Friday, 30 August 2013


Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?

Limited play time last night resulted in a change of tack. I noticed during the day that in my quest to gear my Alts, I had neglected to modify their gear accordingly. I was originally working on the proviso that it was not worth enchanting or gemming Blue quality gear due to the likelihood of swapping out the gear with alarming frequency, now I have 10 at max level the chances of taking a particular class out for a quick is much diminished. Can I really forsake 170 Haste here and there, when over 6 items that adds up to over 1000 of a lesser stat.

My aim was to eradicate all the red exclamations on the Battle net character screens. This proved to be a much taller order I first predicted. Below is a summary of the juggling that I needed to do:

  1. Living Steel Belt Buckles - Logon to Blacksmith
  2. Living Steel - Logon to Alchemist to make Living Steel for said Belt Buckles
  3. Shoulder Enchants - Logon to Scribe to make Enchants, visit ink trader to obtain better inks
  4. Leg Enchants -  Tailor and Leatherworker required depending on the class and spec of alt
  5. Gem - Logon to Jewelcrafter to make gems
  6. Meta Gem - Run out of meta gems and need Alchemist to make some more, remembering to send gems to Alchemist first
  7. Enchants for Weapon and Armour - Logon to enhanter
  8. Velums - run out of velums, logon to random character still in Stormwind and purchase from the enchanting shop
  9. Search AH for cheap upgrades- logon to random character in Stormwind
  10. Start process again for any new purchaed items
I am very aware of the need to have something useful for all the professions to do (with the exception of Engineering) but for every new item we have this run around to polish the gear from Epic to uber-Epic, and that is without Transmog and Reforging.

I am estimating that this process took in the region of about 90 minutes, for what amounted to 8 characters.

In preparation for patch 5.4, I noticed the following tucked away near the bottom of a very long list:

The conversion rate for Justice Points to Honor Points have changed. The conversion rate is now 500 Justice per 250 Honor (up from 375 Justice per 250 Honor).

In itself it is not a big change, and due to the early part of the expansion having nothing useful to spend Justice points on, I was shuffling the Justice Points to Honor to purchase better PvP gear. Now with Justice points being available to buy lower level Epics, I want to push the currency the other way. This will save on wastage with the conversion, and to be honest there is too much to do in game without starting to do Battlegrounds as well.

All this preparation is for the change of reputation Epics to be available for Justice Points, the following from the patch notes is not exactly clear in my head:

Adjustments have been made to Mists of Pandaria faction quartermasters.
  • Epic quality (purple) Valor items sold by the Shado-Pan Assault now have their reputation requirements reduced to Friendly or below, and have their Valor Point cost reduced by 34%.
  • Epic quality (purple) Valor items sold by all other Mists of Pandaria faction quartermasters no longer have reputation requirements, and will now cost Justice Points instead of Valor.
  • Rare quality (blue) items have their Justice Point cost reduced by 75%.
  • No changes for items that require an Exalted reputation.
Does this include The Shado Pan Assault, The Kirin Tor Assault and Operation:Shieldwall? The implication is Yes, but not the Exalted items.  I assume that the items that will be available are Rings, Trinkets and Necklaces. I guess those of us not using the PTR will just have to wait and see what happens.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


My Gnome Combat Rogue "Greatboo" joined the max level Army of the Living, leaving just my sad and lonely level 86 Warlock not invited to the party.

I have previously stated that I am the world's worst Rogue, a title which the Grumpy Elf tried to claim for himself, but judging by the numbers he was rocking out in LFR, I am still the proud owner of that title. As bad as I am, there are some advantages to playing a class in a different way than the plate clad melee monsters. Rogues can be subtle and are the closest that WoW comes to a Ninja class, and whilst they often have to go toe-to-toe with opponents they can hide in the shadows and move around like the sneaky bastards that they are. Why get into combat when you can stealth in and stealth out, if you get caught you can stand and fight or simply vanish.

R earlier this month gave some advice about Rogues, when I claimed that they have too much down time between fights.

"Rogue - Take the Deadly Momentum glyph, get up a 5-stack of Recuperate which will refresh with every mob that's killed, use Leeching Poison (talent), those should generally keep you up and hit Shiv whenever you need a bit more healing."

I didn't totally heed of all R's comments but I did make good use of Leeching Poison and the occasional 5 stack of recuperate. The biggest issue was not having a glass jaw this time, it was the constant waiting for Sinister Strike to become available.

Now that I am max level, it was time to work out whether I was applying the correct rotation/priorities at the right time. I have discovered that Icy Veins is not always a good match for my own play style and in particular I have no desire to maximise abilities and Glyphs for raiding or PvE and purely need to be efficient in the undertaking of dailies. The priorities however are always a very good guide to rotations.

For single target the guideline is:

  • Combo Point builders (by order of priority)
    1. Cast Ambush Icon Ambush when you are in Stealth.
    2. Cast Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike only to keep its debuff up.
    3. Cast Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike.
  • Finishing Moves (by order of priority)
    1. Apply and maintain Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice, with 5 Combo Points preferably.
    2. Apply and maintain Rupture Icon Rupture with 5 Combo Points.
      • There are cases when you should not maintain Rupture (see our Rupture section).
    3. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate with 5 Combo Points.
  • Dropping Rupture Icon Rupture from the rotation simplifies it, but it sacrifices about 1 or 2% of your DPS.

    The first issue I can see is the Revealing Strike and Sinister Strike, I was using either of these spells to build up Combo Points, and would alternate Slice and Dice with Rupture, without giving priority to Slice and Dice and only using 3 combo points because combat with a single mob rarely lasts much over 20 seconds.

    On Multiple targets I often found Blade Flurry Icon Blade Flurry  to be a pain to manage, in the same way that Aspect of the Fox and Aspect of the Hawk was for Hunters, somethings are just too damn fiddly with too much micro management.

    Another aspect that I picked up by accident was the application of Poisons. The old method was to apply to the weapon and the new system appears to have a choice of 1 lethal and 1 non-lethal. I wasted several levels running with only Leeching Poison.

