Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The World of Alphabui - A Great Veteran's Return, Monks, Goblins and Pandas again

Well I never thought I’d be writing another of this post topic, particularly because the last one I did is from 5 years ago and as you know, I am firmly entrenched with Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR). And before you ask no this isn’t because of the Warcraft movie, I have seen it and enjoyed it, I actually did this in January and February this year so it was well before it came out.

But to be perfectly honest I had always wanted to go back, back to the familiarity of almost 5 years of playing, you’d think it’d be kind of comforting you know, but with all of the changes, it wasn’t really. I’ve mentioned before all of the things that World of Warcraft has over SWTOR, the massive number of beautiful animal mounts, the almost perfect dual talent specialization system and mostly importantly the Australian based servers which I was excited to try out to see the difference. Possibly what I really needed was to go back to the good old medieval style, yes SWTOR is great but all the futuristic techy items and ships and planets get to me a bit sometimes and all I want is to run through a beautiful forest glade or even a ruined castle, throwing fireballs or wielding a cruddy sword and shield, of course I do have Skyrim (and soon the Witcher) for this but it’s a bit of a different game.

Nuthin like goin back to your roots eh?
I suppose you can say I’ve been looking for an excuse all this time and that excuse came when I met someone who had a keen interest in the game and that inspired me to delve back in, in an attempt to play with them. Firstly I had to update my account as I suspected I only had up to the Cataclysm expansion as this is where I had previously left off but strangely enough all accounts had now been freely upgraded with Mists of Pandaria, So all I had to do was purchase Warlords of Draenor then I’d be fine, so I did. With my Battle.net account details updated I then copied my friends game across to my machine so the update would be faster. I had saved my WTF profile folders but decided to start anew this time but I did use them to remind myself of all of the “Mods” I used to use, I then installed the amazingly awesome Curse Client which makes installing and updating your WoW mods an absolute breeze, it appears to be compatible with Skyrim and Minecraft now so I must try it out for those.

The Curse Client, making mods and addons a breeze.
Unfortunately though when I went to create a character my friend played on a Korean server where I couldn’t join as I had an oceanic account and could only play on the US and AU servers, we mucked around with accounts trying different things but unfortunately it wasn’t going to work so I decided I’d just play the same game with her but not together and I guess this was ok because we had very different playstyles. She basically liked to powerlevel with her friends and farm instances for gold and items, she did raids and instances but mostly lower level ones to breeze through them and obtain all of the gold and items in stark contrast to myself who does things slowly and casually taking in the content. I couldn’t watch several times when I saw her and her friend kill several well-known raid bosses including the Lich King himself as if it was nothing, just the two of them going at it, then during the interval before he was finally defeated she remarked that she had to wait so long, like goddamn, I haven’t even got to see most of those bosses and the events and cinematics that happen with them and being a lorewhore myself (hah!) I couldn’t see how she could skip them. So I don’t think I could have kept up with her anyway. In any case, there were a few things I wanted to do if I ever went back to WoW, see the Goblin and Pandaren starting areas for one, create a Monk, and basically see and experience all of the changes that have happened on an Oceanic server of course.

Ahh Westfall so rustic and beautiful
I logged in and had a look at all my old characters and oh man the nostalgia, I noticed that pretty much nothing had changed, they were all still there, everything was all fine after all this time, I guess no-one’s going to hack your account if it’s not active are they? Unless of course they log in to your Battle.net account and subscribe for you but that seems unlikely. I was trying to think how I’d go about choosing an oceanic server then I realised I already had all of my alliance characters on the Nagrand server already. I don’t remember doing that but meh, it was good enough because now I could make my Human Monk, yes a human Monk because my warrior always looked the best of my alliance characters with the armor looking like they fit already etc. You could argue that I should have made a Night elf Priest as I’d never made either of them but of course my desire to create a Monk was greater and yes I haven’t made a Gnome either but I don’t think I’ll ever make one. So I made a Monk and started out in good old Elwynn Forest, man it felt so familiar like I’d done it heaps of times before but I really hadn’t because on my warrior I ran from Elwynn into Stormwind, caught the Deeprun Tram to Ironforge then ran to the Dwarf starting area in Kharanos, all this just to be able to ride a giant goat of course that reputation requirement is now gone I think.

