Monday, 31 December 2012

Octopus's Garden


Back in November, I wrote a post about the large quantities of raw materials required to complete the Master of Pandaren Cooking Achievement. At the time I identified the problem of sourcing 75 Giant Mantis Shrimps. The coast seemed to have hundreds of Reef Octopus and very few schools of the shrimp. This seems to be a less of a problem than previously, and it's not as though Blizzard never tamper with the spawn rates or the percentages.

The latest fish that is causing a stir, is the Redbelly Mandarin. Now I had previously got a reasonable supply of this fish when levelling through the Jade Forest, so this was the obvious place to fish up some more. On two separate attempts I didn't manage to find any schools, so I decided to consult the Tome of all things Fishy at El's. On first reading I was looking for the zones I needed to be in, which were Townlong Steppes and Vale of Eternal Blossoms.

I visited both zones with only limited success, finding 2 schools on top of the mountains in the Vale. Having wasted an hour or so, I decided to read if there were comments about this particular fish. This is what El wrote:

"Since the removal of Redbelly Mandarin Schools from The Jade Forest in patch 5.1, there is no "good place" to catch these fish. Fishing Redbelly Mandarin School should be faster than open water, however pools may be hard to find: Townlong Steppes has very few areas of inland water, so there are few pool spawning locations, and those locations are spread between different parts of the zone. Vale of Eternal Blossoms' Redbelly Mandarin Schools share spawning locations with 2 other pool types, rather than one other type in Townlong Steppes. Due to the way pools spawn, you may need to fish all types of pools found in an area to sustain fishing Redbelly Mandarin Schools."

D'oh, the first line states that since patch 5.1 Redbelly Mandarin was removed from the Jade Forest. The rest of the comment only hints at the difficulties of finding these schools. Cataclysm also had a fish that was difficult to find in the shape of the Highland Guppy.

For the life of me I cannot understand why Blizzard don't balance the resources better than they do. It is like they want to create an artificial Gold Mine for the people in the know. On my server the going rate for Redbelly Mandarin is 8 Gold per fish against the current price of 4 Gold for Giant Mantis Shrimp. The price of the Giant Mantis is down dramatically from it's high point of 20 Gold per Shrimp, which indicates the change in the supply of both raw materials.

In hindsight I should have just bought the 50 Redbelly Mandarin required to complete Way of the Grill, and at 400 Gold it would have been well worth the effort I would have saved.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Read My Mind

The problem with not being at work is that I am less likely to keep on top of WoW news. The last week of the year is not a time you expect anything of note to appear. The national newspapers spend this week creating end of year quizzes and doing review features.

As I have already stated I am unable to play WoW today due technical difficulties, so I have used this time to update my add-ons and do a little light reading. In the process I discovered this little nugget. I have talked previously about improvements or more likely issues with Sunsong Ranch (The Tiller Farm). The improvements can be summarised:

  1. Ability to purchase the farm from Farmer Yoon.
  2. Buying the farm will allow you set your Hearthstone there.
  3. Filling out work orders with various factions for reputation rewards.
  4. Increase in the yield from special crops.
  5. Reducing the likelihood of weeds, vermin and swinging vines.
  6. Additional functions of the plow.
  7. Multiple planting in groups of four.
Blizzard appears to have their ears close to the ground on this one, and they are lifestyle improvements. I approve wholeheartedly with these changes. Now I just need to be able to drive my plow straight, as I sometime miss the last one of a group of four. Not sure Blizzard can help me much with my deficiencies.

p.s. It's a plough not a plow. Do Americans have a letter 'u' in their scrabble sets?

Wipeout


It might not be the End of the World (as we know it), but when you have limited game time, and you get a rare opportunity to play outside your normal hours you grasp it with both hands. Unfortunately the  European user base has been hit by the Telia virus. Telia is the ISP with very close links with the Network Infrastructure of mainland Europe and in particular WoW's servers based in Paris.

Fortunately this company has no such links in the UK to the best of my knowledge, because the European gamers have had long running issues with this particular company, and it's customer service likes to deny all responsibility and blame everyone else for it's issues.

The problem started to show last night when, I noticed that all my fellow guildies, miraculously all logged off and logged back on at the exact same moment. The game jolted but carried on regardless, but Guild chat showed that this blip in service had been a feature all day long but had not caused any disconnections.

This morning is a different matter, Facebook contained the early warning signs, and the EU Forum is full of pages of angry campers, who are unable to logon to the game. The game loads the character screen and will get to 90% of the loading screen before disconnecting. Anyone who has played the game for some time will know that the last 10% is the all important connection to the WoW servers.

Ping tests and Trace Root show that the servers are intermittently available but the connection times are very poor, with the added problem of all the gamers, queueing up to logon, causing addition load  problems on the logon servers. (For more details the following link is a better summary than my own feeble attempt).

The last time Telia were involved in such an issue that I remember was with individual ISP's and they took 5 days to fix the problem. I am not therefore expecting a quick resolution to this problem.

I expect to be back some time in the New Year and maybe I can find time to write some WoW related posts.

Have a wonderful New Year,
Bob

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Xmas Everybody


In the immortal words of Noddy Holder, "It's Christmas".