    Previously on my Rogue I remember using Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush but never managed to work it into a rotation, it appears that the best use is to tie a macro up with Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades. This is the kind of spell bloat that Blizzard should be eradicating.

    Any options that are passive win the day for me, when I am playing an alt. The less buttons the better but we all know that procs are less effective than activating a spell at the correct time.

    I now need to get some better gear, but unfortunately I was unable to get my first piece of the Kor'kron set, before the weekly reset. This will mean I only have enough time left to get 2 pieces before the Barrens returns to be being the Barrens again. I have picked up the Self-Effacing boots, and can craft Hands and Chest, so will need to choose between Head, Shoulders and Legs for the 2 Kor'kron pieces. After that I expect my Rogue to remain unplayed until the next expansion.

    The Rogue class is not something I enjoy playing and my performance is tied in with my dislike. Ultimately if I wanted to play a Leather clad melee class, I would choose the Monk any day of the week. At least now I can open those 50 locked chests that had accumulated in my bank.


    Thursday, 22 August 2013

    Who Are You?

    Last night I sat down and watched the Television (radical I know). The programme was the long running BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? I have seen the US version of this programme so I already know that it is syndicated to America and probably all around the world.

    The programme is a jazzed up view of Genealogy of the rich and famous. The programme which as run since 2004, as featured mostly UK based celebrities from the world of Televison, Sport and Acting (the full list can be viewed on the link above).

    Last night it was the turn of Gary Lineker, who was a notable footballer turned Television presenter. Gary Lineker is most famous as the second highest England goal scorer 48 goals and 80 caps, and was never given a yellow or red card at any level of the game. He is considered to be a generally all-round nice guy with a penchant for bad puns, and is also self-deprecating about his own abilities and in particular his notable appearance of big ears. In many respects he is instantly recognisable and this was obvious from the programme when he was walking around Leicester City Centre, the place that he grew up in. Almost everybody wanted to speak to him or have a picture taken with him, especially being a local hero.

    Now I am sure that most people have a brush with someone famous, and in particular I can recall two such occasions that I would like to discuss.

    The first is whilst in Manchester on the way to the casino with my wife. We parked up at a central Manchester multi-storey carpark and headed for the lift. Whilst waiting for the lift to appear we noticed a very smartly dressed elderly gentleman walking towards the lift. He was instantly recognisable as an England Football legend, who is heavily associated with Manchester United. No it was not David Beckham, but it was the World Cup Winner and considered by many to be one of the greatest midfield players of all time, Sir Bobby Charlton no less.

    Bobby is very passionate about his football, his football club and the country which he served with distinction, but in private I believe he is a very personal man. As we stood in the lift together with Bobby Charlton and another couple, it was obviously we knew who he was, but he looked shy and slightly apprehensive that we might talk to him. In the end the lift open and we all went our separate ways. I might not have said anything to him, but I believe it meant a lot that we had allowed him a moment of privacy in a very public place.

    My second story is about attending the 1993 World Chess Championship, Garry Kasparov vs Nigel Short, which was held at the Savoy Theatre in London. I was slightly late for one of the games and was quickly ushered to my seat. For anyone who as not witnessed a chess tournament, they are extremely quiet places to be, and the silence is maintained for the full duration of the match to allow the combatants a chance to concentrate. Also during the game there are often long pauses between moves, so once you have examined the current position you can let your mind and eyes wander, awaiting the next move. It was at this point that I decided to see who I was sitting next to, and to my surprise it was that most quintessential of Englishmen, Stephen Fry. Known as one half of Fry and Laurie (Hugh Laurie), and for his work on the hit comedy Blackadder.

    I was absolutely gobsmacked, and so wanted to say something to him, but the situation demanded absolute silence, and what would I say anyway? My mouth wanted to do my best Lord Melchett impersonation, but thankfully my head was in control and nothing uttered from my mouth.

    Later on I went to Simpson's-in-the-Strand which has a strong Chess history, and was the relaxation area were the chess match was being analysed. It was on my way into the building that I was walking behind Carol Vorderman who was the Host on the Channel 4 chess coverage. If you want to know what a wonderful privilege this was, Carol was voted as Rear of the Year in 2011.

    The problem with celebrities is that they become so familiar to us that we forget that they are real people, who have absolutely no idea who the hell we are. We have all heard of actors who have played a character for so long that the actor and the character become one of the same, and people will call them by their character name, and expect them to behave in exactly the same way as the character.

    If you met Keifer Sutherland, would you be thinking "That's Jack Bauer!". It is a strong possibility.

    I know we are are a long way off topic today, but have you met someone famous? did you speak to them? and more importantly what did you say?

    Wednesday, 21 August 2013

    2 Minutes To Midnight

    New Patches bring new content and changes, some times we crave them and sometimes they come too soon. I have been predicting an early September release for Patch 5.4 and in some respects I was very disappointed to hear that the pencilled in date was August 27/28 depending on your location. This was based on the end of Arena system and various other indicators.

    Today it looks like that might be too soon for Blizzard, and the next date is forecast for September 10/11. This would be much better for myself and I can now finish off my plans.

    With the end of Battlefield: Barrens I will lose my Patch 5.3 crutch, and this is where I have spent the bulk of my time, gearing 6 characters with the Kor'kron gear and 2 characters which are at a very early stage. My Paladin needs 3 pieces to complete the Retribution set and my Druid has only one piece having levelled last week. These two characters will now have got a good start to obtaining some raiding gear.

    My last two characters a Rogue and Warlock, are desperately trying to get levelled to get the iLevel 502 boots for helping the Emperor or former Emperor or whatever he tells you he was, climb a mountain. 3 weeks will give me hopefully enough time to achieve my goals and plunder the Barrens one last time. I hope I find the Timeless Isle as engaging.

    I normally struggle with the Barrens for the first few weeks and then it gets easier as you very quickly outgear the content. The exception to this is my Balance Druid. I have explained before that I am not enamoured with the current version of the Boomkin and it seems very clinical, boring and with no va va voom.

