Wednesday, 23 April 2014

I Gotta Feeling


Oops, what have you done Blizzard?


17:15 CET on European patch day. This is 7 hours after the weekly maintenance should have finished. Ultimately this affected every single European Realm and they all needed to be rebooted. That equates to a lot of angry customers Blizzard. Can we expect a free day? would we notice a free day when the next bill arrives, that it is a day later. No of course not but the gesture would be nice.


Oops this was obviously a serious problem and possibly related to the increasing complexity of the Blizzard portfolio.

As it turned out with all Europeans logging on late evening, all the Celestial fights became condensed into a much smaller timeframe and as a result I was able to LFR and pick up 2 more Titan Runestones. I can now chance my arm or alternatively wait until next week, either way I can almost smell that Legendary cloak.

Money (That's What I Want)




In recent weeks I have been working towards mothballing my characters. In preparation for a new expansion, I take my characters as far as possible and then sell off all the expansion specific resources. The idea is to make space in my bags and bank so that I can fill them with impunity during the early days of Warlords of Daenor. The process normally yields a large amount of money, as I sell off large quantities of herbs, ores, gems and enchanting mats which I have been accruing for the last 2 years. If you need a mental image, imagine 11 smaller versions of Smaug rolling in Dwarven gold and gems (as seen in the Desolation of Smaug).


This expansion I am starting from a new low point, having got interested in Pet Battles to fill the void in my game time. This prompted the loosening of the purse strings on top of the purchasing of 44 x Royal Satchels (I did make some myself) and the result is that I spent 100K Gold in a few short weeks. The biggest expense was the Jewelcrafting mounts Jade, Sunstone, and Sapphire Panthers. The Ruby and Jewelled Onyx are too expensive for my tastes. The largest single cost in the process is the 18K Gold for the Orb of Mystery. The comment below comes courtesy of WoWHead:

"It will only cost 280k (252k with guild perk) to make all of the mounts that use this as a reagent. (including the 4 extra panthers for the Jeweled Onyx Panther.)"

It will only cost 280K, so what are you waiting for, go and make 5 mounts now. The Royal Satchels at least have a benefit, providing additional storage, I have plenty of mounts I don't use already. In case you are wondering how much Royal Satchels cost on my server, I only buy when they are less than 3K Gold but of course that soon adds up. Lets guess that I made 14 bags and bought the rest that would be a mind boggling 30 x 3000 = 90K Gold. Now I have done the maths I am pleased that I only overspent by 100K Gold.

I am not destitute by any means, but I have an irrational need to recuperate the money I have used from my nest egg. The problem is I am unsure the best way to make money at this point in the game. Google will throw up all kinds of suggestions but in my opinion some are time sensitive or are just plain wrong for myself.

  1. Heroic 5 Man
  2. Tiller Farm
  3. Pet Battle Dailies
  4. Daily Profession Cooldown
  5. Levelling Alts
  6. Solo Old Raids for Battle Pets
  7. Auction House
  8. Fishing
  9. Transmute
  10. Enchanting
  11. Shoulder Enchants
  12. Dailies
  13. Scenarios
  14. Bags
  15. Potions
Plenty of suggestions to have a go at, and I see some immediate problems.

Heroic 5 Mans

Apparently they are really easy. I have not done any Heroic 5 mans for at least 12 months. In my opinion as much as I like to do 5 Man content, I have no plans to start at this stage in the expansion

Tiller Farm

This is something that I have toying with for several months and unless you want to switch off now with TL:DR then I will save this another day.

Pet Battle Dailies

I am not quite up to this stage but I will be in a few days. Expect a post in the near future.

Daily Professions Cooldown

In my opinion the value in the cooldowns disappeared months ago, Living Steel and Imperial Cloth still have a value but the Belt and Pants combo that was available to Tailors, Leatherworkers and Blacksmith are not worth the effort and the mats.

Levelling Alts

Already plundered this rich vein of gold. Any new alts would be on another server, unless my Realm was connected in during my sabbatical, in which I can create another 10 character and a free level 90. A quick check reveals not yet, but a plan is now being hatched for such a time when I can.

