Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mammoth parking

I used to like mammoths, or rather I used to like the idea of having a mount where you could ride around on with multiple people and where you could maybe strap a vendor or two to it.

I am sure blizzard developers/designers thought much the same thing when they came up with the mammoth. A nice sizeable mount that could carry multiple people and or vendors that would cost so much that it'd actually make a halfway decent goldsink if it were sold often enough.

It's being sold often enough... it even seems to have gone so far that everyone who can actually afford one automatically buys one because it is one of the few mounts that have the features described earlier.

Everyone that buys one also seems to think they should park it anywhere they like... in front of doorways... on top of flightmasters, covering summoning stones and their all time favorite: right on top of the mailbox

Of course not that mailbox that's a ways away from the bank and the auction house that is rarely used, noooo, it has to be the mailbox that everyone wants to use.
And not only that... a standard sized mammoth doesn't do the situation justice so you just have to quaf one of those lovely winterspring elixirs that make you even bigger so there's absolutely no doubt that your mammoth loving, bored, have to much gold character can sit there semi-afk on a mailbox just to hear people complain. And if you don't manage to cover the mailbox completely why not get one of your guildies to join you in harassing poor hapless players?

I don't know what motivates people to be jerks, I am sure they take a distinct pleasure in it. But a mailbox is not for mammoth parking and if you do insist on parking your mammoth right on top of a mailbox making it difficult to use the mailbox then you are griefing.

That's right... you're griefing... you're obstructing other people's playing experience in a way that was not intended by blizzard and medivh help me if I don't make a ticket reporting you for it because that's what it is: a reportable offense under player harassment rules.

Spare me your 'just zoom in' comments, your inane babble about how funny you think it is or how cool you think you are. You will be reported, and I have no issues convincing 20 other people to report you too... which sooner or later will lead to a nice little ban that even your big mammoth hiney won't cover up.

I'd go so far as declare all the cities and towns non-mount zones and just provide some kind of run-speed buff like the dk's get in acherus. It won't stop people from trying to cover up important objects, but at least it won't be a 1 man job to cover an entire mailbox anymore.

Useable objects/NPCs are not for mammoth parking... shit or get off the pot.
Until then, beware where you park for you will be reported.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

68 Ready for Northrend?

So here we are, 3 characters in northrend and a 4th slowly crawling to that magical number of level 68 and now the time has come to determine whether or not it's worthwhile to bring number 4 - 10 to northrend at 68 or to put off till later (level 70+).

I am not going to say one way is better than the other, that varies per person (yes it does). What I can do however is list the facts and let you come to your own conclusions.

And thus, I present to you the pros and cons of going to northrend at level 68:


1. Higher XP/gold gains for quests and kills
2. Higher valued quest rewards
3. Higher grouping potential


1. Higher risk
2. Reduced max gold potential from questing at 80
3. More competition
4. Outland loremaster quests won't give XP

That's essentially it. What it comes down to is a choice between northrend's higher xp rewards, more valuable quest rewards and more grouping options vs outland's low risk environment, lower competition for mobs and the ability to squeeze the maximum amount of gold out of northrend quests later on (the more you quest in outland the more quests you can turn to gold at 80 in northrend).

Is one better than the other? That is a matter of personal preference and I am sure you will find people on both sides of the fence.

As I have pointed out in a previous post however is that ideally you'd want to ding 80 after completing Borean tundra, howling fjord, dragonblight and grizzly hills in order to get the maximum amount of gold out of northrend at level 80 for the remaining quests.

If you're interested in that and still want to go to northrend at level 68 consider taking a little break from questing and focussing on dailies for a while.
They give decent XP, decent gold and are finished quite quickly but can provide enough of a buffer to get you to ding 80 earlier than you normally would by just straight up questing through northrend.

Incidentally if you have any intention of becoming a loremaster then you'd be well advised to finish outland while there's still XP to be had from the quests.

The choice is yours... and while it's probably not interesting for your main to ponder there's always alts. Yes, that off-gray pile of dust on your character screen may in fact be a long lost tauren just waiting for you to take him/her to northrend... You're not just going to leave it there are you?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gold 101 - Predicting future trends

In today's installment of gold 101 we're going to tap into our spiritual clairvoyant side to see if we can see the future and make predictions based on our visions.

Making gold is 90% inspiration and 10% perspiration or in other words a good idea is worth more than working your rear-end off trying to flip and bid all day long.

But good ideas are hard to come by and even full time bloggers that blog about nothing else but how to make gold in wow will rarely make a post on their blog saying: if you sell x you will be able to turn a profit.

Besides obvious differences between server economies the reason for this is simple: If I reveal a niche market on a blog then chances are that people will read my blog post (even though that's pretty unlikely with noobding). If the knowledge becomes commonplace then everyone will want a piece of the pie and beforelong the pie will be gone (i.e. the market for x will collapse).
Call it greedy, call it healthy business, call it what you will but the fact remains is that people will rarely tell you exactly what steps to take to make gold (they'd rather write guides and sell those for real money see?)

But even for the completely uninspired there is one solid strategy that will work 90% of the time; And more importantly it even announces itself to you when the time comes.

Case in point: I and a fair share of other people knew that the prices for frozen orbs would go up, we knew the dream shard prices would go up slightly as well and we also knew that the prices for eternals would slowly but surely approach each other, a trend that is certain to continue.
We also knew a few other things about how the market would develop.

(Un)fortunately none of us are clairvoyant, instead we predicted a trend based on one simple thing: Patch notes

Every now and then Blizzard will roll out a patch to fix bugs, implement some changes, add new content or re-balance existing elements in the game. Before any patch is rolled out the changes are usually splattered all over the wow forums, discussed extensively and very much visible on either the PTR (public test realm) or through other channels.

So in essence, before every change to the game is implemented we know (to a certain extend) what is going to happen. We can literally see the future unfolding before our very eyes... and that future always has its roads paved in gold just waiting for someone to stroll by and pick it up.

