Keep facerollin' rollin' rollin'

After finishing the Howling Fjord at level 71 I started the Dragonblight, even though some of my guildmates recommended that I do Borean Tundra first. When I arrived to the first few quest hubs, I saw why. Gray exclamation marks everywhere. Fortunately there were a few quests that got me to 72 and I could pick up some of the level 74 orange quests. If the Alliance is following my guildmates' advice, it explains all of those level 74-75 Alliance in the Howling Fjord. The four-level difference and the resulting ganking is sure to restart the cross-faction hate and hopefully provide some incentive for PvP later on.

The malady of having quest chains that make you go back to the same area multiple times continues with Dragonblight. I visited the Scarlet area of New Hearthglen at least five times, and one of the unfinished quests requires you to visit it three more times. Fortunately the nearest Forsaken town was not far away, but looking at the map I imagine that the Alliance will dislike New Hearthglen even more.

Dragonblight also contains the Wyrmrest Temple, the meeting place of all of the various dragonflights. Unfortunately, there seems to be little to be done there right now. Apparently I need a quest or my drake to access the upper levels. I also visited Ysera, but she was asleep as always. One other thing that I noticed is that the group quests start racking up. Howling Fjord had a few soloable ones, but instead of level 71 elite mobs with 20k hp there's now five level 74 elite mobs with 100k hp each. I haven't attempted them yet, because 100k hp is not something that I can just burn through and survive. At least not with the fire spec, which seems like the Only Spec™ according to guildchat. Frost doesn't even seem to keep up with Arcane.

As I mentioned before, getting a group to the starter instances seems to be really hard, with most of the server population already at level cap or near it. I eventually got into a guild group of two deathknights, a paladin and a shadowpriest and we entered Azjol'Nerub, the midlevel instance in the Dragonblight. I was initially worried that I was too low level to be of any use, but I was proven wrong quickly. Our highest-level character was a level 74 deathknight, the rest of us were around level 70-72.

The architecture of Azjol'Nerub is interesting. The place is really, really small. And by small, I mean: three rooms, three bosses. The interesting part is that it's a vertical instance. Most of the time you're walking on transparent spider webs and making your way down. We didn't have any healing set up, and the two deathknights kept competing for aggro. Still, we cleared the place quickly, with only one, completely avoidable wipe. The deathknights started tanking a mob in a spot where an endless stream of mobs tried to defeat the second boss, so in the end they were fighting three elite groups of three mobs each plus about a dozen of the endless adds. Aggro seems like a forgotten concept. Even with a deep fire single-target DPS spec, T6/SW gear and full cooldown usage I could not pull aggro from a deathknight dressed in greens. All of the bosses died very, very rapidly. We even lost one of the deathknights at the first boss with no ill effects whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the rest of the guild was PUGing Naxxramas. Let's just distill their experience to this single comment: "This boss is hard, he didn't die on first pull." I'm worried that Wrath is going to be an incredibly underwhelming experience from start to finish. It's quite telling that all of the raid content in Wrath was cleared 65 hours after release. That 30% nerf to everything before Wrath was not a freebie to let people finish TBC, it was a retuning of TBC to Wrath norms.

And as far as questing goes.. let's just say that my attitude is best summarized by Dark Legacy. Before Wrath I finished the Tranquilien quests using the same style and so far I haven't seen any reason to change. All I see is so much untapped potential.

For example, there was one questline in the Howling Fjord where a group of Forsaken Apothecaries are wondering why a nearby dwarven expedition has gone insane. I was hoping to encounter a Faceless One there, but.. nothing. You just grab the brains of the dwarves and the beer, and there's no followup. Or a quest where you get disguised as a worg to talk to a worg questgiver who assigns you to kill his upstart rival. That rival turned out to be a Worgen which was a decent plot twist in itself.. but the concept of a disguise was woefully underutilized. All it does is to avoid aggro from other worgs which you barely encounter on they way to the quest mob and feel like a shaman for a moment. However, using your own mount is faster and about as safe, so the point of the disguise is lost. There's also one questline where you enter the catacombs under a Vry'kul fortress where the Scourge is turning the Vry'kul into monsters. The walls of the catacombs are lined with dormant Vry'kul and one of the quests involves you waking them up and killing them. Five out of about a hundred, that is. And when you do wake one up, he dies. He isn't weakened or anything, he just drops dead. A whole catacomb full of Vry'kul that you never get to fight is a huge unfired Chekhov's Gun. Finally, there's a quest where you have to prevent a Vry'kul queen from waking up her king. When I entered that place, I saw full groups of Horde entering and exiting, so I assumed there was a a decent battle inside. No such luck. The place has barely any guards, and the queen itself died before I managed to cast a second Fireball. I've fought stronger trash mobs than this. So at least she managed to wake up the king, who's supposedly a badass? Kind of. The Lich King ports in, steals the Vry'kul king and taunts me that I need go to the instance I spent a day trying to get a group for to fight the Vry'kul king. I guess this is what they meant when they said that the Lich King would be involved in the storyline from the start. And to be fair, I did not see that coming. I never imagined that the Lich King would act like Jesse & James, the recurring comedy reliefs/villains from Pokemon. If he starts cracking one-liners I'm going to gank someone.

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