Oh man that latency
 Anyway so I first had to get my mods set up and working and I actually used my warrior to test them out I had all the old favourites including: 

Deadly Boss Mods: Which is split into different packages now otherwise it’d be way too huge, but I was impressed of how it worked with just normal world dungeon bosses.
Recount: Good for checking how bad I am XD.
Altoholic: Always a favourite, allows you to see what items your alts and wearing and what things they have in the bank plus a whole lot of other stuff.
Auctioneer: Very useful for creating Auctions, does all of the undercutting work for you.
Atlas and AtlasLoot: Not essential but I looove looking at maps and boss loot.
Move anything: This was very powerful, it enables you to move, scale, hide and adjust transparency of just about any screen element in WoW. It was pretty much like the SWTOR UI adjustment screen except a bit more powerful, it even allowed you to remove the graphic around the bottom action bar allowing me to see much more.
Bartender: User this for extra support with actionbars and includes much more of them.
Monkeyquest: Used this at first as it was a minimal and pretty cool looking quest tracker but then I realised that some quests needed you to click the quest tracker to finish or continue a quest and this one didn’t allow you to do that so I removed it.
Tiptac: Moar item info!
Mapster: Better and moveable map.

Altoholic, one of my favorite ever mods, being a serious alt maker myself.
So I played and got used to the Monk moves reminded me a bit of combat Rogue abilities, I suppose the two classes do have a certain connection with one just using weapons a lot more, I remembered in Diablo that I didn’t end up finishing it with my Monk because there seemed to be not enough distinction to which abilities he used his weapons with and which ones he used his hands or feet. But in WoW it seems to be different as you always seem to use your hands and feet apart from your main attack where you can use your weapons. The abilities weren’t too hard to get used to, a bunch of kicks and punches mixed in with weapons and chi attacks, I had this AOE cone ability called Fists of Fury which did a huge amount of damage while stunning the enemy, while performing it my character stood with his front foot forward rapidly punching the air in front of him, it looked absolutely ridiculous but was very powerful.

Monks, experts at fishfighting, getit? FISHfighting? XD
 I was also glad to see that Monks actually did have Auto-attack despite being announced that they wouldn’t, you auto-attacked with your weapons but you could use the Jab ability to hit with them too. The new talent system wasn’t too hard to get used to, as simple as it was, it’s most definitely based on the Diablo system of having the talents organised into sections. Having getting only to 40 during my Monk’s run in wow I only got the first two talent tiers, one being increasing mobility, the second being various abilities involving ranged Chi energy attacks which were great to finally get as unlike the Warrior and Rogue who have the ability to use Thrown weapons, Monks having no ranged ability at all in the early game, so you could understand I was grateful to get this, I first used Chi Burst but then switched to Chi Wave as you could target enemies in the air and it also bounced around healing allies or damaging enemies.

Learning some new Monk abilities
 So I did Elwynn Forest then Westfall and took on the Defias Brotherhood which actually had quite a good story with an “oh wow” moment this time. As you may know since Cataclysm starting quests in an area requires answering the “Hero’s Call” or “Warchief’s Command” board for that particular zone and then get sent to the initial quest giver, quite the departure from the times where I used to run all over the zone grabbing all of the quests I could find, it kind of works out better as the zone has its own story sort of like SWTOR has the planet story arc as well as your class story. The very first instance I did was the Deadmines, and boy this is where my appreciation of the current World of Warcraft really slipped. It was easy to get a group of course as the Dungeon Finder now include searches through multiple realms so increases the pool of players exponentially though the way in which the instances are run was disappointing, firstly this may be me just complaining but when the group forms I’d much rather we get sent to the meeting stone then have to find our way into the instance which used to be great fun battling to get to the actual portal but of course now with inter-realm LFG that wouldn’t work as the meeting stones are outside the instance. 

