Friday, 31 May 2013

Change Your Mind

Since coming back to the game from my little hiatus, I have been enjoying the game immensely. I have done none of the things that were bothering me just before the 5.3 Patch dropped. The issue of WoW's declining number continues to be talked about, and I am just as quality as everybody else. I stated on my return I would review the patch to see if any of these issues have been fixed.

WoW Insider recently conducted some rough research on what is wrong with WoW. Using these categories we can compare them to Patch 5.3.

  1. Age of the Game
  2. Dailies
  3. Players
  4. Lack of New Players
  5. Alt Unfriendliness
  6. Questing With Friends
  7. Not A Unique Experience
  8. Low Population Servers
  9. Lore
  10. Time Wasting Mechanics
  11. Pandas
  12. Not Enough Sandbox Content
  13. Raiding
  14. All of the Above
Age of the Game

The age of the game in terms of how it looks, is something that Blizzard improves periodically. Patch 5.3 contained no such enhancements to the best of my knowledge, but is is well known that they are working on the original Race models, to make them as animated as the Pandas and Worgen. I personally have no issues with how the game looks, however it may deter new players. The age of the game is probably adding to the drop in subscription numbers, never in the history of computer gaming as a game survived this long in the same format.


Patch 5.3 provided some respite from the daily grind. To the best of my knowledge there is no additional dailies and only one weekly. Dailies are not the problem per se, it is the way they combined into a gating technique with rep, valor and rewards. In some respect the staggered implementation of dailies is a necessary, and the new Patch seems rather empty without them. At the end of the day we need something to do whilst waiting over an hour in the LFR queue.


I am not sure there is a Patch in the world that could fix this problem. The best and the worst thing about an MMO is the players.

Lack of New Players

Are there any new players left to try WoW? There can only be a small number of people who want to play that have not tried it, and the number 12 year olds now old enough to play the game may see the cost of numerous expansions and the 90 levels too much of a mountain to climb. If numbers are return to early Cataclysm levels then it will involve attracting ex-players and not new players.

Alt Unfriendliness

The last 3 patches have tried to erode the huge barrier of content, grinds, dailies and reputation that MoP introduced. This patch introduced a large incentive to move those level 85 characters into the endgame by reducing the XP required to level by 33%. One can only surmise that there are as many characters between 85-89 as there are at level 90.

The Reputation barrier for the Golden Lotus as been removed, and the next logical step would be to make Reputation Account-Bound. Mounts, Pets and titles are already there, and considering the amount of hoops we have jumped through on our mains, this seems like a relatively small concession.

Questing With Friends

This was not touched by the current Patch, but judging by comments from the Big Bear Butt, scaling is already a feature in the game. I think it is a subject that needs careful consideration if it was ever implemented and for this reason Blizzard are in no rush to implement. The number of lower level characters is quite small, and Blizzard have already started to populate old raids with soloable rewards, for the mount and pet hunters out there.

Not A Unique Experience

This is about class quests, which were in fact a feature of vanilla WoW. They all got destroyed during the Cataclysm, but many Hunters pine for the Rhok'delar quest chain, in the same way that Warlocks are now enjoying the quest for Green Fire. Blizzard have stated many times that development time is better spent when it is seen by the majority of players. With equal distribution you would expect only 9% of the players to be any one class (of course we have alts too), and this is considered niche content. No change under the new patch.

Low Population Servers

This immediately conjures up WoW players with placards saying no "Cross Realm Zones". With declining numbers Blizzard needs to start consolidating Realms with free Transfers. CRZ is not providing the fix that intended and if anything it as only rattled the hornets nest of discontentment.
On most servers there are more people in Halfhill than in Ironforge and Thunder Bluff. Portals killed the Capital cities during Cataclysm, and besides we can all see that there are less people logging on each day.


This is a niche request if ever I heard one. The Lore is expanded with every patch, and it is no surprise that some stories get left behind. Blizzard also came under fire for the Theramore debacle where the main Lore story was in books or other media and not in the game. The Lore is there purely to shape the game, it is not the Game of Thrones made flesh. Besides Star Wars suffered from being too storyline driven.

Time-Wasting Mechanics

A recent twittering from Greg Street suggests that he would prefer to see more time wasting. He wants to see us more flights taken from the edge of one continent to the other, with less use of portals and would prefer it if Flying Mounts were removed from the game. Needless to say the new patch does not reduce the time wasting aspects, in fact the new portal to the Northern Barrens dumps you in Ratchet not in Durator near Vol'jin.