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, 21 December 2012

It's The End Of The World As We Know It


Ok, I know the Godmother beat me to this post, but riffing on musical titles is what I do. As I write this post there is currently only 1 hour until December 21, 2012, 11:11 UTC. Just in case you are wondering what all the fuss is about, today is the end of the 13th Baktun, which by happy coincidence falls on the Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year for the UK.

Anything to do with the number 13 seems to send people into irrational responses, hence the reason why it is recognised as an official phobia - Triskaidekaphobia. 13 is associated very closely with lunar activities, with the moon moving 13 degrees around the earth every day.

I personally have grown up with the Friday 13th horror movie franchise. Oddly they have only made 12 but I guess there is still time for another slasher movie to be made (unless the world really does end today).

 
In Azeroth, time has been moving very slowly indeed. I have substituted the grind of levelling for that of Reputation. All my crafting skills have been maxed out and eventually I want to get the useful crafting recipes that are currently hidden behind Reputation Quartermasters. The aim was to get to Revered and obtain the Commendations for improved (double) the reputation for all characters. This will make Shado Pan and Klaxxi incredibly easy just by completing the quests in Townlong Steppes and Dread Wastes. The Tillers can be levelled by harvesting alone (110 rep per crop).
 
At the moment I am on the cusp of achieving my target with both Operation:Lionshield, the Golden Lotus and the Klaxxi. After this I hope to complete all the scenarios and maybe even venture into the Heroic Dungeons.
 
Anyway I got distracted whilst writing this post, and it is now safely past the time of the Apocralypse, so it is ok to go back to your shopping and don't max out those credit cards.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Run To You


Today's post is about being unfaithful. I am not talking about the week I spent playing Diablo, or the heinous crime of changing your main character. I am talking about something far worse, a Hunter changing his pet.

I didn't pick a pet at level 10 and stick with it for the rest of eternity it is not that king of a bond. In fact I am not sure what my first pet actually was. My earliest memories was of a bear I found in Loch Modan. This bear was a faithful servant but he would often do his own thing, and I don't mean I was being a bad hunter, there was something seriously wrong with his AI, and the pathing in the early days was pretty poor compared to how few problems we have to day. This bear would just attack anything it felt like, and in the end, I was forced to put him into retirement by the rest of Guild.

 
The next pet I can remember was a short passing phase, the Wetlands actually had mottled purple Raptors. It was like being savaged by a slightly angry Barney. Part of the reason for my memory being hazy was the wonky system that Blizzard used to use for pet skills. You would have to trawl through resources like the wonderful Petopia to find the skill you wanted to upgrade and then find a beast with with that skill and level to tame. Once tamed you would have to feed your new pet the right food then watch it fight several mobs in order to learn how to teach that skill. Also the pet would often be several levels below your character level. Just typing the above description I am left open mouthed at the complexity of being a hunter in the original game, and the number of pets required to train 7 levels  of Dash, Gore, Claw and all the other skills that pets had back then.
 
 
Another pet disaster happened when I wanted to tame a Gorilla, I had either seen somebody else with one or read about how Uber they were. I even persuaded a group to escort me into Stranglethorn Valley. Yes, Stranglethorn Vale was a scary place back then when it was one zone. The mobs went from level 30 - level 40 and travelling to Booty Bay for the first time was a dangerous activity. My first attempt to get the Gorilla ended in utter failure when I discovered I was not at a suitable level to tame a level 40 Gorilla on my noob level 30 Hunter. Thankfully I took some bodyguards with me. In those days it was just something to laugh about. If you wasted 30 minutes of somebody's time for a fools errand in the modern game, I am guessing they would be very annoyed.
 

I also had a moment when I collected Elite mobs from levelling experience. In particular I remember running with an Elite boar from Redridge Mountains who will be familiar to anyone who has levelled an alliance character. 'Bellygrub' probably claimed as many casualities has Hogger used to. It was one of those mobs that was a real handful for the unprepared. 'Tummybug' as I christened him, was a great and faithful companion for many levels until, I discovered Winterspring many months later.
 
 
Winterspring is a beautiful zone, with its pink and purple colours on the snow covered slopes. It was here I discovered the Wintersabre Trainers and the mount that coveted most. I fell in love with the Saber Cats, and chose the White Striped Saber. From that point forward 'Bobcat' as been ever present at my side.
 
 
'Bobcat' was with me through the Burning Crusades, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm. More recently we have explored the wonders of Pandaria. 'Bobcat' has seen it all, except some of the Raids in Lich King when it became very popular to take a wolf as the pet of choice. My choice for that expansion was the Grey Saber Worg, a scruffy mangy thing, but at that point it was the best DPS available to a hunter so needs must.
 
 
Now this weekend I was working my way through the Klaxxi dailies when I noticed this stunning looking Elite wanting to eat me for breakfast. I dispatched with the first one, examined the beautiful model lying prone in front of me. Removed it's glorious pelt, and went to look for a stable master to park one of my pets into the retirement kennel. In the end it was 'Bobcat' that was retired, I could not justify running with 2 cats in my stable of 5. With a tear in my eye, I went back to snare myself a new friend from the Dread Wastes. 
 
