Saturday, May 24, 2014

Vogue :: Like a Prayer

Simple is often best.

Occasionally an item drops in an Instance that just screams to be mogged. Such it was with the Thaumaturge's Crackling Cowl which drops from the Deathbringer's Cache in Icecrown Citadel. My priest picked this up on an achievement run and it occurred to me at the time that not simply did it tick the boxes in the Looks Department, it also had the added bonus of a glow. PLUS IT IS PURPLE and frankly no wrong will ever come wearing a  purple item. Hence this mog for the Priest was born, when she swapped from Gnome to Dwarf, and it is one of the simplest I've approached for some time.

Disparate glows...

I spent quite a lot of time havering over a weapon because of the hat glow. Part of me felt I ought to match the two but there was nothing I felt was suitable. So instead I have decided to stick with something I felt matched the spirit of the item (no priest pun intended) and instead compliments the Chakra aura I normally use. This staff was worth farming for as well, with a distinct look I couldn't find anywhere else. Sometimes it really is worth going the extra mile to make something look just right.

Just so beautiful. The staff is gorgeous too :D

You'll notice there's no cloak here: that's because I'm still trying to finalise something I'm totally happy with (which is often a process that is ongoing with mogs several months after I officially declare them 'done'.) Again, as seems to be the case with many of my female projects, this one will show off fingers more once the new models are introduced. This is also an outfit I can see myself hanging onto many, many months into the Expansion, because of the simplicity. I'm really very proud of it.


This Week, I Will Be Mostly :: Summer Holiday

I am not here. Honest.

As you're reading this, wherever in the world you may be, I am not here.

The great thing about the Internet (apart from all the knowledge in the world EVAH and pictures of animals 24/7) is it allows you to be in many places simultaneously. This week, it's going to allow me to carry on being your source for interesting reading-type stuff in a Warcraft stylee whilst simultaneously being away from my keyboard for large parts of the week doing holiday-type gubbins. It's the state where everybody wins, and although I've worn myself into the ground prepping everything in the week before I left, it will be so worth it. It's also going to be a living advert to what scheduling using a third-party programme can do, which is be an absolute godsend if you tend to write prolifically in periods and then have nothing to say for days. It's instant consistency plus longevity, and is well worth investigating. That's going to be part of an NBI feature from me later in the week as well.

Let me now give you a bit of an idea of what you can expect in the next seven days.

...and 5, 6, 7, 8!

As I have no idea at this stage when ANYTHING may be happening in the Land of Blizzard (TM) and I doubt that's going to change any time in the future, I've 'programmed' a week's worth of content in what can loosely be termed as 'generic.' That will include another 'Space Between' Guide on Tuesday, some mogging stuff and some meaty general discussion topics for general consumption. However, should ANY ACTUAL NEWS break out I'll be travelling with a portable wireless hotspot and a tablet with keyboard function, so you can probably expect some kind of 'current' content on top of what's already planned, should circumstances dictate it. After all, I'm only going to a place with limited internet access. What I won't be doing for a week is actually playing the game. I doubt that Azeroth will disintegrate without me.

The key here is to keep you good people entertained regardless of my current location, be it hunting for fossils or eating lunch at an ex-Royal residence. If you want to be bored senseless by holiday photos, keep half an eye on Twitter where I suspect you'll be able to work out where I am in a Carmen Sandiego stylee. I hope you'll remain engaged in the next seven days, and I look forward to hearing any feedback you guys have on what I've done and (more importantly) how it could be better accomplished in the future. For now, enjoy your Saturday.

I suspect I'll be on a boat by now... :D

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The Cog in the Machine...

In February 1985, a film changed my life.

I was eighteen, and a boy asked me on a date. He posed a question:  if I could go and see one movie, what would I choose, and without a thought I told him I'd like to travel into London to see 'Brazil', and to my utter amazement he obliged, buying me train and what were, at that point, pretty expensive cinema tickets. I don't remember his name, or anything that happened between us. What I do remember with a vividness that still travels with me is the effect this film had on a very naive and impressionable teenager, and how it utterly altered my perception of the World around me. A photographic moment in my mind is me standing on the set of steps that used to lead down to the platforms at London's Liverpool Street station and grasping the awful truth Gilliam presented: nothing ever changes. You may think you've won, that you have a victory, but in the end it is often in your own mind and nowhere else.

