Author Archive: Isey

Carrots and Sticks

The mere participation of the activity should be the reward, right? Unfortunately that always isn’t true. There are parts of our gaming that we have do to in order to participate in the parts we enjoy.

The most glaring example of this is leveling in itself. This has manifested itself in the World of Warcraft era with most of the engaging content locked behind max level. In Everquest grouping and leveling itself was the reward (it was also really the only efficient way to play). I didn’t make max level in EQ. Expansions hit faster than I could reach the cap. There wasn’t a whole lot of alternate character play back in those days for myself either. Back then alts only happened when your friends were playing their alts. Falling behind and not being able to contribute much to your group was a thing back in EQ. This was motivation to stay current and play a lot. That was a stick.

I don’t have an issue with this because if you take away those bits then you might as well have a lobby style game. I know WoW is perfectly suited for that as well already but that isn’t my point. My point is that I am at that stage in the WoW expansion where I either have to fundamentally change the way I play (which is tough to do) or I need to start finding my own fun. My own fun initially was to start leveling alts but that is turning out to not be as much fun as I had hoped. The issue with leveling alternate characters in WoW is that you are doing the same content you did before – and the only reward at the end of it is to do more of the same content you are doing on your main – albeit your preferred content. The carrot here is that intertwined with the 95% repeat content is the 5% Class Hall unique content. That is enough to keep me going (for now).

Couchon, my Druid main is pretty much fully up to date on the Suramar story line and is actively keeping up with it (carrot) while on my Rogue it is pointless as I have already experienced it (stick).  Emissary Quests, with their low Legendary drop rate is a stick on Couchon (867 ilvl, 2 legendaries already and almost maxed out on world reputation) but a carrot on Coosh (more upgrades still available, only one legendary). Still – the change of gear upgrades is so slim that I am starting to not even enjoy doing the Emissary quests at all – but I still do them everyday on my two max level characters because.. well… because I am supposed to I think?

Isee (level 108 Paladin) I started doing the main quest line on to see if it was faster than dungeon leveling (it’s not) so that was a short lived carrot experience that quickly turned into a stick.

I started levelling my Demon Hunter – on the Horde side. I have no clue what the experience is like as a Horde player. I saw the cutscenes when Greymane fought Sylvanas – is it the same perspective from the Horde side? I want to find that out by experiencing it. I am worried I will do all the quests to get up there only to find out it is the same. What is the motivations of the Horde? Why did they leave the alliance hanging on the Broken Shore, causing the death of the King and leader of the Alliance? These are unanswered questions for me (carrot) but ones I can probably find out faster via google (stick). I am not going to spoil it for myself (yet.)

The biggest interest for me right now is the Class Order Hall stories. My Hunter is at her class hall. Level 101. She may be next. My Shaman calls me. I rolled a Death Knight (for the first time) and a Mage (have never played past level 30). I started their journeys and parked them in zones and areas where they can start building rest XP. With Heirlooms and 200% rest XP that will make the experience that much better. Mage is under 10, Warlock is in her 20s, Monk is mid 40s, DK late 50s, Priest early 60s, Warrior late 70s, Shaman late 80s, Demon Hunter late 90s, Hunter at 100, Paladin at 108, Rogue and Druid at 110. I have a character in each leveling ‘decade’. This may be the expansion I get them all to 110 for the Class Hall alone (carrot) but to do so, I’d have to abandon regular play of my higher level characters to make the time (stick).

I have done all the Dungeons including Karazahn, and all the raids via LFR. I have the two hidden artifact appearances for my druid for the specs I do not play (Boomkin and Feral) so a weekly Ursoc run for the Guardian version for Couchon is a must do (carrot) but the rest of that raid is a waste of my time (stick) and I feel bad dropping after the first boss.

Raising the artifact weapon gets faster and easier by time and grind alone. If you sit back on the time part and wait to get more artifact knowledge it also makes the grind more manageable. Big carrot there to not play…

Sorry for the very rambling Monday post. I was fleshing out this idea of Carrots and sticks when I was doing some Battleground PVP. There was a Weekly Quest to get 4 wins in a Battleground. It was a big carrot! I have gone 1-25 as an Alliance member which is driving me nuts. Some rounds I will have 4x the healing as the next player on either team and we arent even close to being successful. I have actually quit mid rounds because the teams have been so bad. The ‘stick’ for not staying in a losing match is that if you get a 15 minute deserter buff. The issue is, there is so much to do, I’d rather find something more fun to do for 15 minutes than sit through 10 minutes of terrible teamwork. It became so unfun – queuing up for a Battleground knowing that you had no chance – that I just gave up on the quest altogether. The carrot of the Weekly Quest ultimately became a stick.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? One person’s carrot is another person’s stick?

(Latest version of WordPress broke full justification of paragraphs. It looks ugly and I hate it. Hopefully they fix soon!)

Hearthstone Expansion Launch

Mean Streets of Gadgetzan

Despite a silly little bug forcing card duplicates out of the pack (which has harmed pretty much everyone who bought a 50-deck starter pack) I have to say I love the way this expansion launched.

Before the good, the bad is that I love the illusion that there is a fair RNG shot at legendaries and really good cards just by playing away with no need to buy tons of packs. If there are x number of cards, and y number of legendary cards in my mind it’s a clear ratio of y/x for my chances.This “bug” totally ruins that illusion for me. Of course they make legendaries harder to get, so you have to buy more to have that chance. Of course they have swung it in their favor to make more money. I just like living under the illusion of fairness. Ignorance is bliss, after all.

That being said they were really generous with their launch of the game and ‘free’ pack giveaways. There are three different factions in this expansion and in serial order you need to complete quests for each. The quests are as simple as win 3 games with a, b, or c classes (solidifying the launch of the new system of multi-class cards) and each quest completion gives you two packs. 6 packs for just playing a range of classes is better than most of the morning quests I get each day. It was fun to do that.

I had also saved up a bunch of coin to buy the new packs and I received one legendary out of the 8 or so packs I had, which seemed above average considering some of the 50 pack buyers were saying they received 2-3. I am not sure what the ratio should be. None of the new cards seem game breaking yet but I also haven’t ran into full decks as designed to use some of the new mechanics. As such, I am reserving my right to complain about pay to win at a future date. As a gaming blog that right should just be implicit anyway, right?

Alt-itis Rears its Ugly Head

At the conclusion of the Rogue Class Hall quest I started leveling my Shaman. I have written (and read plenty elsewhere) that this is not a very friendly Alt expansion – and I still agree with that. This perspective really depends on how much you love your main character as well. I am not maximizing my main experience, but log in everyday to do my Emissary quests. Rep is almost all at Exalted. The main quest-line portion that is available is just about complete. I am now 850 ilvl with my Rogue and also do the daily Emissary quests but not much else. I am interested in the story from other character’s perspectives. My Paladin is at 106 and is moving along nicely on the Class Hall quests and I just wanted to dig in on getting a character up for the next experience.

My Shaman, while only 87, is one of my favorite classes of all time thematically, even though they have watered down the play style over the years. I still don’t want to get too far ahead with my alts until they fully unveil their plans for alts to catch up, but i have a hunter at 100 and plan to get some others up to the 100 threshold using the 200% rested XP gains. At this point I just want options. As a gaming blog that desire should just be implicit anyway, right?

My Enhance Shammy in action

Clash Royale

Because I need another daily phone game distraction I started playing. Kids on my son’s team play it a lot so I became interested. It is fun and I am already shooting up the ranks of the team’s clan. It’s weird with kids and games and social media – many have Instagram accounts (etc.) at 11 and when they request the add I always follow back. Fun to see what is important to them but because of the age gap and what not, I do find it a bit odd and it took me some time to get comfortable with it. It does make me more mindful about what I am posting of which is probably a good thing. The kids all asked me to join their clan and find it “cool” that I play. They love beating me in a friendly and can’t believe an old guy can beat them (when it actually does happen). I wonder if the teenage years will make it yet again not cool to ‘hang out’ with a dad, but we’ll see if the new digital age makes kids more inclusive. I’ll be fine if they end up kicking me because it’s not cool anymore. In the short term, its fun to see the way the interact and play these games.

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Spring Cleaning – Blog Draft Posts Part 3

Continuing this series until I get rid of all of my blog drafts in one form or another – either to complete the post, or kill it outright. This is part three of this series with parts one and two linked right there.

Not Buying the New Console – 9/2/2014

The snippet I had written for this post was a beauty of a run on sentence.

“Why would I?   My PC has an X-box controller The games are better the mods are better No backward compatibility is just STUPID! Steam streaming onto big TV’s is supposed to be awesome. Why?What do you game on? Tablet? Share Surface Pro stories. and links. Consoles? Both? Why is there an advantage? RAzr blade”

At the time I was pretty serious about not getting a new console (I did, eventually, 30 days later…) because I was pretty incensed that they didn’t offer backward compatibility. For a platform built off of PC gaming for the most part this was an overt cash grab. I didn’t want to have to keep two machines plugged in or get rid of the old games that were still fun. Blue Ray players play DVDs. PC’s are extremely backward compatible. The X-Box was built by a PC company. None of this added up for me and I had, at that time, made up my mind that I wasn’t going to buy one. I did vote with my wallet and went PS4 instead this time. The truth of the matter is that gamepad games are much more fun with your kid than over a computer, and I didn’t want to invest the time and energy to hook up my PC in such a way that big screen gaming was possible. I also like to separate my work and gaming computers. Anyway, all relevant things I was going to put into that post (for the most part) was in this sentence. Outcome: Deleted. Just like my willpower.

