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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Garrisons 101 :: Gimme 5


I'll bet a small bag of Goblin Gold that I can guess what many players could really use right about now. They'd love someone to appear, Fairy Godmother like and do all the hard decision making for them come Warlords. All of this Garrison gubbins is really confusing, and you'd really like access to a Guide that doesn't explain to you what everything does, it just tells you what to build and why.

You have come to the right place.

I now therefore present 5 default builds based on the fact you can have 3 small, 2 medium and 2 large plots in your Garrison. BEAR IN MIND at level 2 you'll get the Herb Garden, Mine, Fishing Shack and Pet Menagerie as unlockable quest buildings, so what you do with them is entirely up to you. If you want all of the Buildings, EVERYTHING needs to be at Level 2 before you can upgrade to L3.

So, without further ado: lets get to it!

Default Professions Build, NO RUSH STOP HONKING (2 Crafting Professions)

Small Plots:
Your first Crafting Profession's Small Plot Building
Your second Crafting Profession Small Plot Building

Medium Plots:
Trading Post

Large Plots:
Mage Tower OR Stables.

This Build will allow you access to all recipes relevant to your Professions, and give you a means to maximise the yield from both using the Storehouse. Not having a Lumber Mill means your progress will be slower, but this is offset by using both Barn AND Trading Post to save you cash by making your Professions self-sufficient, and giving you a means of selling off excess supplies using the Trading Post. Plus, you can exchange items at your Trading Post for Garrison Resources \o/ Remember, your Garrison will provide a selection of raw materials from the Herb Garden and Mine, which means technically you'd not need any other raw materials from external sources [*]

The Mage Tower provides you a movement bonus around Draenor, though you could easily take the Stables instead for the mount movement bonus. Keeping the Barracks means you don't have to worry about bulldozing it and starting a second Building from scratch.

Default Professions Build, MUCH RUSH ALL THE GLODS (1 Crafting, I Gathering Profession)

Small Plots:
Your Crafting Profession's Small Plot Building
Enchanter's Study

Medium Plots:
Trading Post
Lumber Mill

Large Plots:
Mage Tower

This one is all about maximising your time AND resources: taking the Study allows you to disenchant everything you don't need when questing for additional cash and use the Trading Post to sell those via the AH without ever leaving your Garrison. [If your main profession is already Enchanting, feel free to pick another one!] The Lumber Mill's output means you don't have to worry about questing to supplement your Resources for construction, just cutting down trees (and yes, you can easily bulldoze it once you hit L3 and replace it with the Barn: with an AH on site you can buy Savage Blood because I guarantee other people will be selling :D) However, this build does demand you trash the Barracks, but with the backup of the Lumber Mill this hopefully should not be too much of an issue.

The Mage Tower means you'll be able to get to gathering spots faster and the Stables means the 20% mount speed bonus gives you that extra oomph you'll need to pick those flowers or hit those nodes. Also, if I believe what I read, you won't even have to dismount to do so :P

PvP/Survivalist Player Build, KIEL ALL THE THINGS (2 Crafting Professions)

Small Plots:
The Tannery
Alchemy Lab
Salvage Yard

Medium Plots:
Gladiator's Sanctum
Lumber Mill

Large Plots:
Armoury OR Stables

This one is all about maximising your survival potential: the Sanctum is the defacto PvP choice for players with dedicated questlines and rewards: the Tannery will give you the ability to build Tents at L2 which allow you to set up camp wherever you want around the World. Alchemy's bonus is a free stack of potions (and that's always useful when being biffed.) The large plots capitalise on the fact you'll be killing lots of mobs so making up transmog sets will be considerably easier, though you could just as easily swap the Armoury for the Stables for the mount speed bonus.

Needless to say, I confidently predict that being mown down by a fleet of Siege Engines in Ashran will NEVER GET OLD. Take the Workshop as your second Large Plot :D

Missions/Followers Build, I'M PLAYING RTS DAMMIT (1 Crafting, 1 Gathering Profession)

Small Plots:
Your Crafting Profession's Small Plot Building
Salvage Yard

Medium Plots:
Lumber Mill

Large Plots:

This Build is for those of you who don't give a flying gnome about Professions or Reputation and just want to play the Followers and Missions part of the new Expansion. It maximises the number of Followers you can have from 20 to 25, ensures you're gearing well using the Salvage Yard, and it allows you to pick or choose new followers using the Inn. Picking the Armoury will give you a chance for bonus upgrades for yourself to boot.

