Disappointment and Regret

The All Hallows Eve season is almost over, and I find myself feeling conflicted.

Every year, World of Warcraft has some kind of event to celebrate All Hallows Eve.

I really like it. There is the traditional, and sometimes the new.

As an example of the new and unique, in 2008 we saw the addition of Prince Tenris MirkBlood in Karazhan during the Scourge Invasion event. He appeared in game six days prior to October 31st, and for those that logged in during that event and killed Prince Tenris, there were guaranteed Vampiric Batling pets, some Monster Hunter kits through a quest chain, and the chance of getting an Arcanite Ripper, the epic axe that let you, well, rock out with an epic axe.

As an aside, I was present for that on both my Druid and my old Hunter that was replaced by my new Hunter. My Druid therefore is fortunate enough to have the Vampiric Batling.

This year, there were some really nice items that you could get that haven’t been around before as well. My love of the Luggage… err, I mean the Creepy Crate is already well known, and the Feline Familiar is also awesome. A black cat with a witches’ hat may not seem all that special to you, until you see that when you mount up and fly off, theFeline Familiar mounts her own broom and follows you.

It’s pretty damn cute. I find myself hoping that, if the Feline Familiar is far enough advanced in the magical arts to be able to fly on a broomstick, that when PokeWoW is released we will see her be able to have her own form of Polymorph… turning an opponent pet into a mouse, for at least a few seconds. How freaking cool would that be? I mean, what ELSE would a cat be trying to research while studying the works of her Mage master?

Anyway, putting the new and special aspects of the season aside, the one part of the traditional All Hallows Eve I’ve always participated in is taking the fight to the Headless Horseman in the Scarlet Monastery.

From the times when we had to physically travel to the Scarlet Monastery to engage the Headless Horseman (and didn’t all the PvP bodies in the instance entryway littering the ground look cool?) to now, when the LFD tool lets us get in at our convenience, I’ve been doing it on my plate wearers.

Every time. Every day. Every year.

I’ve done it for the sole purpose of getting the Horsemans Horrific Helmet (or earlier, lower level variations of same).

Coolest helm in the game, imo. Love it. Always wanted it.

Never seen it drop for me. Not once.

So it goes.

I feel a little sad about it, but mostly I feel disappointed.

Disappointed in the drop rate and my lack of luck thereof, but mostly disappointed in the mechanism of getting it.

There are a lot of items in World of Warcraft that are just way too cool. Some of them most people would love to have, like a really cool rare mount drop, and others have special meaning to just a select few, like the Antique Cornerstone Grimoire that dropped from Onyxia, one of the items that lets you have a neat temporary bodyguard. A flavor item.

What sets the Helm apart from most of them is that, for those other items, if at first you don’t succeed, you can try, try again. It didn’t drop this raid? Maybe next week. Or the week after. Or the week after that.

Your mount didn’t drop in Stratholme Undead this time? Well, maybe your luck is really, really bad, but you have the power to chose to mindlessly run that sucker endlessly, 50 times a day for 4 weeks if you are that het up about it, until the bloody thing finally drops.

You really want that Whelpling? Well, all it takes is time, patience, and about 20,000 kills in Wetlands on the average, depending on which mobs you hunt.

What I’m saying is, it may be ridiculous, it may be so out there silly that only a completely insane person would do it… but most things in the game, if you really, really want it, all you need is time and a whole lot of will.

Oh yeah, and a long song playlist or some good audiobooks or podcasts. Worse than fishing.

With the helm, especially now that it’s loot from the Loot-filled Pumpkin, it doesn’t matter how determined you are, how patient or how willing to grind endlessly. You get one shot a day, for the duration of the holiday event, and if you don’t get it, then you don’t get it. Seeya next year.

So be it.

I’m an adult, I’m not crying home to mommy. The RNG God of Loot has long ruled WoW, and we all deal with it in our own ways, and have known our own disappointments.

As an adult, I can also acknowledge that the harder it is to attain something, the more effort it takes to get it, the more we cherish it for reasons beyond the items own intrinsic value.

There is something about working hard and consciously devoting time and effort into getting something that adds meaning. Significance.

If the shit is handed to us on a plate for showing up, we don’t value it at all.

It’s all digital pixels on a hard drive, it is the meaning we give to those pixels that gives them value.

