Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is endgame gold worthless?

I did inventory the other day. Outside of the infinite amounts of junk I have smeared out all over my alts I noticed that I had about 10k in gold laying around.

With my hunter, mage and death knight still a ways away from level 77 I quietly acknowledged the fact that I wouldn't have to worry about where the next 2 or even 3 epic flyers would come from.

In fact this time around I wouldn't even have to liquidate any of my assets and can reasonably expect to have another 5k gold through prodding around on the AH for maybe an hour every couple of days long before any of my 3 higher level alts gets to 77.

So looking at the current state of my characters and looking at purely what they 'need' in riding skills to get epic riding and epic flying I am looking at a grand total of almost 50k gold for all my alts left to gather (10 chars in total).

That 50k gold includes everything all my characters could ever want from riding and that is assuming you see epic flying as a requirement rather than a nice to have.

50k definitely sounds like a lot... but given that I already have 10k of that number and it took me about a month with very little effort on the AH to get 5k I could realistically achieve the 50k mark by the end of the year without putting any significant effort into making gold whatsoever. Significantly less if I just devoted a month or two to gold making activities.

I considered putting effort into the gold making process but then it hit me: Assuming you've already bought all the epic flyers you could possibly need and your professions are maxed what is there really left to buy?

A mammoth?
A chopper?
A couple of flimsy rings?
A gigantique bag?
Soap on a rope?
Some other random vendor stuff?

Most of everything else is either tied into some kind of badge/seal/token/honor/rating system or doesn't require gold to get but instead requires effort a.k.a. time. Worse still there is nothing that would allow me to trade in my gold to save some time in that regard.

So what does one buy once one has bought all the 'essentials'?

There's no gold sink big enough that would keep taking your gold and paying you off in a way that you would want to repeat it indefinitely (i.e. gold -> honor might be a start).
Repair and travel cost barely factor in at this point. Sure repair costs can be painful if you have no gold income from anywhere and you run instances all day but that's really a choice you make when you choose that particular lifestyle.

Gear comes from instances, from badges or from honor and arena rating none of which I can buy with gold. Titles come from achievements which translates to effort rather than gold and anything cosmetically interesting seems to come from an obscure trading card game which only kind of comes from gold... if you were allowed to sell gold for cash.

That indeed leaves a rather paltry selection of mounts, rings and arbitrary vendor junk...

So depending on the amount of alts you have there is actually a virtual cap on how much gold you can have before it becomes essentially nothing more than a little number on the bottom of your main bag. And even that number will stop climbing at 2^31 copper because even blizzard thinks that by the time you have that much gold you really should quit or seek help or some such thing.

So, did I miss something or is endgame gold really worthless?

Monday, May 25, 2009

WoW light - now with less flavor

As it turns out levelling a fire specced mage gives me a lot of time to think on stuff and whilst scorching boars in deathknight peninsula I contemplated the progression of wow over the period that I have been around.

Mind you, I've only been playing this game for euh... about a year and a half or so which to the seasoned wow veteran probably means I am still a noob crawling around in his diapers. But even given my relative short stay with wow I can see a clear move towards simplifying things.

On the one hand there are simplifications that make life a lot more pleasant: Longer self-buff durations, dual talent specialization, gear managers, a myriad of ui improvements right down to simple things like being able to stay mounted in the water (not that I don't want to bash my head against the table whenever I see a swimming cat mount) or color-blind modes for the color-blind.

But in all this simplification I wonder if we're not starting to lose some flavor as well.

Take for example the 'flavor text' that has been disabled for the most part on existing NPC's. You were at some point in the past able to see a simple flavor text that an NPC would use to introduce him/herself with or to give some kind of story vibe to the area you're in. Now, all flavor texts are skipped automatically and apparantly (or I simply can't find it) come hell or high water you won't be able to make the flavor text appear again.
This rarely leads to problems but it sometimes seems like we're missing out on something, something not crucial but still conducive to understanding why the hell we're out here collecting x or killing y.

