Category Archives: World of Warcraft

Argus and the Alliance Allied Races

With the coming of the Battle for Azeroth pre-order I was in and had one of the allied races, the Highmountain Tauren, unlocked straight our of the gate.

Moose on moose action outside Orgrimmar

Furthermore I had a second allied race, the Nightborne, pretty close to being unlocked.  You can go use WoW Head’s Legion Attunement page to see how close a given character is to unlocking the allied races.  As it turned out I fell off the final quest line about three quests before it was done.  Once I got back on that track I was able to get the requisite achievement.

Suramar achievement achieved

That, in turn, unlocked the Nightborne Elves for me as well.

More elves, wheee…

So I had the Horde allied races covered.  The Alliance allied races… is being allied with the alliance make you an ally ally or just part of the Alliance… were not available to me.  In what I will claim is yet another example of residual Horde favoritism from the Chris Metzen era, you could unlock the Horde allied races in the core areas of the Broken Isles, but the Alliance allied races required you to go to Argus.

Argus.

Argus, like Gaul, is divided into three

It isn’t so much that Argus is bad.  In fact, it follows closely the zone design philosophy for WoW Legion, where zones are actually small but feel big due to good design.  The problem is flying.  Once Blizzard gives you flying it feels like they’re punishing you when they take it away.  We’ve been over that many times, but it is still true.  Once the genie is out of the bottle you’re cooked.

I ran once character up to the level cap, went away for months, came back once flying was made available, worked to unlock that, and only then started on alts.  Flying makes running through a zone trivially easy as you avoid any unwanted entanglements.  This is doubly handy when you just want to zip in and get a few world quests out of the way.

And then you get to Argus and there is no flying.  There are not even flight points.  You just unlock what are essentially teleport nodes to get around.  So, while I started in on Argus, I tended to leave it alone in order to concentrate on efforts elsewhere… like in places where I could fly.  Also, Darkmoon Faire, and Love is in the Air, and pet battles kept me busy.

Eventually though I hit a point where I had some time and Argus was still there waiting for me.  In fact, getting the Darkmoon Faire “Test of Strength” quest done prompted me a bit to get out a slay some stuff on the ground.

As noted, not so bad.  The usual amount of stomping about the various land masses and occasionally trying to figure out how to get from point A to point C when mountain range or chasm B is in the way… stuff you never worry about with flying… but otherwise not an excessive amount of schlepping along in the usual knees bent running about advancing behavior.  And the story sticks you in the cut scenes now and again, which I always seem to enjoy more than I should.

Some guy wearing green googles showed up…

A couple hours of quiet time with my wife and daughter out of the house was all it took to get the achievement side of unlocking the Alliance allied races.

An achievement has never been so wrong about me…

So that both Alliance allied races are unlocked by the same Argus achievement is good.  That they need me to get exalted with both of the Argus factions is… less fun.  As noted above, flying and world quests… and world quests are the way forward for faction… go together like two things clearly meant to go together actually going together.

And my having ignored Argus for a while means that I have a ways to go on both factions.

My current standing with allied race unlocks

And I am only that far along with the Alliance allied race faction unlock effort because we had a faction bonus week that overlapped with Darkmoon Faire and its bonus faction merry-go-round booster, which I renewed liberally, and that I am doing this all on a Human character that gets its own boost to faction accrual.

Riding for a faction boost!

Still, I don’t have to unlock the allied raced TODAY.  I can move along, wait for the emissary quests to roll around for Army of the Light or Argussian Reach or Kirin-Tor, the latter which gives you a boost to the faction of your choice, and end up unlocking both in time.

Because the next question is what to do with these unlocked allied races.  I am not sure I need four more alts.  I am not sure I what classes I would make them or if I really need the overlap that would come with making yet another character of a class I already have.  I still haven’t finished the Demon Hunter starter quest line, leaving my Demon Hunter lingering about waiting for me to get back to him.

And then there is the usual problem of the level 110 booster that came with the Battle for Azeroth pre-order.  Do I want to use it straight out on one of these allied races?  Do I want to get any of them to level 60 first to fill in any sort of trade skill gap I might have when I boost them, because boosting from level 60 also means boosting trade skills as well, or is there some other character I should boost instead?

