Patch, Token, and Guild

It has been almost a week between posts, as a deliberate strategy to not smash a few folks in the head using text, to calm down a bit, and to reflect on what we’re about to get from Wow’s patch 5.2. The stupidity indicator in my mental framework was flashing warning yellow all last week, and moved to match the aggro indicator in red on Friday and Saturday. Nothing to post here except that I have maintained my intolerance for liars, thieves, and real estate agents (do real life things get an interest here from readers? - I’m not sure).

In good news our guild’s raid team is getting stronger again thanks to some players returning from hiatus and also switching back after looking for greener pastures. That is a minor compliment of sorts as I do not think many folks quite a guild then return, and it also shows that the remaining players are good enough to accept them back. Kind of proud of what our GM and the officers have built. Kudos to all folks, and welcome to the recent arrivals.

[ … The angry part of my lizard-brain wants to suggest that some of these folks left guild for a reason and we’re still the same people, and that it might open us to more drama. Well yes, you lizard bastard, shut it. I choose to see this as positive and good. Circumstances and people are not the same between two different days of the week. Do I judge a person once and keep that sentiment forever? Sounds like a path to a boring and unhappy life.

Lizard-brain is a term I stole from a sci-fi novel where the storyteller explains basic animalistic reactions we have like attraction, anger response, survival, and such as being powered by the lizard-brain rather than the reason. I really like it. Eat, food, lunch… ]

For the raid team it means strength and diversity. We are stronger is a very practical sense as I am hoping that the more casual players (myself included) will be able to be slackers again. I love raiding, but hate that I let the team down with an early finish time each raid. It is a pain for everyone. The advantage of having 12-13 players in a raid team vs 8-10 is irrefutable. I still plan to be online and sub-in when needed, but can slip away when I need to in prep for the early starting work day.

We also get diversity from (hopefully) adding more classes to our mix. We lack a regular Warlock and a regular Paladin in the raid team, two classes of the three on one of the tier tokens. This means that our resident Priest is bloody well geared in main and offspec. Good for him too I say, but sheesh we had a lot of Mages, Druids, Death Knights in the runs. We don’t have a lot of Rogues, but then does anyone?

Tokens – T15 tier tokens seem to be reusing the classes of the T14 Tokens. Well shit, that’s just poor. I was hoping against all historic precedent that it would be switched around for each Tier in Pandaria. yes, I know that is a bitch for some teams, but for us it means we’re over saturated in a few classes for the entire expansion.

The class mix is:

  • Token A – Rogue, Death Knight, Mage, Druid
  • Token B – Warrior, Hunter, Shaman, Monk
  • Token C – Paladin, Priest, Warlock

I maintain that the tokens should be for any class, and let the raiders divvy them around. But hey, I’m just a casual and don’t understand what “real” raiders want. Sarcasm.

Appearance wise I maintain that the DK tier set looks dumb. I’ll revise that in game when I see it on screen – for now the teeth look lost. The human figure looks like it is half eaten. The armour is also inelegant. Did the designers run out of skulls for Death Knight gear and have a heap of Hunter teeth left over? Perhaps they ordered too many.

A positive is that the models match our spec choices, which makes transmog use somewhat appealing. There – I said something positive about the dental mistake that T15 is for Death Knights.

T15-DK-Helms-nom-nom-nom-nom

(Help! I’m stuck inside this abstract sculpture of teeth, and all I have is floss)

Looking forward I am anticipating the T15 raids to be good. The hype machine has certainly been telling me that they are fantastic, and I’m happy to take that expectation to heart. The content devs have even been doing the promo interviews amongst the big blogs and shows to demonstrate how much of a push T15 has. It had a promotion vid and also an official video too. Effort has been made by Blizzard, will it be enough?

The smaller changes in Patch 5.2 are interesting too.

Old patterns becoming available from Blacksmithing is meh, as it added no additional raid patterns (meaning ilevel 476+) out of the gate. I have no use for an ilevel 463 item now, and now also cannot upgrade that item as the upgrade vendor has left. That means it’s LFR or nothing for the quick upgrades. Whatever – don’t argue it, I get it. It shits me that the system was offered in the first place to act only as a patch jump.

