How to reach the Black Market Auction House in 60 seconds (Horde-only)

• Be Horde
• Have Aviana's Feather (from the Frostwall Tavern quest Aviana's Request)

Blackrock Foundry mission planning: Black Forge

The 6.1 PTR notes went up on Friday (Wowhead has all the details here), including the new follower missions that will be implemented for the Blackrock Foundry raid. Here are the four new missions and groups of threats you'll want to be able to counter!

Slagworks (Versus Furies)
Danger Zones, Deadly Minions, Group Damage, Minion Swarms, Timed Battle, Wild Aggression

Iron Assembly (Underground/Caves)
Danger Zones, Magic Debuff x2, Minion Swarms x2, Powerful Spell

Black Forge (Mountains)
Danger Zones, Group Damage x2, Massive Strike, Timed Battle, Wild Aggression

Blackhand's Crucible (Versus Orcs)
Danger Zones, Deadly Minions, Group Damage, Massive Strike, Timed Battle, Wild Aggression.

Of these, Black Forge is the one I'm most concerned with. Double Group Damage is a difficult obstacle to overcome, especially when you consider the other four threats in that mission. There's not many follower classes and specs that even get access to Group Damage as an ability, let alone ones that can have Group Damage and one of the other threats.

But 6.1 is still a ways off, so we have time to recruit and adjust followers accordingly. Here are the only class/spec combinations that can have Group Damage and one of the other Black Forge threat counters.

Druid, Restoration - Timed Battle* (maybe)
Monk, Brewmaster - Danger Zones, Massive Strike, Wild Aggression
Monk, Mistweaver - Danger Zones, Timed Battle* (maybe)
Paladin, Holy - Timed Battle* (maybe)
Priest, Discipline - Danger Zones, Timed Battle* (maybe)
Priest, Holy - Danger Zones, Timed Battle* (maybe)
Shaman, Elemental - Timed Battle
Shaman, Enhancement - Danger Zones; Timed Battle
Shaman, Restoration - Timed Battle* (maybe)
Warlock, Destruction - Timed Battle

(Special) Soulbinder Tuulani - Danger Zones; Timed Battle
(Tuulani is a Shadow Priest, but comes with Prayer of Healing, a Group Damage counter, which is normally not available to follower Shadow Priests.)

(*I'm not sure if I missed these, or if additional threat counters were added to Wowhead's lists since posting, but there's apparently more workable combinations than I originally thought! Every healing spec can apparently counter Timed Battle, so I've updated the list accordingly. However, these counters all use now-removed mana abilities like Innervate or Divine Plea, so I'm not sure if you can actually GET these abilities on followers...)

Now granted, you can always (and probably will) use secondary trait bonuses to increase your chance of success. (Wowhead has an excellent guide on increasing mission success.) But if you're like me and want to aim for perfect 6-for-6 threat counters, you'll want to headhunt or level up one of the above follower types and hope you get you lucky.

Besides Tuulani, there are also a number of other followers that can be recruited during questing or purchased from vendors that can end up with one of the above ability combinations.

NOTE: You might notice some followers who are one of the above specs missing from the following list. Quest/purchased followers sometimes have different options for threat counters (like Tuulani). For example, Leorajh is a Resto Shaman, but if you look at his list of potential counters, he cannot get Water Shield, the Resto Druid counter for Timed Battle.

Horde players can recruit Lokra (Enhance Shaman) OR Kal'gor the Honorable (Ele Shaman), Kaz the Shrieker (Ele Shaman), and purchase Professor Felblast (Destro Warlock, revered with Steamwheedle Preservation Society).

Alliance players can recruit Rulkan (Enhance Shaman), Fiona (Holy Priest), and purchase Professor Felblast (Destro Warlock, revered with Steamwheedle Preservation Society), and Cleric Maluuf (Holy Priest, Revered with Council of Exarchs)

Stumbling my way through the Pet Menagerie dailies

Before Warlords, I was never really into pet battling, or even collecting minipets (with one obvious exception). Sure, I was happy to take a pet if it dropped, or pick up the holiday ones for fun, but the only pet battling I did during Mists was to get Lesser Charms.

I certainly never even thought about the Grand Master Pet Trainers, let alone the Celestial Tournament - my experience with battling Trainers consisted of making it to the level 30-40 ones before the quest bugged out (I couldn't click on the Trainer to battle them) so I just shrugged and gave up. I did at one point consider trying again, but then I couldn't remember where I had left off or where the Trainer I was supposed to defeat was...

Anyway, just before Warlords launched I was at the Darkmoon Faire checking out the new additions, and noticed the second Master Pet Trainer there, Christoph VonFeasel. I'm not sure why, but I decided to give him a shot, despite having an extremely ragtag selection of level 25 pets and a truly shameful lack of pet battling knowledge/experience.

Shockingly, after a few tries and rethinking my approach, I actually managed to put together a team and beat him! I was quite pleased, and surprised. But more than anything else, I realized I had quite enjoyed the challenge of approaching a difficult obstacle with a substantial handicap and overcoming it.