And then, of course, there are two more allied races to be unlocked once the expansion hits, the Zandalari Trolls and the Dark Iron Dwarves, the latter seeming an odd choice for an Alliance allied race given all the trouble they’ve cause in the past.  But the lore is malleable.

These questions will probably linger until summer when the pre-expansion events kick in and I come back from playing Rift Prime or whatever I am likely to try a couple months down the line when I tire a bit of Azeroth.

Looking for Mr. Bigglesworth

On the collecting end of pet battles in World of Warcraft I am running out of easy pets to catch.  I’ve scoured most of the open world and the few pets I have left to catch there have some special circumstances like there needing to be a weather event in the zone, needing to stay up until midnight, or the season needing to be summer in the real world.

That in mind, I began looking into what other routes I would need to pursue to continue collecting, starting with some of the pets I see recommended over and over again.  Mr. Bigglesworth gets mentioned now and again, and while he didn’t make that top 20 list over at Warcraft Pets, I decided to see what it took to get him.

He is actually the reward for the Raiding with Leashes achievement and, as it turned out, I wasn’t too far off from getting that.  In fact, I needed to collect just one more pet.

Just one missing from the list

The Viscidus Globule comes from the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, AQ40 of old, a raid I have been in more than a few times in search of pets, mounts, and other items.  The drop rate is alleged to be pretty high for the pet.  The problems was killing the boss, Viscidus, who has one of those special mechanics.

In order to slay Viscidus you have to freeze him by spell, enchant, or weapon, and then hit him 75 times in 75 seconds or less to finish him off.

Vikund, my default “do all the things” character can wander through AQ with impunity, but soloing Viscidus is another matter.  I found him a weapon that would freeze the great blob via frost damage, but no amount of haste was going to get me those 75 hits in time to slay him.

Fortunately at this point I have a selection of level 100+ character to choose from and, in reading about how people have taken Viscidus down solo, the beast master spec’d hunter seemed to be a viable option.  All you had to do was get a ranged weapon that put the freeze on the slime, something you could do via various enchants or oils.

None of those seemed to be available at the Auction House however, and the long neglected enchanting skill on one alt came up dry as did another alt that was an alchemist.  However, there was a bow available from a Wrath of the Lich King quest line that would do the job.  However, while the bow was available from a vendor, it was bind on pick up, so Vikund, who had done the quest line up in the Storm Peaks could buy it, he couldn’t hand it off.

And Tistann, my hunter, had not done the quest line.  So it was off to the Storm Peaks with him to get it done.  Fortunately getting far enough down the quest line to be able to buy the bow didn’t take that long and, of course, being level 110 meant there being no risk while doing it.  Soon he had the Brunnhildar Bow.

This bow freezes stuff

From there it was off to the instance.  I had to think for a moment as to what would be the best way to actually get there.  Getting to Darnassus and taking the griffon the length of Kalimdor was my first thought.  But then I seemed to recall a portal to Uldum in Stormwind from back during the Cataclysm expansion.  The portal was still there and I was soon winging my way to the target.

Once there I was quickly trotting through the now familiar instance to Viscidus, avoid what I could walk around and slaying what I could not.  There is one stretch where you end up with dozens of arachnids chasing you that I usual just AOE once they all collect on Vikund.  With Tistann I avoided even that by just feigning death once I was through, speeding my way to the fight.

Spotting Viscidus

Getting in there and stuck into Viscidus wasn’t an issue.  His health was hardly a barrier.  Had he been a tank and spank boss and level 110 could have one-shotted him.  Instead he sits a minimum health until you do the special routine.

Viscidus waiting for the right moment to die

As the frost attacks built up Viscidus first changed color and then, when he was frozen, there was an announcement and a graphical indicator on him.

Viscidus frozen

At that point the counter was running and I needed to get in those 75 melee attacks, so I unleashed all the pets and called on Stampede and fired away, all of which easily totaled up to the required number of attacks and Viscidus went down.

Viscidus defeated

He just didn’t drop the pet.

I had to wait for the instance lockout to run down and try it again a few days later.  The second time around the Viscidus Globule dropped and, on collecting it I also got the Raiding with Leashes achievement and Mr. Bigglesworth as a reward.

Pets obtained!

