So this morning I hit exulted with the Order of the Cloud Serpents, and in return they game me an awesome looking Jade Cloud Serpent.Fair enough says I after the work I’ve put in for them. So far they are the second Pandarian Group for me to hit exulted with the Lorewalkers being the other (ok, I don’t count the Hozen). I figured that with this milestone under my belt I would sit back for a few minutes and reflect on what I’ve managed since the 25th September, and what I think of the state of the realm …

So what have I achieved? I’ve made it to level 90, I have managed to get both geared enough for heroics and now LFR, I have even taken a peek into the first raid on normal and thought to myself I desperately need to get the rest of my guild starting to gear! I’ve gotten exulted with a pair of factions, revered with the Tillers and have started working on the god-awful grind that is the Golden Lotus. I have yet to start much on the Klaxxi .. I am halfway thru questing in the Dread Wastes and have yet to finish that last zone, once I do (having then completed each zone) i can worry about dailies there.

I have maxxed out fishing, leatherworking and skinning… and have all my lvl 85 toons and higher in Half Hill mass producing vegetables for my cooking (except the druid who is mass producing Motes for my leatherworking needs). I’ve hunted down one of each type of rare and am now starting to look for individual rares for my Glorious achievement. I have avoided pet battles mostly … being a pet collector before Pandaria has left me feeling a bit out of sorts with these pet tamer wannabes who have it so easy! Ha! that’s what I say to these people racking up pet numbers who didn’t have the grit to get to 200 before MoP! (Well not truly, I say good on em, I just been to busy to put any effort into this area of the game yet.). I’ve also run every scenario, most of the heroics (some haven’t popped for me randomly yet) and even managed to kill the Sha of Anger (hmm hope I can do Galleon soon).

After that very brief re-cap, it doesn’t seem so much … but with less than 2-3 hours playtime most work days I think I’ve done well enough so far, and experienced enough to get a feel for the latest expansion.

First of lets talk about what I really like …

Questing. I did the Jade Forest in Beta before the revamp, and had made it as far as Towlong Steppes back then and am back to roughly that state now. Overall I think that we are looking at almost the best quest model yet. There are enough linear style quests that you feel a decent story progression .. but there are enough tandem chains and quests that you can almost fill the log and potter around without 1 single quest blocking progress to badly. Its nice to be able to hit a hub area, grab quests that send you sprawling out across the zone and disperse players rather then tunneling them along a single line.

As for daily quests .. I’ve always liked these. So far i am having fun with the Tillers and Anglers, and have had fun with the order of the Cloud Serpent dailies. The Golden Lotus dailies .. not so much, but that is in part due to sloppy dps in levelling and start gear, so takes me forever to kill the dozens and dozens of mobs I seem to need for these dailies, plus mob-taggers, but I’ll get back to this later. As an alternate way to earn VP, to gain reputation and earn cash .. I am enjoying these more now then ever before. Sure come late MoP hen I have all mounts and only cash I need is for repair bills I won’t do as many .. but that is how I have always played.

Scenarios. Loving them. tried them all and have enjoyed them. Luckily I am balance/restoration so I can switch specs as needed .. so far I have found pure dps groups to be a bit hard to handle, but between doing the scenarios and trying for the achievements in them I am having fun. Though I wish that the arena had been a real world arena like Ring of Blood and its followers .. Scenarios are nice but sometimes its worth sticking to traditions.

Heroics. I should say rather .. level 90 dungeons. After the train wreck that was early Cata dungeons these are a great change of pace. not too hard while gearing, but still enough of a challenge while gearing and dependant on the odd party make up. Some interesting fights and some truly classic loot (watch out for rare spawn Dr krastinov in Scholo .. the medical bag he drops is awesome). So far enjoying them.

In regards to professions .. there are no leaps and bound in fishing, leatherworking or skinning for me to rave about. Archeology though .. well let me say I have been carefully packaging away what I make so I can go bannanas later trying to get the crawling claw through shards from Mr Bronzebeard. As for cooking .. its nice having all the specialities, levelling each individually is a pain though, especially considering the materials needed.

Overall though I only have 2 gripes. Both of which I expressed during beta. Now, not looking at other players mob-tagging or the grim task of fighting for mobs in areas for dailies during peak hours the two I have most problems with are Spirits of Harmony and Reputation Locks.

I don’t like the drop rates for Spirits .. even now after being able to farm them and get a guaranteed 12 motes daily. As a leatherworker nearly all the patterns I need to buy (blues) require 1 Spirit, and all the patterns I can make (purples) require anything from 5-8 Spirits .. which means I have concentrated on getting what I need for my resto spec and ignoring everything else. I will get everything else .. because my druid usually gears my shammy and hunter. But being blocked straight away from being able to help out guildies gear irks me, very much. The bind on pick up use also annoys me on farming toons .. I mean my hunter has mining and skinning, what the hell is he supposed to do with them but trade em for materials he is already swimming in? If blizzard won’t unbind them, then making them BoA would be very helpful.

Then there are the Reputation and Valor Point Locks. Let me start straight off that I don’t care that I can’t get reputation from tabards, I did most of my rep grinding in Cataclysm through dailies, as I did in Wrath. No what I do not like is that all the valour point gear is locked away behind these reputations. Blizzard kept saying there are more choices of what to do at end game then ever before .. and at a glance there is! Dailies, raids, scenarios, farming, pet battles, reputation grinds. The problem is they have locked one away behind another. For dungeons and for raiding gearing has always been part of the accepted grind, and I don’t mind it. But people shouldn’t feel forced to have to do dailies or have to reputation grind in order to spend their valour points or gear for raids.

As I said though those last two are personal gripes, and looking at some of the official forums feeling a lot of players seem to endorse .. whether Blizzard acts on them is another matter. So far though it has been a great expansion, and the most fun I have had since early Wrath, lets see if the rest of it goes as well as the launch and initial few weeks. Here is to hoping blizzard keeps up the good work!!!