Saturday, 21 November 2015

Keeping busy

On the one hand there's a whole heap of games I've never touched that I feel I should. On the other there's so much I want to get done in WoW, which a reduced raid schedule will allow. I can sort of do both, by rarespawn mount camping in the background.

Whilst on the home stretch of 100 arena wins, I was flying around Frostfire mining between games, and chanced upon the portal for the Voidtalon of the Dark Star. No camping required for that one - sweet. Since then I've also got the Swift Breezestrider from Pathrunner in SMV, but unfortunately I foresee a lot of camping in my future if I want to find Poundfist. I've already experienced 2 occasions where people kill these rare mobs in 10 seconds without announcing or waiting.

For now I persist with the garrison mine and herb garden as much as possible, because I've yet to see the Nightshade Sproutling and Ore Eater drop. They can be bought for 2-3k on the AH, but I am persisting, as a test of my luck but also because of the steady income.

My addon to track kill numbers but was giving confusingly low numbers for the Disturbed Podling until I realised there are actually 7 different mobs with that name, each for a different herb type. In total I've killed 633 of them. There's only one Goren Protector from mines, and I've killed 246 of them. At some point though I'll call it quits on these just as I did with the salvage yard.

I've been looking out for Blackfang claw groups whenever I can, for I Came, I Clawed, I Conquered and in turn, Rumble in the Jungle. A tank is necessary if you want to make any decent progress, but often the tank will either finish his rep or get tired/bored within 10 minutes, and the group dies as a result. End is in sight however - I'm currently at 4400/5000. Should only take another hour or two.

Archaeology... I am attempting to make progress, currently sitting at 35/49 pristines. Cymre recently posted stats on how many solves she needed to completion - a total of 1072 for Draenor. I've only done 245 - this completely demotivates me. Seems like too much effort for 70 achievement points.

Similarly for Pandaria, Cymre needed 1230 solves. I have done 782, and am only missing 5 normal and 1 Pristine solve. Working on this can feel like the biggest waste of time, because you get nothing out of it otherwise.

I am trying to manage archaeology motivation by aiming for 5 crates a day, so I can always complete an archaeology mission. This usually means only 3 or 4 dig sites, but at that rate, I won't be done by Legion unless I can do it every day.

I'm finding motivation for battle pets a lot easier currently. Wowprogress pet battle rankings helps, I'm currently sitting at 238th realm, which feels about right, but I'd like to be a lot higher so I'm putting more effort into it lately. Still only 382/2000 battles done in Draenor, however.

I also got my warlock to 100, which makes 7 at max level. This was primarily to help establish income on a 2nd server, to go towards TCG pet and mount purchases. I haven't pre-ordered Legion, yet, but there's another one there if I need it.

Finally, the new arena season and PvP gear has made Ashran relevant for me again. I've been playing BM since 6.1 but it feels weak in large scale combat, even with the Ancient Artifact. Not sure whether I want to go back to Survival, or try Marksman for the first time in many years. 1630/2000 bloody coins, I would love to finish this before Legion which will allow me to switch back to my shaman if, hopefully, elemental is in a better place then.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


The last patch of Warlords is upon us.

The availability of the moose mount item will get me back in for at least one more raid. Mythic going cross realm has opened it up to us, but I'm just not interested, unfortunately. Maybe this is because I'd already come to peace with it being out of reach for our guild, maybe it's because we are forced to run with another guild to make numbers, or that combined we won't take it seriously enough, just to pass the time. But probably just because running the 3 prior difficulties for 5 months expended my interest.

The mythic dungeon gear changes, reintroduction of valor upgrades, and the fact all balance changes were buffs, are all a clear leg up for Hellfire Citadel completion and sound great for those still working on it. But without new content, I don't need them. Maybe my mind will change if I see some activity come back into the guild and people earning achievements without me. :P

The arena season has also wrapped up. My rating won't be worth anything, but fortunately I finished my goal of 100 arena wins for the saddle about a week ago. When I found out the mount is not account/server wide, I sent the saddle to my shaman and bought the Vicious War Kodo. Unfortunately the horde flag sticking out of its back wobbles back and forth rapidly with every step. It's distracting and looks silly, at least on a tauren, so I won't be using it. I'm definitely considering that next saddle, so the patch keeps arena relevant to me.

I appreciate more timewalking dungeons to keep that fresh, but on the flipside there's also more things to collect. I have to say at this point, I like that it is an event held every few weeks, rather than weekly or ongoing. It definitely gives motivation to do them regularly without overloading on them.

So that's that, until the Broken Shore then. The busy work to keep occupied has already started, I'll follow this post up with another to talk about that in more detail.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Legion class preview

The shaman class preview blog went up yesterday. The changes are few and largely quality of life related, and based on a lot of the comments, people seemed to be hoping for something more. I normally think shaman reaction is justified, and while there were some truths remarked, I felt the reaction was a bit overblown, almost self fulfilling. Not to worry, here are some thoughts.

Maelstrom power

Maelstrom power is replacing both mana and lightning shield charges. This delineates our rotation more into generators and spenders - with the spenders revealed so far as earth shock (single target, as per current), earthquake (aoe) and healing surge. As I suggested the other day, I think this is partly aimed at limiting offhealing.

We'll be able to cast healing surge with 0 maelstrom, to enable out of combat regen, but it would have to be less effective than it is currently, otherwise there is no point in making it consume maelstrom. This won't really matter in PvE, our healing is already incidental, but the concerns remain for PvP. Healing will now actively decrease damage output (ie consuming maelstrom) in addition to passively reducing it by consuming cast time otherwise spent dpsing. Fine in isolation, terrible when compared to the passive healing you see from other classes.

