While it is certainly not universal, a significant portion of the WoW player base has or has had alts, or are maybe contemplating one or more alts. I’m sure you understand we’re from the alt camp here at Casa de Grimmtooth, But I’m not going to judge someone just because having alts isn’t their cuppa tea.
Having an alt usually means having an alt that is lower level than your main, an alt that needs to come up through the ranks, either at a headlong pace (to get to max level) or at a slightly slower rate (just for the sake of the alt). In short, you’re going to go through some older content.
Even after The Shattering, going through old content can be pretty depressing. 90% of it feels cast-off, forgotten, unwanted and unloved. I’m sure there’s an RPer or lore nerd or three out there that will make an extra effort to enjoy each old zone to its fullest, but that’s the point – unless you go out of your way, you end up losing yourself in a whirlwind of under-tuned quests, buggy hubs, and quest chains that cut short because you outleveled them.
It’s hard to gauge the old world, since the endgame zones are more or less universally changed up. But Outland, Northrend, and the Cataclysmic lands all show the same symptoms. In BC, used to be you were in Netherstorm or Shadowmoon Valley before you popped 70 – now you’re lucky to hit Nagrand. In Northrend, you’ll likely hit 80 somewhere in Dragonblight. You’ll likely not see the Highlands, either, so forget the dwarven awesomeness. You’re off to Pandaria!
Blizz has turned the knobs for XP gained and XP rewarded almost all the way up so that those that wish to level in a hurry, can. That seems like some sort of distortion to everybody else, a punishment for playing below endgame levels. Every quest that goes gray before you can complete it, every NPC that bugs out because it was never fixed in Cata (where the bug was introduced), every involved quest chain that you just give up on because, really, you don’t need that amount of annoyance for XP you can get, oh, ANYWHERE. All of this sours the experience of anyone that had hopes of enjoying the lower levels of the game.
Blizzard has listened to the wrong people. They have heard the churning, puling cries of the forum posters and wrongfully considered them to be the valid opinion of everyone. Unfortunately they’ve listened to a group of people with a distorted view of the game in which the forums are the primary feature of the game and the game client is a method of fueling forum posts. I applaud Blizzard’s intent, but the execution was flawed because they figured that intelligent, reasonable people would come TO the forums if people like Ghostcrawler showed up to answer questions. Maybe they did. but they were driven away by the instant onslaught of the WoW equivalent to 4chan.
Accelerated XP is one of several bad ideas to come from that channel. Another is CRZ. These are to solve problems that didn’t exist. The problem was that there are people that just want a different character, all ready to go at max level or reasonably close, for raiding or PvP or whatever, without having to muck about with the leveling process. Blizzard’s response, based on feedback from the forums, was CRZ, heirlooms, accelerated XP earnings, increased XP rewards, and account-bound mounts and pets.
As a result, thousands of man-hours have been wasted on features that appease very few and annoy everyone else.
The EASIEST solution would be to make it possible to buy max-level toons for a price, equip ‘em with heirlooms, and leave everything else alone. Drop the XP gains, decrease the XP awards, shut down CRZ. Maybe make mounts and pets soulbound again, not account bound (though I sense much pushback on that). Make it possible to complete all of the quests from newbie zone to endgame zone within that race’s progression path.
Unfortunately, I doubt this will ever happen. I mentioned bugs, as an example. While leveling in Dustwallow, for example, I encountered several pretty severe bugs that were there when Cata came out. They’ve never been fixed. I’ve seen bugs mentioned in forums, asking when they’d be fixed, and the answer, “No idea, we’re busy with awesome new stuff.” Well, that’s software engineers for ya. They hate fixing bugs, and they love the shiny. Remember that next time a software developers tells you that his profession is a “craft” as well. A real artisan potter would never let go even a flower pot in the condition that Dustwallow Marsh is. That’s the difference between a craftsman and a factory worker.
Unfortunately, due to the noise level in the forums, the fact that that is the only way that Blizz really communicates with users, and the pressure to churn out new product, I suspect that the leveling experience will continue to be wretched and useless. It’ll get you from level 1 to 85 quickly enough, but you’ll hate every step of it because not only have you done it all before, but it seemed more interesting and challenging at the time. Now, it’s a joke.
