End TImeTo be honest I was getting a bit bored with WoW pre-4.3. There was still as much to rage about and people to shout at. However, I was losing interest in everything but raiding. I roared with my new team through Throne of the Four Winds, Bastion of Twilight and Blackrock Descent. I was very impressed with the Nefarion fight and enjoyed completing it for the first time after a couple of visits. Oh the joy of being the second raid team and being able to draw on the progression of others.

Then we went into Firelands. The first night we downed four bosses! Firelands nerf FTW! There were some interesting fights with new mechanics and I was extremely impressed. Until we got to Alysrazor and I was practising lying down and watching other people survive. I have my friend Tim to thank (one last time) for his advice on how to begin avoiding the flame whirlwinds. Alysrazor, like life, is all about getting off on the right foot. Or something.

Sadly pugging was doing down the toilet. After all the pre-expansion talk from Blizzard about the toughening up of heroic 5 mans and the, to me, welcome return of crowd control and encounters that actually required thought we we’re soon racing around the dungeons again trying to keep up with the tank. Ah, the return of our old friend the speed tank. At the beginning of the expansion, until around 4.2, if a tank tried to chain pull Grim Batol he would quickly end up complaining about the healer and wiping then leave the group. Which was fine with the other four members who knew perfectly well who the fecktard was.

Even during the Troll dungeon phase we were somewhat blessed. Epeen morons could fail to farm twice as many valor point in three times as long. The more patient and intelligent of us, sauntered around Halls of Origination getting half as many valors three times as quickly. Do the maths, retard!

Well of EternitySo I was looking forward to some fresh 5 mans. New loot and new challenges, something to stretch us as the Trolls did when 4.1 hit. I was ready and waiting. It’s difficult to convey my utter disappointment in the new 5 mans. There is not challenge and no fun, an RNG loot gimme. Scripted half fights, cinematics and long boring speeches. I’m looking at you Benedictus.

It would appear that Blizzard has learned from Cataclysm and losing two and a half million subscribers. After the debacle of raging through Wrath 5 mans chain pulling without pause Blizzard wanted to restore much of the challenge absent since The Burning Crusade. The net result of restoring the role of crowd control, group pull planning and greater communication in groups was a slump in subscriptions and the what has widely been labelled the worst expansion yet. Despite many acknowledged successes Cataclysm has been a failure in many respects.

With Blizzard‘s decision to back track on CC and the prospect of insulting easy loot gimmes Mists of Pandaria may prove to be as damaging, if not more. Yet again only five more levels to cap. It may be that Blizzard had so much work redesigning and retooling Azeroth for flying mounts, the new condensed quest structure post sundering and the new talent system. However, it doesn’t look good presenting a new expansion again with only five additional levels. Blizzard have talked about reducing the time between expansion which may justify delivering five new levels more frequently. Given the failure of Cataclysm it does look ill judged.

Mist of Pandaria delivers yet another talent system as Blizzard have admitted the Cataclysm version failed. They are also introducing what may prove to be two very controversial new features: The Pandarans themselves and pet battles. You heard me companion pet duelling.

Mists Of PandariaAlthough gamers are a fickle complaining bunch. How many of those that complained of the ease of Wrath dungeons have left the game not enjoying the added difficulty and frustration of having to use CC in Cata? How many of those insisting they are quitting WoW with Mists and the deal breaking “pandas and Pokemon” will actually leave? Can Blizzard recover and send subscription numbers back in a positive direction?

Interesting times.