Normally we'd look at the patch notes for the next patch and predict trends based on that but 3.0.9 or 3.1 are still too vague to make predictions on so lets take a look at 3.0.8 and see what you could've done (useful no?) before the patch went live:

The trick here is to skip the class changes (unless you're interested) and focus on anything that could be crafting related which is usually found in the professions section. So let's take a look at a few sections of the 3.0.8 patch notes and note my comments:

Reputation rewarded for killing mobs will no longer automatically deprecate. This means trivial mobs will continue to give out their full amounts of reputation on kill for the majority of cases in the game (level 70 creatures in Stratholme, for example, will continue to award the full amount of rep to level 80 players seeking to boost their Argent Dawn faction).

Result: This could very well mean that if mobs give full reputation at any level that the value of sellable reputation items may drop.

Glyph of Conflagrate now makes it so your Conflagrate spell no longer consumes the Immolate or Shadowflame spell from the target.
Glyph of Death and Decay has been changed to grant 20% additional damage instead of its current effect.
Glyph of Hammer of Justice: Now increases range by 5 yards instead of increasing stun duration.
Glyph of Invisibility duration has been increased.
Glyph of Deterrence: Now -10 seconds instead of -20.
Glyph of Holy Light now affects friendly targets in a larger radius.
Glyph of Horn of Winter now increases the duration by 60 sec.
Glyph of Spirit of Redemption: Now increases the duration of the effect by a fixed amount of 6 seconds.
Glyph of turn evil now also increases the cooldown of your turn evil spell by 8 sec.

Result: As some glyphs are now more useful and other less useful the prices for those glyphs will adjust accordingly.

The Cooldown on Transmute: Titanium has been reduced to 1 day, and the materials required have been simplified.

Result: Cheaper titanium across the board.

Increased the materials required to make several recipes that require cobalt.

Result: Cobalt prices will go up a notch and stay there.

Many high level enchantment recipes have had the amount of Infinite Dust and Greater Cosmic Essence requirements significantly reduced, but with Dream Shards being added to them.

Result: Infinite dust prices may drop a tiny amount (still needed for a lot of other things) but dream shard prices will increase.

Jessica Sellers, a new vendor in the Dalaran inscription shop, will sell most inscription inks for the cost of one Ink of the Sea. She also sells Snowfall Ink for multiple Inks of the Sea.

Result: Ink of the sea cost will go up a notch.

The epic leg armor patches now require a Frozen Orb in addition to their other materials

Result: Higher frozen orb prices.

I could probably go on with a few more points and other notes in the patch can also be indirectly responsible for a shift in prices for mats but I think you get the basic idea.

Predicting trends based on patch notes is relatively easy and even though the results aren't always what you expected them to be (in my case the dream shard prices only went up by about 4g each, which is nice but not exceptional) you will generally be able to get some profit here and there (I still managed to make 200g off of selling dream shards after the patch).

So next time the big hooblah starts about new content this, new patch that and the blogosphere start filling up with PTR patch notes again take another look and read beyond your own classes' specific changes... who knows maybe the next patch will make you a whole lot wealthier.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Can't log into dalaran?

Not to deter from my previous post which is so much more important but I've had a number of questions from people who were not able to log into Dalaran and I figured I'd throw those a bone who didn't figure out what the problem is yet.

I've heard of people suggesting re-installations or checking their internet connection speeds etc. and while that may contribute to solving the problem the true culprit usually is:


The Questhelper addon adds a tremendous amount of load on login as it tries to calculate the various quest stati and pathing information. In fact, as good as the addon may be it's often the source for various random disconnects/login problems.

If you are experiencing problems logging into dalaran or you have a character stuck there that you can't access turn off questhelper and if that doesn't help turn off all your addons before trying to log in.

Then relocate to a quieter place (pretty much any place that isn't dalaran really) and turn your addons back on.

Incidentally you should try to update the addons you use to the latest versions since a lot of them can generate errors that aren't visible per-se but can seriously slow your gaming experience.

For shits and giggles turn off all your addons and compare it to running with addons, if the difference is significant then you should consider a) updating your addons or b) replacing addons that cause problems.

Just a quick heads up for those fighting the DaLAGan monster.

Don't cater to TL:DR

TL:DR a popular abbreviation for saying: "too long didn't read" commonly used after forum posts that cover a topic with extensive explanations thus resulting in long posts that some people apparantly find too long to read.

Essentially what people are saying when they say TL:DR is that whilst they want to voice their opinion they have absolutely no interest in listening to your opinion first.
Commonly used by trolls to derail forum threads / instigate arguments or by people with very very limited attention spans that never were going to listen to your opinion even if it had been compressed into 2 sentences.

People that cater to the TL:DR crowd often don't understand that by trying to compress their arguments in a sentence or two only manage to aggrivate the problem by essentially saying it's ok to say TL:DR (and as a result saying it's ok to be a troll).
By providing a TL:DR summary you either devaluate your initial argument or your argument wasn't properly set up and didn't need as much text in the first place.
In short, you managed to stab yourself in your own back before you even hit the 'submit' button.

Essentially adding a TL:DR summary to a long post is saying: Hey you don't have to read the post, it's not that important, just read this summary and you'll know everything I wanted to say without all the fluffy words.
Not only that but you literally invite people to post comments that reply solely to your TL:DR summary thus throwing your carefully crafted opinion completely overboard.

In which case you might as well only have posted the TL:DR summary and the value of your 'full' post is deflated accordingly.

Understand that while your posting length will indeed affect how many people read it, it also affects what people read it. Good posts, no matter the length will draw in an intelligent and colorfull crowd even if they span multiple pages.

So fellow bloggers that frequent this here blog, I ask you, to your own benefit, please do not cater to the TL:DR crowd for it will not increase the value of your opinion or blog.

