Monday, September 13, 2010

PTR 4.0.1: Newb Hunters

Last night I briefly loaded up the PTR, which currently has the 4.0.1 patch available. As of 10pm pacific time character copies were not available, though I did begin the process for Gossamer this morning. Since I could not try things out with my 80 hunter (I'm rabid to test our focus with her) I instead rolled a new Dwarf Hunter to take a look at the new changes to leveling and starting hunters. I ran into some problems (it's still the PTR, so this is expected) but many of the new changes will be very welcome.

Changes for New Players

A lot of the changes I noticed were not hunter specific, but will instead be helpful for any new leveler. A lot of us long-time players will turn this off immediately, as it's not useful to us, but I still remember being new to WoW back in 2004 (holy...!) and I didn't have a CLUE. Up until this point I had never played anything even resembling an RPG. The concept of questing was completely foreign, and though they introduced me to my trainer I promptly forgot him and had to be led back by a friendly player several levels later when they noticed I was still using my level 2 skills. Even after this I regularly forgot to go back and train.

To help with these sorts of things Blizzard has added a few features. The first I noticed on the PTR was the new "help-a-newbie" pop-ups that teach you things players who have not previously played an MMORPG, or other PC games. This is stuff like using the AWSD keys to move. When I was playing the pop-up was not working exactly right and was popping up blank, though I shortly discovered that hitting the back button to "go back to the last lesson" cleared the problem up.

There are also several new ways Blizzard has implemented to notify you of important events, such as completing your first quest, or gaining a level. You'll see a message in the center of your screen that tells you what important event has happened. In the case of gaining a level the chat window will now also display what skills are available at this level. You can also see what skills you can train at the various levels in your spell book, which displays all skills that you can obtain and the level at which you can obtain them.

I also noticed that professions has a tab of it's own now; found in the spell book. At level three I didn't have any professions, so this was not something I really looked at.

Hunter Changes

Have a pet at level 1 is fun! Sure, you didn't tame him, it's nice to have a cohort and my bear kept aggro surprisingly well. At one point he randomly ran off and ate a rabbit (!!!) but I never got him to do it again, so I'm not completely sure what happened. It would be incredibly amusing if our pets were intentionally "disobedient" in these ways for the beginning levels, almost like you must earn the pet's respect.

On of the first things I wondered about my starter pet was if I could abandon him (I was naming him, I'm not a heartless monster!), and what would happen if I did. The option appeared to be available, and I did encounter the warning letting me know if I completed the action I would no longer be able to summon the pet, but nothing happened after this. I suspect this is intentional on Blizzards part, and I expect they'll remove the option for lower level players before the game goes live.

Next I wanted to try out the new "Move" feature. Again, this appeared to be available in my spellbook, but was not actually active at level 3.

One thing I was glad to see what Blizzard giving hunter Steady Shot at level 3. This is going to be one of our basic skills in Cataclysm, and I'm glad to see new hunters will learn to depend on it very early. Because I only played to level 3 I hardly noticed I was using focus rather than mana, but with my 80 hunter copied I should be able to get a better sense of it with this character.

I logged off soon after hitting level 3 due to lag issues, but overall I liked the changes. I've always thought hunters should have a pet at level 1, but controlling a pet is a bit much for a player who is completely fresh to WoW. I think the pet acting like a guardian the first few levels works as a compromise. Baby hunters rejoice!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cataclysm Beta: Thoughts on the Pet Pass

The pet pass has finally been released on the beta servers, and boy is it exciting. If everything continues on this front I hope to see the choice you make on which pet to bring becomes something that's a little more influential come Cataclysm. Frostheim over at Warcraft Hunter's Union posted an article going over each pet's new abilities. It's a great article and I recommend reading it.

One thing I'm surprised about it the level of upset of the pet pass. This first thing I noticed about this information is that nothing has been done with Cats. I suspect this is either because Blizzard likes cats as they are, or the probably more likely reason, because they just haven't gotten to it yet. However, there is the strange rumor going around because of this lack that Blizzard plans to remove Cats as pets.

I don't expect that Blizzard plans to remove Cats in the game, and I have a few reasons for I feel this way. To start, what reason does Blizzard have for removing them? Blizzard is consolidating a lot of things, but pets so far don't appear to be one of these things. They've even started adding some new pet families. If Blizzard wanted pets to be consolidated they would be fine with the current "wolf or die" model in WotLK, or they would go with one of my favorite hunter podcaster/blogger's Euripides' idea and just give us all untextured cubes. But they're not consolidating, they're diversifying.

