Random is Random

Last night I ran the second part of Throne of Thunder LFR on my Hunter. I also did Galleon and Sha of Anger.

Ended up with a 496 ring and two iLevel 502 drops. No, not the bow, but really when enjoying an embarassment of riches, who cares?

Contrast that with last week, where I didn’t so much as sniff a drop. Or Cassie, who ran the first section last night, used a coin every kill, and also didn’t win new loots.

Random is random.

It’s funny, I remember one of the core tenets of video games when I was growing up in the ’80s, which was that digital logic programming couldn’t produce truly random results. At some point, there had to be a seed, and from that seed all pseudo-random gobbledygook must follow.

Duplicate the seed, and you repeat the sequence related to that seed. The secret to beating video game ‘random’ sequences was discovering that hidden, secret seed or how the system was programmed to respond to your actions.

I wonder sometimes if that is where some of our legends on influencing loot drops comes from. That old faith in an underlying structure, a belief that nothing in a video game is truly random, and that things are programmed to respond to our input, to react to our actions in some way, and if we could just nail down what the repeatable response would be, we’d know what to do to influence events to fall our way.

I sometimes wish that our wild theories on how to influence loot drops or ‘random’ events really, well, WORKED.

I loved the mystery in Vanilla WoW of wondering if we the players, by our actions, could somehow influence, say, when Onyxia would deep breath. People in raid would come up with strats for what the players had to do, and they were serious. Stand over there, DOT early, don’t DOT until 15 seconds in, all Mages stand in the center, etc. Some of it was that Onyxia wasn’t tauntable, so tanks had to be allowed to really build up threat before people started doing damage, but other things were just… attempts at seeing if player actions in weird ways would affect when Onyxia would do something.

There is a part of me that wishes there really was some chance that filling my bellybutton with blue mud, dancing naked in the rain widdershins to the wind and rubbing my tummy with one hand while patting the top of my head with the other, I could increase the chances my Gun would drop from Lei Shei by 10%.

It would give me the illusion that I could somehow influence my fate.

I’d even welcome the inevitable “blue mud is unbalanced, nerf blue mud” forum posts.

I’d like to think that there were secret, behind the scenes things that players did in their ordinary gameplay that would have unforeseen and unknowable effects later in the game, on loot or bosses, when you least expected it.

You could call it karma if you like, but I am not suggesting that there be any way to track it. It would ruin things if there was a clear link between cause and effect. Part of the fun would be in thinking you’ve discovered a secret trick that always works for you, you don’t know why nobody else has discovered it. It didn’t work for someone else? They didn’t do it right!

“Hey, I don’t know what’s wrong with your group, when me and my four Druid friends formed a raid and made a stack of Reindeer, Ashes of Alar dropped from Kael’thas right after. I’m telling you, you need to try it. Did you have five? Maybe you didn’t have enough Druids in your stack.” 

It would be so much fun if there was a gentle suggestion from the devs that, should you do things of a positive or friendly nature in the game, your kindness would be returned to you in ways you could not foresee. And that it was coded right into the game to track random acts of kindness, just like tracking achievements. But without any way for the player to see what is or is not tracked, or what they have or haven’t noticed to create some ‘perfect guide’ to gaming the karma system.

I know people in the game already who enjoy taking items, wrapping them in gift paper and sending them to friends, just to cheer them up. Or who offer tips instead of criticism, support and encouragement instead of unloading with venom.

People that do the little things that go into being a positive person in public rather than a depressing pain in the ass.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we were told that keywords, phrases, even trends of typed chat in the game contributed to some kind of karma system?

Such a terrible dilemma. To troll people and rant in trade chat, swear and yell at noobs, post ‘anal’ links and risk reduced loot chances or increased damage done to YOU by bosses (or enemy players in PvP!) or, as the alternative, pretend to be nice to court unspecified but presumed real karma rewards, even when you’re a nasty little shit in real life.

It’s fun to contemplate. It really is.

Thinking about these things, and how it would be fun to experiment with the results in a live setting, it all  just points out how glad everyone should be that I am not a game developer.

Because I’m telling you, straight up, i’d implement the system and not tell any players until the game had been out at least 6 months, and then track social behavior changes.

Lab rats or players… well, as the saying goes, eventually developers would grow a fondness for the rats.

