Thursday, 31 July 2014

It's A Beautiful Day

Bugger! I did have a post ready and willing but Blogger seems only to have saved a copy from 2 days ago. I have used Blogger for 2 and a half years now and written 330 posts without any major problems until now. I have had glitches before, with not being able to add pictures but nothing major to worry about. That is until yesterday when it decided to lose a couple of hours work. I was too annoyed to rewrite the post yesterday so I wrote about a the concept of a single player MMO.

I am now ready to tackle the missing article from yesterday, but I am slightly worried it will not be as vitriolic as the original. Writing can be cathartic and I no longer have the bile left in me to express my disappointment in Blizzard. Sometimes when you write, you can recall the gist of your narrative but now I can't remember a word of what I wrote, so big apologies and I will try to piece together my thoughts

Thanks Blizzard, Thanks a bleedin bunch. As an Alliance only player I believe this is utterly beneath contempt, I was angry at the time and now I am absolutely seething. If I had any backbone I would rage quit wave the Bird at Blizzard HQ. This is what I wrote then

"Now here is where everything gets a little murky and if anything Blizzard have deliberately muddied the waters. Is the vote on the best looking Chopper, or is it this contest between Horde and Alliance? Does everybody get the Chopper, or just characters of the winning faction?"

We have some of the answers now, and it appears that the Horde will get an extra mount and Alliance can whistle Dixie. No long is it "For the Horde" it is "Up yours Alliance" No need to answer the question, we have the result of the North Korean Election and it is no surprise to most players, "Blizzard loves Horde".

The competition is flawed, it is as stupid as if  Metzen and Morhaime had said which is the sexiest race, Female Blood Elf or Male Undead and then after a crushing victory for Female Blood Elves, all Female players are awarded 3 months free game time. As if these two things were associated.

In a straight vote between Horde and Alliance, the Alliance win hands down. According to the Blizzard figures the breakdown of characters is 52% Alliance and 47% Horde, with 1% Pandas still stuck on Turtle Island. With 7.5 Million subscribers that leaves the Horde short by 37,500 votes. Make the vote purely about the aesthetics of 2 choppers one which looks fairly cool and contrast it against an ugly looking metallic insect then the vote is a foregone conclusion.

Azeroth Choppers was headed up by two senior Blizzard employees both of whom have strong links with the Horde, then it is no surprise when the Horde wins the competition by what looks like a mile, but lets be honest we have never seen the figures just some crap piece of graphics indicating a crushing win for the Horde.

Even after this whole debacle Blizzard could have still changed the rules, but instead they chose to humiliate and upset more than half of their subscribers, it sends a powerful message that they don't care if they upset customers on the way, because all is fair in love and war.

I always believed the Horde was the underdog in Warcraft, but now I feel like the aggrieved, it was funny that things in the game where not always balanced, that Alterac Valley is not symetrical, or that the Fishing Quest had most of the pools next door to Horde Flightpoints. Blizzard loves Horde was a battle chant that the Alliance could unite behind, but Blizzard hates Alliance is not a nice twist on the same story.

Every expansion appears to be a Horde storyline with a few breadcrumbs for the Alliance to pick up, certainly Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor are 90% Horde centric. The Alliance complained that during Mists of Pandaria, an expansion about War and the consequences of War, that it is a story told from the perspective of the Horde and not the Victors. Maybe Blizzard are incapable of writing from an Alliance perspective, because it seems too easy to write from the perspective of the world aggressors.

Blizzard seems to have an issue with balance, and it is something that needs to be looked at sooner rather than later. Horde v's Alliance, Horde wins, Male v's Female character stories, Males win by a massive amount.

It is obviously a harder sell for the Horde than Alliance, and I believe historically the numbers used to be skewed heavily in favour of the Alliance, but rumours of the Horde being the PvP kings, and Achievements needing max level characters on both sides and the introduction of a Horde "pretty race" in the shape of the Blood Elves have helped to balance the numbers so that 52-47 looks like a good balance, but do we need to keep pandering to the underdogs?


On a much lighter note, I was following some You Tube links when I came across "Hottest Celeb Chicks Who Play WoW". Assuming this was the work of some spotty adolescent who is fantasising they can get off with a Famous Girl Gamer, purely because they share an interest in the same game. I was shocked to find it was the work of Panser no doubt pandering to her male fan club. You understand that I was only viewing the You Tube video in the interests of research, and after watching I noticed the section on the right had the music video "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar" by Felicia Day. I ended up watching the 1st Season of the Guild, and of course I have now watched them all.

If for some reason you have been living in a cave for the last few years, obviously the one next door to mine then I can heartily recommend watching them all. It might be an imaginary MMO but we all know which one is the basis for most of the material.

I have been aware of the Guild for a long time, since some friends likened my wife to Clara, saying that she would leave the kids to their own devices whilst she gorged on mammoth gaming sessions. All of this is of course lies and my wife will take you to court if you suggest otherwise. It was worth the wait and I think that I might even watch the episodes without playing at the same time, so that I can concentrate on the annotation that comes with each episode.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Wicked Game

I am just contemplating a post from Alternative Chat, pondering the mixed messages from Blizzard. I could go off on a tangent about Blizzard and mixed messages, but I would rather concentrate on the idea of a single player MMO.

