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While I was busy socialising with guildies this weekend past one thing from Blizzard did penetrate my alcohol induced haze.. they are getting rid of class quests. I don’t know what anyone else thinks but for me this kills almost any real reason to level an alt. Why? Because any non-class quest is done by my druid, because I like to do everything possible on him.

What this means is that anything truly unique from levelling a specific class is gone .. no warlock or paladin mount quests, no blood knight tabard quest, no priest or hunter quests from MC drops, no form quests for druids and no totem quests for shamans. Unlike others I enjoy these quests, they are what makes levelling a new class something unique.

To me their removal is a huge leap backwards and I can only say that I am extremely disappointed. I was hoping that we would see a new class quest every second level from 1 to 85 .. I knew it was high hopes but hey it would have been more fun then the same quest or dungeon for the 4th, 5th, or 50th time.

So I mentioned that my guild won a Blizzard screenshot contest and we are now in beta .. well enough of them finally downloaded it yesterday so that we were able to try out a dungeon. We thought hey we are all 80 lets see how we go in the new dungeons .. and barring the Tank pulling once when everyone was still out of LoS and me forgetting to heal myself at one stage (not used to using the ingame UI, I’ll admit I am addicted to Grid) it went very well.

In fact we 4 manned normal Throne of Tides with a Prot Warrior, Resto Druid, Balance Druid and a lvl 85 Hunter (Hunter because that is our guilds other main tank and his warrior was the only 80 he had brought over). Now we went in prepared, 3 of us in ICC gear, 1 in 85 heroic gear, buff food, flasks etc.  While wtching the tank throw himself at an unkillable mob for 5 minutes that simply threw him back every time was amusing, it wasn’t what I was really trying to watch. I was trying to see if these new dungeons were as hard and problematic as everything I had been led to believe.

Considering our group make up .. it wasn’t particularly hard or challenging. We had a few times where the tank went after a crowd controlled mob rather then the loose one, and a few times where my heals slipped up (like forgetting t pre lifebloom the warrior as he charges in and watch him get one shot before I can get back in his range), and a few where the dps didn’t actually run out of stuff or crowd control something. The tank never suffered from loss of aggro, the dps quietly went about their jobs using aoe only when it was useful .. and barring a few times when I forgot to heal myself I kept the group alive without scratching my mana reserve or having to pop tree form to save us.

I feel that had we been in quest greens and blues it may have been a different story .. from what I have encountered of non instanced mobs I would say the same. As a dungeon its is definatly harder then those we were exposed to in Wrath, though probably not as intensive on the exact set up of pulls that wa required back before TBC dungeons were nerfed. I think they have managed to find a balance between the two that will work .. but I will have to test a little further before I commit to that statement.

While I have no doubt that by the time the first post Cataclysm patch comes out most groups will plow through the heroics without a worry just as we were in Wrath after everyone was Naxx geared I shodul state that I am not worried about that. The Wrath model for gearing past dungeons worked .. and much better then previously. In TBC youd send hours grinding battlegrounds or Kara to have the gear to be able to tackle dungeons .. at which point you were often overgeared, and in Classic we had city sized dungeons that had dozens of bosses and took hours to navigate. But back to the train of thought I think that Heroics this time will provide the balanced stepping stone into raiding that both TBC and WOTLK missed (can’t comment on Classic as I wasn’t here for that).

At any rate some of my fears over healing in Cataclysm are dieing a good death but think I will need to see how the heroic modes go and how my druid will cope after hes past level 80 and suffering from gear scaling  – but next week, once I’ve returned from our Guilds first ever real-life meet up since we started .. well almost 4 years back now.

So, I managed to win one of Blizzards contests and grabbed 10 Beta keys for my Guild .. I know its now less than two months away but what the heck. So anyway I get onto the Beta and make an arduos journey from Dalaran to Orgrimmar without a portal … then spent 20 minutes trying to figure out where everything was in Orgrimmar before I gave up on that.