I have a friend, Falromord. For all of Vanilla WoW, he played his warrior. He raided Onyxia for part of it, and he always wanted the tanking sword, Quel’Serrar.

Time moved on, and he never saw the sword. It wasn’t until years later when Wrath brought the revamped and revitalized Onyxia’s Lair with all new useable loot that the guild I was in went back in there, and I was there when it dropped and Falromord won the roll.

Was that sword the exact one he wanted? No. But it brought back to him all the times he had tried and failed, all the times of hoping and seeing nought, and all the times since when nobody wanted to do it anymore because nothing in that place was of any value.

To hear his joy on the microphone when he got it was a moment. A good moment.

I think most of us have a moment like that in us, something we’ve built up in our minds, something we’d just squee over if we finally won it or it dropped for us, something that other people might just look at and say, “What, you wanted that? Sure, it’s yours, whatever. I have no interest in it.”

The Horsemans Horrific Helmet is not that item for me. It’s not built up that much. And the main reason is, there is little I can do to try and earn it beyond showing up once a day for 5 minutes and seeing if I got a little luck in my bag. 

There is not enough opportunity for me to work at it. It’s hard to get emotionally invested in the chase, when it’s five minutes and then see ya tomorrow, Charlie. Seeya Ralph. Whistle blows, off for the day.

Why I’m writing this post is really to muse a bit on the goals we set for ourselves in the game, the things we covet and how the game is designed to give us ways to obtain those things.

Someone has to make conscious design decisions on methods to earn loot. Drop rates, group loot rolls or personal loot bags, daily chances or endless repeatable tries.

I like systems where you do have to work for your loot, where you have to invest of yourself to gain it.

But what I like best are systems where the gateway that prevents you from obtaining your desire is skill and, to some extent, a willingness to spend time to achieve your goal, and not pure luck. And I don’t like ‘limited time only” when it’ is pure luck, and you can do everything in your power to make it happen and still fail. Not skill, not effort, not time, just luck of the draw and then gone for another year.

Really, I’m not complaining. But my friend Tesh likes to talk about game design and enticing players with good design, and what is more central to the current MMO model than the carrot that urges us on to greater efforts?

Another part to this whole topic is the idea of rarity among the population. I’m talking about when the drop chance percentage of an item is adjusted up or down because a designer has a target of x number of items per so many players in the game.

Or, to narrow it down further, if one person gets an item, a certain number of other players must be denied an opportunity to get the same item, in order to keep its existance scarce among the community, and thus feel ‘special’.

Have we ever really talked about that concept on this blog before? I don’t think so.

It’s built into the game and we take it for granted, but if you step outside of the game and think about it, isn’t that an amazing design plan for a game where every player represents a paying customer?

I pay a subscription fee, and you pay a subscription fee, and theoretically we both have an equal chance to win an item… but in reality that chance is very, very small because as a group very few players will be lucky enough to get that coveted item, no matter how hard they try, by intentional design to encourage feelings of jealousy and perhaps to inspire other players to strive harder to advance to gain rare items of their own.

As a goad to spur players to involve themselves deeply in regular gameplay, I’m sure it has been very successful over the years. But if being a goad towards greater involvement is one of the purposes of item rarity, then wouldn’t that work better if it wasn’t pure dumb luck driving who wins and who loses? And shouldn’t a player actually have the chance to earn that item, effectively making it less rare?

And shouldn’t that be okay, because periodically new content of greater level comes along and resets the progression and the hunt for the rare begins anew all over again?

I see someone riding an Amani War Bear, and I know that they achieved something through skill and, yes, gear levels. But it takes investment in time and effort to get those gear levels, and by removing the mount when gear gets high enough, it keeps that mount as a testament to skill and teamwork.

Would I have a better chance of getting the helm if the drop was guaranteed, but required the gear and skill of an Amani War Bear? No, because I don’t have the time to play and the friends to gather to do it. But I would feel a lot, LOT happier about it, simply because I would know the only things holding me back from achieving that special goal would be the amount of time and effort I was willing to invest in getting it, and not the whims of man and the dark gods of programming.

Or a quota of drops that, once achieved, got nerfed to the ground, baby.

I consider the whole situation of legendaries sometimes, and it reminds me of that classic scene from Real Genius;

I see a lot of people get excited every time, and a lot of people freak out over how awesome they are, and wonder if everyone else is crazy or is it just me?

