Brawlers Guild Revisited

So, thanks to The Godmother for letting me know (via Twitter) that there has been an update to the official 5.1 patch notes.

  • Brawler’s Guild
    • Underground fighting rings have sprung up in Stormwind and Orgrimmar that will give brawlers who have their mitts on an invitation a chance to earn bragging rights by testing their solo PvE mettle against some of the toughest creatures found in World of Warcraft.
    • Players will prove their skill, and increase their rank with the Brawler’s Guild, as they win matches against some of the most difficult solo encounters in World of Warcraft.
    • Entry into the brawler’s guild is by invitation only.  Invitations can be found on the black market auction house, by invitation from somebody within the guild, and occasionally as drops from certain Horde and Alliance NPCs.
    • As their Brawler’s Guild rank increases, players will unlock additional rewards and activities within the Brawler’s Guild.
    • Brawlers on a realm will gather together into the blood spattered ring to watch as their peers face down their own opponents. They can watch the battles in progress to learn from hardened Brawler’s Guild veterans as they wait for their own turn to fight.
    • If this is your first night at Brawler’s Guild, you have to fight.

While I’m sure I didn’t have anything to do with it, I’m really happy that they are keeping the Black Market Auction House and BG invites, and adding the ability to wrest an invite from the cold, dead fingers of your opponent.

I always liked the idea of having secret, dirty old underground stuff going on through the Black Market Auction House. I didn’t want that to go away, I just hoped it would not end up resulting in a fat bankroll being the only early gate, and thought it would be freaking cool to face the big bad and win our spot through a good old fashioned smackdown.

Looks like we will!

Thank you to Blizard for being responsive to our suggestions and feedback, and thank you to all of you who have used various methods of social media and forum posts to get your feelings about this heard.

Most everyone I’ve seen (most, not all) have been very considerate of others in their comments and feedback, and it sure looks like Blizzard has listened.

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BBB CS Raid canceled tonight!

Sorry for the very late notice.

Tonights Sunday night Cross-Server Raid into Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest keep is canceled.

The Cub has been very sick this weekend, and while he is resting and has the right medicine now, it’s been a case of very long nights, and very high temperatures. We’re all now in vegetable mode. And the Cub doesn’t feel up to playing.

He seems to have no trouble sitting on the chair next to me watching back-to-back streaming episodes of Americas Funniest Home Videos on Netflix, though.

I guess if you’re nine, you can never have enough funny cats, peeing babies and groin shots.

Sigh.

By the way, the show has taught him that the proper name is the groin, not the balls, and not the “front tushie”.

Anyway, we’ll all be fine, but tired, sick and wiped out.

See you all next week!

Fighting Your Way into the Brawlers Guild

If you follow patch notes or news sources, then you have already heard about the Brawlers Guild coming in patch 5.1.

I’m not going to complain or bitch about it. I’ve got so much going on right now, and there is so much new stuff coming down (including more reputations!) in the patch, I had no intention of doing it for months and months and months, even before I heard how it was gated.

The short and sweet of it is, there will be a Brawlers Guild that you can get invited into, where you will fight solo against challenging NPCs, only one fight can happen at a time, and other players can watch from the stands.

Spectator blood sport, and you are Jean-Claude.

When I first heard about the Brawlers Guild, and how it would be by secret invitation like an underground, illegal death match, I made a few assumptions about how you’d get invited.

I was wrong. It turns out, the first invitations will be for sale on the Black Market Auction House. If you have an invite, you can invite someone else, although we don’t know how many such invites you’ll be able to make. A total of ten invites lifetime? One a day? One a week? Only one ever? No idea.

But to get started, there will be ten invites sold on the Black Market Auction House. Whoever has the most interest and the biggest bankroll when they go up gets access to the content first.

I wasn’t planning on doing it anyway, at least not for months and months. I still haven’t finished my beginning goals in Pet Battles, nor has any character of mine done a single quest in Krasarang or finished Four Winds (and yes, I do know how freaking awesome the final video for completing all the quests in both zones is, it’s why I’m waiting to savor the moment). My Panda Monk is only level 12.

I’m not exactly lacking for things to do.

I just wanted to throw this out there, though.

