Saturday, January 1, 2011

So..... Cata

Cata's been out for nearly a month now and I haven't posted much on my thoughts on it thus far.

I headed out at midnight to get the expansion. I wasn't planning on getting the collectors edition since I'd heard it was pre-order only. Turns out Best Buy had some extras, so I got one. I installed it and waited for the server to switch over.

Release night was crazy. The line to get to the flight master was insane. And when I say "line", I mean "cluster fuck".

After about 10 minutes, I finally got it, grabbed my quest to head to Vashj'ir, and headed out there. Release night was ridiculously laggy. I was having 2 second delays on all spells. Oddly, there didn't seem to be many people in the zone compared to later nights when lag was lower.

Regardless, I leveled through Vash, headed to Deepholm, realized I hadn't picked enough herbs to be able to pick the ones there, headed back to Hyjal, did the quests there, grabbing herbs along the way, returned to Deepholm, and Uldum.

Our resident rogue was our guild first 85, followed by one of our warriors, and then a hunter. I was fourth through the gate, having done quite a bit of healing through instances for that last level.

Since then I worked to get my real life friend to 85, and try to get us both enough gear to run heroics. And dear lord what a pain that has been. The number of places and methods required to be sufficiently geared to run heroics well has been painful. Some gear has come through quests. But the ilvl 333 stuff only seems to come from the end of long quest chains from an entire zone. Thus, I netted the quest achievements for every zone except Uldum and Vash. The former because I just quit for awhile, and the latter because it was bugged and not enough quests existed for the first few days. Seeing that, I left a few undone and apparently they've gone and fixed it, so I need to pick up those last few for the achieve.

Meanwhile, other slots can only be well filled from running non-heroic instances. And some.... well, there's just nothing there for some slots. Want a good set of druid healing boots right now? There's an ilvl 316 pair, but absolutely no 333 pair. Instead, you'll skip straight to ilvl 346 boots. Either you get those from the heroics you won't be able to heal, or you get these boots which only drop from a rare spawn with a 9-14 hour respawn timer in a cave that's heavily traveled by questers. My friend took the latter route. Other gear comes from Justice Points. If you saved some from Wrath, you're a step ahead. But since my friend blew all hers for boomkin gear, she's been hurting for JP gear since she can only get 70 JP a day, being unable to heal most heroics due to poor gear.

As a priest, I haven't been suffering nearly as bad. The healing is brutal, mostly due to severe mana issues. But as I've improved gear, that's slowly being mitigated. Still, I've been having some problems with my regen skills. Hymn of Hope takes far too long to channel. A tank will likely be dead by the time it's done. Shadowfiends have had their attack changed. Previously, they were permanently set to aggressive and would go after whatever your target was. Now, you have to be attacking the target to get it to attack, or actually press another button to tell it to. Obviously, as a healer, I'm not attacking anything, and having to actually tell it to attack both wastes a bit of its time attacking as well as takes my attention away from the people that need healing. I think this was an extremely poor choice.

Alchemy has been a help. The new mana potions are potent, but requiring Whiptail makes them expensive to produce since it can only be (reliably) farmed along the banks of the river in Uldum (also around a lake in Tol Barad, but have fun getting ganked). It's a very limited area and since it's so well defined, you can bet that you'll be competing to get it. Still, this isn't nearly as bad as the Azshara's Veil which only comes from Vashj'ir, and is extremely spread out. Super slow, yet required to make my flasks.

Aside from healer mana issues, heroics just haven't been going well. I've tried running several with PuGs, but generally drop within the first few minutes when it becomes clear the tank still thinks he's playing Wrath, and tries to AOE tank everything and not worry about cleaving the CC, if he even waits for it. Similarly, few people have been paying attention to boss mechanics and people standing in things has been a reoccurring problem, and a waste of healer mana. On the first boss in Halls of Origination, none of our three dps knew the lever mechanics (on normal) leaving the tank and I to be the ones to have to do their work for them.

Sometimes, I can't entirely blame people. The green healing circle druid healers drop frequently does a very good job of obscuring any ground effects from the bosses. The faint blue tornadoes on the first boss in heroic Throne of the Tides blends in with the blue room and are easy to miss when you're staring at health bars. Overall, it's requiring an ability to multitask that many people don't possess nor have the gear to compensate for.

In the meantime, I've also been working on archaeology a ton. I've maxed it out in Eastern Kingdoms, hoping to get the DPS caster staff, but no luck so far. After maxing my alchemy, I switched over to Kalimdor to put together Canopic Jars and attempt to get the Vial of the Sands recipe to turn myself into a Sandstone drake. So far, I've put together one jar and haven't gotten it. I've collected most of the materials, and almost have the 24k gold necessary to buy the Sands of Time.

Cooking has been a pain as well. I've finished leveling it, which wasn't too hard. But getting recipes requires the daily cooking quest. In this case, I wish Blizzard had gone with some more of the variety they had with gear: You get recipes from daily quests, instance drops, chefs in various cities, or reputation rewards. Nope. Instead, there's the painful bottleneck to collect the recipes.

I've been mostly concentrating on fishing recipes and haven't quite maxed that out, but am slowly working on it as I help the guild with the That's a Lot of Bait! achievement. Annoyingly, the main fish I want for the best dps caster buff, doesn't come from pools, making fishing them completely useless for the guild achieve.

Next week, the guild is hoping to have its first raid. I'm quite skeptical that we'll be geared enough. Additionally, we're lacking several spots. One of our tanks plays primarily on another server now and, even if he does sign on to play with us, is now playing a shaman as his main. Our third healer was an alt of another guild's member's, but now that she's concentrating on her main, we don't have her either, leaving me to probably be the 3rd healer for some time.

Another of my real life friends recently started playing and is leveling a Death Knight to be our new tank, but it's a long process. I'm not sure why Blizz didn't extend the cutoff for recruit-a-friend XP since the level cap was raised as well. He's currently 70, but it's probably going to be another 2-3 weeks before he's sufficiently geared to take up tanking, if he can even handle the responsibility with such a challenging difficulty as a new player.

So that's what been going on for the past 3 weeks with me. Overall, I like Cata. It's a good challenge, but there's some annoying oversights, and it's showing just how bad many players really were.

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