When the news about the new legendary daggers was announced for 4.3, I swear to you, somebody I know said, “Man, I think I’m going to roll a Rogue so I can get those daggers, those are sweet!”

This was at the announcement.

I think I am crazy.

Think about the designs of the drop rates for legendaries.

They are designed to be so brutally hard or random that unless you are already at max level, well geared, and actively raiding and clearing 100% of current max content when the legendary content comes out, then by the time you ARE at that point and able to start raiding to get the legendary, it’s too late. There is new content that has just rendered the stats on the legendary you struggled to get obsolete and no longer best in slot for your role. Your raid team is already moving on to other content, or doesn’t need anything from that content, or has someone else in the raid team already on the quest and so all drops towards the legendary go by default to that player, not you.

There are certainly guilds out there that have the current legendary staff, and some got it quite quick, before the drops got nerfed.

The fact remains though, that most guilds that aren’t very hardcore don’t have one yet.

If they do have one, or even two, that is still one or two people in a guild full of raiders.

That is great for those one or two people, but the rest of the people don’t get that legendary, but they do get a sweet pet as a consolation prize this last go ’round.

Is that good design? Blizzard wants to keep legendary items legendary, but I have to ask, if the item is already obsolete and useless as what it is by the time you get it, what really was the point, aside from being able to say you’ve got one, and isn’t it a beaut?

It becomes a conversation item, an object of the utmost rarity… and of no other use than as something to equip while standing on the fountain in front of the bank at Stormwind.

Shouldn’t a legendary be something that is worth the effort put in to obtain it? And in that case, shouldn’t you either be able to get it while it is still very useful in terms of progression, or be able to scale with your level because it is so damn rare it is a one of a kind item that is, well, legendary?

I dunno. It just seems very silly to me for anyone to get all worked up and super-excited at a legendary item, when by design the chances that any given player are ever going to see it while it’s still useful are slim as all hell.

A cool item? Certainly. But a reason to roll a new character for current content and powerlevel and max gear and get rep and grind valor?


I guess you tell me. Do you have a story about that item you really, really wanted? Do you think the legendaries really are all that and a chip of ram?

42 thoughts on “Disappointment and Regret

  1. Unfortunately I was unable to get any of the cool pets. I work from home and this time is extremely brutal for me, so outside of the JC dailies and a quick HH run I didn’t do much, and yes I received the Horsemans’s Horrific Helmet, but of course it was on my priest. Too bad, it’s not BOU because my level 78 Prot/Holy Paladin would have loved equipping it once she hits 85. /cry


  2. It seems clear design revisions are in order.

    Legendaries should scale with the player who owns them. It makes sense Blizzard wants them to be “special”, they should accept that the players want them to be special, too. They need to reward that level of work by keeping the item relevant. Not to say permanently BiS, just relevant.

    Many items, holiday gear is an obvious example, should become BoA. Not sellable, not tradeable. BoA. The mechanism is there already.

    More consistency would also be welcome. Brewfest Tankard was BoE, Sword was BoP.


  3. I killed the Horseman every day, on my five L85 toons. I got the helm twice on my hunter, and once on my DK. I got the sword on my warrior, and finally, I got the mount on my warrior, which is the only toon I have that has ever gotten it.


  4. One more vote here for drops tailored to the group. I hate having Mail drop when there are no Shaman or Hunters in the group. I hate having Cloth drop when the cloth users don’t need anything and my DK’s best PvE helm is still iLvl 308 (while my average iLvl is 350+).

    Of course, once I had the Horrific Helmet from HH, Kilnara promptly dropped the helm on the very next ZG run.



  5. great post. I hear you. I came back to wow just for Hallows end and got all the right drops on all the wrong toons. But kudos to blizzard for their excellence at mind control if nothing else. You do realize that “legendary” by nature is the stuff of myth, fish stories, somewhat irrelevant to the average grind. We aspire. And that’s what keeps us going. At some point we will look back on this era and wonder why we wasted so much time on it.


