Monthly Archives: July 2010

That Time of Year Again (and beta stuff)

Very busy and stressed lately. Summer is winding down and classes start in a few weeks; looking for a new apartment and a job to afford it. It has left me with little time to go spelunking in the beta, but I did get a start in Vashj’ir and I did finish up the worgen starting zone.

Earlier in the month the worgen starting quest line was bugged at the point where you must enter Gilneas city and reclaim it from Sylvanas and her legions of forsaken. The final battle with Sylvanas wouldn’t trigger, so many were left idling about until a hotfix was implemented a little while ago. I logged in just as she was “defeated” and got the quest completed, but I didn’t get to see the entire battle that supposedly takes place through out the entire city. I read it was supposed to lead you through the different districts and have you encounter and defeat other enemies before you finally face Sylvanas herself. It is likely the bug prevented me from experiencing the entire battle, and I may reroll and try it again. I’m sure it is still in need of some fine tuning as well.

The rest of the worgen zone is super moody fun. Very dark and Victorian with definite undertones of the traditional werewolf. I truly enjoyed the atmosphere, but I felt the quests were lacking something that the goblin quests had nailed down. Explosions don’t really fit with the worgen genre, but I will admit they are fun. Overall the worgen quests lacked a little something special, a little bit of oomph I felt they needed. I understand that these quests are less finished than the goblin ones. It remains to be seen what kind of polish will be placed on them in further builds.

Vashj’ir is pretty trippy. Underwater things always annoyed me before, but I think the “Sea Legs” blessing you get really changes that. You can walk along the sea floor just as you would dry land, and it increases your run speed while doing so significantly. It also allows you to breathe underwater, which is kind of essential considering the entire zone is…underwater. You get this buff after a short quest right after you arrive in the zone (the means by which you do so are freakin’ cool) and it lasts…probably until you leave, I would guess.

The zone its self is beautiful. Gone are the triangle-fish that inhabit old Azeroth’s pools. Say hello to a vast and wondrous variety of fish from groupers to thresher sharks to massive eels. There are orcas and crabs and makrura (bleh) and seahorses and giant clams and all kinds of colorful non-targetable fish swimming in shimmering schools. I am impressed. The kelp forest feels alive. Really alive. Not just pretty plants, but an ecosystem. The 360-degree feel of the zone is refreshing, and quests require you to swim between all different levels of the ocean to kill various creatures. It feels very open and I felt immersed (or submersed…) in the environment. Fantastic stuff.

I will find time soon to dive in to the level 80ish dungeons and test them out.

Cataclysm Beta: Thoughts on Gilneas

I decided that I couldn’t wait to roll a worgen. I don’t care if that leaves me nothing “new” when Cataclysm first launches. I had to check them out.

Customization at this point is pretty poor, something I know will change as the beta progresses. As it stands, only male worgen are available to play. They have 4 or so hairstyles and about as many colors, as well as relatively few coat colors to choose from. In the future I would love to see more coat colors aside from grays and grayish browns. I think Blizzard has the opportunity to make some very interesting colors here and would like to see them jump on it. That aside, you cannot customize the human side of your worgen just yet, another feature I know will be implemented later on. Right now all men look the same: short black hair and beards.

The Worgen starting area is Gilneas city, a moody, dark Victorian-esque place. Right off the bat you are swept into the fighting against the encroaching Worgen attackers. The phasing is again seamless and very well done. You turn your back for two seconds to hand in a quest and when you turn around the entire city has changed. I was very impressed. The quests lead you all over the outlying farms and villages. You battle the Forsaken armies and eventually Sylvanas herself.

Questing went fairly smoothly until level 11ish, where a kew quest event is bugged. Most people get stuck here (unless you’re extremely lucky and it works for a brief moment). My worgen rogue is stuck at level 11 here, logging in occasionally to see if the event is working. It’s a downer to be sure, but it will be fixed sooner or later and I will finish my leveling experience there.

If I had to compare the goblin and worgen starting quests, I would have to say that in terms of sheer exploding awesomeness the goblins win by a landslide (triggered no doubt by their explosives). The goblin quests felt more urgent and more exciting. The scenery was also more engaging. However, the worgen quests are far moodier, and the atmosphere of Gilneas and its outlying townships is intoxicating. You really do feel like a werewolf. They are also obviously not finished, and I can’t pass judgment on either set of quests just yet.

A few more random thoughts: worgen look ridiculous in hats. The top hat you receive as a quest reward looks horrible on a worgen. On the human is looks fine. But when you shift to your worgen form, all the worgen’s mane gets pulled up into the hat leaving his unsightly thick neck exposed. It even covers his ears. It just looks terrible. Also, the stealth animation seems to not fit them. I would love to see worgen crawling on all fours while stealthed, more beast-like than sneaking around like a human. They crouch and touch the ground while standing still, and I think it would be amazing if they crawled instead of walked forward while in stealth. We shall see.

