The Everlasting Mobhopper

The toughest challenge facing MMO developers is how to create content faster than players can consume and become bored by it.

Traditionally, core MMO content is a story you play through, presented in the form of a chain of quests. Each quest is a link in the chain giving you a small part of the story, then sending you on to the next link. If the story events change location, the next quest will direct you where to go, or might intend for you to search for clues or items to guide you in exploring the area on your own, and in the process revealing more quest chain beginnings. All of it intended to help you continue the story.

It’s an interactive novel that unfolds at your own pace. A great idea that I know I’ve loved playing.

The problem is I can blow through a great book faster than most folks can write one.

MMO developers are a canny bunch, they knew that going in. The earliest content included built-in molasses to slow us down so we couldn’t consume content faster than it came out.

Those lovely grind quests and slow foot travel while leveling, followed by reputation grinding, drop requirements to craft resist gear to equip your team before taking on tougher raid challenges, attunements and keys, and on and on.

It worked, but it couldn’t work forever, especially with a subscription model and more competition with newer and shinier toys.

We will never stop wanting more new content, as soon as it comes out we devour it and immediately hunger for more.

But that’s with the traditional story-based content model.

Our MMO play experience in the past has been to travel through zones and continents as the quests direct us, and in the process we reveal more of the story step-by-step.

The drawback to this system is, once you complete the last quest in the last chain, you’re done. The quests are either done or not, there is no partial completion or partial reward.

I think the solution is going to require changing what we consider as MMO ‘content’.

Now before we get too far into what tose changes might be, let me say I’ve always felt there was one big ‘gotcha’ to the quest chain story progression system; outleveling quests.

I don’t know about you, but one of the things about story questlines that has caused me problems in the past is when I leave a quest chain before that ‘chapter’ of the story gets resolved.

Usually it happens because my character had leveled past the point where the quests were providing experience or rewards. “I want to play with my friends in end game”, I think, “I’ll come back and finish that later to see what part of the story I missed.”

Whatever the reason for it, when you abandon a quest chain in the middle, you never resolve that part of the story. You don’t know what happened, and that can leave you confused later in the game when you begin quest chains designed for players of a higher level.

You start taking part in a quest chain several chapters deeper into the story and you’ve just been dropped down in the middle of stuff. You don’t know who the players are or what the big reveal is that went down before. You don’t have a frame of reference for how important any of the smaller nuances of the story may be to the big picture.

For those who played World of Warcraft during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, imagine having abandoned the quest chain in the middle, right before you would have reached the Wrathgate. Imagine having missed all of that story and cutscene, and then try to figure out what is happening later on strolling into Icecrown.

Can you do it? Sure. Would it cause the story to feel disjointed, even broken? I can only imagine.

I think, personally, that this is one of the reasons some of the big story elements are revealed in out-of-game books sometimes, especially the lead ups to expansions. And sure, it encourages players to buy the books. But this way a player might not know what quests are or are not critical to following the story, but they know that the book holds a big chunk of ‘what you need to know before Warlords of Draenor explodes on the scene.”

The traditional quest chains to deliver story aren’t entirely going away any time soon, but we’re mostly past gating content through agonizing grinds. Players are sick of it, and it doesn’t score anyone any brownie points.

To gate content, developers need to either build in obstacles like grinds to hinder our advance, OR provide us with so many options we always have something somewhere that feels worthwhile to do.

Queue the music as we see the effects of the current Timeless Isle rollout, and ponder the words of Blizzard that the Timeless Isles ‘spontaneous event’ system will be integrated throughout ALL of Draenor in the new expansion, and oh yeah, hello Garrisons.

We are told Garrisons are going to play a large role in Warlords of Draenor. If you look at the system they have proposed, you can see that it has leveling buildings, chasing drops, hunting for rares, running content for building patterns and managing teams of mionions all built into it’s structure.

Think about it. This is content that has no specific quest chain story associated with it; it is instead your own story of your continued expansion and entrenchment in the hostile terrain of Draenor.

Garrisons takes away the rails of guided quest chains and replaces them with an RTS resource management and base building mechanic. Your advancement and progression in that mechanic is gated by how many things you can do that will all result in an improved Garrison, or leveled up or more powerful minions.

And let’s talk about minions for a moment.

They will have levels, and you can assign them gear drops. Have you played Diablo III? You can give your buddies gear in that game as well to make them more powerful.

Have you played mobile games such as Marvel Puzzle Quest or Heroes of Dragon Age? Those games also feature a team you have to select, train, level and manage. That is the entire heart of the gameplay, seeking out new, more powerful members of your team, training them, leveling them and assigning them to tasks. They do the work while you plan your strategy and wait for the result.

World of Warcraft is dropping the gameplay of team management games like Heroes of Dragon Age directly into Warlords of Draenor as just one aspect to the expansion. Thank the devs that there will be no microtransactions to make me want to kill them.

The result? The more engaging that aspect of the game is, the less we will miss story-driven quest chains.

Now consider the ramifications of Timeless Isles style spontaneous events spread across an entire continent.

