Those of you who follow my twitter account will have seen that this past week was quite the rollercoaster. I’m personally still reeling a little bit from everything that happened (though I am overly dramatic, I know).

On Wednesday, Realm as a guild ended. And then on Thursday, it didn’t. Confused? Well, it will make sense. But to explain properly, I need to go backwards.

At the end of Legion

Realm as a guild technically formed at the end of the Tomb of Sargeras raid in Legion, though was made up of people who had been raiding together already for at least a year, some even longer. We went in to Antorus as a new team, determined to get Cutting Edge Argus. Which we achieved. We also managed to be the top ranking Alliance guild on our little server, which we were pretty proud of. We ended Legion as Titanslayers- strong and ready for Battle for Azeroth.

A few weeks before BfA came out we held a guild meeting to start making plans for raiding in the new expansion. We were having troubles trying to figure out our roster as it had suddenly grown to almost 40 players – waaaay too many. We needed to make some decisions about what type of team we wanted to be so that we could build the right team. So we asked everyone what they wanted from BfA; did we want to work on mythics, but bring through lower performing players (effectively being a “friends and family” mythic raiding guild) or did we want to push harder, be tougher about who came to raid and try for faster progression. The agreement from everyone was that we wanted to push harder. We were in a good spot- we had loads of players to choose from, and we all wanted to be better.

Going in to BfA

Going in to BfA everyone (including officers and GM) were dropped to trial rank. Our GM was re-chosen to lead us all, and new Officers were voted in (myself included). We had requirements about what level people needed to be at for raid, and agreed for the first few weeks of Uldir, we’d add in an extra night of raiding to help get us ahead.

WoWScrnShot_090518_202329

Our first week of Uldir was great with us getting Heroic G’huun down, giving us Ahead of the Curve in the first week. We were pretty stoked. The following week mythic opened, and we managed to get TWO mythic bosses down in addition to a heroic re-clear, giving us a bit of time to work on mythic Zek’voz.

And then last week happened. We cleared through heroic relatively quickly, as well as re-killing the first two mythic bosses, giving us days of attempts on Zek’voz. But we struggled. We didn’t get the kill. And worse than that, we felt like we were going backwards. On Monday, we had a really bad night, with many people under-performing and even more people getting extremely frustrated at both performance and lack of progression.

Here’s the thing about mythic raiding. It’s really stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to be performing to a super high standard. If you don’t meet that standard, you make mistakes, and mistakes mean wipes. For some people (like me) I like the pressure. I like the stress of it, I like wiping and failing, because we we do win, when we nail that delicate balance and we all figure out the dance together, the victory is so worth it. I love that feeling of accomplishment when it all just falls in to place and we win as a team. I love the nerd screams. I love our failed kill screenshots. I love it all. But it is really stressful. And you have to feel like you’re getting the payoff for it to be worth it.

Monday

After our rubbish night on Monday, the Officer team had a meeting, and our GM confessed he was done. He’d had enough. For him, as GM and raid lead, the stress and pressure is multitudes higher than for anyone else, and after that night it just got too much. The payoff wasn’t worth it, and he needed to step down. At that time he wasn’t 100% decided on what to do, and our meeting was to try and figure out what we could do. Could someone else take on lead? What would be the consequences of him stepping down? Who would step up? What could we do? I went to bed that night in tears – I could see the writing on the wall, and I was devastated. I could only imagine how our GM was feeling, too 😦

Tuesday

At the end of our meeting, one of our officers (and top dps) decided it was time for him to move on to a higher progressing guild (which he has found, and I’m super happy for him). We had suggested our GM think on his decision a little more and get back to us, but on the Tuesday, we also lost a tank. Then the Wednesday morning, another dps.

I spent a lot of Tuesday talking with the GM and other officers about the whole situation. It’s always a hard decision. I won’t go in to any specifics of our conversations, but a lot of what was making the decision so difficult came down to just how much the GM loved the guild and the people in it, but also just how stressed and worn out he was with it all. Being GM and raid lead has got to be one of the most thankless tasks out there. It’s so much work and effort to keep things running. And even with officers helping with bits and pieces here and there, and with talking to the team and asking them to take issues and concerns out of raid, it doesn’t stop those things from happening. It drives me up the wall, and I only experience it a little. It’s nothing compared to what a GM has to put up with.

Wednesday – the break-up

A team meeting was held on the Wednesday night (instead of raid) and our GM announced he was stepping down as raid lead, and that the future of the raid team depended on what everyone else wanted to do. People were asked to think on it for a bit, and let us all know what their plans were – did they want to stay and try and fill in the gaps, or did they want to move on to another team. No grudges would be held, we just needed to know so a decision could be made. In the end, too many people said they would be moving on without our GM in the leadership role.

So we came back together for one last team meeting with everyone… and our GM announced there were too many people looking to move on, so this was it…. and I bawled my eyes out (as did he, the poor thing). It was a horrible, emotional moment. I was genuinely heartbroken. I’ve been in guild break-ups before (far too many, actually) and they have always been hard. But this one felt different. This one really cut deep. It really felt like a relationship breaking up. I couldn’t imagine not spending each week with these people, laughing and yelling and struggling with these people. We all had good and bad times together… I didn’t want that to end. And yet here we were.

The fallout was… interesting. Once the meeting was done, people kinda just took a breath, and then decided to go run heroic Uldir together. I was a mess and sat out, but stayed in game because I just didn’t really know what else to do. But no-one gquit or raged or ranted. Everyone was just… sad. Overnight a couple of people faction swapped to join other friends in other guilds, but it wasn’t in anger. It was quiet and kind.

I posted about it on twitter, and had so many beautiful and amazing responses of support back from people. I was genuinely overwhelmed. But still heartbroken. I went to bed that night wondering what on earth I was going to do. How was I going to find a new team? Who on earth would take a shaman to a raid right now? Did I still even want to raid? And even worse… did I still even want to play WoW anymore?

