The Road to Adventure

I ask myself sometimes what it is about World of Warcraft that sunk it’s teeth so firmly into my butt and won’t let go.

What is it, that one thing you think of when you play the association game.

Sure, there may be a hundred different things something means to you, but what is that one thing you smell, the picture you see, when you first call World of Warcraft to mind.

For me, World of Warcraft has nothing to do with guilds, gear, raids, leveling or even quests as a ‘dude had an exclamation point over his head’ thing.

It’s all about the adventure.

The image, the feelings that come to my mind are the sensations I had as a young Night Elf Druid, in cat form, prowling over the mountain trail from Desolace into the northern jungles of Feralas.

In that first year of World of Warcraft, all of my first impressions were formed. Alone in the game, no real guild, rarely any friends on, just me, a Druid, and an entire unknown world of vast size to explore.

Adventure lay around every corner. New things to see, new lands, new peoples, new enemies to fight. Ruins and caverns and ancient temples. The worshippers of old gods to thwart, the vitality of the Horde to face down, cultures at war and a new experience at hand every time I logged in.

In those early days where Thottbot gave hints on where to find the solution to your quest, you were mostly on your own. You never knew what you were going to run into around the next corner, you didn’t even know who controlled the land you were prowling into next. An Alliance fortress? A lost Tauren stronghold? Pirates, Ogres, an island of serpent people assaulting Night Elves, who could possibly guess?

That is what World of Warcraft truly means to me. When I think of the game, I still flash back to that Night Elf Druid boldly exploring a world where anything could lie around the next corner, and it’s nameplate could be red for “OMG RUN RUN RUN AWAY AAAAHHHHHH, dead, one shot, that bastard, who the hell put a 56 elite there and holy shit look at how close they spawn to each other, gack.”

It has been a very long time since those days, right? Now there are a thousand voices screaming to be heard, all desperate to tell you all about what lies around that corner, what rare will spawn there, what the frequency is, what is in it’s loot list and how you can map it in TomTom so you can farm them as efficiently as possible.

For me, those long lost days of exploration are about to come around once again.

I have managed, mostly through withdrawing from all media, to avoid all spoilers about the new Timeless Isle.

I know where it will appear, and I know there will be rares, and bosses, and Celestials, and coins to collect, and a Celestial Tournament for pet battling, and all sorts of events.

Yeah, that sentence about sums up my total knowledge of the Timeless Isle. Oh yeah, and Ordos the legendary locked boss.

It sometimes feels as though the Lets Play group has taken over, and people aren’t interested in playing a game themselves, experiencing things for the first time on their own. They want to watch someone else have fun on a Twitch streaming channel.

I just don’t understand that, and it’s okay. I don’t get the point of passively watching other people have fun playing sports, either. I can either play and have fun, or go do something else. I don’t get the point of watching someone else have fun playing a game. But other people do, and that’s cool. For them, there are plenty of streaming channels where you can watch other people have fun playing video games.

Me, I’m about to step foot into the Timeless Isle tonight. I will be striking out, exploring, no idea what lies around the next bend.

I don’t give a shit if someone wrote a guide, I don’t need a guide, I’m a badass and I WILL explore this new land and pry it’s secrets from the charred, skeletal hands of it’s soon-to-be-dead masters.

I will not be following in anyones footsteps. I will be the one forging a trail in search of the lost temple of gold, the fountain of eternal youth, or the altar of the timeless gods. Which will I find? All, some, none of the above? Will I be destroyed for my foolishness in meddling with forces beyond my mortal ken?

I will not be the most efficient. I will not obtain the most coins or potential drops or rare kills in the least amount of time. I will not be dinging Celestial boss kills as fast as they can spawn. And I’m okay with that.

For the first time in years, something is being unleashed that I can take the time to enjoy for myself, at my own pace, and really not give a shit if there is loot to be found that will make me more powerful for raids. I suck in raids anyway, another piece of loot ain’t gonna change that.

I can already feel that tension, just thinking about logging in. What will I find? What will be there, around the next corner?

My only fear is simple. Will the Timeless Isle be so small that it feels not like I am an adventurous explorer, but more like I am just one more body lost amidst the ravening horde?

I look forward to seeing what happens. I want to be alone, lost amidst the teeming forest, pushing aside the fronds with my machete in search of something no man or woman has set eyes on in a thousand years.

There will be time enough for people when the Flex Raid comes around.

Store Your Anger Deep Down Inside… Ka-Ching!

So, an in-game store for World of Warcraft?

An idea that goes too far, some might say.

Or does it go far enough?

In the free to play games I’ve tried so far, there have been in-game stores. Each store has had some version of an item that you can buy with real money (or with tokens you buy with crystals that you get with rep you earned by spending real money on a resource pack, or something something five layers removed shady alert).

So?

So what?

Coincidentally enough, in each of those games I played a character I really liked,  in an enjoyable series of story driven quests. At least, I did until I reached a point where I had done all the quests available in my level range, and the next range of quests and associated villains were several levels higher than I was, leaving a power gap.

Well, that’s okay. It was certainly an oversight in the quest progression development process, and I’ll do what we did in vanilla WoW… grind the hell out of some mobs until high enough level to move on to Burning Steppes. Just grind that content gap away so I can move on.

Or… well, I was really enjoying that quest chain, it was fun, I’d like to get back to that. Screw it, a couple bucks for a resource pack I can trade for a few gems that are worth credits to use in the store to get +100% XP gained for an hour, that ain’t so bad. Get me past that hump and back into the questing!

Right?

Oh. Ooh, you mean the game might have been intentionally set up with gaps in content that encourage you to face the “buy XP boost consumable or grind for hours” dilemma?

Oh bullshit, that’s just cynical and paranoid. Nobody would do that. People create games for us to have fun! They don’t care if they make tons and tons of money. That’s why the game is free! because they love us gamers soooo much.

It’s because we’re so kind on game forums, so patient with bugs and release dates, so considerate and calm when describing our class balance in comparison to others in PvP. The free to play games are our reward for being so nice.

Ah, I crack myself up. Looked at that way, I’m surprised more games aren’t designed to lure you along until you’re five XP from max level, and then delete your character, cancel your account, max out your credit cards, burn down your house and punch your significant other so hard you feel it in your taint.

I guess free to play comes close enough to be allowed by law. But I digress.

Content gaps in your game? How crafty! And here I thought burying your store currency under a hundred different layers to hide how much an item really costs was the limit to shady practices.

But wait, what is this I see before me?

Is it a World of Warcraft game that has been streamlined and buffed to the point that you can damn well outlevel a zone before you finish the starter quests?

I do believe it is!

God forbid you should try to complete a leveling questline while wearing your heirloom gear. You’ll be a raid boss by the time you’re done.

But, I thought this XP boost item for an in-game store was evil and stuff? If World of Warcraft doesn’t have any big dead content gaps, what is going to be the driving force to make people choose the XP potion over grinding miserably for hours?

WHAT?

Oh, shit, that’s right.

NOTHING BUT FREE WILL, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Unless Blizzard does something truly remarkable, such as remove Heirlooms, cancel all of the accumulated accelerated XP gains that have been added over the years, or remove content from the game, this won’t do anything at all.

Nothing except give people another option besides Recruit A Friend for stupid levels of XP gain. Oh yeah, and give us all something to bitch about for the next month.

