Monday, 29 April 2013

Take It To The Limit

Recently I have taken to listening to Podcasts whilst playing WoW. I have in the past listened to The Hunting Party Podcast, The Instance, and Hypothetical Help. The Instance is the must listen to show of the week due to it's lighthearted, comedic touch, which allows the transferal of information at the same time as having a bit of a chuckle. Unfortunately the show has not been as regular as normal, so to fill the void I listened to the back catalogue of Hypothetical Help backwards. As usual the site shows the recordings most recent first, but with no button to go to the first episode I just listened to them from end of season/series 5 down to the first episode. It certainly makes for interesting continuity.

2 points stuck into my brain from the two shows, one is definitely from the Instance, and the other could be from either show (it's the same people in both podcasts, and I was multi-tasking at the time). The first point was the Blizzard announcement to reduce the current XP required to level in Pandaria, and the second was what to do at max level. (apparently they are both included in this week's edition of the Instance)

It took a while to find the information but this is on the PTR patch notes for 5.3.

"Experience needed to increase from level 85 to level 90 has been reduced by 33%"

This is an unusual step for Blizzard to take on current content and they have never done this before. The assumption is that Blizzard have the figures and there are probably a lot of Alts stuck at level 85-86. The reasons are obvious to everybody why this is the case:

  1. Mists of Pandaria started off, not being very Alt friendly
  2. There is too much to do on one character, never mind an army of Alts
  3. Reputation grinds made it prohibitive to have 2 Raid ready characters, especially if one of them requires 2 sets of gear.
The question is will it make a difference? I believe that it is going to make a huge difference, and with the changes to Reputation grinds it is going to be possible to level all the characters to a position were they can LFR to the Siege of Orgrimmar or whatever Blizzard are going to call it.

I currently have 5 max level characters, 3 of which are lacking in the Epic gear that you might expect to be dropping off a mid expansion 5 man Heroic. I have however been slowly pushing them all to a position were they can start to make huge leaps in gear.

The starting point for a newly levelled level 90 character is to follow a well trodden path.


  1. Purchase a complete set of PvP gear from the Auction House, they are not expensive and are now available with an iLevel of 458, some 450 PvP gear may be available, but I would aim for 458.
  2. Rings and Necklace are available from Jewelcrafters.
  3. Scribes can make Staves
  4. Scenario "Arena of Annihilation" awards a 450 weapon
  5. Scribes can make a Darkmoon Trinket


  1. Own Sunsong Ranch, at level 90 all crops harvested award reputation with the Tillers. Do a few days of Dailies with the Tillers and the Ranch will be yours, provided you picked up the commendation with your main character. The farm is useful for farming raw materials, food and later you can do the Orders for reputation.
  2. Reputation, my recommendation is to first cap the Tillers and then move to Operation: Shieldwall and the Kirin Tor Offensive (or the Horde equivalent). This will give you something to spend your Valor points on, and gives the most bang for your bucks.
  3. Accumulate Valor by capping Valor on your main, and then chain running Scenarios or Heroic 5 Mans
  4. LFR opens up at iLevel 460 and will give you something to spend that huge supply of Elder Charms of Good Fortune that drop from the Island of Thunder.
Once on the LFR merry-go-round you can swear and curse like the rest of us

Friday, 26 April 2013

One Of These Nights

After many weeks I finally achievement one of my goals. The goal in question is not a difficult one, but the way that Blizzard have implemented LFR can make for a real challenge. I have recently bemoaned the fact that LFR drops you into the first available instance, and in my experience this is rarely at the formation of the group, and is more likely a difficult boss.

Two nights ago I did my weekly queue for The Dread Approach (1st part of Heart of Fear) and after the usual lengthy wait, I was rewarded with my first chance to down Imperial Vizier Zor'Lok. This was not at the start of the instance but it was at the first Boss. They already had a 15% Buff for 3 previous failures, and the signs were looking very ominous.

In fairness it was a fairly easy run, I would like to take the credit for making the run a smooth one, but sadly I can't. What this boss kill did though, was to open up the second wing of the Heart of Fear.
This was duly my undertaking for last night. The start did not begin well, and the first LFR call came quicker than expected and happened whilst my wife (who had commandeered my computer) was sat googling or whatever it is that women do on the internet. The second missed invite was due to my kids requiring something or other, just 30 seconds away from the screen and you know it will have come and gone. The 3rd invite I was like a rat up a drainpipe, and then we had the wait for Tanks, and Healers and DPS who kept dropping because the raid was not full. I wasted a bucketload of Party grenades and for once nobody complained about the wait, and the battled hardened players took it in their stride. This run too went without a hitch eventually. I was careful about over-aggroing the room, I have never seen so much trash in a Raid before, it was the insect version of the Terracotta Warriors. rows and rows of buzzing, flapping insects, waiting to be swatted.