  6. Last year neither my husband nor I had a character at max level. This was the first year that we’ve had the opportunity to try for any of the Horseman’s loot. Of course, it would be our luck that someone at Blizzard decided to *lower* the drop rate for the mount, so we don’t have the same chance as everyone did in previous years. Neither one of us got it. My husband’s warlock got the Hallowed Helm THREE times this year, though. A clothie who has utterly no use for it. I’m not embarrassed to say that I am complaining. That helm should be BoE, so he could sell the thing or give it to someone who wants it.


  7. I wanted the sword, but no luck. It’s my third or fourth year at Hallow’s Eve and I like that we got some nice rings. We got trinkets for Brewfest too. So, the extra’s I figured would be like bonus candy.
    This article got me thinking about some of the things that I have that can’t be had anymore. I have the hunter ooze pet from the oracles daily (thank you BRK for pointing that out) and I have the Sprite Darter pet, the quest line is gone and is a uber-rare drop. In the grand arc of the experience, I’m glad I have a few things that have become special over time: maybe a topic for another article, BBB!


  8. I feel your pain. My “item” is the Horseman’s Mount. I tried to grind it since the first Halloween event on my warrior – so far, still no luck.
    My non-collecting alts? They ALL have that mount, most got it last year – including my druid who only went in there a couple of times to get some ring or other.
    The Squashling? I don’t know how many I had to delete – they kept popping up all over the place when visiting the numerous inns. Same with the Pumpkin Helmet.
    So now the “What a long, strange trip it’s been” is mostly a “given”, at least from the Halloween perspective. Granted, the PvP achievements are still going to be a major PITA, but…

    And I also agree with you on legendaries. It’s sad that by the time you get it, even if you’re in a progressed guild, you get another (very) few weeks use out of it before it becomes hopelessly obsolete due to some other drop, nerf, or stat-reset 😦

    Guess I’ll have to sign up for the 1-year contract, if I want the mount 😉


  9. I consider myself fortunate. I got the helm on both my pally (twice) and DK. I got the sword on my rogue (and my druid, twice) and I got all the necessary rings (not that hard to do, obviously).

    I am quite sad that I had 70 chances (and I took all 70 of them!) to get a horse. Not one dropped for me. And I only saw 1 drop for a friend (but she’d been trying for a LONG time, and it was her main, so I was happy for her).

    Next year, I’ll probably have 10 toons capable of running HH… I’ll be shocked if I get the horse then 😉


  10. Two things popped into my head while reading. I’m not really sure either one is quite what you’re talking about, but here goes.

    The first is the recipe for Savory Deviate Delight. This used to be a pretty rare recipe. As a long time devotee to fishing, I was overjoyed when I got lucky and it dropped for me. It could be purchased at the AH sometimes, but was very expensive. It was fun to have a recipe that was uncommon and also a flavor item. People used to like to buy the Savory Deviate Delight just so they could be a pirate/ninja for the raid. It wasn’t a huge money maker, but it would consistently sell. With the Cata changes, the recipe drops as frequently as kobolds drop candles. I guess it was done to appease those that were unlucky with the drop or didn’t want to fork over the cash on the AH. Either way, it removed anything special about the recipe.

    The second thing that popped to mind was the Salty title. I really don’t care much for titles, but Salty was the only title I’ve ever wanted to get. When I won the Northrend fishing contest and got the last achievement I needed for Salty, I was ecstatic. Did it take a lot of skill? No. Luck? Sure. I don’t care, it’s something I value a lot. If Blizzard does something to change how people get Salty, or make it so, say, more people can win a tournament, I will be really disappointed.

    I guess this is the flip side to being disappointed by the drop rate on something like the Halloween Helm you want is the woot! you get when something rare does drop. When things get nerfed (like the Sinister Squashling) and they drop left, right, and center…they become meh. I think it’s fun to have things in the game that are hard to get because of skill, and things that are hard to get because of luck. They both have appeal to me. I find myself more disappointed when Blizz nerfs things and removes the special.


    • Azwing, while I agree the drop rate for a lot of the items – squashlings, helms, tooth picks, etc were a tad high (I ended up with over 200 toothpicks on one toon), it beats last years nail biting concern you’d never get what you needed for the meta. I remember one guildmate who didn’t get the toothpicks until the last day of the event – she was practically crying that’d she’d not make the meta for Hallowed. Having the items increased drop rate AND being able to purchase them with tricky treats was just overkill. And having to “DELETE” the blue items is just annoying. There should be a way to code them so if you Already Known them, they are simple drop and deletes, not typed DELETEs. (Having the helms sell for a copper was nice… if only the squashlings were similarly priced)


    • Also forgot to mention the tiger mount…as Horde it was the only tiger. It was gone by the time I got a toon high enough.