It has taken me thirty years, but finally I realise that this isn't actually the way the World works. In fact, if you want a Revolution, this is probably a pretty good moment to be stepping on the Bandwagon. However, all the effort in the world isn't going to matter one jot if you can't see that individual perceptions are changed, because in the end that's how long-term acceptance becomes the norm. Winning the fights is all well and good, but only if everyone embraces the results. The problem that is becoming very apparent is that even as other victories are celebrated, it doesn't really mean much if the people in charge aren't listening. There is also another possibility, that I think some people simply fail to overlook but I can grasp because I've been there.

Some people simply don't grasp there's a Revolution needed to begin with.

There's a reason why Alternative Histories are so popular.

I covered Rob Pardo's talk at MIT in my blog a couple of weeks ago, and how it was received as an overridingly positive approach to using your Brand to change the World. It is rather ironic therefore that this article appeared yesterday (quoted below) which was conducted with Pardo immediately after said 'inspirational' session. You see, the thing is with success is that it is anything but relative for a section of society. Many, many very important people judge success simply in noughts after the first comma, the payroll and the rewards. It doesn't consider 'reward' in terms of freedom and equality. Once you get a winning formula, you become loathed to change it, because of all those dollars you'd lose, and because of the 'failure' you'd become in the eyes of so many. So when you ask someone a question that's relevant to the social rewards a game can present and not the monetary ones... well...

Blizzard make games people want to play, and they do, across a VAST demographic. However, if you want to know *why* they make them...? Well, in the end I'd wager they do that for the same reasons as most companies produce any product or service. They do it to make money. Socially progressive content in most visual media is dangerous, controversial and frankly pretty scary to people of a certain age in certain specific demographic groups with their eyes on the notion of success as how many units of something you shift. So, as a rule, you don't do it. What you DO do however is press as many buttons as possible using visual media because that's how things have pretty much always been in your world. Except it isn't your World any more, and real change IS coming, but probably not at a speed that many people will find acceptable and so, inevitably, people will begin to walk away. And they are. I watched at least one high-profile Blogger cancel his account because of Pardo's comments. This reasoning is pretty compelling too: if you stop buying the product, the company ultimately fails.

Except, in this case, it won't.

I genuinely believe Pardo doesn't think what his company is doing is a problem. Todd Harper may have done everyone in the revolutionary corner a favour here, especially as this was one guy asking another guy about his opinion. The thing is with affecting change is finding the right people to target. Fiction loves to think it's the lowly guy, the Everyman who is the catalyst for massive social change. It's why the Sam Lowry's of this world are so appealing in fiction, why you'd love to believe putting flowers in guns would stop a war. The truth is that, more often than not, your best source for change is in absolutely the last place you'd expect to find it. In this case, that might end up being the Guy at the Top. There's been controversy before over Blizzard's behaviour, but it has been localised and swiftly dealt with, and not widely reported in the general media. This Polygon story is the kind of thing that could easily do the major media rounds. The press love sticks to beat companies with, and this particular piece of ex-tree is very newsworthy. 'Blizzard Boss not interested in Socially Progressive Gaming' is a pretty damning headline if someone chose to write it who doesn't have a vested interest in the subject, and there are plenty of those around.

Maybe we actually just needed the right person to ask the right question to start the ball rolling.

The problem when you blanket condemn a brand or an organisation is that you are, more often than not, failing to point a finger at the real problem. Blizzard has an unusually large number of people with immense loyalty to their cause, for good reason. Everyone is treated well, there are remarkably few instances of public complaint from employees. That says to me that people enjoy working for them, and believe what they do is important. I've seen staff react to how their bosses are treated by those who feel that the company has questions to answer on issues of social progression to boot. These don't appear to be people too scared to speak their mind, quite the opposite. The bottom line is simple: this company makes games. They do it very well, but what happens from time to time is that Blizzard remind us that the senior staff are of a certain age, and they come from an era where stuff was acceptable that now frankly isn't... except lots of people still believe it is. That's pretty much the crux of the issue, right there. It then comes down to how individuals deal with what for them isn't actually a problem. It's how their world has always been.

It is, in the end, if you are prepared to live in the fantasy version of that which Blizzard presents you with or not.

The Smoking Mountain.

