So You Just Boosted to 90…

Like many other people, you just pre-ordered the Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft and that means you get an instant 90 boost. While you might have some idea of how to play the class and spec you boosted, maybe you don’t. Maybe you boosted a brand-new character that you just created.

Once you boost to 90, you may be tempted to jump into group content right away. You are technically able to queue for, uh, anything, I think, except for the Siege of Orgrimmar LFRs.

I beg of you to do a few things before you queue up for anything. Please. Pretty please. With sugar on top.

Do a Bit of Reading

For every class and spec, there are various guides for you on the Internet that are very simple and quick to read, so that you have a clue as to how to play your brand-new 90. Here are a couple of places to go:

Take note of what your rotations/ability priorities are for your chosen spec and place those abilities on your action bar in the rough order in which they’re prioritized.

Time to go Shopping/Questing/Reforging

If you have other characters on the same server and faction as your boosted character, awesome. Buy your recommended glyphs (as per the guides above!) and apply the glyphs to the boosted character.

If you don’t have spare gold and you’re finding that 150g goes pretty quickly, or you don’t have other characters on that server or faction, don’t worry. You probably also don’t have any professions. That’s okay. You should start out by questing. You should be at the Timeless Isle and there are some quests you can do there for gold. There are also dailies you can do over back in the Vale of the Eternal Blossoms (Golden Lotus, etc). Doing these quests is a great way to acclimate yourself to your new character and earn money, which you can then use to improve your character by buying things like glyphs or enchants for newer, better gear that you’ll come across on Timeless Isle.

You’ll also want to reforge your gear a bit, at least if you’re DPS, in order to hit 15% hit (for casters) or 7.5% expertise/7.5% hit (for melee and hunters). You can use AskMrRobot or the ReforgeLite addon to help you reach your hit caps. Don’t worry too much about reforging until you get some better gear, but please make sure that you’re hit-capped. Please. :)

Professions

You probably don’t have any professions. Here’s where you can make a bit of cash. I would recommend picking up herbalism or mining as a profession and pick a secondary profession that’s a good match for it. For example, if you pick up herbalism, this funds the alchemy and inscription professions, whereas mining funds jewelcrafting, blacksmithing and engineering. My personal preferences are herbalism/alchemy and mining/jewelcrafting, but don’t discount tailoring and enchanting as possibilities.

Don’t worry about levelling the professions to max, especially the crafting profession. You can herb and mine in Pandaria even with a very low skill level, so concentrate on that and then sell the herbs or ore that you’ve gathered. You may want to check your local auction house to see how much various ores (Ghost Iron Ore, for example) and herbs (Green Tea Leaf, for example) sell for before you even choose which to pick up.

Professions aren’t strictly necessary, but if you want to be able to make some gold to help fund your continuing boosted adventures, having a gathering profession (particularly if you’re on a new server without a lot of friends or resources) will go a long way to helping you to maintain your character.

A Bit More Reading

Once you’ve glyphed yourself up and you feel like you’re somewhat comfortable on your new character, go ahead and do a bit of reading about whatever instance you want to queue up for. Icy Veins has guides for all of the fights out there, so take a quick look so you have an idea of what to expect. And so that you don’t fall through the floor on Elegon…

Once you’ve done that, you should be able to go in and perform at a somewhat acceptable level for various LFR-difficulty raids.

Why Bother?

Here’s the deal: this stuff matters because if you waltz into group content without knowing the first thing about your class or spec, you’ve just made everything that much more difficult for your entire group — which includes you, by the way. The fights, even the LFR ones, are designed to have a minimum amount of damage or healing done, or for a tank to get a certain number of stacks of a debuff or what-have-you. Can a group get through if they have some strong performers to make up for those who are a drag on the group? Yes. However, the entire community will be better served if the boosted players who are participating in the group content have half a clue as to what to do. If you want better runs, faster runs, more successful runs that don’t end in complete failure, you have to take responsibility as a member of the community.

Expecting boosted 90s, even those of experienced players, to be amazing at group content is kind of silly. But what’s not silly is asking them to know the basics for their new characters and taking a bit of time to get hit-capped and have decent glyphs. It’s not silly to ask them to take a quick look at the various boss encounters. It’s not silly to expect these basic things from people, even if they had no idea on how to play a class beforehand.

