Google+ ALT : ernative: 05/11/2014 - 05/18/2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Magic Power


A number of you, I know, have discussed the potential consequences of the item 'squish' in Warlords, and its possible ramifications for content that isn't current: that is, soloing old stuff pre-the current Expansion. Blizzard have continued to assure players that they will still be capable of coping with everything thrown at them in all of the game's content, going so far as to suggest they might want to start considering such endeavours in places like Molten Core [*]. However, Developers had not made any direct allusion as to what might change to allow this to take place: after all, Blizzard isn't going back to all the old content to alter it it, and it is apparent that each expansion has not been 'built' in the same way. A number of people have suggested, as a result, that there might well be issues.

On Thursday, Rygarius appeared with this little nugget on the US Forums:


So now we know.

Firstly, this statement could be taken as a confirmation that Yes, Blizzard may have an encountered a problem with old content once they applied the squish. To get around this however, once we get to 6.0, if mobs are a lower level than you, you'll automatically do more damage to them. This makes a lot of sense, and Rygarius was then quick to point out as a result this should not affect those wishing to do content at the appropriate level in a 'twink' capacity. However, if like me you spend a fair bit of time in old instances where currently the term 'faceroll' would be an understatement, you may now have a slight concern about what things will be like in the 6.0 world. Frankly I'd assumed the old stuff would be the least of my issues.

It makes me wonder exactly what's happened with the game once the stat changes were applied.


So many numbers :O

The thing is, right now, everything really is STUPIDLY overblown, so much so that even people like me get that we cannot continue down this particular path, however overpowered this may mean we are. As an example of this, I am going to post a set of DPS meters from my Ordos fight on P this week. Normally, I'd clone out the other people involved, but on this occasion... if I'm beating Elvispresley, something is clearly amiss... ^^

He'll leave the building now. JUST YOU WATCH.


No, this is not an attempt to massage my ego. I'm a 47 year old mother of two with a Hunter who's iLevel 559. I'm not using a consistent rotation or indeed in probably the best spec for DPS. So, when I pop every cooldown and I'M DOING HALF A MILLION DPS honestly, really, this is just BROKEN. I wouldn't want Blizzard to go back on what's being suggested with the squish, far from it, but there is a part of me that's just a wee bit concerned at the news they've had to apply something to deliberately make us OP in old content. Because... well, this isn't ever about the numbers, the same way it shouldn't be about the gear or the progression. We all know how this works, and Blizzard do too. Add this to the revelation that we discussed last week that Blizzard stealth-nerfed drops from the Black Temple, and it is clearly very apparent that that whole thing about not tinkering with old content is perhaps not as rigid as the designers might have us believe.

In fact, if Blizzard are encouraging it, and it appears they are, then clearly the bigger picture has taken on more significance.


The game is still broken. Period.

The game is, in many places, inherently flawed. We're not just talking about no flying in Silvermoon either, there are persistent bugs in game that remain many, many years after we're long gone. I can think of several in Vashj'ir for starters from Cataclysm (getting there can still be a trial with Stormwind phasing, if truth be told) and I'm sure everyone can recall at least one part of the game which is just,well, BORKED. The thing is, none of this impacts on overall enjoyment, and as long as that remains the case then no-one's really that bothered. If I was unable to farm mounts from the Eye and Onyxia, for instance, because of a problem with this 'mechanic' I know I'd not be the only one complaining, and clearly Blizzard realise that too, or else we'd not have something put in place that they were prepared to admit. This change then becomes another thing to add onto the the long list of 'Things to Do when 6.0 Arrives'

That's actually beginning to get quite long, if truth be told...

==

[*] There since Vanilla :D

Friday, May 16, 2014

To Build a Home :: Long Time Coming


We know ...

With the minimum of fuss, Blizzard finally admitted on Thursday that the Alpha for Warlords has been delayed.


That's that, then.

Although Zarhym doesn't go into detailed reasoning or explanation as to why, the brief rationale he does give for when at least has a resonance of truth: knowing the data would leak eventually, it made sense to get everything out in the open at the time. As to when this happened, some might argue that getting the announcement out the same day the Elder Scrolls Online launched was simply a co-incidence. If an Alpha with more general participation launches Tuesday June 3rd to coincide with the Wildstar release, those people will again have nothing to substantiate their beliefs except Blizzard's innate sense of timing. I'm pretty certain however I can provide at least one solid reason why we have no Alpha Client, and I'm going to quietly assert its got very little to do with 'polish.'