Solo Old Raid Content for Battle Pets and Mounts

This was of immediate interest to myself and I quickly ran 2 hunters around Karazhan which was a lot of fun, but it was not very lucrative or rewarding. I still cannot solo Chess even with the nerfs. This is something that I might dabble with in the future.

Auction House

Very vague and I am afraid not very helpful. I have been, unable to offload Glyphs or Gems in recent weeks and Battle Pets sell even worse. Even Del Boy could not sell my surplus stock. I have rarely dabbled with the AH since my addon broke, and I was unable to get to grips with the new version.

Fishing

Yes it might provide a steady income, but I am not prepared to do that much fishing.

Transmute

Living Steel, one a day is not going to make me a Millionaire any time soon

Enchanting

This is one profession that I have never made much money on, with exception of selling D/E'd mats. One of the websites suggested the following as a good stable of enchants to start off with.
Enchant Gloves - Superior Mastery
Enchant Chest - Glorious Stats
Enchant Boots - Pandaren's Step
Enchant Cloak - Superior Intellect
Enchant Gloves - Superior Expertise
Enchant Bracer - Mastery
Enchant Chest - Mighty Spirit
Enchant Boots - Greater Haste
Enchant Chest - Superior Stamina

Shoulder Enchants

A limited market but a useful idea for using up spare Inscription inks.

Dailies

I think somebody is having a laugh at my expense. I thought the entire player base had enough of Dailies after this expansion. 

Scenarios/Heroic

Who stole the loot out scenarios? In my opinion Scenarios are good for a couple of runs. Which unfortunately makes them bad rewards for Developer time/playability ratio. Not sure it is a money spinner.

Bags

Specialist cloths have been on my hate list since WotLK having to visit a location to make one cloth a day is too much devotion. My Tailor seems to be one character without a bag full of Motes of Harmony. Another big mistake by Blizzard not making them BoA and then not using them at all in later recipes.

Potions

Never really made any money from potions in any expansion, and it is unlikely I will start now, even though I have a mound of herbs.

Summary

I intend to make 100K as quickly as possible, and my first step is to stop spending. If any of these methods make me a fortune I will report back after I have made my first Million.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)


I have started playing catch-up on the WoW blog sites, and have encountered some bad news on the way. BBB has finally decided that WoW is not offering his family the value for fun of running 3 accounts at a time of no new content. BBB does not state any intentions to return or to continue to write, but the smart money is that a WoW blog, with no WoW content will soon dry up. Thanks BBB for all your stories, you will be missed.

Rohan at Blessing of Kings has been on a 3 month sabbatical, but thankfully is now back and churning out the content.

***Update*** It appears I am very much out of the loop and the Grumpy Elf is almost retired except for the Monday Random Thoughts. Things really are looking bad unless Blizzard decide to put a shift in.

I have read several pages of WoW Insider, at breakneck speed, mostly because not all the content is WoW based, which is rather odd for a site dedicated to World of Warcraft. Maybe they should be Blizzard Insider (but without any of that StarCraft nonsense). They have a requirement to get articles out on a given time frame, and the result is that often articles are niche, irrelevant, already known or just plain news flashes. Every so often they do a really good article at a time that you want it.

Yesterday I wrote a small section on the Legendary Questline, with an update and link to WoW Insider - How to get a Legendary on a Boosted Level 90. The guide is clearer and more concise in its content than the original Icy Veins guide, with the removal of the additional information when we knew nothing of the content, and the way the guide needed to be updated with each patch. What is important is that I learnt 2 new titbits.
  1. Echoes of the Titans This is the last leg of collecting quest items from LFR. You're close to your cloak now! You just need 12 Titan Runestones. These items drop from the last two sections of the Throne of Thunder Raid -- Halls of Flesh-Shaping and Pinnacle of Storms -- as well as the first two wings of Siege of Orgrimmar. Both Lei Shen and the Sha of Pride are guaranteed to give you a Runestone every week, the other bosses are random.
  2. The Emperor's Way Now all that's left is to defeat all four of the August Celestials on the Timeless Isle. If you happen to hit this leg of the chain on Tuesday after your server reset, you should find piles of people merrily fighting the Celestials one by one. If you have not, then go to your friends list and hit the raid tab. At the top, you'll see a button that says "Other Raids." Click that, and select the option for the Celestials, adding yourself to the list. You should receive an invitation to a Celestials raid within minutes. It doesn't matter what time of the day it happens to be. I completed mine at 2am, and I didn't have to wait more than a minute, maybe two in between invites. Make sure you note which Celestials you currently need on the raid tab, when you add yourself to the list.
I was partially aware about Lei Shen but I did not think it applied to the Titan Runestones, only to the Secrets. The Sha of Pride is the wing that I actively avoided, due to the fights not being exciting or even worse not being suitable for "24 other cockwaffles" (Thanks to Grimmtooth for that one). Wings 2 and 3 at least have a Hunters weapon available. The result was that I am only on "the other bosses are random." section.

