Crossing the Floor

AllianceGarrisonGate

Typically, the term “crossing the floor” is used in politics. It is where a member of a political party leaves their current one and goes over to another.

Similarly, I have crossed the floor for only my second time in my World of Warcraft career – after spending about nine years a Horde, I’m back to playing Alliance on my main. Korath the Tauren is now Korath the Night Elf. (It still feels weird and a bit dirty saying that out loud.)

It all started almost a year ago, shortly after the Siege of Orgrimmar started. I had stopped playing consistantly, and was playing more Diablo than Warcraft. There were times where I went over a month between logins. On my Horde Main, I did the LFR stuff to get achievements (not actually getting my Garrosh kill until a month or two before 6.0 dropped), yet it felt that I was doing it for the sake of completion and nothing else.

At the same time, I was working more on my Alliance Mage that I had transferred to play with some friends that I had met in real life a while back. This was mainly due to the fact that I wanted to see the Alliance version of Mists of Pandaria, and to play with some other friends.

Shortly before Warlords was launched, I found out that my guild had decided to merge to get prepared for Mythic raiding. I was definitely surprised at this, but since I wasn’t logging on very often it wasn’t shocking. There were a bunch of new people in the guild that I had never seen or heard of before, along with the familiar faces that I have known for almost ten years.

I’ve gone through a guild merge before, which ended up being decent at first and ending up not awesome. If I was a regular core raider of the guild, it might be different – but as a casual player who doesn’t do any raiding apart from LFR, I was feeling quite left out. I didn’t even feel comfortable speaking out in guild chat.

After weighing all of the options, I made the decision to move my main character – Korath the Tauren Druid – over to the Moonrunner server and faction change to Alliance, so I could play with my friends that I knew and was comfortable with.

korathNightElfA few years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet up with some people that I had met through blogging: specifically, Fannon from Dwarven Battle Medic and Ophelie from Bossy Pally. It was fantastic to meet other WoW bloggers and just to get to know other people.

I’m a very shy and introverted person. One of the scariest moments of my life was getting out of my car and walking into the pub where we all met.

However, it was one of the best choices I ever made. Through this meeting, it set up a get-together with other bloggers: this time with Vidyala and her husband Vosskah, and a few others. Instantly, my wife and I formed a friendship with them and were able to have great conversations.

There was only one downside to all of these people. All of these people were Alliance, where my wife and I played Horde exclusively. (My very first characters were Alliance, but around the original Zul’Gurub patch I switched to Horde.) At that time, I server transferred my then level 60 mage to Moonrunner just to talk to them, and left it at that.

Now, all this time later, it paid off. Unfortunately I did have to spend more money to do the server and faction change, but it was most definitely worth it – along with the fortunate timing of getting it on sale. The group of people I play with are fantastic, I’ve been able to meet a bunch of new people who are just a whole lot of fun. I know I’m still in the honeymoon phase, but I really don’t have any complaints as of yet.

The only downside of my WoW time right now is that my wife isn’t playing anymore, but that’s just due to her complete lack of free time with looking after the kids during the days and working at night. Ah, the life of a young family.

In a political sense, crossing the floor can be a disaster. Constituents feel like they were misled or betrayed, and it can cost someone their career. However, in this circumstance it has been one of the best choices I’ve made in a while. Once again, I’m excited to play WoW and habitually log in to check my garrison missions. Right, and actually play and have a crapload of fun.

Mists of Pandaria – Three Weeks In

On September 25th, something very interesting happened. Mists of Pandaria was released to a horde of fans who were eager to have something different, and hopefully better than what Cataclysm had been. They were chomping at the bit, desperate for something more than running a raid for the past 9 months.

Blizzard Entertainment did an extrordinary thing. They delivered, and then some.

Most people I had spoken to were completely done with Cataclysm. Dragon Soul had been out for about 9 months, they had cleared everything and had all of the mounts and achievements they could get or wanted to get. All of their professions were maxed, they had all the reputations they needed, or whatever their case may have been.

Personally, I wasn’t playing as much as I had before. I would log on a few nights a week to do a couple randoms, maybe a Raid Finder group (if it didn’t blow up). Leveling alts only stays exciting for so long. Not having time to raid took out the only regular thing I had ever relied on in previous expansions. The only thing I was doing was leveling my Alliance Mage on my friends’ server.

When Mists launched, all of a sudden I had so much stuff to do again. True to what I had been expecting, the very first thing I did was do some pet battles. I had only done a little bit of them in beta, and they were just as much fun as I remembered. Memories of playing Pokemon in junior high school came back in a very big way.

For the first time since Burning Crusade, my wife and I decided to level our mains together. I play a Feral Druid and she plays an Enhancement Shaman, so we were able to power through most mobs without much problem (except for some of the rares that we stumbled across). We hit 90 this past weekend, and really enjoyed all of the zones that we quested through.

Overall, the quest design of this expansion is absolutely amazing. There were quests where we laughed – mainly the Hozen quests, especially Riko expressing his undying (see what I did there?) love for Kiryn – some quests that were quite touching, but the most important thing is that pretty much all of them were a lot of fun.