I’m No the Only Dummy Complaining about Sales! – 9/10/2014

Steam as a platform lost my loyalty a long time ago and I finally found another post that discussed how gaming is ruining itself as a race to the bottom platform. I had been saying that for a long time, that there is zero incentive to buy a game full price because there is a near 100% certainty you will get it at a far lower rate just by being patient. Even a few weeks later sales start. I know there is some irony in complaining about getting something you want anyway at a lower rate, but I do believe that the industry should support good practices and these sales zergs have set a precedent we can’t go back from.

All I had in the body was a link to the article, which I will link here for funzies. Outcome: Delete faster than full price lasts.

Online Spaces – 10/04/2014

I had written a lot on this draft but never pulled it together. He is the text in it’s cut and paste entirety.

“A lot of good chatter about servers lately.

The purpose of servers in gaming seems to have outlived its use in the first place. From a programming perspective servers served a few functions:

  • Limit the number of players in a specific place – server and programming limitations had to be taken care of. Too many players in a place could be bad for lag and code. Server access limits are still the norm.
  • Contain specific and varied rulesets – PVP, PVP, RP of each (etc.)
  • Service specific timezones – EU, NA, EST, PST, MST – some even have specific language servers.

While these items also became pertinent to the gamer, and from a gamer’s perspective servers had other, specific uses:

  • Created a community identity – I’m on Whisperwind! Uldum is the best! etc. There are often bragging rights up for grabs =)
  • Interdependency between gamers – limited people in limited spaces create needs (items, grouping) and wants (socialization, company) based on the community
  • Potentially isolated  existing relationships (wrong, separate servers) – half of my old guild went to one server, the other half to a different one – for different reasons.

Some games are shifting from this model to the GW2 or soon to be WildStar, MegaServer. The Megaserver (from what I can tell) grows and shrinks as per demand through area instancing. It has some benefits such as allowing you to play with your friends regardless of what server they were originally on, but also takes away any sense or thought of interdepency, or identifying with any particular community. Is that important anymore anyway?

The MMO tag on games is to encourage playing with one another – the truth is, playing with strangers is rare. Most games don’t force grouping with strangers and while it is convenient for a shared goal it usually doesn’t lead to long term commitments. I am not all hyped on the “must be online and group friendly” standard in games where I am forced to play alongside strangers. The analogy I like to use is a concert. Going to concerts is fun

  • Going to a concert by yourself
  • GOing to a coffee shop by yourself
  • These are not social activities.
  • So why is going to an online game, by yourself, considered social?
  • What tools are games providing to you to actually socialize, not just be an anonymous member in the crowd?

http://bhagpuss.blogspot.co.uk/

Old Servers worked well – dependency, community.”

I think you get the gist. I should have fleshed out the concert analogy more – the point being that while you may be in the same space as 25,000 other people, and that is part of the draw, you are only really interacting with a select few. You see I linked to Bhagpuss because he was chiming in on the issue (as I recall, as well as Murf and the Aggronaut as linked) and I believe at some point I realized it had been discussed to death. Once you miss the timing of making a relevant post it is almost too late to be a part of the discussion. “Hey guys, I want to chip in here too” – except everyone else has already moved on and talking about something else already. Outcome: Deletamundo.

Why No Game? (Dr. Who) – 12/12/14

I am years behind on the new Dr. Who. Season 3 on Netflix. I don’t watch much TV. I go through spurts and I was working on catching up on the series, when it struck me there were no Dr. Who games. The text I started:

“In my mission to be a healthy gamer I have spoken here before of the strategic placement of my elliptical – in front of a 60” LED TV with both a PS4 and Xbox 360 in front of it. Some games are very challenging in this environment (Destiny, The Last of Us) and others are pretty mindless and simple (Diablo III). However, this perch is also from where I watch Netflix shows and for all of it’s faults, Netflix is good at catching up on TV series. I am currently on the last episode of the second season of the new series of Doctor Who (David Tennant) and as I was 6km into my “run”, watching Torchwood files, the thought struck me. Why hasn’t there been a Dr. Who game?

Turns out there was (is?) but at the time they only went to UK folk. Still, the question remained (although modified) – why wasn’t there a good Doctor Who game out there? So, enter my Google-fu and much like most things in the world, turns out there was a lot more behind Doctor Who games than I originally thought. Instead of rehashing the history, there is a good article linked right here from The Register.

I believe it would be a commercial success and the backdrop (infinite alternate universes) would fit in all sorts of great backdrops and game styles – the only one I can’t see one squeezing into is FPS. I have been familar with Dr. Who my entire life and there are many like me, and he is on a very popular new renaissance over the past 10 years as well.”

While a stretch to have other timelords around it is one of the universes where having a million Dr. Whos actually makes sense with all the parallel universes and time shenanigans going off. The truth of the matter is I believe there is no Dr. Who game because developers haven’t figured out how to monetize known properties in a non-combat setting type of game. I mean, Dr. Who Smash Bros style just wouldn’t cut it. Outcome: Go back in time and delete the original thought to make this post to begin with.

This is very therapeutic. Fun to revisit where my head was only a couple of years ago while I spring clean my back end. (Wait, wut?)

Hey Good Lookin’

I finally transmogged my Druid. At ilvl 867 upgrades are few and far between and the parts that I hated about transmog (having to redo it every piece everytime there was an ugrade) is most likely slowing to a crawl for me. I have never been one to worry about costume sets and the look of my character(s). I fondly remember the early years where you wore your best no matter how much it mismatched the rest of your gear. Gear was survival, after all. There were two things that pushed me over the edge on my transmog. First, was that I became exalted with the Nightfallen faction which gave me class hall armor shoulders. The red and yellow velvety smoothness of that gear clashed horribly with the purple and brown spiky setup the leather armor currently is. Here is the leather set (on my Rogue – it’s basically the exact same on the druid)

While not terrible in itself, I have been staring at the exact same armor set on both of my main characters since Legion basically launched. Check out the wicked Outlaw cutlasses though, love that design. Still, I had enough. Here is the Druid Class set, fully transmogged to get away from the base leather look:

I feel like it fits the druid well, and is so opposite of what I have been staring at that it was a nice ‘mog. It also looks great when I have my bear claws on instead of my healing staff. Funny thing is, in game, I was getting a texture error on the chest for a while until I re-logged. Felt like an undershirt or something.

I found it amusing that it wasn’t just a solid texture,  Blizzard even used branding on their mistakes.  What is it with Blizzard and purple this expansion?

What I dislike about the transmog system in WoW is that if you get an upgrade you have to do it all over again. I should just be able to pick my look and have it stay regardless of new gear. I had transmogged earlier in the expansion to my Malorne set but with daily upgrades it became a pain to maintain. I know there is a whole sub segment of the Blizzard population that loves to ‘mog, and I hope they improve the way it works in the future. Otherwise it is purely an endgame activity for the impatient such as myself.

My Rogue is already ready to hit Mythic dungeons although I suspect getting into one of those PUG groups will be far more challenging as just DPS. I did finish her Class Hall campaign and am already looking forward to the next Class Hall campaign I plan on working on – my Paladin. I keep struggling with my desire to hit my alts with so much to do on my main, but the Class Hall quests are just such a fun thing to do – to experience the expansion through the different perspectives is too good to give up. My Paladin has a long way to 110 still (sitting at 104) but after seeing her Class Hall armor that acts as another enticement.

compliments WoWhead.com

I mean, I always wanted to be Bumblebee from Transformers….

I guess this blog is a WoW blog for now. I am fine with that.

Becoming a Well Rounded Azerothian

And not by voting, because they don’t have that yet in game. What is the Azeroth equivalent to the Donald? Leeroy Jenkins?

Worlds Apart

I continue to be torn between the world of ‘Mains’ and the world of ‘Alts’. Couchon (Main) is at 867 ilvl which means he can do all of the pug content out there.  I started looking at things in game I couldn’t do solo – not for lack of ability, but lack of effort – and found a couple key areas I was missing. First, is that I don’t cook. Back when I was raiding I was an alchemist so I made pots, and elixirs for everyone and received my food for free. As I push into more advanced content I am thankful I can provide my own mana/health pots and flasks, but never have stat food available. Since I do not raid in my guild I do not want to ask. Auction house prices are rediculously inflated, permanently (I know this because I am easily playing for free, and make more money than I spend each month. AND I have been hording all my materials..) and I am disinclined to buy. If I can’t pay for my sub in game I will stop playing. Time to learn cooking.

Cooking is fun in Legion because you load up on ingredients and get Nomi, a panda chef, to discover recipes for you. I am not even in the cooking phase but I have a ton of stat food from Nomi and am getting some nice discoveries. I get a lot of meat ingredients naturally by my world quests but also notice a lack of fish, which seems to be a popular ingredient, so off to learn fishing I go.