When we see T16 replace T15 the gear divide from new level 90 to raider will be even wider, and there is a likely scenario where new patterns and the upgrade vendor will return. A telling mistake in previous patches was the time to get from newbie through to raider very late in the expansion’s life. Plans can be made to mitigate that.

I’m also a bit underwhelmed by the Archaeology changes for the Klaxxi. Here is a race that used to serve and worship the Old Ones as gods when they were active on the planet, and the archy material is a few new items and some achievements? Lost opportunity to do fantastic stuff right there.

Heck, the entire last Tier could be Klaxxi + Garrosh with aplomb. Imagine if T16 is a hash of old gods and the rejection of Garrosh by the Horde. It stinks of a good story. Even better if Garrosh is not thrown out because of being corrupted by old gods, but because of his own ambition. Let Garrosh raise alone to attempt to rule all of Azeroth, let him burn all before him, let his drive for power and absolute rule be the force that compels his followers and emboldens his naysayers.

Actually now that I read that, leave the Klaxxi/Old Gods out of it, and lets see a true natural menace appear in the world again. Garrosh can be the return to a true evil overlord in the story. No cop-out corruption, or misguided passion for purity. Give me a downright evil bastard and I’d consider switching factions to Horde just to feel the story of betrayal. Perhaps T15 bosses will open a few stories when they start falling…

Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew Continue reading

wow p5.1 Valor Grinding Update by Ask Mr. Robot

You PvE folks don’t need more gear drops, just update the gear you have with Valor and Justice! Yay. Grinding instances and daily quests is not mandatory.

Mr Robot has an excellent summary with examples of how and how gear will soon be able to be upgrades with grind-able points. In Patch 5.1 for WoW you’ll get a +8 item level boost on any gear, costing 1500 points. That is pretty neat for a raider who is missing a key upgrade due to poor luck. It offers an alternative which was not available.

I have a niggling feeling though that it will make capping Valor/Justice each week so much more important. It was already very desirable, but now it feels even closer to a mandatory requirement.

Q. Where do you get the points?

A. Same places – boss kills, instances, and doing daily quests. Grinding instances and daily quests is not mandatory.

Q. Do we get more, or are the scales adjusted?

A. Nope, all is good in the ratios so I’m told. 25 points per boss kill is apparently what is needed.

Raiding and LFR offer between 40-50% max of the Valor, assuming that you are doing full clears. Not many guilds are doing full clears – so many raiders are not even close to max before they start doing Instances and daily quests.

Grinding instances and daily quests is not mandatory.

Q. Should I do progression, with wipes, long effort, etc or do Valor farming?

A. Both. You need to play more, or play more efficiently, or whatever – this is all about being given expanded options. Grinding instances and daily quests is not mandatory.

Q. How could the reward improve or valor system improve?

A. How about:

  • Increase the reward from the instances from 80 VP first and 40 every run afterward to 100 and 60 each extra run. Make it so more people run instances to get their Valor – it can’t hurt. It still makes it a hard slog to cap. Increasing the JP reward is a good idea too.
  • Reward both Valor and Justice from Scenarios, unless they are intended to be done once and then forgotten.
  • Reward more from boss kills in PvE, from 25 to 40-45. This means that it is still very unlikely that a character will cap valor just from PvE clearing.
  • Reward daily quest reward from 5 VP to 10 or 15 VP. This is for fools like me who are earning valor through daily quests a lot and are really bored with it.
  • The bonus for valor capping a character changes so that instead of one character getting to 1000 valor and the buff kicking in, the 1000 can be gained on any set of characters, then all get more. This means more people are using alts – which would be their choice.

Remember: Grinding instances and daily quests is not mandatory. Are you happy citizen?

Refs:

Faction reps gaining slowly

A quick toon update on Reputations in progress for Mortigen my Death Knight, making me think that daily quests do have a reward, but by golly that does not make them entertaining.