Thursday

I went to work on Thursday exhausted and mentally drained. No-one at work really understood it (one person even kind of scoffed at the situation) which didn’t really help. I felt sad, and tired, but added to that, I was also sick to my stomach. Our GM was feeling almost instant regret about the decision, and it made me feel awful. I felt I had given him bad advice about everything. (My focus was on making sure he was going to be ok with the decision he made, and to not feel guilted in to sticking around if he didn’t want to. You know my mantra – WoW is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.) Thursday morning SUCKED plain and simple. I had lost my guild, and felt like I had been a bad friend to someone who has been exceptionally kind to me. I was not having a good time.

But then Thursday afternoon happened.

Thursday afternoon, our GM logged in to game, expecting the guild to have emptied, and instead still found it full of people. They didn’t want to go. This was their home, and they wanted to stay. That coupled with our GM’s regret… and well, the guild un-broke-up. Our GM posted in our Discord a really heartwarming message saying the guild would be staying together… and then I cried again as people cheered and left sweet messages and were just everything we didn’t want to leave behind. The thing that makes this guild so special is the people in it. Sure, we all fight and bicker and give each other shit, but that’s what families do.

We went back in to finish off the heroic clear on Thursday night with a renewed sense of togetherness. We also managed to one-shot the last 3 bosses on heroic and the first mythic boss, which just goes to show how much better peoples’ performance is when they’re in a good mood! 😀

WoWScrnShot_092718_200321

The aftermath

Things seem to be calm, now. The people who had faction changed managed to have them reverted (thanks Blizzard!!!) and came back to the guild as soon as they could. We ran our usual normal run on Saturday night, which went surprisingly well. And tonight’s mythic run, though thwarted by the attendance boss (thanks NRL grand final!), was smooth and successful.

Most people understand why things got they way they did – we pushed too hard. Raiding 4 nights a week was taking it out of people. The constant feeling of pressure was overwhelming for a lot of people, and it was wearing everyone down – not just the GM, but everyone. So we’re taking a step back. We will continue to raid mythic level, with the goal of getting Cutting Edge each tier. But not at the expense of the team.

The whole thing feels like a really sappy daytime romantic comedy in a way. But whatever it was, we’ve come out the other side of it, and I feel like in a way, we’re almost a bit better for it. Those who wanted more have moved to a place they can get that progression, and everyone else back here is on the same page. I’m grateful for this crazy bunch of beautiful people. Here’s to many more raids together as a the silly, dysfunctional WoW-family we are. realm_logo_on_dark_grey

xo

Advertisements

This long weekend I said to myself that I would take things a bit easier, and get back to just enjoying WoW. Yeah, there are things I definitely need to do, but my goal for the weekend is just to make sure that I’m doing the things I love. Like explore and finish obscure achievements and what not.

One of the achievements I ticked off today was Cursed Game Hunter. I only had a goat and a shark left to kill for the achievement, so was on wowhead looking for where they were, when a related guide popped up – Hidden Secrets of Kul Tiras. I mean, of course I had to check it out.

First thing I ticked off in this guide was getting Taptaf. He’s an absolutely adorable little piggy!

WoWScrnShot_092918_132453

The in the guide I saw that there were other pets that could be purchased if certain conditions were met. Turned out I had met quite a few of those. I decided to go get Greatwing Macaw because I just love the birds! This lovely pet was available to purchase from Dana Pull in a part of Boralus we don’t really spend a lot of time in. So off I went to find Dana. Not only did I find Dana, I found heaven.

Dana is found in Boralus:

RW_map

Here’s the entrance to his shop…

RW_entrance

And inside? PUPPIES!! PUPPIES EVERYWHERE!!!!!!

RW_inside

I went around and patted EVERY.SINGLE.PUPPERS in there so they would know that I loved them all. What a magical place!!! (And yes, bought the macaw pet, too).

The NPCs in there make my heart swell, too.

It’s things like this that make World of Warcraft such a beautiful game to me. I remember seeing tweets from Blizz employees in the lead up to launch saying that their pets had been found in the PTR. It was a surprise to them, too, which is just so lovely.

There are so many things like this in BfA, too. Whilst levelling I found a couple of houses absolutely PACKED with cats! And somewhere in Zuldazar (I think!) is a flight point for Alliance that has little baby dinos that you can pet, too! And there’s so much more. It’s nice to take some time meandering around and finding these things.

 

 

How has it been a month since Battle for Azeroth launched? Holy moly time passes quickly. I suppose a bit part of that is about how completely flat out I’ve been in game. Which leads me in to the topic of this post, and the last Blog Challenge topic (I know I’m late!!) How do you level in Battle for Azeroth?

After raiding, levelling is one of my favourite things to do in game. Seeing new worlds, new NPCs, new secrets and adventures really tickles the explorer in me (and the screenshot nerd!) I love taking my time to follow random paths, hunting down treasures, killing rares, seeing new things and helping out a whole new bunch of people. And this is where we start facing some issues – the time I take to level is not conducive to being raid ready.

Being in a raid team (especially a team that wants to work on mythic bosses) means there are certain expectations. Characters are required to meet a number of requirements in time for going in to raid to make sure we are able to beat dps checks and heal all the damage going out. For our raid team, we expected everyone to have an ilvl of 340 and Azerite neck at 18 before stepping in to Uldir for the first time. (Keep in mind, 340 is the ilvl that drops from mythic 0 dungeons).

I am all for making sure that I’m raid ready. But I’m also not going to sacrifice what I think is important to me about the game. I’m in WoW to have a good time, and new expansions are a really special time for me. So I had to find a happy medium. This is what I did.

night.jpg

1. I levelled alone. Our guild had a few groups of people who were levelling together to help speed up the process. They were also generally in War Mode, which meant they could all help each other stay alive in pvp situations. I didn’t do this for a few reasons, the most important being that I hate feeling beholden to a group. I want to go *my* way, and read all the quest text and stay for all the dialogue and take a million screen shots and visit all the new NPCs in the cities. I want to be able to travel down those random paths and explore every corner of the caves. I also don’t want to hold up a group by doing all those things. I don’t expect anyone else to want to do this (and to be brutally honest, I prefer doing these things on my own).

