Patch 5.4: Wasting Time on the Timeless Isle

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Ok, so I’ve been bad and am extremely late on writing this post up, but as you may or may not have noticed, we’ve had a new patch drop this week… And I may have gotten distracted that I totally forgot about writing this post for today’s blog – so apologies for lateness!

And yes, 5.4 is finally here, the final raid patch for this expansion where we end up fighting the big bad, Garrosh Hellscream. While we haven’t killed him yet, I have to say that overall the Siege of Orgrimmar is a fantastic raid with an excellent variety of bosses with different mechanics, and I can’t wait for the heroic versions of them (even on fights like Galakras where I get to complain more about how bad Hurricane and the nerfed Shooting Stars is than actually DPSing them). But yeah, we’re at 9/14 at the moment and despite how useless I feel on Galakras, so far I’d have to say the normal mode fight I’m most disappointed about was either Immerseus or Sha of Pride.

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Immerseus felt like Blizzard were trying to force too many healers into the fight, at least on normal mode – you need three in order to spread around the room, especially for phase 2, but the healing amount required was just meh, from what I’m led to believe from our healers. From a DPS perspective, there’s not an awful lot going on – moving void zones, constantly having to move because another void zone appeared underneath you, and then moving from mob to mob in phase 2 in order to get the damage buff… I picked a ranged class so that I can perform at ranged – especially in the case of Balance where WE DO NOT LIKE MOVEMENT! Sha of Pride on the other hand, is a fight where we don’t move much, unless we’re assigned to unlock people out of prisons. It is a particularly boring fight otherwise: stand out of bad, otherwise stack up, interrupt and kill the add when it spawns. Plus, ranking on that fight will be all about getting the Gift throughout the fight, especially when you have decent procs.

The first wing of Flex also opened up this week, giving us the first four bosses of SoO. While I’ve only been there the once so far on my Druid, I can quite easily see it being a popular thing on OpenRaid, as well as an end-of-patch boosting mechanism, where we can run either an undergeared alt or recruit to bring them up to scratch for normal/heroic progression while still bringing the entire team to easily explain tactics to them. Plus, with achievements being earned through there, I’m sure my raid team will be happy with me not saying “Achievement?” for every boss fight I don’t have the Glory on.

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Proving Grounds

5.4 also brings us a new concept in the Proving Grounds, first promised to us last BlizzCon. It is essentially a training ground if you want to try out a new spec or a new role without the scrutiny of others weighing down on your back. Sure, DPS have always had the target dummies, but what about the tanks and the healers? They have to essentially practise their role when they’re already in group content, and I know that before I started tanking I was absolutely petrified of it. We had an awesome tank back in vanilla through to TBC that made it seem like cakewalk, however when I tried it for myself, and I realised that I had to set the pace for the group, watch healers’ mana before pulling the next pack, be mindful of how much I could take, etc, it was kind of nerve wracking. I did make huge mistakes, I’ll hold my hands up to it – even as a Paladin tank in TBC I messed up pulls in Shadowlabs and Shattered Halls – fortunately back then the community was a lot more understanding of people trying things out. I’d hate to learn a new role from scratch now.

Fortunately, that’s where Proving Grounds has come in, and it’s come along at an excellent time with the Timeless Isle also being included in this patch (more on that later) to bring more alts into the foray. While I’ve only tried the DPS and Healer ones at around 2am both times so far, I have to say they are a suitable challenge once you get to Gold and Endless. For those that don’t know what happens in them – you essentially get a reforge vendor, an NPC to buy food and drink (no proper stat food – though I wouldn’t mind a Proving Ground-only version that gets removed once you leave) and you get all raid buffs, while the enemies get all raid debuffs. However your gear is scaled down to 463, same rules as Challenge Modes (so no legendary metas, gems don’t scale down, etc).

You then go through a series of waves: 5 at Bronze, 8 at Silver and 10 at Gold, to earn achievements and practise the spec or role. On both the tanking and DPS I managed to one-shot both Bronze and Silver, while at Gold I seem to be stuck on waves 7 or 8 before I lose focus from the lack of sleep and step in the wrong place and screw everything up (only once got to Wave 10 and I screwed up by not having any burst ready). As I said, a suitable challenge – it was only once I got to bed that I realised I could have used a completely different talent choice to make things an awful lot easier. But yeah – DPS on the move again, only this time without 14k crit rating to help boost my Starsurge procs and with much lower spellpower to make Moonfire spam worthwhile.

I also dislike the banshees spawning underneath a trapped mob that then becomes difficult to target and kill… On the move.

