By the time Brewfest ended, the Darkmoon Faire was in session. Once again, Thaddeus Paleo scowled at the Underpowered Death Knight, saying, “Your Archaeology skill has stagnated. Come back when you have begun to improve your skill again and are finding more interesting fragments.” Professor Paleo had been telling her that she needed to improve her skill for… could it really have been so many months? Had he been saying that ever since the Vanguard went through the reddened Dark Portal?… OH. Although she could survey digsites anywhere in Pandaria, Pandaria no longer contained the most dangerous known regions. Those places were now on the other side of the Dark Portal, on Draenor.

Ah, and in talking with other Cloud Serpent novices, she’d learned that Jenova Longeye occasionally asked them to search for artifacts that might relate to the history of that Order. It would be good to be able to improve her surveying skill while performing that task.

The Underpowered Death Knight supposed that perhaps she should pay a visit to Frostwall Garrison just to learn where to find an Archaeology trainer on Draenor, and maybe to do a little bit of digging herself in the country roundabout — there were always new tricks to be learned when surveying a completely new location.

She followed the directions that had been enclosed in Kamalia’s letter.

Frostwall, with its rocky terrain, swirling wind and snow, and steaming, volcano-heated cave, stirred in the Underpowered Death Knight’s mind a faint nostalgic longing for her youth, traveling the mountains between the Howling Fjord and the Grizzly Hills and camping by the hot springs.

Lady Sena cracks me up. I haven’t been able to find her in the level 2 or level 3 Garrison, though… I wonder where she and Mr Pleeb go?

The Underpowered Death Knight dinged 96 during Brewfest, so she could, in theory, have opened up the Mine, Fishing Shack, and Herb Garden and, after collecting enough resources, upgraded them all to level 2. I chose to leave her Garrison at Level 1. Thus, without the big book o’ blueprints rewarded from the quest to upgrade the Town Hall to level 2, her only available large building is the Barracks, and her only available small building will be the Salvage Yard — when she reaches an appropriate level to do the quest chain that rewards that blueprint. I’m not going to do much with her Followers, so she just has the Fab Five team of the ones that are the first and easiest to recruit — Olin, Vivianne, Fen Tao, Ka’la, and Ulna.

After reporting at Frostwall, the Underpowered Death Knight travelled to Warspear on the contested island of Ashran in search of an Archaeology trainer. When she inquired about training, however, the woman just shrugged at her.

“I ain’t got nothin’ to teach ya, toots. If ya wanna learn more, ya gotta just get out there and dig. And don’t let those Reliquary goons get in the way of a good find.”

So the Underpowered Death Knight went to dig at some ogre ruins near the outskirts of Shattrath (she got quite distracted for some time exploring the great city and marvelling at its extent and beauty), and to her great surprise, her very first surveying efforts uncovered a brittle cartography journal. The document was written in a language she did not recognize, but the diagrams, illustrating techniques for such things as laying out and recording a digsite and preserving and cataloging artifacts, were clear enough to understand.

But when the Underpowered Death Knight returned to the Faire, Professor Paleo still didn’t want any more fossil fragments. It seemed that he hadn’t wanted fragments from anyone except newly-trained Archaeologists since about midsummer. Why, no-one understood.

She was glad, though, that she had gone to Frostwall. Doing so had allowed her to prove her strength against some of Draenor’s creatures, and she had been strong enough… mostly… if she was careful about choosing what to fight. Nevertheless, she thought it best to finish what she had started in Pandaria before spending much more time on Draenor.

Over at the Godmother’s flat, there’s been a discussion going about dungeon running do’s and don’ts that evolved into a bit of a debate about whether or not it is appropriate to expect folks to use flasks in Heroics. The Godmother sez:

If you respect other people, be the best you can regardless of the situation. Show your group that you aren’t just here to leech off their goodwill. Buy a flask, use it, and make others aspire to do their best.

which, in the context of the previous post’s assertion that proper dungeon etiquette is to

Come prepared with a flask and a food buff, and use them both.

is getting interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as you ought to be as prepared to run a Heroic as you would be to run a raid.

I actually mostly agree with the Godmother. I agree with the general notion that it’s inconsiderate of other players for one to arrive in a Heroic completely lacking in any kind of consumable-based buff (food, flasks/elixirs, augment runes, are there any others that I’m forgetting?). My memory for everyday things I did in WoW is even worse than my memory for everyday things I did IRL, but in previous expansions, I probably did have a flask or elixir buff running when I went to run Heroics, and even though I probably wouldn’t have had a food buff running from a personal stack of best-stat food, I probably would have gotten a lesser food buff from a friendly person having dropped a Feast at the entrance of the dungeon.