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  12. I only recently completed my Legendary – Val’anyr. Ulduar was too short to get my mace, and we are not a hugely progressive guild. Of course now it is more for show than anything else, but I was happy to get it anyway. But rolling a new toon for a shot at legendaries? Phew either u are high up in guild or u are crazy coz it would be the rogues already there who I would think get first dibs on it.


  13. Like Tonko’s story, I really wanted to ride a Darnassian Tiger with my human mage. And back then you still had to be exalted… I remember farming hours and hours of runecloth to get the rep up to exalted. But when I finally got my tiger, it felt great. And I still ride nothing but that tiger to this day 🙂 And everytime I cast it I have a look at it all around and smile, again 🙂


  14. The ZG tiger makes me sad. I ran ZG every chance I had, then when levels went up, I dragged a friend along to help, then finally I could solo it… and then it was gone. The panther they’re replacing it with is in no way a replacement. It’s not a tiger. I’m happy that the Darnassus slow tigers are now epic speed… but they’re not THAT tiger.

    Legendaries should really be more useful than they are. As is, the only difference between a legendary and an epic is that a legendary is generally a huge pain in the genitalia to get. They have a proc or something, but they’re usually not that much better stats wise than an epic of the same level. How is it ‘exciting’ to replace the legendary staff it took you a month to get, with the help of your entire guild with a quest green that takes three kills and a short walk to acquire?


  15. I wrote a similar thing about the mounts from Brewfest (http://gameldar.posterous.com/cursed-rng) – though there is a cameo about Hallow’s End too because that was my introduction to the WoW holidays. I hit the same issue again with Hallow’s End – my paladin, the mount collector, was fresh out of luck for the mount. Likewise my warrior was looking for the helm – and today was the last day and I hoped I would get it… I did but it dropped for my druid… so it was only worth the 18g it vendored for – although I will give it credit that at least the helm is useful this year – I have it on my warrior from last year and it was already obsolete by the time it dropped.

    I really liked how they switched to the pets coming from the tokens system – it is a reward for the effort given, and in the case of the Sinister Squashling a backup plan for really really really really really terrible luck. I admit that I like the switch to it being a once a day chance – simply because it stops the obligation to grind the dungeon repeatedly so you’d hit that random chance more (and then lose the roll against others) – but you do come away from the whole event cursing the RNG – and knowing you can’t have done any more about it.

    In terms of legendaries – I have the quest on my druid for the latest staff – but as my guildie commented (when he randomly discovered the quest after doing his first FL trash run) – it’ll be sitting in his quest log for a couple of expansions. It isn’t attainable for me. One thing Blizzard did come out and say (no idea when or where I saw the reference, but it was perhaps a couple of months back) was that they didn’t want legendaries to last much into the next tier of content because it removes the excitement of upgrading that slot. I’m not sure how I feel about that response – because on the flip side it doesn’t feel quite as legendary if you basically have no use for the thing by the time you get it.


  16. I’m not raiding this expansion, but my guild, the Effers are a raiding guild. Early on, when word of the legendary staff got out, they decided as a group who it would get it. Alas ended up being the one (of which I approve). Grimtooth had up a cool post about helping her in the process.

    I think that is where the value is found. Yes, getting the shiners is nice, of that there is no doubt. But, Blizzard engineered a means of satisfaction by “helping the other” get the shiney as well. To be honest, I get more satisfaction in helping someone else than the attainment of my own shiney. I remember being a part of a gruild in Wrath, where we took up collections for weeks, to be able to buy our guild leader (unknown to her) the hilt. We ended up going into Zul’Am having a big ceremony to present it to her, Awesome! I was also there when it dropped for another guildie. We had ran those dungeons for weeks to get it. And I also remember running a simple wrath heroic to get a an Xbow for q guildie. It never dropped before Cata. But, he was a a cop IRL, and had no desire to use a gun in game. Se we ran HK for that drake mounted Xbow all the feeakin time. That is time I wouldn’t trade for anything.

