Saturday, December 01, 2012

Markets and Products

Mining and Herb spawn rates in Pandaria have been reduced by approximately 50% in patch 5.1, and this is indeed an intended change. These are in addition to the hotfix that was applied in 5.0.5 to lower the spawn rate of Ghost Iron.

In all of these cases, the reduction was prompted because the resources were too abundant, resulting in ore and herbs being undervalued, and also therefore the effort that our herbalists and miners put in to collect each node. We’ll be monitoring the situation, though, and should the current rates prove to be too low then we’ll make further adjustments as necessary.

I know I shouldn't joke about Blizzard. I make an off the cuff remark regarding them finding a way to fix game Economics and, lo and behold, off they go and try just that.

There have been some other subtle and completely undocumented changes to gathering professions: many mobs that were previously skinnable are now not. Most notable thus far are any of the mobs on the Shado Pan's 'Daily Island' where you're asked to rescue dragons, but I am sure there will be more. I'd predict the Gazelles in the vale of Eternal Blossoms might be on the casualty list, but I am yet to confirm this. There's also the chance to pick a Golden Lotus with your flowers, as was the case with Frost Lotus in Northrend. All of this, added to the noted nerf to Ghost Iron spawn rates, shows that Blizzard are keen to control what did appear to be an almost endless flow of raw materials into the market. Looking at prices over the last few weeks, this change was overdue.

There was also an undocumented nerf to the 'exchange' rate from the Spirit of Harmony vendor: one Spirit no longer buys you three Loti, but only two. This one initially perplexed me until it became clear that Lotus had been added to the normal herb loot tables. However perhaps the most significant change was documented: the Potion of Luck (which is normally 1 hour duration with a 1 hour CD) has now reduced to 20 minute duration, but with the same CD. After a discussion on Twitter with Cold Gold's Factory it transpires that if you were lucky enough to have made potions prior to 5.1. you actually have a different version of the same item:

Hasty screengrab, showing both versions.

Cold quite sensibly suggests grabbing those bigger versions but I find myself thinking normally Blizzard don't normally allow old versions of items to remain intact in such situations: everything gets taken down to the same level. This leads me to wonder: maybe this is another way Blizzard intend to control market factors in future. It would make sense that if we were to get a Greater version recipe, that perhaps a new reagent would be added or, perhaps more significantly, we could see a new independent loot table emerge that meant we had a two tier 'treasure' system. These potions are certainly potent in terms of what you can potentially receive while using them. I'd like to think we'll see a new recipe in a future patch, if only because that's the kind of thing that only ever seems to happen for Alchemists at the start of an expansion. Armour crafters tend to get a regular stream of items across an Expansion's lifespan, but the other professions tend to get left behind.

Someone at Blizzard is clearly looking at the numbers this time around, and I find myself encouraged that this level of management is taking place, because it will help maintain market integrity in the long term. The question then becomes how my home server will now adapt to the changes, and how prices will react as a result.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Whole Game

Your Faction May Vary.

This is a Spoiler for the 5.1 Legendary Questline.

No, I didn't hide it under a cut or anything, I am a naughty Godmother. Those of you paying attention will notice that it is asking you to win battles in the two new PvP Battlegrounds.

I am also guessing that this is going to make a few people unhappy.

The Legendary, (allegedly) must have PvE item for this expansion will require you to PvP. Heck, this entire Patch has locked the first retooled skin of items from Vanilla (the Gryphon/Wyvern) behind daily quests that are themed around a PvP fight. If you needed reminding, this is Blizzard telling us that this game is called the World of WARCRAFT and that's what you're going to do, fight each other, whether you like it or not. Those of us who baulked at the supposedly 'Epic' cinematic as the might of their Faction's fleet spewed their power onto the beach in Krasarang, and who wonder why we can build something so unsympathetically NOT Pandarian so fast whilst Stormwind's towers remain still ravaged by Deathwing, are really not best pleased with this turn of events.

It would appear, as we've already seen Blizzzard force people into LFR (at minimum) to complete Part One, that we can expect to play the whole game to earn our Orange Loot.

