Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ironstevo Finishes the WoW Ironman Challenge (Again)

This incredible rendition of Ironstevo and his trusty blueberry minion Belnak was created by the talented @hugshot

Well guys n' gals, Ironstevo has done it again. He's reached the next level cap of the WoW Ironman Challenge as it currently exists. It was a long and wild ride to level 100, and a MUCH different experience than getting from 1 - 85 three years ago. He was also the first warlock to finish during this expansion, and the only one to finish without having either shadowmeld or feign death (two highly used life-saving abilities by many irons).
I'm not going to get all wordy here, because I'm about to do that in the transcript you can clearly see below. This is from the WoW Challenges podcast episode titled "Knowing is half the Battle," where I was asked to talk a bit about my experience with the challenge. Wall of text, yeah I know, at least I was kind enough to put the questions in bold to break it up a bit.
1. Tell us a little about yourself - the player behind the characters!
I'm currently a stay-at-home mom of 2 (ages 1 and 3), and happily married to my husband who I actually met through WoW about 8 years ago. (When your a healer and you find a good tank - marry him!)
I am also an artist, and I create geeky and gaming-related jewelry and sculptures that I sell on my etsy store. I generally work with polymer clay and resin.
Things non-wow that I enjoy are coffee, red wine, pugs, fantasy novels, skiing & snowboarding (I've got a major ski resort in my back yard - woot!) and sleep (when I can get it). 

2. How long have you been playing WoW?
I've been playing WoW for about nine years now. I started playing shortly after Burning Crusade was released. I don't believe I've been un-subbed at any point since I started, but I don't generally play a whole lot during content lulls before new expansions.
Content lulls were actually what got me interested in the ironman challenge. That, and the game steadily getting easier and easier as it evolved. I also figured it would be a fun way to add more content to my blog, as I focused on hunting down a lot of rares for xp. and writing about my experiences.

• And how long have you been participating in WoW Challenges?
I first started the WoW Ironman Challenge back during the Burning Crusade when people really seemed to start getting into it and it was being tracked at the old wowironman website.
When I first started, the level cap was 85 and no-one had actually reached that on an iron yet. As most usually do, I chose a hunter for my first iron (an undead hunter named Ironsteve). The pet + feign death certainly made it a more forgiving choice. I did pretty well on my first toon, and got him to level 52 before I clicked on the Alliance flight master in Tanaris without thinking. She killed me pretty quickly.
After the death of Ironsteve, Ironstevo the warlock was born - or...resurrected I guess you could say. I did eventually complete the challenge on him on June 2nd, 2012, so this will be the second time I've made it to max level during an expansion.