    Oddly I have been able to abuse one of the Druid characteristics that I hate most in other players, and that is the ability to not drop out of flight when picking herbs. This same principle applies equally to picking up meat, oil, lumber and stone, and allows the druid to fly around stealing crates, drums and bundles of wood whenever I feel like it, without having to engage any of the opposition.

    If you have ever fought a mob near a resource and after doing a victory dance or the mobs head, turned round to find it is no longer there, then the mystery is over. It as nothing to do with Arthur C Clarke and everything to do with bloody Druids.

    If there is one ability in the game that I would eradicate tomorrow, then this is it, but when in Rome do as the Romans do, so I will be making full use of this design abomination for the next 3 weeks and have no guilt about it either.

    I like the Kor'Kron sets in general and in case you are unaware of their sartorial elegance here is a selection of my characters.

    A natty Blue and Gold combination for my Dwarven Warrior

    What is going on with the Helm???

    A hint of Purple on a Gnomish Mage

    Hunter in Brown and Red, this not a good look

    Panda Monks look the business in Kor'Kron gear

    Can I get rid of this umbrella yet? and will Blizzard ever make sensible Shoulderpads for Shaman. I would look less ridiculous with 1980's shoulderpads.

    Tuesday, 20 August 2013

    Sultans Of Swing

    "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about,
    and that is not being talked about."
    Oscar Wilde

    Yesterday I received a little bit of traffic to my blog. Tobold is one of the most respected bloggers on all things MMO. I am regular reader, even though I only have a passing interest in the other games in the MMO genre. I am a monogamous WoW player except for a brief liaison I had with Diablo.

    Tobold was very supportive during the New Blogger Initiative, and helped me to create a focus for the Blog. The gist of what Tobold said was "The world is full of WoW Blogs, if you are doing this for purpose of attracting visitors, then pick a different subject, something in Vogue".

    I have no interest in playing another game just I can write about it, just because it is a hot topic that is not a subject that is 9 years old. I consider this to be like a football supporter who supports Bolton Wanderers writing a blog about Manchester City, just because they are the next big thing.

    This was however suitably thought provoking, and made me consider what I was writing about and why? I am still writing after 18 months and I hope I am getting better over time. Occasionally I write a post that is suitably thought provoking to appear elsewhere as a link and that is good. I was not expecting a negative response, and I already apologised yesterday.

    Yesterday I received triple my usual traffic to the site, and it shows how astute Oscar Wilde was writing in 1890. The thing I noticed was that with all the media talk of cyber bullying and trolling, nobody left abusive comments and I thank you all for your politeness.

    Moving on to the post I was trying to write yesterday.

    Another weekend over and I am just trying to catch up with WoW news and associated Blog stuff, and I re-read the comments from R on the post about Connected Realms. This got me thinking about load numbers for the Realms and how many Realms are likely to be connected.

    The first place to look was the Realm Status page on the European Battle Net server. I chose Europe based on the fact that there are probably slightly less players and it is home turf. The Realm Status page allows a certain amount of filtering so I continued down the route of what I know best.

    Status = <All>, Realm = <Blank>, Type = <PvE>, Population = <All>,  Locale <English>

    42 English speaking, PvE Realms in Europe of which only 4 are highlighted as High. All the rest are indicated as Medium.

    The issue that Blizzard have is not the number of accounts on a server, because the primary concern is the average number of concurrent users and in particular the highest number of users at the peak of the day. If you merged an Australian Realm with a US Realm would it achieve anything if the peaks are at different times of the day.

    I previously questioned why we are not given more details about the Realms that we reside on, what does High or Medium actually mean. I am not interested from the point of being able to calculate how many people are on all the US realms and the European Realms, so that we can breakdown the fact that Spanish Realms are seeing higher levels of people leaving the game. I am merely wanting to know from a game experience, am I better on a High population realm or a medium realm? the Grumpy Elf was right of course that any detailed information would be used against Blizzard to denote the collapse of the WoW brand, pretty much like I did last week.

    If all the PvE servers in Europe are medium population at the least, what kind of population do Blizzard think we should be playing on. Do we need to connect 2 medium realms? or 1 high with 1 medium? or 2 high = 3 medium? My point is we don't know and to be honest this is not the kind of testing that can be done a PTR. Are we all going to change our hearthstones to Dalaran, Shattrath or some place else, because Orgrimmar and Stormwind have become lag central. I am sure I don't need to remind some of you what it was like in Shattrath and Daslaran at peak times.

    Are connected Realms going to be permanent connection or are they going to be free flowing depending on realm populations over time. What happens if a a connected realm starts to have large combined losses of subscriptions?

    Blizzard are being rather vague on many of the issues and the generic Blue post did very little to answer anything but the most superficial questions.

    This function is in development now and once Patch 5.4 hits the live servers, then all attention will be on Connected Realms. Blizzard have staked too much on this for it not to go ahead.

    Monday, 19 August 2013


    What a tangled web we weave! I have been called out by Tobold and probably rightly so about the graph I used in this post. The graph was not my own work and involves a projection based upon the steep loss of subsciptions since the launch of Mists of Pandaria. The projection draws on the assumption that the growth and retraction of a MMO is based on a Bell curve distribution, and in some respects the current behaviour of subscription numbers is showing a drop in numbers every much as dramatic as the rise in numbers all through vanilla and the Burning Crusade.

    I have no desire to see the demise of WoW and was merely suggesting that patches and expansions are of more strategic importance than previously, due to the power to increase subscriptions.

    Whatever way you look at it WoW is in decline and will never return to the heyday of the end of Wrath and the beginning of Cata. The best example of the end life of a MMO is probably EverQuest which seems to just go on forever.

    At present WoW is still on the steep slope downwards and nobody is prepared to guess at what point it will hit the tail and will find it's equilibrium point. I have produced my own graphs to identify possible trends for this expansion.

    Possible trend for subscribers for Mists of Pandaria
    In the graph it forecasts the subscriber numbers for the lifecycle of Mists of Pandaria, with Q1 being the last quarter of Cata and Q10 being the release of the next expansion and a projected 2 year lifecycle for the expansion.

