Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Man On The Moon


Yesterday, I waffled about the state of play of a AAA games company, unable to do the groundwork for an eagerly awaited expansion. This is not the first expansion, it is in fact the fifth and Blizzard should really know better.

Since Sunday everybody has been patting themselves on the back saying "job well done" (or if you are a Peon "Job Done"). The fact is that the game is still not stable last night I gave up with constantly getting "World Server is Down"

 
This seems to occur when unable to open an instance, and is still happening with sufficient frequency to suggest that Blizzard are still a long way from having a stable platform. Warlords of Draenor is based on the concept of Garrisons, and Garrisons need instances, and the instances do not have enough resources.
 
Interestingly enough I noticed a little message in my chat window last night that many people might not have noticed, but it will be familiar to anyone who used to chain through dungeons until they hit their maximum for the hour.
 
 
Apparently we are limited to 10 instances an hour, and that raises more questions than answers for me. My intend way of playing was going to be based around logging in on all available characters and setting the Followers on their course to complete their next mission. At the moment that is 12 characters and in the future could quite feasibly be higher.
 
If I dip into 10 Garrisons, in the first 10 minutes...
Are scenarios and dungeons no longer available for 50 minutes?
Can I revisit a Garrison that was opened already in the allotted time frame?
 
It could result in people being far more careful about leaving the confines of the Garrison unless they have a clear plan of the activity for next hour. Of course Blizzard have not communicated this information, and it was only 8 months ago that the limit was increased from 5 to 10 to accommodate additional dungeon crawling during the Great Pandaria Content Famine.
 
I may be a unique player with multiple characters and a new found adoration of Garrisons Followers and Missions, but maybe I am part of a large population. Either way it is unlikely that more resources will be ploughed into the Server farm just so that I can play the way I want to.
 
 
 
 

Monday, 17 November 2014

That Smell


It is two weeks since I last wrote, and so much has happened in the interim, like the small matter of Blizzcon and the launch of a new WoW expansion in the shape of Warlords of Draenor.

I like many was excluded from the Beta testing so the last four days have consisted of me and 7+ Million people all wanting to occupy the same small space. I am writing today about the expansion as I have so far found it and please forgive me if I ramble and meander on a myriad (not a Vindicator or an NPC on Draenor) of different topics. So without further ado here is my list of 9 normal days for Blizzard and a world of pain for the rest of us.

Blizzcon

It might come as a shock to many, but I actually like Blizzard, but I am not a fan boy and I don't play every game that Blizzard wafts under our noses. I have admittedly played all of their current games but I only play one game and have done for the last decade.

This was a Blizzcon decidedly short on WoW news and with a new expansion so shortly after the Blizzcon. Who cared anyway, you can keep Overwatch and the Manga styled shoot 'em up, where you can leap around like a PvP rogue all you want, because I am old and have the reactions of an oil tanker which is heading in the wrong direction. Thanks Blizzard, but no thanks.

Launch Night

For the second expansion in a row I was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time. Having not been in the beta, I might know where I am going, but I have no idea how I am supposed to get there.

As usual I chose badly and opted for the portal from the mages tower. I then wasted precious time at the site of the pre-expansion instead of being in the thick of it outside the Portal. Needless to say I was far from alone. That mistake would cost me dear and by the time I arrived at the right spot it looked like a Mardi Gras (without the oversized dragon mounts and Tundra wide load vehicles).



The result of this chaos was that I took another player for a spin around the Timeless Isle on my own and did some dailies for XP and then went to bed

Launch Day Carnage

I managed to sneak home for a crafty play at lunch time, having been forced to go to work by my darling wife. The numbers playing was heavily reduced from the evening before and I was able to sail through Tanaan Jungle before grinding to a halt where garrisons should be.

Part of the problem for the player is knowing when something is a Realm issue or in this case is a game issue. We have endured logon queues, no instances, horrendous lag, random reboots, scheduled maintenance, unscheduled maintenance and in general a very poor release.

Friday

A holiday from work for the sole purpose of playing WoW. If I had known in advance I would have left the expansion for a week and sailed through without any issues. The game was actually relatively stable during the day, as long as you exclude Garrisons. What am I saying Garrisons is the expansion, everything else is the same fluff we have had for a decade only with nicer decoration.

Of course as soon as the European school kids came home, everything went South again and the evening was totally unplayable.

Saturday

More of the same, everything was busy all day as people tried to put long stretches of play together between the disconnects and reboots.

Sunday

At last we finally had a game worth playing. It is still not perfect but it would have been acceptable to have this level of performance on Launch day. It is obvious the Blizzard team have worked tirelessly to fix these problems, but it also true that this expansion was not ready and not tested to the required standard.

I have not kept up with many blog posts during the last few days but the following was a gem from Alternative Chat.

"The use of the area as an Instance is beginning to cause more than a few issues: add to that the obviously phased content that exists in the World and... well, this is the issue I never saw coming, because I assumed Blizzard would understand the interest in the feature, and have learnt the obvious and well-reported complaints from Beta. I find it rather dismaying therefore that no-one does seem to have grasped just how many people would want to play this on release, and that the same issues that crippled the Beta servers still exist on Live, but in greatly increased levels."

This is very interesting because I don't remember reading about big problems of phasing on Beta, and if this is correct (I have no reason to doubt Alternative Chat) then Blizzard have been exceptionally negligent. If it didn't work with a few thousand playing how the hell did you expect it to work with 7 Million people all wanting the same content at approximately the same time.

Smart arsed comments about Blizzard not being able to nip out to the nearest computer hardware shop and purchase a few more Blade servers does not cut it. They knew it was coming and chose to buy their collective heads in the sand and hope that the live servers would be more stable than the Beta realms.

Alternative Ways of Playing

Being able to only play for 30-45 minutes up to the establishment of Garrisons forced me to play with my entire cast of characters. Priority always goes to my Hunter main, but why keep trying to flog a dead horse when I can be in a position to have 12 Garrisons creating resources and sending the Followers out on extra missions. Right now I would be happy to be able to scroll through all the Garrisons assign the followers missions, then logout. Rinse and repeat every hour or so.

I know it is all shiny and new and in 6 months time I will not be doing Missions, but right now it is the game. Levelling, Dungeons and Raiding can all wait until I am in need of a change of pace. The Sunsong Ranch was exciting to start with but this takes the meta game to a new level. It reminds me of a very early version of Football Manager, in which you would setup your team taking hours to prepare for a match and then the computer would go off and generate a summary of the game. Somehow Real Madrid would manage to lose to Accrington Stanley 4 - 6, even when the real score is more likely to be 10-1 to Real Madrid.

It is ironic that non of my Alliance are Epic, but the second follower on my solitary Horde character is Purple. I am honestly surprised that it is not Legendary (I am guessing there is no such thing) just to rub more salt into the wound..

Blizzard Loves Horde

What I have seen of the game and to be honest it is not much is that the Horde Garrison is far nicer than the Alliance base. The snowy environment the undulating surface, the whole zone seems better. Is it not bad enough that Blizzard writes Horde centric storylines without giving them a better landscape, better quests and infinitely better heroes.

The Horde have Duratan for godsake, who is so much cooler than Maraad, who is a little sad and a little mad. Duratan wears a Wolf on his head and back, and if I am not mistaken has a zone named after him.