The Celestials I have been picking off only when my Realm and Faction was doing the fights. This method is hit and miss, but the joining other Raids gets the task done in minutes.

World of Warcraft is a complex game built up on layers of information, and often the game and developers fail spectacularly in conveying all the features. Too much information is often just as bad as too little and technology generation have invented the expression TL;DR (too long; didn't read - in case you are as old as me). I am aware that Blizzard have produced a 30+ page document on the Warlords of Draenor features and rationale, but how many people have read it.

It is often stated that the drafting of the US Bill of Rights at 462 Words is a masterpiece of concise document writing. This compared to the thousands of pages that are generated by the European Union is a perfect example.

I have played the game for over 8 years and still only know about 90% of the content and features in game. A good analogy would be how much of MS Excel plethora of functions are used by most users? I am guessing that a large percentage lie unused not because they are not useful but because people are not aware that they exist or that the instructions are just too convoluted.

Now that I am enlightened I should be able to obtain a Legendary in 3 weeks maximum. Who knows I might unsub when I have run out of things to do.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke?



Sorry, big apologies all round, the real life patch that dropped last year, caused a huge change in my mood, lifestyle and my willingness to read and write about the World of Warcraft. In the 5 months since I last wrote anything sensible on this blog, not a lot as happened in game. There is no new content and a lot of hot air. I even stopped reading other peoples blogs so in reality I have no idea what is going on, but I get the feeling I have not missed much. My only sources of information have been the Godmother, The Instance Podcast and occasionally WoW Insider.

The good news is that I am back in employment after suffering an enforced vacation over the month of December. This was not a good time for me and the people around me. I might have been rather unpleasant to live with for a period of 6 weeks and the effect of not being able to provide a good Christmas for my wife and children.

After several months of attending terrible interviews, I was asked to go and have a chat with a local company, situated about 10 minutes walking distance from my house. I was late Friday afternoon and started work on the following Monday morning. Not only is work very close to home, but there is talk of Business trips to exotic European locations including Paris, Madrid and Milan, it sounds like a fashion show, but in reality the company makes rivets

In my absence I have mentally written hundreds of posts, but I have not had the time or the focus to give them the attention they require, but I am hoping that recent changes in circumstances will allow for resumption of usual service.

The low point in between expansions is a strange to start writing but that is exactly the point that I picked up my keyboard 2 years ago. There is still much to discuss and I wanted to pickup the baton laid down by the Godmother and her faffing campaign.

Faff means - "To spend time in ineffectual activity". It is an English word derived from the North of England and is commonly used only in the UK. There is a time when I would have described the bulk of my game time in Azeroth to be "faffing about". I would love to support the Godmother but I have made a discovery that on the surface our activities may appear to be ineffectual, but in reality the opposite is true.

With additional time on my hands in December I decided to organise my game time so as to make optimum usage of short periods of play between job applications. The result was a spreadsheet to monitor my key goals and routines, and I remembered in the process that the Godmother had already created The Ultimate Form of Faffing. The result is the antithesis of faffing and results in huge improvements in the attainment of objectives. The activities might be inconsequential to anyone else but this is anything but faffing.