 
Meet 'Bobcat' Mark II, the modelling is so much better and the paws are no longer bigger than it's head and the colour and marking are simply gorgeous. I hope to have as much fun with new 'Bobcat' as the old one. Only time will tell.
 
 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Telegraph Road


Last night I was plagued by high level of lag, in the region of 1000 plus. I have a superfast broadband at home and doubted that the network was the problem in this case. You know there is a problem when you almost get killed by a Hozen on his own.

Since patch 5.1 dropped there seems to be an endless supply of hotfixes. A quick search on the WoW Insider site suggests that we had hotfixes on the following days:

  1. 27th November
  2. 5th December
  3. 10th December
  4. 11th December
There may be more but they are coming think and fast. I seem to be endlessly accepting the ToS and EULA. I am not complaining about these bug fixes or having to accept the Terms of Service (why we can't accept it once per expansion and have it is automatically applied to all hotfixes and patches).

The problem for me is the breaking of add-ons on a regular basis. Some people might argue that addons are my choice and that is price I pay for customisation and they may be right. In response to that I find the loss of addons, make the game practically unplayable.

My list of addons can mostly be obtained from Curse, and are featured in their Top 100, and look like this:

  1. Auctioneer
  2. Trade Skill Master
  3. DBM
  4. Recount
  5. Bagnon
  6. Healbot continued
  7. Ace3
  8. Decursive
  9. Titan Panel
  10. GatherMate2
  11. Altoholic
The reasons for using these addons are as follows:

Auctioneer - This is the Big Daddy of the AH, it has been overtaken by many of the smaller lighter versions, but I still favour some of its functionality

Trade Skill Master - Is the tool that allows Glyphs to be posted in anything like a sensible amount of time. I only use about 5% of its total capabilities.

Deadly Boss Mobs - The tool that allows all Raiders to cheat. I have a love/hate relationship with this add-on, but ultimately I need it because everybody else uses it.

Recount - More grief is centred around this tool. I sometimes think that the game would be better without it. Also it is the tool that lets us know if we are improving and can help with rotations and priorities.

Bagnon - Is purely a visual improvement on having to deal with separate bags.

Healbot - Is the add-on I learned to heal with. Without Healbot and its alternatives, Raid and Instance healing is incredibly difficult.

Ace3 - Does nothing on its own and is platform for some of the other addons.

Decursive - This is a tool that I never dispatched with, even though I use it less now, than previously.

Titan Panel - Is a purely a visual enhancement, allowing me to see the Total Amount of money across all my characters, how many Guild Members are online, and it also provides co-ordinates on the map screen.

Gathermate 2 - Records all the mining, herb and fishing nodes. It also provides the location of any archaeology fragment that I find. It also comes with a database of all the nodes to be found in game.


There are other addons that have come and gone over time, which include:

  1. EPGP - Former Guild requirement
  2. Gatherer - Replaced by GatherMate2
  3. QuestHelper - Incorporated into standard UI
  4. Postal - Clashes with TSM
  5. WoW Instant Messenger (WIM) - Not enough usage to justify upgrading
  6. Ackis Recipe List - Used for recipe hunting
  7. Healers Have To Die - Not currently PvPing
  8. GTFO - Not enough usage to justify upgrading
  9. Archy - Didn't provide the correct usability
  10. Big Wigs - Using DBM
  11. Gear Score - Epreen from another age
  12. Power Auras - Incorporated into standard UI
Throughout Cataclysm my add-ons were relatively stable, but with the last patch of Cataclysm which contained the code for Mist of Pandaria, everything was broken and it took weeks of checking for patches on a very regular basis. Then one day it stopped being a problem, and to be honest I don't think it was an add-on upgrade that fixed it, I think it was a hotfix that cured all the LUA errors.

Since that date the addons have all been stable until patch 5.1 dropped. I have already stated that I think there have been a high number of hotfixes since that patch. Patch 5.1 was released by Blizzard faster than anybody anticipated, and I am just curious if they are being slightly more cavalier in their approach than usual.

I am not saying this is a bad thing, but previously Blizzard has had a reputation for testing the crap out of everything prior to release. Maybe release and hotfix is the new way forward.

When I think about software and hardware and operating systems, I am amazed that any new technology ever gets out of testing phase.

Microsoft and Apple are not direct competitors in everything they do, but in my opinion Apple have a far easier job than Microsoft. Apple controls the Hardware, the Operating System and most if not all the peripheral devices, this lends itself to high level of integration and equates to the high levels of reliability associated with Apple Macs. Microsoft on the other hand is famed for their Operating systems which sit on top of everybody else's hardware. They have no control of peripheral devices and it is no wonder that everybody has witnessed the Blue Screen of Death at some time or other

Addons use Blizzard code but are limited in their impact of the game. Anything deemed to cause an adverse effect will be quickly stopped, and I get the feeling that Blizzard is currently unhappy with the level of datamining on the PTR.

Blizzard does not owe a duty of care to the add-on makers, who are mostly unpaid programmers. These people are doing it for the love of the game, and they get my upmost respect for doing what they do. On the other hand I believe that Blizzard is also aware of the importance of Addons and will have a good understanding of which addons are most important and most widely used.