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Timeless Isle

Another major addition to the game in 5.4 is the introduction of the Timeless Isle… And I am loving it there! I’m sure I will get burned out and never return once I’ve gotten the achievements (Ugh@Going To Need a Bigger Bag) but ironically it’s not going to be a timeless feature of the game. We will have to leave at some point, for example. The Celestial Court is brilliant this week too, as when people defeat all four of the Celestials, it’s a quick relog between four of my alts to get a quick tap and chance at loot each week.

The lack of dailies is also fantastic, firstly for making a change from the rest of this expansion, but also because you can go at your own pace and do the things that you want to do, not what the game tells you to do. Sure, there’s the daily to kill elites and the lore daily, but other than that you can either farm up reputation with Shaohao from the yaungol, you can go rare hunting, you can go chest hunting, you can try to gear up your low-geared alts or soon-to-be-90’s with the different BoA armor tokens (though do note you have a higher chance to drop armor tokens of your armor class than of others, so for example my leather pieces that seem to be dropping all the time are being sent to my level 67 Monk, as I have no other level 90 leather wearers).

As pictured in the header of the article above however, one of the more annoying aspects of the Isle (now half-fixed) is the way to get to certain chests or rare spawns. Tapping an Albatross allows you to take a tour of the Isle… Very, very slowly – especially as the pickup point and where you need to go is pretty much the wrong way round the route. The trouble of it when it was first introduced, was that you’d be able to tap the Albatross, it’d kidnap you, and then the next tap on it would bring it to the floor and chase whoever tapped it the second time indefinitely until it’s killed. Cue the trolls when the bird flies you over the Celestial Court! Nevertheless, it was still amusing to see my Moonkin in the mouth of a much larger bird. Also, the last rare I need is also related to the picture above… Who only spawns rarely instead of the red crystal rock giants – with mechanics unfriendly to both ranged and melee, the fact they don’t offer much in rewards and there only being 4 of them means that I’m going to be camping this area for a while before the fabled Golganarr spawns.

How do you guys think 5.4 has been so far? Have you had a chance to check out all the different aspects of it? What are you eager to continue for the rest of the patch? Once again, sorry for the late post, and have a good weekend!

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Da T’under King Be No More

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Two posts in one day? What is this?!

As we draw a close to the 15th raiding tier in WoW, I thought it would be a good time to post my thoughts and feelings of how I thought the tier went, as well as a few other things we’ve seen over the past few months.

Starting the tier, I had to finish off my uni work, so I promoted Búllrog to raid leader for <Ex Cineribus> while I raided as a standard player and didn’t have to focus on knowing what everyone had to do and just focused on my own role. He did a stellar job, and we got to 2/13hc before I took the reigns for a short time and took us to 4/13hc before the raid team disbanded and we moved over to our new home in <OMFG Kittens>. Once there, we finished the raid tier on extremely high spirits and ended on a nice 10/13hc with plenty of time to have downtime before Siege of Orgrimmar!

And I honestly can’t say I’ve been happier with my new home!

Raiding

Looking at the raid itself, and from my personal perspectives – Blizzard did a really, really good job with Throne of Thunder. It gave us the return of Jin’rokh and several important trolls in lore in Council of Elders. Of course, the final boss Lei Shen is also a recognisable character from the questing done in Pandaria. So while we had the majority of the raid of unknown/new faces, we can safely tick the box of having bosses in the raid of ones we actually know of before going in – a continuing trend in the next tier!

The storyline for the raid worked really well too. We’re taking the fight to Lei Shen (though I’d prefer to have some Shado-pan accompany us for the first 3 bosses, or pile in after we kill bosses) until we get to the bridge between Council and Iron Qon, where we ended up getting the pathway crumble underneath our feet, to get fed to the beasts below the Throne.

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After fighting our way through the forgotten creations and beasts below the Isle of Thunder (along with a secret from years past) we finally come up against the tyrant mogu warlord and his most prized acquaintances. It is a fantastic story, the aesthetics look amazing, the fights are tuned very well on both 10 and 25 – with 10s actually having the prestige of difficulty this time around! But is it the Ulduar 2.0 we were led on to believe?

Ulduar is still my favourite raid, though Throne of Thunder does come in at third on the list behind Karazhan – but the addition of LFR has somewhat deadened what would have been an awesome tier with being able to run the place multiple times (and getting angry at people for failing mechanics). Ulduar was great because it was so short a tier that you rarely ran more than once per week – you were left wanting more because ToC was released shortly after, that simply provided better gear. Ulduar was FILLED with Titan lore, again another item that leaves you wanting more. Ulduar also provided plenty of achievements that extended beyond hard mode, beyond the standard metas – it kept you coming back again for wanting more. Ulduar was a MASSIVE raid that had tons of potential, and no matter what it always gave people a reason to want to go back and experience it some more.