It has, however, EVERYTHING to do with your Garrison.


If looks could kill...

When these screenies appeared at Pax East last month, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Garrison was almost ready to roll. The truth in the Alpha Client however told a starkly different story: there is data, of course, but not nearly at the scale many people were expecting (myself included.) If this was going to be the framework around which your entire levelling experience from 90-100 could be hung if you so desired, there was worryingly little actual meat on the bones, at least not at the level we were told we could expect. Only a few missions existed, and about the same number of related Garrisons quests. What was quickly apparent was that it simply wasn't finished, and what the designers needed was time to do so.

It has now been six weeks since the initial Alpha Client was released. One assumes therefore that when Zarhym says 'soon' that cannot be too long away (I'm still betting it'll drop when I'm on holiday in 10 days and NOT early June, but it's still too close to call right now.) However, no-one in their right mind is going to stand up and say the reason they're not testing something is because they've not finished it, because DUH. So, your Garrisons are getting polished, by a team of world-renounced French specialists and by the time they're finished your home from home will be so shiny you'll be able to see your face in it.

Needless to say, if you wonder why we're not playing Alpha right now, I suspect it has a lot to do with many things. Polish is one thing, lack of Garrisons data is another. However, what we do know, is when we'll finally get to play with this new feature at first hand.

Soon (TM)

The Space Between :: Days Go By


Doing the Thinking so You don't have to... :D

Having ensured in the last part of my Guide you've got bags to start you off on your journey at L90, let's get you some really very decent gear without needing to join an LFR queue. I know many of you won't want to *do* LFR that much at all either now or in the future [*], and many of you really aren't particularly keen at participating in organised PvP. However, there are alternatives. If you're patient and sensible, you have the potential to be pretty well geared with only fifteen minutes a week [**]. They key is the much underused (but soon to be VERY important in Warlords) Raid Finder feature.


You really need to be running the Celestials with EVERY L90 you have.


The Celestials have a chance to drop Tier 16 Gear, either legs or gloves appropriate to your class, and at the Normal 10 Man gear level of 553. They also drop a selection of L15 PvP Items at 550. Don't dismiss these items, especially with the changes to PvP gear that will happen in 6.0, particuarly if you are a casual player. With 5.4.8 upcoming, you will also be able to update the non-PvP items four times.

I'm also amazed at the number of people who, having run the Legendary Questline aren't aware that this allows any alt they have at 90 to kill him as well. This makes it actually worthwhile to try and complete the questline at least once, and with the upcoming changes in 5.4.8 this is a great opportunity to consider beginning the 'journey' because of the added benefits Ordos can grant players.



Ordos drops FIFTY NINE items with the Warforged 'title', all at iLevel 559.

Ordos' Loot Table :: Click the link for a complete list of loots.


Many of these items are named after notable Warcraft theorycrafters or players who have significantly contributed to the game or the community. They're also well worth using a Warforged Seal for. Because, as is the case for bosses inside instances, successfully killing World Bosses doesn't only grant you a chance at an item from their loot table, it also gives you a Bonus Roll to boot.

A reminder: Warforged Seals cost Lesser Charms of Good Fortune and are obtainable from your faction appropriate Shrine (Elder Lin for Alliance, Elder Liao for Horde). Charms come from quests, drop from mobs and are occasional rewards from pet battles. You can hold a maximum of 10 Seals at any one time, and you can gain three for 50 coins via a weekly quest. This will change in Warlords, so it's time to get in practice spending them beforehand :D

The chances are you'll have a bunch of Charms already 'saved' as currency, especially if you've done any kind of grinding on the Timeless Isle. If you don't, spend some time grabbing the 50 you need before we begin. You're only going to need two of them for this anyway.

You may think, especially if you are on a low populations server, that killing these world bosses is nigh-on impossible. Not any more. Blizzard have introduced technology that means where you're character lives is no longer an issue, and this is what we'll be utilising to maximise our Epic Loot Potential [TM]

==

When you're ready to begin, type /raidinfo or press O.



Your Raid Information is Ready.

O
is the default shortcut to the Friends window, and the Raid tab is normally where you'll be able to see who else is in a Raid Group with you. Pressing the 'Raid Info' button opens up this window to tell you what Raids you have completed in a normal seven day reset cycle. What we are interested in is the 'Other Raids' button, which grants you access to the ability to move off your own Server and onto other people's. Clicking on that will bring up a menu that will allow you to queue for both the Celestials and Ordos, and these are the World Bosses we are initially interested in.