I sometimes see people in groups and raids who are dressed head to foot in LFR gear, and wonder why they would put themselves through that kind of agony, when you can go to Timeless Isle and grind for Burden of Eternity. On the whole this is better gear than LFR (it is in terms of iLevel) and it needs no interaction with the proletariat.

The question is could WoW become the new Baldur's Gate? A solo MMO with minions running quests in the Garrison, how long before we can do group or raid content on our own?

When we say that we only stay in game for the online social interaction? or are we deluding ourselves and that we prefer to spend time in a fantasy world acting like a hero than taking out the trash. I prefer Gaming to Television, but I particularly like to play when nobody else is online. No waiting for mobs to appear, everything is like a swimming pool before somebody dives in and causes ripples in the water. No need to check the chat log simply switch on Arnie mode and Terminate Azeroth.

I used to love doing dungeon crawls in Baldur's Gate with four other AI characters. Not totally depending on AI, but being able to position characters to best kill the boss. As long as you can tun off the speech of the the companions that drove me to distraction in Diablo III.

We can keep the MMO aspect for Auction House, but ultimately I think that a solo MMO is actually quite tempting. Blizzard could introduce a 4th type of Server with PvE, PvP, RP, and Solo. We play with other people but on our own, we could even have a sub class with a Diogenes server, where no chatting is allowed. No Barrens or Trade Chat, tell me that is not appealing.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Blitzkrieg Bop

Last night I was struggling for time and the last thing that I needed was an Asshat to spoil my fun (I will get to this later). Blizzard often talk about spoiling the fun aspect, not letting real issues spoil the fun, reporting players for spoiling the fun. I am curious is WoW fun any more? do we play out of a sense of duty?

Since my post on the PvP Posse riding through Hordeville on a steamroller, I am getting occasional shouts to do some Battlegrounds. Having brushed off several of these shouts, it felt like I really should give something back to these guys. I usually dust of my Resto Shaman for such occasions, but back in the day, I was quite handy with my Hunter, a real PitA if not a wreaking ball. After the first win I was really getting into the swing of things, I am still without gear but with the other guys around it was not a problem. Beo and Stormy were awesome as usual but the teaming up with an old guild mate Grizlyadams the "Singing Jock" that really put the icing on the cake.

Warsong Gulch is a traditional Horde stronghold, 3-0 to the Alliance with the Alliance camping the Graveyard. How many times have I been on the receiving end of such torture? Eye of the Storm, another strategic battle that for some reason favours the more organised Horde, not that day. It was an unstoppable Juggernaut of a team. For some reason it was mostly Russian Horde players that were getting a whooping, which considering what is going on in the world gives me additional pleasure.

As in game and real life the most enjoyment comes from doing something that you had really low expectations of, and really did not want to do, and then having a good time. The opposite is also true about something that you really want to do, turns into a turgid piece of crap. Expectations and the management of expectations are the key to having a good stable life. Is it any wonder that musicians take drugs, having played to thousands of baying fans, sitting down with a mineral water for a game of chess is not going to cut it.

Back to my opening statement and the Asshat, we have all seen them before, they do exist in WoW in what appears to be large numbers and they mostly like to live in LFR, so we can at least choose to avoid them. This new Asshat and I have no issue giving him (lets face it a female gamer has better things to do than cause distress to others) some publicity. Huntyoutohel from Magtheridon-EU, I name you Dickhead of the week.

What is the hideous crime? Simply ninja pulling Ordos every two minutes.
Pull>Die>Spirit Run>Rez>Pull
What possible benefit to you get from this activity? It was not even a faction suicide, kill yourself to get 15-20 Horde, I can almost see some benefit to that, pulling a World Boss onto your own faction is just boredom on a new scale.

I was curious to find out what Blizzard's official stance on this kind of behaviour, because forgive I don't think Blizzard have a good reputation when they talk about breaking the ToS and then don't bother to act upon it. The rules are in place, but we don't want to upset paying customers.

I have an idea if you don't want to give out 1 or 2 week bans, simply give a realm transfer to a Bad Boys PvP realm for Juvenile offenders. A Borstal for gamers who do not know how to play nicely with the other kids. You can even let the GM's grief the players as part of the punishment, it is better than any executive stress busting toys. How about keep them in the game and create an area in Capital Cities, were we can slap them in stocks and chuck rotten fruit at the characters. The characters even remain online after the offender logs off.

It is about time that Blizzard gives the paying customer some of the fun they keep promising and punish those that want to spoil the experience for everybody else.

Monday, 21 July 2014

I Wanna Be Sedated

According to the official sources, the current WoW player base for the 1st Quarter 2014 was 7.6 Million. A figure that puts it way above it's nearest rivals but a considerable drop from the heady days of WotLK and the 1st Quarter of Cataclysm. As a player do we want WoW to be as successful as in the past? Stay at the current levels with consolidated Realms? or for Blizzard to need to actively seek new players?