Also, there are some things you can’t get the lab rats to do. One word? Achievements.

Better all around to just use players. 🙂

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Trained Compy is the New Fatty Goatsteak

Last night, right as I was ticking the timer to log off in exhaustion from daily quests and hunting rares on the Isle of Thunder, Stage 3 unlocked. To the damn second.

A responsible person would have logged off anyway.

So, I went to see what was new, and… what? Oh shut it, you know damn good and well it’s a coin toss whether I’d play or sleep.

The walls were down, and the new rares were up and ready to be destroyed. Some fun was had by all.

Oh, the best thing EVER about hunting rares? Skumblade form truly has NO fall damage. I love climbing to the top of the mountain where Progenitus spawns, and then jumping off the peak and ALMOST making the beach where Haywire can sometimes be found. Well, not quite, but with the leaps it feels that way. And no fall damage!

The other great thing about hunting rares is ENGINEERING. I love me some rocket belt tinkers and the hang glider. I cannot tell you enough how much I love that rocket belt. Use that damn thing on cooldown, yes I do.

Right, back to Stage 3.

Going back to visit Jaina, sure enough a new solo scenario was available, and finishing that gave a new additional daily quest hub for Alliance in the Beast Pens.

A word about the Alliance version of the solo scenario for Stage 3. We’ve been ‘assaulting’ the gate for two weeks, and the reason we have not succeeded was because we lost the explosives? The explosives that are sitting in a broken wagon right on the main road?

I think I would have noticed the big pile o’ boomies sitting on a wagon in the swamp. In fact, I think I killed a Giant Dinosaur right there. Several times. Chased a damn pterryduckle right across that spot, too. What, the wagon has stealth? Fucking ninja wagon, I want that cloaking technology for my dinosaur mount when I get it.

I’m your worst fucking nightmare, I’m a Hunter riding a black stealth triceratops.  

Yes, I did all the quests that were up. Bonus dailies, bonus rep, and doing it all actually valor capped my Warlock for the week, right under the wire.

I know you’ll find out for yourself soon enough. I know.

I just have three things to say about the Beast Pens area in Stage 3, three things I am positive you’ll find out for yourself (if you haven’t already).

First, the Beast Pens are a different… density. Mobs be crowded close together, yo. You’ve seen the Mogu area, but this is a bit… overcompensating.

I ran over to kill a mob, and by the time I extracted my non-Feign Death ass out of there, I’d killed ten mobs (competing a kill quest) and I didn’t WANT to. No, I’m not kidding, my Warlock started with just one mob to try it on and test mechanics, and by the time I crawled over to a corner and licked my wounds I had ten chain spawn on top of me, while I furiously tried to extricate myself from the respawn point from hell.

Individually they weren’t tough, but quantity has a quality all it’s own.

The second thing was the quest to kill Trained Compys.

Trained Compys are mini dino-pet pack critters that are quite cute. You get a quest to kill 6 larger dinosaurs, and 10 of the little Trained Compys.

Trained Compys, much like Jaguar Warriors, are few and far between with a much slower spawn rate than other mobs in the area. I like to think of them as the Fatty Goatsteak of Beast Pens though, because there are, yes, Fatty Goats in cages all over the Beast Pens, and I think we know what they’re feeding the Trained Compys to make them special little snowflakes.

Early on last night, Beast Pens got cleared of all mobs, and what you had left were players camping spawn points for Trained Compys, waiting for pack spawns to finish their quests, and other players riding their mounts around in paths looking for unclaimed spawn sites…

I’m trying to avoid saying we were camping Compys. But it’s HARD. Say it three times fast. It’s fun. No, no, gotta get back to the article.

…..

Camping Compys, camping Compys, camping Compys. Ahhhh, that feels almost as good as saying Oondasta with a Lion King voice. Oondasta <shivers>.

…..

You THOUGHT you could tell an unclaimed Trained Compy spawn site by seeing the dead bodies of Trained Compys lying there all in a pile.

And this brings me naturally to point three… not all Trained Compy spawns are Trained Compys. Some are LOA infused Compys, and while they look different when alive, dead lizard bodies are dead, Jim.

