And In Lighter News – Pandaren, Another Shattering, and Things That Happened

There have been two pretty serious topics today, one quite upsetting. But there’s still plenty of room for lighter, more fun game-focussed writing too, as the remainder of today’s links prove.

  • The Godmother offers us her thoughts on the early beta Pandaren levelling experience – I won’t quote from this one due to spoiler potential, but it’s a really interesting post.
  • The Grumpy Elf muses on the possibilities offered by a healing class that doesn’t use manaRage:Pros: If it is based on damage you or people you are with receive it could mean unlimited resources. It would most likely need to require you to buff someone, or a few people, as the main generator of rage for you meaning in most cases it would be put it on the tank, a set it and forget it mechanic.”
  • Green Armadillo at Player vs Developer wonders if there are clues out there pointing to a second Shattering“By 2014’s expansion, the early questlines of the Shattering, in which, for example, Sylvanas and Garrosh discuss the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Lich King, will be three years out of date. Will Blizzard want this to be the first thing new visitors to Azeroth encounter? “
  • And A Sunnier Bear presents a really fun list – a look back at the distant past of 2004, and things that happened the year WoW was released“the dominant consoles were the GameCube, the Gameboy Advance, the PS2, and the XBox. My favorite game was Pokemon Leafgreen, and everyone else’s favorite game was Halo 2. The best selling game of the year was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (the one with the controversial “Hot Coffee” mod).”

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Has The Shattering Failed To Rock Your World?

Shintar’s bored of WoW and she’s wondering if she’s the only one. More specifically, she’s not that keen on the Shattering. Looking back on it, she says she has a few problems with it but they can all be summarised as how the whole thing was delivered. I gotta say, I agree with her.

The first problem for Shintar was the fact that the Shattering didn’t come with extra character slots, just waiting to be filled with new alts ready to explore Azeroth 2.0. She’s got a point when she says that many long-term players have a full list of characters on their home server and deciding where to roll a new alt or who to delete is like being left between a rock and a hard place. Not to mention the fact that Cataclysm arrived before most of us had got through the content – Shintar says she felt like she had to go back to her main then.

But then… the actual expansion came out. … Ever since then I keep meaning to go back to my little funky-coloured troll, but every time I log onto her I immediately miss my friends and find myself thinking about how I’m “wasting” valuable time that could be used to progress my main through the current endgame before it reaches its 4.1 “expiration date”, and anyway, the new low-level content is going to be around for a while. It’s kind of sad really.

Shintar’s highlighting other reasons the Shattering didn’t fit, too. Mostly she’s wishing that Blizzard had dealt with the Shattering differently and I completely agree with her. Shame we can’t change it now. Shintar’s geninely wondering if she’s missed something here or if others feel the same – and I’m with her.

Are you the same boat getting the same sinking feeling she is – is the Shattering failing to float your boat? Or are you having a whale of a time?

_Quote taken directly from Shintar’s post

You can find Shintar’s Priest With A Cause homepage here_

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Big Bear Butt and Revive And Rejuvenate: The Shock Of The Shatter

Our resident yorkshierman Johnnie had a bee in his helmet last week. Why? Well, after raving talking to Hugh and I he wrote an editorial explaining to all and sundry why he was upset: in short, the Shattering happened overnight and his characters seem to have missed being part of it. It looks like several commenters agree with Johnnie’s post (and thanks for those comments, guys!) but I wanted to extend the spotlight on this discussion a bit to include a couple of bloggers who’ve written in response to it.

First up is Big Bear Butt who’s looking around at the transition between the old Azeroth and the new one and feeling a bit detached. He’s pointed out an entire change that somehow hadn’t registered with me yet: that Azeroth’s timeline has moved on several years.

Rather than being part of the story, I go to sleep on a Monday, and on a Tuesday I find out I pulled a Rip Van Winkle act, and years have passed me by. How… jarring the transformation was, it leaves me feeling emotionally detached from any sense of immediacy.

With the movies, the pulse-pounding energy of the prelude, I expected more of a sense of urgency towards the aftermath of Deathwing’s release.

And BBB says it’s hard to take in – it’s not just that the world’s suddenly moved on but that our characters, fresh home from whatever battles they had, didn’t get a chance to see the world move on before it had left them behind. It’s a moving post and while he’s right that the world moving on from returning soldiers is a powerful and timeless idea, his reaction to it also strikes me as right on the gold.