I can't remember anything of the wing and will only really be comfortable in a raid on the 3rd or 4th visit. My reward for the endless wait was to receive the Tier Chest piece, which makes the second piece in my collection, and a lovely 15% bonus to Kill Command. The first piece was a gift from the Sha of Anger, many months ago. I thought this might be only Tier piece I would see this expansion.

Feeling slightly drained from the LFR success, I received a whisper asking if I wanted to do Heroic Dragon Soul. I don't remember doing Heroic runs when the content was current, but I always enjoy a good ROFLstomp through old content. Most of the bosses did not even get to let off their trademark attacks like Morchok, and his spikes with Black Bood oozing out of the ground, or Ultraxion and the Hour of Twilight, was more like dead in 10 seconds.

The other achievements often required not doing any DPS, and standing around waiting for things to happen.

Doing the Ulduar achievements during Cataclysm was a much harder task and the basics of staying alive often got the better of a wide range of achievement hunters. In some respects the strange requirements of the achievement system and the dance moves required in some encounters still leaves the over geared player with skills to master. Bigger health pools and increased DPS is not always the way forward. Sometimes achievements require skill and co-ordination.

The Holding Hands achievement against Hagara was quite frankly just very very silly. It took 10 minutes to mark out all the spots that we needed to stand in, and after after all that the achievement was bugged. We did however get it on the second attempt.

These Guild runs are fun to do, and although we might have been sick of the sight of Deathwing, it is nice to go back and re-visit our former stomping ground. Big thanks to the Guild and especially Jay, it was a refreshing evenings entertainment.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Healing At The Harbour

As a call to arms, I decided to re-enter the fray as a Healer to aid the sad people queueing for hours in LFR. I was a healer in TBC and The Lich King with my preferred healer being Resto Shaman. I like the re-active whack a mole style and preferred it to the sledgehammer Holy Paladin style. I liked healing I even enjoyed more than gunning down mobs on my Hunter. Everything was rosy in the garden of WoW and then Cataclysm dropped.

Cataclysm made Heroics tough and throttled healer mana, so much that a new style was introduced, Triage. LFD was hateful place before they all moved to LFR at the end of the expansion. Nobody liked having to drink after every fight and then frantically having to chase the Tank who didn't appreciate the waiting time.

LFR Dragon Soul was a completely different beast and was very heavy on the AoE healing, and besides Shamans had a shiny new spell in the form of Healing Rain. LFR was easy with the right group and a complete disaster with the wrong one.

A change of design with MoP, made it difficult to complete one set of gear never mind a second set for an off-spec healer. There is no way I am going to do 12 Million dailies in a Healing Spec and gear.

Several months after the launch of the new expansion, and I am back to healing, but I can tell you it is no bed of roses. My first attempts showed me that Resto Shaman was well of the pace in LFR. I have no problems with 5 Man Heroics, so I guess my skills are still there, but I am being strangled by the OOM. I spend have a fight chucking lightning bolts a nd dropping Mana Totems to keep my head above water. I am not optimally geared in all Spirit gear, but there is no way it should be this bad. The requirement to do damage to create mana results in a less than perfect throughput of Heals per second.

Ghostcrawler was obviously of the opinion that Resto Shamans were not in a good place and decided to buff, Healing Rain, Chain Heal and Earthliving by 20%. The looks like Shaman healers were way down the pecking order. I decided to retry all the LFR's in order.

My output was not increased by 20% but by 100%, bigger heals means that you have to cast less often, resulting in more mana. Nice result Blizzard. I was sat in the Top 2 healers and starting to enjoy healing again. The 2nd LFR was the same result, I was starting to feel good.

I noticed that the Dread Approach was now open to me, I must have got a slight upgrade which tipped me over the 470 iLevel mark. The wait time was considerably longer than the other 2 LFR's and when I did enter, it was already 2 bosses down. Why is it that when you want all bosses you get the last boss and if you want the last boss you get all bosses. Perhaps a tick box would be beneficial for complete runs and partial runs, it might stop people dropping out so often.