The WoW community is a large one, with millions of players around the world. If you, as a boosted character, can help make one run that much smoother, just by virtue of knowing how to play your new character at a basic level, by having an idea on how to kill a boss (or not drop to your death on Elegon) or by knowing enough to reforge to make sure you’re hit-capped, then you are a boon to the community. If, on the other hand, you, as a boosted character, are a drag on the runs you queue up for, where you literally auto-attack or don’t use your pet or don’t even have a clue as to which abilities your spec ought to use, then you are part of the reason the game has become less enjoyable for a sizable portion of the population.

Take the time to learn a bit before you queue up. Take the time to reforge and glyph. Practice your skills. That’s how we can all work to improve the overall WoW community together, even if it’s done one character at a time.

Paying the Way to Dinging

Man, you play one week of WoW and you have blogging material coming out your ears!

Today’s topic is about that survey some players are getting, about how much you might be willing to pay to have a character instantly boosted to Level 90 (in Warlords of Draenor, where the level cap is 100).

During this year’s BlizzCon, Blizzard announced that purchasing Warlords of Draenor would come with one free character boost to 90. Why 90? Because that would enable you to skip all the previous content and jump right into content that comes with the expansion and, ultimately, that’s what they want you to do — get through previous content and be able to play with your friends faster if you ever took a break from the game.

So there’s a survey going out that’s asking people what they think a fair price is for the expansion (with and without the one character boost to 90) and what they think a fair price is for the boost alone.

Naturally, I have Things to Say. ;)

On the One Hand: No. Just… No.

While I do think there are some good points (which I will explore below), let me first tell you the story of Gneiss.

My brother, Fog, played a resto druid for most of Vanilla. Actually, he played a feral/bear druid and then was forced to swap specs to heal for raiding (as was the way of things back then) by the guild he joined. In order to avoid being asked to heal MORE often, he decided to level a dwarf priest (fear ward!) for fun, not yet understanding that he’d still have to heal as a priest at 60. So he played the priest, Gneiss, as his alt, playing as shadow, primarily. He soon tired of people asking him to heal in groups (this was pre-LFG, remember), so he abandoned Gneiss and started playing Slovotsky, a rogue. He loved his rogue and got him to 60 and geared him pretty well and showed up to some raids as a rogue (although he’d usually heal if asked). Gneiss lay abandoned and unused.

When Burning Crusade came around, my brother was focused entirely on his rogue, abandoning his druid, Fog, and never touching his priest.

Meanwhile, I was interested in learning more about the priest. So I took the priest and levelled Gneiss (who I name-changed to something else) to 70 and spent a lot of time running around Nagrand mining ore and collecting motes of air (Gneiss was a miner/engineer) after my raids, chatting with my Real Life Friend the Resto Druid as she wiped her way through Black Temple and Sunwell progression.

I didn’t do a whole lot with the priest, although I joined a guild for a short period of time and did a tiny bit of Tier 4 raiding as a holy priest.

Still, I never felt as though I really understood the class. So when Wrath of the Lich King had been out for a while, my brother reclaimed his priest, but then promptly abandoned it again to level a paladin tank. And, naturally, this meant that I was going to level a character with him. As I already had a paladin, a shaman and a druid, I elected to level a priest. We dungeoned our way through everything together and eventually both got to 80.

I thought I knew “enough” about priests during the bit of time I did stuff (apart from mining and such in Nagrand) in Burning Crusade, but I hadn’t really levelled the toon. My brother had. He had learned some important bits that I felt I didn’t know. I know I didn’t know that Dispel Magic was able to be used offensively until someone informed me of it. (Should read tooltips…)

I never really felt “prepared” on Gneiss. Not the way that I felt “prepared” on Kurn or on Madrana. But when I created my own priest, that sense of preparation came back. It’s as though the levelling process allowed me to really acclimate to the character and learn how to play it better than when I’d basically taken over my brother’s priest somewhere in the 40s or something.

So while I find the idea of instantly dinging 90 to be fairly appealing, I can’t help but think what it means for the community at large. Is the community going to suffer because of brand-new 90s running around who don’t know how to play their new classes at all? I can only guess that the answer is “yes”.

On the Other Hand: Hells to the Yes!

At present, I have several characters in World of Warcraft spread out over three main servers (Eldre’Thalas, Skywall, Proudmoore).

90s: Kurn & my shaman alt.
85s: Madrana, Baby Pally Madrana, mage, disc priest, guardian/resto druid
80: Prot warrior
58: Death knight (bank alt)
53: Mage
5: Rogue (bank alt)

And then I have a bunch of level 1s for storage/bank alt goodness.

