Saturday, January 26, 2013

Moving Right Along

Beautiful. Without Question.

Yesterday evening B the Monk (note to self: add her to my alts list) finally arrived in Stormwind.

The Starting 'Island' experience is probably one of the best I've run in the entire history of the game, and what is abundantly clear from the word go is that this is not an ordinary setup: no marauding bad guys, no earth-shattering trauma is immediately apparent. Only once you have completed your 'training' does it become clear that your conflict isn't from an ordinary enemy, it comes from the existing races in game, and suddenly we're in a completely different world. This is an idyll that is rudely disrupted by the Horde and the Alliance, where there are no clear antagonists and where anyone could potentially be an enemy. There's hints of what is to come too: a war that is someone else's, the drawing of battle lines, and (perhaps most importantly) the two sides of Pandaran 'balance' :Ji's recklessness and Aysa's calm are the traits that push them to different sides of the divide, that give you the companions that will accompany you as you make your way through the world.

I ran this area in the very early days of Beta, and things are not actually that different (as I recall) from those first explorations: clearly things are considerably more polished, and there are cinematics in place where once there were simply placeholders, but these haven't added anything of note. It is a starting area where no-one can talk to you except the people who are there: no contact with Guilds to gain an early level boost, or mailboxes to grab heirlooms. You are very much isolated, and that is probably a good thing, because it would be very easy to rush and miss something. I'd urge anyone who's not given a Panda the 1-12 experience (your XP may vary) to do so, not simply for the unique Battle Pet you earn from doing so. It is worth a look, and it is some significant Lore for anyone who wonders how this race becomes a part of the war on Azeroth to begin with. Most importantly for me, it is not simply the best looking starting zone but the best sounding: this is one you need the music for. I will never grow tired of any of the accompanying pieces.

Ji's Dialogue: covering all the bases...

There was (very justifiably, in my opinion) concern about the initial dialogue Ji Firepaw would use when you met him as a female character. Everything is now suitably appropriate, and I found myself thinking the relationship the two have is now not an issue, as should be the case. The focus is not on how these NPC's deal with you, but back on how they decide to approach the problems you are set to deal with. You are reminded that actions have consequences, that rashness can be as dangerous as doing nothing. It is the intervention of both Alliance and Horde that resolve your final conflict, without whom your homeworld would be destroyed. Suddenly there is a debt to be repayed, and for the first time in the history of the game a single race is forced to choose a loyalty. We are unlikely to get a new race in the next Expansion: could this be the first (and last) time a single new race is presented to us?

Yaks. Are there anything they CAN'T do?

It's been a very long time since I genuinely looked forward to levelling a new alt: there was palpable excitement as I arrived in Stormwind, rejoined my Guild and picked up my bags and heirlooms. I am hoping the levelling experience is as entertaining as the first twelve levels, and there are a lot of new things to do as a panda that have not been previously available: the most significant for me being the chance to pet battle as I travel. I'm already planning how to best use my battle time, and I already have Elwynn in my sights for some upgrades...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Let the Day Begin

Son sings Dad's son. Bless!

This Monk thing's a bit odd.

I start my character and off I go, killing Sprites and collecting vegetables, and I'm following Ji Firepaw across a very scenic bridge to go find the Spirit of Wind when I pass an NPC who tells me I can go listen to a Lorewalker for a bit instead and learn about where I am. I don't immediately stop, I keep going to the Ridge of Laughing Winds instead, thinking I need to work to get off the Starting Area as quickly as possible... and then it hits me. No, I don't. I don't think anyone ever told me I could listen to something before, not in any of the Starting Areas I've been to. So, I picked up my quests and went back. I'm really rather glad that I did.

Story Time, with music.

The game registered my arrival and played me the song I fell in love with in Beta, the same song Lorewalker Cho sings at the Wanderer's Festival, and suddenly I make a major connection. No-one made me come back and learn about this, or stop to hear the music, but to have it offered was enough. I learnt about the Giant Turtle, and if I didn't know that Chen Stormstout was a famous explorer I do now (though his real history is considerably more complex.) Placing this in the context of a school lesson for children is a stroke of genius: snacks to whoever did the script for this one:

Troll gags. Gotta love them.