In my own form I highlight the following key activities:

  1. Darkmoon Faire - Monthly activity for 5 points of fishing skill.
  2. Weekly Timeless Isle Quest - Collect 50 Epochs for 200 Valor
  3. Celestial Bosses - Leg and Gloves (Now dropping 550 PvP gear)
  4. LFR Siege of Orgrimmar - Just in case they drop secrets and titan runestones for the Legendary Quest.
  5. Warforged Seals - Pickup 3 bonus Seals or 40+ Gold not a lot of effort (weekly)
The matrix was ultimately a tick box of which characters needed what activities in any given week. I can quickly logon to any alt if I find a Celestial Boss has been attacked without wasting any time. 90% of Celestial Boss kills occur on reset day and armed with this information it is possible to chain kill for between 5 and 11 characters in a two hour period. Prior to having a spreadsheet I would logon to the wrong character and miss the end of the fight on far too many occasions.

The idea that end game is all about Heroic Raiding, Maximising Honor Kills and the accumulation of gear is only partially right. Every player has their own agenda, and with a lack of new content we are left to do achievements, clear out our bags, and put our characters into stasis waiting for a date sometime between September and December when we can experience something new again.

The development time for Warlords of Draenor is not a surprise that is would take around 12 months from Blizzcon to a release date. The only surprise in the MoP expansion was the time of expansion dropping to the first major patch. Everything else is firmly in Blizzard timelines of 2 year expansions. The time from last patch to new expansion is bad for both player and Blizzard. Killing Deathwing for 12 months was not fun, and the same is going to be true of Garrosh. What makes matters worse is that he is going to escape (oops spoiler).

Recently I started to do Pet Battles, fundamentally because I could not face another night of waiting around for a LFR. LFR is set so damn low in terms of gear that the only reward possible is the dropping of bits for the Legendary Quest. The RNG for these items is sickening low, leaving me doing something I don't want to do, for a very slim chance of a 8% advancement in one quest. Fully flexible raiding cannot come round quick enough in my opinion. In case you think I am over doing my sob story, I have killed 60+ bosses in Siege of Orgrimmar in various Raid types for 5 Titan Runestones. I would prefer to know that I am required to do 4 Raids a week to achieve one Runestone than a random system that can churn out 4 rewards in a row and then nothing for 3 months. Random is useful for some aspects of the game, but for others we need to see definitive rewards for our toils.

For all the talk of a welfare Legendary, I respect anybody with one cloak, never mind multiple cloaks on alts (Kudos to Grumpy).

***Update***
Catching up my reading I found How to get a Legendary on a Boosted Alt. Apparently I have been doing it wrong for months.

Anyway back to Pet Battles, when does something stop being fun and turns into just another grind?

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Rock 'n' Roll


It's been a long time since I rock and rolled,
It's been a long time since I did the Stroll.
Ooh, let me get it back, let me get it back,
Let me get it back, baby, where I come from.
It's been a long time, been a long time,
Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. Yes it has.
 
Led Zeppelin

"I am back. Back in Black I hit the sack It's been too long and I am glad to be back". Ok musical rendition over, I have missed the whole of December due to a change in circumstances. I hope you all had a good Christmas and enjoy the upcoming New Year by drinking sensibly. What am I saying, let your hair down and do what ever you want to do as long as it does not hurt someone else.

My absence is due to being out of work, for the last 4 weeks and whilst it is nice to take a break, I also need to start worrying about mortgages, car loans and putting food on the table. I have not published any posts because, why write when I could be playing instead?

The result of my absence is that I have lots of ideas for a blog post, so excuse me if my thoughts just come out in a incoherent jumble.

With it being the end of the year today, I wanted to talk about the current status of the game. Many bloggers have had their head turned towards what may come to pass as the next expansion, but right now I am only interested in the game that we are stuck with for at least another 6 months.

Timeless Isle

I predicted that the Timeless Isle would only be current and relevant to players for a short time. If my memory serves me well I put a figure of 6-8 weeks, due to the ease and amount of loot available. For people that are loot centric the Timeless Isle offers a multitude of layers that keeps players coming back day after day. If I was Shrek I would probably describe it as being like an onion.

My original forecast was based on the premise that people would take their iLevel 496 and spend the rest of the expansion beating Garrosh over the head with a wet fish until such a time that Blizzard gets round to giving us a new expansion.

