Monthly Archives: December 2010

Level 85, Uldum, and Cut Scenes

Well, Sylvestris hit 85 in the wee hours of this morning during a Halls of Origination run with the guild. It’s been a surprisingly short run from 80 to 85, and in retrospect I think I expected it to be far longer and harder. Regardless of my expectations, Cataclysm has so far blown them out of the water. I’m looking forward to getting some better gear and *eek!* stepping into some heroics with the guild. No PuGs. Just the guild. Until I get my feet under me, at least.

It’s been nice these first few weeks of Cataclysm. The guild always seems to have a dozen people on and everyone is willing to run dungeons or participate in something. A great feeling after the end-of-Wrath doldrums that nearly killed us. What annoys me though, is all the people who stopped playing at the end (some went so far as to freeze their account) are now hopping back on. It’s irritating because these people claimed they didn’t have the time, couldn’t afford, etc. to play. They left us to bash our head against Sindragosa and now they’re popping back on suddenly with all the cash and time in the world to play. They will, of course, expect a spot on the raid team when it comes time, and they’ll get it because we have few options to replace them. Frustrating.

Personally I am hoping raid time does not come too soon. I am enjoying the time “off” so to speak to level and explore and quest and generally play on my own. There is likely some guild somewhere who is already poking the first raid boss in the face, and good for them! But I hope my guild is not soon to follow.

On a different matter.

Uldum was AMAZING. I am a huge fan of ancient Egypt (went to San Francisco last spring to view the King Tut exhibit, and it was mind-boggling) so Uldum immediate became a favorite. What really got me was the Tol’vir. Egyptian cat people? Yes please. I love the architecture, I love the scenery, I love everything about it. The quests were almost entirely a parody of Indiana Jones, right down to Sullah and an ancient relic that looks suspiciously like the Arc of the Covenant. Don’t forget little German-accented goblins headed by a mock-up of Hitler himself, called the “furrier”. Really enjoyable and kinda tongue-in-cheek humorous.

What strikes me about Uldum is that it is riddled with cut scenes. There is a quest chain involving Indy in which, literally, every other quest is punctuated by a cut scene displaying the fruits of your efforts. These cinematics don’t rival the goblin/worgen ones in scope or detail, but they’re entertaining and help explain more fully your impact on the quest line and the world in general. I think they’re pretty neat, though at one point I sighed and declared aloud to Boyfriend (with whom I was questing), “Oh look, another cut scene…” I won’t complain though. I got to run amok with a young Harrison Jones. Too bad there wasn’t a cut scene of him shirtless…

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Random Observations

I have no brain matter left after finals (and my fingers are cold) which equates to having no desire to format a lovely, structured post. Instead, you get random observations lumped in a semi-sensible fashion. Enjoy.

 

I maintain that archaeology is still a fun and interesting secondary profession. I’m just more apt to call it tedious than anything else right now. After level 100ish you stop gaining skill-ups from finding things and start gaining them only by making things, which slows you down a bit. A lot. I discovered my first rare artifact and am working on the 100 pieces of night elf junk needed to complete it. I’m still getting mad experience from finding things, though, so I can’t complain too much.

Something is wrong with my graphics and water no longer renders properly in the world. At video settings low and fair for water I can see it. Anything past that and water (and mercury in Deepholm) disappears entirely. It’s annoying.

I completed Hyjal and moved on to Deepholm to quest. It’s fantastic. The music is creepy, the atmosphere is chaotic, and the scenery (while not wildly interesting in the traditional sense) gives the feeling of a truly forgotten underworld ruled by rock elementals and shattered by an insane dragon aspect.

I admit to being the “speed” quester who does not read quest texts. I know I’m missing a huge chunk of story and lore. I know I’m missing “the best part”. I don’t really care. It takes too long and I would rather complete quests than read them. It is very likely that, upon dragging my second character to 85 (at a more relaxed pace no doubt), I will take the time to read things.

I am irritated that the Booty Bay bruisers are now level 85. I never got to finish the grind for Bloodsail Admiral and now it looks like it will be impossible. That also means I am stuck at hated reputation with the goblin factions, which means any and all quests they give are locked out of my reach for the time being. So far, it’s already kept me from getting an achievement in the Eastern Plaguelands, and that alone sets my teeth on edge.