If Blizzard were the minority in game company terms, this would be a hugely different argument. However, when Mr Harper quotes Nintendo as another example of a gaming company which clearly fails to grasp the concept of social progression, you realise that there is still a tipping point that needs to be reached before games companies begin to grasp that even if they are targeting for a specific audience, that's not necessarily how their product will ultimately be consumed. In the Internet Age, anything is possible, the only restriction is the player's imagination. A smart gaming company will listen to criticism about gender and identity and act accordingly. A sensible gaming company will target demographics it knows aren't being actively focussed on. EVERY Gaming company is going to need to have an opinion eventually on social progression, like it or not. It is the smoking volcano that sits under the surface of EVERY part of modern society. I could drag in politics and religion into this discussion at this point too, not simply gender, because that's how fast the world is changing.

I bet you if someone asks Pardo the same question about his position a year from now, he'll have a pre-prepared statement all ready to go, because if Blizzard weren't aware already, a storm is coming. The demographics they're failing to successfully target are extremely potent, and if Mr Pardo wants to keep those balance sheets strong, one day someone is going to tell him he'll need to consider that the World IS a different place from the one he grew up in, and he'll have to decide whether that matters to him or not. The Revolution, despite Mr Gil Scott Heron's assertions, is being televised. It's being blogged about and is all over social media.

What matters now is how Blizzard react to the inevitable.

To Build a Home :: Hey Big Spender

Things are now beginning to get interesting...

As we discussed yesterday, there's a new Alpha Client in town, and it's making some interesting small talk with Professions in the corner there, where no-one can *quite* make out what's going on. What is apparent from the first pass of data from the miners is that Blizzard weren't joking when they said Professions in your Garrisons were going to be similar to what you're used to in game at present. I'm not sure however I was expecting what yesterday's datamining is suggesting could happen. The indicator comes with these three specialisations from the files, plus the presence of a number of spells that suggest that cauldrons are back in the game:

GarrSpecialization #34
Student Lab - Your Alchemy Lab takes on students, and the class has a couple of potions for you each day. 
GarrSpecialization #35
Transmutation - The lab specializes in the mutable nature of physical objects, increasing the amount of Metamorphic Crystals that can be produced each day. 
GarrSpecialization #36
Elixir - The lab specializes in catalyzing alchemical reactions, increasing the amount of Alchemical Catalysts that can be produced each day.

Three Spells, no waiting.

So, what can we surmise from this data? You're going to produce new Reagents, presumably used to make you items. You can choose to have your Garrison Lab specialise EXACTLY as you do with Alchemy in game. What is not yet clear is whether there is an actual advantage to having the same skill as a Transmuter in your Lab as you do as a Transmuter on your character, or whether you will be able to take a second specialisation and still get benefits. The suggestion has been from interviews that you'd want to take a skill you already posses to have access to additional items, but specialisations didn't even come into the discussion at that stage. One assumes therefore that professions like Tailoring could well end up with sub-divisions again to benefit healers and damage dealers, and Leatherworking might allow specialisations for spell, ranged and melee classes. We won't know until we have more information, and currently there's only spells for Enchanting, Alchemy and Engineering present in game.

Also interesting.

I'd assumed that when Blizzard were talking about Specialisations these would be focussed on Followers and not the buildings as well. Here we have further proof I was incorrect, and that your Fishing Shack can also function in a number of ways, which begs the question as to what else there is inside your Garrison that can be individually customised and how many potential combination of factors this could throw up for min/maxing your experience. My initial though that there will be Gold Farming Builds for this feature remains pretty much intact to boot, especially as it's now entirely possible that Fishing could have a specialisation that directly influences Alchemy (via the medium of fish.) I should say that this fact alone is probably one of the most exciting possibilities I've seen so far in the Alpha builds, because it shows a depth of understanding of what factors influence others in the Professions matrix.

It is ironic of course that I'm off on holiday tomorrow. Needless to say, I'll be taking access to the Internet with me, and I will be watching. Oh yes.

Frankly, the playable Alpha really cannot come soon enough.


All screenies in this post are from MMO Champion's Datamining Post.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

ALPHA :: Build 18297 Overview

Outhouses are now useable. Thank Elune for that :D

There's a new Alpha Build on the Servers. As it was deployed after midnight US time the Data Miners are probably going to take a while to digest it all, but first indicators would seem to suggest this is a fairly massive Class Abilities adjustment pass. The only thing MMO mention thus far in relations to your Garrison, for instance, is the Achievement above. Be careful what you wish for, Internets, for it is likely one day to come to pass. This does at least reaffirm my faith that Poop Quests are still high on Blizzard's agenda for new content :P

As for everything else, there are some notable additions.