I put Mr. Bigglesworth at the top of the leveling queue and had him up to level 25 the next day, so I have him ready if I need him.

Mr. Bigglesworth Ready

Obtaining Mr. Bigglesworth also put me another cat along in the quest for the cat collecting achievement.

Not quite crazy for cats yet

I need two more cats for that and the Crazy Cat Man title.  I think at this point I have all the easy ones off of that list.  I guess I should have purchased a Guardian Cub back in the day.

And now I have move on to Raiding with Leashes II.

The second achievement

I am actually not doing bad on that one either.  I’ve been to Kharazan for other things like transmog and such that Vikund is exalted with the Violet hold.  But the drop rates for the pets are not so generous as they were with the Viscidus Globule.

SuperData and the Curious Case of the Missing WoW Money

SuperData Research released its 2017 report looking at how much money was spent on video games, sliced up into different segments.  You can download the report from them, it is free, unlike some of their other reports.

Yes, I know, SuperData’s numbers are flawed, though probably not in the way you think.  As a market analysis firm, they have relationships with the companies on which they report.  They are not some group of rando outsiders om Spokane making wild guesses by looking at Steam charts and trying to get data out of the App Store.  They get financial information directly from most of the companies they track.

The companies cooperate because there is a quid pro quo in play.  SuperData only covers a limited number of companies generally, but those companies tend to be publicly traded… or have aspiration to go public some day… or are in bed through licensing with another company that is public… and they want analysts to say nice things about them because that may boost their valuation and, thus, their stock price.

The flaw in the data often comes from what the companies choose to give analysts and how they package it.  I speak from experience on this.  I recall one year the marketing director at a company coming to me to ask me about what new features we were working on for our main product.  He was working on our annual puff piece for Gartner to tell them how great we were.  So I listed out the key items from the road map and he gave me a sour look and said that we told Gartner we did all of that last year or the year before, he wanted something new!

So yeah, the analyst is only as good as the data they get, and companies will lie… though when it comes to financials, they can’t make stuff up if they’re a public company.  They can, however, withhold data or refuse to break things out in a way that the analyst would want.

All of which brings us back to SuperData and their 2017 report.  They have several nice charts which, unlike their monthly reports, have dollar amounts attached.

SuperData 2017 Mobile Market Chart

There is a lot of money in mobile games.

Then there is the free to play PC games chart.

SuperData 2017 F2P PC Games Market Chart

League of Legends dominates that with over $2 billion in revenue in 2017, something I am sure Tencent wants its institutional investors to know.  But the low end of that chart is a lot lower than the low end of the mobile chart.

Then there is the Premium PC chart, the traditional “buy the box” model, though the top end of the chart has DLC and other additional revenue streams.

SuperData 2017 Premium PC Games Market Chart

Hey, look, Guild Wars 2!  Shipping a new box in 2017 no doubt helped them to get there.  Also, you can probably go back and look at the first three quarters of earnings reports for NCsoft in 2017, add up the GW2 revenues on those, subtract that from the number on the chart, and have a good guess at what the Q4 number will be. (Should be about 46,560 on the GW2 section of their usual chart, which is measured in millions of South Korean Won, if I calculated that correctly. That would be a big boost from Q3.)  If that is on the money, then there is only one possible source.  And if it is different… well, then we’ll have some evidence of something else.

I am dubious about Minecraft. That seems like a lot for just the PC market, though that may be because I focus on the Java Edition, which is its own beast.  The other, unified cross platform edition has all sorts of DLC, even on Windows 10.  And, again, who knows how Microsoft packaged up the data.  They might have said, “This is the Minecraft number,” declining to break it out.

And, finally, there is the consoles chart.

SuperData 2017 Console Games Market Chart

Consoles seem to be about shooting people and playing soccer.

There are no billion dollar earners on either of those last two charts.  GTA V on console is worth a quarter of League of Legends when it comes to annual revenue in 2017.  Then again, half a billion dollars is still nothing to sneeze at, and it is a hell of a lot of money for a game that shipped on consoles back in 2013.  But, then again, League of Legends showed up in 2009, so being new doesn’t have much to do with revenue I guess.

Anyway, interesting charts to look at and compare.  Each of the numbers are probably true in the right context, but the chances of us knowing that context is pretty slim.

