Battle for Azeroth: first alpa impressions

I'm not sure how I got invited to the F&F alpha for Battle for Azeroth, but I'm going to try to be useful and not just run around mining.  This post will probably be super spoilery if you don't want to know anything about quests and whatnot, it's just going to be a running commentary as I run around Zanchul.


Mid-Legion Transmogs

Okay, sometime before Legion actually hit, I did a post about transmogs and what I thought would end up changing or not, which weapons I'd probably mog, and so forth.  It occurs to me I'd never updated with what I ended up doing, so...

(These are roughly in the order I leveled/am leveling them.)

Duskhawk has ended up in level 40s-ish mail, a lot of it from Arathi Highlands and thereabouts.  The pants technically don't match, since I'd have to do an Alliance quest for the mail version, and I haven't gotten around to it.  I'm still using that belt with pouches, and the Golden Bow of Quel'thalas, because, damn, that bow.  I like how this turned out because it matches the guild tabard pretty well.

I loved Elsa's blue mog and that staff from the garrison, but between this version of the discipline staff and those robes - I really like the greenish runic band running down them.  I don't have all the color morphs of this since I didn't raid much on her.

I don't like any of my rogue transmog options.  I'm going to have to do just enough of Antorus to get her the badass rogue hat in there, if I can.  I'm not great at rogue dps.

Okay, so I just kind of randomly made this mog for my druid when Legion hit, before I'd even gotten the staff, and, um.  Then I went to the herbalism trainer.  Yeah, that was awkward.  That said, this goes with the handful of colors I have for the druid staff, so I'll probably keep it a while.

This is not Emerald Plate.  As much as I loved her in the Emerald Plate, I really like the way this came together as a sort of utility set.  The shoulders are shiny, and I'm a bit disappointed I can't get that same kind of metallic sheen on more gear.

It was weird for me to be leveling my warrior this late compared to my other alts, but I wanted to get at least the basic parts of alchemy, inscription, and jewelcrafting opened, and she just has blacksmithing, which... eh?  She's back in her Pandaria mog to go with the purple accents in the prot shield.

I leveled my shaman so I could level leatherworking, got through chasing down the Elderhorn, and... I haven't maxed leatherworking yet to actually learn how to make the mount.  This is the set that says "shaman" in my head.

So, uh, yeah.  My death knight.  I picked her first out of the "classes I haven't leveled" group once I was through leveling an alt for each profession.  This plate chest is a recolor of the Gothic plate, I think; I like it because the matching boots don't look super clunky on a tauren or troll.  I don't haven't the matching pants, and I was originally trying for an overalls look to go with the shovel, so I went with a basic blue plate.  I've got a skimpy red mog that matches the blood weapon, but red just doesn't look good on her.  Since they redid the models, she's not the right shade of green to match the Warleader set anymore.

Next in the "classes I haven't leveled" group is the frost mage, who will probably hit 110 during the next invasion I'm awake and home for.  This may be the only mog I've done with the old Wrath frost resist crafted gear that I've actually liked.  I haven't found a cloak I really like for this set, though.

I haven't found a mog I like for the warlock that really matches the destro staff.  She's going with "meh purple" right now.  I'm sorely disappointed in the lack of void-colored armor now that we've seen the patches of it on Argus - it's gorgeous, the black-black with the purple highlights, and it really should have shown up in the warlock gear, dammit.  Or at least some shadow priest stuff that wasn't class specific so my warlock could use it.

Prior to getting her artifact, I had my demon hunter in the Bard's leather set.  Once I got them, though, I poked around and found another low level leather set that worked with them.

Yeah, so I had the Night Watchman drop, and someone had to get it in their mog.  Once I got the windwalker weapons, I knew it was going to be the monk, with these pants that I really like.  I have no idea what I'm doing on my monk, but she looks pretty cool.

I'm not sure I can ever change this mog.  I didn't realize how much of this set I had till I started poking around with something for her, and...  Yeah.  I need to get a Thas'dorah color that matches this, since I like the way the quiver looks on her.

This is leveling gear from the Barrens, plus the base disc staff and probably mid-40s dungeon gear accents.

My troll hunter has a raptor, too, but the bear was out when I took the screenshot.  I figured I should try playing BM on at least one of the hunters.  I don't really care for the gun, but I have plenty of models I can switch it to.  This is the actual Talhide set... except the shoulders, which I used in Duskhawk's mog.

