Happy 1st Birthday Pandacraft!

Today marks the 1st birthday of Mists of Pandaria, or as I like to call it, Pandacraft. Like many Warcrafters, I was very skeptical when the expansion was announced at Blizzcon 2011. Pandas? Really? I was ready to quit the game not just because of this announcement but because I was having a hard time trying to raid and this announcement just made too much badness incoming. SWTOR seemed the saviour!  Thankfully, SWTOR failed me andI found a new guild that was raiding at times that ere compatible with my shift work. I decided to stay around and see what Pandacraft would bring.
I tested the beta and it looked cool but looks alone wouldn’t be enough to make the whole idea of Panda’s seem like a great expansion focus. On the PTR I played very little as I don’t like to burn myself out on the content before it matters so I dodn’t know what the content was going to be like, but the good news was it didn’t look too gimmicky, certainly not like Kung-Fu Panda. The date was announced as September 25th and I was as ready as I would ever be. I’ll admit I was nervously excited as I really expected it to suck and if it did I was going to lose a fantastic guild and the game I loved in the next few weeks.
To compound matters, my guild, Exhumed of Shadosong EU, decided to get the World Last kill of heroic Deathwing (we like to think that but it is a complete guess) minutes before the expansion was about to hit. The servers didn’t go down as they had previously, to give us access to the new content, Blizz had mastered a new tech to allow things to be done seemlessly. Then at midnight server time the launch happened and we went to Pandaria. The usual lag ensued but hey we were there!

The mad rush to level showed, what looked like awesome content. This was good. I was happy, everyone else was happy too. We dinged 90 and then we discovered the biggest problem, it wasn’t Pandas it was dailies and retarded rep grinds. 

Oh how I loathe Halfhill and the beauty of the Valley of the Four Winds. Why, cooking dailies. Then there was the Golden Lotus dailies/rep grind argh!!!! Why was I doing the Golden Lotus dailies? Well as an OCD enchanter I wanted all the enchant recipes and they also happened to be the best wrist and weapon enchants. And for that I need exalted with the Shado Pan. Except I couldn’t get rep with the Shado Pan because I needed to be given access to them by repping up with the Golden Lotus who also didn’t like me enough to get access to all the quests!

By the end of the first week the Exhumed team was ready for raiding, we had found that the 5man  heroics were not too hard, scenarios were easy and with the abundance of dailies valour was capped easily. Eventually the rep grind ended and Exhumed and I got into the cycle of dailies, heroics, sceanrios and raiding. 

The raiding content in Pandacraft has been fantastic and I’ll have to admit looking at the tier 14 and tier 15 content it has probably been the best raiding expansion ever. Sure there is still nothing to touch the likes of Ulduar or Karazhan but likewise there has been no Hyjal Summit or Crusader’s Colisieum.

The expansion has also given us pet battles, something I expected to suck and has proven me wrong there too as they are great fun and a distraction from the main focus of the game, clever stuff Blizzard keeping us in your game when we may be bored of your game.

Scenarios were something that I did get excited about, until we got them. I was expecting scenarios to replace group quests at all levels and these would be a great way of delivering the epic end of zone questing experience from Vanilla without the annoyance of having to spam general chat with stuff like “LFM Dun Modr quests” for an hour before giving up hope and just moving to the next zone. Sadly their implementation was less epic and they are just dull running them much beyond the second or third time.

I thought I’d save the best till last. The feature that I have enjoyed most this past 12 months has been Challenge Mode Dungeons. These are awesome and I really would love to see this feature expanded upon to include ALL 5 man content ever released. Not only is this really fun content to run it is challenging. It is how I like my 5 mans. It makes you play your class to its maximum potential, it makes you CC, it makes you think and yes it maks the elitist prick part of me smile because I know that every Joe Schmoo won’t be able to do it and I want it to stay that way and, thankfully, so does Blizzard.

My hopes for the next 12 months are that we will have the next expansion around Easter, I really don’t want more than 6 months running Siege of Orgrimmar (or any other raid to be honest) but I don’t think that will happen and if anything I expect that it will be summer when the expansion hits.

So that’s my fly by review of this expansion’s 1st year, what have your highlights been? What features have you loved? and loathed? I’d love to hear from you guys either via Twitter or in the comments below.

Posted by Evlyxx

Website: http://www.evangelysm.com

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