There are many detractors who blame everything on the Pandas. In my opinion they are no dafter than Space Goats, or Werewolves. Most people like the new continent of Pandaria, but as stated on Wednesday, the stereotyping of China and other Asian influences might be construed as patronising to it's inhabitants. It is safe to say that Pandas have not been eradicated in patch 5.3

Not Enough "Sandbox" Content

If I read this correctly it incorporates the Auction House junkies and crafters in the game. The crafting aspect of WoW has got worse with every patch. The Epic research path has created a load of new recipes but nobody has access to the materials to make anything really useful. I never seen any of these items on the Auction House and they would cost more than Stormwind to make in the first place. Haunting Spirit is the culprit and I have managed to accumulate one so far, and the cost on the AH is a few thousand gold. There are no changes in patch 5.3 to crafting, only the ability to level gathering professions in Pandaria.


According to WoW insider this is not about the difficulty levels of raiding or the cesspit that is LFR, it is about the right of Raiders to Raid without doing rep grinds, so that they can show off their gear and mounts. Ok, I think this is possibly the most ridiculous thing said in the entire argument. Perhaps we could have Raiders housing so that all the Raiders can sit around measuring the size of their man parts.

The real problem with Raiding is LFR, and the fact that people can not follow basic steps and even worse than this is waiting over an hour for privilege of spending time with these people.

All of the Above

Ultimately the question is did patch 5.3 improve the current malaise in the game? In my opinion there is much to commend the new patch. There is very little in the way of new content, a few new quests, a new battleground and new scenarios. The big winner here is Heroic Scenarios, but there seems to be a big difference in the difficult of some of the Heroic Scenarios. The make up of the party will make a huge difference in how easy they are to complete. At present they offer reasonable rewards and plenty of Valor, which will make Valor capping easier and will free players up to do the content that they want to.

PvP has become more accessible, with the problem of upsetting the genuine PvPers, who are no longer head and shoulders than people stepping into a battleground for the first time. I expect some additional tinkering in the next few weeks/months.

Alts have been better catered for with the levelling XP reduction, the removal of the Golden Lotus gating mechanism and the shortening of the Wrathion requirements. Lesser charms are falling out of the sky with level 90 mobs all having a random chance to drop.

Loot specialisation was introduced with half an eye to producing more Tanks and Healers for LFR. This might be the case but it also means that Tanks can now go in and DPS and win their Tanking gear as Off-spec. It is unclear if this is a net gain or not.

I like the patch but I am not sure if there is enough content. If there is not, then I can state now that I will have 11 characters available to Kill Garrosh.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

China Girl

My little China Girl finally made it to level 90. It is a long run from 1-90 these days even with the increased levelling speed and the Enlightenment buff. It makes you wonder what Blizzard will do next expansion if a new class or new race becomes available. Every expansion so far as seen one or the other, and the idea of going from 1-95 is going to put many people off, from levelling in a starter zone all the way to end game.

I only had one level to go, and was waiting for the new patch, which cuts the time by a third. Once I stopped looking at the XP bar and started assisting the Shado Pan properly, it became a surprise when the ding finally came.

As usual I handed in the quests and made my way back to the Shrine of the Seven Stars, to collect my Flying skill, and then it was a case of making some level appropriate gear. A complete set of PvP gear with the Leatherworking 476 Epic Chest and Gloves, 8 Gems and some Enchants and she is now good to go, sporting a not too shabby iLevel 459.

The Headgear leaves alot to be desired
The problem areas as usual are rings, necklace and trinkets. One quick scenario will net a suitable weapon. The next issue will be the accumulation of both DPS and Healer gear. Reputation will need to be earned with Operation:Shieldwall and the Kirin Tor Offensive. I will assess the DPS and Healing capabilities in the next few week. If my Panda does not quickly prove to be a success, I will no doubt start to level another character. I quite fancy dishing out some green fire.

On the subject of Blizzard, China and the Mist of Pandaria, a friend of mine mentioned that Blizzard had purposely targeted the Far East, and in particular the gaming market in China.