Thoughts on the Cataclysm Beta: Lost Isles

I got extremely impatient with the beta download and accidentally canceled it at 99%. It was taking so long to re-download I finally just went to sleep, woke up in the late morning to find it…still not finished. But at last, after bouncing around in my seat for most of a day, I’m in the Cataclysm beta.

I have an odd attitude about spoilers. I don’t mind hearing about the talent tree overhauls or the new features and spells, but I dislike having anything lore-related blabbed about. So I am going to avoid doing that here. I have also been planning on rolling a worgen druid (or perhaps priest) when the expansion actually launches, so I was wary of rolling them in beta and then having nothing new to look forward to later on. I rolled a goblin instead.

My first impression was that goblins are kinda ugly. The women have a sort of strange beauty that works for them, but the males just don’t appeal to me. There were a few hairstyles to choose from, a few hair colors, etc. I don’t know if more will be added later, or what is available through the barber shop, but eh. They could use a little more variety, in my opinion. I decided to roll a hunter because I would like to test out a few hunter pets.

Enter the goblin starting area. Wow! Talk about a dingy, grimy city. You really get a sense of atmosphere (you know, aside from the smog that shrouds the place). The starting quests are all about greed, extravagance, and money. You get a sport’s car right off the bat to drive around the city on these terrifying roads. I have no idea what the traffic laws are in goblin-land, but I’m pretty sure plowing into pedestrians and bashing in to other drivers is not allowed. I really got the feeling that I was actually a member of goblin society, not just another grunt wandering in for training. It’s a very industrialized society with a lot of emphasis on getting ahead and getting rich. Too bad it gets blown to hell.

After escaping you find yourself, along with the survivors of the escape, washing up on the beaches of the Lost Isles. This is where you meet the Horde, do some work with them, and ultimately escape yet again. The quests were really unique. Most had to do with blowing something to bits. You battle a host of brand new mobs in the game, including a race of indigenous pygmies who have the most hilarious vocalizations I have yet to encounter in-game. As a hunter I was scoping out the new beasts in the zone. I started with a crab pet (hunters start with pets at level 1 now) but I wanted something different. There were Outland-model raptors in all colors and black cats roaming the jungle. I tamed a cat, but sadly I didn’t get a chance to tame a raptor. If they are tamable, then your only chance to get one is if you roll a goblin character and tame one then and there. The Lost Isles are a beautiful zone…until they get blown to hell.

The phasing system is absolutely phenomenal. It’s also quite seamless, even in beta. The entire goblin starting zone is phased. Almost every quest you complete changes the zone somehow, and really makes you feel like you’re interacting with the environment instead of just passing through. I was very impressed with the implementation, and it’s everything I hoped it would be. It also helped cut down on competition between players. I encountered only a few people, and never had much trouble finding mobs to kill. That, or there really are only five people in the beta right now.

Considering it is the beta, I thought things went fairly smoothly. There weren’t a lot of glitches that I saw. A few quests “bugged” for me, but after some experimentation I was able to work around it. I reported them anyway, since I don’t think they were intended to work that way. I am fully aware that this is an ever-changing process, and things will continue to be improved and polished until Cataclysm launches. There were a few things, however, that stood out to me while leveling my goblin.

As a hunter, I needed to feed my pet. The starter pet doesn’t appear to lose any happiness from level 1 to 9. You cannot control it. It attacks when you attack until level 10, when you gain access to all of the spells needed to tame, feed, control, and train your pet. At level 10 I chose to tame a black jungle cat, who started out unhappy (75% of damage done). Up until this point I had not encountered a single meat drop in the game. Not off of any mob, and not sold by any vendor. I was unable to feed my cat. Hopefully this will be addressed during the development process. Perhaps not all the mobs have their full loot tables yet? I was also unable to learn fishing as a profession, which cut me off from a supply of fish to feed my cat.

When I tried to rename my cat, it glitched, and somehow renamed my crab. I dismissed the crab, tamed the cat, and then right-clicked the cat’s portrait and selected rename. I named it Naobi, but it never showed up. Her name said Unknown until I dismissed her, and brought out my crab…who was now named Naobi. Odd.

The last thing I noticed was the pacing of the phasing sometimes cuts you off from your class trainers, vendors, etc. There were times when I needed to learn new skills or empty my bags, but was in the middle of an “event” portion of the phasing that had none of these facilities available. Most of your time on the Lost Isles is spent in a hectic scramble to save your goblin friends and get the heck out of there. At times you find your base camp under seige and your class trainer has vacated with others to another key spot. There was a period of about 4 levels when I just flat could not find my hunter trainer. I eventually wound up in Orgrimmar and trained there. This isn’t something I think will be fixed as the beta progresses. It’s not a bugged quest, it’s just an awkward timing issue. It isn’t a big deal, but I would be curious to see if they will smooth it out a bit so you can access your trainers and vendors when you need to, not at random times.