Right now, Mists of Pandaria has many rare creatures to seek out and kill for achievements and a chance at various cool drops. My personal favorite is the Ai-Li Skymirror.

How much more challenging will it be when it’s not just a rare creature we have a chance to stumble across for a quick kill and a chance at loot, but an entire event such as the pirate ship spawning, or the adds that come to life that you can begin to kill to have a boss spawn.

And how much more will it draw us into grinding, without grinding, when all of those events have their own loot tables and chances for rare pets, rare minions, rare Garrison building patterns or even epic loot.

Grinding, without grinding. That is when you’re doing something that should be tedious or time consuming, but you don’t mind because you’re engaged in the thrill of the hunt.

The Timeless Isles has succeeded to a point. It brought us all sorts of things to do, along with repeatable daily quest chains, loot from reputation grinds and token drops at vendors, rares with loot tables, TONS of goodies and events and things to do.

It’s occupied folks for months now, and let’s be honest. It’s a small island. It’s a flea speck in the vast sea.

Now take that experience and spread it out over an entire continent.

I intentionally avoided using the word ‘sandbox’ to describe what we’re going to get. So long as there is a guided quest experience and leveling, the game will not be a true sandbox to do whatever you want in.

But they are dropping entire new types of gameplay in, massive expansions on their Farm and Timeless Isles and Pet Battles systems.

I think if we look at the whole, we can see where Blizzard is going with the MMO. If we take speedbumps like grinds and reputation gates away, we have to add something else to slow the rate we devour content.

It seems to me that instead of throwing rocks in our path, they’re adding more games within the game to distract us, to lead us away from story advancement and give us other things to chase to occupy our time.

I am fascinated to see how much of the game continues to have strong story-driven questlines in it.

I am imagining an expansion where the same quality and quantity of story-line quests from the original Mists of Pandaria expansion are released with the addition of all of this other non-quest content to do right from the get-go.

I’m imagining it, and a huge smile is spread over my face.

You give me a team of minions to manage, I might not even notice we don’t get new quests in a content patch. Sorry, too busy picking my team to raid Onyxia, I’ll go quest later.


Lets DO Be Hasty!

When Warlords of Draenor comes out, we’ve been told that the existing stat system is getting a pretty big overhaul.

Reforging is being removed, taking control over the fine tuning and balancing of our stats away from us.

I keep hearing cheers for this. I don’t understand it.

Yes, I do understand that they are removing Hit (and I believe Expertise) from modern gear.

Without a ‘hit cap’ or expertise cap to reach to eliminate misses, we will no longer have to depend on reforging our early gear to reach a hit cap at the expense of other stats.

That simplifies things, certainly, but it doesn’t remove the benefits of having reforging available.

Every class and spec has some stats that are preferred over others. And with Haste in the game, some classes have certain ‘break points’ where reaching a set amount of Haste will give one extra tick of a Hot or Dot.

I don’t understand why I would WANT to give up the capability of choosing a stat I want to prioritize over others, and reducing other stats to get more of what is truly valuable to me.

I can see why Blizzard would do it, I’m saying I don’t understand why I’m supposed to be happy about it.

World of Warcraft is easy to learn, and requires some effort to master. Right? Of course you CAN play your characters without reforging, optimizing stats, reaching hit caps, etc. Just as you can queue for LFR without enchanting or gemming your gear.


I like having reforging available as an option.

I once played this game without reforging being in it. Did you?

A lot of us did.

You may recall, during Burning Crusade, when there was no reforging but there WERE gem slots and gem cutting.

As a Bear Druid Tank, I made quite a few posts breaking down the benefits and how-tos of ‘reforging’ your stats using gems to get the most benefit in damage mitigation and avoidance. Because we wanted to be the best we could at our role, and the only tool we had at the time to adjust our shit was doing the math on stats from gems.

I rejoiced over the addition of reforging because it meant MOST of my fiddle-fapping around could be done at the reforger instead of by using expensive gems.

If you’re going to remove reforging and expect me to actually be happy about it, then the core reason why we wanted reforging in the first place has to be removed entirely.

Our gear would have to dynamically shift stat weights to favor the most optimum stat balance for our current spec FOR us.

Either every leather-wearing agility-using class would need to share the same stat priorities, or the agility leather chestpiece that drops would have to adjust it’s own stats so that when equipped by a Guardian Druid it has more crit but when equipped by a Rogue it has more Haste.

Those are not to represent what those classes/specs want NOW. It’s just to illustrate that we know that ain’t gonna happen, so I am unhappy reforging is going away.

As far as I can tell, the reason we shouldn’t mind that reforging is being removed is because they are royally fucking gear stats.

Our gear will now have main stat and stamina, and those other stats on it are, well, a bonus. We should consider ourselves lucky they have those bonus stats, and what bonus stats something has may be made up at random, so you never know what gumdrop will pop out from the loot dispenser next.

So now Normal, Heroic, Mythic and Warforged get a new variable added to the mix; stat roulette. What will we get this time? Will it be useful, or crap for my class? Oh boy!

