Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hunter: New Spells!

At level 74 hunters learn a new spell - Aspect of the Dragonhawk. It takes the best parts of Aspect of the Monkey (Dodge) and Aspect of the Hawk (Attack Power) and combines them into one spell. When you cast it, it makes the sound of both Monkey and Hawk at the same time. And the dodge (18 percent) and attack power (230 AP) is greater than either of the base spells alone. At level 80 there's another rank that increases the AP to 300

Keep in mind though, that you'll be burning a lot (and "a lot" means "a whole metric ton") of mana if you're using specials to keep the DPS up. I find that I'm swapping between Aspect of the Viper to regenerate mana and Aspect of the Dragonhawk to keep up the DPS if I forget to drink between fights.

Kill Shot becomes available at level 71 and gets upgrades at 75 and 80. This does 200% weapon damage plus some bonus based on your RAP (the bonus varies by rank - 40% of your ranged attack power plus either 410, 500, or 650). It can also only be used on enemies at or below 20% health. Be aware, this can crit and the crit numbers on it can be amazing. If you have a modest 2000 RAP, you'll be doing 1050 + double weapon damage at level 80 on kill shots. This will be upped to 150% of that number if you land a critical.

Finally, at level 80 I'm looking forward to Freezing Arrow. This is essentially a targetted freezing trap and should make crowd-controlling so much easier. I'll give more details as I actually get my hands on the spell

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Cutscene

As soon as you can safely quest in Dragonblight (about 72 I'd guess) do it. And then get to the Wyrmrest Temple in the dead center of the zone. And then do every quest you can.

At some point, you'll be sent out to Fordragon Hold. The gooodness is about to happen when you're sent there.

There will be an AWESOME cut-scene (and you'll get an achievement) and then you'll be sent on an uber-cool new quest. 

I don't want to spoil with too many details but it involves attacking a well-known capital city.

Do this. Just trust me. It's worth it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dalaran is the New Pink

Okay, bad pun in the title. But I've finally made it to Dalaran and thought I'd share ways in.

The One That Doesn't Work
There's a floaty run in the Crystal Song forest. Clicking on it (it gives you the gear icon) takes you up to Dalaran. Except, this won't work unless and until you've used the rune that's already inside Dalaran.

The Easy One
Just level. Once you hit 74, a Kirin Tor mage in one of the quest towns will have a quest open to you. You'll get an easy port to the city with a quest to activate the run inside so you'll be able to head up from Crystal Song Forest (see above).

The Cheaty Way
If you have someone in your guild (or friend's list) that is already in Dalaran, have them invite you to a party and queue for a battleground. Once you're in, /afk from the BG. *bam* You're in Dalaran.

So, now that you're here, what can you do. Well, just about everything. There are at least two inns (one for each faction) with portals to all the old cities including Shattrath. Additionally, there are portals to all five of the battlegrounds (including the new Strand of the Ancients). There are also profession trainers for every profession. There are places to fish (try the fountain), places to buy new mounts, places to trade in the "new" badges of justice for gear. And there are profession dailies. Oh Lord are there. My hunter is trying to do both the cooking and jewelcrafting daily each day. The really nice thing about these (over the ones for fishing and cooking in and around Shattrath) are that the rewards are non-random. You get a token (it appears on your currency tab of the character sheet). Once you have saved enough tokens you can buy exactly the recipe you want. In time, I suspect, I'll get them all. But it's going to be very nice to be able to cook the food my hunter wants to eat for dungeons instead of relying on my guild. Same with the gems--I can buy the Agility/Haste/Attack Power gems first and fill in the holes later on.

I've only two characters who've made it to Shattrath so I'm not sure how recipes are acquired for other professions. It appears that cooking and jewelcrafting work as above. Enchanting seems to allow you to trade enchanting materials (shards) for recipes. And tailoring looks like you just buy stuff the old fashioned way. I cannot speak for engineering, leatherworking, blacksmithing or inscription yet. But I do know the Heavy Frostweave Bandage is a drop from instances.