I do some questing in Westfall with the Monk which include this harvesty machine thing.

Instance quest givers are now thankfully inside the instance itself allowing you to pick the obligatory “destroy all bosses” checklist one and any others though it does make it a bit jarring when you’re trying to read the quest text and get involved with what’s happening in the instance when everyone else is already halfway down the first hall of enemies. And speaking of that everything goes so goddamn fast now, it got to a point in Wrath of the Lich King that no-one bothered with crowd control (or CC) anymore they just let it rip and even more so now, the other thing is because everyone else has Heirlooms which in case you didn’t know are pieces of armor that scale with your level making you pretty damn powerful, so powerful it seems that a whole group with heirlooms can plough through an instance with only two dps.

Deadmines gettin wolfy
The reason for this was because I was actually doing dungeons to gear up, and being new to the class and returning to the game, I had to look over the various pieces or armor that dropped to check if it was good for me and also check my quest objectives were being met. This combined with the fact that the rest of group who were obviously heirloomed up, had done this instance maybe 200 times already and didn’t need to bother, and were destroying the instance at a frantic pace, is why I didn’t really get a change to do much DPS at all, it was laughable and I wonder why I wasn’t kicked from the group but I guess I remained just competent enough for them to not notice, or maybe they just didn’t care. Even so I when I looked at the recount DPS meter and saw that I had done about 5-10% of the DPS was kind of disheartening.

Taking on Lord Vyletongue in Mauradon
 Another thing was the massive amount of XP that you had, WoW hasn’t got the level-syncing to the zone that you are in that SWTOR has so if you do too many instances you’ll find that you level up and your quests go grey pretty fast, which kind of sucks if you are enjoying the quest storyline in a certain zone. I guess if you really like questing in the zones you can only do an instance if it ties in with the zone you are in currently, such is the case with Westfall and the Deadmines, though I tend to progress through the zones that are nearest to me that make the most sense i.e I’m a human so I will do the human lands first. So on the Eastern Kingdoms Continent I would do in order Elwynn Forest, Westfall, Redridge Mountains, Duskwood, Northern Stranglethorn, Cape of Stranglethorn, Western Plaguelands, Eastern Plaguelands, Badlands, Searing Gorge, Burning Steppes and finally The Blasted Lands, so even if I did all of them negating the fact that I may have to skip some from doing instances with others etc gives me 8 instances to choose from, Deadmines, The Stockade,  Scholomance, Stratholme, Uldaman, Blackrock Depths, Lower Blackrock Spire and Upper Blackrock Spire, 3 of which being in Blackrock Mountain and are about the same level range.

In Redridge Mountains on my new Grey Ram, it seems the faction and race restrictions have been removed for all mounts.
I spose this isn’t too bad but the other problem is there’s not enough in the earlier majority of zones it’s only saved by Blackrock spire having 3 and you can only do them once otherwise your XP gets out of whack and I can’t help but think about all of the cool gear you’re missing out on but I guess you can just buy some with all that quest gold. Really makes me appreciate the SWTOR data crystal reward currency and the level-sync system.

Zen Pilgrimage to the Peak of Serenity
So in any case being a Monk wasn’t bad, I enjoyed using the Zen Pilgrimage Spell that takes you to the Peak of Serenity to learn new skills, similar to how Druids go to the Moonglade. But to be perfectly honest I didn’t want to keep playing, by doing too many dungeons/instances I had gained way too many levels and had to go directly from Duskwood to Eastern Plaguelands where as soon as I got to level 40 I decided that was it. I told myself before that one of the things I wanted to do when going back to WoW was try the Goblin and Pandaren starting areas so I decided to just do this and be over with it.