The decline in the Chinese market was attributed as the main reason for the original loss of 1.1 million subscribers back in August 2012 to 9.1 Million. This was before the expansion of Mist of Pandaria and Blizzard always expect people to return for a new expansion. The high water mark was not the Lich King but the launch of Cataclysm.

In hindsight the use of a Chinese themed expansion might not have played to well with the Far East market and rather than provide a more familiar environment, it might be viewed as patronising and stereotypical. Would the American market react badly if Azeroth suddenly sprouted Skyscrapers, and the main theme was Cuisine, but of a fast food variety. All the inhabitants of the new expansion were stick thin, or obese, and their primary interests are money, sex, religion, guns and porn.

Stereotypes can be rude and upsetting, the need to classify people causes problems, casual v's hardcore is one such example.

To Western eyes the Isle of Pandaria is more beautiful than any area created by Blizzard, but did they stop and ask the Chinese players if this was something they wanted.

The current situation must be worrying for Blizzard, because in August 2012 they have gone from 9.1 Million, released an expansion (possibly back up to 10 Million) and then falling further down to 8.3 Million. If I am right they have lost 1.7 Million in a 4 month period.

The loss can not be blamed entirely on China, and most EU and US realms seem underpopulated especially during the week. The question is whether this due to the game that as far exceeded it's initial expectations and is past it's maturity stage and is heading into decline. Alternatively Blizzard has misjudged it's target audience and is heading for a nasty crash.

The current prediction suggest that the product will be viable for many years yet, and Blizzard is not in a rush to usurp the king before that time as arrived.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Out In The Fields

Battlefield: Barrens, the new playground for patch 5.3. After meeting with Vol'jin and yet again the Alliance becoming a plaything for the Horde leaders, there is only one thing left to do. The weekly Quest, is a believe Blizzard's idea of a joke. The players are complaining about doing Dailies, so lets give them a weekly instead.

The concept is simple give the players a chance to get one epic piece of equipment every week. The work required is obtain 150x Food, Lumber, Oil and Stone which will take an age to achieve if you have to give 600 level 90's to achieve the goal. This is reduced by leaving resources that contain 2 of the item from the area that you are currently in. On top of this there 3 other ways to get resources:
  1. Kill the Kor'kron Commanders, these are the tough old boots that are scattered around the zone. There are normally 2 available at any one time and can be killed by Horde or Alliance or both.
  2. Escort the Caravans, this is a long tedious process of walking beside the caravan, picking off Kor'kron attackers
  3. Overturned Kor'kron Caravans, which release 25 containers with 2x whatever resource the caravan was carrying.
The big problem with this area other than the chat, is that of CRZ and Phasing. Apparently people reported problem in the PTR but Blizzard shipped it anyway, and after a flood of hotfixes this area is still no better.

The problems are that in the quiet server times the Kor'kron Commanders are almost impossible to solo. The Escorting of Caravans is slow, boring and almost impossible for melee to catch people on mounts. The biggest issue is that of the Overturned Kor'kron caravans, which give off spammed notices that they are available but the locations are not appearing on the map. I have done searches for the overturned caravans when I am the only person in the Barrens and they are not available. Only twice have I ever found them. Yesterday some of the locations appeared on the map, but because it was working briefly these caravans were full of scavengers.

I love the idea of this area but it is usually a 10-15 level area Cross Realmed, and now it is phased and quite frankly chaotic, god knows what it must be like to level in this area now.

Having gorged on 2 new areas for the last 2 patches (Operation:Shieldwall and Isle of Thunder), this seems to be slim pickings. I would just be happy if it worked as intended.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Back In The High Life Again

My name is Bob, and I am recovering Altoholic. It is 10 days since I last played World of Warcraft. This is a state of affairs that I never expected to find myself in. I have played solidly for 7 or 8 years and have never deliberately stopped playing this game, of course I have been on vacation, but I was always desperate to log back on.

Today is patch day 5.3 is available in Europe, and I am wondering why I should bother to logon tonight. The issue is whether my current disenchantment will be solved by the changes. What is it that is stopping me playing?

  1. Alts, MOP goes down in the History of WoW as the least Alt friendly expansion.
  2. Gearing, Rep and Dailies. These are clumped together because that is what Blizzard did in this expansion. Gearing needs Valor, and Valor needs Rep, and Rep means Dailies.
  3. LFR, LFD and Queueing, Everything involving group content means long waiting times, with the exception of Scenarios.
It is not the most comprehensive list ever compiled but it gets down to the core issue that everything involves sucking the fun out of the game. What is in the new patch that fixes these issues?

