Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 16, 2006
BC Journal - 16-October-2006

This is the first "journal" entry of my adventures in the Burning Crusade beta. While I was playing yesterday, I noted down all the small things that are new, so this is going to be a jumble of random thoughts and description of new features.

When I first started the BC beta client, my level 60 undead priest hadn't been copied yet, so I was greeted by an empty character screen. Hmmm, time to make a draenei and a blood elf, and have a look at the new newbie zones. Both the new starting areas are nice enough, having new architecture, and a couple of new monsters, besides familiar ones like skeletons or spiders. Each race gets two new zones, with the highest level monster I have seem being level 18. Think of it like a Tirisfal Glades + Silverpine Forest combo.

The blood elves starting zones are north of the Eastern Plaguelands, and can be reached by a pass, blocked by a portal, which is probably there to keep people without the expansion out. You can also teleport from a guy next to the mage trainer in Silvermoon to another guy standing in the upper courtyard of Undercity (Ruins of Lordaeron) and back. This is recommended, because for a level 18 blood elf to take the road and run into the Eastern Plaguelands, where level 50ish mobs lurk quite close to the road, might be a short, bloody, and frustrating experience.

The draenei start on islands south of Teldrassil, west of Darkshore. I haven't explored it yet, but I assume there will be a teleport to Darnassus. Not sure if there will be any other way to reach the continent. I quickly got bored with playing the new races. I did enjoy the fact that the new zones looked different than any other zone. But the gameplay was pretty much identical than leveling up any other level 1 character.

Fortunately meanwhile Blizzard had finished to copy my undead priest to the beta server. The first thing I did with him was heading towards the Outlands. The only way there seems to be the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands. I had previously seen other portal-like structures, for example in the middle of Duskwood, or in Feralas. But I checked the Duskwood portal out, and it still leads nowhere. So I had to fly to the Swamp of Sorrows, and ride from there to the Dark Portal, in southern Blasted Lands. You arrive there at a big platform, where you get your first quest, to travel to the Horde outpost of Thrallmar, with a wind rider conveniently provided. Alliance gets to fly to Honor Hold. Right now, Hellfire Peninsula doesn't seem crowded. But this is just the beta, and I don't know how many people are on the server where I am, and how many have even finished the slow download of the 2 GByte BC beta client and copied their characters. This being the only entrance, this might be very crowdy when BC goes live.

In Thrallmar I first deleted all my old quests, I don't think I will need Stratholme quests in the BC beta. Doing that I noticed that the quest journal cap has been raised from 20 to 25, which is good news.

Next thing I did was a bit peculiar, I hit ALT-I. This is because I switched to WoW directly from EQ2, where ALT-I opened all your bags. So I had remapped the WoW function to open all bags from SHIFT-B to ALT-I, just because I was used to it. But in Burning Crusade the keybindings were reset to standard. And Blizzard had mapped a new functionality to the I key, which triggered when I hit ALT-I. The new functionality is a Looking for Group window. This window has two parts, a LFG and a LFM (Looking for More) part. In the LFG part you can list up to three things which you would be interested in joining a group for. That includes zones, quests, dungeons, and even raids. So you could for example state that you look for a group to explore Hellfire Peninsula, or to go to the Hellfire Rampart dungeon, or to do a particular quest. The LFM window lets you select the same zones, quests, or dungeons, and then shows you everybody who has himself flagged as LFG for that event. Now *IF* everybody starts using this, the LFG/LFM window could become extremely useful. Unfortunately MMORPG players are a very conservative bunch, and I saw very little activity in the new window, with most people still shouting on the LFG chat channel.

In Thrallmar I took all the quests I could find, and had a look at all the vendors and trainers. There is a Thrallmar faction vendor, where you can get items based on your Thrallmar faction, which you can increase by doing quests or killing mobs in Hellfire Citadel. There are vendors for different items, general goods, trade goods, food and drink. I noticed level 60 water for sale, which regenerates a very nice 5100 mana. There was also level 65 water for sale, which at 5580 mana isn't much better.