In recent years we have seen some huge changes to the Blizzard UI. They have readily used iLevel since Cataclysm for gating content, and the iLevel of all gear is easily identified with the new layout. This move was the end for addons like gearscore, which caused havoc in raids, running gear checks on 25 people in a perpetual loop. Quest Helper is another add-on that was added to the standard UI and a click switch to the map screen will show all your current quests in the area. There are now maps of every instance, Boss notes, and loot tables in the standard UI.

Last night I was unable to play due to the lag, so I decided to run the Curse client. I have always done this manually, just because I considered it to be a safer option with backups of the interface folder, but at the end of the day you can always delete this folder and start again.

I am yet again on the hunt for add-on updates, not to improve my overall game play, but merely to tread water and stay in the same place. Hopefully soon the LUA errors will go away and the lag will disappear, allowing me to start playing again.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Why Don't You Get A Job?

I won't play, I won't play, no way
Operation: Shieldwall, is the Alliance part of the new content patch 5.1. There are four daily quest hubs:

  1. Lion's Landing
  2. Ruins of Ogudei
  3. Bligewater Operations
  4. Dominance Point
I personally enjoy these quests and the the reputation rewards are suitably good enough to keep the reputation bar ticking over (unlike the Golden Lotus). The one exception to this, is the Ruins of Ogudei, which I find to be quite painful.

The reason for this is the amount of respawn in the area. Every mob comes in multiples and they even have the twin thugs with umbilical cord still attached. The quests are provided below:

 
Quest Giver
Quest
Reputation
150
150
150
150
300

The Spirit Trap which requires you to destroy 3 Spirit Traps are always depleted when you find one. If you are lucky enough to find one, then they spew out mobs which will invariably mix with the patrols and the mobs that like to respawn on your head, plus all the slaves like to become active as well.

It Is A Mystery, is one quest that I could not fully understand. I never found the anomaly which was probably dead if the rest of the cave is anything to go by, and the readings are damn difficult to work out when there are various levels to the cave. I abandoned this quest and the next time got the more friendly Shackles of the Past.

Eviction Notice, this is fairly straightforward once you have fought your way to the 2 level of hell, then you get the chance to commit genocide on Blood Elves which in my opinion is worth the price of admission alone. The respawn rate is very high and if you work your way into the cave too far you will need to kill an additional 10 Blood Elves on the way out.

Oi Ain't Afraid o' No Ghost, is your chance to kill the Mogu Twin Thugs. Don't worry you will kill way more than the 12 required for the quest.

Ogude's Lieutenants, was a pain to solo. I was left on 1% health and thankfully my pet was a little more resilient than I am. I Feigned Death and left my pet to die, my ever faithful companion had different ideas and successfully munched on their faces. This is a fight with a lot of movement and I was rather unprepared. Most things in WoW are rather simple and straightforward and then they throw us a curve ball when you least expect it.

Last night, Ruins of Ogudei was the chosen objective. I hearthstoned back to the Shrine of the Seven Stars and chose to do the Golden Lotus instead. I won't play, I won't play, no way. I got too many other things to do instead.

Appetite For Destruction


Following on from Queen, we have those Party Animals from Los Angeles, Guns 'n' Roses. A band that burned so bright in a 4 year period and then disappeared as quick as a line of coke and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the GnR Green Room.

The Queen Pop Culture references are firmly wrapped together in a quest hub, the Guns 'n' Roses references are a bit more dispersed, although 3 of them appear as Scenario achievements.


 
 
 
I was first alerted by the "We've Been Dancin'" achievement and started singing along before noticing the sub titled "Aid Master Brownstone in the construction of the Pandaren defenses in the Scenario 'A Little Patience'".
 
This then set me off in the pursuit of other Guns 'n' Roses references. So far I have found the Ulduar Raid Achievement "Lose Your Illusion" 
 


and the Level 25 Quest in Stranglethorn Vale, "Welcome to the Jungle".

Monday, 10 December 2012

Jump

Might as well

I have often discussed stat inflation and how gear can very quickly make challenging content trivial. I was not however expecting the size of the jump from my last upgrade. My hunter gear is starting to become a little more epic as the weeks go by and I have put a temporary halt on my levelling project.
My gear is self made Leatherworking PvP set, with Jewelcrafting Rings and Necklace, rounded off with a Crossbow from Arena of Annihalation.

The general recommendation for people gearing up, is to Valor cap each week (1000). This was not working for me because The max amount of Valor that can be owned is 3000 and I had no reputation at a suitable level to spend any of it.

My current rep grind is based on Golden Lotus (boo hiss) and Operation: Shieldwall. Raising reputation to Honored with Operation: Shieldwall is an absolute doddle when compared with the Golden Lotus (more like Golden Sloth).



I was expecting the rewards at Honored to be Justice points, but discovered that the available gear upgrade was in fact the Signet of the Shieldwall. What surprised me most was the iLevel of the Ring being 496.

If you compare this to the last expansion most of my gear was 397, and this appears to be high in terms of the current status of the expansion.


 
I have already stated that I was wearing an entry level Jewelcrafting ring: The Roguestone Shadowband.
 