I have over a dozen alts. Until Cata came along, I truly enjoyed leveling them. Last week, in Dustwallow, I was disgusted. Setting up rotations? Why bother, really? There’s no reason to be good at anything at the lower levels, now. They are, as the title says, mostly worthless. And that’s my entire case for buyable max-level toons. The lower levels come across more as punishment than entertainment.
That, more than anything else, I miss at the lower levels. I miss many things, but the actual sense of doing something meaningful and challenging, that’s gone. And I miss it.
As Eff the Ineffable completes its second Feng clear and contemplates the mystery that is Gara’jal and the Spirit World, I am also engaged in that lovely activity known, to be nice, as the Gear Plan.
Now, there is a bit of loosey-goosey-ness to what, exactly, is meant by those two words, but I choose to give it this general meaning (with lots of wiggle room): generally speaking, figuring what gear I need, and where to find it, for purposes of raiding. If you’re ambitious, part II of that is: what gear, and where to get it, to be fully decked in BiS, preparatory to being ready for Heroics or the next tier.
There are many tools for this. Ask Mr. Robot, for example, will produce lists of gear for you, suggest gems and enchants, and even take all that into account for the next piece. It’s also sometimes not entirely realistic, models and sims being what they are. WoWHead, for another, has a tool that will help you find upgrades.
What neither does very well is give you a big-picture way of understanding, which is where the Gear Plan comes in. As you research each piece, map out where you can find upgrades for it, and so forth, you can organize those findings in some coherent way.
My methods aren’t as accountable as those big sites are1, but the numbers I have found were derived from them, as well as others. When all is said and done, some things pop right out at you.
The above image is a chart derived from the stat weights of the gear that provides an improvement to my current gear2, as equipped. Basically it’s a map of how much improvement I can get from various sources. Everything from Golden Lotus and below can be considered solo content, things that can be done without much assist from anyone else.
Obviously, LFR has a LOT going for it. But you have to get to iLevel 460 first, so the two tiers below it are of interest.
The interesting thing is, Scenarios play a big part in the gearing progression, far bigger than you might think. There is generally one, maybe two, sets that come out of the little bag you get from running scenarios (and some faction quests). These sets generally have at least one variation that is best-in-slot for blue gear, and, in some cases, better than some epic gear (and 3-4 lesser variations).
Now, for myself, Scenarios play a bigger part than Heroics in the gearing equation. Jasra’s almost-finished gear plan3 shows a different picture:
In her case, Heroics have more upgrades than they do for me, so they are a bigger immediate payoff than Scenarios.
What you’re seeing here is a profile of two characters at different points on the gearing curve. In Jas’ case, she’s geared poorly enough that there are many upgrades in Heroics. As she gets more upgrades, I expect Heroics and Scenarios to change in weight, as she outlevels Heroics. In the same vein, Klaxxi rep will become less influential as I acquire more pieces from them.
I have yet to look into the 5.1 rewards and see if they bring anything new to the party.
I have yet to do gear plans for anyone else, but I would be very surprised if they strayed far from the profile I’m seeing on Jasra’s gear plan, so pretty much the best advice anyone can get here is: do Scenarios as soon as you can, as many times as you’re allowed to get gear, until you can do LFR. This is your best bet for the best gear.
Though one might suggest that neither is all that open, either. [↩]
To be fair, I got a couple of pieces from LFR last night and haven’t factored them in yet. Still, this serves as a good example. [↩]
A bit of controversy here: the weight of Crit over Mastery affects the final numbers. Depending on how you weight them, either Mastery rules over Crit (for shields), or Crit rules over Mastery (for strong heals). AMR leans towards the latter, but I think eventually they’re going to have to split the two into two sub-specializations, if that makes any sense. [↩]
Upon hitting level 90, there are a few choices open to one with regards to how to pass the time, day to day, in between raids.
Unbelievably, it’s easy to hit max level while still having two and a half zones left unexplored. So there’s that. Finish up those zones, tidy up a bit and get the explorer cheev, finish the quests and get the loremaster cheev.
Or, there are many achievements, collections, battle pet activities, and other bits of miscellany to attend to.
Or, there’s dailies.