This is mostly level 30s quest gear, and I love it on my undead hunter.  She gets to try out Survival, so I mogged her with Gul'dan's staff, since my warlock isn't using it.

Guess which spec this mage is!  Mages have some of the best spec-themed mog options.

I've started sending Mabs my extra Argussian Reach and Army of the Light rep tokens in case I need it to get the new races in the next expansion.  I think she's wearing PVP gear, since it matched her hair.


Blizzcon Thoughts

I don't do crowds, so the virtual ticket is pretty much the best option for Blizzcon for me.  Some of the main themes of the next expansion - Kul Tiras, Zandalar, Queen Azshara - were all things I was expecting to see.  Which is weird - I never guess right about what's coming next.

I wasn't really expecting the sub-race options, but I pretty much know what alts I'll roll to probably leave unleveled for all the new ones:
  • Zandalari druid (replacing an existing level 8 troll druid)
  • Lightforged priest (to take the place of the level 1 draenei priest)
  • Dark Iron warrior (if it's an option)
  • Nightborne mage (or race change the night elf I've been debating making Horde)
  • Highmountain hunter (or race change my existing tauren druid or blood elf monk)
  • Void elf rogue (because I only have one rogue out of 30+ alts of various levels)
I'm curious how many other sub-races/allied races we'll acquire in the long run.  There are some obvious possibilities already:
  • Mag'har or Draenor orcs
  • Taunka
  • High Elves
  • Forest trolls
  • Wildhammer dwarves
  • Broken draenei
  • Ogres or half-ogres
  • Those adorable fox people in the new zones
  • Hozen
  • Jinyu
  • Yaungol
  • Leper gnomes
There are also less likely possibilities:
  • Naga
  • Mantid
  • Withered elves
  • Harpies
  • Mogu
  • Centaurs
  • Tuskarr
  • Tol'vir
  • Arakkoa (either model)
  • Those stone dwarf dudes
  • Mechagnomes
I don't know just how much work it takes to convert an NPC race to a PC one - I'd imagine there are emotes and animations to design and map, adjustments to make for armor, and in some cases updates graphically to bring the models up to current game standards.  You may have noticed with some polymorphs and costumes that some models lack things like swimming animations.  They do at least have existing territories and lore.  Hopefully these first six go well and they can expand on it going forward.

So far as the increased focus on the faction divide... eh.  I'd like to play more with my mom, but she plays a lot of humans.  I play a lot of tauren and forsaken.  I'm hoping the changes in PVP/PVE server stuff means that eventually you'll be able to communicate and group with people of the other faction outside the faction capitals if you're not flagged for PVP, but that's not this expansion.  Years ago I had a literal dream about being in a cross server queue for running a dungeon, basically standing around in a room with various other characters waiting for them to call five of us to go in next.  Maybe next time?

About the only interest I have in Classic servers is to go see Auberdine again.  I... can't really quest in Darkshore anymore, which seems kind of silly, but I spent so much time there.  It took me something like 28 days /played to level my first night elf.  I hearthed to Auberdine for probably 8 months.  It also took me till level 48 to get my first mount, so other than Auberdine tourism, they don't hold a lot of appeal for me.

I'm looking forward to the zone scaling, though - I've stranded more than a few toons at the Outland/Northrend boundary, maybe because Outland is more removed in memory.  At this point I wouldn't mind mostly skipping Cataclysm for Pandaria, as well.  I haven't enjoyed zone quest set-ups where you basically have to unlock the zone to wander around and find quests.  Let me wander in and do random crap, especially on alts.  I do pretty much everything on my main, but after that I just kind of want to get the toon through to get to leveling up trade skills.



I've been poking around in my guild's raid logs since the patch, partly because I'm so glad to be rid of Sidewinders, and partly because being rid of Sidewinders didn't make me worse.

Pre-7.1.5:  ilvl 870, average DPS for boss fights in heroic Emerald Nightmare: 209,635.1 (log)
Post-7.1.5:  ilvl 876, average DPS for boss fights in heroic Emerald Nightmare: 240,105.2 (log)

My ilvl has only gone up a little, but that's about the same kind of boost in raw numbers that I saw from initially switching to Sidewinders a few weeks into normal Emerald Nightmare.  I didn't like doing it; I like the on-demand instant shot that Arcane Shot has become, and other than kind of switching Marked Shot for Serpent Sting, it's the same three shots that were the core of my Molten Core rotation.