I need to finish Siege LFR on this Hunter ^^

This menu is how Blizzard responded to oQueue, and when we get to Warlords this is how players will be able to queue and participate in ANY expansion raid excluding LFR. For now, however, all you need to consider is clicking those two at the top. May I politely also suggest you DON'T place yourself in the queue anywhere else except on the Timeless Isle. Don't rely on there being a Warlock present to summon you from Stormwind or the shrine: you'll save tons of time and make this all far more efficient if when you are invited to a group, you're only a short run away from the place you need to be. I realise for certain players, especially healers, this does make life a bit more 'exciting', but it's pretty much common sense.

Then, all you have to do is wait. I think the longest I've waited for a queue thus far (during working hours) is three minutes. That's no time at all for a chance of TOP QUALITY LOOT. Of course, then you have to hope that the Random Number Generator decides to be your friend... ^^

==

Disclaimers.

1. I probably should reiterate that Ordos requires you to have the Legendary Cloak on at least one character to be able to actually fight him. Click Here for an Overview of the entire Questline. You don't need this for the Celestials, of course, but remember that you don't need to do the Legendary questline any more than once to give all your alts access. 

2. By accepting an invite to another Realm to kill Celestials or Ordos, you may well become flagged for PvP. This will also be changed for Warlords, but for now the standard 'possibility of being killed by the opposing faction' issues apply. Be prepared.


[*] I think doing LFR for one Legendary Cloak is enough for this Expansion anyway.
[**] It normally takes far less than that, if truth be told.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Break From the Old Routine





This week, I am making a conscious effort to engage with everyone I have levelled to 90 in game. Thus far, things are going pretty well.


9 Alts, Amazing Returns :O

My plan, such as it is, is remarkably simple, and will be forming the basis of a Guide I'll be publishing tomorrow. During the course of last night and this morning, I took nine L90's and did the following with each one of them:

  • Log in.
  • Go and get three Warforged Seals from the vendor in the Shrine.
  • Fly to the Timeless Isle.
  • Press O and open the Raid Finder.
  • Queue for Ordos and the Celestials.
  • Wait.

When I did this last week, the results were, frankly, woeful. One item of loot dropped from Ordos, one from the Celestials, and that was a duplicate. I'd kind of accepted this would be my lot for the next X weeks as well, but last night I pulled four pieces of loot for three characters (hunter, mage, warlock.) I assumed that would be it but no, this morning the run of fortune continued, particularly from Ordos who was dropping 559's like they were going out of fashion. Ironically P's wins (duplicate Ordos helm and PvP feet) are the only two useless items I've received. Under the circumstances, that's bloody amazing.

It could well be that next week is similarly barren, but if you don't take part you'll never know. That's the key to all of this, actually doing the work. It is the moment when you decide whether you'll simply manage with the gear you have, or try for something better. That's often as big a quandary for players as actually obtaining the gear itself, because normally that means time, effort and often long queue times. The nine characters above took me about two and a bit hours in total. That's a FABULOUS return for the effort involved. Plus, all but one character has sufficient coins for me not to have do anything with them to grind new ones for at least a month. I'm suddenly really glad I levelled so many alts using Pet Battles :and Pandaran rares :D

Farming old crap for Fun and Profit.

I also spent 20 minutes last night tagging an under-geared lowly alt onto a World Boss 'World Tour': The Sha, Galleon, Oondasta and Nalak didn't drop anything of interest, but I re-discovered (was reminded by someone else who was doing the bosses for just this reason) that if I have some bonus roll tokens all these guys have a chance to drop a mount:



So the other job this weekend is to pick up a stack of Elder Charms of Good Fortune and Mogu Runes of Fate on the Horde/Alliance Hunters so I can make sure I run that TWICE A WEEK in the vain hope I might get lucky. yet again, if you don't try, you'll never know.

A change from the normal routine's already proving very enjoyable :D

5.4.8 PTR :: Return to Sender


Image from Wowhead. Incredulity from me.

The expected changes to the PTR popped up last night (as we discussed yesterday) with a number of notable additions in tow. Perhaps the most significant of all will be a disappointment to some, but a welcome change for many.