I found myself a nice big pile of dead compy bodies, nobody around, thought I had it made… and boom, the group that spawns were all Loa-infused Compys, and no, they don’t count for the quest, and yes, they swarm pretty darn annoyingly when you Rain of Fire their scaly butts.

They act much like the lizard pits of eggs from this one quest in Uldum you know? Like, there was this quest? And it had crocolisks and stuff? And you drag the boss across eggs? And they spawn, like, these little lizards that grab your biscuits and bite them? And you run really slow because your biscuits have lizards hanging off them? And you run around screaming “They’re biting my biscuits! They’re biting my biscuits!”? And this was written this way to show how incredibly fucking annoying it is to work with people who make every sentence a question like my coworkers do?

But yes, Trained Compys grab your biscuits and hang on tight. That’ll put a crimp in your day, and change your walking style all at the same time. Assuming you have biscuits. I’m sure the effect is the same if you have muffins instead.

Yeah, I said that. You can add your own muffin tag line, that’s a line I won’t cross today.

Beast Pens weren’t nearly as fun to me as the Skumblade area. I love the gimmick of skumblade bouncy hoppy form. That being said, it felt about on par with the Mogu quest area in terms of mob density.

You’ve been warned. When you get in there, prioritize your kills. If you see a Trained Compy, KILL IT, KILL IT WITH FIRE, and then move on to other mobs on your quest list. Save yourself some time.

Tonight, tonight the new Throne of Thunder wing in LFR opens up. I can’t wait to see how high we can push the wipe bonus!

So much to talk about, so much to do, so much fun to have.

See you in Azeroth!

I Can’t Do It All!

I’m back from vacation with a burning desire to do ALL the things, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

This latest patch had so much awesome in it for Hunters and Warlocks, it’s hard to pick who to do what with.

Yeah, you know me. I’m trying to do it all with both. Ain’t gonna happen.

My Hunter Beartrap is a very happy Dinolord, running around with his buddy Barry. Such a joy to play. I really want to just hug him and squeeze him and kill things with him all night long.

Then there is my Warlock, who… well, I have a limerick to describe where my Warlock is at.

There once was a Warlock called Buttflame
whose gases were the source of his name.
Chilis that made him perspire
let him cut loose with red fire.
The thought of GREEN made him fear insane pain!

I think anything worth saying is worth turning into horrible doggerel.

I bought a jar of special jalapeno salsa in honor of my Warlock and the quest for green fire. Every day that passes that my Warlock doesn’t get the Sealed Tome, I have to eat some chips and green salsa.

This better not take too long or there’s gonna be more than one Buttflame running around here.

In other news, the Sealed Tome can only be looted by Warlocks from the rares on the Isle of Thunder… but they’re not BoP. A Warlock who already has one can loot another, and then give it to a friend… or put it up on the Auction House.  There were two up on my servers’ Alliance AH last night for 40k buyouts each. If I had mad money, I woulda bought one.

Remember the true formula of worth is money = time. You can always spend time to farm something yourself, but at some point you’ll find that your time is worth a certain amount of gold… and you’d rather spend the gold than spend the time.

I ain’t there yet.

If I had to get the tag on a rare, it would be a different story.

The rares on the Isle of Thunder are awesome. You don’t have to be grouped with someone who tagged it, you don’t have to be the same faction as the person that tagged it. As long as you join in and go for it trying to kill the boss, when it dies you can loot it.

Now, I know this still isn’t perfect. Every additional person that tags a rare causes it to increase it’s total health pool by 50%. So, some griefing is still going on with people running up, hitting a rare once to make it increase health, and then standing back and /popcorning. Dicks.

But it does mean that if you run up and you really want to kill it and loot it, by God it doesn’t matter what the composition of forces or if it’s Horde or Alliance, just wade in and fight.

And try to watch for more people who are flagging PvP so AoEs flag you and make you a target. Again, dicks.

I’ve killed a lot of rares on my Warlock this last weekend, at least 15 kills, and it’s been fun. I’m not even sad that I didn’t get a Sealed Tome drop, I’m probably not skilled enough to finish the warlock chain if I got one anyway, lol. It was fun just to run up and let loose on the Haywire Construct or Mumta. Mum-Ra? Whatever. And each rare kill, every single one, gives you a Tome drop that is worth an instant 15 valor points. Tasty. 🙂

Anyway, circling back around, there are just an amazing list of things that can be done this patch, and I want to do them all, on two characters. No way. Uh uh, not happening.