  1. New Scenarios, this is a good start, new content with minimum queue times, extra Valor on offer
  2. Quest Campaign Escalation, more new content
  3. Lorewalker Cho, not sure what this is, but it sounds like additional content with more Lore and Archaeology maybe
  4. New Battleground, not of any immediate interest.
  5. Wrathion questline, moving closer to the Legendary
  6. Brawlers Guild, not currently a member
  7. Class Changes, no real game breakers there, just minor balancing, mostly for PvP
  8. Quests, No prerequirement to be Revered with Golden Lotus, for August Celestials and Shado Pan dailies. Minor change that should never have been in place to start with.
  9. Quests, A test of Valor reduced from 6000 to 3000. A move to help Alts
  10. Quests, Strength of One's Foes, Sigil of Power and Wisdom, drop from all bosses in Mogu'shan Vaults, Heart of Fear, and Terrance of the Eternal Spring. I had no idea that they only dropped of selective bosses. Might explain why some people drop out of LFR after a boss kill.
  11. Creatures, Lesser Charms are going to drop of anything Level 90 and above. Are we really short of these at the moment?
  12. Rare Spawns will now drop Brawlers Guild invites.
  13. Loot Specialisation, will allow for the collection of Off-spec equipment, which is a welcome change.
  14. LFR Bonus rolls, will have a new system to prevent a long running streak of bad luck
  15. PvP changes, that will encourage people to enter without a full set of the latest Conquest gear.
  16. XP requirements for 80-85 reduced by 1 third. This is Blizzards latest move towards making the content more Alt friendly.
There are plenty of changes that sound tempting, but not actually there is not a huge amount of new content.

I started this post pre-patch and will finish it having spent 2 nights on the new content. I sampled one Heroic Scenario, 2 Scenarios as part of the Cho Lorewalker new questline, Helped out in the Barrens/Durotar and finished with a nice pair of boots for helping an old man up a mountain.

From what I have read since there is possibly a bug, because I did not get any quest for the Battle of Sen'jin Village. I did get the Weekly quest, for collecting 150 Oil, Lumber, Stone and Meat and in case you are unaware it comes with a nice title, Hordebreaker.

One of the big new features, which was not documented is the use of Radical Mojo, which is the currency of the Darkspear Rebellion. I have on seen it awarded as part of the Weekly Quest Battlefield:Barrens. It would have been nice to have seen this currency as Bind on Account instead of Soulbound, because this gear is aimed well and truly at the Alt end of the market. Those new Level 90's that have access to the new improved levelling curve will be able to combine the Radical Mojo with the Kor'kron gear that drops fairly regularly. The result is iLevel 489 gear for:
  • Belt
  • Boots
  • Chestpiece
  • Gloves
  • Helm
  • Leggings
  • Spaulders
Sadly you can only get one piece a week, and I don't expect many people will be making boots when the Path of the Last Emperor is awarding iLevel 502 gear.
Having completed Battlefield: Barrens, it appears there are 3 ways to gather the resources.
  1. Visit the 4 areas in the Barrens and kill mobs and loot crates
  2. Escort a caravan of your faction, or destroy a caravan of the opposing faction
  3. Kill Rares
The easiest method appears to be the Rares. They frequently appear, and are trackable on the Map. Simply fly around help everybody else involved in the kill and then loot the body. They do have a nasty sting in the tail and they recommended to do in a minimum party of 3. I presume they are like the Isle of Thunder Rares and they get more Hit Points when there are more people attacking.
For now I am back, and I will review the patch again in a few days, but I can see at least a month of fun ahead levelling 6 more characters at my own pace.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Rat Trap

"It's only 8 o'clock but you're already bored
You don't know what it is but there's got to be more
You'd better find a way out, hey kick down the door
It's a rat trap and you've been caught"
Boomtown Rats - 1978