The Dread Approach is definitely a step up in terms of requirement and going straight to the last boss gives no time to adjust. Garalon is a horrible boss for healers, non-stop raid wide splash damage with constant need to keep moving. Not only is the raid taking splash damage, but everybody is completely spread out. Healing Rain is useless most of the time and Chain Heal is very inefficient. With the movement, the single target healing and the occasion need for big heals for people caught by the crush, I soon ran out of mana. When the wipe eventually arrived a big study of the healing was carried out. Not the Tank or the DPS output, but the Healers. Have you ever noticed the people with the big numbers against Garalon never attack the legs?

Big questions were asked why 2 healers were less than 50K HPS (with me being one of them). After a few minutes of a Witch Hunt, I decided that this was not an environment I wanted to spend any more time in.

I really hope they had a very long wait for the next healer to become available. I am still learning the fight, I have crappy gear and fragile ego. Be nice to your healers if you want them to carry on. A little tip it is not always our fault you died.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Transformer Man

I recently wrote a post about some crafted Epic weapons which I had forgotten even existed. I received a comment from Navimie, saying they would be nice for a Transmog set. At first I was perplexed by the idea of wanting an item just for a look, when I just want it for its stats.

After mulling over the idea in my head for several hours, it occurred to me that there is not just one way to play World of Warcraft anymore. It could be argued there never was, with Questing, Raiding and Player v's Player, but now it is very different game.

Pet Battles is a big part of the game for a lot of players, I want to try it but I never have the spare time to chill out in the game. My time is taken up by all those things that Blizzard say are optional, like Valor capping, Reputation and Dailies. I am currently sat on 494 Pets of which 148 unique, and apart from getting an achievement, I have no idea why I have them. I never get them out for show, they just in the way when I am trying to click on something. How do you pick a pet anyway? they are never unique, does it give away too much information about you as person.

I have less issue choosing a mount and tend to use a Chopper for a land mount, the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth for selling vendor trash and the occasional repair and a small flying mount depending on the character (Class/Race).

Transmogrification is a function that I can understand but do not the patience to keep up-to-date. There is no point keeping up appearance whilst levelling, because the changes come think and fast. Do you transmog all your Blue gear or do you wait until you have a Purple set? How much does it cost? Do we even care?

I have only ever felt the need to Transmog one item, and that was the weapon on my Paladin. The item in question is one of  the first Epics that I ever saw and it required a hell of a lot of luck to obtain at level from Zul'Farak.

This weapon is not seen very often these days and gives off a feeling of being unique and besides I must have kept it for a reason.
I have always just worn whatever was an upgrade, and this produced some rather stunning combos. In particular I remember my Female Night Elf, Death Knight still wearing a full set of Death Knight gear on entering the Dark Portal. After a number of quest rewards I was wearing a dark grey/black matching set, with a Pit Helmet and Peach Wellington Boots.

Underworld Helm
These strange combinations became known as clown suits for good reason and The Burning Crusade was the pinnacle of strange combinations. The Lich King went to the other extreme and there was a tendency for everything to be a drab brown colour. The current expansion has a wide range of colour without the weird and wonderful of other expansions.

I can understand why people like to make their alter egos a nice smart outfit, but for me this sounds like too much effort, and it distracts from the main part of the game.

I like the idea of options, but it does not mean I have to partake in dressing up my action figure. I kind of like dressing up like a eccentric clown, who knows it may distract Garrosh from one-shotting me.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Rock Bottom

Back in the days of vanilla WoW, there was one quest that filled me utter dread (Ok there were several). The quest I am talking about is Nat Pagle , Angler Extreme. I have no idea if this quest is still available but in vanilla it was a truely awful experience. The problem was that in order to gain the skill level 225-300, Nat Pagle wanted you to fly around Azeroth and catch 4 rare fish. You could only accept the quest at skill level 225 and you would gain no skillup points from doing the quest, and the real kick in the teeth was that each fish took about 50 casts to land. The locations for this marathon were Stranglethorn Vale, Swamp of Sorrows, Feralas and Desolace, all at a time when there was no flying in Azeroth and the fast land mounts were rewarded at level 60. The zones in vanilla were less forgiving than they are now, and if you happened to be too low for the zone, then your aggro range was enormous. Whilst doing this quest I had never visited either Swamp of Sorrows or Feralas and so had to be very careful. This did not stop me running straight into the Horde camp situated in the middle of the road, smack in the middle of Feralas. The areas required to catch these rare fish were situated next to Horde flight points on at least 2 of the zones. Not one of the areas did the Alliance have any benefit. From this point onwards I have always believed that "Blizz Loves Horde".