Another one of those examples is the absolutely gorgeous druid epic flying quest line. You can still pick it up, and most of us that remember it will do so for our druid alts but at this very moment there's generations of druids growing up that will never experience this quest simply because they can buy the epic flight form from the vendor.

There's dozens if not hundreds of other examples that indicate the loss of 'flavor' in this regard and I am starting to wonder if the new wow, the more user-friendly variant, didn't at some point trade in depth and immersion for convenience.

How far are we really from getting a quest helper built into wow that will simply show us what we have to do and dispense with all the storyline around it?

Where do we draw the line between something that is convenient, user-friendly and immersive and something that is... well progress quest?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Is blizzard playing with warlocks?

Following a postlink from our good friends over at I decided to take a look at the newly created Q&A thread about the warlock class.

You can take a look at it here but anyone who plays a warlock already knows the issues and has known of most of the issues since the wrath beta.

Everyone playing a warlock... or playing against warlocks on a regular basis knows our pets are soft targets, knows that most melee classes are ridiculously hard counters to warlocks and know that warlocks are about as squishy as they come. With our 2 second fear (yes, it only lasts 2 secs if you throw on some dots and it's not like you can cancel the dots for max fear effect) and no escape mechanisms other than a short-range teleport we're literally snacks for anything melee. And there is the age old issue of soul shards still taking up a full bag, all our minor glyphs being practically useless and yadiyadiyadi QQ whine whimper... *sigh*

We've known all this, in fact we've known it for so long there were even decent post in the oboards for a while indicating our dismay where other classes even chime in and agree. And you know your class is doing poorly when you're being pitied by other classes.

Blizzard has done quite a bit with the warlock class since wrath but none of those have really addressed the core issues and the latest Q&A thread strikes me as something I would put up in a forum simply to give people the impression that there is someone out there who cares.

It's not all fire and brimstone of course, overall there are warlock builds out there that do ok in PVP and a good affliction build will definitely hold it's own in any raid situation (apart from killing trash) but still... the Q&A is up to 12 pages now and all blue has said was 'keep up the good work'.

The question the whole thread raises with me is not so much whether blizzard cares or not (they're not going to give up just yet after all) but whether or not they're actually serious when they put up a Q&A like that.

What do they hope to learn from the trolls on the blizzard forums that they couldn't find out themselves if they read a few dozen threads on the arenajunkies and elitistjerks forums?

To a certain extend it seems that due to not having posted on the warlock forums for a while they decided to just toss something up to keep the masses occupied for a while.

So what say you? Is blizzard playing with warlocks or is that thread actually going to be more than one huge pile of QQ about issues that we knew about for almost 6 months now?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's in it for the new guy?

Not too long ago I took my warrior out for a spin in 1k needles and after 9 or so characters levelling through there I figure I know the area pretty well. And still something was different than the last 8 characters I put through there... something was very different.

It wasn't the half a trillion new graveyards that would practically spit me out next to my corpse whenever I died. It wasn't the increased run-speed while dead, or the incredible leveling speed or even the fact that I was happily sitting on a mount at level 30... no:

It was the silence... the silence was absolutely deafening.

I had spent a solid 2 hours online and hadn't run into anyone all the time I was out questing. I went to 1k needles and there was nothing (Except loads of ore numnums). I went on to hillsbrad foothills to find a whole lot of no one... out of curiosity I even took a peek at stranglethorne vale and found [6] players. 3 of them level 80s that were obviously lost, on their way to Kara, grinding bloodsail rep or... well... lost.

I didn't see anyone out there outside of Booty bay... but /who clearly stated they were there.

I decided to take a look at the LFG channel for my level bracket, looked at the blank list for a while and decided to just go back to questing.

I've been a bit of a loner for most my wow existence. I like crowds of people, I enjoy the social atmosphere lots of people bring to the table but when it comes down to sticking my blade in things I always preferred to be by myself (or in exclusive company).