  • There are a selection of seven different coloured 'Ravagers' which look suspiciously like the Silithid. MISSING LINK ANYONE?
  • We finally have a Portal that looks like the one in the Blasted Lands with a Red Glow (TM) Fizz Goldfellow will be pleased :D
  • Draenor Gronn are far more attractive than their Outland counterparts.

I'd put a fair bit of cash on these five being an indicator of what Battlers can expect to have to do for Achievements this time around. For instance, you have to finish a battle with an ability from each pet family (see Beast Beat-down) and with specific pets being used in combination (as is the case with Hydraulics) There's also a good chance of a slew of Achievements using specific types of pet spell. That should keep the points chasers busy for quite some time... There's also spells for two new pets, the Grovestrider Hatchling and the Lifelike Mechanical Frostboar.
Most significantly of all, Engineering's had a ton of recipes added to it and amongst those are many that could well be Vanity Pets.
  • It appears that Leatherworking will now follow the same gathering 'model' currently used by Herbalism and Mining:

This means that regardless of your skinning skill, you'll be able to skin anything anywhere in the game. What your skill will do is dictate what you're able to gain from mobs themselves.

I'm already looking forward to seeing what Wowhead are going to pull from this Build... and whether any of it will have any kind of Garrison relevance... :D

The Space Between :: Easy Meat


On Tuesday, we discussed ways of gathering 1000 Valor a week using 'social' methods such as the LFR mechanic or grouping on the Timeless Isle. There of course will be those of you who are not really keen or indeed happy with dealing with other players, and prefer to do their gathering alone. Fortunately, there are still many ways to obtain Valor without the need to enter an Instance. The majority of these revolve around the Pandarian Daily Quests, which remain as a decent source of income and additional items for sale.

The question then becomes: how much Valor can you earn per day just by doing Dailies?

At 5 Valor per turn in, you'd need to complete 200 Dailies in a one week cycle to grab your allocation, which equates to approximately 28.57 Quests per day. As there is no longer a limit to the number of quests you can complete in a 24 hour period, how long would it take to earn your 1000 points just using the basic 5.0 Dailies?

As things stand, there are the following Quests for a L90, with a number of provisos:

  • Order of the Cloud Serpent: 3 Dailies available.
  • Anglers: 3 Dailies available.
  • The Tillers: 6 Dailies available.
  • Klaxxi: 8 Dailies available.
  • Golden Lotus: 14 Dailies available.
  • Shado Pan: 5 Dailies available.
  • August Celestials: 4 Dailies available (in one of three locations.)

You gain 14 Golden Lotus quests at revered, which is also when the August Celestials and Shado Pan questlines become available. Therefore, if we assume players are Revered, this gives you access to a grand total of 43 dailies per day via this method, meaning you can earn up to 215 Valor per day, meaning it will take you 4.65 days to gain your account cap. However, there are also Dailies at Lion's Landing and the Isle of Thunder to consider that were introduced in 5.1 and 5.2:

  • Lion's Landing awards 25 Valor per day from 5 quests in one of four Quest Hubs.
  • Stage 5 of the Throne of Thunder quests rewards EITHER 60 Valor total or 60 Conquest and 525 Honor

Completing these two on a daily basis adds 85 Valor to your total, meaning you could earn 300 Valor a day and it would take 3.33 days to gain your account cap, roughly equivalent to using my preferred method for farming Instances and Scenarios.

Therefore it is entirely possible simply to earn your Valor from 'normal' Dailies, should you so desire :D

Worth 60 Valor :D

However, there are a number of additional options for Valor we have not yet considered. 

There is a Cloud Serpent Daily which can award a player 15 Valor for First and Second place, 10 Valor for Third and Fourth, and 5 Valor for Fifth or Sixth place for completing The Sky Race. There are also seven Pandarian Battle Pet Tamers to defeat, for 35 Additional Valor, and four Pandaran Spirit Tamers, for an extra 20 Valor. That means you could conceivably be earning 370 Valor a day assuming you can come at least Second in the Sky Race..