The setup at Lion's Landing is also interesting: we are seeing an extension of the situation that began with the Tillers. You can 'buy' items to begin quests as a way to use commendations once (presumably) you've spent all that you need on gear upgrades: however I'm not sure that's the way to solve a long term issue in terms of redundant currencies. Had this situation existed in the Firelands Dailies for instance I'm not sure I'd have wanted to use my spare World Tree marks like that, ideally I'd have liked to transfer them to a lower placed alt so that they could benefit from items I'd already outgrown on my main. I know Blizzard are keen never to give us a tied 'pool' of Valor or Justice, but what's stopping that happening with secondary currencies? If I work to get Exalted on my main and then have no need for the marks, why can't I send them to someone who could use them? It worked really well with the Wintergrasp marks, which you could convert to Honor and send across account...

Needless to say, I'm very glad I'm on a PvE realm.

What this quest does do is set up some interesting speculative possibilities as to what we can be expected to do in 5.2 and beyond. I'll bet it'll involve Scenarios, which it appears have replaced the cinematic cut scene as the go-to item of choice for storytelling this Expansion. The basic 'construction' mechanic at work in the 'A Little Patience' scenario for the Alliance is one I'd also expect to see repeated as we progress. I liked what I saw, and it is clear Blizzard are pushing the envelope in terms of new ways to make old tasks more interesting. I'd also expect to see us in going back to a 'Classic' instance next patch around (I note people are already making their list of Battle Pets they'd like from the second generation of 40 man instances) I reckon Karazhan's ripe for a revisit (and could fit into the lore slot quite well considering the involvement of Warlockery in 5.1) In fact, I'd like to wager this large sack of gold on that being exactly where we'll be going.

Without spoiling 5.1 for anyone who's going to take part, the item you'll end up with at the end of the quest line is fairly inextricably tied up with Outland. If you don't know your lore, it might be an idea to do some reading. Considering both ZA and ZG got the revamp treatment last time around, it would make logical sense to see Kara 'update' to accommodate not simply new content, but a new slew of Battle Pets and Scenarios to boot. If we're going to be moving at the faster pace that Blizzard seem to have ascribed to, I'd expect to hear details of that after Christmas. I wonder where we'll see the new Raid take part as a result... ^^

I'm still a long way off from completing Part One of my Legendary questline, but I'll keep plugging away at my Sigils in LFR until it happens. If you're setting foot in this endeavour, be aware that you're going to be asked to show your commitment to the game in all its forms. If even the thought of stepping foot into a Battleground fills you with dread, it might be time to consider your options...

Recently Earned

Back to the Mixed Bag!

LFR hates me this Expansion.

However hard I try, loot refuses to happen. It is becoming a standing joke in the house: Husband picks up the gear, I have a selection of attractive gold bags. LFG has, in effect, become just another place to collect Valor. No matter, I'll work towards my Valor legs this week. After that, I'll begin the process of replacing purple with purple. A weapon still eludes me, which is where I was kinda hoping LFR might come through, but no matter. I understand how this game works, that feast or famine are states you get used to.

The Scores on the Doors...

This screen was a surprise when I accessed it, and I have to go look up and see that I get credit for Shang Xi's Acadamy (which is the Pandaren starting area faction) across my account. This is telling me already, if I didn't know, that it is time to start considering some alts. I've still not progressed beyond the first hit of Dailies at the 5.1 Hub, but I did make an effort yesterday to do both August Celestials and Shado-Pan (the double reputation gives a substantive boost to motivation) I'll do my best to work at the Klaxxi too, and after that I suspect the 'secondary' reputations will get some love. The plan of course is to get Commendations from everybody, then max the bars, and never think about Pandarian rep again ^^ As things stand, I don't have time to gear alts any more. I will level them, and I will run them through Heroics, but I find it incredibly unlikely I'll want to repeat the Dailies on any of them with the exception of those who will benefit from recipes. On that front, many of my alts still have recipes from previous Expansions as yet unclaimed because of Reputation issues. It's going to need a LONG fallow period for that to change.

Obsessive Compulsive Time...

