Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thoughts: Goodbye Pandaria, Hello Draenor

In the last two months I haven't posted, I've joined a new guild, and I've been farming plenty of pets, mounts, and toys to prepare for Warlords of Draenor.  At the end of every expansion, I feel bittersweet.  On one hand, a new expansion with new features is right around the corner, but I miss the expansion I've spent two years investing in.  Pre-patches leave me in a sort of limbo, wanting more from both the old and the new.  As it's the day before Warlords launches, I might as well take a trip down Memory Lane and recall my best and worst moments in each of MoP's patches.

I apologize for the wall of text incoming, but I do hope you enjoy a nostalgia trip with me.

Patch 5.0.4: Pandaria Pre-Patch and Launch
In the pre-patch, I was so excited to be able to play as a Pandaren, have tons of new pets with the pet battle system, and explore the wonders of Pandaria.  I was...exactly where I am at this very moment in time - adjusting to class changes, small UI changes, and even graphical changes.  I was having a lot of fun with new Warlock pets, especially the Shivarra and Wrathguard, as they were two of my favorite types of demons in Burning Crusade.  Even now, I look at them and they still feel new to me.

In the actual launch of Pandaria, I was basically foaming at the mouth in excitement.  I wanted to catch and level pets, explore Pandaria, level Pandaren, and read every quest possible.  I wound up doing a little bit of everything when I could.  One of the first things I did was tame Savage on my hunter - I was the third one on the realm to do so.

The lore was fantastic in the fact that it gave us a tiny glimpse into what else we would be facing, and it set up the Alliance-Horde war well on Pandaria's shores.  I was excited to see where the Thunder King had gone, and when/how we would see the Zandalari again.  I was also curious about the Sha and Mantid, since Old God and Aqir lore are some of my favorite things to see and experience.

Pet battles were an amazing feature in some ways.  I was so happy to be able to collect hundreds of new pets, and many of them had been models I always wanted as a pet.  I didn't enjoy battling too much.  I didn't (and still don't) battle for the fun of it.  It was just another means of getting pets for me.  I collected pretty much every pet I could in one sleep-depraved night, and spent a while during the patch to collect the more difficult pets, such as the Minfernal and Giraffe.  I wound up leveling my Clockwork Gnome first, who was one of the more overpowered pets of the time, and took my time leveling other pets.  I loved that pets and mounts were account-bound, and I spent a lot of time collecting them across many characters, and using pets on characters that never originally had them.  It opened new doors for me to customize my characters with the story I develop for them in my head, which enhanced my enjoyment of playing WoW.

Pandaria was fun to explore, and visually stunning.  I like Asian cultures, and always have, so Pandaria was a welcome sight in one of my favorite video games of all time.  It was refreshing and exciting to be able to explore every nook and cranny while leveling, while finding treasures, toys, pets, rares, etc.  It was a great experience the entire time, and I couldn't wait for future patches.  The Lorewalker items helped with this.  My roommate and I were the first two with the mount from the Lorewalkers on our realm.  We took our time with the Order of the Cloud Serpent, but searching for the eggs made us very nostalgic about the Netherwing rep in Burning Crusade.

The PvE experience for me was fun at first.  I enjoyed LFR, as it was on my level of difficulty.  I enjoyed all the new transmog, and I loved the warlock set.  I found myself getting burnt out on LFR pretty quickly, as I ran it on multiple toons in every wing every week.

Patch 5.1.0: Landfall
First of all - Raiding with Leashes.  I couldn't wait to complete that achievement.  There were about 37 new pets added in the patch to smooth out some families that were lacking.  Among some of my favorites in the patch were the Arcane EyeKun-Lai RuntInfinite Whelpling, and Corefire Imp.  The Pandaren Spirits, such as the Fire Spirit were wonderful pets as well (especially for my Pandaren Shaman), but I didn't enjoy those pet battles at the time.  It's entirely my fault for not enjoying them, as I wasn't prepared for any sort of legendary tamer battles.  Otherwise, this is one of my favorite memories for collecting pets - probably more than the actual launch, since I could take my time.