In addition to this first reason, they recently assigned the Cat to be the Night Elf starting pet. If they were going to remove a pet family it wouldn't be on a whim, so I doubt they would have assigned Cats to Night Elves if they were going to be removed as a pet class.

The final reason I don't think they'll actually be removing the Cat as a family is because it's already a family, and quite a popular one. I know I have a Cat, Tailchaser, who began as one of the level 8 Cats from Teldrassil. I've had him since I first completed the hunter's pet quests and ran out to tame my favorite in the area. I may not use him for raiding, but I do bring him out to play of other things, and I know I'm not the only hunter in this boat. Many a Vanilla-born hunter camped for days for any number of rare Cats. I doubt Blizzard would change their mind about Cats after all these years.

Another big uproar on the forums is regarding some of the pet families being given buff that are traditionally player buffs. The new Corehound ability is a great example. Don't have a Shaman? No worries, your local BM hunter can tame a Corehound and offer the same Bloodlust/Heroism type buff. Let's just hope it can't be set to auto cast.

People seem to be upset about this change for two reasons. Because they feel pets shouldn't offer the same buffs as player characters, and even more strangely because hunters don't want to "have" to bring a specific pet.

I find the first reason to be completely ridiculous. If you have the player to cast the buff, why does the pet buff matter? The hunter will either cast it anyway (and if you care about this please explain it to me, because I don't understand why it matters in the least who cast the buff), she'll bring a pet that has a buff the raid doesn't have, or she'll bring the pet of her preference. It sounds like a win all around to me.

I do understand where the hunters who don't want to be "forced" to bring a specific pet are coming from...kind of. I love pets, I collect them in any form I can in game and I do have my favorite, which is of course Tailchaser. This is why I keep him. I don't, however, feel the need to take him with me everywhere. He farms with me, quests with me, and even (casually)PvPs with me, but when it comes to raiding, I do take whichever pet is "best". In this expansions case, Wolf is best because it buffs me the most. However, in Cataclysm the "best" pet may just be the one that buffs your raid the most. We do have to keep in mind, while we may often top the charts, the raid still does more dps than us. Meaning, raiding is a group effort, and if it's more beneficial to the group to bring pet X, you should probably do it.

It's of course always the hunter's option; you can bring whatever pet you'd like, they can't make you change pets. However, don't be surprised if you suddenly get the cold-shoulder from your guild because you won't make a concession on which furry companion accompanies you to guild hosted events.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Hunter Pets

With the latest beta release hunters have finally seen the beginnings of the pet pass. I still do not have a bets key myself (and I'm not sure I would use it at this late in the beta anyway) but there are still lots of sources of information.

Petopia, a great source of information for pets in the live game,has a section dedication to pets currently in the beta, including three new pet families. The families are Dogs, Foxes, and Poo Flinging Monkeys, which were apparently wish-list item for a lot of hunters (weirdos).

I love the Mastiffs and the White Fox, but I don't know that I'll tame a monkey. These, coupled with the new skins for old families are why I am so excited for the changes to the size of the hunter stable.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I have a new love, and his name is podcast. I don't know what corner of the internet I missed, but listening to postcasts just wasn't something I'd ever gotten interested in.

Until now.

Now I am obsessed with listening to podcasts. When I'm at work, while driving, even while playing! Here's what I've been listening to:

The Hunting Party Podcast - hosted by The Warcraft Hunters Union's own Frostheim, OutDPS's Euripides (these two guys also write regular articles over at and Darkbrew from The Brew Hall. They'll tell you everything you need to know about hunters in a fun and entertaining way. My heroes!

Call to Auction - A podcast about making gold, and lots of it. With hosts Markco from Just my Two Copper and Euripides (him again?!?) you'll crack up while learning how to make more gold than a Goblin.

The WoW Insider Show - If you read you should listen to this show. And if you don't read, what's the matter with you?!?

The Instance - Another hilarious podcast that keeps me in stitches. I adore the intros they use for the segments! This podcast about all thing WoW is hosted by Scott Johnson and Randy Jordan. I insist you read the introductions for these guys on their page, they're too funny to miss.

Take a listen, you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

For Gnomeregan!

For the most part I try to write about hunter-related subjects, though I do stretch the definition at times. Today, however, is entirely un-hunterly (unless you count the fact that I was playing my hunter) because I will be posting about my first experience with The Battle for Gnomeregan! *inspiring music*.

This post will of course be spoiler-tastic, so read at your own risk.