P's Leatherworking is one profession I do try and keep up to date, and this will be relevant when we go to a new PvP Season and the gear upgrades (automatically I assume like Cataclysm) in the Pattern Department. I still don't have all the items purchased as it took Spirits of Harmony, so I'll use the farm to update a couple of items a day. Note please that at present there appears to be a bug that won't tell you if you've already learnt a pattern when you go to a vendor, so take care when purchasing. After that, I'd expect to spend a lot of time staring at the AH ^^

Needs moar Violin Practice ^^

There's a ton of other stuff too, including Pets (will update the Database ASAP) and then, next month, I'm going to start on the Alts, because I am conscious of many things left undone that I want to do and, if I'm honest, I'd like a break from Huntering for a bit. ironically, I suspect the Mage will be the next one up... ^^

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Not Good Enough : Redux

Still Scary. Official.

If you're here expecting my opinion on 5.1: I can't formulate that kind of post without a better immersion in the content. I'm not going to be drawn, either. You'll have to wait a few days, but it'll happen. This is about stuff that's part of 5.1 but is most definitely Not New Content.

This is about Blackwing Lair.

BWL Soloing
How did u do it solo? The adds kill the boss way to fast.
Some adds should be sticking to you (but won't interrupt your channel). There's no debuff when using the orb, so you can interrupt it, clean adds, and retake control of the boss as much as you want, and you can destroy eggs non-stop (other than his 3 second cast).

Also, Razorgore has an ability that will put to sleep a dragonkin unit, this is very useful if he's under attack. Just keep practicing and make the most of the period between the pull and the first wave of adds!


I had a 50g bet with a Guildie that Blizzard hadn't changed anything about these boss encounters: I thought after some quality wiping time yesterday I'd owe him but this blue post from yesterday says otherwise. Yes, the fight has been changed, but not enough to allow me to be able to easily dominate the boss and gain entry to the instance that now has Minipets I desire in it. My mistake, and I realise that is what it was now, was to assume that 'make easier' meant that I'd have my achievement by the end of the day, which is both naive and, as it transpires, impossible.

I can't solo this guy regardless of the changes to the Encounter, because I can't channel Razorgore with an active pet, which means a series of summons and desummons to be able to control adds, which is beyond me at my current level of play. If I was doing this with a plate class, or indeed a class with the ability to self heal, I'd say my chances might be a lot better, but as a result of my hunter shortcomings, this isn't happening any time soon. As a result, I will attempt to find willing guildies (of which I know there are many) and realise that Soloable is a relative term.

I did a run of Molten Core to reassure myself that I'm good with soloing, and it has made me realise that I will need to keep working at my abilities. I feel I ought to run all the normal Cataclysm 5 Mans as well to see what is soloable and what is not: two have mount drops, after all. I'm seeing Guildies gleefully informing me Onyxia is now soloable and part of me is not sure that's the kind of encounter I'd ever be able to successfully beat, just because of the sheer amount of stuff that's going on that I'd have to provision for, but I can grasp how the more adept players can attain it. The principles sit soundly enough in my head, it is the execution whilst panicking where a particular spell is on my bars that causes the issue, and it brings to the forefront an issue that has always bothered me.

The Blue Poster is talking about someone playing the encounter who, I think it is fair to say, has never keyboard turned or had to worry about a 7 year old having a bleeding finger stuck in their face whilst practising. I sometimes wish bars were set a little more realistically when things were tuned, but there's a part of me that understands by keeping it this hard Blizzard don't have to worry about Achievements being completed too fast. The difficulty curve is it's own limiter. That makes a lot of sense especially when you advertise instances as soloable: yes you can do it alone, but you'll need to work at it. Your choice.

I have one of the pets for the Raiding with Leashes achievement. It occurs to me that actually, if Blizzard keep up a once ever 3 months cycle (for example) and because a lot of these pets are not guaranteed to drop, I have a good chance of having this done by 5.2. Again I find myself thinking that is about the right level of progress, and I'd also wager we'll see more Raid Instances getting their own miniaturised versions of bosses once that patch rolls around (it's a great idea after all, it will be milked, oh yes.) Perhaps in the intervening period, as I'm not having to worry so much about rep grinding, I will have an opportunity to start honing my Extreme Soloing skills...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Strip Mining

Your Patch, before Today.

5.1 is already Live on the EU Servers. Why on Earth am I here then, when I could be checking out all the new content?