You might not get much else done, though. In fact, if you wanted evidence of why Dailies have fallen out of favour, this is probably one of several indicators as to why.


What this Guide tells you is that it is probably wise to try and mix a combination of Timeless Isle activities, bearing in mind that 3000 Timeless Coins equals 100 Valor, with your favourite reputation hubs, especially if you are using the time between Expansions to work on Reputations as well as grinding Valor.   Simply grinding Valor using Dailies is possible, but it is probably the most time-consuming method you can pick to do so. However, these Quests will have a use for you before the Expansion, so it might be a good time to decide on your favourite hubs as we will return to them in a Guide due for publication next week :D

It is probably fair to say that this is the most flexibility players have ever possessed  in terms of collecting currency, if they are in turn prepared to be flexible with their methods of collection

It is ironic therefore that Valor is likely to lose nearly all of its relevance come Warlords :(

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ring My Bell

Every Tweet's a POTENTIAL BLOG BOST...

We do still love Mr G. Street.

Even though it has been many months since his departure from Blizzard, his Twitter feed is still a source of interesting comment and reflection for those of us who like to consider the wider issues behind Gaming with a Capital G. Take this Tweet from Monday, for instance, referencing a Penny Arcade strip I saw several people allude to simply as notable for its namecheck for Wildstar. Most missed the subtlety, but not our favourite ex-Crab. The message in the 3-Panel was simple: Gabe spent time playing Wildstar but effectively did nothing, though as Tycho points out that means a great deal of nothing quantifiable by 'conventional' gaming standards: so effectively his time was wasted... even though he enjoyed himself in the process. Mr Street's comment on the back of this is really rather relevant, especially as we're about to get an Expansion where many people think we'll have to waste our time getting 10 levels to max again when we should really just be playing dungeons or PvP. The problem comes with what people define not simply as an effective use of the time available, but what they get out of that experience to show for their effort.

Truly we have now entered the age of Time Management Gaming.

This is an Eisenhower Box. Although former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower never played Warcraft, this is how I'd use his principle for evaluating the importance of tasks to decide what part of my gaming experience is more significant. The stuff in the 'Important/Urgent' box is the priority, the stuff in the Important/Not Urgent box I'll get to eventually. Not Important/Urgent tasks I often try and do with someone else and the Not Important/Not Urgent tasks... well, you get the point. I'm sure you as a player would rearrange these elements in lots of different ways, and the key is understanding how players become obsessed with the need for things to be 'worthwhile.' With every new game, after all, there are often masses of new systems to learn or elements to grasp. Having been 'trained' in Warcraft, I don't even need to hear a bell ringing to understand that I have a particular set of priorites to consider when a game is presented to me, new and fresh and ripe for playing. Blizzard have become, more or less, the Ivan Pavlov of the Gaming World (see below). Their methods in training me in reflex system responses have been second to none.

It is entirely possible that as a result of such conditioning, inefficiency has now become as much of a problem for players as it is for designers.

Ding Dong Ding, Ding Dong Ding

When I first entered Wildstar I was not a Gabe from Penny Arcade. I consciously stopped myself from wandering into the World and just enjoying myself because, at the back of my mind, I knew that everything was part of someone else's plan. In any given zone, there'd be stuff to discover, achievements to be had, raw materials to be exploited and other players to be dealt with. I was actually a bit scared of simply wandering off and not having a plan, if truth be told, because I wasn't sure I'd be penalised on my first trip round for NOT picking up stuff straight away. That's the problem with  knowing perhaps a bit too much about what an MMO is asking of its playerbase: finding your initial level can become quite perilous. This isn't anybody else's fault other than mine, of course. I could simply ignore everything and just run around Gabe style. The problem with that, however, is the understanding that if your environment changes with the decisions you make, making certain choices may end up separating you from things you want, but you don't yet know you can get. Then this whole thing stops being about responses, and becomes more about the amount of information you were given to begin with.

