October in Review October 31, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Month in Review, World of Warcraft.
Not much to complain about this month. I changed the site theme a few times one weekend, but still cannot find one that is better than the current theme on all fronts.
I converted a couple of much-used tags into categories on the blog, so if you want to pull up, as an example, all of my posts that were formerly tagged “Quote of the Day” or “YouTube” or “Null Sec,” they are now available under the Categories drop-down on the side bar. That makes them just slightly more convenient to get to.
I do want to thank fellow New Eden resident JD who sent me two PLEX in game because he likes the blog. While I have a media account (got that a few months back) for that other blog I run, I certainly could use the ISK that selling a couple of PLEX provides. I have been living off of ship reimbursement money for a long time as I haven’t really been interested in any of the ISK making aspects of the game for quite a while now. I do not sow. My indolent life as a fleet op pilot has been extended, I do not need to go get a “real” job in New Eden quite yet.
So I immediately ran out and bought a new ship for the current deployment.
The Basilisk makes me a Reaver space priest of sorts… would that be a shaman?
One Year Ago
EverQuest: Mactinosh Edition was slated to shut down after a ten year run. Meanwhile, EverQuest Live launched Call of the Forsaken, the game’s 20th expansion. The Fippy Darkpaw server made it to The Buried Sea expansion. Meanwhile, in EverQuest II, insta-level characters were set to become a thing.
With the release of Pokemon X & Y, which required upgrading to Nintendo 3DS hardware, I was saying farewell to the series. Little did I know I would be pulled back in a few months down the road.
As part of some NBI event I attempted to recount all the guilds I had joined over the years.
Somebody was attempting to remake the old Kesmai game Stellar Emperor.
Path of Exile finished up beta and was officially live.
After a post-F2P boom, Trion went back to paring down the number of servers for Rift while its servers in China were shut down completely.
The instance group was still running Foundry modules in Neverwinter.
I was trying out War Thunder. After failing to get through the tutorial for World of Warplanes, I opted for its competitor, which seems better suited for the inept like me. I was able to get out there and be a target for other players while bombing at least.
In New Eden our gate camp deployment to the Curse region was wrapping up almost as soon as it started. It felt like we had just snuck in. It was time to go home to the quiet of Deklein for a while and wait for the Rubicon expansion. While there I finally bought my first capital ship, an Archon carrier. It went for its first jump and then stayed docked for almost a year. Of course, I found out I had a lot of stuff sitting in hangars around New Eden. Nine million things, to put a number to it. And CCP was setting up classes for new players… which was great if you lived in the European time zone.
And we finally ditched AT&T DSL for Comcast cable-modem internet, resolving the bandwidth sharing problems at our house.
Five Years Ago
Last year at about this time Torchlight came out, giving a lot of people a Diablo-like injection of fun. It didn’t have a lot of replay value for me. Once I burned through the game once I was pretty much done, which made it unlike Diablo II, which I returned to a number of times. But it was just $20 and gave us a taste of what Runic might be able to deliver going forward.
It was also the three year anniversary of the regular Saturday night instance group, and I presented a summary of what we had done.
A couple of us scouted the then newly Free to Play Dungeons & Dragons Online as a possible next game for the instance group, but it didn’t stick.
I was able to buy the Adventurer’s Pack for Lord of the Rings Online and get the Siege of Mirkwood expansion for free. Not as good of a deal as monthly subscribers got I understand, but a decent deal. Of course, LOTRO has changed a lot since then.
In World of Warcraft October that year saw me finish off both the Brewfest and Hallow’s End meta achievements. I was still left with one achievement for each holiday though. Fun was had with pumpkins and the Headless Horseman.
The instance group returned to Utgarde Keep to take on Utgarde Pinnacle, at that time the last five-person dungeon in Northrend. We were victorious and gained the Northrend Dungeonmaster achievement. But otherwise we were deciding on where the group should go next.
And Blizzard was busy merging everybody’s WoW account into a Battle.new account because… well, it wasn’t because of better security.
New Linking Sites
The following blogs have linked this site in their blogrolls, for which they have my thanks.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
Most Viewed Posts in October
Search Terms of the Month
anyone like “fansy the famous bard” shown up lately?
[Not around these parts, no]
what to do with 30 cents on steam
[Wait for Valve to make a pricing mistake]
where is the first quest in stonetalon mountains
[I know where you're stuck!]
“diablo iii” “auction house” admit
[Don't worry, they admitted it was bad]
Null Sec started the month in a panic about the changes coming with the Phoebe expansion. Free wheeling jaunts across the width and breadth of New Eden would soon be relegated to memory as crippling jump fatigue became a thing. And then everybody seemed to decide to use the last couple of weeks to get in some last hits while prepping for the new reality. The musical chair metaphor has been used to describe the reshuffle of alliance locations in null, and the music is about to stop. It will be interesting to see the before/after map comparison. And will there be any open space on the map for new players in the sovereignty game?
Total War: Rome II
This continues to be our Friday night game and we still have aspects of the multiplayer skirmish game to explore… not to mention just getting better at handling troops in the field. One of the problems with being a long time MMO player is that I find skirmishes mildly unsatisfying over time. Get your pieces out, fight the 20 minute fight, look at the result, reset. As painful as it was at times, I think I preferred the long term campaign that Civilization V gave us. I still do not love the AI in Civ V though, so I am not aching to go back to that. As always, while playing the current game I am looking around for what might be the next.
World of Warcraft
If I don’t get the Headless Horseman’s mount today, the last day of Hallow’s End, I may very well scream. I mean, up there in the “five years ago” section I mention us hunting him, and we didn’t get the mount back then. Ah well, the random number generator will make you its bitch.