I can see something like an underground death match being joined through shady dealing, whispered word of mouth, and the Black Market. It does make a certain amount of sense.

I can also see the whole thing as being something that Garrosh AND Varian would love, and would be secretly (or not so secretly, in  the case of Garrosh) behind. Publicly pretending to take no notice because there are rules, you know, but behind the scenes keeping a close eye on the top fighters as people to watch… and make use of.

We’re talking Garrosh and Varian, who have the mentality of two pit bulls fighting over the same junkyard. If anything, I’d think they were both behind the idea, and would enter the fights under assumed names or identities to get the taste of blood in their mouth without arousing the disapproval of the stuffed shirts.

Still, I don’t like the high roller, big pockets gating of buying your invite when there seems to me to be a more elegant way to handle it.

The point of the Brawlers Guild, as far as I’m aware, is to give players a venue to fight powerful, challenging NPCs one-on-one, and show that they can take ’em down. All in front of a crowd.

Now, if we pretend for a moment that the Brawlers Guild existed before patch 5.1, then there would presumably be very powerful humanoids who had been invited to come take part.

Humanoid NPCs that may be out in the world. If they were invited to come to the brawlers Guild but hadn’t traveled there yet, wouldn’t that make them challenging, powerful, deadly opponents in possession of an invitation when looted?

Wouldn’t it seem to make sense that if you, the player, happened across one of these powerful foes, fought them and killed them, that you might find THEIR invitation among their belongings?

You take the invitation intended for them, and wouldn’t it be yours by right of conquest anyway? They were invited to come to the Brawlers Guild and prove who the strongest brawlers is, and if you took them down, didn’t you have the better right to come prove your worth?

I’m just saying. If they put the invitations on the existing rares, or on only a few of the existing rares in Pandaria (the ones considered the hardest), or made a handful of new, challenging NPCs out there that could drop an invitation when you take them down… that would just seem to be a sensible way to begin.

I’ll even go further. To prevent a group killing a rare so that one of the group can easily get an invitation, you could let the start of the chain be an item that drops from a rare… an item that then starts a quest that leads you to a phased or instanced cave where you only get in if you have the item, and within that cave you can face down a challenging NPC all on your own. Killing THAT NPC results in you looting an invitation.

Kinda like the old epic bow and quiver questline for Hunters, where you had to face down and win on your own, nobody else helping or healing you. If you can’t do it on your own with your own skill, you ain’t succeeding.

It would be easier to manage nowadays since you would be phased out of sight to other players while in the cave taking on your own personal opponent.

Right? Prove your worth in a solo fight, pry his invitation from his dead, broken fingers, and travel across the world to take part in the Brawlers Guild in his place.

It is the kernal to more martial arts movies and stories than I can think of, because it works. Other fighters were invited to the Brawlers Guild because of their reputation or who they know, but you’re the underdog, the warrior with a hidden agenda, the unknown factor. Did the leaders of the guild only invite those they thought would be entertaining, but not powerful enough to ultimately win? Now that you, the unknown quantity, are coming to fight, will you throw their plans into dissarray by being a stronger Brawler than they planned for?

Or did you not get invite because they really didn’t think you had what it takes, and now you will teach them a hard lesson for underestimating you?

For RP, it would work better as a framework, because seriously, HOW MANY fighting games are out there where every fighter has a different backstory for why they are coming to fight. There is always at least one character that is taking an enemies’ invitation and entering the fight in order to work their way through the other opponents to take their revenge on a nemesis that can’t be gotten to any other way. And of course someone that wants to be the best in the world, or to prove their fighting style is superior, or to try and prevent a loved one from risking their own life in the arena, and the only way to convince them is to fight your way through the arena yourself. As if that ever made sense, but okay.

It would give you a lot of different potential hooks to start with rather than “bought my invite”, is all I’m saying.

I like the idea of the Brawlers Guild, I think it will be very interesting to see how it all works out, and I’m looking forward to spending at least a little time in the stands cheering on a few guildies who get their invites, see how they do.

But this does feel like a glorious opportunity to give roleplayers something to build into their characters that is just going wasted.

Just my thoughts on the invitation thing. Take them for what they are.

Cross Server Raiding – Burning Crusade x2

Last Sunday, I was planning on Sunwell Plateau. It sounded like a fun time for an evening, that place was brutal back in the day, but we ought to have been able to get it done in two hours, right?