Fishing is very zen-like in game. i actually quite enjoy it. It is a good non-distraction when you are on a conference call or other time at work where you don’t really need to focus, but need to be present.

I do all the freebies on Couchon to ‘advance’ my character. I have two legendaries (one of which came from a world quest chest) and I hit up profession world quests and all the checkoxes every week for the chance to get just a bit better. I have full confidence in my gameplay as both Healer and Tank in game. One nice weekly feature Blizzard added was a weekly world quest that has included some fun things in the past – Mythic dungeons, Timewalking dungeons, Heroic dungeons. The reward is a chest and Artefact Power and it’s a nice focus for the week. This week it was Arena Skirmishes. PVP. I haven’t done PVP since The Burning Crusade expansion, and was hesitant. Meh, what to fear? Off to PVP I go!

They “fixed” PVP finally by not having a secondary gear set, and separate PVP talents. I know (knew…) in the past that a good healer is critical in a team PVP environment so I queued up as Restoration. I needed 10 wins in the week to get the chest. I forgot that PVP was hard. Very hard. I went 1 and 15 on my first 16 matches. I did advance and get some PVP talents along the way – and most importantly learned A LOT. I also started switching around my non-PVP talents to fit better for burst healing and survivability. I also had to better prepare to use many spells and talents I can skip on using in PVE. Slow improvement lead to getting into a good group of three where we had 4 wins in a row. After one loss that group disbanded. A couple of groups later we had 6 wins in a row in a random group that stuck together. More importantly I was having a lot of fun. I do find it funny that when you have some success in a group they only stick together until the first loss. Soon as you lose one the group breaks up. That was very interesting to me.

I have spent less time on my Rogue and more on my Paladin as of late and I have been getting a huge pull to my Shaman (used to be my main, the past few expansions). The Paladin is easy because instant tank 5-man queues, which I thoroughly enjoy. Running regular 5-mans as I level up has actually helped my Mythic runs on my druid with pathing and mob density.  I hope Blizzard introduces more mechanics to encourage using alts – they hint that it will come so that in itself acts as a barrier to playing them (which put in 100% effort now when you can put in less later for faster results?)

Legion has pulled me into new things and I am becoming a far more rounded citizen of Azeroth. Trying new things has been enjoyable and I am glad I have put some effort into them. I really like PVP (turns out) and that is something I will continue. Fishing and Cooking are good time investments and improve my character for the other styles of gameplay I frequent more often.  About the only thing I haven’t tried is Pet Battles.

Hey, even I have standards.

Hearthstone

Return of the Cardigal Son

I started with Hearthstone when it first launched and then abandoned it completely. I only recently I started playing again. The resurgence came from when my son came back from camp this summer. Camp has a very strict ‘no electronics’ policy and the kids were there for two weeks  –  a great unplugging for their young minds. Of course, one kid brought a bunch of Magic : The Gathering cards and it was a great way to spend evenings in their cabins and rainy afternoons. He came home very interested in the game and we bought some decks and started learning the game. I then of course checked to see if they had a phone app – which they do, but it is absolutely terrible and unplayable. This in turn reminded me of how slick and smooth the Hearthstone app is and I reloaded it to show my son. I have been playing it ever since.

When I last played it was at launch and I was really far behind – solo games, a few expansions, and tons and tons of cards that I hadn’t seen before. It is a great game for me because it has a daily goal – beat the quest – which gives you coins which in turn you exchange for packs. I had little desire for the PvE component and started playing 1-5 games a day to earn new decks. This gave me some comfort and practice with learning what was out there. I started getting new cards, new decks, and even found one that I really enjoy playing and have had interesting success with some Priest decks. I say “interesting”, because I am not nuanced enough in the game to know if it is a good deck or not. My playtime with it is odd – multiple wins in a row (sometimes as high as 5 or 6) followed by by multiple losses (sometimes as high as 5 or 6). It is either an amazing deck that gets hit with bouts of bad luck, or a terrible deck with consistent good luck. I haven’t quite sorted out if it is the most balanced card game (EVER!! <cued ridiculous claim) or if the game is solely based on luck. I am definitely not a top player as I bounce between a player ranking of 18-20.

Poor Motivators

Usually the daily quests are ‘win X games with Y class’ and this was always a fun way to play a class you weren’t used to. Lately, however, I have seen mostly ‘Play Y class cards’ and the efficient player in me just loads up on all low to mid class cards of the daily quest (along with cards that get you more cards) and I focus less on winning and more on playing as many class cards and surviving as long as I can (to play more cards). There isn’t any incentive to win here – if I can lose and play 50 class cards in two games that is more time efficient than having to win four times to play 50 class cards. Since they aren’t my best decks often (random class) I do not play ranked anyway. I appreciate they are trying to mix it up a bit but having incentives that may be contrary to the primary game’s purpose (winning) can make the game less fun for everyone. I can tell when I play someone on a similar quest by the odd chance that they quit early along after they have met the quest goal. Often I will be playing someone who is clearly beating me (because I am trying to play the most cards I can, not win) who suddenly quits mid play after laying down what was obviously the last class card he needed to.

Pay to Win?

Hearthstone did get $20 out of me, well deserved too with the amount of games I have played as of late. It was so I could get a single card, one that seems like a must have for standard play. Every time I faced this card I would lose. The card is Prince Malchezaar – a 5 point card that gives you 5 random legendary cards. It is ridiculously powerful. Everyday when I opened my cards I was hoping for it to stay in the game, to be competitive. Then I took the time to google which deck it came from in case I was choosing the wrong packs, and learned that it was from a PVE only deck Karazahn.

To get this card, all you had to do was beat Karazahn. To beat Karazahn you had to have Karazahn, which cost $20.  Is that a good example of the term ‘paywall’? Funny thing is, once I got the card I actually started losing more because the C’Thun deck I was using now had to compete with 5 other normally high level cards in the deck – delaying when I would get my C’Thun and also increasing the chances I would start with too many higher level cards and not get enough early plays to stay in the game. I will have to sort through that. I will, eventually.

It remains a fun and easy game to play. I do wish Magic TG had a more slick app that was easy to play. I would like to explore those complexities at some point. With daily quests to do, and an expansion on the Horizon I forsee keeping this loaded on my phone for when a break is called for. It remains a nice distraction. Hopefully at some point I figure out if I am any good at it or not.

Leather Fetish

My World of Warcraft journey continues to be fun. My druid is ilvl 860 and equipped for Mythic +4 (that is where my confidence stands) as a healer – I still don’t know the fastest routes through a lot of the instances to feel comfortable tanking. My tanking set is, of course 859 with the synergies that now exist in gear and while I have done a Mythic +2 as a tank it was in a guild group – so I had a lot more confidence that I could be carried through it. I did fine, and as I practice more I am sure I will end up tanking more often. It wasn’t my keystone and I wasn’t prepared to screw that up for someone.

Leather Fetish

As the title of this piece indicates I recognized that I had this. With my main on cruise control, and my Rogue also in maintenance mode I started looking at a yet another alt to bring to 110. My two favored choices were Monk and Demon Hunter because I wanted to try something new and I wanted to be able to tank and/or heal – role unity continues to be a pain point with my Rogue. I started with my monk (starting at 40) and realized that if I went that route, I would be staring at the exact same looking gear sets for the journey. Same with the Demon Hunter. That is a clear and large lack of differentiation and I decided I needed to go another way. Back to my Paladin it was. I am also tired of the quest line after two runs through so I decided to test a full XP dungeon run as a leveling opportunity. I have read it wasn’t a thing in Legion, that it isn’t xp efficient. Turns out 25% to 30% of a level at 102 isn’t so bad. I really enjoy 5 mans and zero queue times. I can have my cake and eat it to.

{Filthy} Casual

I joke around here that being a {filthy} casual is my new lot in life and I am fine for it. Maybe even all the better! Then I started paying attention to my gameplay and motivations and realize perhaps I am not all that casual after all. Sure, I am not raiding or tackling top tier content but I am doing things very uncasual-ish (new words for the win) and have very uncasual results. For example:

  • Pretty much every 5 man I lead in DPS when playing a DPS character. I push to maximize my output. Often against better geared teammates.
  • I have healed the group through damage they should have died through. They say you can’t heal stupid. Seems that isn’t entirely accurate as I have done a lot of it in PUGS.
  • I flask, rune, use stat food, etc.
  • I read healing, tanking and DPS strategies. Watch videos. Read class forums. Optimize my talents and gear for my favored activities (5 mans)
  • When healing, I do DPS when I have excess mana and a safe group. I try to assist on things such as roots on adds. I use my full kit.
  • I use cooldowns on trash mobs. Most are 1 to 2 minutes, so why save them for bosses only? You can use them to speed up the run and they are still available for boss.
  • I pay attention to DPS, HEAL, interrupt counts, meters etc.

I’m not sure if everyone is doing those things or if it is just the ex-raider in me that pushes that forward. I do do all of that really friendly – I am one of those players that realize everyone is here for fun at their own pace. If I am in a group and someone is pulling terrible DPS I don’t really care – it’s not the end of the world, just 45 minutes of fun if I let it. I realize my own efforts can make up for the lack of someone else’s and hate people calling people out. I haven’t gemmed or enchanted my gear yet but I am replacing pieces daily, so feel like that would be a waste of cash at this point. Maybe that is the one big thing that points to my casual-ness. One of the reason why I run meters is so I can make good decisions. If two people die, who am I using my battle rez on? The 300k dps’er or the 150k?

