Saturday, September 06, 2014

To Build a Home :: You Better You Bet

Garrisons is SRS BNS.

There was a Blizzard Live Q&A yesterday, with (at least for me) two of the most important people in game (Mr Stockton to the left and Mr Kosak to the right) available to take questions on any number of subjects, but with a distinct bias towards the Garrison. When all was said and done, there wasn't a huge amount of new information on the table, it was only AFTER the Twitch stream was done that the meaty chunks were served. Having said that, of course, I thought the whole thing was nicely done, although Dave could do with growing his beard back and Cory really should have turned up for work in trousers. I was particularly impressed with the high quality of questions from Twitter to boot:


Like I said, most of this wasn't anything we didn't know already. Some key things were clarified, and it is worth bullet pointing these for the fact I'll be covering them in a podcast next week:

  • There is a distinct benefit to building a Professions plot for a Profession you already posses. This grants faster daily cooldowns for the key items needed for crafting, the highest tier recipes plus additional bonuses. Building a Professions plot without knowing the Profession means NPC's will do the work for you but you won't gain access to the best recipes.

  • Garrison Outpost buildings will be swappable at L100 (presumably for gold.)

  • Level Three Blueprints are Account Wide, meaning once done once you have access to them across all your characters.

  • The Garrison has a Storyline: like the Pandarian Invasion quests in 5.1, there will be a character buildup and then a 'story' proper, which should last about 16 weeks (and which I suspect will tie in with L100 zone 'dailies' as well)

  • You can recruit all the followers in Draenor, but only 20 at any one time will be viable for use in Missions. Inactive followers will remain in your UI, and will require a 250g fee to 'activate', making the business of Follower Management a new mini-game all on its own (see below.) GONNA CATCH THEM ALL regardless... ^^

  • Death Knight Guards will be available for DK's who are Exalted with the Knights of the Ebon Blade, and you'll be able to have banners showing your faction pride around your Garrison (totally called that /flex)

There's some additional odds and ends to consider (which I'll start to cover in detail over on the Dedicated Blog starting next week) but in the main this is pretty much business as usual for those of you playing beta as it stands. Last night a portion of my Twitter feed exploded after the following comments were posted by Tom Chiltern:

Once you have followers at ilvl 615, the second tier of level 100 missions unlocks, at 630 the third tier unlocks (includes missions with ilvl 645 gear for your character), and when you have followers at ilvl 645 the fourth tier unlocks. 
The fourth tier is special in that they show up rarely, but they're raid missions for your followers that reward your character with raid quality loot of a tier higher than you're currently running. If you're doing LFR, you'll get normal quality raid loot, if you're running normal raids you'll get heroic quality loot, and heroic raiders will get mythic quality loot. Mythic raiders will get mythic loot and 1k gold. 
These missions show up rarely enough that you won't be able to deck out your character in these items before the next raid zone shows up, but having a handful of them will give you a nice edge.

Of course, many people read this and assumed that if you're bleeding edge progression you'll need to have a Garrison to get the 'extra edge', a point which was quickly squashed by Ion Hazzokostas (in the same thread):

The nature of the tuning here is such that it's absolutely not going to impact any sort of cutting-edge progression racing during the early days/weeks of a new tier. It's more of a helping hand later on. And because the availability of these missions depends on your character's actual raiding progression, they aren't replacing or trivializing the importance of actually going into raids and killing bosses. 
Without getting into exact numbers, being classified as a "Heroic raider" or "Mythic raider" or the like requires multiple weeks of experience in a given zone at a given difficulty. And if you're worried about the impact on gearing up for the next tier, an occasional chance at a random Mythic piece pales in comparison to the dozens of Mythic items your farm clears will be bringing in every week, with the ability to trade items around and target specific drops through bonus rolls. This will be a drop in the bucket by comparison. 
Garrison missions (or lack thereof) aren't going to impact any sort of world-first or realm-first competitions. But this system does help keep the system relevant to a broader range of players, and as overall gear levels improve over the course of a tier.