  • Black Prince now Honored. Not a big deal without the drops needed from raid bosses, which are darn rare and most of what I need now coming from Heart of Fear.
  • Golden Lotus now Revered, so I can save that little more valor and might soon have some upgraded epic Shoulders. Yay. Anyone got some spare Valor? Also means I can unlock the Shadow Pan to start more quests. And a step closer to the epic quest reward too.
  • Klaxxi now Revered, also not a big deal due to the Valor requirement on rewards. I suppose it is one step closer to Exalted and a free 487 epic item. Yippee. Grind.
  • Tillers now totally beyond my comprehension of which idiot farmer likes me, and which are snarky. I do not understand why Farmer Yoon (or whatever his name is) actually needs rep or help. What he really needs and actually has is a host of available players to be slaves on his farm while he stands idle beside the hut watching. That shovel pusher is lucky he is not a yellow-mob, because I’d be killing him every week. Yes, I am exalted which is why these turkeys get the biggest rant.
  • I also do not understand how to get Cooking leveled quickly. All my non-“Way-of-the” cooking is gray.
  • Anglers have had a brief look in, but fishing is no more compelling than before, which means that it’ll be one of the last things I do each week if I have the time.
  • Archaeology is after fishing/Anglers. Yawn.

So I keep doing Golden Lotus and Klaxxi for the Exalted quest chain, garnering Valor to buy the Shoulders, then add Shadow Pan into the mix instead of Tillers so that the epic Helm will one day be something available too.

It’s nice to have an upgrade path. See you online.

The Instance Interview with Cory Stockton

Logo of Blizzard Entertainment

The Instance had the opportunity to interview Cory Stockton (episode 292), one of the key World of Warcraft “Lead Content Designer” at Blizzard. It adds an element of personality to the names that we read about on forums and blogs.

cute long view image of Pandaria hillside and small buildings

Overall listening to this helped me along the hype cycle, to look forward to Mists and also raise my expectations on the lore and content being offered in Mists to characters leveling through 85-90. End game options in particular get a good thrashing as a topic throughout the interview. Some notes:

  • What characters Cory plays…loving the Monk class, and appears he’s a bit of an alt-a-holic. I respect that.
  • Timed runs, and Scenarios – What were the challenges in getting the balance right? Goal: Competitive PvE and Leaderboards.
  • A key challenge was explaining what Pandaria is, and why the factions are going there, and for what goals. A quick mention of Garrosh’s motivations and how they think about new lore.
  • Corey stated that scenarios should have the players understanding the goal up front. The snarky part of my play experience thinks that he’ll want to review the Fall of Theramore then. That said, he has confidence that the other scenarios are interesting and engaging. He mentions a “siege of the Undercity” style scenario with Varian Wrynn as a 3 player mode. Interesting.
  • Apparently folks do not read quest text! Wow, that makes for a challenge in terms of keeping context for a mission new without over simplification.
  • Less cinematics in questing, which is probably good given some of the feedback from Uldum.

Its definitely worth a listen.

Professions breakdown in Mists

As we have only a few days for the expansion to drop, here is a useful summary from Wowhead on professions. Particularly the good stuff that you’ll want to snaffle asap, as well as a general overview.

For my toons I’m looking forward to the level 85 Blacksmithing patterns which are direct upgrades on most gear, being level ilevel 415 items. It means anything that is non-heroic gear is replaceable. Mats are going to be worth a small fortune.

Archaeology also has a useful Trinket which might be worth torturing myself for.

Fishing looks to contain almost nothing worth rushed for, and Cooking will be where we grab our buff food from. Cooking grind, alas my poor time.

ps. Darn excited.

Acquiring Legendary Drama

Somehow previously the announcement of “a legendary for everybody” was proclaimed and I missed writing on it. GrumpyElf has a great post about the impact that this might have on the player community, and the way we view rewards.

We’ve seen some additional information mined from the Beta fro Mists of Pandaria (via wowhead) where a special item is “upgraded” to legendary via applying an item called the Breath of the Black Prince – in MoP the quest chain gives you an upgrade to ilevel 513 for an item you likely already have. That means a powerful weapon after a set of kills, drops, and gathering quests, which is a good way to start it off.

This looks like a big step for Blizzard and it’s going to leave a lot of people divided. On one hand, the idea of a legendary based on merit rather than class sounds fantastic; on the other, guilds will have a lot of trouble deciding who gets the first one of these.

But is it hard enough? Does a Legendary like that actually feel powerful, or more feel like a reward and not a tribute to your effort?

It got me thinking about what a legendary should be and how they are acquired.

Giving everybody a real true Legendary is bloody stupid.