Pretty Pictures

The world in Legion is beautiful. World designers did a lot of little knick knacks throughout to make it feel believable. From a shoe at the top of a mountain, to beds with night side tables, there is just a lot of lived-in going on. This is the first expansion I have noticed these things, and have taken some shots of things I found that I appreciated. Click on them to make them bigger!

 

 

DPS Disadvantage

Playing a pure DPS class is quickly proving to be a major disadvantage in this expansion than a class who can tank or heal. I am just noticing this now because I traditionally haven’t mained a pure DPS class. The game has been moving this way over the years with only 1/3 of the classes unable to tank or heal. The thing is, there really isn’t any reason for it outside of design planning and effort by Blizzard.

The crux of the issue is that Tank and Healing classes are in high demand. I can get into any group I qualify for basically instantly whereas pure DPS classes have to wait up to 40 minutes for the same activity. This is mostly based off of math – there are three DPS classes for a typical event (5 man) to one tank and one healer. The Custom queue is full of 0/0/3 (tank/healing/damage) groups just waiting to be blessed by the presence of a “necessary” character. The thing is, pure damage characters are fun and have great fantasy flavour with the archetypes. It is also a class segment that has less responsibility and quite frankly, less impact. A great tank or healer can carry a group through an activity – since there are fewer of them, their impact is far more noticeable. If you have two damage classes doing great damage and one doing poor (along with average tanking and healing) you will still be successful. A top end damage class still can only move the average so far since it is blended along with two other damage classes as well as the damage a tank does. Smart things such as interrupts is where a good damage class can really shine.

What to do? First off, is to acknowledge the terrible design decision that there are pure damage classes to begin with. Every class should either have a healing or tanking option. The second, is to acknowledge the equally terrible design decision to have some classes that can tank AND heal, while some have neither option. Better design would be to have every class with a damage and a heal OR tanking option, (not necessarily both). Historically you aren’t going to be able to take away those options without a pissed off player base, but still, no reason why you can’t add more options to the other classes. They figured this out with the Demon Hunter by only giving them one extra option.

Let’s look at what the classes offer (T=Tank, H=Heal, R=Ranged DPS, M=Meelee DPS. Double letters means double the specialization in that style)

  • Death Knight: T, M, M
  • Demon Hunter: T, M
  • Druid: T, H, R, M
  • Hunter: R, R, M
  • Mage: R, R, R
  • Monk: T, H, M
  • Paladin: T, H, M
  • Priest: H, H, R
  • Rogue: M, M, M
  • Shaman: H, R, M
  • Warlock: R, R, R
  • Warrior, T, M, M

12 classes, with the following specialization breakdowns:

  • Tanking:6
  • Healing:6
  • Ranged:11
  • Melee:13

First off – just noticed how it doesn’t quite balance (should have one less melee and one  more Ranged, for “balance” purposes) – still, there is double the amount of “non-essential” classes vs “essential” (12 to 24) and that breaks out to a 1:1:4 ratio. This creates a natural bottleneck on those required classes. Instead of breaking current classes a simple solution would be to add either a healing or a tanking specialization for every class that doesn’t currently have one of those options and remove double specs  (so if you do melee DPS, only do one kind.) Some ideas that don’t totally break immersion:

  • Death Knight loses a melee spec (-1 melee)
  • Warrior loses a melee spec (-1 melee)
  • Hunter: Tanking via a Pet, replacing the new Survival specialization. (-1 melee spec)
  • Mage:  Healing via arcane magic (-1 ranged spec)
  • Rogue: Tanking via avoidance / parry,  (-2 melee spec)
  • Warlock: Healing using Demon energy (-2 range spec)

Check out that math. 8 tanks, 8 healers, 8 ranged, 8 melee. Equal amounts (16 to16, 1:1:2 ratio) instead of double the amount of DPS classes. Should be easier to balance out a 5 man group. 10s and 20s wouldn’t be so bad either, because classes have more options to fill those required spots.

This change would give people more options. The way loot works now in Legion is perfect – you *pick* what spec you get loot for. So even if you love dps, and want to improve that loot, then simply choose it. If you refuse to tank or heal this doesn’t change anything for you, stick to your dps spec and enjoy the game you want. The other benefits of this kind of cleanup is that now you are only balancing 32 specializations  instead of 36, a ~10% reduction in developer class balance work.

I do realize a change like this is highly unlikely. It is never too late to change and it would be an interesting move. I know for a fact it would help my game play and would give me options to support the greater community (via tanking or healing) if I could do it without having to switch to a different character. Blizzard made some major changes similar to this already this year (look at the hunter changes) so it isn’t completely out of the ordinary. It would take some guts, some good planning and some good research.

It would also require a new expansion.

See, win / win.

Enthusiasm Reborn!

So much for the waning. All it took was a teensy bit of of self effort.

Let me set the table a bit.

Part of the frustration I was feeling was that I had gone as far as I could, except for a couple daily routines. To make matters even worse on those daily routines they are the same for each of your characters – meaning if I wanted to just do the 4 Emissary Quests each day per character, that was doing the same quests over and over. This made little sense to me considering there are world quests available in every zone at any time and also because it wasn’t the most fun way to spend mytime. It’s still a step up from dailies. There was a path to continuing on my progression journey but it came at a cost – not a huge cost, but a minor inconvenience. A modicum of effort. While that sounds pathetic to be humming and hawing about, this is the game that has removed all modern incoveniences after all.

Except this one.

I had to ask for help. From other, living, human beings.

I am in a guild. To be fair, it’s not the typical guild I am used to being in. I was always very active in guilds – from my big entrance I inherited from my first guild “YAR!” (yes ,all caps, all the time) to side conversations, to getting to know people on a very personal level. I led a guild. I spent hours on the guild forums daily. I had side conversations. Met people in real life. Fully invested. Gaming 40 hours a week PLUS all the offline connections. That part of my life I have had to lead behind (RIP Raiding!) and as a (filthy) casual player now, I tend to login, do my thing, and logout without much interaction. I am sure the guild I am in has great people – I know the leadership (they were old guild mates of mine) as some of the best people I gamed with for that intense period over a decade ago, and I know they like good people… I just have changed and mostly stick to myself.

Until the past weekend. More table setting. My wife is out of town. She hates it when I game “disconnected” – ie: headset on, not able to talk to anyone, zoned out. She doesn’t  mind me sitting on my laptop while she watches shows as long as I can communicate and don’t get involved in something I can’t pause and walk away from. This takes away a lot of the challenging content for lack of communication to begin with. But, she is gone, and I can game “old school” this weekend. I honestly didn’t know how to get started. I have been in this guild the whole Legion journey and only knew three people in it better than a stranger. I logged in, and did my solo quests in the morning unlocking the last two dungeons I didn’t have – Arcway and Court of Stars – both are available as Mythic only (for non WoW folk – no auto group finder, more challenging content, etc.)

I needed help if I was going to experience this content. I know I am a competent player, but in that veteran sort of way. I am not up to speed on all the latest dungeons and tricks, and which trash mobs you can skip, and gemming, consumables etc. but I know how to play my characters and their specialties.  So here went nothing.

/gu Morning! Anyone interested in running Arcway or Court of Stars? I need them for my Suramar quests!

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Of course not. We put together a group of 2 guild mates and two of their non guild friends and I had my first Arcway run – which was VERY challenging, but we didn’t hit many snags. In fact, I felt very refreshed. I actually was challenged to play hard and play well in Warcraft again. Last time that happened was… WOTLK?

I thanked the group. I felt closer to my guild. I had so much fun. It was such a win win.

It was early (the guild is CST and I am EST) and the guild mates logged to do family things, my son was still in bed. I was brave and confident and checked the custom group finder for another Mythic. I have heard horror stories about this but I had nothing to lose. Time to do Court of Stars. Not only was it successful (less clean, more deaths, but the group was surprisingly patient and understanding) but I also received my first legendary.

click to enlarge epeen (or pic)

I spent the day doing Mythics, including an all guild Mythic +2 run (WoW has gamified dungeon running – you get a keystone for a specific, random dungeon and if you beat it by a certain time you get better loot, and a keystone to another specific, random dungeon at a +4 rating – meaning it is harder still. This goes up to +10). We were successful and by the end of the day I had received the “brokenly epic” achievement, which meant I was wearing gear all ilvl 840 or higher. I had progressed further and faster in a day than the previous week. Simply by counting on people.

Somewhere along the way I forgot that games were about the people you played them with. Gaming for me turned into “see the story” or “complete my part of the world”. I have to admit it felt damn good to enjoy some multiplayer action with some really good people – old and new friends. This should carry my enthusiasm for sometime.

Waning Enthusiasm – Legion.

It was bound to happen sometime, right?

My Rogue finally hit friendly with all the factions and was able to do a world quest. This was where things would get exciting for me, I was certain. I had three queued up (it does that when you first get world quests) and I rattled off the first – for an 805 blue. The second – another 805 blue. Of course the third time wasn’t any sort of charm and I saw myself staring at boring, non-epic lewts. The excitement of iterative gear scaling had taken a huge step backward for and it actually felt…. unfun.