Otherwise it has been a month of tidying up, getting used to the changes with 6.0, enjoying having a bunch of free bag space, and otherwise killing time before Warlords of Draenor drops. It is still theoretically possible that I could have a fifth level 90 character by then. Or I might just max out archaeology at last. We shall see.
Holy crap, November will be hella crazy when it comes to the games to which I pay attention.
There will be expansions to examine in EverQuest and EverQuest II. Expansions to play in World of Warcraft and EVE Online. Pokemon Alpha Ruby & Omega Sapphire will show up on the back end of the month. There will be BlizzCon and whatever Bilzzard is planning to spring on us, and then the World of Warcraft 10 year anniversary… and before that there will be the EverQuest II 10 year anniversary.
These are among the reasons why I haven’t bothered to grab Civilization: Beyond Earth or been very interested in Steam’s Halloween Sale. My dance card is full. My calendar of posts is filling up. I am glad I decided to take the week of Thankgiving off from work.
And I am sure I have missed something on that list. What else is coming up in November?
The Instance Group Mostly Finishes Off Pandaria October 30, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Gate of the Setting Sun, Shado-Pan Monastery, Siege of Niuzao Temple
Warlords of Draenor will be dropping in about two weeks, so it was clearly time for the long standing instance group to shake off the warm glow of summer and get back to work in Pandaria. Last week it was just Skronk and I online on Saturday night. We doubled that number this time around as Ula had resolved her authenticator issue and Earl felt a bit healthier, so the lineup for the night was:
- Skronk – Level 89 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Ula – Level 89 Gnome Mage DPS
- Alioto – Level 90 Night Elf Feral Druid DPS
- Earlthecat – Level 90 Human Warrior Tank
While it wasn’t a full group, Earl and I had run to level 90 and subsequently equipped ourselves with gear from Timeless Isle, so we were much more powerful than we would have been if all of us had been level 89. We certainly felt we had a shot at the last three normal mode, five person instances in Pandaria. We would have a mighty tank at least, which would no doubt help Skronk come to grips with the healing changes that hit with the 6.0 release. So this would work as a training exercise as well as a tour of the last few instances.
The first instance on our list was the Shado-Pan Monastery.
We had actually attempted this back in June with a four person group. After we looked into the Mogu’shan Palace, Earl couldn’t make it, so the rest of us gave the instance a try. The four of us managed to get to the third boss, the Sha of Hate, before we hit a wall. I just never got around to finishing the post about that evening… or the Mogu’shan Palace run. They are in my drafts folder still.
Anyway, we were set to pick up where we had left off. With Earl tanking, we blew through the first two bosses without problem and caught up to the Sha of Hate.
The Sha of Hate didn’t offer much resistance either. With gear boosted DPS via the Timeless Isle gear, the Sha of Hate was down. He barely had time to do any of his specials. From there we fought our way to the final boss, Taran Zhu.
More after the cut, because I run on as usual.
Results of the Summer Loremaster Project October 28, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Achievements, Loremaster
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Back in June, with the summer hiatus of the instance group looming, I embarked on a project. I was going to finish up quests in Azeroth in pursuit of the Loremaster achievement. And I was going to attempt to do it with characters that were at the appropriate level for the zones being run.
The first big effort for the achievement was the 1-60 game in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. That meant getting the quests achievement from all the zones in the old world, which includes some content from The Burning Crusade as well as the whole Cataclysm revamp.
I had a few zones done already, thanks to the alts we rolled up when Cataclysm hit, but a lot of the zones were still there waiting for me. So I rolled up a couple of new characters, as well as reviving a couple more old ones who had been languishing, and set out. The results were covered in a series of posts charting my progress across Azeroth.
- Ashenvale and the Stonetalon Mountains
- Desolace, Feralas, and Thousand Needles
- Felwood and Un’goro Crater
- Winterspring, Swamp of Sorrows, and The Blasted Lands
- The Cape of Stranglethorn
- Wrapping Up the Eastern Kingdoms
- Bloodmyst Isle – The Worst Zone in WoW
The old world took from mid-June until early August to complete. It also left me with three characters (out of the five I used for various parts of the achievement) set up to head into the meat of the content from The Burning Crusade, Outland.
Here I had a couple of zones finished off. I only ran bits of Hellfire Peninsula with my rogue Trianis in order to gear up a bit because I already had the achievement. I was also able to skip Zangarmarsh, having wrapped that zone up ages ago. That left me with five zones and 434 quests to finish off Outland.
- Terokkar Forest 62-65 – 63 quests
- Nagrand 64-67 – 75 quests
- Blade’s Edge Mountains 65-68 – 86 quests
- Netherstorm 66-70 – 120 quests
- Shadowmoon Valley 67-70 – 90 quests
First up was Terokkar Forest, which went smoothly enough up until about 50 quests, when they dried up rapidly. I sat for a while just two quests shy of the achievement before finally finding a couple of Shattrath related quest chains to finish off the zone. But then came Nagrand. To finish that up meant doing a set of group quests, then getting to level 70 and following a quest chain in from Shadowmoon Valley to wrap up the achievement.
So I left Nagrand empty handed and headed to the next zone on the list, the Blade’s Edge Mountains. There I found myself wondering how we did some of these zones back in the day. Doing the quests, at level, with a flying mount turned into a considerable chore, so the idea of doing them all with a ground mount seemed insane. Eventually the zone ground me down and I left it unfinished.
That was about the end of things. It was September by that point and I found other distractions. I binged on Pokemon for a while, finishing up Pokemon Y, Pokemon White, and Pokemon White Version 2, which got me set for the upcoming release of Pokemon Alpha Ruby & Omega Sapphire.