I did the Starting Island very early in Beta, and the journey through this time is considerably easier, if only for the fact I've not seen another living soul since I arrived. I suspect that may change at the weekend, unless there's some kind of personal phasing issue at play that I'm not aware of. I've discovered the problem with Shen-zin Su, just after my mentor turned into a tree and left me to deal with whatever I found. Needless to say, I'm more than a little concerned at how I'm supposed to remove an Alliance skyship from the side of a giant turtle...

I've also made my first tenable connection between what happened Before and what happens Now. Blizzard have made this Starting Area not just a place to rush through to get off, but something altogether more clever. I wonder how many people did stop and listen, and if anyone has grasped the point. You don't have to do all the content, but sometimes if you don't, you'll miss the best lessons of all.

I should be finished with my journey by this evening, and Guilded. I have a full set of Heirlooms standing by, plus bags and a cash float. I already have 50 still in Alchemy and roughly the same in Inscription. Needless to say, I'm genuinely looking forward to levelling this. I mean, how hard can it be...?

I Love My Name

This week, I have mostly been Salty...

One of the (many) advantages from the introduction of Account Wide Gubbins is the ability to give very low level alts totally unattainable titles. Hence, my L1 Posse can choose from a selection of monikers that, if I think about it, are fairly telling. Not unlike what you name your Battle Pets, the titles you can pick from can reveal an awful lot about a player. For instance, a cursory glance at this lot should tell you just how much I like my soul-destroying rep grinds, that I own a Purple Proto Drake, that I've been to every corner of the game world (and done the quests there) plus... well, I like my Cooking and Fishing. A LOT.

I've done a fair bit of thinking on the notion of Account Wide this week, if truth be told. It occurred to me that people should be embracing the Account-Wide possibilities a bit more enthusiastically than perhaps they are. Thus far, the results have only been positive: pets, mounts and titles make a significant quality of life improvement in the levelling process, and act as good markers in Dungeons as to who's new and who's 'just doing the grind again.' It means that I can set out a Battle Pet Team for my Monk (and in 5.2 get XP while battling if I'm waiting for a Dungeon to pop) and the work I do there still counts towards the overall totals on my account. Having the Commendations for all the Pandarian Factions already linked to my main, I know that will make gaining gears when my Panda finally hits 90 considerably less stressful. It then makes me think what else we might expect to become a family affair in the future.

My non-story of  Account-Wide Professions also caused a bit of a fuss in certain quarters this week, but the notion of further linking your characters together isn't as big of a non-starter as it sounds. For instance, my account already registers my L1 character as owning the Guardian of Cenarius Title: what if said title worked like a Commendation does for a L90 character now and awards double reputation? That would mean I could go do Silithus quests whilst levelling and grind double reputation in the process. Because I'm already an Ambassador this would mean wearing a Home faction tabard would double my rep in those places too, giving easier access to bags as I level. Really, I think all alts should have access to double rep gains regardless, to allow easier access to professions recipes. That could also extend to Cookery, Fishing AND Archaeology: I know there are books you can buy to raise rep skill for Fishing with Pagle, but I don't think that's enough.

The other direction I think Blizzard could head in already exists in a limited form: the BoA items you gather for the One Man's Trash/Another Man's Treasure achievement. You could (for instance) have a Magic Cooking Pot that would add a multiplier to your cooking skill, or allow a proc on certain recipes (as is the case with the Alchemy Master specialisations) Blacksmiths could make a BoA Skinning Knife/Mining Pick that would add a multiplier to gathering skills... the key of course that these items remain BoA and therefore have no benefit to anyone except the Account holder. Being able to make BoA Trinkets for instance would be a MASSIVE boost, especially if they could be tailored to hybrid classes. Same would probably be true with Rings and I'd argue this could be a great way to encourage more people to take up professions when they begin to play.