The Horde have always had the tag of underdog, and on most servers are a minority force. This was evened out slightly by the popularity of the Blood Elves, which finally gave the Horde a "pretty" race to play. As a consequence of the underdog tag, Blizzard seems to favour them in small subtle ways, and the Horde players have used their status to excel in areas like PvP.

This flashback to Nat Pagle, was brought into sharp focus whilst reading 3 recent articles written by the WoW Insider team. I have posted links on my MOP Resource Kit under the title of General Interest. The premise of these articles is that the Horde always get the most engaging story lines and the Alliance stories are only ever reactive to the overly aggressive Horde. The articles are extremely well written and thought provoking and not written from a cry baby Alliance perspective. As I have never played Horde it would appear that I have been missing out on a lot of storyline.

I have always played WoW like Julius Caesar, I come, I see and I conquer (kick ass) for those of you with a grounding in Latin, I am obviously paraphrasing "Veni, Vidi, Vici". I don't think the Romans used Kick Ass. This leaves a huge gap in my knowledge about the Lore. I managed to read one and a half of the Richard A Knaak books from the "War of the Ancients" series before I realised that the writing was so incredibly bad as to be not worth the effort. I have heard that Christie Golden writes a better book so maybe I will try them at some stage.

The recent move by Blizzard to have storylines appear in books and comics, and not for the game to only reference them in passing is in my opinion a very bad move. At the launch of the WoW's first scenario "The Fall of Theramore" there was equal outrage in not having a pre expansion event and hiding a large chunk of the storyline in a book and in the Horde scenario. I wrote several posts at the time and in Letter From America, there is just a flavour of other peoples thoughts, my personal favourite was the Godmother calling the scenario "A Dumper". Important people died at Theramore and in another plot line the Dwarven King was turned to Crystal.

The articles in WoW Insider generated a lot of very good discussion and I was particular impressed with the thoughts of Axebeard, I have copied the comment here due to problems of linking:

"What I'm really starting to dread about this entire thing is that, after a couple of years of the Alliance being the Horde's punching bag, Blizzard's writers are going to simply let the Horde skate on what's happened in their storyline. It's all over the end of the Isle of Thunder plotline, when Taran Zhu gets both sides to walk away: Aethas Sunreaver gets away with a lie while Veressa's legitimate grievance gets ignored.
This is what people mean when they talk about the Horde's plot armor. It was present in earlier expansions, when the red dragonflight conveniently forgot about the Dragonmaw Clan's butchery and the Kirin Tor suddenly had no objection to the Forsaken attacking their villages in Silverpine and Hillsbrad, but it got really bad in Cataclysm and has remained that bad ever since.

Garrosh has been alternately stupid and a monster almost since Cataclysm started, but the entire Horde has been complicit in the blight of Gilneas and Southshore, the forcible transformation of dozens of humans into strangely and instantly loyal Forsaken, the mana bomb, the murder of several members of the blue dragonflight, the reuse of the valk'yr, and so on and so forth. By rights, the siege of Orgrimmar should be the moment when not just the Darkspear or the Alliance but the entirety of the game world rises up at once and says no, this is not how you get to be. The Argent Crusade and Knights of the Ebon Blade should be teaming up to at least depose Sylvanas, who's forcibly converting civilians to undead right in their backyards; the blue dragonflight should be right there beside Jaina as she gets ready to bust down the walls, aching to find the murderers of their kin; and Baine and Vol'jin should be frantically running backroom deals with a coalition of diplomatic envoys to get their people out of the way of the incoming payback train.

Blizzard seems to want to wrap this up with a "both sides are bad" neutrality resolution, but that's flatly, obviously not true. The Horde's been a collection of black hats by deliberate design since the start of Cataclysm and I, as an Alliance player, have stayed Alliance because I don't enjoy playing the villain. I tried starting an undead character and ended up killing unarmed farmers because they might have been with the Alliance; I tried rolling a tauren and was stopped dead at Silverwind Refuge, where a triumphant bunch of orcs haven't even bothered to move the bodies of the civilians they cut down. It is actually impossible to level up a Horde character via questing beyond a certain point without committing war crimes. (Meanwhile, I play a human and hand out bowls of hot stew to
starving refugees; a worgen, and save my countrymen from slavery at the hands of Forsaken invaders; a dwarf or gnome, and become a hero in what leads to the unification of the three kingdoms.)

In a sensible narrative, the Horde at the end of this storyline should no longer exist. They have systematically antagonized virtually every civilization on the planet, and the sensible voices within it have stood by and let it happen out of fear or apathy or, in Thrall's case, flat-out avoiding conflict. If you're a Horde player by the end of this, you're clinging to the shattered remnants of a once-proud world power that overextended its grip and forgot that in world politics, there may not always be a bigger fish, but enough smaller fish can eat you just the same.