There's only one spec of Death Knight. Blizzard say so ^^

Choice, after a while, becomes an issue. Making systems more complicated can lead to a basic inability to be able to grasp them outside the people who designed the system to begin with. When you are attempting to educate someone (as Blizzard are with the Class Guide 'Crash Courses' they released yesterday) giving them everything at once isn't helpful. Instead, you need to pick a starting point. When every class has three specs and some have more, that's not an easy choice to make for the designers either. It is clearly understandable therefore that it would have been impossible to dedicate time and effort to make a video for every spec, because this would mean the people producing these Guides are then not actually producing the Game, which is more important in the long term. That means, completely unintentionally,there is now the possibility of giving credence to the chosen specs, of them holding greater significance because they were selected to have guides made about them to begin with. If we see a sharp increase in people playing Frost spec DK's, seriously, don't be surprised. People like cookie cutter guides because they're easy and require no skill for a considerable return. People want to just know the best pet for dps. There is a very good reason for this.

The Culture of Productive is Subjective. TRUFACT.

What matters for *most* people when playing a game is a very distinct and undoubtedly personal set of priorities. Trying to offer specific solutions to problems is never easy, but I certainly applaud Blizzard for making an effort to try. The biggest single issue currently for anyone making or doing ANYTHING (and this isn't just games, this covers most forms of entertainment) is grasping the particular mentality of your audience, and how to respond to what can often appear to be 101 different complaints about the same issue. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to ring everyone's bell simultaneously. So you pick your battles, and you hope you occasionally hit the target. Ironically, the customisable relics that Blizzard have in development that feature in yesterday's Artcraft are prime examples of the kind of thing that could do just that. You don't need to worry about skill for those, after all, and they give you the all-important ability to stand out from everyone else. When al is said and done, individuality matters too.

All we need now is someone to explain to players how to be good at what they do without worrying they're going to miss something on the way.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Space Between :: 1000 Miles

We have bags and we have gear. Now, to upgrade it.

If you're still playing this game right now, you'll undoubtedly have your own particular reasons for doing so. If one of them is to gear your character as robustly as possible, then at some point you will require Valor. Each piece of gear you can farm from the Siege of Orgrimmar on whatever difficulty, all the items available from the Timeless Isle, plus those that drop from World Bosses have an upgrade path which involves the currency.

Two more upgrades available until 5.4.8 :D

This means that this Chestpiece can become an ilevel 504 item. Come 5.4.8 either later today for the US or tomorrow for Europe there will be two additional upgrade levels added, meaning this can then be further increased to a ilevel 512 item. To increase all four upgrade levels you'd need 1000 Valor per item, as each step is 'priced' at 250 Valor. That's why you're going to need some serious pointage, and that's why this Guide is about farming it fast. There is one other point that should be made first before we move onto what's the best farming path for you. This Guide is going to assume you will be using LFR for upgrades and that your gear is at LFR standard, at least level 528 or above. If you really do want to avoid aggressive gearing altogether, you'll need to look at Thursday's Guide for the alternatives you have away from participating either in a group or having to farm inside instances.

For everyone else, let's work a selection of different and productive paths to 1000 Valor.


Path A: Exchange Timeless Coins for Valor.

As of today in the US 30,000 Timeless Coins will equal 1000 Valor Points. If you've been farming on the Island this should mean that you'll be able to gain the Valor of the Ancients buff in the time it takes to hand these over and consume 10 tokens. Frankly, this has to be the quickest and easiest way to get your currency maxxed, and anything else is now going to seem a bit long-winded by comparison. However, let's give you a couple more options, shall we?

Path B: LFR, Heroic 5 Man, Timeless Isle :: Time to Complete = 3 Days [*]

This path assumes the following: you have no problems running random content with strangers, and that your gear will support fairly simple Timeless Isle grinding.

We suggest the following:

  • On reset day (Tues/Weds) run the Path of the Mistwalker for 50 Valor and the Empowering the Hourglass weekly for 250 Valor.
  • Run all four wings of the Siege in LFR for a grand total of 360 Valor (90 Valor x 4)
  • Queue for 3 Random 5 Man Heroic Dungeons on 3 separate days for a total of 240 Valor
  • Run the Path of the Mistwalker Daily for 3 further days for a total of 150 Valor.

    250 + 360 + 240 + 150 = 1000 Valor.

[*] As we are solely counting Valor from resets here to max your rewards, 3 days is your timescale. 

[**] Bear in mind that three Heroics award bonus honor: Siege of Niuzao gives 5, Scholomance gives 10 and the Shado-Pan Monastery gives 15. Depending on the luck of your random, you may have extra Valor to play with.

Path C: LFR, Heroic Scenarios, Timeless Isle :: Time to Complete, 3 Days.