Yeah.

Thirty minutes into the raid night, and it’s all over.

Well, shoot.

Hey, hows about we go roflstomp through Black Temple?

Okay, that stretched the night out to an hour and a half.

It looks to me like Burning Crusade raids are now 5 mans, easy five mans. That is, if you want things to live long enough for a Warlock to have a chance to enslave something. Blink and you WILL miss the content if you go with more folks.

So, I vastly overestimated how long those would take.

I have a new plan.

Next Sunday… we’re going to plan on starting at Serpentshrine Cavern and then flying due North to Tempest Keep.

Dual Clear, and if time allows we’ve got Gruul’s Lair close by (which takes longer to reach than to run), and even Magtheridon’s Lair if somehow we have THAT much time left.

This time, I will NOT be… unprepared.

That phrase is so over used, I’m starting to expect a big stompy foot coming down when I write it, a la Monty Python.

It’s a fair cop.

Reminder – go to Darkmoon Fair to get your free 5 profession points!

Casually Preparing for Raiding

Hi, I’m Beartrap, and I’m a convenience raider.

I can only raid when the times are convenient for my schedule. The other activities in my life, be they family, social, work or chore related get prioritized first. If there is a block of time in my schedule where I can reasonably make sure I’ll be available to raid consistently week over week, AND if there is a raid team that runs that same schedule that will have me, THEN I can raid.

So, I’m a raider of convenience.

I love to raid, I LOVE having long term goals, having something in the schedule to look forward to in the game, something to work towards, all that jazz, all culminating in the camaraderie of banging on a boss with friends. Love it.

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of this team.

Team Snuffy has our first scheduled raid this Saturday, November 10th. I’m gonna be the DPS Hunter in our ten person group, and I’ve been seriously sweating being as ready as I can be.

I started behind where I could have been, and I know it.

When the expansion came out, I had burned through all my saved Valor to gear up my Death Knight alt. You know, the alt I haven’t even touched since. Oh yeah, and I also leveled my Druid to 90 first AND stayed on my Druid exclusively until I was exalted with The Tillers.

Those were good weeks, fun weeks, I had a lot of fun playing there. I expected to play and raid as Druid, so it was good for me to really find out for myself how my Druid felt now. Time was NOT wasted.

Still means my Beartrap started out the expansion several weeks behind where I could have been in terms of Valor point gear and reputation.

Yep, when I committed to raiding on my Hunter, I was sweating it. I was so far behind in rep and Valor, will I possibly be ready on time, ready to be an asset and not a boat anchor?

The first thing I had to have was a goal. What would be the bare minimum gear level I should hit to be where Blizzard tuned the first raid bosses? I cannot, CANNOT be lower than that when I set foot in there with Team Snuffy.

Fortunately, the ‘need’ for raiders to do LFR to gear up has been a hot topic on the forums.

My question was answered, in detail, by Blue poster Draztal. The whole thread on MMO champion there is good to read, but the relevant paragraph is;

You’re not supposed to transition from LFR to Normal. You’re supposed to start on Normal (in fact, LFR opens a week after the normal mode of the raid has). So, if you want to get every possible drop to advance in your progression, yes, sure, you’ll want to raid the LFR if you’re not doing Heroics, but there’re more areas than just gear where all raid groups should be looking at when having issues with a certain encounter. Most of the times, unless it’s a dps race, it comes down to something else (bad strategy, for example).

Reading this and other comments make it clear that the intent was for a raid team to be capable of success if they start by being fully geared through Heroic Dungeon iLevel 463 content.

That set a baseline for me. If every item I have equipped is properly itemized for a BM Hunter, and is a minimum iLevel of 463, then my only chokepoint to being an asset to the team is my skill.

My skill. Uh oh. Shit.

So, since I’m sure I am going to suck, let’s try and get the highest possible iLevel of gear I can in the time I have available, all right?

I’ve been running random Heroics, and I’ve done fairly well there in drops.

