Gaming

WoW: Warlords of Draenor – First Impressions

If you play World of Warcraft®, or are friends on social media with someone that does, you no doubt know by now that Blizzard Entertainment released Warlords of Draenor, its latest expansion for the game, on November 13. You are also probably aware that the launch of the game was less than smooth. There have been major server stability issues, substantially long queues to log into the game, disconnects, content bugs, and to top it all off the servers in America fell victim to a Directed Denial of Service attack. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth on social media, YouTube, and Blizzard’s own forums about it and the accusations flew at Blizzard about having had ten years and four previous expansions to have known better than to not be prepared for such an enormous demand of the infrastructure on launch day. By Friday, all seemed to be stabilizing for the most part (at least, for me it was – I only experienced a short queue on Thursday night). Sure, I was disappointed that I really didn’t get to play on Friday as planned, but hey, it’s just a fucking game people. Yes, I took the day off too, but to be fair, I would have anyway because it was the day after my birthday and I wanted a three day weekend regardless of if a game expansion was coming out or not. Launch day stability aside, so far I like what Blizzard has done with this latest expansion to WoW.

Let’s start with something simple – updated character models. Characters in WoW have long been referred to as “toons” because of their cartoonish appearance. Blizzard decided, after ten years since the game’s original release, to finally update the character models and graphics. Below are screen caps of my main toon, Uhnk, an Orc Rogue. The shot on the left is how he appeared at level 90* before patch 6.0.1 was released and on the right is the updated version. Sure, it still looks cartoonish, but it’s still a much cleaner, sharper look than it was before.


Uhnk: Orc Rogue – Before and after Patch 6.0.1

Garrisons – A new feature in WoD is that each character now gets their own Garrison, which can be leveled up, have new buildings built and upgraded, and attract followers. Some folks (going by the in game chat channels) seem to feel like Blizzard is trying to capitalize on the popularity of various social media games, like Farmville, by including a similar element within WoW. Maybe; but I tend to look at it as going back to their roots with the original Warcraft: Orcs & Humans where you had to gather materials and build a garrison, and then defend said garrison. As a solo gamer these days who doesn’t play often enough to really get into the end game raiding, having a game within the game like building up a Garrison is kind of fun for me. I like having to recruit followers and send them out on missions. At least, I like it so far – we’ll see how that progresses (apparently some of the twenty followers available can only be found by participating in dungeons and raids).

Back to the Ground Pound – There is some debate amongst those that play WoW as to if flying mounts are good or bad for the game. For me, it made questing faster because I could fly past all the trash mobs and go straight to the objective, but I can see where that cheapens the experience a bit. In WoD, there is no flying on Draenor, except for the taxi flights between set points on the map. Sure, I kind of miss flying, but I’m definitely getting lots of use out of my Warlord’s Deathwheel these days.

So far, I’ve only gained a couple of levels and gotten two of my characters through the opening quest chain. So far I’m enjoying the new expansion, despite the technical glitches.

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* Actually, that may have been taken when he was level 82, but the model remained the same until patch 6.0.1 came out.

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LOOKING FOR GROUP


I’ve been playing role playing games (such as Dungeons & Dragons) for 30 years or so. I don’t get to play much anymore; I’d say it’s been at least a couple of years since I’ve had the pleasure of attending a gaming session for D&D or any other RPG for that matter. When I first moved to the Metro-Atlanta area in 2010, I joined a pretty awesome RPG group the very first night I was here. For various and sundry reasons, that group sort of split up (or at least, I somehow managed to no longer be a member of it – still not sure exactly how that happened). I missed gaming which lead to my starting to play World of Warcraft again after a hiatus of a couple of years; but even that, at times, requires a group.

While I do play Diablo III and World of Warcraft online it’s not quite the same as sitting around a table with real people acting out an adventure together. Put that together with the fact that WoW seems more and more geared towards forming Raid groups1 and is getting less and less solo gamer friendly, it becomes less of a replacement for tabletop gaming, at least for the person who’s playing the online game because they don’t have a tabletop group. Online games are fun and they do fulfill a certain need/desire, but they still lack a certain amount of social interaction unless you’re lucky enough to join a good guild that utilizes programs such as Ventrilo or TeamSpeak to talk to each other; and, sure, I’ve made friends from all over the country by playing WoW. Diablo and WoW may nominally be known as role playing games, but there’s little to no role playing involved and as I mentioned, in WoW you do need a group as too much of the end game content (I’m looking at you Timeless Isle) requires that you be in a group, unless you want your character to die every five minutes.

So, I’m looking for a group. Technically, in WoW, I am a member of a guild, but I haven’t logged on to the game in weeks, and even when I do it seems none of my guild mates are online (could have something to do with the fact that it’s a very small guild (basically I’m the only non-family member) and there’s a two hour time difference between them and myself). What I’d really love to find is a good tabletop role playing group again. I miss the social structure and truth be told, I miss rolling dice as compared to clicking a mouse to determine the outcome of my character’s actions. I’ve dabbled a bit with Warhammer 40,000, but that’s not a role playing game and I kind of got tired of the “table leaches” and “rules lawyers” that seem to come along with playing a miniatures game not to mention that a good bit of your time “playing” is just setting up the board; I do miss assembling and painting the models though.

The question is, how do I find a group? Something tells me that LivingSocial doesn’t have a geek/nerd section and so far the searches I’ve done via Google and Bing have lead me back to the gaming store where mostly miniatures games are played more so than role playing games (and as I recall, the RPG groups that do meet there are pretty much full up).

I guess we’ll see, as time rolls on, but for now my Saturday and Sunday evenings are reserved for watching Orphan Black and Game of Thrones anyway.

~ JC

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  1. A raid group is a large group of players made up of up to 8 parties of 5 players each intended to allow adventuring in areas (mostly difficult instances and PvP) needing large groups. Members of this group only get experience and loot from actions in their local party, unless the experience or loot results from a raid-based quest or mob (http://www.wowwiki.com/Raid_group)