I realize a lot of hunters are disappointed in Marksman (and Beast Mastery) right now, but playing at the level I am (where that 308k on Nythendra is kind of a personal non-trash best), I'm really happy with my numbers.  I'm also really happy to have some traps back.

After this long, I had gotten used to the Sidewinders/Marked Shot AOE, but by the time we got to Dragons trash I was pushing out relatively decent numbers again.

Overall, across our raid group, the patch was good.  We steamrolled through H-Emerald Nightmare, beating our record times for both Cenarius and Xavius, andwent for a couple easy kills in normal Trial of Valor, but no one wanted to go through then minutes of Helya after all that.  Sunday we're going to look at heroic Trial of Valor and see what it looks like now.

Still want some kind of really AOE (either damage or heals) for my discipline priest, but that doesn't seem likely at this point.


Artifact Transmogs

So now that I've started getting artifacts on my alts, pretty much the first thing they all do upon getting out of the artifact scenario is get out the transmog yak.  (That thing is worth its weight in gold.  Also I want to see some kind of series now involving the adventures of Cousin Slowhands, Mystic Birdhat, and the yak.)

Anyway, here's where things stand so far.  I still need to get artifacts on the demon hunter, second priest, second mage, and hunters three-five.  My rogue's got her artifacts (subtlety), but I haven't found a transmog I like for her yet.

Disc priest
Prot warrior

Windwalker monk

Prot paladin

Resto druid

Blood death knight

Destro warlock
Fire mage

Resto shaman

Marksman hunter #2


Alting in 7.0

So I've been running all my alts through the Broken Shore scenario since I got the troll hunter to 100 (that's five now).  Doing this is letting me get their bars set up, figure out a bit how they work, and all that.  It's also let me see how I like where the specs I usually play are at now.

Marksman:  I think I wrote about this at length in the post-macro... post, but I'm liking the Hunter's Mark/Marked Shot interplay.  I'm using Patient Sniper but not Sidewinders.  I'm also mostly using Murder of Crows because it's harder to switch back and forth between that and Barrage on the fly.  I'm having a bit of trouble judging "safe" distances for Barrage with the mastery range increase - which I like, but I'm just not used to it yet.  I miss a nice reliable crowd control like Freezing Trap that doesn't necessarily put you in combat, and I miss Spirit Bond for its survivability and less downtime while soloing.  I'm thrilled to still have my pet, and I've been doing invasions with Puppy (KitTabik), Cuddles, PangurBan, Jack, and Kitty.  Oh, and Inle, because I wandered out of the Kharanos Inn on my level 3 gnome hunter... who's now level 11.

Discipline:  Disc wasn't bad for invasions, but I'm finding group healing without the cooldown you get from the artifact to be... missing something.  It's going to have to be reworked after Legion to account for this, which seems like an oversight to me.  There's no good sustainable area healing or damage.  I'm using Halo for both right now, since you either have to spread out some Atonement and then do damage or put up Purge the Wicked and then have the target live long enough for you to be able to Penance it - and if Penance is on cooldown you have to wait to start AOE damage.  Applying Atonement is awkward with the area-based Power Word: Radiance, and too expensive to just blanket with Plea after six applications.  There's also no good way to heal up that one person who died during combat that you've resurrected and want to get back up quickly - I used to spam some Flash Heals on them, but I've got nothing without a cooldown strong enough to really do that now.  Easiest fixes?  Give us back Mind Sear, and make Power Word: Radiance target like Prayer of Healing did and adjust the mana/cast time/healing done for five targets to let us apply Atonement in a more predictable way than just where someone is standing.  It would make LFR less infuriating to try to heal.  Doesn't fix the out of combat healing, but there's food for that.

Restoration (Shaman):  Haha, I have no idea what I'm doing on my shaman.  This isn't entirely true, but I'm not even sure why I have her spec'd Resto because I didn't like healing on her that much before.  She seems to have a decent toolkit for both AOE and single target heals, a couple of good big-heal cooldowns, and that added totem-based battle rez.  I need to switch her back to Elemental, though, because I want to play her as a lightning-zappy shaman rather than as Resto.