Angelya over at Revive and Rejuvenate’s also got thoughts on the way the Shattering’s played out. She wishes we’d had an extra, intermediate patch breaking the Shattering up so it played out in stages and our characters got a chance to experience the actual rubble and ruins too. She also has some specific thoughts on the areas we’re seeing the horde and alliance clash more openly – somehow, it made me think of the Isle of Quel’Danas. If that’s the kind of thing Angelya’s saying we could’ve had, well, I gotta agree that would’ve been cool.

To round off her post Angelya’s also got some links to guides on how to do the Plants vs. Zombies quest to get your Sunflower companion, which I hear is a quest well worth experimenting with.

That’s it for now. I should probably say that all of us, BBB, Angelya and myself all really like the patch changes. It just… piffles, slightly. What do you think – was the Shattering too hasty, have our characters been left behind? Or is the challenge to our characters to carve themselves a place in the new world a good one?

_Quote taken directly from Big Bear Butt’s post

You can find The Big Bear Butt’s homepage here

You can find Revive and Rejuvenate’s homepage here_

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Pwnwear: Where To Quest At Level…

Mwah! As Hugh’s post earlier said, I have the lurgie and don’t know whether I’m coming or going. But I reckon a lot of people are equally confuzzled, albeit about a different thing: where to level in the new zones. What’s appropriate for what level? Has X zone downgraded its level requirements or are there monsters of the “they’ll eat your face if you go there now” variety there, these days?

Well, Gravity over at pwnwear is sharing something valuable with us. His post spares no extra words or frilliness: he’s literally just posted up a map of the world which shows level ranges for questing in each zone: it’s a thumbnail in his post, but clicking on it will get you a larger version.

The map’s not just applicable now but is Cataclysm-ready, as it shows the zones your toon can head to from level 1 right through to 85, including the ominous whirlpool in the centre of the world. The map also has a legend showing which are faction specific areas, which are PvP areas and which are 80+ specific zones.

From the little Gravity says this map isn’t his brainchild but someone else’s. He’s just done us the favour of sharing it, which is no small thing given how many times I’m seeing the question “where should I quets?” Hopefully it’ll help you, whether you’re levelling a new toon or just skipping around exploring on your alt – and do spread the word to your friends to help them, too!

Right, off back to bed for me. See you next week, folks. Meanwhile, feel free to let us know if this was just what you needed or what you think of the new zones?

_You can find Pwnwear’s homepage here_

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Editorial: Did I Fall Asleep?

Contains some minor spoilers for recent events.

Let’s get something out of the way before I start here: Orgrimmar is really very pretty indeed right now. I took the flight from Orgrimmar to Thunder Bluff this morning, and it was stunning. I love the new stuff. The Blizzard Art and Design teams have hit it out of the park as far as I’m concerned.

I should also emphasise that I’ve only played for about an hour or so since The Big Patch Of Ultimate Changes, so I’ll acknowledge that there’s plenty of stuff I haven’t seen yet.

Nevertheless, I’m very unhappy. I went to bed last night and woke up to find that the world had been entirely destroyed, burnt to ashes – shattered, in fact – and then totally rebuilt. All of this in the few hours I was asleep.

It’s really thrown me. It’s not that I didn’t know it was going to happen – of course I did – it’s just that I (perhaps foolishly) thought that I might get a chance to see it happen.

Remember when details of the proposed changes for Cataclysm first started to leak out? Remember how exciting it all was? Orgrimmar is going to be destroyed! Thousand Needles will be flooded! The Barrens will be split in two, with a huge volcanic chasm running down the middle! Thrall will get a new outfit! Some people were upset, some people were excited … but everyone agreed: this was going to be awesome. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. The most tumultuous and (literally and figuratively) world-changing event in Warcraft’s history: I couldn’t wait to experience it.

Unfortunately, I can’t. It’s already happened, and I missed it.

Do you have a favourite TV series? One that you watch faithfully week after week? One that has you literally bouncing on your seat with excitement at every brilliant plot twist? What if your friends were having an all-night marathon during which they planned to watch the whole of Season Three, one episode after another? It sounds great, but the problem is you’ve only just finished watching Season One. You don’t know what happens in Season Two, but you do know that there are major plot changes. It’s set in a different country, a few of the major characters actually die, and the whole feel of the show shifts into something much more epic. Much as you do want to watch Season Three, you’re probably going to turn down the invitation until you’ve caught up on Season Two.

