Archive for December, 2010

OrgrimmarSo, one week on and what are my thoughts on the new expansion?

I think it’s fantastic and most people agree with me. I’m filtering out several things of course: all the whining people have been doing about the class mechanic changes and the normalizations: all the bitching from the raiding elite about having to quest and how much they hate it; the inevitable wailing about replacing epics pried from the dead hands of testing raid bosses in Ice Crown Citadel with nasty quest greens.

I find some gripes difficult to comprehend. Orgrimmar for example. Blizzard had no choice but to redesign the zone for flying mounts, since all of it was a simply two dimensional set dressing like a cheap western town: all building front walls and little or nothing else. The new Orgrimmar is built on more or less the same footprint as the old (go on look at the map) and after a few days I started to recognise where I was. It’s just like a town you haven’t visited for years that seems to have completely changed then you slowly begin to notice buildings and landmarks you recognise and slowly it all comes back to you.

The new slightly more aggressive styling is consistent with the Orc nature and sits comfortably with the preparing for war stance of the Horde. I like the idea of Orgrimmar as the Horde capital city with new Tauren and refugee Goblin zone. The valleys of Spirit and Wisdom were always of little utility so there transformation and the addition of new areas ‘above’ Orgrimmar, with zeppelin towers, the Flight Master and zone portals, is very welcome and well thought out.

New Brill

Love what you’ve done with the place…

Every zone seems to have had some changes due to the Cataclysmic Shattering and I haven’t had a opportunity to explore them all. I have a freshly rolled Forsaken Hunter and was surprised that there is a redesigned set of starter quests in Deathknell. For once I cannot wait to get over to The Barrens to begin questing and as I grind up through the levels each new zone has new content on offer.

The reinforcement and entrenchment of Undead forces in Tirisfal, Silverpine and down into Hillsbrad is satisfying both stylistically and aesthetically. Brill is totally transformed and looks every inch the first town of the newly self-confident, no longer content to cower underground, Forsaken.

Duskwallow MarshI love what Blizzard have done to The Barrens and even my beloved Stranglethorn Vale are, if anything, improved and mercifully mostly intact. The new zones all add something to the game and the underwater zone Vashj’ir is a real gem. I’ll look at each new zone in more detail with a review of latest crop of instance dungeons in a later post.

The only disappointment I feel at the moment is that Duskwallow hasn’t been destroyed and that Thunder Bluff and most of Mulgore is not in flames. Well, you can’t have everything. At least Bloodhoof Village has a flight point now.

Mage KeyboardI struggled with playing a mage. I struggled because I thought I knew my play style. I had always considered myself as a survival focused DPS player that slowly ground mobs down. So Frost was the obvious spec for me to play. Then everyone began squawking that Arcane was the best DPS class…as I’d never really gelled with Frost I thought: meh, why not.

I found I was actually much better suited to burning them down quick rather than controlling with a slowing and freezing tool set and slowly wearing them away. I threw myself into the new approach.

Bearing down on level 80 and having been forced to re-spec by 4.0.1 I thought this is a good time to do some research and learn something about how Arcane should be played. I was staggered by what I was reading. As long as mana was not an issue spamming Arcane Blast was the way to go. Casting anything else was a net DPS loss

Wow, well Arcane Blast must be a heavy duty mana burner. I wouldn’t be able to charge through an instance and concentrate heavily on casting one spell…could I?

I re-specced to Fire: I found this metre topping, single button wonder so intensely boring. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of Arcane mages around triumphantly spamming /party with DPS metre output…”OK you do do the highest DPS, you won that game, but we are all dead and it’s mostly because you play like a retard.”

It might be tempting to recommend Arcane mage as something a WoW novice could play, but think for a moment. If this player gets to 85 and wants to raid they’re going to be in for a shock. Boss fights are going to last longer than their mana, they are going to spend half the fight Evocating and they’re going to go tumbling down the metre. They simply are not going to know how to play their class.

I’ve always seen 5 man instances as a preparation for raiding and not just in terms of gear. It’s where you should learn how to DPS and not over aggro (arf!), not line of sight healers, polish your rotation and learn what to do when things are going wrong. Arcane mages are going to start raiding and feel like an FPS player entering an RPG for the first time.

A good Arcane mage is going to become like a good hunter: a truly wondrous but very, very rare thing.

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