In Vanilla, Blizz played with the idea of recurring quests such as that goblin in Feralas1 and the Winterspring grind2. Most of those could be repeated as many times a day as you wanted. BC brought about the actual idea of Dailies, capital D, but it wasn’t until patch 2.4 (Sunwell) that we saw dailies presented pretty much as we’d see them until MoP was released.
While there were a few must-haves out of that series of dailies (Woodchucker, anyone3?), in most cases it was vanity stuff4, or marginally better than you could get if you never ever set foot in a Heroic dungeon.
MoP has changed all of that, to the point that dailies are necessary. A lot of your JP and VP gear is tied into dailies, and if you want to perform at your best, you best figure out where your biggest bang is and start grinding it5.
In order to move things along, you pretty much have to max out your rep every day – for those that are only focused on one main, that probably means multiple rep grinds.
The dailies, and their hubs, are pretty familiar to the experienced WoW-head, but the sheer number of them is pretty daunting. Where to start and how do? That’s been a topic of concern for myself and Jasra for a while, since we’re pretty much at the pointy end of the stick.
Before having a good idea of my gear plan, I started out on Halfhill reasoning that everybody loves feasts. I found quickly that getting all the dailies done was pretty hopeless, if I wanted to even log in on another toon, so I scaled back a bit to Yoon’s daily vegetable and currying favor with Jogu. Jogu’s great. Jogu loves carrots. I have carrots. Every now and then he’d ask for wine. I love wine, too. BUT. Aside from a garden full of songbells, this vector doesn’t really add up for a hunter. After careful consideration, I finished up Kun’lai and got krakking on the Klaxxi.6.
This experience has served Jasra well, as she’s skipping all but the minimal Tiller stuff right now, and focusing instead on Golden Lotus, for the tailoring recipes, for starters. I’m afraid everything I’ve heard about those dailies is true. For a squishy like her, it’s horrible, and they seem to bring out the worst in people. I’ve seen few really horrible people on the Klaxxi circuit, but the GL dailies seem to encourage the absolute worst7. There will be much rejoicing when those are done.
All that aside, I’m not going to join the ranks of those that are complaining the most bitterly about being "forced" to do dailies. There is no point to it. With very few exceptions, all the JP and VP gear is outmatched by raid drops, and those exceptions don’t really stand out as any worse than we’ve experienced in the past.
The worse that happens if you don’t do dailies is that you either appear closer to the bottom of the charts until you get geared up the hard way, or your team picks someone over you, someone that didn’t mind the grind enough to stop them from doing them. Boo hoo, it IS a bit of a competition in that case.
What about the hardcore player? Couple of thoughts, here. (a) Hardcore players are going to do it, if it gets an edge. Period. Hardcore players that cop out over dailies, get replaced. Period. And, (b) Hardcore players complain about everything, so who cares?
I haven’t even seen the whole continent yet, so I have very little reason to complain, anyway, and 5.1 is on the horizon so I’m probably months away from being left with the option of "dailies, or nothing at all"8.
There is an elephant in the room. Those that hate dailies the most hate them for a very specific reason. Dailies are perceived by them as an attempt to stretch out current content in an artificial manner. They feel that time spent working up dailies would be better spent on new content. I personally agree in spirit that new content is better than dailies. I disagree with their assessment of how much effort is required to implement new content over dailies9. And I think Blizz has done the math, as well, which is why we get dailies in the first place. They have limited art asset generation capacity, and choose to focus it on the next content patch rather than marginally expand the current patch level.
There is a small, but vocal, contingent that will complain bitterly on the forums and claim to speak for all of us. The same applies to bloggers; we certainly don’t have a corner on the concept of analysis. Our reality is no better than the average forum rat’s, even if we manage to come across as less unhinged than the average forum troll10. We lose sight of the notion that there are few if any reasons for Blizzard to be doing the terrible things they’re accused of.
Blizz has access to one thing that we do not – the raw data showing actual playing habits of all 10M or so users over time. They’re not idiots. If they saw that a majority of players were engaging in xxx playstyle, they’d do what they could to pander to them and make their gaming experience even more enjoyable. And if they see a high correlation between the number of people that set foot in a raid with those that ran ZZZ dailies, then they’ll probably do something, there, too. The problem with statistical analysis in this case is that it takes time to accumulate data11, find the patterns, define the problem, and then – finally – define a solution, plan its implementation, do eet, and prepare for the next wave of complaints12.