For now, I'm more than happy with the current benefits of having a Main whose efforts spread across every character, but I know there is the potential for more. The question then becomes what Blizzard thinks is acceptable as a 'shared experience'...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rolling With the Homies

Me and the Shado Pan, keeping it real. Respect.

The monk's almost in to double figures, but this bit's about P's legacy as Achievement Collector and Hunter Without a Weapon (TM). No, I'm not dwelling, honest, and I know I'm not alone in the lack of Sha Gubbins department. Thank you Twitter for your sympathy, you guys know who you are. I'll be arranging regular Group Hugs for the foreseeable future. Anyway, I digress.

P's going through a series of daily tasks, one of which is to complete Getting Around with the Shado Pan, which requires you to have completed 15 Dailies with the full range of available Companion Guides. I've been avoiding the Island with the Klaxxi infestation but am aware that only certain helpers spawn on certain days, so I'll have to go there eventually. For now, I'm enjoying the faff element, the gold income (used to buy a pair of Monk Heirloom Trousers earlier, as it happens) and the fact that I know I can complete this Achievement without outside help. I'm only one mob away from completing the One Many Army too, after which I have to set my mind to Roll Club. That's going to be interesting.

After that, I have my Cookery Student (we're doing RICE CAKES YAY) the Farm Income (cloaks have dried up, back to herbs for guaranteed glods and using the Spirits to buy the LW recipes I lack pre 5.2 and PvP Upgrades.) I need four more items to get my Relic Hunter title and about 500 further Dominance Offensive tokens to be able to crack open a crate of rats for pet battle capture. I can guarantee there will always be something I can find to do, and I doubt I'll be at a loss for gubbins for some time to come. I can think of at least one Achievement I could use from Naxx 25, for instance, and don't get me started on Ulduar or Icecrown Citadel...

Finally, I'm still at Rank Three in the Brawler's Guild, and there's a Battle Pet with my name on it. As the weekend is fast approaching it may be time to start examining some online guides for getting myself up to the required level of Awesome to add Clock Em to my stable...

Your Game

In Other News, World Does Not Revolve Around You, Get Over It.

Yesterday was not a good day. It culminated with me in the Terrace, staring at the two hits of gold I'd just received from Lei Shi (and not for another week a Sha-Touched Weapon), and realising that I need something else to do. I'm getting too hung up on what I don't have: it should never, EVER be about the loot. As a result, I logged off my hunter and rolled a Monk Healer.

I COULD level any one of the many alts I have, of course: there are (potentially) three healers amongst them: Druid, Priest and Shaman. However, I think I would benefit more from something that counts as a real challenge: that will make me think, that will force me onto the Internets to learn, that will question again the notions of why I play. There is, at the back of  my mind, a very practical consideration too: as a dps my raiding contribution is far from stellar. Maybe it is time I placed something else on the table. In a Guild of our size, the notion of 'bring the player, not the class' really does have a significance: I healed for three expansions very well, all on alts. I have the capacity to do this, now all I need is the Monk to back it up. We could use the extra HPS. It all makes perfect sense.

As Achievement Points are account-wide now, does it really matter who I do my progression raiding with anyway?

So, I have created B (who was named by my daughter) for this task. I got to Level 5 last night, and I apologise in advance to anyone reading this who didn't sign up for a Monk Healer overview, but there's a good chance you're now going to get one, along with everything else. I think the experience of levelling from scratch will do me good as well, as it has been far too long since I played the Long Game. Don't worry, I won't be neglecting P or indeed the Gold Making project I currently have on the go: consider this simply an additional content stream. Maybe my plan of increasing output to two posts a day wasn't as ridiculous as I first thought it was... ^^

If I fail, at least I can say I tried.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

All Together Now

How to make a Blog Post Part #72 : The 'Something from Nothing' Approach...

