Thursday, February 14, 2013

Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag

WARNING: Does not contain actual pig.

One of the many reasons I totally and utterly detest LFR right now, quite apart from the general air of 'screw this, we're just waiting for 5.2' that seems to be all-encompassing, is the Bags of Gold, which last night formed 90% of my gains (yes, I got a pair of shoulders, but I am in the position that apart from my weapon *cough* no item from LFR is actually any use any more.) There has been speculation that in 5.2 bags may contain things other than just some cash and an air of general disappointment, but I'd not seen any confirmation of this, until today:

The change is still in for the failbags to ... not be fail. They'll have a chance to contain things like very valuable grey items (essentially randomizing the gold you get from the bags), LFR versions of non-boss loot, Spirits of Harmony, consumables, pets and mounts, and... maybe some other stuff I forgot. Lots of things! Opening them should have some anticipation and surprise now.

Can you clarify what you mean by "LFR versions of non-boss loot" though? Do you mean ilvl scaled up 5man loot?

Meaning items that drop off "trash". Greens and blues and such.

So, if I grasp this correctly, the bags contain more 'stuff' than they did last time. These bags will be, in Blizzard's own words, 'less fail.' However, even with my dislike of how the system works, I find myself unhappy with this development. It has NOTHING to do, believe it or not, with the loot bags themselves, or indeed the loot. It has everything to do with the need for them in the first place.

Once upon a time, bosses dropped loot, and people could win it. When I began my raiding life the only way I could get my hands on anything as beautiful as an Epic was, in most cases, DKP. I discovered very fast that random rolls and epic loot were an incendiary combination and ever since this fact has remained true, through four expansions. Blizzard knew this too, and that is absolutely why the Loot Bag idea is fabulous in principle. When you get to a boss you've killed in LFR, the machine decides for you if you'll win a) an Epic or b) a consolation prize. You never go away empty handed. The problem, it appears, that anything else other than an epic is never enough.

The amount of useable items that drop in dungeons has always been an item of interest, and I'm not sure if this is just me or a wider issue, but the amount of useful stuff I come out of instances with in Pandaria seems worryingly low. If I want 'stuff' I need to be questing or doing Dailies, which does appear to be where most of my saleable items appear from.. Gone are the days when I'd do a slew of Heroics and have full bags: there's a dearth of just about everything. The same seems very much true in LFR too where last night I had five Bags of Fail, one pair of shoulders and three bits of cloth... and that was it. The problem, of course, comes when you realise that Blizzard only took the need rolls away from one level of loot: everything else that can be rolled for can technically be needed by greedy buggers, and now pretty much always is, because certain people feel entitled to everything.

It makes sense therefore to stop leaving anything around that's not nailed down and to stick everything in the Bags, but that does make the entire experience even more disheartening in the long term, especially if the Gods of the RNG decide you can nick off and your entire bag 'contents' amount to three grey vendor items and a healing potion. The biggest issue with taking away the drama from loot rolls is that, in essence, it takes all the excitement out of everything else as well. If anything of even minor value cannot be a) waved in triumph or b) moaned about, many people will argue there's not any point, because you're playing a game where 'showing off' is often as important, if not more so than the business of actually playing to begin with.

I've had appalling luck with the RNG in 5.0 and 5.1. I know I'm not alone, and part of me has little doubt that things on this front will continue to vex me for the foreseeable future. It's not bad enough yet that I've had enough and stopped playing, but I know other people are beginning to think that way. If the Loot Bag of Lesser Fail solves this problem then it can only be a good thing. However, part of me can't help thinking this is a slippery slope and in the long term, this could just make things worse and not better...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Across the Universe

Good News = Great, Ghostcrawler shout out on back of said news = Priceless.

The other bit of good news from yesterday, quite apart from the about face on the Valor points thing (which is technically today for me but still yesterday for the US, keep up please) is the fact that you will be able to Cross-Server Raid the 5.0 Instances come 5.2. If you read that WoW Insider post you'll see my good Twitter friend @ReliqEU got picked by Mr G. Crawler as a conduit for said announcement, which prompted the above exchange, and made the start to my day today all the more surreal. However, I'm all for random moments of awesome, so no problems there, though I do suddenly have an urge for a breakfast quesadilla...