But in looking at all of that, there was a glaring omission in my book.  World of Warcraft is nowhere to be seen.  After all, it has appeared on every monthly SuperData chart in 2017.  Why would it not appear in the final report?

My first thought was that it just didn’t fit nicely into any of the categories.  And I suppose that might be the case, but I doubt it.

My gut says that Blizzard wants it this way.  As noted above, analysts are at the mercy of those providing the data, and I think the only way that SuperData would have skipped WoW is because Blizzard held back that data or told them they couldn’t use it in a publicly available report.  I back this up with how Blizzard has tried to obscure information about WoW in their financial reports.

At first that was because of the subscription drop panic.  But later, when it became more thorough, I began to suspect another reason.

I think that this is all because Blizzard is trying to remove the idea that the company is dependent on WoW for the bulk of their revenues.

There was a time when that was the case, when it was WoW paying the bills and a few people buying Diablo II or Warcraft III battle chests bringing in what amounted to some spare change.  But Blizzard has moved on from then.  As noted in the past, BlizzCon is now about more than just WoW.

When WoW went through its post-Warlords of Draenor subscriber dump, I think Blizz realized that they needed to shed the image that Blizzard = WoW and nothing else.  They don’t want people to think that if WoW dies, Blizzard dies.

As part of that Blizzard began to pay a lot more attention publicly to the other titles in its catalog, which has expanded quite a bit since 2008 or so, when WoW was pretty much it.  So in the charts above you see Hearthstone in free to play and Overwatch in premium PC games.

But you don’t see WoW, not because it didn’t make enough money to place, but because Blizz doesn’t want that to distract from its other titles.

I also think this is the reason that WoW got split into East and West earlier in the year, so that other Blizzard titles would be seen to have passed WoW.  That wasn’t some rando analyst choice.  Analysts don’t do that, they like their data to be consistent over time.  That gives it a greater sense of validity.

And I know WoW would make the charts.  We can derive that from past data.  Throughout 2017, World of Warcraft was on every SuperData monthly chart, and for 10 out of 12 months it was ahead of World of Tanks, which did make the chart.  WoW was also ranked ahead of World of Tanks at the first six months of 2017 summary from SuperData.

So I think we can safely say that WoW made more than World of Tanks, which itself brought in $471 million according to the charts above.  And WoW making even a dollar more than that amount would put it well ahead of Overwatch ($382 million) and Hearthstone ($217 million), the next two highest earners in the Blizzard stable.

We don’t know how much World of Warcraft actually made in 2017, but it was likely in excess of half a billion dollars, and could be a decent chunk more than that.  I could probably find out if I wanted to spend two grand on SuperData’s MMO and MOBA report, but I am not so inclined. Still, even my guess is not bad for a game from 2004.

And it seems likely that WoW will pop up a bit in SuperData’s monthly charts for January and February with the Battle for Azeroth pre-orders having hit on Tuesday.  The payment system was bogged down from the effect of people trying to throw money at Blizzard.

So World of Warcraft isn’t dead.  It isn’t even resting really.  It seems to me to be more a matter of Blizzard having the problem in not being able to create something to surpass WoW.   So rather than submitting their other titles to that measure, they’re trying to hide it.

Anyway, that is my working theory.

Meanwhile, a bonus chart from the report, and one I am sure Blizzard really likes, the esports viewership.

SuperData 2017 esports Viewership Chart

The measure on that chart is “average monthly unique viewers” for 2017.

(Also, as a side note, they chopped the market up into Twitch 54%, YouTube 22%, and everybody else making up 24%)

Blizzard likes that chart because Heroes of the Storm gets a mention, and it is the only place it is likely to get one.  StarCraft II is also there.  But Heroes of the Storm gets barely a tenth of LoL’s viewership, and less than a quarter of DOTA 2’s.  More interesting is that it also only gets a quarter of Overwatch’s viewership and less than 20% of Heros of the Storm’s viewers.

StarCraft II, son of the original esports champion StarCraft, seems a bit sad down at the bottom of the list.  But Blizzard does have four games on the list (and WoW isn’t one of them) which added together, had more average viewers than League of Legends.  Not bad.