The story was...alright?  The Alliance-Horde war wasn't especially interesting to me, but I appreciated what Blizzard did in Krasarang with the story.  It was a nice touch to have the war quite literally reshape Pandaria.  I spent a lot of time farming the rares in Krasarang for honor to get transmog (and did up until 6.0).  The quests at Lion's Landing (I didn't do the Horde side until much later) were a lot more in-depth than I thought they would be.  I was glad to see the Kirin Tor rejoining the Alliance, however I didn't love that ALL the Blood Elves were targeted in the Dalaran quest.  I also felt disappointed later on that some of the plot points they made weren't fully addressed - but I'll get to this in the 5.2 section.

In PvE, I was still burning myself out in LFR, and wasn't interested in normal/heroic raiding.  I did a lot of world bosses for the mounts, but never wound up getting either.  I enjoyed doing the Brawler's Guild to get a pet and a mount (I LOVE Mechagnomes!) and I did as much of that as I could.

As a side note, I forgot until now that 5.1 introduced the change to make Lesser Charms a currency, instead of an item in your bags.  I must have blocked that out.

Patch 5.2.0: The Thunder King
I loved this patch later on, and I was way too excited for it when it came out.  I spent the first couple days farming NON-STOP for the Tome of Xerrath on my warlock.  I would NOT miss out on the long-awaited green fire.  After fighting through looting glitches, disorientation on the island, other people killing things too quickly, and other problems, I finally got the tome from Ku'lai the Skyclaw, and I still love him to this day.  After a couple days of pulling out hair and reading every possible way to beat the solo scenario, Kanrethad died, and every muscle in my body unclenched in victory.  I was, possibly, the first on the realm with green fire, as I didn't see any other single person with it until later that evening.  However, I would be surprised if I was the first, since I was only LFR-geared, and there were plenty of other people who were far more geared than I was.

The pets from this patch were fun, but I didn't have good luck in the Throne of Thunder getting them.  I especially liked the Living Sandling, and began to wish there could be playable Sand Trolls (or a glyph for mages/shamans to change their elementals).  I don't remember spending too much time actually pet collecting, but I did spend a lot of time on both the Isle of Giants and Isle of Thunder to get pets like the Zandalari raptors, Filthling, and Sunreaver Micro-Sentry.  I had a blast with the Elite Fabled Pets to get the Red Pandas (and I STILL wish they would have added the blue color).  I spent far too much time farming Zandalari Warbringers for mounts, and I spent a lot of time farming bones on the Isle of Giants for the raptor mounts.  I still haven't gotten the Red Primal Raptor, though I did get the Bone-White Raptor in 6.0 (thank you, Blizz, for allowing the bones to be on the AH!)

I spent a lot of time in LFR to get all the new looks of gear.  I loved the look of the Isle of Thunder, and the gear was beautiful.  I got the Shaman set as soon as I could, and wished he had been a Troll all along.  The warlock gear was one of my favorites, but the helm didn't look very good on my worgen, so I never completed it.

The lore in 5.2 was very interesting.  I loved the direction they took with Lei Shen's resurrection.  In 5.0, I didn't understand why the Thunder King would have been so "terrifying" - he was a Mogu that (according to Loh-Ki) had died at the hands of a ton of Pandaren, so why was he so bad?  We'll just do it again, right?  Well, Loh-Ki didn't mention that Lei Shen had killed a Titanic watcher and took his powers, his blood, and his mountain as his own.  I was left with questions, however, that were never answered.  Why exactly are the Twin Consorts the only female mogu?  Were they all killed with Monara?

I found the Zandalari story interesting, but a tad disappointing.  I was hoping to see Zandalar fully someday, and now it's basically a pile of stones in the sea.  Well, it was clarified to be sinking in the sea in this patch.  I wanted to know more, but it was all kind of left off.  I was excited to see Mar'li again (and I hope she resurrects again to get more lore someday).  It was also great to see Frost King Malakk after he had been missing in Northrend.  It was interesting to see Sul, who seemed to be an important person in Zul'Farrak even in Vanilla (as his name is mentioned in many places in the instance among mobs, boss lines, and an item).  It was bittersweet to see Trolls like Jin'rokh and Al'tabim, who I had done quests for back on Yojamba Isle.

The Kirin Tor/Sunreaver story was handled well, but I was disappointed to see that Aethas Sunreaver was clearly hiding something, but it wasn't ever touched upon again.  I didn't like Taran Zhu's speech, but that's more because I didn't like that character at all.

Patch 5.3.0: Escalation
I....honestly don't remember much about this patch.  I didn't spend much time doing Battlefield: Barrens.  I didn't want much other than the pet from there, which I got pretty much right away.  I should have spent more time to get the toys from there, now that they aren't available anymore.  Oh well, hindsight.

