World of Warcraft: Pre-Throne of Thunder Raids Loot System Broken After Patch 5.3?

I noticed something once patch 5.3 came in: the loot drop rate feels like they’re back before patch 5.2. I don’t know if Blizzard has bothered testing whether or not the loot drop rate is still at the new level but it’s pretty bad again. Hopefully, enough players will complain to Blizzard because I’m seeing very poor results. Either that or Blizzard bate and switched most of us after the first week or so when the drop rate fix was in place. Since there’s no way of seeing how the rolls are handled, it’s impossible to accuse Blizzard of cheating (which is what I feel is going on to get more people to play).

That said, I still advocate some sort of icon to indicate the bad luck streak buff. At least it would indicate to us our increased chances. Right now, there’s no way of seeing how bad we’re performing. Having that icon would help a great deal and put a little more faith into this mysteriously bad loot system.

World of Warcraft: Boss Mechanics, Farming and LFR

When patch 5.2 hit, I felt that the game went in the wrong direction, hence why I quit for a bit. One thing I noticed about the fights were the general increasing complexity. While making fights more interesting can be a good thing, I think the developers are wrong because they don’t really understand their audience that well.

The biggest issue involved in pugging in general is not knowing the other members of your group. This can be extremely detrimental since you have varying degrees of knowledge in a fight. With the various personalities in a pug, you have to cater to the lowest common denominator. I’ve stated this on numerous occasions and apparently the developers over at Blizzard just don’t have a clue. The fact that they have to include a ton of nerfs demonstrates that they cannot gauge the level of their audience and work on a responsive level as opposed to a proactive level.

With that in mind, the biggest issue is that LFR can be quite daunting to the uninitiated. People view it as a tool to get in and get out. As a result, you really need to have a baseline in terms of standards/guidelines in designing encounters to ensure that people don’t get easily frustrated and leave. Right now, I seriously doubt that they have any kind of guiding principles for the way LFR works and I feel that’s hurting game play quite a bit.

The first issue I think in the design is that there’s no introduction mode. Technically, LFR is now considered “easy” or the introduction mode to raiding. But for me, LFR still pretty much requires you to read up on fights or watch videos. This is a MONSTROUS issue when it comes to new players who do not spend the time reading every little tidbit or playing on the PTR to get ahead. And Blizzard needs to start assuming that the people entering LFR won’t be doing these activities.

Blizzard partly attempted to cure this problem through the creation of the Dungeon Journal. The Dungeon Journal is a perfect example of how awful World of Warcraft’s interface is. First of all, who really is going to sit in an instance reading a lengthy doctrine? No one really cares if a monster does 100k damage or if they receive a 20k DOT. If a person doesn’t bother reading WoWHead nor checking youtube videos, why would they even bother attempting to read a novel in the midst of an encounter?

The Dungeon Journal really is only useful for people who do normal raiding, but at the LFR level it’s honestly junk and a cheap, wasted effort by Blizzard. Something better would’ve been adding small video clips for each ability so that players can at least preview what a certain ability looks like. They already do this in Starcraft 2 where you can see small clips of upgradable abilities for your units, so it’s not like Blizzard does not have the technology nor technique to add this into the game.

Also, why not have a tutorial mode that people can toggle on/off for the first time? Some people will point to add-ons like Deadly Boss Mods for handling these situations. But Deadly Boss Mods only acts as an alert. It doesn’t really tell you what to do most of the time. Second, you can’t assume that people have Deadly Boss Mods installed.

People might complain “well if you offer a tutorial mode then that’ll dumb the game down even further!” That’s not the point. The point is that there isn’t anything that allows an individual to easily be slotted into an LFR situation. If the game was just tank and spank with a few “move the fuck out of the way” type of scenarios, I would agree with this assessment. But the problem is that the game is adding more mechanics that really are just confusing and don’t work in first time situations. The Durumu encounter is a perfect example as well as Lei Shen. While Lei Shen should have some level of challenge, the Durumu encounter when it first came out just was horribly thought out. Part of the problem again in those encounters is that they simply are really confusing for the first time or two (and honestly, if I were Blizzard I would fire the people who created those encounters and ensure that they never can return to the industry ever again).