Cassie has worked hard to level her Leatherworker, and she made me the crafted mail Chest and Gloves. I easily made the Tiger trinket with my Inscription, and made some decent money selling what I didn’t want along the way. Sidenote – it takes approximately 200 herbs milled to make one random Darkmoon card. And I’ve been farming 200 herbs in about 15 – 20 minutes. Just FYI. The stopgap is the Scroll of Wisdom, and there are ways, grindy ways, around it but one a day is fine for me.

I’ve bought a nice Valor Cloak by being Honored with Shado-Pan, which I did from questing in Townlong Steppes, I don’t have the faction dailies unlocked yet. I got a couple very tasty drops from LFR, but never by using a token. My tokens only ever give me gold. So it goes. I think getting one upgrade per week of full LFR isn’t that bad.

The Sha of Anger has some nice guaranteed boots, and groups form up for that constantly.

There have been a lot of ways to get gear upgrades so early in the expansion, and once I’m Exalted with Klaxxi there will even be a ring upgrade to go with the one I got from the Halloween event. I’m not gonna make that by this Saturday, but it will happen some time next week.

My point here is, by last night, I reached iLevel 470. On the dot. So, when the other skilled raiders in the guild said they were going to hit Heart of Fear LFR for the first time and asked who wanted to go, I COULD GO TOO.

I am current on what I can access. I’m caught up. I’m not AHEAD, I’m caught up. Color me delighted.

My Hunter is not Exalted with anyone yet, but I managed to reach ilevel 470 even with a 450 Zen Alchemist Trinket, thanks to one valor item, one purchased necklace epic, three crafted items from our own crafters, a Halloween drop and heroic loot.

This means after two weeks, the pressure is off.

I don’t HAVE to run LFR at all now, except I like it and can do it when it’s convenient for me. Technically, I don’t even have to run any more dailies unless I like them. ‘

From this point as a raider, I am geared right for the starting raid. To progress further and improve, I should expect to get upgrades from raiding and as incidentals when i build up valor.

Where I need to be focusing now is on skill. Learning the fights, practising my coordination, watching videos by Tankspot and Fat Boss.

I will continue to do LFR, because I like the chance of loot and I like running in LFR. I did back in Dragon Soul days too. And I’ll hope for drops, sure. But I don’t HAVE to.

I will continue to do Dailies and improve my reputation with factions. Not because I have to, but because I do want to be Exalted with Klaxxi, and all the rest. I want to progress through all of the content while it is current… and when patch 5.1 brings new factions and storylines, I’m going to be able to shift my focus on to them without feeling I left unfinished business behind me. Hopefully.

A scant few weeks of dedicated preparation, oh yeah and a LOT of help from guildies in doing Heroics, and I’m good.

I see the complaints on forums and Twitter, the outrage about dailies and faction grinds and LFR loot drops and what people say they HAVE to do. I’m not buying the full package.

It feels more to me like people imagining some perfect world where all that exists is the eternal now, and then getting outraged that their vision does not match reality, without any consideration for whether it will all be irrelevant in two months when shit is fully released and a new patch comes.

If you’re a new raider, it does not take that long to get to where you need to be to get started. I just proved it. And once you’re getting drops from the raids that are now being released, you WILL get items of such higher iLevel that the LFR stuff will be massive downgrades.

I can see Valor staying viable longer, but iLevel 476 and 483 LFR gear is very much a short term help.

Give it a month, maybe two months from now, and this whole controversy will be gone as ilevels of available content that people are clearing goes past ilevel 500.

Would I dearly love it if the epic bow that drops from Raigonn in the Gate of the Setting Sun heroic had a higher drop chance than 1.5%? Yes, of course. I am specfically running the Gate of the Setting Sun heroic every day in the hopes I’ll get that bow, to get that much better prepared before raid start.

But I don’t have to do it, I am choosing to do it. If we fail this Saturday, it’s not going to be because I didn’t have an epic bow. It’ll be far more likely to be due to my not moving my ass when I was supposed to.

The key points I’m trying to make here are, if you want to be raid ready but feel daunted by all the reps and stuff to gear through, don’t be. Aim for a heroic drop in each slot if you can, and do what you can at your own pace to improve past that point and consider it gravy on your bacon.

I know that there is a lot to take in with the expansion, but if you do the quests through Townlong Steppes and Dread Wastes, getting the quest rewards from those two zones, you should end up with a high enough iLevel that you can buy just a few crafted PvP blue armor pieces to fill out your starter gear and be able to run heroics.

