27 March 2007

Druid Questing

Last night was a night of questing for my druid, Alamein. She had been hanging around with Eric's Draenei paladin and DK's shady rogue, running quests in Westfall. In a couple of sessions with them, she had leveled up to 16, so I knew she was ready for a couple of the druid quests -- for Cure Poison and Aquatic Form. I figured it would be a 'down' night and I would quickly bang through the quests. Well, that's not exactly how it worked. Those two quests involve a good bit of travel and some challenging combat for a solo player, and it took me a couple hours to complete both.

There's a lot of travel involved, but at least I had saved both quests for the same trip, and that made things much more efficient. I went to Darnassus and picked up both quests, then teleported to Moonglade to get started. The first step in the Aquatic Form quest is to grab a bauble from Lake Elune'ara and then run to the Shrine of Remulous. Easy enough. Then I had to figure out who had the 'tips' for where to find the two half-pendants.

Here I made a choice not to look up the quest details online. It was tempting as I was starting to realize how long the quest string was going to be. But I decided to play the content out in-game as much as possible, in order to enjoy it as it was created. There are amazing resources available online; I don't know how I would have learned certain things without either looking them up or begging for help in-game. I've tried to take a policy of not looking things up until I've given it a good try in-game.

That did draw the Aquatic Form quest out quite a bit, as I had to visit just about everyone in town before I found that the flight masters had the necessary information. So, it looked like Auberdine was my next destination for both quests. Talk to a few NPCs and then I'm off.

My first stop was the falls at the head of the Cliffspring River, to fill a phial. There were a few naga to draw out, but they came one at a time; it took a bit of work but they both went down OK. What I wasn't prepared for was the spawn after I filled the phial; the two naga together caught me by surprise. I didn't fight them well, but may well have died even if I had. So -- a long run back to rez, but at least I had the sample I needed.

Next stop was the first half of the Aquatic Form pendant. That's close by -- just offshore where the Cliffspring River flows into the ocean. This too was a difficult quest, because of the level 18 threshers. I aggro'd one very quickly when I swam offshore, and had to fight him blind a bit (which is somehow harder than it looks). I had to be pretty tactical about the fight, but he wasn't too bad for a mob two levels higher than me. I swam out to the first set of rocks -- a three-pronged set -- and got jumped again. I found that I could wait in the middle of the three rocks, and the thresher couldn't reach me; if I waited, he would de-aggro and leave. That wasn't bad, but still I had to navigate past a whole herd of threshers. That rock is well defended! I ended up fighting two more threshers, but on my terms, in order to open up the path. I got the pendant half and swam back to shore without any trouble.

Back to Auberdine, where I checked in on the Cure Poison quest. Next step was to gather earthroot and lunar funguses. Alamein isn't an herbalist (skinning and leatherworking), but my Draenei shaman Tobruk is. So I logged in with her and mailed over five earthroot. While waiting for the mail, I had Alamein go looking for the fungus.

The moonkin caves are easy enough to find, but in the first one I just couldn't find the fungus. Here's where I gave in and looked it up on Allakhazam, and got the key tip that the mushrooms are relatively tiny. I hadn't realized how many different types there were in the caves, and had expected something obvious to collect. Once I had it figured, it was easy enough to collect; at level 16, I had no problems with the moonkin. After getting all the fungus I needed, I still hadn't received my earthroot mail, so I took a trip to Darnassus. I was willing to buy it at the auction house, but there was almost none for sale -- just one set of 3, when I needed 5, and they didn't have a buyout anyway. So, nothing for it except to wait for the mail, which took maybe 45 minutes or an hour in real time. Kind of slow!

But eventually it came, I went back to Auberdine, healed the sick deer, and then went back to Darnassus to finish the Cure Poison quest. Halfway there! So now I had to head to Westfall to get the other half of the Aquatic Form pendant. At least that travel was easy; my hearthstone took me straight to Sentinel Hill. I've spent enough time in Westfall that I had no trouble running to the quarry. I had to kill off a few murlocs, but they weren't too big a worry, and from there I swam out to sea.

I wasn't expecting to fight any mobs, so I was a bit surprised to see a reef shark patrolling the edge of the deep water. Fortunately I saw and avoided him, and could swim out to grab the other pendant half. Much easier! Rather than swim all the way back, I teleported straight to Moonglade from the bubbling vent. Talk to Dendrite Starblaze, head once more to Darnassus, finish the quest, and then cavort in the Darnassus lakes in my new aquatic body.

So -- a lot of work! But I didn't mind. The quests were actually quite interesting, and involved enough variety that I didn't feel like I was grinding. The swimming portions provide for an unusual navigation challenge, and the mobs all required different tactics. And the storylines are interesting too. It would be even more interesting (and challenging) if I hadn't been to Westfall before. The quests weren't easy to solo, but I think they should be done that way; after all, these are class-specific and give personal abilities.

Which is also part of the problem. Eric and DK and I play a couple times a week, so I had plenty of downtime. But if we were grouping more frequently -- or if I was trying to catch up to them in levels -- these quests would be quite frustrating. They involve travel to four zones and multiple back-and-forth trips, plus lots of running within the zones. There's just no good way to zip through them quickly.

Maybe that's the point...

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