3. Tell us about your leveling experience with your new Lvl 100 Iron!

My leveling experience with Ironstevo has varied a LOT throughout the years. As I mentioned before, I started the ironman challenge during Cataclysm so the classes were all very different then. Most classes had far more abilities than what is available to irons today. For example, I used to have drain life and the ability the heal my voidwalker back then. I also had three different dots available and soulfire, which was my big hitter. Now locks pretty much have corruption and shadowbolt.
Things changed a lot during MoP, but I barely touched Ironstevo then, as I had just had my first child. I ultimately decided to pick up the challenge again to get from 87 - 100 around the end of last year.
Leveling from 1 - 60 for Ironstevo was completed with a variety of questing and rare hunting, and I made the whole experience tie in with my blog, which is entirely devoted to hunting down rares. Every few levels I'd give a progress update showing the various rares I'd found along with some YouTube videos of Ironstevo killing them.
From 60 - 70 I mainly quested through outland, as the rares there were actually  rare with long spawn timers. From 70 - 72 I finished up outland quests and then moved to Northrend, where I continued to quest exclusively until I discovered the insane amount of XP treasure chests gave around level 75. From 75 to 85 I did a mixture of Northrend questing and treasure hunting. Keep in mind all of this was done before the stat squish, so there was no 1-shotting prior expansion mobs at any point.
I briefly picked up Ironstevo at the beginning of 2013 and got a couple of levels, but ultimately I just didn't have time to move beyond that.
Toward the end of last year I decided it was finally time to catch up and try for those last 12 levels. I was very surprised by a lot of the changes - hardly any spells at my disposal, near no experience coming from kills in prior expansion content, and being able to almost one shot everything I had previously been killing in Northrend.
At 87 I started questing in Hyjal and then moved to Deepholm. I opened up the dailies in Mount Hyjal and did those for a while. Eventually I started doing the dailies in Tol Barad as well until about level 92. From there I started questing in Pandaria and doing various dailies with Pandaria factions. I did a small amount of treasure hunting there as well.
At level 96 I ventured into Draenor using the campfire in the cave on the Timeless Isle. I then carefully made my way to Frostfire where I did the initial quests to open my garrison. I continued to quest in Frostfire and complete bonus objectives, while at the same time looking for treasures. When I couldn't safely continue quests there I moved to Gorgrond where I again quested , worked on bonus objectives and sought out treasure. At one point I ran around Shadowmoon Valley as well to grab the treasures I was familiar with and get as much exploration xp as safely possible. After that I dabbled around Talador where I did more of the same. I eventually dinged 100 while treasure hunting in the Spires of Arak.
I was EXTREMELY relieved when Ironstevo hit 100, especially as I had a few very close calls right near the end. Ironstevo nearly bit the bullet while trying to grab a treasure in Gorgrond. I thought I only needed to kill one mob to get the treasure, but when I pulled it, the mob proceeded to run away from me, aggro three other adds and THEN head my way.  At the same time it hit me with some crazy physical damage (perhaps an aoe) that immediately brought me to about 30% health. I popped a healthstone and ran, hoping the mobs would reset. They didn't. Fortunately with some good timing I was able to resummon my voidwalker a couple of times before I was left to fend for myself, and I slowly picked off the adds.
The other close call I had was while doing one of the bonus objectives in Frostfire - the one in the cave. I had never done the objective before, but was high enough level that I figured I'd be fine so I gave it a shot. The kill 10 of 10 whatevers was no big deal, but then I had to kill a named. I carefully cleared to him and around him, and then I pulled. OMG, then I nearly had a heart attack. Adds...adds everywhere. There were voidwalker was dying ... very quickly. I was taking a lot of damage from somewhere, it was so hectic I'm not sure exactly where it came from. I turned tail and RAN. After a few steps I realized my voidwalker would be dead within seconds. Having a living voidwalker is FAR more important than putting distance between an iron lock and danger. I was able to resummon just as he was about to die and then I continued to run. I ran for what felt like forever until I hit the next sub-zone to reset the encounter.

4. Why did you choose the class and race you did?

I chose warlock after my hunter died because I honestly felt like hunter was a bit too easy. Yes, I know I died on the hunter, but it was a stupid mistake. I was fairly confident that I could have gotten him to a much higher level. That being said I wanted more of a challenge, but not *too much* of a challenge. I was not very familiar with the warlock class, and it seemed like a fun way to get a little more intimate with it. As for choosing undead - I LOVE the undead male casting animations. Plus mohawks.

5. What has been the most challenging for you with leveling an Iron?

Well, the biggest challenge while leveling Ironstevo has basically been the instances where I wasn't exactly sure of what I was getting myself into. Without feign death or shadowmeld as a way out of combat when things got bad, I really had to be extra careful when engaging difficult mobs. I always had to have a way out just in case at all times. If I wasn't sure about something I would generally do some research on Wowhead, and either move forward or simply not risk it if I thought there was a possibility of not surviving.

6. What zones did you level through?

I think Ironstevo's leveling route looked something like this - Tirisfal Glades, Silverpine Forest, Hillsbrad, Arathi Highlands, Hinterlands, Western and Eastern Plaguelands, Badlands, Tanaris, Burning Steppes, Swamp of Sorrow and then Blasted Lands. I chose these zones for questing, and also for the abundance of rares I was already familiar with.