The Blizzard book of Stats unveiled some spectacular figures for us to digest. Only 7% are still playing the game, so even if you start stripping out the free accounts and the Gold seller accounts it is a large number of people who are familiar with the game.

What happened to these people? Did they...
  • play and hate the game
  • play and hate MMO's
  • play and like the game, but stop because of lifestyle changes
  • play and like the game, but hate the community
  • play and like the game, but hate a particular expansion
  • play the game and then move onto another game
  • play the game and then move onto another MMO
Not all these scenarios are good for Blizzard, and their target audience is only a small percentage of the 90 Million that have tried it and no longer play. The target audience is made up of people who come back for a new expansion and people who have never played it.

These two very different audiences have very different needs, and it can be argued that the more expansions the larger the barrier to entry for new players might be. My boss at work who is a serial gamer, but who has never played WoW. He has however played the big franchise MMO's like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Lord of the Rings. His teenage son is striking out and started playing WoW and dragging his father with him. Perfect target demographic, an old gamer and a teenager, but what is there in a 10 year old game for these two individuals?

The electronic starter pack is a level 20 character free demo. My boss skipped this and bought a combined expansion pack including Vanilla, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm all for the princely sum of £5. This will lead the new player up to Level 85 and will need to purchase Mists of Pandaria and Warlords or Draenor. By my reckoning that is going to be £20 for MoP and £45 for WoD.

For £5 you get a lot of game but the rest is a large chunk of change in one go, that would probably put off a large percentage of players. I would guess that they need to drop MoP to around £5-£10 or else they can expect another large tail off of numbers.

The World of Warcraft is empty. There is one capital city for Horde and Alliance a few hangouts in MoP or Timeless Isle. The rest of the world is just so empty, and that is not a good experience for and MMO. Teach people to play in a solo vacuum then feed them to the lions at max level. I can see the need for boosted max level but why not boost for 60-90 rather than 1-90. Get some extra value from the Cataclysm revamp.

Apparently fresh eyes are telling me that the requirement for addons for a new player is on the heavy side. Who today would even attempt to play without addons like we used to after every patch. Blizzard need to adapt more core addons and make them optional, immortalise the writers in game and use the code.

Movement is just too damn slow, I can live without flying mounts but walking at low level is painful. It is bad enough getting around Stormwind never mind some of the zones.

My boss complained about minimap directions, stating that points of interest should be highlighted by mouse over, and the general guidance for skills and professions is very poor. The starter zone is not just a small area, it should include a city tour and professions. It is like passing your driving test and then letting you drive on your own on a motorway/freeway without tuition.

In some respects it would be nice to see the game through fresh eyes but unless I meet someone from MiB armed with a memory eraser, then that is not going happen.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Living For The Weekend

This weekend sees the return of the Heart of Valorous buff, so now is a good time to collect the weeks worth of valor as I am in no doubt those supplies of Timeless Coins are at an all time low. I have chewed my way through 400,000 timeless coins in the 3,000 coins for 100 valor bonanza.

I would normally be quite happy to see this buff, but my realm had this buff all last weekend  as well. Was last week a glitch? Have I exploited Blizzard? Was it a test for this week? Did they simply forget to tell anyone about it? These Time Sensitive Buffs become an integral part of your game plan, then they disappear unexpectedly or appear after you collect the weeks valor. I assumed last week was a 4th July Brucie Bonus, but I was still expecting it to be there on Monday.

Any chance Blizzard might share it's master plan with us and allow us to plan around their mood swings?


On a separate topic completely, I have now claimed my 2nd Legendary cloak for my Shaman, but I am not sure I ordered the right one.

I am essentially Restoration, but it was so hard to keep 2 sets up-to-date in MoP. I am so very pleased that only Trinkets will be spec specific.

I chose the Elemental version because I am unlikely to do too much more raiding on this character, but I can enjoy another 10 levels of hurling lightning bolts in this cloak.

I really hope I did the right thing, and besides, it is quite awhile since I ran out mana, so Spirit would be wasted.
Finishing of the Legendary Quest line I opted for Healing against the Celestials and really enjoyed it. I just wish it was easier to add Wrathion to my Healbot bar rather than try to use the default UI.

Hint to Blizzard, if you are tweaking the UI, think about introducing a Healing interface, it might help on your Healer recruitment drive.

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Some days it is hard to find something to write about, and others you need to beat them off with a stick. Today is a day of plenty.

I have been meaning to write a follow up to the post on Blizzard's policy around naming policy. In this post I touched on some topics that are more important than a computer game, like misogyny, sexual orientation, and though not directly stated racism and nationalism.

A couple of stories have collided together to make it a good time to revisit the topic. The story to which I refer is Rob Pardo leaving Blizzard, and the subsequent retraction or additional clarification made by Mike Morhaime and a lack of diversity in Blizzard Games. Am I really the only person who sees a connection between these two events. Rob Pardo made a stupid statement about not letting equality and real life issues spoil the fun aspect of gameplay and 2 months later Rob Pardo leaves Blizzard and a few days after that Mike Morhaime is apologising, and talking up the need to be more inclusive.