In this expansion, though, when I actually was running Heroics, back when I was doing all the first-time versions of the quests from the Inn, I often went into them with just one consumable-based buff running: Oralius’s Whispering Crystal. I discovered pretty quickly that the Whispering Crystal buff was mutually exclusive with a flask — if I tried to use a flask when I had the Whispering Crystal buff already running, I’d get the “a more powerful spell is already active” error message. I therefore considered using the Whispering Crystal to be equivalent to using a flask, even though as an all-stats buff, it didn’t buff my primary combat stat as much as a flask would. Sometimes I did use food, too — but only until I ran out of the stack I’d cooked up while leveling my Cooking skill. As a healer, making sure I had a stack of mana soup on hand was more important to me than having buff food. When I had Augment Runes in my bags, I usually forgot to use them. And when a fight was tough, I never felt like it was my stats that were the problem. It was my klutziness with movement mechanics that would cause me to lose a DPS or to have to panic-heal the tank — when my cast timing was too late because I was moving in the wrong direction relative to the other players, another 100 points or whatever of Int wouldn’t have helped me to save that DPS or to not scare that tank.

So I also agree with the sentiments of those who have responded to the Godmother saying that while as many consumable-based buffs as possible are necessary and desirable at the beginning of an expansion when everyone is newly-dinged, in crummy gear, and lacking mastery of the mechanics, by the time we get to this stage of an expansion, when gear levels and general knowledge of mechanics have improved, full consumable-based buffs of the best possible quality aren’t really necessary anymore to ensure the success of the group in an ordinary Heroic. For Mythic or Challenge modes, sure. But for an ordinary Heroic? Not so much. Any one of the consumable-based buffs — food OR flask/Whispering Crystal OR augment rune — will probably be sufficient.

I’m also feeling contrary about the Godmother’s assertion that one ought to have BOTH food and flask to be properly prepared for Heroics because that feeling that I ought to be socially responsible when I participate in group content, that I maybe ought to have some buff food as well as the Whispering Crystal, that I ought to actually equip into my healing kit all that shiny new stuff I’ve gotten from Tanaan and from the Hellfire Citadel raid chests that my followers have brought me… and then gem the pieces that have sockets, and enchant the pieces that can be enchanted… not to mention visiting the Mog guy so that my appearance isn’t a total mess… that feeling of social responsibility is one of the reasons why I’m playing WoW as a solo-player game these days. Even with Reforging gone and the number of gems and enchants reduced, getting “properly prepared” to participate in group content is SO MUCH WORK! Right now, I’m feeling entirely too lazy to actually do all that work, and so even though sometimes I think maybe I’d like to participate in group content again, my sense of social responsibility inhibits me. And so I go do things I can do as a not-min-maxed solo player instead.

You see, when I wasn’t LFRing and wasn’t running Heroics or anything, I began to wonder why I was stockpiling jewelcrafting and enchanting mats and flasks and Augment Runes and such, and eventually I sent all that stuff off to the AH. I like to be self-reliant when it comes to consumables, so rather than just buying all that stuff back from the AH, I’d prefer to have my alts craft it… which amounts to a lot of errand running between them. I realize that I’d really only have to spend about one evening every couple of weeks doing nothing but errand running with alts to make stuff for Kam to use while dungeon running… but I’d rather spend my playtime doing other sorts of things. The combination of limited playtime, laziness, and the YOU ARE NOT PREPARED sense of social responsibility has become a barrier to entry for me running Heroics (or Timewalking). Sometimes, I wish I could just ignore that feeling of social responsibility and just queue up and GO.

And what does the level 3 Storehouse have to do with it? Well, back in the day, I didn’t build my Storehouse all the way up to level 3 because I thought I didn’t really need to have a Mog guy right there in my Garrison. Ashran was only a portal (or a flight) away, and I’d heard that the Mog guy in the Storehouse was too fidgety. Well, then Blizz cured the Storehouse Mog guy’s itchy feet, but Ashran was still not that far away, right? Given my reluctance to actually equip any of my shiny new gear because then I’d have to go re-do my Mog, though, maybe Ashran is too far away for my current lazybones self. So maybe I’d better upgrade my Storehouse to level 3 after all, so that I can change my clothes in the comfort of my Garrison. Then having to re-do my Mog when I get a new piece of gear would be one less thing getting in the way of me participating in group content again.

Since finishing up with Tanaan and rebuilding her Inn, Kamalia has been much more selective about hiring new followers. Previously, she would hire the best of the three applicants every week, even if she wasn’t really all that thrilled with any of them. Now, though, if none of the new applicants truly fit her hiring criteria, she just doesn’t hire anyone new that week.