Achievements Build, JUST HERE FOR THE POINTS (1 Crafting, 1 Gathering Profession)

Small Plots:
Your Crafting Profession's Small Plot Building
Salvage Yard

Medium Plots:
Trading Post

Large Plots:

The problem with being an Achievement Chaser and playing this game means that you simply won't be able to grab all the points you want on one character without knocking down buildings. Therefore, this build represents the best of most worlds. The Inn and Trading Post offer the biggest single wodge of achievements from Buildings (the Lumber Mill ones involve large multiples of trees and might be better left until the latter end of the Expansion, unless you want to show off your Lumber Mill titles early ^^) The Stables means you can add to your Mount totals (250 HERE WE COME) and the Armoury gives you Transmog options so you can look good riding around Draenor as you achieve.


In our next post we'll talk about the Followers and Missions 'mini-game' and how this ties into your Garrison experience on Draenor.

[*] There's another blog post, in reference to Theorycrafting, which might suggest that your Garrison yields won't be enough. Watch this space.

Garrisons 101 ::
Do You Know Where You're Going To?

Time for Faffing IS OVER.

As I've been compiling the data for my Garrisons Podcast tomorrow, it has become increasingly apparent that 15 minutes will not be enough time to actually explain what we now know this new feature can provide you in terms of options. As a result, I'll be spending the rest of this week supplementing that broadcast with some Blog Posts... because if I think it needs some extra background, then it probably isn't clear to other people either.

Let's start with the BIG QUESTIONS.

The two most-asked questions I'm having thrown at me is where we will start.

What Does a Garrison Actually Do?

In simple terms, a Garrison is a 'wrapper' around your questing experience. It encompasses the journey from 90-100, and the End Game 'casual' gameplay (and yes, I use the c-word there deliberately.) It provides quests, player bonuses, achievements, a self contained mini game and rewards for using it, and (like it or not) is pretty much essential if you wish to become a Mistress of Professions. However, if you have no interest in these things, you can happily ignore it. YES, YOU CAN.

I'm Competitively Raiding, do I need a Garrison at Launch?

Honestly? Do the opening 15 minutes of questing, establish your Garrisons and you can forget the whole thing until you get to 98. The time it will take for you to gear using Garrison mechanics means you'd be far better off  pursuing more immediate and predictable forms of reward. I'd suggest picking an alt to run the experience 'complete' when you're at a quiet point. Blizzard have reiterated at length that content is skippable and can be picked up by a number of means (for instance, once you hit L100 all L2 Blueprints become purchasable by default, which allows players access to all the secondary professions with the minimal amount of work.)

All Small Buildings are profession-based, and can be accessed at L1, so you don't need to worry about a L3 structure to get your hands on crafted gear.

The Legendary Questline, available at L98, only requires to you own a L1 structure to access.

If you build it, they will come.

Now we've dispensed with the biggies, let's get to the really interesting stuff. It is fully intended that players experience their Garrison as a learning journey, making their choices for which buildings they will place in their structures according to their own particular interests. HOWEVER, it is fair to say that with the amount of detail data miners have helpfully provided, doing this without a measure of comprehension has the potential for you to end up with a bunch of buildings that are of no actual use for the way you play your game. There is, as yet, no right way in which to build a Garrison, and I suspect Blizzard hope this remains the case for some time. However, based on the information we now posses, there are some distinct advantages to grouping specific combinations of buildings together.

The question, as a player coming into the expansion, is simple.

What do you want?

10 points for getting the reference.

Garrisons combine all of what can be reasonably defined as the 'casual' aspects of gameplay into one place: that means all of your professions, quest chains, expansion narrative and the phenomena that is Pet Battling. It also provides its own, self contained mini game, the Garrison Invasion, which is part of the new Followers and Missions 'experience'. As a supplement to this, your Buildings give players access to a pretty vast array of different bonuses and 'cool' extras, such as Transmog Items and bonus faction reputation. Therefore, making the choice as to which buildings you place becomes largely dependant on what you'd like to achieve from the experience, hence the nice man above asking you the question.