Training with Master Taran-Zu
 It was during this time that I actually thought I may try getting my Horde characters over to an oceanic realm for free, yes that right for free. The reason was that back in October 2014 the Australian-based servers had been announced and also a two week window was offered to players to transfer their characters to an oceanic realm, but of course as I wasn’t playing then I missed out on that. So I thought, what the hey? There’s no harm in asking if I could transfer all of my Horde characters to an oceanic realm too, so I put in a ticket and sure enough they accepted the request and transferred my characters to the Nagrand Realm. Of course there was one big issue, I had forgotten that there was a limited number of character slots (10) so basically there wasn’t enough and two of my characters were left on Silvermoon US as they couldn’t fit.

My Alliance characters on the Nagrand server before the move
Originally I was going to level up a bank alt and send them across with all of my bank items, but since I had two characters still available on Silvermoon, I loaded them up with all of my bank items and replied back to Blizzard. Basically I said that not all of my characters were moved and wondered how they made that mistake of not knowing that Nagrand wouldn’t hold them all and some would be left behind, so they said they could transfer the remaining two but they did to another realm which didn’t help, eventually the issue was partially resolved but them transferring my remaining two characters to the Caelestrasz realm as this and Nagrand are now “connected” in a way that you can send mail and group and be in guilds with players/characters from that different realm their names are just marked as Hbui – Caelestrasz for example.

Not the best outcome, but it’s functional, what I really should have done was tell them to dump all of my Horde characters on a random Oceanic server and left it at that because unlike SWTOR you can’t send mail to the other faction in WOW. Another thing that sucks is all of the bags on my Bank alts were soulbound so I couldn’t send them over and had to vendor them which sucks majorely as they would be so useful when setting up again and I spent heaps of time (and money) creating them. But it doesn’t really matter anyway as I don’t think I’ll be going back unless SWTOR goes down.

Ok so I then started a Goblin, and of course because I wasn’t really going to be playing this character I didn’t want to make him a Priest, so I made him a Warlock , why not? I had actually tried creating my Rogue as a Goblin but when I found out the Goblin starting area wasn’t the same “You have now come of age, start your trials” thing I didn’t fancy it. And I still don’t really, it’s so far removed from the traditional fantasy medieval theme that WoW has it was almost ridiculous, in fact it was ridiculous, so I’ll explain. The Goblin starting area is on the island of Kezan where you are apparently the second in command to Trade Prince Gallywix and are poised to take his place and you have all these staff and assistants and your get a goddamn car where you drive around and pick up your friends, compete in a football match, go to the bank, the have a party that is crashed by pirates. Goblin abilities are pretty entertaining, they have [Rocket Jump] which is good for launching yourself down hills and [Rocket Barrage] works as an extra ranged ability, you can also call in a [Pack Hobgoblin] to get access to your bank for 1 min. I think I actually got far enough to get the Metamorphosis ability for Demonology which was pretty cool as I’m so small and I also noticed when goblins throw fireballs/shadowbolts etc they “bowl” then underarm lol.

Oh yeh, Goblin Racecar, this is just getting ridiculous.

The island of Kezan has seen better days with contaminated brown soil and patches of brown grass  with metal buildings and machines everywhere like some kind of industrial revolution dysotpia. So eventually after searching through mines and sneaking around and other stuff the volcano on the island erupts because of you know who, doing you know what and you have to get the hell out of there on Gallywix’s private yacht no less. Following a short scene where you are shot at by the alliance navy you wind up on the Lost Isles which is another zone you can only get to when starting a goblin, it’s quite a change from the isle of Kezan, full of lush jungles. It’s here where you first meet the Horde, specifically Aggra and eventually you end up saving Thrall himself. You also deploy the ridiculous Town-in-a-Box, run into the curious new Pygmy race and also the Naga are around too, I enjoyed the Vicious Vale section although it being quite ridiculous, the whole story there was pretty ridiculous.