I’ve been recruiting alternately for Massive Strike and Magic Debuff, trying to get someone who has the possibility of having both abilities to fill the last hole in my “get a follower with every ability combination” matrix (I actually have three holes, but filling the other two is just a matter of playing the ability reroll slot machine with existing followers). If none of the applicants could have both abilities, and none of them were Tauren, I didn’t hire any of them. In the first week after rebuilding my Inn, I did get an applicant who could have both abilities… in fact, I think there might have been two that week, but they were all Human or Undead males that week and so I didn’t hire them. Then for a few weeks I didn’t get anyone who even could have both abilities — though I did hire the Tauren female Druid who showed up one of those weeks.

These are the applicants I got this week:

That made the third time that I’ve seen this Soulare fellow. Previously, I would have chosen the female Orc Shaman instead, but this time, I noticed that Soulare could fill that last hole in my ability combination matrix —

— so I hired him.

He probably won’t proc into Magic Debuff + Massive Strike right when he goes purple, though, so between Soulare and the other two, I’ll be going through a lot of reroll manuals to finish filling out my chart. Thus, I still have the Lumber Mill up, to keep up a supply of Garrison Resources for rerolling as well as for running the Shipyard until I’ve got all three Heirloom rings (I got one of them a week or so ago).

From now on, when I go to hire new followers at the Inn on Tuesdays, I will probably just cycle through the abilities, hoping to get more of the Tauren followers — I currently have 13 out of 48 (46 from the Inn, plus Olin and Choluna).

(P.S. If you want to visit Soulare in my Garrison just to get the toy, toss me a whisper and come right on over!)

I was thinking about the new rewards for Brewfest this year — I’ll be spending the Underpowered Death Knight’s tokens on the Stout Alemental and naming it “Yes No Peppers” or “More Corn” or something else of the sort in honor of Uncle Gao’s masterpiece — and it occurred to me that if there was a Brewfest Music Roll (ideally just the fun polka music, minus the drunken laughter and terrible jokes) on offer, I’d be doing ram-racing with Kamalia, too.

I wondered, why didn’t Blizzard do this? It would be a fun addition to the holiday. As I thought about it, I realized that most of the other holidays don’t have distinctive holiday music tracks. The only one I can think of is the ribbon pole dance music from Midsummer Fire Festival (I’d spend holiday tokens on that, too). Can you guys think of any other special holiday music?

If all the holidays had special music, then I’d say that it’s a huge missed opportunity that Blizz hasn’t added holiday music rolls for the Garrison jukebox to the holiday vendors. But if it’s just one or two, then I guess it wouldn’t make quite as much sense.

Kamalia and the others who had worked with the Shado-Pan previously must have made a good impression, because the pandaren guardians readily accepted and even welcomed the Underpowered Death Knight’s appeal to be allowed to assist them for a time.

She got to know Fei-Li and Snow Blossom quite well as she helped them thwart the objectives of the mogu still plotting on Shan’ze Dao. She went with Chao the Voice, Lao-Chin the Iron Belly, and Protector Yi when the unruly yaungol at Fire Camp Gai-Cho needed subduing. Like her Dawnstrider friends, though, she politely declined missions to deal with the mantid on Sra’Vess.

The Underpowered Death Knight never felt like she’d even begun to understand the “Shadow Dance” of which Snow Blossom so often spoke, yet, after some months, the Shado-Pan honored her with one of their signature hats.

She stayed on at the Shado-Pan Garrison in Townlong Steppes for another fortnight or so simply because she wasn’t sure where to go or what to do next. She considered again if she might be strong enough to return to Draenor. By some magic, just as she was pondering this question, she received a letter from Kamalia.

She was probably strong enough now that she could go to Frostwall Garrison, but she wasn’t sure that she’d really have anything she could do there. Archaeology, perhaps, maybe with a little fishing on the side? Or would that be fishing, with a little archaeology on the side? As she hadn’t taken any primary professions, she felt that gathering herbs and ore at Frostwall would be… cheating, somehow. And this thing she had heard about gathering followers to help staff Frostwall… was she not herself a Follower, in a sense, of Kamalia? It didn’t seem right for her to have followers collecting things for her, and it didn’t seem at all fair that actions of her followers could bring her experience…

The Underpowered Death Knight read the letter again. It did not specify a time by which she must come to Frostwall.