Again, the same caveats as with Path A, maximising island time for coins for use at a later date. It also assumes you have two other people to play with :D

  • On reset day (Tues/Weds) run the Path of the Mistwalker for 50 Valor and the Empowering the Hourglass weekly for 250 Valor.
  • Run all four wings of the Siege in LFR for a grand total of 360 Valor (90 Valor x 4)
  • Run one evening of Heroic Scenarios:

    First Scenario rewards 120 Valor
    Bonus Objectives reward 30 Valor
    Subsequent Scenarios award 70 Valor.

    Therefore a minimum of 5 Scenarios will award 400 Valor

    250+360+400 = 1010 Valor.

This also works on the theory you don't achieve any bonus objectives, but if you do this may then reduce the need to do the (often tricky) Wing Four in the Siege (Downfall) or indeed skip a wing of your choice. It also removes the need for any subsequent farming time on the Island.This is the path I currently use, give or take, because it also allows for the possibility of a random epic weapon from the Scenario caches.

Path D: Thunder Isle Rares + Weekly :: Time To Complete ?? Days

This option may well be attractive to those of you who need a change from the Island and who are reasonably well geared. As each Rare on the Isle of Thunder is now easily soloable by those well geared to a 5.4 standard and drops 15 Valor per kill, you could just kill these every night until you've capped. If you start with the Champions of the Thunder King quest (remember you'll need the Ritual Stones that the rares drop to do so) that'll give you a 150 Valor head start. After that, according to my calculator, you'll need another 56.66 rares to cap you at 1000.

This option does however give you the chance to collect some Vanity Pets, the Keys to the Palace of Lei Shen (for solo scenario goodness) and generally feel quite OP in content that was quite a struggle 'back in the day'


For the more dedicated raider, Challenge Modes reward Valor for completion (165/150/125 for Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively) plus the Daily Challenge Mode Quest rewards between 60 and 80 Valor depending on the individual target. A reminder finally that killing any 10 or 25 man Pandarian boss inside an instance will reward 40 Valor Points. You can find a comprehensive list of how much Valor comes from which particular source at Wowhead. Click here for the link.

With the introduction of the Coin-to-Valor 'option' considerably faster than I suspect anyone was really anticipating, any or all of these paths can now be augmented with coins if you so desire. It also means that grinding for things like Emperor Rep and the mount become doubly attractive as coins will have a genuine value for the time used.

This should give you some food for thought as a starting point. I'll see you next time for some alternatives to the Hardcore for the more Casual Valor grinding.

Monday, May 19, 2014


This is a bit of an unusual request, so bear with me.

I've been approached by a researcher from the documentary company Back2Back who are looking for a particular type of person for a new programme they are producing. In fact, it's probably best I let Toni, the researcher, give you the rundown herself:

'We are currently making a documentary for Sky Living about relationships that start in online games, with a working title of “Happily Ever Avatar”. The programme is a completely positive documentation of these relationships, where we look at relationships that have blossomed through online gaming/RP/Chat, with players falling in love through their avatars and going on to have meaningful, committed relationships in the real world. 
It’s going to be a heart-warming series celebrating dating and relationships in the 21st Century. The theme is very much about 'love conquering all', and showing the incredible lengths couples that meet playing online games go to in order to become a real life couple. I am currently casting for UK based people who have found love in this way, who might like to be involved in the programme.  
This programme is definitely not Catfish! I wish that words alone could stress that enough. this documentary will look at unconventional relationships in a counter-intuitive way, overturning many of our prejudices and misconceptions with honest storytelling. It will challenge us to realise that committed, successful relationships can embrace the unusual.'

I offered to use my site as a way to get the message out to anyone who might be interested: as the company is UK based, they are looking for relationships where at least one half lives in the UK.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact Toni at for details.

This Week, I Will be Mostly :: Ready For the Floor


This is going to be a week I'll need a holiday at the end of to survive. Fortunately, that's exactly what's going to happen :D It's also been a week that has seen me cap out a character for the first time in AGES. I suggest that won't be the last time that transpires either.