Giving us the potential to access a Legendary so that every class has something that they might get reward from is OK, but making them easy to acquire is super-crazy. A Legendary is supposed to be just that – a Legend. Something that you proudly display, and something that only a small percentage of the community is capable of. Essentially I am in agreement with the moderate hardcore players who wish to see legendary items stay super tough to get.

Making them easier to access reminds me of the line from the film The Incredibles – When everyone has a legendary item, nobody does. These are items where their particular value is that they are exceeding and exceptionally rare.

I agree that everyone should have the plausible potential to get one, but not the expectation that they deserve one.

When every toon is grinding for the item, then competition for the drops and rewards skyrockets.

More people trying to get the drops means drama. It means that it will still take ages to get which is good, but it also means that every idiot with a BattleNetID will think they are entitled. I’d hate to see that, especially if it invites guild drama.

Something positive about a Legendary that only a few classes can use is that we have less chatter about who is worthy and willing. I didn’t have to stress about the caster staff or Rogue daggers, as a Death Knight was not eligible. It was almost a relief. Sharing that love around lets those people feel special and supported by others, and sometimes helping others is an excellent feeling and reason unto itself. I enjoyed seeing others get their Legendary items, and have helped many folks in the effort.

The behavior in LFR and LFDs is already often puerile and selfish, and the new loot rules only reflect that community cannot behave itself. Essentially the Internet F**kwad Theory applies (go look it up). So I hope the legendary is not progressed by a competitive activity in LFR. Perhaps your own “kill 300x bosses” count can be helped along by that, but not the “get 10x drops” bit.

To be entitled to a Legendary at the moment you need to be patient and work at it, and be a tad lucky. That might mean getting 24 mates together 50 times so that you can repeat farm some drops, and do kills in a special order. It might mean grinding a lowbie instance every week for 4 years so that you try to get three items – each with a 1% drop rate.

How to make a Legendary usable by all?

I’m not sure there is a question more prevalent that how on earth is one legendary going to satisfy the range of players.

  • A boosted item, where the base item is picked from a range of choices; as per above? Sure, OK. That feels like it will have less lore attached to it. By example Sulfurus felt epic because it was the hammer which Ragnaros was using to wipe the raid each week. It had a weight and presence in the game, and was won by blood and effort.
  • A legendary mount which can fly at 350% speed?
  • An Neck or Ring with gobsmackingly high amounts of universal stats like Mastery. Perhaps an item with 3-4 base stats like Agi, Str, Int, Stam in high amounts with Mastery to boot will be useful. The re-forge might make that worthy even for folks who need it for other things.

What are useful guides for how to create the quests and goals?

  • Require a huge amount of time. I’m normally an advocate for casuals who are time poor, but not in the case. No time, then no legendary. Tough luck kid.
  • Maybe require a reputation grind. And make it a bastard of a grind, perhaps first requiring all normal reps at exalted and no handy dandy tabard or booster. Difficult is the key. Perhaps the grind is something that is progressive so that as the character grinds the items needed their rep grows accordingly. The final stage might require Exalted status, but the entry might be Friendly.
  • Give moderate and slowly increasing rewards along the way. An item which slowly upgrades is a great idea and we’ve seen the caster staff and rogue daggers demonstrate how good that can be. Sure they will not always be Best in Slot, but they will be a motivator that continues to haunt the player (Shadowmourne still calls to me when I close my eyes).
  • Require drops and progress from each tier of the raiding content in the expansion. Thus it should start in the beginning of the expac as an optional quest line, and then end with the completion of special sub-quests at the end. Killing end-stage bosses is typically involved and that is a good theme to keep.
  • Require solo effort which is workable to do solo, without a significant advantage if you group it.

Why have the Legendary reward if all Blizzard want is a happy community?

I remember getting the Battered Hilt and quest series in Wrath and the joy of completing that quest-line. It felt awesome and rewarded a special item. For classes with a variety of needs they got to pick one. Job well done Blizzard devs; it was incredible. The item was a epic item with a historic look and feel.

I honestly think that this is what should be done instead of giving an Orange item away. Make it purple at best, and add a special effect/ feature / widget which makes it always cool. It was the special story which made Quel’Delar so good. Doing that gives far more appeal to the wide audience than an orange colour.

A power in-built in the gear like adding 25% character size and a golden hue on use? Or some other stylistic feature which appeals to a wide audience. That way its always awesome.