    Possible trend including MoP and the next expansion

    The 2nd graph shows the trend if the same rate of decline inbetween expansions follows on into the next expansion. At the current rate in 3 years time at the end of the next expansion WoW could be down to 3 Million subscribers and back to 4 Million after 2 future expansions. 4 Million in 3 years time is not a doomsday scenario, and the ultimate low point for WoW might be as high as 2 Million players still playing WoW in 2020, now that would be some achievement. This is probably a better prediction than the Bell curve prediction which shows a gathering momentum of unsubscriptions.

    WoW is the juggernaut that all other MMO's are compared, but the likely situation is that the Genre may be dying or it is simply becoming fragmented. For so long we have waited to see what Titan will bring, and the smart money is on Blizzard themselves being the only company capable of being a WoW Killer. 

    I am guessing that Blizzard when they started on the development of World of Warcraft as an Everquest clone that they would have been delighted to have a player base of around 2 Million. There will of course be a number of players still playing when they turn off the lights on WoW, and who 
    knows I might still be one of them.

    I apologise if I was not as accurate as I could have been, but forecasts are at the end of the day are only forecasts.

    Friday, 16 August 2013

    Top Of The World

    Back in December only a couple of months into the Mists of Pandaria expansion, I attempted to solo Tempest Keep. It was the one missing fragment from my days spent in the Outland. During the Burning Crusade, I was part of a 10 man casual raiding guild, the pinnacle of those days was Karazhan. This one raid kept us occupied for a long time, mostly due to the fact Blizzard decided the next couple of Raids should be 25 Man and then back to 10 Man for Zul'Aman (the original). It was a huge leap up and difficult to bridge without access to the next level of gear. It was a truly awful bit of design from Blizzard, one which they would rectify by having 10 and 25 man versions of all Raids after the expansion.

    Tempest Keep was well and truly out of my range, and for some reason I used to get Tempest Keep and Black Temple confused, so if there any retro runs during Lich King, I would invariably miss them due to stupidity.

    In December I was probably in the iLevel range of 450-460, but now that is 503. The gear/stat inflation means that I am probably at least twice as powerful now than then. Cymre wrote a post yesterday about obtaining the Ashes of Alar. This was my cue to go back and complete my unfinished business.

    The rest of the story is a complete non-event due to the relative power of a juggernaut Hunter able to completely overpower the mind control effects of Kael'thas Sunstrider and his cronies. There was no need for special tricks or Tanking pets, just raw power and a wait for each of the phases to time out.

    Another 30 points to my achievement total. Achievements are something that motivate and also turn me off. I like to do the achievements that are obtainable and dislike the ones that cause unnatural player behaviour. Something like "All 25 members of a Raid team must drop their pants and moon at the Lich King During the Tea Party Phase".

    This is just a waste of time, but we do it because it is 10 Points and it is needed for the Larger Raiding achievement. It is no great Feat of Strength merely an annoying distraction.

    There are just too many achievements that are merely not achievements or just plain annoying that I have stopped actively chasing them. On the flip side it is rude not to complete all the Raids even if you are 3 Expansions too late.

    Thursday, 15 August 2013

    Nantucket Sleighride

    There is a flurry of activity, but it all seems to be, much ado about nothing. The first point is The Dark Below, which was a fairly naff name for an expansion, seems to be a hoax. The Godmother seems to be distraught at first going to Twitter and then to the Blog but not before sleeping on it, and still she was wrong, and I wrote about it riding on the coattails of WoWinsider and the Godmother.

    Elsewhere the Grumpy Elf was writing two interesting posts on the State of Hunters in the next patch and something about Ghostcrawler and a Twizzcast whatever that might be. I thoroughly enjoyed both and it certainly got people talking.

    It is good to see Cynwise blogging again after an enforced absence due to RSI, I really need to find some time to read the latest lengthy post, it is a bit more cerebral than the average WoW blog.

    Closer to home, nobody has taken me up on my offer, I am sure you would all be offering if BBB did the same (I know my place in the general scheme of things).

    In game I have now hit 9 level 90's, which seemed to impress some of my fellow Guildies, personally I just it as a different focus on the game. I am still very unimpressed with Balance Druid but it does seem a little more manageable with better gear. I managed to squeeze in 3 Scenarios and spent a lot of time throwing heals about instead of damage spells. At the end of day it is about getting through the content in the best way possible.

    The choice for my next levelling character is Rogue or Warlock. I am favouring Rogue at the stage but I may swap and change. I am hoping to utilise the comments from R if I can just work out what spec the Rogue is supposed to be.

    I am guessing that I need to get a move on if I want them all ready for Patch 5.4. My spider-sense is still favouring 3rd September as a drop date.

    Wednesday, 14 August 2013

    Private Universe

    When Blizzard first announced that Connected Realms (Virtual Realms) was being introduced I was very pleased with the concept, but as time goes by I am starting to have my reservations. I found a blog post titled "Are Connected Realms The Answer TO Population Issues In Warcraft?" expecting to find somebody had done all my thinking for me.  Unfortunately the post although succinctly put, only addresses the reasons and not the implementation.

    I say this because on paper Cross Realm Zones sounded like a good idea, but I still dislike the implementation and the results. I think we all know the reasons for the impending functionality, but just for the record, here are my thoughts.

    Reasons for Implementing Connected Realms

    1. WoW is still in terminal decline and if the predictions of a Bell curve are accurate then the projected number of subscribers is going to hit 4 Million in another 4 quarters and 2 Million after a further 2 quarters.
    2. Blizzard already have the infrastructure in terms of servers so it is unsure how they will benefit from de-commissioning servers but each server will have a maintenance cost attached in terms of patching hardware updates etc....
    3. A reduction in numbers of subscribers will make the game play of a MMO less Multiplayer and all grouped activities will be become harder to complete.
    4. Discrepancies in server numbers is a problem, and the need to try and balance Horde and Alliance numbers.
    5. Low Population servers have advantages of farming materials but a difficulty in both buying a selling goods in the Auction House.
    6. Higher Population servers will have more competition from Sellers but will also have increased Demand from Buyers.
    7. Merging servers is unpopular due to the requirement of Unique names of players and Guilds, and the bad publicity surrounding realm closures
    Freefalling numbers will peak again with an expansion but the trend is a downward spiral