So solo it was. Levelling solo takes longer, simply because there’s only one of you to kill all the mobs and collect all the things. But I accepted this and knew it would be the case. Which is one of the reasons I took a week of work for the launch. It meant that, even though I would take a lot longer to level up, I’d still have plenty of time to do all the things I needed to make sure I could step in to raid in a strong position.

WoWScrnShot_081518_230829.jpg2. I started in War Mode… but turned it off when I got killed the first time. (For those who don’t know – War Mode turns on world pvp, meaning people can come along and kill you out in the world. It’s not able to be turned on or off no matter what server you’re on, which is pretty awesome!!) The experience gains were too good to ignore, so I tolerated it for awhile. I ended up getting killed in Boralus, though, which made me super mad because that was my home turf! So turned it off shortly after. I managed to make it to about 118 before I turned War Mode off.  Regular readers will know that I am terrible pvp, so it’s no surprise I did this.

3. I picked a zone and stayed until I was done… mostly. I started in Drustvar, and stayed until I finished it. The main reason for starting in Drustvar is that it was suggested as a good place to start if you have mining. Which turned out to be true. My mining got maxed out very quickly indeed, which was great.

WoWScrnShot_090218_131850.jpgAnother reason I stuck around in the zone was because of how dungeons were baked in to Legion – once you finished a zone, there was a dungeon to help wrap that zone up. It helped make the story feel more complete, and gave a much better context for the dungeons overall. This turned out to be the case for Battle for Azeroth as well, with Waycrest Manor being the dungeon at the end of the zone. Knowing the story that took me there really helps me appreciate the dungeon so much more.

WoWScrnShot_090818_115020.jpg

The second zone I went to was Tiragarde Sound. By the time I got here a whole bunch of guildies were already at 120, which started getting me a bit nervous, but I continued on my merry way (though I did miss a couple of side quests in this zone.)

beemountI had about a level and a half left to get to 120, and the pressure was on. Stepping in to Stormsong Valley I made the decision to just do the main storyline so the dungeon would make sense. I dinged before I finished the zone, however kept going so that I could unlock world quests.

Also, all the zones are STUNNING, so of course I wanted to stay as long as I could!!!

Post-levelling

After all that, I think it did alright with my levelling journey. I had a wonderful time levelling, I truly did. I am absolutely adoring the expansion, and being able to take my time with it all, to read all the quests and understand what’s going made the whole experience so much better.

Now, my focus is on raiding. So I’m running dungeons and doing island expeditions and allllll the world quests to get my reputation up and collect azerite for my neck.WoWScrnShot_091318_195635.jpg

I’m honestly having a fabulous time in Battle for Azeroth. I know there are a lot of people out there who are not having the best time, and are unhappy with all the bugs… I’m trying to keep my head down. I don’t want to get weighed down with the negativity. For me, things are great! And the bugs don’t ruin my enjoyment of the game. I’m hoping with a bit of time, peoples’ frustrations will die down.


zcblogchallenge_contributor_rectangle

Last night, the first raid of Battle for Azeroth opened. Uldir is here! It’s a great looking raid. But more on that in a moment.

Before we headed off, I wanted to get a team picture of our starting team for the expansion (and thankfully my GM entertains my annoying screenshot-taking habits!). So we all got together for our first pre-raid pic. 🙂

Realm_Uldir

You might notice that’s a lot of people. Well, you’d be right. One of the biggest challenges that we have as an officer team at the moment is reducing the team numbers down to a more manageable level. Mythic only needs 20, and normal and heroic cap at 30. We have almost 40 people. Thankfully I don’t have a lot to do with really choosing who makes it to mythic and who doesn’t (other than personal observations).

But on to the raid itself!!

WoWScrnShot_090518_194241

Uldir is in Nazmir, on the Horde island of Zandalar. According to Blizz, it was an old Titan facility, where they were experimenting with the void energies that bound the Old Gods. Things did not go well, so they literally shut the door on the place and hoped no-one would notice. Genius!

I tried to get pics of all the bosses, but wasn’t always successful (darn rogues stealthing in front of the bosses!!), but here are some of them.

The overall aesthetic of the place is pretty cool. It has the titan feel that you would want and expect from something that the titans were involved with. It feels massive, but it’s designed in such a way that it doesn’t take a super long time to get from boss A to boss B.

Interestingly, the exit of the Underrot raid is apparently the entrance to this raid, so many of the Underrot aesthics are there, too. Lots of blood and decay. It really looks amazing.

So for our first night, our goal was to at least clear normal with as many people as we could. We managed to do this relatively easily, with the only real challenge being G’huun. That is a chaotic fight that did a bucket load of damage, even on normal. But it was a lot of fun, with some interesting mechanics.

Tonight we go back in to do it all again on heroic. Our goal is to clear out the whole raid on heroic to get Ahead of the Curve by the end of the lock out. I should be do-able… but we’ll see 🙂

Hope those of you stepping in to Uldir this week have a fantastic time. Let me know how you go!

Ok, ok I’m late for my own blog challenge. Oops!

For topic 37 we are sharing our first impressions of Battle for Azeroth in pictures. The challenge was 5 pictures… look, no-one thought I’d actually do just 5, right? I think I’ve done well to get it to 6, but boy have I ignored some great ones!

Before I get started, though, I will say this – the number of times I had to stop what I was doing and just look around in game because I was blown away by the experience is staggering. This expansion so far is everything that I wanted and more. It kinda makes me speechless… which does not bode well for a blog. So let’s do pictures instead!

I tried to choose the pictures that best summed up the things I loved while I levelled.