I’m still not seeing how this system is going to result in anything other than our keeping every damn piece of loot we get so we can swap pieces in and out to balance our stats that way. Yes, keeping three different chest pieces in my inventory is far better than visiting a reforging vendor.

Okay, I’ve gotten that out of my system. It’s not live yet, and since I occasionally play on a heroic raiding team I might be unusual in my desire to squeeze every drop of capability out of my character that I can get to offset my lack of skill.

I don’t know, I can’t see the future. Maybe when the new stat and gear system comes out, we’ll be so excited at the way our gear changes from healing to tanking to DPS as we change specs that we won’t care about stat maximizing anymore. Maybe we’ll just let it go and stop sweating it so much.

While I’m talking about stats and changes to the system in Warlords, I’d like to hit one more topic.


I would like to see the removal of Haste as a stat from the entire system.

I am playing a lot of characters, swapping back and forth right now. And for the first time I can recall, I am playing multiple characters of the same class.

I am playing my heroic-geared Warlock, and then I switch over and immediately play my son’s LFR and Timeless Isles geared Warlock.

I raid with both Warlocks, I make the same effort to gem/enchant/reforge both, they both have the same spec, it’s apples to apples.

Don’t check Wooffie on the Armory today, I got two new pieces of gear late last night and I haven’t gemmed or reforged anything to accomodate them yet. Normally, he’s the bees knees.

I’ve noticed this before, a LOT, but the Wooffie to Ursinerate swapping has really shoved it in my face.

Haste as a stat SUCKS FOR GAMEPLAY.

The other stats all increase or decrease potential damage or survivability. Bigger numbers, smaller numbers.

Haste is the only stat that actually changes how your character feels to play.

The more Haste you get, the faster those buttons can be clicked, the faster your energy regens, the faster you can DO SHIT.

When your Haste is very low, as it is at the start of your gearing journey, fighting and using your abilities in combat, and waiting for energy to regenerate can feel like punching under water. The moves are there, but they’re sllooooowwwwwwww and have no sense of oomph to them.

As you improve your gear and your baseline Haste increases, abilities get faster, your character gets more responsive.

This is not fun.

Sure, if you’re raiding and your gear improves constantly so you’re running hot, it’s fine. Your character feels slicker than a greased otter in a jello-wrestling pit.

But what if you’re not raiding at the front of the curve? Most of us aren’t.

What, so we get to play characters that aren’t as responsive or nimble as others do?

Gameplay is the feeling we have when we play our character, how responsive it is, how quickly we can react and move and perform our abilities.

Stats that increase the power of our abilities makes sense, but stats that change the flow and frequency of how often we can USE those abilities change our impression of our characters, how they feel to handle and control, and can give a new player the feeling that this character with long cast times sucks to play because slooowww, while this other character with lots of instant casts is far more fun because buttons.

I would like to see all characters have the ‘good’ Haste rate be standard. Characters should always be responsive and quick to play, we can have our power gated by some other tool than by limiting how often you get to push a button.

My hunter, who I began to play a bit the last week (I blame Rosin) won the trinket in LFR Siege that reduces the cooldown of a lot of abilities.

Totally transforms the character play flow, things feel faster, more responsive. A LOT more fun.

Why not feel like that all the time? Why stand around twiddling thumbs, or waiting for glacially slow cooldowns spamming the same shot cause that is the only option up?

You don’t need Haste to reduce the effective power of a character. That greased otter feeling ought to be there all the time.

Thus ends this morning bear bullshit break. Have a great day!

Are You A “Try Hard”?

I’m gonna start with some facts, then veer wildy off into the weeds. You’re invited to come along with me, and point at the pretty aminals just before they eat us.

Last night our guild leader Tom went looking to kick off an open Flex run.

He filled up the raid list with folks who wanted to go that weren’t already in the other main raid team slapping Sha around in Siege normal.

He thought we were a might light in our loafers where tank and healing was concerned, so he brought in a warrior offtank and a druid healer from Oqueue.

Sounds familiar? Seem pretty normal? Ask around with your friends first, and then move to a more open platform where strangers roam the arid plains.

Off we go to flex-mode Siege sequence two, the Galakrasical Wonders of the Flappy-Winged Age.

Kill all the trash, try like heck to pull everything on the beach at once to pad AoE DPS, fight to set off cannon bombs while players are still in them, the usual shenanigans.

We get lined up, set up a tower team, make the pull and midway through lose the new tank and healer down below in the valley and it all drops in the pot.

No worries, right? Most of us are on alts anyway.

Being on alts means, we HOPE to pull it out since we know what we’re doing, and get gear on our alts that could use it.

BUT… if the bosses aren’t dying, we swap alts out and bring mains in until bosses start dying. It’s the natural order of things.

Sometimes, you need bigger guns.

Ah, but then comes this gem. This was a first for me, a high point in the week, nay the month.

What happened, though incredibly minor, is the kind of thing I’ll remember long after I forget what raid we were even doing back in this expansion.

Two things happened at the same time.

Tom was driven to check what happened to the tank that he died so fast. Squishy, or standing in bad, or what? He was from Oqueue, maybe there were performance issues.