This really will be great news for lost of people who I know have been deprived of current raid content on the various Cross Raiding sites that sprang up when this feature was first introduced, and frankly the ability to play with as many different people as possible can only be a Good Thing (TM) I've done precisely one raid like this (with an awesome bunch of Twitter people) and I will freely admit it is something I'd really like to try more of, so I hope I have the opportunity to do so in the future, if only to try and widen my understanding of how Other People Play...

Coming Around Again

If you’ve already made plans and sank your Valor, don’t fret! As of this announcement, and even if you have 0 Valor currently, you still have enough time to cap out at 3000 Valor before patch 5.2 goes live. (It’s math!)

Blizzard are pretty good at the about face these days: they may be the size of a supertanker but the turning circle is far better than it used to be. As a result, and after what is clearly some deliberation, Blizzard are NOT going to convert Valor to Justice and Justice to gold when 5.2 drops. Looking at the above statement, you're going to have enough time to recoup your Valor if you've already spent them, which means we won't see the patch in two weeks, but three (see I can do maths, and where I come from we can make proper plurals too ^^)

Needless to say, seven extra days in this parish will be gratefully received.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Second Hand Rose

Yes, you too can blag your way into LFR with this one simple tip... ^^

Last night the second hunter made it into LFR. Needless to say, I won gold ^^

With the announcement we have two weeks until patch I thought it might be an idea to start getting the only other 90 I have 'raid ready', and although I severely doubt I'll be in a position to do the 5.2 raids with her come the Patch, I am at least on the treadmill. To get her there, I used my LW skills to make two PvP items plus an Epic Chest, got lucky in the Crown Chemical with the 480 neck, had my engineer make a Dragonling and parted with a not inconsiderable sum of glods for the 476 Darkmoon Trinket. Then it was about Scenarios (especially for the guaranteed 450 weapon you'll get from the Arena of Annihilation quest the first time in) and keeping the Archaeology 463 BoA Trinket in my bags until I can make an upgrade happen.

What this teaches me is that I really should have spent more time making Darkmoon Cards (lesson learnt) and that stockpiling leather's a Good Idea (TM) and perhaps I should look a bit closer at my Professions, especially with new recipes appearing in 5.2 (or at least the possibility of that happening.) It also showed me that Scenarios are a fabulous way of doing content quickly, without anyone speaking a word to you the entire time and give you some pretty decent items to boot. However, they will not get you to a position where you can walk into LFR: Heroics (at least in the next two weeks) will be a requirement. That is likely to change with 5.2 however, especially if PvP recipes automatically scale with iLevel. That may allow me to bypass Heroics altogether and makes it even more essential I have my Blacksmith at 600.

It also makes me consider who I'll want at 90 next, and the smart money really ought to go with the Mage/Tailor, considering I have two stacks of Imperial Silk in my bags effectively gathering dust. This will mean gears for all of the cloth wearers too, and (hopefully) the chance to snag some 496 recipes on the AH (I reckon those craftables will be very decent moneymakers in the next patch because of the 480 iLevel entrance requirement.) However I'm really not sure how much time I will have for a third level right now: I do have two farms at 16 plots (finally) but need to send K around picking up dirt piles plus cooking some foods to get everyone on the Farm a bit happier with her. That's really not essential I suppose, but I have one eye on future patches and the possibility of Best Friends offering more in the long term...

Right, now if you will excuse me, I have two toons to run through Shadowfang in the vain hope I might get a mount to drop...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Two Weeks


Remember the post about approximate times for the Patch? I reckon that they're not that approximate after all. I reckon, looking at this post from Bashiok, we've got a fortnight until 5.2 ^^

This is mildly alarming, if truth be told, mostly because it means I won't be done with the Black Prince quest line on P by then. However, this handy-dandy guide has answered a couple of questions that I had in the back of my mind:

  • New Raid needs 480 to enter
  • When Blizzard say 'you’re not going to benefit by waiting for the down-conversion to pick up any current Valor items' it is time to upgrade stuff.
  • This guy enjoyes labelling his pictures almost as much as I do
  • Lots of reiteration of changes, reduction in costs and general 'look, read this and you'll learn something' pointers.

I'm going to be honest: Blizzard should really do more stuff like this. It brings the entire process of change to a level that is easy to grasp, and gives people a clear indicator of what they ought to be doing well ahead of time. Even if you don't spend time pouring over class changes and Patch Notes reading this guide will set you in extremely good stead for what is upcoming. Needless to say, if they keep adding content at the speed they are, it can only be a good thing that there's more information forthcoming from the source.