Value your own opinion, think it out, write it down and if it's long? People will still read it because your posts are good even if the trolls TL:DR.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gold 101 - Auction House Basics

Every now and then I get the question how I handle my gold and what I do to get more of it and the simple answer is: Play the AH game

I am no farmer or grinder, I don't do many dailies and I don't really do much questing once I hit my level cap. I don't farm reputation, I don't do many (high-level) instances and to add to that I spend a lot of time on gold-sucking alts. In short, I do whatever amuses me and this rarely makes me any gold.

So truthfully said that beyond what little income I can generate through playing my alts I am 100% dependant on the AH for an income.

Rather than telling you my specific business ventures I am going to attempt to give you the basic toolkit needed to make a profit in the auction house, give you a few tips on how to discover niche markets and most importantly dispell the Nr 1 myth or rather half-truth that currently floats around in regards to making money on the AH.

In fact lets deal with the half-truth first because it can be the decider on whether or not you decide to play the AH game or stick with your daily grind:

You can make a ton of gold with only 15/30 minutes a day on the ah

This is a myth for those who start out playing the AH game and will become closer to a truth a ways further down the line.

Getting that gold train started takes a lot of time in the beginning. Organizing bagspace, supplying resources, scanning the AH, finding niche markets all these things take up time. If you're just starting out with the AH game and you're serious about getting some form of income from the AH expect to invest 3+ hours initially... Eventually you can bring it down to maybe 30 mins per session but that assumes that you already are organized and have found your various niche markets.

You will also become good friends with excel or whatever you choose to keep track of your investments. Basic bookkeeping is a necessity if you're serious about money and just writing down cost/profit will really help in the long run to determine the viability of your investments.

If nothing else you will probably have to write down some market prices for various mats or other things depending on your chosen market.

This means ADMINISTRATION and Administration takes time.

Making money on the AH is easy but while you can make much much more gold on the AH than doing dailies you should expect that you will have to sacrifice doing your dailies in favor of spending that time on the AH (or in excel).

Ok, I hope the above really made it clear what you're up against with playing the AH and so lets move on to

The Basic toolkit

Auctioneer, an addon widely available through various addon sites is your primary tool. Get it, download it, install it and run the scans preferably at least once a day. Ideally scan before you're getting ready to dump a whole bunch of stuff on the market.

Don't have Auctioneer yet? Get it, run scans daily for at least a week and only then start making decisions. You will really need the average price indications auctioneer provides and you will lose hundreds if not thousands of gold if you decide to play the AH game without auctioneer.

That said, once you're used to auctioneer check into the various option menus. You can do a lot of beneficial customizing that may help your specific ventures but until then the default settings will do fine. Auctioneer generally also comes with extra tools like bottomscanner and beancounter etc. Try them all and see what they mean to you.

Be aware that a scan can, depending on your connection speed and processing power take up to 30 minutes on a decently saturated AH. My scans currently run 10-15 mins for about 300 pages in the AH... time you stand in the auction house and pretty much can't do anything except guildies over guildchat.

Even though it takes time: Auctioneer scans are absolutely vital!

The other thing that's absolutely vital is: Bag space. Have lots of bag space available especially on characters you want to be involved in your grand gold making schemes.

Seed money

Seed money is your basic starting funds. Just like a farmer would buy seed and expect to grow crops for a profit you need seed money to expect to grow a profit in the Auction house.

The simple truth of seed money is this:
All your gold is seed money. The more seed money you have the more profit you can make. Seed money sitting in your bank does nothing for you.

You can start the AH game at any time and at any gold amount however be aware that you may lose your investment in a bad deal so make sure you have enough gold available to cover your daily repair cost/ consumable cost for about a week in case stuff really goes bad.

With your seed money in your pocket and your Auctioneer scan freshly completed there's a couple of things we can start doing:

1. Flipping
2. Bidding
3. Market research


Flipping is the art of buying low and selling high. You don't need a specific market for this... you can simply run a blank search on the AH and then sort by the percentless column. The lower the percentless value (blue) the more the item can be re-sold for. You can check the average price of an item by hovering over it and checking what auctioneer says is the average moving price.

Pick items that you think are popular (ores, rare crafting materials, specific weapons/armors etc.) or that you know a lot about and buy the ones that have a percentless value less than 50% and immediately put them back on the auction house at approximately 80%.

So if a stack of copper ore (20 pieces) normally goes for 8g and you see it on the market for 4g buy it and re-list it for 7g or 6g50s. The only time when you don't want to do that is when there's a lot of people offering copper ore for less than the average price of 8g. In which case you can either decide to list it for less (but always more than what you paid for + the auction house cut) or to hold on to the materials until the market is more favorable.

That's all there is to flipping... buy low, sell high. The percentless column will help you tremendously in this and you can decide whether to resell specific stuff or generally try and flip everything available in the auction.


Bidding is a lot like flipping except that it takes a little more time to 'flip' the item. Do a blank search on the AH and sort it by how much time is left on the auctions.
See all those 30m / 2h remaining auctions?

Go through them and once again look for items that either have a really low percentless value or a very low low-end bid.

Just put in the minimum bid on the item and move on to the next item.

The beauty of bidding is that even if you get outbid you don't lose money (you get your bid back) and if you win you just picked up an item for an extremely low amount of gold and can then flip it for the average price (or a little lower).

This is especially interesting for slower moving markets like weapons and armor where auctions can often run their full duration. That said there's really no restrictions on what you should bid on. If you think there's a decent chance of selling it for even a little more than what you bid then you should bid on it.

Market research

Flipping and bidding are both very basic activities. You can make decent gold off of them without really worrying about book keeping and other things. If you just want to make some money on the AH to keep your characters afloat then bidding and flipping are usually enough.

The real money however comes from the results of market research. Market research is all about figuring out what people want and then providing the supply to their demand.