+ 238 Agility
+ 356 Stamina
+ 231 Crit
+ 345 Mastery

- 305 Hit

 
These are not small incremental upgrades, they are monumental leaps in stat inflation, and it explains why newly levelled 90's are doing 25K DPS and the people with Epic gear are doing 100K DPS.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when you consider that the Delicate Primordial Ruby adds a whopping +160 Agility plus any socket bonuses.

Now it is starting to make sense about all the talk of Mega Damage. I am just curious why we needed to jump from 450 - 496 in such a small time frame?

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Dude (Looks Like A Lady)


I recently posted about my on going struggles with Tempest Keep, and I kindly got some hints and tips from the Grumpy Elf and from a fellow Guildy, Diana. Now Diana has posted comments before and I wasn't entirely sure they were one of the same. This time Diana posted as Raffles / Diana leaving me with no doubt as to who had commented.

Now I am 99% sure that Diana is actually a man and is the partner of the former Guild Master / Mistress. Now to be quite honest I had no idea that anyone from the Guild actually read this blog because I have never really promoted it in Guild Chat, but I do have a link on Facebook. Which if anybody wants to befriend me on Facebook they are more than welcome.

The point of this post is really to empathise that we have no idea about the people behind the pixels, but as I am on PvE server and a Role Playing server, I generally accept people at face value in Guild Chat. I am almost sure that I can even point Diana out in a photograph, because he uses a real account on Facebook and not like me who hides behind my internet persona. One of the reasons I do that is because I am of an age were people are slightly wary of a 40 something male who spends most of his spare time playing and writing about a computer game, and the irony is that my brother makes a living as a professional Chess Player and can freely flaunt his activities.

Now I have occasionally written about my friends who my wife befriended whilst playing the game, because I think they felt sorry for her. Both of them used to play only female characters and I would quite often get them mixed up in my head, and it was a godsend when we started using Ventrillo to communicate instead of party chat. I once asked him why he only played women in game, and is response was that he spent hours looking at the backside of his character and preferred to look at the female form rather than the male version. All of this is ironic because he usually played druids and spent most the game as a Big Bear Butt or a Gnarly Tree.

My wife always used to say that we had no idea who we are talking to in game, and that sweet teenage boy who was struggling with his exams, could easily be a hairy arsed trucker called Dave. In fact my wife came a cropper with that saying when it turned out that one of the Guildies was a trucker from Sweden.

I have no issue with people playing a character of the opposite sex, in fact I suggest you try it just to witness how men (boys) treat women very differently in this game. I personally have 6 female alts and only 5 male characters.
 
I remember before going to University, that I had the opportunity to be whoever I wanted to be and could make up a stories to accompany my new self. Invariably we all settle for the same person we are and have always been. Whilst still being largely anonymous on the internet and in game, we still exude enough of ourselves to let people see the real person behind the pixels.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Fat Bottomed Girls


"Are you gonna take me home tonight?
Ah down beside that red fire light
Are you gonna let it all hang out?
Fat bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round"
 
Queen
 
The 70's have a lot to answer for. The above lyrics from the 1978 single "Fat Bottomed Girls" is from a different age, long before such things as Political Correctness. The song is written with great panache and is firmly tongue in cheek, but I am fairly certain it would not be released for general consumption by present day Music Executives.
 
Anyway this is just a side issue, and today's topic is the Operation: ShieldWall quest hub. Using the ever reliable Icy Veins, I have discovered that I was doing the Domination Point quests last night. I have done these quests before but never noticed the quest titles:
 
 
Quest Giver
Quest
Reputation
150
150
450
150

In case you are having problems identifying the common thread with these 5 quest titles, they are all Queen songs. Even though I am not familiar with Don't Lose Your Head. It looks like Dave Kosak or somebody in his team is a big Queen fan.
 
Coincidentally, the quest given by Farmer Yoon last night was "Red Blossom Leeks, You Make the Croc-in' World Go Down" In case you don't get the reference it taken from the title of this post.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Eat The Rich


This is old news but it is in reality it is always quite pertinent. Back in November, The Golden Crusade published the findings from its WoW gold survey. This is not about the buying of Gold but about the virtual wealth of WoW players.

The survey was reasonably publicised, providing that you were sufficiently interested in virtual wealth in the first place to visit Gold making / Auction House sites (and WoW Insider). This makes the data from the survey slightly flawed but the findings are interesting anyway.

The following is the major summary from the report:

  • The average player gold is 302,593
  • Median player gold was 80,000 gold
  • 81.63% of players are below average
The first thing that jumps out from these figures is that 302,593 is a lot of Gold that people have accumulated for this to be average. This argument is immediately dispelled by the fact that nearly 82% of the player population does not have that kind of money and that the distribution curve is skewed very heavily in favour of the Mega Rich amongst us.

This is of course exactly how things work in the Real World. Using the figures that were compiled at the start of the New Millennium, the richest 1% owned 40% of the world's assets. In WoW the richest 1% only own 25% of all the wealth.

All this at a time of massive inflation in Azeroths prices, and Blizzard's recent tinkering with resource spawn levels will result in higher prices across the board for raw materials and finished goods which involve Ghost Iron , and Trillium ore.

With the rampant inflation of previous expansion materials, I have been able to offload the cloth in my Bank for a nice chunk of change. Now is a nice time to sell your old stock. I have also just a quick look at the price of copper ore and single copper ore will set you back 1-2 Gold or 20-40 Gold a stack. This is inflation in action and of course the cost of Pandaren mats are free fall now we are 2-3 months into the expansion.