Lastly, the new 31-point talent trees are available. You gain access to them at level 10, as always, but you no longer receive a talent point every level. I saw some issues where the leveling text was telling me I had a new talent point to spend, but I actually hadn’t earned one yet. I’m not big on talents, honestly. I tend to research what a spec before I do it and not panic too much over what is THE best spec or whatever. I’m not going to say too much on whether or not I like the new talent tree set-up mostly because I have barely used it yet. Whether or not it’s good or bad remains to be determined, but I think it’s interesting and I do like how we are given a new skill just for picking a talent tree to begin with.

So far it’s been a ton of fun. I think I will roll a worgen after all, because if their starting zone is anything like the goblins’…it’s going to rock.

Beta Invite!

I totally just got an beta invite for Cataclysm. I thought it was spam in my inbox at first, but confirmation on the battle.net site (which you MUST do, don’t trust emails!) shows the Cataclysm game next to my WoW game. I’m in! Downloading now. If it ever finishes (so…slow…) I will be posting about it here. Cataclysm news coming soon!

Doldrums

I’m slipping into the doldrums of Azeroth on my paladin. That level range spanning the late 40s to late 50s where the zones don’t intrigue me and I am stuck running the same dungeons over and over and over…

This is a problem because, as I’ve said before, my goal was to level this paladin solely through dungeons. Smashing things outside of dungeons is just plain boring, slow, repetitive…and has almost no chance of rewarding my efforts with worthwhile loot. I have been running Maraudon incessantly. The purple side phased out but the inner area opened up. I enjoy what people say about Princess. She’s hideous. She looks like my ex! She’s hot. I’d do her.

Sunken Temple is also available to me now. Truth be told that is one of my favorite dungeons in WoW. It’s long, confusing, enormous…and fun. This time I’m tanking, and if I want to go clear the basement and kill Atal’alarion, then you’re unlikely to stop me. Seriously, finding groups who want to clear the entire thing is a once in a life-time occurence. Most just want to kill Eranikus and bail. In the interest of time, I understand. Sunken Temple is extremely time-consuming. Even more so with a bad group or a lack of clear direction, as the various levels must be cleared in a certain order to unlock the bosses. But in the interest of completion, and of loot, I am determined to clear the entire thing.

I am also wishing plate drops were more common. At level 47 I am still wearing mail here and there. I can get plate through questing, sure, but that’s besides the point. It would be nice to see plate drops a little more often in instances. I am also wearing the same cloak I was at level 16 or so. The same blue satchel reward. It’s decent enough, but I feel like a scrub wearing it. Looking at the Sunken Temple loot, both of these problems can be fixed. I guess it’s time I got my butt in the temple.

The next question for myself is whether or not I want to tolerate the quest chain to summon the avatar of Hakkar. There is a nice plate chest piece he drops, and of course loot for everyone else. The rest of the quests for the Sunken Temple don’t tempt me much.

Finally, I have been toying with the idea of buying dual spec and gearing a holy side to my prot paladin. Mind you, this character is not on my main’s server, so he is completely on his own in terms of finances. He took herbalism to make money (and because I hate mining) and is sitting at about 500 gold currently. With a little more farming I could potentially earn enough to start a holy off-spec. I’d rather tank, though.

The RealID Thing

I want to take a moment to commend the people at Blizzard for listening to the community. Displaying a person’s real name on the official forums was a poorly constructed idea and a source of a lot of confusion, anger, and mistrust. I am glad they decided to recall this feature before it was enabled. The CEO showed a lot of grace with the announcement that Blizzard does listen to community feedback and does value thoughtful input from its customers. While I had not vocalized any of my concerns about the matter, I do agree with many that my real name is mine to display or hide, and I do not wish for a company to decide for me when it is appropriate to toss my name out on the internet. I am relieved to hear that real names will not be required on the official forums, even if that is a place I never visit. I understand that a lot of people were concerned about this proposed change, and I hope they feel at least a little comforted by the recall.

That said, I also want to address the idea of a “Facebook in WoW”, as it seems this is the direction Blizzard has taken. I enjoy Facebook. I spend too much time there fiddling with games and pestering my friends. I have found it to be a good way to keep in touch with high school buddies that moved away after graduation years ago, and for keeping up with family and my favorite bands and what have you. I use Facebook as a medium to communicate, and it is well suited to this.