No Flying

It is normal behaviour for Blizzard to restrict Flying, but in this case I can totally understand. On the other hand the landscape is mountainous with rocky cliff faces and caves and ridges with small pathways. The result is huge amounts of wasted time plotting the best route around an obstacle. I ended up in the sea for 10 minutes trying to find a way to get back on the shoreline and I have done huge detours when the only way across is to find the rock that acts like bridge. There is Fortress Anquish which is a nightmare to traverse. I appreciate the No fly zone, but I would appreciate less confusing maps.

Realms, Instances and Connected Realms

As a regular player it became obvious a long time ago that various continents and Instances are not on the same server as the Azeroth Realm that you provisionally sit on. During The Burning Crusade it was not uncommon for Outlands to be unavailable but if you had a character in Stormwind or Ironforge you could quite happily play. With Connected Realms I have that Anachronos can have World Server is down and Alonsus is working fine. My advice is to not have all your eggs in one basket and keep some of your characters on different servers for times like this.

I assume that the problem with Garrisons is connected to the message, "Unable to find Instance" I assume this to be like running an application in Citrix and when the Citrix server is full the performance becomes unstable for those in it, and non existent for those without a session. The only solution is to add more resources and extra servers to the Citrix farm. This is exactly what Bashiok was saying on Saturday.

What is most perplexing is that the problem occurred on Beta and the demand forecasting on Blizzards behalf appears to be very poor. They should know exactly how many copies of the expansion have been sold and of course they have regular feedback on subscription numbers.

DDoS

As I understand it was only an attack on North America, and in some respects Blizzard should be well versed in dealing with these internet bandits, and especially should have expected an attack on a launch day, for the extra publicity.

Unfortunately with all the issues that have come with this launch, it makes you wonder what effect it had. I am guessing it was nothing more than an additional nuisance factor.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Badge


"Game Over", with two weeks left until World of Warcraft soars again, I am now finished for this expansion. No tasks to perform, no reputation to gain, no vegetables to grow, no herbs to pick, no ore to mine, no animals to skin.

The bucket list that I never had is now empty and I am left without a need to logon. It is strange that at the end of an expansion I have been playing more than I have for a long time. I am tempted to take a WoW vacation for 14 days and come back refreshed for the marathon sessions that we will all take part in. Staying up into the small hours on release day, taking days off work to level up to the new maximum. Whatever my intentions are, and however hard I try, everybody else seems to be ahead of me. Only at the end of an expansion can I feel smug that I have achieved as much as possible and can enjoy watching everybody else scurrying along whilst I am able to put my feet and enjoy a long cool drink.

It is possible for me to collect some Heirloom weapons or even get unbelievably lucky and gain the last Ordos gear that I could use on my alts, but it really does not matter any more and I can no more stop the next expansion, than King Canute could stop the tide.

My new level 90 Orc Hunter, the gift from Blizzard, last night gained four new pieces of equipment, and I am surprised how quickly and well I have been able to gear up in a three week period. I am now sitting on an average iLevel of 546, and the chance of borrowing the Heirloom Warbow when the time come round.

My haul of Four new pieces of gear came at a cost, and that cost was sitting through the worst LFR group of all time. I am now utterly proud that the Horde can be that bad at PvE. I have sat through some inept Alliance LFR performances, but this was an utter disgrace. The Siege of Orgrimmar, Vale of Eternal Sorrows was the site of this disaster. Immerseus was one of the quickest cleanest kills, but the Fallen Protectors got up to 25% determination bonus. Norushen also wiped the party on four occasions, some which only lasted less than a minute.

My favourite part of the whole experience was the lack of understanding of the fights and in particular the four phases of Sha of Pride. The Manifestation of Pride that appears behind the party would be dealt with by one or on some occasions two people. Thankfully they were both Hunters, expelling the myth that Hunters are the Noob class of choice.

The only explanation I have for this whole debacle is that there are a lot of returning players or else new players with level 90's that they as yet do not understand. The only reason for the eventual success is that most people are overpowered, and it is raw power that eventually ran roughshod over the content.

I am utterly embarrassed to have witnessed such a performance but kind of delighted to know the Horde are as bad as the Alliance.

Monday, 27 October 2014

I Feel Free


No more Frogs! After a mad flurry of Frog genocide I have for the immediate future given up frogging or looking in through steamy car windows.

Instead my interest was piqued by Cymre who wrote about the Toys available in Hallows's End. I am normally not very interested in anything available from the holiday events, they have long since been consigned to the "Been there, seen it, done it and bought the T-shirt" bucket of Blizzard content.

Oddly enough the same people who are attracted Pet Battle collecting seem to like collecting the new craze "Toys". Who would have thought, that collectors like collecting? Almost hidden away in the Holiday news was the availability of two new pets to collect for the princely sum of 150 Tricky Treats. I did some quick calculations and decided it was eminently doable and decided to take out my Panda, who could do an Azeroth tour in the process. It turned out that 150 could be obtained from Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdom. It is a boring process but it suits my weekend schedule of cleaning my house and hours spent on unmanned flight paths.

Having snagged Cursed Birman, I decided to repeat the task with Queen of Transportation my Frost Mage. The ability to portal is invaluable for this task and decided to change the landscape a little and went for Outlands, Northrend and Pandaria. Two days messing around for 2 pets that I will never use. I still can't explain why I would do this content other than "because I could" or "it was there".

Having snagged two new pets it made perfect sense to go Pet Battling with them and it was not long before I found a fertile spot with weird cockroaches and fire beetles to snag. I have long since discovered that owning weak battle pets does not count, and if you are serious about the business you want a complete collection of Blue Rare pets and nothing else will do. This is the time to remove the poor quality pets and capture both new and Rare pets. Finding Rares can take an age and in some respects it is far more rewarding flying around Azeroth for a guaranteed pet than dancing with the RNG Gods.

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My weekend of Pet Battling was brought to sudden standstill when I got bombarded by my Guild asking if I want to kill Garrosh for the guaranteed Heirloom Weapon. I seemed to have missed an announcement some where along the line but Alternative Chat is making the most the Heirlooms and even paying 8000 Gold per head for a Garrosh Kill with the Realms top Raiding Teams. For a full rundown on how get in and smash and grab some gear the Bare Butted One has all the answers.

My Hunter Main was first up and won the Warbow without any major issues. From what I could see it was an A-Team Alts run. The second run was a complete disaster with everybody getting mind-controlled with 5% to go being the best result. With everybody stepping down a peg or two with everybody changing roles and classes it had none of the panache of the first run.

My Warbow which was still an upgrade will now service my 3 level 90 Hunters and will also be available when my wife finally levels a 4th member of the Hunter community. A staff would be nice and would be usable by 4 characters and a Two Handed weapon would be usable by 3. This would just leave a Monk and Rogue. It would cost more than 8000 Gold to buy those two a place in Heirloom run. We still have two weeks left, who knows what might happen, and besides it is still a better place for a weapon than queueing for UBRS and not getting a drop from there.

Friday, 24 October 2014

A Whole Lotta Rosie


As a Joe Average player with declining reactions brought on by age, I tend not to be a chart topper. That is not to say that my Hunter cannot rock up under the right conditions. I have often said that being an Altoholic means that it becomes very difficult to cope with mass changes or spec changes. I pick a spec and live with it. Some of those characters are genuine dual spec (I don't include a Frost and Fire mage in that list) with a DPS and a Healer spec, and I have tried Tanking on DK and Pally.