Another aspect that I noticed is that the game is just becoming a huge clusterfuck. It’s like the developers over at Blizzard snorted a ton of coke just before coming up with these ideas (better start taking urine samples of your employees Blizzard!) I mean, there’s just too many effects going on. Sometimes the game gets so bad because of the ancient engine that’s attempting to keep up along with all the other shit going on that my game just boots me out. And I know I’m not the only one. Then when I heard about color blind people having issues with the Durumu encounter, I realized that Blizzard really has been inconsiderate towards their disabled audience. I think part of the problem with the game is that there’s just too much shit going on. It’s not really epic; it’s more like a stupid MTV video. Epic fights to me are like Minas Tirith in Return of the King. This is more like GI Joe the Movie or a Michael Bay movie where you had all types of explosions occurring all at once but never having the ability to digest anything. It’s not really enjoyable but just a big fucking mess.

But you see, I wouldn’t complain so much about the way these encounters are designed if they weren’t meant to be farmed. This is where the game loses a lot of the appeal. Tank and spank works nicely for farming because it’s intended to be mindless. But going through these encounters week after week and not getting the loot to progress further is where I feel the game really demotivates a lot of people. Add to the fact that the groups you’re with changes constantly and you’ll slowly find that there’s not a lot of positive to the game.

For me, the Sha of Fear and Grand Empress Shek’zeer were perfect for LFR. The mechanics weren’t bad, the fights were mostly reasonable and there wasn’t a lot to really assume for your group. They weren’t the most fun fights but they didn’t demand a lot for someone just joining. You could fuck up with one or two people and still finish without too much frustration.

Again the thing to me about creating encounters is understanding how to create a mix of fun, challenge, timing and understanding of how random groups of people deal with each other. I think most people just want to mindlessly zerg and pull DPS out of their pants.

World of Warcraft: How I Plan to Gear My Druid from Boomkin to Feral and Other Gearing Thoughts

My druid is pretty decently geared as a boomkin. Having just won one of the Sha Touched weapons and some tier gloves, she’s pretty much ready to go for the new LFR. However, there are times when I just simply prefer to play her as feral. However, I haven’t spent as much time on that side by comparison. She does have a decent weapon and a few items here and there to go as feral but it’s still pretty underwhelming.

That all said, do I go through the same painful process of gearing once again? In short, no. Since LFR drops gear according to your spec, I simply will switch specs and use my feral gear to compensate.  Since people are outgearing Mogu’shan vaults and pretty much doing well at it, I could easily get into part 1 and 2 in an attempt to pick up some spare gear. I think once she has enough pieces, I’ll start doing more dailies as a feral and see if I can pick up some elder charms for extra rolls here and there.

I’m looking forward to switching though. Boomkin just hasn’t been all that fun for me. The only thing I’ve liked as a boomkin is her channeled AoE ability. However, even with 480 ilvl gear, I’m finding my DPS lacking, especially in heavy movement fights. Also, in looking at the DPS meters, it seems that feral is pulling ahead. Although the rotation for feral can be confusing and difficult with the energy regeneration issues, it simply might be better overall to make the switch and then use the boomkin spec on the side.

The great thing is that as a boomkin, I really don’t need anything from Mogu’shan vaults anymore except maybe an offhand or trinket. But that’s really not important at this stage. I suppose if I manage to acquire enough pieces, I might even try Heart of Fear part 1 and see if I can pick up anything as a feral.

As I continue to hit the older LFRs and receive occasional loot, the thing that I’m thinking is that it might be better if I spend more effort building my toons up via leveling and working on older content rather than the more current LFRs. The wait times are still pretty atrocious with the new Throne of Thunder wing released today and the loot drop rate is going to be pretty bad even with the re-roll opportunities. However, when the next raid tier comes out, I’m certain that the Throne of Thunder raid will improve the loot drop rate. If that’s the case, why not just horde tokens until the next tier is released?

Anyway, I might give the new LFR another try this week. I still have to push three of my guys through the first one. So that should give me plenty of practice as I bring up more toons.


World of Warcraft: Last Stand of the Zandalari LFR Experience

Just got done with the latest LFR wing for the new Throne of Thunder raid. Immediately, after entering people started dying. I couldn’t tell if I entered in the middle, end or what. Fortunately, I started from the beginning because I would’ve gotten really pissed in having to wait another 40+ minutes. For my first run, I decided to use my hunter since being a ranged, it’s easier to see the various mechanics from a distance.

The trash pulls really vary. I would say the first section felt tougher perhaps because someone could’ve pulled more than we were able to handle. We did manage to survive though. Most of the area is just a bunch of trash mobs. Some felt like a mini boss in the sense that there were a few interesting mechanics, but not more than one at a time.

For the first boss, Jin’rokh the Breaker, it’s considered a DPS check. The mechanics on this fight aren’t too bad in LFR. The main two issues are making sure your group is in the water when it’s not electrified and moving away from the raid if you have a charge. I believe what happens is that there’s essentially for pools of water, all of which offer a buff to healing and DPS. One after another, each of the pools become electrified for the remainder of the fight. I think if you are unable to down the boss in time, all the pools get electrified, which is basically a raid wipe/enrage type of timer.

