Farming the AH for raid gear

Here is a quick summary of the upgrades I’ve got for Mortigen, my Frost Death Knight in the last 2-3 weeks. Note that all so far are via the AH or Hyjal quests – and I’m now running with 4x items that are either Best in Slot, or well placed to be BiS in combination with other gear.

Why do I raise this? Well my gearing plan now is to make a huge boat load of gold on the AH and buy my way to decent raid gear. I can’t raid regularly at the moment, but I’ll be damned if I’ll not be taken later in the raids when my schedule gets better due to poor gear (meaning still wearing ilevel 359 items in most places). So now starts a sell-up of all the mats I’ve stockpiled over the expansion, to be converted into trade goods and items which will sell. In raw value I think I have at least 10k worth of mats banked, which I hope to convert into well over 30-40k. We’ll see.

  • Cloak: The Hyjal reward is BiS and healthy. A darn good start, and such a great bump.
  • Wrist: purchased valor based wrist, so another upgrade to wrist slot is far lower priority now. yes, it was a bit of a waste to buy this so early, as the prices are going to drop significantly in the next month…but I wanted it.
  • Trinket 1: I just purchased an Apparatus of Khaz’goroth (AoK), which makes most of the other Dps trinkets a much smaller upgrade (ie. from Ragnaros). See ranking table from the EJ guys.
  • Trinket 2: The Crushing Weight is is still apparently darn good, and given how much Expertise is dumps, I agree.

Trinkets for Dual Wield Frost DKs are a funny thing. The License to Slay ranks very high on that table, but then its main stat offering (Hit Rating) is something that I have a stack of due to the main hand weapons also having Hit. I’ll have to consider grabbing a License at some point, but well after the other gear slots are up to spec.

The AoK is very nice, although it is said that it is far worse for a DK using Unholy, as they do not get enough Critical Strikes fast enough to actually acquire 5 stacks of the power. That makes sense, and means that I’ll probably stay Frost unless a fantastic 2 handed weapon somehow gets within my grasp. I can’t see it happening any time soon. I did some preliminary testing to see if I’d wasted a lot of gold, but it had a slight dps increase on a dummy, so I hope that will translate to a more powerful increase when I’m raid buffed and killing things “for real”.

I also can’t see myself getting any of the Heroic versions of the trinkets either (or any other gear come to think of it), although I might get lucky and get a Firestone to upgrade an item I have much later at some point. I think I’d upgrade the AoK, as the Heroic version is really nice too. People are challenging the item as the potential affect cannot be fully utilised all the time, but the Str buff alone is very healthy and if macro’ed in to a strike then you’ll always use it when its off cooldown.

Yes, now I’m much poorer than a few weeks ago (spent approx 34k so far), but if my enchants sell then i could be picking up another BoE upgrade within a week or two.

I might even sell the Orb of Deception and Haunted Memento that I’ve had for ages too; the sale value of both has not changed hardly at all, despite being somewhat rare.

A beautiful day for distractions

The weather has been cold, not unusual for Melbourne in July and certainly not new for me. It is however a little more present in my reality due to the early starts and late finishes that work has required recently. I am jealous to read all the blogs about summer frolicking in the northern hemisphere. You lucky crazy sods – you at least should be busy and outside, but are instead inside with Warcraft.

In wow I’ve been quiet due to a range of factors not really related to the cold at all. The main cause is legitimate distractions of work, house renovations, and broken cars.

Work has been busy as we started a new contract about two months ago, and although I think it will get better in the long term, in the short term that means no raiding – as fatigue makes good raiding really difficult. A 7-11ish raid plus the peripheral discussions till midnight are not viable when you get up just after 5am each day. Hell the contract is only for four years, so I guess I’ll be ready for Firelands raids by then. Grumble.

We’re also renovating our unit, at the moment that means adding a new fireplace and we’re mid way through the prep and painting of the mantlepiece. Again wow suffers, as I want the darn fire finished and it frustrates me to not have it completed. I could perhaps rush it and sacrifice the quality of the finish, but I’ll have to look at that fireplace for years to come and any blemishes that were avoidable will bug me.

To offset the missing games I’ve started reading a bit more. I can read in much smaller time segments that I can play warcraft, and it is as much a satisfying escape from reality as online games are. Two books that I’ve borrowed are the last Harry Potter and the Game of Thrones first novel. As of a few days ago I’ve just put down the last Harry Potter book. I saw the film and felt that the book would not add anything new. That is a little snarky, but thus far the book has been a very fair match to the films, and therefore I’m not going to gain any deeper insight by finishing the book. I might come back in a few years and read it, once the images of the films have been forgotten and it seems a little more fresh.