Have you ever had an epiphany? I had one last night and I am still reeling from the consequences. My flash of blinding light was, why am I playing World of Warcraft? The answer was that I don't know any more.
My history with Warcraft goes back years, I played I, II and III and when somebody at work suggested World of Warcraft, I was of course very interested and very put off. "What do you mean I have to pay a subscription?" I played lots of games in those days, but the idea of buying a game and then paying to continue to play the game was completely alien to me.
The compromise was to play on a private server (I know it's terrible of me). The experience did however get me hooked and within a few weeks, I was playing the real thing. In those days, the world seemed so big that research was needed to further my understanding, some quests did not explain themselves properly, and others required travelling around the world.
My time at work would be purgatory, and I spend my time thinking what I would do with my playtime and which character I would take out tonight. Holidays were terrible being away from the computer for a up to a week. No news, no research, no Warcraft. Television took a backseat, my wife bought a computer so she could play in the same room. We would stay upstairs so that we could keep a better eye on our young children and we would disappear into Azeroth and talk online with our new friends.
All that is now gone, my wife stopped playing nearly 3 years ago, she now works nights, and I am left alone in the computer room, logging on every night purely out of routine. Mists of Pandaria was designed with the idea of providing choice in our playstyle, do what you want, when you want, how you want to do it.
I no longer plan the night in my head, during the day like I once did. There is no need to do that, because I do the same things every night. I am following a path that Blizzard as carved out for me, the passage of least resistance. It looks something like this:
  1. Logon to all 5 max characters.
  2. Tend to the Sunsong Ranch. Trillium farming for my Main and Rep Orders for my Alts
  3. Do research on Leatherworker, Tailor and Blacksmith
  4. If possible to Valor cap, then do Daily Heroic, and Daily Scenario
  5. Queue for LFR
  6. Do Dailies whilst waiting for LFR
  7. If no LFR after 1 hour then change character (repeat steps 4-6)

The steps are all about waiting in queues and doing tasks to fill the wait times. This constant rinse and repeat becomes very wearing, and it is about maximising time/rewards and not about having fun, and doing the tasks that you really want.

I am in a position were it is only possible to valor cap every other week. During the valor cap week it is important to maximise valor collection, so that I can get extra rewards for another character. The result is that I am starting to hate the valor capping week, and prefer the other week, were it does not really matter what I do. The carefree environment allows me to just do what I want. I am not forced to do lower level LFR's to obtain Sigils of Power and Wisdom so that I can progress with Wrathion. It is about wanting the end result, but not wanting the path to get that end result. In Real Life we call these tasks Chores, the tasks that need doing but we are fed up of having to repeat every day. This why we all enjoy our summer vacations so much. It is a break from the mundane everyday tasks. No cooking, no washing up, no tidying the house, no washing clothes, no ironing the clothes, no washing the car, and no mowing the lawn.

I suddenly feel like a Rat in a Blizzard experiment. The news from the PTR that levelling will be reduced by 33%, just feels that I will be able to force my other characters up to level 90 were Blizzard have got more wheels, mazes and food to tempt us into the same old tasks.

This morning I was greeted by the news that WoW has shed another 1.3 Million subscribers, and suddenly I can see clearly for the first time in years. The question is, "what am I going to do with this new found information?".

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Sympathy For The Devil

The above title is not in reference to Blizzard's Lead System Designer, but some people may view Ghostcrawler that way. Personally I think he does a great job, but occasionally he does get it wrong, but usually for the right reasons.

Great Leaders tend to make great speeches. Winston Churchill was immortalised with his wartime speech,

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"

Martin Luther King is forever linked with his impassioned speech,

"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

The list goes on and on, and please don't take this the wrong way that I am implying that Ghostcrawler to be on the same level as Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, but he is always good for quote. His style is that of the modern day Politician and he is always good for a soundbite.

The Godmother has been exploring one of these quotes and it would appear that,"Bring the Player, not the class." is more about the sentiment than the actual words he used. The latest context for this quote is that of the data mined Triple-spec feature, that is destined never to see the light of day.

It seem odd that such a brilliant feature like Dual-Specialisation, becomes a serious problem when expanded to 3 different specs. The expectation placed on the hybrid classes becomes enormous. All Paladins, Druids and Monks would be expected to fill in for any of the 3 roles, Tanking, Healing and Damage Dealing. The second spec is for fun, the third would be for utility.

Last night I encountered this utility not once but twice, and whilst it was great in the fact that it served a purpose, it is wrong for everybody to be expected to perform such Heroics.