In Azeroth I finally got my nether ray mounts and worked on pet battles a bit. Then WoW 6.0 dropped and it was time to start thinking about that and the expansion, with Brewfest and Hallow’s End in there along the way.
And I did not totally give up on the Loremaster achievement. Having played my rogue through to level 68 or so in a short period of time, I started to like the class. I sent him out to Shadowmoon Valley for a while, but then decided to see if I could run him up into Pandaria before Warlords of Draenor hit. He is now level 76, running quests in the Grizzly Hills, and using Dungeon Finder to speed things up.
So I did not make it to Loremaster, and there is little chance I will do so before the expansion drops. I just don’t have the inclination at the moment and there are other things to do now. But I made some headway, and after we have returned to Draenor and fought the Iron Horde, I may once again pick up the task. This is what I have remaining on the list of zones I started with, plus whatever Warlords of Draenor brings us.
- Nagrand 64-67 – 75 quests
- Blade’s Edge Mountains 65-68 – 86 quests
- Netherstorm 66-70 – 120 quests
- Shadowmoon Valley 67-70 – 90 quests
- Grizzly Hills 73-75 – 85 quests
- Zul’Drak 73-77 – 100 quests
- Sholazar Basin* 75-80 – 75 quests
- Icecrown 77-80 – 140 quests
- The Storm Peaks 77-80 – 100 quests
- Mount Hyjal 80-82 – 115 quests
- Vashj’ir 80-82 – 130 quests
- Deepholm 82-83 – 110 quests
- Uldum 83-84 – 105 quests
- Twilight Highlands 84-85 – 120 quests
The Instance Group Resurgent in Azeroth… Sort Of… And Hallow’s End October 24, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Hallow's End
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We decided to get our collective act together and get into the game so as to get used to the new realities of WoW 6.0.
And we tried.
However, due to authenticator problems, bronchitis, and a previous engagement, only Potshot and I ended up in game last Saturday night.
Such is life.
We decided that, just two levels shy of the cap, we probably no longer needed to stick with the group on levels. We both chose to run through some of the quests in the Kun-Lai Summit area, which has the advantage of having a series of fun/interesting quests and a 24-slot bag as a quest reward. Even with the new bank tab for crafting materials, I will still lunge for and bag space upgrade. I have been trained to do so over the years.
We didn’t bother grouping up as we were on different quests in the zone, or even getting on coms, but we chatted on the guild channel as we moved through the zone. I got my bag and we both hit level 89.
However, I could not stop there. The next day I got on, I wrapped up the zone and moved into the Townlong Steppe until Alioto hit level 90.
I did that for a number of reasons. 90 unlocks a few things, including the ability to train flight form, which is one of the main reasons you should level up a druid.
I was a bit confused to find that they had consolidated the three travel forms into a single button that just transforms you into the form the game thinks is most appropriate. I can no longer be the Nelk (nigh elf elk) on command. On the other hand, when my flying form dives into water, it changes to the water form, and back when I jump out, so there is some upside. I’ll get used to it.
Of course, there was another reason I wanted another level 90… Alioto is my 4th character to hit the level cap. I wanted another bite at the apple every day when it came to the Headless Horseman. You can queue up once per day per character for a shot at the horseman, with just about everybody looking to get the mount drop.
So that is what I do, four times every evening. I log in each of my level 90s an hope to get that drop.
On the one hand, the fight is pretty easy and the queue time is pretty short. On the other, I wonder just how many times I will have ended up killing this guy over the years looking for that mount.
Unlike Brewfest, it turned out that I had one more Hallow’s End achievement. Somehow I had neglected to hit all the candy buckets in Pandaria last year, so I rounded that up.
Anyway, most of the group has resolved their issues… or gotten healthier… and it looks like we might make our full return this weekend. We shall see.
Should Guilds Have Levels? October 21, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II, Rift, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Guild Levels, Guilds
According to Blizzard the answer to that question is no, guilds should not have levels.
We got guild levels as part of the Cataclysm expansion, 25 of them, along with perks to go with those levels. Those levels were not easy to acquire back then. During Cataclysm our guild only managed to get to level 2. Granted, we left not very far into the expansion, but we were there long enough to see that progress was going to be slow.
Earl, who actually kept playing WoW while we were away got us to level 3 pretty much on his own over the course of 18 months.
Blizzard revamped leveling with Mists of Pandaria, turning the dial probably too far in the other direction, as getting a guild to level 25 went from something you needed an active raiding guild to accomplish to something I probably could have done solo between the launch of the Siege of Orgrimmar and the coming of the Iron Horde.
We got the guild back together just after Siege of Orgrimmar went live and popped up from level 3 to level 25 relatively swiftly.
It was enjoyable. It was nice to see those levels show up and get those perks unlocked.
It was something to celebrate, something that we could all help out with even if we were just doing quests with an alt. I thought it was great stuff and some of the perks were quite worthwhile. As a guild we were especially big on the perk that added some coin to the guild bank every time a quest was completed. It didn’t raise a ton of money, but it made for a nice guild repair fund.
But, with the coming of the Warlords of Draenor expansion and the 6.0 pre-expansion patch, Blizzard has removed guild levels. We still have a few of the perks.
Some of the missing perks have just been made part of the game. The speed between flight points perk got generally applied if I recall right and among the stats squished was the amount of experience you need to get to level cap, so the exp boost effectively went there. Others, like our little guild bank filler perk, disappeared completely. It seems that people were spam inviting new players to exploit them for this perk.
