Third 90 and more to come I suspect

My Druid ding’ed 90 in WoW last week, which makes a tally of three level ninety characters: a Death Knight, a Warrior, and a Druid.

Next will be my slowly leveling Shaman who is now level 71 (the toon in the top left if the image below) and a long time lost Shadow Priest who is level 82 (bottom left character).

In my character list I also have a handful of 85s and then each class smattered down to a lowbie Monk at level 13. I do not really want to repeat the 85-90 grind so many more times, but the leveling path in Pandaria is so fixed there is little choice. Perhaps I could level by only queuing in Dungeons and just farm my way through the Pandaria starting area for materials to sell. That will only be moderately dull as well but will ensure my lowbies have the ability to increase their professions.

The Wrath of the Lich King content on the baby Shaman is sensational by comparison to 4x more Pandaria zones and a Cataclysm story.

Mortigen, Raze, nagarj, Arkham, Aurac and Yeirah head shots

If I cannot raid regularly in 5.4 due to work & life, then I might as well start working on these alts. Getting through the levels is something I can do whilst also being interrupted, and it is not “hard” content to do. Continue reading

Pandaria Gathering Achievements

There are a set of gathering achievements in Pandaria which are based upon finding low and high quality items which appear randomly throughout the zones. These are generally the domain of the folks who love achievements like “The Loremaster”, which is to date one of the best titles I think there is in the game and which is also actually achievable without a world ending amount of hard grinding. These collection set is Bounty of Pandaria, Finders Keepers, Lost and Found, One Man’s Trash, Riches of Pandaria, and finally Is Another Man’s Treasure (wowhead has a good guide on this). The end goal for all of them is the in-game title “the Relic Hunter“. Another great title, more so because I think the number of players who have it will be rare (around 5%) but also because it demonstrates that the player is dedicated and probably slightly insane.

As of this post I have all those achievements done except “Is Another Man’s Treasure”, which requires the player to find 20x of the special BoA or exceedingly rare items which spawn randomly in the game world. At the moment I am up to 18 of 20 items. So close, which makes it frustrating and rewarding when I get each of the last ones.

Aside – I almost never actually do this type of completionist / gathering / farming / achievement stuff, but I love this type of thing when it gives quasi-tangible rewards. In this case a title, the gold from the low quality items, and the Bind to Account items from the good rares.I am going to pass the BoA items down to my alts, and also hang onto some of them on my Death Knight main as they are actually still oddly and slightly handy.

It feels like this set of “quest chains” were well designed and have tangible rewards directly related to the effort.

There are approx 5-7 more items I could find to get up to the 20 rares found which are needed, but they are the rare of the rare, and often very highly desired. That means farmers, campers, and lots of competition all the time. Even in the short time I’ve been watching some of them I’ve seen regular character also flying past in patterns very similar to mine.

On two occasions I got to an item with a few seconds of somebody arriving, and in one case was beaten to an item by the skin of my teeth.

I am enjoying the challenge immensely.

I am also considering trying to get more than one of some items on my account by farming them with alts as well. The Mining Pick is an example where it gives a +10 to mining skill when carried.

A character wielding two rare weapons might be a tad selfish for all the other Relic Hunters, and a character with two of the same rare can look darn good. A great RP set should try to make others jealous.

Happy Hunting, TyphoonAndrew Continue reading

Rumour – Final stage Legendary, might not be a weapon…

The final stage reward for the legendary quest might not be a weapon, as hinted by Bashiok in this little thread. Yep, I know that is a rumour, but it raises that question of expectation on rewards for effort. Let the conjecture begin…

It could be that we have a choice of trinket, or any other gear-slot. Given how the rewards through the quests have allowed a choice on reward it makes sense that WoW could reward players with an option.

Would that suck? Kind of, but mostly not. It might fit well.

Kind of sucky as I think getting to THE LEGENDARY is the goal. By tradition in previous expansions these have been weapons, and Pandaria has gone the Gem, Gem Slot, enhancement, and now Cloak route. It is easily conceivable to not be a final weapon.

Take the lore into consideration for a sec too and ponder why Wrathion would give another person a great weapon in the first place. He’s a Black Dragon and they are an evil selfish kind of lot. I wouldn’t trust him to not give us a cursed weapon, and then giggle about it while he attempts to subvert things to his own agenda.