First up, the ferry system in Boralus. I am in LOVE with this! I wish the Flight Master’s Whistle could drop you off at ferry ports as well as flight paths. It’s a beautiful way to take in the city and the stunning views.

WoWScrnShot_081418_090042

Speaking of stunning views… I mean holy moly! ❤ I’m glad I could share this with Uuna 🙂 (I had her along with me the whole time I levelled. That was the deal we made in the quests to get her, and it’s a deal I plan to maintain every time).

WoWScrnShot_081518_112709

I love just how much water-themed magic there has been for the Alliance story. As a restoration shaman I’m really digging it 🙂

WoWScrnShot_081518_212204

I’m also loving all the mini-cinematics that we’re getting that feature our characters. It’s such an awesome way to make us feel like we’re really part of the game. It also made the bad things just that little bit more terrifying and heartbreaking…

WoWScrnShot_081518_230829

I also loved the little side-quests that remind us that we are living in a world where war isn’t the most pressing concern; where people still have their own lives and families to worry about. And they say ‘thank you’ in the sweetest ways.

WoWScrnShot_081718_232309

And lastly, Norwington Estate. If I could choose to live anywhere in Azeroth, this is where it would be. It has everything I love – beautiful home, mountains and ocean. Not to mention that Lord Norwington is just delightful, and there are ponies, and fireworks!!!

WoWScrnShot_082018_002445

Like I said – stunning.

Hope you’re all enjoying Battle for Azeroth!! ❤

zcbc_contributor_rectangle

It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in one of these challenges (which is pretty hilarious given I’m one half of the team that runs these things… ) I’m aiming to do better with these challenges, though, so here I am.

I chose this topic for the challenge because I wanted to see some more positive posts around the place. Pre-expansion patches are always difficult; people are upset about class changes, addons stop working for awhile… the general sense of upheaval can really get to people, and it’s been showing in the community. My hope was to see some posts that focused on the good stuff. And here is mine.

The topic is in two parts – My Top 3 Legion moments, and then What I’m most looking forward to in Battle for Azeroth.

Part 1 – My Top 3 Legion moments

Ok firstly can I just say that Legion has been absolutely incredible with the amount of content it had. We had artifacts that had class customised scenarios to go with them, class order halls and class mounts and customised quests to get them. We had 5 raids, 13 dungeons, 7 new zones, and world quests on all of them. There were pet battle dungeons, and the whole mythic plus system, and secret mounts and pets and toys to discover… there was so much to do! And it was all incredible. So choosing only 3 favourite things is really hard, guys, just know that.

Shameless plug, but a couple of weeks ago I was a guest on Rolling Restart with Rho, and we talked a lot about the amazing things Legion gave us. It was a really fun show! You can check it out right here.

But I must stick to the topic, and choose 3 favourites. So, this is what I’ve come up with.

Cutting Edge Argus

11_mythic_Argus_3840x2160

This is easily one of my highest rated moments in game. Cutting Edge kills usually are for me, because we invest so much time and energy in to getting these kills. We work our butts off and argue and cry and get frustrated, but we keep trying. Cutting Edge, for me, has always been about overcoming all of that to succeed. To kick butt. To feel accomplished. Doing that with a ridiculous and hilarious bunch of people fills me with joy, and makes me super sappy. (For what it’s worth, I re-watched that kill video again just now and it still makes me tear up. Such a good feeling!)

Cinematics

varian

Without a doubt, a huge highlight for me in Legion has been the cinematics that were so effortlessly weaved into so much of the game, from creating new characters, to levelling in each zone, and taking down raid bosses. The cinematics did such a wonderful job of pulling together all of the pieces of story in the expansion, helping us all make sense of what was happening.

I found this fantastic video on YouTube that shows all of the cinematics in Legion, from beginning to end. All up it’s nearly an hour long – how incredible is that?!?! Really puts it all in to perspective. And also reminds me of just how many times I’ve cried my eyes out in this expansion, holy moly!

Uuna

I’m going to preface this by saying that there were SO many NPCs and stories and side stories that I got attached to in Legion. Runas the Shamed in Azsuna, Ysera’s demise in Val’sharah,  Thalyssra in Suarmar and Mayla Highmountain in… well, Highmountain. All of them were so beautifully portrayed in this expansion, and made it such a wonderful story to play through. So in a way, this section is for all of those characters.

But really, one did stand out a lot. Uuna. I know I have written about her before, but this little quest line really was such a highlight for me.

WoWScrnShot_033118_203814

I loved that this wasn’t compulsory- that it wasn’t part of the main story. Though in a way, it really was. She was just one of the countless victims of the Legion. A tragically sweet and innocent victim at that. And so we go on a completely heartbreaking journey to save her from never ending darkness. Oh my gosh, it really is just so, so beautiful. I’m so glad I was able to save her. And I can’t wait to take her on my next adventure.

Part 2 – what I am most looking forward to in Battle for Azeroth

This is always a tough topic. New expansions hold so much promise. We know there’s going to be a whole bunch of new content coming. This pre-expansion content and story has already ripped our hearts out and caused so much divide in the community (not just Alliance vs Horde, either!) There’s so much to look forward to! Here are a couple of my favourite things…

Leading ladies

warbringers

Like everyone else, I have been living for the Warbringer series. Seeing the stories behind these kick ass women has been so wonderfully heartbreaking. I’m terrified, but I have faith that Blizzard are going to do these ladies justice by having amazing stories for them in Battle for Azeroth. And I can’t wait to experience it!

New Allied races – now with curves!

kt_shaman

I am absolutely with Ann here– I simply cannot wait to see the Kul’Tiran race – these ladies have curves! They got booty!