To make this choice easier, let us first list some major features you can access from buildings:

  • Access to the highest tier professions recipes (if you already have the relevant primary profession on your character), professions bonuses and a means to place an NPC to increase your productivity (if you have one with a matching professions specialisation)
  • On Site Bank Storage, Void Storage and Transmogrification Vendors.
  • Ways to augment your Garrisons Followers with increased armour and weaponry via salvage, and the chance to find player items once your Followers are at the highest level.

  • Extra daily dungeon quests, access to random followers and more lucrative Follower Missions.
  • Access to leather and fur used for professions, meat for most powerful cooking recipes and special sellable items used for most powerful crafting recipes.
  • A new passive skill, Logging, which increases the rate Garrison Resources are generated (which also has titles attached)
  • Access to benefits to character longevity and regeneration, and access to  PvP themed questlines and special events.
  • Allows players to trade surplus reagents for a profit, AH access and a 20% rep gain plus access to a Draenor-specific faction.

  • Bonuses for Follower armour/weaponry, access to an in-game Transmog vendor, plus a *free* weekly bonus loot roll token.
  • Bonuses for Follower XP, NPC bodyguards for use in Draenor, plus increasing your follower limit.
  • Gives access to specific portal waypoints in Draenor up to a maximum of three.
  • Allows you to capture mounts, remain mounted when interacting with objects in Draenor, and increases riding speed in the zone by 20%.
  • Gives players mechanical help, including mount augmentations, a personal jet pack and a siege tank.

At the Garrisons maximum level you will have space for 3 small, 2 medium and 2 large Building Plots. It is time to decide what matters most to you when you 'play' this part of the game, and plan accordingly.

Be ready for anything!

We know there are players who'd like to be presented with options without the need to consider the possibilities at great length. As we're happy to do that work for you, there'll be a second post along shortly which presents you with 5 Garrison Combinations For Fun and Profit, which should allow you a mixture of different options to begin your adventure. However, there will already be those of you who are going to build every combination possible just because they can, and we're utterly cool with that. I warn you now, that might take you a while, if my maths is correct.

Needless to say I'll be doing a fair bit of that myself. :D

Monday, September 29, 2014

Look Up

The Way Forward.

I need to draw a line.

I received an e-mail from a long-term reader of the Blog recently who had never contacted me before. As I do not have their permission to reproduce the text I'll need to paraphrase: my reader was confused by the content of various posts over the last couple of weeks, and wanted the situation spelled out for her, because her only contact with me is this virtual space and not Twitter. She didn't ask for names, her only concern was that she was missing out on an important part of the discussion. I realise that I do tend to spread my 'conversations' across various forms of Social Media, and I also realise there are a few things that actually need to be said, by me, out loud for everyone to hear.

This is not the same Community as it was when I first began Blogging.

A great deal has changed in the almost six years of my existence here, not least in myself. I have learnt how much of gaming is about compromise, and how much of it is single-minded determination. I understand the 'politics' of the landscape so much better than I used to, and how the word 'influencer' has become something I'm not sure that I'm entirely happy being considered as. Most importantly, it has thrown into stark reality in the last couple of months how little I know about a great many people who call ME a friend, for whatever reason. The people I consider good friends can still only be counted on the fingers of one hand (with digits to spare) and that is because my benchmark for this does not just mean having social media in common. It means actually knowing the PERSON and not the online version thereof. I may be very much myself when I appear on Podcasts or write here, but I am becoming very aware of how that makes me very much the exception and not the norm.

Looking Back.

I spoke at length on the Lets Wow Podcast last night about how I feel that change is in the hands of the individual and not the collective. I feel quite strongly that to effect lasting change anywhere the people who make up Communities have to want to make things happen, and I sense in many parts of the Warcraft Community this is simply not the case. Many people are clearly happy with what they have and are resisting the shift of landscapes for any number of reasons: a lot of the time I sense there are some very basic resentments at play to boot. 'After a decade, Vanilla players deserve more respect than they get' is one I'm hearing a lot of, especially if you've paid a sub unerringly since that time. I'm one of those people, as it happens, but I understand that respect is earned and not bought by a monthly fee. If you want other players or the Community to respect what you are that does NOT come by bad-mouthing other people who disagree with your viewpoint. Bad things result from failing to grasp there are other outlooks in the World that matter as much as your own. If your idea of clever is a snarky comment on Social Media where you feel comfortable only the right people are watching, yet you crave follower numbers enough to end up following joke parody accounts? I don't think you're here for the Community you're simply doing this for yourself. I think my Blog Reader is absolutely right to steer well clear of Twitter if that is now how it is now used by 'influencers.'

