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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lucky Star

As a rule, I don't ask much of Warcraft's Devs. After all, they are a busy bunch, and their time is (I am sure) at a premium. However, I would like to see a couple of new Achievements added to the game as a matter of what I think is some importance, because of the significance the RNG has instilled in the Garrison Mission component of gameplay. I also know I'm not alone in this desire:


My life is at the beck and call of the RNG. My poor Followers work hard, slaving away out in the fields of Draenor, and their success or failure is all down to the numbers. It appears some day that all that practice is for naught, or their jammy ways will reward the occasionally famous (and unbelievable) victory. I feel this should be celebrated in game, and not just with me running around my Conservatory with a shirt over my head screaming 'GET IN 35% MISSION SUCCEEDS!'

I don't ask much of the Devs. I think it might be time to change this :D

Podcast Advisory Post

You know it is serious when I dispense with a song title for a post.


I've been asked by various people the situation with the 10 Years :: 10 Questions podcasts I started work on in the Summer, and it seems the right moment to bring everyone up to date. As I am a mother of two and not a professional broadcaster I have to fit things in as and when I can, and the loss of some vital equipment at the end of October put my plans back quite some way. However, things are now working reasonably normally again, and I hope to move into full production of the Podcasts starting in December. My plan is, as things to stand, to have the series begin before the official 10th Anniversary Celebrations end in early January 2015, thus using my Christmas break to full effect.

As I love to say at moments like this, watch this space for further details.

Things to make and do...

At the same time I'm doing this, I have two other Podcasts to look after: Azeroth in 5 is now back and live for the first time in several weeks, thanks to the repair and re-installation of my updated and far more powerful PC. It is becoming too difficult for me to prep this and the Personal Podcast on the same day, so I will be shifting the Personal to a Friday release date from this week. Hopefully this should mean that this too will return to a weekly schedule, and I'd like to personally thank everyone who sent me mail last week and said encouraging gubbins through what has been quite a stressful period.

Needless to say, if you'll excuse me I have a personal script to continue writing. Stay tuned later, there'll also be more Garrison Updates: think it is high time we had another Follower of the Day... :D

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Some Kind of Bliss

I have a BAD feeling about this.

It has taken eleven days for me to complete a Warlords Heroic.

I've done a bit of surreptitious observation of various people during the leveling process, and know that if I'd managed to quest everywhere and the fates had been with me, getting to the iLevel 610 I required to enter the next tier of 5 mans would have been considerably easier than it was. In the end I bought both of the 500g trinkets available via rep from the Exarchs and the Skettis and it was enough to tip the balance (although neither are really any use for my Spec.) Once I was in, of course, it became abundantly apparent that Blizzard took the criticisms of relative difficulty from Pandaria to heart. I'd not seen the Shadowmoon Burial Grounds on Normal either. Needless to say, it was some of the most fun I've had in a Dungeon for quite some time.


Blizzard were deliberately encouraged to raise the bar for Heroic Content, and although there will be those who maintain the only *real* challenge in 5 mans will be Challenge Modes with normalised gear, there's a lot to be said here for what the Devs have achieved. Of the four bosses I encountered, all had separate and challenging mechanics: you were forced to stand in things that were bad at different times, or to have players forced to take individual responsibility for actions. Bosses One and Three were particularly entertaining in this regard, and dispatching Ner'zhul was really rather Epic. Whether I feel that way when I've been killing this guy for six months remains to be seen, but the fight was a real stretch for the gear I currently wield. The first thing it made me do when I left was find a way to optimize what I have, which is an indicator in my own mind of where I believe I need to be for the weeks that follow.

So why do I already hear people complaining about what Blizzard have presented here?

Preparation is everything. Honest.