• Did you have a specific path in mind to follow for leveling?
I don't usually have a specific path, especially because I routinely play both factions for ironman. I do always find my way through Western and Eastern Plaguelands on every iron I've even gotten that high though. I love the quests, and there are SO many rares very close together.

7. What zone did you find was the most unfriendly to a WoW Challenge toon?

If I had to pick one I'd probably say Vash'jir because you have to be aware of what is around you AND above and below you. I am also not very familiar with the zone as I quest through Hyjal on all of my leveling toons. Ultimately I think the best answer is - whatever zone you are least familiar with will be the most unfriendly. Knowing is half the battle.
8. What has been your fondest memory with leveling this toon, besides hitting 100?

Hitting 85? Ok guess that wouldn't count either. Haha, well I guess I'd have to say there isn't one particular moment, but something else entirely. This challenge has given me a love for the warlock class that I wouldn't otherwise have. I love casters, but it's typically mage, shaman or priest I'd play. I just never could get into locks. Over the last few years though, I've spent SO much time playing Ironstevo that his dark magic and blueberry minion have really grown on me.
9. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to try a WoW Challenge toon?
• Any extra tips or tricks?

As I stated in one of my previous answers, do what you know. The unfamiliar has been a killer of many previous irons. Also, pay attention to what faction your playing and stay FAR away from opposing faction bases and camps. Some of them have surprisingly large aggro radiuses. Ummm...don't click on opposing flight masters - instead of sending you to your intended destination, they'll send you straight to the nearest spirit healer.
Always be on the lookout for chests while your questing. Most are usually near or in structures, trees or other points of interest. They give very good xp. Be on the lookout for rares when leveling 1 - 60. The easier classes such as hunters and monks shouldn't have any issues with most rares in the correct level range. More difficult classes such as mages and warriors may want to avoid them altogether unless you vastly out-level them.

<end transcript>

Yes it was wordy, I know, but I have a habit of doing that. Ahh well, better than being vague with my responses I guess. Anywho, that's it for Ironstevo until Legion when the challenge is going to be turned upside down.

I have also been working on an actual rare-related post behind the scenes here too *GASP!*. If I ever get around to finishing that I'll send out a tweet or something to let people know.

Much Love, E <3

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bored? Check out the WoW Iron Man Challenge(s)!

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Are you a veteran WoW player who is tired of garrison chores? Raiding got ya down? Leveling alts just not holding your interest right now? Well, I've got just the thing for you - the WoW Iron Man Challenge!

Let's face it, these past several years we've gotten used to running from one quest objective to the next as quickly as possible. Pulling as many mobs as we can at a time, mowing everything down in our paths with no real sense of danger. Between the addition of heirlooms, talent changes and the world around us things have gotten so easy that leveling has become (at least to me) a bit of a bore.

Well this challenge will turn that experience right back around. It is quite difficult, and adds a real sense of danger back into the world of leveling. Clearing paths to a named mob, carefully planning out routes of escape, feeling your heart beat rise as you make your way through a cave (hoping nothing respawns in your face), wiping the sweat off your brow as you make it through another fight with only 27hp left - these are all things commonly experienced by iron man challengers. As difficult as this challenge is, I have always found it fun and very rewarding, both from a gameplay perspective, and for the community formed around it. It'll also really make you appreciate the small things in game. ;)

That being said, the WoW Iron Man challenge is still around and thriving. Since I last posted regarding the adventures of the Iron Steves, there have even been two new challenges created in addition to the original. :D

What is the Iron Man Challenge?

For anyone unfamiliar with the WoW Iron Man challenge, it is a player-created challenge with the ultimate goal of trying to make it to max level in only grey/white gear, with no spec and without dying. (See link for full set of rules.)

The two new challenges, which have evolved from the original, are the Pacifist and Blood Thirsty challenges.