    Issues with Cross Realm Zones

    1. Cross Realm Zones were very buggy when first introduced, stories of people plunging to their deaths and game crashes when crossing zones. The General chat - originally was multiplied by the number of Realms combined together. A simple "hello" would spam itself 6 or 7 times.
    2. There is a delay whenever moving between zones, most zones have an artificial cutover between zones which is fine when on the ground but is not very good when on a flying mount. If you want an example of this just fly near the larva flows between zones in the Barrens.
    3. Fights and abuse over farming of lower level resources and Rares.
    4. No accountability or reputation to uphold because you would be unlikely to see them again (lack of community)
    You might question why I am even talking about Cross Realm Zones when the topic is Connected Realms. What is a Connected Realm? the Blizzard answer is "Building on our cross-realm technology, a Connected Realm is a set of two or more standard realms that have been permanently and seamlessly 'linked, these linked realms will behave as if they were one cohesive realm, meaning you’ll be able to join the same guilds, access a single Auction House, run the same Raids and Dungeons, and join other adventurers to complete quests." Please note the word seamlessly linked, because CRZ is far from seamless and the all important use of Building on our cross-realm technology. Until this point I liked the idea, now I am having doubts. So what are these doubts?

    Issues with Connected Realms

    1. The major issue is the expansion of CRZ technology, It didn't work that well when first implemented, it was poorly tested on the PTR, because by it's very nature it needs multiple realms to be joined
    2. How is the load balancing going to take place, is Stormwind on one realm and Ironforge on another, or does it not matter because nobody is left in Ironforge
    3. Just a feeling that the realms will be stuck together by tin cans and piece of string, as shown up by the implementation of the inhouse voice system. Mumble and Vent manage it at the same time as WoW is playing. If Auction Houses become buggy, the Goblins are not going to be happy
    4. How realms will be connected? we honestly do not know and then we have the issues surrounding dwindling numbers and further uncoupling and coupling taking place to even out the numbers

    I would just feel happier if Blizzard shared some of this information with us. It is not like you can opt out of these mergers.


    Going Underground

    Ok no takers yet for my offer of a guest spot/request hour from yesterday, I see Rohan @ BoK has hit the same wall at the same time. Luckily for me a small titbit has landed on our doorstep (yes we still use titbit and not Tidbit in the UK). Blizzard has Trademarked a name for a new game, "The Dark Below".

    This is not something that I would normally speculate on, but I think that our roving reporter at Alt:Ernative is absolutely on the ball and that judging from the title we are are going subterranean.

    One of the biggest issues with Cataclysm was the lack of joined up content, which lead to a disjointed expansion is almost every regard. The vast distances between areas was covered in a single bound by the use of portals and was a most unsatisfactory solution.

    Mists of Pandaria went back to the one land mass solution used in all previous expansions (except for Cataclysm) and the result is much improved. Can Blizzard realistically keep finding islands that have been shrouded in mist forever. The answer is that it was all a bit lame how they tried to incorporate, shoehorn the storyline into the lore.

    The reason why the Maelstrom and the Emerald Dream are regularly mentioned in association with future expansions is that they fit the mould and new areas can be created to accommodate the storyline.

    So far we have gone to a new planet, followed a bad man to the northernmost continent, and discovered a land shrouded in mist. Going subterranean solves the problem and the zones will resemble Old Kingdom style ancient cities underground, it does not need to be caves and worms.

    Knowing the gamers penchant for abbreviations, is TDB going to clash with anything.

    Technology Development Board - no major problem there
    Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia - I don't think that Mongolia has a big gaming community
    Trivial DataBase - sounds like a program that I might write

    The only major problem comes from the urban dictionary and the text generation - Too Damn Bad or Too Darn Bad.

    I think this might just be a goer, on second thoughts it might appeal to the giggling school boys.

    Tuesday, 13 August 2013

    Wanted: Dead Or Alive

    After 18 Months of blogging and 237 Posts, I am feeling a little jaded for topics. My idea is to throw it open to the general populace and I am looking for inspiration.

    Ideas for topics to discuss, submit your own post or send some screenshots. I will try anything for a change of pace. I have seen some your comments and I know that some of you can string a sentence together.

    Send any contributions to or leave a comment in the usual place, I can't guarantee a huge readership but it's a forum to get something off your chest without having to submit regular posts.

    Come on, you know you want to.

    Friday, 9 August 2013

    Jealous Guy

    Every so often, I will read something and think that this is written just for me. Oddly enough today is one of those days, and besides I had no other material to write about and definitely not a page of notes.

    The story is on WoW Insider and started a week ago with the news that a player had 50 characters (multiple realms obviously) and they were all at least level 85. I read the article and whilst impressed, I felt slightly cheated (the completionist in me),  thinking he could have levelled them up to 90, now that would have been an achievement.

    This week made me sit up and take notice, because Bluespartan a full-time college math teacher (in Real Life not some new class) is able to Valor cap on all 11 of his max level characters. At this point I want to say I am mightily impressed that anybody can play all the current content and level 11 characters, let alone gear them up far better than I can manage, and yes I am indeed very jealous but not in a bad way, maybe envious is more suitable description, unfortunately John Lennon did not write a song called "Envious Guy".

    Bluespartan is able to devote about 30 hours a week to WoW, which is considerably more than I can manage. My own time is different each week depending on my wife's shift patterns. This week I play about 20 hours and next week only about 10 hours. I have enough problems capping on one character never mind 11, and at best I can only do this every other week.

    Bluespartan times the main capping at about 4 hours and consists of the following activities:

    • Barrens Battlefields for 300 (10 minutes or less, not counting material gathering for next week to be done later)
    • Daily heroic scenario for 120 (20 minutes)
    • Champions of the Thunder King for 150 (30 minutes)
    • Kill 12 rares for 180 (60 minutes)
    • 10 daily PvE quests for 50 (between rares)
    • ToT LFR x 2 for 210+ (2 hours)
    The first thing to notice is the Battlefield: Barrens which consists of 10 minutes, which only involves 10 minutes to pickup the quest, portal to the Barrens and hand in the quest for 200 Valor. The gathering is done later in the week. This is a bit of a cheat in my opinion.

