Back Into the Oculus

Syp over at Bio Break just made a post regarding the new Oculus reward system. Obviously, the new reward might help motivate people to stick with Oculus if it comes up in random heroics. But why do people dislike it so much? First, my Oculus experience…

I hated Oculus. With a passion. As a matter of fact, before patch 3.3, I had run Oculus a total of 3 times since launch. I didn’t like the drakes, I didn’t like how there were all these platforms and levels and flying drakes that aggro’d on you if you looked at them funny from a mile away. But mostly, I just didn’t understand it. The groups I was with usually just flew from one point to another, stopping in random places with no rhyme or reason to it. It didn’t make sense.

Then the first day of 3.3, I got it in a random PUG. As it turns out, my groupmates either hadn’t done it (because they heard it was so horrendously bad) or had only done it once or twice, and still didn’t really know what to do. But we decided to give it a shot anyway. And it was fun! But it was also somewhat insightful in regards to the state of instance-running these days.

Now Oculus isn’t one of those instances that you can run through mindlessly, especially if it’s your first time there. You’re not running through a hallway and killing mobs on auto-pilot. Once you get your drake, you have to read what your new skills are, think about what those skills do and how to use them to your advantage (to be fair, you only get three new skills), and then you have to talk to your drake to find out where to go and what to do next. It was THEN, finally, that we figured out that the drakes tell you what to do and where to go.

We got our drakes and I listened to the first part: Kill Arcane Dudes. Okay, easy enough. We flew to the nearest platform and found four Arcane Dudes. Then on the ring right next to us, were more Arcane Dudes. Worked our way around to the other side… yep, the last Arcane Dudes.

Hey bronze dragon, what now? Oh! Time to kill Big Ugly Bubble Man! Can do.

The entire instance went like this. Once we figured out that the drakes tell you exactly where to go and what to do if you just take time to read the flavor text, it was cake… FUN tasty cake with gooey icing. Even the last boss was easy, once we got into a groove with our new drake skills. It’s like learning to drive. You have to become one with the drake (car), and once you get into that mindset, it becomes effortless.

My point is that Oculus isn’t the big bad monster that I thought it was for months. Granted, it was tougher in the earlier days, pre-nerfs. My theory is that Oculus was put in the game just to see if players are paying attention. It reminds me more of those early days of WoW, before QuestHelper and Carbonite and before Thottbot/WoWhead were widely used. In those days, we quested uphill! In the snow! Both ways! The only thing we had to go on was quest text, and part of the fun of the game was the journey and the accomplishment of finding those hidden clues and quest objectives. When players say that they hate that instance, I wonder if it’s hated because people genuinely hate the mechanics (3-D movement/combat, new skills) or if because it’s not a straightforward, on-the-rails, point A-to-point B instance like every other?

In the end, Oculus went from my most dreaded instance to one of my favorites. It’s different from any other instance, and really doesn’t take very long at all once you get going. And now, there’s extra loot! I definitely won’t be complaining about that.

Water World

MMO Champion has a new post up today with details on several Cataclysm changes, including Archaeology, Reforging, and (what really caught my eye) the new water engine. While watching the Cataclysm trailer it looked like the water was different, but it was difficult to tell if it really was a big change or not… well it is! Check out some of the screenshots:

Considering that water-filled areas are supposed to be a big deal this expansion, it’s no surprise that they took this opportunity to update the water. Now, will they be providing us with scuba gear?

Ze Mood of Luv…

To some, Naxx is an unholy fortress of evil and undeath. To others, it’s merely a bump on the road of gear progression. But to some… well… let us say that it is akin to Paris in the springtime…

You have no idea how distracting those two mammalian lovers are during a Patchwerk fight.

Winter Veil squeeee…


I am an achievement whore. There, I said it.

Granted, I’m not one of those people that gets nearly every achievement known to man, and I don’t like to impose on others or play in a fashion contrary to the spirit of the game just to get some weird “Kill 100 sea boars while naked, picking your nose, and flying on a wiener schnitzel” achievement. Although I have been known to jump repeatedly off cliffs unclothed for unlocks in other games. 😉

But I loves me some achievement goodness. And if it’s combined with a World Event, even better. Enter: Winter Veil.