But what if you're not the loner type? What if you just bought wow and expected to see teaming masses of people all over the place? Expect to run dungeons in groups, explore the world and do cool things 'with' other people?

What if you really wanted to see all there is to see in the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor in the way it was meant to be seen (not some bored level 80 burning through an instance leaving a path of corpses [and you] in his/her wake)?

Are you well and truly hosed? Can you even expect to see a 'real' player before you step foot in deathknight peninsula? Is it really going to be good for a new player to have his/her first contact be with some poor soul's DK alt?

After all this time I always figured WoW would die a certain death from a collapsing economy (mudflation) or suffer defeat at the hands of unmanageable numbers (large number syndrome) but looking at what the game is now it seems like there is a new danger forming. New player frustration.

Sure, levelling is faster than ever... but would you really want to play an MMORPG for 55 levels (which is still going to take a while to get to) if you're surrounded by the overwhelming feeling that you're either completely alone or so late to the game that you'll never catch up?

I am not sure I would... back in the day when I started Azeroth was already a bit of a wasteland... but there were still people, they were annoying and talked a lot of nonsense but they made places like the barrens feel alive...

Now the barrens are just that: barren.

So whilst I am glad that my lowest level character is level 34 which puts me at least well on my way out of azeroth the question begs to be asked:

what's in it for the new guy?

Friday, May 15, 2009


As you can probably make up from the title I picked up my priest again. Since some patch or the other completely wiped my talents (again) I decided to opt-in on the shadow tree. Having previously levelled as a smite build I decided to heed the call of all the so-called experts who dare claim that shadow levelling is so much better.

Well it isn't... at least not from where I am sitting. Sure the mana management and health management are somewhat better and the damage appears to be mildly ahead of ye ole smite build but if your rotation looks something like:


You really start to wonder whether all is right with the world. Sure you can toss in a few dots every now and then but in the meantime you're reliant on mindflay which seems to be cursed with an extremely short channeling period: meaning I do little more than mash the damned mindflay button all day long.

This is in stark contrast to my smite build which I had previously used which involved mostly the spamming of smite. And yet spamming smite is infinitely easier on the fingers (and probably my 1 button) than that cursed mindflay.

I managed to mash mindflay for a solid 10 bubbles before I decided looking cool was a really lousy tradeoff for carpal tunnel syndrome.

I really don't know what Blizzard was smoking when they thought up the idea of having shadow priests go through this misery but I am fairly certain it was infinitely more funny to them than it is to me.

So in order to save my keyboard and prevent me from slipping further into insanity I will opt-out of shadow again and go back to smitewanding things... even if it is supposedly inferior (at least I'll be able to still use my hands when my priest gets to 80 and I won't feel like jabbing my eyes out in the process).

Mindflay much? I bet you do...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

75% done (leveling)

Yesterday evening I was digging through my blog to clean up some markup when I noticed that it was about 6 months ago since I last took a good look at my character progression.

So in what has become the only real tradition over here at noobding it's time to take another look at 'then' and 'now' in terms of character progression and hopefully, finally, come up with some worthy goals that do not involve levelling (yeah... who am I kidding).

Back in november the field looked something like this and if you'll remember wrath just hit the shelves so there's some serious TBC nostalgia here:

Capsize - lvl 70 undead warlock
Capstone - lvl 70 blood elf paladin
Capricious - lvl 64 troll hunter
Capibara - lvl 68 tauren druid
Capone - lvl 43 Orc rogue
Capeesh - lvl 31 Orc warrior
Capacitate - lvl 35 undead priest
Capitulate - lvl 40 Blood elf mage
Capow - lvl 35 Tauren shaman
Cap???? - lvl 55 ???? Death Knight

Now 6ish months further down the line the field looks like this (level diference in brackets):

