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.


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.


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.


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


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.

Back In WoW

I’m back in.

I have often lamented that I will never truly be done with WoW until my main character Couchon (where some of my best gaming experiences have happened) had a proper end to his story. As a druid, fittingly, that would be in the emerald dream. The armchair developers keep sharing rumors and ideations of that eventual expansion. With limited playtime I decided to focus on Couch (nickname – not a typo) as my starting point. If he sticks, that would be great, because I would have both heals and tanking covered and be ready for fast queues in the five mans. Back to Azeroth I go.

As a druid at 87 I don’t have Bhagpuss’ continental travel issues for invasion hopping. Baseline spell: Teleport Moonglade for the class and my hearthstone in Stormwind gets me back and forth. My flight form is more direct and faster than the griffons. My level 90 characters have it even easier if they made it to the Shrine in Pandaria (not all of them did) where you can hearth to an inn near capital city portals. Still, I am focusing on Couchon. Focus. (I have a hard time with avoiding alts….)

A big complaint of mine with WoW has always been that once you start using mods (especially if you are a raider, there are a dozen mandatory ones) you can’t stop. There are a handful that should be default UI by now. Maybe more. I have been afk’ing invasions as I sort out my mods. Sure, its not the most efficient XP but it’s free and better than the non-xp alternative. I received two levels while setting up Weakauras alone. Grid and Status and Indicators will be another level or two. I needed another 3 or 4 hours before I felt even comfortable playing my character.  This was all with one spec (tanking) which isn’t that optimized for the leveling experience, or the non-grouped invasions. I still have to mod out and practice healing. The invasions were good for practicing rotations and mod settings and I still have a few to setup including Tidyplates. All of my favorite mods are still there but I do not know if they are the “right” ones anymore.

Once I became active in invasions they were an incredible source of participatory XP but became really repetitive, and dull. After stashing 50 or 60 loot boxes I decided that with a new expansion coming I should go quest through Warlords to see what I missed. Single player story lines are the new MMO anyway. I already out-level the content but the hard stop is 100 and full of free loot, I might as well enjoy the journey.

Like a comfortable pair of socks the flow and comfort of WoW is undeniable. I have a Garrison that will soon be gone, but I’m curious to see what that experience would have been like if I played when it was new. So I am loaded up with goodies and ready to go. My goal, if possible, is to pay for my sub through the token system but that means putting in time and effort on the Auction House. I should go set up that mod next. Have I mentioned yet I haven’t purchased Legion? This little trip back to Azeroth will guide that decision.

The Sounds of Silence

With Pokemon GO! ruling the airwaves, I haven’t seen much commentating on the news that Blizzard will be putting in a silence penalty to improve the community. Straight from

The first time a player is silenced, their chat will be restricted for 24 hours. This duration will double for each silence penalty received after the first, and there is no maximum. This means that players who receive multiple silence penalties may find themselves unable to chat for a very, very long time.

This leads to some questions:

  1. Does anyone really need to talk in WoW today anymore, anyway?
  2. How long until someone shows a screenshot that they were banned forever (10 bans would equal 2.8 years of cumulative ban time)
  3. Will this have a measurable impact on the tone and style of WoW?
  4. Can we apply this to the Internets as a whole?

Snide comment #1 and joking comment #4 aside, my initial thought is that this is a step in the right direction. There is little incentive for people to be nice in chat since random group queues means you never play with the same person twice. The guy that freaks out on their team and/or is inappropriate is suddenly at a disadvantage. I don’t think you can teach manners with rules, and a better solution would be to not only not let them talk, but also not let them play. Right now you can still be a complete ass to randoms and chat all chummy with your pre-set raid team. I’d like to see it go further. I bet that would really shake things up. Still, it will be a fascinating experiment to behold and hopefully they stick with it through live or add an even tougher version.

My other thought to this is if it really even matters. I think WoW players have grown thick skin and I believe it’s unlikely that this will bring players back. “Oh, people will be nice to me now? Subscribe!”. I am genuinely curious if this feedback came from players who quit – and where this idea was generated from to begin with. It’s a community building tool by subtraction.

Regardless, effort is effort. I give them credit for the attempt and curious for the results.

WoW Prognosticating

I don’t have a bear / cat / owl in the race anymore, but watching WoW from afar I see some interesting changes coming down the pipeline.

I am taking a pretty wild shot in the dark to think about the future of the game but it just came to me like a shining beacon of light, a message from the After-WoW-life. I spent many, many years with multiple accounts in WoW (and multiple sub fees – this is prior to the WoW Token!) but I am long gone, maybe unreachable now. The game is also in a clear decline in terms of numbers (as everyone knows). Also, the classes and game mechanics are being dumbed down simplified and even main weapons are being whittled down to a single type points to some major changes on the horizon. The timeline for when I expect the below to happen is the expansion after the next. (If ever.). Feel the conviction!