Game of Thrones also follows the TV series very closely, but the book is adding a lot of depth to my understanding. I’m staggered just of close to the original the TV series was, and also that there can be suck side stories in the novel that tweak my interest. I understand now some of the small embellishments or slight changes in timing between the presentation of the two – as it makes a more TV friendly presentation.

I wonder too how the Warcraft film will follow the lore. To make a viable and profitable film the target audience needs to be far wider than just the current subscriber base – and that means making the material digestible in a single film. This adds a complexity of picking a section of the lore which is a discrete story, and also has enough gravitas with the community to be worth seeing.

They have a hard script to write, and I hope they throw a darn good team at it.

Anyway that is enough of a rumble on my distractions. May your novels always be enticing, your wine glass full, and your hearth warm.

SW ToR – No Australian Pre-Order

Get early access to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Pre-order Now.

Why on earth would Australia not have a pre-order capacity?

Maybe because we’re a tiny population, maybe they’ll have no AU servers, distribution rights are complex, or maybe it is just because there is limited coppies…of a digital product. Even the digital version has:

Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ is not available in your region

What a total buzz-kill and fail, and some other aussies agree and are already taking it to the forums. Not the best sign of Aussie support or compassion. This cartoon from the forums says it all, thank you Static52.

There is a thread from Bioware on the discussion too,

To all of our fans outside of North America and Europe:

Today we’ve announced the pre-order details for the initial launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and as you may now know, we’ve taken the difficult but necessary decision to limit our initial launch supply for the game. BioWare and LucasArts are completely focused on building an exceptional game and an exceptional game service to go with it. We decided to constrain our launch capacity to ensure we deliver a great experience to every player.

Part of the reason this decision was made was because of the overwhelming demand for The Old Republic, and we’re humbled by that level of excitement and anticipation. We fully intend to deliver to you an amazing game when we expand our service post-launch, but right now we cannot commit to any timeframe for when that may happen. As soon as we have more information about additional launches in more territories, we’ll let you know.

We are committed to delivering Star Wars: The Old Republic to BioWare and Star Wars fans around the world, and to growing a truly global community.

They’re not humble, that is marketing speak for “opps, we’ll fix soon”. Guess I’ll just keep playing World of Warcraft. Grumble.

Death Strike buff for DK Tanks

There has been a buff to Blood DK’s talent of Improved Death Strike – it now provides 40/80/120% bonus damage, up from 30/60/90%, and a 10/20/30% critical strike bonus, up from 3/6/9% (source).

This would not affect Blood Shield (I assume – as it is inbound damage not outbound that is used in the calc), or affect threat beyond the additional threat caused by the damage applied.

This seems good, I like any buff. The hotfix now applied to live realms as at 19 July 2011. If Death Strike’s Bloodshield would persist a few seconds longer I’d be happier still.

I didn’t note any major issue, but then I only really tank when we’re very short of actual Tanks these days. There area few other sources which have requests for this, dating back a long while. Some folks don’t believe this is real at all.

The most balanced it’s ever been

Another Blog Azeroth topic which reacts to the idea of the game being balanced. What a squirming can of worms for a topic. Nice idea really.

Ghostcrawler recently said that, in his estimation, the game is the most balanced it’s ever been. Agree? Disagree? And if it’s the most balanced, does that mean it’s enjoyable for you at the moment — have there, in other words, been more enjoyable, if less balanced, moments in the past?

Balance is a tough thing to define as it is totally subjective. One view is often shouted down by others, with only a hodge-podge of data and experiences to back them up.

My perspective is that we will always have something worth bitching about. Always – and that is good for design. It is not a reason to have a deliberate gap, but a small gap is always going to be present, and that gap will be perceived differently by different players. Continue reading

What has WoW taught you?

A topic from the Blog Azeroth forums a long time ago, which I never go to posting at the time.

What has WoW taught you?

It has taught be about myself as a person, a little on controlling reaction to stupid and silly events. Those stupid things pile up, arrive in one and twos, and sometimes in tens and twenties. I know that there is value to calm and behaving with certainty.

Taught me how to value a relationship, and what I really value; with Life > wow being my mantra.My partner didn’t understand wow, and we’ve built up the expectation of what is reasonable between us – so that we are both happier.