Moving on, you get a really annoying group of bridges which have the push back mechanic. Smart tanks will bring the adds towards the stairs. Fighting the adds on the bridge is pretty much suicide since you’ll probably be blown off. Once you clear this area, you race across the bridge, making sure you avoid any of the hovering adds. I believe these can blow you off so don’t chance it.

The second boss of the instance is pretty tough I would say. You encounter Horridon, which more or less is a giant add fight for the most part, intermixed with dealing with shit on the ground and positioning yourself so that you avoid he frontal and rear sweep attacks. What makes this encounter tough is the amount of movement involved where you need to watch the ground while making sure you don’t get hit by anything Horridon throws at you.

The part that can get really chaotic is when the adds jump down. You’ll face a gauntlet of four arena doors that will periodically spawn adds. The main thing to watch for is the Dinomancer, which has to be your number one priority as a DPS. Two things to know about the Dinomancer is that he’s capable of casting a heal. So you need to interrupt that. Second and most importantly, after downing him, he drops something that allows you to close the door and prevent adds from the section from further spawning. One thing to note is that the adds in each area differ in capability. Some of the adds like the spellcasters I found to be more annoying but it did take me off guard.

Once you close off all four wings, the troll god comes down and you DPS him down. That part isn’t really that bad and goes by quickly. After you get rid of him, Horridon goes into a slight frenzy, making him deal more damage. However, by now the most difficult aspect is complete, so you pretty much just have to focus on the boss. I felt that it ended up becoming a tank and spank by this point.

Finally, you’ll get to the council. This can be a pretty crazy fight. I would call it an even bigger clusterfuck than Horridon. With four “council” members up, each possessing different abilities and various things spawning on the ground as well as adds, you’ll have your work cut out for you. While the mechanics themselves aren’t impossible, the difficulty comes in with the constant target switching and dealing with stuff on the ground. It’s pretty much a priority fight where you’ll find yourself switching constantly as well as working with a fairly tight area.

In our raid, we got to some interesting situations like when one member was under possession but another member was really down in health. Unlike bosses like the Will of the Emperor, the council members DO NOT share a common health pool. So you pretty much have to down each one individually. In that sense, I think it was a good call for us to nuke the member who was furthest down on health rather than switching. The main reason being that it’s just one group of abilities less to deal with.

I believe we did wipe once on Horridon and twice on Council. Probably, once people gear up better and weeks pass, the fights will increasingly go smoother. However, so far the challenge is pretty decent all things considered.

My main two concerns right now are the queue times and the general direction of LFR. The last two fights probably were on par with the difficulty of Madness of Deathwing in the sense. I think the difficulty was understanding what to do and when. But I felt that some aspects are not going to be fun farming going forward. It felt as though a layer or two should be removed at this level. I am glad that they added the Persistence buff because trying to go through that over and over again would drive me batty.

I didn’t end up winning anything, even with using my re-rolls. That was pretty disheartening since the repair cost was pretty high and the wait time frustratingly long. In turn, with the increase in drops for the pre-patch 5.2, I started to think that perhaps it would be far more efficient to focus on gearing my toons who lack 480+ ilvl and level the rest of my guys, then wait for the next raid patch. I mean, if we see the gear drop improve in the same way as it did for the previous raids, why not just wait?

The only benefit I can think of for consistently doing LFRs are getting the reputation. Your first clear will get you to friendly. In turn, that allows you to pick up either bracers or a trinket for valor. So if you’ve been unlucky with drops, then pushing forward in using the reputation vender gear might be worth doing still. But I don’t know if doing dailies for the coins to do re-rolls might be worth it at this stage. I guess considering all the repair cost you’ll be facing, you might as well do something. That or quest while waiting for the queue.


World of Warcraft: Patch 5.3 and 5.4 Speculation

Recently, it was announced that patch 5.2 would be the last major content patch that updates the Pandaren environment. The focus here on out will be the war between the alliance and the horde. It was also announced that patch 5.3 will be similar to patch 5.1 in being a smaller content release while 5.4 more than likely will see a major raid.

With those hints, we can start to speculate on what these two next patches will look like. One thing for certain is that we will not see anymore Heroics for the remainder of this expansion. My guess is that 5.4 will end up being the Siege on Orgrimmar where both the alliance and horde battle against Garrosh Hellscream. Quite possibly, it’ll be the last major patch before Blizzcon and possibly lead the way to what might be the next expansion that I assume will be announced at Blizzcon.