People will still buy the potions.

Yes, even with the ridiculous XP gain we already have, people will buy the potions.

Depending on how much they cost, I could even see myself buying one. Shit, why not?

No, really, why not? Sometimes, you just want to speed past that zone (Outlands) you’ve completed on 14 previous characters  and get to something else, please Elune, anything else.

Sometimes you just want to get a character to 80 in an afternoon so you can lock XP and prepare for a Herald of the Titans run. (Grats on your Herald achievement, DeGei!)

XP Potions? Meaningless in the framework of WoW. They are not a quality of life improvement, they are not a necessity, they aren’t even a gateway to break you into the habit of paying for shit. They are pure luxury, superfluous, an excuse to show off that you can afford to buy shit in game.

As if having every Collector Edition pet didn’t already do that, lol. Or are we supposed to pretend there haven’t been in-game items bought from a store before?

On that subject, am I the only player that wishes we had MORe pets in the Blizzard store that came with plush stuffed buddies for our real life adventures?

I know I for one would like a plush Cinder Kitten. Yes, yes I would. Yes, I know I already bought one for myself, and my son, and my wife. I’m sure I culd find someone in North America that could use the code while I keep the, um I mean give the plush Cinder Kitten to my son to cuddle.

There is one case where I can see this being a shadow of potential concern.

If they were building the store and the XP boost item into WoW now to get the bugs worked out in live just so they can integrate a polished store into their new Titan MMO flawlessly, and if TITAN were to incorporate the level content gaps to ‘encourage’ you to buy XP boost pots to get past a grind… well then. That would be a whole ‘nother kettle of fish entirely.

I’ll worry about a game that is four years from a release cycle some other time. I doubt it will happen, Blizzard hasn’t built their reputation on screwing customers to nickel and dime them on the backend, they prefer to take your money right out of your wallet, swift and painless once a month, regular as clockwork or a guaranteed return on your investment. With quarterly bonuses from new store items like bat mounts. Or Arena passes.

But hell, anything can happen, right?

Let’s move all past that.

Let’s talk about the true possibilities of an in-game store.

XP potions? That does not go nearly far enough, Blizzard. Oh, hell no.

No, this is World of Warcraft we’re talking about. The other MMOs can pussyfoot around the store idea, shuffling in the darkness, hoping to pry a few coppers off the unwary.

It takes Blizzard to pull out the big guns and show everyone who has the guts to make a move.

Tired of RNG in your loot rolls? How about a potion in the store that gives you a +15% chance to loot rolls for an hour? ALL loot rolls? Or +25%?

How about a potion that specifically increases the drop chance of items needed for Legendaries or for rare mounts?

Who among us hasn’t run SOMETHING week after week looking for that rare drop?

Come on, you know you have. Grinding for multiple weeks seeking a special rare drop is a WoW rite of passage, like gunters coding a classic game. Everybody has to do it at least once over a few weeks. Or months or years.

I don’t care if you ran Baron Rivendare timed runs in vanilla until your eyes bled, farmed the Fiery Warhorse in Kara until you developed a twitch, or soloed Kael’thas in the Eye seeking the Ashes of A’lar.

Maybe you got the left bindings of the Windseeker in Molten Core on your very first run, and you’ve been running it every single week for the past 6 years trying to get the other half.

You know you did it, even if only for three weeks before giving up in disgust.

Now you tell me true, and be honest with yourself.

If Blizzard added an item in the store that cost $5, and it would give you a significantly better chance at having that one damn thing drop, tell me.

TELL me you wouldn’t do it at least once on that damn white unicorn you always wanted and never, ever, ever saw drop.

Now ask yourself what if there were items to buy that gave you more bonus rolls on bosses? A consumable that acted as if you had a Mogu Rune of Fate from the weekly quest?

Oh yeah, you see where I’m going with this.

Before you bitch about a measly little XP boost potion, you need to take a step back and ask yourself how deep this rabbit hole could go.

I tell you true, the universe would hear the cries of a million whining players screaming that the game was ruined…

Oh there would be crying, and wailing, and yes even the gnashing of the little teethes, and Blizzard would quietly drag in the chips tossed by 5 million players paying to get that fucking Right Binding to drop. Garr, you little shit.

So let’s play a game, you and I.

Open up that imagination, and let’s see what plausible and yet utterly horrifying items we can come up with for a World of Warcraft in-game store.

Who knows, if we come up with something crazy but brilliant enough, it might make it’s way into the game!

Virtual Realms – Ohhhyeaaahhhhhhh

All right, let’s look at one bite-sized morsel of Patch 5.4, shall we?

New Feature: Virtual Realms

  • Virtual Realms are sets of realms that are fused together, and will behave exactly as if they were one cohesive realm. Players on the same Virtual Realm will be able to join guilds, access a single Auction House, join arena teams and raids, as well run dungeons or group up to complete quests.

  • Players belonging to the same Virtual Realm will have a (#) symbol next to their name. (Source)

Now, I know I’m not going to be the first to think it, but I’m going to say it.

This spells the end of character slot limitations.

As soon as Virtual Realms go live, and we can identify which servers are linked into our Virtual Realm, we’ll be able to use each individual server as a new expansion to our ‘effective’ character slot list.

Already have all your character slots full on your ‘real’ server? No problem!

Just go to a linked server and make new characters! They can then join the same guild, friend all the same friends, group with the same people and act as a true extension of your server presence.

Will we be able to mail Heirloom items to them? That is but one of the questions that we’ll have to test in live, but I think the words ‘behave exactly as‘ would lead me to think so.

So… tired of trying to choose who to delete to make room for a new alt or test a new build idea, because you want to keep all your characters in your guild or on your server?

Rest your weary mind, for your troubles are, well and truly, over.

I for one welcome the end of the “Plz Blizz give me one more character slot plz plz” era.

Well played, Blizzard. Well played.

Best Be Paying Attention!

World of Warcraft, Patch 5.3 has arrived.

I’ve been focusing most of my efforts on running the Burning Crusade raids that can now drop pets.

I was super-excited the first night of the patch. I ran Karazhan, and in the Opera event, Barnes started talking about not believing your eyes. Yay! Big Bad Wolf! I might have a chance at the Lil Bad Wolf pet first time it’s up!

Well, I did have a chance, and yes the pet dropped. Wow, right? First week?

I began to suspect something was wrong when the Curator dropped a pet. And then so did Illhoof.

Oh, shit, is this bugged? Is Blizzard going to take my pets away because the thing was bugged out and giving pets every time?

On the other hand, what if it IS bugged out, and they don’t take pets away? No sleep ’till Machie!

I’ll kill the suspense here, it turns out it wasn’t bugged, in that and four more runs, I haven’t seen the pet from Prince, or from any other boss again. It was only that first golden run that was blessed, and I’ll gladly take it and treasure my good fortune.

In fact, I consider this whole ‘pets in old raids’ thing a massive success, because I’ve seen several people on my friends list announce they’ve gotten the Ashes of A’lar on runs in The Eye, Elizabella of the Epic Questions podcast and the Elizabella Chronicles to name one you likely know, and I can’t help but think it’s the incentive of going in and getting pets that is encouraging people to go back in there again after all these years. Well played, Blizzard. Well played.

