Friday, October 26, 2012

A bit of E/N

I've started running dailies again. Not all of them, but I've the Klaxxi have a nice pair of pants that would be great to have come raid time, so they have been my focus recently. Sometimes it's just good to ignore the metagame and just focus on what's in front of you.

Arms is a lot of fun to play these days, with plenty of tools for dealing with crowds of mobs at the same time. I've even started accepting the Damage role in dungeons if the opportunity arises, mainly because I know that my contribution as DPS will lead to a faster run overall, and to hell with undergeared tanks-- I can keep myself alive if I need to. I'm really happy with the recent changes to the timing of CD-refresh procs. It's now a lot easier to react to these before the next GCD even with Aussie latency.

In pet battles,  I've reached [what I am assuming is] the final Gym Leaders for Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. These guys have L19 pets, so I reckon once my guys all L17 I should be able to down them without worrying about all my attacks missing.

My current team is... actually I just noticed shows your current team, so: LINK. Yes, I know I'm using a Dragon and and an Elemental like every single other player. But they're both really good, so ner. I find the pairing of hard-hitting long-CD abilities with pets that can heal is a good strategy, and the damage that Scorchling can put out is just insane.

I need to find a mod that keeps track of when your opponent uses their abilities so you can see when their CDS are up. Knowing whether your opponent has a defensive ability ready to use, or if their big CD just became ready is really useful information.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Prot Warrior stuff

EJ has some good stuff up for Prot Warriors at L90 [finally]. One of the more interesting recommendations they make is to prioritise Hit and Expertise to cap ahead of any mitigation stats, including Mastery. I'm not totally sold on this as general gearing strategy-- I'd just call that a Barrier build. As long as you're using Shield Block, mastery is both your most effective and smoothest damage reduction stat.

I guess the thing to keep in mind is that Warrior tanks are going to basically have two modes, switching based on whether the fight has significant unblockable damage or not. Block fights will obviously prefer Mastery, while for Barrier fights, Mastery will do very little. The interesting consistency between these two builds is the lower value of pure avoidance stats; Parry and Dodge have a lower value in a Block fight due to rage income being important for keeping Shield Block up, and in a Barrier fight they are almost as poor as Mastery.

So I suppose what this all means is that progression tanks will have a lot of on-the-fly reforging to do. For me, though, I'll switch out what I can, probably mainly trinkets, but reforging between fights is a bit beyond my commitment level.

As long as I'm talking about gear, it's also a bit of a shame so much of the current tier is so poorly-statted [so much Dodge >_>], but I guess it gives them somewhere to go in the next tier. I know they know how to do it well, because I noticed they did it with the "Masterwork Spiritguard" entry-level crafted tank set. You should see that thing... Mastery on literally every slot. Beautiful.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Warlockin' again

Played my warlock a bit last night, levelling from 85 to 86. Wow. Demonology is amazing. Once you get your head around transitioning frequently between the two modes to it feels very fluid. The design is just beautiful, the way you can bank Demonic Fury and either spend it efficiently for max sustained DPS or inefficiently on powerful burst. AoE burst with two Felguards breaks my brain it's so OP. Would be even nicer if we had an AoE ability to spend Molten Core procs on instead of just Soul Fire, but I guess we have enough shit already to throw out in AoE situations.

I haven't quite gotten my head around keeping my damage up during heavy movement yet, and found the final boss in Brewery really frustrating with his bloody spam of that debuff you need to run around to remove, and the beer walls to constantly jump over. Also our healer was terrible and died [then dropped group] halfway through the fight, so I had my own health to worry about too.

I heard that Hunters are getting to move while casting in the next patch. Perhaps it's time to just allow all casters to move while casting. I mean they already buff melee classes with the assumption that they wont have 100% uptime on the boss due to "movement", with casters now apparently being totally able to get around their "equivalent" restriction of standing still to cast things in movement fights. So why don't we just go the whole way and we can get over this nonsense.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I have yet to Valor cap this expansion. I feel slightly ashamed of this. I got to 900 the first week, 910 the second week, 600-odd last week.

Why? Well, for starters, it turns out that undertuned Heroics are fucking boring. [Who would have guessed?] They also now provide only 20% of the Valor they did previously, which is almost understandable given the difficulty reduction, until you realise that they are not actually solable now, so one-fifth of the Valor might be slightly off.

But the Dailies are worse. Remember when they said they were removing the Daily quest cap to "stop people from thinking they needed to cap it"? It's now been replaced with a weekly soft cap of two-hundred-- the number of daily quests you need to complete to gain 1000 Valor points.