I still don’t know who is going to receive my level 90 boost for Warlords of Draenor, but it might be the prot warrior (since I literally keep her around for inscription/profession stuff). Or maybe I’ll roll a DK on Eldre’Thalas and boost that to 90 and pick up engineering/blacksmithing, which are the only two professions I don’t have covered. However, it’s clear that I have a lot of characters who would greatly benefit from being bumped up to 90 instantly. And I still think it would be hilarious if my rogue bank alt hit level 90. Hilarious. He’s been level 5 for, oh, seven years. And he’s only level 5 because that was the level you needed to be to pick up a profession. So I picked up enchanting and was able to disenchant just about anything — until they put in a level restriction for the professions, meaning he will forever have enchanting no higher than 75 unless I ding him.

Anyhow, I digress.

For the experienced player, perhaps, a level 90 boost isn’t terrible. But even then, I wouldn’t queue up as, say, a death knight tank if I boosted to 90 on that character, because I wouldn’t want to inflict myself on others.

Other people are perhaps not quite so polite.

But would I make use of a pay-to-ding feature? To avoid going through umpteen expansions? Almost certainly. Hell, back in 2010, I was writing about how I would pay Blizzard $25 to start a toon at 68

It’s not an elegant solution to the fact that you have to go through Vanilla content (1-60), BC content (60-70), Wrath content (70-80), Cata content (80-85) and then MoP content (85-90) before you’re ready to participate in Warlords of Draenor, but it’s a solution. There are two kinds of people I think would take advantage of this: the new people who want to play with friends who are already there and people like me who have been through the other expansions’ content so often they want to cry at the thought of saving Corki again or trudging through Grizzly Hills once more or dealing with Vashj’ir yet again or even slogging through the Dread Wastes even one more time.

So is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Selfishly, I think it’s wonderful. If I were playing consistently and that was available, I would probably take advantage of it more often than not, were it something able to be purchased from the Blizzard store. If I ever wanted to roll a monk (not really something that’s interested me), that’s certainly something I would do.

But as I explained above, I do think it’s not going to be great for the community as a whole. Will it be good for Blizzard and for their bottom line? Sure. People get to play with friends, people can pay for a shortcut to the current expansion, all that jazz, it’s great. People are happy they don’t have to do Borean Tundra (and let me tell you, there is a LOT boring about Borean!) and Blizzard is happy to take their money. Everyone wins, right?

But I’m not convinced that’s the case. I’m concerned that it will lower the overall skill of the playerbase which, to be honest, is already pretty poor, when you look at people in random, transient content (LFG, LFR). I’ll write more about this tomorrow, but in one of my LFR adventures last week, there was another survival hunter in the raid with me… who used Explosive Shot a single time. Once.

I would argue that, as painful and tiring as the slog is, levelling is worth the time and effort if only to learn how to play your class.

The trouble is, of course, that people aren’t bothering to do that now. They have 90 levels in which they get to learn how to play and they still don’t know how to play.

It’s not a “casual” vs. “hardcore” thing, either. We’re talking about the core ability for a survival hunter. Not using Explosive Shot is, well, not how the spec was meant to be played. It’s like Cory Stockton said, about the talent trees when they announced Mists of Pandaria, a fury warrior who didn’t take the Raging Blow talent wasn’t being unique, but was being a bad fury warrior. Now you have people who have the abilities given to them, baked into the specs themselves, and they’re still not using them.

Is boosting these people to 90, throwing them into the deep end, really going to make those people worse players? I’m not sure that’s possible. But what boosting people to 90 will do is it’ll inflict them upon other people more quickly. Hit 90, start questing, queue up for new dungeons and then wipe your group because you are doing 300 DPS instead of 3000 DPS. Or, worse, they queue up as tanks and healers (for the faster queue) and then wipe their groups because they don’t know how to hold aggro on more than one mob at a time or don’t know how to cast on someone. (The latter does happen, even now. Trust me.)

I guess what I’m saying here is that the underlying problem, which has been increasingly apparent ever since LFG came to be in Wrath of the Lich King, is that people don’t know (or care) how to play their classes and these people are being let loose upon the game. Boosting to 90 will be incredibly beneficial to a lot of people, believe me, but, especially at the start of the expansion when so many people will have that boost to 90, I expect to see a lot of failure stemming from fresh 90s.

I don’t think it’s a problem that’s easily solvable, per se, but one way it can be addressed is to force the boosted 90s to pass Silver Proving Grounds for any spec they’re going to queue up for, forcing them to repeat it for a spec they haven’t queued up for yet. Silver is something most people should be able to easily attain and since Proving Grounds were made for 90s, it’s perfect for fresh, boosted-to-90 characters. Let them quest alone, sure, but make them prove themselves before inflicting them on other people who play the game. Even if the person is level 96 before they queue up, scale up the Proving Grounds for that level and make them work for it a little bit.