Everything begins with Mekkatorque. I logged in to find an amusing note from Mekkatorque (and Lawyerbot 2000) in my mailbox. Mekkatorque requests that any and all Alliance players visit him in Ironforge. Once there he offers you a very gnomish quest; you must take the "Motivate-a-Tron" item he provides to you and use it to motivate the Gnome Citizens standing in the area. As one might guess from the behaviors of various gnome inventions in the Engineering profession, this invention does not always work as advertised. Sometimes it will cause the gnome to turn into a bunny (not very motivating) or it may also become a "giant gnome" which is hilariously still half my size.

Once you've recruited your "willing" gnomey soldiers, you lead them to Steelgrill's Depot. I cracked up when gnomes mounted up as I did. (There was even one riding a pink Mechanostrider. WANT!) When you arrive you are asked to perform tasks such as showing you can follow orders, testing machinery (which hardly explodes at all) and trying out Mekkatorque's speeches on gnomes in the area. This last quest in particular had some amusing pop culture references.

Once you have completed the series of quests you can join the event to retake Gnomeregan. I use the term "join" loosely. For this portion Blizzard borrowed from the Death Knight starting area; the event closely resembles the battle between the Death Knights and the Lich King's forces. You receive two buffs, one to increase your damage and one to heal you. This means it's not necessary to join a group to participate, though some players still were.

The first thing I experienced in this area was confusion. I tend to get very focused when I quest, so when I arrived I was more concerned with where Mekkatorque was than what else was going on. On top of on this there are quite a few NPCs around and since I did this the evening of the day it was released there were also a lot of players around. When I couldn't find Mekkatorque I looked around and it dawned on me that the event was probably in progress, and that's when I noticed the notifications.

Kicking back to wait for Mekkatorque to return I witnessed an amusing conversation. Two players, presumably waiting as I was, arguing about whether goblin engineers or gnome engineers caused more explosions. (My vote was goblins. Gnomes are more absentmindedly destructive, rather than maliciously so.) Eventually Mekkatorque returned and we were off.

I'll warn you now, this is a little buggy. Mekkatorque stopped making progress twice before I completed it. He does reset, so a little waiting allows you to retry, but the first time it happened we'd already made the jump down the non-functional elevator shaft (that the picture at the top of the post) and I had to hearth to Dalaran and run back. If you are doing this event I do recommend you have an escape plan should things go wrong.

I had a hard time determining what was causing the problems, but it appeared to be related to not allowing Mekkatorque to attack mobs. The turn out was so large we were killing things very quickly, and that may have been the problem. One of my resets appeared to be triggered by an individual yelling "tunnel" causing several of us to run to the tunnel, which is filled with a green mist that will kill you instantly. Having never done the event before I did fall for this. While I must admit, the prankster in me was amused, and it reminded me of the old "You can see Ragnaros in in 'window' behind Golemagg" gag my guild used to pull on the newbies back in Vanilla (Don't know what I mean? Go take a look. You trust me, don't you?) it did appear to bug Mekkatorque. This was not amusing to the folks trying to complete the event for the second time. The first time it bugged for us a few people said it was caused by people going into the Gnomeregan instance. I didn't witness this myself, so I can't say if it is true or not, but I advise you not to try it. This event does get lengthy, especially if you have to wait for him to reset and for the event to restart once he does.

To complete the event I recommend patience and sticking close to Mekkatorque. He does stop and wait a few times, but try to resist the urge to look around and kill things he hasn't yet engaged. Even though there were some negative aspects the event was fun and I plan to complete it on as many characters as possible. The event is quite short I completed it in an evening that was filled with interruptions. CM Lylirra noted that "As several gnomes would argue, just because something is "short" doesn't mean it's not worthwhile! ;)". I agree that this is a worthwhile experience, I do hope there is a bit more in store for the battle for Gnomeregan in Cataclysm. I <3 the gnomes and can't wait to see what they do next.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pets... for all!

I'll admit, I chose the hunter class for the pet. There was just something magical about the thought of adventuring with my trusty companion at my side. One of the things I am the most excited to see in Cataclysm is the stable expansion. I just can't get enough fuzzy little creatures!

But hunters are not the only ones with trusty companions. No, I don't mean Warlocks with their back-talking demons, nor Mages with their sloshy water elementals. No! Not even Shaman, Druids, Shadow Priests or Death Knights. (Hunters are still the "pet class" ... right?)

No, I say! The critters! Sure, they're weak and cower at the sight of an aggressive monster, but they're there! They're at our sides! They go good on toast!