What I'd like as an Alliance player, but I know will never happen, is for the Alliance to come out of the siege of Orgrimmar not as uncomfortable allies of the Horde, but as the unequivocal victors. There must be retribution; there need to be consequences. The Horde should begin the next expansion battered, bloodied, and most importantly humbled; they all followed along with Garrosh's dreams of empire for at least a certain period of time and need to be reminded of that with every quest they undertake.

What I'm going to get is the Horde skating on their war crimes because somehow, magically, it was all Garrosh's fault. Bygones will be bygones and the Horde will be magically forgiven for all past misdeeds. There'll be no stories dealing with the pent-up bloodlust or societal issues that made somebody like Garrosh get as far as he did without an open revolt, and the Alliance will receive neither recompense or recognition

I have always considered that Blizzard favours the Horde, and from what I have read recently the story lines are Horde driven, with the Alliance left to dance around the rest of the storyline. After 4 expansions of the Horde being the constant aggressor, I am inclined to agree with Axebeard that the Horde need to be on their knees, for a 5th expansion, with big land grabs by the Night Elves and Orgrimmar left as a smouldering ruin, as a consequence of the crimes of Garrosh.

What will probably happen next, is that Vol'Jin will become the Horde Commander-in-Chief, he will run the Siege of Orgrimmar and then the Alliance will need to cosy up to the Horde to stop the next Demon invasion that Wrathion tells us is on the way.

None of this affects my decision to play the Alliance. I was brought up on the tales of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, and so my go to race was always going to be Dwarven or Gnomish. I am not disappointed with my choice of faction, but it is time Dave Kosak et al, let the Alliance be on top for once.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

12 Memories

The World of Warcraft is the game that just will not stop. Launched on 23rd November 2004 in the US and some time later for the Europeans, it means that some people out there are still playing the same game after 8 and a half years.

I have personally played a long time, around 7-8 years without ever taking a break and spent many hours levelling multiple characters through the Old World (pre Cataclysm). If you showed me a screenshot of a zone (except for the Horde starter zones) I would be able to tell you exactly where it was, due to the total immersion in the game. I have done thousands of quests and remember a very large chunk of them. I have been in every instance and every raid the game has produced and remember them in vivid detail.

What is less clear is the materials and the uses of them once they are no longer valid or current. I have no idea what Essence of the Dung Beetle is used for, or Ichor of Bad Breath, but I can guarantee that at some point I was out farming for them, to create some gear, or more likely a shiny enchant for my weapon.

There are many things in the current game that I have already forgotten. If there is no immediate use for something then it will be pushed to the back of my mind and eventually forgotten for ever. One of the reasons I read a lot of blogs is to remind me of some of the forgotten content, and yesterday I was rewarded by reading The Song Remains the Same by The Godmother.

Weapons in this expansion have largely past me by, because I am so far behind the curve and the only thing I did know was that they are relatively scarce. There is reward of a Blue 450 weapon from one of the Scenarios and then it is wait 100 days and hopefully you might get lucky. Many bloggers have been having personal battles with the RNG gods and for the most part been one-shotted every week.

The Godmother reminded me that there are some crafted Epic weapons in this expansion, unless of course you are a Hunter (no longer the proud holders of all loot is Hunter loot title). I decided to investigate the Inscription Staves, and was very impressed by the shiny purple colour and the fact that I did not have to sell my Grandmother to make one.

The principle is simple, make a levelling Blue version for the trip from 85 to 90 and then convert into it's epic form at max level. The best thing about it is that it is Bind on Account.

When the expansion was released most Scribes would not have the reagents available to make these. Starlight Ink, Scroll of Wisdom and Spirit of Harmony were not things that I could spare to make a staff. At this stage of the expansion, I no longer make Glyphs, Darkmoon Cards are something I dabble with and I have the ability to grow a shed load of Spirit of Harmony.
In one simple upgrade my Mage is now doing twice the DPS and I am thinking that Frost Mages may be very over powered if they scale this well. I can't wait till I can a complete epic set. I think my Hunter might be sitting out the rest of the expansion.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Doctor Doctor

The Easter Holidays, have been a little hectic this year. My children have been on school holidays for two and a half weeks, and to be quite honest they have driven my wife around the bend. I have been particularly busy at work and have recently received a large shipment of PC's, Laptops and a Server which all need my attention. Blogging takes a hike at these times and Warcraft is nothing more than a couple of 30 minute escapes from the clutches of the children.