There's a term that journalists use when there's not really anything of earth-changing interest to report: it's a Slow News day. After yesterday's flurry of new cinematics (yes SC2 looks great but I'm still rubbish at it, you KNOW the Elder Scrolls isn't going to look ANYTHING like that on release, right?) this morning MMO confront me with a tweet from Mr Street which confirms... well, nothing in particular really. There's going to be a new 'unannounced' feature in Pandaria, like the LFR and Dungeon Finder, that we've not heard about yet. Way to give us a hint, Crab Guy.

In fact, it is remarkably easy to use the humble Tweet as basis for just about everything. As an example: here I am, with my good friend @loopnotdefined, doing just that. What if account-wide professions were the Next Big Thing for Pandaria that Ghostcrawler might have been alluding to? As I stated, I find him answering a tweet like this rather interesting, especially with the choice of language. I don't think I've ever considered any of my professions as a 'badge of honor', most are exercises in patience and persistence, but all are important means of making money. The concept of 'account-wide' professions immediately fills me with curiosity: I have every profession currently available. What would the benefits of them being account-wide be?

The primary one that springs to mind is tied to crafting materials, and this might make some of you sit up and take notice. If Spirits became BoA (which might be a logical extension of this line of thought) that would open up a HUGE potential shift in emphasis. What if I could use my enchanters ring only enchants on any character, or tinker items onto any characters armour if I had an Engineer maxxed? Would this not then encourage people to start levelling professions because to have them all became an advantage, which in turn would cause a massive uptake in raw materials? Would this not mean the AH would be full to bursting of items that ultimately nobody would need because everyone had a full set of Professions and would ultimately lead to the total collapse of the In-Game Economy?

Making Professions account-wide could have some potentially very serious consequences. It would be a quantum shift for the game. I can't believe that Blizzard would even entertain the possibility. So, why ask the question? Here's the thing when you play the speculation game: that's all it is. Without a tweet that states, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Thing X is happening, you've got nothing. Zip. Nada. However, that doesn't stop people trying, and it also doesn't stop others trying to find the right combination of buttons to press to come up with an answer that suits them. We go back to the first post today, that the game is as much about what you put into it as what is provided. Making mounts Account wide has been an unqualified success. Battle pets pretty much rock (like I'm going to say otherwise) and being able to have a L1 Bankalt with the Tamer title... well, it's almost as cool as my Account Wide Safari Hat.... and there we have the key to the account wide appeal.

Whatever Blizzard choose to introduce as the 'new feature' this time around (my money's still on the twice weekly raid lockout and improved loot for 25's) I can bet everyone will talk about it when we finally know what it is. Until that time, please try and restrict your rampant speculation to the minimum and if there isn't any ACTUAL news to report on any given day, man up and admit that. It's okay, some days we can survive without it...

The Winner Takes It All

Because facerolling through a videogame is fun. No it is not.

For some people it is. Some people only want some mindless fun. Something they can do to relax rather than having to set their mind on overcoming a virtual challenge. That's one of the many reasons why invoking majorities in online discussions just doesn't work.

We all have our own reason to do what we do. Some want to test themselves and improve their skill, some just want to relax and have some fun time with their friends. Some don't even know what the concept of hardcore and casual gaming mean, let alone "skill" or "competitiveness" in something they may not even consider a hobby.

Today, we're going to talk about entertainment.

I used to watch a lot of television in my youth: tons of it, if truth be told. Pretty much my entire life up until the point where my kids were born can be mapped in parallel with major televisual events: it began with Blake's Seven in the late 1970's, pretty much bypassed Trek (sorry about that, there I said it) but did take in Babylon 5, Buffy, The X Files, Stargate and 24. In fact, Kiefer Sutherland has a lot to answer for, because Jack Bauer is one of the reasons I fell out of love with genre TV. There's been tons of great shows/series since the start of the 21st Century, I've just not got totally hooked by any of them. A lot of it (I suspect) is because my role has changed: it's not just about entertaining my mind any more, I have two rather more impressionable beings to consider in my choice of TV viewing. Entertainment isn't therefore simply about what you do, it's as much about why.