I think Rob Pardo has paid the price for spouting out-dated white male gamer philosophies from another time period. Mike Morhaime is nobody's fool and will have been shocked by the storm that was whipped up Rob Pardo's comments. Morhaime's comments have been carefully chosen and set the right tone, but will he ultimately be able to change the corporate culture of one of the most influential Computer Gaming Companies. For now Blizzard appear to be listening, nobody could have foreseen the power of social networking to be able to change the policy of a large corporation.

The company needs some more diversity in terms of storyline and characters, and I don't mean just doing things by numbers. By this I mean do not apply quotas, There are 7 (according to the artwork) Warlords of Draenor, who are all Orc Males, so get rid of three of them and replace with three or four females, or maybe one of the Warlords is gay. It is about implementing natural diversity, Warlords are historically male blood thirsty bastards, but in the real world, empire building in Great Britain came during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria. Women are not men in dresses, they are far more complex than that. Writing a storyline about males is easy, they are far more predictable, and this probably lead to accusations that Rob Pardo uses only 4 main storylines and they are covered with a liberal sprinkling of cheese.

Maybe a new team can create a more convincing story than:

  1. Warchief evades execution for war crimes and atrocious acts of genocide
  2. Warchief escapes from prison and goes back in time to another planet in an alternative reality
  3. Warchief and former Warchief meet fathers and heroes from childhood legends
  4. Somehow evade catastrophic event and move planet from alternative reality to our reality
  5. Invade Azeroth with people from alternative reality
I am waiting to be convinced by the storyline, and I am waiting to see the impact of Morhaime's cultural revolution. I am guessing at this stage we are stuck with the main storyline and we will get a few female characters to flesh out the storylines.

Come on Blizzard give us a real 3 dimensional woman, with a storyline we can almost believe in, because Jaina Proudmore, and the Windrunners do not cut it for me.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Touch Too Much

Having been swamped with responses to Tuesdays post, I was forced to re-assess the parts of the game I would rather not do. One aspect was the Reputation Grind which as Grumpy pointed out they used to be quite epic but are now just a little bit meh. Difficult, long and time consuming somehow transpire to be rewarding. What is obvious is that it is a developers trick that cannot be used too often.

Collecting 20,000 eggs for one reputation and killing 40,000 Worg pups for another are both time consuming activities and sometimes the epicness is in beating the boredom threshold like the Bloodsail Buccaneers, which is mindless killing of innocent civilians and was then usual made up of spending weeks atoning for your massacring the local populace. This of course reminds everyone of the Mists of Pandaria experiment to scatter gear amongst all the reputation factions and then hide one faction behind other factions. Then slow the whole process down by only being able to gain reputation through dailies.


I would rather not be doing dailies, but if it is a toss up between making your own entertainment like on Timeless Isle or doing structured dailies, then dailies wins hands down. Looking for Rares is great when you get a kill with the rare on 5%, but invariably you are always in the wrong place.

Dailies are great for knocking out when waiting in a queue for LFR or PvP, maybe even before the Raid starts. What they are bad at doing is being a requirement to knock out 25-50 of them on each of your characters every day for 3 weeks. Dailies are being withdrawn by Blizzard when they should have used them more sparingly. Typical Blizzard they think the scale is Loads or Nothing without any middle ground in between.

Operation: Shieldwall and Kirin Tor Assault showed that reputation grind with dailies, stories and scenarios can work if integrated right. The bad part was that we had already done 5,000 dailies by this part of the expansion. Bring them back but not as the only content for end game.

Player v's Player

This is an odd choice for someone who devoted several blog inches on the Silvershard Mines. PvP can be fun to do if you didn't have to spend huge amounts of time just to be vaguely competitive. I could spend a few weeks to get Honor gear and then a few months to get Conquest gear. Obviously this process is quicker if I am Horde and queue constantly for Silvershard Mines, so that you can clock up 99 wins out of 100.

PvP Power seems to have done nothing to reduce the issues of PvP resilience and now we are going to have chameleonic gear that changes with our spec, it is time we had a blurring of the PvE/PvP gear. PvP gear in MoP was made with no loss of stats. I believe the team are working on a better balance but as usual expect some changes before we settle into a proper solution. You would hope that it would take less than 10 years to find a solution that works.

I might have mentioned it before, but it is time to keep PvE and PvP realms apart. Open raid always seems to be the default location with PvE wimps being dragged into a Gankers paradise just to have a pop at Ordos. If PvP realms do not have enough people to play with on PvP realms, there might just be a reason for it.

Looking For Raid

I spend a reasonable amount of time in LFR each week and lets face it is not as bad as many people would have us believe. Unfortunately when it is bad it is absolutely terrible. I have recently done some Lei Shen, mostly for the guaranteed drops, mostly it is straight in there  give him a smack and steal his loot. Occasionally some groups wants to do the Raid as originally intended. I know it is going to be a long night when they spend several minutes assigning people into groups for the Intermission. Most groups will simply just divide into 4 without too much difficult, but when they assign a group to a colour we are doing the Raid by numbers.