To break up the monotony of bad weather and school holidays, the family drove down to Cardiff with the sole intention of visiting the Doctor Who Experience.

The trip was a particularly long one and I wish I had one of these.

Unfortunately it had broken down for the day.

The alternative Tardis was in an even worse shape, and no doors and a nutty woman driving it.

My son, even took his own exhibit.

Of course the usual suspects were out in force.

Not forgetting the other great nemesis of the Doctor.

Then it was time to go home stopping off for one last Torchwood landmark.

Sunday night was bliss with the children going to bed early and I went off to see an old friend.

The above picture is Michael Schenker, who during his first UK Tour with MSG in 1980 was watched by a very young Bob, who was taken by his older brother to see his first ever concert.

I could not imagine letting my son when he is aged 11 to go to a concert with a 14 year old, but those were more enlightened times than we now live in.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Heaven And Hell

The topic of the week appears to be an old favourite, coming back to haunt. Just in case you have been in a coma since Tuesday, the hot topic is of course Looking for Raid. The current issue is with the new wing of the Throne of Thunder (Halls of Flesh-Shaping),  and it's current difficulty levels.

The Grumpy Elf has written 3 posts recently The ROI of LFR, Dear Blizzard, I Quit, and the recently WoW Insider featured Where are the Healers? I will attempt to gather all the issues and summarise in this article. The WoW Insider post Why Aren't More Healers Queueing for Raid Finder, comments will feature heavily.


Raid Finder was first introduced during the last patch of Cataclysm for the Raid, Dragon Soul. It was implemented in 2 parts Siege of Wyrmrest and The Fall of Deathwing. The whole Raid was tuned down from the previous very high difficulty of Firelands. Anybody who had geared up through Firelands was in a position to complete LFR within the first week of release, and in fact several guilds were able to do the Normal 10 man version within a few weeks.

The Siege of Wrymrest LFR was a ROFLstomp, but the Fall of Deathwing actually required a degree of Raid competence, that many in the LFR were unable to achieve. This brought into sharp focus who and what the LFR was designed for. Blizzard, always maintained that the primary focus was to allow everybody to witness and partake in the End Game content whilst it was still current. Previously a large amount of developers time was taken up by content that only 5% of the player base would see, and in the spirit of a more inclusive game the LFR was introduced.

The first incarnation was marked by Loot drama, Off spec needing, Guild controlling loot, Robin Hood style loot distribution (given to the most deserving) and on Spine of Deathwing we witnessed dickheads deliberately wiping Raids for the fun of it.

Mist of Pandaria initially introduced Mogu-shan Vaults (in 2 parts). Later they added Terrace of Endless Spring and Heart of Fear (in 2 parts)  The hardest part of these raids was obtaining the iLevel required to enter them, which involved extensive reputation grinds and collecting the required amount of valor up to 1000 a week.

Mogu'shan Vaults - Part 1
[Guardians of Mogu'shan]90460None09-Oct-12
Mogu'shan Vaults - Part 2[The Vault of Mysteries]90460Guardians of Mogu'shan16-Oct-12
Heart of Fear - Part 1[The Dread Approach]90470None06-Nov-12
Heart of Fear - Part 2[Nightmare of Shek'zeer]90470The Dread Approach13-Nov-12
Terrace of Endless Spring[Terrace of Endless Spring]90470Nightmare of Shek'zeer20-Nov-12
Throne of Thunder - Part 1[Last Stand of the Zandalari]90480None12-Mar-13
Throne of Thunder - Part 2[Forgotten Depths]90480Last Stand of the Zandalari19-Mar-13
Throne of Thunder - Part 3[Halls of Flesh-Shaping]90480Forgotten Depths02-Apr-13
Throne of Thunder - Part 4[Pinnacle of Storms]90480Halls of Flesh-Shaping16-Apr-13

From the table above it shows that the first LFR - Mogu'shan Vaults required iLevel 460. On attaining level 90 it was possible to acquire an iLevel of 450 by doing a Scenario for the weapon, Jewelcrafter for rings, and puchasing a full set of PvP gear. This then required people to find another 10 ilevels from Rep grinds and Heroics. Heroics offered a chance at Blue iLevel 463 and Reputation grinds like the Golden Lotus offered an Epic necklace at iLevel 489 and a Blue Chest piece at iLevel 463. The pace of gearing was slow to say the least.

Once Mogu'shan was available, the loot table increased to include iLevel 476 Epics, but the droprate was poor even with the Elder Charms of Good Fortune. In order to achieve an average iLevel of 470 you would need several gear drops from LFR Mogu'shan Vaults.