So, I draw my line here. For my Blog Readers and Podcast Listeners I will continue to be passionate about the game, and I'll be honest too: you can be happy about a game and also not be playing all of it, and I think there's a post this week that's going to happen on the back of my appearance on Contains Moderate Peril that needs to talk about how the narrative of Warcraft needs quite desperately to be fixed with Warlords and beyond. Compelling gameplay is actually an issue we've covered in depth in the past, and it has been sorely lacking from a large swathe of Pandaria. However, it is to all forms of Social Media that I turn and say the following: people are on notice. I watch a lot of different 'cliques' in action on Twitter and in Facebook and I think the time has come for me at least to begin to be selective as to who and what I decide to interact with. I've already made choices based on information I've been given or incidents that have involve me personally, and I've removed people from the frame. No, this doesn't make things better, but sometimes you learn the merits of picking your moments. I'd like to give people the benefit of the doubt, that they may come to the table and admit their own shortcomings first. Until they do, I choose to walk away.

Waiting for the Change that IS COMING.

There are those who, I know, will question my commitment to the cause of revolution if I do not stand up and name names, and it has been mentioned in various quarters that this can be construed therefore as much a means of promotion as anything else. I am very much aware of this, and to those people I will say the following: this is only a game. There are some very fine lines being trodden here, and I am putting my faith in actual facts being the real arbiter of many people's destinies. Suffice it to say If I personally feel anyone is deliberately antagonising other people for entertainment purposes, I don't care how influential they may be inside this Community, I will walk away and make my choice based not on what I'm told, but what I believe is the truth. There is a shocking lack of respect being shown here by many, many people, both male and female. This really does have to stop.

So, for my Blog only readers, nothing really changes. You can still expect the same variable mix of occasional insight and mostly sub-standard gubbins. For those of you who know this is just a game and act as decent human beings, nothing changes either. However, if this is the place where you make a living, or you use the game as a means to promote your own lifestyle, time to take a step back and consider your positions. I've just done it, it is time for you to do so too. If you want this place to be a Community, you need to act as if you not only belong, but the opinions of EVERYONE who is a part of it matter to you, even if you don't ascribe to them. Be a force for good, not the smartass voice at the back.

Be the Change.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Little Fluffy Clouds

What were the skies like when you were young?

I spend quite a lot of time of late in the air: whether it is on a scheduled flight to a spot where I'll fail to pick up a mount from an instance boss, or taking myself from A to B to farm or grind something. This means I look at the sky in game at length, and I felt the need yesterday to share some of my favourite pieces of it. As players are going to experience a more authentic version of night again once Warlords hits, it also seems a good idea to capture some of these moments before they change forever.

The brooding skies of the Twilight Highlands.

The sky in game is a dramatic and beautiful mood-setter: it gives an extra dimension to the landscape around you. The sky in the Highlands, for instance, if you stare directly up at it sees the clouds all funnelling up to a point, an apocalyptic wormhole of weather. It is worth taking a moment to stop and look at the wonder of the upper atmosphere across certain zones, because it often provides a dramatic reminder of exactly where you are.


I love flying to Tempest Keep, even if my K. Sunstrider may flatly refuse to hand over his fiery Phoenix mount to me. The patterns of arcane energy are a perfect complement to the planets around you, because pink/purple are pretty much the de facto Blood Elf decoration colours across the game. It is an impressive backdrop for a zone destroyed by greed and desperation. It also looks very much like a scene out of a 1950's Technicolour Sci Fi movie. I suspect that's very much deliberate.


I've also spent quite a lot of time in Northrend with Skadi the Useless (I KNOW) whose Blue Proto Drake is as elusive as any mount I've chased in the past. I used to take the scheduled flight from Dalaran, and occasionally after biffing Mandokir I'll fly from Stranglethorn to Menethil. However, neither offer the brilliance in backdrops that getting there myself provides: there are some fabulous reminders of what the planet itself can do in the North, the wonder that is Aurora Borealis.


The trip across Grizzly Hills last night was particularly spectacular, which is what prompted this blog post to begin with, because however frustrating I may find the game on days when everything I do ends up with nothing to show from it, there is still the fact that the game is a magnificent backdrop to fail in. Whatever it is that irks you: drops, the last piece of armour, even other players... this game is beautiful. It is, also, just a game. Don't worry, I can still wax lyrical and grasp that.