The heroics? I’ve run them all, and honestly, they are not that tough. The shift has fully changed to AoE from crowd control. Lots of damage, lots of AoE spamming, learn the mechanics and you should be fine. As a tank, be prepared for AoE swarms. Lots of them.

Understand that if you stand there and let a group get behind you, you will be taking it right up the butt, and they won’t be gentle. MOVE, just moving a little bit backward can force the mobs to the cone in front of you, eliminating those backattacks. I can’t count the number of tanks I see that run forward into the middle of a group of mobvs and stand there looking cute, while the healer goes bugnuts trying to keep them alive.

Also, clouds of shit? Move mobs out of it, please. We can’t target into that shit, so again, hared concept, but move your butt out of the cloud, and then move the MOBS out of the cloud. Your butt is a cute one, we want to see it.

Consider the heroics to be in the mold of Wrath of the Lich king… with shorter routes, fewer trash pulls, but slightly more complicated boss mechanics. Slightly. And lots more swarms of dinky adds.

So relax. Don’t get too caught up in the rhetoric of the forums. I am right there with people who want to be the best I can be and as prepared as possible… but you’ve got to have a baseline to start with. You can’t look at the top of what is potentially available and then just assume you MUST have all of that gear or the entire raid dies.

I’m not kidding. In two months, I promise you we’ll be looking at more powerful gear from the new reps, JUST like when Molten Front came out, and we’ll forget all about the gear available from previous reps.

And we’ll have built up such a stockpile of Lesser Charms that we’ll be able to take weeks off of dailies and still be buying our three Elder charms each week.

So relax. Chill.

This entire post is liable to be revoked if we go in Saturday and die because my DPS was too low. 🙂

Oh, and Team Snuffy is still looking for one ranged DPS player, not a Hunter, who would like to raid with us and would be committed to being a part of our regular team. We will be raiding Saturday afternoons only, and if you’re interested, just give me an email.

Buckled Like a Cheap Belt

Sunday evening we entered the Sunwell Plateau!

And thirty minutes later we were done. Err…. blink and you’ll miss it. I think if we’re going to get a chance to actually SEE the raids in Burning Crusade, we’re gonna have to treat them like five person instances. I think we’ll hit Serpentshrine Cavern next Sunday, and then once that place is down we’ll see if there is time after to do Gruul and Magtheridon. Somehow, I bet there will be. Maybe we’ll do Tempest Keep instead!

They’ll all go down like a missed jump on the Aldor Rise lift regardless.

It wasn’t all that long ago I stood on my soapbox and proudly proclaimed that I would NOT do dailies! I would stand resolute, and do whatever I felt like!

Yeah!

So, I was doing my dailies last night, and I have to say I love the Klaxxi more every day.

What? Hey, sue me. I reserve my right to be wrong, make an ass of myself, and otherwise contradict myself whenever I feel like it. I don’t have to make sense, I’m a blogger.

Sidebar, do you ever notice how mainstream established media outlets sneer at something said on blogs or by bloggers? You’d think we were mouthbreathing letter-bombing troglodytes that could barely tie our own shoes, let alone form a cogent, coherent opinion about the shoelace industry. Oh, if only bloggers were as unbiased and trustworthy as traditional media sources!

Pay no attention to the organ grinder, just look at that monkey dance!

Anyway, I do love doing the Klaxxi dailies. The entire design of the faction storyline has been THE highlight of the expansion for me.

Tillers, Pandaren themselves, the beauty and grandeur of the mountains of the Kun-Lai Summit, Pet Battles, these are all good, but they ain’t Klaxxi, man. Amber IS the color of my energy, after all.

As far as scenery, my absolute favorite is the view of the snow-covered mountains, when you’re flying FROM the Shado-Pan Monastery area and the balloon towards the mountain slopes of the southeast. There is a point there where you leave the haze and enter crystal-clear air, and the slopes of the mountains are shimmering and clean and bright… they nailed it. I’ve been in real mountains, on foot and all other ways, and that moment has a powerful reaction from me because yes, they just nailed that transition. Gorgeous.

But for story and playing and fun, the structure of the Klaxxi have been the one element I have enjoyed the most, right from the beginning and stayed with me as the faction has continued to grow.