Blizzard took a while to make guilds something more than a name floating over your head and a chat channel. We didn’t get guild banks until… was it with Wrath of the Lich King? And then with Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, and Warlords of Draenor Blizzard fleshed guilds out more with levels, turned it to easy mode, then threw it all away. Bascially, over the course of four year, we went from no levels, to level 25 being a sign that a group worked hard, to level 25 being a sign that you had people playing, to no levels again. Boom, gone, we’re done with that idea.
Which is odd, because guilds having levels isn’t exactly a rare thing.
EverQuest II, for example, went live (before WoW) with guild levels in place.
Yes, the whole thing was convoluted in that way that only SOE can manage on a first try. You earned guild experience by acquiring status, but only designated “patrons” in your guild could earn experience for the guild, and the more people (or patrons) you had in your guild, the less of their status went towards guild experience. (Alts were thus not allowed in the guild, but when we made an alts guild, our guild leader got mad at us.) And if one of the partons left the guild, they took their applied guild experience with them. I remember our guild leader Wooflin being incensed when Oteb the Traitor, who we had vouched for because he was in our TorilMUD guild, left the Knights of the Cataclysm just after we had hit level 15, which at the time was the level where we got a status mount. Whoops, no mounts for us until we earned back that guild exp.
Eventually SOE fixed some of the crazier bits and the whole thing settled down. Earning guild exp got easier, but the fact that they kept piling on levels so that the guild level cap was always somewhere around the character level cap, meant that only the larger, more active guilds could expect to be at level cap and indulge themselves in all of the perks. Gaff and I managed to ramrod the guild we created on the Freeport server as part of our ill-fated EQII instance group adventure to level 30 mostly on our own so we could have a guild hall, but after that the level curve continued to ramp up and we capped out at 42.
But even at lower levels guilds got identifying marks, like guild cloaks. Small guilds can still have some nice things.
And as much of a pain as the guild levels were during the early days, I also remember them fondly (now). They represented a point where the guild was working together to accomplish a goal.
While I would readily agree that a guild should be more than just what the game mechanics dictate… a guild is a social organization and if you feel yourself constrained by just having a chat channel then maybe you aren’t doing it right… having game mechanics like guild levels that a guild can work on together and which reward the guild can help build the social bonds without which you are just a bunch of avatars with the same guild tag floating above your head.
And it isn’t just EverQuest II. While EverQuest never went the guild level route, other games have guild levels. Some of them are similar, as with Rift, where you get perks and guild tasks you can work on together.
Others are of… more dubious value. In Lord of the Rings Online kinships (guilds) have levels, but they are based on the age of the guild rather than anything anybody has done. So at this point, having not really played LOTRO in over a year, all of the kinshipss I am in on various servers are at max level, more due to neglect than activity. (See my guild review for details.)
And then there is EVE Online, which turns the whole thing on its head. In Soviet New Eden, guild levels you! Sort of. There are skills around running a corp, the EVE version of a guild, as there are skills for everything. So while corps do not have levels, as your corp grows the CEO must level up the appropriate leadership skills in order to accommodate the change. So The Mittani, CEO of Goonwaffe, which has 2,500+ members, might have had to train into Sovereignty, one of the Corporation Management skills, which takes more than 50 days to train to level I.
And I don’t even begin to know how alliances… groupings of corporations… work in New Eden. But that is straying off the point.
Guilds having levels and such is a reasonably established thing in the MMO market. And, in my experience, having levels that people can contribute to helps bring a guild closer together. So I am somewhat disapp0inted that Blizzard has decided to dispense with the guild level thing. Yes, we still have guild achievements, and those do actually unlock things. But those are also somewhat focused. You have to go do a specific thing in a limited group. There aren’t a lot of them you can help out with by leveling an alt… a couple, but not a lot. Killing a damn tauren rogue in a battleground, for example, would get us another achievement. Do people even roll tauren rogues?
Anyway, I wish Blizzard would revisit the guild levels idea again in a future release. And, Blizzard being Blizzard, if they do I am sure they will model it on an implementation that is already out there and working. So the question is, who does guild levels best? Who is totally winning on the guild levels front out there in the world?
First Glance at WoW 6.0 October 15, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Warlords of Draenor
It was a happenin’ time in Stormwind last night. The place was overrun with people… at least the bank was… enough to make you believe that World of Warcraft subscriptions are up 600K users from their second quarter dip down to 6.8 million.
Actually, I have no doubt that the subscription numbers are up to 7.4 million, I just have to admire Blizzard’s preemptive end-run around potentially depressing news regarding subscription numbers for the third quarter of this year, which ended just a couple weeks back. We may eventually know what that number was back on September 30th (or maybe we do, totally missed that in the footnotes) when the third quarter results come out in about a month or so, but it doesn’t really matter because the number today is 7.4 million. Basically WoW subs jumped by about one and a half EVE Onlines.
Anyway, it was happenin’ because the long awaited WoW 6.0 patch was successfully deployed yesterday.
And with that came a pile of changes. The patch notes are long.
Of course, the first thing I saw was the new character models.
I am not in love with the new human models.
The design philosophy seemed to be “make these guys look a bit lost and not quite up to their tasks” or some such. Of course, I thought the originals were just fine, and they were a bit more ruggedly handsome to boot. So my pally went from looking like a hero to some guy who looked like he just got off the Google bus from SF. Fortunately, the barber shop lets you change hair style and color as well as which of the faces your character has. I was able to tinker that into something more acceptable for about 50 gold. At least he looks a little less like a hipster waiter in a themed restaurant. (Belghast’s post has pictures and describes a similar need to change up.)
The new male dwarf models are hideously ugly… so are pretty much unchanged. Basically they have a more high def texture so you can, by changing faces, dial in exactly how weather worn and craggy you want to be. The range seems to go from “worn hard and put away wet” to “one step from Dark Iron,” your choice. Dwarves live a hard life.