We don’t know what classes the Kul’Tiran can be yet, although it does look like they will be able to be druids given all the druid forms that have been datamined. I am really hoping they can be shaman. Firstly, so few of the allied races can be shaman at all, which is really frustrating. But more than that, I WANT TO BE KUL’TIRAN! I’ve never considered race changing from my pandaren. I love her dearly, and always will. But the Kul’Tiran… they’ve got something going on that just really sits so well with me. Maybe I will change my mind once I’ve played through the story in BfA… but for the time being, I would just love to be a kick-ass Kul’Tiran restoration shaman. *fingers crossed*

New raids

This one really goes without saying, doesn’t it? I’ve been so restless these past few weeks as the expansion has come to a close and raiding has ended. I miss it so much. I miss the challenge and the learning and fighting and tantrums. lol I cannot wait to see what Blizz has in store for us in raids in BfA!

 

So that’s my list! Do you agree? Check out what other people have put on their lists over on the main post at https://zandcindersblogchallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/28/topic-36-farewell-to-legion/.

zcblogchallenge_contributor_rectangle

It’s the eve of what is bound to be an incredible emotional day for many Alliance players (and maybe even some unsure Horde, too…). Tomorrow, Teldrassil burns.

I’ve managed to keep the story of how and why Teldrassil burns a secret- I’ve successfully avoided it in the beta and all the website, and I’m so grateful for that, because I really have no idea what’s going to happen. What I do know, though, is that it’s going to be pretty emotional.

I couldn’t go in to this pre-expansion event without saying farewell to the beautiful tree so many of us love.

Like many players, my journey in World of Warcraft started in Teldrassil. I was a night elf mage called Sylaera. It was running around those beautiful woods that got me immediately hooked on the game, and, as you can see, I’ve not looked back. So it breaks my heart that this beautiful, innocent place, is potentially being destroyed.

WoWScrnShot_071718_081208

This is where it started

(Even as I took that pic, a new toon was being created 🙂 )

There was something about this starting zone that was just so… innocent? Maybe that’s just the memories that I have attached to the area. But it was beautiful, and sweet and such a lovely way to start the WoW journey.

Darnassus as a city was always a bit confusing to me. Everything seemed to be a bit all over the place. But I tell you, the first time I walked up to those gates, I was genuinely in awe.

aWoWScrnShot_071718_080717

The giant trees guarding the gates, and how small I seemed…

I remember laughing the first time I saw the grizzly bear bank, fiercely protecting the Night Elves’ possessions.

aWoWScrnShot_071718_081522

I loved the way everything just fit in this tree. This strange world seemed so foreign to me at the time (it was my first MMO, after all!). But I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of it.

Even now, years later, I still get distracted by how gorgeous it is.

And now that’s going away. And all I can think of is “what will happen to all the people?” What about the guy digging holes, and the people having a party in the courtyard? Or all of those beautiful tree guarding the city with their lives.

I just want to hide it from everyone. Horde, you can’t see this! It’s not really here! The whole place is just so beautiful an innocent… and I know Malfurion and Tyrande are there, and in some ways that’s reason enough to set the place on fire… but like, couldn’t you just lure them out and take them down somewhere else?

Teldrassil, you are beautiful, and I hope that, even though danger is headed your way, there’s something we can do to salvage this beautiful home of yours.

teldrassil

I really love a new pre-patch. There’s something about it that makes me feel like I’ve got a clean slate. It’s a new beginning which means new opportunities to kick butt in game and have new adventures.

It’s also an opportunity to have a bit of a spring clean and a makeover, which is exactly what I’ve done. I’ve not changed a lot on my website. Most of the things I did were to prepare my raiding killshots pages for Battle for Azeroth and archive the Legion ones. I also changed some pictures and some slight changes to the landing page. The biggest difference, though, is my new site logo!

cinder_totem_logo

website

Back when I became a twitch affiliate I needed to get some sub emotes designed. Of course I immediately thought of the incredible Sirius, and commissioned her to make some totem emotes (which are absolutely ADORABLE by the way!!) I loved them so much that when it came time to spruce up my blog a bit, I decided to use them here, too. (and you guys should absolutely check out Sirius’ art on her website over at https://supersirius.net)

The biggest changes, though, were on my twitch stream.I’d been wanting a change for a little while, and the launch of Battle for Azeroth’s pre-patch was as good an excuse as any.

I found a neat theme that I liked that was also highly customisable called Stonefire from Nerd or Die. I just love it. (Helped that it was super decently priced, too!!) I made the theme a deep blue to show my Alliance allegiance.

Obviously it looks better when it’s live because it’s all animated, but you get the idea 🙂

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been busy with over the past week or so. That and, of course, getting used to all the class changes. As of writing this, there’s just over 3 weeks to go until Battle for Azeroth launches for real!!! I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!

xo

Here’s where you will find the complete collection of screen shots and videos of Realm’s raiding adventures in Battle for Azeroth.

Stream VoDs can be found at https://www.twitch.tv/cinder_streams/videos/all

Realm_Uldir

ready to raid Uldir!

 Uldir

[2] Mythic MOTHER

2.mythic_MOTHER

Mythic MOTHER

[1] Mythic Taloc

Mythic_Taloc

Mythic Taloc

[0] Ahead of the Curve: G’huun (first week!!)

AOTC_Ghuun

Ahead of the Curve: G’huun – huzzah!

 

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
– Emily Dickinson

I’ve had this poem swimming around in my head ever since I read the latest official Warcraft novel, ‘Before the Storm’ by Christie Golden. Every time I think about the book, I keep thinking about hope, and what it means to lose it. And what becomes of the person who does.

~*~*~SPOILER ALERT for ‘Before the Storm’ and some Legion-end specific content.~*~*~

before_the_storm_coverIt was the latest episode of the Rolling Restart podcast during which Rho and Ben Bumhoffer talked about their opinions on the book that I got to thinking about my own thoughts and where I thought it was all going. (Side note: Rolling Restart is one of my favourite podcasts, by the way. Comes out every fortnight, and Rho gets some awesome people on to talk about random things.)  And it was during that podcast that I realised I had ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ in my head since finishing the book.