I had a momentary thought about starting another alt, but then realized I had my duties to do on my main and now duties to do on my alt, which left less time for yet another alt. My routine is still pretty consistent but now duplicative:

  1. Do World Emmissary Quests (Daily)
  2. Do World Quests with gear upgrades
  3. Do World Quests with profession materials
  4. Do Champion quests with Champion XP or Gear upgrades until maxed out (Druid has no more xp leveling to do with his champions, just gear)
  5. World Boss (weekly)
  6. Do LFR for gear upgrades (3 wings now, weekly)
  7. Play the Auction House (daily) for free subs and profits.

That is my standard to do. Listed like that it does seem a bit like “work”, right?

I still have options – I haven’t even finished the main Suramar questline on my druid yet and that will unlock two more instances for me. I also have some Mythic dungeon quests that I’d like to try, but there is no LFG system which means that will take effort to put a group together (the horror.. the horror…). I do get a ton of Artifact Power now and could load up a third (or even 4th spec) for my druid which would be completely new for me – I have never tried Feral or Balance spec.

And of course, if all else fails, I could try another alt. I really do enjoy the class story lines as much as I do not enjoy repeating the faction content that needs to be done to drive the levels to do the class story line. The fact that I am thinking of my next step shows I am still invested. The fact that I am trying to find the next step to retain my interest illustrates that it is indeed, finally, waning.

Happy Endings

I enjoy the TV show “The Walking Dead”. I wouldn’t call myself a giant fan but I watch every season. I tend to watch the season a season behind (I just started season 6, season 7 is underway) and it is a weird place of enjoyment-but-not-quite-fandom. I have a vested interest in seeing what happens to the original crew of the show.

I say that deliberately – the original crew. Season one of The Walking Dead was some of the best TV I have ever enjoyed. Season two was great, season three was good, and now the series is in what seems like maintenance mode – things are happening that are consistent with a zombie apocalypse and some of the events even follow the comic books (loosely and somewhat) but the show is just not dynamite. This is bound to happen when my main tie and motivation for the show is around the people and in earlier years they did a better job of developing them.

This show kills off recurring characters weekly and main characters annually, for the most part. Now in season six there really are only four characters that I care greatly for – Rick, Maggie, Glenn and Carol. I also, to a lesser extent, tend to care about Carl and Michonne.  Other characters have come, been killed / eaten, and gone – but their introduction and story lines just didn’t leave a lasting impression. I have no clue how long they plan on running this series but I do kind of have my own time set when to stop watching, when those characters are no longer a part of it.

I tend to struggle with long term TV shows as it seems the first couple of seasons are done exceptionally, and then people recognize that there is great money to be made so things adjust to profit. I don’t mind (and appreciate!) that they can drive profit from their art and work but I am unsure if the quality is really lowering or if it is just my personal experience. Take the series LOST, for example. That is a perfect example of an exciting and intriguing first year. After that it was pretty clear that they stopped moving the plot forward and focused on introducing new characters only to give them an episode to explore their backstory. I am not even cynical but that is my lasting impression of the show – “How do we stretch this out”, instead of “how do we explore a great plot”. I know that series lasted several years – perhaps others have far more patience than I do, or found something in it I couldn’t

I am not a big TV fan to begin with because it is just so passive. I don’t mind watching sports on TV but otherwise I am far happier with a laptop out and reading, or playing a game – even if the TV is on in the background.

Back to The Walking Dead – there is no possibility for a happy ending. The world explored becomes worse and worse and with less hope. The entire population is infected and there is no hope for a cure. It is a show to watch to explore the human condition when hope is at a premium.  I still watch because I want to see how far the people I like make it. When their future / ending is decided and I can finally turn off the program for good is when my happy ending will be with the show.

Miscalculation

Legion is still the most fun I have had in gaming in years. There is always something to do, there is measurable and frequent progression, and the game play is smooth and nuanced. It’s not boring to play but not too difficult, and you can weave in complexities to your actions to make the rotation and combat just a bit more fun. Like most things it seems you get out what you put into it.

My druid remains in maintenance mode although I did add the LFR (Looking for Raid) activity into my weekly rotation. I had left WoW long before LFR was a thing – and the old raiding snob in me sees it as a complete dumbing down of content / loot pinata, while the [filthy] casual in me is very thankful that I can progress in some of my quests, see bosses I would never see this expansion, and also get some sweet sick loot. I received my first ilvl 850 loot this morning on a raid that was less challenging than completing a heroic dungeon. Truth is the more that are in an activity, the less the individual contribution matters. I can live with that. I still push myself to be on the top of the healing charts for the sole fact that I know that will make it easier on others, and hey, I still want to “win” – even though I am just playing a largely solo experience. That means I only have to beat my own expectations.

My rogue, on the other hand, is now friendly with every faction and ready for world quests. Except that is where my miscalculation arrived – you can’t do Suramar (the 5th faction to unlock world quests) until you hit level 110. I am not sure why I thought I could level via World Quests but that was a goal I worked towards that I now can’t complete. This is disappointing because going through the story line a second time is as un-fun as watching a “just ok” movie over and over. DPS classes definitely get a raw deal here as dungeon queues can run 40 minutes plus so questing is the only real method to advance.

I have 37 problems and a tank is one

This is a minor gripe and the same one DPS classes have been struggling with forever. The Outlaw rogue is my *dream* spec. I LOVE the flavour of the class and the abilities. It is less convenient for me to do dungeons and fun things but I enjoy it enough to find new ways to play. The Class Hall quest line fits really well – without spoiling, you become a member of a shadow council who operates in the background of society and not leaving things to chance. Kind of like a secret society, pulling strings from the shadows. I wasn’t sure how the rogue would translate over in this manner as the Druid and Paladin quest lines work well on a big scale (heroes of the light / forest) – how could a stabby class compete? It does this well, albeit a bit standard fare.

Racism alive and well in Azeroth

I have actually been pleasantly surprised with the tone and attitude of the player base, and then this smacked me in the face the other day (names blurred out)

I have seen far worse, but actually I haven’t seen ANY talk of this nature in a long, long time in WoW. That is the small positive I will take from this, that it is clearly improving. The sad part is that it still exists at all. Whether or not it is really improving or only *feels* like it as people take it to less public channels I have no clue. It was a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go both as a gaming community that hides far too comfortably behind anonymity.

Legion Casual Hurdle

I like being efficient with my time. If I have three stops in town I try to pick the route that makes the most sense to get to each of the three without much backtracking. Why go back and forth when you can find a clear path? This changes somewhat if buying groceries is one of the three stops because I don’t want my groceries sitting in the car while doing other shopping / appointments. I just rearrange the trip to factor that in. Same if I have to be certain places at certain times. Might as well think through things for a minute before racing off and wasting part of a day.

I find myself in the same predicament with Legion now. The first hurdle.

Recently my posts have been arguing that there is too much to do – and this very true, to an extent. There are things to do but how efficient of my time is it to do them? Now that my character is ilvl 834 I have some limits on what I do to move forward effectively, and I am now in maintenance mode with my “main” Couchon. My Class quest is done as far as I can (Raid is the next step). My tradeskill quests are done as far as I can efficiently. My Artifact(s – my main and my offspec (Guardian and Restoration)) are as high as they can be efficiently with both being rank 15 (~12,000 AP to level up).

My daily routine now consists of this:

  1. Do World quests for treasure chest (chance to get a legendary). The quests are ok but the rewards are below what I need right now. Typically gives 700(ish) gold plus an 810 item (below what I have in every slot) but a chance for a legendary. 30 minutes of playtime.
  2. Do World Quests for Herbalism (if they are up) – I need a TON of mats to get to the next alchemy step and instead of flying  running around to collect mats (I would do it if I could fly..) I wait for any quests that award me 20/40 herbs and are saving them up that way.
  3. Do daily Heroic if there is a reward for queuing as healer or tank – I don’t have many upgrade opportunities in heroics but I still enjoy 5 mans – I still haven’t received an upgrade through heroics that I can recall
  4. Do world quests for gear upgrades (if there are any) – there are some 835+ gear options through world quests if you pay attention, so that is what I look for.

If there aren’t any of the above, I have nothing to do. Grinding artifacts at~12,000 per point when you get 90 to 410 AP for quests / world quests is highly inefficient. If I wait a few more weeks my Artifact Research (currently level 4, 140% of AP gained) I will get double or even triple that. So why grind it out slowly when with some patience, it will come much easier? The shot at a legendary is so difficult, that even that seems like not the best use of time – but going for that shiny orange gear is too good of an opportunity to turn down.

None of this is a complaint. This is where I am at as a player until such time I can try LFR or something else, major happens. This actually makes me happy because now I have an even better excuse to go play my Rogue.

Rogue-ing It

I was so tempted. So VERY tempted to buy another boost to 100 for my Rogue, since I wasted mine on what I thought I wanted to do with a ranged Hunter. WoD content was dry compared to Legion and my time is at a premium. I was also justifying it much so because I have 4 months of free wow ($60) from playing the game already with the WoW Token. It made sense to boost in my mind but I had a tingling in the back of it – what if I hated this boost as well? I needed to play more of the Outlaw rogue before making that commitment. I had full rest XP, level 92, and a night off. I went to work.