There was still a lot that she could do in Pandaria. She could look for the Lorewalkers’ scrolls. She could help the Golden Lotus with cleanup in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. She could learn more about the August Celestials. She could even go into the Dread Wastes and see if the lesser members of the temporarily truce-making faction of the mantid, the Klaxxi, still wanted outside assistance in the wake of the total party kill of their Paragons during the Siege of Orgrimmar. But one pandaren group stood out from all the rest — as she had worked with Fei-Li and Snow Blossom to free the wild cloud serpents of Shan’ze Dao, she’d been intrigued by their mentions of an order of cloud serpent riders in the Jade Forest. Yes, that was where she should go next, to the Arboretum to see how those cloud serpent eggs and hatchlings she’d helped to rescue were faring.

While she was at the Arboretum, however, the checkered flags suddenly made her aware of a certain crispness in the breeze. Perhaps she should take a couple of weeks off to go ram racing as a warm-up for cloud serpent racing…

I haven’t danced to the guild raiding tune since mid-Cataclysm. In Mists, I tried to get my weekly LFRing done on Tuesday nights when the groups would be the best and freshest, but in Warlords, I haven’t even done that. And yet, my WoW routine still revolves around the weekly raid reset. These days, though, I’m “raiding” solo, smashing old raids with a rotating roster of alts farming for a grocery list of Transmogrification pieces.

Strikeouts indicate items I’ve obtained; brackets [] indicate things I want to do, eventually… after I cross a few more items off the rest of the list and maybe take a break from old raid farming for a while.

With the amount of time I have to play, getting through all of this takes me most of the week.

Karazhan is a grand old place with a wonderful ambiance… but I am so, so sick of it. I’ve been farming it with two characters for about four months now. Having decided that she needs to have Gorehowl on her back when she meets Grommash in Nagrand, my Warrior finally got it two weeks ago; the Armory tells me that it took her 16 Prince Malchezzar kills to do it. Meanwhile, my Priest has been trying to get the boots that match the T4 Priest set from Shade of Aran, and he kept dropping them for my Warrior instead and dropping the boots that match the T4 Warlock set for her.

Now that I’m running Sunwell on three characters a week — my Paladin has been running it for about two months now, but my Death Knight and Blood Elf Mage only started doing it a few weeks ago — I’ll probably be heartily sick of that place, too, pretty soon.

Update: I crossed Naxxramas off the list with both Ketura and Kaylynda tonight, but I’m still running Karazhan…

We Hear You

In the nearest metropolitan area to the small town where I now live, there is a car dealership chain which, for the past several years, has hung its hat on the slogan “We Hear You.” It’s the idea that unlike all those other car dealerships where the salesperson will talk your ear off trying to get you to buy a car that’s more luxurious and expensive than what you really want or need, at this dealership, the salesperson will listen carefully to everything you have to say about what you need and want in a car and then do their very best to select the car that most exactly fits your desires.

To me, the content of Patch 6.2.2 feels like Blizzard saying, “We Hear You.”

There’s the flying thing, of course, for which I am very grateful.

Then there’s the increased rewards for Timewalking. I’m a fan of the principle of Timewalking, but I just haven’t managed yet to actually get out and DO it when Timewalking is the Bonus Event of the week. Collecting Badges to add the Hourglass of Eternity and Ever-Shifting Mirror to my Toybox just might be the right carrot for me.

The thing that makes me the most excited and happy, though, is this:

Sure, there are those who say that with Legion glowering on the horizon, the Garrison is practically obsolete already and so it’s silly to patch in this stuff that we’ll only really get to use once. I agree that it would have been better if this stuff had come out right at the beginning of Warlords, or even with Patch 6.1. But I, for one, am sure glad that Blizzard paid attention to the fraction of the population who feel that being able to decorate their Garrisons for the holidays will make them feel a little more like a home. I’m delighted that I can look forward to putting out some pumpkins and spooky lanterns for Hallows End and some trees and wreaths and mistletoe and lights and stockings and presents for Winter Veil. I hope that a little later on, we’ll get paper lanterns for Lunar Festival and lacy hearts for Love is in the Air and maybe even painted eggs for Noblegarden, too, because I would be astounded if Legion launches before those holidays come around again.

The giddy anticipation of being able to decorate my Garrison for the holidays is almost enough to make me want to try to get all my active Garrisons to level 3 in time for Winter Veil… except that I’m enough of a realist to recognize that I simply don’t have that kind of time, nor will I really want to spend the time collecting holiday tokens to buy decoration kits on all of my characters. I should at least try to get my Alliance Mage up to level 100 by Hallow’s End, though, so I can have Garrisons of both factions all decked out for the holidays.

Thank you, Blizzard, for listening and for taking the time and effort to make our remaining time on Draenor, in our Garrisons, more pleasing and enjoyable.


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