Oh, THAT Achievement.

The achievement Going to Need a Bigger Bag was one reason I refused to stay on the Island after I'd killed every Rare: 10 points for basically wasting your entire life waiting for rares to spawn or items to drop was, at least in my mind, a completely pointless exercise. It appears that the Developers now agree with me, though I suspect this will be scant compensation for those people who got the Achievement 'pre-nerf' However, for the vast majority of players, this is now a much more attainable goal.

However, if this change wasn't enough to pique the interest, I direct people to the image of the Iron Hitching Post above that was expected to appear as a 'purchaseable' in the Blizzard Store around 2013. This was produced as a result of CCG 'fun' items like the Sandbox Tiger and (presumably) in an attempt to repeat the success of items like the Toy Train Set. However, if you wanted this, you were going to have to part with some cold, hard cash. It appears the idea of the Hitching Post has been updated. The Mount that accompanies it?


So, NOT a 2 person mount, then :(

Myself and many others were incorrect to assume that the Warforged Nightmare was a multi-person transport. Sharing with friends? That could be up to 40 friends (presumably in the largest battlegrounds, though the implication is that there are 25 charges as was the case with the CCG version) via the use of the Nightmarish Hitching Post. Most importantly, if this follows the same (potential) form as the Iron Hitching Post was going to:




As this appears to be a cosmetic buff, it is no longer relevant to my particular interests. We'll leave that in the pile with the Vanity Helms Blizzard has on special this week.

As yet, however, there is still no indication on how players will obtain the Grinning Reaver...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WILDSTAR :: There's No Other Way


The irony is not lost on me, partner ^^

Yesterday evening, I tried to reserve both a character and guild name in Wildstar.

This is not a post on how hard that was, because I have both now. Other people put that issue into perspective far more eloquently than I would ever be capable.


Make your notes, Stalkers, this is where you'll find me :D


I said on the Podcast I'd make a post about this. Having sat down to do so I find myself without any real ire to apportion or indeed a bile-filled spleen to vent. Needless to say, NCSoft, if you're going to proclaim yourself as the World's Premier Publisher of MMO Games, you need better infrastructure, quicker response times on social media and for this NOT to happen all over again when you launch on June 3rd. But I'm betting you know that.

Also, you need less graphics on a page that people want to load quickly. But you know that now too.

The Guild  Name is strictly for vanity porpoises. Not sure where Alternative is going to end up, but you can start courting me now with awesome promises of a Home probably with both the Exiles and the Dominion. Yup, not picking one faction, gonna PLAY THEM BOTH. Just bear in mind, I'm not looking to be an Officer, I'll just be over here, playing quietly.

Needless to say, I'll see you in June.

Alternative Chat :: 25th EPISODE \o/



And that makes three on the trot! Can she maintain this unbroken run? What's up for discussion this week?


In this week's episode you'll get the following:

  • Time to look forward rather than back.
  • The Wildstar thing's getting a Blog Post.
  • Keeping interest in the Blog over the Summer.
  • I (almost) wrote a Novel.
  • Much more faffing thanks to Blizzard.
  • The GREAT BIG TIMELESS ISLE PLAN gets BIGGER.





If you have any comments or thoughts on this week's Podcast, you need any help on Blogging or you have a Transmog item you'd like me to design an outfit around, please send your mail to:

alternativegodmother (all one word) AT gmail DOT com

==


NOTES.


I now have a Facebook page. Come LIKE me at http://www.facebook.com/alternativeblog


Back on the 21st, WATCH THIS SPACE.

5.4.8 NEWS:: The Gift


First, in Patch 5.4.8 (which is currently in testing on the PTR), all upgradable epic items introduced to the game in Patch 5.4 will be given the option to upgrade 2 more times for a grand total of 16 item levels. This change will be applied to all items found on the Timeless Isle and in Siege of Orgrimmar. For instance, if you have an item level 553 Greatsword of Pride’s Fall and its Upgrade Level is 2/2 making it item level 561, once the new patch goes live it will display 2/4 and allow you the opportunity to bump it up to item level 569. Whether you’re working on a newly boosted character or progressing through Siege of Orgrimmar, we hope this change will provide you with the extra punch you need to take down your foes. 
Second, we are also adding a new token called Deeds of Valor which will cost 3000 Timeless Coins, and can be used to grant your character 100 Valor Points. Players who wish to purchase the new token can do so by visiting Mistweaver Ai on the Timeless Isle next to the Celestial Court. Keep in mind, these tokens won’t allow you to go above the current weekly cap on Valor, but they do provide you an extra option to gain the points you may need so you can upgrade your gear. 
Thanks everyone for your feedback, we will be bumping up the ilvl of all Garrosh Heirlooms by +8 in 5.4.8, since they are not upgradeable with Valor. The intent of the 5.4.8 VP upgrade change is to let people continue to progress, and we don’t want those who are using one of the Garrosh BoA weapons as their primary weapon to feel like they need to go get a brand new weapon due to this change. 
Yes, legendary cloaks will receive the ability to upgrade two more times, but they will not be auto-upgraded. 
Source. 