The male night elf models, on the other hand, do look like an upgrade. They seem more lithe and and smooth and generally more like the high born. A pity about the way they now run. Rather than a feral grace, the male night elf runs like a guy who has pebbles in his shoes or who is trying to run barefoot over a hot beach. Not sure who felt that captured the essence of the night elves, but I am not on board.
So I am not a big fan of the model change. It doesn’t hurt the game to my mind, so it isn’t a huge deal, but I wonder if the time could have been better spent… or better directed. Certainly the goal of retaining your character’s essence through the upgraded models failed for me. (Though there is an out, but now I’ve change my look for the new models. Bleh.)
Of course, the character model malaise faded into the background when I found that two of my characters had lost levels as part of the patch. Color me confused, but I didn’t see anything in the patch notes about changing experience. One of them, Alioto, my instance group character, who had been 88 for months, was suddenly back to level 87. Granted, he was just ONE experience point shy of level 88, but he was no longer that level.
So I figure this might be akin to what happens in LOTRO when they tinker with exp, that I will just have to get a kill and I will be bumped back up to where I was, which was a third of the way into 88. But no, I went and killed something, leveled up, and was only into 88 as far as the experience from that one kill would take me.
I could not figure out a pattern as to what might have caused this. I first noticed it on my rogue, the character I had been using for the Outland quest achievements, who was past the halfway point into level 71 out in Shadowmoon Valley when I last left him. Now he was one experience point shy of 71. But he had just gotten that level over the weekend, so I thought maybe it was newly leveled characters. But then there was Alioto, who had leveled up back in June. Plus I had another character who leveled up on Friday at Darkmoon Faire, and he was just fine.
So I have no idea what happened and I have not seen anything mentioned about this anywhere, certainly not in today’s “whoops” patch notes for the first post-6.0.2 hotfix. Anybody?
That was the low point of the evening, not being thrilled with the new look and having lost experience on a couple of characters where it matters. (Maybe THAT was the link! Hah!) But after that it was mostly upside.
The stat squish seems to be working from what I can see. Vikund, once over 500K hit points (with buffs) during Siege of Orgrimmar LFR groups, now sits at a much more modest 57K hit points, and his mighty two handed sword checks in at mere 98 dps.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a screen shot of the “before” stats, though I know I have one tucked away somewhere, but for comparison my now level 70 rogue was dual wielding heirloom weapons at level 71 that were each flagged as doing 133 dps. Those now show damage at just 32.68 dps. I am going to have to go check how that level 20 hunter I have is faring.
But eventually we got to the high point of the night, when I started in on the inventory changes.
The new button to organize your bags… well, I probably shouldn’t have touched that until I had tinkered with some of the settings, because it moved everything. That said, my only real objection is that I have to have my hearthstone in slot 1 of bag 1, as I have had it since the end of time. Then I went to the bank and made the best 100 gold investment ever. The new reagent tab in the bank is not free.
But once I paid the 100 gold and pressed the big button at the bottom, I was a very happy person.
There it is. On one character this change basically opened up 89 inventory slots on my character and in my bank. That was maybe the most extreme example, but I am not sure any character had less than 50 slots freed up by this action. Best 100 gold spent ever, Totally worth it.
I was a little less thrilled by the toy box. It works and it looks okay (if maybe a bit too widely spaced), but because it lists out all possible toys, I am now daunted by how many I am missing. I have less toys than I thought, though perhaps I was applying toy more widely than Blizz was. Also, there was the perennial Blizzard problem with what to do about dupes. On various characters I had toys that were flagged as “already known,” but I am never sure what to do about them. I am paranoid about deleting them, but I don’t want to keep them around cluttering up my bank. (Though that is certainly less of an issue at the moment.) I have old pet tokens in the same situation, can’t redeem them, afraid to delete them, nothing to do but store them.
That out of the way, I went out to see the first bit of new content. There is a set of lead-in quests that the game tells you about the moment you log in, at least if you are level 90.
You can click right on that to get the quest which sends you out to the Blasted Lands which is changed (or phased) to reflect the Iron Horde coming through their shiny new strawberry flavored dark portal.
There is a quest chain to run down which is primarily there to lay down the lore for you. This is one of those times when you really should slow down and read the quest text. There are not that many quests and the whole thing should take less than an hour if you digest everything, unless quest mobs are completely hunted out, (Though I was there when the zone was packed and that wasn’t much of a problem), or maybe 20 minutes if you blitz through like a crazed Munchkin.
This allowed me to play a bit with some of the changes.
As it turns out, retribution paladins are even easier now. My rotation used to include a build-up to trigger a damage enhancing buff before I could really start in on the high damage attacks. However, that buff seems to be gone now, so it is just build up for a big hit and let it fly.
The new quest log… well… I will have to play with it a bit. Basically, the quest log and the map have been joined into a single window. It seems to be well done… and it flags all of the quests by their type, which is new and useful… but I am going to have to use it for a while longer before I am settled on it.
The quest tracking in the mini-map is… changed. Quest objectives are little yellow dots, but not the same little yellow dots they have used forever. We have new little yellow dots, and they mark more things. I was also able to turn off the new comic book outline effect when mousing over things right away thanks to a tip on twitter. I was not big on that at all, but I am somebody who plays WoW with floating names off as well.
Questing itself seems to follow on in the Mists of Pandaria style, where it is meant to tell a story or involve you in an activity that changes things as opposed to old format which often seemed more interested in having you slaughter 12-30 things. If you didn’t like the Pandaria style, you probably won’t like it in Draenor. I actually liked the Pandaria philosophy, so it looks good to me.