I was fortunate that my Garrison upgraded to level 2 as there is a 30% XP boost potion to buy, for very cheap resources (100). As I was flush with cash from my Legion antics I also upgraded all of my Heirlooms to go to level 100. I didn’t bother with quest texts and did my treasure hunting during my travels in Draenor (nice touch on the rogue, and 40,000 xp per find (7% at the level I was at)). The result was surprising. Level 97 in two hours. Plus I don’t even have flying in Draenor. With three levels to go and a lot of potions left I am really glad I put in the effort it because I DO love the Outlaw Rogue mechanics (yay Randomization as a core game mechanic) AND I saved myself $60. Patience can be a virtue after all.

Blizzard Fanboy level +1. Just don’t tell my EQ friends.

Token Questions

What do you do for a living? Are you married? Do you have kids? A/S/L? While these are all great questions in general conversation I am still really curious to learn more about the WoW token, and exactly how it works. When it was first launched I made the assumption that for every WoW token sold there was one purchased with cash which would make it a net even cash proposition for Blizzard. However, if this was true then why can’t tokens be used for other things in the WoW store? Mounts, level 100 boosts, et al all require cold hard cash. This leads me to believe that the Token does not have an equivalent cash value to Blizzard and makes me wonder the math behind it all and how much money they are actually making compared to a straight sub fee situation. From what I have heard Draenor basically bestowed hundreds of thousands of gold on basically anyone and everyone who put in a minimum effort. Then there are players like me that probably wouldn’t be playing past the first month without the WoW token – which is ridiculously easy to attain in Legion. (in one month, I basically have my next three free.) If anyone has some insight here I would love to hear it. I would also prefer to use those tokens to inst-level my 90 rogue – the WoD experience isn’t nearly as fun as Legion so far.

Set me free!

Not flying in this expansion is completely dumb. No ifs ands or buts. There isn’t even an in game reason for it. It is most likely the dumbest thing Blizzard has ever done (which is saying a lot). The sad thing about it all is that they actually FINALLY made compelling enough content that perhaps people wouldn’t fly anyway to skip the content. The whistle mechanic completely trivializes non-flying as a barrier. Let people fly. Let them enjoy the game. This sounds like someone up high at Blizzard just has a personal feeling about this because it is not rooted in any sort of sensibility or logical reasoning. I am reminded of how much I love flying every time I get to go back to Azeroth and that becomes more irksome with each return visit as well.

You are the wind beneath my wings

Pleasantly Surprised

Similarly I keep finding myself stopping to take pictures and walking off the beaten path to explore. Not flying doesn’t encourage me to do this, beautiful views and curiosities do. Design well and you don’t need fake walls to bang your head (and subscription fee) against. (This is a backhanded compliment, yes, I realize that. Intended!). I was Herbalizing (not what you think it means) and stumbled across Night Elf bodies. Why were they there? There was no sign of how they died, or why, but there was a small village nearby so I went exploring to do some detective work. I didn’t find out why but I spent some solid time trying to learn. This is why Legion is working for me. I am engaged in the world.

why.. wHy.. WHY!!!??!

It is also the little things – such as water with flowing current. I know that sounds silly, but I fell into a river and started flowing downstream. I was amazed. I also found a treasure chest that I had to fight against the current to line up to get enough time to open it before I was swept away. Little details are very world immersive. I don’t fondly remember these as much in past expansions and admittedly that might be because I was focused on raiding on progression.

River Deep Mountain High

Old Stomping Grounds

I really enjoy the fact that there are quests that push you back into old zones from all previous expansions. I am almost done a herbalism quest that sent me to Azeroth, Northrend, and Draenor. This was great because I got to use my flight form… in Azeroth and Northrend. I was fortunate enough to have the flight path for the Draenor zone because I had just done enough quests in Draenor to get it – that would have been a complete pain in the ass trying to find my way through a zone I had no clue about. That could be a poor design decision if anyone did skip over the full expansion. Players should get all flight paths from old zones when new expansions launch.

Which way is up?

I continue to enjoy my time in Azeroth, once again. Who knew? I am only a flight form away from being a complete fanboy. Still curious on the longevity but I am not even thinking about that at this time.

Oh, one more flight photo. Just because.

Arti-fictions

One disappointing thing about Legion for me is that the advanced Artifact model options are gated behind some really crazy accomplishments. When I first saw the preview for them it was exciting to think that we had personal choices on how we were going to look. Turns out those choices are largely illusionary unless you count “you look exactly the same as everyone else who has advanced as far as you have” as a choice.  I didn’t expect it to be gated behind levels or raids for the simple fact that with Transmog in game alive and well the look of weapons is completely meaningless. It was disappointing to think I could  make a laser bear from the get go only to find out that I need to complete a slew of Mythic dungeon achievements that I may never get the chance to. It’s a minor gripe but part of the attraction for me from the outset was that there would be a higher level of personalization available so not all bears would look the same. Turns out we do. I get in the past, having the totally geared out raider standing in the middle of Ironforge in his epic loots was a driver for subscription numbers. Now the focus is on the character’s personal story so that is moot.

Courtesy: WoWhead

Some of these, someday.

That has always been an issue for me with the Druid to begin with too. As a Paladin, the better I get the better I look – you get some incredible armor, weapons and shields. As a bear you get a big ol butt to stare at during fighting. I suppose that has always been the trade off with the only 4 role class in game.  I do like the druid mechanics and I am having fun but I wish I could express myself a bit more through my shape shifting choices like every other character.

Rogue-ish Ways

This is also true with my Rogue and Artifact – when I saw the rapier graphic from the Dreadblades I was instantly excited to level and play that skin. Turns out it is gated by a secret mechanic that no one can find. And by no one, I mean a fully dedicated rogue swat team can’t even find it.

Not sure on the math, but that claims over 25,000 hours searching… (click to enlarge)

It may not even be attainable but they are still trying. This is actually really cool quirk if it is a well kept secret. If it’s not even turned on or find able yet that 25,000 hours seems like quite the sacrifice. With all that in mind I am going back to my rogue for leveling next. It will be a bit longer of a slog since she is only level 90 but I suspect by the time I get to 100 the artifact issue will be sorted. Hopefully it isn’t gated by something that I can’t complete as a mostly (filthy) casual that doesn’t deserve nice things.

MS-DDOS

I have no clue what is going on, but it seems like there is a permanent DDOS attack on Blizzard. It is even hitting their Hearthstone servers as well. I get the “fame” that big hacking groups such as Anonymous get for taking down corporate giants in the name of taking care of the little guy, but have no clue why this DDOS is consistent and ongoing. Is it because they can? They are angry at Blizzard for something?  It hasn’t affected my game play (yet) but it is still confusing for me. Kids will be kids? Or is it: script-kiddies will be script-kiddies?

Mo’ Money No Problems

Legion is proving very easy to earn money in. I did have a goal of getting a “free” month through the token system by playing the AH. I already have two with most of my month to go still. I know Leo’s Life mentioned he has millions of gold in a recent post – I suppose I should have played Warlords of Draenor afterall. This does really make me wonder – with so many players flush with cash, who is actually paying for the tokens with cash? When I buy my next two months with 34k gold each, which player paid $20 cash for each of those to offset the monetary losses? I am very curious.

Token bridge to nowhere?

Couchon, my “main” has an 825 ilvl and hasn’t stepped foot in a heroic dungeon yet (but am able to queue for mythics). There is definitely never a shortage of anything to do. Thankfully World Quests are gated to one faction per day (so it seems) but my quest journal is still overflowing – AND I still have a full zone to explore and experience. I am definitely getting a huge itch to play an alt and I burned my 100 boost on a Hunter because I was convinced I wanted a ranged DPS class. I boosted and got to playing only to realize that I hate the Marksman rotation. That felt like a waste and I definitely should have went with the Warrior after all (or at least, used the free 100 trial character BEFORE boosting). It is really easy to “justify” spending the money on a new boost – since my sub will seem to be free indefinitely with just a tiny effort of running a mod every couple of days there is a part of me that thinks it is worth spending that money instead of that time. Still, at this point, I will invest the time instead of the cash. It isn’t that hard right now. I also have my Paladin at 101 and thematically I always aligned well with that. Warrior of the light and everything, just like real life. The truth is that there is just so much to do on one character that I am having a hard time imagining doing it on another. Curiosity is getting me though as I really want to experience the other class quests.

Tanks Everywhere?

My change from main healing to 5 man tanking revolved around loving 5 mans and hating waiting in line. I find it really fascinating that in this expansion I have not hit a Tank queue yet! I always enter into the group finder as both tank and heal as my role options, and so far it has always been healing. Sure, I have only completed around 15 or so instances but that is quite the streak. I wonder if it is because of how easy people are finding PVE as a tank and the proliferation of the new Demon Hunters with a tanking option. I don’t mind healing now that gear changes with spec (something I hoped they would do 3 expansions ago). It makes it easy to play other roles without much additional effort. I am really curious to see if it is just a string of bad luck or a new trend. I am really looking forward to tanking – if it ever happens.