This is the paragraph where I need to remind myself that regardless of what Blizzard do, some people just will never be happy. I did Silver Damage Proving Grounds on Pher before I did the Heroic, to prove to myself that I'm capable of using mechanics to do dps and cope with crowd control, and it was considerably easier than I remember Silver being in Pandaria. I don't know if this means I've changed or if the Challenge itself has been subtly altered, but I was able to stay alive in the Heroic a lot longer than I thought I would. Of course, I've not spec changed yet, and reading that Lone Wolf is currently the ability I should be wielding at 100 makes me a pretty Sad Panda, because being without a pet just seems wrong. However, I do intend to start taking a stack of Tomes with me into Heroics and switching Talents just to see. For soloing however, I need the backup a pet provides.

Maybe the future is Talent Swapping, and more people should grasp this as part of their evolutionary process.

You're all too obsessed with this currently anyway. Admit it.

The thing about new is just that: people get nervous and unsure of themselves. They're not confident in their abilities, when by far the best thing to do is say 'screw it' and just give it a go. If you don't have a Guild however this does mean a leap of faith that I can imagine many might be hard pressed to take, but unless you try you will never know. I'd like to report that Heroics are indeed Hard Again and if that you're complaining before you've tried them, I'll politely ask you to cease and desist. If you're not guilded, I'd also urge you to consider finding one as a way to try and make the entire process a great deal easier, and also more fun, because gaming ultimately is with Friends. For everyone unable to do this, I would strap on a strong layer of determination, shut off your mind to the stupidity that ultimately accompanies anything with the word 'random' in the title, and give them a go regardless.

It's only a Game, after all. What's the worst that can happen?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Big Love

This is important. @unlimitedBLACK said so.

I have discovered today, by my own investigations and through chatting to others, that your Garrison Cache has an upper limit of 500 Garrison Resources. 

This means that if you've taken alts to Draenor simply to grind out Professions, or left them in an attempt to collect a stash of Resources in order to make Garrison leveling easier, you will need to ensure you log them regularly to make the most of the passive accrue rate.

Yes, this is important enough to make a separate Blog Post just for this fact. LOG YOUR ALTS NOW.


Not to plan AT ALL.

I think the overriding lesson I've learnt over the last ten days, especially when it is related to the subject of Garrisons, is that planning is no substitute for actual playing. I said it in last week's Podcast, and I suspect this week's broadcast will have more than a passing nod to the efforts I'm making, but at least some of the organisation before the Expansion has been tossed aside.

This is how Pherian's Structure finally looks at L3:

Small Plots:
Enchanter's Study
Salvage Yard

Medium Plots:
Trading Post
Lunarfall Inn

Large Plots:
Dwarven Bunker

This bears a lot of similarity to the original plan I conceived back in the early days of October, as it happens, with a couple of key deviations. The Salvage Yard was last (and should have been a lot earlier) but the Building which has received far and away the most use is my Enchanters Study, which has proven an absolute godsend when leveling. THOSE DE'S PEOPLE! With the price Draenic Dust is going for right now I could have also been coining it in but I have instead started making crystals for enchants. I knocked down my Barracks as soon as I could and built the Bunker, because the rate of Dark Iron Scraps is that low I wanted to be collecting them as quickly as I possibly could. And no, I don't have a Barn and actually I'm really glad I didn't go down either that or the Lumber Mill route because the Trading Post has become by far the most effective way of grabbing Resources that I could have hoped for.

Oh, and the Missions portion of gameplay has proven every bit as addictive as I anticipated it could be.

My first headhunted Follower.

I am now above 'cap' for Followers until my Barracks is upgraded, but this is not an issue as I have deliberately abstained from maxxing anyone thus far to 100. The plan is to run as many people as possible to the 98 level and then focus on the 'Endgame' only when I have at least two followers in that range with the Scavenger trait. There's already a few posts around that will urge you to stack this on Resource missions, and certainly in my L3 Upgrade this ability was key. However, by far and away the best way to gain Resources in game is to not play Missions for at least 48 hours. That's going to be hard going for a lot of people but ironically the best way to gain Resources is simply to not spend them ^^ There is a fair bit of other stuff to do, and waiting will not kill you.