I do not use WoW in the same manner. I use it as a game, because that’s what it is. I log in to WoW to play, not necessarily to chat. Of course I talk to people. I talk to real life friends who play and I chat with my guild, but I’m never to be found engaging in anything in Trade chat, or conversing at length in general chat, or sitting idly about Dalaran whispering people. If I really want to talk to someone, I use Facebook or Yahoo! instant messaging or text them. If I want to hang out with a friend, I don’t log in to WoW to hit them up. This is not to say that my gaming and social lives don’t overlap. There is actually a lot of cross-play between them, as many of my friends also play WoW and many in my guild are real life friends to some degree.

The RealID system is kind of neat, in a small way. Being able to chat with friends cross-game and cross-server is a cool feature, and one I bet gets a lot of use despite being unpopular with the vocal community. But I don’t have friends that play Diablo or Starcraft. And I have alts on other servers specifically for playing without having to chat or be bothered by friends or guild mates. I love them dearly, but sometimes I want to tune out the world and just play. For me, the RealID chat feature in WoW is superfluous. I have chosen not to use it.

Are we heading towards a social networking MMO? It seems that way. Is this the end of WoW? Settle down, doom-sayers. It is not. Everything is the end of WoW, if you believe what people are saying. And every time someone bellowed that a certain feature would ruin the game, WoW persevered. It’s still thriving. It’s still a massively popular game. The RealID feature will not cause it to crash and burn.

But my hopes are still that RealID does not become a prominent feature of WoW. It has the potential to become a monster, where more effort is put into new RealID features than into WoW its self until RealID becomes the game and WoW is just the chat room. As long as you can choose not to use RealID, I think it will be fine. But the second certain features of the game are only accessible through RealID, or what have you, I think a lot of people will be put out. A lot of people are not playing WoW in order to chat with people. A lot of people, myself included, would rather chat with people through outside methods than in the game its self. I would really like to keep the two separate.

To Amuse Myself

I woke up today ill. After traipsing to the pharmacy to refill my ill-pills (yeah, it’s a recurring sickness) I didn’t feel much like doing anything ambitious. I am considering driving to my parents’ house for dinner, as my boyfriend is out of town and I don’t want to cook. I’m also considering going back to sleep.

I found this gem floating around the blog-o-sphere at I Sheep Things. Why not, I asked myself. I have nothing better to do.

1. Raider, farmer, PvPer, or altoholic?

Somewhere between rabid altoholic and casual raider. I have an entire army of alts that I futz with, and one decked out tree druid to poke ICC with.

2. Favorite raid or dungeon?

I am a huge fan of Egyptian anything. AQ was a lot of fun for me in that regard, but I never got to see the entire thing. I also loved Ulduar. ICC is nice, but Ulduar felt so epic. My first time manning a siege engine is my best memory of the place. It was entirely new to everyone and we got to blow stuff sky high. After Ulduar, nothing feels quite as awesome.

3. Number one choice for a new playable race?

Worgen are pretty high on the list. Naga would be sick too, but they’d be awkwardly pantsless all the time.

4. Class you suck the most at?

I have played all classes into the 70s and there isn’t one I considered “hard” or that I felt I sucked at. That said, I didn’t click very well with my Death Knight. He sits at 80 in the same gear he leveled in. The runic power thing throws me for a loop and I never bothered to really learn his rotation.

5. Original UI or modded UI?

I modded the hell out of my UI in BC. But every time my game started acting up and I had to delete my mods, I would have to set up the entire thing again, and after WoW went haywire on me a few times I just stopped reinstalling my mods. I haven’t used mods at all since. I farted around with Recount a few times just for fun, but as a druid healer there isn’t anything I feel I need. There are plenty of mods I’ve been told I absolutely cannot ever heal without. Screw that.

6. Profession you’ve never leveled past 200?

Blacksmithing and Engineering. I’ve been told both are frustrating and time consuming and eat all your funds. 

7. Favorite flying mount?

When I was a wee undead warlock experiencing Hellfire Peninsula for the first time a bit after BC launched, I saw a level 70 troll astride a netherray floating by the summoning stone for the Hellfire Citadel dungeons. He was on the red riding ray, decked out in some amazing gear, and I thought to myself…self, I have to have one of those rays! I deleted this warlock not long after that, but years later I finally achieved exalted with the Skyguard and now my druid has the entire squadron of rays. He only rides the red one 🙂

8. Nozdormu — friend or foe, you figure?

I really hope he’s a friend. I love the dragons and two defected Aspects is enough for me.

9. Useless item you have in your bank that you’ll never get rid of?

That axe that riffs like a guitar. You know the one? I got it on my hunter in Karazhan a million years ago and never got rid of it. I also have a ton of other useless crap sitting around taking up space, like every one of the holiday hats and the scroll that summons the Hakkar guy in the Sunken Temple.

10. Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Wow. Um. My main has a ton of gold. Well, HAD a ton of gold. Things that may be expensive for some aren’t for me. But I did drop a lot of money on primordial saronite in order to craft a pair of boots, and that cost me about 5 thousand gold in one shot.

11. Favorite starting area?

The night elf starting area always has fond memories for me. It’s serene and pretty and I remember being a wee nublet running around with my friend trying to figure this game out. I remember when I couldn’t survive the spider cave. Good times.

12. Inane goal you worked hardest to achieve?

I have both the Seeker and Loremaster titles. I spent many weeks running around Azeroth moonfiring things left and right and trying not to be discourteous to people leveling in the zones I was laying waste to. I spent a lot of time on WoWhead and WoWwiki pouring over quest lists for zones, pulling my hair out and muttering “But I know I did that one…didn’t I?” Sylvestris is a very old character and I had no clue which quests I had already done. I was pretty proud of myself when I finally achieved both titles, even if the Loremaster’s colors are ugly as hell.

13. Darion Mograine VS Tirion Fordring, gloves off — winner is?

Fordring. The dude one-shots ICC mobs. I mean, why is he sending us in to kill trash when he could do it himself?

14. Game music or your own playlist?

I like to listen to music while playing. Any music. Sometimes I play through iTunes and others I would rather hear the sounds of mobs dying. I usually have the game music turned way down, as it interferes with Vent while raiding. It’s a shame, because the music is very well done in my opinion. Howling Fjord has a beautiful accompaniment.

15. Particular option or setting that you always toggle on a new alt/server?

I have a few keybinds on the bottom right action bar, so I always turn that one on. It helps with things like mounts and fishing that I want to be able to cast without my hands leaving the keys.

16. Highest amount of levels gained in one play session?

I have no idea. Sometimes I level so fast people in guild chat make comments. Sometimes it takes me a week to get one level. Not counting leveling from 1 to 5 or whatever, I think 4 or 5 levels in a day is my highest. This is in the 40-50 range, too. No heirlooms.

17. Thing you’d most like to experience or see in-game?

The Emerald Dream. As an expansion or just a content patch, I think it would be amazing. I play a druid with as much druidy-ness as I can. He’s got the Guardian of Cenarius title, a hippogryph mount…please let me send him to the Dream!

18. Worst PuG moment?

I PUG so much it would be impossible to single out one. You name it, I have seen it happen. Ninjas, check. Idiots, oh yeah. Jerks, quite a few. It never ceases to amaze me how people can be so…ignorant (trying to be polite!) of social etiquette in WoW.

19. Best dungeon/raid moment?

There have been a few. I remember nothing specific. Solo healing Toravon felt good. I know I out gear him. It still felt good. Any time the rest of the healers die in an encounter and I bring the raid home for the kill is a good time. It’s rare. Any time everyone else dies to a boss and I am the only one left alive is also nice. See that fire there? The fire your corpse is roasting in? I didn’t stand in it. Go me!

20. Worst quest ever that you totally hate doing?

EW! Those awful quests in the Blasted Lands where you have to kill a bazillion stupid mobs for their body parts which never drop and which are needed for more than one quest! I don’t do this quest while leveling, obviously, but for Loremaster/Seeker I had to suck it up. It’s AWFUL. Also, any quest that has me run to the other side of the world and then back again and then way across the world again is a butt-sucker in my book. 

21. First thing you do when you hit 80?

Soak in the congratulations and the occasional “Jeez, another 80?” from the guild, then flee to the class trainer nearest me to respec. I don’t have dual spec on most of my alts, and I usually run with a leveling spec. I feel more accomplished when I switch to a more raid/heroic dungeon spec.

22. Character (of yours) you would RP as if you had to?

Sylvestris has his own RP-centric back-story, and has been involved in a few roleplays, though not in WoW. My only experience on an RP server was as a very new player on a low level character, standing in Goldshire with my eyes bugged out of my skull thinking “OMFGWTF is this CRAP?!” So yeah. I never bothered with it again. I roleplay extensively outside of WoW, and sometimes using WoW characters or themes, but I don’t have much interest in roleplay in WoW. I would rather raid or be left alone or chatter inanely to my friends.

23. Keyboard, mouse, or both for using abilities?

Everything. I’d use my toes if I could. I have a key bound to my mouse, my major spells bound to my keyboard…sometimes I am both clicking something with the mouse and keying something else with my fingers. Sometimes I smash my face down on the keyboard with an audible WHUMP and someone gets healed. I have a very eclectic way of using my keybinds that anyone else would likely turn their nose up at. I’ve been using it for so long, it works.

