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 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!


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?


Oh, shit, that’s right.


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.


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?


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.