This is a lot of info to take in, and any changes will need to be assimilated slowly and if not played regularly will be soon forgotten. Never a week goes by without taking out one of me three Hunters out for a spin, and except for a brief flirtation with Marksman have all been Beastmasters since birth. I can cope with a certain amount of change on a Hunter, including changes like removing mana (what a day to celebrate that was), and the recent bloat removal. This liposuction needed to be done to the Hunter class and some of the other classes and specs, but not all of them. More buttons does not make for a better experience but neither it would appear do less. Beastmaster is basically a two button rotation with the occasional GCD thrown in. I have learnt to live without casting Hunter's Mark for a long time now, but for some reason Serpent Sting is like losing a limb.

I have yet to discover exactly what state all the classes and specs are currently in, but I have noticed a huge improvement in my Combat Rogue's figures which is something that I didn't think was possible. What is more shocking still is that Dps on my Balance Druid is now hitting the floor. Boomkin was always the strange hybrid, but it had it's moments. First it went Oom and then it went Boom and now it is just crap. The eclipse seems to move along like a metronome and is not controlled by the player who could speed up gaps in between eclipses. Now it requires a PhD to work out the timings and according to Icy Veins it is less important than before:

4.2. Applying and Refreshing DoTs

Applying and refreshing DoTs is not longer as complicated as it has historically been for Balance Druids, but it remains extremely important.
Simply put, it is best if your DoTs are applied when benefiting from their respective Peaks (Lunar Peak Icon Lunar Peak for Moonfire Icon Moonfire and Solar Peak Icon Solar Peak for Sunfire Icon Sunfire). Note, however, that this does not actually affect the periodic damage of your DoTs at all. The only part of the DoTs damage that is increased by Peaks is the instant damage. So, applying and refreshing DoTs at Peaks is definitely a DPS bonus, but not a very great one.

As mentioned in the rotation at the start of the guide, Sunfire's duration is such that it will not last until you complete a full cycle (and return to Solar Peak). Furthermore, Sunfire cannot be cast when you are not in Solar Eclipse. This means that in order to keep up Sunfire, you need refresh it shortly before leaving Solar Eclipse, or that sometimes you will need to refresh it immediately on re-entering Solar Eclipse to prevent it from dropping off. This is acceptable.
There no longer is any real restriction about when it is too soon to refresh a DoT. As long as you refresh Moonfire each time you reach Lunar Peak, and Solar Eclipse at Solar Peak and right before leaving Solar Eclipse, then you should have no problems.

I hope that makes sense to you because I am losing the will to live. (Having played Balance since reading and writing this, Blizzard makes it easy by lighting up your icons, when you  need to press them). I am using the right spells as per rotation and I have reasonable gear, so what is causing the huge discrepancy?

The stat squish seems to be throwing up some peculiar situations where it is possible with proc to one-shot a mob. The term one-shot is often overused, to suggest an easy kill at the first attempt. I am talking about mobs that just roll over and die, and the next one will require a semblance of a rotation.
I always liked that as a game play, the ability to miss, dodge or one-shot, especially for a Marksman, with Sniper Training. The ability to one-shot requires for the character to have a downside in the style of James Bond. 007 is a trained killer but he has a weakness in beautiful women, alcohol, cigarettes and gambling. Some might argue what is the downside to beautiful women, but he can easily be manipulated by the opposite sex and lured into a trap.

Frost Mages seem to be in exactly the same place as before, minus the one spell that is missing from my action bar. A quick browse reveals that Invocation has gone, but I worked that out myself and the other was Alter Time. This was one spell that I always thought would be really useful if only I knew when to use it.

I have already mentioned that Combat Rogue is looking fairly sexy (more playable for idiots like me), but there is absolutely no easy AoE for this class. Every other class can drop something on the ground but since combat lost Fan of Knives there is nothing I can see that is obvious to replace it.

I am slightly biased towards AoE damage after spending so much time killing frogs. I am no longer going to need to hunt down Lesser Whatsits because I am fairly certain they are not required moving into Draenor.

A couple of aspects that have annoyed me about Blizzard are the On/Off need a Legendary cloak to do Ordos. It was not communicated well and the only way to test is to fling yourself off a broken bridge. Along the same lines is the horrible PvP flag that we still get for innocently joining a group using the new Group Finder. join a group and automatically accept the PvP flag. It should be in Big Bold Red Letters "PvP" so that the majority of people who don't want to be part of a teenage Rogue's Ganking fantasy can stay well away.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

We All Stand Together


The last two posts I have made, make reference to the new Group Finder and the custom groups for Frog killing on the Timeless Isle. Original I thought this was a useless usage of a new tool. Grumpy yesterday put me straight and that there is a new reason to Group and murder Timeless Frogs.

Apparently I had all the aspects but I had failed to put them together. With the absence of Valor, we can now collect Lesser Whatsits of Chance to our hearts content. The upshot is that the easiest way is to group into 5 mans and create Frog Genocide on a grand scale.


 The droprate appears to be around one Lesser Whatsits of Chance per Frog, and with a kill rate of around 20 per minute depending on the competition and the group composition. This beats the 5 from the Dailies at Halfhill Market which would take 5-10 minutes. There is no other task that generates Lesser Whatsits of Chance at anything near to that rate. It is possible to do the Daily and Weekly (50 Epochs) at the same time.

Kudos to Grumpy for letting me know about this little secret and if you need some armour upgrades and are running short of Lesser Whatsits then you now know where to go.

Good luck but it is a frustrating place to be if you don't have a nice ranged AoE.

Monday, 20 October 2014

I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More


I was reminded of a fact by Grimmtooth, who questioned whether nostalgia is showing previous pre-expansions in a better light. The obvious facts are that was WoW was better in the past, and Blizzard used to know how to throw a good pre-expansion party.

The reality is that large chunks of the game are vastly superior to the original game and that pre-expansions are always damp squibs, with the exception of the Zombie curse which seems to have a close proximity to what is currently going on in West Africa with the outbreak of Ebola.

The Zombie event rendered the game totally unplayable and Blizzard made light of the event being curtailed by several days. It is of course a memorable event, but it not something than anybody would wish to repeat, and Grimmtooth highlighted the fact that these are normally short introductions into the next expansion. Under normal circumstances the current content plus a holiday event would be enough to keep us busy, but personally I think the lack of content for such a long period might have driven some us a little stir crazy.

I have had a few more days to devour the content and I might have got some things wrong as well as having some more opinions on 6.0.2. The first on my list of errors is the Raid Finder, it is a much better tool than I gave it credit for, and the customisable sections allows like minded people to go around murdering frogs on the Timeless Isle, but I was right that Celestials and Ordos need to be considered as Raids, especially Ordos. Celestials can be ignited by one tank managing to stay alive for 30 seconds without assistance, and a group of 10 people can make short work of these bosses. Ordos could benefit from a meeting stone to take the pressure off the Warlocks. I have also lost track of my characters weekly activities now that Saved Instances addon does not record Celestial kills and is a little suspect about recording Ordos kills too.