Shock cooldowns

Shocks limited by maelstrom has allowed the removal of the shared cooldown, finally. Earth shock requires at least 10 maelstrom and consumes all maelstrom (assuming a maximum of 100) so cannot be spammed, but flame shock doesn't require maelstrom, but uses some if available to extend its duration. So it can be spammed, and supposedly will function as our movement dps. No mention of frost shock. I sincerely hope fulmination and its lightning bolt effect remain, because the shocks are dull by themselves. The description suggests the damage is just being loaded into Earth shock :(


  • Searing totem (and magma totem?) are being removed
  • Totems have more health, are no longer type limited, and can be placed without needing a talented cooldown.
  • Elementals are not bound to totems.
These are all positive changes that people have been wanting for a long time. However, it is still dependent on us having useful totems to use. The only totems that regularly get used in PvE right now are being removed, and in their place we are getting Maelstrom totem, a 15 second ability on a 30 second cooldown. It generates maelstrom as well as doing damage, so it's not quite as bland as searing, but it's double the maintenance. And current estimations suggest maelstrom will not be hard to come by, so we can't yet tell what place it will have.

We need more, better totems for these changes to be meaningful. The best part of these changes is probably the freeing up of talent spots, hopefully we get some great replacements.


Not much changing here before talents, lava burst still has its flame shock dependency, and earthquake (maelstrom spender) effectively depends on chain lightning - no word on whether enhanced earthquake is remaining. If it isn't, then earthquake should become instant cast baseline, which will have the side effect of making it far more useful in PvP.

Expectation is that unleash flame will be removed, as it probably should have in the WoD purge.


Blizzard believe elemental has a strong identity: "Through the body of the shaman flows bolts of lightning, as if from storm, and bursts of fire, as if from molten earth". Lightning and lava, that's what we're about. The theme is there, and it is hard to argue that our abilities don't reflect that. A lot of the complaints I've read seem to conflate spec identity with implementation - not liking the spells we have, or the rotation that results in, is a different issue. We also get elemental overload back as multistrike is removed, which should help reaffirm our identity - but I hope molten earth remains in some form, possibly as a talent. It does look cool and complements earthquake well.

If there is an area we are lacking, that is in the frost school - only reflected in frost shock and partially in elemental blast, both barely used as elemental. If frost should be part of our identity, we need abilities to better reflect that. If not, frost shock should be replaced with something thematically relevant. Water is reserved for restorative powers, but no reason frost couldn't reflect water used offensively. The problem here is frost mages - we barely differentiate from fire mages with 'lava' based abilities, but frost mages seem to have everything icy wrapped up. There's a dozen things they could do to incorporate frost and spice up our rotation, but I don't see it happening due to frost mages, and I think that's a real pity.

Perhaps the removal of frostfire bolt presents an opportunity... imagine a water totem cooldown that changes spells like lightning bolt and/or lava burst into frosty variants, that have synergy with the spells they replace. In fact, it'd be fun to explore the idea of one totem for each school, effectively giving us short lived 'stances' with higher attunements to each element. If I get time one day...

Enhancement in my eyes has had the bigger problem with identity, which Blizzard have attempted to clarify; they are not 'enhancing' others in battle (as they did prior to WotLK), but fighting with weapons/attacks enhanced with the power of the elements. I don't know enough about enhance, but if this new multi-spec feature eventuates, I'd love to try it again.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Blizzcon '15

Not a lot to take out of Blizzcon on shaman. The artifact weapons were revealed, but functionality aside, everyone gets one, so at this point it is just a type, a name and a paragraph of lore. The one tidbit we got was that both elemental and enhancement are losing mana as a resource, to be replaced by maelstrom charges. This has the potential to be a cosmetic change, or a complete overhaul, so there's little point speculating just yet, apart from to say that I suspect it will limit dps shaman offhealing capability further than past attempts have done.

Only need to wait another two days for the shaman class blog so there should be some good information then, if today's hunter blog was an indication. They did however admit on one of the panels that the classes getting the bulk of the attention are hunter, rogue, priest and warlock, so reigning in my expectations.

Elsewhere, there's a lot to look forward to, but I'm a wait and see kinda guy, particularly after WoD. The cinematic for Legion was typical Blizzard quality, but of course does not represent the final product. There was some hype and some ridicule for the movie, but all those people will probably see it anyway. When you slow down the trailer, there's a lot of detail in there, and this is the stuff that got me interested more than anything. This video by HeelvsBabyface shows a lot of the cool details but beware there are some big potential spoilers in there.

I'm not big on transmogging, but I am a hoarder, and big on bag space issues, so the new system will be great. I'll also be drawn into it if they add in achievements for completing your wardrobe. But, I put this change in the same box as the model updates for WoD, both quality of life, 'modernisations' that were probably necessary in a 10 year old game, and, like the models, I can definitely foresee parts of this not being ready for launch and being sold as patch content.

Of course, the launch date being as late as September, but likely mid year next year, is not good news, and neither is Legion having only two raids. There is already a big concern with retaining players - once the Blizzcon hype dies down, this won't help. If this were in that mythical faster expansion cycle then it might be okay, but then the price probably wouldn't be. At $70 AU for the standard or $95 AU for digital deluxe, it's still good value for money with the amount of play you and I get out of it, but WoD definitely delivered less for more. At that price, on a subscription model, Legion can't afford to do the same.