5.3 is something that might not be much at all. I can’t see them adding yet another daily hub. Already, we’ve got quite a bit and for anyone just coming in, it’ll be pretty tough completing each daily quest on top of a new daily hub. A friend of mine suggested that we will finally see the item squishing. Some people have speculated over this aspect in the game, but I have a feeling that this might not ever be handled. I think the problem is that the numbers between expansions have risen exponentially and reducing everything at this point would be a futile exercise.

It’s possible that they could still add things like scenarios to provide a lead into the new patch. However, scenarios by themselves are not all that exciting. I can’t see them doing a few scenarios and making them repeatable without adding substantial rewards. They would have to provide something like the new Treasure Room scenario to make it worth the effort for players to re-run.

But I think the patch everyone will be most interested in is 5.4. Everything is pointing to the epic battle with Garrosh Hellscream at this point. 5.1 demonstrated the obvious tension between each of the leaders (except for Sylvanus, but we already had seen their mutual dislike in Silverpine Forest, especially with Garrosh directly calling her a bitch). While it’s been known for sometime that the last raid will be Garrosh Hellscream, the real thing we should be asking is: why?

I’m not talking about what makes him a leader that no one respects and most hate. But how do we go from what could’ve been a great leader as demonstrated at the final quest in Stormtalon Mountains, to an irredeemable prick that even Green Jesus starts to take issue with?

The answer for me lies all around with all the various hints dropped during the expansion. For instance, we saw the orc when you first land possessed by the spirit of the Sha as well as the second greeting with the Pandaren after you slay the captain that was similarly possessed by a Sha. Then there was the cryptic message the Klaxxi gives you when you reach exalted with them in saying that the gods aren’t the gods we suspect. In short, one must question if all these elements are related, including Garrosh Hellscream.

The other thing we need to ask is what role does the Panderan play in all of this? They act neutral for the most part. However, the mural after the epic encounter in The Jade Forest alludes possibly to how the Sha operate and manifest through anger and hatred. Lorewalker Cho seems to best understand how the Sha operates and probably will use his role to teach us of the consequences of our own anger.

More than that though, we still need to answer or return to the question of: “Why do we fight?” Is it the same as the Panderan where we do such because we are protecting our homes? Everyone outside of Garrosh seem to fall under this side of the equation.

So the question becomes, “Why does Garrosh fight?” Or better yet, is Garrosh whom we think he is? Or is he possessed by the Sha? Or better yet, is he the Sha or some ancient deity that has blinded us?

I think from a logical point of view, Garrosh will turn out to be a Sha manifestation or at least a Sha who possessed Garrosh a while back. Doing this storyline would help explain the different skins between Nagrand, Northrend and from Cataclysm onward. It would also explain his inexcusable blood thirsty nature (although the other part is obviously attributed to his connection to his father who was tainted).

Still, will Blizzard make Garrosh a redeemable hero in the aftermath? Would all this lead up becoming a tragedy where we see only at the end that he was not in control over himself?

Or could Blizzard pull something even more complex off such as him explicitly desiring the power of the Mogu’shan and having visions that helped shape his route to Pandera. Perhaps, he could be a willing agent, someone who learned about the Sha and found ways to contact them in exchange for great power.

I think if we go for my first proposed scenario, it would make for an excellent lead in to the next expansion. I feel that as our toons approach level 100, one of the main goals in the game should be a way for characters to essentially become or gain similar power to gods. Having Garrosh possessed by an ancient spirit and showing that the Sha manifestations are all part of a greater and more powerful species provides a great story lead in as the characters elevate themselves.

The other big thing is how the game will eventually end. Although PVP will always exist in some form, the bigger question is will the alliance and horde always fight each other? Does this expansion and the possibility of being forced to fight gods and those of supernatural power suggest that both sides permanently join up to salvage their own existence? The mural of the two panda forces battling and causing a rift to open up should hint to both sides that the eternal battle will only lead to the extinction of both sides.

One  other major thing that was talked about was the possible death of Thrall. With the assassination attempt against Vol’jin, we can only suspect that Garrosh is becoming paranoid. Also, as the Dominance Offensive quests gradually opens up the storyline, we see how each of the horde leaders demonstrate their distrust of Garrosh’s decisions and ambition. Despite this, there still has not been sufficient motivation that will lead to the Siege of Orgrimmar.