Also, Hearthstone is Blizzard’s most popular esports game.  Imagine that!  We’ll see if the whole Overwatch league changes that in 2018, but for now that is how it stands.

Falling into Battle for Azeroth Mania

Look at all those people clogging up Blizzard’s payment system because they HAVE TO HAVE their pre-order today! Sheep!

-Me, Tuesday Afternoon

Okay, I’ve unlocked my Highmountain Tauren allied race and raise my digital deluxe edition pet to 25.

-Also Me, That Same Evening

It isn’t like I don’t have enough things on my “To do” list in Azeroth.  But at some point on Tuesday evening I said, “What the hell!” and joined in the frenzy and pre-ordered Battle for Azeroth.

Battle for Azeroth

They say all online purchasing decisions made after 8pm are a mistake, but I did this at 7:30pm, so I’m in the clear I guess. *cough*

Of course, Blizzard wasn’t making things easy.  They dropped a patch earlier in the day to support the pre-order update and it was having… issues.  Issues like not showing any of your characters.

Breath into the paper bag and login again…

That seemed to be a random error.  You could log out and back in again and you might get your characters.  And if you did get them, then foolishly logged out… never log out on a night where there are login issues… you might not get them the next time you tried.

Anyway, I did get in and found that you could order the expansion from within the game.  I’m not sure if, by that point, it was a better option than the normal Blizzard store, but it worked.  I was set.

Then I swapped to my level 110 Horde character… because for my first time ever in WoW I have a max level Horde character… so I could work on unlocking the Highmountain Tauren.  That was the one of the current four allied races that interested me.  And it is a good thing that was the one, because I still have some work to do on the other three.  Part of my “To do” list is to finish up Argus.

So I got the quest pop for allied races which brought me to Orgrimmar where there is a new embassy building for this sort of thing.  It was, naturally enough, kind of a crowded place.  There you get to pick which allied race to pursue.  I only had the one option.

Tauren… you can have Highmountain Tauren

The game warns you to choose carefully as you can only have one allied race quest chain running at a time.  But the Highmountain quest chain… that is where you go to do it… only takes about 30 minutes.  After that you get a portal back to Orgrimmar where you turn in the last quest, get the achievement for unlocking that race, and are cleared to make one.

So I logged out and went to character creation.

Creating a Highmountain Tauren Warrior

I wasn’t sure what to go with, but warrior seemed like a viable option.  I already have a Horde druid and hunter.  And so I have a new character.  He started at level 20, which he needed to use the special mount that comes with each allied race.

The Highmountain mount is moose-like, which seems a little odd when you see a Tauren with moose antlers riding what seems to be a moose as well.  It is a bit like he is riding his second cousin or something.

Moose on moose action outside Orgrimmar

And now I have another level 20 character knocking about.  I am not sure when I will find the time, if ever, to level him up.

Of course, if I really wanted to, I could use the level 110 boost that came with the expansion.  I have no idea what else I would use it on.  But I think I will let that sit for a while before I use it.

January in Review

The Site

Just trivia for the site this month.  A week or so back my phone buzzed with this announcement.

A New Record!

I found that amusing, though since I have turned off the alert for when somebody clicks “like” on a post, I am not sure who went through and clicked the button on a bunch of posts.  None of the recent posts at that point had more than three or four likes, so I assume it was somebody serially reading and liking posts.

Meanwhile, back in the day, WordPress.com used to give bloggers some end of year stats around New Years, but stopped doing that a couple of years back.  On the stats page there is an Insights tab that shows various meta details about your blog which now includes some annual details.  For 2017 my stats were:

  • Total Posts: 350
  • Total Comments: 1,429
  • avg comments per post: 4
  • total likes: 1,398
  • avg likes per post: 4
  • total words: 326,343
  • avg words per post: 932

It also tells me that so far for 2018 I am averaging over one thousand words per post, so the bloviation continues.  Also, the likes per post stat confirms that 21 in a day is an outlier event which has increased my average likes per day for 2018 to 5.

One Year Ago

As with most years here at the blog, it began with predictions.

Nintendo was telling us all about the Switch console, due in March.

I barely had predictions post before Daybreak announced they were closing Landmark, ticking one off the list for me.  That got people freaked out about other Daybreak titles, so I reviewed the list.