In a move that came as pretty much a surprise for everyone (except that guy who knows a girl whose brother works at Blizzard) it was announced late last night that there'll be something else to spend your Timeless Coins on come 5.4.8. It is important to note that you'll still be restricted by the weekly Valor Cap when working towards your limit, and these items won't be BoA, so no sending them to alts, everyone has to work. For those of us who really don't want to grind on the Island, or have a bazillion coins from doing just that already, this will be at least a way to upgrade all that gear for a second time without stepping foot in LFR.

Needless to say, this is going to work as an effective boost to everyone struggling in Heroic content downwards. It will probably substitute as a quick fix for actual content nerfs too, which would require actual development time I'm guessing Blizzard simply don't have right now. Whether it will drive people back to the Island... who can tell, but it does give players more options, and that will (hopefully) keep them engaged in content. Certainly it makes grinding on the Island for Charms of Good Fortune far more attractive. I suspect Evermaw might be killed on my server's Isle a bit more frequently to boot. Three of his untimely demises will probably get enough coins for 100 Valor.

That's how you'll start considering your progress once 5.4.8 appears. I also reckon two weeks tops before that patch goes live.

Then, if that piece of news wasn't enough, Blizzard's official Twitter feed has thrown this at us:




Things to note?

  • YES THAT'S CLEARLY A SADDLE ENOUGH OF THE TEASE BLIZZARD.
  • Not only is this a mount, it's a re-skin of the infamous Qiraji Battletank.
  • This one absolutely DEFINITELY has no wings.

No, we won't be getting this in 5.4.8, I'd wager. I'm betting we'll have to work for it, too.

I must go get my Blue Bug Mount from Archaeology.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Space Between :: Carry That Weight


Time for some actual advice, I think...


So, you bought the Expansion on Pre-Order, and now you have a L90 to play with. You may have gotten yourself a bunch of lovely Embersilk Bags for taking the fast track but the first time you visit your bank? Not a single container of note, except that Grape Picking Sack (that's a Grape Picking Sack coz you can't see the white quality of that link, THAT'S HOW BAD IT IS!) that you got from that quest in Elwynn before you gave this particular character up in disgust. As it's a good bet you're not exactly rolling in cash right now, I feel this would be a good opportunity to have a discussion about free containers. Because, frankly, everyone likes something for nothing (except, of course, you'll need the time to go find all these items to begin with.) Without further ado, therefore, it is time to present:






If you have the money, you can buy bags on the AH. You can make them if you are a Tailor or you can even obtain them from vendors. There's even a lovely Guide on Wowhead telling you all about it. We're not interested in spending money. We want stuff for free. That means:

  • Bags that drops from mobs, or drops when farming other places
  • Bags that constitute a quest reward/you 'buy' using things that drop from mobs
  • Bags that exist in zones/instances

Fortunately, for the cash-strapped amongst you, the above criteria covers quite a few containers of interest. Gonna list them all for you now, and we'll go through the obtaining of them as we go.

==

It feels good. You knew that it would.

ONE :: BAGS FROM INSTANCES/BOSS KILLS.


As each of these is Unique, it means you can only have the one, but if you snag them all it's a massive ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX slots without you needing to spend a single penny. The Onyxia Bag is a guaranteed drop from the Dragon Lady herself in Duskwallow, and the Dragon Hide Bag comes from Normal plus Heroic Sartharion in the Obsidian Sanctum in Northrend. Once upon a time you'd have needed 24 mates to snag these but at least until they squish all our stats, most classes have a decent chance of soloing these two without breaking a sweat. Same is true for Magtheridon, who has his own Lair in Hellfire Peninsula and drops a decent 20 slotter for what (at least for my Hunter) is less than five minutes work. The other 22-er however is slightly more problematic. Both the Papa 'bags' have a chance to drop from Bronjahm in the Forge of Souls in Icecrown. When I say 'chance' Wowhead's calling it about 4% I've only ever seen the 22 slot once and it's still equipped on my Warlock.