That’s where I think Thrall’s potential death may come into play. If 5.3 adds more content, then one must have scenario would be Thrall’s death that will lead into patch 5.4. Despite the Green Jesus bequeathing, Thrall remains one of the most beloved characters and leaders in the World of Warcraft series. Having him murdered by Garrosh in cold blood is the perfect impetus to have the entire horde (and possibly alliance) launch an assault against one of their own.

Of course, I’m speaking from the viewpoint of a horde player. While I have played alliance, I only did so in a small manner. I have not yet been able to see much storywise from them in this patch. Outside of the general prejudice between the horde and alliance, the question is what exactly will motivate them in doing a full scale assault? To me it would make far more sense just to let the horde beat themselves up for a change as opposed to incurring more losses. And with Jaina’s recent expelling of elves (and horde) from Dalaran, I imagine that it would be just easier for them to just hang out in Dalaran and watch the fireworks from the distance.

Thrall does make an interesting figure for the alliance. He does have a positive relationship with Jaina and it’s mostly been Garrosh who has caused a great deal of tension between both factions. Varian Wrynn might be a butthead too but I’m betting on the friendship and respect between Jaina and Thrall which pushes Jaina into rallying the alliance to make an assault against Orgrimmar.

Either way, my guess is that the next patch should be out around July while 5.4 comes out probably in August or September. That ought to give us enough time to hammer on Garrosh for a bit and chomp at the bit as the next expansion’s announcement will be made in November.

World of Warcraft: Isle of Thunder Experiences

When Isle of Thunder first came out, I did a few dailies. But the sheer number of mobs ended up frustrating me pretty badly along with all the chaos of people swarming the area. It’s calmed down quite a bit but still has more people than older daily zones. While other guides do exist, I wanted to share my experience with this area.

At first, I really hated the zone. The lack of flying, high mob density, gloomy atmosphere and high respawn rate turned me off initially. Also, in looking at the Sunreaver Onslaught rewards, I questioned whether or not to do these at all. This just seemed like an upgraded quest hub for those that have grown tired with the other daily quest hubs. Another thing is that the mobs are still fairly dangerous. I read a comment where a fairly decent geared guy had some issues with the mobs. They do have quite a bit of health and some do nasty damage. If you combine all these factors, it makes the area a real turn off.

However, the area does have it’s positive points. The Sunreaver Onslaught rewards, while for the most part useless for those who are focused on doing the new LFRs, still help fill in some missing slots that the Dominance Offensive (or Operation: Shieldwall) factions may lack. Also, I thought the ilvl 476 belt that you can purchase for gold at Honored reputation is good for certain classes that might be struggling to upgrade their ilvl (this is especially true for plate wearing DPS classes since you either have to purchase one from VP or wait until Heart of Fear).

Also, you can get approximately 60 VP for clearing the dailies with the end quest giving you a Sunreaver Bounty chest. The important thing about these chest is the chance it drops a Key to the Palace of Lei Shen. The key leads to a scenario where you essentially get to loot a treasure zone. In this treasure zone, you can find the Elder Charms of Good Fortune. Since the weekly quest giver no longer hands these out, it’s pretty essentially to make an attempt to grab these for lower geared toons so you can try for re-rolls.

For myself, I got really lucky in finding a non-elite mob that dropped the key. Afterwards, in doing the scenario, I managed to pick up quite a few of these Elder Charms. By the time I finished the dailies and scenario, I had roughly 10 Elder Charms of Good Fortune on my Death Knight.

That said, the 10 extra charms for my death knight motivated me to run my shaman through the island. In direct contrast, I didn’t find any keys nor picked up any Elder Charms of Good Fortune. I might attempt this on my druid and perhaps my hunter since they still need gear from LFR (despite qualifying for the new LFR).

Another major thing people are doing is looking for rare mobs. Rares also have a higher chance of dropping the keys and other goodies. The main three items to receive are Tombs of Valor (which grant 15 valor once per hour), keys and Shan’ze Ritual Stones. One tactic that I’m seeing is small groups being formed that spread across the island in search of rare mobs to tag. I haven’t done much in this regards, but WoWhead has a nice write up on all these mobs.

The thing with the Shan’ze Ritual Stones is that they allow you to complete a quest upon finding three of them. Afterwards, you are able to summon an elite that has a good chance of dropping a key (and a nice dagger). So far I only received one stone through luckily discovering a chest.

At any rate, even after completing your dailies, you definitely can stay for other activities. My personal recommendation depends on if you’re alt heavy or not. In my case, I have enough toons where sticking around felt like a waste of time. If there was a group to be invited to for slaying a rare, I wouldn’t mind but there’s too much to do already.