That also led me off onto a semi-sarcastic rant about an EverQuest successor.

It was also high noon for Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2.

With a new iPad I lost all my progress on Candy Crush Saga, so forswore the title forever.

I was also tallying up the results of my purchases from the Steam Winter Sale.  I don’t get why people like Stardew Valley so much.  Just not my thing I guess.  I did play a stretch of Train Valley however.

The long mansion road project was starting to hit home with me, but I kept on moving forward village by village.

In EVE Online I hit the 170 million skill point mark.  All those skill points and I still don’t use my capital ships.  After a false start we got the first update of YC119.  It had music.  It was also the kick off of the CSM election season.

In null sec there was a big battle at F4R2-Q that seemed to herald a new war.  However coordination problems with the local defenders saw us pulling back to Catch.

And in Diablo III we were waiting for the Darkening of Tristram event.  I ran through it quickly once, and then again to get some more achievements.  It was kind of neat, but it wasn’t the original Diablo.

Five Years Ago

Firefly Universe Online.  Was that a hoax or not?  I still don’t know.  And does the acronym FUO seem mildly obscene?

Wizardry Online joined the SOE stable while Pirates of the Burning Sea was sent packing.  Who is laughing now?

We got our full group together in Rift and did our first instance of the year, dying at least 100 times combined.  This lead to a side post about bosses and gimmicks and what makes a challenge.

In World of Tanks the instance group was scooting around. We even created our own little clan.  Potshot and I were totally going French.

In EVE Online, after a sudden burst of war fever died down, there was a surprise battle where more than 2,500 ships clashed in Asakai when CFC FC Dabigredboat led a supercap fleet in to rescue a stray titan.  The battle was so big that CCP did a Dev Blog about it.  Meanwhile, we were to be denied LEGO Rifters.

The DUST 514 open beta was officially open.  I still haven’t bombed anything from orbit yet.

Path of Exile went into full open beta as well.

Krono made its way from EverQuest II to EverQuest while I was wondering what people were spending their Station Cash on.

I was musing about MUDs again, and vendors who wouldn’t simply buy any crap you had for sale and dead rats.

There was a list of 20 games that defined the Apple II.

And I wrote out my yearly list.  This time it was goals, mostly because I was on vacation when I was supposed to be writing it.

Ten Years Ago

I started off with a helping of silly predictions.

I was bemoaning my inability to be a fan boy and parrying claims that PvE players were going to ruin Warhammer Online.

There were some pictures from my daughter’s LEGO birthday party.  Those seem to get linked on Pintrest quite often.

Then, with Tabula Rasa dead to me since open beta, I started wondering if there was any hope at all for a Science Fiction MMORPG.  This ended up being one of my most responded to posts of the time.  Plus, in addition to all the comments, PotshotTipaLemegeton, Gooney, and even Massively following up with response posts. This post still gets a lot of views every month. (And yes, I do think there is hope, I just don’t know when we’ll get what we’re looking for.)

And, along with that, I wrote about five LEGO Video Games I would like to see made.  And a few of those ended up getting made.  Imagine!

Then there was the start of the run-up to Pirates of the Burning Sea which, among other things, required me to invest in a new router as well as reviewing how to pick a server in a new game.  The latter was from a time when we assumed servers would stay crowded like they did in WoW.

In World of Warcraft the Saturday night instance group was hitting Scholomance, Dire Maul West and Scholomance again as part of the Paladin mount quest, Stratholme, then Dire Maul West once more for the Warlock mount quest, and then Scholomance for the third and final time to get all the epic mounts straight.  By then we were all level 60 which meant we could head  to the Outlands only a year after The Burning Crusade shipped!

In EVE Online, after spending millions of ISK, I managed my first Tech II Blueprint, then I couldn’t afford to build it. Ah, life in New Eden.  I also got my standing past 8.0 with the Caldari Navy and spent time hauling trash.

And, finally, in Lord of the Rings Online I was able to pick up my Bree Pony, the 2007 holiday gift to founders.