At this stage in the expansion I just want to get in and get out, mission accomplished. The only random aspect should be if the Secrets or Titan Runestones drop. For me it might well be alt number 4,5,7 or 11 but I still know what to do and what time. I don't get angry if we fail once, but I don't expect multiple failures, slanging matches and huge waiting times for another Tank or Healer to join the happy team.

The gear in LFR pitched for SoO at iLevel 522 means that I have no need for any of the gear with the exception of Trinkets. The only reason why anybody is in LFR is for Legendary quest, and so if this tourism raiding, then we really need a whistle stop tour experience, not the long drawn out experience that Blizzard have served up. It could be argued that LFR should have been ineligible for the Legendary quests, but I am guessing that nobody would be using that Tier of raiding for the last 4-6 months.

Flexible Raiding will probably be the final nail in the LFR coffin, and raiding with the guild will be an easier option, providing you have a modicum of talent. Nobody will want to bring Bob just because he is nice, if he stands in shit and can't hit a cows arse with a banjo.

If your Guild does not raid at a suitable time then open PuG raids will be able to assemble as any number, making them easier to form.

Waiting For A New Expansion

This is a monumental cock up on Blizzard's behalf. Speeding up expansion patches when they were not needed and then taking a very long time to make a new expansion.

During Cataclysm it seemed like a good idea to reboot Azeroth with Flying and new quests, and going to town on some zones and not touching others. Blizzard did not know where to stop in this development process and they are repeating the same problems again with the Character remodelling. The initial reaction was very positive but more and more complaints are being aired about the lack of continuity, the lack of a one off Nip and Tuck to choose the new face for our saggy heroes. Anyone remember the barbershop? As anybody been in since they got the Achievement?

The game time and development time do not stack up. Most of the time, it is the back of my characters head that I see, and several of them have Helm showing. I have no time for beautifying my characters or dressing them up like dolls, it just distracts from the job of killing internet Dragons.

The Turpster on the The Instance Podcast, several weeks ago excitedly declared that Warlords of Draenor was like World of Warcraft v2 with the new look and feel. Right now I would rather not be playing WoW the Original, when there is a whiff of something new and hopefully better waiting in the future.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

In Your Letter

Yesterday's post contains a congratulations of sorts from Navimie, and in an attempt to post a response, I needed to sign in and then the post disappeared, so I started writing a second response, before deciding to just put it into a blog post instead. The idea is that in World of Warcraft we all have done things which we don't like doing but do them anyway.

The reason is always for an end result, even though it might not be so obvious, and it is probably buried deep in your sub-conscious. Without further a-do here is "Bob's 5 things we do in WoW that we would rather not do".


Does anybody like doing Archaeology? We understand why it is in the game and it introduces aspects of Lore, but what purpose does it serve?

Personally I have levelled all the other professions so this was a no-brainer, it was something that needed to be done, because it was there. The bonus when levelling all my characters was that it awards XP, and free XP is good XP in my opinion. MoP did at least implement better sites on flatter ground and more compact, and this was futher enhanced by the Mantid. The search area is no bigger than my back garden, and when you have found one piece the next piece will show as green and is only a few feet away. It is not very exciting, the rewards are not great but we do it anyway.


I used to work with somebody who liked to do flight simulation on his computer. This I could understand for a few times learning to take off and land a plane are important skills, and when that tannoy message comes on the loudspeakers asking if anybody can fly a plane, we want to say that we were up to the task. My friend took this whole exercise to another level and used to do real-time flight simulation. This involved taking-off on a scheduled flight, engaging the Automatic pilot (Otto) and then going to work. He would then go to work and return home at Lunch time to land the Boeing 747 at JFK whilst eating a sandwich.

Fishing is an activity that I would never do in Real Life and the time to level to 600 takes as long as real Fishing but without the dubious pleasure of putting your hands in a bucket of maggots.

The tangible rewards are very obvious in WoW, and besides without fish it was hard to level cooking, until Pandaria handed it to you on a plate so to speak.


Bobflintston is currently perched on 54 Exalted Reputations. The vanilla version of the game made it very difficult to achieve Exalted with any faction, and the Home cities were no exception. Now it is possible to get Exalted with Stormwind simply by levelling and it will occur between level 20-40 without any effort. No more grinding for cloth in an attempt to curry flavour with Stormwind and Ironforge or even worse Exodar a city that has not been visited by most people in about 5 years.

I am sure we have our own memories of that first rep grind, or a particularly difficult rep grind that we continued to do long after it stopped being interesting. My first was probably Timbermaw, a grind that can now be done in about 30 minutes. Not back in the day, this was a grind and a half, but the big daddy of all was the Wintersaber Trainers. I still love that mount for the sweat and tears it represents.
Fighting on Mounts

Did anybody feel a shiver run down their back when they read that. I am referring to the Jousting Tournament setup in Northrend. It was a terrible combination of being on a mount with bad movement, and managing buffs and debuffs, for the Offense and Defence. A whole string of rewards was hidden by the ability to be able joust well. In general I would be winning then let lose all my debuffs and then lose shortly afterwards.

Blizzard tried to repeat this trick with a 5 Man Heroic Oculus, possible the most hated dungeon ever devised. In the end they made it so easy, it was quicker to complete than wait for the Cowardice debuff to end.