In mentioning the new Orgrimmar I should note that while it feels more like a city then ever before it reminds me more of Shattrath then Dalran. Wide open boulevards and a few smaller nooks and crannies, and between all the new lifts, stairs, areas established on te above plateau and the varying crevasses I am totally lost. A few things remain in te general vacinity of where they used to be (such as the Hunter trainer, or the Cooking Trainer) but I have to admit that the city has changed enough that I get lost. Thunder Bluff has always been my favourite city and the sheer scope of the new Orgrimmar sent me scurrying there for the familiar comforts of a city I know better.

In 3 hours I’ve flown across most of Southern Kalimdor, raised Archeology to level 30 and managed to get a comb (of which I am certain a certain shaman in my guild would have killed for), checked out the new hunchbacked tree form, finally decided to send the druid to Hyjal, levelled a goblin 3 levels (wow I hear you say) and raised a Worgen about 6 levels.

All in all I am a little overwhelmed. There is so much to see and do that finding a start point is particularly difficult. That is probably all for the best though as it means I will have more then enough to occupy my time when live rolls around. For now I plan to run around beta azeroth on several toons like a headless chicken until my guildies have finally got their betas installed and then I may brave a dungeon or two.

While all these changes are interesting there is one question that really burns in my soul at the moment .. what is with the plateau between Mulgore and Stonetalon that is filled with Weapon Wielding Critters? Rabbits with Axes, Prarie Dogs with Pith Helms .. and more. I sort of sat there a bit gobsmacked for a while. Most amusing change or scene I have seen yet.

 

Yes I know It is a terrible, terrible, play on words.

So the new patch has come in, and being the good, respectable and above all else honourable druid that I am I spent a good 15 minutes at the graveyard by Bloodhoof Village putting the part of my soul that had been ripped away from me to rest, after which with extreme reluctance and an overall feeling of wrongness I went and healed a few dungeons and Sarth to get a feel for the new patch.

Overall theres not a lot to comment about with Druids yet, at least nothing earth changing .. But lets cover the major ones.

Efflorthingy .. I could check its name but lets say Ill call it the GCOT on game chat (Green Circle of Health). With the glyph for swifftmend its just a matter of throwing a rujuv and a switfmend and there we go instant aoh, and better yet at lvl 80 so far it barley costs any mana. We shall see how things scales with levelling!

General Healing spells, still work the same but some of the efficiencies have changed so I’m using spells I wasn’t using as much before, though to be honest I feel like I am using less buttons now then I was before patch 4.0, it feels like TBC where you capped the tank with Lifebloom and then threw a heal on someone else if you were bored.

Now to the one topic I have tried to avoid for months .. Tree Of Life. Let me be blunt, I hate that it has gone away, I loved being a broccoli but more I felt it defined the restoration class, and I never in any way felt restricted by playing in ToL form.

As a Druid you get to be a bit of everything but as it has stood for the last few years it isnt until you choose a path and reach the forms that define that path that show your mastery .. while at the same time restricting you to that role. As a bear, I can’t truly dps, As a Cat, I can’t tank, As a Moonkin I can’t heal, and As a Tree I can’t DPS.

When you rolled a druid any time since TBC hit you knew going in that you were going to spend a lot of time outside your racial form, so complaining about not seeing gear is pretty invalid in my opinion (besides who cares you will look same as every other druid if you are in gear or tree anyway). Yes we couldn’t dps as a tree .. as a result though our healing talents as a tree were incredibly diversified, we had higher health then priests, more hots and AOH’s then any other class and with the introduction of Nourish in Wrath we had (if any crazy person chose that route) the ability to spec to create a tank healer that while well below a paladin could still preform adequatly.

We stood there as awe inspiring monoliths healing like you couldn’t believe. If less healing was needed we could shapeshift to do some paltry dps, hell if tanks die by standing in fire at 1 or 2% boss health you could even switch t bear and aggro the boss for those few prescious seconds while the dps finished him off.

The only time I ever , ever cursed being a resto druid was back in TBC when I had to do anything Solo because in the 8 or 9 shots it would take me to kill 1 mob some boomkin or mage would come along and kill the 5 others I needed .. but hey, duel specs solved that in the best possible way.

So either way I liked Tree Of Life, and was extremely dissapointed to hear it was going .. and for months the thought of a cooldown replacing it was dissapointing.