  • The Pacifist challenge, which I refer to as the "hardcore pacifist", has all of the same requirements as the original iron man (no gear above white quality, no spec, no dying) with one major difference - NO KILLS. Not even one. Professions are allowed however, making it possible to level via flower picking, mining, exploring and doing whatever non-kill quests you can find.
  • The Bloodthirsty challenge also has the same requirements as the original challenge, but is essentially the exact opposite of pacifist. Level to max via killing mobs for experience with as little questing as possible. (Basically the few quests to unlock certain zones/content are allowed.)
Where can I find more info?

All three challenges are being tracked at the new WoW Challenges site, and links to the full list of rules for each challenge can be found by following the above links.

Although the iron man challenge is a personal one, there is a vibrant community which has formed around it. On the WoW Challenges site you'll find a forum with helpful tips & tricks for leveling an iron man and people's awesome stories of triumph and defeat.

Are there any WoW Iron Man Guilds?

There are several dedicated iron man guilds for both factions on multiple servers. For those playing on US servers, there is an exceptionally friendly and active guild on Wyrmrest Accord called Wowironman. Simply do a who /wowironman and whisper any member for an invite. For those playing Horde, there is a (less active) guild on Wyrmrest Accord called Horde Ironman. There are other active iron man guilds on various servers, most of which can be found on the WoW Challenges Forums.

For a while, guilds were not permitted because of their xp bonus perk, and the few that did exist had to be disbanded and re-formed after leveling past 1. Now guilds are permitted once again, as there is no more +xp perk. A word of advise - leveling an ironman character in a guild with others trying to do the same thing is a lot more fun than doing it by yourself.

I've never done this before - what class should I try?

Not all classes were created equal in regards to the iron man challenge. Personally, I believe hunter and monk to probably be the easiest (currently) for an ironman to level. Granted everyone has their own opinion, but the pet to take hits + feign death definitely make hunter nice for first timers. A lot of iron man newbies and seasoned alike also roll night elf for their shadowmeld ability (hence so many Alliance participating), leaving two options to get out of combat if things go bad. Monk (at least at lower levels) are also pretty strong due to their Touch of Death and Paralysis abilities.

If your looking for a real challenge within even the iron man challenge itself, roll a warrior. They are hands down the toughest irons to play at the moment. Without talents they have almost no abilities, and it only seems to get tougher the higher you level. A close second to warrior (in my opinion) is shaman. I have also heard that pally is pretty tough, but I have yet to roll one, so I can not attest to that.

Helpful hints

Always be on the lookout for treasure chests when leveling an iron toon. Most treasure chests give a hefty amount of xp. For the easier iron classes, seeking out rares can get you a lot of additional xp as well. I pretty much covered every low level rare on this blog a few years ago - except I think Dustwallow Marsh (hey, I didn't have time to finish with the new baby and all). I even have videos of my ironman toons killing them, so for anyone participating, those might come in handy. Tougher classes such as warriors should avoid most rares (maybe not the super low level rares, but as you level they'll become more difficult to nearly impossible).

The state of my irons ~

As for my own ironman toons. All the Ironsteves are still "alive". Ironstevo (my main iron warlock) is currently level 91 and slowly and VERY carefully making his way to 100. He's pretty much the only horde character I'm focusing on, as leveling horde side tends to be a bit lonely. He's creeping his way around Pandaria at the moment picking and choosing quests that look safe and exploring. As he has no "get out of combat" abilities, I don't use the word "careful" lightly. If I am even remotely uncertain about a quest, I walk away.

"Look! I dinged 91 in a giant bleeding heart plant!"
On Alliance side I'm focusing mainly on my warrior and shaman. I've also started an iron monk (which didn't exist when I initially started the challenge), and WOW is he fun! All of these characters are in the level 30 - 40ish range.

Naturally, I couldn't help but create a pacifist when I found out about that challenge. Getting to 100 without killing a SINGLE thing? Sounds impossible. Sure, sign me up! I've gotten Pacifisteva here to level 10, and I'd like to point out that getting those first few levels without killing anything and not being killed yourself is NOT as easy at it sounds.