I spent far too much time getting pets from Raiding with Leashes II: Attunement Edition, and I spent way too much time standing around to get the Unborn Val'kyr.  I eventually got it in Zul'drak near the Altar of Rhunok.  Otherwise, I spent a lot of time in LFR and such getting other pets added in the Throne of Thunder.

There wasn't much for lore that I remember.  The Kor'kron were doing things, and the Horde wasn't happy about it.  From an Alliance standpoint, it wasn't an exciting patch for lore.  Horde-side, it was pretty great to see Chen kick enemies in the air as Thrall exploded them.  However, I did enjoy that Y'Shaarj was finally confirmed in-game in the Dark Heart of Pandaria scenario.  It tied together the Mantid, Sha, and Titans quite nicely.  I still wish Norushen had a tiny pet version of himself for us to collect.

I guess I spent a lot of time doing other things this patch, though.  I really don't remember much here.

Patch 5.4.0: Siege of Orgrimmar
For the first part of the patch, I was in a pet collecting rush.  I did tons of LFR to get those pets, and joined a new guild to do Flex raids for more chances at said pets.  I spent a ton of time on the Timeless Isle to get all those pets, and wound up getting them all fairly quickly.  My favorite two pets, hands down, were the Sha pets.  I leveled up my Pandaren Shadow Priest quickly and got her the LFR Warlock set, so she would match the Sha pets.  I also got her the Sha Mindbender glyph, and she was set as a Sha-corrupted priestess.  I had a lot of fun with the patch at first, but with all end game patches, it wore off fairly quickly.

The lore was alright.  Garrosh's defeat  I didn't love it, didn't hate it.  Wrathion wound up being someone I didn't like.  I tend to dislike characters that do evil things in the name of good in order to save the day.  No one ever knows how to feel about a character like that, and Wrathion is no exception.  The Legendary cloak questline ended abruptly and strangely...but hey, legendary.  I only got the cloak on my main, and attempted to get it on other characters, only to give up later.

I put off the Celestial Tournament for abouta year - 8 weeks until 6.0.  I hated it.  It wasn't fun.  With a few guides, it wasn't challenging either.  There's no "challenge" to missing a crucial attack and being screwed for the rest of the tournament.  I just didn't enjoy it.  I eventually got all the pets just in time for 6.0.  I got Chi-Chi first in the first couple weeks of the patch, though.  I look back at it with rage, because I didn't want to do that at all, but of course I wanted the pets.  Had the pets been tradeable, I wouldn't have cared as much, and I would have paid a fortune for them.

I spent most of the lull doing old raids for mounts, and catching up on achieves, pets, and mounts I was missing.  I got myself quite a few pets I hadn't tried for before, and wound up getting the "Seeker of Knowledge" title from Archaeology.  By the time the beta came out, I was pretty much done with things on Pandaria, though.  I never got into the beta, so I spent time doing other things in WoW, or playing League of Legends.  I got quite a bit of the Brawler's Guild done on other characters, and tried to enjoy the rest of Pandaria.  Right before 6.0, I collected everything that could ever be a toy.  This came in handy for 6.0, and I got nearly 100 toys done right away across my characters.

Patch 6.0.2 - The Present Day
I spent most of the pre-patch looking at how beautiful my characters are.  I've been farming up anything I missed, and I got all the pets I possibly could whenever they were added (I even got Syd the first two days of the Darkmoon Faire).  Got myself a Ring of Broken Promises to turn in as soon as I'm 100, and I finished Archaeology last night with the Crawling Claw (FINALLY - after about 200 Tol'vir solves since early Cataclysm!).  I liked the pre-event well enough, and I love the Iron Starlette and Bronze Whelpling.

I enjoyed Pandaria a lot.  I loved the story overall, and I had a blast playing it.  More story, pets, and experiences await me on the other side of the Dark Portal tonight, and I really couldn't be happier at this point.  I'm going to miss Pandaria, but I got (most) everything I could have from it.  I'll return someday to farm up some mounts and transmog, but for now, a savage new world is calling.

It's time to part ways, Pandaria.  I'll always remember the fun we had.  No, no, it's not you, it's me.  I'm sorry, Draenor is waiting for me.  I...I'll see you around, Pandaria.  Take care.