I owe a great deal to Twitter for keeping me abreast of the moment to moment changes in game: I watched yesterday as the US Servers were patched and it became increasingly apparent that a great deal of new content was coming as a surprise to those playing: standardisation of CRZ timezones, 'stealth' buffs and nerfs to various items. I think it is fair to say that far more things than usual weren't either announced in the patch notes or indeed stripdatamined by the big sites.

I sense this may be a deliberate move on Blizzard's part.

I've read various interviews on how Blizz Dev's hate the dataminers: it removes an element of surprise from events that they work hard to create dramatic tension and conflict within. I can imagine that has something to do with wanting to move away from a world where everyone knows exactly what you're going to do long before a Patch even goes live. This would also explain why a lot of people were caught out by yesterday's announcement: there is at least one Scenario as yet untested 'publically' and I'm surprised with the lack of datamined/reported knowledge on the Brawler's Guild. There's not been that much time to extract data to begin with. This is new territory for the company who asked a million people to test their new Expansion: could it be that we're moving to a situation where less (information) is more?

There was another notable departure in yesterday's Patch announcement: everyone was in on the game. There was no favouritism by Blizzard in announcing their intentions either: all fan sites knew simultaneously. I'd like to think that not only might we see more content, in regular does like this, but we're going to see Blizzard holding more cards closer to their chests. This approach does of course have both advantages and drawbacks, especially when it comes to testing encounters so they don't break when exposed to the massive player base. From what I can work out, there's quite a lot of busted stuff already emerging in the US, and I'm sure the same will be true when the EU gets up to speed.

When you're as large an entity Warcraft, very little comes as a surprise. That's been one of the major criticisms levelled at the game in recent years too, so I think we're at the start of a new era for the Designers and their most rabid of data-gathering supporters. I think we might have to start getting used to not knowing stuff, and not being prepared. I know that's going to be difficult and painful and make some of us get all itchy and uncomfortable, but the long-term payoff of actually having something genuine to look forward to should be worth the discomfort. The problem is going to come (as appears to be happening reading the thread on the CRZ master timezone change to PST in the US) with making people understand that change is a good thing, and is not an impairment. This is a GLOBAL game, guys, you're part of one of many localisations, and working on Pacific is not the end of all things. That's where the Blizzard Offices are. I'm in the UK and have worked on Paris time (CEST) since pretty much the word go. It's a sensible solution.

I for one welcome this new change. Surprise is a good thing. Let's have more of it, but at the same time let's make sensible decisions as to what gets shown the light of day and what doesn't. Most importantly, relying on websites to give you information should not be the default state, there should be more people encouraged to dive into the game and provide information themselves. Datamining is not the only way to learn, after all...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pay Attention, 007!

Right then, Patch 5.1. No, I wasn't ready either, but hey, you can no longer moan at Blizzard for not bringing new content 'to the yard'. The question then becomes, what is actually worth knowing? Patch C&P from MMO, so if they spell it wrong, I'm just repeating :D

So, stuff the Fighting in Karasang, the Brawlers Guild, Item Upgrading with points and all those stupid Class changes. The only line in the 'General' section worth reading?

  • Lesser Charms of Good Fortune no longer take up bag space, and are now recorded in the currency tab of the Character Sheet.

Thank Elune for that. Frankly, any bag slot is precious. Now, then, where's the IMPORTANT STUFF? Ah yes:

Farming News!
  • A new Seed has been added: Portal Shards
    • A mage who fell on hard times back in Dalaran has found a new home on Pandaria. Barnaby Fletcher will occasionally visit Halfhill Market to peddle a new type of seed – and take advantage of the Tillers’ hospitality.
    • Portal Shards grow into consumable items which can be used to open a portal from Sunsong Ranch to a major faction city.

This is interesting, not simply because it acknowledges that next to SW, Halfhill is probably more populated than the Pandarian Capital on any given day. I would hope this is foreshadows more items that will be 'growable' in future patches.

  • Seeds now stack to 50.
  • Runty crops now have a spell visual to help call attention to themselves.
  • Growing crops now display the duration until the crop is ready to harvest.
  • Characters who have earned the “Friends on the Farm” achievement will no longer find gifts while harvesting Cooking Ingredient crops – instead, they have a chance to find special seeds such as Magebulb, Enigma Seed, Songbell, and more.
Okay, 'and more...' means WHAT, exactly? ^^

Pet Battle News!