    Champions of the Thunder King is not something that is easily achieved as a solo activity (maybe on a Blood Death Knight) but according to the article is done on a Shaman in Healer spec. If group is required then they can take some organising, so 30 minutes sounds a bit optimistic.

    Kill 12 rares, this might be something that I can work on, I have never deliberately gone looking for them.

    ToT LFR in 2 hours even on a healer is really pushing the bounds of incredulity. I never even attempt ToT LFR unless I have a spare 3 hours for one run. 1 hour queueing to get in, 1 hour for the waiting for the group to fill up when people start dropping and 1 hour for the 3 bosses.

    Next up is the routine for the alts who will now have the Valor of the Ancients 50% buff:

    So the cap for alts takes about two to three hours each and looks like this:
    • Barrens Battlefields for 300 (10 minutes, plus 50 minutes to gather materials for next week)
    • Daily heroic scenario x 3 days for approx 600 (20 minutes x 3 days)

    The remaining 100 or so points can be obtained via any of these:
    • Champions of the Thunder King for 225 (30 minutes)
    • Kill 4 rares and do 6 daily PvE quests for 135 (30 minutes)
    • ToT LFR x 1 for 135+ (1 hour)
    This time we have a 50 minutes allocated to gather the materials for Battlefield: Barrens. I would like to pull out some detail from the weekly based on experience.

    If the weekly quest needs 150 items of 4 different types and each mob drops one item then we are looking at 600 items = 600 mobs. 600 mobs divided by 50 minutes = 12 mobs a minute.

    If you are able to get an extra resource for every 2 mobs killed that would still need a killing rate of 8 mobs a minute.

    Working on a principle of 8 mobs a minute and maintaining the same killing spree speed for a whole 50 minutes and the flying time between the 4 sites. The easiest way to reduce these numbers is to kill the Kor'kron Commanders, but I have not seen enough people in the area to attempt them for several weeks now. The caravans are time consuming and I suggest that if you can kill 8 mobs a minutes then this would be less rewarding than 5 minutes slaying. The one thing that would really assist is the overturned caravans, but the chances of getting 2 of these in a 50 minute might be on the lucky side and you would really need the entire site to yourself to pickup around resources.

    My experience is that it takes about 2 hours or so to collect the resources and a couple of times I managed to complete on 2 characters in a night session of about 3 hours.

    Bluespartan yet again quotes 1 hour for a ToT LFR and this time it is not a healer, so if this is the case, I really want a realm transfer to his server.

    There is one section that provides very good advice and that is getting Alts started with the aim to get 480+ iLevel ASAP:

    • Level through Townlong Steppes and/or Dread Wastes starting at level 88. Quests give 429 or 437 gear. Supplement with greens your alts win in LFR or daily quests. Try to have everything 429+ by the time you hit 90. Run each dungeon at least once for the quest rewards and XP.
    • Run enough battlegrounds as you level so you have 4,000 honor the moment you hit 90. AV is always good XP, and the Call to Arms BG can be quite good. Queue up while you quest. That's two to three upgrades of 476 you can buy on day one. Run Tol Barad for 800 valor (pick up the weekly quest behind the portal in SW first). Convert justice points to honor. Maybe one to two more upgrades. Focus on cheaper items that you need to raise your ilevel quickly, but also be sure to replace poor items first. Bracers count as much in the average as chest pieces. Maybe save some of these points to spend later based on what drops from world bosses and your first LFR.
    • Run the Arena of Annihilation scenario for a guaranteed 450 weapon.
    • Go to Isle of Thunder. Save the intro quests, except the first one, for when you have time. Go kill a rare and win a key. Run the Treasure Trove scenario and try to find about 10 Elder Coins. You want to make every roll count.
    • Run Sha of Anger for the 476 boots (and eventually get the 502s from the 5.3 quest line) and maybe a tier drop (use a coin). Run Galleon and use a coin for a chance at a 496. Run Oondasta and Nalak, even though you may not have those coins yet.
    • Run heroic dungeons if you are still shy of 460, but usually I end up skipping these. You can also buy 458 gear at the AH to fill in gaps (hint: you don't have to equip them to boost your ilevel, but you may need to anyway if your character is weak), or run more BGs for the honor points.
    • Run the first two LFRs and use bonus coins. You should hit 470 soon. Next Tuesday, get another key from the Isle and run as many LFRs as you qualify for. Run world bosses. Run BGs and spend honor points. Buy the 522 necklace from Shado Pan Assault with your first 1,250 valor points on week two. 480 comes surprisingly fast!
    Many of these I have discussed before, but it is always good to have a recap. The world bosses are useful ways to get a boost, but very few people seem to run Sha of Anger and Galleon. Groups can still take 15-30 minutes to form.

    The PvP idea is a sound one, and will be a definite bonus when the new patch allows the older Epics to be purchased for Justice.

    I am envious of the efficiency, but I doubt whether I could keep up such a routine for longer than a few weeks.

    Thursday, 8 August 2013

    Tunnel Of Love

    "NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again."

    The Spanish Inquisition - Monty Python's Flying Circus

    I recently listened to the Godmother's recent appearance on a Webcast, Podcast, or Blogcast or whatever the damn things are called. I think I might even be making my own words up now. One of the things that struck me was how organised and professionally she takes the job of Blogging. My case in point, is the fact that she starts typing with a page of information in front of her, "Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell you." 
    Ok I might sound slightly flippant and besides I wanted to get another Monty Python quote into this post, but seriously I turn up at the keyboard in a totally half-arsed way and just start typing. Actually that's not true either. I tend to have an idea, then find the song title and mull over the content in the car on the way to work. Unfortunately I tend to miss out chunks of thought, and afterwards I want to hit myself over the head with a wet fish.
    Today's post is only held together by the smallest slither of tape, in fact you could say it was wafer thin (mint).
    Last night I was yet again in the Barrens on the hunt for Oil, Meat, Lumber and Stone and was about half way through the weekly when I was to join a party, not for the commanders but just to go on a killing spree. One of the unique features of this area is the shared loot on all mobs, but in Blizzards usual way there is no sensible way to disseminate that information in game to the people who (shock horror) play the game, but do not frequent the WoW news sites like WoW Insider and MMO Champion.
    When in the Barrens I will always join if asked, but I lack the social skills to set up a party in the first place. In this case the party ended up as 3 Paladins, Holy, Ret and Prot, it was like the Spanish Inquisition, and nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

    Battlefield: Barrens as become the star of the last patch, not only is it allowing a gear catch up system, but people are forming groups and talking to each other, which is ironic seeing as it takes place in the Barrens.