For me, ‘hope’ was such a prevalent theme throughout the book: Sylvanas’ hope for the future of her people, the forsaken, and Anduin’s undying hope for peace between the factions are the two first obvious instances. But it went so much deeper than that. Magni’s hope that Azeroth herself would survive; Grizzek and Sappronetta’s hope for each other… everyone’s hope that Azeroth might survive, and the people living upon its earth would see out their days in peace.

Isn’t it hope that keep us going each day? That gives us a reason to wake up in the morning and go about our day? Hope that, if things are not good, they will get better; or if things are well, they stay that way? I feel like every part of this book played with the notion of hope; what it means to have it, and what happens to those who lose it.

And I suppose that’s why I keep coming back to this poem.

Anduin

World_of_Warcraft_Battle_for_Azeroth_Anduin

One of the criticisms I have seen of the book has been the character of Anduin and his relentless pursuit of peace. As if peace is a weakness, a youthful innocence that is not becoming of a king, and something to be ashamed of. As if wanting to be good and happy and kind, and wanting that for others, are character flaws. They are not. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. How strong must your heart be to believe everyone is capable and worthy of happiness? How sturdy your soul to know peace is possible? And how brave must you be to feel all of this, when your own heart has just been broken in the most horrific way. The fact that Anduin is still capable of love and compassion and hope after everything he has been through (not just the recent obliteration of his father) is a testament to his resilience as a human being.

There’s a nobility in being able to see past the darkness around you to give light to others. And it’s for this reason I believe Anduin is one of the strongest people in the Warcraft universe. But it is also for this reason that I am terrified for him.

Until now, Anduin has embodied the theme of the poem- his hope is deep inside him, and it sings, sings, sings. But it’s this line that troubles me:

And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird

‘Sore must be the storm’. In a very literal way, we know a storm is coming because the book is quite literally called Before the Storm. We also know a storm is coming because it’s what triggers events in Battle for Azeroth. But what else will it trigger? Will Anduin’s little bird of hope be ‘abashed’? Or worse, silenced?

There were so many times that I cried during the reading of this book. I felt like my heart kept getting broken over and over again. Most of the time it was because it seemed like Anduin was being repeatedly punished for his hope. I cried as he publicly said goodbye to his father, and then as his servent, Wyll, passed away, and especially so when he watched in horror as the hopes of his people were destroyed and their family members murdered. Each betrayal would be enough for most people to crumble. But he just.kept.going. And still, at the end of the book, there his hope is, singing away.

But what if what is to come is too much? What if it’s the last that his hope can take? What becomes of someone like that? Well, I think they start to become like my other favourite character…

Sylvanas

World_of_Warcraft_Battle_for_Azeroth_Sylvanas

I am not saying Sylvanas is without hope. Far from it. In some ways she is almost just as hopeful as Anduin. Maybe even more. Because if you want to talk about a survivor, Sylvanas is the Queen of them. There are few people in Azeroth who have been through and seen what Sylvanas has. She has literally been born and reborn and reborn again, and that changes a person. (Quite literally in Sylvanas’ case). Sylvanas could never have become the Queen she is today if she were without hope.

But Sylvanas has a different kind of hope. To go back to the bird analogy, I think Sylvanas’ hope is a screeching bird- Loud. Constant. Desperate. It’s a bird that’s weathered the storm.

One of the things Ben said in the Rolling Restart podcast was about Sylvanas being protective of her people. Almost like a mother. It’s a great thought, because what is more fierce, more determined, than a mama bear protecting her family? It’s this protective nature that seems to drive so many of Sylvanas’ actions. She wants only to keep her people safe. The difference with her hope, though, is the way she strives to achieve this. That desperate bird calling inside her is why she takes such drastic, and sometimes cruel actions to do what she believes is right for her people.

In a way it even explains why she was such a cold-hearted bitch to her own people as they prepared to meet their still-living family members. She wants to help them, to let them ‘live’ forever. To give them a future better than the extended rot they face. She knows that if her peoples’ families reject them, they will have to live with that for the rest of their lives… and she doesn’t want that for them. She is desperate to protect them from their own hope. The trouble will be if she becomes desperate for them to love her… but that’s another topic for another day.

When we talk about criticisms of Before the Storm, most of them are around how Sylvanas is portrayed in the book, as being another villain; another Garrosh to defeat at the end of Battle for Azeroth. I find it disappointing that people are not looking deeper than this… but again perhaps another topic for another day. Suffice to say, if people believe Sylvanas to be so one-dimensional, they are missing some of the most interesting parts of her character. We need to remember- she’s not human. Her reasoning is different. Her motivations are different. Her hope…

It’s Sylvanas’ hope for her peoples’ future that makes me believe that it’s entirely possible for her to talk away from them so that they may be lead by the new ‘undead-but-in-a-pretty-way’ Calia Menethil. I don’t know how this would happen, but I believe it’s possible. I believe Sylvanas could sacrifice herself, knowing her people could be taken care of by Calia, who is now one of them.

Or maybe I’m wrong, and Calia’s situation will be the final straw for Sylvanas, and will tip her over the edge of being protective, and becoming all out vindictive instead. (An Undead divided, even?)

Regardless of what is to come, what Before the Storm did for me was show me just how much Sylvanas loves her people, and how her hope for them and their future is what motivates her. And even though I don’t agree with her methods, even though I cried my heart out as she had her own people murdered… I understand. Her hope still screams.

After Before the Storm

I feel like I could write about this book for days. How I became an emotional wreck reading it. How I loved the interracial relationship, and how I held my breath as they fought to survive. How I felt like I was being punched in the gut over and over again.

But I won’t.

Instead, I’m going to read it again. Because I really, really enjoyed this book. But most of all… most of all I felt proud of my King, I felt a better understanding of the Banshee Queen and I am full of hope that Battle for Azeroth is going to rip my heart out again with an amazing story.