Blizzard has sure succeeded in getting my butt out there to do stuff I normally wouldn’t solo. With the addition of pets, I went out to SSC, The Eye and Karazhan, and for the first time I really tried to solo the end bosses of each. Well, in the case of Kara, soloing Chess.

The only real stumbling block I had in soloing anything was the Chess event. Kael’thas and Lady Vashj are now quite soloable, no RNG at all.

I tried zerging the enemy King in Chess my first night, and it didn’t go so well. Sure, I can solo 25 person raid bosses, but a damn Chess match…

Cassie suggested I do it the smart way, and follow the guide written by Tikari back in January.

Oh, right. RIGHT!

Um, okay. And of course, it worked flawlessly, and after adopting the Tikari Tactic I soloed Chess three more times in a row. Or four, I’ve lost count. If anything, now that we’re post the 5.3 nerfs, Tikari’s guide works better than ever before.

While I’ve been running old raids, Cassie has been doing some of the new scenarios.

She decided to break out her Priest and run the new Blood in the Water scenario for the quest chain, and found something that was a great wake-up call.

She queues for it and gets two strangers in the group, someone running as a healer, and a Warrior that Cassie described as “the squishiest Warrior I’ve ever seen”.

On a personal note, I truly hate running scenarios with people there as dedicated healers, players who insist on only healing. It’s one thing to be a Smite-spec Priest doing damage and incidental healing on the side, or any other healing spec that is also firing off some damage once in a while. What I don’t need is you walking around behind me, tossing overhealing on my already topped-off bar, while I do all the killing. The scenario mechanics give you healing options if you need them, all you are is a boat anchor slowing us down. It’s one of the reasons I prefer doing scenarios with friends, if we’re gonna do it, let’s just do it without wondering why that jackass is standing there looking cute with a whopping zero DPS.

So Cassie runs the scenario, it takes a bit with only two people contributing to kill all the trolls, but they get through it. They downed Hekima in the final battle, get the Hekima’s Heal-Halter achievement…

And the Warrior and healer drop group, first the Warrior and then about 30 seconds later the healer, leaving Cassie all alone with the scenario unfinished.

The other two players apparently saw the Achievement spam for killing Hekima, thought that that was the ‘Scenario complete’ spam, and dropped group!

Cassie had to kill the rest of the group of bad guys all by herself, but you know, she took care of that little task, all the while shaking her head in amazement. She was still shaking her head in disbelief when she told me about it minutes later.

How do you fight that far in a scenario, only to drop group the second you think you won without, like, checking? I know I’d wait at least a few seconds to make sure, oh wait, I DID wait a few seconds, because I saw the achievement spam the first time I did it and thought, “What a strange place for an achievement, we’re still fighting, we ain’t done yet.”

Again, well played, Blizzard. By putting the Hekima achievement where it is, you’ve just made sure that anyone running these without actually paying attention is apt to get a surprise. A big surprise.

It’s a classic example of someone who didn’t have the time to finish the rest of the fight, but they’re gonna have to find time to run the whole damn thing over again, now aren’t they?

Sneaky, Blizzard.

I guess maybe next time those two should stay and pay attention to all of the lore and storytelling Blizzard took the time to put in the damn game, huh?

What, do they think Blizzard is programming all of this for their health? That’ll teach ’em.

So, what have been your favorite things to come out of Patch 5.3 so far?

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.

The Point Hoarders Dilemma

Are you a point hoarder, or do you know someone who is?

Maybe you don’t know what a point hoarder is.

Here are a few simple questions to help narrow it down.

Do you know someone who has a habit of holding on to Valor or Justice Points without using them, until they hit the cap and are forced to make a decision?

Maybe even then, they’ll sit and stare at the choices, and despair for they cannot commit to spending those points for fear of not getting the most out of them.

Whatever they choose, they are afraid it won’t be the optimal use of their points… and so, they make no decision at all. They never spend them, until they hit the hard cap and have no choice.

Do you know someone that is one of the most extreme cases, at the cap and beyond, still running content but no longer getting new points because they just can’t decide on what to spend them on?

I feel your pain.

Point Hoarding is a very real thing, and it’s not a joke.

Well, okay. It IS kinda funny, because, you know… video game problems. Not exactly in the same class as “I can’t make the mortgage payment this month”, now is it?

Still, it’s a very serious problem within the context of the game.

You play for a solid week, doing daily quests, running LFR, doing Heroics and Scenarios. You bust your butt to hit that 1000 Valor Point weekly cap, so the pressure to get the most bang for your Valor Point (or Justice Point) buck is immense.

Granted you had fun earning those points, or you should have, but you can only ever get 1000 points that week. If you blow them, you’ll never get them back.

What to spend them on that will benefit you the most?

I know a Point Hoarder, someone very close and dear to me. I know exactly how it works, and the pain it can cause, especially if the person doesn’t play enough to normally max Valor out.

If it took three weeks to reach 1750 Valor Points, or even longer, the worry over spending them on the wrong thing can be a nightmare. Much easier to avoid the worry by pushing it off as long as possible. Those points are precious, my precious.

But what to do?

Let’s just look at upgrades, at improving the power of your character at max level.

Justice Points can buy you iLevel 458 blues, or you can upgrade an existing blue (rare) item by 8 item levels. Personally, I would only ever consider upgrading an iLevel 463 drop with Justice Points, and even then one that was proving insanely hard to replace. Or maybe one whose stats are better than their iLevel would suggest, like the ilevel 458 Alchemist Trinket.

Valor Points can be used to buy iLevel 489 epics from your various factions, and with the new factions that can even get up to ilevel 496. Or you can upgrade one of those, OR an LFR drop by 4 iLevels a pop.

So many choices, and so expensive!

Choice is the enemy of the Point Hoarder.

But when you get close to the cap, you have no choice. It’s either spend the points, or reach the cap and accrue no more.

Go forth and accrue no more? NEVER!!! I must consume mass quantities!

That was exactly the choice I faced last week. There were three iLevel 496 items from Operation: Shieldwall I wanted, each costing 1750 Valor. BUT… I wasn’t going to hit Revered with them until Thursday night, and I was going to hit the Valor cap on Tuesday.

I had to spend some to make room for more Valor. Had to. BUT… I didn’t want to buy an expensive item that wasn’t as big a boost from some other faction.

The best choice was to spend just a little Valor, just a smidgeon. And that meant picking something to upgrade.

So I did. I picked something, and then I upgraded it.

After I was done with that, what do you think I realized?

I SPENT MY VALOR UPGRADING THE WRONG DAMN THING!!!! ARRGGGHHHHH!!!!!

Oh no, I ain’t kidding. Hell no.

It was completely preventable too.

See, I looked at my gear, and had to decide which item to upgrade. Which one would I be most likely to keep for a long time? I don’t want to upgrade something and have it be replaced next week, thats the same as blowing my Valor on cheap wine and loose women.

Not that blowing your earnings on cheap wine and loose women can’t be a valorous endeavor, but that ain’t the topic for today.

I tried to pick from those items I was likely to hold on to for a while, and decide which one would give me the biggest boost from upgrading.

I looked at my gear, and I thought that my iLevel 489 shoulders from the Golden Lotus faction were the ones most likely to be kept. I don’t have a single piece of Tier gear yet (thank you, Sha of Anger and LFR!) so even if I get a piece or two, the 489 shoulders I’ve got would be better.

So I upgraded them one level.