Destruction:  I was a little worried when I was setting up my warlock's bars until I realized I'd talented Incinerate to hit everything.  Destruction seems fine from a casual point of view, and hella fun.  Keep Immolate up to generate some shards, hit Conflagrate when you can, Incinerate all the things, and Chaos Bolt for mana regen.  Life Tap and Drain Life's return was very welcome, and my infernal has a name now and I  apparently talented to keep him this is amazing.  Super pleased with my little burny goblin.

Subtlety:  I feel like I'm not completely incompetent on my rogue again.  I can just Backstab now and don't have to rely on Hemorrhage for soloing since they changed the positioning stuff on Backstab.  I also discovered that I have crap for leather transmog.

Protection (Warrior):  Invasions probably weren't the best place to judge my tanks, since the healing is so sporadic.  I miss Charge, but other than that and not always being sure how to get rid of all the excess rage, it's seemed okay.  She's got some new melee animations, which seem neat.

Protection (Paladin):  I actually felt more survivable on my pally, but that might be because I was doing the invasion a week later and there may have been healing going on.  I actually feel like I have buttons to push on her now, which is a change; with the removal of holy power (just for prot? I don't know), I did have to move buttons around so I wouldn't hit things that I need to save the cooldown for rather than just smashing them because they were available.  I'll still run through the holy spec artifact quest at some point because I really want to see it, but I think she's going to stick with prot as her main spec.

Restoration (Druid):  The druid has always been my second favorite to heal on, and for the most part she feels like she still has a complete healing toolkit.  HoTs, AOE, single target, some defensive cooldowns, and Tranquility still seems pretty great.  I really hope Disc feels okay with the artifact or I may have to switch over for dungeon healing this expansion.

Blood:  This is the only spec I've really played on a death knight in... a very long time.  It's changed a bit, but I still muddle around in it okay.  I think I spent more time making a new mog for her than actually doing the scenario and invasion.  I didn't feel as comfortable as on my warrior or like I had as much wiggle room for muddling around as I did on my paladin, but I didn't feel so lost that I won't play her in this spec (like my shaman).

Fire:  I switched off of frost for two reasons:  I had always preferred playing fire but kept dying while leveling, and I made an awesome fire mog for my mage.  Other than being frustrated by Flamestrike's super slow non-Hot Streak cast and wondering if I should talent differently so I feel like I have useful AOE, the crit-crit-Pyroblast rhythm of fire is fun.  I don't play the mage enough to know if I'm doing badly at it.

Mistweaver:  I've been lost on my monk since 6.0 when I boosted her to 90; that hasn't really changed, but I've somehow managed to complete the healing proving grounds on her, so I guess it's not a lost cause.  After running the Broken Shore scenario, I went through and renamed all her healing macros - her spells are now hot, +hot, chan[nel], 3heal, and bubbl.  I've played my other healers long enough to mostly know what their spells do by name, but I don't know my monk well enough to keep them straight.  I think she's got a decent healing toolkit if I ever play her enough to get used to it.

So overall - there are some specs I feel kind of lost but not helpless on.  Since discipline is one of the ones I play the most, I have some frustrations with it, but I think I'll get by.  Marksmanship has lost a few things I miss (Freezing Trap, Spirit Bond), but overall it feels okay.  My warlock may move up in the alt leveling rotation because destruction feels so fun.  Most of my toons are 660+ post-invasions, and my primary toon in each role (Duskhawk, priest, and warrior) are all 690+.  So I feel pretty set for Tuesday when my collector's edition box shows up.


The Return of Hunter's Mark

So I've been using a shot macro since like, Karazhan or Wrath sometime, when I realized I was not effectively using Steady Shot in my rotation.  The macro has changed a bit over the years, as shots available changed, haste plateaus affected it, and so forth.

So, Steady Shot is gone for me.  I don't really miss it - I like having Arcane Shot back, on demand, free and on the move.  I do miss the Aimed Shot mobility, but that's just a matter of retraining myself to stand still for it.  I've got Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot, Multi-Shot, and Marked Shot for core shots now, with Bursting Shot as an interesting kind of combination of Barrage and the old Scatter Shot.  I went with Murder of Crows for my regular set up, which I've been occasionally regretting when I go to farm old raids and forget that I can't just change it on the fly when I remember, after I'm there, that I kind of want it for that.  I love the crows, though, and it feels safer in raids and dungeons since my mastery increases my range now and I don't have as good a feel for how far back is safe to Barrage yet.