Not content with these two abominations, Blizzard present us with Jousting on flightless birds in Cataclysm. These birds would only fly if you managed to time their wings flapping in a rhythm similar to trying to get a noise out of bagpipes.


This is a controversial choice with many people loving the dressing up section of the game, so much that they do old raids and content in the hope of gaining Transmog items. I appreciate that some items are absolutely hideous, (I am looking at whoever designs Shaman Spaulders because you should be ashamed of yourself) and deserve to be changed.

I like the idea that the game is suitably customisable for those that want it, and colours of gear should be changeable. What I don't like is the idea of dressing Ken and Barbie in matching Gold-lame outfits for the purpose of killing Internet dragons. No longer do we have to tolerate bad design or wear Plate Mail bondage gear, but it is the concept of "dressing up" and the time it takes that I dislike.

Monday, 7 July 2014

You Got Lucky

Many years ago I decided to start playing a Mage. It was as a levelling experiment with 4 people questing and dungeoning together for fun and not as an exercise in speed levelling. The Party was created without any real synergy but I think we still managed to assemble a Tank, a Healer and two Dps. In those days I was pure damage dealer, with a Hunter, Warrior and a shiny new Gnome Mage.

As with anything in WoW we are expected to make some big decisions very early on about the Spec that we are specialise in. With a Hunter, I wanted to make my pet as big butch and mean as possible, so that I chose Beast Master. Marksman made some sense but Survival just appeared all wrong. The result was that I have been Beast Master ever since except a brief flirtation with Marksman during WotLK. Warrior was different in the fact that I know idea what to do except hit things with a large sharp object.

Although it is many years ago, I still remember starting out in Dun Morogh killing Troggs with firebolts. They would run at me and die at my feet without even being able to smell their disgusting breath. Life was simple in those days.

When the levelling group disbanded several levels later, I decided to enter Stranglethorn Vale. In those days STV was one zone and it stretched from around Level 25-30. The Southern Section was very dangerous even if you stayed on the road with Apes trying to stop your trip down to Bounty Bay. It was not quite as bad as the Wetlands run, in which the aggro area of a level 10, would put  the entire zone on red alert, looking for fresh Night Elf meat.

The North section contained some lower level Tigers and Panthers and it is here that I cut my teeth with my Mage. Fire mage was a Glass canon spec, with big burst damage and zero survivability, I spent a lot of time running from mobs and sitting down eating for the purpose of refreshing mana and health. I decided that this was not working very well for me, and I decided to change spec. I needed survivability and decided that Frost with it's slowing abilities would stop mobs from getting toe to toe and ripping my cloth garments to shreds. It is hard today to remember how tough levelling could be in those days.

I killed large quantities of Tigers and Panthers, and then Raptors and Crocodiles, all in an attempt to master a basic rotation, slowing, trapping and smacking my opponent into submission. The skills learnt in those hours have been etched into memory muscle and would be honed further during Cataclysm and the Dark Ages when I chose PvP rather than drag myself into another Zul.

Cataclysm was a fantastic time to be a Frost Mage and every Tol Barad would have a large contingent of Frosties running around, it was a cold time for everyone else. At the same time that Frost was the PvP king, Arcane and Fire were rocking the meters in PvE content. Mages have always been at the top of the DPS tree, which caused many to suspect that Ghostcrawler played a Mage.

MoP is the first expansion that I can remember that people have played the spec they want and not the top of tree with the possible exception of BM. Beast Master Hunter and Frost Mages have both enjoyed a moment in the sun but considering the rough ride through every other expansion, I can safely say it was a refreshing change.

At first glance Mages and Warlocks appear to be very similar both being magic based with ranged attacks, but I was reminded by their differences when handling different parts of the Wrathion quest line. It is no surprise to learn that Warlock struggled with the PvP content, so I was very worried when my little Frost Mage approached the same juncture in the game.

Warlord Bloodhilt, the Orc who hits like a wet noodle, can be soloed easier by certain classes. Part of the fight is the need to remain in close proximity to the Warlord, which is fine for Tanks, and classes with pet Tanks (Hunters and Warlocks) but not so good for a squishy with no natural healing capabilities. This resulted in a greasy smear for my Mage and I seem to remember my Shaman had similar issues. I needed backup so called on my Paladin friend Oov, who was enjoying his birthday by playing WoW on a different realm. He complained that he was not feeling totally comfortable playing a character that for vanilla and 3 Expansion had been his main character before switching to a Frost Mage. I said that his job was just to make sure he stayed alive.

Bloodhilt was a fairly slow fight with the Warlord still possessing 11.7 Million hit points and my mage feeling significantly weaker than when she is on the Timeless Isle with all those nice buffs. With the final deathswipe Bloodhilt toppled and so did Oov. "I said you only had to stay alive!".

Now for the PvP challenge. I have got 37K Honor Kills in my time in WoW and a large chunk are on my Frost Mage, so I was quietly confident except for the lack of gear. As usual I started with Temple of Kotmogu and as usual it was an easy win for the Alliance.