I didn't used to hate Dailies. They weren't the most fun thing in the world, but I didn't actively hate grinding out every single one of the Argent Tournament mounts, and that thing has a reputation for being awful. But then they told me my raid gear depended on it, because... I have to assume they think I will enjoy Dailies more than running Heroics..? That is the only explanation I can think of. Why would they, as game designers, take my reward from one place and put it another unless they think I'll enjoy the other thing more?

The reputations have also had their grind increased. Where we previously had the option to use tabards to grind rep through Dungeon runs if that's what we enjoyed more, the lack of tabards has completely removed this alternate progression path. They gave us fewer options. On top of this, all Valor rewards now have a reputation requirement. We have to do daily quests to gain rep or even the Valor we gain is useless.

It's not the quests themselves. I like the easy-going running around smiting mobs and freeing slaves or whatever, knowing it's all headed towards a reward at the end. My issue is a resentment of being told exactly what to do to not be sub-optimal; the implicit obligation that the game has set for me. What I am feeling is exactly the effect that they were trying to avoid by removing the daily quest cap.

I resented being "forced" into it so much that last week I completely stopped doing daily quests. Just stopped. I could not bring myself to engage with that grind any more because it was making me dislike playing the game.

The reason I think this happened is the devs held too closely to this mantra they've been touting throughout the Mists development of "giving you lots to do to progress your character". This is a great concept, except that I think they misunderstood "progress your character" to mean "grinding Valor gear is the only way to progress your character", and "lots to do" as "you have to do the same things for longer". Then I imagine these devs cackling madly; "HAHA YOU WANT VALOR GEAR? DO WHAT WE SAY OR NO GEAR FOR YOU". And what they want you to do is everything. Outside of professions and pet battling, I can't think of much that exists at endgame that isn't now tied to Valor points in some way. I guess they'll probably start giving you 2 Valor per max-level pet battle win in patch five-point-two.

Sacred Duty has a great post that reiterates a lot of what I've been saying and claims that this is the grindy-est the game has ever been. That post also talks a lot about food buffs, which honestly I have been trying to ignore because I took one glance at the food system [yeah, it's a system now], saw how ridiculously convoluted it was and decided not to bother. I can't help but think they must have assigned some overzealous up-and-comer to design it and he really wanted to make his mark.

"This food provides 250 stats to ten people unless one of them is Best Friends with the Cooking trainee in which case it provides 275 stats to all players but if the person who placed it recently purchased a buff token from Halfhill they get 300 stats but this expires in 15 minutes instead of 30. Also it makes you larger."

These days you can buy food from a vendor for three gold that buffs you with 200 stats [other people like Mastery the best too, right?]. But you want that extra 100 stats? Oh man you better be ready to WORK for it.

So anyway I've been enjoying pet battling a bunch, doing a lot of AH trading, and slowly levelling Tashraal. I got the Shaman ability Ascendance last night, which for someone levelling is basically a oneshot iwin button against whatever you're fighting. Shamans have a lot of iwin buttons, I've noticed.

I also played a Monk for a few levels. It's fun, but needs more mobility and/or ranged abilities. I guess most classes feel slow at low levels, especially when you're used to charging around on a Warrior.

I think I'm just going to stay away from endgame until it makes me hate the game a bit less...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More on professions

I put a lot of thought into structuring my professions for this expansion. Harmony is the new paradigm for crafting, and the only way to get it is for the crafting character to play the game. I know plenty of people who think Harmony is the worst thing ever, but I don't think it's terribly unfair to restrict what is possible to do on a character who just sits by a mailbox and crafts. It's a different way of thinking too; you don't buy Harmony, so the word profit does not apply, it's about converting it to gold, and calculating the most efficient way to do so.

Syrannia is a Blacksmith, which for the most part means milking the cash cow which is Belt Buckles. There are a couple of other miscellaneous items, like the Shield Spike, which are profitable mainly because I'm the only person bothering to sell them. I've been using my Harmony to purchase the crafting patterns for entry level PvP and tanking gear. Going back to the idea of Harmony to gold conversion, these patterns are a total no-brainer because there is no restriction on how many times I can produce and sell the item. As long as the item is profitable to sell the gold conversion for 1 Harmony spent on a pattern is theoretically infinite.

Ghost Iron Dragonlings are the gift Blizzard gave Engineers this expansion. This trinket sells amazingly well; there are few enough BoE trinkets to choose from, and this one is useful for every class. This item also finally creates a mass market for the previously Engineer-exclusive Cogwheels.