The one item I have been unable to get in any quantity and I am not prepared to pay Auction House price is for Golden Lotus. It seems so scarce yet so important in every recipe and transmute required by Alchemists. Thanks to the Orcish Army Knife, I have moved from mass production of Spirits of Harmony to Enigma Seeds. When I have gathered enough Golden Lotus, I will eventually have a play around with Alchemy, and maybe there is a future post in there somewhere.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Solitaire

A lovely range of knitwear
Patch 5.1 brought many minor changes to the game, one of these changes is the ability to enter one of the older raids without being in a a raid group. Many of these old raids have been furnished with vanity pets.

I like to accumulate achievement, but I will not normally go to great lengths to achieve them, and will not sit for hours waiting for rare spawns, or attempting things like the School of Hard Knocks. Some things are just not worth the effort.

There are two achievements that have been bugging me for a long time one of these is Higher Learning from WotLK and Outland Raider from the Burning Crusade.I have almost given up with Higher Learning, but with the new changes and the additional 5 levels I thought it was time to try and finish off Tempest Keep.

 
For those of you who need a reminder, here is the description of Tempest Keep from WoWwiki
 
"Tempest Keep is a former naaru fortress in the Netherstorm in Outland. This crystalline fortress is now ruled by Kael'thas Sunstrider, the lord of the blood elves, and dominated by scores of his brethren. The structure is divided into three wings - satellites of the gigantic structure - with the fourth wing, the Exodar, now in the world of Azeroth as the Draenei capital."
 
There you are, I have learned something new today, I had no idea that the Exodar was connected to these structures.
 
Just for the record, and to prove I am not a total numpty, my only issue with this raid is the final fight with Kael'thas Sunstrider and is band of merry men (and women). The fight is broken into 4 phases, with the first being a Turkey Shoot as Kael'thas sends out his troops one at a time to be slaughtered.
 
The second phase used to be problematic when Kael'thas launches his arsenal of 7 Legendary weapons. Due to burst damage these can be dispatched very quickly as level 90.
 
The third phase is where the problems began. Kael'thas resurrects his 4 advisors who all attack en masse. This in itself is not a big issue, but they like to use mind control and due to there only being one attacker that was me everytime. The net result is that I ended up in a daze wandering around in the AoE damage until death.
 
Now I am not a proud man, and I am more than willing to accept advice, because I am stuck at this juncture and would very much like to complete this labour of love without bringing in a second person. Any ideas would be gratefully received.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Gang of Four



Saturday witnessed Ding number 4. My warrior limped into the home straight after becoming unable to assist the Klaxxi and Shado Pan any more. Deaths were becoming far too frequent and the quest My Father's Crossbow proved to be too much for a warrior to handle. With 3 mobs lots of knockbacks, I guess I am not that kind of Warrior.

It is slightly odd that the two melee classes that I have levelled so far, start of in Jade Forest as juggernauts and end up in the Dreaded Wastes as cowering idiots. A little sprinkling of PvP plate is all they need to rejoin the fray.

A recap of the levelling times:

  1. 25th September - Release Date
  2. 16th October     - Ding 1 (22 Days) - Hunter
  3. 8th November   - Ding 2 (23 Days) - Shaman
  4. 19th November - Ding 3 (11 Days) - Death Knight
  5. 1st December    - Ding 4 (12 Days) - Warrior
11 - 12 days seems to be my natural timing for levelling, Ding 4 also had the benefit of 8% WoW Anniversary and part of the levelling was after the 10% increase in Quest XP.

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Operation: ShieldWall is active and I have managed to attend on two occasions. The starter quest is straightforward, and King Varian Wyrnn is on hand to kick Hordie bottom. This was a nice gentle introduction but I was a little annoyed that the Horde Hunters have the Volley Spell. I want it back.

I am utterly amazed at the speed of the builders in Azeroth. It is no wonder that StormWind could not afford the services of van Cleef. A complete citadel and port fortress in the blink of an eye. The first days quests were nice and easy, but day two in the cave was an absolute nightmare. I was getting repawns on top of respawns and it was not very easy to work out what the objectives were.

The scenario did nothing to add to the storyline and I have no idea why the new citadel was being overrun by the Horde. I guess now is a good time to research that one.

"The Horde has infiltrated Lion’s Landing. You must rescue all surviving able hands and rally them to the front gates of Lion’s Landing to hold back the Horde reinforcements. Protect Lion’s Landing."

Ok still known the wiser. The Horde are obviously better at subterfuge than the Alliance. I am pretty sure I would spot green skinned, thickset orcs trying to blend into a largely Human camp.

The jury is still out on these new dailies, I will see what the other quests will bring.