Now that I don't agro everything in a ten mile radius I can relax a bit as I run around armed with a Red Wine Glass and Mining Pick, putting every plant and rock I see into my impossibly large bags. I'm even vowing to finally complete those darn achievements for being all lovey with animals, you know the ones... To All The Squirrels I've Loved Before, and the rest of them. What better character to do it on? I don't know how far I'll ultimately get this character, but so far I'm enjoying it. The first few levels were very intense, followed by a nice calm.

I haven't started a bloodthirsty challenger yet, but I probably will in the future. Now that death knights are participating in the challenge, I may start one of those as well. I hear getting through the starting area with no gear is extremely difficult.

So to anyone brave (or crazy) enough to give any of the challenges a shot, come join in on the fun (insanity)! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Rares in Nagrand and Tannan Jungle (Patch 6.2.2)

Yeah I know, I haven't been posting much this expansion. With two kiddos under three years old, it's pretty hard to find the time these days. There's just no way I would have been able to cover the insane amount of rares added in WoD. Thankfully little additions to the game like the new 6.2.2 rares aren't too much to take on, and have motivated me to write up a quick post.

I also figured it was about time to make a few updates around the blog on various pages, the most notable one being to the "List of Rares by Zone" page. I couldn't cover every vignette in Draenor or the treasures right now, but I did link to the Wowhead guides for each zone so that they can be easily found in one place.

So anyway, let's get on to these new rares! In the latest mini patch 6.2.2 there were seven new rares introduced (all pictured on the map above). Three of these are located in the un-instanced version of Highmaul in Nagrand, one is located in the un-instanced version of Hellfire Citadel, and the remaining three are located beyond the Dark Portal in Tanaan Jungle. All of these rares can be accessed with flying mounts after achieving Draenor Pathfinder.


The three rares in the un-instanced version of highmaul are all level 102 elite ogres. They are pretty tough, but can be solo'd by a few classes *cough* hunter *cough*. For those who cannot solo them or just want them to die faster I HIGHLY recommend using the premade group finder to find others to help. I usually find a group almost instantly by searching for "rares" or "highmaul" in the custom tab.

Each ogre has about a 10% chance to drop a cute little manafiend pet. There are three pets, one different one from each ogre.
Empowered Manafiend (Left), Empyreal Manafiend (Top Right) and Energized Manafiend (Bottom Right)
These rares can be looted once per day per character. Killing them again on the same character on the same day will only get you a small amount of gold. Loot is personal, and being in a raid group will not effect the drop. They also respawn very quickly for rares (just a couple of minutes). The pets they drop can all be listed on the auction house for sale. On my server they are selling for around 4 - 5k gold right now. If you have the time and alts, it can be a quick way to make some extra gold.

Tanaan Jungle

There are four new rares in Tanaan Jungle. Fel Overseer Mudlump is all by his lonesome in the un-instanced Hellfire Citadel courtyard. He pretty much follows the same rules as the ogres listed above. He's level 102, elite, can be solo'd (but he's tough), and can be looted once per day per character. One important thing to note - be sure to stand within melee range during his encounter in order to avoid his booterang attack (it hurts).

Fel Overseer Mudlump has a chance to drop a Spike-Toed Booterang.

Those who played during the Burning Crusade may remember this rare from when he was originally encountered back in the level 70 version of Shadowmoon Valley. There he was known as Chief Overseer Mudlump and he gave the quest: The Booterang: A Cure For The Common Worthless Peon, where players working on their Nertherwing reputation had to toss a booterang at disobedient peons on Netherwing Ledge. lol, those peons had some of the best quotes...

Work is da poop! NO MORE! 
OOF! Booterang hurted me! Me tink work better den booterang!
AYAYA! One day me have dat booterang...

Ahhhhh, memories...

Behind the dark Portal in Tanaan Jungle

The three new rares beyond the Dark Portal are similar in difficulty to the above mentioned rares, and follow all the same loot rules. Again, I recommend using the premade group finder to take these guys down if you can't solo them (or just to kill them more quickly). Being in a raid group will not effect your ability to loot.

These rares each have a chance to drop a Crashin' Thrashin' toy. All three toys are part of the Iron Armada Achievement.