I've spoken a lot in the last few months about my personal relationship with Warcraft: how I've found things frustrating, and difficult, and that the best way I've discovered to deal with this is by changing the way not only I play but how I view the game world I'm in. Taking a step back is sometimes a lot harder than people realise, especially if they are unaware of how immersed they have become in something to begin with. I'd like to think it is something I'm good at, but only after I acknowledged my capacity to get too involved. I used to get very obsessed with my TV, unhealthily so, to the point where I did stuff and became a person that, looking back to that time, I'm not particularly proud of. However, absolutely the LAST thing I'd want to do is blame the people making the TV programmes: yes, there should be a level of accountability in how sensitive or contentious subjects are handled, but in the end they're not responsible for my actions: I am. The buck stops here.

Therefore when Person A calls Item X a 'faceroll' there will be twenty four other letters of the alphabet with (potentially) different views on the subject. Some of those might simply agree because of peer pressure, others might have only subtle disagreements, tainted by their own view of the game. The fact remains, it's Blizzard's task in all this to try and cater to the largest possible group, NOT the smallest. That means that, like it or not, the high end of the game is not where the focus will shift. Yup, the people who don't see a hardcore/casual game divide. The people who don't get obsessed and can name every NPC on Kalimdor, and which expansions they first appeared in. The people who, like it or not, form the vast majority of Blizzard's subscriber base. Oh, and the people who, for most of the time, you'll never find complaining about game balance on a Forum because they have better things to do.

This argument appears with what seems like predictable regularity, normally when an Expansion's had the opportunity to bed in. Just how 'hard' should things be? The difference this time around from Cataclysm is that we have a Training Programme for End Game Raiding that didn't exist before: the LFR system. Whatever you might think about it, the way loot is divided (or not) and even the people using it, there is clearly a change in the way LFR makes people approach a part of the game that, for many years, was considered elitist, with good reason. You needed time, thought and most importantly like-minded people to achieve your goals: without them, a large portion of content was simply inaccessible. Blizzard rightly grasped this wasn't doing them any favours, that often the best looking and most cleverly designed sectors of their output were beyond the reach of most people who played. So, they took away the need for immersion.

There will be some of you that read that last sentence and cry foul: hang on, don't tell me Blizzard stopped making me compelled to play, because I have Dailies coming out of my ears and if I want to do this non-immersive content you've just mentioned I will have to run X dungeons and Y LFR's and... STOP. Yes, I know this is how it works. Look back to the LFR model for a moment. To get there requires a certain level of commitment. However what Blizzard make VERY clear, and this is often overlooked in discussions regarding how easy/hard anything is on Azeroth, is the factor of time. The worst thing in my genre TV was, back before You Tube and DVD, having to wait for NEXT WEEK. If there were a particular cliffhanger it could be a nightmare having to work through seven days of Real Life (TM) before I had my resolution. Although that's still largely true for TV, there's enough downloadable/accessible content at your fingertips to keep even the most rabid of genre lover sated almost indefinitely. No waiting, instant access. The same is true with music, and movies. The only restricting factor: how you choose to use your time to process them.

This makes people justifiably impatient. That's never going to end well.

LFR allows people to see raid content, and learn encounters. I can say for a fact it makes doing the 'normalised' versions easier, which means as a training exercise LFR is an unqualified success. However, to get to LFR requires a commitment in time. Getting past it is the same, but the key difference is that this means no content is currently inaccessible. No, really, it's not. You can do everything: whether you can complete it is a different issue altogether, and in the main that isn't Blizzard's problem, unless something pops up that is a) a bug b) an exploit or c) obviously broken. That's where you need to realise that this isn't a TV show you're watching, that you're not in a movie, and that immersion isn't something the game does to you, it's something you do in the game. You're the buck, and if things are either too hard or too easy, it is time for you to work out how to deal with that, and not Blizzard's job to amend.