Capsize - lvl 80 undead warlock (+10)
Capstone - lvl 80 blood elf paladin (+10)
Capricious - lvl 70 troll hunter (+6)
Capibara - lvl 80 tauren druid (+12)
Capone - lvl 43 Orc rogue (+0)
Capeesh - lvl 34 Orc warrior (+3)
Capacitate - lvl 44 undead priest (+9)
Capitulate - lvl 58 Blood elf mage (+18)
Capow - lvl 50 Tauren shaman (+15)
Capsickle - lvl 63 Orc Death Knight (+8 from 55)

Which comes down to about 90 levels in the period from november till now putting me at just about 1/2 a level a day.
That doesn't sound too exciting and is definitely down from my usual average but considering I took a new job back in february which cut my wow time down by at least 50% and the treck from 70 to 80 is a slow one I am not really unhappy with the progress (I have 3 80's now after all).

Looking at the totals I now have a remainder of 198 levels to go till the glorious 800 levels mark which at half a level a day would take me a solid year to complete.
Due to more relaxed job circumstances I expect that average to go back up to 1/day though so those 198 levels are looking a hell of a lot more manageable.
In the meantime I rest safely with the thought that even though I still have 198 levels to go I did already complete 602 of the 800 total putting me just over the 75% mark.

The general idea now is to slowly quest up my various characters till they hit northrend where they will be put on a slow drip of daily progression. Starting out with the kalu'ak dailies following by dailies in grizzly hills, then the oracle dailies and last but not least the argent tourney dailies (+ others) should ensure slow but stead progression whilst I work on getting the rest of the team up to northrend levels.

Primary goals at this point include getting the jewelcrafting and inscription professions up. Since they're unfortunately stuck on a pair of lowbies I'll have no choice but to prioritize both the shaman and the priest over other characters.

Mind you this doesn't exactly fill me with glee. Both characters are decent enough to level but have failed to capture my imagination so far (like most characters under level 50) so lets hope it won't be too much of a chore to get them to the level requirements for their professions (60 or 65 I believe it was).

In the meantime I remain steadfast on the course to 10x80 with other goals falling by the wayside or being picked up as things go along.

And you? Level much these days? I certainly haven't seen you in Azeroth (come to think of it I haven't seen anyone while questing in azeroth anywhere... hmmmm).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Argent Tournament Evaluated

As you may or may not know I have been putting some of my characters through the ropes over at the argent tournament ground. And whilst the large collection of dailies certainly helped my druid do the jump from 78 to 80 in no time I can't help but say I am a little dissapointed.

It's not so much the concept that bothers me. Basically you go through stages where you collect 'badges' through jousting matches and dailies for your selected faction. Once you collect enough of these 'badges' you become a champion of that faction and can make use of the faction specific vendor. Once you completed a faction you can pick the next faction to pursue championhood with.

All in all the idea of unlocking faction vendors and faction specific rewards really spoke to me. After all, here is something that given time any solo player can do without too much hassle and you get a whole slew of titles while you do it.

There are however a few things on the argent tournament ground that really takes away from the intensity of it all and makes it look like more of a fair than an actual tourney.

1. Enemies don't scale well. Once you have the basic strategy down on how to beat a valiant you can use the same strategy to destroy champions, lieutenants, the black knight and even those pesky commanders out in the scourge fields. In other words, once you beat one you can beat them all.

2. No epic storyline quests (in fact very little non-dailies whatsoever). At the least something along the lines of the wrathgate quest that would take you a while to complete and offer up a nifty cinematic if nothing else. Instead we get nothing except all the factions playing pokeystick in the lich king's backyard. You'd think factions would be a tad more involved in training champions that are supposed to topple the lich king's might.

3. All the faction vendors sell 90% of the same crud. I don't mind unlocking x factions at 5 days each but I'd like it if the vendors were selling things that were more faction specific. A pet and an overprized mount are certainly not going to draw me over the line here (even if the mounts will cost less 'badges' with some patch to come). Implement some 'this faction only' kind of gear, trinkets and whatnot and you'll definitely see some motivation towards doing more than just one or two factions.