I am not a Point Hoarder, I just know how it feels to look at the points I have, the choices open to me, and fear I’m about to make the wrong decision.

I make the decision anyway, I just accept that there are consequences if I chose… poorly.

Then, yep, I find out I made a decision that was NOT OPTIMAL, and feel like an idiot.

The key difference here is, I may not have made the best decision, but I did still make a decision, bought an upgrade of some sort, and have enjoyed improved performance from that point.

Just, you know… not the optimal performance I could have had. DAMNIT.

In my case, if I had really studied before rushing to spend Valor, I would have seen there was something else worth upgrading first.

In Patch 5.1, Blizzard implemented the item upgrade system, but currently there is no way to load your character directly from the Armory and tell if a piece of gear is already upgraded or not.

Ask Mr Robot has worked around this by upgrading their system so that you can load your character from the Armory, select an item, and manually upgrade it and save the results.

This lets you manually modify your equipment to its real values in-game, and then run their optimizer… and also see how your upgraded items rank in the “Best in Slot” lists.

What I failed to do was take a long, hard look at Ask Mr Robot, compare point improvement scores, and see that my lowly iLevel 476 trinket, the Relic of Xuen, is actually the best trinket I as a BM Hunter can get in the game short of Heroic modes.

For me, right now and for the foreseeable future, there is no more effective trinket than the Relic of Xuen. And even worse… the upgrades would just make it awesomer. Awesomest? More awesome. It would be damn good, is what I’m saying.

Ask Mr Robot is great, I am truly grateful for how it helps me plan improvements. But it’s not idiot proof… as I have hereby proved.

With these pitfalls, and my proven track record of spending my Valor Points unwisely, how do I convince that Point Hoarding loved one to let go of the points and spend them with confidence?

The answer is WoWUpgrade!

WoWUpgrade is my new best friend.

At WoWUpgrade, you enter your character and server, it pulls your details from the Armory, and then it shows you a list of your gear, ranked by your currently chosen spec and gear, with the items that would MOST benefit from being upgraded up at the top… and shows you HOW MUCH those items would be improved from upgrading by a comparative point score.

Yes, you can get to the same results within Ask Mr Robot, right down to comparative point scores, but this website takes all your gear and shows you the best point improvements right at the top.

Idiot proof.

It does not show you currently upgraded gear, because the Armory API can’t discern that yet.

So, WoWUpgrade has the horrible power of ranking what you SHOULD have upgraded first, and then you get to see where your actual upgrades ranked in the list.

Take, for example, my raiding character and main, my Beastmaster Hunter Beartrap on Azuremyst-US.

If you were to call that up, you’ll see that my most effective upgrade would be my Tempestuous Longbow with Justice Points, followed by the Alchemist Trinket with Justice Points, and then of course the Relic of Xuen. Right there. Obvious, right in my face.

Those shoulders I upgraded? The Windwalker Spaulders are freaking eighth.

Brilliant. /cry

On the positive side, I did upgrade my Tempestuous Longbow and Alchemist Trinket weeks ago, so there’s that. I’m not a full-on huntard.

What this added website tool does is give you a much clearer view of which upgrades are of the most value to you.

If you start at WoWUpgrade to see what your best performance enhancing upgrades are, and then go to Ask Mr Robot and use their ‘upgrade an item’ feature to see where that upgraded item falls among your best in slot list, you can see if upgrading an item makes it more valuable than other potential items you might have been thinking of buying. Or have a reasonable expectation of seeing drop.

It can help give you confidence in your decision… and maybe, just maybe, a Point Hoarder can finally pull the trigger and BUY SOMETHING.

I know buyers remorse can be painful, but geez, there is a cap, after all. Use ’em or lose ’em!

*The Point Hoarders mentioned in this post bear no resemblance to any person I know, living or dead, who may make me sleep on the coach when they read this. Love you, dear!

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.

A Myriad of Amazing Gifts

Hey, I hear there was this patch thing?

Actually, the MMO Melting Pot keeps telling me that the only topic of discussion consuming the blogosphere is Guild Wars 2. I dunno, I guess I don’t read enough blogs. The whole time I was away, my feed was crammed with dozens of posts each day about the patch and World of Warcraft.

That’s not a knock, for as someone on Twitter said to me, “We’re too busy playing Guild Wars 2 to write about it. Now shhh, I’ve got hearts to fill.”

I don’t even know what that means, and I’m fine with that. Hooray! Multiple MMOs in the house, and they’re all good!

Whoopee! Now WoW will be peaceful and happy, with nobody in Trade talking about how bad the game is, right? They all left to have fun in GW2? Right?

Right?

We came back to town around midnight last Saturday, so we had, oh, the afternoon to install the patch and figure things out before the ICC achievement raid Sunday night.

Two out of three computers in our house patched and optimized and installed just fine. Can you guess who got the crash?

I started the process at midnight, went to bed, and when I got up 6 hours later, it was still stuck on Downloading Tools.

I made the big, terrifying life-draining decision – nuke the install from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.

I went to Battle.net and installed the client clean through direct download.

Holy shit, people. A single 20 gig download client, fast playable install, no bugs, no worries, and the damn thing runs clean and fresh like a dawn raid on the Keep on the Borderlands.

Crap, the Mists patch I downloaded for my previous install was bigger than the whole full client download. Yay and stuff, and life goes on!

Fortunately, you’ve all been in the game enjoying the patch for almost a week now, so I don’t have to worry about dropping any spoilers. I get to post a first impressions roundup guilt free!

This has been a patch full of many unexpected gifts.

Mounts

First, the obvious. Account-wide shared mounts did NOT work as advertised. They were better.

I didn’t have anything excluded that I was told would be. PvP mounts from Honor Points, and the mammoth drop from the Wintergrasp PvP raid? All shared. Every single one.

The X-53 rocket mount? Shared. The Swift Zhevra? Shared. The Zhevra! I specifically saw a comment that the mounts from recruit-a-friend weren’t going to be shared, yet there they are.

Now that I have all the mounts to compare, I can say with some surprise that my all time favorite is the Brewfest Kodo. Happy time, and isn’t it nice that even though the only character I have that ever won it was on another server and hasn’t been played in a year and a half, all of my characters can now enjoy it?

Pets

The pets, I knew what was coming, but it was still fun showing Alex that he can rename pets. Also, he was finally able to get the Creepy Crate shared on ALL his characters.

One surprise for me was to see pet collecting trends revealed in pet quantity.

For example, Cassie has done the Jousting quest in Mount Hyjal on all her characters. Without exception, every single one has chosen the more attractive Blue Mini Jouster pet over the Gold vulture-looking Mini Jouster. Without exception.

Having something like 12 Blue Mini Jousters and not one Gold? That’s hilarious. Errr, I mean, ouch! Gonna have to do some dailies, dear! Just ten more days!

Love you!

Of course, I wish I could cage them already and hand some of my duplicates over to Alex, but give it time. On the flip side… if I can’t actually train pet battles yet, take it the fuck off my trainable skill list, mmkay?

On the other other hand (or tentacle, pseudopod, whatever), you can now buy the pet from the special Mountain Dew promotional event, PLUS the red and blue robot battle fuel, from Jepetto Joybuzz in Dalaran. I have the pet already, on a lot of characters… and it’s nice to know I can stop hoarding the 20 red and 20 blue fuel… on every character. Every. Character. You can just go in the store and buy it now. Go figure.