    Scenarios, World Bosses, LFD and LFR are all group content for the max level character, but the aim is loot, not a need for social interaction, and the Barrens as strangely brought back a characteristic of the game that we have not seen since Pug raiding went the way of the Dodo. I am not saying that they were always a barrel of laughs, but they were certainly more fun than LFR.

    The sad thing is that the Battlefield will return to normality when the next patch drops, but I just hope that shared loot is available on the New Loot Island and that the occasional co-operation that now occurs is not lost as we slink back into our solo versions of WoW.

    Wednesday, 7 August 2013

    This Note's For You

    Yesterday I wrote about the classes from a personal point both historically and their current incarnations. Today I was feeling a little remorse, so it is time to see if everybody else agrees with me. There are no comments from yesterday which probably means that I didn't upset anybody.

    Back in May 2012 I wrote a post The State of The Union, which looked at the raiding numbers and the general WoW census information during Dragon Soul days. Back then the under represented classes were Rogue (9%), Warlock (6%), Shaman (8%) and Warrior (9%).  With 10 classes at the time an equal distribution would have provided 10% for all the classes. Blizzard highlighted Warlocks as on the endangered list, and to be honest without a pair of Legendaries, Rogues might have been on that list too. Warlocks got some love in the MoP expansion and breathed some life into what was a dying class.

    May 2012 Census
    The current census information includes the Monk class and with 11 classes the median drops to 9%. The classes sat under this mark are Monk (7%), Rogue (7%), Shaman (8%), and Warlock (8%). Monks are struggling in terms of numbers being the new class on the blocks and the difficulties of levelling to 90. Rogues without Legendaries have slipped back in popularity. Warlocks have seen a greater take up due to the changes and the chance to get Green spell from their class specific quest. Shaman have remained steady, and are still more popular with the Horde than Alliance, which is a throwback to Vanilla days and the limitations of race that was originally placed on the Alliance version.

    August 2013 Census
    The last 2 classes that I have chosen to level are both in the unpopular category, although I like both Shaman and Monk classes.

    Another interesting change is the fall in the popularity in Paladin and to a lesser extent Druid, both being the full Hybrid classes have possibly been squeezed by the introduction of a 3rd full Hybrid class the Monk, although Mages have also suffered from the squeeze and they are currently the top performing Raid class by some distance.

    It is obviously difficult to compare figures with 10 classes with one with 11 classes, but it does imply that there as been some movement in main characters and there are less people with alts at max level than in previous expansions.

    Tuesday, 6 August 2013

    Cortez The Killer

    For a change of pace, I have been levelling alts again. The current status is 8 at max level and a Druid that I expect to level in the next few days. The problem for a blogger of doing repeat content is that I have no new material or new experiences, but I am in a reasonable position to give a status on the classes from the perspective of a casual player.

    Please bear in mind that I do not play a Priest on religious grounds, and that I am still rough around the edges on at least two classes, Rogue and Warlock.


    First up is my favourite class the Hunter. For the first time since the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, it is safe to play Beast Master and not be called a noob. With the rise of BM we have witnessed the fall of Marksman. MM has traditionally scaled better than any other Hunter spec and was always a popular choice at Raid level. I understand that Survival is making something of a comeback in recent months.

    Hunters are possibly the benchmark class at the moment and are sitting fairly middle of the pack in terms of DPS output. The biggest problem is the size of the toolkit and the shear number of options in the rotation. This as resulted in BM being a very difficult spec to play well.

    Levelling and general content has been pretty easy for Hunters, although the pets are taking considerably more damage than we have been used to previous patches. Self healing is still an issue for Hunters and with the prospect of cooldowns on Disengage and the removal of Readiness things are going to get worse. There are options for self healing but many involve a loss of DPS to achieve.

    The next expansion will definitely see a streamlining of the toolkit as confirmed by Ghostcrawler.

    Hunters are still a joy to play.


    I have not played Enhancement since I levelled from 1-78. I have always chosen a combination of Elemental and Restoration, purely from a gear standpoint it makes more sense. Enhancement is apparently one of the top raid performers in Patch 5.3

    Elemental is a streamlined rotation which is very bursty with a Flame Shock/Lava Burst combination, which is made lethal when Ascendance is active. It is a fun class to play without anything difficult to master, but the use of Totems as been a step backwards in my opinion. I am sure all Shaman are missing dropping 4 Totems at once.

    Restoration seems to be a poor imitation of it's former self, and whilst it is still my favourite Healer spec it seems to perform badly compared to other classes in Raid content. I am not sure what the problem is exactly, but I have needed to keep a very careful watch on mana consumption.


    Just like Hunter and BM, I have been a diehard Frost Mage, and for the first time ever they have a moment to shine in the sun. The rotation is fairly basic and still revolves heavily around keeping mobs slowed and in blocks of ice instead of standing on your toes.

    A heavy hitting class they have been rocking the meters in this expansion, and if we are brutally honest Fire and Arcane have been near the top since Vanilla days.

    Death Knight

    I have previously played only Unholy Death Knight, and have already discussed my conversion to the Blood side. The DPS appears to be low in the Tanking spec but the survivability is very over powered.

    This is a lot of fun to play when the mobs are in big packs.

    Levelling was very easy in Unholy spec, but it did suffer with gear deflation 85-87 was nice and smooth, but the 88-90 was not so pleasant. This would indicate a heavy gear dependency, and picks up dramatically at iLevel 468.