    So, I think there is a place for the rare, and no because it gives me the chance to attain it. But instead, it gives me the chance to help those I care about attain it.


    That is golden. The ability to help someone else reach a meaningful goal is awesome. I’m just glad WoW has opportunities to do it.


  17. BBB,

    It is an interesting question. We may all even remember BRK and his obsession with Legacy in Kara.

    Perhaps they need to look at making legendary items act similar to heirloom leveling items. Allow them to have stats that increase as content goes further. I know I never saw the Halberd of Desolation or the Legion Killer crossbow from to first two bosses in BT. I do recall spending days farming mats to make my set of Felstalker armor that got me a start raiding in Kara. That felt like an achievement.




  18. 3 Helms on my hunter, none on my DK. /shrug. In the end i finished with more helms then I have alts. But I far prefer this to the old method. If you dont get it their is allways next year. You don’t finish thinking well if I had run it another xxx times maybe… I had my 13 or 14 chances and that was it. The wow god of rngs denied me not lack of effort.


  19. Let’s see… I think the only item I’ve ever run myself practically into the ground over was when I was playing a gnome, and categorically refused to ride a !#@$!@ mechanostrider. I hate those things. And this was back before Burning Crusade, before changes to rep that stopped it depreciating depending on your level, before tabards that gave you other-faction rep in baby dungeons. Before mounts available at 20.

    That little gnome spent nearly a month in Swamp of Sorrows doing the one single repeatable quest that granted Stormwind rep, which was to pick up those little crates that spawned around the zone and cart them back to the Keep in Blasted Lands. One at a time, too, because they were unique.

    Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. At a level where I still got mob aggro, so I often spent the walk stealthed. Couldn’t do much anything on any other toon because I only felt I was wasting time I could be spending inching closer to exalted. I averaged about 800 rep a night if I did it from after work until near bedtime.

    I also marathoned most of Xena: Warrior Princess in an “always on top” windows media player, LOL.

    And it was totally worth it. 🙂 That was more worth it than getting the green proto-drake out of an egg (all you do there is wait, then try again, infinitely), than getting the white bear mount from the icy amazons (daily quest: retry ad infinitum), somehow even more worth it than the What a Long Strange Trip achievement (which took over a year, but was much easier, aside from the piddling drop rate on the Squashling prior to this year).

    The only thing I’ve done that I’ve prized more than getting that horse on that gnome (who doesn’t techinically exist anymore–she’s a goblin now), is completing Insane in the Membrane. Thank god there’s a title to show for THAT one!

    I agree with your frustration over the HH mount. I go into that with little hope, and just grateful that at least I get a few JP out of it.


  20. I feel ur pain on the helm. My Pally has done the Horseman religiously and no drop yet. Dropped for my Druid and Mage second loot filled pumkin each.


  21. This year I got it on 7 of my toons on the first day. I have one plate wearer. Guess which toon didn’t get it. But, I got it on my pally before the week was out, so it worked out well. I had it on my pally from last year’s event but. . .


  22. My husband spent the best part of two and a half years grinding MC for Thunderfury. EVERY reset. In the end it became a battle of wills, him and the game. He wanted it because it refused to drop, and when he got it he was happier than I’d seen him in game for a while, but it passed. Once he had it, that was it, he was done. Same with my friend who spent forever farming Old Skool Onyxia for the T2 Paladin Helm. It became a ‘raison d’etre’, a standing joke, but when he got it (and the Guild helped him) it became something more. It was something that had bound us all together, and it’s still an example we use that if you are persistent enough, you will eventually get what you want.

    I have to say, this could have been any game. I don’t sub every month because of the lure of this world. I sub so I can spend time with my friends, and the day they leave and play something else, I’ll be off too. In the end, the game itself isn’t enough any more. I can tell you when it was, but that time has long passed. Now it’s about something far more important.


    • I was famring MC for the second set of bindings for Thuderfury on my Hunter, as well. At least, I was week after week until they announced at Blizzcon that Hunters are now going to lose the ability to equip melee weapons. Kinda eliminates my interest altogether.


  23. I got a Sinister Squashling in a candy bucket in Nagrand yesterday. I’m playing a 14-day “please come back and get hooked” trial that Blizzard sent me.