  1. WoW will go to consoles. I know this isn’t a shocker, but those PS4 and XO controllers have more buttons than it looks like you will need to play with. The game works better as a lobby style game anyway so this is a very positive move. Everything is already garrisoned out (or class halls, upcoming expansion) while you wait to be teleported to your next instance
  2. Classes will change to “equipped weapons”, FFXIV style. WoW will finally be alt friendly and you can level up every class just by the weapon you wield. This level of alt friendliness is great in casual land. The weapons and weapon upgrades become the new grind. It will be hard to build an entire expansion around a single weapon for your character next expansion and then abandon it in future expansions.
  3. Expansions will come faster in smaller bites. Designing console dungeons and quest areas will allow a smaller team to publish content faster, at smaller costs (that will add up to more in the long run). This will finally allow people to vote with their wallets on what kind of content they want (instead of what kind of expansion they want) and then that content will now be offered more. This supports high level raids and dungeons, and saves development time from planned obsolescence content (leveling) with repeatable, high value content.

While that is a list that changes the fundamental nature of WoW at it’s core you don’t have to look far to see where the inspiration is for such a change in another Activision product. Destiny.

I have been playing a LOT of Destiny lately. It is a great game that is easily played in 30 minute chunks and has so many paths of  advancement. WoW has been working towards this in many ways, and the numbers on Destiny are shattering really. At one point almost a year ago there were 20 million players shooting it up. Then, when the Taken King launched it set records for concurrent players surpassing the first Destiny launch   If you add all of that up in a 12-14 month release schedule they probably did north of a billion dollars on the title. I wonder how that compares to overall WoW revenues today. Plus, Destiny has introduced it’s own micro-transaction system as well.

I know many of you are probably sceptical that Blizzard will change how WoW works, and part of me even feels like a more action oriented WoW could go to consoles as a WoW 2 or some such. One would suspect Activision is paying attention to what revenues are being driven by other camps they publish for and seeing the response to titles such as Destiny (and competitors, such as the Division, $330 Million in sales first 5 days..) it would make sense to leverage more Blizzard IP on consoles. It’s a big market, and Overwatch will be a good test to see if World of Warcraft will end up being the next MMO title on consoles. The fact that FFXIV can do it cross platform, same world, could be the attraction of the new generation of WoW players the game needs to continue to be a massive revenue generator.

I don’t suspect that they will let WoW go the route of EQ with progression servers. Making the game console friendly at some point would introduce new players to the game and could also bring back people like me. I am finding the Destiny experience perfect in terms of what I can give and what I want to get from a streamlined “MMO” experience. Perhaps this prognostication is as much as me projecting what I want – but I don’t believe Blizzard will let WoW go away quietly.

I Met Bile


One thing I particularly love about MMOs (well, the old experience for sure) is that you made bonds playing them. Those stopped for me when I stopped playing WoW, but I have several people as Facebook friends that I have never met in real life. There are a few that I can’t wait to, despite us not playing for years together. Those are some pretty solid bonds.

I travel for work so when I end up in a city where I have friends I like to see them. Fate would have it that I would meet my fellow Shadowblade from DAOC (circa early 2000’s) named Bile. Since we have been Facebook friends I had the general gist of his life, what he did, his wife, the things he did for fun – but it was special to sit down face to face, hug it out, and drink some solid and delicious beers together. We didn’t talk a ton about video games (both of us play far less) but when we did it was with a certain fondness and twinkle in the eye. Remember that one six hour session where we fought back and forth with the Hibs, nearly winning that first keep back on early testserver days on Pendragon? Yes. We both did. (I wiped on the keep master, but that is another story.)

I wonder if today’s gamer makes those bonds. I’d suggest no, since there is less time and human commitment with LFG’s, etc. But that isn’t fair for me to say since I barely play MMOs anymore – and the ones I do offer fantastic single player experiences.

X-Com 2

I bought it last night, but haven’t fired it up yet. I loved the original (the real original) and even played through the expansions. X-Com circa 2012 was a fantastic, friendly remake and I look forward to all I have read about the good of X-Com 2. Except the fast paced missions. I am such a planner and safe player that that will definitely be out of my element. I’m sure I will grow to appreciate it. Look at me, always on the cutting edge of new games!

Diablo III

I finally hit 70 in Diablo III and now have 15 Paragon levels. It’s been an easy to jump in and grind game with my son, and we have put in an hour a night several times the past week. I own both the PC and Console version but played it on the Console only – 60″ TVs and company is better on the big screen. I am regretting that now because there is no season play on consoles. Also, with all of the poor doom and gloom with Blizzard right now, why aren’t they making an expansion for this game? New class, new scenes, new money. I am sure people would pay for it!