Hey, as long as we’re adding old stuff long gone from the game, how about adding the secret vampire boss (Prince Tenris Mirkblood) back to Karazhan this Halloween so people can have a shot at the guitar axe and Vampiric Batling? Go for the hat trick of awesomeness.

Me love you long time, Blizzard. LONG TIME.

Archaeology

This one… this one is a mixed bag of blessings.

Six digs per dig site? Twice as many artifacts for the same amount of travel time, right?

Feels a bit like too much time in one spot… because I have nothing but Night Elf dig sites in Kalimdor. Screw Night Elves, can I please get some Tolvir love? Grrr.

On the even less gifty side, please stop asking me if I’m really super sure honest and for true sure every single time I want to solve an Archy puzzle. Yes, I know I am at max skill, stop asking me if I want to go to a trainer first when there aren’t any upgrade trainers yet, you twit!

On the other hand, if I were to forgo the immediate gratification of knowing what I got… I could stack up fragments now for a series of future solves, for faster leveling. Right?

At least, I could if I had the ‘put off til tomorrow what I may be prevented from enjoying because of the car that hit me today’ gene.

Eat dessert FIRST. Geez, people, think about it. We could get hit by a meteor and join the dinosaurs tomorrow, I want to get that level NOW.

After all, when I die, Saint Peter will ask me what level I reached on my Druid, and if I have to say I didn’t fully complete my rare Archy solves in Cataclysm, TO HELL I GO!

Class Changes

Ahh, the big one.

I’ve been playing my Hunter in the ICC raid, so while I checked out my Guardian Druid first, I couldn’t linger. I had to be pr… no, screw that, I ain’t sayin’ it.

I had to be ready to rock.

So on to my Hunter I went for the real firsties.

Huntery Stuffs

Not reading about changes beforehand is a dual-edged sword. On the positive side, things are fresh and new and filled with wonder.

On the down side, I have to rely on having a brain to figure this shit out cold. Whoops! And I also need to find some alternatives to up sides, down sides, other hands and inner paws. Willing to buy a vocabulary, STAT!

For my Beastmaster Hunter, I had a good time choosing talents. Even the choosing was fun. They all sounded so… tasty.

I looked over my choices, and all I could think was, gee, they took all the neat toys the other two specs used to get, and let me cherry-pick whatever I wanted. And I get to keep MY special exotic pets! Are you shitting me?

I get a spell interrupt! Just, WTF is up with that!

Did I reforge into mixed Expertise and Hit? No, no I did not. It was ICC, I didn’t reforge shit. But I did choose my Talents, without guidance, based entirely on what sounded cool.

I specced a Hunter, and I liked it!

I chose Posthaste, because I use Disengage all the time as a fast positioning tool, and having a boost of run speed is all win in my book. I’m always positioning myself, like on the boat in Dragon Soul, to be ready to Disengage laterally out of a bad AoE. I used my Disengage A LOT on Festergut and Putricide, and damn, was it fun!

I took Silencing Shot, so no longer will I be looking stupid when it comes time to ask, “Who can interrupt the Queen?” The answer is now, “ME! BOOYAH!”

I took Aspect of the Iron Hawk, because, well, lazy. One less cooldown or GCD sounds pretty nice about now.

Thrill of the Hunt would almost sound like another lazy choice, except I had a hunch about that one. I mentally did the math on how a 30% proc chance from abilities that use Focus would translate into 3 super-fast cheap Multi-Shots, and snatched it fast. I’m a Beastmaster, I pop Kill Command and Arcane Shot all the dame time.

It paid off in spades in ICC. I was proccing those three extra cheap Multi-Shots and Arcane Shots constantly. Including off of Multi-Shot. At one point, Cassie whispered me to ask me what it was like to do over 40k DPS. I said I wouldn’t know, I didn’t have Recount installed. 🙂

And finally, I chose Blink Strike. Oh my. Oh, my my my.

It’s Sunday, I’m in love.

Instantly teleport my BM pet behind the target to do a big nasty CHOMP out of it’s butt?

Oh, hell yes.

Now, I haven’t tested it yet for variables. The tooltip for Blink Strike says the chomp is 600% normal damage. By normal, I can assume that means damage unaffected by current Bestial Wrath status.

But I’m willing to find out. For Science!

For the Glyphs, nothing really sexy, not like there was for Death Knights or Druids. Best I could come up with for fun was Marked for Death, so I automagically put Hunters mark on whatever I’m shooting at in the moment. That was nice, removed a /petattack macro with that one.

Still, the feel of the BM Hunter in the raid was unchanged. It felt exactly as BM did before the patch to play… ONLY BETTER! Enhanced! The way it should be, and with no minimum range!

I’m in danger of switching mains.

I kid, I kid.

Guardian Druid

I had a rocky first tank run on my Druid today in Heroic End Time. But that is for another story, and you have to start somewhere, right?

Oh, and it helps to have a healer who actually heals, instead of stays in DPS gear and shadow spec.

I knew it wasn’t going to go well, when I zoned in to Ruby, said “hi, I need a sec” because after the first pull I saw my Tidy Plates had me set to DPS mode so it was reversed on threat tells, and the healer pulled the boss for me while the addon pages were covering my screen.

Let’s just say that after he flat out told us he refused to heal me on Murozond because I was in kitty tier gear(!) and we booted him from the party in the first minute of the fight, we STILL managed to win it while 4-manning it, without a healer, with Alex and Cassie in the team, and an awesome Shadow Priest named Sutralas – Blade’s Edge, who I swear was still DPSing while throwing me heals, AND popping the Hourglass. Although everyone was handling the HG when they could.

Let’s also add that it’s nice to have a ton of defensive cooldowns and Heroism ready to go after every Hourglass activation, hmm? Still, we did win… with a healer that had the shittiest attitude I’ve seen in a while booted from the run before the first HG click. 🙂

Yes, I know he got his same chance at loot after being kicked, but it must have pissed him off to blame me for being in kitty gear and unhealable, and yet we didn’t wipe after booting him. We somehow managed without any healer at all. Burn? Perhaps a teeny bit, yes.

Idiot, I warned the group up front I needed a few seconds to adjust on the fly, it’s not like we had any trouble at all on the first two bosses. Despite having the healer pull for me. Grumble, grumble.

That Sutralas, what a nice person. And it was so funny and cute, they told me before we dropped group that I shouldn’t take the criticism from the healer seriously, I was a good tank! Very nice person, and it was so cool to see another player offering encouragement and kind words to someone who had just had to deal with… well, idjits.

Anyway, the Druid is a story all it’s own. Gonna need more time to fine tune things like button positioning.

Sure wish I had a Druid blog to write it up on, huh?

What?

Death Knight

My Death Knight was the most unexpected gift, of all of the changes.

The last time I logged into my Death Knight pre-patch, I had about 40% XP left to go before dinging 85.

When I logged in this morning, I had exactly 1 XP left before dinging. ONE.

I just kinda looked at it, shook my head, assumed it was a typo, killed one trash mob and ding. WTF?

So from there, surprise! Guess, I have a new 85… that will sit until AFTER the expansion comes out to gear up. 🙂

In the meantime, my Druid is a max level Scribe, what goodies does the DK need?