Well, that’s how I feel. I’ve been looking forward to the shattering for months. I wanted to see Deathwing drop from the skies to rain destruction down on my old familiar haunts. I wanted to wander through the smoking ruins of Orgrimmar marveling at the destruction. I wanted to see the world being gradually rebuilt. In short, I wanted to play the game, rather than watch Blizzard play it for me.

I feel like there’s a whole bit of the game that everybody else has played and that I missed out on. I feel like I’ve been away from the game for months, not days. I’m reliably informed that “it all happened in the book”, but that’s not good enough. I don’t mind Blizzard sidelining more and more of their lore into the various spin-off media. This isn’t lore, though: this is a massive upheaval. It’s a change that is absolutely guaranteed to fundamentally affect every single character in the game, player and NPC alike. More to the point, I was looking forward to it as one of the most exciting things ever to happen in the game. I played through the Elemental invasion, and enjoyed it, but only because it felt like an ominous precursor of things to come.

Now, I just feel cheated. We’ve gone straight from “The Cataclysm will happen” to “The Cataclysm has happened”, without passing through “The Cataclysm is happening” on the way. I feel distanced from the game, in a way that I never have before. My suspension of disbelief just isn’t strong enough to allow me to accept that the grunts built New Orgrimmar in just a few short hours. The Barrens have indeed been split in two by a rift of molten destruction, but it’s no problem. It just gave the Alliance a chance to built a big stone keep at the edge and stand around looking smug. It’s all fine now. Crisis over! As usual, the NPCs have sorted everything out, and as usual they didn’t need you. When Deathwing finally does die, I fully expect to be stood in the doorway holding the coats while Hogger has a ten-minute monologue and then deus-ex-machinas the dragon to death.

Don’t even get me started on Cairne and King Magni. This is how you do an off-stage death.

All I can really say is: Blizzard, can I have a turn now?

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Orcish Army Knife: Varian Reaches Out In Times Of Loss

Hang on a minute there. Now, the patch has hit and you’ve probably logged in so you have an idea of what’s going on. But if you’re still trying to remain free of spoilers from external influences and want to find things for yourself in game, you should probably come back to this post at a later date. ‘Cause it’s about some sad subplots that have happened during the Shattering, and some of our less useful but dearest NPCs.

The post in question is WoW related fiction for NanoWriMo by Rades over at Orcish Army Knife. It’s called “In Our Fathers’ Footsteps” and is a magnificent and moving piece. Still sure you’re not wanting spoilers? Right…

Rades’ post is a letter written from Varian Wrynn to Baine Bloodhoof and Moira Bronzebeard, the children of the Cairne and Magni who’ve both met unfortunate ends during the Shattering. Rades has Varian address both Baine and Moira in the letter, expressing his sympathy for the sudden turmoil they’ve both been catapulted into. Rades does a great job of finding similarities between Varian and the two bereaving characters, and has Varian offering each of them advice he’s gleaned from his own life and character flaws.

From what I have heard of your father’s death, he died in a valiant, honorable attempt to seize command, so that the foolish actions of Hellscream would not destroy the Horde. I commend him for his beliefs and intentions, for I can think of no braver act. I do not think for a second that his challenge was inspired by personal ambitions – like Lothar, I know your father was only trying to do what was right and just. He died a hero’s death.

After the letter itself Rades has links to the various characters’ wowwiki entries in case you want to read more about their backstories and demises, where appropriate. He also has a section about how he wrote the letter, which in itself is a good read. It looks like the letter went through several incarnations before he arrived at a way to address the new racial leaders and also say a sad goodbye, both from Varian and himself, to the two noble leaders.

I hope you go read this one, whether or not lore is a Thing for you. If you do, let me know what you think. Are the adult-children going to struggle in their new positions? Is Varian having a rare moment of not-being-a-git? Are you going to miss those leaders?