    My very first character was a warrior. I chose it because it should be the simplest to play, hit things over the head very hard. In truth I have never found warriors to be easy or to hit very hard. I have struggled at every level and have switch between Arms and Fury on many occasions, hoping that things will get better. It never as.

    Warriors seem to lack a big punch, with the exception of Bladestorm coupled with Bloodbath. Apart from that they appear poor at self healing and ultimately one of the most boring melee classes to play.


    The new kid on the blocks. Having to level up from 1-90 means that you get to spend a lot of time with this class. I have only sampled the delights of Windwalker, and have found it to intuitive in it's design and relatively easy to play. The levelling Blues every 10 levels help and the increased XP for 1 hour a day helps speed things along.

    At raid level Windwalker joins a host of melee classes that are capable of doing some large numbers.


    I have always had a soft spot for Retribution Paladins even in the early days when they were rubbish.

    The modern version is a completely different beast and in many respects, I dislike the whack-a-mole game style. Start combat and wait for the toolbar to light up, press corresponding button. The rotation consists in using anything that is not on cooldown, and in many respect resembles the Death Knight faceroll when they were first introduced.

    I endure Retribution now so that I can get some Holy gear, so far it is low on my list of priorities.


    Still in the early of MoP levelling, but Combat Rogue seems to be less difficult than usual. The issue with Rogues and levelling was always the amount of damage taken, ie. Leather wearing Melee class. Both Subtlety and Combat are performing well in raids, but then again Raid allows them to stand behind the boss and lets them go stabby, stabby, stab, stab.

    No doubt I will provide a further review in a few weeks, when I am fed up of eating and using bandages.


    To be honest I never really got on with the class. There are 3 specs all of which are totally unfamiliar due to the radical overhaul they received. This will definitely be reviewed as a noob guide to Warlocks. I am always surprised how bad a Warlock I have made in the past. Spell casters are much more my thing than melee.

    In Raids all 3 specs seem to be very close dPS wise, which suggests that Blizzard actually did a good job with the revamp. The downside is that no single spec is dominating and all are middle of the pack.


    This is where I am currently up to with my level 88 Boomkin. The sad thing is that I feel neither OoM or Boom with the Balance spec. Balance used to be very OP but quite dangerous. Starfall could turn a large angry gathering into a greasy smear, but could attract mobs in a nearby galaxy. Wrath was quick and not a big hitter, Starfire was long and slow and packed a punch. Now it is nothing more chasing eclipses, one way and then the next. The soul of the rotation is gone, and now Starsurge is the big hitter.

    Balance Druid is not fun to play any more and used to be, which is very sad indeed.


    In many case rotations/priories are sanitised versions of their former selves. Arcane Shot, Frostbolt, and Lightning Bolt, are all pale imitations of their former glory, and now play the role of fill in spells. Big Damage comes from combinations and not from signature spells.

    Some of the classes are now more desirable to play and some are less desirable, and it is nice to see Beastmaster Hunter and Frost Mage be acceptable raiding specs.

    Blizzard have still failed to balance all the specs within a tight percentage deviation, and looking at the tables, Mages look like they need reigning in a little

    Friday, 2 August 2013

    Summertime Blues

    World of Warcraft is very cyclical, with most players choosing to play in the winter months and the summer months are spent outside soaking up the longer warmer days. Most formal raiding stops during the Summer and most Guild rosters look very depleted indeed.

    The last Quarter - Q2 2013 saw a further drop of 600,000 subscribers, roughly affecting East and West equally. Q3 2013 - will inevitably see further unsubscriptions. Blizzard have confirmed that the figures fluctuate and players come back for new patches and Expansions, and then disappear in the quieter times. Using this information it would seem logical that patches will not just go live when ready, but will be strategically implemented at the optimum time. There will be no August Patch 5.4 but it will be ready for implementation in Early September.

    Patch 5.3 was fairly light in content anyway, so it is no wonder that people are currently faffing (Godmother word) around in game. I am expecting a boom time for Alts and school kids levelling up to 90 and problems for LFR queue times, with Raiding teams stopping to take a break.

    Blizzard need to stop the rot and a lot is riding on the next patch and next expansion. The next expansion is probably still 14 months away and it will be difficult times for Blizzard if Patch 5.4 is the last in the Mists of Pandaria expansion.

    There is still mileage in a Patch 5.5 with post Garrosh storyline, and atrocities being committed by the Alliance in the name of vengeance. The Horde will need to be rebuilt, and a truce drawn up to fight the anticipated return of the Burning Legion (according to Wrathion's prediction).

    The rumours are that Blizzard is looking to implement catch-up abilities to attract returning players, and to help gear those poor neglected Alts.

    Any catch-up mechanism will assist in the dual spec problem that arose in the early part of the MoP expansion, which made it very difficult to gear up one character with a DPS spec capable of doing the content never mind the second set of gear for an off-spec. It will be interesting to see how this develops, especially with opposite camp claiming that Blizzard is devaluing the efforts of those that have stayed loyal to game. Blizzard will run the gauntlet trying to appease both sets of players.

    In previous expansions I have been able to raid with dual spec on 10 characters, and I was more than surprised to see that even on a character like my second Hunter, I was able to clock up 8 and 9 boss kills in Dragon Soul LFR. I am guessing that Dragon Soul LFR's I must have clocked up over a 100 runs, which when compared to the allegedly more casual friendly MoP does not stack up.

    LFR in MoP seems to be a commitment to span the whole night's session doing the one task, with the 1 hour wait time, the wasted time between fights waiting for a change of personnel and the endless trash that Blizzard thinks makes the Raids more colourful.

    The biggest difference in the LFR between Dragon Soul and MoP is that only one of my Alts is Healer geared. I guess I will never Tank an LFR but I did used to enjoy the privileges of having 3 Healers.

    Quarter 3 is going to be a roller coaster ride for Blizzard subscriptions, and the future of the game is in the balance, at the current rate, they will be turning the lights out on Warcraft in 3 years time. You never know, Titan might be ready by then.

    NB: Apologies to anybody in the Southern Hemisphere - but I think I am safe to say the majority of WoW players are Northern Hemisphere.