24. Thottbot or WoWhead?

Ugh, Thottbot is still active? I prefer WoWhead. The comments are really the most helpful section of the website, and that’s actually where I found most of my quests for Loremaster/Seeker that I was missing. It’s a goldmine for boss tips and everything else, whereas I have found Thottbot to be more whining and bitching and epeen stroking than helpful. WoWwiki is also one of my search bars on my internet browser. If Wiki doesn’t tell me, I click through to WoWhead.

25. Acronym you’ve seen in chat but don’t understand?

TL;DR. I had to go look it up to find out what it stood for. I see it on Wow.com all the time and could not figure out what it meant.

26. Plot point you’d like to see resolved someday?

I’ll be honest, I’m a lore-tard. I don’t pay enough attention to the lore of the game to really know what’s going on beyond my own characters. I love the lore, really, but I just don’t pay attention to it. I know there are a number of quests lurking about that seem unfinished. I’d like to see these finished.

27. Biggest thing you’re looking forward to in Cataclysm?

WORGEN! Aaaagh werewolves! I would love to see more character slots per realm too, but it’s wishful thinking. I’m also dying to see all the new mounts, pets, titles, and other things an achievement whore like me can get their hands on.

28. Guild event you’d like to see?

We never finished Ulduar. We attempted Yogg a few times and never downed him. I would like to see us finish raids before we bounce off to the newest content, but that’s an unpopular idea with a lot of my guild members. Since we know we can take down Sartharion plus his three drakes, I would like to see us running that weekly. Mounts for everyone!

29. Level range you hate being in?

Just before I can portal to Outland. Those last few levels before 58 always creep by for me. Part of it is the quests at that level don’t awe me and the zones are kind of dull and sluggish. I’m so excited to get to Outland that I can barely focus on killing another undead thing or whatever.

30. Favorite map to quest in?

Nagrand is likely my favorite zone by sheer gorgeousness of the scenery. The quests are decent, and I’m usually close to zipping off to Northrend too. I like Un’Goro just because it seems like you can kill every mob in the zone and fulfill a quest objective. I like going on killing sprees.

Low Level Paladin Tanking: Mana Regen

Ah yes. More paladin adventures. I have spent a lot of time recently bashing faces in as a low level protection paladin. It’s afforded me some interesting opportunities to mingle with idiots and pros alike. It has also allowed me to restart the level 70 paladin tank I sort of abandoned eons ago and now I don’t know what I’m doing and am too scared of assholes in random dungeons to dive in and try. Really. I started a new paladin to learn the class from the group up before I go diving in at level 70.

So today’s topic is mana regeneration. Paladins are the only tank class to use mana. There’s been some whining about it, mostly because at low levels you run out of mana far too quickly. While bear druids and warriors utilize rage, which generates as they attack and are hit, paladins must rely on passive regeneration and a host of talents, buffs, spells, and their healer to keep their “blue rage” bar full. In order to properly tank, you need +stamina and +strength gear. This flies in the face of our mana pool, which requires +intellect and +spirit to refill its self. You should never be wearing +intellect or +spirit gear. Ever. But there are other ways to refill your mana.

Let me be the first to tell you that life as a low level paladin tank sucks. Sure, you can equip a sword and a shield and queue as a tank, but at level 15, you’re no more a tank than the priest healing you. You have no methods for gaining or maintaining threat. You have one taunt ability, on an 8 second cooldown, and that’s it. My experience at this level was horrible. I was grateful for the druid in my first Ragefire Chasm group who went bear and tanked for me, while I ran behind and smacked things woefully. It was embarassing. My first tip for you: wait to queue as a tank until level 16.

At level 16 you gain two very important skills: a real taunt (Hand of Reckoning) and a real threat modifier (Righteous Fury). You can now tank. Use Blessing of  Might until you learn Blessing of Kings at level 20. You also gain Consecration at this level, which is the bread and butter of AoE tanking later on but right now it’s just a mana whore. Only throw it down if you pull a bazillion things and need to snap some threat on them fast. Otherwise, casting Consecrate is going to eat your mana like Fat Albert eats…anything.You should be using Seal of Righteousness. Use Judgment of Light for threat. There is no need to judge the same target more than once, which just eats mana. Seal of Wisdom and Judgment of Wisdom may be substituted if you’re low on mana, but I find bringing along Melon Juice or its equivalent is more effective than smacking something and hoping it gives up the blue.

Any skill or talent that encourages mobs to smack you in the face is good for mana regeneration. The more things that are hitting you, the faster you will regenerate mana. Read on.