No, it really won't.

Next Step? L2 Everywhere.

The next stage in my plan is to upgrade the Barracks so that I can have everyone at L2, and then we have to start working on the various Achieves to get the rest of the Buildings the L3 patterns. This week however, as a priority, we'll be bringing more alts through the system and parking them with Crafting Structures so that the process of 700 in everything can begin apace. I'll also be beginning to work on a definitive Follower Guide on a Zone by Zone basis because frankly, ALL OF THE WORKERS is what I need. Completism is a thing :D

For now, however, it is high time I got myself Mining, Fishing and Herb Gardening :D

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homeward Bound

And I am Home.

Yesterday was another Interesting Day, and I will do a suitable write-up in the week. The first thing I did when I logged on this morning was collect the final 600 or so Resources I needed to update my Garrison to Level Three.

There's a lot to be written about this Feature in the next few weeks, and I'll be doing my best to give the feature as much justice as it really deserves. The Level Three Structure really does have an impressive sense of scale, and it feels as if effort has properly reflected reward. Still, I will readily admit that I prefer the wooden walls, but as the King built this, I'm not going to turn it down. I don't like flashy and I am not a fan of large, but it will do :D Needless to say, if you can not play for a day and have a passive source of Resource generation like the Trading Post, and you deliberately skip a days' worth of missions, that's a LOT of Resources that pile up very fast.

Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to have a day of faffing about, trying to gear for heroics, and working out my next move. Because as this game is the same one I fell in love 10 years ago, it shouldn't be talked about, it should really just be played.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Some of you may have noticed that this week has seen some Anniversary Celebrations kicking off for the 10th Birthday of Warcraft: well, tonight in London there will be one of three joint celebrations of this fact (the others are in Paris and Berlin) and yours truly will be part of the action. As a result, I will be doing my best to Livetweet the event, so below you'll find evidence of my apparent success or failure :D

Expect stuff to start happening around 5.30pm GMT, with the event proper kicking of at 9pm.

My good mate @QelricDK is also running a Twitch Live Stream of the event :D

I hope to entertain you for the evening :D

The First Cut is the Deepest

Blog, meet Minerva.

Hunter Pets are often a subject of some contention. Rare ones, awkward tames, rare skins are all things Hunter actively seek as badges of honour, as a way to announce in Azeroth (and to other Hunters) that they are capable of more than just sticking the pet in and spamming Arcane Shot. Except, for some of us it isn't what the pet looks like that necessarily has any significance. It is where on the Journey they joined us.

I will admit I like how certain pets look, and I have camped Spirit Beasts for the abilities they granted me. But in the main, I don't regard the look of a pet as important as the utility they grant me and a party, and in the case of the Rylak it has been one ability alone which means Minerva here will be in my 5 pets pretty much until the day we leave Draenor, and quite possibly beyond. Yes, Savage Vigor is nice and all, but it is Updraft that makes this pet possibly the most useful companion I have ever tamed. Especially in a world where there is no flying, but Falling with Style has become de rigeur in many places.

Unavailable without Rylak. TRUFACT.

In a World Without Flying, the mindset of a player needs to be subtly altered. If you're used to using a Goblin Glider of course the lack of an X Axis has never bothered you, but getting up when down isn't how it works. You go down from up, which means finding places to fall down onto (which is how this battle pet pictured above is obtained, after all) The Rylak's ability is, of course, almost identical to a Mage's Slow Fall which means this pet also has a great deal of relevance in PvP situations. In fact, if you have a high ledge that needs gracefully descending from, you can do no better than this.

However, there are better skins for Minerva that I could pick, but I don't want to. Like my first White Bear from Winterspring (Polar) for Tanking and my first stealth cat (Bagheera) from the Swamp of Sorrows, and the countless other pets I've tamed over a decade, the Rylak has come to signify an important period in my Hunter's evolution, and as a result has an emotional bond that looks or rarity will never shatter. It is all well and good being given increasingly complex Rare Tames to master, but nothing will ever beat the truly emotive bond between a Hunter and a Pet. Like my Water Strider from Pandaria, this one stays in the stable and goes with me everywhere.

