Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 6

Here’s another holiday transmog for Alunaria’s positive WoW-ing challenge:

When it’s cold outside, it’s time for my protection paladin to slip into something more seasonally appropriate with her Snow Angel mog.

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

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Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 5

Alunaria, over at Alunaria’s Avenue, has proposed a holiday challenge: stay away from the griping, grousing, and general grinchiness about World of Warcraft that’s all to easy to find these days and post something positive instead.

One of my absolute favorite world quests is the Slippery Slopes near Kennings Lodge in Tiragarde Sound. You get to race down an icy course on a penguin pretending to be your sled.

WoW BfA Tiragarde Sound Slippery Slopes World Quest1

WoW BfA Tiragarde Sound Slippery Slopes World Quest2

WoW BfA Tiragarde Sound Slippery Slopes World Quest3

WoW BfA Tiragarde Sound Slippery Slopes World Quest4

It’s such great fun! 😀

Also, Erik just told me that the quest can pop up in three locations altogether, and you get an achievement for doing all three. I’ve only seen it near Kennings Lodge—bad luck there—but now at least I can keep an eye out!

Images: World of Warcraft screencaps

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 3

Alunaria, over at Alunaria’s Avenue, has proposed a holiday challenge: stay away from the griping, grousing, and general grinchiness about World of Warcraft that’s all to easy to find these days and post something positive instead.

Today I’ve mostly leveled my Dark Iron Dwarf paladin. I got to level 60, which means FLYING, yay! I also added my very first Mole Machine locations beyond the ones that come by default.

WoW BfA Dark Iron Dwarf 1st Kalimdor Mole Machine Found Dec 2018

This Machine is next to Honor’s Stand in Southern Barrens. Now that I can fly, I can go round and add the other level-appropriate ones so much more easily. 😀

Image: World of Warcraft screencap

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 2

Alunaria, over at Alunaria’s Avenue, has proposed a holiday challenge: stay away from the griping, grousing, and general grinchiness about World of Warcraft that’s all to easy to find these days and post something positive instead. We’re always up for some kindness and fun, so here’s a contribution from us: some holiday-themed transmogs to light up the winter darkness.

My holy priest brings you the gift of healing in his Winter Wonder-Worker set.

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 1

Alunaria, over at Alunaria’s Avenue, has proposed a holiday challenge: stay away from the griping, grousing, and general grinchiness about World of Warcraft that’s all to easy to find these days and post something positive instead. We’re always up for some kindness and fun, so here’s a contribution from us: some holiday-themed transmogs to light up the winter darkness.

When you can already turn into a stag, a little Christmas spirit isn’t hard to find. Here’s my guardian druid in her Jolly Holly set.

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

A WoW Mole Machine in Murdoch Mysteries?

After months of working on it, we opened up Dark Iron Dwarves last week. Yay! I’ve been leveling my new DI paladin a bit, getting a sense of the new-to-me racial abilities. They include Mole Machine, a way to quickly change locations by tunneling through the earth.

We’ve been rewatcing and rating Murdoch Mysteries for our project for a while now. A seventh-season episode, “Journey to the Centre of Toronto”, has a burrowing or boring machine that should look very familiar to World of Warcraft players.

Murdoch Mysteries s7 e11 Burrowing Machine

It’s a mole machine, right? Right!?!

WoW Westfall Sentinel Hill w Dark Iron Dwarf Mole Machine

The episode doesn’t actually ever call the device mole machine, but some of the characters do talk about hypothetical mole people who live underground. I wonder whether there are any WoWers in the writers’ room? 😀

In any case, even though the series seems to otherwise strive towards reasonable accuracy, now and then they definitely veer into SSFnal or steampunk-ish. I love the tongue-firmly-in-cheek attitude!

Images: screenshot from the tv series Murdoch Mysteries, season 7, episode 11, “Journey to the Centre of Toronto”. World of Warcraft screencap with Dark Iron Dwarf mole machine in Westfall.

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Battle for Azeroth: Our Thoughts So Far

The Battle for Azeroth expansion to World of Warcarft has been out for a couple of months now, long enough to play around with it, get used to its quirks, and discover some of its surprises. We have leveled up a few of our Alliance characters and just started playing through the Horde experience, so there are plenty of things we just haven’t seen yet, but here’s our take on what’s working, what isn’t, and what’s going on so far.