If you didn't know it already, this is Blizzard giving everyone the same chance at a portion of loot depending on how they approach the game. It is the most potent of carrots to ensure casual players not only stick with the Garrison, they play it right through endgame and beyond, because it will give them via solo play the opportunity to access End Game in a manner that is utterly dependant on their own effort to accomplish. Frankly it is a stroke of genius and the QQ-ing from certain players has already begun because, of course, the only way you should ever get Mythic gear is by doing Mythic content. yeah, like the only way you get Legendaries is by four years of hard grinding ^^

I've been telling you this since November, but let me re-iterate it again. Garrisons may not be mandatory, BUT YOU WILL WANT ONE. You don't need it to raid, far from it, but every other part of this Expansion is linked to them in some way, shape or form. If you want to get the most out of the casual end game, you should have one. If you don't raid but want a chance of gear upgrades whilst playing solo, you will need one. They are the Christmas Toy you always wanted but never got, the lottery win you've spent years playing towards, and the genuine realisation by Blizzard that the majority of their demographic, in the main wants something more than the same old experience of levelling and rushing to end-game to discover that, actually, there's nothing significant to do there anyway. If this works the way I now *think* it will, that emans every Patch will bring a new extended storyline to your Garrison, and the entire Expansion will play out with this feature at its core.

Don't say I didn't warn you :D

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Other Side

Slow, lingering death by digging.

It's the job in the house you hate doing and keep leaving. It's the ex-obsession that keeps haunting your dreams. It's the injury that won't heal and you find yourself absent-mindedly picking until it bleeds.

It's the End of the Expansion, people, and Archaeology's not going to achieve itself :(

This always had the potential to be a pig to finish, that much was obvious when they introduced the feature in Cataclysm. This time in Pandaria giving achievements to collect 20 of every solve wasn't exactly asking for trouble but it did mean those of us who play alone were going to look at the bit on our interface and decide one of two things: either pretend it doesn't exist and move on, or do it all.

No points for guessing which category I fall into.

Down to less than 10 solves ^^

I've tried to not let it take over my day, and instead have rationed myself to late evenings, after the kids have gone to bed. I've attempted to ensure I get at least one or two Achievements completed in an evening, and thus far there are enough options left to make this happen, but as I tick each 20 points off the list, times will become leaner and my soul will begin to leech. I've not even considered Archaeology in the upcoming Expansion but I see even that's been commercialised by the Steamweedle guys. I suppose it had to happen eventually, because pure Archaeology may have been a fabulous conceit in principle, but in practice it really is boring as anything.

Just here for the Numbers.

There's one other overriding factor in seeing me get a stack of 200 Artifacts (and quite possibly another, and another before I'm actually done.)


I still require the Scepter of Azj'Aqir as the last solvable Tol'vir rare I do not possess. It has become a taunt since Cataclysm. I've done the maths and know full well how many Artifacts have been spent on it since December 2010. ALMOST FOUR YEARS. It is the lingering and unattainable all wrapped into one immensely frustrating package, and I can but hope that when I've done with Pandaria, the RNG might actually kop me a break and hand it over because... well JUST BECAUSE.

Failing that, I suppose I could level someone else from scratch and sell the Archaeology pets ^^

However, the point this time around is simple. This will not crush me, I will not get frustrated and walk away, I will beat it and those Achievements will be completed because it may not be a Challenge Mode mount, but it is one I have the means to achieve with patience, and that's a metaphor for a lot of things that have transpired in the last year or so. If you want me, you'll know where to find me: out in the fields, with my pet, poking in the ground in the hope that this dig is the last one.

Terracotta Arm, I AM COMING FOR YOU.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

BETA :: Oh! Look At Me Now

Only the hair needs work :P

We're on a new Build on Beta and, it would appear, my face has undergone some more 'work'. I actually like it too, this is the first point since we started this journey that I haven't stared at what I've been given when I've logged P into the Beta and gone 'Nope.'

Definitely happier overall.

Part of me was wondering with my Conspiracy Theory Tinfoil Hat on whether the fact my server's Armoury has been broken all Summer is to stop me doing direct compares and contrasts between all these changes, but I know that's just not true. The hair is bothering me though, and there will be faffing on that front, oh yes.

This one, I think.

Then I stop myself and think about why I'm getting unduly obsessed about the way my character looks after a decade, and I become a metaphor for the massive mountain Blizzard created between themselves and a section of their playerbase when they decided to update the character models. Because, like it or not, appearance does matter in gaming. With all the RL Stuff that's happened in the last week, you'd have to hope that worrying about what people look like in a computer game wouldn't matter that much to people. However, that is a VERY long way from the reality of what happens when your game looks a certain way, and then you try and change it.