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I have always been confused why the best fishermen (and women) in Azeroth can not hit a cows arse with a banjo. I mean as a Zen Master with a skill of 600 and various other skill addons from hats and rods, why can I not hit a fishing pool at 20 paces every cast? The same logic also struck me with the Tiller Farm. As a skilled farmer I find it annoying that I have to clear a shedload of virmen, everytime I dig up my crops, and then I have a field full of crap to deal with when I plant the seeds. I can cope with all of them with the exception of the Green Tentacle which drives me to distraction. The most I have seen was 8 on a full farm. I can see the Tillers will be dropped like a stone when I no longer require Motes of Harmony.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Secret Garden


Back in October, I had a rant about the state of Archaeology and within a week I issued an apology and thank you to Blizzard for fixing the issue in a patch. In November I was fairly unimpressed with the gift for WoW's 8th Anniversary and stated that 8% rep gains on kills was a very poor gift, and that 10% would be a better figure which should apply to XP gains on quest completions. I have checked the Patch notes and have found no reference to this change, but I can confirm that levelling quests now give 10% extra.

It would be nice to think that Blizzard is listening to me and making appropriate changes, but I am not that stupid. What it probably indicates is that Blizzard and myself are on a similar wavelength, I don't read the forums but, I am guessing that the issues mentioned above have been raised there at some point.

Yesterday I complained that this expansion is not Alt friendly, but the change to quest rewards and double reputation from commendations may be enough to smooth over the next few months. The reputation increase only started in Europe yesterday so it still early days.

I have yet to sample the delights of 5.1 so I shall give a review when I am as angry as the Grumpy Elf, who wasted a night doing the new dailies.

One improvement I did notice was the pre-population of previously unknown Flight Points. It makes sense in Real Life that I can fly to New York without first going to JFK Airport, so now the only things missing are to speed up the flight time and to implement direct flights.

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Last night I intended to logon to WoW and check out patch 5.1. Unfortunately I was distracted by a couple of programmes on the BBC. The first was a CGI marvel in the form of Supersized Earth and then Goodnight Britain.

Supersized Earth is one of those programmes that looks like it made to be sold around the world, and with the computer graphics and engaging content was just totally addictive. It looks like I will need to watch the first episode on BBC i Player.

Goodnight Britain was an interesting if slightly patronising look at the world of sleep deprivation. Of the 5 unfortunate subjects, I was able to diagnose 3 without any medical training. The 2 cases I did not identify are Parasomnia and Insomnia caused by a broken internal clock.

The 2 cases that I was most interested in were Sleep Apnoea and Heavy Snoring. I have written about Sleep Apnoea before, but the tiredness now as mostly gone away, so maybe it was that LFR Dragon Soul was too boring to keep me awake.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

No Limits


I am not a Twitter user, I don't fully understand the need to tell the world what you have just eaten, and every little thought that goes through your head. I don't understand the need to divulge everything about yourself on Facebook, I understand that it is a decent place to find people that you have lost touch with.

I am quite a fan of Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, but never in a million years, am I that bothered that I would follow him on Twitter. Anyway there is no need to, when any salient points are re-communicated by WoW Insider and the other WoW news sites.

One item that fell down between the cracks is this little snippet from WoW Insider. On it's own it is just a throw away remark, appearing in a throw away medium, but taken in conjunction with the historical context, it shows another twist in Blizzards game philosophy.

It is quite common for Blizzard to take polar opposite philosophies from one expansion, but this more than hints at the current status of Mist of Pandaria. Let's take a look at what transpired.

RigelWoW@RigelWoW - @Ghostcrawler Can a new 90 alt catch up gear-wise this arena season with conquest being usable for item upgrades? MoP seems alt-unfriendly.

Greg Street@Ghostcrawler  - @RigelWoW We agree we need more alt solutions. MoP was designed to be compelling without alts. That means if you have alts, there's too much

In a nutshell MoP is alt-unfriendly, and Blizzard state that it was designed that way. Gee thanks for consulting with all the Altoholics about how they wanted the new expansion to pan out.

The following is my list of how the expansions affected Altoholics.

  • Vanilla - Alts were non existent due to the levelling times - Alts were Rogues and Mages taken to level 8 or 10 and then dumped for Hunters.
  • The Burning Crusade - The birth of Alts as max level characters. Blizzard screwed up the end game content by swapping and changing between 10 and 25 man Raids. After Zul'Aman everybody not in 25 Man raiding guilds went off to create Alts.
  • The Wrath of the Lich King - Not intended to be Alt friendly, with 4 different lockout on the raids, but it was very easy to gear up to just under the current gear content. Levelling Alts was preferable to the Argent Tournament
  • Cataclysm - The restrictions on Raid lock outs should have been a golden age for Alts, levelling from 80- 85 was quick and easy, but the content was dry and boring, and the Molten Front was very anti-Alts.
  • Mists of Pandaria - content galore, removal of daily quest cap, scenario's, challenge modes, LFD, LFR, Pet Battles and the Tiller's Farm mean that there is no free time to devote to Alts

In my opinion Alts flourished in TBC and WotLK by accident. In Cataclysm they were actively encouraged and punished in equal measures and MoP is the anti-Alt expansion.

All this can go away if Blizzard makes Reputation Account Wide. There is enough Account Wide functionality already in the game, that one more would not make much difference. If Role Players want to climb hills backwards then they could even toggle the facility on or off depending on their level of masochism. With 5.1 now live, most of us are still coming to terms with the content released with the expansion. Now would be a good time to let us move onto the new content and let us play the game that we choose in a world of multiple choice.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Wonderful World


Don't know much about history etc....