I hear a lot of people suffer from performance issues. They make a drug for some of them, but not one you can take that helps your raid. And how do you bring the subject up with your flaccid tank? “Hi, we’ve noticed you’re kinda… squishy… lately. We think this will help.” [presents bottle of ARMORALL armor polish]

So Tom does a quick look to see what happened, and at the same time Pumpken, the most incredible healer that plays a Shaman ever in the game, and who happens to be on her main at the time, gets a whisper from the Oqueue druid healer.

The whisper is as follows;


So Pumpken shares that whisper with us at the same time as Tom finds the problem. No heals coming from the OQueue Druid healer, who has low gear, no gems, no enchants, and apparently, no “try”.

Tom let the druid go, removed him from the raid. Told him, “Go get gemmed and enchanted, and we can take you some other time.”

The Druid called Pumpken a “Try Hard”. Like, as an accusation.

What, was he afraid she was making him look bad?

This is the great lie. Someone else does not make you look bad. Only YOU can make you look bad.

You, by not performing, by not moving out of bad, by not bothering to gem or enchant or reforge your gear.

By not trying.

YOU make you look bad, by not giving a shit. By not trying.

Others do what they do. Has nothing to do with you.

We were laughing about that “try hard” stuff in vent and in guild chat for a long time after that. Mostly ’cause I couldn’t let it go. That attitude is fascinating, I keep circling it like a dog smelling shit. It’s horrifying and yet I can’t stop looking at it.

Someone else in guild, not one of the progressive raiders, saw us basically mocking him for being upset at Pumpken for, what, healing too well? Giving a shit? And asked, legitimately not wanting to ALSO be mocked some time in the future, “What iLevel should I be to join your Flex runs? I’d like to start going too.”

Tom answered “Meh, whatever. It’s Flex, come join us.”

It’s not about being an elitist. It’s about whether you can do the best you can with what you’ve got, and that you try to be prepared. Basically, that if you’re putting yourself out there to join a bunch of others, that you’re going to give a shit, try to do your best (and raid utility!) and not tank the raid.

Unless you’re a tank. You know wtf I mean.

Listen, when all of your mains gear is 561 or higher, then everything else looks undergeared. You stop expecting the best possible gear, and instead you look at what seems reasonable for what you’re running at the moment.

And for Flex, what matters most is you are going to give a shit, you’re going to try, you’re going to care.

Since we can’t read your mind, we have to look at how you take care of your stuff.

Just like I, when interviewing someone for a job, will take a look at what they drive in to the interview, go out and look in the front seat while they are inside filling out the application. I hire service techs that will be out in the field all day long, given their own company truck. It’s reasonable to me that if I’m giving you a truck and I’m never going to see how you maintain it, then looking at how you take care of your personal car right now might clue me in as to whether you naturally give a shit and take care of your stuff, or just throw whopper wrappers and half-full pop bottles in the passenger foot well. It ain’t perfect, but it provides a clue.

Same with the character you’re bringing to the raid. If I look at your gear and see that it ain’t gemmed, enchanted, reforged, whatever. If you are missing major glyphs. If you forgot to take your level 90 Talent. If you never pop a flask, eat a food buff (even when given by a feast!) or cast your own raid buffs? None of that tells me whether you WILL try or not, but if some of it or all of it is missing, it’s a good clue that you don’t give a shit.

Or that normally you do give a shit, but this is an alt you don’t care about, so you haven’t paid it the attention a character you bring to a team raid deserves.

We have to look at these things, because now more than ever each player has to try hard.

When you get out there on the field of battle, you move your butt, you attack what needs to die first, you follow the flow. You interrupt. You move stuff away from others. You focus on the adds instead of padding the meters by burning the boss when it’s doing nothing to help us. Raid utility, whatever you brought, use it. It’s a force multiplier. Interrupts? CC on the trash before Garrosh? Big honking force multiplier.

This is what I love about the modern raids, and what increasingly irritates me about LFR and random person picked up from a queue.

These raids are designed so that every boss has a Lich King Defile.

Old school ‘get out of the bad’ meant if you stood in the bad, you died.

Modern ‘get out of the bad’ means, if you stand in the bad, the RAID dies. Or has a big pain in the butt to deal with.

It’s a shift in raid design. We had some special ones in the past. Remember Shade of Aran? “I will not move when Flame Wreath is cast or the raid blows up.” It was special and unique enough that there were monk chants on Youtube about it, it was infamous, because it was so damn simple… but if you had strangers in your raid group, somehow they always moved!

Now the fights are all like that!

Maybe it’s because of Deadly Boss Mods. Communication addons that, if you have them, clearly communicate in big honking letters, “pay attention naow!!!”

Maybe Blizzard feels if people are told what is happening that easily, then there needs to be more piled on top of it to strain your ability to process it all and react properly.

I dunno, but I like it.

At the same time, this is the biggest challenge I see in LFR and when I join other Flex runs, especially in OpenRaid with strangers.