Last year was the first time ever that I wasn’t playing WoW during Winter Veil, due to burnout and other issues. Every year before that, it has been a silly Christmas Morn tradition for us to log-on to WoW first thing and get the presents from Greatfather Winter. I’m excited to be able to complete the Winter’s Veil achievements this year and get the title “Merrymaker”.

WoW.com has just posted their Guide to Winter Veil, as it starts tomorrow. Hope you’ve been collecting your small eggs, as they’ll likely be selling very well this week. My plan was to chain-run heroics the rest of the week, but I’ll likely be busy with Winter Veil for at least 2-3 evenings.

After that, I only need two more world event achievements to get the Violet Proto-Dragon: Love is in the Air (which I’ve heard is a pain) and the Lunar Festival event. So if all goes well, I’ll have the drake sometime in February.

I’ve had some folks ask why I “waste” time on achievements, titles, and world events, saying that such things are pointless and stupid and for people that have no lives. That may be somewhat true, but the same can be said for any aspect of any MMO. In the end, it’s all pixels in a video game. The real objective is to have fun, whatever that definition of fun may be.

Mmmm… Tier gear!

Last night was a good WoW night. We gained a new guildmate, hosted a manhunt (one guildie hides in an undisclosed location, everyone else has to find him and stand exactly on his spot), and then had two guild groups going, one doing retro Molten Core and the other doing chain heroics. I was in the heroic group, and got my first-EVER piece of tier gear, Velen’s Handwraps of Conquest. I also manged to get the Bone Golem Scapula as an upgrade to the Titansteel Guardian that I’ve been carrying around for months. Yay!

I also managed to do a run or two as shadow, finally. Shadow Priest DPS is my favorite playstyle, but it’s also had it’s ups and downs. In Vanilla WoW, it was the leveling and PvP spec. In TBC, we suddenly became wanted in PvE because of amazing mana battery abilities. Now with the implementation of “Bring the player, not the class” in WotLK and the homogenization of mana replenishment, suddenly shadow priests found themselves in an awkward spot: Not as much DPS as other DPS classes, with very little to make up for that imbalance. We started out okay at the very beginning of WotLK, but our DPS hasn’t scaled well at all.

They’ve started taking steps to fix this problem with 3.3. Haste now affects more of our abilities, and we received several buffs to our damage. Last night was my first chance to try it out. My DPS had shot up an average of 300-500 or so from what I last remember. I wasn’t #1, but I wasn’t always dead last either, and keep in mind that I’m still almost entirely in heroic-level gear. Right now I’m quite happy with the changes, Shadow priests aren’t such a liability anymore but they’re also not insanely overpowered. And that makes for a very happy Betsea.

The Social Aspect of 3.3


So the new hotness in Patch 3.3 is the new Dungeon Finder system. Level 80’s are running instances like crazy right now to get prepared to beat the living daylights out of Arthas. Even lowbies and alts benefitted to this change, as it’s now easier to get at-level groups for early dungeons, thus rejuvenating the leveling experience.

I’ve been having some interesting discussions regarding how DF will impact guilds, especially smaller social guilds. There seem to be two points of view. Some are very concerned and feel that the DF will trivialize guild groups. After all, you get extra badges, extra gold, and extra loot if you use the DF to find random PUGS, whereas you don’t get those same benefits with guild groups. It’s now incredibly easy to get online and jump straight into a PUG heroic, so why wait on guildies? Now you don’t need a guild to run instances… anybody can do them on their own with no fuss.

The other viewpoint is that the DF tool is actually very beneficial. Most players in smaller guilds stay there for the low-key atmosphere and the close relationships they develop with their guildmates. These players enjoy grouping with their guildies, and will nearly always prefer a guild run over a PUG group. But, on those occasions that there are more than enough guildies online for one group, but not enough for a second (or third) group, this offers a better, more improved system for those odd folks out. Missing 2 or 3 people to fill out your team? Jump in the queue, grab a couple of puggers, and go get some badges. Everybody who wants to instance, gets to instance, but within the guild they keep that same homey atmosphere that they enjoy.

Another interesting idea that I’ve been mulling over is how this will affect gear-progression and raiding. Right now the Dungeon Finder is designed only for 5-man content, but it wouldn’t be a huge stretch for Blizzard to add raiding content as well at some point in the future. If that were to happen, it could reduce the number of players from smaller guilds that “trade up” to large guilds for gear progression and raiding. The guild would be for the social aspect, and Dungeon Finder for the progression aspect. Who said that successful raids can only be run by guilds?