The quest line itself shows you around the zone, has a cinematic, and then sends you off to the king in Stormwind where you get an achievement for completing this limited time event, plus a new title and the special Iron Starlette pet. (Oh, and now there is a gear reward, which wasn’t there last night. Erf.)
The pet looks like a barbed metal ball. It is visible in the picture of Vikund up at the top.
As for the old kiwi-lime portal to the old Outland, that is gone from Azeroth. You now have to take a special portal in the tower of magic to get there.
In general I am pretty happy with the state of things. I still have to try out my other classes to see how they play now. The healing thing has me a bit nervous, as I was a pretty marginal healer with my druid to start with, depending a lot on insta-heals to get me out of jams. And I still have to queue up for the special, limited time Upper Blackrock Spire dungeon, which is only available through the Dungeon Finder currently. I also wish I could manage the Garrosh heirloom smash and grab, but that is for real raiders and not LFR scum like me.
Overall though I am keen to see how things will play out when the expansion finally drops in a little less than a month.
Others looking at the new patch:
WoW 6.0 Drops Today – 30 Day Countdown to Draenor Begins October 14, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Warlords of Draenor
At 1am this morning Blizzard was planning to take down all of its servers to start applying the big pre-Warlords of Draenor 6.0 patch. I did not stay up to see if that went off exactly on time, but the big transition has begun, and Azeroth will be a slightly different place when we are all able to log back in at some point today. The target time for completion is 11am today, but I will be happy if the game is up some time after dinner this evening.
All sorts of new things will be arriving in game. There will be new character models, a new map interface, a new way to organize gear in your bags, changes to gear, stats, classes, and all sorts of things that were talked about 11 months ago at BlizzCon when Blizzard announced the expansion. And this is all before we get to the actual Warlords of Draenor content.
Of course, some things will be going away. There is a whole host of pets, mounts, gear, and achievements that will no longer be obtainable now that the patch is being applied. This is, I guess, how Blizzard protects the value of things that were difficult to obtain. Nobody will be able to hit level 100 and go back and twink that achievement you had to do the hard way at level 90 back in the day.
Then there is the stat squish. And the removal of guild levels. The patch notes are just overflowing with stuff.
Now it is time to see if the instance group can be roused from its lazy summer slumber. We have about enough time to hit 90 and finish off the normal mode dungeons before the expansion goes live next month, if we can just all get logged on together again. I’d like to be able to do the limited time special Upper Blackrock Spire. We shall see.
I think the biggest change I am looking forward to is the ones that will free up some bag space. The toy box… and I have collected and held on to a lot of such items over the years… and the additional 98 slots of bank storage for crafting materials will be great. I will probably spend the first night after the patch just getting all those things stored away so I will once again have space in my bags and bank. And then it will be off to the Blasted Lands to see the precursor of the Iron Horde.
Is there anything you are looking forward to (or dreading) in the patch?
Addendum: And there it is…
The View from the Last Pre-Draenor Darkmoon Faire October 9, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Darkmoon Faire, Warlords of Draenor
1 comment so far
I only just realized last night that it was Darkmoon Faire this week. I asked my daughter why she did not remind me of this, to which she replied, “That’s not my job.”
But it is true that I am usually the one reminding people that it is time once again for Darkmoon Faire.
I became quite the fan of Darkmoon Faire at some point around Cataclysm, when the fair settled down to a regular monthly schedule and location and beefed up its offerings.
Specifically, the profession quests hooked me. Since the dark days of ennui after the Cataclysm launch, I have pushed a wide selection of my characters through those quests month in and month out. This actually got me past some of the flat spots in leveling up some of those skills. You only advance your profession by five points every month, but sometimes that is enough. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have a 600 skill leatherworker today if it were not for Darkmoon Faire. Oh the pain.
So month in and month out a gaggle of my characters wander through the fair, skilling up their professions just a notch, getting a bit of experience and a wee bit of faction. My main, Vikund, finally hid exalted with Darkmoon Faire just last month. Given how long that took, I was a bit disappointed that there was no achievement for it. Ah well. And, of course, there are those Darkmoon Faire prize tickets slowly accumulating on all those characters.
But this month… well… October is turning into an odd month.
I’ve gone into something of a cool down in Azeroth, not wanting feel worn out on WoW in any way when the Warlords of Draenor expansion drops. The instance group is still on its summer hiatus. I got that last set of mounts I wanted out of The Burning Crusade content. And I have put my Loremaster achievement ambitions aside in the Blade’s Edge Mountains for now. But Darkmoon Faire, I could not let that pass.
Because by November I expect the world to be different. We won’t get the Warlords of Draenor expansion until November 13, but I strongly suspect that we will get the WoW 6.0 patch by the end of this month. And that patch contains all the underpinnings, all the changes and updates and evolutions, that are required for the expansion. The great stat squish will be here soon. Even Darkmoon Fair is getting some changes, though those sound like upgrades, unlike some of the things Blizzard is taking away.
And so I started logging in my list of characters last of night for their regular run through the faire. I even remembered to buy the flour for the cooking quest with each character before going through the portal. I have some more to log in before the fair wraps up on Saturday night, which is plenty of time.
After that though, the month will likely remain quiet for me in Azeroth, at least until the big pre-expansion patch drops. Then it will be time to start figuring out the game yet again as we head towards Draenor. November looms.
Addendum: And the pre-expansion patch got a date, October 14.
(In contrast to WoW I have been playing a lot more EVE Online this month, and EVE has a “big changes” expansion set to drop in November as well. That, however, is mostly due to what looks like a last minute hurrah by some of our traditional foes looking to get in some action before Phoebe reduces their ability to roam New Eden at will. Have you seen how far Nulli Secunda lives from us?)