It is not enough for the raid leader, tanks and healers to know what they are doing, move out of the bad, and by being awesome carry everyone else.

Each and every member of the team has to be a try hard. One person blindly attacking General Nazgrim during Defensive Stance, and endless Ravager axes come to eat you. That’s all it takes. One DPS who doesn’t act properly, and things go very wrong, very quickly.

Sure, you get enough really strong, solid raiders who outgear the stuff, and it compensates for a few that are in starter gear. Absolutely.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a blind carry. Those players in starter gear still have a profound impact on the flow of the fight. You don’t need mega-gear to interrupt a Shaman before they can get off a chain heal. You don’t have to do 300k DPS to pop a defensive cooldown and jump on a ticking time bomb before it blows and does damage to the entire raid.

Just, amazes the shit out of me. “Why are you such a try hard?”

There is a group of people sitting here beside you, thinking you give a shit.

The better question is, “Why aren’t you?”

What Unannounced Feature Would You Like In Your Garrison?

WoW Insider has a nice “Tell us more” article up this morning, asking what we as players would like to see in our Garrison.

Great timing on that question, because there is one thing I’ve had on my mind for our Garrison that they could do, that I haven’t seen mentioned before.

First, what I can’t have. What I would wish more than anything is that our Garrison architecture would match our character race. It would lend the ultimate Warcraft III feel to our Garrison, to go along with our minions scurrying back and forth under our command.

Sadly, I know that’s not going to happen. The panels at BlizzCon made it clear that there was going to be one style for Alliance, the Stormwind castle design, and one style for Horde, the basic Warcraft orc hut style.

To implement an alternate design scheme appropriate for every race would require the art and framework to be developed all over again. That would be hundreds of new buildings, maybe more, to have race-specific versions. Crazy talk.

Blizzard said it was a “maybe someday” thing, but not a launch goal.

I hope it does see the light of day, sometime in the future.

I know if I were a Blood Elf, I’d hire Blood Elf architects to design my buildings and a Blood Elf crew to build them. I wouldn’t expect my personal fortification on an alien planet to look like what those short lived, short sighted Orcs would throw together out of mud and sticks. Even if they DID grow up in the hostile environment I’m trying to defend against.

Barring that, there is one other thing they COULD do in the time remaining that wouldn’t break the design bank, so to speak. Well, maybe it would.

What I’d like to see is one special building in your Garrison among the default structures that relates directly to your character class.

The Garrisons are supposed to be character-specific right now. They’re leaving waffle room for maybe making them account wide, but most comments from developers talk about doing an accelerated Garrison for your alts similar to our current farms. Just like every character has to do everything to unlock the farm all over again at an accelerated reputation pace, so too our first Garrison will be the big one to do over time, and our alts should see a faster buildup.

Well, if my Warlock is my main, and I build my Garrison, I would love to see one of the default buildings, the first ones that get built, be a Warlock tower of some sort. A place where I have my citadel, my personal workroom, the place I get my studying done.

That one touch of individuality that will separate this Garrison from the ones my other alts have.

If I then decide to create a Garrison on my Hunter, why not have a building unique to the Hunter? A Mage getting a Mage Tower, Warriors getting Strongholds, Shaman having an elemental shrine like the place in Nagrand.

I would love that. Even if the design focus of each building was as a place of meditation or contemplation, like a place a character might design as his or her sanctum supreme, place of power or hard point fortification for you Warriors out there.

Paladins would want a place to pray, as would Priests, but with slightly different themes. Thieves might like a little backalley access to the Black Market Auction House, and that secret closet where they hide the poison lab and plundered loot.

I know it would require designing and decorating a lot of different buildings, basically twenty-two new buildings, 2 designs (Alliance and Horde) for each of the eleven character classes.

I don’t know if Blizzard would want to build twenty-two new structures just to give your character a ‘home within a home’ feel. The Garrison itself is such a massive step up from the farm that it’s insane. I keep looking at those slides from BlizzCon and feel overwhelmed.

But of all the ideas I have for what I’d like to see in the Garrison, this is the one that really clicks for me. A Garrison is a fortification out there on the front lines, where my hero can fall back, regroup and prepare for the next push against the Iron Horde.

If I were to build a Garrison, I would have at least one building ideally suited for my interest, my power, my skills.

If I were a Mage, I’d need that tower to focus my arcane arts and collect my tomes of power for easy access.

If I were a Hunter, I’d need that Safari Park where my pets can roam and be trained to my hand. Maybe with my own training dummy on the KD course.

And yes, I would simply love my own secret Sorcerer Supreme / Doctor Strange style Warlock tower, a place where my dark studies can continue unhindered. It’s nice having those Warlock-only places like the Slaughtered Lamb in Stormwind, but let’s be honest. Once I got my feet under me, I never went back there. I’m a Warlock, those other Warlocks aren’t my buddies, they are my competitors in the dark arts. I’m not dropping in for a cup of tea and a fresh bottle of pig’s blood, damnit. The Slaughtered Lamb? That’s where the wanna-be Warlocks hang out with their black cloaks, dribbly candles and face makeup, moaning about ‘the other side’.