Of course, this is all speculation and we’ll have to see how things work out over the next few months. The Dungeon Finder could be one of the best things to happen to the game… or it could be detrimental to developing camaraderie within guilds. Only time will tell, but at this point I think it will be far more beneficial than anything else.

Patch is up!

Ah, Patch days. They are exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.

Patch 3.3 went live today. After some extended maintenance, SwC came back up and our modest, medium-pop RP server got very packed, very quickly. After dealing with some UI and add-on issues, I was finally able to start instancing. Luckily, a guild group had one more more spot left and I got to try Forge of Souls for the first time.

Now, keep in mind, I’m not a raider. I’ve done it, in the past, for the fun of hanging out with guildies, but it’s never been something that I enjoy just for the sake of it. Different strokes for different folks and all that. Five-man instances, on the other hand, are a whole different story, I can do five-mans all day. So we head in, with a bit of nervousness since it’s a new instance and of course we know nothing about the bosses.

First thing we notice is that Jaina is now a rather snooty-looking Amazon woman. When did this happen?

Second thing we notice is… wait, that music… it sounds rather… kind of like Austin Powers-esque organ music. Or something you’d hear on a drug episode of Dragnet re-runs, with a hint of techno. This is not your normal WoW music.

We get around to Bronjahm, the first boss. Our hunter remarks about the reference to James Brown, we all laugh, buff up, and jump in.

And then it REALLY starts.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3jSY5fIeDA&w=425&h=344]

A quarter of the way through the fight, I completely lost it. The music is so different, so joyfully epic, and I just could not stop the giddy schoolgirl laughter. Surprisingly, we didn’t wipe! On the contrary, I think it motivated us even more.

The next boss is the Devourer of Souls. It was up for debate on who it looked more like: The Wizard of Oz or the Face of Boa from Dr. Who. Either way, he/she/it was a bit hectic the first go-around, but an easy finish the second time.

I’m love, love, loving Forge of Souls… definitely one of the most entertaining instances I’ve seen in a long time.

Who am I?

Hello and welcome to Battle Priestess, my World of Warcraft blog!

I’m Moxie, a 30-something married female, Starbucks addict, and passionate-but-casual WoW player. I’ve been gaming since I was a wee thing and my aunt shoved an Atari joystick into my pudgy little hands and showed me how to play Pole Position. 😉 I’ve played MMOs since 2004, when my awesome comic-book collecting, superhero-freak hubby picked up a copy of City of Heroes on impulse. I took one look at the character creator and bought my own copy the next day! We played CoH for a year or so, until one day a supergroup (guild) member mentioned a new MMO that would be coming out and would be absolutely amazing… World of Warcraft.

Now, I had never played a Blizzard game in my life. I didn’t know the lore of Warcraft and strategy games had never been interesting to me. But we got into the open beta of WoW and were hooked instantly. It was super immersive, super fun, and we were extremely impressed with the “huge” feel of the world. We ended up rolling on the Garona server, where I made a Night Elf Priest named Jaelia. She still resides over there, as a tribute to those early days.

We tried EQ2 as well, due to half of our CoH guild going to WoW and the other half going to EQ2. We stayed there for a while, but came back to WoW because that’s where we truly had fun. Some time later, we happened across an amazing guild on a newly opened RP server, Steamwheedle Cartel, and we rerolled again to join them. This time it stuck, and I played a Dwarf Priest named Brynne. She was the first character I got to level cap in WoW, and she continues to be my main to this day, although she’s been re-named Betsea since then.

I’m a fairly casual player, mostly preferring to quest, explore, craft, and run 5-mans. I’ve dabbled in the introductory raids each expansion pack, but raiding is not a primary focus. I’m also a bit of a lore fiend, having read all the Warcraft books/manga and yes, I do read quests and in-game books as much as possible. 🙂

As much as I love WoW, I’m not a completely monogamous player. I’ve also played Warhammer Online, Fallen Earth, Lord of the Rings Online, and have beta-tested several other MMOs. Sometimes it seems that taking a break from a certain game can certainly refresh your perspective and it really is good to know what other concepts and ideas are out there. Plus it allows you to see where the trends are and how the MMO industry is changing and adapting.

Anyways… there’s no telling what this blog may bring. It might be daily at times, other times it might be weekly, depending on what is going on and what I have to say. Cheers!