For myself, I am unwilling to marginalize my performance so I’ll run the dailies to get the stuff to make it less painful for my RL. For Jas, we simply must get her geared up, the dailies are the best way to do it outside of Heroics, and off we go. It’s the cost of doing business. The rest of the game makes up for it.
For the record, I have, like, dozens of other games that I don’t play because of WoW, so is this really a bad thing? I think not. [↩]
We’ll start with artwork. Minimal new artwork is required for dailies. Lots of new artwork is required for new content (that’s kinda what new content is, by the way.). So right there, new content starts out at a disadvantage. And it never really recovers. [↩]
I was saying just the other day how the game can catch you unawares with little things that make you chuckle or simply laugh out loud. I’m going to classify the quest Hozen Love Their Keys as one of those. I can help but wonder if the end of the quest was a subtle nod to the ending of a certain movie that came out this year.
I’m not one to get upset over spoilers1. In my opinion, a game, movie, book, or whatever that falls apart because of spoilers is a wretched thing to begin with, and is worth nobody’s time, not even the author’s.
Having said that, I’m always delighted when I am surprised by something in one of these mediums. The use of the word "brisance" to describe a rocket motor’s torque-like capacity; a non-verbal flash of humanity from an otherwise unpleasant character; the madman on the piano that is subtly masked (but not obscured) by the lead vocals; that hidden nook in a game in which nothing important can be found, but which is unique in your experience. And yes, even the classical "whoa I didn’t see that coming!" moment that takes place from time to time, plot-worthy or not.
When playing a game like WoW, your desire for surprises is often countered by your need to get to a certain goal by a certain time. For raiders, it’s sometimes important to avoid all the frippery of "plot" and focus on the mechanical aspects of reaching 90 and getting geared. It’s cold and unpleasant and quite frankly one of the worst things about this game. I understand how it comes to pass, but I don’t like it.
I’ve burned through content quickly in order to get to 90 so that we could start raiding on schedule – or at least, so I could be part of that ‘we’. Still working the gearing-up2, and that’s turned out to lead me to unexpected places, to my delight.
I dinged 90 while working Kun-Lai, but I hadn’t finished that zone. Turns out that probably the best faction to start grinding right now, for me, is the Klaxxi, which means I have to come back and finish Kun-Lai first, so I’ve been working there. Eventually, as you fly around this place, you’re drawn to the summit. I just had to check it out.
There’s really not a lot special about this; anyone at level 90 with a flying mount can get here. Heck, there’s a path you can walk up.
But it’s a brilliant peaceful moment in the hustle of the day, and I’m better for it.
Little surprises like this make the game more interesting. There are no arrows, quests, or NPCs to get you to them. There is no achievement spam. You just find it, or you don’t. And if you want a memento of the moment, you take a screenshot – just like it is in that thing they call "the real world".
I’m positive there’s a guide for Klaxxi grinding somewhere that would get me out of Kun-Lai sooner. Most likely, this place isn’t anywhere in that guide. That’s one reason I don’t use those guides, but prefer to only resort to online research when I have to. First, you find things like this. Second, there is a good feeling to the more organic process that you don’t get when you’re marching to the beat of some mechanical, methodical guide.
Yes, sure, sure, I would be using that guide "if I was really serious."
But I’m willing to take a few hits against efficiency for a little bit of inner peace and enjoyment.
Those that are – enough with the yelling. Not helping. [↩]
Oh, no doubt the "pro" guilds would have bounced my ass by now. Good for them. [↩]
At first I was amused. Well, of course Blizz claims the case has no merit! The suing lawfirm could have pictures of Metzen on the Grassy Knoll with a rifle in his hand, and they’d say that. So, SHOCK, right?
Then you look at the suit itself and things start to pop out.
After reviewing it, I have come to the careful conclusion that Carney Williams Bates Pulliam & Bowman are, collectively and individually, full of shit.
Now, this is notwithstanding Blizz’s own response, which pretty much sums up a fair response on the topic of their response to the data breach earlier this year. I also love this bit:
"…and we will vigorously defend ourselves through the appropriate legal channels."