If wishes were fishes we’d all be up to our asses in chum, but I can still dream.

Lessons my Heirlooms Taught Me

If information is a river, most days I’m not even dipping in my big toe. Big news keeps passing me by.

Take Heirlooms, for example.

I love Heirlooms. I have bought almost all of them over the years, some of them multiple times thanks to changing servers and leaving quite a few behind. When the Heirlooms are finally able to be mailed across servers, I’m going to have a plethora of riches.

I buy Heirlooms for classes and specs I have never leveled and never intend to level. Elemental Shaman Heirlooms? I have a full set. Moonkin? Same thing. I’m an Heirloom Junkie.

Recently I started leveling a Night Elf Warrior. Went full Fury just as soon as I got Titan’s Grip so I could transmog the Very Light Sabre and dual-wield them.

I only had one of the Heirloom Bloodied Arcanite Reapers on my current server, although I think I still have two on my old server. Both enchanted with Crusader, of course.

Is Crusader as a drop enchant even in the game anymore? I remember farming the mobs that could drop it during Vanilla for days and days, but with the revamp in Cataclysm I guess I never stopped to wonder where they moved the Crusader enchant drop to.

Anyway, I needed a new axe, and we can’t mail Heirlooms just yet, so I needed Justice Points. To get Justice Points, I needed to find the most time-friendly path.

Enter chain-running heroic 5 mans.

Fortunately, since you can mail your Heirlooms around, you can farm Justice on anyone you’d like. as long as they’re on the same server, of course.

Thus entered the first thing I learned this late in the expansion; there are a LOT more people running heroic 5 mans than when it was current content.

Average queue time for me as DPS to get in a heroic 5 man run, about 8 minutes. That was how it was a few months ago when I wanted to upgrade a Bind on Account blue weapon, that is how it was a few weeks ago to get this axe, and when I went farming for more JP that is how it was last night.

I have my own suspicions as to why more people are running dead content then ever before. I mean, it can’t be for armor or cloak drops, you get much better from the Timeless Isles. It has to be Valor, Justice and weapons. And maybe… practising your new Healing or Tank spec on content that your new 496 gear vastly overpowers?

Well, that and the fun of queueing with strangers.

I’m thinking people are just more willing to run the heroic 5 mans, even when they don’t need the gear drops, because they outgear the content even with a brand new spec and there is virtually no chance a run will be a hard, long slow wipefest. There is wiggle-room to figure out how to do this whole tanking or healing thing.

Plus, you know, quick Valors.

So. Heroic 5 man dungeons now have a fast queue time (at least on my Battlegroup), the players outgear content so they move fast, and when you blow shit up REEL GUD you even get people who want to chain with you and requeue immediately.

Every boss you kill in a Heroic 5 man dungeon gives you Justice Points. A LOT of Justice Points. 100 per kill, 120 JP if your guild has the reward For Great Justice (rank 2).

If the average dungeon has 4 bosses, that’s 480 JP PER RUN.

The second thing I have learned from this is you meet all kinds of tanks, and most of them, in fact the majority of them are able to hold aggro like a tick on a hound’s ear.

I have yet to see a single bad attitude from a tank. Not one. They seem to revel in their ability to charge in and have ALL the threat, and God bless them every one. Also, Blizzard, I thank you for Vengeance, and apparently all other tanks thank you as well.

Last night I reached level 80 on my Warrior and hopped on out to Mount Hyjal because FUCK Vashj’ir.

The third thing I learned was both of my Bloodied Arcanite Reapers, my Heirloom shoulders and the Heirloom chest and both Heirloom trinkets were only effective from 1 – 80 and at level 80 stayed at Wrath of the Lich King power levels.

The items purchased through the Guild Vendor with gold (thanks to easy guild rep) are effective up to level 85, but even they don’t spoke in power to Cataclysm gear levels until you reach level 81.

Once I reach 81, the Heirloom hat, cloak and leggings will be up to the gear level of other green drops, and good to go until the shores of Mists.

Having your main weapons at level 80 having HALF the dps of green quest rewards stings a bit. /cries.

The choice had to be made; Do I continue actually PLAYING the Warrior and having fun without those Heirlooms, or do I go spend a week farming Justice Points to upgrade them first?

I blew through the first 80 levels as if they were wet tissue paper. Is it really worth farming Justice for a week just to eke out 5 more levels of bonus XP and fun Heirlooms?


The fourth thing my Heirlooms have taught me is that when they reduced the prices needed to upgrade them, they REALLY reduced them.

The Bloodied Arcanite Reaper costs 3500 Justice Points to purchase. If you look at that as less than 35 boss kills in dungeons, that doesn’t seem bad for an item that lasts forever.

When they first gave us the chance to upgrade old Heirlooms to level 85, you had to have the item plus another 3500 JP, the full purchase price.

I thought that to upgrade my gear would cost that same amount. I’d forgotten they’d slashed prices, everything must go!

Now, to upgrade one of the two-handed weapons, you only need the original weapon and 1400 Justice Points. That’s twelve bosses, maybe three dungeon runs? Score! Two for one deals, gotta love it.