What I’ve decided I can do is to run the Throne of Thunder LFR on both characters each week. Then I can run Terrace on my Warlock. And I can try to do dailies on both each day.

Yeah, that’s about it. That’s probably too much, really. I know that I alternated doing dailies this last weekend, one day for my Warlock, the other for my hunter. It’s not that there are LOTS of dailies, it’s just that I’m having fun instead of blitzing ’em.

Oh yeah, and I was fortunate enough to get one of those Loot Run Scenario keys on both characters. First run, disaster. I watched a few videos, but I underestimated the power of the trash mobs in the second room.

The second run I did, I focused on scouring the perimeter of the first room from the ledge, and looking into all the nooks and crannies and walked away with four big boxes, two keys and 14 Elder Charms. Since my Warlock didn’t have any Elder Charms to start, that was very welcome for the Terrace run that followed.

So I know what I’ll be doing, but what won’t I be doing that I’d like to?

I’d love to kill Oondasta on my server. I helped a friend kill him on another server, and it was a white carpet skeleton ride. It would be great to do it for real, where I could get loot. Why won’t it happen? Well, I have too much stuff to do to park on Isle of Giants and hope to be there when it spawns. I’ve got stuff to do in the playtime I have, I can’t just sit there.

I’d love to go look for the new rares in Pandaria that can drop a dino mount, but I don’t really NEED a dino mount, and other people really want them, so I don’t want to compete with them and steal their potential kills. It’s enough for me to know I will get a Golden Dino for sure once I’m exalted with my Kirin Tor Offense faction.

Hell, I’d love to just spend more time exploring the Isle of Giants, but with all the action being on the Isle of Thunder, I can’t find the time to get out there. Definitely something I’ll be trying to get to, once the Thunder dailies are all maxed and the stages are complete.

It’s amazing, even daunting to think how much stuff there is to do right now, and then consider that we haven’t even unlocked all of the Throne of Thunder on LFR, or all of the stages of the island. There are still world bosses we have yet to see.

Simply amazing.

I know I feel overwhelmed, but I’ve got my goals down to a bite-sized piece of Pandaria, so it’s not too bad. I just have to hope something else new and shiny doesn’t get released before I’m caught up with the core fun stuff, right?

Oh, and lets not talk about the new Legendary pet battles. Time, time… ask me for anything but time!

So, now that I’m back, please tell me… what have you been enjoying the most since the patch hit? What are your priorities?

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Everyone, please say hello to the newest member of my family, Barry!

Because he's blue... yeah, I know, I don't care, I LOVE the name, so bite me, or gore me, but just don't bore me.

The one thing I really wanted when this patch went live was to visit Dinosaur Island.

Okay, sure, they’re calling it the Isle of Giants, but we all know what we’re getting, and the island doesn’t disappoint.

What I didn’t have a clear idea of when I logged in was just how to get there, or what to do when I did.

I had a breadcrumb quest to send me to the Island of Thunder, but other than that, nothing.

Well, kiss my furry butt, I saw someone mention the Isle of Giants was north of Kun Lai Summit, so I figured if I flew far enough, well, I could figure it out.

Sure enough, I flew due north of the center of Kun Lai, and there across some fatigue-laden water was an island… and it must be the right one because I was dismounted and dropped into the ocean before I reached shore.

When I did come ashore, there were flight points centrally located on the southern shore where I swam up, and a bunch of big honking elite dinosaurs.

Score!

So… first order of business, how do I get me hands on one of them suckers?

Well, the REAL first order of business was to get a rare drop book which will teach me How To Tame My Dragon… er, I mean Dinosaur.

The dinos here aren’t exotic, so you don’t have to be a Beastmaster like me to tame one… but all hunters have to get the book first.

Technically, it’s the Big Book of Dinos, or the Ancient Tome Of Dinomancy, or something.

It does not drop from the dinos, it drops from the trolls that are worshipping the dinos… the Zandalari Dinomancers.

The same Dinomancers that have a chance to drop one of the four possible battle pet drops on the island.