    …perhaps it’s ascribing too much nefariousness to the programmers, but I can’t help but think that savvy, sneaky systems admins might be tempted to tweak the numbers ever so discreetly to make that sort of thing more… likely. If something transcendentally cool happens when you’re just back in to look around, it’s easy to think, even subconsciously, that you may well see more of that, if you just play some more…

    In general, WoW is indeed all about luring people in for just a few more hours, just one more sweet sub month. Getting the numbers right between greed, jealousy, avarice and exultation is as much a science as an art, and a valuable one at that. Loot systems have always been that way, and so is the lottery out here in monkeyspace. We’re seemingly hardwired to chase the shinies.

    …I see the math behind all of this, I see the psychology, and I know there’s plenty of leverage there and awesome power. It never does settle well on my soul, though. This is precisely why I didn’t go into marketing, even though I could have made a fine career out of it. When it comes to games, I do still wind up thinking of ways to drive interest in a game… but I prefer that interest to come organically from a ruleset that can run into all sorts of weird applications, rather than breadcrumbs and shinies. In a way, it’s still just teasing the potential of *something new*, I just lean to new *play*, not new *stuff*. I don’t think I can make a moral case of it, but I do see that there are different motivations, and I find that more and more, the “stuff chasing” paradigm doesn’t entice me, it frustrates me.


    • I wouldn’t think nefarious thoughts on Sinister Squashling droprates on trial accounts, Tesh. Cassie and I together have had probably 25 of them drop from one thing or another. It seems that, if you try hard enough, the droprate on the Squashling is high enough you are assured of seeing it by the end of the season.


      • Heh, I probably shouldn’t have called it nefarious… it would probably be a smart move that really doesn’t rate much on the evil scale. They could even make it explicit and have a “welcome back” gift beside the playtime.

        Mostly, I just wish I could pass the ‘Squashling on to my daughter’s character… but alas, no mail on Starter Accounts.


  24. Maybe it is a change in design philosophy, if we can call “caring about balance” a design philosophy (I think we can), since I recall Thunderfury being useful for a very long time, even after a few rounds of nerfing. What serious raiding guild wasn’t running a little bit of MC to try to get one for their MT? How many warriors kept using it well into BC? Surprisingly many! Maybe that is overpowered or unbalanced or whatever else you want to call it, but dammit, when an item from the previous tier (or expansion) is still useful, to me that just makes it interesting.

    I wish more loot did that, added interest and flavor. Maybe it isn’t as big an upgrade as it could be, but if your offhand book can summon skeletons, I’d say that’s worth a few item points. If your hat laughs, even better! If your hat is the standard in stylish, well what more could we want? I am, of course, referring to the Crimson Felt Hat.


    • I have one of those hats. It fits well with my RftH guild tabard. It’s one of few gear items that I will never get rid of.

      Similarly, I spent a lot of gold on an Azure Whelpling, because my daughter loves blue, and my Hunter went from Ironforge to Bloodmyst Isle for a blue butterfly. Heaven help me when she sees a blue dragon mount.


    • Seconded. IMO, the entire philosophy of retiring raid content every 6 months is dumb for a whole bunch of reasons. Rapidly making legendaries obselete is just one of them.

      (Basically, I agree with everything Hamlet and Perculia said a while ago about WoW’s game design).

      Featured this post on the Pot, btw – I loved the way John’s train of thought took in so many disparate parts of the WoW experience in this post!


  25. The worst part about the cool holiday items is that I always get them on the wrong character. What’s my druid going to do with a sword, or my rogue with a plate helm?


    • Same here. I want the sword on my hunter, so of course my shaman gets it three times. My shaman wants the horse, so the hunter, who already has it, gets it twice.


      • I didn’t see any horses drop this year – which was a surprise. Well, I’m sure I saw some in the log when random folks got it out of the bag before I dropped group but you know what I mean. I got 3 last year but if I learned anything from the Molten Front it’s that having a single mount that works for both land and air is important.

        Last year I got 4 dire brew shankers on my elemental shaman. I got 3 shankers this year on my holy paladin. Sure, I did manage to get 2 on my Rogue this year so I guess that makes it less painful. I’ve seen people getting the plate helms and agility swords on all sorts of toons – mages, druids, etc. I got two on my DK – now that they’re useless for him. It’s a shame you couldn’t choose the option of trading the helm and sword in for cash -or- tokens.


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