It's also going to do an awful lot of blogging sites out of a job ^^

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gone Fishing

Exploiting the pre-Cataclysm no-fish zones... ^^

You know, sometimes I worry myself.

I was writing my last post, having considered what parts of the pre-90 levelling experience don't currently aid progression. As it stands there are only two things that leap out as being pointless to do (apart from professions, which we know are quite likely in the process of being revamped) when you start a L1, because they have no actual contribution to make to your XP progress: First Aid and Fishing. I then jokingly made a comment about it can only be a matter of time before that is addressed.

Ten minutes later on Twitter, I read this from @elsanglin:

I'd urge everyone to take a look at the article: it is an extremely interesting and (as always with El) backed up with some really solid numbers. The gist is simple: on the Darkmoon Island, in 5.2, fishing now scales with your skill, and determines which fish you will catch. Of course this doesn't have an immediate relevance in the game world, at least not yet, but it could point to some fairly substantial changes as to how fishing works across Azeroth. It is also the strongest indicator we've seen for some time that Fishing could be about to be altered... and if that happens, I'm betting we could have a situation where a school of fish becomes like a mining or herbalism node: the last fish that comes out of it will award you with an XP boost.

There are other ways that XP could be added to Fishing, perhaps with fish similar to the trio of special quest items you pull out of the water for Nat Pagle in Pandaria. The key incentive, at least it seems to me, is to offer everything from L1 with tan added opportunity to help you get to 90: Battle Pets will soon do that, so if you're waiting for a Dungeon queue you can play a few games and still keep the momentum going. Ideally, if you could do that with fishing as well, plus give yourself a chance to catch items that further improve your levelling chances... well, it's really the best of all worlds, and it is clear that Blizzard are going full-out to make the process of professions as pain free as possible.

The next question then becomes, how would you add XP to the First Aid experience...?

Tell Me on a Sunday

Loch Moden in happier days.

It is at moments like this that I do not miss the Old Days one bit.

I found myself with an hour to kill between coats of paint on a project that I'm helping my daughter with and decided to log the Monk. As Love is In the Air has begun in earnest (already done 2 runs on the Crown Chemical with both toons that can, the second Hunter has the neck upgrade) I found myself doing the quest chain on the Monk and achieving part of the Meta and thinking 'hang on, what's the point?' because as of now, there really isn't one. Yes, there's the XP gain from doing it (two levels just for my 40 minute faff with the Enlightenment buff the Monk gets) but after that, frankly, there's absolutely no merit in pursuing anything else AT ALL. The Meta is a complete waste of time if I'm levelling, in fact most things other than maximising levelling XP become a complete non-issue.

Blizzard basically took all the time wasting out of the 1-90 grind.

Pretty much everything except logging in will now award some kind of XP unless you turn the stuff off. Battlegrounds, gathering, Dailies, Events: I think the only notable exceptions are Battle Pets (which gets fixed in 5.2) and Fishing (which does via Dailies, give them time to add an XP element to sub 85-90 catches, it will come.) Even by not trying it is a pretty safe bet you can progress a character without actually needing to do a Quest Hub any more, or indeed without stepping into a Dungeon, though (of course) both really are the way you should be gathering XP, or a combination thereof. In fact, you're spoilt for choice really, which makes me wonder why it is so damn hard right now to get my Monk out of the 20's, until I grasp that all the desire to grind has been wrung out of me by getting two toons to 90.

That's my problem to deal with however, and not Blizzard's.

I'm working on my retrospectives of the previous expansions right now, and I've realised that part of what I enjoyed before is something I'm glad not to have to deal with now: immersiveness. Whereas back in Vanilla I was happy to spend hours making stacks of stuff to craft and sell with, now I resent the time it takes, mostly because there are better things to do with it, hence the issue with the Festivals (which I maintain have failed to keep up with Blizzard's desire to streamline processes.) I was reading in 5.2 we'll have a solo Scenario, which basically will give people the chance to loot multiple chests in the quickest time possible for loot: although I applaud this move to satisfying the individual need for content that's quick and gives a return, I'm not sure that making a trolley dash is the right way forward. Come to think of it, I'm not sure what I'd suggest in that regard, but I do feel there is a disparity in certain sectors of the game that does need addressing.

There are some parts of the past I do miss: mostly it's to do with scenery, if I'm honest. All the other time consuming, back breaking gubbins is better off where it is. Now all I have to do is work out how to motivate myself when I hit a wall like I have currently...