However, if you're running Magister's Terrace on the Isle of Quel'Dailies for the White Hawkstrider, there's a far better probability you'll see the Sun Touched Satchel eventually. In fact four out six of these bags are attached to loot tables that also have a mount drop with them. You could do a lot worse than put this together for some HOT FARMING ACTION.

Small race, MAHOOSIVE BAG.

TWO :: QUEST BAGGAGE



If the bags in the Forge of Souls aren't happening for you, these three are decent fallbacks and, if you're a boosted 90, you won't have done the questlines attached to them, so you can go sort that out at the same time. The Grummelpack's about an hour's work (if that) in Kun Lai: go find the quest 'Traffic Issues' given by Smokey Sootassle on the Burlap Trail. Seven quests in, you'll be rewarded with your 24 slotter. Job dun! The Hexcloth Bag is a reward from Zul'Aman (reward from Zul'Aman), which can still be a little tricky to solo, but as there's another mount to farm in this one you could do a lot worse than ask a mate along.

The Halaani Bag requires 80 Oshu'gun Crystal Powder Samples, which you'll need to hand into your faction's appropriate vendor in Nagrand. You'll also need Halaa to belong to your faction to do this, which is why this particular bag often gets overlooked. However, yet again, there are two mounts available for PvP in this zone. You could do a lot worse than invite some friends from BOTH factions along and make a day of it :D

Old Reliable :D

THREE :: ZONE DROPS THAT ARE BIND FREE.


These last two are worth mentioning, because like most bags that drop from mobs in the 'Old World' they're bind-free and therefore can be swapped from alt to alt without penalty. No, they're not huge, but they are useful and drop with impressive regularity from pretty much every instance in the late 40's to early 60's. I've been farming UBRS for Dragonscale, for instance, and I reckon I see a Traveler's Backpack every other run. There's a lot to be said for these if you really are on a budget and you have the last few spaces in your bank to fill. The overriding advantage using these? Once you get a bigger bag you can either send them to your next alt or make a tidy profit on the AH. Me? I keep them for bankalts, because I am cheap and I like the idea of bind-free generally.

==

There you have it: eleven bags that won't cost a penny to obtain, and most have the benefit of when you're farming for them, you get FREE MONEY along the way. There are other options I've overlooked too: if you're passing through Blackrock Depths, for instance, always be sure to kill Ribbly Screwspigot as he has a chance to drop a 16 slot BoP, the Wayfarer's Knapsack. If we're still waiting for Warlords by the time Hallows End rolls around, you might even see a Jack o' Lantern drop, which is an 18 slot BoP item not to be sniffed at.

We hope you've found this useful. Stay tuned for more Cheapass Guides as we crawl our way inexorably make our way towards Warlords :D

Monday, May 12, 2014

This Week I Will be Mostly :: Words


ORGANISE ALL THE THINGS.

Yesterday, I sat down for an hour with the Armoury and did something I've not really been looking forward to: for want of a better expression I did a Character Audit. I looked at every 90 I own and did some basic notetaking: what iLevel they were, what state their weaponry and gear was in generally and what items they could use to improve them so when I level them in the Expansion they won't just get squished to a pulp. Of course, it probably won't matter much in that regard but this does give me the opportunity to make sure everyone's bars are in good nick and their storage is as robust as it can be and all the crap is thrown away. I think that's probably why the word audit's actually not inappropriate. There's also another factor to consider in this, and that's being able to play these characters at least halfway decently. So this entire process will end up with me grasping the changes that happened an Expansion ago, just in time for it to all change again before Warlords.

Yeah, I know.

WRATH SCREENIE :O

Yesterday, I played some Warlock and remembered how much I enjoy my wee gnome. I spent some time learning how to look after myself (my toons are inevitably specced for self-preservation) and did some time on the island using my Voidy as a tanking pet and... well, I can see myself playing this one at least for a bit in LFR. On that front, LFR is no better or worse than I remember it from at any point in the last year. It remains the only place to gear myself away from having a regular raid team who will carry me (and that's not going to happen) so if I want upgrades, that's where I must go. In the end, I can just switch off raid chat when it gets provocative. I will use what Valor I get to upgrade items but it's not like I need to farm that anyway on anyone any more: Weekly Island quests get me enough to do one upgrade. I did two bosses in Part 2 of the Siege last night and picked up three items using a bonus roll: what matters more now are the Warforged Seals to allow that, so that's putting the priority back to the Island for everyone, for the forseeable future.