4. It doesn't feel like you're contributing anything. Sure they're building a big arena thingie in icecrown even though I can't fathom why you'd build something like that... 'there' ( You could at least pick someplace warm ). But beyond that you're not really feeling the whole 'fuel the war effort' vibe that you'd expect from a place like that. Give us a war on the outskirts of the tourney ground where you can go crazy with different types of vehicles. Gives us quests to seek out the monstrous champions of the lich king all over azeroth (medivh knows the place could use a visit), give us something to make us feel like we're doing something towards the war effort.

5. Players are not motivated to joust players other than to grab a quick achievement. If nothing else you should be able to joust other players and receive something that'll contribute to your overall standing with your faction. Hell, even some reputation at that point would be good but anything to motivate a little bit more player jousting activity.

So all in all I am a little on the fence about the whole argent tournament. There's quite a few things I rather like and the overall concept is a great one but there's just so much more that could've been done to make the tourney as epic as it should be.

Then again the argent tournament was sort of a 'bonus' that came with the whole 3.1. content patch so this is by no means a vicious rant on how terrible it all is (I am still playing it after all) but just thinking of what the tourney could be really puts a damper on the experience.

As it stands I'll settle for an 'somewhat poorly implemented'.

On the bright side: the more frustrating the tourney is the fewer people will be running around with crusader titles which is at least worth something...

So what do you think? Break a lance or would you rather try and fish up a turtle?

Monday, May 4, 2009

GC says: No more changes

Well it looks like big blue got a little fed up with all the patching and decided to call an overall freeze on the more significant talent changes. Behold the post of the mighty ghostcrawler on the oboards that was made sometime last saturday:

"When players feel weak, they tend to ask how often until the next hotfix or patch comes around.
When players feel strong, they wonder why we have to change things so often.

That said, I don't think you will continue to see as much class change for the rest of Lich King. Many of the changes in 3.1 were to address problems introduced when we made big changes in 3.0. You can look at the classes that have had the most iteration, and in most cases those are the classes who were restructured a little bit in Lich King: warlocks, hunters, priests, paladins and the new class.

We will continue to tweak numbers up and down as needed, but I would not anticipate as many talent or mechanic changes for the next several patches (though there will be some)."

This is certainly a bit of a doozy since it has widespread implications on the current game. To take GC's words rather bluntly it basically says that if you're not happy with your class now your chances of it being fixed beyond some number tweaking are pretty much nil. That is until patch 4.0 or so which for all intents and purposes could be years away (or 'soon' as blizzard likes to call it).

So without too much drama or QQ about how those miserable bastards basically kicked my warlock to the curb, shot my hunter through the head and elevated my puny level 61 DK to godhood status lets take a quick look at wow census.

Why? because it's reasonable to assume that the most popular classes now, will be more or less the most popular classes all the way through wrath:

Allright, I'd say that pretty much speaks for itself... the bottom end is still clearly shared by rogues, warlocks and shamans and the top end is still looking at a lot of love for pallies and dk's.

Cross this data with the arena representation for the freshly bred season 6 here

And voila, it's safe to say: If you're on the bottom half of both curves and you're not happy with your talents as they are you might as well re-roll, well wait a few weeks and then re-roll since season 6 is fresh off the plate.

That's right... re-roll... don't roll with the punches, don't try to adapt your miserable talent spec that doesn't make you happy through adjusting a playstyle that doesn't make you happy in the hopes that a future patch will make you happy.

It won't, because there will be no patch to fix you until blizzard decides to get sick of whomever holds on to their decrepid class and maintains a steady stream of whines on the oboards for the next months.

So the waters will indeed become stagnant and start to stink over the next few months as blizzard's developers either find some time to put into diablo and starcraft or find themselves out on the street wondering what the hell happened to their cosy jobs messing up our talent trees.

At least I am not alone in this life raft of misery *waves at the hunter sitting behind him*... now if you will excuse me I have to will myself into liking my Deathknight.