Its in the trees, IT'S COMING...

I like to remind myself of how much work goes into a game, how many hours of effort is placed into a world that isn't real, but needs to feel as if it is as living and breathing an entity as possible. Immersion does matter, how things look and make you believe that actually, this could be a place that exists and that you want to be a part of what is being presented. These vistas are deliberately static, but my favourite of all of these pictures is one that very much isn't. When I took this final shot of the view above Zul'Gurub, the Zeppelin appeared in the distance and I found myself wanting to take the shot with it included. However beautiful these backdrops are, there should be the reminder that this world DOES have a massive population and they are as much a part of the beauty of the land as the sky or the trees. I hope those riding on that flight had a pleasant trip to their destination

Safe Journey.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

BETA: Change your Mind


This morning, I attempted to convert 200 Restored Artifacts into the Scepter of Azj'Aqir. At the end, I can now register 296 Tol'vir Solves with not a sniff of the item I desire the most. This is occasionally what happens when designers leave items to a random chance: however hard you try, sometimes the numbers just won't work in your favour. It seems therefore a bit strange that Blizzard have, in the upcoming Expansion, decided to assign this random quality to all Tier Gear items. When you use your Tier Tokens (which will work in the same way Timeless drops do now, click on them and you 'create' your item) you'll not only have the chance at a superior quality item, but the possibility of an extra socket or a different tertiary stat:

For some people, this change will be eerily reminiscent of another Blizzard game:

Diablo's gear model relies greatly on the 'random' nature of stats, which I suspect is going to be extremely frustrating for those players who like to theorycraft their Best in Slot options for working in Azeroth. When asked why this change has been instigated, Blizzard's response was fairly emphatic:

Fun is a relative term... ^^

However, this response assumes you'll get the loot to drop to begin with: that in itself (as we have demonstrated above) isn't a cast iron certainty. I can completely understand why certain players might find this change quite hard to cope with: knowing exactly what you need makes the process of working towards it simpler and easier to predict. Having to deal with more than one level of 'random' chance may not be 'fun' for many, especially for those who will continue to ascribe to specific items of gear being the 'best' when progressing though the game. If I go by personal experience, it has taken me AN ENTIRE YEAR to pick up a 4 Tier Bonus at my level of game immersion. I gotta hope that the chances for gear to drop might be a bit more bountiful next time around, and I won't be crippled by inappropriate stats for the particular DPS talents I decide to choose.

There's a lot of this 'gear upgrade chance' in Warlords already: I've seen at first hand the ability for Quest rewards to boost their quality as I've travelled though the Beta. Mission Rewards from Garrisons also have this 'mechanic' built into their makeup. This seems to be the way forward: gear that is useful for players, but that cannot be accurately predicted. Ironically there are already profession items embedded into the game which will allow the adaptation of certain armour stats from crafted gear: these could become real money makers in the months following the release of the expansion. One wonders if there might be a means to adapt tier gear in the same way at some point in the future.

One also wonders if this will be an experiment in relying on random that will last the entire Expansion or not. Much will depend on what happens when this change is opened to the playerbase, and how the RNG decides to dish out the spoils. This will be one part of proceedings I will be watching with more than a passing interest.

I'll also bet you 10g I still won't have solved my Tol'vir Archaeology Rare by then either ^^

Friday, September 26, 2014

To Build a Home :: The Masterplan

Take the time to make some sense...

I'm currently working on a massive redo of the Podcast Garrisons Guide which I plan to have ready to insert into your ears on Wednesday. In anticipation of this, Blizzard very kindly yesterday released the second part of their Garrisons Preview. What I'd like to say before we even look at the details is that Blizzard take the unprecedented step in this article of linking to external interviews on the concept from various sources. I don't think I can ever remember this happening when Blizzard have previewed anything, and it shows the amount of information currently floating around on Garrisons without the feature even being live. That, in itself, is something of a departure. Anyway, I digress: yesterday's feature was all about explaining to players what they can expect from Buildings in their Garrison.

Yesterday's official Blog Post talks players through the process of establishing your opening Garrison 'layout': Your Town Hall is given as standard, and to this you add two Buildings: the Barracks is your training wheels quest, which explains what needs to happen each time you want to build. This then establishes the following conventions:

ALL Garrison Buildings require a Blueprint and a set amount of Garrison Resources to create.