Frankly there is really TOO MUCH NEWS to C&P here, and this is where I urge you to go read up yourself. Battle Stones will make the grind of a bazillion pets to L25 far less painful (and potentially profitable if the stones are rare enough) plus once you've used all your JP doing useful stuff you can buy Stones to flip on the AH. The most significant changes are in the interface itself:

  • The quality of each pet is now visible in its slot in the Pet Journal.
  • Pets can now be filtered by name, type, rarity and level, and filters will remain in place each time the Pet Journal is viewed.
  • It is now possible to search locations in the Pet Journal. For example, searching “Westfall” will display all the Battle Pets that can be found in Westfall.

You're going to want to turn your addons off tonight/tomorrow, I'd fancy, as Blizz seems to have integrated a lot of Quality of Life changes into the pet interface. Expect a report on the changes tomorrow morning from this Battler :D

Professions News!

  • Cooking
    • A cooking profession bag has been added, and can be purchased with Ironpaw Tokens from Nam Ironpaw.
  • Mining
    • All mineral nodes will now despawn one minute after they are mined, even if items remain in them.

If you want a bag, make sure you have 10 Ironpaw Tokens. Remember you can make Bunches of Groceries to get tokens from most Pandaren food ingredients.

And finally: Mount Collection News!

We're Going to Need More Saddles
Obtain 150 mounts. Reward: Jade Pandaren Kite. 10 points. Account Wide.

I CAN HAS KITE!!11!!!1!!!!

*cough* Is it Wednseday yet? ^^

Monday, November 26, 2012

What, NOW?

5.1 is SAFE! or something... ^^

The baseball picture is what I got when I typed 'out of left field' into Google, which is pretty much what I feel having discovered that 5.1 is being deployed for the US shortly. I am clearly the only person not stuck for content right now, though I suspect that this move is deliberately engineered to co-incide with MoP being half price all this week. Any cash is better than none, after all.

I'd genuinely not expected to see this patch before Christmas. I suppose I'd better go find some patch notes then... ^^

A Proper Job

Not STRICTLY accurate ^^

Again, the Plan has thwarted me ^^

However, things are considerably more healthy on the progression front than they were when I started the weekend, so let us get up to speed:

I am four pets short of the coveted 'Zookeeper' title: I managed to grab a Rare quality Armadillo last night when they spawned, and I have an Uncommon Maggot (these have to be some of the buggiest Achievements I've had to deal with, no pun intended) The Fox Kit requires snow in the Storm Peaks (and for me to actually be able see pets to begin with) and the Whelpling some patience: the Hatchling needs a Sandstorm. All of those things are likely to happen before I see a Qiraji Guardling spawn ('Seen in Summer' I assume means the pet is on the same timer as the Summer fish spawns) So, all things being equal, that's done and dusted.

The 'Tamer' title however is proving to be a little more problematic, and has required some actual thought.

Currently Levelling... ^^

I am beginning to suspect that Major Payne isn't a homage to the 1995 movie with Damon Wayans. It's because this guy is a MAJOR PAIN. Looking at the Internets tells me I really need Elemental/Mechanical/Aquatic to stand a chance so I'm going to level this team this week when I can (huge amount of RL stuff to deal with this week so not sure when this will happen) My already highest level Elemental doesn't possess nearly enough vs Mechanical spells to make levelling that workable so I'll use Venus as I work on Davros, and once he's 25 we'll swap in the next in my queue of pets to level.

Then there is the matter of the pets that remain to be collected that aren't wild, and that will require some faffing. I have cash to grab an Eye of the Legion, I can get my husband to knock me up a Mechanical Pandaren Hatchling... and after that we're relying on Pet Battle Satchels, rare spawns and sheer dumb luck. It would be nice if I could get everything I possibly can before 5.1 (still don't see that happening until Xmas) but that is only four weeks away... then I predict much runnage of Classic Raids and faffage at the Darkmoon Faire in my future...

There is also the very real need to stop doing pets and get on with 'other stuff' but I have a desire to complete as much as conceivably possible on this project, just because I know just how hard the next part of the process is going to be. Needless to say, I think I need a new page on my Warcraft Notepad...