_Quote taken directly from Rades’ post

You can find Orcish Army Knife’s homepage here_

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The WoW Noob: 10 Things You Need To Know After The Shattering

Right. The Shattering’s done its thing to the world. So what do you need to know? Good question, and I suspect over the next couple of days there will be answers aplenty for everything from world to class changes. But Melfina over at the WoW Noob has beaten everyone else to it with a list of the top ten things you need to know. Y’know, since your world has just been torn asunder by a grumpy dragon.

Melfina’s list is just what you need as you prepare to face the changes. Some of the items on her list are confirmations of things you can or can’t do yet – information you might have seen elsewhere, or seen contradicting things over. Well, she’s confirmed em one way or the other, no bones about an argument. Other things on her list are little quirks she’s noticed that we didn’t hear about pre-patch. I’m looking forward to checking out #2 and #10 on the list and really hope that #6 is a bug for anyone trying to get that achievement.

Sound mysterious? Aye, well, Melfina’s post is short and to the point – it’s the list and nothing else. Oh, except a screenshot backing up point #9, which is also quite cool. Either way I’m not going into too much detail to spoiler you nor quoting part of the post, so as not to spoil Melfina’s thunder.

But go read it for yourself, and meanwhile let me know in the comments if you’ve spotted anything else cool, worrying or downright unexpected!

_You can find The WoW Noob’s homepage here_

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Roundup: Reactions And Advice For The Shattering

No bones about it: the world’s changing tomorrow. Maybe even today if you’re over the Pond. A lot of folks are saying their farewells or looking ahead to the changes – it’s all the same thing, really. It wouldn’t  be right to go into it without rounding up at least some of the reactions around the blogosphere though. I don’t think I could catch ’em all so I’ve got a selection of posts about the Shattering for you – some are advice you might find useful, some will take you back down memory lane, and others will plain get you giggling.

  • Let’s Review: Portal Ettiquette – tomorrow’s changes will mean less portals. Yep, getting from city to city won’t be a blink of an eye anymore – unless you ask a mage or a warlock. Well, Askevar at You Yank It You Tank It has some great tips on how to get a portal from a mage or a summon from a warlock. Given that mages and warlocks are suddenly going to become popular and overwhelmed with requests to act as bus conductors, we’d all do well to remember Askevar’s tips.
  • Low Risk Investing For Cataclysm – technically a bit ahead of time as we’re just getting half the experience tomorrow but now’s as good a time as any to start investing in Cataclysm. Markco has put up a guest post by Just Another Goblin with some quick and downright sensible tips on the kinds of things you can squirrel away for a rainy day. Or, say, Cataclysm, when the world and his dragon are going to want to buy these items. Quick, clear the bank and get to stockpiling this stuff.
  • Take Heart, Young One and Farewell Cairne – these posts are short but really touching. Warning: if you’ve stayed away from all Cataclysm news, this might spoiler you a bit. But both posters, Latus and ‘Paw, are saying their own farewells to a lovely and stoic NPC. If you want the full details of what’s happening ‘Paw’s post has a link to the full backstory, and both posters are saying that throughout the day tauren players have been holding vigils near their leader.
  • Steamboat Blizzie – Fulgaralis has a slightly different take on the whole ‘big change’ thing. Instead of looking back or forwards she’s taking the opportunity to get a clear look at Blizzard. She’s comparing them to Disney – yup, Disney. It’s an interesting argument and I kinda find myself agreeing with her. We might not have the jumbo comedy ears in WoW but there’s magic there – right?
  • The End of The World As We Know It – Moraith over at I Brake For Epics has been busy this morning, creating an album of screenshots to remember Azeroth as it was. The screenshots are in three posts – you can find part one where she says some goodbyes in the first link, part 2 here and part 3 here. Angelya over at Revive and Rejuvenate has been posting screenshots by zones for the past couple of weeks too – you can find them all on her blog, and I believe soon to be in their own album.
  • Leafshine Hoped Her Panic Over The Impending Cataclysm Didn’t Show – a very simple post going for the light side of the big changes. Had me laughing, and looks like i wasn’t the only one. Great if you’re looking for giggles before logging in to find how badly things have broken :)

**

There are more out there. I know there are. I’m happy to add more items to this list –** just let me know in the comments if you’ve got an artcle you’d like added. But I’m also really interested in hearing the reactions of the non-bloggers out there: we’re all players and we’re all in the Shattering together. Though you might not be blogging I’m sure this is an emotive time for you too. Please do feel free to speak up in the comments, as ever!