That is something that does not sit well with many, especially when so many other games offer cheat codes and hack modes. There is no fast forwarding to next week, it is up to you to find the answers, and that is a challenge many people simply don't have the time or the inclination to accept. If you can't cheat, or skip, or find an easier way... then you don't play. It stops being 'fun': not because the game suddenly altered overnight, but your perception of it changed. There's another key factor to all of this too: we're not at the end yet. The Big Bad for this Expansion (to borrow a Buffy trope) may be well-known but is yet to be revealed in context. We have many weeks of waiting before that 'episode' hits and for many, that may just be a climax too far. There are no clear-cut winners in Warcraft, to remain the best takes a vast commitment of many things, not simply time. What the forum complainers need to grasp is the complexity of the problem any entertainment company face when presenting the public with a product. The key isn't how they choose to do that: it's how you choose to deal with them.

Entertainment done well is exactly what Blizzard have pulled off for eight years, and they've done so by finding just the right balance between providing content and balancing it to fit their audience. Unlike many organisations, they entertain contentious dialogue with their fanbase, and frankly I think they often deserve better treatment than they get for doing so. The fact remains however, this is never totally about the winning, and always about the taking part, in whatever form people decide. When the Pandarian NPC's tell you to 'slow down' they're not joking. Remember, it isn't simply about what you do, it is as much about why, and the consequences that can have not simply to yourself but the people around you.

There is a lot more to this game than simply taking part.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

King of the Mountain

So, you're Elvis, right?

Normally I'd have held onto this until tomorrow, but as I think this is enough of a secret that it could do with an early reveal, we'll do it now.

This is where I logged P out earlier, one of the spawn spots for Another Man's Treasure (the Tablet of Ren Yun) I don't need to spawn camp these things (as yet) so this has become part of my daily fly-by routine: as I do so I'll notice an elite mob circling the peak. This is a Wild Onyx Serpent, is L90 and (until 5.1) didn't drop anything of note. This has changed however, and if you see it it is well worth taking the time to pull it down, kill it and loot the Serpent's Cache that you'll receive.

Giant loot sparklies ftw!

This cache is pretty much identical to the Small Bag of Goods you can occasionally pick up from the Pandarian Champions: 20 or so gold, and a selection of raw materials (in my case 19 Ghost Iron Ore and a Golden Lotus) As this is a fairly straightforward fight (or at least it was for my hunter) the problem then comes where on earth on the mountain you can pull him. Fortunately, there is a spot.

The co-ordinates you require are 85.09, 65.44

From this small outcrop I can target with a ranged attack and bring the Dragon down. After that, apply light dps until he's dead. You can't skin him either (boo!) and assuming you have no issues killing sky dragons for the porpoise of grabbing a bit of free loot, the job is (as they say) a good 'un.

I'm not sure as to the spawn timer, but I've been able to down him every time I've come to the Peak to do my fly-by...

Dirty Little Secret

Screenie from MMO. Market Opportunity for Everybody.

Yes, the above screengrab is a MASSIVE SPOILER. You know what? It doesn't come as any surprise whatsoever.

The Legendary Questline has progressed pretty much to form thus far: grind these raids, collect this stuff, kill these dudes. There has not been any real disadvantage to anyone who simply didn't have the time per week to complete the various tasks asked of them. However, 5.2 introduces a factor that I'd hoped at the back of my mind we'd not have to consider whilst completing this journey: the Auction House. Yes, that's FORTY Trillium Bars you'll (potentially) need to help progress (quite apart from another 20 Drops from Bosses, at least they've learnt the lesson on that and simply made it just the one type of token.)

Transmuters, it could be time to start your engines.

This patch (assuming those numbers don't change at release) could see a real payday for anyone with an Alchemist: Blacksmiths are also in the money as there's a new raw material (Lightning Steel, takes 10 Ghost Iron Bars plus Trillium as well) that will be required to make a slew of new weapons once your Server opens the Lightning Forge mentioned in step four of the Legendary progression above. Of course, this is all subject to change once things go live but I doubt that 40 bar figure will significantly drop. That's a pretty serious investment not simply in time, but for most people in cash. However, knowing this is coming is very much the kind of information that can help the canny.