What do I think of the New Tree of Life Gameplay? I don’t know. So far I can’t imagine myself using it at all in dungeons (maybe at 85 but I’m discussing now not 3-4 months away) unless Im bored and want to see how many wraths I can cast in a cooldown. In raids at level 80, anything below toc I cant see myself using it, and in ToC or ICC I can’t judge until I try it. So at the moment it feels more than lacklusture. Tree of Life is our end Talent, it should feel like something you want rather then something you’ll take because you simply need to waste some talent points and its better then putting it into a talent that is even more useless for healing.

My Shaman put his points into Earthquake, that was fun I can tell you, from the moment I heard about it I was looking forward to it .. but Tree of Life doesnt hold that appeal in its current format, and while I am willing (and will) play with ot to try and give it a chance I think come cataclysm (and especially when the new ToL Look comes in) I will probably only use it in Booty Bay when I ring the Town Bell and scamper across the roofs calling for sanctuary!

Other druids are free to disagree, as I have said this is simply my opinion, they can bounce around with their ears flopping or do the happy tauren dance or whatever they want to celebrate, I’ll be mourning the end of an era down by the grave of my Tree in Bloodhoof Village.

I was wathing an argument between a few Guildies who were on opposite sides of how Blizzard has handles the whole tier tree system in Wrath. The truth is I wasn’t sure which side to wade in on but I will tell you all what I really, really despise in game .. RNG.

I have been extremely lucky in some cases, I managed to get the Zulian Tiger a few months ago (thanks to the other two I was running with saying they had no interest in it) and managed to get each of the 4 dragon whelps in under an hours farming each. In other cases I have been terribly terribly annoyed .. 7 months of eggs for a green proto drake, over a years worth of dailies at Brunhildar Village for a polar bear, and so far I have been totally unsuccessful at getting an offhand upgrade since Ulduar.

As a rest druid in a 10 man raid I tend to not roll on cloth against the priests, mages and locks in party beause they are restricted to cloth. But the chance of a weapon dropping that I can use, or a trinket, or an offhand are fairly rare. The moonkin in our raid has been waiting since lady Deathwhisper became available for the offhand Item, and having killed it every week we have seen it drop once .. once in almost a years worth of killing her.

When I go back and consider gearing in TBC I realise it is ridiculous that in the months our guild did Kara as we gained enough level 70’s and started gearing that I received only 1 piece of useful gear .. since spending 3 hours every weekend meant that I geared up past kara gear levels faster by pvp then by raiding. I think (well ths was a whiel ago) the only item I wanted was something that dropped from Aran, and all I can recall is that I didn’t see it drop until a few days before Wraths release. It is remembering this, and how long it took in the Burning Crusade to get our players geared compared to now that finally helped me make up my mind.

I have come to the understanding that how we geared , or how easily we geared, in T9 and T10 was the way it should be. It meant that someone new coudl rise up from nowhere and quickly join the end-game instead of having to run and rerun dozens of times instances that those running them had already done to death. It meant that with at least a minimum amount of effort even if only on a daily basis you would soon have enough quality gear to allow you to attempt the latest of what Blizzard is offering. With T9 and T10 there was no reason that anyone couldn’t be geared enough to enter ICC 10 Man and do even the first 2 bosses unless they were totally lazy.

Some people might say that this panders to those without skill but that is untrue.  It allows people the opportunity tp gear up and attempt the end game – from there  on its up to the player to know how to play and perform after all as I have said often skill is more important then gear. I’ve seen tanks with GS of close to 6k less able to tank H HoR then tanks with a GS of 4.5k, why? because skill is more important then gear – even if having the right gear allows access to content.

Which is what it is about – access to content. Not the ability to clear content. Not the chance at awesome loot. But access to see and experience game content. That is hands down why the T9 and T10 system works because regardless of your luck with RNG, regardless of when you started, regardless or how skilled you are .. it still allows you to become prepared enough to al least attempt to access content as blizzard prepares it.

So yes, I hope Blizzard keeps going with how they have on T9 and T10 .. because it allows as many as possible the chance, the opportunity to experience everything. Now to wait for 4.0.1 so I can gear the shammy whom I have been to lazy to gear until now.

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