Now that the wedding planning isn’t sucking all the creative juices out of me, I’m feeling the urge to write again. I want to write something helpful, something constructive that might actually contribute to the community. Unfortunately we’re stuck in that limbo zone before the new expansion where everything is transient and uncertain. I won’t write a class guide, because what really is the point, when no one is raiding in any sort of serious or even casually serious way? Talking about addons would be futile, because whatever addon I mention will likely break in Cataclysm. I’m not on the beta, so I can’t discuss anything there, which is where most of the news is coming from. I can’t even talk about leveling, because the whole experience will change in a few weeks.
So you’re stuck with me musing and rambling instead of something constructive.
I read The Shattering a few weeks ago. If you want a nice review on it, check out this review by fellow rogue Daria or a post on my guild’s blog by Faydre, or of course WOW Insider’s review. As for my opinion – I think it was wonderful (at least in the context of a WOW novel). Christie Golden wove together the many different viewpoints in a simplistic way, but it worked very well. It was a smooth, well constructed, and enjoyable novel. Each character she touched was brought to life with a great deal of depth and dimension. I truly enjoyed every character, even those that I would traditionally say I hate – like Garrosh, or Moira Bronzebeard. Golden made the lines between right and wrong blur in an interesting way, revealing the good and bad in both Horde and Alliance. Also – if you were pissed by Blizzard turning Jaina into a whiney, weak and crying girl in the Icecrown events, then you will be pleased to know that Golden gives her merit again as a strong and intelligent woman. The depiction of young Anduin Wyrnn is fantastic, especially his relationship with Varian. Even young Baine Bloodhoof won my heart over, and gave me a character in the Horde to actually care about.
Is The Shattering it worth reading? I would give that question an emphatic yes. While other novels had merit simply by moving the plot forward or filling in gaps in the lore, this novel shined by fleshing out important NPC characters and truly making them come alive. The plot is still important of course, as it provides the material needed to transition us from WOTLK to Cataclysm. Hints will be made to the events of The Shattering in-game, but Blizzard makes a practice of using these novels as complimentary to the in-game events rather than fully explaining them in-game as well.
Healing in Cataclysm
There’s been a lot of discussion going on in the blogosphere about healing in Cataclysm, and whether Blizzard has managed to accomplish changing its healing philosophy. One notable post is one by the always eloquent Tamarind at Righteous Orbs, where he gives a differential diagnosis on healing. Vixsin at Life in Group 5 writes another very intelligent post about the disparity between efficiency and fun when healing.
These posts make it clear that their are still some inherent problems with the healer role. Blizzard hasn’t magically reinvented healing – they’ve just tipped the scales in a slightly different direction. Healers are truly struggling to find their place, what tools to use when, and which classes are more optimal in which situations. As our abilities scale with gear, and as Blizzard continues to play with the numbers, we may end up with further shifts in healing style during the expansion. Having to worry about mana and choose spells thoughtfully sounds fun, but in practice it might not be implemented in a way that truly works. I suppose we will find out in a few weeks.
The other problem is that no matter what Blizzard does to the numbers, sometimes the mindset of the community causes problems. Healers have the ability to compensate for poor player performance in Wrath – whether it be that the other players are standing in bad stuff or aren’t killing the boss quickly enough. With the goal to make healing more challenging and less twitchy, we start to lose that ability to compensate, and we get “blamed” for others poor performance. I’m honestly quite nervous about healing PUG dungeons in Cataclysm. I love a challange, but I’m certainly not interested in dealing with asshats who blame me for their own incompetance. On the other hand, I’m very excited at the idea of guild dugeon runs that actually require us working together as a team.
The Calm Before the Storm
We’ve hit the one month mark until Cataclysm’s release (as of yesterday). Some people are scurrying around trying to finish up last-minute achievments, to level an alt, or to amass a pile of money in preparation. Others have stopped playing the game entirely until the expansion release date. All of us are waiting, and likely impatiently. It’s been over a year since the announcement of Cataclysm, and I’ve felt a bit twitchy ever since then. There are so many things I want to do, so many things on hold until the release.