It has helped strengthen my skills on how to impart bad news to people, and how to effect a change without backlash. Unsurprisingly it comes back to speaking plainly and honestly.

Happy gaming – Typhoonandrew

Not a traditional free to play model

A quick thought – if wow is Free to Play then can I cancel paying my subscription and then only login to the game on an existing toon that is level 1-20?

ie. Can I choose to suspend paying per month for a while, then move back to a subscription when I choose? No.

Clearly not, so its not true F2P, although I can understand why offering the model is a reasonable hook to players. There is a gulf between this form of free to play, and the form offered by Champions Online. I guess in an industry which is this competitive it stands to reason that marketing will bend what we think of as traditional F2P models. Perhaps that is even a good thing.

Are there many players left who have not already tried wow?

the loot system is farked

In another post’s comment, I wrote that “the loot system is farked in wow“. It really got me thinking that such a negative statement could gather up how I feel about PvE raid rewards in World of Warcraft. It is worrying. Not only for PvE raiders, but for the fact that other games will look to WoW and copy the reward system as a fundamental. In this case Blizzard has it fundamentally wrong.

I promise that this will be one of the last posts about loot, gearing, and the cycles involved for a while. Just one last rant to get off my chest.

a skinner box

A skinner box session in progress. I think the bird is DPS...?

The system is based upon grinding for gear, in a most inefficient manner. When you kill a boss a random sub-set of items is presented as awards and the team get to decide who gets what. I like the fact that we get to decide how we divvy up the booty, but there is no consideration to who participated, or what is needed in the team. And that is just broken.

We have entire systems (ilevels, gear points, reforging, enhancements and enchantments, etc) to classify gear, and improve the gear we have, but no way to reward repeat raiding effort to gain specific items. These items are often needed to move forward efficiently.

You might think that I am forgetting that you get widget-points for killing a boss (who cares what they are called – widget points is fine), which can be use to purchase items? I’m not. That is a good system, which is logical, and places the control back with the player to participate in the gearing choices. Widget points are well loved as a system, the real contention is how fast you acquire them, not if the system is useful.

I’m raising the idea (yet again) that we need the game to facilitate improvement through effort in a better manner for boss loot.

Examples of the issues:

  • There is no point dropping Priest specific gear if we don’t have on in the raid. It is useless.
  • There is no point dropping an item that cannot be used by anyone in the raid at all, like Spell plate with no Paladins.
  • No prohibition on rolling for items which are irrelevant for a spec as a “Need” item.

Oh, but am I forgetting that it will get converted to a shard, and shards have value? No. An item being “sharded” in early content is a total waste, as the team really need upgrades to progress, and it late content you have so many that they are almost irrelevant. Shards only have high value and high use in the middle of the game, when you have gear worth using the shard on, but also don’t have 90% of your raid geared.

It is all really illogical.

But then is it really illogical to everyone? The drop randomness keeps a percentage of the players raiding each week. They can do nothing except raid to clear, and hope an item drops. This means they keep at it, and keep playing longer. It is not a stretch to suspect that if the loot system was improved then we could see more players switching to alts, or switching to other games.

Perhaps it is only illogical to keep doing it.

Well then you might ask what can be done. Well if you go digging through this blog you’ll find all manner of suggestions. In the wider wow community you’ll see more, and if you look as far as outside the wow community (gasp), there are plenty of good examples of other ways to handle rewards and loot. Far too many to bother with a summary here, but a few driving principals apply:

  • Minimise the amount of wasted loot
  • Balance loot amongst the classes and specs present
  • Guide loot distribution using the assigned role
  • Minimise the impact of greedy players

However here are a few I prepared earlier: Better gear rewards from runs, and Algorithm for need vs greed by role.

The opportunity to change this in the current 4.2 game is not a reality. It is probably too large a change to be made except by change in major version like the next expansion, but it could be made.

May your dice roll high, and you always see your loot. TyphoonAndrew

Frost and Unholy Gear Guide for 4.2

Orcish Army Knife has a really good summary of gear for Frost and Unholy Death Knights, updated for patch 4.2. Just thought I’d share it in case there are some DKs who have not found it.

Why is it good? Well you can plan where you will get your upgrades from.

For example my only Wrist upgrade is either PvP, or a BoE drop, or one boss drop. So I purchased it now rather than waiting to get lucky. Sure, I needed to spend 12000gp on it, but it will be my wrist slot item until we are in the next content release, as I doubt I’ll get lucky with Lord Ry’s drop rate on wrist items.