How this will affect the price of Trillium and Ghost Iron on your Server is for other people with a handle on such things to consider. For me it means that I will be making a conscious effort to farm more Ghost Iron in the weeks running up to 5.2 and using my Transmute Master to start making two stacks of Trillium. I certainly don't intend on buying a single bar so this is a great opportunity to get myself into a routine and to furnish everyone with a regular mat stream to ensure that whenever I get to the stage where the Trillium is required, it is already completed as a step. I certainly won't be stockpiling anything significantly in anticipation for 5.2 (especially as my Blacksmith is still 85) but knowing these two key pieces of information has made some possible decisions on who to level next a fair bit easier.

I know some people hate spoilers, but occasionally knowing things ahead of time can be a significant boost. I'm considering this as one of those moments.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Money Changes Everything

Insert standard ' Bankworthy' caption here :D

It occurred to me yesterday I've not done much on the Gold Making front for a while.

I'm nowhere near a 'serious' Gold Blogger, but I do like my faffing. I'm also acutely aware that if I were ever to find a sure-fire get rich quick farming spot in-game, publishing it is absolutely the last thing I'd probably want to do. With the speed at which the client can currently be patched, I can bet by the time I'd got my article up, the place would be worthless. I'm no good with spreadsheets or maths either, so that whole flipping and undercutting thing's also a bit of a non-starter. I do try and pick up stuff where I can though, and I'm very grateful to the Gold Blogging Community for stuff like the Ironpaw Shuffle and how to use my green gems from prospecting more effectively (yes I know that article's for Cataclysm mats but the same basic principles apply.)

In the end however, my gold making strategy is pretty simple: stack and sell. I collect everything and anything, make a stack of it and then decide the best place to sell it. Sometimes that's the AH, sometimes that will be in Trade, and often its just to a vendor, but everything I pick up gets sold. I've been doing that without any real effort since the Expansion launched, and yesterday I sat down and worked out that, even after dropping six figures on my Yak, I still have more money than I did before the Pandaria launched, which came as something of a pleasant surprise. A lot of that is on the back of selling raw materials (especially leather) at the start of the Expansion itself but of late that's come from herb sales from my farm, selling blue cloaks and (most surprising of all) Battle Pets. I'm not about to make a fortune that way, but there's been a steady income on my designated Pet Wrangler.

This then leads me to thinking how I should be generating more gold in the months that follow: there are obvious things I ought to be doing, like making more use of my Scribe and Enchanter (and all the other professioneers.) There are transmutes that are going begging and I suspect, if I actually organised myself a bit better there could be a huge amount of extra revenue to be had. I am thinking that it might be a plan to have a weekly post on this as an added incentive to me to pull out the digit and get myself motivated. I'll have a word with the Logo Department (as I'll need a 4 Year Blogging logo soon) and see if there's enough in this month's budget to sustain some kind of snazzy header to boot. That means that this week I'll be sitting with paper and pencil, looking at markets, and deciding where I'm gonna have my focus.

Part of me wants to go a bit Old Skool: Vanilla crafting materials are at a real premium on my Server currently, and I like the idea of taking some time away from the Pandas, perhaps combined with levelling a Monk, but right now I need some facts and figures before I start committing time, my most valuable of resources. Therefore, I will ask you to Watch This Space (TM)...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

One Day Like This

Oh look, HE'S DEAD ^^

It would not be an understatement to say that yesterday, all told, was one of my best days in Game for some time. However our story starts on Friday night, where I'd worked my list of required ownage down below double figures.

I managed over the course of the evening to wear down my requirement, in lieu of progression raiding, to one mob: Blackhoof. He roams a smallish path in the Valley of the Four Winds, attacking the wandering Mushan, but my rare spawn cache had never registered him since I began my journey, either dead or alive. He also seems to be on a longer spawn timer than any of the other mobs I've camped for, meaning that on Friday night I spent two and a half hours waiting for him until I was literally too tired to keep my eyes open.