There's a few things you can do to determine demand:

1. determine needs. We know people 'need' consumables. We know people 'need' certain crafting materials. People need a whole bunch of stuff, some of it is more needed than others but based on their needs markets develop. All we really need to do is figure out what isused the most (like consumables for example ) and what crafting materials are in demand and then figure out how we can get those cheap and then drop them on the AH. I recently traded a few frozen orbs to someone who had more mammoth meat than they knew what to do with.
The market for mammoth meals was terrible at the time so he happily parted with 10 stacks of mammoth meat for some frozen orbs. After a few weeks mammoth meals were back in demand and I was able to sell all my mammoth meats as mammoth meals and made enough profit to buy back my frozen orbs and still be left with a lot of gold. I determined the need and used that need to my advantage.

2. Determine gluts. Not too long ago I picked up 20 stacks of netherweave for 2g50 a stack which was exceptionally low for my server. I couldn't resell the netherweave due to the market being covered in people trying to sell netherweave but I managed to get my netherweave crafted into stuff which I then disenchanted selling the enchanting materials for quite a profit (at least a hell of a lot more than the 2g50 a stack I paid). Using raw materials from a market that is flooded with said raw materials is a very good way to turn a profit.

3. Determine shortages. There are shortages. Keep an eye on trade for people asking for specific things. If the thing is not on the AH and people are asking for it in trade then they are willing to pay a premium for the item once it does get put on the AH. A shortage is different from a need in that needed items will always be needed, a shortage may occur for very off-beat items (levelling gear for example) which no one really needs but a lot of people would want to have. If you can supply a shortage with your goods then you are practically guaranteed a profit. Unfortunately unlike needs shortages go away and may never come back. But keep in mind... there are always shortages somewhere.

4. Re-evaluate professions. You have crafting professions, or at least you're very likely to have them. Go through each item on your profession list and have a look at what the raw materials cost and what the end-product goes for. Normally you won't be able to turn a profit but every profession has a few items in there that can turn the raw materials you need into a profit.

Never stop researching your markets. All good business ventures go down the drain at some point or the other. Just because you can make a profit selling x now doesn't mean you'll be able to sell x tomorrow. Keep an eye out for opportunities.

Keeping track

I know you think you'll remember all of it. And maybe in the beginning when you have 1,2 or 3 little business ventures you will... but at some point you're going to have to keep track of how much you make and how much you spend for each of your little business ventures.

Determining what raw materials cost on your realm and how much they would have to cost (max) for you to turn them into a profit is also worth noting down.

If you do not keep track of your business ventures you will eventually have a few business ventures that seem to be profitable but really aren't. In the end if something takes 1h of your time and you make 200g then you need to ask yourself if you could make the same amount of gold doing dailies or something else. If the answer is yes, then why are you doing it?
If you can't provide a good reason then you should probably find something else to spend your time on.

Grinding / Farming

Grinding and farming generally isn't needed when playing the AH game. However if an hours worth of grinding can fork you a tremendous profit then there really is no shame in getting down and dirty with some monsters especially if you can also gain xp at the same time.

My paladin has been farming some rhino meat for a while to supply the huge demand that was present at the time based on the cooking daily. I made a good chunk of gold from the rhino dog sales and half a level to boot.

Grind and farm when it is profitable to do so. If you can do something else to make you more money then why grind in the first place?

In the end you would ideally want to bring your grind/farm time to 0. This is very much possible... but don't be so shortsighted as to say farming/grinding is for idiots because every now and then you can make some serious gold by grinding the right things.

Before I leave you to your thoughts I'll leave you with a quick comment: smaller stacks sell better than bigger ones on the AH. I alway thought that to be obvious and yet I still see a lot of people trying to sell a full stack of frozen orbs on the AH for 1000+ gold and be surprised no one ever buys it even if they sell if for half the average price. No one wants to spend 1000+ gold on a stack of frozen orbs unless they intend to sell them as singles for a profit in which case you might as well have put it on the AH as singles in the first place and made a decent amount of extra gold.

*edit* If it's hard to read leave a comment and I'll chop it up a little... the post's structure made for some very long sentences that could use shortening. if you tl:dr then it's your loss. I don't cater to people who only want to voice an opinion and not read someone else's.

Monday, January 19, 2009


With arena representation hitting an all-time low and the population of the warlock community melting away faster than a snowman in the desert blizzard is presented with the very rare opportunity to phase out an entire class in favor of the death knight population.

Since the day that Kalgan has started his blizzard sponsored vendetta against the warlock class a great many of strategic direct and indirect nerfs to the warlock class have resulted in the complete and utter loss of OPness, utility and survivability...

And yet a handful of warlocks still remain.

Having failed miserably Kalgan was executed and sacrificed to the lich king forever to roam the lands as a scourge warrior and a replacement was appointed to finish what Kalgan could not.

With the promise of being the only warlock to remain I have taken upon me the task of the eradication of the warlock class and as a result I propose the following changes to be patched in with 3.0.8. 3.1. or otherwise 'soon' (tm).


It has come to my attention that despite the dozens of hard counters that other classes now have against fear some classes are still unable to interrup the fear casts timely and effectively. To avoid further issues with fear the cast time will be increased to 4s and the effect's duration will be shortened to 5 seconds. This will ensure that even the most dimwitted keyboard turner will have ample time to interrupt the cast with minimal consequences if they fail to do so.

- The fear effect will be removed from deathcoil to be more in line with the Death Knight's death coil.
- Instant howl of terror will no longer be instant cast.


To prevent the warlock from being overly dependant on dot timers the next patch will ensure that any and all dot-timer addons will cease to work. A new generation of dot timers will be prevented from working by removing all public methods related to reading out dot times. This will be a warlock only change as to not affect healers.
Individual dot times will also be adjusted to ensure warlocks spend 99% of their time attempting to keep dots up.

all dots will furthermore instantly be dispelled upon the untimely death of the warlock.


Token buffs will be given to drain mana. These token buffs will look good on paper but will not effectively change the spell to prevent warlocks from using it more than once.

The mana cost of drain life will be increased with each token buff to drain mana to compensate for the (non)buffs.

Drain spells will also check LOS every tick and be interrupted (with no mana refund) if LOS is broken.