The Good

  • It’s beautiful. All of it. The landscapes, the buildings, the gear, the skies, everything is visually incredible. Since Mists of Pandaria, really, the visual design teams have been improving with every expansion, but in BfA the terrains really shine. We still spend so much of our playing time just pausing to look at the artwork.
  • The questline stories in the zones are great. We don’t usually read quest text too carefully, but this time it’s worth taking the time to see what the characters have to say. There are a lot of compelling and entertaining individual stories out in the world.
  • The Tortollans are the best new NPCs in a long time—crotchety old turtle people who want to play games and tell you stories! They add some wonderful comic relief to the more serious events going on in the world.
  • Boralus and Dazar’alor feel like real, living cities, full of people, with their own neighborhoods and back alleys and stories going on at the periphery of your adventure. Boralus is the quasi-British age-of-sail/smuggler/pirate town of your fantasy dreams, and Dazar’alor is a gorgeous Mesoamerican-inspired city of living gods and golden pyramids. They are both amazing places to spend time in and hands-down the most successful built environments we’ve seen in WoW so far.
  • The music is fabulous all-round. From epic and rousing to serene and unobtrusive, they all come with interesting real-world comparisons or sources of inspiration.
  • The number of female characters in the storytelling has increased noticeably, and women are depicted as active decision-makers. Because even though this is a fantasy world, a lot of it is based on our real one and you wouldn’t want to be historically inaccurate.
  • On the Alliance side, the combination of ferry stations and flight points is a great demonstration of world-internal logic at work, and it works really well from the UX (user experience) point of view. Do the Horde have anything similar?

WoW BfA Nazmir Azeroth World Q Nov 2018

The Meh

  • The mission table is back, stripped down and streamlined to just about the most efficient version you can imagine, but also feeling pretty pointless. There aren’t many followers to collect, the rewards are uninspiring, and getting War Resources to run the mission table is doable but tiresome. It doesn’t feel like compelling content, but it’s not a great drag, either.
  • The Heart of Azeroth is a similarly stripped down and streamlined version of the Artifact weapons from Legion. It works just fine, but it’s not very interesting. Leveling up the Heart of Azeroth with azerite is relatively painless, but there’s also nothing exciting about it.
  • The azerite gear tied to the Heart of Azeroth is a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s fun to pick bonus traits and some of the perks can really make a difference to how your character plays. On the other hand, the gear is hard to get and clunky to use. Having to wait an indeterminate amount of time to level up your Heart of Azeroth before your upgraded gear actually becomes an upgrade doesn’t feel good.
  • The two of us play together and we play strictly PvE. We’re not interested in doing larger group content or anything that even feels like PvP. This means that a lot of the new content this expansion—islands, warfronts, war mode—just isn’t for us. That’s fine, and we don’t mind there being content in the expansion that isn’t for us, but it does leave max-level content feeling a little threadbare.

The Bad

  • The faction conflict story is back. Again. There’s never been anything interesting about faction conflict and there’s still nothing interesting about it. Despite what Blizzard seems to think, “Horde vs. Alliance” is not the core of WoW. The core of WoW is beating up monsters and taking their stuff. We don’t need faction conflict to motivate us to go to Kul Tiras and Zandalar to beat up monsters and take their stuff. Just the fact there are monsters there who have stuff we can take is more than enough. If Blizzard really felt like they needed a story reason for us to go to these new places, having Jaina/the spirit of Vol’jin show up and say “Hey/Hey mon, there’s something strange in Kul Tiras/Zandalar and it don’t look good!” would be plenty.
  • Not only is Blizzard pushing hard on the faction conflict this time, they’ve chosen to do so in a heavy-handed, aggravating way. On both the Alliance and Horde sides, players have been made to play through content that is needlessly cruel but unskippable.
  • Fortunately, the actual content of Battle for Azeroth has very little to do with faction conflict, but that in itself is a problem. There are three narrative threads running through this expansion: the internal problems of Kul Tiras and the Zandalari, the Alliance vs. Horde faction conflict, and Magni’s attempts to heal the wounded Azeroth. None of these three threads is well integrated with the other two. While the Kul Tiras and Zandalari stores are compelling on their own, the faction conflict is annoying, and Magni’s planetary first aid is tedious and repetitive. It feels like Blizzard had three different ideas for this expansion, only had time to develop one, but tried to do all three anyway.
  • You can’t seem to be able to go beyond two advancements without doing at least some PvP group content (islands). Not a great design choice. (Corrected)
  • Did they have to destroy Teldrassil?

On balance, there’s a lot to like about Battle for Azeroth, and we’re certainly going to keep playing. At the same time, there are some annoying problems that are hard to ignore. Some people have speculated that Blizzard has an A team and a B team putting out expansions alternately. That may not be true, but there certainly are some aspects to BfA that remind of us of what went wrong back in Warlords of Draenor, when we got a beautiful new world to explore, but an overarching story best ignored and some poorly designed mechanics that dragged the experience down.

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Allied Races, Here We Come!

We got our first toons leveled to 120 about two months ago. Typically we level our Night Elf druid pair first because you just can’t beat a druid duo of a tank plus dps with an occasional heal for versatility! This time, though, we chose two humans for strategic reasons.

We haven’t played these two together before. A paladin tank and a mistweaver monk work together fine, though. We just won’t do anything terribly fast—our damage output isn’t high, but we do tend to stay alive through everything except the nastiest dps-heavy fights.

Because of real life, we’ve been going slowly but steadily, working on accumulating the required reputation to unlock allied races. We’re not yet there on the Horde side, but we just made it to exalted with the 7th Legion on our humans!

WoW 2 Humans Exalted with 7th Legion Nov 2018

Allied races, here we come! 😀

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.