The first example I have from last night, is my feeble attempt to benefit from being Valor capped. My Resto Shaman, was pushed through his paces, in 2 scenarios and then a 5 Man Heroic. I have healed in both Guild 5 Man runs and stayed largely anonymous in LFR, but this was me healing on my own with no safety net, in LFD. Due to the largely unknown instances, I have no idea what to expect and when to expect it.

The RNG Gods gave me Gate of the Setting Sun, an instance that I have only completed once as a Hunter. The instance started well enough and then after a few minutes the Tank dropped for no reason. Did anyone die? was it my fault? No is the answer to both, but we were left to queue for the rarest of rare things, a Tank doing an Heroic 5 Man. A 4 man Party sat, talking and waiting for a 5th member and more importantly a Tank, just a few yards away from a boss. The Mage said to the Death Knight, "Can you Tank?", to which the Death Knight responded, "I can give it a try but the Healer will need to heal like a God, LoL.".

No pressure whatsoever, a man down, no recognisable Tank and an inexperienced Healer, what could possibly go wrong? The answer was of course absolutely nothing. It is a real anti-climax I know, but sometimes people like our Death Knight will try something unusual for the sake of the team. We did however get a Tank before the next boss, but we didn't care we would have quite happily carried on as a 4 man team.

Next up was LFR - Guardians of Mogu'shan, and for some reason we lost both Tanks. Two druids volunteered to go Bearform and the Raid was able to continue, until the Tanks turned up. Two runs and three people willing to change and adapt for the greater good. It matters not to me what standard they were, it was about the sacrifice. I would swap from Damage Dealer to Healer, but I would never Tank an instance.

"For those about to Tank, we Salute you." and I mean that it in the most sincere way. You guys have my utmost respect for even attempting to stand at the front and be the Meat Shield. Without you, there is no endgame.

If Blizzard had implemented Triple-Specialisation, then there is no hiding place, and there would be an expectation that you will have a Tanking spec. Such pressure would force me to stop playing Druid, Paladin and Monk in one swift move. I can't Tank, and I won't Tank, but you have my full respect if you do the thing that I fear.

Friday, 3 May 2013

When The Hoodoo Comes

Last Night I was waiting in the queue for Guardians of Mogu'shan, and I am now nearly Exalted with all Factions so my choices of filler activities was very limited. For an entire hour I want fishing and visited a handful of digsites. I was fishing so that I can complete The Way Of on several characters, and they need a bucketload of different fishes. I also hoped I might pickup some rare fish for Nat Pagle, but that didn't happen, but something else did.

Now that was a nice surprise and not something you can plan for. You either get it or don't and with the percentage droprate I expect the odds are not great.

In the end after an hour, I decided to give up on Guardians of Mogu'shan, and accepted an invite to a Guild LFR. I was working on the assumption that the run was Terrace of Endless Springs, but it turned out that it wasn't TOES it was TOT part 1 (The Last Stand of the Zandarlari). The very place were I had gone the night before. I was in two minds as to whether to drop out, but the in the end I decide to stay for the sake of my Guildmates, not that my DPS was anything to miss.

When Jin'rokh died I was toying with not using any tokens, since I had used up all my luck the night before, but yesterday I had discussed the probability if I had acquired a loot drop on my my next boss. I was utterly amazed to see that Jin'rokh wanted to play along with my story, and decided to deposit some Shoulderpads in my bags. Also the Council of Elders decided to further enhance my new found lucky streak with a second pair of Tier Gloves. 4 items in 9 rolls is an incredible streak of luck on a 15% success rate.

My overall droprate is now standing at 4 from 29 - according my reckoning that is 13.8% which is still under the magical 15% but it is the way that I have leapt from super unlucky to super lucky and the reality is that I am still behind the curve.

It feels like the RNG Gods are having a little laugh at my expense, but I am left feeling like I am on a lucky streak. So, if you don't mind, I am just off to go buy my Lottery Tickets.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Take A Chance On Me

"A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile." Sorry wrong post, but it just shows how we are influenced by the lyrics of songs. Do songs echo the language of the day? or do they help to create the language of the day?

This is all slightly irrelevant, all I wanted to do was take you back in time, to a Dev Watercooler
dated 27th March  2012 by Ghostcrawler. For those of us that can't remember what we did yesterday, never mind what the game looked like over a year ago, I can start by saying Mists of Pandaria was still 6 months away from launching. I tend to think of the Cataclysm expansion as being like the Dark Ages, with WotLK being the Roman Empire and MoP being the Age of the Discoverer.