I think the area is great as a supplement for the rest of your dailies, especially if you’re starting your daily route. It’s great for quickly picking up the Lesser Charms for getting the weekly quest complete. However, I do think that if you’re starting to gear up, you’re better off waiting a bit or finding a group because of the difficulty for the mobs. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself eating a lot or dying here and there.

World of Warcraft: 40+ Minute LFR Queues

I mentioned how I’ve switched from World of Warcraft to Starcraft 2. Between the two, I briefly went to Diablo 3 and cleared half of Act 3, becoming bored and almost falling asleep in the process. Part of the reason I stopped was that a friend of mine (actually the only remaining true friend I had on my sorry ass Saurfang realm) transferred off the server, practically leaving me by myself. So it really demotivated me further.

Then I tried once again to get into a Throne of Thunder LFR. Currently, I’m seeing 40+ minute queues on average at various times. This isn’t great and I’m not all that motivated in just hanging around while waiting for the queue to pop. Considering this is the first week of the new LFR wing, I’m quite surprised and disappointed in seeing such a horribly high time for the queue. I missed signing up on Tuesday so I cannot say if there were more when it came out.

My guess is that not many people have the necessary ilvl requirements to enter. Since it’s only been two weeks since patch 5.2 arrived with the increase in drop rate for LFR, it’s possible that the ilvl requirement might be too high for the vast majority of players. I still see reasonable times for the rest of the LFRs but you would think otherwise for a new major content piece.

The other possibility is that perhaps people are waiting a bit to do them. Since these are quite new, it’s entirely believable that people are waiting for a few guides to appear to prepare better. Or maybe waiting for people themselves to improve so that they avoid the initial wipe-a-thons that seem to accompany new raiding content.

At any rate, I truly hope that this trend does not continue. I think if there’s a perception that content is too difficult or a hassle, people gradually may gravitate away from it. Since we only have a few days worth of data, we can’t draw any conclusions as of yet.

For myself, this is pretty much the “wait and see” patch. I’m not terribly thrilled about the new island so far (too many mobs, too high respawn rates, etc.) so LFR is going to be my make-it-or-break-it point.

World of Warcraft: My Current Progress and Experiences in Patch 5.2

We’re now about to get into the 4th day of Patch 5.2 for Mist of Pandaria. Much of what I’ve been doing (outside of helping a friend level up a bit) is focusing on gearing my guys up further and doing dailies on my newer 90 level toons. I’m attempting to avoid Heroics and seeing if I can use alternative methods of hitting the magic ilvl 460 mark. And thus far, I’ve been successful on my Shaman.

I picked up some of the new ilvl 458 crafted shoulders that sold for 1k on the Auction House. Because of the new discoverable patterns daily for crafters, it’s really hard depending on your own toons to provide the exact gear you’ll need. And with the patch just coming out, there’s very limited options on the Auction House, which are fairly costly. So at this stage, I’m willing to put up some gold just to push faster as the return would be very high down the road.

Another thing I managed was getting lucky off of a Galleon raid. While the Galleon raids at the start of the week were still highly competitive with the alliance faction on my server, I’ve noticed that, like the Sha of Fear, the raids have progressively become slower and less competitive as the week goes by. Thus, I managed to get in a few Galleon groups, one of which dropped my shaman a nice 496 helmet (and my DK friend also received a nice 496 plate helmet). Those two items managed to push me just at the ilvl 460 mark and immediately queued for Mogu’shan Vaults part 1.

For my shaman, each boss dropped something in part 1. At the end, along with a nice cape purchase, my shaman ended up at 466 ilvl. That’s not bad at all, despite Mogu’shan Vaults Part 2 giving me a terrible group. I think with some extra valor points and a lucky Sha or Galleon drop or two, I can set my eyes on Heart of Fear for next week.

My death knight by comparison has not been as lucky thus far. However, I’ve mostly been focusing on my shaman because he’s my tailor/enchanter and I dearly need him to unlock the better enchants through reputation bonuses. My plan for him is to gear him enough to have less issues as he tackles the various daily quests, which here and there have given him some issues. I think once he gets a little further up on the DPS/gear chart, he should have no issues whatsoever. That said, my death knight still needs to complete Dread Wastes, but I’m not in as big of a rush. One thing I’m hoping to do is get some of the craftable PVP plate plans for my paladin. Thus far, I’ve not seen anything on our Auction House. So perhaps, a lucky drop or purchase can boost my Death Knight next as well.