Yesterday I discussed some approximate levelling times for the new expansion. The Grumpy Elf left his customary comment yesterday, and it left me wondering if I was actually doing something drastically wrong. The figures below are not verified (that would take way too much time), but they appear to approximately correct. The data is from the Ascendancy website and shows the quest rewards for each of the zones and the associated mini hubs.
 

Level
XP
86
13000000
87
15080000
88
18980000
89
22880000
90
27560000
Total
97500000

 

The Jade Forest
Paw'Don Village 2998 K
The Wwaterspeaking Ceremony 1997 K
Pearlfin Village & The White Pawn 3123 K
Dawn's Blossom 981 K
The Arboretum 780 K
Greenstone Quarry 786 K
Ruin of Gan-Shi 1890 K
The Temple of the Jade Serpent 1170 K
The Battle for the Forest & Overcoming Doubt 1188 K
Tian Monastery 2064 K
Nectarbreeze Orchard 1019 K
 
Total 17996 K
 
Valley of the Four Winds
Thunderfoot Fields 2253 K
Mudmag's Place & Silken Fields 2042 K
New Cifera 1056 K
Chen's Masterpiece 3571 K
The Stormstout Brewery 894 K
The Hidden Master 1909 K
Nestingwary's Safari 1951 K
 
Total 13676 K
 
Krasarang Wilds
Zhu's Watch 1843 K
The Incursion 1754 K
Nestingwary member 822 K
Temple of the Red Crane 2034 K
Small Jinyu town by the river 437 K
The Water of Youth 1365 K
Stoneplow 1157 K
Fishing pandas to the south 1697k
 
Total 11109 K
 
The Veiled Stair
 
Total 629 K
 
Kun-Lai Summit
Binnan Village 733 K
Inkgill Mere 1633 K

Westwind Rest & The Youngal Invasion 3067 K
Shado-Pan Fallback 856 K
The Yak Wash 1621 K
Grummle Bazaar 891 K
One Keg 807 K
The Thunder King 2751 K
Zouchin Village 2144 K
Quests at the shore 978 K
The Burlap Waystation 3386 K
Kota Basecamp 1743 K
Winter's Blossom 1605 K
Temple of the White Tiger 238 K
 
Total 22453 K

 
Townlong Steppes
Fire Camp Osul 4736 K
Mislurkers in the Sumprushes 2235 K
On Hatred's Path 3879 K
The Sha of Hatred 4461 K
Tai Ho' Investigation 4348 K
 
Total 19659 K
 
Dread Wastes
The First Paragons 5854 K
The Might of the Klaxxi(included a few dailies) 6024 K
Taste of Amber 6213 K
Like a Deck Boss 3700 K
 
Total 21791 K

The Grumpy Elf thinks that it is possible to level from 85 – 90 in 12 hours. Which would require a colossal 8,125,000 XP/hour. My suggestion was for about 40 hours which would require a far more modest 2,437,500 XP/hour.
In the interest of science, I decided to run a test to see what kind of XP/Hour I could reach if I went for broke and tried to maximise my levelling experience in a short time frame of about an hour.
The scenario was as follows:
  • Level 87 Dwarf Arms Warrior
  • iLevel around 398
  • Starting point – The Veiled Stair
  • Time frame 1 Hour (approx.)
  • Approach: Questing, kill as many mobs as possible and only mine nodes that are in close proximity
  • Guild Level 25 – Full Rested XP and WOW 8th Anniversary Tabard
The start of the zone involves 2 quests and lots of mob killing through the cave system. The two quests are Educating Sarok and Robbing Robbers of Robbers. My method of calculating XP/Hour is the built in app in Titan Panel, so I flew to the flight point and then logged off and back on to reset the timer.
The first few kills set the XP/Hour into overdrive, but the figure soon settled down to around 3 – 4 Million XP/Hour. Handing in the quests spiked the system to over 5 million, but the next quest, The Spring Drifter is a slow boat ride to Kun-Lai Summit, which obviously sent the figures plummeting. The XP for a level 87 killing an equal level mob is 29,972 XP with mining providing 16,402 XP per node.
I quickly collected all the quests in the area and in an attempt to increase my speed I was a little more reckless than usual and threw myself into large packs of mobs. Warriors have great regenerative skills, but Arms is ultimately a DPS spec and not a tanking spec and my reckless approach did result in 2 deaths due to misjudging the number of opponents.
In the end I settled into a quicker than normal tempo and eventually stopped after completing Binan Village and Westwind Rest. The time taken was 1 hour 20 minutes and the results can be seen below:
 
 

The most important figure is near the bottom XP/HR This Session 5,121,197 which is way above my usual dawdle speed of 3,766,620 XP/HR which includes going AFK for cups of coffee and snacks.
Using these figures shows that at my usual speed it would take 26 Hours to level from 85 to 90, but at the new improved speed it would only take 19 Hours. The question is could I maintain that pace for 19 hours and I think the answer is probably not.
At a pace of 19 or 20 hours to level a character, that means that even I can level to 90 in a week with my restricted playtime.
In summary I massively overstated the time required, but I also believe that I would find it impossible to reach the XP/Hour that the Grumpy Elf thinks that he can obtain.