There are also a number of tradeskill trainers in Thrallmar. I said in my jewelcrafting post that I haven't seen the artisan jewelcrafter, but now I'm not so sure that he isn't in Thrallmar. I learned jewelcrafting later, at the time of my first visit to the Outlands I still had tailoring. So I saw that for 10 gold I could increase my tailoring skill limit from 300 to 350. And there were some interesting new recipes. The cloth after runecloth is called netherweave, and it can be transformed into a 16 (!!! not 18 !!!) slot netherweave bag. It also can be used to make a netherweave net, which holds an enemy in place for 3 seconds. This could change the dynamics of PvP quite a lot, as it seems that everybody will be able to use it. I didn't see an 18 slot bag, but I've read that imbued netherweave bags with 18 slots exist. But for the moment the number of our inventory slots isn't growing, the main bag still has 16 slots. What did grow was the bank, which instead of having 6 colums of 4 slots plus 6 bag slots now has 7 colums and 7 bag slots. Buying the 7th bag slot (already having the 6 others) cost only 25 gold. Assuming you put a 16 slot bag in there, you gain a total of 20 bank slots, which is nice.

I killed a couple of mobs in Hellfire Peninsula, and ran around a bit. But I noticed that I didn't have an xp rest bonus, so points were slow to come in. I didn't have any "stored" finished quests, and I've read that Blizzard is going to add something to the live version of BC that prevents people from handing in 20 previously finished quests on the first day of BC and level up to 61 directly. I just don't know what exactly they plan to do there.

I fiddled around a bit with the options. I had copied my addons from the WoW folder to the BC folder, but they only showed up as "incompatible", and I had to play without any addons. So I turned on WoW's own scrolling combat text, while normally I use the superior SCT addon. No biggie. But in the options I noticed a new option which enabled me to see my targets cast bar. So whenever I target another player or NPC who is casting something, I see a little yellow bar showing the progress, and naming what spell is incoming. As my priest is now spec'd shadow for the beta, and I have the Silence spell, that enemy castbar is extremely useful.

I left the Outlands and spent the next couple of hours learning jewelcrafting, with limited success. (see today's other post) Up to that point I wasn't terribly impressed with the Burning Crusade. Lots of small improvements, lots of "more of the same" good stuff, but the new zones played a lot like the old ones. Thrallmar is even using the same old orcish architecture, and Hellfire Peninsula looks similar to Blasted Lands. Except for the awesome looking sky, you might still have been on the old world.

My impression of the expansion changed when somebody in the LFG chat channel (not the new window, sigh) was looking for a healer to go to Hellfire Rampart, the first dungeon in the Hellfire Citadel. It appears that Hellfire Citadel has 4 "wings", separate dungeons, of which two are for level 60ish 5-man groups, one is for level 70 5-mans, and one is for level 70 25-man raids. I like Hellfire Rampart a lot, and I was completely awed by the loot dropping there.

Hellfire Rampart is a dungeon where you can go directly at level 60, with any half decent pickup group. It is relatively small, which makes it ideal for shorter dungeon trips. There are only 3 bosses, and a good number of orc trash mobs. The first boss is half way through the place, then at the end you reach a platform from which you can already see both other bosses, one to the left, one to the right. The group I was in had a level 58 hunter, me as level 60 priest, a level 61 warrior, and two level 62 mages.

One of the first trash mobs dropped some leather boots, +31 stamina, +20 fire resistance. That was just the green trash loot, but items like that would have been wonderful for Molten Core / Blackwing Lair / Onyxia. The first boss was easy to kill. He had two adds which would have healed him, if they hadn't been turned into sheeps. He dropped the first blue item with sockets for gems that I saw: Wasteland Stitched Leggings, mail, +22 Agi, +24 Sta, +15 Int, +32 attack power, three sockets with which you could boost the stats even further, and an additional +2 mana per 5 seconds if you filled them with the gems of the right colors. Quite powerful!

The second boss wasn't as easy to kill, we wiped on the first try. He casts a "treacherous aura" on one group member, which then hurts the other group members around the affected character. He also launches nasty shadow bolts, and summons felhounds. Second fight we used my prayer of shadow protection and stood further apart from each other, and killed him easily. When looting him my eyeballs nearly popped out! Crystalfire Staff, +34 Sta, +34 Int, +16 "critical strike rating", +46 to both damage and healing spells. That is *significantly* better than my Will of Arlokk (+35 spirit, but only +19 int, +15 sta, and +46 to healing, not to damage spells). I was afraid that the two mages both would have wanted that staff, but they both said they already had much better. Wow!

This is *serious* mudflation. If the first level 60 5-man group dungeon replaces the best staff that I could find after months of raiding, and the other blue items I saw easily beat the tier 1 raid loot, it means that the Burning Crusade will level the playing field. By the time people are level 65, they will all wear only BC items, and whether you spent a thousand hours raiding or not won't matter at all. I've seen a *green* dagger drop from a trash mob which was better than the epic Krol Blade from old WoW. If you still have bind on equip epics in the bank, try to sell them quickly. They will all become worthless the day WoW goes version 2.0.