Just for fun

I am of course talking about the massive amount of non-combat pets currently available in the game. Of the various collectibles in the game, non-combat pets are some of the most diverse and difficult to obtain; especially with many of the pets only available at the various real-world events Blizzard hosts. At a grand total of 158 pets you can spend a long, long time collecting these pets, but after the first "OMG where did you get THAT! /jealous" you'll be hooked.

Where to start

Every avid pet collector should start at Warcraft Pets. Run by an adorable little female Gnome named Breanni, this is a one-stop resource for both building and keeping track of your collections. She also keeps us up to date on the latest and greatest in the world of pet collecting in her news and updates section.

With the first achievement reward (an adorable little skunk!) at 50 pets, beginning your collection can be daunting. Luckily you can buy quite a few pets from vendors. Nearly every race has at least one pet for sale in their home town, the exceptions of course being Trolls and Gnomes, as they do not have a home town. There are rumors of new racial pets for these two races in Cataclysm, but there are none in the live game at this time.

Below are the vendors for the various races. You'll want to note that you of course cannot buy the opposite factions' pets yourself, but they are often on both the normal and Neutral Auction Houses. Or, if you have a friend willing to help, you can log on to a character of the opposite faction, buy them, then use the Neutral Auction House to make the swap. You can't buy the auctions out yourself, but this is what the friend is for!

The Alliance
Ironforge - Technically this cute little bunny is found in Dun Morogh
Stormwind - These kitties can actually be found in Elwynn Forest, sold by the Crazy Cat Lady
Darnassus - Here you'll find couple of owls, sold by the Owl Trainer
The Exodar - Fluttery and colorful, you can purchase the moths from Sixx the Moth Keeper

The Horde
Orgrimmar - It could be argued that these snakes are actually the Troll pet.
Undercity - It figures the undead would have a roach for a companion.
Thunder Bluff - Our tall Tauren teammates will sell you a puny prairie pup. (Mmmm, alliteration.)
Silvermoon - Not precisely in Silvermoon, you can add Dragonhawks to your collection in Eversong Woods.

With a bit of running (or maybe a handy mage), a little gold and maybe a buddy, your collection quickly goes from 0 to 17. You may notice that some of the links I provided contain pets I didn't mention. Some are also from vendors, such as the red moth, but are harder to acquire at a lower level without help. From here I recommend you begin picking up pet from the other, scattered vendors, scour the auction house and begin setting up shop in some of the drop locations for the rarer pets. You'll soon find yourself with a collection to be envied.

Oh, and say hi to Breanni in Dalaran. She's a great resource for pet collecting, both in and out of the game!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cataclysm: Day One To-Do list

I'm sure everyone planning to purchase Cataclysm on release day has some idea of what they will be doing Day One. I, however, have flip-flopped so often that I don't even know what I want anymore. Everything just sound like so much fun! So far, I have narrowed it down to:

Level my 80s (Hunter)

Leveling my currently level-capped characters is always the first thought I come to. I probably will end up leveling my hunter right from the get go, but it's always so tempting to consider leveling a new character because of new races or classes, leveling my professions and in general checking everything out. Cataclysm presents a whole new kind of temptation, however.

Starting Over

With the release of Cataclysm our characters' homeland is changing; and not just changing, catastrophically changing in a lot of cases. This means everything from new sights to new quests to a potentially all-new leveling experience. This is going to be a real problem for me, as I currently have 9 of 10 on my home server. The final spot is already saved for a Worgen, but I also want to transfer my Shaman make to home-base, so I'll have to delete some one.

Leveling the new Races

This is by far the most tempting to consider. I'm super excited about the new Worgen zone, and I've heard great things about the Gobs. (Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher... sorry.) Lore is something I've always been supremely interested in, and the lore behind what's going on with these two groups is nothing short of epic. And speaking of lore...

Lore, lore, galore!

There is soooooo MUCH going on on the lore front in Cataclysm I am honestly not sure what I am most excited about. If you've read the new intros Blizzard released you already know *SPOILER ALERT* that Cairne is killed in some sort of duel with Garrosh (/spit) , everyone but the Tauren are booted from the main parts of Orgrimmar, the Trolls re-take Echo Isles and Thrall leaves the leadership to ol' angry orc. And that's just the horde! The alliance get a new puppy, loses a leader to a terrible tragedy, welcomes back old friends, and a big hole opens up in their backyard.

So what will I be doing on release day? Probably tearing my hair out, trying to do everything at once. And I'll love ever minute.