 

~*This post contains pictures and information relating to the Battle for Azeroth Alpha. If you don’t want to know or see anything relating to Alpha, please turn away now~*

EDIT: MArch 16 – a new build went up last night with a couple of changes that will hopefully address some points below, so expect a follow up post in the future! Also, had a lovely reader remind me of the existence of Frost Shock, so I need to look at how I’m incorporating that into the rotation, as that might help with somethings, too.

Battle for Azeroth Alpha has been out for a little while now. I’ve been super lucky to get an invitation to the Alpha, so have been spending the past few weekends slowly making my way through the content, giving feedback and comments and reporting bugs and what not, to try and find all the little things that might need fixing before the game goes live. I’ve been streaming my adventures (you can check out some of the videos over on my twitch channel twitch.tv/cinder_streams). All I can say is BfA is going to kick BUTT. It’s flippin’ STUNNING.

rainbow_edited

THERE’S A RAINBOW!!!!! ❤

Anyways….

So, of course I’ve been doing all of this initial levelling as a pandaren shaman on the Alliance side. I’ve been trying out elemental and a little of restoration. I wanted to write a little bit about the elemental side of things first, because that’s what I’ve been doing most of all.

NOTE: I am absolutely not a theorycrafter. I don’t sim anything, I go by gut, and am not at all an expert on elemental shamans in any way, shape or form. And obviously as this is Alpha, everything I write here today may be completely different tomorrow. 

For the most part, elemental shamans haven’t changed an awful lot. A lot of the same spells and talents are there, just shifted around a bit. (You can see all the spell/talent changes on wowhead here.) There are some spells we have back (welcome back Tremor Totem and Earth Shield!!!), but the overall approach is the same:

Cast spells to generate maelstrom

Cast spells to spend maelstrom

But whilst the approach is the same, getting there is a little different, and it’s lead to a very different, much slower elemental shaman, with very little variance and choice in game play.

Flame Shock

Firstly, Flame Shock is back to having a cooldown of 6 seconds, and is a baseline of 15 seconds on the target with no maelstrom cost. (i.e. It no longer increases duration based on maelstrom spent, as Flame Shock no longer costs maelstrom to cast. It’s worth noting that wowhead currently says that it does change the duration of the dot based on maelstrom, however in game this is not the case.). On the plus side you can cast Flame Shock on the pull (though you could do this in Legion too). The down side is that you can’t multi-dot more than 2 targets anymore. Unfortunately this has sometimes meant that Lava Surge procs have gone to waste on a non-Flame Shocked target, as the target with Flame Shock on them has died before the cooldown on the spell came up again to cast it on a new target, followed by the proc. This might not sound like a big deal, but Lava Burst does almost the same amount of damage as Lightning Bolt does without a crit and only generates 2 more maelstrom for its trouble, so you really want it to crit to make it worth your while.

Essentially this just means that we need to more careful about which targets get Flame Shock on them, making sure they’re going to stay alive for the duration of the spell so that we have a debuffed target to push Lave Surge procs into. The cooldown on Flame Shock also means that we’re getting fewer Lava Surge procs overall, which means getting those crit-buffed hits even more important.

So far, I miss being able to multi-dot adds for the multiple procs of Lava Surge… which is probably the reason they took that ability away. It’s just something I’m going to have to adjust to. I will say, though, that I do miss the ability to control the length of the dot on a target by choosing to spend extra maelstrom on a longer dot. It made me feel like I had some control over my spell choices.

Earth Shock

Earth Shock has also been reverted to an earlier version of itself, with the scaled damage based on maelstrom spent affect no longer in place. Instead, Earth Shock costs 60 maelstrom, and does a flat rate of damage. This has been the hardest adjustment for me. Two things that bother me with this reversion.

Firstly, a personal preference – when a mob is about to die, I would rather cast an instant 10 maelstrom cost earth shock than spend almost 2 seconds casting Lightning Bolt. Lightning Bolt is overkill at that point, and feels like a waste of time. So for me it makes killing mobs slower (especially if they manage to interrupt your cast.)

Secondly, tying in to the set maelstrom cost, sometimes it feels like it takes a REALLY long time to get enough maelstrom generated to use Earth Shock. And what’s worse- it’s extremely underwhelming. When you’re standing there not getting Lava Surge procs and just casting Lightning Bolt for ages, it’s a real slap in the face when you finally get that moment to cast Earth Shock and it hits like a wet noodle. Damage aside, it doesn’t have a satisfying animation or anything associated with it. (This animation has been true for Legion, but at least on live Earth Shock can hit like a truck, so it still feels satisfying).

Overall, Earth Shock is my biggest gripe for the class at the moment, and where I would really like to see some changes made, if possible.

Maelstrom generation

As I mentioned in the Earth Shock section, it can take a long time to generate maelstrom. I find the vast majority of my time is spent casting Lightning Bolt (in between Healing Surges to keep myself alive!) which, to be honest, just gets a bit boring. Part of the issue with lack of Flame Shocks giving Lava Surge procs is that it contributes to this slower maelstrom generation… it’s a vicious cycle. And again, once you spent all this time and effort building your maelstrom, to have the “finisher” be underwhelming just doesn’t make it feel worth it.

The talent Aftershock helps with this – Your spells refund 30% of all Maelstrom spent on them – but it does come at the cost of being in place of Storm Elemental and Liquid Magma Totem, and if we were in a single target fight, we’d be choosing Storm Elemental, because building up to a weak Earth Shock isn’t going to be as strong (though of course this would need to be simmed- getting out a few more Earth Shocks may end up being a damage increase over the damage

Another new talent that has come in, Molten Fury (Lava Surge now also causes Lava Burst to generate 50% more Maelstrom) may also be a nice help, though it would rely on being able to get lots of Lava Surge procs to be useful. Going against this talent most of all, though, is that it’s on the same line now as Elemental Blast, which is so embedded in elemental shaman gameplay it should just be baseline now.  (side note: Elemental Blast is still very satisfying, and at the moment does some nice damage. If this is reduced, however, this talent line will need some thought).