The Throne of Thunder requires iLevel 480 and the 2 previous LFR's Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring only providing iLevel 483 Epic gear. This is off-set by the higher level gear available from Operation Shieldwall, Shado Pan Assault  and the Kirin Tor Offensive Quartermasters.

At this stage of the Expansion, there is no reason to into Mogu'shan Vaults if your aim is to go to LFR Throne of Thunder, unless this is you chosen method for obtaining valor, or you are looking to use up that huge supply of Elder Charms of Good Fortune that drop from the Island of Thunder.

The gear has been tuned up for all 5 of the original LFR's unless you are called the Grumpy Elf, but the gear drops from the 3 new Throne of Thunder LFR's appears to be very poor, I personally am on 0 from 14 and other people are on worse stats than that.

Current Situation

The tuning of the new raids is considerably higher on the Throne of Thunder than any previous LFR, and they appear to be getting even harder. The early bosses are easily overcome once the fight is known but the newly released Halls of Flesh-Shaping is proving to be beyond the skills of the average LFR (non-raider) and there are issues with some of the fight designs which I am guessing are going to be hotfixed very soon.

Compounding this problem is the shortage of healers. This is a simple issue of mathematics and of course other much more complexed issues thrown in. The mathematics section is as follows:

  Tank Healer DPS'er
Scenario any any any
5 Man Heroic 1 1 3
10 Man Raid 2 2.5 5.5
25 Man LFR 2 6 17

 In general the DPS'er are the ones with the queue times, because they are by far the largest population of players. At 5 and 10 man level the ratio is the same and the role in shortage demand is the Tank. If the 10 man Raid takes 3 Healers and only 5 DPS'ers then it is Healers in short supply and DPS'ers get squeezed for another position, but in LFR Tanks are plentiful, DPS'ers get statistically more places available to them but the number of Healers required is quite high. It can be argued that by making the LFR easier (reduce the damage taken by the Raid) and reduce the number of Healers to 5 the issue will almost disappear.

The counter argument to this, is that DPS'ers are not currently moving out of the bad, so if you reduce the likelihood of death, the bad players will just keep doing these things and not learning from the situation.

The Healers are expected to power over these issues of Players standing in the bad stuff, and as consequence shoulder the blame and the stress.

Another problem with the current design philosophy from Blizzard is that this expansion as been Alt unfriendly, with a situation that only a Raid Healer would level as a main character, and casuals would normally have a damage dealer as their main character. Any Alt would therefore have to gear up with one set of gear to do the Reputation grinds and then work on creating a second set just to the LFR's. The only solution to this is to stop the need for carrying 2 sets of gear and to remove spirit as the Mana regeneration stat and to convert Intellect or in the case of Paladins Strength  into a useful stat or Agility in the case of Enhancement Shaman.

The mana pools in Mists of Pandaria are not bottomless pits and any fight with significant raid damage is leaving Healers short of mana at some point during the fight. With my fledgling Shaman, I am often required to hurl a lightning bolt or two just to keep the mana at a sensible level.

Any increases to the power of healers or an increase mana pools will just result in Healers having to over power DPS'ers standing in the bad stuff, so yet again the same problem is re-curring.

Blizzard have the difficult task of making every encounter different from any previous encounters, but the LFR still needs to be easier to overcome them, due to the lack of team communication available. Can you imagine the scenario if LFR had to fight an up-to-date Heigan the Unclean. 20 People would be dead before you got to the other side of the room.

I am curious to see what would happen if DPS'ers lost DPS from standing in the bad instead of huge amounts of Hit Points. Most damage dealers pride themselves on their recount numbers so if you hit them in the pocket and slow down their spell speeds, or would they not care because it is only LFR. Maybe Blizzard could finally use the April Fools joke about Epeen, and a bright coloured phallus could grow on the head of any idiot who stands in the bad for longer than a few seconds.

The next point might be slightly controversial, but I am of the understanding that female players are more likely to play Healers than Tanks. This might lead to less Healers in the LFR's due to Females deliberately avoiding the foul mouthed and abusive cesspits that LFR's sometime turn into. In general I am far too busy trying to fulfil my role that read the drivel that appears in Raid Chat, beside I am a man, and as every woman knows we cannot multi-task.

Another issue that seems to occupy peoples thoughts is that of incentives. Maybe Tanks and Healers deserve more Valor, Reputation or perhaps a choice of gear if for some miraculous reason that something does drop they get a choice of 2 items, Healer or Tank and the DPS equivalent. Maybe tokens that then allow you choose your gear at your own leisure.