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Beruthiel and Beth: What To Expect When The Shattering Happens

We’re all abuzz about the Shattering hitting us sometime soon and revealing a whole new world of lava wonders at the expense of the old. But what does the end of the world actually mean for us, as the cultists would like us to ask? Well, in this case that’s a perfectly sensible question and two of our bloggers have the answers.

First up is a post by Beruthiel over at Falling Leaves and Wings. She’s very good at providing critical information just when we’re about to need it and this time is no exception. Her “just a quickie” on 4.0.3a, aka the Shattering patch, information is nowt but the cold hard facts about what we can expect from patch 4.0.3a/the Shattering. Whenever it arrives. Beru lists both what we will get in the patch and what we won’t get, and will have to wait until December 7th when we actually buy, y’know, the rest of the expansion.

It’s a very useful post if you’re not sure what 4.0.3a brings or just want to check when a particular feature will hit us, be it now or later. Interestingly one of Beru’s lists looks a lot longer than the other, and my editorial the other day should have been titled “getting two thirds of the expansion” instead of “half”.  Either way, thanks Beru. Just what we needed.

Beth over at Letters from Birdfall also has a quick post up with details on some of the 4.0.3a changes. It is very brief but she focuses mainly on some specific mounts and whether they will still be available come the world falling apart. If you’re a mount collector or know someone who is, this might just be the reminder you or they need. I could see that post becoming a really useful resource listing ‘extra but oh so necessary items ;)’ and their Cataclysm status – I don’t know if Beth has plans to expand it, but I suspect she won’t mind getting information on other pets/mounts if you have any.

What about you – are you excited or worried about any particular change coming in the Shattering?

_No quotes taken this time as both posts are very short and list-y

You can find Falling Leaves And Wings’ homepage here

You can find Letters From Birdfall’s homepage here_

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Editorial Feature: Half The Expansion In Advance?

So the word on the ether is that the Shattering will hit us on Tuesday. The world will never be the same again, the end is nigh, doom is upon us. And so on and so forth. ‘Tis true that the Shattering looks to be changing the world and the zones we’ve come to know and love will be, well, shattered. Torn asunder. Sprinkled into itty bitty pieces that settle in the dust as new zones with new quests and new, terrible dangers.

I’m looking forward to it. No really, I am.

But it feels like we’re getting half the expansion in advance of… y’know, the expansion. And it don’ feel right, mon.

Let me say right now that I’m one of those weird people who’s kept themselves away of most of the information about Cataclysm. I’m looking forward to it but I want to experience it all shiny and fresh, not have read about it first. I want the surprise and the magical feeling of exploring what will be a new world. So that in mind, I fully accept that I might have missed something obvious. Doh.

Which is why I’m putting this thought out today. I’m puzzled and I’m hoping you’ll help me out: am I right or wrong? If the Shattering hits on Tuesday and the world changes, the zones change, and presumably the new quests are all put in – because I doubt the questgivers are going to stand around in the same places or have the same cares if the ground’s opening under their feet – then aren’t we essentially getting a large chunk of the expansion two weeks in advance of December 7th, the actual release date?

Of course, if this is the case there’s no point doing any of the new quests until we have our hot sticky mitts on the Cataclysm box (or download) on December 7th, because that’s when we can all level to 85, role a goblin or a worgen, and… um, well, presumably there are other things coming in Ye Actual Expansion. Archaeology! That’s it. (I’m really looking forward to that, actually).

But yeah. Half the expansion two weeks in advance? Doesn’t that stagger the magic just a bit? YAY stuff’s happening and the world’s changed and we’re not comatose waiting anymore! But… but… there’s not that much point doing anything for two weeks. Oh. Back to bed, then.

If it was to hit us just one week in advance of the expansion I’d feel better about it. But two weeks seems a long time. I don’t know – am I missing something – have I got the details of what we’re getting in the Shattering and what we’re getting in Ye Actual Expansion wrong? Or am I right and this is exactly what’s happening? In either case, how do you feel about the Shattering? I’m really interested in this and talking about it seems urgent, given the imminence of this Tuesday.

…Oh, and I’m really hoping the kobolds stay around. I just want to hug them and give them some candles.

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