Lastly there is High Voltage, which is most likely the best choice to help generate more maelstrom – Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning can now cause a second Elemental Overload. The downside to this talent is that it’s not consistent, it’s RNG based, so the proc rate will determine how effective this will be (Elemental Overload helping to generate additional maelstrom through the extra hit it does).

It comes down to this: there are now only 2 spells for the spec that cost maelstrom – Earth Shock and Earthquake – there is no variance in their strength based on the maelstrom spent, and it takes a long time to be able to cast them at all, so they really need to be worth it.

AoE

Chain Lightning is everyone’s favourite spell in game (right?), and it’s still beautiful in BfA. But the damage reduction done to it is striking. Currently on live Chain Lightning hits for just a little less than Lightning Bolt. On Alpha, it hits for half the damage of Lightning Bolt, and generates less maelstrom per target hit. What I’ve noticed so far is that if you’ve got 5 mobs or more, this is fine. However anything less and you wonder why you’re there at all, and start cursing your fat panda butt for pulling those extra mobs. (Also, you’re probably dead because you’re so damn squishy).

Then there’s earthquake. Earthquake has had its cost increased to 75 maelstrom, making it pretty expensive to cast. Thankfully (at the moment) it seems to be worth it. But again, because of the high cost, you’re going to want a decent number of mobs (assuming Earth Shock gets some better damage going on).

For the most part, I found it difficult to AoE effectively during levelling unless there were about 5 “normal” health mobs. Chain Lightning + Earthquake was usually enough to get them down reasonably well. However anything from 2-4 mobs, or if there was an elite thrown in there at all, it was actually quite difficult to deal with, and would generally kill me. The maelstrom would take too long to generate so earthquake would take longer to get down, by which time I was pretty damaged myself. (Tell you what, I’ve never used my stun totem so much before!!!). Liquid Magma Totem is still available as a talent, which is nice. Again, though, it’s going to be better with large mob sizes rather than small. So we fine ourselves in this weird place with mobs of 2-4.

Movement

I’ve griped a lot in the past about how much movement really impacts being an elemental shaman. In fights with movement in them, our dps is punished pretty badly. In the past Blizz have done things to help deal with this: we’ve been able to cast Lightning Bolt on the move, or, as in the case of Legion, our Shocks not having cooldowns or maelstrom cost limitations; it wasn’t always ideal to reapply a flame shock dot on a target if it were a lower maelstrom, but it still felt like you were able to do something as you were moving from point A to point B so that was nice.

In Alpha, we have nothing that can be cast on the move unless Earth Shock has been charged up or Flame Shock is off cooldown. Relying on Lava Surge procs is also down given how much harder it is to multi-dot mobs. And to rub salt into the wound, Gust of Wind has been removed as a talent (zomg not my fart talent!!), so we can’t even quickly dash to get to Point B so we can start casting again. For me personally, I can deal with one or two of these things being in place, but it does feel quite punishing having all of these things combined.

There are talents that can help with this a bit, but it does lock us in to them if there’s a big chunk of movement. You could take Spirit Wolf (While transformed into a Ghost Wolf, you gain 5% increased movement speed and 5% damage reduction every 1 sec, stacking up to 4 times). There’s also Stormkeeper, which is the watered down Elemental Shaman artifact replacement talent – Charge yourself with lightning, causing your next 2 Lightning Bolts or Chain Lightnings to be instant cast and trigger an Elemental Overload on every target. If you know damage is coming, Stormkeeper can be pre-cast to assist with this. And whilst this does sound very good and reasonable, the kicker is that it’s on the same talent line as Ascendance, so you loose a big CD to gain essentially 2 casts on the run.

Something has to give here, though. Having to choose movement talents over CDs is a bit of a blow, really.

On being squishy

Oh my goodness the squishiness! To be fair, this is usually an issue when levelling as elemental shamans at the best of times. Except at the moment, because damage is underwhelming, it feels worse because things have the time to actually kill you. It’s extremely frustrating. It does feel like I spend more of my time healing myself than damaging enemies, which makes for very depressing game play. It doesn’t feel satisfying when you defeat a boss; you just feel bloody relieved that it didn’t kill you first. Like I mentioned above, having stun totems are very helpful, for sure, and having Earth Shield is nice, too! But I still die a lot.

Overall thoughts

At the moment, I’m not thrilled. The changes (minor as they may seem) when added together have made the spec feel extremely slow, and very punishing if we need to move. The slow maelstrom generation, and the lack of ability to just ping off the last bit of health on a mob makes the overall gameplay quite stilted- I’m spending far too much of my time casting Lightning Bolt before I’m able to do anything else. And that just gets boring.

When it boils down to it, the changes have made it so that the class no longer has choices to make when playing. I don’t get to choose between, for example, putting a longer dot on a target or doing a big Earth Shock; I don’t get to choose if I’m going to earthquake these 3 mobs or dot them up with Flame Shocks first to try and force some Lava Surge procs; I don’t get to choose if I’m going to drop a little Flame Shock on my target as I move- I’m either going to do nothing at all while we move, or I’m going to stand still and piss my healers off by finishing a cast before moving at all.

What I would to see is some flexibility put back into the spec. I want to think a bit about what I’m doing while I’m playing. I don’t want to feel like I’m spamming ‘1’ all the time for Lightning Bolt. I want to feel strong; I want to feel like my spell choices matter.

Don’t get me wrong, none of this is the end of the world… but it does have me looking at other dps classes kinda seriously for the first time since becoming a shaman, and I really don’t like that.

WoWScrnShot_022318_192201

So darn beautiful

 

So those are my thoughts at the moment on Elemental Shamans. What do you think of the changes? Do they suit you? Or would you like to see some different changes made?

 

%d bloggers like this: