Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Absolute Beginners

8 Years playing, and still I have some absolute noob moments. In my attempt to level my Panda Monk, I have had a relatively seamless transition between the old expansions. That was until I pitched up at Hyjal.

On arriving at Hyjal the first quests send you off to kill Elementals, find some berries and kill 4 hidden orcish dudes. Having smashed all in my wake, I karate kicked my way to the elementals. Wow do they hit like a train and how many Hit Points?

The problem was of course one of stat inflation, which after an expansion of rampant gear inflation in WotLK it is not a surprise. Having only quested through Sholazar Basin, my gear was in the region of iLevel 162. If you look at the weapon below this is something like the one I was using.

When cataclysm launched 2 and bit years ago, everybody would have been sporting at least iLevel 200 Epic weapons. Typically something like the transmog favourite the Staff of Trickery from the Heroic Violet Hold.
Alternatively from the Forge of Souls, it was possible to obtain the Tower of the Mouldering Corpse (lovely name). This was from the first of the three Heroics which dropped with Icecrown Patch and was very doable even with LFD.
These items do not compare in any way, shape or form. Even if you ignore the large increase in base stats like agility and stamina, the biggest leap is in the damage per second, with a doubling of the base DPS. Even as a linear increase this should result in the Elementals dying twice as fast. Sadly I did not work this out until I received the following as a quest reward.
More than double the DPS and I was swapping from a 2 Hander to a 1 Hander. The worst part of all this, is that at level 80 there is a quest to continue your training to be a Monk. The quest reward is the Bladed Staff of the Echoing Gong.
After that there is no problem in Hyjal, and everyone will run away in terror as soon as you approach.
Tip for non-noob moment, complete your training ASAP, it's worth it.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Land Of Confusion


2 Posts have struck a chord with me recently. The first was the Godmother with Find Your Smile, which did not go into specifics, but it did mention that "Nothing's changed with the game since yesterday: the problem is me." Now it is not my place to even guess what it going on with the Godmother but sincerely hopes she finds her mojo, or whatever is bothering her.

The second post was from the Grumpy Elf, and yet again Grumpy is bang on the nail with some Blizzard design flaws. Blizzard's design philosophy reminds me of some of the better American TV shows of the last 20 years. They start with a plot for the pilot and the first few shows and then make them up on a weekly basis. If the show extends into several seasons then the plot goes askew because they had a start and no ending, examples of this are the X-Files, Lost and Heroes.

Blizzard have over time, refined, changed and not settled on a philosophy for over 8 years. They call this evolution but undue tinkering maybe the issue. Take for instance the Raid philosophy over the years:

  • Very difficult Raids
  • Easy Raids
  • Huge numbers of participants
  • 25 total strangers in a dumbed down version,
  • Raiding 4 times a week with different lockouts.
  • Fluctuated between 10 and 25 man raids in the same expansion
  • They have made end game difficult to obtain
  • They have made end game easy to obtain
  • They have had expansions where it possible to raid on multiple characters
  • They have had expansions where you can only really raid on one character
  • Some raids have one boss
  • Some raids have 13 bosses
The problem is they fluctuate from one side of the spectrum to the other without ever finding a sensible middle ground. One example of this is WotLK in which Call of the Crusader, (or whatever it was called) had no trash, and 4 tiers of difficulty with different iLevels on the 4 raids. Blizzard decided to introduce lockouts in an attempt to control player behaviour and reduced the gear to 2 sets of iLevel gear. The result was total freedom to choose how many times you could raid in a week to a restrictive once a week By the time Icecrown Citadel was the current raid, the player base had multiple alts to raid with due to the ease of gearing alts to endgame content by bashing out as many 5 man heroics as possible, in very quick instances (5 to 10 minutes was not uncommon ).

Cataclysm was supposed to be Alt friendly but they introduced gated content in several places which slows and deters people from grinding out the same content again, and again and again. The 5 man Heroics went from 5-10 to 2 hour marathons through the Zul's in a war of attrition of find a tank and healer who would stay for the duration.

Mists of Pandaria, was designed with the philosophy of plenty of end game content, which is all supposed to be optional. You simply choose to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. The problem is some of the options are not optional and are totally mandatory, resulting in repeat activities required to be undertaken every day, with no ability to shortcut the exercise.

Reputation is not optional, dailies are not optional, can you afford to not tend to your farm, in terms of resources or money, 1 LFD and 1 scenario a day, weekly LFR and Sha of Anger. The gear drops seem to be poor and psychologically who wants good Blue gear when you can have Purple Epics.
Valor must be capped each week in order to upgrade or purchase new gear.

Honestly I can not see a way of getting gear other than through valor at the moment and the accumulation of an item every fortnight is just too much like hard work.

I like to accumulate lower end gear quickly and when it becomes difficult, or hard work, I tend to move on to my next alt. On an effort versus reward scale I want lots of reward for a small amount of effort, and I can then duplicate the effect 10 or 11 times on all my alts. Being stuck with one character for the whole expansion is not my idea of fun. I want to do my bit for the community too, I have no Tank and my main is a ranged DPSer, but I do have 4 alts that like to heal, and I have not the method or enthusiasm to do it under the current system. 5.2 will not bring any respite and no shortcuts.

When faced with the same inability to gear my alts or raid on my main, my choice in Cataclysm was to PvP. In MoP I have elected unintentionally to tune out and drop out. If dailies have become mandatory, then I have chosen to do something else. At present I am levelling a Panda Monk, after that I have an entire stable of other alts and I have yet to even touch Pet Battles.

The Grumpy Elf also identified that the easiest way to gear for PvE is through PvP. This is a weakness in the design and now that PvP are additional to the iLevel not instead of, they become genuine alternatives to the PvE gear. Honor and Conquest gear is achieved relatively easily and in the past I often done old content to cheat the system. This includes doing the PvP quests in the Grizzly Hills for a whopping 55 Honor a day for killing 10 Orcs. and then moving done to the harbour to complete the other 3 quests. Added to these quests is Wintergrasp and Tol Barad. The bigger Battle Grounds like Alterac Valley and Isle of Conquest,  offer places to hide for those less initiated in the art of PvP. Lets face it crafted PvP blues are going to ensure that you do not get to see much fight time, and it is better to sit and wait on Noob Hill (do not sit or even worse dance, as you will only upset the veterans).

Right now the game is starting to look like early Cataclysm did. Remember the peak numbers of WoW subscribers came at the start of Cataclysm not at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. Mists of Pandaria was given a good honeymoon period before the criticism started, but I seriously think that patch 5.2 needs to be a good one if they are not going to get a big drop in subscriber numbers again.

Having taken several weeks off to level a Monk, I am much less stressed about doing dailies. Dailies are not the problem per se, it is the routine that you get into to complete your To Do List. Everybody eventually rebels against doing the same tasks everyday for a long time, this is one of the reason why we as humans need to take a summer vacation. If School years were made up of 30 weeks straight with no breaks, then kids and Teachers would be hitting each other with sticks by the end of it. Now Blizzard does not make us do the same tasks everyday, but they do provide certain incentives to do so. I am not forced to logon with 4 max level characters, tilling and sowing and harvesting my crop, but the missed opportunity of not harvesting 16x4 plots on my farm of Enigma seeds or Songbell seeds.

Ann Stickney at WoW Insider recently argued that Daily Quests must go, not because they are bad or because she does not like them, but purely because it is not compelling content, and we have enough other things to do. Reputation grinding via daily quests, when we have had it so easy with Tabards and chain running Heroics for 4 years. The result of these two expansions left me personally with green reputation bars, when compared to vanilla and Outlands I have plenty of gaps in my reputation bars. Ann also points to the 5.1 quest hub as being a very good implementation of Dailies interspersed with storyline,  I totally agree with this point and also made the same argument here.

I recently read The Queue on WoW Insider were someone wrote in and asked a question about running Operation:Shieldwall for a second time and the rep gains from the commendation. The writer was very dismissive asking why anyone would want to do this content a second time on another character. I thought this was a strange response, because of all the current Daily Hubs this is the one that I would do on multiple characters because the valor rewards are so much better than the pre 5.1 rep grinds.

World of Warcraft wants to be all inclusive and yet the contradictary behaviour of Blizzard shows they are making the episodes up as the go along, there is no joined up thinking at the moment and we can expect more mood swings from the developers in all aspects of the game.

For now I am going to keep my head down and play the game my way and at my pace. Remember when you are in LFR and waiting for a healer, I have 4 of them but Blizzard does not want me to play them any more.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Immigrant Song

Apologies for the lack of posts in the last few weeks. It is not that that I haven't been writing them it just that I have not finished them. I have had several posts in draft form and so it is my job to determine if they are still worth posting or not. The reason for my tardiness is simple, I am just too damn busy at work since the Christmas break. January is the new financial year and a chance to spend large amounts of money on new servers, laptops and desktops.

This post was originally started when I first arrived in Northrend at level 68. I was enjoying myself in Nagrand at the time, but I received the call from the King and set forth from Stormwind Harbour.

The step up from Outland was non-existent, and if anything I suspect the starter zones have been nerfed slightly. Being able to fly allows quick movement into quest areas and I can see why Blizzard likes to restrict flying for expansions and new zones.

On arrival at the Borean Tundra, I took the screenshot below.

A familiar pattern was emerging, with Herbalism being above the old 375 for the Outland expansion, and Archaeology and First Aid were exactly were they needed to be. Cooking and mining are slightly below the requirement but are within 25 skillups which allowed for the next tier of training. Fishing of course is lagging behind, but this is not an issue.
I completed half of Borean Tundra before swapping to Howling Fjord. I completed this zone until I reach the achievement I've Toured the Fjord which is a staggering 130 quests, before moving to Dragonblight and doing sufficient quests to get to Level 77 and then onto Sholazar Basin.
I was able to complete 3 levels in the Region due mostly to herbing and some mining. There is plenty of competition for resources, but then again there are a lot of resources. I am still surprised to see max level characters fighting with the monks for Adder's Tongue and Saronite Ore. Have these people got nothing better to do?
In general Northrend like the Outlands is still a good place to level, even on the 11th occasion. I did plan to do more instances than just Utgarde Keep, but I just kept rolling through the quests instead.
I finally ran out of money to pay for the last flight skill of 5000G. being short by only a few hundred gold. I decided to dip into my treasure trove and have not left my Monk penniless and destitute, although that would possibly be a good Role Playing choice.

Friday, 25 January 2013


The Outlands feels like a comfortable pair of old slippers. The zones may not be as polished as Pandaria, but there is a homely feel about the place. The XP rewards are excellent (if you want to level quickly), but the mobs seem to die a hell of a lot quicker than I remember. The Fel boar used to be a challenge at level 58 and it was very important to avoid being double teamed by the orcs whilst collecting wood and metal. Now unfortunately it is just a roflstomp through the zone, with multiple mobs being a requirement not a hindrance.

Traditionally I have been involved with people who would offer to drag your worthless carcass around the Hellfire Ramparts, in a whirlwind of death, carnage and mayhem. I tentative asked a friend if he was busy, and after he had completed a LFR, he appeared in Hellfire Peninsula all set to commit Genocide on the Outland Orcs.

It does not really matter which class you run this instance with, because the AoE damage is a one shotter for even the Bosses. I had enough problems trying to loot the bodies and keep up with my friend on his Frost Mage.

I have not done any of the old instances for awhile and was very impressed with all the quests being neatly contained within the instance. After about 2 minutes with the second boss down I noticed that I was not the only person with an achievement for Hellfire Ramparts. Oov has a stupid amount of alts (nearly as many as me) and must have skipped instances when levelling through the Outlands on this character.:

The third boss died a little quickly, so quick in fact that Oov killed the dragon before the rider had dismounted, rendering my quest as incomplete. As an apology I was dragged around Blood Furnace and a second trip round Hellfire Ramparts.

I noticed during this time, that I was far more comfortable in Ramparts than Blood Furnace, and it got me thinking as to which instances I have enjoyed over the years. The following is my list:


Best: Uldaman - This brings back happy memories for me. I am not sure why, because the original design was shocking, with something like a 8 level gap between the entrance trash and the final boss. Either you are too strong for the start or hideously out of your depth for the last boss. Still I always enjoyed this instance, you can't beat killing a room full of Dwarves dressed up to look like Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. Other notable highlights are Deadmines for being the first and Shadowfang Keep for making a skinner earn his keep.

Worst: Maraudon - I can only liken this place to having someone put a bag on your head, put in a car and driven around for 30 minutes, then put in a cellar and then asked which way is North. People where known to lose the will to live just finding one of the two entrances.

The Burning Crusades

Best: Underbog - This was just a crazy mixed up instance, with tight packs of mobs 4 wacky bosses and plenty of herbs and skins for everyone. Sporebats and Naga, it was a strange drug induced trip.

Worst: Shattered Halls -  The Burning Crusades had some tough instances but this was tough, if I remember correctly it had gating requiring a certain reputation with Honor Hold. The normal version was harder than the Heroic versions of some of the others. The Gauntlet and the Slime Pool just left me cold.

Wrath of the Lich King

Best: Drak'tharon Keep - WotLK required us to run a daily Heroic and thankfully they had a good bunch of them. This was quick and easy and a lot of fun, except for waiting for the end bit with the inevitable appearance of the LK himself. Running out of the instance was fun dropping down the water sections, unless some wisecracking DK turned on Path of Frost.

Worst: Oculus - Possibly the most hated instance ever. WoW is about heroes using the skills they have learnt over time. Riding on the back of a dragon and fighting with strange spells was a complete disaster. This kind of instance will never appear again, just like an entire zone under water. 3D combat in the air or in water just does not work. Even nerfing the place and extra rewards kept many people out of this instance.


Best: Hour of Twilight - This is my winner, not because it was good, but because I didn't mind doing it and the rewards were very good. This was the last of the instances introduced with patch 4.3 and all 3 were better than the dross that had preceded them.

Worst: Zul'Gurub - This was the worst instance of a bad bunch. This instance took longer to complete than a raid. Zul'Aman was slightly better only due to the fact that the timing was far less than Zul'Gurub.

Mists of Pandaria

It is still too early to make any decisions on the current expansion but I would be interested to know what people think of the current Heroics. Please let me know which the fastest ones are.

Friday, 18 January 2013

It's A Mystery

Just a quickie from my questing in Zangarmarsh. I was doing a quest for the lovely people at Sporeggar, Now that we are Friends... when then offered me an interesting Polearm.

I am just curious if any one can remember which class this was designed?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

That Smell

Levelling cooking up to level 300 as always been problematic. The problem is the last 30 or so skillups. Using the CraftersTome as my bible, it would appear that the last vendor recipes end at level 250, which suggests that they are unlikely to be still green at level 300.

In Vanilla WoW we had all the time in the world and as part of levelling we would visit almost every zone, and on some quests we would even be sent on FedEx quests all over Azeroth. Now the quests are streamlined and the number of zones we are required to visit is vastly reduced. This is why keeping cooking recipes on a vendor in Feralas does not make any sense any more. I didn't even go to Kalimdor when levelling.

The other issue is that recipes are predominantly Fish based, so unless you have kept your fishing skill at a similar level to your cooking, because the only pools at the top end I could find were for Stonescale Eels. I doubt there are many Goblins on your realm that are fishing and selling Large Raw Mightfish, Darkclaw Lobster, Raw Whitescale Salmon, or even Winter Squid.

I could choose to wait until I can get to Pandaria and skill up cooking all in one go at Halfhill, but why should I waste all the Ravager Flesh, Buzzard Meat and Clefthoof Meat that I am going to collect in the next 10 levels.

In order to complete my cooking up to 300, I sent my Druid to Booty Bay to fish for Raw Spotted Yellowtail, which proved to be not high enough for my requirements, so moved to the Blasted Lands to fish for Fillet of Redgill and Large Raw Mightfish. This area also proved to be not what I was looking for so I moved to a secluded beach between Blasted Lands and Swamp of Sorrows. This area gave a wide variety of fish and clams, but unfortunately I collect a large quantity of Stonescale Eels at the same time.

In order to use up all the fish I had caught I neede to look up the recipes for Darkclaw Lobster and Raw Whitescale Salmon. Google stated vendor Feralas and the one comment indicated Camp Mojache. Using that logic I assumed Feathermoon Stronghold would be the place to go. I dispatched my mage to Theramore, and nearly broke her neck when she fell from the non existant Tower (Thanks Garrosh) and then flew to Feathermoon. I spoke to every vendor in the area with no luck at finding the recipes and then flew to the encampment south of Dire Maul, still no luck.

Back in Stormwind I decided to buy off the Auction House and was stung for 175 Gold for a 2 Gold recipe (ouch). In the end I had wasted too much time to justify carrying this charade.

The result of fishing for 10 minutes in 3 spots, flying to Feralas can be seen below:

I am really quite annoyed that I should have had to do this to level a secondary profession, and I am very annoyed for being fleeced for 175 Gold. This can be so easily fixed by Blizzard, but as Grimmtooth pointed out they are only interested in current content, and the old stuff and bug fixes can stay as they are. This is not a good model for new starters to encounter.
p.s. The vendor in Feralas is Vivianna and I have no idea how I managed to miss her.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Soundtrack of Our Lives

In case you hadn't noticed, I have more than a passing interest in music. When I first started blogging my post Titles were going to be pop culture references in the style of World of Warcraft. As per usual things did not quite go to plan and music became my only theme for my WoW posts.

Over the Christmas period I did happen to catch a little snippet of news that was very relevant to me,

"Making digital copies of music, films and other copyrighted material for personal use is to be made legal for the first time under government plans. It has previously been illegal in the UK to rip songs from a CD to a digital player or transfer eBooks, music, films and games from one device to another. "

From my earliest memories, I can always recollect people taping albums for use in the car, to lend to someone else, making mix tapes, recording songs from the Top 40, when it was broadcast every Sunday on BBC (Radio 1). Now if you are in your teens and you are reading this, you will probably have no idea what I am talking about.

Before the advent of MP3 players and more importantly the iPod, music was recorded onto cassette tape (see below).

Once upon a time we used to load computer games using this media, but alas I am digressing. Portable music was first introduced to the world in the form of the Sony Walkman.

In 1979 the Sony Walkman went on sale, and was bought by millions of people worldwide. If you watch any films from the period you would also think we all travelled on Roller skates or blades or whatever was the fashion.

The point I am making is that most of the tapes used were copies of the vinyl recordings. One of the reasons was cost, but also Walkman's had a habit of chewing up tapes and nobody wanted to lose their latest and expensive recording of Abba or Blondie.

In the late 80's when I was at University, I used to 100's of tapes a year and record all the music I could get my hands on. I was of course too poor to spend money on CD's and besides I did not own a CD player. I did however own one of these.

Notice the double tape deck for the easy and very illegal coping of tape to tape.

The world had of course moved on in leaps and bounds and everybody is consuming books, music, films and television in ever more diverse ways.

My music collection is now incredibly large and legit. I do not use bookcase for books, they are filled exclusively with CD's and DVD's (No Blu Ray yet). I do however keep an electronic version on my computer, and just in case I have 2 further backups of my music collection on external USB drives.

The total of music stored on this digital media can be seen below:

A quite staggering 200 GB of music files. Now I predict that on the day that HMV appointed an administrator, that the physical media is dying a death, and that the reality is that people will eventually have a NAS storage system or more likely all our media is going to be stored in the cloud.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Bohemian Rhapsody

My Panda Monk has finished with Azeroth for at least 2 expansion. I have levelled to 58 with a full compliment of professions, in an attempt to prove or dispel the levelling issues that are believed to exist in the game now that the levelling speed is supersonic.

My chosen professions are:

  • Mining
  • Herbalism
  • First Aid
  • Fishing
  • Archaeology
  • Cooking
 One of the catalysts for this experiment is the Grump Elf who discussed the issues with new players and would you recommend Warcraft? I have discussed some of the early problems that I faced trying to start the professions at level 15 and how this created a constant game of catch up.

The zones I quested in to reach level 58 were:

  • Pandaland Starter Zone
  • Elwynn Forest
  • Dun Morogh
  • Loch Modan
  • Wetlands
  • Arathi Highlands
  • The Hinterlands
  • Western Plaguelands
  • Eastern Plaguelands
  • Badlands
  • Swamp of Sorrows
  • Blasted Lands
All the zones were relatively quiet with the exception of  the Blasted Lands which was swarming with weekend players levelling Panda Monks. Warning the masses are coming, it might just take some time to filter through.

After hitting level 58 my professions looked like this:

  • Mining - 256
  • Herbalism - 360
  • First Aid - 319
  • Fishing - 145
  • Archaeology - 283
  • Cooking - 244

The requirement for mining Fel Iron Ore in the Outlands is 275, so in terms of hitting the mark it fell slightly under. The Blasted Lands was too busy for levelling on Thorium ore. I was able to quickly level this by flying to Ungoro Crater and riding round the outer rim which is the shape of a bowl with mountains all the way round. The zone was predominately Thorium which has changed from vanilla when Mithril was the dominant ore. Smelting of Thorium also produced the occasional skillup.


Herbing is the biggest winner from this little exercise which means I am almost 10 levels above were people started the original TBC expansion. Blasted Lands and the Outlands share a number of herbs due to the cross-pollination through the Dark Portal.

First Aid

An abundant amount of cloth at all levels made levelling relatively comfortable. The big win was the number of Humanoid mobs in the Blasted Lands, which dropped a bountiful supply of Runecloth. There was no real bottleneck and the process was fairly natural. This of course would not be possible if you levelled Tailoring at the same time.


Naturally the biggest loser in terms of progression was Fishing, I levelled to 100 which I believe is the minimum requirement for fishing from pools. I did a few dailies to up the level and fished in a number of Greater Sagefish pools in the Eastern Plaguelands.


283 fell slightly short of the requirement for being able to view Outlands digsites. I visited 3 additional digsites due to Dwarf and Troll both deciding to offer only Rare items and I need 100 fragments. In the end I was well over the requirement at 317, with 4 digsites available in Hellfire Peninsula it should be relatively easy to reach 375 in 10 levels.


Probably the biggest disappointment is cooking which suffered severely with recipes being in the hands of Vendors and not Trainers. I choose not to deliberately seek out vendors with the exception of the Quest Recipe vendor in Stormwind. Early on Cooking was not a problem but there was a real problem around 200 when I was probably killing more humanoids than beasts, which is why Cloth was not a problem and food was.

I visited the vendor in Booty Bay who sold 6-8 Fish recipes, so in order to get over this hurdle I will need to fish for Spotted Yellowtail before I can train the recipe requiring Bear Flank which I have a few stacks of.

With a few minor detours I could have levelled to 300 and increased my fishing in the process, but for a new player this would be a real problem, and in my opinion the vendor recipes should be given to the Trainers instead of being issued all over Azeroth.


Whilst not being a million miles away from the objective of hitting 300 on all skills, I did choose the easiest professions with the exception of Skinning.

I think it would have been impossible to level Blacksmithing, Tailoring, Enchanting, Engineering and Jewelcrafting on the resources available.

Leatherworking with Skinning would have been ok and Herbalism and Inscription or Alchemy would have been acceptable choices.

Ultimately there are consequences to levelling at supersonic speeds. One is never completing a zone and the other is professions lagging behind. If I had done some instances en route I hate to think how disjointed the process would have been.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Kung Fu Fighting

I might have mentioned before that I am currently chilling out with my Level 41 Female Pandaren Windwalker Monk, "Eatshootslea". I created her on the Expansion night and rarely went back to check on her except to use up the occasional rested XP.

The starter zone I did very slowly and with a fair chunk of rested XP, although you don't start accruing proper rested XP until you can park up in a City or Inn. By the time I had completed the starter Zone, I was level 15 with no professions.

First stop was Stormwind for Mining, Herbalism, First Aid, Fishing and Cooking. For the record, Archaeology is not available until level 20. Next I visited Goldshire and did a few quests in the hope of getting the professions started. With Cross Realm Zones, Goldshire proved to be very poor pickings in terms of Herbs and Ores. I did notice plenty of competition in this area.

Before the Cataclysm, Dun Morogh used to be a very good place to level Herbalism and wasn't bad for Mining either. The zone is not as good as I remembered but there is enough to get started, and Herbalsim soon started to outstrip Mining. Linen cloth drops fairly plentifully and First Aid was keeping up.

Loch Modan was a better location with mobs and quests still yielding XP. The one advantage that Mining as over Herbalism is the skill points for smelting, but by the time I needed to move onto the Wetlands I still unable to mine Tin which would be the dominant ore of that region. In fact this has proved to be the case of all zones until I reached the Western Plaguelands at 40 which means I was at the top end of the zones requirements but the Herbs and Ores are compatible with my level.

My levelling took me through Loch Modan and Wetlands which completed the Achievement, half of Arathi and Hinterlands, before I changed tack and started levelling Archaeology. Now in my opinion the XP rewarded for successfully finding a fragment is very high, at a time when handing in a quest will reward between 3,000 and 4,000 XP, digging up 6 fragments at a site will net in the region 7,300 XP. Now if that digsite is my all time favourite at Dun Modr (Thandol Span) then that is a 2 minute task. The advantage of levelling by Archaeology is not the speed, but the leisurely way in which you can do it. Take a Flight Point, which will allow enough time to watch Television, You-Tube, read some blogs, wash the dishes, take out the trash, walk the dog etc.... Then you can come back, mount up, pick wild flowers, dig some rocks and make your way to the digsite. Find 6 fragments kill any mobs in your way, and then return to the Flight Point to rinse and repeat. I prefer to favour the Eastern Kingdom and like to wait until 3 or 4 digsites appear in Stranglethorn Vale and then complete all the digsites in one go. The twin areas of North and South STV also provide an abundant supply of Herbs and Ores and animals if you levelling skinning.

The Monks class suffers from all the usual melee class issues. Standing toe-to-toe with your foe always seems like a mashing of the keys exercise and the Monk class does not disappoint in this respect, it does however have an autoattack which was a worry when the Monk class first appeared on the test realms. Not wanting to appear a total noob I have just a quick check on Icy Veins and it appears that Level 30 to 39 I have worked out the rotation all by myself. The Monk class plays similar to Rogues, substitute Sinister Strike for Jab and you have your goto move. Two jabs and your ready for some action. Tiger Palm, will buff you with Tiger Power, the standard damage move is the Blackout Kick. Fist of Fury is on cooldown and is normally available every other mob and is absolutely brilliant with a great animation sequence of a series of left and right jabs to the face and whats even better is that it will pummel multiple mobs at the same time and applying a stun for 4 seconds.

The basic toolbox is 4 buttons, but there is one more surprise in your arsenal which Touch of Death. The tooltip for this spell is "You exploit the enemy target's weakest point, instantly killing them."
If you have not played a Monk, you may want to re-read that tooltip again, and yes it really is that good. It does come with one small caveat, "Only usable on non-player targets who have equal or less health than you." If the target of your affections has a large amount of Hit Points, then punch and kick him a little bit before doing the Vulcan Death Grip. It is superb for those mini-bosses and mobs that have an exclamation after their name. If there was a Hunter equivalent spell it would be something like, "Shot between the Eyes".

The last abilities that Monks have that I really love are Flying Serpent Kick and Momentum. These abilities are brilliant for Archaeology, if your marker is Red, then point in the right direction and do a Flying Serpent Kick, I have no idea what the distance is but you will, "Soar through the air forwards at an increased speed.If the marker is yellow then Roll will probably take you to a point where the marker will turn green. It is a a joy to use these abilities in this way.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Get It Right Next Time

I only play Alliance, so I am only guessing that the Dominace Offensive was as good as Operation: Shieldwall. I really enjoyed the reputation grind if that is possible, with the exception of Ruins of Ogudei. I have discussed the problems with the Ruins before so it is a surprise that I found that the rest was so enjoyable if one quarter of the grind was unplayable.

One of the reason it was a success is that the length of time to complete from Neutral to Exalted is totally acceptable, and with the additional storyline it tells a tale and drags you along as well as providing a huge chunk of reputation. The double rep gains from the commendations will make this a must for Alts to complete especially as the rewards are superior from the original Factions. With iLevel 496 Rings, Trinkets, Belts and Boots, compared with iLevel 489 from doing the painful Golden Lotus.

The Golden Lotus grind is not difficult it just involves a lot of quests for very little reward. When you have finally got to Revered status you need to complete in the region of 12-15 quests in 3 different areas. I remember being so disappointed turning in the Ancient Guo-Lai Cache Key and finding a Relic of Guo-Lai. The tooltip says "destroy the vile Mogu Relic to earn the favour of the Golden Lotus. The disappointment comes from how much favour it earns (150 base reputation) which seems a dreadful reward for your efforts.

The Golden Lotus also has a storyline running through it, but it appears to be no different than the hundred other daily quests in the area, and so lacks the impact that Operation: Shieldwall attains.

The most depressing part of the Golden Lotus is the fact that at Revered you open up another 2 factions, to grind up with. This is just too depressing to even contemplate.

A couple of months ago the Grump Elf was kind enough to compile the list of reputation grinds that are available, or have been used by Blizzard at one time or another. I personally was never a big fan of the Rep grind for shoulder enchants, due to having a full stable of Alts. The exception to this was the Sons of Hodir which had an initial long quest chain, which took you from Hated to Friendly and then rather than doing dailies you could hand in Relics of Ulduar, which appeared everywhere and could even be purchased on the Auction House.

Reputation by Dailies alone is a recipe for disaster. Reputation grinds should not take more 14 days to complete and there needs to be tangible progress. 1000 rep a day is utterly soul destroying, when compared to the Tillers you get nearly that by digging up some plants.

The Golden Lotus, reminds me of the Molten Front, where you have do the initial quests, then the middle quests and then the final quests, every single day. Once you have the reputation you should start at the appropriate zone 1,2 or 3. If made to do the same zone repeatedly you will get very bored of zone 1, whilst still wanting to do zone 3 because it is still relatively fresh.

Scenarios maybe one way in which the grind could be improved by having a daily or once only reward for completing a scenario connected to a particular faction, for example something based around the Monkey King could have worked for Operation:Shieldwall.

In my opinion Blizzard got some of the original MoP reputation grinds horribly wrong, and have got the new one absolutely right. Let hope for patch 5.2 they get it next time.

Sunday, 6 January 2013


"They were duelin', Doolin-Dalton
High or low, it was the same
Easy money and faithless women
Red-eye whiskey for the pain "
The Eagles
I was hoping not to have to revisit this topic, but here I am with another story of duelling. I am currently taking some time off from gearing up, reputation grinds, commercial farming and all the other things that I am required to do on a daily basis. Right now I just want to have some fun in the game without any pressure.
My baby Panda Monk is levelling at a fairly rapid pace at the moment and that is another story I will revisit in the next couple of days. In case you have not levelled a monk, you get an occasional summons to bring you back to Pandaria for training, and it tries to teach some of the fundamentals of the class. In return you get a nice Blue item that is vastly better than your levelling greens. Also there is a XP buff called Enlightenment, which just in case you are not levelling quick enough gives an additional bonus, "Increases your experience gained from killing enemies and completing quests by 50%.  Lasts 1 hour."
I was handing in my quest at level 30 and surveying the options when that bloody annoying Duelling announcement appeared in the centre of my screen. I declined and turned round to find not surprisingly a male Panda level 29. I turned back around to carry on with my game, when the orange emote "XYZ is laughing at you".
Every few seconds a new one appear. This time I chose to be more mature and just said "Grow Up".
Funnily enough he stopped his antics and did just what I had asked. It would appear that I hit a suitable nerve, and the disapproving stern words of an adult, in this case a Female Panda.
All those times he would have heard those words from his mother and female teachers was enough to rein in his actions.
Now it is not the laughing, the clucking around or the /rude emotes that bothers me. It is the imposition of the duelling system. There is nothing stopping some idiot from spamming duels every few seconds, and I have no faith in Blizzard to police anti-social behaviour in the game. The question is why is the function there at all on a PvE realm. These servers are full of people who either do not PvP at all or like it separated in a Battleground or Arena.
When the Brawlers Guild was first announced, I assumed that it was going to be setup as a Fight Club, with league tables for those that like strutting around e-preening and generally lording it over their victims. In my opinion this would have been a better proposal than the strange club that Blizzard eventually made. Cross-Realm e-preening that could have been out of sight of the general populace.
I would love to know what percentage of the player base duels, and why nobody ever issues duels to max level characters. It seems to be rite of passage, and people wanting to test how good they are at their current level. I think I prefer not to see and I am more than happy to let them use Goldshire and the Dalaran Sewers. Brawling in the sewers, I think we have finally found its place in the game.


Friday, 4 January 2013

The Cats In The Cradle And The Silver Spoon

It looks like several bloggers that I read have been saving up monster posts to start the New Year with a bang.There is Grimmtooth's recent levelling experience, Grumpy Elf with recommending WoW to a friend, Matthew Rossi at WoW Insider with Valor Points and Player Choice, and Big Bear Butt with Dailies get used to them.

All four of them are interesting and thought provoking and they seem to break up nicely into 2 seperate topics, Levelling and End Game philosophy.


The design philosophy of WoW now that we are into the fourth expansion, is getting people to level 85 and the end game/new expansion. This is were the action is, and that is were the new content will be aimed at. Grimmtooth argues that the experience is too fast and soulless, with only limited numbers of people available for instances and the zones being outlevelled too fast to complete. Grumpy Elf argues that new starters would not get the full levelling experience and that would detract from their enjoyment because large parts of the game will remain hidden and rounding the characters off with a full set of professions is difficult due to the high level scavengers that are flying around Azeroth claiming all the resources due to CRZ. CRZ is not a popular function at the Grumpy household, and I have a certain sympathy with what he is saying. I am currently levelling a Panda Monk in Dun Morogh and Loch Modan, and whilst I have found sufficient herbs, I am really struggling to find mining nodes.

I am in a rare position in the fact that I did Loremaster I and II in Azeroth. Loremaster I was pre-Cataclysm and Loremaster II is post-Cataclysm. I miss the old world, but the questlines are so much better in the post-Cataclysmic world. Levelling to 60 used to take several days played and now it takes several hours.

World of Warcraft has evolved with each expansion, and there are natural rest gaps at level 60, 70, 80 and 85 were the endgame was implemented. A new starter is not expected to sample all of the delights that we spent 2 years at a time trawling through.

So Why is XP so easy to come by and do we want an express levelling service? Every expansion brings new Classes and Races, and with the exception of Death Knights they all start at level 1 in a starting zone with the aim of accruing levels in a timely manner until they reach maximum level. Most of these newly created characters are alts, and by that very definition it means that somebody has already worked through the content once already. Do they want to spend 60 days played to get to level cap? the answer is no way. Do they want to see all the content on the way up to level cap? probably not, but they may want to experiment in their levelling experience. With every expansion the XP required to level goes down but that is not full story in why levelling is so quick. We have multiple ways to add to the accumulator:

  1. Rested XP (Gained by inactivity in an Inn or City
  2. Mining, Herbing and Archaeology all reward XP
  3. Heirlooms - 10% Experience on Shoulder and Chest slots
  4. Heirlooms - Gear that is never out of date and has significantly better stats than levelling greens.
  5. Guild - Fast Track 2 -Experience gained from killing monsters and completing quests increased by 10%.
  6. There are potions and buffs from events that increase XP and reputations
  7. Recruit A Friend
  8. LFD - results in no lost time waiting for other members, just don't expect a group to appear any time soon
A new starter will be left in the wake against an Alt. So if Alts are designed to be levelled quickly, why not have a paid service to fast track your Alt to level 85 and leave the levelling speed at a more sedate speed for those that wish not to spend their money in this way, or just want to complete every zone that they start without the quests going grey. Grimmtooth goes further than this with removing CRZ and making mounts and pets Soul Bound. I personally like the pets and mounts being Bind on Account  and would go further by having shared Reputation, and Blizzard has ulterior motives for making sure CRZ works. They need to downsize the number of Realms they currently running but they also need to make the Realms seem full and vibrant. It is quite obvious that if MoP cannot dramatically increase subscribers then the current trend will always be for reducing subscriber numbers and that WoW has already peaked at 11 Million and the only way is down.

The levelling process through the expansions is also very skewed:

  1. Azeroth 1-60 - Considering this was re-done in the last expansion, the levelling is very fast indeed
  2. Outlands 58-70 - by questing 68 will be half way through Nagrand, which is taking in 2.5 zones.
  3. Northrend 68 - 80 - Rumours suggest that this is 2-3 zones
  4. Cataclysm 80 - 85 - The linear grind of the last expansion probably early part of Uldum before you move to Pandaria
  5. Pandaria - 85 - 90 Sensibly paced as the latest expansion should be.
I personally don't want to level slowly, and I am prepared to do this in any way I can. I expect the zones to be outlevelled very quickly and I seek only the end result. I have done it 10 times already and just want to get it over with. I do also appreciate that levelling for fun is no longer an option. It is sad to see but Blizzard has already had it's money's worth out of the content and you are expected to fly through it to get to the shiny light at the end of tunnel.

Dailies, Valor and Other Things

At the end of the tunnel we have a mountain of dailies and 100 different ways to achieve 1000 Valor a week. You need valor to buy gear, but with without reputation you have nothing to spend it on. Everything is open but the whole system is gated. There is gating to reputation and gating to Heroics and LFR. Fortunately PvP gear is now acceptable for PvE and they start at 450. Heroics are gated at 450 so it is still difficult to get into Heroics which are still the main source of Valor capping. Blizzard believe that Valor is safeguard against a bad streak of luck, but I would argue that people still rely on valor gear heavily for gear, and now for upgrades to gear, which are rationed at one every 2 weeks.

The dailies are not very well designed, with the Tillers and Anglers being easy and fun but have no gear. The Klaxxi is ok, The Golden Lotus is far too long and bottlenecks 2 other factions. The worst of the bunch is Shado Pan which is just damn difficult, luckily they like you before you start your dailies.

The Patch 5.1 Quest Hubs are much better in terms of speed of reputation and variety with the quest line woven into your development with the Faction.

As Big Bear Butt states, get used to the dailies they ain't going to change any time soon, and besides there are more coming in for the imminent Patch 5.2

The design of dailies is not the issue it was the implementation of some of the Factions. The need to be more like Operation: Shieldwall and less like Shado Pan or Golden Lotus.

Gating and Valor caps are creating hoops for us to jump through, but the one aspect they are promoting is regular play rather than gorging on the biggest rewarder of Valor, so they are tempering our urge to shotgun Heroics, not that is very feasible unless you are a tank.

The system is essentially working ok, but playing Big Brother on our time and activities could backfire quite drastically. Blizzard need to keep the content flowing, but limit the rep grinds to one or two a patch and we might just have cracked the widespread panic caused by unlimited dailies.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

No More Mr Nice Guy

Last night I was pottering around doing the Klaxxi dailies which I had picked up from the night before, when I decided to check the Guild roster. My long term WoW buddy, I noticed had been promoted to an officer in the Guild. The "Knights of Ni" use a Main and a Alt ranking system with Officers also having an Officer and a Alt system. I never fully understood the need to segment mains and alts, but who am I to argue, I am merely a senior Grunt in long established Guild.

I wanted my baby Panda to join the Guild so I can start to benefit from some of those Guild Level 25 perks, especially the experience boost. The idea was to test if an Officer Alt could actually send a Guild Invite. First off I got a party invite, oops sorry wrong invite. A Guild Invite pops on the screen and I had the foresight to read it first, and it was a random Guild trawling for lowbie members, which is possibly one of the worst ways to get new members.

Having declined the first offer, I got the real McCoy and accepted immediately. I chatted awhile with Oovavu, about life the universe and everything, and he even suggested I write a blog post about how annoying the Tiller's Farm can be especially if you have multiple max level characters, with all the garbage that springs up from planting and harvesting 16 seeds. I told him that I had already several posts on the subject here and here, plus numerous smaller mentions elsewhere.

Welcome to my nightmare

During this time I am wandering around Dun Morogh looking at plants and birds and rocks and things, also known as levelling 2 gathering skills. My wandering had taken me as far as Loch Modan, and it still makes me sad to see the lake so devoid of water and the reservoir smashed to pieces. I ran into Thelsamar having seen the plethora of yellow exclamation marks and with all the excitement of new player discovering a new quest hub.

Outside the Inn there was a Dwarf on a mount, and suddenly there was a challenge screen occupying the centre of my monitor. Go away I am busy, I thought to myself, before deciding to check what level this idiot was. Duelling is one aspect of the game I have never understood. If you want to know your Dps output then try a dummy, if you want to kill other people then get yourself into a battleground. There is only one reason to this activity and that is bragging rights. Cross Realm Zones have made Goldshire a no go area with hundreds of chumps, setting up their own fight clubs.

It had never occurred to me that my challenger must be at least level 20 to be on a mount in the first place, but you can imagine my shock when I realised that he was a level 34 Elemental Shaman wanting to duel with a level 15 Panda monk.

The fact that I declined his kind offer of a 2 second duel with a character 19 levels above me, seemed to have upset him and instead of the usual cluck clucking you get from these infantile characters, he decided to goad me with the following tirade:

I am going to rape you someday."

I called him a dickhead and ran off to collect my quests. Afterwards I decided that this invalidated me from reporting him, but once I was tucked up in bed, I found the words he used very disturbing indeed. In fact I had a rather restless nights sleep contemplating what to do.

The words "rape" and "gay" have no place in this game. Rape is not a replacement word for beating somebody in PvP combat, and Gay is not an alternative for rubbish. It is also the chilling nature of I am going to get you some day so keep your wits about you little girl. The words are sinister and I am utterly horrified that someone could say this to a total stranger, but this is a totally misogynistic comment from an uneducated teenager. At least I hope so.

I could continue with tirade about being nicer people, but to be honest I am still too angry to express my opinions in a coherent manner, so here is my response.

Hello Shamanis, you are the proud owner of the title of "Dickhead of Week", and I really hope that a member of your Guild gets to see what a lowlife scumbag they have in their midst.

Shamanis - "Dickhead of the Week"

Am I being oversensitive or am I right to still be shocked at the behaviour of fellow gamers?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy Xmas (War is Over)

"A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas"
John Lennon
Happy New Year everybody. I am going to start by making an apology. I do most of my blogging and WoW reading whilst at work, it's a terrible habit, but I have some periods of inactivity at work and periods of high octane running around like a headless chicken. My role is similar to that of the emergency services, and I am the insurance policy against things going very wrong, which has the potential to shut the plant down for hours and days at a time.
The Christmas holiday meant that I got very behind in my reading and I choose to read the news before attempting to read the personal blogs. The result was a very unintentional shadowing of the Godmother including the same titles, same comments on English/American spellings and content. I would like to apology to the Godmother because this was not intentional and it was only apparent to me when I started to read her blog.
Christmas is a busy time in the Flinston Household, and along with the usual Xmas and New Year revelry I have my birthday in between, and my son's birthday early in January. On Christmas day I was charged with cooking for 8 Adults and 6 Children. The menu included:
  1. Turkey wrapped in bacon
  2. Honey Glazed Ham
  3. Roast Potatoes
  4. Roast Parsnips
  5. Pork and Chestnut Stuffing
  6. Hundreds of pigs in blankets
  7. Steamed Brocholi, Carrots and Cauliflower
  8. Brussels Sprouts, fried with Lardons and Chestnuts
  9. Cumin Roasted Vegetables with Chorizo
  10. Gravy
  11. Cranberry and Apple Sauce (not together)
I was more than happy with the results but next year I will need another oven to accommodate all the roast vegetables. I feel that in Real Life I have move than deserve the "Master of the Way" title.
After Lunch I was a little surprised at the number of Tablets that appeared on peoples laps. Of the 14 people only 5 were deficient in this new technology. On show were 3 different devices, the I-Pad, The Kindle Fire and the Kindle HD Fire. After my son's imminent birthday we will have 2 Kindle Fire, and 2 Kindle HD Fire for a family of four.
I had no idea I would make such use of it, and I am still discovering new ways to utilise this little gadget on the move. Without it I would still be catching up on my WoW reading all this week. One other advantage is the ability to play WoW Videos, at work they have a policy of no video streaming which is fair play, because it kills the network bandwidth.
I don't think that Angry Birds is going to supersede World of Warcraft, but I am looking forward to watching all those films on the Love Films subscription.