Demonic circle

Due to the nature of this spell in 'certain' arena's and the potential use of this spell for exploiting terrain bugs the following changes will be implemented:

Demonic teleport will no longer work if the warlock is out of Line of Sight from his circle.
Demonic teleport will also teleport any melee currently attacking the warlock to the demonic circle.
Demonic circle now requires a soul shard as reagent.

Soul shards

To address complaints by warlocks of having soul shards take up all their bag space soul shards have been added to all cast-time spells in the warlock arsenal. This will ensure the quick removal of soulshards from the warlock's bags thus leaving him with significantly more bag space.

Pet survivability

Rather than addressing the low HP, terrible scaling and useless pet abilities warlock pets will now only last 1 minute after being summoned.
This is more in line with lore and will prevent warlocks from confusing their demons with actual pets like a hunter's pet.
Demon abilities will be set to autocast to circumvent discussions about spell-lock resistance and other similar problems.


Warlocks have long since complaint about the useless of curses outside of curse of agony. As a result all curses will be rolled into a single much much weaker curse providing: 10% movement speed reduction, 10% slower cast times, 10% attack speed reduction.


Metamorphosis has been reworked. While in demon form the warlock's movement speed is reduced by 50%.
immolation aura has been redesigned entirely to provide a blastwave like attack without the knockback that does damage to the demon in equal proportions to the damage done to others.
The warlock will not be able to cast any spells in demon form other than the new immolation aura and 'cleave'.


- Seering pain is now instant cast but causes 25% more threat
- Soul linked warlocks will now be connected to their pet with a clearly visible bright pink line
- Due to the lack of banishable mobs in Northrend this spell has been removed from the warlock arsenal.
- Several warlock talents have had their talent point cost increased (particularly affliction talents)
- Lifetap had it's scaling adjusted and will now give 5% of max mana for 10% max health and no longer scales with spirit.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Find your buddy in any crowd

We all know this scenario:

You're sitting near the bank waiting for the guy to show up whose service you picked up through the trade channel and you can't find the guy because the bank is covered in mammoth riding level 80s that have nothing better to do than sit there and block your view.

Sure you will eventually find each other, but the longer it takes the more frustrated both of you will be and the less pleasant your interaction may become.

Thankfully jewelcrafting comes to the rescue and these days you will often find these sitting on the auction house for a nominal fee (just search lens on the AH):

Focusing lens

What this puppy does is project a pretty beam of light much like the warlock's drain spells on the target. The range seems to be pretty high and the target can even walk out of LOS without losing the beam.

Not only does this little lens come in different colors and make an incredible tool to find people you can also use it to point out different objectives in instances or point out targets for those that have their video setting set lower and don't see everything. It can also help to mark objectives in BG's and there's about a dozen other fun things you can do with it. Incidentally it's absolutely bloody brilliant to find named mobs with that are always hiding in some obscure little corner.

With jewelcrafting 350 and only requiring a green quality gem to make this 40 charge lens I happily recommend it to anyone who has to deal with finding people or pointing out things on a regular basis.

Not only that but if you give it to 25 others you can make one hell of a lightshow.

Give it a try if you haven't yet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

XP Gold rewards at level 80

With most people having a level 80 including myself I am now 'working' on characters number 2 and 3 to level up to 80 as well as working on getting the professions back to a useful level.

Unfortunately quest rewards from levelling my level 72s are just about enough to cover skill training and don't really contribute to levelling my professions much.

In other words: Professions are bloody expensive.

And even worse: I feel compelled to have each profession at at least a decent level to reduce my dependency on trading with others.

And while my AH business ventures are doing better than ever since I actually do invest a little time in them these days I regularly think about the fact that on my level 80 warlock I still have a large chunk of zul'drak and all of sholazar basin, icecrown and storms peaks left to do.

So how much gold could I potentally earn at level 80 from doing quests?

Before we dive into the calculations we need to be aware of a few facts:

1. Gray quests do not give any gold beyond that what is advertised in the quest text. So if a gray quest normally gives 45s and 600xp it'll give you 45s at level 80.

2. We know from wowwiki and various other sources as well as personal experience that 1xp is worth 6c at level 80. so for every 1k xp you can expect 1k * 0.0006 = 60s.

3. Most northrend quests give between 20k and 25k xp at level 80 depending on your zone meaning you can expect between 12g and 15g per quest excluding any gold you may be able to churn out by selling item quest rewards.

4. And this is an important one. If a quest says you normally get 5g and 25k xp you will only get the XP->gold conversion and not the base quest reward at level 80. So you will get 15g from this quest instead of 20g which is different from how it worked in TBC (*citation needed).

Next up we need to figure out how many quests we have per zone. On your way to 80 you either finished off Borean Tundra, Howling Fjord and the Dragonblight or not, either way you will notice that most of the quests in these 3 zones now are 'gray' to you and thus won't give you any xp->gold reward.

Grizzly hills is a bit of a toss up really since it's going to be right on the line of gray so it'll have a fair few quests that still give reward but an almost equal amount of quests that are gray already.

So the relevant zones remaining are:

Storms Peak
Sholazar basin

Ignoring dungeon, dailies, raid and pvp quests so only looking at the group and normal quests wowhead will happily tell us the amount of quests per zone:

Icecrown - 250 quests -> 140 for achievement
Storms Peak - 159 quests -> 100 for achievement
Sholazar basin - 101 quests -> 75 for achievement
Zul'drak - 130 quests -> 100 for achievement

The reason I listed the amount needed for the achievement is quite simply because some quests are part of elongated quest chains and others can be damn near impossible to find. The achievements are however fairly easily completed and can be a good guideline to what can be achievable without investing hours upon hours in researching various questlines and travelling all over the map.

There's no point in going into detail on how much xp each quest gives and what the corresponding rewards would be since we're only looking for a rough estimate of what the total gold reward per zone would be.

