Getting the Expansion
About a week before the release date on January 16, I read the FAQ on the Collector's Edition of the expansion. I discovered that the netherwhelp pet that comes with the collector's edition would be available to all characters on an account, not just one. This eliminated my worries about "which character would most deserve the netherwhelp?", and made me wish that I had ordered the collector's edition.
The weekend before, Lori persuaded me that I did want the Collector's Edition enough to purchase it on eBay. I kept vacillating in expensive ways. I was too indecisive to act immediately on a chance to get it for $130, so I let that slip by and eventually ended up paying $180 for it.
That seller was a weasel, though. He didn't receive it on Tuesday as he said he would, and it took until Thursday for him to send us any e-mail acknowledging that. (His mail said that he had been spending that time checking all the game retailers in his vicinity. Duh. If I could have purchased it at a game retailer nearby at the $70 list price, I wouldn't have considered paying you $180 for it.) So we ordered it from someone else (at $110, so a substantial savings from what I'd originally paid--except for the days of waiting). The weasel also took a long time to refund our money; we had to file a dispute with eBay, and we now see that his account no longer exists.
So I didn't receive the game until Saturday morning, and some people had the expansion since the midnight that began Tuesday morning. Lori had suggested buying the non-collector's version to tide me over, but the FAQ had said that you couldn't upgrade a normal BC account to a collector's edition account. So while my friends were rhapsodizing about how nifty the expansion was, I could only listen with envy.
Lori was very kind and gave me the weekend to play Warcraft nearly non-stop. For the weekend, I played Mazumok. He mostly did quests in Hellfire Peninsula.
I consider Hellfire Peninsula one of the best zones. Here are a few of the experiences I found really impressive:
- the sky on first entering the zone
- the vertiginous look over the edges of the world
- the sight of unbound voidwalkers
- The Unyielding all kneeling at the completion of that quest chain
- Thrall's jubilation at the news that his people are still in Outland
- The quest to bomb the demons from the air. (The quest is repeatable. No experience or reputation, but you get to drop bombs on demons again.)
I took Monday, January 22, off of work in order to play WoW. On Monday, I played Marendyn. I had intended to largely skip Hellfire Peninsula and go on to Zangarmarsh to diversify my experiences. But there were enough quests were I said some combination of "Oh, that quest is really convenient", "That quest has really good rewards", and "Oh, that quest was really fun" that I ended up doing almost all of the quests I know of with Marendyn.
She's also been through a lot more instances in Outland than Maz, because she's a strong tank.
And I found more gear that excited me for Marendyn than for Mazumok. (Such as the Earthwarden, which is a mace packed full of feral druid goodness.)
And leveling seemed to go more quickly and more enjoyably.
So Marendyn has taken over from Mazumok as my main character. I agonized about this decision far more than it really called for--after all, no one else was hurt by this decision, and there's no greater good than my own pleasure at work here. But I still feel like I'm being sort of disloyal to Mazumok here.
The first dungeon in Outland is Hellfire Ramparts. Marendyn has been through that instance four times in hopes of getting the feral staff Ursol's Claw. (It hasn't dropped, and she's moved on to better staffs.)
Most of it was straightforward; the orc-and-dragon fight at the end, though, has led to repeated total-party-kills. Here's what I think I've learned about that fight:
- everyone needs to move out of the pools of fire on the ground.
- DPS needs to be split between the dragon and the orc until the dragon lands. (The dragon lands when either is at 30% health, so the ideal is for them both to be at 30% health before the dragon lands and things get much worse.)
- When the dragon lands, the tank needs to pick up aggro on the dragon as quickly as possible.
- The tank needs to keep the dragon pointed away from the healer, particularly.
I tanked for the first three times, but had an above-level tank from the guild for the fourth time. That fourth time was the only time that didn't involve any wipes--it didn't have any deaths at all. So I should probably go there again to learn how to do it without my dying.
In Zangarmarsh, Marendyn got exposed to the Cenarion Expedition, and the fabulous druid mace Earthwarden. I really want to get that mace.
On the other hand, that will require grinding reputation to Exalted, which may suck. On the advice of WoWwiki, I spent some time killing naga to get to Friendly, and I bought a lot of Unidentified Plant Parts to get to Honored, and then I started doing Zangarmarsh quests. Unfortunately, this may still require 59 runs through the Steamvault to get from Revered to Exalted.
I dislike the reputation structure that says "if you don't interrupt your happy quest groove to do the grinding for reputation, you'll regret it later." My idea of how to do it better: instead of saying that you can turn in Unidentified Plant Parts up until Honored, say that you can turn in that quest, say, 20 times. That would let you repeat that quest after other quests had gotten boring.
I don't recall as many really splendid quests in Zangarmarsh as in Hellfire Peninsula. Zangarmarsh looks a lot more exotic, though, with the vast fungal forest and exotic creatures.
Nagrand looks really nifty. The warm green land with floating islands with waterfalls looks to my eyes like it would match a certain class of heavy metal album covers.
Nagrand is full of quests--there's the orc quests, the elemental quests, the safari quests, and more. I've been there several evenings and I still feel that there's a lot more that I haven't touched.
The Ring of Blood was a particularly exciting quick chain--it resulted in Marendyn getting a wondrous staff.
One particular readjustment I've had to deal with is the matter of money. Money is amazingly abundant in the Outlands--for the first week, at least, Marendyn was making over 100 gold a day. It may have slowed a bit--or that may just be changes in the way I'm playing. I haven't even been auctioning the stuff I gather much--mostly I've been giving gatherables to friends.
But that means that I should not be as thrifty as I currently am. I have concluded that at least most of the time, if I see something on the auction house that I am not sure whether I want, I should go ahead and buy it and evaluate it more thoroughly at leisure.
It's been very hard indeed for me to learn this lesson.
One result of this lesson: I spent 50 gold on a very feral Reflective Staff of the Beast, and then I replaced it within an hour with the Staff of the Beasts. But this isn't an example of 'taking that lesson too far'--I haven't regretted that 50g.