Finally we tackled the last boss of Hellfire Rampart, Vazruden. He rides a dragon named Nazan. You "pull" Vazruden by killing his two guards, then he dismounts and attacks you, and when he is nearly dead the dragon enters the fight. Now this is a very hard fight. It seems both Vazruden and Nazan always go for the healer first, however much I tried not to produce aggro. We managed to kill Vazruden every time, but then Nazan would fry us. If you wipe at that point, Vazrudan springs back to life and you have to start over. I don't know if it is a bug or a feature, but you can loot Vazrudan when he dies, wipe, come back, kill him again, loot him again, wipe again, and so on. When we finally killed Nazan, we had looted Vazruden 4 times, each time receiving a nice blue item. And Nazan dropped a staff any feral druid would kill for, with not only very high stat bonuses, but also giving +160 to attack power when in any animal form, including moonkin.

I hadn't studied BC loot lists before, but I can see why we have problems getting 40 people for BWL together. Of course people raid for different reasons. I kind of like tackling known and new bosses in a big raid group, I'm not just there for the loot. But if the loot is the most important aspect for someone, that somebody can be excused for not wanting to go through all that trouble of repeated wiping and high potion / repair costs, if he knows he will be able to get better loot by an easier way soon.
Excellent input there Tobold, I'll surely stop using my lvl 60s until BC comes out.
I'll surely stop using my lvl 60s until BC comes out

That wasn't my intention. It totally depends on *why* you are doing whatever you are doing with your level 60 characters. If you are having fun raiding, especially in big 40-man raids, you could even that now is your last chance to do so. After BC comes out there will be some time with very few raids, while everybody levels up to 70, and then people will start the new 25-man raids, which will be smaller and presumably also shorter.

If you hate raiding and just did it for the loot, doing something else might be a good idea. BC will add easier ways to get better loot. But of course doing something you don't enjoy in a MMORPG is never a good idea.
I've been spending the time doing two things - levelling my alts and farming for cash.

I'm so glad about the loot 'refresh'. I normally don't get bouts of schadenfreude (I like to see everyone happy), but the deluded despair exhibited by some on the main forums over the elimination of their raid-given gear advantage almost has me in fits of laughter. I can understand that it may be frustrating to have raided for months and months on end, only to have the comparative value of your gear wiped out overnight, but it honestly had to be done. It's like someone else (i think on the main forums) said - Blizzard had two obvious choices:

a) Make the expansion balanced for raid-geared players, thus making it difficult/impossible for the non-elite geared majority to handle the content.

b) Make the expansion balanced for the majority (blue/green equipped), trivialising it for the epic-geared.

Blizzard chose neither, and instead did:

c) Make the expansion balanced for epic-geared players, but make epic-quality stat gear available to everyone.

A very, very good solution, IMO.

The only open question for me remains this - will the end game of TBC involve similiarly tiered-raid content and PvP only?
Fantastic preview!

Regarding bags, there is suppose to be a 20 slot bag made of Primal Mooncloth (it may not be in the beta yet). I'm assuming it takes a 375 tailor to make the mats and bags.

Jewel-crafting as with every trade-skill will only be useful at 375 skill, which means a lot of dull grinding. I had to grind blacksmithing to 280 to make my BoP Dark Iron chest plate back in the day.

The new gear is exciting but it will be hard to see as I have spent considerable effort recently to craft my Thunderfury and my guild continues spending considerable resources and time working on Cthun and Patchwerk for obsolete gear.
I'm upset about the mudflation, but not for the obvious reason. I don't mind Naxxramas loot getting outdated, but I do mind Naxxramas loot getting outdated before I've even had a chance to see all those bosses. I enjoy Naxxramas, but it really hasn't been out all that long at this point and the number of guilds who have completed it is extremely small. Now with all the information leaking out about the expansion, there are less and less people interested in "wipe night" in Naxx. Add the fact that Naxx will be all but abandoned come expansion and I just have to wonder why they even bothered doing all the work to put it into the game.