This wasn't exactly something new with how I play WoW - I'm always looking for ways to make the game harder for myself, just for the hell of it. This is one of the main reasons I decided to RP walk Brawler's Guild, or why I use huge screen-blocking Weak Auras/unit frames that others find intolerable. Sometimes these habits drive my guildies up the wall, like when they learned that my Push-to-Talk button is the number pad - key, and I take my hand off my mouse whenever I talk in Mumble.

Basically if you tell me something can't be done, or that only idiots would do it, I'm going to attempt it just to try to prove you wrong (and for kicks). ;)

So imagine my delight when I learned about the Pet Menagerie in your Garrison, with a challenging, different pet battle each day! The first day I had the Menagerie, I gave it a shot, and got completely, hilariously stomped. I think it was Stitches Jr.. But that just piqued my interest, as I realized I had a perfect little project to challenge myself - defeat each daily Menagerie battle using only my current, horrible roster of pets! No cheating - no powerleveling up other pets to counter a given day's team, no borrowing pets from friends. Just the pets I had.

I've mentioned my terrible roster a few times now. Let me explain. I had a bunch of blue-quality level 25 pets, it's true! 24 of them, to be exact. But they were anything but balanced. My roster was:

Aquatic: Magical Crawdad, Shore Crab, Softshell Snapling, Spawn of G'nathus, Swamp Croaker
Beast: Crystal Spider, Kovok
Critter: Grassland Hopper
Dragonkin: Chrominius
Elemental: Terrible Turnip
Flying: Brilliant Kaliri, Effervescent Glowfly, Gilded Moth, Oasis Moth, Shrine Fly
Humanoid: Corefire Imp, Sporeling Sprout
Magic: Arcane Eye, Viscous Horror
Mechanical: Darkmoon Zeppelin, Son of Animus, Sunreaver Micro-Sentry, Tranquil Mech. Yeti
Undead: Fossilized Hatchling

If you're familiar with pet battling, you'll realize that a few of those pets are pretty good...but also that a lot of them usually don't make their way onto recommended pet teams. I mean, Terrible Turnip? Sporeling Sprout? Oh boy. And I love Kovok, but he is NOT a strong battle pet.

This challenge turned out to be a lot of fun. I couldn't just choose three OP pets that were the perfect counters each day, because I probably didn't have ONE such pet, let alone three! So I had to really think about the pets and abilities I did have access to, and how I could combine them to eke out wins.

And I got my ass kicked. A LOT. But the pet healer was right there, and I learned from those losses, and went back to the drawing board, and used what I had learned to develop winning strategies.

But then came the Quintessence of Light.

About halfway through the Menagerie rotation, the Quintessence of Light became my first real roadblock. I tried every pet combination I could think of and just could not overcome its Boss status (takes 50% damage) combined with its powerful healing. And its attacks did extra damage against Mechanical pets, which I had been relying heavily upon.

I checked Wowhead and other blogs for ideas. They all suggested using pets I didn't have, such as Unborn Val'kyr, Pandaren Water Spirit, Crow, Gilnean Raven, etc. So I had to improvise.

I did eventually beat using a level 22 Mini Mindslayer, for its Life Exchange ability, and a level 22 Scourged Whelpling, for its Call Darkness ability, to counter the Quintessence's heals.

That is SHEER, RAW desperation right there. But hey - it worked!

Beating Quintessence that day is going to be one of my personal highlights this entire expansion, I can already tell. The brainstorming and strategizing it took to get that win, combined with the frustration and sense of "this is just impossible, I'm never going to be able to do this!" - it all makes the eventual success so much sweeter.

Honestly, whether it's pet battles or RP walking around in Brawler's Guild, that's why I do these self-challenges - the fist-pumping satisfaction of accomplishing something you legitimately worked really hard for, and knowing it was extremely difficult, but you didn't give up, but instead stuck with it and persevered. Knowing you EARNED that victory.

If you're curious which pets I used against each Menagerie team, they're all on Youtube. Darkmoon Zeppelin ended up being a real hero, appearing on 10 of the 15 teams.

(I even got a little cocky near the end - two of the teams include an Elekk Plushie. Which naturally led me to checking out [An Awfully Big Adventure]. But more on that next time.)

My favorite moments from Mists of Pandaria

Warlords comes out tomorrow, so I guess it's time for a blog roundup of my favorite moments from Mists!

From a blogging perspective, Mists was a bit of a change from previous years. I simply wasn't as interested in the game lore, so I definitely wrote less speculation and lore-centric stuff this expansion. I was still heavily interested in Garrosh and the Klaxxi, but other than them, there wasn't much that really hooked and kept me intrigued for long. I found the Pandaren quite one-dimensional - the rare times one of them showed a more serious, harder side, it was usually because of Sha corruption, and therefore not "real". Taran Zhu (though a windbag) and Taoshi were notable exceptions, but other than them, I feel that almost all of the other Pandaren can be painted in broad, generic strokes in terms of personality and demeanor.