Holy crap, you can get a Glyph to make your Army of the Dead summon a wide variety of random undead! Wait, let me check it out… and yes, yes they look SWEET! Oh no, they didn’t… a Glyph to stop the Army from TAUNTING?!?!

Okay, all straight DPS Death Knights, from now on if you group with me and I’m tanking, you BETTER have that fucking Glyph active when you pop Army or I boot your ass from the run. Be told.

OOH! And a Glyph to make my Unholy perma-pet look like a Leaper!

/happydance

And then… the rush left me.

What to do now?

Oh, I know… let’s make an alt. We’ve got our eleventh character slot, fill that baby up!

But what to make…

Warlock?

Warlock?!? Can’t make a Monk, can’t make any Pandapeoples… so what about I make the one class I don’t have that a Panda can’t ever be?

This time… this time it’ll be different! You’ll see! This time I’ll make a Warlock, and take it right to the top! And it’ll be a Gnome!

Yeah!

And didn’t I hear the Succubus was supposed to be a guy if you had a female Warlock? Let’s try that out! So a female Gnome!

Yeah! Do it!

What was that definition of insanity? When you do the same thing over and over, and expect to get a different result?

And I have just the name! Blackrack! ‘Cause her heart is all black and evil, pumping behind her, well, that, you know… her rack.

Yeah, whatever, I’m running out of name ideas.  Bite me.

Shit, that reminds me, I have to try and reserve OldDirtyBear.  Yeah ODB yeah you know me!

So, a female Gnome Warlock.

I said bite me.

I started it up, I had my Heirlooms as usual… and you know what, this wasn’t so bad.

The DPS was pretty powerful, in fact.

And is the Imp actually HELPING? Wow, it almost feels like the Imp is putting out some damage, that’s fucking new.

Okay, ding level 10, let’s see, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS DEMONOLOGY ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?

I don’t know what the hell they were smoking, but at level 10 as Demonology, I got Metamorphosis. And auto-attack is ranged chaos bolt thingies. And you get a resource that, like, refills as you KILL SHIT.

Alex looked over at what I was doing, and about had a cow right there.

So, I deleted my level 10 female Gnome Warlock (I said bite me, Gnomer) and we both made brand new Worgen Warlocks, or as Alex calls them, WWs.

Then he asked about my gear, so I showed him where to buy cloth heirlooms from the Guild Vendor, and that is when I tanked a heroic on my Druid to get him the JP he needed to buy the chest heirloom from the JP vendor.

He got Cloak, Helm and Chest. Not bad in one day. Off we went, blasting stuff together as WWs.

It’s crazy. Blueberry at level 8? Drain Life Drain Life Drain Life…

Alex loves Drain Life. He loves the idea that at level 15, he’ll be able to get an AoE Drain Life replacement.

At level 10, he became enamored of Metamorphosis, and can I just say, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never killed shit in the Worgen starter area that fast in my life.

We did encounter a small amount of confusion with terminology.

I had to inform Alex that it is not, in fact, entirely appropriate for a nine year old to be saying he enjoyed, sigh, “sucking that guy”.

No, rephrasing it to “sucking the life out of that guy” is not much better, thank you.

In fact, and this is a sort of testament to how sheltered the language in our house can be in certain ways, he was unaware that the term “suck” could have negative connotations… meanings other than those normally associated with Hoover vacuum cleaners.

I had to let him know that he is never to say that he sucks anything, or sucks AT anything, because suck can be slang for ‘loser’, and if he were to say that he, oh I dunno, “sucked a guy so hard last night”, well, the other kids may start laughing at him and saying he admitted he was a massive loser, and we all know where that heads. I break out the baseball bat and go visit other kids dads for a ‘chat’.

Or the police come to have a little chat with ME, and rightfully so.

Oh, the baseball bat? Don’t beat the kids, beat their parents, I always say. I believe in the trickle-down theory. Shit trickles downhill.

Yes, I avoided mentioning to him what else suck can be used to describe. I’m not stupid.

While I don’t think there is anything wrong with it from anyone of the appropriate age TO anyone of the appropriate age, regardless of gender so long as both are into it, call me a prude all you like, he’s nine. He can wait on that discussion for a bit while he enjoys his Pop Tarts, Phineas and Ferb, and Legos.

And yes, sigh, “sucking the life out of that dude”.

At least I had him reflexively saying “draining” instead of sucking by the end of the night.

We were both also level 14 and almost through the entire Worgen starter area. Still feels ridiculously overpowered, and some of the neatest class toys at low levels I have ever seen.

It makes me wonder. Is this what all the classes now feel like to start at 1st after the patch? Ridiculously overpowered, full of neat toys, lots of the ‘good stuff’ right up front?

I know that I’ve tried Warlocks many times before, and I’ve never seen anything this… well, neat in the game before at level 10.

It almost felt as cool as the first time I ever played the game, on my very first character, and I had to travel to Moonglade and approach the Great Bear Spirit to try and learn how to be a Bear.

Almost.

I know, right?

Shit, I’m serious, I was wondering what I was going to do for fun until the expansion came out, but this is just amazing.

So… anyone else having unexpected good times?

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

A new post up this morning at WoW Insider struck me as being damn timely.

The article, written by Josh Meyers and titled “Has the early Cataclysm gearing model failed?”, takes a look at the intent of early Cataclysm leveling, of gating content by iLevel, and then touches on whether it has held up or not this late in the expansion.

It’s a good article, one I found especially timely since I am actively working right now (well, when I’m not at work-work) to do everything I can to subvert that very gearing model he describes.

You play the game and get a character to level 85, and what do you want to do?

You want to go do the fun stuff.

For those that want to PvP, there are fairly new craftable PvP blue items, full armor sets as well as jewelcrafting rings and necklaces to get you started.

Clearly, the powers-that-be realized that the PvP arms race would make it painful to get stuck right in. So they added new gear as a stepping stone.

Why?

Because in PvP, there is no ‘working your way up the difficulty ladder’, no ‘easing into it’. When you zone into a BG, it’s gametime, baby and you’d better bring your ‘A’ game or find out what it looks like in first person to be teabagged by a Moonkin’s big feathery butt. Everyone else is in their best earned gear, and whether god or grunt, it’s everybody for themselves. No artificial gating of content, it’s just you, your computer, and the cold, harsh reality of survival of the fittest.

Been this way several expansions now for PvP, clearly they like how it’s working for them. Well, Burning Crusade brought PvP blues bought at the rep vendors, so it’s only been two expansions now with the crafteds. My bad. But they saw how the BC model worked, and changed it up the next time.

On the PvE side… by this late in the game, I don’t care how cool the starter heroic instances started out, everyone is sick of them as a gearing necessity.

Is it great to be able to level by running instances? Yes. Is it great to be able to do instance quests? Yes. Is it awesome that as you level and have fun in even the normal instances, you get Justice Points towards end game gear? Hells yes, sweet incentive.

Is it cool to do them and see the story and learn to play an unfamiliar class or role in the end game group content?

Absolutely.

But I challenge anyone to say that they find it FUN to have to run the expansion starter instances in heroic mode at level 85 on every new character to grind the gear upgrades and Justice Points needed to unlock higher iLevel content.

And I won’t even go into how much sheer joy is to be had in considering having to grind rep to get epic shoulder enchants or gear on your fifth character, even with Tabards.

So, we try and subvert it, to a greater or lesser degree. Are we to be blamed for trying to bypass the system as intended?