As a result we're going to go with the value of 14g for each quest completed in northrend. This of course excludes reward items which may be vendored or not for additional rewards. Some of the quests are probably simple crumb-trail quests to send you from one quest hub to another but for the purpose of simplicity we will simply assume that they too earn you 14g.

What can I earn?

The low end represents the approximate gold gains for doing only the amount of quests needed for the achievement. The high number assumes you complete all normal and group quests in the zone (which is somewhat unlikely).

Icecrown: 1960g to 3500g
Storms Peak: 1400g to 2226g
Sholazar basin: 1050g to 1414g
Zul'drak - 1400g to 1820g

For a grand total of: 5810g to 8960g

This is excluding drops, item rewards and other rewards that may be turned into gold and represents and estimate. Taking extra item rewards and drops into account you can probably strap another 50% on those numbers meaning you're looking at 8k to 13k gold for those remaining 4 zones.

All in all those aren't bad numbers, especially not if you're interested in completing quests merely for the lore aspect beyond 80.

If nothing else it's good to know that you can easily pick up an epic flyer by doing nothing more than what you've been doing all the way till 80 (quest, quest, quest...)

Monday, January 12, 2009

When to help?

Altruism is an interesting trait in that it enables players compassion for those in need without it resulting in a direct benefit for the one helping.

Do you know that terrible compulsion to help someone who is being brutally bludgeoned by monsters and without your help would surely die? Even if they are the opposite faction or a rival guild we often find ourselves helping even though we risk our own virtual lives and might not even receive a word of thanks for the assistance we render.

That my friends is altruism. And altruism is good. Altruism is something we learned a long long time before we even evolved into proper huoman beings because it would allow us to cooperate to overcome challenges that a single individual would not be able to handle.
Altruism allows for the building of society... people that are not altruistic are egotists; An egotist will rarely help you with anything unless it is to their direct benefit.

If we help an egotist our effort is lost. We invested our time and potentially resources in someone that will never return the favor and will most likely never pay it forward either. In the end you're not doing anyone a favor by helping an egotist and you investing time into an egotist is time you didn't invest into an altruist (meaning that you did society a big disservice).

If we help an altruist our effort turns into an investment. The altruist will eventually either help you, be willing to help you if you need it or in some form of the other pay it forward. Our effort is a service to society, we in some way shape or form have helped to make it a better place for everyone.

In both cases the behaviour is ingrained into our brain, hardcoded as it were. An altruist may run away occasionally or make an educated decision not to help but he/she is fighting their compulsion to help and a lot of people will then feel bad for not helping as a result.
An egotist in turn may help someone in the hopes or perceived certainty that he/she will get what he/she wants in return or at least receives some form of payment.

So from all this we can conclude that it's good to help an altruist and not so much to help an egotist (in fact it's probably bad to help an egotist).

The question is how do you really tell an egotist from an altruist?

"Do you have 1g?"
"Can you boost me through RFC?"

Is the person asking an egotist who just wants 1g or a boost for their own benefit or is it an altruist who really needs the help?

The difference between an egotist an an altruist is generally the will an ability to make compromises/sacrifices. If someone asks you for a boost through RFC you should not make a unilateral decision to either help or not you should actively attempt to determine what kind of person you are dealing with.

In order to determine wether someone is primarily an egotist or an altruist you have to determine to what extend he/she is willing to help you in return by displaying a bit of egotism.

"Sure I'll boost you but I need a stack of peacebloom for it. Can you arrange that?"

The egotist in general wasn't really interested in paying for your services and in most cases will move on right away or try and get the boost from you 'before' payment. In some cases the egotist will grudgingly hand over your required payment in which case the net result to society is 0. You helped someone, they refunded your time. You could've invested the same amount of time and gotten your payment so you don't win or lose anything and neither does the egotist (except he got what he wanted and you got something you think is worth what he wanted).

The altruist will at the very least be willing to negotiate the deal and more than happy to trade one favor for another without too much qualm even if it means sacrificing a bit more of his/her time than yours.

"I am sorry, I can't give you 1g but if you pick up herbalism you can go outside of town and get silverleaf and peacebloom which sells quite well on the Auction House"

The egotist will most likely ignore you after this one and move on to their next victim. They were already aware that they could make money by herbing but they had better luck begging it from people.

The altruist on the other hand will generally be either genuinely ignorant of herbalism or will be willing to negotiate some kind of deal thus your teachings will be well-received and will often result in genuine follow-up questions.

While not a perfect test you can indeed find out if people have altruistic inclinations or not. Egotists should be put on ignore as soon as possible, you are not helping anyone by helping them. A society that does not weed out it's egotists is a society doomed to fail in some form or the other. Be it by widespread poverty, creating an anchor through those unwilling to put forth effort for ayone but themselves or numerous other things that can go wrong by giving to those who only consume.

Studies have shown that monkeys generally don't put up with purely egotistical behaviour for too long, just because we have the luxury that we can doesn't mean we should.

Sometimes you can do good by not helping and harm by helping... it is up to us to discern the difference.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Winners and losers of Dual spec

By now there has been so much buzz generated about dual speccing for character that blizzard will be hard-pressed to implement the feature at some point in the future or at the very least come up with one hell of a good reason why they don't.

I for one see a lot of potential problems with dual specs but despire being on the fence about the whole mechanic there's really no point in dwelling on the greatness or doom and gloom that is projected to come with dual specs.

For better or for worse we will most likely be looking at a dual spec system in the near future. So the question begs to be asked which characters will benefit the most from dual-speccing and what will those characters have to put up with as a result of actually being dual spec.

I am only going to briefly cut into what possible spec combinations could be and what pvp,pve impact that may have in favor of predicting the winners and losers of the dual spec in my humble opinion. I am also assuming that all trees are viable even if some classes clearly still have significant problems with one or more of their talent trees.