This is what Ghostcrawler wrote about LFR back then.

Personal Loot
Here is how looting works in today’s Raid Finder groups:
  • The boss dies.
  • The game randomly decides which items off of the boss’s loot table drop.
  • The group rolls Need, Greed, or Pass on each item.
  • If you were raiding with a group of friends, you might discuss who should get each item. Even if you ultimately lost, hopefully you are happy that a friend got an upgrade and that your group as a whole is now a little bit stronger.
  • But if you’re in Raid Finder, you are quite possibly alone with a bunch of strangers.
  • So, if you can Need, you probably do, because there’s no time for discussion, some of the rollers may be AFK, and even if you piss someone off, you aren’t likely to have to pay the social cost of doing so since you’ll never see them again.
  • The highest roll wins.
  • Drama ensues.
Yes, it was messy, but when people behaved properly the results were very good, especially for alts going in for the first time. The Dragon Soul raid was 8 bosses split into 2 LFR's, and the first boss Morchok, was a basic Tank and Spank, that only one occasion did I see a wipe. The result of this was that the Loot drops were not needed by the majority of people in the Raid, and so providing the right item dropped it was often very easy to find yourself rewarded.

From experience I took every one of my alts through the first part of the LFR and would normally come out with items from 4 bosses. Subsequent raids you would be lucky to get 1 item, and Rings and Trinkets you would need to be exceptionally lucky.

The above is all based on a good run, and they became few and far between towards the end of the expansion. Guilds would party to nab anything they could, to share with the undergeared beneficiary.
To counteract the people who would Need on everything for the purposes of vendoring, other people started to Need and then would distribute as they deemed suitable. The system was very flawed and chances of winning the fabled weapon from Deathwing was a complete lottery especially for classes needing two weapons like Hunters. I do not include Rogues because not only did they have a chance at an Epic, but Daggers seemed to drop of every other Boss.

 The situation was a complete mess and Blizzard opted not to tweak the system but completely change the system for any future version of LFR. The new system is known to everyone now, but the following is the description from Ghostcrawler:

Here’s how the new Raid Finder system will work in Mists of Pandaria:
  • The boss dies.
  • The game automatically decides who won some loot, and gives those players a spec-appropriate item.
  • Some players may still get mad, but hopefully they are mad at the laws of probability and not at the rest of the raid.

So, realistically, that’s really all you need to know to understand how it'll play out in-game. For those looking for more detail, here's what's happening behind the scenes:
  • The boss dies.
  • Each player has a chance to win loot, independent of the other players.
  • For each player who wins loot, the game randomly assigns them a spec-appropriate item from that boss’s loot table. This subset contains only items that the game (meaning the designers in this case) thinks are appropriate for your class and current spec.
  • Notice that you aren’t rolling Need or Greed. You don’t have an option to Pass. The game just says “Take this.”
  • You can’t trade this item, or that would defeat the purpose of removing the social pressure on groups of strangers. If you don’t want the item, you are free to vendor, delete, or disenchant it.
The key to this is that "Each player has a chance to win loot, independent of the other players.",but what are my chances of getting Loot. Ghostcrawler stated that the numbers would be set low to encourage you to come back again and again and not be craving new content, just because you are now fully geared.

The figure is believed to be about 15% drop rate, but to help us in our endless pursuit of gear we can exchange a token for another chance. Is the chance of a win still 15%, it is not clear but it probably is.
The problem is that Random chances are not cumulative, so the chance of winning loot does not become 30% it is in fact 2 chances at 15%

A close example would be the chance of rolling a die twice and the number 1 appearing on either roll.
A (1/6) chance equates to 16.6% which is slightly over the stated figure for Loot drops

Of the 36 potential possibilities 1 can appear 11 times (11/36) and not (2/12) broken down into percentages that would make:

The answer is 30.5% and not 33.3% that you might expect.

You might expect that if you roll a die six times you would expect to get 1 at least once, the law of averages states that is probable but not definite.

What I am trying to say is that with 3 bosses and 3 tokens, you would guess that you had a fair chance of getting Loot for every full clear of a LFR.