Or, and I’m just throwing this out idea there, is subverting the original gearing process exactly what Blizzard expects us to do, and is precisely WHY we have things like the new high-level BoE epics from the new heroic instances dropping like snowflakes in winter?

Crafted epic items, auction house BoEs, new heroic instance quest rewards, the Thrall and Aggra Elemental Bonds questline that gives a nice cloak, etc.

Is being subversive simply the game working as intended?

I think so.

Look at the facts.

I’ve played the game the way it was meant to be played on three characters now, my druid, warrior and hunter. Leveled, geared, got crafting skills, reputation grinds, all that stuff.

I am damn glad to have done it, too. For example, I am proud to have a character maxed in every rep, plus exalted with my guild.

When I have new characters come up now, I don’t have to worry about head enchants because I’ve got one character with max reputation on all factions, and that character can buy the enchant and mail it over.

For weapons, I can gather ore, transmute Truegold, gather or buy Orbs, and use my epic Blacksmithing patterns from rep to make some iLevel 365 weapons… or buy cheap Beermug maces, BoE epic drops from the new instances, etc.

I can craft rings, necklaces and armor that, while intended for PvP, is good enough to get into new content and get the job done, but just crappy enough for PvE that I’m going to want to get rid of it as soon as bloody possible.

I even have BoE gear of incredible power that I can earn on my max level characters through Valor Points, to feed down to my new alts.

But what if I don’t have max level characters to feed my new alts, characters all decked out and done with the content?

Working as intended. If you don’t already have all the content done and maxed on anyone… Blizzard wants you to get out there and do it all, at least once.

In my opinion, the only truly glaring weakness right now is that the epic level shoulder enchants purchasable from rep with Therazane is not bound to account, and the ease of getting that rep has not been reduced the way the Sons of Hodir were towards the end of the expansion.

Yet.

I’ve been preparing my Rogue for max level, because I truly do not want to do a single original heroic, not a one. I want to ding 85, equip gear, and step into a 4.3 Dragon Soul heroic.

To that end, I’ve been seeing how far I can game the system on my Combat Rogue, and how cheaply.

Slow main hand weapon, fast offhand are the Combat preferences.

A Tremendous Tankard O’ Terror goes for about 800 gold on my server, so I bought one. Oops, Cassie had 8 in her bags, and I actually had one I forgot about in my Hunter’s bank. Stupid of me not to check, but point made.

For an offhand, my blacksmith crafted the Brainsplinter, using all personally farmed/transmuted mats. Done.

For a thrown weapon, maybe due to lack of demand the Thorns of the Dying Day are going for a mere 300 gold. Done again.

Sure I’m going to want to upgrade as soon as I can… but these aren’t pure crap, either. These are all weapons that, in terms of stats, would have been great before 4.3 shipped.

For armor… well, there is the obvious.

My max level characters have taken a week off from upgrading their own gear with Valor Points to donate the Bracers of Manifold Pockets and the Rooftop Griptoes. If I was wealthy, I could have easily bought them instead, they get advertised in Trade Chat as Valor boots or bracers, your choice, 5000g or 6000g golod all the time, YMMV on your server.

Still, I wanted to go as cheap as I could as far as I could.

As I said before, once I reach level 85, I’ll be able to do the Thrall and Aggra quest chain, Elemental Bonds, to get the iLevel 365 cloak, Mantle of Doubt. I could simply craft the new iLevel 377 PvP leatherworking cloak Vicious Fur Cloak, but I’d vastly prefer lower iLevel but more PvE oriented gear.

There are 17 item slots to fill, and already 6 are at 365 or better at level 85, plus one quest chain I like to do anyway. 🙂

I then did dip into my own pockets, and bought one item I’ve been repeatedly tempted by at the auction house. I got the Nightblind Cinch belt for 7000 gold. Maybe they saw me coming, but an upgrade THAT huge means future Valor Points don’t go to a belt, they go to things like necklaces, rings and trinkets. I’m willing to pay it, and be glad.

The rest of the slots ALL have iLevel 377 PvP items that can be crafted with leatherworking and jewelcrafting if I wanted to, but let’s go one step further.

What about the Molten Front?

Yes, yes, I know. Craft some PvP stuff and go have fun, get upgrades in one day that outstrips what you’ll earn after 45 days of Molten Front dailies.

There are still two things to keep in mind.

First, after only three days you can unlock the Molten Front area, and purchase Matoclaw’s Band from Zen’Vorka.

Second… my Rogue is a skinner, and the spider area is a skinner’s paradise. I’m going to want that anyway, so why not at least look at what I get after those three days, right?

Where I’m going with all this, is really that it’s too damn easy to craft or otherwise acquire high level items to bypass the starter heroics for it to have somehow slipped past Blizzard’s attention that we can do it.

No, I think it’s working as intended, and I like the fact that I don’t have to just equip PvP gear to beat the iLevel restrictions, I can go for lower level gear but with better overall stats if I so choose. And I DO so choose.

As I said before, I just think there are a couple areas that could be finished up, like the Therazane rep shoulder enchants being made Bind on Account.

What do you think? Is this all some cunningly designed master plan to give us lots of options and choices, or is it a failure of the Blizzard gearing model?

Patch Night Did Not Go As Planned

It was a night of surprises for BBB.

It turns out, this is funny, but it turns out that a little knowledge can be a bad thing.

I knew just enough to be dangerous to myself, but not enough to plan properly. And I just know I drug some of you down with me.

Lemme back this bus up to the WTF dock and start from the beginning, okay?

I was very hopeful when I logged in last night.

According to reports, “smoothest patch release evar.”

Well, hell, that sounds promising.

Patched up, logged in, set Load Out of Date Addons to on, pick a character and login.

I picked my Paladin. Of all my characters, my level 71 Paladin was the one I was most excited to login, because I had the entire delicious set of Level 60 PVP gear to transmog into.

Loading bar started, and at the 10% mark stopped. Total system freeze.

Um, what?

Hard shutdown of WoW, login and try again. Freeze, same point.

Okay, maybe it’s Northrend. Let’s try Stormwind, and a different character.

Login, crash on loading.

Back out, reboot computer, check MMO Champion and WoW Insider and Twitter.

Nope, everyone else in the world seems fine, WTF?

Huh.

I updated addons, but not all were updated. I wonder…

Login, disable all addons and try again.

I’m in!

And now the hunt begins…

Which one of you little pricks is crashing my WoW. I gots playing to do!

It turns out, FuBar no be good no more meng, nor is the Fubar2Broker alternative I’ve been using getting update love.

This… this is a crisis.

I can do without a lot, but there is no way, NO FREAKING WAY I can do without a Fubar/ChocolateBar style band at the top of my screen that lets me mouseover an expandable Guild and Friends list. I need to know, at a moments notice, who is online and where they are at any given moment.

That’s right, I keep tabs on everyone. I’m watching you!

Not really. But if I suddenly get the urge to whisper Matheo or Ursimage, I want to be able to mouseover the guild list in a hot millisecond to see if they’re busy in an instance or a raid first. Opening pages of windows and scrolling through the guild roster? Hells no. This will not stand!

Oh, the addon author quit WoW two years ago, according to Curse. Hmm, I guess it will stand.

