Semper Fi, Shado-Pan

Today, WoW Insder posted this article about the Shado-Pan so I gave it a look. http://wow.joystiq.com/2013/02/27/know-your-lore-the-shado-pan/

I have to admit that although I really do love reading about the lore within the World of Warcraft, I don’t do it enough. I’ve dabbled a bit here and there, reading about the various factions within the story, and marveled at some of their plights. While some have been more interesting than others, none have touched me more than the Shado-Pan, as presented in the article linked above.

This is where I mix the game with my personal life, I suppose. You see…the lore presented in the article immediately made me think of battle-hardened Marines, specifically those who may be suffering from PTSD. Why the Marines?

Marines are smaller in number and proportion compared to other military entities of our country. The discipline instilled in them is a tradition that dates back to the Corps’ inception. From the earliest days of boot camp, on to the battlefield, and back home being “rotated back to the world,” maintaining one’s composure or bearing is something that is a thing of pride, regardless of the pain one may feel inside.

Marines often reflect upon the things they’ve witnessed. The times they had to play “God” for a moment and choose life or death for a fellow human being. And they have to do this over and over again for the protection of those who cannot or will not do it for themselves. They fight the Sha of our world, in its many manifestations, even if others mock their motives and make claims that these Sha do not exist. The marines know. They’ve seen them. They’ve fought them. Their hearts are scarred by them. Yet, they must maintain their bearing and continue to fight. On the exterior, they’re hard—seemingly desensitized and ready for battle. Almost cold. Inside, they fight their own Sha of doubt, fear, anger, and violence. They eat at them. But they maintain their bearing. Their composure and the drive forward keep them steady.

As with the Shado-Pan of Panderia, the Marines are not immune to succumbing to the power of the Sha. There have been many acts of evil committed by members of that most noble order. It is always sad to read or hear about, and there never is any justification that makes these acts ok, but most people who judge or condemn our darkened brothers and sisters do not know the angst they must deal with—the Sha. Yet the order presses on.

After these thoughts earlier, I may now always give a /bow to the Shado-Pan as I do their quests, enter their monastery, or press on into the Throne of Thunder. I will be proud to fight for the Shado-Pan, as I was proud to fight as a Marine. While the pixelated version of this honorable order will not have the same impact on my life, from an immersion standpoint, it’s equally as important to Panderia.

Semper Fi, Shado-Pan.

First Impressions of Mists of Pandaria

So, here we are one week into Mists and I must say that I am really having a good time overall. I think the continent was very well put together. The landscape is gorgeous, the quests are very fun (the stories—more on other parts in a bit), and everything just makes sense!

Cataclysm was good times for reasons which were mentioned before. But there never was any sort of excitement around the expansion as a whole. My GM mentioned a few months ago that she hated Cataclysm simply because of the lack of color diversity. Not Mists! Even my wife who is on the verge of hating WoW was looking over my shoulder the other day when I was doing Cloud Serpent dailies and said “wow that’s very pretty.” I was very shocked to hear this coming out of her mouth but she was right!

Questing

I took the whole week off for the launch but I could not do the all-nighter thing because I still had to get up in the mornings and get my kids ready for school. Plus, because my job in M-F, 8-5, I took advantage of the time off and made appointments for things I otherwise wouldn’t have (fucking dentist!).

Because I knew that everyone and their sister would be in the starting area for launch, a few of us decided to do dungeons for the two hours I had dedicated to playing before going to bed. It helped us gain XP, and allowed us to avoid the masses in the Jade Forest. When I woke up the next morning though, GAME ON!

I really enjoyed how Blizzard mixed the Cataclysm questing (leading you from place to place) with older style questing (find ! on the map). I also appreciate how if you open your map, you can see quests you haven’t discovered yet. What I enjoyed most, though, was just being in the continent. With the exception for the Dread wastes, which is an absolutely dismal place to be, just viewing all the sites while questing was plenty of entertainment. There weren’t too many cut scenes, but there were enough to provide some background on whatever quest you were doing. And Trolls!!! I wonder what they’re up to in this expansion? More Zandalari to deal with in a future patch, I’m sure.

Although my overall impression of leveling was very positive, there are a couple of things I really did not enjoy about it. The biggest thing I didn’t like is something I think most people are complaining about (those who are complaining that is): quest mob HP. This extends past the leveling experience and into the Daily-grind too. I can understand that level 90 quest mobs for dailies may need to be a bit harder to take down so they’re not entirely faceroll as soon as you ding 90, but I don’t understand nor agree with the fact that level 87, 88, etc leveling mobs take so damn long to kill. It really takes away some of the fun that I’m having otherwise. The only GOOD thing for me and any others who may be leveling in their tank spec is that I could tag anywhere from 3-5 mobs and never worry about getting hit too hard. Sure, it took a couple minutes to down the entire pack, but I didn’t have to wrestle other players for them.

The second thing that I really didn’t enjoy about leveling was how the quest rewards system was working. I didn’t really want to quest in my Bear spec, but I was sort of forced to if I wanted to have the gear to run heroics when I reached 90. Boomkin kills things much faster of course, but the way the loot system was working, your rewards were based on your current spec. Sure, there were a few options here and there along the way that benefitted my Balance spec, but overall not much at all. Now, if I had reversed that and stayed Boomkin to level, my Guardian gear would have been shit instead, which was something I wanted to avoid.

Dungeons

Ok, so at first I was a little irritated over how incredibly easy the dungeons had become, but after a few days, my mind is changed. I think it’s almost necessary to make these 5-mans this “faceroll.” Why? I haven’t met anyone really who plays WoW specifically to run 5 mans over and over at max level (or leveling). They are either a means to get folks some entry level gear, a way to stack achievement points, something to do to kill time, or just getting VP/JP (formerly badges or emblems). In my opinion 5 man dungeons shouldn’t be the three hour Grim Batols we had a few days after Cata launch. For some, 5 mans will be the extent of their PVE end-game experience for a variety of reasons. The only ones who will really be annoyed with their ease will be the hard core folks and they’re most likely looking for challenges in raiding, not 5 mans.

That said, I do like some of the mechanics of some of the fights. Engaging and entertaining (think barrels on Ook Ook).

OMFG Dailies!

Well, what can I say about these that hasn’t already been said? There are just far too many of these and way too much of a required feeling to them to make them really enjoyable. Having a full-time job, I had to choose last night whether I wanted to run some dungeons for more gear, or if I wanted to dailies. I could not do both. Not if I wanted any good sleep anyway. Instead of having a central vendor for JP/VP items, I need to grind the rep out for all the factions in order gain access to their items. Can this stuff be ignored if we jump right into raiding and are successful in our Dungeon blues? Of course! But some of us are not jumping right in, and many more people will most likely need the boost from the Revered Epics in order to be successful in Normal mode raids. Why make it so gated? As I said before: it feels too mandatory.

All About the Choices

It was said that MoP would be more about what the player wanted to do. Well, this is largely true considering the amount of choices we have right now. Which cooking school do you want first? Which faction is most important? Are dungeons or dailies on your priority list? Do you want normal, heroic, or challenge mode? How are you going to utilize your Spirits of Harmony. It adds flavor to the game for sure. Just seems overwhelming at the moment.