The official blog explains when players can expect to be able to access their Blueprints:

  • Level 1 blueprints become available when a Garrison reaches Tier 2.
  • Level 2 blueprints become available at different times depending on size:
    Small plots: Reach level 96 or complete the Talador zone.

    Medium plots: Reach level 98 or complete the Spires of Arak zone.

    Large plots: Reach level 100 or complete the Nagrand zone
  • Level 3 blueprints are achievement-locked and, as a result are account-wide. Once you unlock one on a character, it’s available to all characters on your account.

Where you pick up your Blueprints will depend on the Level of your Garrison.

Construction in Progress!

Level One: Town Hall, Barracks, plus ONE Small Plot.

You are given the Barracks to build as an exercise in how the system works. You'll also (if you have a Primary Profession on your Toon) have the opportunity to pick up a Quest to allow you access to a Building that matches one of the Professions you posses: for instance, as a Leatherworker, I will after completing the first set of quests in Shadowmoon be presented with a reward chest, inside which there's a questline that leads me to the reward of the Level 1 Tannery Blueprints.
The full list buildings that can be placed on Small Plots includes the Engineering Works, Alchemy Lab, Enchanter’s Study, Gem Boutique, Salvage Yard, Scribe’s Quarters, Storehouse, Tailoring Emporium, Forge and Tannery.

Level Two: As Level One PLUS one Small Plot, one Medium Plot and the emergence of four 'standard' unlockable areas: the Lunarfall Excavation (Alliance) or Frostwolf Mine (Horde), the Fishing Shack, Herb Garden and the Pet Menagerie.
The unlockables will require you to complete quests in order to fully utilise them, which appear at various points in your levelling journey, namely:
Mines unlocks at L92
Fishing Shack unlocks at L94
Herb Garden unlocks at L96
Pet Menagerie unlocks at L98.
The full list of Medium Plots includes the Alliance’s Lunarfall Inn and the Horde’s Frostwall Tavern, the Barn, the Lumber Mill, the Gladiator’s Sanctum, and the Trading Post.

Level Three: As Level Two with the addition of one Small, one Medium and one Large Plot.

These blueprints are deliberately more difficult to obtain, and are linked to completing a number of achievements across Draenor: For instance, to obtain the Level Three Fishing Shack, you will be required to fish up one of a number of different types of fish across the continent. 
The full list of Large Plots includes the Alliance’s Mage Tower or the Horde's Spirit Lodge, the Barracks, the Alliance's Dwarven Bunker or Horde's War Mill, the Stables and the Alliance's Gnomish Gearworks or Horde's Goblin Workshop.

The Official Blog gives players a glimpse of some of the benefits of placing particular plots: for instance, Savage Blood can be obtained from establishing a Barn, which is a required component for many Epic crafting recipes, and would appear to be pretty much a prerequisite for all crafting professions with the exception of Jewelcrafting. Although none of this is new information for those who have been following the progress of this feature since Alpha, this should give players more of an opportunity to decide which buildings they will want to pursue as they level through Draenor. I've spoken already about how I intend to run two 'teams' through (one Horde and one Alliance) with this allowing a full range of buildings and for each Faction to have access to every major Plot choice in some from from the Garrison Outpost 'option'.

Needless to say you can expect all this to be covered and more in the 'To Build a Garrison' Podcast Special next week. I'll see you there :D

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Leaving it Up To You

How to Offend People in less than Thirty Seconds...

Yesterday's Podcast appears to have sounded a chord in more people than I'd expected. I also acknowledge the comments from several individuals that until I'm prepared to stand up and name the people who inspire my ire, there's not likely to be any real change, and so last night I decided I'd start this process in-game. I'd taken the newly-minted Hunter through Part Two of LFR in the company of a tank who seemed to think abusing his compatriots and being 'laddish' despite being asked by several people to stop was acceptable behaviour because he was up the front and 'in charge.' So, I named and shamed him on social media and urged people to report those people in game that deliberately cause a problem. The issue however with any Social Crusade is getting support behind your cause. It is very clear there are those who think that there is no point to this stance to begin with.