The queue times for LFR are heavily stacked in the favour of Healers, but this means very often coming into a struggling group already, and from experience the counter always seem to be stuck at 4/6 healers, I am not sure why 4 Healers choose to be so stubborn.

During Dragon Soul people used to jump the queues by selecting Healing and DPS'ing for the entire Raid. This does not help the healers in any way shape or form who have to make up the numbers. The fights are designed to be done with 6 Healers, and every attempt with less, always seems to turn out badly.


In summary, LFR as always been a problem area. The original issues centred around loot and loot drama. The new LFR's are difficult and unrewarding. Queue times are long and Healers are in short supply.

Something needs to change, but nobody has a panacea to the LFR ills. Right now I am taking a break away from the LFR and plan to return when Blizzard makes some changes.

2 or 3 Hours spent to do 3 bosses was the biggest problem with the Zul Heroics in Cataclysm. Nobody seems to have that kind of time to spend in game with little or no reward, this is what Grumpy calls the Return on Investment. Socialist will see this as "A fair day's pay for a fair day's work", right now it is too much work for not enough pay (plenty of gold, but no bloody loot).

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

It's A Kind Of Magic

Recently I have been talking about the Valor cap, and that since the MoP expansion began I have only managed this once, and that by getting all my Valor early on in the week I free up time to do what I want. The Godmother who also plays the Alt version of WoW, has managed this feat twice, so I am in good company.

I knew in advance that the Easter weekend would be a bad time for me to play, with my wife off work and my kids going to bed much later than normal. I attempted to race through on Wednesday and Thursday, but LFR was long waiting times, and I was forced to abandon this plan.

With no pressure, and being time restricted I decided to try something else, like levelling one of my languishing characters. My choices boiled down to my second Hunter, a Mage, or my Monk. I already have a max level Hunter, but they are so damn easy to level and it would be a stress free exercise. My Monk I have been playing in 60 minute intervals to make full use of the Enlightenment buff. I eventually settled on some quality time with my Gnomey Frost Mage who was stuck at level 87.

Frost mages have never been the goto spec for PvE, but I always loved the versatility, a complete toolbox of tricks which makes them so formidable in PvP.

The major nuke of the Frost mage was historically the Frostbolt, but the current incarnation of the spell seems very lacklustre. I can only liken it to the Elemental Shaman spell Lightning Bolt. It is the filler spell, which leaves the spec with the main task of engineering Fingers of Frost, and the supercharged Ice Lance. This seems a bit too stage managed with 3 controllable Freeze spells and a random proc. The Freeze element and the Ice Barrier was the element that gave Frost more survivability. Fire Mages want mobs to go up in flames before they get into your face, Frost is about stopping them getting from getting toe-to-toe.

Mages are the first class that I levelled in Pandaria that regularly misses with the spells. There is a 3-4% chance of missing when fighting mobs of the same level, and I am seriously considering Re-forging to achieve this. Hunters, Death Knights and Warriors are able to power through this difficult levelling period, when they constantly need improvements in gear to stop becoming less powerful on the way up to level 90.

My little Glass Cannon seems less Cannon and more like a pea shooter in this expansion. To be honest I am enjoying the challenge.

With the current trend towards homogenisation of the classes, I still like the quirky spells that some classes have that are unique to them. With the mage class there are plenty of tricks that you can do with the Blink spell. One recent experiment went very badly whilst helping the Shado Pan in Kun-Lai Summit. There are 2 quests that you can do on the wall, which involve booting archers off the wall and stealing explosive/tar/alcohol in barrels. Having killed many archers, there was distinct shortage of barrels. This required that I should venture further along the wall, but would no doubt require me to fight my way back. I collected the last barrel and I ran back attracting a lot of attention. My intention was to go invisible and than reappear next to the quest givers.

This of course did not go as intended and my Clingon Cloaking Device lasted less than a second and reappeared in front of a large and very angry mob. Rather than tough it out and Frost Nova them all, I turned and Blink in the hope of handing the quests in and flying out of the area.

The biggest problem with Blink is the random distance travelled, this time I achieved maximum range and promptly fell into the abyss, missing the quest givers by some distance. My usual method for unexpected encounters with gravity is to blink near the ground, and so I have long stopped using Slow Fall. Of course Blink was still on cooldown so I was left in a very Wile E Coyotesque situation. I could swear that Gnomey's legs were still running long before gravity won the day.

Perhaps now is a good time to reinstate Slow Fall on my spell bar.