The other mistake I made was the tidy up bags button which I did not know existed or maybe it doesn't and it is just on the Bagnon addon. Unfortunately it often causes more problems than it solves. Two steps forward and one step backwards. I am however delighted with the amount of space saved by bigger stacks and the Toy cupboard. It seems very odd crafting with materials that are in the bank. It is one less aspect of realism in the game and a giant plus for convenience.

One thing I have noticed is that with all the changes, this is in fact the Pre-Patch and not the Anniversary and Pre-Patch rolled into one. There will be no PvP in Tarren Mill unless I am doing it on my own and besides with the huge queue times to do the UBRS mini adventure, it will take me 4 weeks to snag all the weapons, and that is if I get very luck indeed.

One other change I would like to discuss is the no more valor points and  upgrades with Lesser Whatsits of Chance. Originally when MoP first dropped I had far too many things to do to concentrate on just one character to get 1000 Valor. Later in the patch with all major activities completed I could rig the Valor of the Ancients and the Deeds of Valor used in-conjunction with the glitch which allowed the Valor of the Ancients to be still active from the week before. This was a perpetual valor stream so much so that it was possible to valor cap on all my level capped characters.
The downside was that you could only earn 1000 on any single character. The new system which is only in place for the next 3 weeks will essentially reward hard work.
 
1 upgrade = 250 valor = 50 Lesser Whatsits of Chance


In any given week you could only manage to generate enough new valor points for 4 upgrades, now you can generate as much as you like. The only downside is that you need to keep doing something in order to generate them. They do drop off everything , but even so when you need to hundreds of them, the droprate is still never enough. The positive in this is that I can do these tasks whilst waiting for UBRS.

Friday, 17 October 2014

What Have I Done To Deserve This?


The Patch 6.0.2 is now firmly deployed, and with the returning Millions it is going to be busy in Azeroth for the next month.

My first impression is just how good the graphics and character artwork upgrades are. Your favourite character is bobbing along with new facial features and the world seems sharp and in focus. I liken the process to renovating a painting, and showing the original painting in all it's glory after having the years of grime stripped off. Unfortunately not all the characters benefit the same. I am still systematically going through all my characters and have so far only done four:
  • Dwarf Male - big improvement, the nose is about half the size, and the hands are no longer the size of shovels. Did Leonardo never invent the Vitruvian Man?
  • Draenai Male - I can't detect too much change. Probably centred around better looking face tentacles
  • Orc Male - What a surprise Blizzard did an excellent job remodelling this class! No more round featureless faces all looking like Shrek or an average plain Peon. "Job Done".
  • Gnome Female - I am still finding the face somewhat disturbing. It is very similar to that strange look of young girls wearing heavy makeup.
Logging in gives the new "What's New?" screen. I know that I have many screens to wade through but in terms of communication this is a step in the right direction and well done Blizzard. The rewards outweigh the inconvenience of having to click a button to remove the screen.

New Dungeons, new PvP, my content of choice is the quest chain. Move the story on and allow me to partake in a few quests.

I follow the breadcrumbs and make my way over to the Blasted Lands. The Fortress is in ruins and the Alliance are gathered on the beach. There are Orcs nearby which I shoot at. It only then I notice that rotation is shot to pieces. No Serpent Sting! This was always one of the first spells in the rotation and unless I switch to Survival it is now gone forever. There are other gaps in my bar, my damage is miniscule and yet the mobs go down as soon as I look at them.

I am curious as to whether the difficulty is pitched correctly. It certainly appears on the low side. It makes a mockery of the whole scenario, if I can multi-shot the entire Iron Horde on my own and come out without a scratch. Even the final boss is laughable and you get help by whichever faction hero sent you there. I don't want difficult, but I don't want a boss to roll over and die, merely because I turned up.

I was curious earlier in the week when I found the loot table for the UBRS 5 man level 90 style. The gear is iLevel 550 Rare not even Purple in colour. Who is it designed for? I have dug out my often used table yet again to highlight the problem:

  • 502 - ToT LFR
  • 528 - Thunderforged
  • 528 - SoO LFR
  • 535 - ToT Heroic
  • 535 - Burdens of Eternity
  • 540 - SoO Flex
  • 541 - Heroic Thunderforged
  • 550 - UBRS (5 Man level 90 - Rare)
  • 550 - PvP Conquest
  • 553 - SoO Normal
  • 553 - Crafted (Legs and Belt)
  • 566 - SoO Heroic

  • Using comparisons with other content it is more than SoO Flex and less than SoO Normal (Don't get started on the new naming conventions). The problem is that UBRS is Rare and not Epic and it is not upgradeable. The others are for four more weeks and the upgrade table looks like this:

  • 510 - ToT LFR
  • 536 - Thunderforged
  • 543 - ToT Heroic
  • 544 - SoO LFR
  • 549 - Heroic Thunderforged
  • 550 - UBRS (5 Man level 90 - Rare)
  • 550 - PvP Conquest
  • 551 - Burdens of Eternity
  • 556 - SoO Flex
  • 569 - SoO Normal
  • 569 - Crafted (Legs and Belt)
  • 582 - SoO Heroic

  • It is essentially a minor upgrade for anybody in LFR SoO gear which is fully upgraded (possibly) or more likely for anybody in Timeless Isle 498 (+16 fully upgraded) gear. This is not designed for the people who have kept a continuous subscription but is aimed at a last chance for gear for the returning masses. Already we know that subscriptions are up and we are still a month away from the WoD release.

    UBRS offers up 4 different weapons:

    Dripping Willow - 2 Handed Strength Mace
    Finkle's Shanker - An Intelligence dagger
    Tharbek's Terrible Charge - 1 Handed Agility Sword
    Tharbek's Horrific Posessor - 1 Handed Strength Sword

    That by my reckoning would give most classes with the exception of one a reasonable boost if they are only in starter or Timeless gear. The missing class? yes of course it is Hunters, with no ranged weapon.

    Weapons and Trinkets are traditionally the hardest items to get your hands on. But MoP has taken this torture to new lengths. It started with the Thunderforged weapons that you could but huge gems as a gift from Wrathion, if only they ever dropped. Then LFR scattered weapons throughout the Siege of Orgrimmar so that after people had failed to acquire the weapon with both chances they would drop from the raid. New people would not stay because they had already missed a chance at the weapon and the queue went on and on. It took six months to get a ranged weapon on my main and only 5 out of 12 characters have got anything better than the 20,000 Timeless Coins version. yet they have average iLevels above 550 and weapons at 484 iLevel. Weapons make the biggest difference to DPS of all the gear slots. So a big thank you from all my Hunters to Blizzard, and at a time were Hunters are doing less damage than the Healers Tanks.

    Apart from the weapons (and exempting Hunters) there is no need to run the content more that once, which it could be argued that Blizzard don't care about because it only lasts for 4 weeks. At this rate it might last less than a week. Thankfully the UBRS is not wasted content because it is already being recycled and will be recycled again come the expansion. Clever of Blizzard to re-use content, no wonder it took so long for the expansion to be created.

    The new Group Finder UI was introduced to make finding groups easier. Unless of course you want to do Ordos and Celestials. The old system may have been hidden and in a stupid place, but at least it was usable. The new system means that no-one knows exactly where to put the custom group. I don't ever create a Random raid group, but judging by the number of Raid groups, people have not embraced this new feature yet, or perhaps it still needs to be modified. Surely Ordos and Celestials should count as Open Raids and not clumped with people farming Emperor Shaohao rep.

    The interface looks so much better and it is now in the right place, but it would not have been tested for current content and only for the Beta and PTR content. That suggests that the grouping for Open World Bosses will be different in Warlords of Draenor than the 5 World bosses that appeared in Pandaria.

    I am liking all the bagspace that we now get by stacking in 200's instead of 20's but it would be nice if we had a button that would automatically do it for us. I am sure with all the programming might at Blizzards fingertips that this would not be a major task.

    Overall I am impressed but the loss of framerate is a real worry 60 FPS down to 30 FPS is making me consider my options. I have a newer PC available but I really need to find a decent SFF Graphics Card that will hit the spot in terms of price and performance, which will mean trawling through benchmark scores again to find the right card. It would be nice to turn up those graphic options to max and see the game in it's true glory.

    Friday, 10 October 2014

    Gimme Something Good


    33 Days to go and I am really hoping that Blizzard going to give us something good. Alternative Chat is delighted about new Garrisons feature but for those of us who have not ventured through the portal (not that one, the new one) we have no idea what to expect. I am sure Garrison will become self evident when we are there with our new plot of land, but until that time it only makes  a modicum sense.

    A number of decent guides and articles have hit the street in the last week, so I have started to compile my WoD Resource Kit, I am of course open to any suggestions, but at the moment it looks very Garrisons top heavy, with only one other topic about Ground Mounts. I only really started populating the MoP version when it went live, but I am guessing the topics are highly likely to appear in live as they are now.

    There are no new races and no new classes and no new professions and from that sentence alone the expansion sounds lightweight. The heavyweight content is Garrisons and the race graphical makeover. The feel is apparently so different that people are referring to it as WoW v2 and with no Titan or any other Blizzard MMO in the near future we are stuck with this rolling behemoth for the next decade.

    The screen is going to be prettier and a new graphics card is on standby, and we are be promised some end game content that is not Raid orientated. Raiding seems to have hit a point were new ideas have long since all been used up, and some of the mechanics were not used for obvious reasons, like a deep purple maze on a dark floor, which was undetectable to the naked eye. Stay out of shit on the floor, stand in shit on the floor, group separate. Alternatively you could "hold a chicken in the air, stick a deckchair up your nose, buy a jumbo jet,  and then bury all your clothes, paint your left knee green, then extract your wisdom teeth, form a string quartet, and pretend your name is Keith."

    Why do we still put ourselves through these tasks? can anybody say that the MoP expansion brought any decent boss fights that would sit in the Pantheon of boss fights. Blizzard made big boasts for both Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar comparing them to Ulduar in scope and grandeur, I personally feel that none of the fights are of that standard.

    The Grumpy Elf made a good case for not doing the returning 5 Man Heroics, and with Scenarios consigned to the history books is it case of all Blizzards eggs are nestled in Garrisons being the runaway success. It could be argued that Garrisons could have been a stand alone game, micro managing your base with followers (minions) doing their own missions and crafting etc... Could this have been a tablet game?

    The pre-expansion is due on Tuesday 14th October as predicted by every man, woman and child who have ever played this game. I am assuming that the Europeans will wait an extra day for the patch, but the launch date for WoD will be a Thursday which means that Europeans and Americans will both launch on the same day. It means for once the European realms will be the test bed for the expansion, but the developers who are US based will need to put a shift on when the European realms operating on Central European Time (GMT+1) will open 6 hours before New York hits midnight. Expect bug fixes to be written by bog eyed bleary developers, in those first 24 hours.

    I am really excited about the new expansion but already I seem to know the entire expansion story arc. I am hoping Blizzard can gimme something good but already I am sensing a few cracks in the dam. Only time will tell.

    Tuesday, 7 October 2014

    Happy

     
     
    Yesterday I mentioned that I was unable to find any reference to levelling Mining and Skinning in Jade Forest, so having noticed I have a bag full of Ghost Iron Ore Nuggets, I decided to Google that instead. Of course there is an article from WoW Insider, but where is the in game notice. I vaguely remember the article but if I am expected to research the game in order to play the game then Blizzard have got a real problem on their hands. They have made great strides with the Dungeon Journal but so much more still needs to be done.
     
    The overriding theme of yeterday's post is the happiness at being back in old familiar places, some time in the future it will also be nice to come back to Pandaria but right now we need a new expansion and a fresh background to look at. What I have been doing is going on a nostalgic trip at a time when I am bored with my current confines. I am basically re-energising my 9 year memories of a game that has evolved far from it's humble beginnings. Stormwind might be passé, but when was the last time you were in the Redridge Mountains, or stomping through the Wetlands. These places hold many locked away stories and experiences of people we played with, stupid deaths from falling off things whilst distracted on the phone. Happy times bundled up in a quick trip down memory lane. Even the hard stuff, the long grind can now been seen through rose tinted spectacles.
     
    We no longer need that Timbermaw rep, or the legs from a Glass Spider, which despite having 8 of the buggers never dropped one. Recalling happy memories makes us feel happy, and for most people it is easier to recall happy memories than bad memories, which is why we talk about supressing bad memories.
     
    "Nostalgia seems to act as an antidote to sadness and feelings of loss. It elevates our mood and other research has found that people who tend to get nostalgic easily tend to have higher self esteem, find it easy to trust others, and suffer from depression less." Source
     
    The belief is that the positive feelings from the nostalgia are enhanced because of the social nature of a MMO, shared experiences seem to be easier to recall.
     
    From experience the old computer games elicit a response of wanting to play them, but the addictive quality no longer remains. Who would want to have more than one go at Space Invaders, or spend more than a few minutes shape shifting through a Tetris session? They may make you happy but you realise the visual aesthetics of these games does not exist and it will soon detract from any enjoyment.
     
    I remember digging out my PS2 and playing Gran Turismo and then being appalled by the standard of the graphics and the poor response of the handling. It is similar to a toy train set in that the impulse to play with it is still there way into adulthood, but it takes no time at all to realise that it is simply going round and round in a circle.
     
    Merely travelling to these familiar location will elicit responses of nostalgia, but the in depth play is no longer there or needed. We can simply enjoy the Tourist Nostalgia trip without necessarily understanding why.
     

    Monday, 6 October 2014

    Tell Me Why


    I would like to thank the Grumpy Elf for giving me one suggestion at least. I think that the days of making money cross faction is gone or very soon to be going and that the only benefit is to view the content through new eyes. I have often complained about the Horde/Orc centric storylines and now I have the chance to see it with my own eyes.

    Grumpy suggested that I should sample the storyline in the Wilds, (I assume that is Krasarang) and the Siege of Orgrimmar, which I have now had a chance to run around without people trying to kill me. I am getting too old to be learning the layout of a new city and this is just the first of four. One storyline I would like to see is the Scenario of the Mana Bomb dropping on Theramore. Blizzard did a terrible job conveying this storyline as precursor to the MoP expansion especially from the Alliance point of view.

    The main reason I now have a Horde max level character is the need to tick off another achievement in this case 25 Points for Double Agent. In essence with the free level 90 the only effort involved was the click of a button. I think for now I will leave achievements and the relative value of them in game for another post, but it is safe to say I am now questioning my own sanity.

    I have often stated that Blizzard is very poor at communicating changes and I am somebody who actively seeks out information, changes and news. I am convinced that the 1-90's where getting a special refresher area/training area to teach the skills that they will have missed by missing most of the games content. The official post from Blizzard is

    What happens next

    Your character will be moved to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms in Pandaria and their action bar will be populated with the most essential skills for their class and spec. Your character's quest log will be cleared during the boost and any quest progress will be lost. When the boost is done processing, they will be ready to play immediately.
    If you're a returning player, welcome back! We have guides available for new, returning, and veteran players alike who want to know more about World of Warcraft:


    Now as a new Orc I just appeared at the Horde, Shrine of Two Moons in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Obviously my markers are a mass of yellow exclamation marks, blue question marks etc. There is nothing to say walk this way, and the problem is that this just creates sensory overload.

    In one example I ended up in the Instance "End Time" from the Catclysm expansion with no way to return to Orgrimmar. My exit left me in the middle of the Caverns of Time.

    The one thing I did manage to work out was the invite to the Timeless Isle from Chromie, but without any professions I feel slightly uncomfortable running passed, herbs, ores and skins, when I could be collecting them for money and just as important at this stage Timeless Coins.

    Blizzard stated: Professions
    If the character is at least level 60 before the boost, their primary professions and First Aid will be leveled up to rank 600. Other secondary professions will not be affected. If the character is at least level 60 and doesn't have primary professions, they'll be given class-appropriate professions according to the table on the right.
    If the character you choose to boost is not at least level 60, their professions will not be leveled up.

    In an attempt to level professions I attempted trips to Orgrimmar, Undercity and Thunder Bluff with the aim of finding the easiest city to navigate for a total noob, needing to find profession trainers, Banks and Auction Houses. I finally settled on the combination of Skinner and Miner, which basically means flying around for nodes and shooting any animals that I come into contact (I am starting sound like Sarah Palin). Even with this winning combination it took several hours playing (a couple of days realtime) to get to the start of Cataclysm above 450 Skill level. At this point I raised enough money through the Auction House to progress First Aid and Cooking.

    First Aid is straight forward and I did it in Dalaran using the short walk between the Auction House and First Aid Trainer. There is always someone selling cloth, but that is not always the case with cooking. Thankfully Blizzard streamlined Blacksmithing and Cooking for the MoP expansion. The Cooking trainer is the Valley of the Four Winds and goes by the name of Sungshin Ironpaw. I have had the link in my resource kit for 2 years now so no excuses for not knowing about it. For those of you with an aversion to fishing there is a requirement for 42 Golden Carp. The fishing trainer nearby will give you 10 for minimum effort.

    After completing this exercise to level 525, I decided to fly to Jade Forest to examine the Horde starting area and to take the portal back to Orgrimmar assuming that Alliance have one the Horde must have one too. What I did find was corrupt Tigers and Ghost Iron Ore that would allow skillups for both Mining and Skinning. My skill suggested that I should not be able to do for another 50-75 skill levels when I reach 500 as it always was between expansions. Did I miss the letter from Blizzard, have I stumbled on a coding problem. Google just throws up guides that are just ancient. Maybe I made a fool of myself and could have saved myself a trip down memory lane visiting Azeroth, Outlands and Northrend. I honestly don't know. My guess is that every one reading this will just say, "Of course you can mine from 1-600 in MoP you daft sod". They say that everyday you learn something new that means I can take the rest of the day off.

    What I have discovered is that I like gaining XP, I like levelling my skills and professions, I even used to get a perverse sense of achievement levelling up weapon and pet skills. I am really showing my age now, but I don't miss pet food and Hunter ammo, Warlock Soul Shards or Rogue Poisons or any of the other stupid stacks of resources used in the casting of spells.

    Levelling XP and professions really tick some boxes for people without them really knowing why. A bar or a number that you can keep heading upwards in the required direction is very gratifying especially when you start adding little meta games into the process. The exception to the rule is Fishing and Archaeology take far too long to achieve. There is no shortcuts, no way of buying your way to the top like I did with First Aid and Cooking. I enjoyed spending the money on those tasks, and I enjoyed flying around Winterspring looking for Thorium Ore.

    A grind is only a grind if you don't like what you are doing. Doing multiple circuits, then killing wolves, dragons and crocodiles broke up the task into small chunks and in Northrend I was able to utilise the quest chain in Sholazar Basin which incorporates killing 60+ animals plus helping myself to the skins lying on the ground.

    Fishing is terribly tedious when you need to cast and catch 10 times for a solitary Fishing skill. What I also found slightly annoying was the introduction of Fishing dailies that did not require any fishing, what is that about?

    I will hopefully revisit the psychology of levelling and achievements later this week.

    Thursday, 2 October 2014

    Romeo And Juliet


    On the dividing line between good and bad, light and dark, Horde and Alliance, I am firmly entrenched on the Alliance side and have more than once unfurled my battle standard for the blue side. Somebody needs to stand up for the Alliance, otherwise we are like vegetarians who are too weak to stand never mind fight for their rights.

    There is an achievement for having both a max level Alliance and Horde character called "Double Agent"


    I have thought about it for a long time but I have a full roster on my main Realm Anachronos-EU. Yesterday Blizzard did some additional maintenance on my Realm but I naturally assumed it was in preparation for Warlords of Draenor. I was of course very wrong and there was no Anne Stickney update to warn me from WoW Insider like the hundreds of connections before that merited a message.

    In hindsight it is of course easy to find the missing info which was buried in the Forums.

     
    
    It is a big welcome to Alonsus and Kul Tiras. I was waiting for this moment for a more vibrant busy realm and a much more competitive Auction House. The additional bonus for me is that I can add more characters to my Guild if I so wish, and I had a free Pass Go and collect £200 or a boost to 90 from my recently acquired expansion.

    I logged on to the Character creation and chose the Realm Alonsus but I couldn't decide if I wanted an Alliance Priest, Horde Priest, Horde Death Knight, Horde Hunter. Like so many times before I turned my back on the Priesthood and chose an Undead Death Knight and an Orc Hunter.

    Which one was going to become my new level 90? I played for 30 minutes with the DK with the idea of progressing to 60 and then promoting to level 90, but eventually settled on the immediacy of an instant Level 90 Orc Hunter with the highly original name of "Boborc"

    Boborc
    With the exception of the 25 Achievement points I am not totally sure what to do with a Level 90 Orc Hunter. The first thing is to change the action bar so that I can play using memory muscle and not have to work out the current location of the spells. I am completely lost on the Timeless without any professions so a few trips to some low level zones is very likely.

    Now the big thing I was hoping to manipulate is the Horde pets and the Auction House in general before they get merged together in the very near future. I could of course start doing PvP and camp the Silvershard Mines, but there will be nobody going through that Battleground when the Legendary quest is finally pulled.

    In fact I am starting to run out rapidly in the benefits of having characters on both factions. Blizzard is due to neuter all of them in the next 2-6 weeks. So if you have any idea please let me know before I run out of time.

    Wednesday, 1 October 2014

    It's All Over Now


    According to the Alternative Chat countdown clock we have just 42 days to wait for the new expansion. The 6.0.2 patch is sending down huge quantities of data due to the sweeping changes in the game graphics and of course new content. Garrisons obviously requires a few gigs worth of data to run.

    There may only be a month and a half left, but we finished the current content 6-9 months ago. A little note to Blizzard it is possible to make a baby and deliver it within that timeframe.

    Blizzard have of course been inventive in cajoling people not to unsubscribe, by placing weekly buffs on droprates and doubling our valor collection, giving more update opportunities so that we can spend that extra valor, before they finally remove the currency from the game. Oh the irony of it all.

    I have 5 Legendary cloaks and a sixth is likely this week. This was not the icing on the cake it was merely the cherry on top of the icing. I only needed one cloak but what else was I supposed to do with no new content to play for so long. It was rather annoying to see Dave Kosak suggesting that the individual content patches came out quickly, and that Blizzard would like to move to a quick cycle, when we are still stuck in the biggest content drought ever and the only excuse was that they had increased the size of the team and that had slowed them down.

    The last few weeks have witnessed a ramp up in Blizzard activity, with the unusual step of releasing in game cinematics, which all seemed a little voyeuristic. A peek view at the storyline without any context was very unusual, but then again once Blizzard put files in PTR then they are instantly datamined.

    Oddly enough if you ignore the stupid storyline then Outlands revisited is starting to seem quite appealing. 4 Warlords down and they are quite interesting. I am still not impressed with the multi media approach, but at least I am not left to purchase books and comics for storyline, and it was made available online and integrated into the Battle.net load screen. So far we have had 2 short stories, 4 Warlord stories and multiple in-game cinematics. It look interesting

    I am not overly excited about the pre-expansion content, but right now anything new would be advantageous now that the Legendary cloak door is closing, and there is so little left to do. I have occupied my time doing achievements, pet battling and selling junk. Perhaps I should be doing PvP so that I can have more fun at Tarren Mill in full PvP gear rather than be cannon fodder. From experience the better gear I have, the better chance the Alliance have of pulling off a coup and winning a battleground. It is not that I am so important, it just means I am one less useless noob to drag their sorry behind around a battleground. PvP match making should be a lot more precise than it currently is. Each player should have a Elo Rating, then you can combine Elo scores to make up a match, or it would be possible to have Elo class matches with all contestants being over a certain score. Blizzard introduced for Arenas but the problem was you had to win a fight to get a score, which resulted in people never being able to obtain a reduced rating and always fighting people much more capable or better equipped. Every loss should lower your score until you are face to face with worst PvP Rogue to play WoW and then your rating will start going up again. It is not like Blizzard need to do the mathematical computations, they have been using this system in chess for years.

    Today is yet another reset day, and after the feast of two weeks ago, I well and truly suffered the famine last week. It serves me right for opening my mouth and of course it is exactly what you would expect with an RNG system.

    The Grumpy Elf got me thinking with yesterday's post about the value of computer games and in particular World of Warcraft. I would like to agree with Grumpy that WoW is very good value for money, even though 9 years ago I felt very different about a subscription service. Some things have become a necessity to our everyday life that a two decades ago would have been totally foreign. Nobody would have expected to pay an ISP a monthly fee, never mind know what one was (does anybody know anybody with network access). Even grandparents are getting in on the act now, and the Silver Surfers have multiple wireless devices to access the Internet. There are other costs often bundled together to cover mobile/cell phones, and cable Television. The amount we payout on a monthly basis is quite frankly frightening, it is no wonder we choose to play a computer game rather than watch film at the cinema with additional cost of popcorn and fizzy drinks. What was once a regular activity in my youth is now a luxury, a seldom used event unless I get discounted tickets.

    I got slightly off track there - but over 9 years I have had to upgrade several computers, monitors and graphics cards to keep playing this game. It is true that I would have a computer anyway, 90% of it's usage is still WoW. Even with 90% of the cost of the hardware and peripheral devices, I still believe that WoW is worth it. Which is more than I can say about genealogy sites who keep taking my money each month because I get distracted by WoW every time I sit down at the computer.

    Friday, 19 September 2014

    The Unforgettable Fire


    Online anger is not just a World of Warcraft phenomenon. Whatever Blizzard do there will be detractors, wanting to bitch about this or that. In some respect it could be considered that I write a blog full of negativity. From my perspective I try to balance what content puts in front of me, with my own experience. I like to think that I give credit when credit is due and criticise when I believe that something is wrong.

    Not all my anger is aimed at Blizzard, and most of it is about the player experience when we rub shoulders with the wonderful and utter terrible. We get to see the best and worst of human nature on a daily basis amplified by anonymity.

    This week in Real Life we have seen what happens when iTunes delivers a free album direct to 500 Million iTunes accounts around the Globe.

    "My iPhone has a virus called U2. How do I uninstall it?"

    "Waking up with the new U2 album automatically installed on your iTunes is like waking up with a pimple in the morning."

    "#nothanks"

    The general feeling was that it is invasion of privacy and why didn't they just offer the album as a gift. I am sensing a Guinness Book of Records reason, which will make it the fastest selling album of all time 500 Million copies in nanoseconds. Only 6.6% of recipients had listened to the album (33 million).

    "But the inordinate amount of actual anger directed at Apple and U2 over this is so disproportional to the actual event, I've started to wonder about the mental state of some of those complaining. It's really been off the charts." Source

    I have no complaint about receiving a gratis album of a band that I have most of their music already, but I do object to iTunes and the Apple way of doing things. I appreciate that Apple have a sleek design like quality to their products but too be honest I do not buy into the Apple lifestyle. I am not a fan of mullti-functioning devices and want my phone to make calls, my camera to take pictures and my mp3 player to play tunes. iTunes is a horrible piece of software that if Microsoft had written would be derided the world over. Apple have kudos and charisma and Microsoft are corporate and soulless. That was a good bit of marketing from the late Steve Jobs.

    I don't really want to go into the issue over how U2 polarize opinion, or how people don't like free gifts that they didn't ask for, or my personal dislike of iTunes but it is a point that people will argue, or complain about anything, under the cloak of anonymity and with the spread of social media it is reaching fever pitch. It is where the Tweets have no name or in this case no shame.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    This week's reset has been very kind to me indeed, so kind that I am starting to doubt the RNG Gods and thinking that Blizzard have done some minor tweeks. What am I talking about? the Unforgettable Fire - Ordos himself (two U2 references in one post).

    After many weeks of running up the mountain and waiting for the idiots to shout "123", "summons" "oi Lock get your arse in gear" and all the other abuse. By the way 123 does not mean "I am lazy git summon my worthless carcass to the top of the mountain now", it means "I agree", if you are going to be a lazy toad at least do it grammatically correct even if you are using Leet Speak.

    Sorry slightly off topic, yes I have been doing 11 Ordos runs a week with 11 tokens equalling a ground breaking 22 chances of Warforged gear, very nice thank you very much you beast of fire. I was under the impression that the chances are 10% but with the sliding scale of the bonus roll, I anticipate around 3 drops for 22 chances which is not a terrible rate of 1:7 even then it will be common to go 4 weeks between drops for an individual character but for a team of 11 - I am more than happy with 3 chances of loot each week.

    This was until my characters started to get decked out in warforged gear and then you are looking to fill only specific slots, and the chances of getting a drop and it being the right slot become astronomical. Ordos coughs up Head, Neck, Legs, Waist, Shoulders, Wrist and Chest (no gloves or boots). The 1:7 chance if you only need 1 particular slot becomes 1:49 and that could take up to half a year to achieve if you are lucky.

    This week started off well with 2 slots missing on Bobflintston (Neck and Wrist) Bowflight Wristguards dropped. Shaman (Neck and Shoulder) received Penate's Perilous Pendant. Warlock (Head, Shoulders, Chest and Wrist) received Ulmaas' Robes of Crushing Magma. Druid (Shoulders, Chest, and Waist) received Flame Healer's Shoulderguards and Hamlet's Wind-Whipped Leggings.

    I still have 2 characters to go and I have already amassed 6 items which I can use on all my characters. It might well be co-incidence and the RNG Gods are on my side for once, but personally I prefer to think that I just don't get that lucky and Blizzard have secretly adjusted the odds to give a more personalized gift. Maybe I am just getting soft in my old age.

    Monday, 15 September 2014

    Everything Must Go


    The countdown is well and truly on, and we are less than 2 months away from the new expansion. In between there is supposed to be a month long pre-expansion (well done Blizzard, learning from the last expansion) and then it is here. That means those goals that you have been working through during the end expansion blues are nearly over and you have reality 4 more weeks or 4 more resets to achieve those goals.

    The favourites are usually rare mounts, but I have also created a Hunter on the lowest population RP server to help someone try and snag Loque'nahak, only to find his own kills on every realm that he moved to. In Europe it would seem that there is only one server/realm running Northrend, but I guess some of you already suspected that might be the case. I might have objected when Cross Realm Zones were first implemented but besides from the jerky screen when crossing zones they have proved to be a useful resource saver for Blizzard and it does make an MMO seem a little bit more MMO than was previously the case.

    This weekend I completed all my weekly tasks and had nothing else left to do. My bags having been getting fuller each week, so it was time to clear my bags and the bank of resources from this and previous expansions. As with all previous expansions it is about timing. Ores, Leather, Cloth and Herbs start the expansion high and dip down to the low point when the next expansion drops. They will remain in this state for months before becoming a valued low supply resource, which will push the price way beyond the average for the expansion that the resource came from.

    In my example Ghost Iron Ore per stack:
    Started at 100G
    Average 40G
    Before next expansion 30G
    Start of next expansion 20G
    6 Months into the next expansion 60G

    In this example do you want sell your stock for 30, 20 or 60 Gold?

    30 Gold is guaranteed now, 20 Gold is the likely price in 2 Months and 60 Gold is a possible based on previous expansions. This is the murky world of Stocks, Shares and Futures. Nothing is guaranteed except for the current price and if you are lucky you might get something closer to 40 Gold. The problem with hanging onto stock is the storage space. In Real Life this comes at a price and in WoW it comes with alternatives. What could I do with that bag space if it was not full to the gills with Ores, Leather, Cloth and Herbs?

    Blizzard for once are coming to your rescue with larger stack sizes so 200 Ghost Iron Ore will no longer hog 10 slots in the bank but just one. This may make saving for a futures market seem more desirable, and it also means that less people are dumping their stock which causes less of force on the price due to less supply in the system.

    Nothing is certain, but we do have less pressure to free up them slots. Who knows you might even choose to buy some cheap resources to sell later.

    Personally I am starting the Sale early.

    Friday, 5 September 2014

    Hanging On The Telephone


    What is the etiquette of a MMORPG? What are the unwritten rules of sharing our gaming time with nearly 7 million other people? We are all vaguely aware of the ToS and the other screens that get in our way after a major patch release. We don't read them and Blizzard often choose to ignore them so what is the point? The point is that Blizzard can act on them if they so wish, which unintentionally brings me round to an interesting post by Tobold titled, Marginal Costs and the Cost of Jerks.

    If a Software company can identify the lost revenue of banning a jerk against the potential losses of said jerk forcing other to unsubscribe, the decision will become much easier to make. The $15 a month/ $180 a year loss of one undesirable against the loss of 10 people leaving and the bad reputation that is generated by 10 angry people. A loss of $180 is small compared to $1800 and rising.

    Not all behaviour is covered by ToS and associated rule books and not all annoying behaviour is intentional. In two separate incidents in recent weeks I have been left shrugging my shoulders and sighing, and the worst thing was that both of them were trying to help.

    The first example was when I was running my Warlock through the last hurdles of the Legendary questline. I only needed 2 Titan Runestones but I was stuck at the Norushen in Siege of Orgrimmar part 1. The Sha of Pride offers a guaranteed Runestone and I could almost smell the cloak. The only thing in my way is the useless LFR group that I was in. You know the ones that I am talking about were the group fails early on and you have no idea why you are alive and only 3 or 4 others are still up. I am no expert but I believe Norushen needs a reasonable amount of healing and a decent off tank to soak up the adds.

    After 3 failures and a determination on my behalf to see this LFR to it's conclusion, I got a whisper with a question about my spec. I thought here was my opportunity to impart a little knowledge to someone who cared. I asked, "What do you want to know? and they said "Why are you using Drain Life? It does not do much damage at this level". At this point I could have exploded the party has wiped 3 times already and I am one of a small group who can manage to survive to near the end of the fight and you are questioning why I am trying to heal myself, when the healers are in capable of performing their tasks by keeping up the Tanks and more importantly healing me. I checked the logs and discovered that only one of the healers had healed me at any point in the fight.

    When I pointed out that I needed to heal myself frequently, my interloper took the huff. I think he must have been part of the Healing team that was not doing it's job properly.

    What I found curious by this behaviour, was that the group was failing big time, I was in the top 3 in the DPS table and I was surviving to the point of last man standing and somebody thought to call me out on my choice of spells. I have enough issues watching what I am standing in, rotating between the mobs and trying to maintain high DPS and stop my health bar hitting the ground. I have no time to watch and critique everybody else in the party. People in glass houses should not throw stones.

    My second example was from last night. I was queued and waiting for Ordos to start on my Rogue. Any regular reader will know that I am in fact the worlds worst Rogue, but somehow I have got lucky and have a full set of Ordos gear on my little Gnome. I could do with a legendary cloak, some daggers and trinkets, but otherwise it is not a bad setup. The Ordos gear is fairly poor with the gem slots being mostly of a blue hue. My preference is normally to go for Purple gems with main ability and Stamina. In the case of a Rogue or Hunter I would choose Shifting Imperial Amethyst 80 Agi and 120 Stam. Not brilliant but in my opinion the best of a bad bunch.

    Somebody in the raid decided to investigate my gear and came up with an attack on my gem selection, stating that Icy Veins do it this way and that I am wrong. My Rogue is Alt number 10 on a list of favourites to play. I have managed to obtain an iLevel 553 and have enchanted and gemmed every slot except for one tinker slot. My performance in the group encounter maybe worth having a word about the fight. I will agree with you that I am a poor Rogue/Melee class, but don't nit pick my gear before you have seen me in action for a minor faux pas about my gemming choices.

    I find it kind of nice that people care enough to look and say something, but I am not that much in need that I need directing to Icy Veins. I don't think my characters are screaming noob, needing help so please leave it out.