A Pair of Aces
My first trip into Silvershard Mines was of course a defeat. Having been in this position it was time to run some PvP content that the Alliance can win. The minimum a PvPer needs is a Trinket that removes all snares.

The random BG was Deepwind Gorge, which having run this one with the posse, I was quite comfortable hanging back and picking off the fleeing Horde from the centre of the battleground. Anyone with half health must have lost the Horde buff that means they take no damage and are immune to any snares. The rest of the fight was based around defending the middle flag. It was here that I remembered what Frost Mages do really well. They are a PITA to kill! They don't stay still with blink, they have invisibility, an ice block, frost armor, polymorph, mirror image, ice barrier, and ring of frost. They have a veritable bag of tricks in their armoury, and occasionally they will bite back.

If I can keep the enemy tied up trying to kill me, then it makes an overlap somewhere on the battlefield. It is the same principle as sending a Tank out to soak up the hits, while the rest of the team picks off the weak from the periphery. I took this philosophy into my next Silvershard Mine, which was a late night effort, after 1 O'clock server time, with the hope that only PvP ers would be playing at this time.

The Alliance started fairly badly but we stayed in contention, and got our act together in the middle section. I took up my role escorting a cart up the middle section. Towards the end I enjoyed a nice piece of play keeping 3 Horde occupied while the Alliance stole a surprise win, with only 30 points in it. The Lion Roars in 3 attempts. I am utterly delighted.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Bad Company

It is now a week since my Warlock of Whimpery started her PvP leg of the Legendary Cloak quest line. The hatred for the quest "The Lion Roars" is itself legendary, and many column inches have been written about it by Alliance biased bloggers. The latest of which was Kurn in her review of the Legendary Quest chain (see section Chapter 2).

I approached last night having done in the region of about 25 Battlegrounds in the Silvershard Mines, and all with the exception of one was a miserable failure. I have managed the PvP quest already on 2 characters, my Hunter sailed through at first time of asking but my Resto Shaman had a terrible time. The last time was 6 months ago and my solution then was ask in Guild. My prayers then were answered by Beomani the Warlock, a very accomplished Raider and PvPer. I have been looking for Beomani for several days, and I am guessing that he might have been on holiday, but definitely away for his computer. I made a casual enquiry but you know that people have affairs to put in order when then have been absent for any length of time.

Shortly after Beomani gave me the nod and I joined a group to find Stormedge a Ret Pally, who I have encountered on a handful of late night PvP sessions.

PvP Heroes of Silvershard - Stormy and Beo
I was actually quite excited being given an opportunity to enact my revenge, this dish was going to be anything but cold. It was going to be a bloodbath with the streets filled with the stinking green flesh and congealed blood of hundreds of Horde for all the beatings they have given the Alliance in 9 years.

A plan was formulated and we decided to take the Horde head on and go for the Lava cart. On arrival there was no Horde in sight. This turned out not to be good news but a surprise attack. It was like finding yourself in the Neutral Zone only for the entire Klingon Fleet to uncloak behind you.

Stun-Silence-Death, I managed to offer one spell as a counterattack. From that opening Salvo the Alliance never recovered. I was utterly dejected my posse had made absolutely no difference to the outcome of the Alliance fortunes.

The 2nd attempt started with Stormy assessing our chances as being no better than the first attempt. Mostly PvE people with a similar makeup of melee, range and casters. The omens suggested a similar outcome. I was pleasantly surprised when we managed to take the Horde to within a hundred points.

Stormy and Beo were starting to get in a groove and the need for each of them to top the Killing Blows was fuelling the improvement in the Alliance team.

The 3rd attempt left me in my favourite position of nursing home the Lava cart. and it was nice to witness all 3 carts occasionally turning Blue, this meant we had a chance of being competitive.

A 600 point Victory for the Alliance was the final result from the 3rd bout. The Scoresheet suggests a fairly even contest, but a 600 point win is a comfortable victory. Wrathion will be pleased.

Not wanting to leave my posse immediately after claiming the spoils I agreed to carry on and do some more PvP battlegrounds. A random BG placed the team in Deepwind Gorge, which is a new MoP BG that I have only been in once, and suffered a humiliating defeat. This time the boot was very much on the other foot. The BG was nearly over before the Horde scored any points and a score of 1600 - 23 was a brilliant victory and proves that the Alliance can occasionally compete.

There is nothing like the popup of Achievements in Guildchat to get people interested, and we increased our numbers to 5, I switched to Resto Shaman to give the party more balance and we went round the Lion Roars battlegrounds of Temple of Kotmogu and Silvershard Mines.

An organised party of 5 with Mumble and 3 players resplendent in Prideful gear made mincemeat out of a demoralised Horde. If the Grumpy Elf is right and the Horde queue times are 30 minutes per Battleground and they expect a win as a divine right then we must have left Horde members wondering what they had done that was so wrong.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

"Gaze of the Black Prince" buff, now that was exciting. The number of Titan Runestones did not seem to have changed during the period and only the guaranteed dropped  as per normal, sigils on the other hand rained down so much that everyone got stuck in the 2nd week waiting for 3000 Valor to clock up.