This is the Plan :D

A 'proper' plan has been arranged for the upcoming months: it involves making sure EVERYBODY has at least 50 Lesser Charms of Good Fortune at their disposal on Tuesday evening so that three Warforged Seals can be purchased on Wednesday morning. This means that EVERYONE does the Celestials and Ordos on the Island, even if nothing else transpires for the rest of the week. I'm wondering if I'll have a return as good as the last round of kills for drops again, but even if I don't this does mean (at least) that everyone is being pulled out and getting a 'play'. There are a few UI's that need sorting, spells to be placed and playing techniques to be refined (especially when it comes to the healers) and all this needs to be organised before these guys get 'put to bed.'

Loving Destro :D

The Lock however, is proving an absolute joy to play, especially with the addition of the Tier 2 Piece Bonus. So much so, and I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I'm considering doing a second Legendary Cloak. THERE I TYPED IT. I was soloing large piles of mobs on the Isle last night with an ease that's normally only reserved for the Hunters, and that makes me think that this one's going to be on the play list at least until I can secure a decent weapon for her. I'm still using the Timeless Coin drop, and even if I don't get the time to do anything else on top of writing and packing, she'll get at least one run through the Siege. I even have a weapon ready to mog should we end up with a staff. THAT'S how organised I am ^^

New Gun!

There's also been more than a little bit of fiddling with mogs and stuff to adjust portions of outfits to look more 'consistent': the Exalted Klaxxi Weapon  has long been a desire on the Horde Hunter because of the glow that matches my shoulders, and finally having enough rep tokens this weekend to cheese her to Exalted meant I could buy the thing and scrub this off the list. It's the little things that often matter, and if I can keep up with those I suspect the long Summer months really are going to fly by...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Any Day Now

Any day now, we'll have a new Alpha build.

I'm not the only one waiting here...

Yesterday, someone pointed out on Twitter I was 'reporting' on a piece of news they were fairly certain was already confirmed weeks ago, in the Alpha Patch notes. As I pointed out there and I shall reiterate now, this has been my life, more or less, since November. Yes, there is 'news', after a fashion, perhaps as often as daily if one takes the time to trawl through the hundreds of tweets that the designers produce in response to any number of comments from players. The thing is, there is no ACTUAL news. There is the 'promise' of news, the reiteration of existing commitments or plans by Blzzard , and the expectation that some day soon, eventually, there will be something both new and exciting. However, there continues to be no client. In shock news, it appeared I called the reasoning on that as well.

I'll take 'kind of' in this context :D

This Tweet serves to illuminate a few things in Blizzard's current development 'cycle.' Clearly the game IS in an Internal Alpha phase, and is being tested (presumably) on a daily basis. However, one strongly suspects that this 'build' Blizzard is working on bears very little resemblance to the 'test' build currently available to dataminers and for the public to at least see. This one will be working out the kinks, applying that much-talked about 'polish' and presumably ensuring 'zone integration' is sound. That phrase is quite significant, at least for me, because it would seem to confirm my belief that this feature is pretty much as vital a part of the quest experience as doing quests and gaining XP. Of course, as is the case with everyone else, I have no proof of this, only the possibility that this is what I'll see. there is no news, only my belief, and at this point that's actually all I need.

Any day now, we'll know for certain.

European queues. Very stylish.

We have discussed at length in this parish that patience is something some people are better at than others. For me, in the position where I want to write every day, this has caused some interesting quandaries in the last couple of months. I'd tell anyone wanting to start writing that a daily routine is vital in order to build confidence and allow people to feel comfortable with their writing 'style.' It can often be nigh-on impossible to do that when the game you're focussing on offers you no new inspiration. That's why we've gone off piste quite a bit, why we've become a fair bit more philosophical and thoughtful, and why that trend will continue as long as there's actually NO NEWS. You only have to check places like Wow Insider or Wowhead to know that often 'news' is talking about Hearthstone, or a new feature, or looking forward to what WILL happen. Eventually.

I realise for a lot of people, this is not fun. It's not exactly easy at the sharp end either, because keeping enthusiastic about something that's doing nothing but you KNOW will be a game everyone will want to talk about SOON (TM) is actually quite hard work. However, with every post I write like this, where the subject matter is a topic that's already been discussed on many occasions, my determination actually strengthens. I do want to write about this game every day, whatever happens, because I'm really very excited about garrisons, about what Blizzard are going to do with the game, how these changes will effect the dynamics of players and the motivations of various social groups. I want to see how the storyline stands up to being transposed to a place where many people think it will be unsustainable. Most importantly of all, I want to see if the wait justifies the result.

Any day now, I'll have those answers.