At this point I was going to use a Tweet I made earlier in the week in anticipation for the Live Developer Q&A which was responded to by a Blizzard employee. However that response has subsequently been deleted, and on reflection I can entirely understand why. We'll still use the original prompt however, and take it from there:

The elegantly-decorated Elephant in the room demands your attention.

We're already seeing the beginnings of a distinct shift towards a Transmog-based Endgame: complete Cosmetic Sets are popping up all over the Beta, as if Blizzard only just realised that if you actually provide people armour that mean they can look like NPC's, they'll wear it. However, if you try and charge for these you'll likely meet with short shrift. Even saying that I have seen an increasing number of players wearing those Transmog hats, however short-sighted that exercise may have seemed to those who don't want new things created in game just to look different, but that actually looking the same matters more under certain circumstances, especially in Roleplay. Then, stuff like this turns up in Beta Builds:

This is cool. 0 points for the reference.

Yes, the 'Cosmetic' Industry is gonna be big business. Blizzard won't go on record and say it matters, at least not yet. But it's coming. Before they launch headlong into that, we have to have the discussion again about static facial features.

This is most definitely variety, but...

Where I can now say with a fair degree of confidence that Dwarven women have a far more enigmatic static facial position than they did, people are now looking at the Gnomes and that pout and crying fowl. Well, it is hardly surprising, because when we were presented with this image on the initial revamp announcement:

Yeah, she's a Gnome.

and now can't see that face anywhere in the MANY choices offered to them, there's going to be some unhappiness. This is the problem when you deal in the visual and not the gear, or the class or even the rewards. Looks are a tricky beast. It would not be unreasonable to assume that the thing I'm suspecting Blizzard thought would appease people isn't quite finished with: there will be more tweaking, but the clock is running down here, so you have to wonder just how much of a chance there is of having everyone 'happy' before the Expansion launches. Having said all that, there is considerable polish in a lot of places on beta, including the starting Garrison Experience which I'll be writing about at some point this weekend because, blimey Blizzard have gone for it there.

Visuals however are remaining problematic. I don't expect that to change any time soon, and I'm guessing that once they do get the aesthetics sorted then the floodgates may open. Tattoos? Quite possibly? More new hairstyles? What else may be on the table? What happens after they get the foundations fixed is up for discussion too, because the future isn't just about new character models, because once they've done fiddling with these... well, there's a lot more to be redesigned.

The new models are just the beginning.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Alternative Chat, Episode 32 ::
Housewives Choice

This expansion is STUFFED WITH GOODNESS.

Yes, the Podcast has returned, and its not afraid to prepare you for the inevitable. Time is running out and I'm here to prime you for the next couple of months because, guess what? YOU ARE NOT PREPARED.

No really, you're not.

This Week, I am Discussing:

  • It isn't long until the Expansion, DID YOU KNOW?
  • Finally extracting the digit and starting my preparation.
  • The Circuit of Disappointment lives up to its name.
  • Why I never got into Challenge Modes.
  • Making my own choices for a change
  • Garrisons 101 isn't here this week, but next week it will likely CONSUME THE PODCAST.

Contacting the Show:


alternativegodmother (at) gmail (dot) com

Social Media Gubbins:

@AlternativeChat on Twitter on Facebook

Other Notes:

The Farming free bags for Fun and Inventory Space post can be found here.


Normal Service resumed? CHECK. See you next week, Podcast fans!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Yes, it isn't too late!

I've been a bit quiet on the #10Years10Questions front in the last week or so, but with the start of the month it is time for one last push for people to take part in the Survey I'll be using to create a series of Podcasts to celebrate Warcraft's 10th Anniversary in November. This post is to tell you that the Closing Date for submissions is:


which means you have just under a week to finally throw your Answers at me!

I am sure there will be those of you wondering what this is all about.  Well, it is very simple: I want to ask AS MANY PLAYERS AS I CAN FIND the same ten questions about their time in Warcraft. The more responses I get, the easier it will be to build a balanced and comprehensive picture of what matters to players after a decade: what they remember, what Warcraft has given them as an experience and most importantly the legacy of the game for players as we move into the NEXT ten years of Warcraft's life. That means getting the word out everywhere: social media, other sites, and I'm not just looking for current players either. I'm attempting to contact ex-players too for their responses because this isn't just about the people who remain, I grasp that those who have left have as much to say on this as the existing playerbase.

