Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Legend of Manpanda

 MANPANDA: The World's Manliest Panda. 25% Man, 75% Panda, 100% Sexy.

I don't play World of Warcraft very often (I subscribe for perhaps one month a year). A while back I played a Pandaren monk for a couple days. This is his story.  We're off with a bang, as the Pandaren newbie zone is gorgeous.

We join our hero as he runs around the Dawning Valley. The monk class is the last class that was added to the game (as of 2016) and probably the easiest of all of them. Given that the game is already super-easy, playing as a monk sets the difficulty at "toddler". I hear the game gets more challenging for monks at high levels... perhaps.

MMORPGs have an interesting conundrum with levels. As you gain levels, your character gets stronger, so often people expect the game to get easier. However, since it's a game and has to get more difficult as it continues, getting more powerful actually results in the game being harder as the enemies gain power at a slightly greater rate than you do. At least, in most MMORPGs. It's interesting how it works out.

 Since this is WoW, the first order of business is to run around beating up newbie zone enemies. LIVE TO WIN!

The big quest of the early game is to speak to Shen-zin Su, the giant turtle of the island. Well, Shen actually IS the island, as our hero will soon discover.

 Manpanda becomes Man-frog for an early reed-collecting quest.

 These early areas are really scenic, especially the farmlands and pumpkin patches.

Our hero conversates with Shu, the water spirit. I noticed that another NPC in this area was named Wei. Is there also a Wu that I missed? Pretty rad of Blizzard to give a shoutout to the Three Kingdoms Era.

 Shu and Manpanda take a romantic wagon cruise. I hope Shu is a lady! Pandaria ain't a blue state!

 Whirlwind riding for sport: SUPERB.

Here's a quest that no doubt ends the Panda crusade for a fair number of players, as you're forced to walk in two straight lines across some ropes. For the average WoW player, this is like trying to beat Ninja Gaiden.

 Panda and Turtle: Bros. Also, this is the greatest screenshot I have ever taken of anything.


What follows is a pitched battle, as our hero locks horns with the flying thunder serpent. AWESOME.

 The Pandaren starting area has several "boss fights" as you progress through the quest chain. Best of all, they aren't complete pushovers.

With that, it's time to take a hot air balloon to see Shen-Zin Su.

That's right, this wise turtle...

...IS THE ISLAND, as I mentioned. This is a sight to behold when you finally see it for yourself.

 The next area is a remarkable bamboo forest. This is definitely one of the prettier areas I've seen in the game. I believe this is part of Jade Forest, a high-level zone.

Our hero gets level 10 and access to specializations. Brewmaster is an overpowered tank and Mistweaver is an overpowered healer. Still, I'm not into having that much pressure on me in dungeons (where the game really takes place now if you want to break land speed records in leveling) so I go with the DPS specialization, Windwalker. DPS characters can slack a bit without killing the group.

Check that out, Pandaren get twice the rested exp that other races get. I don't know if this means they have twice the upward limit, gain it twice as fast, or both. All I know is that I got to level 7, didn't play for a couple of weeks, and returned to insane amounts of rested exp that didn't run out until level 13.

Manpanda carries injured airship-crews to safety. Every time he gets one out, another one goes "Help me Forrest help me!"

Another boss fight. This thing is a real badass, but luckily you have a lot of NPCs on your side. Getting aggro here is a bad idea.

Horde/Alliance showdown. Seems the crashed airship was the thing that was bothering Shen-zin Su, and now that things are squared away here it's time to move on from the newbie zone to the outside world. I'm given the choice here of which faction to ally with, and choose Alliance. This whisks our hero away to a new land.

 Moments after arriving in Stormwind, I join DBZ's own Z Fighters.

This is definitely new. The king of Stormwind wants to test new Alliance recruits in battle, and you take a walk with him.

 After a pitched battle in which Manpanda misses about 50 times in a row while the king just taunts a lot, Manpanda rears back and...

...well, I can only assume that he kicked the king squarely in the balls, given the shocked reaction of Womanpanda here.

 Now officially out of the intro storyline and on my own, I wander lost for a little bit until our hero collides with the force of evil known as Hogger.

 Whoa, this is new. Hogger has a whole event after you take him down. This wasn't the case a couple years ago when I last played this part of the game. A bunch of Stormwind troops come through and save Hogger, putting him in jail for his crimes against humanity.

In other news, you may have noticed the goofy "WoW" banner on our hero's back. That's a temporary +12% exp buff that I actually removed just to make Manpanda cool again.

Next up, Manpanda gets a job fighting bears in the woods. SO RUGGED.

 I needed to get to level 15 to get access to dungeon queues, so I roamed around looking for quests to do while I fought bears for that last level and a half. Being out of the newbie area and having no rested exp left means things slow way down here. That is, until I blindly discovered a bunch of maps laying around in Loch Modan that give huge amounts of exp if returned to the nearby town.

There are six of them to return in total, and I made sure to catch 'em all.

BAM! This got me more than a level, catapulting me straight past level 14 and right to level 15. So much for things slowing down! With that, dungeons are unlocked, and the game is off and running. If I hadn't found these Loch Modan quests, things might have dragged through level 14. As it is, the only time things dragged was the second half of level 13 when I was aimlessly fighting bears.
 The dungeon queues begin, as I tackle Ragefire Chasm. Located in Orgrimmar, this dungeon used to be almost completely off-limits to Alliance players (much like Stockade on the other side) before the advent of dungeon queues. Now, it's pretty much the first stop for everybody and rightfully so; it's a very well-constructed place.

Wailing Caverns falls next, as Manpanda administers a flying dragon kick. This is one of the coolest attacks in the game, and if you don't actually attack an enemy, you sail along for a pretty good distance at high speed. It's great when travelling, even.

 BAM, Manpanda reaches level 20. That... did not take long. Especially considering it was spread out over a month. It was like playing a fairly short modern adventure game.

But wait! There is one more battle to be fought. At level twenty, the monk gets the ability to astrally project to Pandaria.

There's a daily quest here that gives you an hour of +50% exp (as if the insane Pandaren rested bonus isn't enough). Best of all... it stacks. That's right, if you aren't playing for a couple weeks, you can pop on every so often and do this quick quest, and each time the buff gets extended by an hour. So by the time you return to the game, you'll have like three levels of rested exp and, say, 8 hours of +50% exp piled up. This is nuts. A new player could probably reach the high levels in one calendar day. Monks are so overpowered that they run everything over, too. Manpanda went undefeated for this entire run.

 What is the daily quest, you ask? A pitched battle with a monk sensei. He has a devastating area effect fire spell, but it's simple enough to rocket out of the way when he uses it. He nearly ends Manpanda with that move, which is the closest I came to suffering a loss.

This is a duel in every sense.

But seriously, this is an epic battle, to the point that people won't mind repeating it every time they want their exp buff. And with that battle done, it's time for our hero to ride off into the sunset.



  1. Manpanda is a godless killing machine!

    1. This must have sold eleventy billion copies in this hemisphere.
      But League of Legends still seems to be the #1 game in these parts.
      This was by far my favorite WoW post. The picture of you and the turtle was well-taken, too.

  2. "Pandareen is not a Blue State" haha

    I like the format you've got for this piece, I haven't played WOW but this was dope. Have you played League of Legends?

    1. Nope, I haven't played LoL. ...whoa, check out that acronym. I usually avoid online games, but I've played Everquest, WoW, and Lord of the Rings Online. I return to all of them briefly every couple of years and someday I'll hit max level in LOTRO.

  3. ::whispers:: "Manpanda"