Nether Ray Mounts Obtained October 1, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Bragtoberfest, Mounts, Outland, Sha'tari Skyguard
I think I started working on Burning Crusade factions at some point after we had mostly wrapped up Wrath of the Lich King but before I had beaten the Argent Tournament to death. It was a transitional age, where achievements were still somewhat new, mounts no longer took up bag slots, and collecting one of each seemed to be encouraged. The hunt for mounts began.
The first stop for me was Nagrand. I do not really remember why at this point… it might have been to harvest netherweave for Ula… but I wanted to get the Talbuk mounts that the Kurenai will sell you when you hit exalted. The Kurenai faction grind is pretty manageable, something I was reminded of with my latest look into Nagrand. Slaughtering ogres for netherweave also gets you war beads that you can turn in for a faction bump, plus every ogre is worth a few points of faction with the Kureani. I was on a talbuk mount in no time… just about five years back. (See, this is why I blog, because I’d never remember when I did this otherwise.)
That also got me to the 10 mount achievement and made me think about getting more mounts.
From there I went on to the Argent Tournament. That was the easiest way to get to exalted with the alliance city factions and there were a number of special mounts to be had, including my long time favorite, the Silver Covenant Hippogryph. I spend a lot of time on dailies at the Argent Tournament and in other parts of Northrend. I even made the chopper. Eventually Northrend began to peter out and I looked back to Outland for more mounts. I even made a start with the Netherwing and the Sha’tari Skyguard, but by the time I was working on those Cataclysm was just around the corner.
And after Cataclysm, well… there was the long break from World of Warcraft.
My daughter an I returned to Azeroth last summer, and with the Warlords of Draenor announcement, the full instance group team was back in the game and working our way through the content by basically picking up where we left off with our group in Wrath of the Lich King. A return to form and good times.
And I got myself invested back in the game and started doing all the little side activities, including hunting for mounts again. That got me back to Outland again where, after some fumbling about, I was finally able to pick up where I left off and finish the Netherwing faction and pick up the netherdrake mounts.
And once I finished that I turned my eye to the Sha’tari Skyguard and their nether ray mounts. I started in on that and then… stopped. I went looking for other things to do. I started on the quest for the Loremaster achievement. It wasn’t that the faction grind for the Skyguard was difficult. It is actually pretty doable, as you are not as dependent on daily quests as with the Netherwing and if you can buckle down and just hang around Skettis for a day, you can plow through it. (Earl did that. He is an iron man on grinds.) I just had other things I wanted to do.
Eventually though, as the summer passed, I started looking at where I stood and what I wanted to get done before Warlords of Draenor launched… or even before the 6.0 patch dropped… and saw the Sha’tari Skyguard sitting at revered on my faction list and said, “Time to wrap this up!” So I headed out to Skettis in the corner of Terokkar Forest and buckled down to work through the 10K faction I was shy of exalted.
And while progress seemed like it should be slow… you get a big 12 faction points for popping Arakoaa… but with the little quests and the drops you can turn in adding up, it ended up going by pretty quickly. And it is a pretty good low attention task, so you can listen to a podcast or an audio book while you work through it. So, before long I hit the mark, made it to exalted, and the achievement was mine.
Two achievements down with that, as it was also my 35th exalted, which is about 34 more than I would have told you I expected to get back in vanilla WoW. And then, of course, I had to go buy the five nether ray mounts (bumping my mount total to 138), the nether ray fry pet, and the tabard that are all unlocked with exalted status. I think the red nether ray is my favorite. It stands out amongst pack.
Another item to check off my list. And this might even count as a Bragtoberfest item as well… I think. It is an achievement and all.
And now, with the 6.0 patch looming, I am wondering what I should work on next. At some point I want to get a set of battle pets up to level 25 so I can finish up catching all the ones in the wild. I am past the 250 mark for pets caught, but my top three pets are only level 21 at this point and I haven’t even started on Northrend, Cataclysm, or Pandaria, and it might be nice to wrap up there before all the new zones roll in with Warlords of Draenor.
September in Review September 30, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Month in Review, War Thunder, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Defense Grid 2
What to complain about this month? Yes, with the coming of a new game, the spam turns to follow. And so there was an outbreak of ArcheAge spam caught in the filter this month.
But there is a host of spam caught in the filter every month. Sometimes SynCaine is caught in there too. However, that isn’t really much of a complaint. Besides, if you bought ArcheAge gold, could you even log on to spend it? So I will have to find something else.
How about stats?
The other day I was looking at the referrer stats on this blog and saw that my other blog, EVE Online Pictures, was sending me a bit of traffic.
I thought this was interesting as, since I own both blogs, I can match up the stats! Because accounting! So I looked over at the outbound stats for EVE Online Pictures and saw this.
The flip side shows just two clicks. I am not sure if they are counted differently or just counted incorrectly, but something definitely seems amiss. Stats are an illusion.
One Year Ago
We heard that Warhammer Online was slated to shut down in December.
We also got the official word that Blizzard would be killing the auction house in Diablo III.
In general I wasn’t too excited about the expansion outlook on the MMO scene.
In EVE Online the Rubicon expansion went live. Our corp had a little drama as Gaff plotted to overthrow our CEO and created a new corp, Black Sheep Down. As is usual, he was good for the intrigue, but once he became El Supremo, he got bored and stopped playing. Happens after every coup… and there have been a few. We went from being literally the worst corp in TNT to… erm… well, that didn’t change I guess. We did run out to null sec for a fight and I put my alt in the corp to bolster our numbers because there is a minimum height requirement or some such.