I shall present to you a map. These are pictures, here on my blog, so be properly appreciative. I hate adding graphics to my blog, it feels so, so dirty. Pandering to the man. Damn the man! I don’t care if ‘the book’ says you need pictures on your blog to catch the eye. Telling me what I ‘should’ do is the perfect way to get me not to do it.

But I still like pretty pictures. I’m so torn! Conflicted bear is conflicted. 😦

damn there are a lot of freaking elite badass dinosaurs on this island. I'm so happy!

The way this works is, I landed where the red trail begins, and worked my way left. Where the red trail ends, at the arrowhead, is a cave, and within the cave is the vendor to whom you can give the Giant Dinosaur Bones you collect.

I found the hatchlings dropped between 7 and 9 bones per kill, and the trolls dropped one, yes ONE per kill. I did not live through any of my solo attempts at the big dinos, so I have no idea what they drop.

I only came across three Dinomancers along my red route, so I continued on with the yellow route, exploring. I found lots and lots of awesome colored dinosaurs that made me grateful to have Camouflage, and I got ate a lot, but   no trolls.

Let me tell you, the feel was of Vanilla Un’goro Crater on CRACK. I’d pull a hatchling and be fighting it, and huge honking T-rex comes stomping up from behind without my noticing, and next thing I see is a foot bigger than I was stomping on me, and boom! Dead ass panda.

It was awesome. Stealth T-Rexes are BACK!

Anyway, I followed the yellow route through the black tar pits and along the edge of the cliffs until I came to where I have the yellow trail ending, and the orange area circled.

That there is a Dinomancer village, about 6 to 8 spawn points of Zandalari Dinomancers, and it felt remote enough that I could farm some trolls to try and get my book in peace.

My biggest fear was drop rates, and mob rarity. I have a feeling everyone is digging into the Isle of Thunder dailies right now, and before too long every hunter in the game is going to come here to farm their own Books of Dinosaur Awesomeness.

My family and I are leaving for a weeks vacation tonight, and will be offline for the entire week. I could feel the window of opportunity racing to pass me by. I figure, I come back, and this is going to be the Island of Overfarmed Trolls.

I did mention they drop pets too, right? Yeah. Cute ones.

So I dug in and decided I wasn’t going to quit until I had the book, and had tamed my two favorite dinos, the blue Direhorn pictured above and the black t-rex with golden stripes that can be found in the central tar pit area.

Obviously, I got the book. Spoiler alert.

What isn’t obvious is how long it took me.

Fighting the trolls solo, just me and my Decoy pet, it took 155 Dinomancer kills before a book dropped.

In that time, I had 19 of the new Zandalari Hatchling style pets drop for me. Enough that I had the complete set of 4 for myself, mailed the Cub and Cassie each their own complete sets, and still had, um, LOTS to put on the Auction House.

I also, and this was funny to me, got 100 Red Blossom Leaks and 100 Juicycrunch Carrots as drops. No meat. Troll Dinomancers are vegetarians!

That drop rate was what I experienced, your mileage WILL vary. Tamiel told me his team averaged about 40 minutes per book drop, so just remember… random drops are still random. Patience, hopeful Dinomaster, patience.

Dinomaster should totally be a title for taming one of every type of Dinosaur on the island.

A word on the Zandalari Dinomancers.

When you’re fighting them, they can cast a dark mending-style self heal that is interruptible… and they shapechange mid-fight into a dinosaur from the island and fight with a +50% damage buff!

So if your pet suddenly has his health dropping like a stone, now you know why. Don’t forget how easy it is to flip any pet into Tenacity mode.

If my Druid were able to get a book drop that taught me how to turn into a Direhorn for my tanking form, or a T-Rex/Raptor for my DPS form, I would absolutely return to my Druid, whether the playstyle was fun or not. Just saying.

In all of this wandering, I never did run across any quests or anything. I know a Primal Egg can drop from the dinos (including hatchlings) that will grow into a mount, Pumpken got one and is happily waiting for it to hatch as we speak. And the Cub knows that you can get a beautiful mount by farming 9,999 Giant Dinosaur Bones, to which I said, “pack a lunch.”

Still, other than pure fun and flavor items, and hey, GIANT DINOSAURS, and Oondasta someday, I don’t see any other purpose to the Isle of Giants.