A quick scan of Curse addons to just go whole Chocolate for LDB (LibDataBroker) and Broker shows there are LDB Friends and LDB Guild. Do these replace my old GuildFu and FriendsFu? Will they plug into my ChocolateBar?

YES!

Okay, crisis averted, I don’t have to quit WoW just yet.

Moving on… Paladin time! Let’s get ready to moggle! And only an hour and a half of the night lost.

I’ve tried to stay spoiler-free, so Ursi tells me the Mogging Vendor is somewhere around the outer ring near SW Cathedral. A quick flight overhead shows me a massive crowd around a little door. Uh huh, fresh baked cookies? Nope, that would be the new vendor hut.

Time to mog! I pick my Field Marshal item, I go over to… wait, WTF do you mean I cannot use that item appearance for transmogging?

Just… just hold the f’ck on here.

Moggin’ has been on the PTR for months. (In my mind, rhymes with hoggin’.) There have been blue posts, articles, FAQs, WoW Insider in-depth articles. This must be a mistake, someone would have said something if this was intended. A bug, certainly.

Er, no.

Bashiok said, LAST NIGHT;

The items out in the world (Marshals, Grand Marshal’s, High Warlord, etc) that use the level 60 PvP art are un-transmogrifiable (including the item level 115 stuff that shares the name from Burning Crusade).

In Area 52 a set of vendors has replaced the PvP Vendors who used to live there. Grex Brainboiler, Krixel Pinchwhistle, Tini Smalls, Kezzik the Striker, Big Zokk Torquewrench, and Leeni “Smiley” Smalls. These vendors sell new, transmogrifiable versions of the classic armor to players who have the Feat of Strength for Legionnaire/Knight-Captain or higher under the old PvP system.

There was a bug with the Feat of Strength granting access to these items, but was hotfixed within the last couple of minutes. If you meet the criteria log out and back in and you should be able to access the vendor.

The design intent with the Feat of Strength achievement requirement was specifically to limit these particular art styles to players who earned them through the OG (and relentlessly difficult) PvP honor system, while keeping the door open to reward them to more people in the future.

In a future patch the items sold by the Area 52 vendors will also be renamed ‘Replica of’ to be more consistent with the items sold by the Darkmoon Faire – they’re currently exact duplicates of the original items that allow transmogrification, which is obviously a bit confusing.

Potentially related, since he’s in the same area, Kezzik the Striker sells inaccessible Season 1 Gladiator’s, Season 2 Merciless Gladiator’s, and Season 3 Vengeful Gladiator’s gear to all players, as the majority of that gear didn’t have restrictions.

Have a nice day.

As an existing rule this does not irritate me, not at all.

I said when I posted about it in the first place, the level 60 epic PvP gear was very difficult to obtain at the time, and I would completely understand it being made difficult to obtain or restricted to those that had really earned it back in da day.

What does torque me a bit is that this comes out of left field to me. My Paladin did not exist when the “Feat of Strength” and the PvP associated with it happened, so I can’t even go back and try it earn it the ‘right’ way. Not that I would have without knowing moggin’ would exist someday in the future, but still.

It’s nice that the only people who can sport those iconic looks on their modern gear are the folks who earned it, but it sure would have been great if I had seen a FAQ, WoW Insider article or mention somewhere that you might as well not get that gear, you won’t be able to use it.

I’m sure this is my own damn fault.

This is of course what I mean about ‘a little knowledge being a dangerous thing’. If I hadn’t been skimming the news reports to avoid spoilers, I probably would have seen a blue post or FAQ that said this somewhere a while back. They even added new vendors in Area 52, they must have said SOMETHING about it while the PTR was going on. I just didn’t see it, because I wanted to hit the new instances and raid cold and fresh.

So, I has a sad.

There is good and bad to this.

The good is, I get the thrill of the hunt. I get to find a new set I want, set goals for how to get it, and log in with a purpose. That’s always fun.

The bad is, I’ve looked at all the Paladin gear sets, every single one, and none of them with the exception of Lightbringer really says “Paladin” to me with style.

I know a lot of people like the Judgment armor, and I agree, it’s very nice. But it’s not for me. To me Judgment armor is very cool to look at, but it speaks more to the Warhammer 40K religious ethos; the fighting force charging into battle, a heavily armed and armored holy warrior at their side to oversee the consistency of their spiritual faith… and apply an attitude adjustment with a chainsword where the faith seems to be wavering.

Very cool, kick ass concept, but that’s not MY Paladin.

MY Paladin is a holy warrior that heads into the teeth of the dragon proudly armed with sword, shield and faith, braving flame and claw to protect the innocent and defend the weak.

Others may strap on heavy plate armor and go forth to battle, and they may be brilliant generals leading armies on the field or small unit commanders destroying the enemy through fire and manuever, or even solo berserkers tearing into their foes and leaving gobbets of flesh hanging from the spikes of their bloody axes.

What sets MY Paladin apart from them is the aspect of faith, and how he lives his life and fights his foes under the influence of that faith. Faith in the light, faith in justice, faith coupled with a desire to lead by example and be an inspiration to others on the field of battle, faith that it is his duty to ensure that the light SHALL overcome the darkness.

MY Paladin isn’t a gritty anti-hero wearing black and red plate, big spikes, curving trophy horns, skimpy chainmail bikinis, or worse yet, camouflaging his beliefs and hiding in the bushes, waiting inside his mud-coloured armor to lunge out and slip throats.

The Warriors and Death Knights can strap on evil-looking blood-drenched heavy plate decorated with skulls and tentacles and spiky bits all they like. They can wield massive weapons and deal brutal damage to their enemies reveling in the gore. At the end of the day, their strength does not flow from the conviction of their faith in the light.

The Paladin trusts in the Light, and he (or she) polishes his armor until his cohorts are gleaming. You need gleaming cohorts to be a Paladin. It’s a fact. (That’s a Terry Pratchett joke, btw).

Lightbringer is great looking armor, probaby better in some ways than Field Marshal, but when I originally browsed the armor sets for the Paladin and saw that Field Marshal set, with it’s gleaming gold, silver and blue, and above all the gorgeous matching Aegis shield, I fell in love.

Well, looks like my Paladin gets jilted at the transmoggin’ altar.

I wish I would have known. It would have been nice to not get my hopes up, to have my expectations set that high.

I won’t miss the armor itself quite as much as the shield. I do so love that shield. I’m level 71, and I’m still using that level 60 Aegis shield. I don’t want to give it up.

That’s okay. Life goes on. *sniff*. I’ll do fine without it. *sniff* *sniff* I didn’t want it that much anyway. Mean old armor.

*BWAHHHH*

Okay, seriously though, it will be fun as hell to take a tanking paladin into the raids necessary to get Lightbringer. And, hey bonus… Cassie is leveling her Disc Priest healing with me… so once we hit level 85, it’ll be time to grab a few DPS friends and see us some old school raids!

Oh yeah, and I also ran two of the new 5 person instances last night. I’d talk about it a little, it was smokin’ good fun, but I’ll give the patch a few days so folks don’t get anything spoiled.

For anyone that was foolish enough to follow my advice and got your own level 60 epic PVP gear for transmogging… I’m sorry. I apologise for steering you wrong.

But look on the bright side.

Ain’t nothing stopping you from wearing it as an ‘about town’ set just like before, and fooling people into thinking you’re a PVP god!

Unless, you know… you really are.