My next big project that I started today was playing my warlock once again. After hearing a great deal about the updated demonology warlock spec, I decided to switch him from Affliction to demonology. I have to admit that at first, I found playing the demonology spec a bit awkward. But as I got used to the rotation, I slowly began to become accustomed to the playstyle. It is weird and I’m certain that I’m far from perfect. But I have to say, it’s actually quite fun.

Previously, I found demonology frustrating. The rotation was unbelievably complicated and the pet barely could hold aggro, if not aggroing everything around him. Now, it feels a lot smoother, the AoE is insane and easier while some of the instant spell casts are pretty sick with some nice burst thrown in. I think the switching between demonic and normal form can get confusing. At first, I thought that the playstyle would be like a boomkin, but now it really feels more like a feral druid. Pretty much you’re building up combo-like points then switching in and out of your demon form as you use your fury resource up.

That said, I haven’t had many problems so far. The survivability aspect is better than I expected and the play seems reasonable. I suppose we’ll have to see how it compares as I get into the more difficult zones. One thing I discovered that I enjoy is the leap ability. It reminds me somewhat of the warrior’s Heroic Leap capability. Definitely a great little movement booster.  I think once he hits 90, I might switch back to affliction. But like Beast Master for the hunter, I find that it might be better just to stick with one spec and master it, even if the numbers indicate that DPS can be higher.

Something I haven’t done a lot of though is the new island. As expected, my island was extremely crowded. Now, that can be both good and bad. I think if you’re with a group, it’s perfectly fine. But soloing these quests with the ridiculous spawn rate as a result of all the people clustered together is terrible. I could not help but aggro all the different mobs in the area. It made the area almost impossible if I wasn’t playing with my friend.

Another little thing I discovered was the work order aspect for the farm. After looking at the quests, I realized that the reputation gains from those quests are quite low compared to the sacrifice you make in not producing crafting materials. That said, with all the new recipes available through crafting, I realize that it’s more important than ever to continue leveling my toons up and maxing out their farms.

Truthfully, it’s quite hard to manage every single toon in this regard. Everything can get overwhelming, especially when you’re focused on performing different tasks like dailies, LFR, leveling, etc. It feels that the best way to do things is concentrate on a toon or two until they’re close to maxing out at something then switching. I go in rotations but at the same time I think that there’s some fundamental things you need to do every week like LFR, Galleon, Sha, etc. But for every week that you miss out on an encounter, it’s more loot that you’re missing out to better prepare your toons.

Something I am concerned with as more patches get released is older content from Mist of Pandaria. Since the new LFRs aren’t released in whole yet, I’m hoping that the current group of LFRs keep their queue times low. So my plan is to continue leveling my toons as much as possible in case people start to taper off. I’m hoping that things like Sha of Anger or Galleon eventually do not slow down. I figure people will always need more gear, mounts, etc. for themselves or alts. So there should be room for more in the future. Despite that, I don’t put my full trust in this notion and want to ensure myself that I can have enough people properly geared down the road.

That all said, I am enjoying the faster gear progression at this stage. It’s a LOT better overall and has renewed my motivation (with the exception of the bad pug). I feel the overall environment is a little better. The grinding aspect still exist but there are more options like the farming orders and reputation selection for Heroics.

World of Warcraft: What to REALLY Do in Patch 5.2

There are a ton of cutting edge guides talking about all the new things for Patch 5.2. With all the information available, it can be overwhelming. But what these guides do not reveal is what you, the casual PVE player, should or can be doing in Patch 5.2.

First, the raid schedule shows that like raids in the past, will be gradually released. LFR for the first wing won’t be released until March 12th. That means for people who are not properly geared you can still use the time to make some major pushes in preparation for the upcoming LFRs.

Beyond the new items and dailies, the “old” content from patch 5 – 5.1 are still valuable for gearing. Don’t forget that the minimal level for the new LFRs is 480. Even if you have that level, it does not mean be lazy. That means, the very least you require to get into the LFR. Once LFR is released, you can be certain that it’s not going to be a cake walk. Just look back to Garalon. So you’ll need as much help as you can get. Also, this will be the first major raid/content patch that will attempt to enforce a progression style raiding mechanism in LFR. So for alts or new 90s, you still will have to go through the motions of farming gear to obtain the minimal ilvl for entering the newer LFRs.

In that sense, this week will provide extra time for preparing with a few nice bonuses. First, the LFR drop rates for pre-5.2 patch raids will increase (people are saying roughly 30%). Second, Galleon will now spawn more frequently. Third, there will be new crafted PVP gear at ilvl 458. And lastly, the cost for Valor Point gear will significantly decrease. With these elements in mind, we can create a plan for hitting the new LFRs.