God bles you, Blizzard. It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Fight fight fight wait, wtf ARGH GIANT T-REX!!!!

God, I love Blizzard.

I want to be the Big Dino Butt.

Putting the Pieces Together

Today patch 5.2 goes live for World of Warcraft, and the feeds are a-buzzing about what the future brings.

When I look over the game since 5.0 came out though, what I have spent the most time doing and enjoying has been older content.

The new stuff is great, don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed raiding, questing, dailies (yes, damnit I do!) and other fresh content.

The changes done to older content and the new things added to it, though, have made far more of an impact on me.

Pet Battles have had a profound impact on my gameplay.

WTF I hear you say? “But Bear, you haven’t even DONE a pet battle since finishing leveling a good team and doing the world collections. How could that mean crap compared to the coming of Da Burger King?”

It’s simple, all the new pets to tame through the world got my ass OUT in the world. Then all the pets added to old raids got my ass in the old raids sniffing around.

And that reminded me… hey, I love those old raids.

Remembering I love the old raids is part of why I fell for the Warlock experiment, because Dark Apotheosis.

It all goes back to Pet Battles.

Well, that and the addition of Transmogrification. And didn’t that open up our interest in the old content even more?

The old content functionally remains the same as it was in Cataclysm, what has changed for me is the addition of a new feature that casts old, ‘tired’ content in a new light.

Do you really think I’d have gone back into AQ40 as many times as I have without the allure of pets or transmog gear? Back in the day, I ran it to get a Red bug mount, and I was done. I could have done it more, but it takes more than a nice view to commit to a couple hours running old content. There needs to be something to seek, some prize to obtain, some treasure. Even the faint hope of rare treasure can breathe life in the hunt.

It’s all about giving us new objectives to send us into old places… at a higher level where the old places feel fresh because what we can DO in them has changed.

I’ve run Molten Core I don’t know how many times now across multiple characters and playstyles, and every character has been able to overcome the packs of smoldering hounds, but HOW they do it is frequently different… and I love it. I approach a familiar fight knowing what to expect from the enemy, and get to try new things.

Or remember how difficult it was to get past the Salamander boss with all those damn healers chain casting Dark Mending. Yeah, good luck with out-healing my DPS NOW assholes!

It’s not that they added new content as much as that they added the new features that interact with the content, and send us back in there to have fun doing it.

Also, when I’m raiding current content, I’m not looking around much. Raid leaders typically are on the clock, and want to push ahead to the next fight.

I go back into some of these old raids, and I’m so overpowered with delight that I can stop to sniff the slime, admire the skulls and chains, and wander through the hallowed halls of Ulduar thinking “Wow what a gorgeous, magnificent structure! What incredible artistry in the design!”

When soloing Karazhan or Blackwing Lair, there is time now to admire our surroundings without holding 9 or 39 other people back. I love that.

And there are still items to be found out there that were very rare, and tie into the lore. Special things.

One such thing is The Battered Hilt. It’s something I was lucky enough to buy on the Auction House for my old, abandoned Horde Paladin while Wrath of the Lich King was still current. Special quests to play through, unique adventures, and the result being a weapon design that is amazing and can be worn as a transmog even though the usefulness of the item is long past.

For years I’ve wanted that experience for Alex on his Death Knight, he loves Icecrown Citadel and the lore of Arthas and the ice dragons and stuff so much. With Wrath being such old content, and the Battered Hilt such a low drop rate, I never had it drop for me when farming, and I never saw one on the AH again.

Last night, thanks to another new feature, the Black Market Auction House, I was able to win one for my son. It sits in his mailbox right now, waiting for him to take the quest and begin that journey into the Wrath lore.

It makes me wonder, it really does.

What other new features could be added someday that would again revitalize the older, existing content?

I’ll tell you what the first answer that springs to my mind is.

Player housing, or to put it a bit differently, Player Strongholds.

Hold on, don’t jump down my throat just yet. Let’s think about this.

It’s become a very real possibility now. Instead of just releasing a feature, they’ve been adding the technology necessary to support it in bits and pieces, integrating it into the game.

We’ve been working on the farm… and now we’ll be able to ‘buy the farm’. Our own area, persistent, but phased so only we enter and leave it, or even see it unless we are in group with someone else and bring them into our phase.