(note: I somehow published an unedited version. This should be cleaner. Going to take another pass but had to do a fast update because it was really, extra, terrible. =)

It’s a Main’s Main’s Main’s World

But it would be nothing, nothing without a twink or an alt.

Bhagpuss said goodbye to Legion before he started it and in his post he has links to other people who are stepping away from the game or criticizing various mechanics. This is nothing new for World of Warcraft as if you look hard enough {sarcasm] many posts on this blog have also been critical with decisions Blizzard has made over the years on their flagship title. This is all healthy debate and interesting to see the different thresholds various bloggers have for the new things in the game and the tweaks and twists on old mechanics.

In a most simple of viewpoints: when discussing politics I have made the argument that where you are in your life at the time can have a huge impact on how you lean politically. For example, many young people who are optimistic  lean left (life should be fair) as they get older and go to school and start building a resume to enter the workforce they may start to move to the centre (life should be fair, but I have worked hard, and should get benefit) if they own their own business often they lean right (I pay a lot of taxes and create jobs and I should get a return). This is the Canadian spectrum. Of course the person who lost their job to an immigrant may go hard right, and there are various other personal situations to change that including family history – I don’t want to get hung up on the political argument but instead using it to set the table for the far more important one (ahem) about gaming.

When I was young and single and could play 40+ hours per week and idealistic I wanted the ultimate virtual world. As my time became more scarce and my friends left me all behind in those virtual worlds I wanted more convenience. And as it became scarcer still I wanted to consume content at a pace and cost that gave value. Yes, I went from raider and GM of a guild to very casual. As my personal situation has changed so has what I want from and look to gaming for.

Play nice, Legion

Legion is not going to be ALT friendly – at least, definitely not yet. The reason why I want to play my ALTS (and make more of them) is to experience the Class story behind each. The Class story- especially once you hit 110 – is a long, patient quest line. Getting to 110 over the exact same content time and time again isn’t going to be a fun slog either. This is the mountain that has to be climbed for that experience, so here I am again, wanting to change the way a game is to better fit my needs. I didn’t say it was fair or right – just my thoughts and feelings.

What I would like to see in WoW is phasing to the ultimate personal experience. The main story is tied to your account not a specific character.

My Rogue can’t get the second Pillar of Creation because my Warrior already did. How can it be retrieved in the same world twice? Did someone take it back? This breaks consistency for me in such a big way, much like how every other druid in the game is also the “chosen one”. The technology exists, let’s use it to make the world feel more like a world and less like a slot machine that hits every time. I think it would be fascinating to build the world around your stable of characters instead of just one – and the best part about it is that it doesn’t detract the experience from people who prefer to play a single character. Leveling for the secondary, third and fourth characters would be new for their class quests and artifacts (they can still be the chosen rogue, or chosen mage) and as long as the main has unlocked the world portion of things (World Quests, aptly named, this expansion) they can participate in those. Better yet, those things could be unlocked with different characters in the account. This way the loot reward (a big motivator for many) from the big story line quests are less important – there are other ways to level up for both xp and gear. This is far less important now with the zone and loot scaling. The person who focuses on a single character would be further ahead in loot and XP but the ALT player would be equal in terms of story progression. Everyone can have their own pace.

You can build a world story with your different avatars instead of each being forced to live the same one. I see little downside except the effort required in the setup. Does anyone really enjoy running planned obsolescence quests more than once? Didn’t someone already kill ten rats for that NPC?

Eye Candy

I have never been one for screenshots. I really wish I was great at that back in the days when everything was new and exciting in online gaming but those days are long gone. What I have noticed in my Legion play through that I find myself with several OOOOH and AAAAAH moments and find myself cracking on the screenshot key farm more than normal. I never quite realized how pretty the World of Warcraft really is.

Here are a small sample of some of my recent adventures:

Really? Why does Malfurion get flight form this early in the expansion? HAX!

Dragons, Giant Trees and Bears – Oh MY!

I didn’t even notice this until I turned around to grab a herb. Was an amazing discovery. We spend too much time looking down in our virtual worlds

Glitter butt complementary of random alchemy buff

I would play this if it was a racial option. Also, side buzz cuts on women are so trendy right now

Stuck in hell? HEL-YA! (… groan)

OK – I never promised that I was actually good at TAKING screenshots and I definitely don’t take many – but hopefully this is a small reminder of how beautiful Azeroth really is. Do you have a favourite SS?

The Legion App

App-tastic

The launch of the Legion App is not breaking news although the actual launch time is still a mystery. In the past I would have groaned at the prospect of this style of interaction. You can’t MMO on a portable and being always connected definitely doesn’t feel healthy. Then again not much of MMO gaming is.

Surprisingly to me I am really looking forward to it. Truth is the companion missions feel like they shouldn’t really be in game anyway and it is better suited for a small device. Their “necessity” in this expansion is a surprise to me (remember I skipped all of Warlords of Draenor where this style of game play became synonymous with WoW) and I view it as a nice questing break and a new part of my routine.

How I play is pretty simple and ritualistic:

  • I gather materials I come across while questing during my playtime
  • hearth to Dalaran to see if any new quests pop up
  • sell my junk/old equipment
  • use materials I harvested to get skillups
  • mail my sell-able items to my auction house mule
  • dreamweave to class hall
  • check in on missions / followers / quests (etc.)
  • log into my AH mule
  • collect gold, put up new listings
  • logoff

It is a 10 minute or so ritual. The Class Hall missions I am often logging in during the day to keep them flowing. With most of my missions taking two or four hours currently there is a lot of passive content to consume and rewards to be had. This will take out that entire step and allow me to continue progressing offline while at work, with my friends, dinner with my family, at a wedding… wait, did I mention something about health earlier…

Going for Gold

My goal is to not have to pay my subscription when it comes up and I purchased two months to help me get my feet wet. I think at my current play I will be fine. I use Auctioneer (addon) in WoW to scrape the prices on the Auction House and then batch post what I have in my inventory for profits. It automatically undercuts the current lowest price and is very handy. I mailed all of my old ‘crap’ to my AH mule (my Shaman, used to be my main) and she posts and collects. The old things really aren’t selling that well but every once and a while they will. Not a huge surprise since new expansions brings new focus. I am, however, making a killing off of the herbs I have collected while leveling  – 5000 gold last night alone. I am not expecting this to keep up as right now people are racing to level and with alts and secondary specs may not be focused on farming.

Say Fjarnskaggl 5 times fast….

Here I am using the Armory App but only to see if things are selling. Posting is way easier in the addon.

I have made almost $15,000 in gold so far doing this and mostly from the new things that I am finding while leveling – I may not get a free month every month but if I can push it out that I am only subbing every 60 days that isn’t so bad. Truth is I am less worried about it than in the past because I am actually putting in the hours and the time to make it feel like I am getting value from subscribing. The AH money raising is just another fun way to play a game within the game.

I can’t wait for the app to come out to maximize the effectiveness of my Order Hall. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Hook, Line and Legion

WoW, that escalated quickly (see what I did there?)

Legion has sucked me back in. I am loving it. For all my past and present complaints about WoW it does one thing great – provides entertainment. Sure, it’s not really a world, and yes, it’s so dumb that every single person you see is the savior of the planet, and yeah, of course they could do things to try and fix that but they won’t. They don’t need to. It’s still fun. You just need to stick your fingers in your ear and shout ‘lalalalalla’ anytime someone wants to start a discussion about substance or world building. It’s a goddamn slot machine.

The good of this expansion is that you are rewarded for exploring. I went into a cave (for no reason, because it was there! There wasn’t a breadcrumb or a question mark or anything…

Neat place to leave loot

….and in it was a treasure chest, that gave me some Artifact power. On a second instance, in a separate cave, there was a teleporting circle. When I clicked it it moved me to the top of a mountain. There I found a dead horse and some other mean, not so dead horses (which I fixed) and sure enough, another reward for exploration through artifact power.

Teleporting cave in question

Sure, it was a long way down but I didn’t mind. I jump, died, and resurrected. Since I can’t fly that is turning out to be a faster way to travel around the Broken Isles. The only downside here is that there it seems every cave actually has something, so it isn’t much of a surprise. Go into caves, get what was put there for you, and get out.  The ‘rare’ mobs (indicated by a star on your minimap) aren’t rare, and they spawn 30 seconds after they die so don’t sweat it.

Don’t look down…

I am 3/5 story lines in Aszuna, almost 103, I have 2500 Order resources, I am still wearing almost the full 700+ gear from the Invasion events, and my Artifact weapon has a few upgrades. I didn’t even pre-research which way to build out my weapon. One, because I am not raiding or being competitive (so who cares) and Two, because YOLO. I am glad you can tag mobs in WoW and everyone gets their own loot finally. That makes sense and long overdue.

going both ways

The other thing WoW has sucked me into is the logging in more often. There are 2 and 4 hour follower missions – which I feel compelled to log in and check on even at work. I suspect this happened even moreso with the Garrisons in WOD, but I missed all of that. Logging in multiple times per day is new to me here. Is it 2pm EST yet? I have to check on something.