The major advantage of the buff was the increased reputation gained for killing the Celestials each week. That was so worth the development time that Blizzard spent applying that patch. Stop making it time sensitive just apply it until the next expansion, it is not like we have anything else to do at the moment.

The Grumpy Elf several weeks ago ran a Time Sensitive buff post, I am still trying to get a catchy title, but the following will have to do [We're Crap and We Know We Are] or [The Lion Whimpers] is an Alliance specific buff that allows the Alliance to automatically win the Silvershard Mines when 8 or more of the combatants (used in the loosest possible sense) are queuing for the quest The Lion Roars.

The following story a very sad tale about how my Warlock of Whimpery, having lost so many Silvershard Mines Battlegrounds that I have started doing PvP in order to get the gear that will one day in the future guarantee the Alliance a win. I have now gathered a few bits of additional gear including 2 Trinkets, because everybody needs to be able to remove that mobility debuff so that the Horde can apply another 5 consecutively, sap, stun, silence and fear take your pick it is just one after another in that place. This is odd because everytime I cast fear I see the words "Immune". It is like Blizzard is having a huge laugh at my expense. The worse part of all this is that I seem to be one of the better PvPers on the Alliance side. My Warlock specialises in slow but powerful hitting spells, the only problem that with this is that PvP does not allow you the time to get anything like a rotation off before the first stun comes in.

I get the feeling that every Alliance PvPer is currently blacklisting the Silvershard Mines so only the dregs, the late comers and the alts, without any PvP equipment are standing naked in front of the Horde night after night for a daily dose of spanking.

I am almost tempted to change faction do the quest and then faction change back.

Early on in my Legendary challenge I found a group that traded blows mano-a-mano with Horde, I ended up with role of seeing the cart home down the shortest track to the lava pit. I did this with aplomb and rest of the Alliance tried to steal a second cart whenever possible. The plan was working well and we finally took 2 carts with clock close to striking 1600. Until right at the death the Horde captured the cart and won the fight.

65 Points was a complete downer and since then I doubt that I have been in Battleground were the Alliance are within 1000 points.

If Blizzard think that PvP for PvE players will give people a taster session and then they will be smitten, then they are dreadfully wrong. I am doing PvP in the hope of gathering enough gear to haul the sorry asses in the Alliance over the finishing line. I certainly don't see too many of my Brothers in Arms putting that kind of effort in. They expect to turn up and be carried through, and thinking about this rationally it is about time that PvE gear can be used in PvP without us being a punch bag for those that prefer to PvP every night.

The safest places I have found to gather Honor Points is old content. Tol Barad, Wintergrasp and Grizzly Hills all offer honor for those of us who want to solo our PvP content.


Blizzard have recently done an extended maintenance period. I have yet to find out exactly what they have been up to but I get the feeling that someone found some dodgy memory in his draw and thought he would test in my European server, because the game has become immediately more unstable.

This was my favourite, I got onto my computer early and was greeted by the following screen. Ok it is not a WoW issue but a Blizzard Battlenet problem, but we can all do without this kind of service.

Another of my favourite glitches with the game is the cross-realm open raid, used extensively for Ordos and Celestial bashing. What happens is that the Raid members can see dots on the minimap but seem to inhabit a different world to the rest of the raid team. The solution is to drop group and try and find another group. Invariably you just end up being picked up by the same team that you just left. This is the time to do something else and come back when the participants have worked it out or given up.

We are know how much Blizzard likes to see PvEers PvP, so not just content with Achievements and Legendary quests, they have invented the Open Raid where PvPers who live on a PvP with 10 other people are now allowed to summon other people to their little paradise. The soft unsuspecting PvEer is thrust into a world where it is hazardous to move anywhere without being Sapped by some invisible enemy, who will enjoy nothing more than Stun-Locking you until death occurs. The real soft puddings will demand a summons or will drop group, but they will be tarred with the 5 minute mark of shame (marked for PvP and like being hogtied and slow roasted over a roasting pit). The harder (more stupid) PvEers make our tortuous trip from the Celestial Courtyard to Ordos' Lair, hoping that we are invisible to all Horde but knowing full well that we have a Hunters Mark on our heads.

If we ever get to cross the broken bridge we have a new very deadly foe, in the form of the Kamikaze Horde member than will gather every Kilnmaster and other nasties and then deposit them on top of the raid at the same time as annoying Ordos to come out of his slumber. The result is Fire and Brimstone on a massive scale and the Kamikaze Horde is happy to keep stoking the fire by adding more and more adds to the mix.

What king of player wants to undertake such acts of sabotage? Do they wake up and think, Garrosh, nah I am fed up of subduing is puny ass, Today I am going screw the Alliance over for as long as possible and rack up 100's of Gold in repair bills.


I was wondering about Beta access to the Warlords of Draenor and could understand why I was excluded from Friends and Family, but what about the Beta? I write about the game why not?

I checked my e-mail nothing there, what about my settings in Battlenet?

How did I know that you had to opt in? Two years ago I pledged my allegiance by doing what I do every year, which is paying Blizzard for a 12 month subscription.

Anyway if Blizzard want someone to test WoD on older hardware, I am now official available.