After all, I have a habit of falling off high places rather a lot :P

Friday, November 21, 2014

Over Our Heads

Still not worked out who gets the Book... ^^

Apologies for the Late Post, but I've been having one of those days where really, nothing is sticking in my head at all.

In fact, so poor is my information retention currently that you're getting a Bullet List:

  • I am 100, but I have no desire to advertise this, to the point where I quietly asked to have my name removed from the Guild Message of the Day proclaiming said fact. Max level isn't a celebration, it just means you've transitioned from one set of gearing issues to another. On that front I have not yet looked at anything regarding how I get my 587 iLevel to the 610 I'd need for Heroics or 615 for Molten Core. I will go and finish up questing first, as that has a storyline I'm still very interested in seeing concluded.
  • Did you not know it was the 10th Anniversary starting today? ^^
My Corgi is Sad because in the Endgame,
only your iLevel matters to Randoms.
  • I've been deliberately holding off leveling any Follower past 99 until I have everyone in the late 90's in the Garrison. This has meant deliberately not going to get my Leatherworking Follower either, because he's 99. I'm going to end up with a problem when I hit the Spires however, especially with Admiral Taylor, so one of my tasks before that happens has to be to go and pick up the low level people I need.
An upcoming Follower of the Day.

Dagg was my first snag (thanks to Peri in Guild for the tip off) and with his upgrade to rare I *finally* got a Scavenger, which means Dagg is getting levelled as an absolute priority. Ironically the moment I snagged him FOUR L90 Missions appeared in my Menu, and so I'll be taking advantage of this and making sure I seek out a Guide for anyone I can grab from the starting zones.
  • On the Garrison front generally, I'm 500 resources short of my L3 Upgrade. If I'd not gone out yesterday I would have made it, but I'll be questing when I'm done here to make that transition. BECAUSE GARRISONS BEAT GEARING.

In fact, if given a choice between writing a Blog post and obtaining a L3 Structure?

I'll see you when it's done :D

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Secret Messages

That explains a few things.

In the midst of the server chaos at the weekend, @Bashiok posted something really telling via his Official Twitter account:


I saw that double Tweet at the weekend and it occurred to me then that maybe, yet again, Blizzard had failed to anticipate its own success. I touched on this in the Podcast yesterday and last night, lo and behold, we discover that the subs have done what most people had quietly written off as impossible. Of course, whether the numbers STAY over 10 Million is another discussion for a different post. As to the popularity of the Expansion... it could be those giant Gorehowls buried in the World that's doing it. As was pointed out yesterday, the Far East only just got access to the content yesterday so these figures don't even cover that side of the market. Maybe it is just nostalgia that sells units, but what we are already seeing is Blizzard reacting to the increased capacity in interesting ways.

This is a pretty significant move considering Blizzard already know there are (potentially) three million new accounts following them on Twitter. Consolidating major news releases is a sensible move, and although there will be some that argue removing the 'personal' element of the Dev relationship on Twitter is a step backwards from the hands on and personal approach the company has taken in previous months. However, having one account for major announcements means information can be better controlled, and it also gives players a single, dedicated address to use to ensure that a Dev will see their query. I'd even go so far as to speculate that a member of Blizzard's Community staff will be given the full-time task of overseeing and curating this feed (or possibly that it will become a weekly task for said Team members to be rotated around.) Whether this means the 'persona' accounts of the Devs will be retired or not remains to be seen.

One Account, no Waiting!

For someone like me who could do without having to follow 20 different people all talking about the game (and as a result need an addon to follow everything) I for one welcome our new Dev Overlords. I'd also expect to see more social media changes as the weeks go on, because it is becoming clear there are still a great many lessons that need to be learnt as a result of the upswing of interest in the Franchise. I'll be over here, watching developments with interest...