But what if the item was something which is not a fixed mechanical advantage at all?

  • Imagine the final reward is a ilevel “high” widget, which always continues to scale to the level to your other highest gear +5. You’d want it, and you’d always want it. Legendary. It could take a trinket slot, add gob-smacking a mounts of two stats, and be done with it. eg. Haste & Mastery +nnnn, with a proc on cast or melee to look swirls and wonderful. I’d want that.
  • A reward that allows the wearer to assume a constructed illusory appearance. Like your own little transmog illusion over the top of whatever you wear. No more transmog costs, just this widget in your bags. I’d want that too, especially if I could turn it on and off.

And so on with all sorts of blisteringly cool features which will cause every player to want this item on all their characters. And despite my previous rants about legendary being a little washed out, or the process being odd – that is what they are: something that all toons should desire.

Just a thought, TyphoonAndrew.

Impressions of new content for patch 5.3

I played the new content released in the WoW patch 5.3 last night, and here are a few observations (also here is Wowheads guide – which is darn handy).

Overall: Great to see new lore. Excited to have two new scenarios, specific quests to advance the story, and an experience across both the old world and Pandaria. Great too that the legendary quest keeps rolling, and I cannot wait (but will take months and months) to get the high level cloak.

Pandarian-LoadScreen

Whatever comes in 5.4 will hopefully still value that cloak’s ilevel 600. Otherwise it seems a short term reward. Or imagine what the next jump after 600 will be, and how that will devalue all other gear for the patch.

But … no way in hell I’m doing the “gather 150×4 materials” every bloody week. I started the quest yesterday, and it took hours and hours to progress through it. I’ve got around 450 of the 600 drops needed, and I’m already really bored with doing the same four tasks:

  1. Kill mobs in one of the four areas, infrequently opening boxes too. At the moment I can kill and loot mobs faster than I can sneak past mobs to loot boxes. Druids however can loot the boxes in bird form and snaffle them quickly.
  2. Kill one of the special bosses which randomly spawn. After death they drop a better amount of each material, but they also can now (hotfix 223 May) be tagged to the alt faction and also take a bit of time to kill. That change at least means it is faster to gather the mats.
  3. Escort a caravan, so that it arrives safely and hope than a faction opponent does not dps it dead. The caravans as so easy to kill its a joke. Trust me – I took revenge on a horde group by nuking their caravan.
  4. Find the random exploded boxes. Periodically somewhere on the map a lot of boxes spawn all spread out. Run around looting them for 1 or 2 mats per box.

Dull, dull, double-dull is all I can say about this weekly quest.

I’ve already read comments from other players saying they’ll do this quest twice and then never again. My advice is to do this now while people still want the pet and the few other odd rewards so that you gain the advantage of big groups killing those NPCs. It is a blisteringly stupid move to create such a grind.

But apparently it is great for alts, as they can gear up this way? FFS no. Each weekly grants a 489 item when better rewards are in the new heroic scenarios, but only if you have also looted one of the special drops too. Derp.

scenario-screenie

Otherwise the scenarios and new quests are great. Fast, easy on normal, and fun to blow through. I get the impression that after a few times I’ll recognise all the lore elements and begin to get tired of them, but for now it is something new to play through. My last task is to get the end of the “help the lost old hermit” chain, for the boots, and then that will be all the lore done. A few nights and the content is “encountered”.

Regardless, I hope you’re liking it. TyphoonAndrew.

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

Love those non-sensical raid mechanics

Matticus has a really nice post from a while back about the raid mechanics in encounters which frustrated or challenged us. (ref: 13 Punishing Raid Mechanics Which Made You Go “PICK ME PLEASE!” | World of Matticus). He points out 13 which deserve attention.

There seemed to be more gimmick / click challenges in raids in Cataclysm than other expansions, and thankfully the raid content I’ve seen so far in Pandaria does not have many of these gimmicks. Feng the Accursed is the exception who has a special clicky-action-fun-time-button.

Chess Event in Karazhan (Photo credit: Nicole Lee)To be clear I think a fight mechanic is a gimmick when it is not logical in the setting or story. It might be shallow but if the mechanic makes lore sense then it is far easier for me to integrate into my understanding of the fight, and therefore defeat. There are great, poor, and average special mechanics in the game, so here are a few I thought to note. Continue reading