Coreus is the clothie cliché of Tailor Enchanter. Tailoring in my experience only has limited production value; I've yet to really look into whether there is anything profitable in there. In the past I've found crafted epics tend to be more profitable later in the expansion once the material price has dropped and the competition has forgotten about them.

Enchanting on the other hand, is doing very, very well. With the exception of a few "newbie traps" all the new enchants sell for a very healthy profit. Blizzard did a really good job, in my opinion, in removing "lesser" enchanting Essences and for smaller DE values just giving Dust, five of which can then be converted into one Essence. Player ignorance [I have to assume] of this feature means that a single Essence actually sells for up to double the price of the five Dust that any Enchanter can use to make one. It's even profitable most of the time of the time to down-convert Shards [from Rare-quality gear] into Essences; the sell price is that inflated.

Tashraal is the master Engineer and a learned Scribe, both important facets of his character. Darkmoon cards have been selling very well, and if I'd realised that the daily CD mechanic meant that one scribe could produce one card per day I would have trained up a second one ahead of the expansion to take more advantage of this. I've sold a few glyphs, but as we all know this market is heavily contested, so sales are relatively proportional to how often I can be arsed cancelling and reposting them.

I need to correct what I said earlier; Blizzard actually gave Engineers two gifts this expansion. The second is not one, but two new flying mounts. These use 12 Harmony each to make, and I predict they will be by far the best gold conversion rate in the long term. These mounts are also the saving grace of having redundant Engineers; because one mount is restricted to each specialisation, having Engineers to cover both is extremely convenient.

And on the toons I don't play, I have a Leatherworker Transmute Alchemist, Miner Transmute Alchemist, a Jewelcrafter Transmute Alchemist, and a Herbalist unspecced Alchemist, likely to go Transmute... but I'm waiting to see if making my own elixirs will be worth doing. :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Raiding; pet battles; recruitment

I've seen a few people who refer to progression raiding as "progressive". Social reform is a noble goal it's true, but I'm not sure it's necessarily a high priority for most World of Warcraft raids.

Pet battles in their current state reminds me so much of the first generation of Pokémon. Unrefined interface, unbalanced mechanics, and an insane amount of fun. They are going to do good things with this, assuming any kind of ongoing development focus.

I'm concerned about the future of my raid group. Our best players are all people who have been with us since we were a 25-man raid, but natural churn has been eroding at that core for a while now, and our recruitment is only ever reactive. It doesn't help that our server is small these days, or that so many of the quality people tend to be caught in the gravity of a certain top raid leader and his cult of personality. I guess I shouldn't be surprised of the power of social ties in an MMO, but god it's depressing how far some very average players have gotten just by glomming onto the right person.

Recruitment is all about the size of the pool you have to draw from. It's about knowing enough people [or having enough people know you] that you can cherry pick the best ones. Sometimes I wish I could care enough about knowing people for the sake of knowing them, but that's just not who I am.

I really like the group I have. I suppose if in a month from now we're unable to field a consistent 10-man group it will be time to review our options. I have to ponder whether an Guild merger is going to be an attractive option, but I absolutely don't want to give up playing with the people I play with. With the recruitment pool of a large guild behind us we'd be set. No more horrible trade pugs slowing down our progression, and we could reach the level I know we're capable of.

I guess I wouldn't really want to give up the perks of being a guild officer either, but I'm not the kind of person who requires the ego boost of being a big fish in a small pond.

I went with a few guildies to try a Challenge Mode the other night. I think the difficulty took them by surprise. ;)

Friday, October 12, 2012


Not sure where to start, really.

I tend to only post in this blog when I'm at work, and as I've taken some time off to enjoy Mists at my own pace, the blog has languished.

Some thoughts, in no particular order:

AH sellers are a peculiar breed. Mainly in their lack of understanding of the difference between an item being listed at a certain price and an item selling at that price.

The crafting and selling business is good, though I've been spending gold almost as fast as I've been earning it so I don't really notice.

Valor points are pissing me off. It's like they made a conscious decision to make them as irritating a grind as possible. I remember being a bit put off at having to complete 7 random Heroics to cap Valor in Cataclysm. But that's nothing compared to the twenty-seven random Heroics we need to complete to cap Valor now. But a person might say that that should be less of an issue now that we can do daily quests instead. You only need to complete two hundred of those. Two fucking hundred daily quests. Not to mention the rep grind required obtain raiding gear. I'm usually one of the last people to complain about doing the same thing over and over in a video game, but right now these "compulsory" quests are making me hate daily questing.

I thought it was pretty funny that because they made the "entry level" PvE gear deliberately terrible people were using PvP gear instead, so they had to buff the former and nerf the latter.

Grummles are awesome.