I am not the kind of person who can simply hang in the air, waiting for a rare alarm to go off. I have to be doing something, and so I farmed: the yellow Mushan spawns, the birds, the occasional wolf. I was surprised when I checked my bags Saturday morning to see just how much I'd gathered: enough for six Ironpaw tokens from grocery bundles, leather to make 4 Magnificent Hides (200g a hit currenty on the AH) and Motes enough to make at least three Spirits of Harmony. This proves, were it needed, that anywhere in Pandaria is a good spot to make money assuming you're the only one doing it.

I logged Saturday morning with a free day ahead of me: our kids having a weekend at my Mum's house meant spending some time sorting out P's upgrade path with Valors, running Instances for points and generally mucking about. However, I'd always come back to the spawn spot, hoping I'd see him.

Not a bad morning's work, all told...

After three instance's worth of achievements and a trip to Townlong for my cloak upgrade I arrived back to have my alarm go off and to finally catch Blackhoof face down in the dirt. At least I'd seen him, knowing he existed was definitely a step in the right direction. Next up, after lunch and braving the Real World for shopping, I tried a Challenge Mode Dungeon. There's a story attached to this, but that will be for another day. For now, all you need to know is that today's destination was Scholomance:

Damning, but inescapable.

Challenge Modes, for want of a better description, are like 10 Mans on Steroids, NASTY ones that no number of apologies on talk shows will forgive. In the end we gave up trying to complete it and simply learnt where the problems were and how we would need to solve them. My husband found a sure-fire way to recognise the Real Jandice Barov when she goes all spinny and multiple, and we discovered that Gandling's fight really is an instance encounter all on it's own. Give that to 25 people and they'd wipe for WEEKS, especially in a space that restrictive. It's been a while since I've been totally impressed by a fight mechanic, but this one does it. Needless to say, I had no problem reminding people after two hours that there is no shame in giving up.

Shocking Revelations at the Will of the Emperor. More at 11.

LFR, for another week, has refused to grant me a weapon upgrade. Makes me wish that 10 mans were normalised like Challenge Modes and all my gear is a flat level regardless. No matter, as soon as I zoned back to the Valley, Blackhoof appeared. That's where we come in at the top, except that's not the end of the story.

After the Scholo failure, the same group informed me that they though a trip through the Temple of the Jade Serpent was doable, and that we could probably have a chance of a medal. We had a few hiccups, and had to change a member of personnel because of connection issues, but eventually we were off. It really was like doing a 10 man boss THE ENTIRE TIME, knowing one stupid slip up or standing in the wrong place would mean death, and if you died everyone else died and you'd stuff it up for everybody. I'm not a big fan of pressure like that, I have to say, but it makes me realise just how addictive these kind of things can be for others.

Medal Time!

The Jade Serpent instance is probably the easiest of all the instances in terms of grasping mechanics, probably because it's the first of two you're presented with when levelling, and if you spend a lot of time doing instances 85-90 there are only four you get to choose from. Challenge Boss fights do not seem to diverge that much from the Normla/Heroic versions. Then the issue comes down to your team and execution.  Needless to say: my Guild ROCKS.

I never won a medal for ANYTHING :O

This time places us, I am reliably informed, as Realm #32. I'm still in shock, even this morning, that I could do it a) without dying and b) see a). I suspect this will not be the last time I do a Challenge Mode, but I'll need to be awake when I do, that's for certain. After that I wandered around in a daze for a bit, before pulling myself together and heading for the Dread Wastes. I had one last thing to try and finish, and I had a feeling that I was going to be lucky. After all, this was one of THOSE days:


Weeks of hanging onto the quest finally netted me my last mob, the Amber Venomlancer. This means once I log later it'll be time to stick a new bunch of achievements into my Objectives window, and off we'll go again. However, I doubt I'll have a day as good as this for a while.

I hope you don't mind me sharing it with you as a result :D