There is one thing that I keep coming back to, something that I find myself saying all the time, which is how absolutely beautiful the new content is. It’s hard to believe that the engine running this is over 8 years old, yet we’re still given these amazing views. Everything from the grand temples and structures, down to the small little tumbleweeds that blow around Kun-Lai Summit. The environment is gorgeous and incredibly immersive.

At the moment, I have yet to find something about this expansion that I don’t like. The closest thing that I could label as a complaint is that there’s just too much to do. Once I hit level 90, I have at least four different factions that I want to raise my reptutation with immediately, and being the completionist that I am, I want to eventually get them all up to exalted.

I still have yet to fully do many dungeons or scenarios – the only ones I’ve done is one run of the new heroic Scholomance, and one instance of the Arena of Annihilation.

All I know is that I’m more excited about this expansion than I have been for any other, possibly having Burning Crusade for the exception (only because at the time, it was the first expansion). One last note: a few friends of mine were extremely critical of the Mists of Pandaria announcement after BlizzCon. They were complaining about how much it looked like a very weak expansion without much content. Now, after talking with them after the release, they have completely changed their stances and are quite happy with the result.

Bring it on!

Mists of Pandaria Talents and Specs – DON’T PANIC

The words “DON’T PANIC” are inscribed in large, friendly letters on the front of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

When something new comes, there’s only a few different ways that people can react. If the new thing looks appealing and pleasing to the person, there’s a sense of excitement and anticipation. If the new thing doesn’t hold any interest to the person, there’s a bunch of apathy and boredem. If the new thing looks not good at all to the person, there’s a sense of doom, dread, and panic.

Something new came this week.

Earlier in the week, Blizzard released an early look at the Mists of Pandaria talent and spec calculator. It shows every class, what their new talent tree will look like, and more importantly what the different specs will look like come patch 5.0 and the release of the new expansion.

If you missed it, at BlizzCon it was revealed that talent specs are changing with MoP. Rather than just adding to a specific arsenal of abilities that every class has, each spec will become even more specialized. As an example, only Fire mages will have Fireball and only Frost mages will have Frostbolt, but every mage will have Frostfire bolt.

Between BlizzCon and now, there has been a bunch of speculation about how much each class would change. With the new calculator, it’s shown that every class will be changing, but each class has differing amount of change. The pure DPS classes seem to be having less change than the hybrids, which seems to give the impression that Blizzard wants the spec to do one thing and one thing only – which is what they spec into.

The big disclaimer that has been stated is that this is a “pre-alpha” build, meaning that the information given can and more than likely will change between now and release. Bashiok said that they are giving this information out because they want to get feedback from the players and see what can be improved or tweaked. If you decide to leave a note for Blizzard, just please remember the most important thing (and Wheaton’s Law): Don’t Be A Dick.

Since my main is a Feral DPS Druid, I thought I’d give my impressions about that class.

One big change to Druids is one that all hybrids who can do any sort of healing are experiencing. If you’re not specced into the healing tree, there will be very limited choice for what healing abilities will be present. Rather than having Healing Touch, Regrowth, Nourish, Rejuvenation, and Lifebloom – it’s down to Nourish and Rejuvenation that are baseline. All of the other spells will be available at certain levels if you spec into Resto.

On the other hand, the times when a Bear could do decent DPS while not tanking are long gone. Druids are having the distinction of being the only class that will now have four specs: Balance (Moonkin), Restoration (Tree), Feral (Cat), and Guardian (Bear). If you want to be a bear, you’re a tank and a tank only. Even though this is definitely a loss for Druids, it is bringing us in line with the other classes that are out there. A Protection Warrior isn’t able to do good DPS while still in spec, why should a Bear be able to shift to Cat and do well?

That was definitely one of the benefits of being a Druid in the first place, and we’ll still have a limited capacity for it with the level 90 talent of Heart of the Wild (there are some bloggers out there who think that it will not be very useful at all – which I’m inclined to agree with). However, Druid specs will most definitely be very specialized.

The biggest news that I’ve seen so far is the new level 87 ability called Symbiosis. The text reads: “Creates a symbiotic link which grants the druid one ability belonging to the target’s class, varying by the druid’s specialization. In exchange, grants the target one druid ability based on their class and combat role. Lasts 1 hour and persists through death.”

On first glance, this looks absolutely amazing. Of course, this likely means that it won’t be as amazing as we hope it will be. Lissanna at Restokin gave a really good writeup about how she thinks it will work, and I think she has the right idea. It will probably take a specific ability from each class, rather than taking a random one, and since it will last an hour and persists through death it shouldn’t be left up to chance. Unfortunately, this won’t be able to be properly tested until the beta comes out, so until then we’ll be left with speculation (unless Blizzard decides to give us details about how it exactly works… /wink).

As with expansions in the past, we just have to get used to the “new normal”.  There are things we may not like, but at the moment they’re not set in stone.  If this is how things look when MoP is launched, then there might be some other words being used at the time.

I think that things are going in the right track, but will definitely need some tweaking.  While we see the specs make the player focus on a specific role, there are then talents which encourage us to do other roles… but we won’t have as many tools to do said roles.  It just doesn’t make much sense to me now.  We’ll see how things go as time progresses – just remember, the game isn’t even close to being out yet.