I’m someone who spent something like six months straight doing a daily heroic dungeon on Madrana once that feature launched in Wrath of the Lich King. I would queue up as a tank AND a healer (because I had enough gear and knowledge at the time to be able to tank or heal “heroic” dungeons adequately) and would invariably have anywhere between 1 and 3 people who didn’t know what they were doing. I’ve done my fair share of random dungeons throughout Cata. I did a bunch of LFRs back when that was first introduced. I’ve just spent a week doing a bunch of LFRs of MoP content. In short, I’ve spent a lot of time playing with random people in this game and, honestly, I’m not looking forward to fresh 90s who don’t know what they’re doing at the start of Warlords of Draenor. If Blizzard isn’t willing to educate them, I hope they’ll use the existing technology to restrict people from inflicting themselves on others. It’s an artificial barrier to entry, but if you just skipped 90 levels, can you really complain about the idea of doing proving grounds to show you know how to do your role appropriately? I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I would welcome the challenge, myself. If that (and, say, $25) was the price to pay to skip 90 levels? Bring it on!

What are your thoughts about boosting to 90? What repercussions do you think this could have on the larger community? Would you pay for a boost?

LFR Tales: Mogu’shan Vaults 1 & 2

Early in the morning on Tuesday, December 24th, 2013, I took advantage of a seven-day free trial for World of Warcraft that was in my Referrals and Rewards section of my Battle.Net account. My unofficial goal for myself was to gear myself up and go check out the raid content (LFR versions at any rate). I wanted to see each boss once, with a specific focus on wanting to see Garrosh defeated, because I’ve hated that dude since the Faction Champions fight back in Trial of the (Grand) Crusader.

By Tuesday afternoon, I’d gotten a couple of pieces of gear from the Timeless Isle. Those pieces brought my ilvl up from ~458 past ~463, so I was then able to queue for Mogu’shan Vaults.

I will preface this by saying that I did absolutely no research for MSV LFRs. None whatsoever. I knew bits and pieces about the fights (I knew about Elegon’s platform, for example) but I went in pretty blind, which is not typical of me. I like to be 100% prepared and ready to go. I just couldn’t make myself go through raid strats for entry-level raids, though. At worst, I figured I could read a quick guide if there were issues during the instance.

To be clear, I don’t recommend going in blind. It added a certain degree of panic to which I am not accustomed…

Anyhow, we walk into MSV and clear trash and then, all of a sudden, we kill a boss.

What?

Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t realize The Stone Guard was actually a boss fight. I thought it was slightly more difficult trash. No ready-check, no pause, nothing from the raid group to indicate it was a boss fight. I didn’t use a single cooldown.

So that was my experience with LFR Stone Guard. The fight lasted 2:36.

On to Feng the Accursed.

To be honest, even reading a description of this boss, I don’t have much recollection as to which boss this actually is! I do remember getting Wildfire Spark once and running away from people because, hey, if you’re stacked up and you get a debuff on you, you PROBABLY want to move away. So I did. Other than that, I just gotta say that Deadly Boss Mods is wicked for someone who doesn’t know what in the hell they’re doing. Great warnings. It’s not as though I never used DBM before or anything, but I certainly gained a new appreciation for it.

I basically treated the fight as a tank and spank with some crap on the ground. I took the third-least amount of damage from Epicenter, and when I noticed it was nature damage, I instinctively looked for Aspect of the Wild and then remembered they tossed that out (along with the pally auras). Oh, and despite not taking much fire or epicenter damage, I took a crapton of damage from Arcane Velocity. Whoopsiedoodle.

All-told, not a particularly memorable encounter.

Then it was Gara’jal the Spiritbinder.

For various reasons, I was vaguely aware that there was a secondary realm in this fight. However, I never visited it. I wasn’t banished there or anything, so… I didn’t click on a totem to go to the other realm. I also never got the Voodoo Doll thing. So I just sat back and shot at the boss. I have to admit that I quite enjoyed being the noob, for once, and neglecting to do anything of importance in a raid environment. Over the years that I raided, I did some of the tough jobs, I always knew what was going on and it was really nice to just sit back and fire arrows at a boss without too much concern for anything else.

