The veritable playground that is 3.1

So – as I expect everyone noticed – patch 3.1 came visiting, bringing with it a plethora of New and Shiny things to poke at and play with; as well as taking mana regeneration and breaking it over the knee. I wanted some time to experience and digest the patch before summarizing my thoughts on it – it’s a great deal of tweaks, changes and additions, and first impressions simply aren’t in-depth enough to last in this case: especially seeing how the changes aren’t oncoming and theorycrafted but ones introduced to last.

Starting off, I have to say dual talent specializations is a great addition, especially when playing a hybrid-capable class. Prior to 3.1, I spent a fair bit of time thinking about what to make my secondary spec – Discipline is and remains my primary spec, I just love the overall function and feel Blizzard provided it with in Wrath. I spent a fair bit of time trying to decide between some more PvP-ish alternative of Disc, some smite build for laughs or Shadow, which I had some reservations against since last I tried shadow (during early Burning Crusade) I didn’t really enjoy it much at all, and it didn’t really feel suitable. Then I heard what they planned to do with Psychic Horror – making it a ranged disarm where you scare the weapons out of the hands of your enemies.

That was what did it, really. I just felt like I had to get myself some of that.

So I ended up picking Shadow as my secondary spec, and strangely enough I found that where Shadow felt oddly wrong for the character when being the only spec.. it feels very much right as a secondary alternative when not limited to an all or nothing deal. With no more Starshards since quite some time back, Shadow feels like it might offer a twist to the darker, more martial aspect of Night elven clergy, that the class (and the human-based Holy Light) doesn’t offer.

Of course, with 3.1 also came the Argent Tounament, which I’ve come to actually really enjoy. Some of my fellow Yelnenu cronies apparently take issue with its grindy nature, but I found it rather fun and interesting to indulge in. Having reached Champion level with Darnassus this morning, I even ended up testing my wits both in mounted combat against scourge champions and in going toe to toe with elite frostwyrm-with-three-riders Chillmaw – being able to take the beast down single-handedly in Discipline spec – on first try at that – felt like a significant victory and prompted one of those “I love my class!” outbursts.

Having reached Champion level also means now having the choice of picking up the flag of another city as well, and.. I’m torn. On one hand, it’s more quests that offer monetary compensation, more shiny rewards to obtain and more completism to take on both with achievements, titles and all. On the other.. having looked forward to the tournament simply on the basis of getting to carry the flag of the Night Elven people and champion the cause of the High Priestess.. the idea of abandoning that charge for championing the other cities too feels almost like a form of betrayal. Simply a mechanical choice or not, I saw the option, looked at it for a minute and – in the least this morning – decided against.

I might go against that decision later – especially if being a champion of multiple factions offer more benefits later – simply due to the NPCs not really seeming to care about whether you bugger off and go champion someone else or not. That’s probably intended simply to foster a copmletist attitude, but it makes me confused about what I want to acomplish with it and not. I like carrying the flag of the Night elven people. I’d like to think like it means something.

So, last off.. Ulduar. Yes, there’s that place too. With the recent raiding altitis and lethargy suddenly shaken off, Yelnenu took took our first stumbling steps into Ulduar on friday, and was immediately faced with the surprise of our lives.

A vehicle-based encounter.. that is fun?!

Yes, it seems with Ulduar, Blizzard managed to acomplish incredible things. The instance is both varied and gorgeous and offers significant eye-candy to the wide-eyed traveller. And when we on sunday came to the point where we progressed not only through killing a boss but then also using the corpse of the boss as a bridge to progress, only to reach an utterly jaw-dropping central hall.. it finally struck me just how grand and epic the place is.

Some people say that the game lost its epic feel when the size of the raids kept dropping; I’ve felt nothing of that myself. For me, ten people stumbling into this huge place, fighting truly epic enemies felt far more grand and mindblowing than it ever could have when just running madly along catching up with another 30 people.

So, on tally. First weekend, we managed to put a foot up the hind end of Flame Leviathan, the XT-002 Deconstructor (who so needed to die on that voice alone!), Kologarn and Auriaya; the middle two ending up being almost double-KOs, which was amusing. We also took some time between to pat Emalon the Storm Watcher on the head in-between, who might not be in Ulduar but certainly felt up to the same level of resistance – which is definitely far greater than that of Naxxramas, especially for a group where some people aren’t packing the latest and greatest. Though I worry about a group as casual as Yelnenu burning out if progression is pushed too hard, having new places to go to and reach for is definitely welcome.

On last note, I oddly noted that the vehicle section of Ulduar greatly appealed me to the idea of getting a Mekgineer’s Chopper. It means quite a bit of a gold grind with how lazy I’ve been with it as of late, but for some reason.. I can’t wait until I get there.


5 Responses to “The veritable playground that is 3.1”

  1. 1 Messai
    April 22, 2009 at 00:46

    I agree with you that the Argent Tournament is fun πŸ™‚ how long did it took you to reach Champion status?

    and good job in Ulduar, my guild attempted it on Heroic Hard mode the moment it came out, we only managed to kill Leviathan and the day after Razorscale.

    but it’s nice to read someone else’s thoughts about stuff πŸ™‚

  2. 2 Nhani
    April 22, 2009 at 06:04

    Not long really – due to the nature of daily quests there’s essentially a 5 per day limit on how many aspirant/valiant/champion seals you can get, so yesterday was the earliest you could hit champion in europe. From then on, any subsequent championship should take five days to obtain if you do all the associated quests through the valiant stage.

    Ultimately I did decide to pick up going champion for the other factions too – the Draenei NPC told me “It’s good to have you on our team, Nhani. We will all benefit from training with you.” when I tried, and that really cemented a purpose with it that I could accept. This way it’s really about sharing some ten millenia of combat experience with the other factions, and with luck I’ll only ever have to carry the Darnassian banner while doing it!

    And being casual, we decided to just go for normal modes until we actually can handle those first! (besides, I’ll admit to having my eyes set on wanting the absolutely gorgeous tier 8 (is it?) Priestess set)

  3. 3 Arafor
    April 22, 2009 at 09:03

    Congratulations, Nhani. Ulduar is indeed a fun place. It have a very fresh feeling to it and it seems like Blizzard have managed to build up some inspiration for the creative boss fights.

    I’ve only been in a PuG for it so far, my guild isn’t large enough to support a real guild raiding team.

  4. 4 Messai
    April 23, 2009 at 00:07

    T8 looks indeed awesome for priests, don’t worry πŸ™‚ you will get your very own set soon enough ;p

    Ulduar was nice for a change, at first i really was against the entire vehicle combat but when we eventually tried it, it was great πŸ™‚

  5. 5 Moltrazahn
    April 23, 2009 at 09:20

    god yes, in ulduar myself and just became a nightelf champ myself, with my guild, we decided to end a 10man raid before the xt002, however, becauss we could, we all went naked, weilded our lances, and charged the giant robot! … another thing which is fun. Have you ever tried to kite the Leviathan while your squire is running behind you? XD that poor lad is running with all hes got, its epic really…

    Anywho! Nice to see things going in the right direction love the patch πŸ™‚

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