Does ToT provide the same experience? Thanks to being in a much better guild than where I was back in Ulduar, the completionist side of me has been viably sated for this tier. Similar to Ulduar, the heroic-only encounter provides something that leaves you wanting more information about the Titans, but this time he’s a relatively simple fight in comparison to how Algalon was in comparison to Yogg-Saron (or so I’m led to believe). Is it the fact that I can run the place multiple times on multiple characters, and I’m just getting burnout from the raid? It certainly feels like I’ve been inside the halls of the Thunder King for many more hours than I was inside Yogg-Saron’s jail.

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Non-Raiding

Both the dailies of 5.2 and the weekly of 5.3 have been bearable, the Battlefield: Barrens even continuing my interest on some occasions after I’ve gotten everything I need achievement- or gear-wise from there. I still maintain the best daily hub for this expansion has been the Operation: Shieldwall and Dominance Offensive, with a questline intermittent between dailies at certain thresholds. Although I haven’t been to Krasarang since getting both of my gryphons, it was still an incredible questing experience, as far as WoW goes.

While this hasn’t been a heavy PvP patch for me, it does need a slight mention. With the addition of Deepwind Gorge in 5.3, I have to say I’m surprised I have yet to be motivated enough to get that Gorgeous title. I haven’t really touched much arena since moving to Nagrand, though hopefully in 5.4 with cross-realm arenas, I’ll be able to team up with my old PvP buddies I left behind on Doomhammer.

Preparation for 5.4

Even though there are plenty of resources available on what to expect later on this week, here’s another source for you to reference to in case you get lost on the way to Orgrimmar:

  • Valor points are staying – make sure to cap this week! Though there’s no new gear for valor, upgrades will be available straight away, and the current valor rewards are either changing to Justice rewards, or in the case of the Shado-pan Assault, being reduced by 34% in cost.
  • Conquest points on the other hand will turn to Honor points. Extra honor over 4k will turn into gold.
  • Lesser Charms will be able to be turned into Warforged Seal for use on tier 16 bosses. Mogu Runes of Fate can be bought from the Timeless Isle for 2500 Timeless Coins
  • Once raiding Siege of Orgrimmar you will get ilvl 528 from LFR, 540 Flex, 553 Normal, 559 Warforged, 566 Heroic, and 572 Heroic Warforged. LFR requires iLvl 496 to enter, although the Timeless Isle brings us BoA 496 gear that will turn into an item suitable for that character’s loot spec. The raid unlock schedule can be found here.
  • Crafters will want to hold onto or stockpile Bolts of Windwool Cloth, Magnificent Hide, Trillium Bars and Ghost Iron Bars to create the new 476 PvP gear, or used with 5.4’s Haunting Spirits (Spirits of War) to create 553 iLvl PvE items. Scribes have new glyphs, and Engineers get a new mount, new pet, and more!

So what did you guys think of the last tier? Did it live up to your standards? Did Blizzard bitterly disappoint you again? Are you looking forward to punching Garrosh in the face? I’ll see you later on this week after 5.4 has hit live servers!

RL’s PoV: Patch Day Soon

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 You must be tired already of reading about the new patch coming up! 5.4 Siege of Orgrimmar.

And so am I. 5.4 is still to come but already I’ve seen enough. Enough for the coming days I’d say but unfortunately there is no rest for a Raid Leader of a progression raiding guild in these times. After spending about 5 hours arguing with my printer to even get it to work and print out all the tactics, tips etc. I could find of PTR testing. Today I sat down and started thinking of how to deal with all these fights in our current raid group. Who to assign to what, what to change in general tactics to work better with our raid composition, when to pop Heroism, you name it.

Its been almost 5 years now since I last went to school but before a patch, I feel like I’m studying for an exam again. Desk covered in print outs, notebooks everywhere with drawings, sketches of positioning, notes and assignments. Everything in the vain hope to get everything ready before the launch of Siege of Orgrimmar. But like a typical student one way or an other everything always ends up being delayed till the last possible moment. Not only that but the fear of it not being finished in time and hoping we have learned JUST enough to pass is getting bigger by each day. Unfortunately its not teachers I need to satisfy this time around, but 13 other people in my raid team. Who are all counting on me to have sorted this all out. For us to blast trough normals in the first week.

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Thank god for my officers in this case. Usually underrated people in a guild but I can not thank them enough for what they do. Not only do they take all the extra obligations off me, they’re also there to go through this with me completely, giving me new perspective and ideas. And most of all, make me feel like I’m not completely drowning in all the information I need to process.

Yes for a short moment I will be enjoying 5.4, Wednesday where everything will be sorted and we can shine with all the work done. Just for half a week.

Then it’s time for heroic tactics again.