Heh. In other words, CWBBPB are a bunch of grandstanding losers that are trying to run this case through the press in the hopes of getting some sort of useful publicity.
But in case anyone out there feels like a "victim" and think that CWBBPB make a good point about "forcing" you to use an authenticator, let’s put the record straight.
Blizzard’s login security does not require an authenticator.
It requires two things – an email address, and a password. This is the same thing you get from Twitter, Facebook, Google (who also recommend two-part security, FWIW), MSN, and so forth.
Maintenance of that password is your responsibility.
The same as it is with Twitter, Facebook, Google, MSN, and so forth.
Maintenance of your own security is your responsibility.
The same as it is with Twitter, Facebook, Google, MSN, and so forth.
The need for an authenticator is dependent on your own security, not Blizzard’s
As far as I can tell, we’ve had exactly one breach of the account servers since WoW’s inception, and that was in August of this year1.
No, authenticators are designed to mitigate (not solve) problems with users not following proper security protocols.
Using the same password for all your accounts everywhere. All it takes is some bozo to hack Twitter – and Twitter to not inform you – for that bozo to get your WoW password as well.
Not using antivirus software. Come on. If you’re on Windows, it’s free, even for XP. Microsoft’s "Defender" software is highly recommended, it’s lightweight and fairly unobtrusive, and it’s completely free of charge. There is no excuse. And don’t tell me you have nothing to fear from viruses. Just don’t.
Visiting website of questionable reputation. I’m not talking about porn here, or torrent sites, or zero-days, or anything like that. Well, okay, I am, but only in as much as purveyors of Trojan viruses will use the porn, torrents, and warez to get you to click something and then hit YES when the dialog comes up. This is probably the greatest threat out there, and anti-virus software can only warn you. If you don’t listen, and grant some crusty software from a porn site full access to your system, you’re getting pwned, and now. Say hello to my little friend "keylogger".
Not using multi-user security on a multi-user system. Sure, it’s a family computer. But Microsoft provides many tools for keeping YOUR stuff out Junior’s hands. Oh, sure, he’s an angel. And he’s not downloading "free" software, surely. (insert sarcasm emotes here)
I’m just scratching the surface here.
Point is, the vast, vast, vast majority of account breaches are because you, the user, did not follow protocol, or got some bug somewhere, without knowing it. The authenticator is as much protection against YOU as it is the bad guys.
All this is to say
If this lawsuit has given rise to a nice, warm sense of entitlement, I want you to reach out, put your hands around its neck, and choke it in its sleep. It’s not for real. It’s like one of those pod people in that movie. It will consume you and return nothing back.
Nobody is forcing you to use an authenticator. Nobody. Well, maybe your GM wisely requires an authenticator for access to the guild bank. But that’s the GM being properly cautious since she can’t control where everyone sticks their noses, as it were.
But the authenticator is not intended as a replacement for Blizzard’s security or your own. It’s a safeguard against YOU at your worse. If you have impeccable security practices online, never have virus issues, use strong security all the time, you could probably get away with not having one. I, however, am not that good, and am glad for the extra bit of protection.
Searching Google for this sort of thing generally fills your page with PSN server breach info, unless you restrict the search to this year, because they generally haven’t had problems in that realm and seem to take it pretty seriously. [↩]
It has been months – months! – well, since, like July – since we’ve raided in anger. No tasty new treats to loot or DE, no goodies to keep even the most discerning loot whores sated. Nada. Bupkis.
Week before last, we had possibly the worst combination of Stone Guard evar, and while we got it down into the 20s or 30s, we never really clicked. The chains, especially, are horrible, and it’s even worse when you’re chained to a hyperactive druidkitty. Move. Keep up. Because she doesn’t care if you keep up or not. Honestly, I have no idea how others manage to do that, but they often make it look easy, while I feel like I’ve stumbled into one of those secret levels in Descent. AAAAH I AM NOT PREPARED.
When the raid leader says "DPS needs to do 50K DPS each for us to make the timer" and you’re thinking "I just barely made 40K in all BIS gear in DS!", yeah, there are concerns. And without our two DPS divas around, we had to make up for it in some way.