Your mana woes will persist until you gain Blessing of Sanctuary, available only in the Protection tree for 21 talent points. Up until now you have likely been using Blessing of Kings. No longer. Slap Sanctuary on immediately. Blessing of Sanctuary does one very important thing for you at this level: returns mana. Every time you block, dodge, or parry a melee attack, you will regain 2% of your maximum mana. If you run instances as a tank, this blessing should always be up. Always. If you solo as a protection paladin, you will probably get more use out of Blessing of Wisdom for sheer mana regeneration. If you like to AoE grind large packs of mobs, Blessing of Sanctuary will likely still be your best bet.

Blessing of Sanctuary really shines in conjunction with your next favorite talent, something all protection paladins should pick up: Holy Shield. Holy Shield is available for 31 points in the Protection tree and it does one very amazing thing: increases your chance to block melee attacks by 30%. Pull a large group of mobs. Hit Holy Shield (you better be wearing Sanctuary!). Watch your mana overfill and run all over the floor. Awesome.

Holy Shield is really your saving grace at this level. If you are savvy about how you pull groups, you will never run out of mana. Keep Blessing of Sanctuary up at all times. Pull lots of things. Consecrate. Holy Shield. Smile. At this level, Consecrate is finally not the mana whore it used to be. If you keep Holy Shield up (its cooldown allows you to always have it up, and I recommend that you do so long as there are 3 or more mobs attacking you), and you pull enough mobs to generate enough blocks, dodges, and parries, you’re golden.

One last thing to mention, and that’s Spiritual Attunement. This talent is in the same tier as Holy Shield, but you should take Holy Shield first. Then, put two points in Spiritual Attunement. This talent is epic for low level tanks. Every time you are healed, you gain 10% of that heal as mana. This talent will be your friend until level 80, when you may decide to put those points elsewhere if you feel mana is not an issue.

Remember that paladins are born to tank large groups of mobs. Pulling mobs one at a time is going to be hard on your mana pool, as you will not block, dodge, or parry enough to refill it. Save Consecrate and Holy Shield for groups of 3 or more. Against 1 or 2 mobs, Holy Shield won’t do much, and will ultimately cost more mana that it returns.

Maraudon Madness

As I mentioned a post or so ago, I am in the process of leveling a paladin tank solely by the dungeon finder tool. It’s been a blast. I haven’t quested since my mid-twenties (and only so I could get an upgrade I sorely needed). As a tank, I get instant queues. No waiting, no chance I may miss the queue when it pops. I click accept and BAM. Queue. It’s lovely.

But on the flip side, I’m TANKING. Tanking. A lone pro in a sea of noobs. Ugh, that sounds too harsh. I have been playing WoW since 2005. I have played every class (quite a few to the level cap in various expansions) and every role. My main is a level 80 restoration druid in full ICC 10/25 gear. I understand the concept of healing! I really do. The green bar goes down; I bring it up. Got it. Admittedly my tanking skills are less honed. I tanked in vanilla WoW as a tauren warrior until level 40 – big deal. I got compliments, but I was a noob. NOOB. I’m proud to admit it. It means I have moved beyond noobishness. Sort of. I have a level 70 protection paladin (whom I log in every now and then raring to smash things and then pussy out and skulk somewhere on another character). I bear-tanked on my druid in the Burning Crusade at 70 until a feral druid friend convinced me to go resto so we wouldn’t be loot competition. So I did, and ended up loving it and haven’t seen my own bear butt in years. However, I did recently get my off-spec in order to tank. I haven’t tanked anything yet. I’m rambling.

The point is I currently have a level 46 protection paladin that I am shoving into the dungeon queue six or seven times a day. I have the best gear I could hope for at that level, and a very low chance of anyone competing for it. Yes, there are ninjas. Oh Christ, are there ninjas. I am usually very lenient on low level players. I figure they are either new to their class or new to the game entirely. They don’t understand what I do. I usually just casually mention that, hey, you shouldn’t be rolling need on everything that drops. Or, hey, try not to pull things left and right. That’s the tank’s job. My significant other – God bless him – is very patient with these people. If they commit horrid acts in his presence, he whispers them and sorts it out politely. I am more likely to say it once and then grow horns and fangs and splatter them all over the dungeon floor. Didn’t know I was a boss, did you? Surprise.

It goes without saying that I encounter a plethora of these hapless people while dungeon-crawling. It is the one downside I have found to my chosen leveling method. At low levels I am lenient, like I said. At my current level, I am not. I am of the opinion that, by level 45-46ish, you ought to know how to behave in a group. Running ahead and AoE pulling huge packs of mobs and racing back towards me is not the way to act. Rolling need on every item that drops is a very poor way to win the trust of your group. But do I see these things happen? Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

The priest healer in Maraudon who ran head of me at every pull and brought back tons of mobs, even after she was asked to stop, it an example of a piss-poor player. Said priest eventually wiped the group, despite my best keyboard-smashing attempt to survive the deluge of mutated plantae. This person then “disconnected” and left us sans healer.