The Lost isles sure are beautiful, man that's an ugly mug I have.
You eventually defeat the Pygmy’s who are abducting goblins and turning them into zombies by defeating their god Volcanoth and join the Horde in the Fight against the alliance in an aerial battle which was quite spectacular. You then join with all your friends and set sail for Durotar and are tasked with delivering a message to the current Warchief Garrosh Hellscream yes Garrosh as some of you may know he’s not around anymore but funnily enough he’s standing off to the side with Vol’jin on the throne, but anyway I guess that’s just because of the lore. So after meeting the Warchief you supposedly go off to Azshara as that’s the logical step, I should know I’ve done it on my Troll Rogue and there are goblins everywhere, they’ve taken over the damn place even sculpting the entire zone into a giant horde symbol.

I set off to free Thrall from the Alliance.

So that was the Goblins, there was only one thing left to do, yes to my brothers chagrin I made a Panda! or Pandaren (pronounced pan-DA-ren) yes I made a lovable but fierce looking ginger Pandaren with orange fur and big sideburns and a mohawk and after much deciding I made him a hunter as that’s what my second character was. Pandaren hunters also start with a crossbow weapon and a turtle as their pet, which is pretty cool but I don’t really fancy it, I liked starting off with nothing other than a short blade like the rogue used to have, I mean before cataclysm one of the purchasable weapons in the orc starting area was a piece of wood with a goddamn nail through it lol. As a Pandaren you start on the Wandering Isle aka Shen-zin Su the great turtle, yes it’s a gigantic turtle about the size of a small zone, and man is it pretty with bamboo and asian-style buildings and yes it’s basically WoW meets Kung-fu Panda and yes I’ve been over all that already in a previous post.

The Great Turtle Shen-zin Su aka the Wandering Isle
 You start off at the Shang Xi Training Grounds where you meet Master Shang Xi and get on with your training, it’s kind of weird being anything but a Monk with the Pandaren starting area just as it was very odd being a Druid in the Worgen starting area specifically because you weren’t Worgen yet and had no contact with the Night Elves. But in any case it looked great and was fun, I named my Turtle Sidun after that town in the middle east and went off to train and of course find out what was troubling the land, Pandaren males are quite portly and I don’t know how they run with that belly and those legs as they sort of galomp around haha.

Heh, Panda and Turtle
On the way you meet Aysa Cloudsinger of the Tushui and Ji Firepaw of the Huojin who have conflicting styles but get stuff done nonetheless. I enjoyed running along ropes and jumping across posts and getting turned into other animals in the Singing Pools, the centre of the island is the Temple of Five Dawns and you must do various missions to bring all of the cute ancient spirits (Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Heart, with your powers combined I am Captain Planet!) together for some reason I can’t remember and you fight a great big dragon which you fight with fireworks XD. It is then very sad as you go to the Wood of Staves and say goodbye to your Master.

Being a Hunter I was a goddamn cheat at the singing pools
 You then actually talk to the giant turtle Shen-zin Su himself and he’s got a “thorn in his side” apparently and that “thorn” is the Skyseeker an Alliance ship with Horde prisoners that has crashed into the island and you work together to remove it and heal Shen-zin Su. It is then that you have the choice, do you go Horde or Alliance, so I thought what the hell and went Horde with Ji Firepaw. And man, was it scary, and also weird, so you travel to Durator and enter Orgrimmar and as I said before you meet Garrosh standing off to the side of the Throne as per the Goblin ending and he takes you on his tour and states that “your brethren who joined the alliance are now your enemies” and Ji is kind of set aback seeing how his new leader segregates the city and makes him fight in the Ring of Valor, and then leaves and Ji basically just has a tent in the middle of the Valley of Honor. Gee great welcome, to be honest if I had chosen the horde I’d think I made the wrong choice.

Racing through the Pei-Wu forest
 But anyway that was over with too and that was that for my brief foray back into WoW. It’s been fun but I really think until something happens to the Old Republic or something even better comes out (which I doubt) I will stick to SWTOR. WoW will always have a place in my er, memories and as I’ve said again and again, it had it’s good points, and it’s bad points, but it was nice to go back, at least for a while and with Legion on the Horizon, it will be interesting to see how things change yet again.


That ping, those mods, oh how wondrous.

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