And to upgrade an item of armor only costs 870 Justice Points.

With prices this low and heroics that flow, everything must go!

In one night of runs last night, I earned enough Justice Points from heroic 5 mans to upgrade both axes, the shoulders and the chest. I’m still torn on the trinkets, I kind of want to start looking for and using new trinkets.

The fifth thing my Heirlooms taught me was that when you mail them to another character, they lose all enchants JUST like when you put an item into your Void Storage. I had shoulder glyphs, chest enchants and Windsong enchants on the axes for that blue glow. All wiped.

Also, all transmogs get wiped when you mail an item. You can’t transmog something and then mail it to somebody else to look all pretty. That seems fair, but the enchant thing also stings.

See, there was a time when you could put an actual enchant on an item and it would keep that enchant through the mail. I don’t know when this change went live, but as I said, my axes on the other server got shipped around all the time with Crusader on them. having super expensive enchants that could be applied to level 1 items made sense when they STAYED enchanted. Now, I lost the shoulder glyph and I can’t say as I feel like putting another one on.

And I did mention that transmogs get wiped in the mail, so that brings me to the sixth and final thing my Heirlooms have taught me.

I got my upgraded gear back on my Warrior last night, I went to the bank and grabbed the pieces I wanted to transmog into, and flew over to the Etherial in Stormwind to do the deed.

I opened the transmog interface, and something seemed different. I’d noticed it a week or so before, but hadn’t paid attention.

The new thing was, instead of clicking on an item in your bag to set your new transmog choice, there is a little arrow kind of button on the item box in the interface.

I know I’m not describing this well. But I looked at an axe in the transmog window, wondering how to get one sword to apply it’s appearance to both axes.

I noticed the little arrow thing (which looks like the arrow on the Warlock Pet Summons bar icon to open the demon choices. Or the arrow on a Totem bar to expans the totem choices).

I clicked the arrow, and the window opened to show me the sword… along with about seven other weapon choices.

WTF, over?

I tried it again with the shoulders, and the chest.

If you go to the transmog vendor, and you click that little arrow, it shows you every compatible item you own in your bags, in your bank and in the Void Storage. TYou don’t HAVE to have the shit present in your bags anymore!

Well, fuck me sideways with a poisoned chainsaw.

You know, I distinctly remember Blizzard announcing sometime back that you could now transmog stuff using the items in your Void Storage without having to pay to take those items out of storage first.

What I didn’t know was HOW.

I’ve even gone to my Void Storage since then, frequently, and puzzled over how to get shit out of there without paying for it. I always gave up, grabbed my gear, went and transmogged it and then put it back.

It just never registered on me that the transmog interface had changed. I keep my bags clean of unnecessary crap all the time, you’d think I’d have noticed before.

Just, holy crap. I’ve blown hundreds of gold on Void Storage I never had to, did the bank shuffle, and never had to do any of it. I can change mob appearance right in the window, browsing looks to my hearts content.

Yeah. So, there’s that.

What other awesome new features have I missed out on? What else is going on out there I just don’t know?

Next you’ll be telling me I don’t have to visit a class trainer anymore to learn new abilities, I mean geez.

CORRECTION: after talking to Psynister on Twitter, I realize it wasn’t mailing the Heirlooms that stripped the enchants off, it was upgrading them which removes the item you had and gives you a completely new one. Clearly, I’m an idiot. Thanks for the catch, Psyn!

World of Warcraft has gone insane with Recruit a Friend

Good morning, my friends.

In the wake of all the BlizzCon craziness, can I just say the timing on the revamped Recruit a Friend program is hilarious?

“Now that’s you’re all abuzz over the awesome things coming in the next expansion, pimp the game to your friends! Get them to ditch their old abandoned accounts and make brand new ones! Reap those yummy rewards, you know you wanna catch ’em all!”

Yes. Yes, damn you, I do.

Don’t know if you’ve heard, but if you are an active player and you Recruit a Friend someone that starts a brand new account, or has an active account less than 30 days old from like right now, and IF they pay for two months of game time, then you get your choice of one of eight awesome rewards, including four ultra rare pets and the Emerald Hippogryph.

You can’t use it to bring back players that have left the game, you do that with a Scroll of Resurrection, a completely different program that has NOT been revamped or had rewards expanded. So for all of you who might have been interested in coming back, I’d be happy to shoot you a Scroll of Resurrection, but you can’t be RAFed on your existing accounts.

“All those moments, lost. Like tears… in the rain.”

You CAN create a new World of Warcraft account on your existing Battle-net account. Did you know that? One battle-net login, multiple WoW accounts. My son actually has THREE, a free-to-play, a Recruit a Friend, and a third full account which is our only paid account on his battle-net. When he logs in, the screen prompts him to pick among WoW1, WoW2 and WoW3.

I talked to customer support about it once… if I wanted to, I could transfer characters from among the various accounts to consolidate them into one, then remove the unwanted ones. Just haven’t seen any reason to. You never know when they might change things so that there are new rewards to shooting a Scroll of Ressurection over to a long dead account, you know what I mean?