The instance group, in a hint as to where we were headed, ran a series of WoW dungeon knock-offs in Neverwinter.
And it was time for the usual bout of autumnal nostalgia. This time I returned to Azeroth, which made me ask the question, when is it nostalgia anyway? My daughter and I and a friend had a plan to roll up some new characters on a new server. Whatever it was, it felt like home.
And, finally, I covered the great resurrection exploit in TorilMUD.
Five Years Ago
I described some really old-school gaming… pre-computer… which involved hunting each other in cars.
There was a brief moment of nostalgia for Infocom games… or at least for the ads. Honestly, I think the ads were better than some of the games.
And Turbine announced the Siege of Mirkwood expansion for Lord of the Rings Online, which brought out a little guilt in me, since I hadn’t even gotten to Moria. I still haven’t, for that matter.
Then there was WoW. We were really on a WoW binge that September. I put up a poll about what instance we didn’t want to see made into an heroic, and the results were… unsurprising.
There were pirates and Brewfest and I managed to get my chef’s hat and all the sundry cooking achievements. There was corpse spam and phasing and we ran through Ulduar and the Oculus. and trial of the champion.
New Linking Sites
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Search Terms of the Month
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Defense Grid 2
Long awaited, since the Kickstarter funded but not as fully as expected, I am happy to be able to play it now. And with how Hidden Path Entertainment has put together the game, we can look forward to plenty of official and fan made updates. It isn’t perfect. They have some work to do on their administrative interface and I have found at least one serious “you shipped with that?” bug. But actual game play is solid, so I am a bit bemused at some of the rage about the game in certain quarters. Basically, a few people seem upset that the game is… well… different. The towers were changed and rebalanced and given new options, with certain go-to defaults being much less effective. (Cannon towers are no longer “I win!”) On the whole it seems good to me, but some people just wanted more of the old game… which I can understand. I played the hell out of that too.
Given that my previous three posts this month were about EVE Online, I guess I did actually play the game this month. Or paid attention to it a bit. I managed to get a couple more ships out of Delve and back up to our new staging system in Deklein. There was also a bit of cleaning up the neighborhood in the north, as it had gone to seed a bit while we were away. And then things got pretty quiet. Even the regional intel channel has been quiet while I have been logged in. What is Gevlon paying Mordus Angels for, if not to shit up our space? Anyway, we’ve had to travel further afield, out to low sec to find fun of late. And low sec is weird. Security status means something there. There are no warp disruption bubbles. People don’t always shoot strangers in the face the moment they show up. Gate guns shoot at you. It is most queer and disturbing after three years in null.
The strategy group has pressed forward with Total War: Rome II. We seem to be doing okay as long as we fight against each other. I think we are still mostly learning how to get the game to do what we want, or at least understand the limitations of what we can do. The fights are interesting, but the fact that we, as a group of four, are pretty much limited to a variety of different skirmishes, which I can see getting old sooner rather than later… which is what happened with Age of Empires II: Age of Kings over time. But I am not sure where we would head next. Maybe Endless Legend or something from the list I made earlier this year?
I actually got out War Thunder and patched up to play for a bit. I went out and dropped some bombs and then tried the whole tank side of the game. The beginning level tanks are not the silly level of joy that they are in World of Tanks, but they also seem… more realistic maybe? I’ve never driven a tank, so how would I know? But there is a higher level of difficulty in just shooting stuff, your crew dies very easily if you take a solid hit, and the whole thing seems less arcade-like than WoT. Is that a good thing? I am not sure.
World of Warcraft
After the summer of working on the Loremaster achievement, I think I may have fallen off of that horse. All the groundwork of the 1-60 achievements has been laid, so I can go back to it at some point, but my idea of doing all the zones in Outland at level became less fun and more chore as I moved through the zones. I keep asking myself, “How did we do all of this with no flying mounts and effectively less power?” So my WoW time has tapered off quite a bit. That might not be a bad thing, as Warlords of Draenor is just about a month and a half away. A rest from Azeroth might be appropriate, so as to be fresh when the expansion drops.
There is a blogging event called Bragtoberfest coming up. I am not sure I understand it.
The Oceanus expansion for EVE Online is dropping today, so that will make some waves. (Ha ha!) I am not sure many doctrine fits will be affected by the first round of module revamps, though light missile launchers are on the list, which means that somebody might have to look at our Hawk or Crow fits I suppose. Also, EVE Vegas is coming up in the middle of the month, which is about as close as an EVE Online event ever gets to me. Unfortunately, I just wrote a big check for braces for my daughter, so that will have to wait for another year.
The ongoing ArcheAge: Tales from the Queue drama should no doubt subside at some point and people will start getting into the meat of the game… which should lead to some fresh new drama. SynCaine is already hinting at some possibilities there. (As well as some of the promise.)
And, speaking of drama, maybe the whole “gamer gate” thing will subside soon. One can only hope. It seems to have devolved into two camps talking past each other, trying to score points more to impress their own team than to convince anybody of anything, and painting the other side as being in lock step with, or automatically condoning all actions of, the worst person on their respective “side.” Bleh.
Finally, I have to think that we will see the big WoW 6.0 patch drop before the middle of the month, likely next week. Blizzard has been talking about it, it has been on the public test realm for a while, and the launcher started letting people pre-download the files for the patch. So it is a comin’! And that will give us a few weeks to adjust to a lot of change before November strikes and we have BlizzCon, the Warlords of Draenor launch, and then the World of Warcraft 10 year anniversary.
Oh, and log on to WoW today if you haven’t recently. Last day to get the Horde chopper for free. I am not particularly enthusiastic about that whole Azeroth Choppers thing but, hey, free mount.