The reality is that people have seen the rewards from Siege of Orgrimmar LFR (iLevel 528) and decided that it is more beneficial to farm for Timeless Coins, and hunt for Rares in the hope of getting those all elusive Burden of Eternity (iLevel 535). Elusive is a relative term, because when you have all the gear you require, they seem to drop like candy and when you need on a particular character then the Vegas casino chests are well and truly stacked against you. Back in November several people suggested that Burdens of Eternity that are purchased could be BoA and the random drops Soulbound. I still maintain that all Burdens of Eternity should be account bound.

The Timeless Isle also allows a quick exercise in the obtaining of valor points, which only have one purpose these days and that is for upgrading your gear by the grand total of 4 iLevel for every 250 valor.

The biggest issue with all these people crowding in a small area is that they all want the same things. The Daily quest is to kill 20 Elites, and as a side benefit collecting 50 Epoch Stones in the process for the weekly quest. WoW players will almost always find the path of least resistance, and in this case it involves a strict pecking order.
  • Brilliant Windfeather
  • Ironfur Great Bull
  • Great Turtle
  • Death Adder
  • Ancient Spineclaw
  • Anything Else
The general canon fodder are the Great Turtles which can be found on Turtle beach between the two flight points. One well geared person can clear the area easily on their own, but if there are two well geared people then the result is a waiting time for respawn. Respawn times are based on the number of the people in an area so the result of having two well geared people in the area is slow respawn times for anybody else. With a Blood spec Death Knight, there is no point doing solo mobs so it is relatively easy to take on five Great Turtles and a host of hatchlings. This is unfair on anybody else in the area, but it is understandable why players take on so many mobs.

The Cats with their ponce ability are a pain in the neck, and the Gulp Frogs are second only to being swallowed whole by a Gastropod.

Legendary Cloak

I like many others am still engaged in the Wrathion questline, I have now got three characters at various stages, and I am undertaking the double edge process of weapon finding. Weapons have been the bane of this expansion, and I having a weapon that is 40 iLevel less than the rest of the gear is not a fun mechanic. I am forced to run LFR and sometimes get invited on a flex run. LFR is in a bad state at the moment with people dropping out after a weapon dropping boss. There is a reason that Blizzard used to put weapons on the last boss of a wing, and not the first, they also seemed to have forgotten about their own logic.

For those you with your 10% increase cloaks, you might have forgotten that you even had to do two PvP battlegrounds. For the Alliance this spells pain and misery. My first venture through the PvP pain barrier was on my Hunter, who did both battlegrounds with a 100% win ratio. My Resto Shaman, was faced with a much tougher challenge. The Temple of Kotmogu was one win from three, the stumbling block is the Silvershard Mines.

The Horde have worked out that there is easy Honor to be gained by mowing down the Alliance PvE noobs who are only there to do the Legendary quest. In my opinion the Horde have a natural bias towards PvP and the more tactical the Battleground, the better they excel. Silvershard Mines is every day a Horde Christmas. After 10 such horrible defeats I begged in guild for some assistance.

My prayers were answers by the resident guild Warlock, who besides knocking out impressive figures in PvE also likes to kick butt in PvP. Having invited a fellow Guildie and DPS monster, I thought it was only fitting to act as a personal healer. The result was a crushing Victory for the Alliance, and proof that one player can make a big difference in a battleground.

My thoughts on PvP are that CC is totally out of whack. On a bad day my Shaman was never out of CC, whether it was Fear, Sap, Silence or trap, it was shockingly bad. My own CC is the Toad which seems to be on the longest cooldown in the game. Chain CC is very bad for the game.

Looking For Raid

I have discussed before that LFR gear is just too damn low. The only items worth having are weapons and possibly trinkets. The only people in there are usually doing valor runs or collect Secrets for the Legendary quest. I know there is a problem when I am topping the charts from start to finish, and only 2-5 can manage to get over 100K DPS. If I was to step into normal or Flex I would expect to be last or next to bottom on the charts, so I do not expect to top the meters.

In Raiding the Golden rules seem to be take out the adds and stay out of the bad. Why is it that so many people seem incapable of doing things. Also why do some ranged Dps'ers insist on standing outside of the AoE healing. Do they think that they are special little snowflakes?