Last night my record stood at 0 from 20 attempts (10 Bosses + 10 Tokens) no Loot from The Thunder King LFR's. As usual I played it safe and went for the “Last Stand of the Zandalari". First Boss -Jin'rokh - no Loot, Second Boss - Horridon, on his Deathbed bequeaths to me a Cloak, bonus token was of course Gold, my statistics are 1 from 24 still bloody awful reward, until the Third Boss - Council Of Elders wants me to have Tier set gloves (Saurok Stalker's Gloves.). This spoils my averages down to 2 from 26.

The whole point of probability and random loot is that you can get kicked in the teeth over and over again, and if I get Loot from the next boss, I will not feel like I am on a lucky streak, I just see it as balancing out the bad luck, when in fact at 3 from 28 I will be just above the 10%, but still not at the expected 15% drop rate.

Luck is as much about perception as it is about probability and numbers. Three in a row, should it happen would be considered a lucky streak, but in reality it is merely balancing the books.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


There is a tendency to think that World of Warcraft has been dumbed down, and all content is soloable, but is this really the case? I have discovered in the process of playing multiple characters that content that is easy for one class can be very hard and challenging to another.

The following is a list of issues that I have encountered:

  1. Solo boss fights are not created equally. Some boss fights are very easy for ranged classes, and some are better for melee. On solo content, no ranged character wants to be toe-to-toe with a hard hitting boss. Mages are a prime example, and when bosses walk through frost traps, you are left running around like a headless chicken.
  2. Melee characters who do like to slug it out with a boss, have problems with movement, when bosses slam, and ensnare their prey and bring down of torrent of damage on your head. Rogues are forced to fight in front of the boss, because mechanics do not allow them to get behind the bosss for a prolonged period of stabby stabby.
  3. Not all classes are created equally, some have amazing powers of regeneration like the Death Knight. Some fights allow the Death Knight to end the fight on full Hit Points. Warriors seem to thrive on multiple adds to maintain their health pools.
  4. Special mechanics which involve vehicles are always detrimental to classes with pets. BM Hunters have always struggled fighting in a moving vehicle or flying mount. I tend to favour pet classes like BM Hunter, Demonology Warlock, Frost Mage, Unholy Death Knight, even Elemental Shaman like to give their Stone and Fire Elementals some play time.
My three lowly geared max level characters are Frost Mage, Arms Warrior and Unholy Death Knight, and they have all recently done the Operation: Shieldwall and Throne of Thunder quests and scenarios. My current gearscore for these 3 characters ranges from iLevel 449-456 and to be honest this provides a suitable challenge for the content.

Dumpyrustnut, my Arms Warrior and best geared of the three probably struggled the most. The problems were melee related, with the need to avoid certain attacks but unable to do any damage if not in close proximity. Warriors have some self-healing abilities but are not as effective as the Death Knight toolkit. At my level I am Rage starved and lacking a hard hitting combo of spells that are available to some other classes.

Blamebob, my Unholy Death Knight and the lowest geared of the three was able to sail through all content without too much problem. I use the Blood Aura for added protection, and can top up my Health as part of the standard rotation. The other main advantages of the Death Knight are a toolkit that makes spell casters easy prey and a protection against special melee attacks, which allow Death Knights to absorb the damage. The AoE from Unholy appears to be week due to the fact that the majority of the damage is Damage over Time, and not the big influx of numbers that you witness from direct attacks.

Fizzwiz, my Frost Mage, is a big hitter in terms of Nukes, but no clothie likes to smell the breath of an opponent. The problem here is that Frost Nova and many of the other tricks do not stop the bosses from bearing down on you. If the boss is not affected by freezing abilities, then a chunk of the Nuke capability is taken away from the Frost Mage, with no Fingers of Frost procs.

Last night I decided to invest in a Helm, Shoulders and a Trinket for my Frost Mage, the increase in 6 iLevels was very discernable. The Solo scenarios became much easier, and all are now completed.

One thing that must be stated is that Isle of Thunder now contains far too many mobs for the number of people on the island. This is not respawn issue, it is just that most people stopped using the island when they became Exalted with the Kirin-Tor Offensive and the Horde equivalent. The result is that lesser geared Alts are having a problem moving around the island, and the Elites and Rares become almost impossible to kill. I think the Blizzard Devs Team need to send a new level 90 into the area and make their own assessment, because right now it is dangerous place to be.

By the way, I give the Solo scenarios a big thumbs up, it is a shame they only get used once per character.