I have a new blog being launched soon, but not about gaming. A new passion I have picked up! I’ll be announcing and releasing soon!

Fallout 4 – The One Big Change

Fallout 4

I feel like a bad Blognation member right now, as I completely forget where this upcoming thought was inspired from. I did read it around the Blogosphere (and even commented on it, and fleshed it out a bit further), so this is driving me a bit nuts. Still, I felt it worth fleshing out just a bit more. (If I can remember, or if that Blogger comes here, please remind me so I can link appropriately!)Fallout 4 is my go to right now. Last night I decided to sit down and finish the main story line. And promptly became distracted, and did four other quests (by accident) before restarting the real, next quest in the storyline arc (and promptly running out of time and going to bed before I even moved the arc along one step). That is the fun (and danger) of Fallout 4. The letdown in that greatness is the travel system.

Like many games Fallout 4 has an instant travel system between points you have visited before. It destroys immersion. Last night (for example) I had a raid on one of my settlements where they called out for help. I was able to transport there instantly. I get that crossing huge swathes of danger infested wasteland is inconvenient. I also understand that I could have walked there if I had chosen to. The latter option also takes away from game play. There needs to be a balance. Even better, if there is a balance that enhances game play instead of taking away from it – and the solution is really easy.


Vehicles in Fallout 4 would add an entirely new dimension. First off, those carcasses of vehicles all over the roads could now be moved and salvaged, adding a new element of game play (clearing roads between destinations) for faster travel times.  There should also be different levels (wheeled cars, hover vehicles, boats, etc.) that you can now build, maintain and use throughout. As you progress, you can open new and better vehicles (hello, vertibirds!) that either companions can support you with and even more reason to secure your settlements (you need somewhere to store them vehicles! I strongly feel that this type of travel in the game would really add to the game, create a better sense of urgency, and a fun mode of travel that could bridge the difference between hour long walk and instant teleportation.

World of Warcraft

I really have the itch to catch up in World of Warcraft. Not to raid or anything, but partially because I feel like I have unfinished business there – leaving my poor characters behind the leveling curve. Mists of Pandaria was the one expansion I spent the least amount of time in and I figure I could probably hop in Warlords and do the content I want to do in 30 days. All in all that’s not a bad proposition as I bought the expansion for 75% off. I also have a strong desire to catch up on all the raids that I couldn’t do, but can now solo. While I have often been sad about the class homogenization that gutted much of what was interesting in that game, some of Legion Class preview things have me very interested. The Outlaw spec of the rogue and the very clear separation of Hunter Specs (hello, Survival!) have me very interested in WoW for a change. I just struggle with that one, perfect character for me that I want to play. I think if WoW was able to satisfy my desires by providing a class that I loved (more on that in a second) or the ability to be different classes with a weapon switch (which is my now preferred MMO model type, since I do not have time for alts!) then I could still be playing.

My favored play style is 5 man dungeons. This means, to optimize my time in WoW I should tank. This is simple enough. Tanking isn’t always great for questing though, and if I do want to raid, I definitely wouldn’t be prepared as a tank. You need 1 tank for a 5 man and 2 for a 25 man. Main healing for 5 mans is also an option so the offspec is also important. Let’s look at the classes I have:

Paladin (Isee) has been my main 5 man tank the past couple expansions. I hate the healing style on the Paladin, and not a big fan of Ret. (At level 90)

Druid (Couchon) was my first character and my raiding main for most of my WoW life. I liked healing on the Druid but did not like either of the DPS specs. (at level 85). I always hated that new gear didn’t show up on bear form.

Shaman (Isey) became my main during the SSC raids as we were lacking Shaman and particularly the nicely powered Chain Heal. I switched then and quickly fell in love with the totems and style of the character. I also specced Enhance which was helluva lot of fun. My dream in WoW is to have Shaman as tanks, I would resub lifetime. (at level 85)

Rogue (Coosh) – favourite to level, but I hate long DPS queues for dungeons (if those things are still a thing.) I often level the Rogue first to learn the dungeons from a DPS perspective before tanking them. (at level 90)

Those are my high level characters. Currently leaning Druid.

The other interesting option, since I have a free level 90, is to go Warrior. I have a level 72 Warrior LLewella  (thanks Roger Zelazny). Tanking as a warrior is interesting, even moreso with the Gladiator option to do DPS as sword and board.  That is enticing. Unfortunately, that spec is leaving in Legion. I am getting way ahead of myself now.

The fact I am thinking (and reading, and writing) about WoW is a pretty telltale sign I’ll be back there soon. I just need to find the right mindset and class to dive back in.