Once I have all the data collated, I'll be recording a series of six, 30 minute Podcast documentaries. There will be an introductory 'episode' that will explain what we did, why it matters and will feature real Warcraft players from ACROSS THE GLOBE. Not celebrities, or famous Players, but the ordinary people who make Warcraft what it is and continue to contribute to the evolution of the game.

Without further ado, let's give you the 10 questions that matter:

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

You can be as brief or verbose as you wish, that's the wonder of words as a medium. What matters most to me are YOUR stories, and how Warcraft has changed the way you have not just played the game, but come to look at yourself.



Please send your responses to alternativegodmother (at) before September 8th. If you can work out how to respond completely in the tiny comments box after this post please do so, but I'd suggest the e-mail option is probably better. There's also a banner at the top of the page which will remain in place for the next month as I try and collect as many responses as I can. Clicking that will take you to a handy-dandy form where you can record your responses for posterity.


If you wish to use these questions as a basis for a blog post, PLEASE DO SO, and ensure you link the post to this post so I'll be able to use your answers as part of my Source Material. Please also indicate whether you'd be prepared to be interviewed in person for the Podcast (see below.) I'll also happily accept video responses, poetry, Reddit, Tumblr, and pretty much every point in-between if you have an original way of getting these questions answered. Just let me know where your responses are so I can see them!


If you wish to answer online, you'll find a Survey Form by CLICKING THIS LINK (which is also available at the top of the Blog.) That will record all the details I need to make sure your contribution to this Project is counted.


|If you've contributed in the last week or so, expect to see your efforts added to the MASSIVE MASTER POST OF AWESOME that I'll be updating later this week, and placing a permanent link to on the front page of the Blog. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS :D

Monday, September 01, 2014

BETA :: Take It Easy

Or maybe not. YOUR CHOICE.

There is a lot of discussion around my Twitter timeline concerning Professions currently. Quite a few people are playing Beta now (and by that I mean playing it as if it were Live, which is what Developers always hope for when testing) and within that, not all Professions are currently available. However, what is becoming apparent is that the major overhaul pretty much most of us have been calling for over the last few years is indeed finally on its way:

Not *quite* what I had in mind ^^

Bearing this in mind, there were a few people this weekend who thought what I chose to do with my time was, to say the least, a bit odd:

Almost ^^

I've picked two of what are traditionally the most material-heavy Professions to max, a mere 72 days before I don't even need to bother about any of these recipes any more. 'Why waste your time?' someone asked me yesterday, especially when Professions are so expensive to complete at present: I must admit I have a measure of sympathy with this argument, but I still went ahead and did it. However, that isn't the whole story, and even knowing what I do now about what's coming, I'm still going to suggest to people that if one of your pre-Expansion bucket list achievements is to max a Profession, you should absolutely go ahead and do it. Let me explain why, and also let me stick a couple of caveats on that suggestion to boot.

Gotta love a Graph :D

There's benefits and pitfalls to knowing what is coming ahead of time. The amount of knowledge you gain from beta participation is all well and good, but a lot of what you do with said information will be dependant on a number of circumstances. In the case of the Professions change, for instance, it will be possible to place an Enchanting building in your Garrison to DE all of your unwanted quest rewards, which is all well and good in the short term, but needs to be established AFTER the Expansion hits. Although this also has the advantage of allowing a player to DE all Epic items across the Expansion, it takes up a plot that might be better used by another Profession building. It also doesn't allow a player the option to DE immediately on release, or indeed provision for those players who may not wish to build a Garrison for every alt (which includes me, believe it or not.)

My point here is simple. I made a choice based on a number of factors pre-Expansion, which will allow me to make money leading up to and following Warlords release, so as far as I am concerned, the effort in this case is not a waste of time.

Must sort that Mog out too...

I rolled my rogue initially for a couple of reasons: to experience the Goblin Starting Area, and to have a way to open the occasional Lockbox my Horde Hunter would discover in her travels. Ironically, when I got her to 90 there were about 30 boxes waiting for her in the Bank, and it then occurred to me that it would be an added bonus if someone on the Horde side could DE and make bags to boot, and hence this Project was born. Ironically it is that bag making skill that has pulled in a sizeable wad of cash Horde side and means that I've turned a small profit on this entire endeavour in the last few days. It now also means that the 45 bits of non-used Timeless Isle Leather gear I have can be converted to crystals and sold as a nice Horde side nest egg pre-Expansion. I've also made several thousand gold on Leather sales from yesterday's farming area, and then there's the Battered Hilt I picked up from farming for Frostweave.

