forseeable future, and unsigned from that night’s raid (we were sitting at 21 bodies, and it was scheduled to be a 20-man only Mythic run so that worked out for numbers) as well as the next couple of raids, as I was feeling pretty fucking low at that point, and I didn’t want to be made to feel like a piece of shit any more. Nor did I want to get involved in any drama, because I felt if I was being ignored by the majority of our raid team, me being there trying to lead the raid might’ve been somewhat awkward and uncomfortable.

So later that day one of the raiders involved on Sunday made a post in Discord (not directly to me) that the reason the Sunday raid had been changed was because only 6 people had signed up and he had been intending to run a raid to “boost some IRL friends who wanted to gear up” and those 6 guildmates had asked to join in.

I thought to myself at this point “Ok, but why couldn’t this have been done during the normal run only an hour later? We wouldn’t have minded carrying someone’s friends through a normal mode run?” However I said nothing and apologised for getting pissed and explained that for me, a tentative signup is a “I’ll likely be there, but not 100% guaranteed” signup. If I know I’m not likely to, or definitely can’t turn up, then I’ll sign as declined or out. I then said that I was disappointed that communication wasn’t better (on both sides) and could’ve been handled better. I remained unsigned for the raid that night because we would’ve gone back over the 20 man limit and I would’ve had to bench someone else, and again me going along would’ve felt uncomfortable.

It turned out that a couple of other people weren’t able to make the raid last minute (one broke his router and the other had a cancelled train coming home), which brought our numbers down to 18, and as a result the raid had to be cancelled. Now even if I hadn’t unsigned we still wouldn’t have had the 20 bodies required for Mythic as we would have only had 19 people.

However, I somehow was accused by one of the Officers that had been previously ignoring me for “not informing the others I had unsigned” (I had posted in Officers’ Discord 8 hours earlier that I had done exactly that, and replied to him with a screenshot of me saying that, and the date and time I had said it). It turns out someone had changed my signup in-game from “Out” to “Accepted” for that night’s raid, and tried to use this as evidence that I just didn’t “turn up”. Remember it wouldn’t have gone ahead anyway as we would’ve been at 19 bodies…

Anyhow, as I wasn’t ingame I had to be informed by one of the other raiders who wasn’t at the raid on Sunday “It’s ok mate, the guild fell apart”. To which I replied “?”

I logged in to find that this same core group of players from Sunday night had all /gquit en masse to go off and immediately form another guild, name chosen and all, without a single word about doing this in the Guild Discord.

I was stunned to say the least. I began to think that this had all been because I had gotten narky on Tuesday night & Wednesday morning, and began to apologise again, profusely, because I was  under the distinct impression that this was because of what had gone on earlier in the week and their leaving was my fault entirely (even though up until Sunday I had been on very good terms with everyone involved and had considered them all friends and were players I thoroughly enjoyed playing with and looked forward to playing alongside each raid night).

Insert a scene of me hand-wringing for the next 20-30 minutes, on the verge of stress-induced tears thinking I had just destroyed the guild, because I had been pissed over the Sunday night run. Not once did anyone involved in the Sunday run, or those who had quit say anything to disabuse me of this notion.

Finally one player (a fellow player from Northern Ireland) spoke up, and to him I will be forever grateful:

“Put plainly a number of us were looking to take on mythic in a more hardcore way and had been thinking of leaving for a while. Honestly has nothing to do with you personally at all. Not even slightly

Thats the only reason Im even messaging here right now. At a personal level i think you’re a lovely guy, so simply couldn’t let you think that any of this was your fault”

At this I was both stunned (further) and while I wasn’t immediately relieved of the guilt, it was at least a kindness that none of the others who had left had bothered to show me up until this point. Speaking (finally) to the other officers (both our now-former tanks) they confirmed this to be the case.

It turned out that they had been planning to leave the guild for at least a month, perhaps longer, in order to “push Mythic harder” and become “more hardcore”.

Not once, had anyone, raider or Officer, ever mentioned any sort of desire to change our approach to raiding at all. To become more hardcore nor push Mythic harder? It was never floated in Officers chat in-game or Discord at all.

So to find out that they had already set up a website a few days even before Sunday’s raid, replete with posts already made was confirmation that in fact, Indiana Jones was completely right. After all, the new guild is called Serpentis.

Aptly.

In the aftermath of all this drama I was considering whether I should even carry on playing the game at all.

Since 2009 my main focus has been raiding, as it’s been the activity that I’ve enjoyed in the main. Yes my main love in the game has always been collecting things, like mounts, pets, titles & in latter expansions transmogs, but that’s a purely solo activity that I do on non-raid nights, and raiding and being involved with fellow raiders has been my main method of social interaction in-game since 2009.

Would I have left with the others if I had been asked to come along post-facto, either with or without the drama on Sunday? I dunno, I’m strongly leaning towards a no on that. Because to me that would’ve been a huge betrayal of a good friend (Jamie/Azrel) who was responsible in the first place for extending to me the invitation to go Alliance just under a year ago and join THH full time (I already had an alt Hunter in the guild, and had done since the day it was formed). I count loyalty in people as one of the most important traits, which is why this whole situation has hit me as hard as it has.