I like how, as you enter the zone, you get introduced to the Klaxxi. I have enjoyed how you as a player continuously build and expand the faction by seeking out each different Paragon and freeing them.

I love how each Paragon has a different Enhancement or Augmentation they can offer. Every one has a different zone-wide buff, and they are wild!

I love how the faction story does not STOP once you’ve done the initial quests. You continue to serve them with dailies, and after maybe a week (and Revered rep) you are rewarded with more story, more Paragons available to seek out and unlock, and more daily quests from thoseto do.

And above all… I love knowing that, once I reach Exalted, there is another new quest chain that is a capper to the story and to the faction, and it even results in an epic ring upgrade. There is an end… for now. A big reveal. Something beyond loot to reward reaching Exalted.

A feeling that yes, you ARE Exalted, and so you are now trusted with this secret of teh klaxxi. That is what Exalted reputations have always been lacking for me… that feeling of inclusion shown through story, not just loot.

The Klaxxi are a story arc that grows and lasts for the entire reputation grind. There is always something to look forward to, and it’s not just unlocking a new level of loot.

Pure win of design. And a part of that is how cool the Enhancements and Augmentations are, how many there are to play with.

On my Hunter, my favorites of the moment are Raining Blood (damn that blows the bad guys up FAST!) and the Speed King. Super speed panda power JUMP!!!!

The factions that I have seen are well designed for doing dailies, expanding the story of the faction as you go, increasing what is available, etc. It’s all good. Except Nat Pagle, I’ve heard bad things about that dirt little fisherman.

I think (for me) the Klaxxi were implemented better than the others.

I like getting a slew of quests all at once, going to that one geographic area that they all tend to be in, and just hanging out as I go through them. I queue for Heroics as I do them, and pop in and out of the zone at will.

The Golden Lotus, I’m simply not liking. I want to like them, if only to be a contrary pain in the ass, but I don’t. I am doing them so eventually I can have access to epic shoulders from Valor, and to unlock other factions. That’s it. The Golden Lotus could go piss up a rope if they weren’t holding my shoulders and locking Shado-Pan.

The dailies are a perfect way to have busy work while I’m queueing for heroics (or LFR). I love them for that.

I start with the Tillers and knock them out, and then linger lovingly over my insectoid family as I wait through queues. If there is still something I want to queue for when the Klaxxi are done… well, guess I do some of the Golden Lotus. I suppose.

I could Pet Battle, but I burned out on that. I have a lot of pets, and I’ll get back into them someday, but not today. And I do know I should keep doing some of the Golden lotus dailies. Shit ain’t gonna be done if I never get started.

There are drawbacks to the whole system from my point of view.

The reason I don’t like the Golden Lotus is the gating, of course. They give you one hub, and once that is done, you get another hub. Then another. Somehow it just doesn’t do it for me, even though the quests themselves are not only easy, they’re kinda fun.

The Klaxxi on the other hand, I am sick and tired of the Shackles quest, there are simply too few mobs and the drop rate sucks. And the Scorpions for the 3 brains, likewise, but nowhere near as bad.

But…. I still like the Klaxxi better. Maybe because it all feels more cohesive and  well-conceived to me.

I haven’t done any Celestials or Shado-Pan, haven’t done the dragon stuff, haven’t done any Nat Pagle. I’m not saying dailies are all awesome, or that any one faction is better or worse than all the others. 

What I do want to say is, I love how many of the factions in general, and the Klaxxi in particular, have gone beyond “wear a tabard and get rep to buy stuffs”, and become an entire expanding and growing storyline in and of themselves.

The point to the Klaxxi faction is to be a growing part of the story, and I really like that.

My one big worry right now is knowing that new factions, the war factions, are coming in the next patch.

Dailies take time, and while they’re fun to do, it’s all a bit much. Everyone is in a different situation, has more or less time available to play. I have been playing a LOT lately by my standards, and while I’m not exalted with anyone (except Tillers on my Druid), I’m doing my bit.

I just hope that I have time, playing my way and at my pace, to complete some of the current faction storylines before the new factions are released and added on to the current load.

How about you? How are your feelings on the different factions? Change of heart, or still the same as always?