I have both tanked and healed the first 3 dungeons so far. Tanking is stressful and causes anxiety. I am very used to tanking on my paladin, who even after AoE tanking was nerfed could generate AoE threat like no other. Not so with a bear tank. I did find that alternating swipe and thrash on cooldown could generate enough threat to keep mobs from peeling off towards the healer, but the real key is communication with the DPS than anything else. People seem to be phobic of communication especially in PuGs. It’s a shame, because with the return of viable CC we really do need to be talking to each other. I was ecstatic to meet a rogue in an otherwise all-guild run who was open to discussing strategies and sap targets. Hats off to him.

Healing, on the other hand, is about where I figured it would be. Difficult and a bit irritating, but otherwise the same challenge I have come to really love. Mana is a problem. It won’t always be a problem, so hang in there if you’re struggling. I have NEVER run out of mana in a raid since…I don’t know when. I do not recall the last time I had to announce “oom” in a raid. Even if I die and am battle rezzed, my mana regens fast enough that it was never a problem. Everyone else knew that my innervate was theirs if they need it. I just never ran out. That said, I have no idea what to do with myself now. I run out of mana insanely fast. I am having difficulty getting away from the “everyone must have 100% health at all times” mindset ingrained from Wrath times. That is crucial to any healer in Cataclysm: keep them alive; don’t top them off. I’m learning. We’ve been successful in our guild dungeon runs.

Leveling with Boyfriend is an interesting affair. He is a good player, but something about hauling his ass around Azeroth reminds me of trying to herd an ADHD toddler through Disneyland. Every 30 seconds or so I have to stop and ask if he’s coming. He says he is. He actually isn’t. I am always two steps ahead of him. He is always halfway across the zone, somehow, when just five seconds before he was right behind me. It is interesting. I also enjoy it.

I cannot wait for Uldum. CAMELS!

 

Archaeology Guide

But first some random reflections. I started playing Cataclysm on launch night thanks to the handy online update feature. The servers were borked for about 30 minutes after which I was able to log on and play without any fuss. That’s not saying anything for my craptacular internet, which decided to pick launch night to throw a hissy fit and disconnect every five seconds. We finally called our ISP and had tech support send a technician to our apartment, who suggested we actually downgrade our service to solve the problem. We did, and the downgrade kicks in Monday so hopefully that will solve the issue of not being able to play WoW at the same time as my boyfriend. It really puts a damper on things now since we were going to level together. That brings me to my next point: my computer contracted a virus and was, in the course of about 10 seconds, effectively destroyed. I called my personal computer miracle worker (my grandfather) and he came up today to take a look at the damage. Good news: the virus is gone and nothing too valuable was lost. Bad news: we have to wipe the hard drive anyway. Oh well. The semester is all but over, with finals week starting on Monday. I turned in all of my projects and finished all of my work, so nothing was really impacted. It just came at a very bad time and I was unable to keep the added stress of a dead computer and finals and projects from tearing me up. BUT ANYWAY. I’m alive and kicking and ready to get back to this WoW thing as soon as my computer is returned and finals are over.

So now. Cataclysm.

Launch night was a lot of fun. For all the griefing and the disconnects and such, I enjoyed it. I didn’t play long but I got to do some Hyjal quests and a run through the Blackrock Caverns place, and that made me happy. Banded together with guild mates for a great night. Blackrock Caverns was easier than I had expected. I heard a lot of guff about it being a hell hole and a rude wake up call from Wrath’s AoE spam heroics, but it actually wasn’t so horrible. I tanked it, which likely accounts for the few wipes we had. I don’t think anyone really understands yet that a) a bear is not an AoE tank and cannot even fake being one anymore with the nerf to Swipe and b) Cataclysm dungeons are not meant to be AoE fests like Wrath dungeons were. But all in all we did very well and got a few upgrades for people. It is kind of a kick in the ego to replace hard-won ICC25 items with blues from a starter dungeon, but it is what it is. I am rocking a new tanking staff that was loads better than my old Ulduar one.

So now for the meat of this post. One of the things I really took to in the beta was archaeology. It’s a simple, fun, addicting little secondary profession that lets you take on the mantle of Indiana Jones himself and scour the dangerous corners of the globe in search of rare and ancient treasures. It’s as if Blizzard got into my head and poked around and found one of those little things inside me that really gets me going. So I have been diligently leveling it since launch in my (very rare) spare moments. Below is my version of a trade skill guild, to be updated likely as I find new things and new tidbits of information.

Archaeology

What is it?

Archaeology is a secondary profession like cooking or fishing that allows the player to dig up old artifacts from around the world and fashion them together to create items. Some items are vendor trash, and some are epic mounts and rare pets. Anyone can learn it and leveling it is fairly simple, if a tad time consuming. Finding an artifact appears to grant experience (as does “picking” anything for gathering professions these days). At level 80 I was getting a little less than 6,000 experience per artifact I found.