The first thing to do is examine where your toon is in ilvl. Did you just hit 90? Are you at the bizarro 450 point? Are you at the 460 or mid 470 stage? Or are you at the end of the 470 stage and possibly 480 stage?

These levels are important because we can set the tone of gearing in terms of a plan for each one. If you just hit 90, the first thing you should do is buy the new crafted pvp gear where you can. It will take some time for the new PVP gear to trickle in as people slowly start getting recipes and craft items for the AH. Not to mention the initial items will be fairly pricey. Fill in as many slots as possible and examine your ilvl. More than likely, you’ll still be under the mark, requiring items like trinkets, neck, rings and a weapon to fill in. Hunters and enhancement shamans will suffer the most as they do not have a 463 weapon immediately in their grasp (enhancement shamans can cheese it slightly through purchasing a craftable dagger, but it’s the ideal since they prefer slow weapons). After that, get into a Sha of Anger raid (hopefully those will continue) and possibly Galleon (assuming that Galleon spawns at near the frequency of the Sha of Anger). If you’re still below the 460 minimal mark for Mogu’shan Vaults Part 1, see if you can buy an item or two off the auction house.

If you were hovering around the mid 450 mark, apply the same strategy. I would attempt to spend the minimal and slowly fill in the gaps with the PVP crafting gear. Since Galleon spawns more frequently (people are reporting between 30-120 minutes), I would try to get into that group as soon as possible and perhaps even locating an epic or two off of the auction house.

In both cases, try to get some dailies in. Get your reputation up as soon as possible and get all the valor you can. You’ll probably want around 613 valor minimum to make your first major purchase (quite possibly a cloak from the Klaxxi if you have honored or above). You could try saving up for the 522 necklace, but the new area will be fairly chaotic. Without others to help you out, it might be tough initially. So some preparation is in order.

If you are in the 460-470 zone, plow through the new LFRs as much as you can. Today, I took my druid who just made the minimal amount to enter Heart of Fear (actually 468 boosted by some PVP gloves I received off of Sha of Anger) and sliced through Part 1, 2, Terrace of Endless Spring and came back to do Mogu’shan Vaults Part 2. The 30% droprate seems to really apply for lowly geared toons. In my case, I only had one spare charm that I used for a re-roll and got nothing from that. Disappointed, I still went through each area and ended up collecting 5 drops total. Now, my druid is sitting at 476 ilvl. Fairly impressive indeed.

If you’re sitting just below the 480 mark, things can get a little tricky and it all depends on your current valor points, charms and gaps you need to fill in gear. If you have spare charms, hit Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring first and use charms to fill in whatever remaining slots you need. Hopefully, the high droprate will give you the items you want. If you’re still a little off, then just buy valor gear. You could start by getting the 522 necklace if you have enough points. That should provide that boost just to get you to next level. Otherwise, take advantage of the valor point cost reduced items.

If you’re at the 480 mark and above, then you might just save your valor until you can get the reputation for better vendor gear from the new faction. The necklace looks to be a great starter item and I’ll assume that it’ll take several runs to get enough reputation to buy the higher end gear with valor.

What about the new areas? I have mixed feelings on this. Right now, on my server, I’m finding that the respawn rate can be quite insane. I would heavily suggest grouping to handle the adds. There’s lot of them too and it might get frustrating to do everything by yourself. Since the island will be unlocked by factions, you can contribute right away. I definitely suggest trying it out as this period will be the most exciting. If you don’t have guildies to run with, ask people around you. This might be the best time to make friends on your server.

One thing I’ve discovered as I started the new Island of Thunder is that there’s a lot of rare spawns that people camp. Because of the faction tagging aspect, this is a great opportunity to meet other people and do activities with others. There are some good rewards from this too so definitely try to get into a group and go after these rares.

Something I’ve discovered on my own is finding the new crafting recipes. Each crafter has a slight variant on the way they discover new stuff. Tailors have it the easiest since crafting Imperial Silk will allow you to discover new recipes. Leatherworkers can find recipes on mobs. In my case, I was able to discover both recipes. The tough thing for leatherworkers though is getting more materials to create the items in order to make those discoveries. Lastly, there’s blacksmithing. I think this part is going to be time dependent since it relies on a certain segment of the island to open up before you can get into the area which will provide the quest. Right now, on day, I’m not seeing a single plate item yet on the Auction House.

I still have to progress a little further to see how this patch goes. I’m hoping that the combination of increased droprates in LFR combined with other elements will really expedite the other aspects of the game which have been slow and painful thus far. My druid’s experience with LFR today was highly positive and gave me some hope and desire to push harder.