All that to say, you could both revive your original account and create a new one, then after enjoying the xp bonuses transfer characters and consolidate later.

Or keep playing Guild Wars 2.

Allow me to say this straight up – if you have any interest in creating a new account to play in advance of the new expansion, and would be willing to be my Recruit a Friend buddy, just let me know at Be happy to friend up with you, I have warlock cookies.

As an avid pet collector, it really hurts to see those pets, the tigers especially, gated as Recruit a Friend rewards.

Would I buy them for $10 or $15 if they were on the Blizzard store? Yes, at least I would buy the tigers. The pigs, I long ago accepted I wasn’t going to get the pigs so I took my own Mr Wiggles, upgraded him to Rare quality and leveled him to 25. I’ve got my porker, and he’s a peach of a pet!

Am I going to buy another copy of the game for $20, then pay for two months of game time at $32 total, just for one pet? $52 for a pet. Really?

No. No, I’m not. It doesn’t sound like much until you spread it across 4 pets. The day I spend over $200 to collect four pets in a game where I already have over 500 pets is the day Cassie shoots me.

And as she stands there over my rapidly cooling body, the smoke wisping from the barrels of the shotgun, I won’t even ask why. I’ll utter with my dying breath, “Thank you for freeing me from the madness…”


For more details on the new Recruit a Friend system and the rewards, check out the official post with in depth videos and the process at

And again, if you’re looking to come back with a fresh account and would like to be my recruit a Friend buddy, send me an email!

Pimping done, over and out.

My Pre-Blizzcon spoiler-free predictions

Good morning, folks.

As we wait for the opening ceremony of Blizzcon to begin, I wanted to get my expansion predictions out there before the floodgates of actual data come roaring out.

I know there have been ‘spoilers’ and other things going up on places like MMO Champion, and I have not read them. I might be and probably will be 100% wrong in my predictions, but that’s part of the fun.

I know we’re seeing “Warlords of Draenor” as the probably titles of the next expansion. That’s not really a spoiler, it’s all over the place because of the licensing.

I’m basing my prediction mostly on what I feel the game would benefit from in actual play.

I predict the expansion will bring a focus back to Outlands, in two parts;

First, I think the existing Outlands zones will be revamped the way Cataclysm refreshed Azeroth, improving (or simply changing) the leveling experience from 60 – 70.

Second, I think that we will either see an entire world/continent of Old Draenor accessed from the Caverns of Time, OR we will see a series of seperate zone/dimensions accessed from multiple portals throughout Outlands.

Here is my thinking on the second part.

Draenor was torn apart by Ner’zhul when he tried to open multiple dimensional portals to new worlds for the Horde to conquer. It was when traveling through one of those portals that he was captured by the Burning Legion, and eventually transformed into the husk of psionic armor that was the original Lich King.

Those multiple dimensional portals were created, orcs fled through them (or charged into them as solid armies bent on conquest) as the world of Draenor was torn apart around them.

The Burning Legion was clearly out there through some of them, because they nabbed Ner’zhul.

It makes sense to me that armies of orcs may still be out there spread among multiple dimensional portals, some of whom are either waging their own ongoing wars of conquest OR are actively fighting for or against the Burning Legion on other planets.

All it would take to bring us back into this storyline would be for some of those far-off orcs to try and open a return portal back. Somehow, some way. The maguffin of how isn’t important.

What this would give us is potential portals opening in key areas of Outlands, and that would change what is going on there in those zones right now, bringing them all current with drama for us to take part in. Orc/Burning Legion invasions into Outlands through portals, the homelands of the orcs (Thrall’s gramma!) and draenei that we have to protect, etc.

Even orcs requesting we provide aid to them on some of those far-flung worlds defending against the Burning Legion.

The other part of that second idea is just me being kinda grumpy.

I’ve done the Empowering the Hourglass quests, and I feel like seeing our good buddy time traveler Nozdormu watching over Garrosh is ominous.

I wonder… what happens if Garrosh, still alive and awaiting his trial, is given the opportunity to go back in time to original Draenor and ‘redeem’ his father, prevent him from ever drinking the blood of Mannoroth in the first place?

Does anyone think that would end up well? A happily ever after tale?

What if Sargeras, once a presence within Medivh… is now a presence in Nozdormu instead, and that is the corrupting influence we’ve been seeing? And Sargeras is now guiding Nozdormu to get Garrosh back to Old Draenor and change the events that led to the downfall of the Burning Legion on Azeroth?

What if we have to pursue Garrosh into Old Draenor as a still-vibrant intact world, and face the Horde and Burning Legion all over again, a do over but with Sargeras revealed as being the spirit inhabiting and eventually freed from Nozdormu?

See what I did there? Two completely different ideas for the level 90+ content, both spun from pure BS.

The only thing I really believe is that the expansion reveals are going to be all about revamped Outlands and new Burning Crusade modern day Outlands stuff.

Okay, I’m only hoping.

I’ll be watching new news from Blizzcon as eagerly as anyone else!