All in all, not waiting has had a considerable number of benefits, but the same may not be true for you.


Many people will argue that they don't want to start changing now, they want to wait until they are actually in the Expansion before they alter their outlook (Pragmatists ^^) There are those already faffing with every aspect of their gameplay in anticipation of the pre-planned changes that they will make (Technology Enthusiasts!) but for many there is just not the time or the desire right now to do anything with a game that's not seen any new game content since Zandalari Dinosaurs ruled the Earth. The key to knowing whether it is the right time for you is simple: do you want to do it? Will it make you money? Will the notion of your own self-achievement be sufficient to justify the action to yourself? In the end, we return to that most-loved of Economic concepts, opportunity cost. In my case, the weekend to do this now as opposed to leaving it until November means a ton more money can be made on the Horde side, I have an extra character to make money with whilst farming, and I keep myself happy. Frankly, it was a no-brainer.

In conclusion: if you want to level your Professions now, go right ahead, because everything is going to change forever in Warlords on that front, and having a maxxed profession will give you a greater yield if you choose to use that type of Building in your Garrison. It is only a waste of time if you aren't going to do anything with said profession in the weeks leading up to the Expansion, and as that is not the case here, I feel suitably justified, and a fair bit richer in my decision making.

Of course, your experience may vary ^^

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Accidental Goldmaker ::
It's Grim Up North

Farm the World ^^

Yet again, Nostalgia has gotten the better of me. In the continued need to supply my Horde Rogue with the supplies to level Enchanting and Tailoring (yes I *know* I could wait until Warlords and it would be easier but think of all the stuff I'd not be able to DE from Day 1 PLUS BAGS DAMMIT) I needed a new place to grind Embersilk and greens. Once upon a time I would have gone to Deepholme and killed Troggs but this time I wanted a place where I was boss, dictated the terms and didn't need to grind in the World. My son tipped me off to this farm, and it's been verified by a few people as a great place for cloth... except, as an Instance, there's sooo much more on offer for my particularly talented Hunter. It's also a spot with a great deal of personal history for me.

The Batol, reinvented.

Once upon a time, there were dragons at Grim Batol, but not the ones you'd find now. They were Reds, and packed a potent punch: back in the days this place was simply a placeholder, a space unused. Of course, this all changed in Cataclysm and I will admit I miss this place as a Dragonscale grind, because it was rarely used by anyone else on my server. I felt a particular affinity to it too, being a Dwarf, with it's placement in a zone I levelled through on almost every Alliance character I rolled. Today however the Instance, in Heroic Mode, is a veritable treasure trove for my Hunter, who skins on the side and has a lot to gain from running this place multiple times to help her Goblin Guildie.

Pre-Cataclysm Grim Batol Entrance.

The runs are very simple. The Hunter's wearing a Guardians of Hyjal tabard for starters, which means every mob adds 15 Reputation to her total. Because Dragons are an important part of the Grim Batol makeup, a Skinner means that nothing is left to waste on these runs. Heroic makes the fights a little slower, but the rewards greater, at least for me thus far: it also means there's an element of challenge that makes this feel less like a total faceroll, which I like. The key, of course, is to not kill any bosses, and simply farm up to a certain point, leave and reset. This means 20 runs in an hour (if I were that fast) but a decent pile of Embersilk and greens once my half a dozen or so circuits are done.

Here's your Route :D

Farm from A to B, turn round, run out and reset. Simples.

The added benefit for the Hunter helping the Rogue, apart from the reputation, is the 1500-2000g a session she's been making selling everything that isn't needed for levelling Professions. It's not the most effective way to make money, or I am sure the most efficient, but as that's not (again) what I've set out to do here, the money is a bonus I'm not going to turn my nose up at. The key is to incorporate as many different tasks into the same sessions as possible, and this is ticking a great many boxes all at once, which is why the 'farm' is so effective.

You watch, now I've shared it they'll nerf this within the week. START FARMING NOW.