I guess the old saying about age and treachery overcoming youth and vigor has a kernel of truth in it. For I’m pretty sure we fell short, individually and collectively, of the DPS goal, but somehow we managed to down the Stone Council early in the evening. Brain’s fuzzy – might have been a one-shot, but I seem to think we wiped the first time. Still, not bad. And I got a nice shiny chest piece out of it. Hunter loot: achieved. After seeing almost nothing but plate in every heroic I’ve done, that’s a nice treat.
Feng’s the next fight, and I’m convinced that we would’ve taken him down this weekend except we didn’t have enough signups to go in on the 2nd night. We got him down into the teens a couple of times. Most of our wipes were due to learning the new abilities and strats. We may not have downed him, but I doubt anyone walked away feeling we didn’t do well.
Eff the Ineffable isn’t cutting edge by any stretch, but we’re progressing nicely on current content, and that’s not a bad thing for a more or less casual weekend warrior kind of guild. Everyone involved should feel pretty darned good about it.
I’m desperately trying to put together a gear plan, but time just doesn’t seem to appear. And Mondays I’m usually pretty useless if there’s anything new from the Top Gear guys.
An aside: what the heck happened to Mr. Robot? All of a sudden his reforge recommendations are frittering away all of my +hit and +exp well short of the cap. And all haste all the time? I don’t know if other classes were affected or not, but for BM hunters, things are pretty weird1.
Yes, I saw the note about the hit cap toggle. I checked it. Makes no difference. [↩]
As can be expected of mere mortals, we didn’t get Stone Guard down last night, but we made steady progress to a point, with constant improvement in duration, damage, and survival.
The fight poses many challenges.
The tanks have to get REALLY good at coordination in order to swap statues around.
DPS has to stay out of the bad and still be able to quickly switch to the appropriate statues.
Ranged DPS has to keep within range of a healer or two.
Melee DPS is constantly on the move as the statues get swapped.
Situational awareness is a big deal. It’s nice that the RL calls out which statue is up and what you can do about it, but we need to be doing that ourselves so that he can focus on calling swaps.
There are also a few class / spec challenges for myself:
Having a pet with an AoE or cleave will help since the boss is a shared health pool, and damaging more than one of the statues will kill it faster1.
If you have Glaive Toss2 as your level 90 talent, positioning is important as well as which statue you’re DPSing, otherwise the glaives’ path doesn’t pass through both statues. In other words, every time the statues are shifted between the tanks, you’re going to have to reposition.
The removal of the movement restriction on Cobra Shot can’t come soon enough.
If you get chained to a feral Druid, do yourself a favor and just go stand in a big purple pool and die now. Those DPS Kitties bounce around like furry superballs fueled on amphetamines and Red Bull. You just end up running around a lot, doing no DPS, and wishing that Concussive Shot could be used on friendlies.
My DPS output wasn’t … horrible … for Heroic Morchock. But estimates show we need 50K DPS out of all bodies, and I wasn’t achieving that. Few people were, and nobody was consistently. But in a way that’s okay since we’ve never hit the enrage timer yet.
Our biggest challenge? Not murdering each other with the damned chains. I think I’ve mentioned my biggest challenge there. Second biggest challenge is reading your partner’s mind and not running LEFT when he goes RIGHT after a pool appears under your feets.
While some bemoan that our first raid boss is a Council-style fight, I’m more inclined to view it as a challenge to overcome. When you get these fights down, they’re all kinds of fun, for the most part. And the only reason Magmaw was the first boss in BWD is that nobody wanted to take on Omnomnomnomitron – a council fight – as the first boss – but we had that option. This is a decent gating boss – if you’re not ready, you won’t make it.
A lot of mumbling about gear. I’m less inclined to blame my gear for my performance, but this week’s gearing adventures provided that it can indeed make a difference. Fair enough be this, say I. While the temptation to rush into LFR is strong, I’m going to take some time this week and develop a gear plan to map out what goodies are where. I still have to get Jas up to speed, but MWF I can dedicate to the cause of getting geared, for a while.
Note to Blizz. Having a "Pet ability" key like Warlocks do would be super-helpful for pets like the exotic Worm pet with its AoE attack. Just sayin’. [↩]
I find the name and the spell totally inappropriate since Hunters now have no melee weapons to throw, but the instant execution is ideal for heavy movement fights. [↩]