The rules that we are given in childhood are all well and good, but applying them blanket-like to any situation isn't really an answer. 'Just ignore it' works when you're being hassled on the playground, but there comes a point in large-scale situations where if enough people simply pretend there isn't a problem it will become a permanent part of the landscape. If this is the attitude of enough players, that it's okay, someone else will deal with it then we end up in exactly the situation we have now. I realise I've also been guilty of this over the years, that it is simpler to chalk it down to 'online trolls' and move on. Except without a direction, people get cocky, and rude, and start threatening other people's personal enjoyment, and we end up in the situation we have now. However, what this doesn't solve is the problem of how you continue to police gaming flashpoints.  I'm surprised that companies haven't yet caught onto adapting the concept of the 'Mystery Shopper' in an attempt to identify persistent offenders.

Management techniques that might well work.

What I think online games might need are people 'undercover' (Mystery Gamers!) who play as a normal part of the process and then report back to companies about what they really see going on. The problem with this, of course, is manyfold: there are those who would consider behaviour like this akin to 'entrapment', that it doesn't promote honesty and such players would have to be clearly marked as 'observers'. There is then the issue of how you pick people like this and that confidentiality would end up playing a significant factor in proceedings. Finally, how would the majority of gaming companies be able to find the money in their budgets to begin with to employ such 'players' to do something that could, over time, completely destroy all enjoyment of gaming for them generally? I suspect it could get a bit depressing after a while, after all...

It is entirely possible of course that this is actually taking place as I type, though I suspect that Blizzard at least will put more interest in developing an automated system to do the same. Then we return to our Tweet above and that how it 'appears' that nothing gets done to persistent offenders... except I know this isn't true. There is a period of due process, of course, but I can personally attest that people I have repeatedly reported for language, bad behaviour and cheating the system have been banned. What is a bigger issue, especially in the world of instant communication and rapid change, is that this doesn't happen nearly fast enough, and that becomes a more pressing issue in the long term.

All you can do.

The key, in the end, is self-enlightenment. If you really want change you shouldn't be waiting around for it to hit you: go attack the problems yourself. For most people, in a place they go for relaxation, it is simply easier just to walk way. However for those of us who remain, the problems don't vanish, so if becomes a simple choice: do something about it or simply accept the status quo. If you choose the latter, this then I'm afraid means you have no grounds to complain when things remain as they are, or that if you are attacked it immediately becomes Blizzard's problem to solve. As with everything in life, it's as much about what you put in than what you take out.

If you want things to be different, start with yourself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Alternative Chat Episode 34 :: Common Peon

Oh Jarvis, you should have pre-ordered BEFORE November... ^^

It wasn't a fluke! I made it two weeks in a row and BOY is this going to raise some eyebrows. Yeah, well that's what talking is all about. My opinions, and nobody else's.

ADVISORY: This Podcast contains Adult Language and some mature themes. Please listen responsibly.

In this top quality episode you'll find the following:

  • Stop attacking each other, this is OUR Community.
  • Standing up and being a better person.
  • There is a Soapbox. I may stay on it for a while.
  • It is up to us to make parts of the Game better, not Blizzard.
  • #TeamHunter is now a THING.
  • Getting better starts with you. This is me making the first step.

PS: Garrison Podcast Special OFFICIALLY SCHEDULED for October 1st.

Contacting the Show:


alternativegodmother (at) gmail (dot) com

Social Media Gubbins:

@AlternativeChat on Twitter on Facebook

Other Notes:

The article that inspired part one of the Podcast: How WoW Ruined MMO Gaming

Oh, and that other version of Common People? Take it away, Will :D



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Poison Arrow

Kicking arse and taking names. BECAUSE HUNTERS.

As an Expansion is coming, it is time to start putting some gold where my gob is.

I've been considering an updated 'Team Hunter' post for a while, mostly because the WHU has returned and it seems an appropriate moment to hitch my wagon back onto the train. However, I feel that to be brutally honest there ought to be some clarification here, because I'm probably old enough [*] to be most of these new people's mother. This is not a post about being Pro or L33t or any of those probably utterly inappropriate words for being competent at a class I've been playing for almost a decade. This is a post about being comfortable finally playing one class, about continually pushing the boundaries of what is good and grasping what I need to get out of the habit of doing.

Mostly, this is a post where I restate for the record that even though I enjoy playing other classes as a diversion, it is to Hunters I will always return. In numbers :P

Waiting for Huolon.