So from worst to best we start off with:

#10 The Rogue

Dual speccing will give the rogue the awesome ability to spec into not one but 2 dps trees. While we can certainly opt to have a PVP spec and a PVE spec in the end we're damage dealers and there's very few situations that require the ability to be able to switch from a pve mode to a pvp mode on the fly.
The rogue's utility is barely increased by having 2 specs available to them and the different itemization between a pvp and a non-pvp spec means the rogue would be dragging 2 sets of gear around at all times or if not would make his off-spec redundant. I can't think of any situation where having the choice between combat, assassination and subtlety could be considered crucial and as a result most rogues will get very little benefit from the ability to dual spec.

Beyond saving some gold on respeccing on a regular basis the rogue gets nothing out of the dual spec scenario and is well and truly hosed.

#9 The Mage

On position 9 we find the mighty mage. Another DPS class that will have the potential to spec into 2 different DPS trees but unlike the rogue's talent trees the mage's talent trees are very distinctly different from each other in functionality. Combining fire and frost (no not frostfire...) will allow the mage to switch between pure DPS and very controlled DPS. With arcane being the new PVP spec the mage can now choose between dual speccing into a solid raid dual spec with fire/frost or a raid/pvp combination as arc/fire or a pvp control spec as arc/frost.
All this nonwithstanding the mage is still a pure DPS class and the increased utility that comes from being able to switch between frost and fire for example will be more useful in a solo setting than in a raid setting where things are already more controlled.

#8 The Warlock

We continue with the pure DPS classes and run into the warlock that now gets the option to combine affliction/demonology/destruction which affords the warlock a certain amount of flexibility. The ability to dual spec into a demonology spec means that the warlock gains the ability to become a quasi tank via their pet (assuming the tree gets adjusted a little) and even though affliction no longer is what it was there's still the hope that it will provide some drain tanking capability. This means that to a certain extend the warlock can act as a weak off-tank and a strong dps depending on spec combinations.
Unfortunately this utility is still a long shot away from number 7 on the charts and in the end the warlock falls into the DPS = DPS trap resulting in the warlock having slightly more utility than a mage on the tanking field but this utility will most likely never be more relevant. I'd consider mages and warlocks tied on 8th/9th position but give the warlock the benefit of the doubt due to demonology potential.

#7 The Hunter

On 7 we find the hunter. With BM being a strong pet spec giving the potential to be quite a solid OT and two DPS spec the hunter seems to be in the same boat as the warlock capable of providing some pet tanking capacity coupled with solid DPS ability. What sets the hunter apart from the warlock in this regard is that the hunter's pets have benefitted from a more focussed talent tree and have talent trees themselves drastically increasing their utility (I'd trust my gorilla to tank a non-high end instance, my void walker? not so much).

Even though the hunter is still more or less a pure DPS class the added pet with own talent tree and a supporting character talent tree in BM it is clear that the hunter will be miles ahead of the warlock in terms of potential utility but still a far cry from number 6 on the charts.

#6 The Warrior

Warriors will have reason to rejoice come dual specs. No longer will they have to make the arduos choice between tanking and DPS but they can simply be both. With a significantly powerful tank spec that is also considered a viable PVP spec these days combined with the potential to do solid DPS a warrior will gain the ability to almost seemlessly switch from a tanking to DPS mode and more importantly vice versa.
Given the gear discrepancy however the warrior will have to drag 2 sets of gear around for each individual spec and unless specifically invited in a run as DPS will rely somewhat heavily on the protection spec. After all mid run it's more likely that you will end up needing another tank rather than needing you to switch out of tanking mode into DPS.

#5 The Death Knight

The death knight finds him/herself in the same boat as the warrior. With tanking options opening up via the frost tree and two alternate DPS specs the only real thing that sets the DK apart from the warrior is the higher utility of the blood/unholy trees that afford the death knight a much better survivability in solo play due to significant health return potential. The death knight may also benefit from being able to switch into an anti caster role quite easily giving it just that much more utility than the warrior affording it a slightly better place on the charts than the warrior.

#4 The Priest

The priest will be able to bring an incredible amount of utility to the table when allowed to dual spec. Combining Shadow and holy/discipline will turn the average priest into something that can both heal and DPS with almost no significant difference in gear itemization. This makes transitioning from DPS to healing a very smooth operation. Additionally the dual speccing priest will gain a significant amount of utility by being able to explore different healing specs and thus becoming a good shoe-in for any larger raid situation that will probably already have a certain amount of healers and be in search of the ideal spec to round up their group.
Traditionally the priest has had a high level of utility in any situation which can now almost be doubled with dual speccing options.

#3 The Shaman

At number 3 and maybe to some people's surprise we find the shaman. The ability to combine elemental powers with healing powers already makes the shaman a decent choice to DPS or heal even if the shaman isn't specced in one or the other. Once again the gear itemization helps to cover the gap between elemental and restoration allowing for fairly smooth transitions between ranged DPS and healing. The addition of enhancement could mean that the shaman gets the benefit of either filling the role of melee dps and ranged DPS which these days can be the difference between either participating or not participating in a run.

That's a tremendous amount of utility all rolled into one and this can be incredibly beneficial to any raid.

#2 The Paladin

It should come as no surprise that we find the paladin amongst the winners in dual spec. With each talent tree designed for a specific role the paladin can heal, tank and DPS with the best of them. Combining protection and retribution will turn the paladin into something that has literally all the benefits of a dual spec DPS/Tank warrior. Combining protection and holy will mean that the paladin will be 1 of only two character classes that are capable of switching from a tank to a healer role and vice versa which makes the paladin incredibly powerful and a highly desirable class for any raid. Add to this the already great utility of a paladin and the paladin ends up on a well deserved 2nd place.

#1 The Druid

The druid will be the character benefitting the most from the dual spec scenario and is literally the only character class that can fill all relevant roles in-game be it melee or ranged dps, healing or even tanking. A druid willing to drag around enough gear sets can potentially cover tanking + dps and healing in a single dual spec combination. Hybrid orientation can drive this even further in case of the druid.

Combine this with the tremendous base utility which the druid had anyway and I can strongly recommend rolling one of these if you want to make the most use of the dual specs.