It's not like I don't know how to grind stuff, after all.


I know my place.

The next two weeks are going to be insanely busy in real life terms: getting to fit anything in will mean snatching the moments when I can, so that's likely to be a bit of Island Farming the the odd LFR boss as and when, combined with organising bars and bags on the side. Keep your eyes open as well this week for a couple of Guides to gathering stuff on the cheap: there'll be one later covering bags. After all, storage until Warlords is going to be at a distinct premium...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scattered Black and Whites


What we remember most.

From time to time I find myself having to explain to non-gamers what it is exactly that I do. Ironically, when Warcraft is mentioned it's normally one of two responses: 'What's that?' or 'Oh my friend/mate/colleague played that, was totally addicted.' I even have actual proof of a situation where someone was given an ultimatum by their girlfriend (not judging) to stop playing or she would end the relationship. There's a lot of hyperbole when it comes to this game, so this is the moment where, in the interests of balance, I should mention a friend's brother who takes his entire family to events, all in costume, and they all have a fabulous time as a unit immersing themselves in Warcraft. For every Yin, there is a Yang, after all. You don't have the dark without the light.

I managed to complete Garrosh on LFR, FINALLY this week. At the end, before I go tell Wrathion what he already knows and he flaps off in the most anti-climatic and quite laughable Villain exits stage left I've ever seen, there's a cutscene with Cho. He's pretty much one of the only reasons I suffer the Siege in LFR difficulty, to be honest. I feel this isn't about me or even Garrosh in the end, this just for his people, for the Ji and the Aysas for whom if I don't destroy all this stuff, they'll have to spend the next six expansions with the heart of their continent totally fecked. That final scene you get (and apologies to anyone who's still not done it) really didn't need the Celestials in it. I get why they were there, Blizzard. It's impossible to forget what they came to symbolise for many people: this isn't about learning for most, it was about pointless exercises and rewards that ultimately just felt hollow. The tree that we plant however, that was significant. This game is embodied by moments, scattered images in each person's mind that ties them to the game, and to this fictional world.


A Pandaran tree.

In the week I noticed the Warcraft official Twitter feed ask players for their most memorable in-game triumph. Questions like that are great for generating interest: I only have to look at the several Facebook Warcraft groups I belong to for that. I'm always stupid enough to respond to these questions too, and then spent the next three days sweeping up the hundreds of completely unique and separate responses out of my Mail Inbox. Best Guild Names was the last one, and after a week there's still a regular response. People like comparing memories as souvenirs, their own personal 'photographs' to show to people who can appreciate the moments, who have their own 'version' of events but lived the same experience but in a different place and time. That's one of Warcraft's compelling strengths too: Boss fights gain legendary status in the minds of players because they act as a collective 'event': it's like a sports game, or a concert, or something that everyone watched on TV. That's one of the reasons why Twitter is as hugely influential as it undoubtedly is (as a brief aside). Last night's Eurovision Song Contest will live long in many people's minds, not simply because of the Drag Act from Austria who lifted the trophy. The moments where everyone is focused on a single event or goal become definition not simply of who those people are, but how they relate to the rest of the world around them.

Shared experiences as a race are very, VERY important indeed.


What we take with us.

In the quiet times, therefore, when there is no real game for most, placing Blizzcon front and centre really was the absolute best thing Blizzard could have done to maintain interest in Warcraft. It is pretty much the ultimate shared experience for fans of the franchise, even if you never attend a panel or even walk into the convention centre. The stuff that goes on after hours is ALWAYS what gets talked about the most: not when you're learning about the game, but when you get to compare your thoughts and experiences with like-minded individuals who think and feel the way that you do. That is, I wager, the real pull of the Convention for many, and this year that may matter a great deal because there's a good chance no only there'll be no new Expansion to announce, but we won't actually have the current one to play with either. It won't matter however for the attendees, and that may be something Blizzard hopes can spill out to the wider audience to boot.

The next six months are crucial for many things, the shared experience most notable amongst them.