On the other hand, maining Fabulor for an entire expansion (something I didn't really expect to ever do) opened some new blogging floodgates, with his various RP posts, his RP walking shenanigans, and other hilarity. Even without considering actual raiding and gameplay, being Fabulor during Mists was an incredibly fun experience, which is why for the first time ever I'm actually going to play the same main two expansions in a row. (Wrath was Rades [Hunter] and Mardak [Druid], Cataclysm was Morgion [Death Knight])

Of course, this was no direct fault of Mists specifically, but I also took my first break from WoW this year, my first break since I starting playing back in Burning Crusade. Do I think all of my issues have been addressed? Well, I really don't know, I never really follow Beta info that intently. But I know that SOME of them have been, and I know Blizzard is aware of the complaints the community has been voicing. And the representation in Overwatch, their new IP announced at Blizzcon last week, was a VAST improvement over their previous titles. Not perfect...but getting better. So let's say, cautiously optimistic?

But enough rambling. Here's my favorite moments from Mists. Not favorite lore moments, not favorite news moments - MY favorite moments, the ones that *I* will look back on a year from now and remember fondly.

* * * * *

TTGF really came into its own this expansion as a guild full of idiots who die in hilarious and terrible ways, but still gets shit done. This was the first expansion that I've been part of a guild who killed the last boss in every raid tier well before the next raid tier released.

Fabulor: Cloud Serpent, My Friend (and Part 2)
Like most of Fabulor's antics, this story was outrageous, but based in truth. I really DID sell the cloud serpent...but changed my mind in the end. After all, it was only gold.

TTGFers don't trust healers anymore. It's possible this is why.

TTGF: Lei Shen
I still shake my head at this, and I know that some other raid leaders cannot watch this as it makes them too angry. This was our FIRST Lei Shen kill, we didn't have him on farm, we had ZERO EXCUSE to be this relaxed. But, somehow, against all odds, it worked.

Fabulor: RP walking to a Legendary Healing Cloak
At some point in Mists I started getting the idea that Fabulor should just RP walk through everything, like he used to do way back in the Hellfire Ramparts days. After all, he's Fabulor. My first test? One-shotting the Legendary Healing Cloak scenario. Sold.

Transmog: The Prettiest Plate Dress
Of all the mogs Fabulor has had, I think this remains my favorite. That PVP chestpiece is still completely amazing.

Fabulor: Proving Grounds Silver Tank as a Holy Paladin
Why stop at just RP walking? Fab was already Holy Pally tanking heroic dungeons, how hard could this be? (Spoiler: it was actually really hard. One of the most difficult things I did all expansion.)

Fiction: Harvest Festival
This list wouldn't be right without at least one bit of Garrosh fiction.

Transmog: Fabulor Gets Judgemental (and the follow-up post)
Everyone knows I hate Judgement armor. But did you know how much I hate it?

Satire: Malfurion Stormrage no longer archdruid, now known as “Superb Owl”
Even though he wasn't involved in Mists at all, there's never a bad time to make fun of Owlfurion. (Wait, he was in the novel War Crimes and was a complete jackass, does that count?)

Fabulor: RP walking to Brawler's Guild Rank 8 (and Tyson Sanders and Ahoo'ru)
This may be my favorite non-guild accomplishment of all time. It's not even that it was the most challenging thing to do (though some fights WERE quite difficult, especially Tyson Sanders and Ahoo'ru, and especially because Ret is my off-spec),'s just so Fabulor. The walking. The flexing. The completely bewildered reactions by other Brawlers watching. If ever there was something that truly epitomizes Fabulor's personality and attitude, it's this.

TTGF: World First Roof Dark Shamans
At the time, other guilds were pushing through Heroic modes, working towards Garrosh. TTGF? We'll take a ludicrous, hilarious "progression" kill any day of the week.

Satire: New Alliance "doesn't care" about Diversity, says Grand Marshal Garithos
Possibly the most scathing satirical piece I've ever written. Still absolutely feel it was justified, though.

Lore: Times Change: Garrosh & the Warlords cinematic
Every Garrosh post on OAK, someone comments that I'm almost certainly overthinking things, that there's no way Blizzard really does have all these plans for Garrosh that I speculate about. They're right, of course. But that doesn't make these Garry lore posts any less enjoyable to me.

It was three days before the end of Mists, 427 days after Siege of Orgrimmar launched, and finally, FINALLY, TTGFer Lodur got his Dark Shaman transmog. And we all screamed and yelled on Mumble and shared in his joy. I think it was the perfect celebratory moment to end the expansion on.

The Return of Fortune Cookies as best buff food

Short post here, but it was with great amusement yesterday that TTGF learned that Fortune Cookies are actually the best buff food right now. Yes, Fortune Cookies.

Here's the Mists of Pandaria buff foods that USED to be the best, before 6.0.2.

+2 primary stat is a pretty minor difference, but +36 Stamina on top? That's nothing to sneeze at, with the stat squish. And then of course there's also the chance of snagging the elusive 5000 gold Fortune Card.

(The other top-tier Cataclysm buff foods are just as good as the Fortune Cookies, such as Severed Sagefish Head. You just lose out on the fun of flipping the cards.)

If you're still doing progression raiding in MoP's final days like Navimie and her guild, it might be worth whipping up some cookies!