So that's it, my personal top ten of character I anticipate will benefit the most from dual specs. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Alternate self-buff management

There's dozens of self-buffs in wow ranging from things like fel armor to seals that can contribute to stats, damage or have other beneficial effects on your character.

All these self-buffs have one thing in common: They're timed.

Whether they're on 2 minute, 10 minute, 30 minute or an hour timers seems to be more or less arbitrarily chosen and adjusted according to what seems the level of complaints on the forums and in-game over the years.

And it seems that most self-buffs like fel armor, divine spirit, arcane intellect and so on and so forth have a long enough duration that you would maybe have to refresh them once during an instance run.

With instance runs being significantly shorter, boss-fights being shorter in general it seems that the longer running self-buffs are almost to the point where you don't have to refresh them at all during a run.

If there's no mechanical need to refresh the self-buffs during a run and the trend for self-buff durations has always been to become longer rather than shorter to avoid forcing players to continually refresh buffs the question quickly becomes: Why are they timed at all then?

Players and blizzard developers generally agree that buffing shouldn't become a task in itself and anyone can deduct that all those timers are eating CPU cycles either on the server or on the client machines (depending on how that is coded). So why not take all these myriad of timers and scrap them in favor of much simpler toggle abilities?

Imagine this: You log in, you cast your buffs on yourself and instead of them dropping off after 30 or so minutes they actually stay on much like a paladin aura would, resetting only after being logged off for a short period or in case of death.

By using a toggle-ability approach for self-buffs (and really only buffs that you cast on yourself) you cut out the micro-management that is currently plagueing a lot of buff-heavy classes like paladins.

This would alleviate a lot of load on your standard spell rotation in general. While some classes like warlocks rarely have this problem I find myself having to squeeze in casting a new seal every 2 minutes, a blessing of sanctuary every now and then and other buffs every so often into my standard attack rotation on my paladin.

And there's really no need for this nor does there seem to be a specific reason why players should have to refresh self-buffs on such a regular basis. What is the difference between a self buff that lasts 30 minutes and one that lasts indefinitely (until death or logoff)?

Why do you have to refresh your seal every 2 minutes on your paladin? or your arcane intellect every 30 minutes etc. ?

What is the added value of this system?

Of course a toggle system wouldn't work on things you cast on other people and things like like the spell-stealing mechanic would have to be modified slightly so that a stolen 'toggle-buff' would indeed turn into a timed one. But those are minor obstacles from a programming perspective.

Self-buffs that cost 'resources' to get should of course retain their individual timers (I am thinking buff-foods, scrolls, flasks etc.) because they serve a function even if that may only be an economic one. Anything that merely costs 'mana' and is cast on yourself has no real reason to be timed.

I say save some trees and rework the self-buff system to a toggle-based system much like paladin/dk auras/presences work now, it'll simplify the management of self-buffs (thus leading to a more pleasant gaming experience) and most likely will save a good amount of cpu cycles dedicated to keeping track of all those timers (thus indirectly saving trees... ok it was far fetched).

In the end my thought is that a game should be easy to control and difficult to master rather than be riddled with complex spell and attack rotations in an environment that presents no significant challenge.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back on Track

With the christmas cheer and new years beer (well wine mostly) slowly working its way out of my system it's time to get this train back on track... if it ever really was on track in the first place.

As you can imagine I didn't play as consistently over the holidays as I would otherwise (happy new years at that) but I did manage to get a fair few hours of playtime in while no one was looking.

The thing that struck me most thusfar is the fact that I barely ran an instance. No matter where I turn I either seem to be getting bounced from the run due to lack of healers or something else happens like someone paying enough attention to see that I have an attack power enchant on my bracers and calling me a total noob over it and _then_ bouncing me out of the run.

Ok fine, so I train enchanting and I don't always re-enchant.... *sigh* it's exhausting to try and pug anything sometimes.

Most of all I think it's the massive excess of DPS classes running around these days which is causing my lousy luck with instance runs. After all, dps is easy to come by unlike tanks and healers (healers mostly it seems) and if you have to choose between a crazy mal-enchanted, weirdly geared, strangely talented warlock and a random facerolling ret paladin you go with the paladin (of course).

So I upgraded (downgraded) my level 80 warlock to banking status, put a dent in my tailoring (410), picked up leatherworking (400), did some mild enchanting (405) and pushed blacksmithing along (410) and then went to file bankruptcy after having spent something in the neighbourhood of 2k gold on various mats.

Looking at my shabby pile of 500g remaining I'd say the other professions are going to have to wait. Incidentally it sucks not having a miner in northrend (kicks self for not thinking of the expansion when dropping mining on the paladin).
Also incidentally it seems that 1 eternal whatever is worth less than 10 crystallized whatevers of the same type on my server so I have been doing my best to normalize the market by buying eternals and selling them as 10 x crystallized(s).

How do you crystallize fire anyway? Ah nevermind...

Without decent instance runs available for my warlock and it being a completely worthless class in non-BG PVP my warlock is pretty much done for now so I decided it was: Hammertime

I dusted off my pally, threw on some cobalt defense gear and went off to aoe grind some rhinos outside of warsong hold. And before I knew it I was level 71 and had a boatload of rhino meat and chunks of rhino fur in my bag... funny how paladin aoe grinding can put me in a trance sometimes.

I am thinking since the rhino's aoe so well I might just stick around for another level's worth of grinding; Sure, sure it's not as efficient as straight up questing but it's very relaxed, have a chat kind of activity that pays a decent chunk of gold at no risk. The rhino meat will make a nice stockpile for one of those dalaran cooking dailies and with the rhinos being just outside warsong hold I can just park my pally there and aoe grind a little inbetween levelling lowbies who are in dire need of some love.

For a brief moment I was worried about not having any badges and then I remembered... it hasn't even been 2 months since wrath was released.

Plenty of time to do that...

And you? Are you back on track yet?