On the other hand, my pride is somewhat damaged now because I feel silly talking about how I was “that scrub”, but hey, wait ’till you read up on my encounters in Siege. Lordy…

I logged my adventures in MSV 1 and looked at the WoL parses (although I plan to upload all my logs to Warcraft Logs to play around, soon!) and sighed heavily because I’d ranked on Feng and Gara’jal. Me. Ranking. After not playing for a year. Obviously, Gara’jal is because I didn’t actually enter the spirit world, but there’s no earthly reason that I should have ranked on Feng.

I looked at the other hunter in the raid and, to prevent public shaming I won’t link to their armory, but:

470 item level (439 equipped — no cloak! WTF?! And not just “no legendary cloak”, I’m saying NO CLOAK AT ALL.)
2 empty glyph slots (both major)
6 unenchanted items
7 empty sockets in 4 items
missing Living Steel Belt Buckle
No items have been reforged
This character doesn’t use any gems.
Hit: +4.66%
Expertise: 2.28%

There are two small positives to this guy:

a) At least he’s wearing all mail.
b) At least all the gear is agility stuff and not, say, intellect mail.

Oh. And he was Beast Mastery. Know how many times he cast Kill Command throughout the whole instance? Five times. And they all missed because he’s nowhere near hit or expertise capped. And yes. He was in for all three bosses.

On the bright side, even after a year of not playing, I was not as bad as that guy. (It’s a personal point of pride for me to be hit-capped and now, I guess, expertise-capped, even though I hate expertise and I’m sort of glad those two stats are vanishing in Warlords of Draenor.)

Anyway, moving on, that was on Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t play much, if at all, on Christmas Day, but spent some time playing on Boxing Day (Thursday, the 26th). Among my adventures, I did the back-half of Mogu’shan Vaults.

I should note, at this point, that there were no wipes in my first-half. It was remarkably smooth. Not exactly the case with the back-half… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Spirit Kings

I think Spirit Kings went pretty well. I avoided damage from Flanking Orders, Massive Attacks and Annihilate. Only took two hits of Volley. (I miss Volley…) While Flanking Orders was kind of fun to run around (Disengage is amazing), there wasn’t a lot to this fight. Sure, more abilities retained means more chaos, but none of it was really chaotic to begin with. Again, I know that this is LFR we’re talking about, so I shouldn’t be so cocky, but honestly, this was kind of a yawner. A six-minute yawner.

Elegon

Thus commenced the wipes. And, by the way, Ellegon is the name of a dragon in the Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg. I loved the hell out of those books and it’s hard to imagine that Elegon is not an homage to Ellegon.

Anyhow, the wipes started here. Not surprisingly, we wiped the first time because a bunch of people fell in the hole. I have to say that I’m really pleased to see that there’s an actual spell that kills you (Obliteration) as opposed to “fall damage”. Good job, Blizz! Makes diagnosing wipes a lot easing.

The second time, only two people (instead of like, 10) died to falling, so we were able to get through the fight pretty easily. Kill adds/pylon things. Don’t drop to your death. I’m probably missing something (although I got the whole buff/no buff thing), but this seemed pretty simple even for an LFR fight.

Ranked pretty high for this, compared to the other fights in the last LFR, but that just makes me sad. I’m assuming that half the reason I ranked is because I didn’t plummet to my death. Sigh.

Will of the Emperor

Well, I screwed up which adds to kill first. I focused on Rage, then Strength, then Courage, just because I was flying blind. I reasoned that Rage sounded worse! Lordy. Too funny. That said, I only took two Devastating Arcs. Others took 20+. I feel okay about myself now. I’m assuming that it’s okay I focused on just one of Jan-xi and Qin-xi, since they share a health pool. It just took us one attempt to down this fight.

All told, not a particularly exciting fight from the perspective of a hunter in LFR. And I ranked again. Terrible. Undergeared, rusty hunters like myself should not rank, especially when they don’t know the fights at all.

In Conclusion

The LFR version of MSV bored me. I liked seeing the Elegon fight due to my affinity for Ellegon and that series of books, but most of the fights were boring to me. Again, I know, it’s LFR. LFR does not represent Flex, Normal or Heroic. I get it. I’m sure the fights were ten times more interesting on actual difficulty levels.

That said, none of them really left much of an impression on me. I struggled to remember which fight was which as I wrote this, so I looked them all up and went “oh, right, THAT one”. Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar fare better in my memory, I think, but much of T14 seemed meh.

Further, this summary was probably not terribly entertaining, but there are more summaries coming. In the meantime, tell me about your impressions of MSV, on any difficulty! Did you like the instance overall? What about your LFR experiences there? Anyone as bad as my fellow hunter? Share your tales of woe!

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