It’s only now, several days later, that I’ve been able to get any sleep, or eat to any great degree, as the stress of this entire thing has hit me like a truck. Even now I’m still feeling stressed over it, albeit significantly less than Tuesday night, where I managed a whopping 90 minutes sleep.

So what now?

At the moment, my 110’s on Silvermoon will be staying put. They’re still in THH and will be remaining there for the foreseeable future. I will begin using my current 110’s to run old raids and pick up whatever transmogs, mounts etc I would like to get my hands on. I have 110’s of all armour types, so I’m covered there.

I’ll also be trying to finish off the remaining Mage Tower challenges that I’m looking to get done (Mainly Frost DK and perhaps the Prot Warrior one as well).

On the plus side, this happened while I was persona-non-grata on the Sunday night after the “casual raid”:

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So that got me the shattered Ashbringer artifact appearance, which was my main objective left in the Mage Tower challenges after doing the Affliction & Guardian ones previously.

I’ve already bought Battle for Azeroth after it went up for Pre-Purchase on Tuesday:

With pre-orders of Battle for Azeroth very likely to go live in the next 24 hours, I REALLY hope the Allied Races go live with it. I'm not raiding tonight, so it would give me time to sit and customise my new Void Elves (plural) to my heart's content. read more

The Removal of Tier in Battle for Azeroth…

Does the removal of Tier Gear in the next Warcraft expansion seem like a sensible change or is it the death knell for raiding?

With the announcement that Tier Gear drops and their associated set bonuses will be getting “retired” in Battle for Azeroth (BfA), the next expansion to Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, many people were shocked, surprised and a little bit puzzled as to why this was happening.

Are Blizzard dumbing the game down further still? Is coming up with new set bonuses for each tier, for each class and spec proving too difficult? Have Blizzard run out of ideas for these set bonuses?

All questions I’ve seen asked/pondered over the past days, and all are shrewd and valid questions to varying degrees.

Instead of tier gear, it appears users of each armour type will have a single set of gear per raid instance. So Mages, Warlock & Priests, using cloth as an example, will all get the exact same gear as there will be no more “class armour” as we get at the moment with Tier.

A minor issue for me will be aesthetics. Tier gear gives each class its own distinct appearance, so you instantly know if someone is a Warlock, or a Priest. Instead, in BfA, Blizzard will be pimping up the overall gear aesthetic from normal drops both in and out of raids, to have them themed more closely around the particular raid instance that the gear piece is relevant to.

The main issue I have with this change is one of stats. What constitutes a good stat for a frost mage may well be terrible for a discipline priest, a great stat for an affliction warlock may be the worst stat for a Fire Mage etc.

Moving to plate or leather makes the situation even more polarised, as there you have the entire trinity of classes represented. A prot warrior seeking the same stats as a Holy Paladin, as an Unholy DK? A resto Druid looking for the same stats as a Vengeance Demon Hunter?

I’m not that bothered about the removal of the tier set bonuses themselves, because we will of course be getting extra perks with the Azerite neck piece conferring extra traits onto your helm, shoulders & chest pieces.

But the overall homogenisation of gear and stats across up to 4 different classes per armour type doesn’t exactly smack of easily balanced to me, without sticking Versatility on EVERYTHING…

On the plus side however, it does mean that we will be less locked in on what were traditionally the tier slots for upgrades. Legion saw this problem at its absolute peak. Players could have up to 8 gear slots completely locked down at this moment in time:

  1. Tier 21 Helm
  2. Tier 21 Shoulders
  3. Tier 21 Chest
  4. Tier 21 Cloak
  5. Tier 20 Gloves
  6. Tier 20 Legs
  7. Legendary Belt
  8. Legendary Ring

By and large, those 8 slots are dead in terms of getting usable upgrades within a single difficulty level (warforging and titanforging aside), and certainly the 2 legendary slots are and will be dead for the remainder of the expansion unless you got another, better legendary in another slot that wasn’t already locked behind a tier slot.

My warlock’s bags this expansion have been brimming near to full for the past few months, because I’m juggling 6 different pieces of tier around 7 different legendary pieces, all of which need to be switched in and out alongside talents on a per-fight basis if I want to perform at my best. As a mid-high level mythic raider where we’re constantly progressing right up until the tier changes to the next raid, performing at my best is something I’m always seeking to do, especially as the raid leader for Treehugging Hippies.

This change, alongside the killing of Legendary drops per those seen in Legion, will mean if I get a better item than the one I have at the time, I’ll be able to equip it right away, regardless of whether it replaces an old “tier gear slot” or not. No more worrying about losing a set piece bonus if I switch a piece of gear out.

Good example: If I were to equip all of my highest iLevel gear, my equipped ilevel would be 942. That would mean dropping my 4 and 2 piece set bonuses, and absolutely trashing my overall stat profile. However because of all of the above mucking about with tier set bonuses, legendary items etc, not to mention the fact that my 860 ilevel Unstable Arcanocrystal is still on of my BiS trinkets(!) my equipped item level is 932, 10 item levels lower.

So on balance, I see this as a positive change, depending on how they handle stats in BfA. The removal of Versatility would be a good start, as very few non-tanking classes will make much use of it, but a Warlock can dream…