It seems that Blizzard would have been better served not adding Naxx, retuning it to 25 level 70's and adjusting the loot accordingly. At least people would see it then.
I wonder if Blizz will counter the mudflation by making previous tier 1 2 and 3 items BOE. That would keep places like Nax and BWL attractive to players who wanted to send decent loot to their alts; especially if Blizzard decided to slightly lower the level requirements to wear the gear.
I'm sure that Uber Raiders would have been happy if Blizzard decided to require all players entering the Outland to have first completed MC for some "key" to outland, but I think it is great that from what you say here, Blizzard basically decided to make everyone equal again. I'm sure that another patch will be released soon enough which adds an Uber dungeon to the roster just to seperate the casual from the "Epic" but for now, score one for the casual as we get to enjoy the same content, and loot as everyone else.
On a side note: I'm sure that the Elite guilds would have been just as angry if Blizz decided to make the Nax gear better than level 64 gear because they would say the expansion really only added on 6 levels not 10.
I definitely expect to see some changes to the 40 man content 4-6 months after the expansion. Just like they changed strat, scholo and brd to 5 man and ubrs to 10 man, and made them easier. I can see them changing the current 40 mans to 25 or 20 man maybe making them easier, maybe upgrading the gear a little.

I do think the dungeon might be harder than Tobold describes for non raiding players though. Remember his undead priest has a lot of raid gear (I think.. right? :) ), and lvl 62 mages that already had better items would be pretty powerful. So the average level 60 probably will have a tough time in their first dungeon, as they should. Though current raid gear will get replaced pretty quickly. So.. it's not a complete waste it will help them level faster I assume.
My guild is clearing MC and beginning BWL... so we have this issue: is this really worth the trouble? BWL requires discipline, and probably a lot of wipes like when we began MC... of course, learning the tactics for new bosses is what we chose to do when creating a raiding guild, but now I really wonder whether we should just forget about BWL/AQ40/Naxx and just go for the new content (maybe come back to the "old" 40 lvl 60 raid instances when we are all 70)?
Brohuld, you just have to go in knowing the gear you're getting isn't going to be on you in 3-4 months. I'm not saying it's not worthwhile, BWL is a gigantic step up on raid coordination from MC and I have a hard time imagining that learning to defeat those encounters would be time wasted. More likely it would just help your guild to take the next logical step together and make everybody a bit more ready for harder encounters in the expansion.

Of course, 40 of you learning to play together is going to be minimally helpful moving forward.
Very interesting info. I think that I will no longer be saving my loot place (we don't use dkp, it's attendance based mostly) for Benediction. I really wish I hadn't passed on that Cauterizing Band 2 Domo runs ago now. All the priests passed cause our first Eye dropped. =/

I full expected mudflation, and had already blogged about it. I saw it with EQ, and WoW, as the big dog, really didn't have much choice but to follow suit. It's the easier path. I'm sure the level 60's in BC hit harder than in WoW 1.0 too.

IMO, WoW's developers still don't understand how bad mudflation can be. You can see this looking at raid loot. The power jump from non raid to raid gear is so huge, it's hard to believe. And while it is stable for a bit, jump from say BWL to Naxx and it's another massive jump.

My necromancer in EQ, due to being a fulltime (4-5 nights a week) raider had maxed every stat but strength, was only a few shy on that one. I had so much INT (caster primary stat) that a -150 stat buff didn't drop me below the cap. It seems that a WoW mage with 15-20K mana doesn't seem too far off.
Tobold, my understanding is that the 5-team dungeons were intended to have multiple difficulty settings, was this present and which setting did you try it on in that case?

I'd love to see some difficulty settings similar to City of Villains/Heroes - there are 5 difficulty levels a toon can choose and it can be changed at any time for a small fee.
We played on normal difficulty. I wonder if the old-world dungeons can be set to "hard" difficulty, and how the effect on loot of the difficulty setting is. Maybe Naxxramas is still interesting at 70 when set to hard?
FYI, pretty sure they've ruled out retrospective difficulty levels for old content.

I'm a voracious devourer of blue posts, what can I say?
After reading this I am definately considering giving up my spot on the loot list. We would suicide kings and I have been saving my spot for the mageblade (which seems to never want to drop).

It just kind of sucks that guilds that are finally getting their raiding down in MC, gearing up for BWL and AQ are going to suddenly find themselves dry for a while. Not to mention those who are a bit more hardcore getting out there and blowing threw levels and outland content. Who wants to raid MC for epics when my boe greens and blues are better?

As well as the current faction grinds. Will Cenarion Hold/Brood faction be even worth it now? I saw the cenarion expedition screen shots. Anyone know if they are tied together or seperate?

Sansai - ER
It's a seperate faction. Same people, new name, new faction. Unless you are really close to some reward with X faction...faction grinds aren't worth it anymore.
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