Truthfully, I don’t think this particular fact bears much on my WoW plans, but I did turn 44 this week and did have a very happy birthday.
What I’ve noticed in the few days since my frequent leveling partner Aerayn decided to let WoW rest for now is that leveling without her company simply isn’t as much fun. Furthermore, I’ve got this little raft of characters all within a few levels of each other, which means doing a lot of the same stuff repeatedly in close succession. Even changing the zones emphasized and stuff like that still means doing pretty much the same kind of stuff.
At the same time, I’ve been looking at the preview information for the next patch, 3.3, and thinking thusly: “I don’t think I could have a character ready to raid Icecrown Citadel when it debuts. But if I am quite sure I can’t have a character who isn’t already level 80 and with some substantial experience under their belt ready anytime soon at all.” Can I get Aescuri and/or Xenzzarn fit for it? Dunno. But it seems worth trying.
There’s a practicality here when it comes to money. 3 new characters each reaching level 68 means 1000g for each of them to learn cold-weather flying, for instance. Now, Aescuri already has her epic flying, but Xenzzarn doesn’t, and it’s 7000g. Waiting on the leveling-up characters would put me 3Kg closer to getting her moving fast. Likewise with the expenses of gems, enchantments, and the like.
I’m definitely not planning to abandon any of the characters I’ve brought so far lately, but I like the idea of refining the ones already at the top for a while.
In the meantime, I indulged in some renaming, for a simple reason: not all names that look good written out sound good when pronounced by someone in voice chat while giving directions or advice, particular when the speaker is in a hurry. Therefore, Aescuri the hunter is now Eya the hunter, and Xenzzarn the shaman is now Ezza the shaman.
Mr. C, you’ll like these, I hope. First up is one of the Faceless Ones, minions of the Old Gods that lurk in the darker recesses of the continent of Northrend. This one has the yellow exclamation mark because it gives a quest, with mind manipulation to make the quester (Xenzzarn, in this case) find the key that’ll set it free from the shackles attentive Scourge elites used to bind it. You can see the size of it compared to a troll, who’s somewhat bigger than a human being, and the quality of its motion. In combat, those long tentacles on its right hand shoot out further to inflict sudden blows.
Next up, a blast from the past, late in the “vanilla” WoW era, before the release of the first expansion pack. This is deep in the 40-person raid instance Ahn Qiraj, deep in the zone of Silithus, completely overrun by other-dimensional insectoid worshippers of another of the Old Gods. This particular hallway calls for rounding up all those guys and nuking ’em down once at the far end, before fighting the next of the bosses. It was hellish at level 60, quite a rush at level 80.
Looks like my regular WoW partner Aerayn is going to take a break from the game, to focus more on some interesting, cool, but demanding real-life obligations. I think it’s a good choice for her. It just means that I need to look at my characters and think who may also go on hiatus, and who may change in some regard for more soloing and/or participating with other groups.
But this is the rewarding sort of consideration to have, in the context of life getting better for people I care about.
Look, it’s a cat tale! I spent some time today advancing Matosha; she may hit 65 before I need to go do some chores. In the meantime, two views of some of Outland’s most exotic life.
First, something hostile, one of the fungal giants:
One of my favorite touches in the game is that herbalists can “skin” things like this the way skinners can remove animals’ hides.
And something friendly, the sporeggar, or as I feel compelled to call them, the little spore dudes or perhaps little spore buddies:
I love these guys and am always happy to help them out.
We made it to 60! Despite many delays and complications in real life, we nonetheless kept it and got Xeniji and Zijin to 60. We did most of their 50s in Felwood as a change of pace, then a bit in Winterspring to hit 58, and off to Hellfire Peninsula to finish it off.
Expect more interesting posting as we decompress from that.
Xeniji and Zijin made it to 50, and are set for their last big push tomorrow. At level 58 they’ll take the Dark Portal and do the early Hellfire Peninsula quests. This was therefore their last night leveling in the old world.
Wow, somewhere along the line, Hinterlands quests got a lot of tuning. The number of required kills is down all over and drop rates for quest items way up. We were braced for a bit of a grind and…didn’t get it. Instead we just had good troll-mashing fun.
Sure enough, Xeniji and Zijin made it to 40 tonight and are still on a roll. We’re hoping to get a speed run through Zul’Farrak, and that would get us really well into the mid-40s. 60 before RAF runs out on the 5th is still looking possible.
I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts about cultivating a general minimalism when it comes to addons, macros, and other enhancements: I find that the payoff in game responsiveness and reduced error complication is worth it, in most cases. Recently I decided to try experimenting with a really bare-bones approach to healing, following some tips from my friend Aerayn, who is one of the best healer players I know.
This is how I have things set up:
In the main row, there’s:
1. Attack, right where it always is.
2. Chain Heal.
3. Healing Wave.
4. Lesser Healing Wave.
6. Cleanse Spirit.
7. Chain Lightning.
8. Lightning Bolt.
9. Lava Burst.
10. Flame Shock.
-. Earth Shield.
=. Wind Shear.
Generally speaking, then, healing stuff is on the left, offensive stuff on the right.
To heal, I click on a target or use the function keys to select a target, and click a suitable healing spell or type its number. Depending on my particular whim of the moment, I can click to target and type to cast, type to target and click to cast, or do both with clicks or both with types. I’ve noticed that my subconscious inclinations on this stuff vary for no obvious reason throughout a day and overall for reasons I don’t well understand, so I’ve made it easy to accommodate whatever mix prevails.
On the right, the basic tools of the non-elemental shaman’s fighting trade. Wind Shear to interrupt others’ spells, Earth Shield to plunk on anyone in need, Flame Shock for some damage over time, Lava Burst to fire whenever it’s ready, Lightning Bolt for while Lava Burst is on cooldown, Chain Lightning to bother multiple targets.
The upper row, which is all available via Shift-1 through Shift-0 and Shift– and Shift-=, is a grab bag of stuff I use less often: Berserk, Earth and Frost Shock, the earth and fire elemental totem pets, Grounding Totem, Bloodlust, Purge, Nature’s Swiftness (beloved panic button), Flametongue and Everliving Weapon buffs, Water Shield. Over on the right, stuff I use even less frequently, which I’ll cover in some other post.
This is working out really nicely for me both in five-person heroic dungeons and in battleground healing. I find that it works out about as fast as using an addon like Clique, because in the stress of the moment I’m just too likely to get confused over what’s Shift-Click and what’s Option-Right-Click and so on. Seeing what I’m selecting reduces the error rate enough to end up as a net improvement even though the individual response times may be a bit slower.
PS. MMO Champion links to the new artwork for troll shamans’ totems, to be released in patch 3.3. I am so stoked. (Also for the dwarf shamans that’ll be in Cataclysm and for orc shamans. Color me prejudiced, but I think Xenzzarn and her troll colleagues got the best of the lot.)
I’ve been saying that this set of characters would be my last to level up for a while. Well…almost the last.
My recruit-a-friend pairing with Aerayn, my partner in crime, is good through October 5th. We decided that it’d be amusing to see how far we could get with one more race up through the levels. So we have two troll warriors coming along, her Zijin, who’s doing the protection thing and will be Aerayn’s first potential tank, and my Xeniji, who’s leveling up with arms and may be either arms or fury at higher level.
We started on Tuesday, then had real-life distraction delay us, but finished up Wednesday the 30th at level 23. The race is on!