I'm also taking a bit of a punt here by naming my entire team 'in public', which some might think would mean that I'll be open to a measure of unwanted attention. In nearly six years of writing, nobody has EVER recognised me online, which says to me that I've done a pretty good job of keeping things quiet. Well, not any more. This is my five man team (which may still end up as six or seven as there are two Hunters left on the Active Roster that aren't actually mentioned here) who I fully intend to be playing in one form or another from the start of the Expansion. Because people will now ask, yes I have other toons. I enjoy my Mage, 2 Rogues (both factions), two Druids (soon to be both factions), Shaman and Warlock (go look at the blog header!) However, it is the Hunters I keep coming back to. I know this is because I am, deep down, most comfortable with how the class works. I have Pherian as main and from her I learn the majority of stuff. This then filters down across the rest of the family. Consider, who has just hit 90, has the honour of being the first ever Hunter I rolled, and I'm hoping that when the name change thing happens I'll be able to snag the first name she ever had on Al'Akir.

I may not be a Mythic Raider in training, but I get by.

Things to Make and Do.

That's the key here. I'm not a cutting edge Raider. I'm not pushing for World Firsts or a top PvP place. I feel I represent a large, often unappreciated or ignored section of the Community, the smart casual. I have a brain and can work out that doing things in certain ways doesn't only mean I stay alive for longer, I do more damage. I understand that simple macros make the business of pressing buttons less stressful. I'm all over the business of a decent rotation and how to build and dump focus but that doesn't matter nearly as much on some days as the right mount to match my pets (more on that when we get past 6.0.3) I am not the Hunter on the cover of Steady Shot Magazine but the one who reads and makes notes but understands the limits of her own ability and will push herself wherever possible. For instance, I only just got the hang of soloing Zandalari Warbringers without death. This has seen an entire avenue of enjoyment open up for me across a land I must admit I'd gotten pretty fed up with of late.

A good morning's work (TM)

The hunters for me represent a continual Work in Progress. It is a process of playing and refining, faffing and fiddling with layouts and builds to find the best approach to playing consistently well. It is also a lesson in co-ordinating not just attacks but outfits and mounts, looks and pets. These things don't matter to many people but they mean a great deal to me as I have discovered over the years: I like my characters to be well turned out, and not to be dictated by the deliberate looks of progression. This isn't about showing people that I crave the latest gear, this is all about looking the way I want, and on MY terms. I've had some fights about this in the past as well, but the fact remains: I'm not here to show off what I've achieved in game. I'm here to look the part. I'm here to be the best Hunter I can.

Even the Hunter Bankalt joins in :D

If you wonder why there's a Hunter bias around these parts, it is the first character I played in Diablo (Amazon) and the love kinda stuck. I enjoy still being at the back. They're not too taxing on difficult days. Mostly, they're great fun to use as a single player character option.


[*] I saw the Final Boss thing. Making me feel my age ftw :P

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ride a White Horse ::
The Kindness of Strangers

A Bonus Day

I will freely admit that this weekend has not been one in which I have focussed my efforts on collecting. In fact, it has been anything but a mount chase, as these things are not necessarily time dependant. Focus naturally shifted to more pressing matters, and I haven't seen the inside of Mandokir's Arena since Friday. However, last night I was given a chance at a Meta Mount, and that doesn't happen around these parts very often.


I'd pretty much written off doing Dragon Soul with the Guild last night because of my RL commitments, but an Officer kindly asked if I'd like to step in and do Deck Defender as he knew it was the only achievement I was missing for the Meta. Fortunately I was able to duck in, achieve and duck out too for kids bedtime, but was able to return in order to help the team finish the Instance, so I didn't feel that bad about cutting and running after I collected the mount.

First of this style mount.

This is pretty much a First for me: I'm pretty certain this is the fastest its ever taken for me to pick up a Meta from raid content. I also really like this style of Dragon, and I am tempted to run this Instance solo once the pre-Patch hits to see if I can get a hit at the other mounts that drop. Needless to say, I'd not expected an update this week, so having #219 here is most definitely a bonus.

I will say however, having not made the effort to do my normal Circuit of Disappointment, I did make two swings at the World Bosses this weekend (clearly to no avail but you do need to be killing them for a chance) and this reminds me that I should organise tokens for more alts this week so I can keep stacking up the chances at a drop. I'm also very glad I don't have to run Brewfest for a mount, as I hear drop rates continue to be the random bane of various people's existence. Such it is when you do this thing for a hobby.

Needless to say, am very happy that the next time we talk in this feature, I'll be wheeling in Mount #220 :D