Miscellany

Have a good New Year and I hope to get back in the groove in 2014.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Superstition


I might be a casual gamer, who incidentally clocks up a few hours in front of a computer screen, but I do play a lot of classes. This gives me a fairly unique view of how the classes stack up against each other. I am not talking about cutting edge top iLevel gear and the raiding experience, I am talking about the ease of being able to use a certain class.

We all have our favourite playstyle, some like to go to go toe-to-toe, others like to stab their prey from behind, others like to hurl fireballs for a safe distance. From the point of view of a casual altoholic I want ease of use, many refer to Hunter as, "easy to play difficult to master". This is the kind of design that I am looking for. I struggle with my Blood Death Knight when I have not played her for a few weeks, but a Mage or Hunter I can knock out the damage without thinking about it. It might be muscle memory or just ease of use.

Traditionally I have always struggled with melee, in particular Rogue and Warrior, and for some reason I have never got on with my Warlock. Warlocks got into a right state in Cataclysm and the decline in popularity was so marked that Blizzard made it a priority to overhaul the class and all 3 specs, which had lost their definitions. If you have forgotten what state Warlocks got themselves into I have included a link to the excellent work provided by Cynwise.

When you play 10 classes and several specs, it is difficult to spend the time learning an additional one. The result is that always play BM Hunter and Frost Mage. I have tried but the results are terrible. The thought of having to relearn a new spec when levelling my Warlock filled me with dread. In the end this was the last character I levelled, and for solo play I was amazed at the ease and the power of the newly designed Warlock. I traditionally played as Demonology, but on researching the specs I chose Destruction. I cannot even remember the reason why, but I think it was based on a comment from R.

Out of curiosity I found the comment from R on the 7th August 2013, in summary it looks like this:

"Warlock - Go Destro for leveling, use the Void Lord (Supremacy talent) for a tank pet and think Elemental Shammy for rotation. Immolate instead of Flame Shock, Combustion (Conflagrate) instead of Lava Burst and Incinerate instead of Lightning Bolt. That'll get you most of the way to an end-game rotation and will blow up quest mobs quite impressively."

The key was Elemental Shammy rotation, that was something concrete and tangible that I could work with. No need to learn new rotation, simply substitute the ideas of playing Elemental directly to my setup for Destruction and voila, easy peasy.

My Warlock was a little late to the Timeless Isle party, but I am now sporting iLevel 495 and in comparison my Druid is iLevel 508. The Gnomey Warlock can blast a Great Turtle before the spin cycle and my Druid needs to turn and flee. I believe I am playing both classes reasonably well, and one of them is significantly better geared, but I do not feel connected to the druid class anymore. It used to be so overpowered and now it appears to be a joke, with it's stupid swinging barometer between night and day.

The Warlock on the otherhand is an absolute joy to play. If you have not played one for a few expansions, I can heartily recommend. A class canon with a pet, what could be better. Now I just need to that green fire questline.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Holding Out For A Hero


Just in case any of you are still treading the boards doing the Timeless Isle, I have noticed a slightly worrying trend. The trend is for random invites, with no message. The usual response is simply to ignore and move on.

On this occasion I was being stalked by a bear that would hit everything I was hitting. After a little while I get a message, "Can I group with you?". For once I decided to see where this one was going.

I was a Ret Pally and he was a Bear Druid, nice combination for melee slaughterfest. Not quite the mobs went down no quicker, but I wasn't getting hit so that was a plus. After about 10 minutes something piqued my interest and I decided to check his gear. I was confronted by Blues and Greens, how was this possible? Timeless Isle gives gear away how can this be?

I decided to lead him to where I knew there was chests and had to persuade him to open them. Using this logic I dragged him up the hill towards the Yaungol and one of the big chests, which yielded 2 pieces of leather gear. I have checked his character today and he is at a more respectable iLevel 471 with 6 pieces of Timeless Gear.

Hopefully I have saved a poor lost soul and propelled them into a life of queueing up for LFR. Ok so it's not entirely salvation but this is my good deed for the day.

All this ties in with the requirement that the Godmother thinks that some of us need a little bit more in game guidance. I am not sure how much more you can help people by having sparkling treasure chests all over an island that provide huge gear increases.