There is a primitive shack there, and stairs, and there are persistent items that you can interact with and pick up.

Consider for a moment the backend programming that has gone into the farm tools. If you pick up the shovel and have it in your bags, there is no shovel on the farm. If you throw the shovel away somewhere, when you return to your farm, there it is, ready to be picked back up.

And now we’ll be able to bind our hearth there, if we choose. We can’t rest there yet, but we can hearth to our farm, our ‘home’.

I think, I hope we’re seeing the test bed for Player Strongholds, and someday in the future some out of the way area near to capital cities or as part of a new land will become available for us to stake our claim and hold as our ‘own’… phased and overlapping with everyone else.

Perhaps even something we earn as a reward for our part in the Horde/Alliance offensive? It used to be common to bind a particularly powerful ally to you by granting them land and a title so long as they swore fealty to you as their overlord. Can anyone deny that our characters, individually, have been groomed and presented as powerful heroes and trusted allies?

King Varian Wrynn seemed to trust me with the life of his son once, and I was asked by the prince to intercede for him with Jaina Proudmoore. These leaders trust and value my opinion… would it be such a surprise if I was bound by oaths of fealty to the King, through the grant of land and a title… said land being an old, ruined tower in the middle of a highly contested, dangerous zone that could use taming?

What could we expect from a Player Stronghold, based on what we’ve seen on the farm?

It could start small, a stone tower or other minimal fortification. Then, over time and completing quests it could be ‘upgraded’ into a larger, reinforced stone structure. And ever again larger in stages as we progress.

And it could have a hearth set there, or be made into a place to rest. And it can be as remote as Blizzard wishes, because now we have the capability to grow/create our own portals!

It can have NPCs that stay there, making their home in our Stronghold as vendors, reforgers, daily quest givers, etc. They could be our friends, our servants, or our honored guests. As we quest in the outer world and rescue NPCs or befriend them, we could invite them to come to serve us in our Stronghold, or even offer them sanctuary from the war there.

In the privacy of our own Stronghold, we could even host refugees from the other faction as part of a quest series… and play host to ambassadors, and even in time perhaps a cross-faction peace treaty?

And our large, empty Stronghold would need furnishings. We could go out into the old content, raids, instances or in the world itself to find items to interact with that binds to account, that we can then place in our own home. Furniture. Rare treasure mechanics, anyone?

Perhaps even stuffed monster trophies through the new profession of Taxidermy (minor spoiler for those that haven’t done the new Nesingwary quests in the valley yet).

The fascinating thing is, the technology is all there right now.

All the bits and pieces we’ve played and enjoyed in Pandaria, if it were taken and placed in a new way, would be a massive game changer pulling in all of the old content again, just like Pet Battles did.

I know that some players would be pissed, “Oh my god, now I’m supposed to raid Firelands for a couch to match my loveseat, wtf Blizz”, but you know… some players are pissed every time the wind changes direction. I could give a shit less what pisses some players off. The whole concept excites the hell out of me, especially because it’s so possible now.

What I think of is the test of any new content… will it be accessible to everyone? Will the time spent programming it equate to more hours played, more fun had, more investment in the game, more feeling of belonging and identity within the game world, encouraging me to renew my subscription? Will it all fit in to the existing story?

Hell yes. Take what has been created and tested, roll it into a new Stronghold I can unlock through a quest chain, give me people I can befriend on an individual basis like the Tillers that will come to my Stronghold to chill, and let me go out in the world and old content looking for rare drops and loot to decorate with.

Do I think a new class of loot, furniture drops, would ever be added? No. I would expect them to be ‘found’ items in the environment like the Treasures are. Go through Karazhan and find a nice couch you can click on to loot in the Concubine quarters, for example. Or a painting on the wall.

I for one would welcome the opportunity to loot and pillage Shadowfang Keep. 🙂

Will we see this someday?

No idea, I’m just passing the time on a snowy Tuesday Patch day morning.

But tell me, when you look at all that they’ve done, doesn’t it make you feel, maybe just a little, like it’s a possibility?

Oh, and to everyone of you that read this far… I hope you enjoy the new content. As great as it is, it’s still the next step on this incredible journey we take, not the last step.

I swear this game gets better every patch.