Crashin' Thrashin' Roller Controller drops from Drakum. You'll find him on the upper level of the building at 83.6, 43.6.
Crashin' Thrashin' Cannon Controller drops from Gondar. He's located inside the building at 80.6, 56.4.
Crashin' Thrashin' Mortar Controller drops from Smashum Grabb. He's pretty big and obvious, hanging out at 88.4, 55.4.

Until next time, happy rare hunting! <3 E 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

How to get the "Predator" Title

A few days ago I read an article on Blizzard Watch talking about how to get the Predator title in Tannan Jungle. As soon as I saw this title I knew I HAD to have it for myself. I love titles, and this one especially I just had to have floating over my head. (Plus I also love a good rare-related challenge!) According to the article, you would need to be randomly ported to the demon Xemirkol by using the item: Master Hunter's Seeking Crystal. Upon killing him, you'll receive the Predator Achievement and corresponding Predator title. Although you will need the Crystal to reach Xemirkol, I found out that there is a little more to reaching him than just having the Crystal and being lucky.

After a few days of scouring Wowhead comments on pages related to this achievement and talking with people in game, I was able to figure out how to pretty much guarantee myself a port to Xemirkol. Here is what you'll need to do if your seeking out this title for yourself:
I used my crystal repeatedly over the past couple of days (before finishing the Jungle Stalker achievement and reaching exalted with Order of the Awakened) and was never once ported to Xemirkol. I also used it many times after completing the Jungle Stalker achievement, still with no luck. Then, last night I used several Medallion of the Legion to hit exalted with Order of the Awakened and was immediately ported to Xemirkol on the next use of my crystal.

Once you have all three of the above listed requirements covered you will be guaranteed a port to Xemirkol when you use your crystal, but only if he's alive. He absolutely IS on a shared timer, and it's a long one. If someone on your server has killed him recently you will have to wait for him to re-spawn before your crystal will send you to his platform. Just keep using it every 15 minutes when the cooldown is up, and you should eventually be ported to him. (Alternatively you could always hop onto another realm and try again if it doesn't work on the first try.)
If you end up porting to his platform and he is already engaged, ask if you can join the group killing him. His tag is a personal one, so simply attacking him without being grouped with the one who initiated the fight will not get you the title. If the other faction is taking him out then you are out of luck for the time.
The fight with Xemirkol is a little on the tough side if you aren't properly geared. I was able to defeat him with my ilevel 675 survival hunter, but it was not easy. I had to feign death and try again after initially engaging him. (I may have underestimated him a bit.) You'll need to move a lot to avoid his Shadow Crash and the Shadow Zone it leaves behind on the ground. He also casts Mind Blast and Carrion Blast which has a knockback. He kept knocking my pet off of the platform (I simply called him back each time). Apparently he can knock players off as well, so don't fight him too close to the edge and have your back facing the wall just in case. If you do get knocked off though, or fail to kill him, you can always use your crystal to find him again. He has a lot of health, 2617k to be exact. To burn through it more quickly be sure to use your garrison ability. Also bring some pots with you! (I forgot to stock up and had none for the fight. It would have been far easier had I been able to pop a quick healing potion.)
The toughest part of obtaining this title for me was probably hunting down every last rare in Tanaan Jungle for the Jungle Stalker achievement. My best advise for making that part easier is to be sure to pick up your Master Hunter's Seeking Crystal as soon as you hit revered with Order of the Awakened. Use it whenever it is not on cooldown. I was able to check a LOT of rares off of the list by using it while questing and exploring. If you are having trouble finding certain rares, use the group finder to server hop. Seriously, the group finder is one of your best friends here. A lot of friendly people open their garrisons for server hopping with open invites - just hop around from server to server in the area where the rare you are looking for spawns. Often times you'll find it right away. I do NOT however advise hopping to any and every group listed in the group finder. This is straight up rude. Using open garrisons should leave more than enough servers to hop through.
If any of the information I have provided changes, or new points become known I will update it right here in this post.
Happy Hunting!