Back to the leveling, I guess. Have fun out there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Your Starter Zone

Each of us playing in the expansion has a difficult choice to make right out of the gate - to which of the starter zones in WOTLK will we go? For those, like me, with a severe case of altism, it's easy to take characters to both places and compare and contrast.

Borean Tundra has a strong draw for Alliance players since the boat from Stormwind goes there. Howling Fjord is reachable from Menethil Harbor, just a short flight from Ironforge. But, with most of us hearthed in Shattrath and wanting to be there yesterday, Borean's closer proximity to a major city might make it more favorable to Alliance. Not playing Horde, I'm not certain, but believe that both starter zones are accessible from the vicinity of Orgrimmar.

Borean Tundra has the first introduction to D.E.H.T.A. (Druids for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Animals). If you're going anywhere near these guys make sure you're not covered in blood from killing wildlife. They have a few group quests (which are for the most part able to be soloed) and give Cenarion Expedition reputation if you're not maxed out. 

Borean also has quests that advance the storyline for eventually fighting the Blue Dragon Aspect, Malygos. This zone is also home to your first expansion "poop quest." It's fairly far down a quest chain with the gnomes at Fizzcrank Airstrip.

Howling Fjord introduces you fairly early on to the Vyrkul, a race of giant-viking types indigenous to Northrend. It also feels like this area is an introduction to the Earthern-Origin of the Dwarves storyline promised by Blizzard.

Both zones house roughly the same number of quests judging by the achievements. Both areas require you to complete 130 quests to earn either "I've Toured the Fjord" or "Nothing Boring about Borean."

The only downside to Howling Fjord that I've found is that it's very vertical. Like a fjord should be there are sheer walls all over the place and if you're not careful you're in for a lot of falling damage. This is true for Borean as well, but to a lesser extent (in my opinion).

Howling Fjord does have the WOTLK answer to the Fel Reaver though. Storm Giants stomp around parts of the Fjord and will squish you if you draw their ire.

As for instances, they each have a "starter dungeon." Each of these can be done in less than an hour if you're careful. I found four quests for The Nexus (in Borean Tundra) but only two for Utgarde Keep (in Howling Fjord). The gear drops are okay, but if you've done anything even remotely end-game in Burning Crusade, you'll probably be passing them to your disenchanter who will hungrily take the mats to level their trade.

All in all, the zones are pretty similar in size and complexity. They should both get you one and a half or two levels if you do the majority of the quests. I think I like the Fjord a little better so far, but I've not finished it on any character. The Tundra is essentially completed.

And there's nothing wrong with doing both zones in their entirety and saving the higher level zones as cash cows once you've maxed out your level. That's what I'm doing on at least one of my characters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back From the Dead

I know it has been over one month since anything was posted on this blog. I apologize, but during that month I had a micro-discectomy which has greatly relieved the chronic pain from my herniated disc. I'm on the mend, and can stand to do extraneous things like play WoW and think about my blog now instead of always thinking about pain. Additionally, during the hiatus, the latest expansion has hit the steets of Azeroth. Yes, the Wrath of the Lich King is here.

Let's talk a little about the expansion. The experience is very much like Burning Crusade expansion in its first weeks. Common courtesy becomes a rare-quality drop (if not legendary). There are single named mobs that have to be slain for the very beginning quests in each zone. And people seem to have lost their damned minds. While it has gotten better with the fullness of time (albeit only a few days), it was not uncommon to see a dozen characters all gathered around a spawn point--each of them solo--doing whatever they could to ensure they got the first bit of damage. I've learned quickly that simply asking for an invite often gets you into an impromptu group and allows you to move on with the quests as five of you take on a mob tuned for one.

The other place courtesy is missing is in the gathering nodes. Having a goldclover (herb) or cobalt (mine) node show up on the mini-map sends gatherers running helter-skelter through mobs to tap it. I've asked, unsuccessfully, for a chance at a skill point. I've refused to loot the ore from a node (staying crouched with the loot window open) while someone tried to "steal" a node I'd reached first. It is just ugly. But as with all things, it'll get better in time.

In the world of quests, Blizzard has gone above and beyond with some quest types. We'll talk about that more in the future.

Until then, get out there and level. It's going to take a while.