The world events are interesting – the quests are fun, especially if you actually read them (I’ve done them on almost every toon). I certainly look forward to the next phase, which apparently kicked off today. Unfortunately these events are are overshadowed by that sense of anticipation. The third phase will hopefully be more captivating, with full-on city invasions, random bosses, etc.
What am I doing now in the game? I’ve been trying to grind through to get my Dungeon Set 1 on my rogue, but due to my poor luck, it’s proving to be incredibly tedious. I likely will give up. On the bright side, she reached Exalted with the Argent Dawn. I’ve also been doing a smattering of retro raiding, and playing around in ICC.
Mainly though, I’ve been continuing to level my horde priest. Northrend is slow going, but we’ve managed to get through the Wrathgate, which was our main goal. I’ve finally become comfortable on the Horde side (although I still find myself heading towards the Alliance portals in Dalaran). The Wrathgate was much as I expected – a slightly different slant, but still epic.
I’ve done a few battlegrounds on horde-side, mainly to keep up with Jardal’s shaman and his herb addiction, which now gives a surprisingly large portion of XP. Horde has always dominated on our battlegroup, so it’s quite refreshing to actually win – and dare I say makes PVP a little bit fun. I’m certainly not good at battlegrounds, especially as a Holy priest, but I feel I contribute much more as a healer than I would as a DPS. It also gives me a chance to practice with the ridiculously-sized toolbox that priests have to lug around. Maybe I’ll actually give rated battlegrounds a shot in Cataclysm – especially as they combine the battlegroups and hopefully even things out a bit.
The Release of WOTLK Retrospective
Although I had been playing WOW for a few months before the release of WOTLK, I hadn’t even reached 70 yet. I was excited for the expansion, but not like this – I still had plenty of new content to explore, professions to level, and thousands of XP left to go before I hit the cap.
We had pre-ordered a Collector’s Edition from Amazon for me, but it didn’t arrive right away. I took the Thursday and Friday following the release date off of work, and ended up buying a CE from Target that we found, because I just couldn’t wait for mine to arrive. We later sold the second CE on Ebay for a slight profit.
Our server at the time was Cenarius – one with a rather large population. The queue times were incredible, and the server stability was very questionable. Jardal and I found ourselves in Outlands surrounded by a flood of new deathknights (or, I suppose a plague of DK’s?). It took about a month after the release of WOTLK for us to hit Northrend.
Release Plans For Cata
This time around, things are different, and yet the same. I’ve pre-ordered my CE from Amazon (because my husband is nice and knows how much I love the mini-pets). He snagged the digital download, which is a fantastic idea on Blizzard’s part. If the CE doesn’t arrive right away I will probably try to find a copy elsewhere and resell it when it does arrive. I don’t have a lot of vacation to spare this year, so I’m only taking a half-day on December 10th.
We’re on a lower-pop server this time, so I’m hoping that the queues will be less ridiculous. I’m sure there will be some instability, especially in the Worgen and Goblin starting zones.
I have two toons at 80, one at 74, one at 45 and one at 39 – all of which I want to play when the expansion releases. That’s not even counting the worgen druid, dwarf warlock, and worgen hunter that I’m planning on rolling, or the goblin shaman I will dabble with. I have 4 professions at max that need to get leveled, and of course there is archaeology, and Peaceblooms vs. Ghouls to endlessly consume my time.
It’s a bit overwhelming. I’d love to say I’m going to formulate a plan… but that’s unlikely to go beyond a rough draft. It all depends on zone stability, what my husband wants to do, and my own whims at the moment.
I do know a few things though. Kaelyra (my newly renamed shaman) will be my new “main”. I’m leveling her first to 85 along side Jardal’s druid. We will also be rolling a worgen druid and rogue, respectively to play together (a nice reversal of our first set of toons). The worgen will NOT have heirlooms from 1-60 at least, to give us the opportunity to fully enjoy the revamped content without outleveling it too quickly. My worgen druid will be an herbalist/inscriptionist, and I’ll be going Balance (and Resto as soon a I can purchase dual-specs).
Enough rambling for today. I’m off to do some work… or maybe just finish getting through my feed reader. Speaking of which, WTF WOW Insider… how many times do you have to break your feed, spamming me with 50 posts?