How about the hunter who rolled need on a mail helm in Razorfen Kraul (not Maraudon madness, but still pertinent)? He won. I politely asked what he thought he was going to do with a mail +strength helm. No response. Hand it over or find a new tank, says I. No response. I let him run ahead and pull a pack of piggies, let him die, then explained that I had no intention of finishing a dungeon for him when the item I needed was ninja’d. I left. I don’t recommend that strategy, but I queued specifically for that dungeon, even though it was green to me, specifically for that helm. The lack of common sense in most people astounds me. And why is it always hunters? Buh.

There is a period of a few levels when the only dungeon available to you is Maraudon. First it’s just the purple side, which has no loot for me and after one run get’s old faster than bread on a hot day. But I run it incessantly for the experience so that, in a level or two, the orange side becomes available. I understand people get tired of Maraudon all day every day. But I don’t understand why they continue to queue for it if they don’t want to run it. I queued specifically for the orange side yesterday, because I needed a quest item off Noxxion. I forgot to loot it last time. Oops. Five seconds after everyone has buffed, the healer leaves. No explanation. The boomkin – you lovely lazerchicken, you! – stepped in to heal. Two pulls in, a DPS leaves. No explanation. Myself, our fake – but awesome – healer, and an intrepid and un-noobish warlock plowed ahead. We cleared the damn thing faster than a group of five. We even detoured into the purple side for Vyletongue for his quest item drop. As we neared him, the queue finally found us a full group. I’m not sure how. I thought we’d finished the instance we had queued for…anyway. They were depressed to learn we were practically done, but they helped us kill Vyle and then Celebras. A good group.

A good group is hard to come by. A decent one is not altogether rare. A bad one is frighteningly easy to find yourself trapped in. I do not usually leave a group, for any reason. I try to work with what I have. I try to politely correct bad behavior. I am the tank, and 90% of the time I am also the group leader. It helps to have some fake semblance of authority when asking idiots not to be…idiots. I don’t care if people have no idea what they’re doing. So long as they don’t do it so horridly incorrectly that they undermine my position as the meat-shield and endanger the group.

No, what really aggravates me is the attitude I have encountered in many dungeon runs as of late. That attitude is the “pull everything in the dungeon right now GO GO GO!”. I guess with the advent of heirloom items and random blue rewards from the satchels, people feel they out-gear a dungeon so entirely that it warrants becoming a trivial mess of “pull everything and AoE it down”. I don’t feel the same way, and I’m guessing neither do my healers. I’m the one with my face six inches from the one thousand screaming mobs you want me to pull, trying desperately to keep aggro on everything, begging the RNG gods that I’m not the one who gets sleeped/feared/stunned/gouged/killed. The people who usually scream for such things are the DPS (though a healer did it once). They don’t seem to understand that I am still learning this role, and though I have been in these dungeons a bazillion times, I may not know exactly how to pull them to prevent being slaughtered. So to the people who incessantly bitch at me to “PULL BIGGER!” or “PULL FASTER, FATASS”….fuck you.

I have experienced similar on my level 20ish priest healer. Leveling mostly via the dungeon finder with a shaman friend, I have learned a few things. One, people are stupid at that level. I give them the benefit of the doubt that they don’t know what they’re doing yet and they will learn. Two, groups can survive fine without a tank, because at that level no one is really a “tank” yet. The people who spaz out and declare defeat the second the tank drops group are morons. Anyone with arms can tank the low level dungeons. Get a grip. Lastly, I remember why I don’t like low level healing. The mana problems, man. They get people killed. With a decent tank and a non-idiotic group (or just Blessing of Wisdom) I can outlast almost anything. But the second something goes wrong and people are running about screaming and dying and the tank is being pounded into the floor, I am out of mana in seconds. It sucks. I miss my druid and his unlimited mana (/cry).

Ugh, and the people who feel the need to tell me when to heal…I could rant for hours. I really could. I won’t. As I stated above, I UNDERSTAND HOW TO HEAL. I have been doing it for years. YEARS. I know how keep someone – anyone! – alive. If I have mana, you will live. I promise. I blow my top when someone pipes up “heal!” in party chat when they have 70% health left. Do you see my hands waving back here? Do you see me casting heals? I’m watching your health bar, you idiot, so do YOUR job and use your keystrokes to tank things or kill things, NOT to tell me when and how to do my job. It kills me when the person shouting “heal!” is the tank who cannot keep aggro to save his skin and the mobs ran to me after five seconds and are bashing my face in. Here’s a tip, pro-tard, do your job and I can do mine!