I already received my second Artifact and picked up my third quest for the third one. I am not sure if I can also get the fourth right away – there is mention that it “could be some time before I can get the next one” but they also said that about the second and the third. I am not pushing forward on my feral artifacts because the Restoration one was actually challenging – I haven’t healed in years, and I had to keep up the worst 5 man NPC group for the challenge. They purposely stood in fire, stayed in cleave / cone range, and also did crappy DPS.

It felt like home.

I don’t know the Feral rotation and I am assuming there will be some kind of DPS challenge so I am going to wait on that until I can do some research to sort that part of it out.

I can’t wait to work on my other characters, and I still have a 100 Character Boost waiting for me. I don’t even have time to pace myself. I am glad I bought this expansion.

Make Me the Hero. Or Don’t.

Being a Hero

I am a happy, artifact weapon wielding druid. They look amazing. I feel amazing. The quest was decent to get them. I am on my way in Legion.

High 5 anyone?

… and all of that is ruined by the crowd of other druids in my class hall that look exactly the same. I know Blizzard is stuck in the early 2000’s of “gear envy” – whereas those awesome raiders would stand around in the centre of towns and regular players would gawk at them and only dream of obtaining the same gear, which made them then try harder and stay invested in the game. That is long gone. With Transmog, people are more likely to pick an old favourite set to look like than the new raid gear. With gear being even easier to obtain than ever, there is no gear envy. It’s a silly concept.

Almost as silly as telling me I am the sole person who can wield the Claws of Ursoc. And then have 20 other druids beside me also wielding them.

I actually like the savoir story. it works in WoW, it really does! What would work better is putting that phasing technology to good use. Let the class hall be my personal domain. Or at bare minimum, if other druids are going to be out there, make it so no one I see has the Claws of Ursoc. Much like a toggle to see a helm or cloak, there should be a toggle to show other artifact weapons. As WoW has shown over the years, ignorance is bliss. Let me be the hero. Make me believe it. At least put in some effort to the illusion. Grant the same to every other player, and in visual appearance at least you can feel like a true hero. Not the one being lied to.

Questy McQuesterton

Last night was fun for another reason as well – Couchon hit 1500 quests during the Artifact quest. I had no clue he was even close to that milestone (or even what that represents..) Is 1500 quests a lot on a character that skipped all of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor?

Here is to 1500 more! Wait… let me chew on that.

Maybe. Maybe not. This is a benefit to the Achievement side of things in MMOs when you do something you were not aware of. I have never spent much time Achievement hunting but my new acceptance of Casual is as Casual does may make me pay more attention.

Artifact Checking

My initial plan with Legion was focus on my main, grow and build out his story. Of course, right after getting my Artifact quest I became instantly curious as to what my only other level 100 (My Paladin) would have to experience to get her artifact. And then I started thinking about my next closest two, my level 90’s (Rogue and Hunter) if they were to level to get theirs as well. I could also get to 100 pretty quickly if I rolled a Demon Hunter, and I haven’t even touched my level 100 boost yet! And… here I go again. My alt-itis is already driving me to do things I hadn’t planned on doing. That is OK though – I am in no rush. This is a bad time for me for the sole fact that I want to sustain my sub through the token system and every new expansion resets the AH expectations, which I will need to play heavily. I already started by Rogue in Warlords.

So much content, so much time, so little focus. With no raiding expectations and nowhere to be at any specific time this could be the best expansion yet.

Also, no guild. That is sadface. Having a hard time connecting with old friends since I wasn’t a big fan of the Battle.Net tag thing when I was still playing. Any Blognation communities formed around the expansion?

 

Legion Invasion Wrapup

For me, anyway. This weekend I am with friends and sailing, and Monday / Tuesday at a course, so I finished up my Legion Invasion to-do list: which was getting one more character to cap and geared out. My Paladin.

Fully loaded and ready to open

I didn’t get quite as many chests because I was far more active in the invasions, meaning more XP and less chests. Still, I received a full suit and then some, with a few 710 and 720 ilvl pieces to boot. I was sure to use all three specs to get all three weapons (Tank, Heal, DPS). One huge miss I noticed for my Druid Restoration set that continued even more frustratingly so on the Paladin was the lack of offhands. Like many other players I fired up fast in levels, replacing every single piece of gear – except one ring, one trinket and my offhand. I have an ilvl close to 700 and a shield of 435.

Still, as they say, don’t look a gifthorse in the mouth. Beggars can’t be choosers. All of that stuff.  I still think it was a conscious decision though which makes me wonder why it was important to leave those holes.

With invasions done for me I went and did something I really enjoy – visiting old content. Karazahn is my favourite 10 man instance (of all time, I believe) so I went through it to see how challenging it was(n’t) for a freshly minted level 100 tank. It was a breeze, one shot bosses – but still a joy to visit. I ended up deleting a lot of my old raid gear before Transmog came in and Karazahn is keeper to my favourite set – the T2 Druid Malorne Set. I started gathering it so I can enjoy my nostalgia full blown not only in activity, but in looks too.

This is supposed to be showing you my new old Crown of Malorne. I must not have hit the right screenshot key, so enjoy Magtheridon instead.

One thing I have learned from the invasions and Legion that for a community that doesn’t talk much, it sure has a rhythm. It didn’t take long to have 50 complete strangers all working together and going in the same direction (which usually was the most efficient direction) to take down bosses and maximize XP gains. This is from years of training in WoW I believe. The flow is actually incredible and it doesn’t take long for new people to find the natural pace. The upside is efficiency – the downside is there isn’t any room (or success) for people to go off and do things on their own. I suspect Blizzard would consider that mission accomplished.

Opening Presents in WoW

Couchon, my “main”, finally made it to level 100 after prancing around in both participatory and non participatory ways of Legion invasions.

Couchon before boxes

At the end of it all, there were many gifts to open!During my time in invasions I had the following:

Large Legion Chests x 41

Small Legion Chests x 34

I have no clue why the difference. If I missed out on certain stages, miscounted, or whatnot – but when I added it up at the end those were the two tallies. Clicking on the links above gives the full loot tables, and you can get multiple pieces per open. How did my Druid do in terms of gear?

Item ilvl 700 ilvl 710 % slot
Head 6 1 8.64%
Gloves 6 7.41%
Pants 8 1 11.11%
Boots 13 1 17.28%
Belt 10 2 14.81%
Wrists 2 1 3.70%
Shoulder 8 2 12.35%
Vest 10 1 13.58%
Weapon 9 11.11%
Total 72 9 100.00%
% 88.89% 11.11%

Pretty spread out across the board. I also received 2 Upgrade Fel (it takes 6 to  upgrade your weapon from 700 to 725), a couple thousand in gold from selling the extras, and just under 1500 Nethershards (which you use to buy rings, trinkets, cloak, neck, etc.) I had enough to buy all of them plus the additional upgrade Fel to get both my Tanking and Healing weapons maxed out. Don’t forget to swap your specs to make sure that you can get the other, appropriate weapon. Which, I am guessing, doesn’t really matter with artifact weapons on the way. There is a bug with the Leather chest for Druids that doesn’t show the AGI / INT swap during specs, so I kept changing to see if one would drop. Turns out Google reigns supreme once more with the easy answer with little effort.

Couchon with full gear (and boxes left to open)

The event was/is fun, and undoubtedly the fastest way to level with the bonus of the mini-game of opening chests for loots afterwards. I am trying to decide how much effort I am going to put into this event for my alts – I still need to save the Draenor leveling experience for one, and I will get a free level 100 when/if I buy Legion. Much to do, all the same.

How was your luck with the chests from the events?

Working On/During Invasions

I’m glad I have a flexible IT department. Or lack of internet traffic monitoring. Either / or, I can finally level while doing spreadsheets, with two to five minutes of effort every 30 minutes. Participatory XP is incredible right now during WoW invasion events – you get awesome XP. Thing is, you have to pay attention and put in effort. Work Invasions, as I now fondly call it, I can do my work and check on myself every 10 minutes or so with an ALT-TAB and still get levels – just by being present. This isn’t really a problem in my eyes because I am taking nothing away from other participants – I am doing as much as I would be if I wasn’t there at all, so I am not detracting from their experience. Still, I bet there is a crowd out there mad at my welfare XP. If you can’t tell I am completely fine with it. I paid my taxes (tanked through half a dozen yesterday) so now time to collect my freebies. I just wish they had a better, offline version of it – maybe optimized from my android device – so I don’t have to bother the alt-tab. EVE levels similarly to that, right?

My new leveling experience

Just yesterday I commented that I wanted to see the story of Warlords of Draenor – and I do! Problem is I started at level 94 which meant I kept missing quests (too low level, had to search them out) and that as well as the ridiculously easy challenges meant marginal XP from the quests. I do love a good story but I love me some XP along with that. I have plenty of characters in the 85-90 range so in the short term I am going to use the invasion XP as I can, and save the WoD experience for a better level appropriate character. Best done when the opportunity of free, easy XP is long gone. Right now I am getting close to 1/6 of my required experience to level per Work Invasion (at level 96) AND I am being highly productive at work too. That is a win/win. Tonight I’ll get back on and participate and be a good WoW-citizen. Until then, thank you Blizzard, for streamlining the leveling experience even further.