How do I get started?

Alliance players should visit Harrison Jones in the Library (near the Keep) in Stormwind. Horde players should speak with Belloc (get the reference? HAHAHA) in Grommash Hold in Orgrimmar. Training archaeology gives you two skills: Survey and Archaeology. Archaeology is like a spell book, you open it and poke around to look over your collections and keep track of things. Survey is the action (akin to the fishing button that lets you cast) that allows you to look for and dig up artifacts. I recommend you set it to a hot key for easy casting.

How does it work?

Once you have trained archaeology, open up your world map and take a look. There should be four shovel icons scattered around your current continent. Those icons represent digs sites. You can only dig for artifacts in those areas. Each dig site can be “dug” three times before it is considered dead, at which time another site will open up on your map. Hoof it to one of these dig sites. Once you are in the same zone as the dig site, your map will show you where the site is actually located. A fiery red overlay will indicate the boundaries of the digsite. You will receive 3-6 fragments per dig at first, but at max level you will get 6-9 fragments per dig for a total of 18+ per site!

How do I dig for artifacts?

When you enter a dig site, use your Survey tool (you hot keyed it, right?) to start the process. Using Survey will set down a tripod with two things: a telescope and a light. The telescope tells you in which direction you need to head to find the artifact; the light tells you how far you will need to go. The telescope’s bigger end is the one you need to follow; run which ever way it is pointed. A red light means the artifact is quite some distance away. A yellow light means it is in the vicinity, and a green light means it is very close. The size of the dig site dictates how far you need to run. Some of the sites are huge and you may have to run a very long ways on a red light, while some of the sites are pretty small and you wont need to run far at all even on a red light. Artifacts do not take up bag space! They are stored in the Archaeology tab its self.

So I dropped a telescope thing, now what?

Follow it! Use the telescope to line yourself up and then run a little ways, and hit Survey again. You will need to hit Survey several times in order to get to your artifact. Each time you lay down a telescope, the direction and light color will change to reflect the distance and direction changes. Once the light turns green, move in small increments (literally only a few steps) and keep hitting Survey on cool down until the fragment is revealed. Loot the fragment and repeat the process twice more to exhaust the dig site.A dig site’s contents are specific to you: no one else can loot your finds and you will always get three fragments from each sight regardless of how many people are already there surveying.

I have a fragment! …now what?

Artifacts come in ten types, one for each race represented in the Archaeology tab. You will start off with four races at first, and gain access to more as you level along. Each dig site has only one type of artifact in it, and the type generally reflects the characteristics of the site. For example, troll ruins in the Hinterlands have troll artifacts in them. Each artifact type requires about 30 artifacts to “solve” the artifact. Collect 30 (sometimes more) artifacts of one type and then open the Archaeology tab, find the race with the 30 artifacts, and hit “solve”. This will generate some sort of goody for you.

What does solving do?

Solving grants you five skill points and an item. Usually these items are junk that you can vendor for a few silver or gold, but as you progress you will gain better and better prizes from your efforts. The rarest items from archaeology include two mounts, various BoA (bind to account) epic items, and minipets.

Do I have to level in the lowbie zones? I’m 80!

Leveling archaeology is a lot like leveling a new character. You have to stay in Azeroth while you level up. At skill level 300 you may advance to Outland. At 375 to Northrend, and so on.

What are Rune Stones and all that?

Rune Stones and the like are uncommon (green) quality items that you have a small chance to dig up with an artifact. They act as a large bunch of artifacts and allow you to solve artifacts for their corresponding race faster. If you find one, it goes in your bags. You can then use it by dragging it into the little slot that appears next to the correct race in the Archaeology tab. Nifty.

I’m only level 50 in archaeology and everything is green and I’m not getting skill ups! Help!

Yeah, you stop gaining skill ups by about level 50. After that point, you will only gain skill points by solving artifacts. One way to bypass this is to hold off on solving anything until you get to level 100, and level only by surveying. Then once you hit 50, solve everything you can.

Is there a limit to how many fragments I can hold on to at a time?

Yes, actually, but I’m unsure of the number. You’re capped at about 200 fragments for each race, so your best bet is to start solving artifacts when you amass large numbers of fragments.

Pro tip: Druids can survey while in travel form, which cuts down on travel time between surveys. I assume this goes for a shaman’s ghost wolf, too!

Have fun!