Twenty Years Ago

I got nothing.  I think we were all still playing Warcraft II and waiting for StarCraft to come out.  I remember a lot of people I knew being anxious for it to ship.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  2. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  5. The Coming Battle in 9-4RP2
  6. My 2018 MMO Outlook – Mining for Old Gold
  7. A Bit More Bag Space with WoW Patch 7.3.5
  8. The Million Dollar Battle Hangover
  9. 2018 – Predictions for a New Year
  10. A Return to Physical Netflix
  11. Quote of the Day – Satan Speaks on Lockboxes
  12. Delve – How Does One Value Minerals?

Search Terms of the Month

pokemon battle on middle earth.jar
[Heresy, both the concept and it being in Java]

swtor-digipass@go6
[Somebody knows their VASCO products]

everquest 3
[Dream on]

pokemon sun and moon solo run
[It is a single player game, so I guess that is any run]

what is the name of the third warcraft expansion
[That is the one we do not name]

war thunder plane with most bombs
[I think it is the He-111, at least for lower tier planes]

EVE Online

Early in the month I was in as part of our small deployment to the north, dropping citadels and making the locals come up to fight over timers, which went well enough for us until the locals finally got their act together and blobbed up.  We’d have done the same around Delve, just a lot sooner.

Then came the build up for the big battle at 9-4RP2, which distracted us from other efforts in the north.  When I finally came back to our staging system I found that the locals had been busy removing all of our citadels.  So I guess we’ll be starting from scratch on that front.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go saw the releases of more Hoenn Pokemon towards the end of the month, so my captured and caught numbers went up noticeably again.  I also finally got the last candy I needed to evolve my Slowepoke into a Slowbro.  I also managed to squeak into level 31.

Heartbreak moment of the month was finally seeing a Lapras in the wild, then being cheap and not using one of my few sure catch candies on the first throw and having it flee.

  • Level: 31 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 262 (+23) caught, 301 (+25) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Seaking
  • Current buddy: Horsea to earn candies to get that Seaking evolution.

World of Warcraft

I spent a lot of time with Pet Battles, right up to the end of the month finish of the Celestial Tournament.  I am also edging my way up to the 700 pet mark, for which there is no achievement.

I also carried on in Argus rather halfheartedly with my main and then worked on some alts.  I potentially will have quite a pile of level 110 characters when Battle for Azeroth ships, so I am not sure what I will do with the level 110 boost that will come with the expansion.  I am certainly not running out right this second to pre-order because of that.  The allied race thing however…

Other Games

I watched The Mittani playing Stellaris for a bit on the INN stream and then went back and played that for a bit.  That is my problem with watching people stream games, I just want to go play them rather than watch.  Meanwhile, Stellaris is still a good game in which you can get lost for hours.

I got fed up with War Thunder and uninstalled it.  I just got tired of high skill players haunting the lower tiers for easy kills.  Or maybe I am just horrible.  Meanwhile the interface that combines the game’s aerial aspect with tank combat and sea combat… I think that is in there… is confusing enough that I stopped bothering to pursue it.  I’ll have to get my flight sim fix elsewhere. (Also I had to use regedit to remove all of War Thunder, which makes it less likely that I will ever install it again.)

I was invited to play a couple of Jack Pack 3 games with Liore’s club, specifically Trivia Murder Party and Tee K.O., both of which were a lot of fun.  There is also an interesting “watch things on your computer screen, provide answer and/or draw things on your phone/tablet” dynamic to the whole thing.

Coming Up

Well, I would take a guess that there won’t be another huge battle next month in EVE Online.  Null sec needs time to ponder before another 6,000+ player conflict happens.  But there will be updates to citadels with the February release, some of which will make them easier to attack, especially if they are just sitting around out of fuel and unused.

Also we should start hearing something about the CSM election campaign season.

In World of Warcraft I have my eye on the level scaling changes that came in with patch 7.3.5.  Specifically, I want to see what going to Northrend at level 58 and spending 22 levels there is like.  Can I get through all the content before I out level it?  Will I need to take off my heirloom gear?  The latter idea bugs me only because I like not having to worry about gear as I play through the story.  Also, I want to do it as Horde to see if there is much difference between that and the Alliance campaign.

I will also keep running the Celestial Tournament every week until I have all the pets from that.  I’m starting to wind down a bit on the obsessive pet leveling binge… the week with 200% exp where I went nuts burned me out a bit… but there are still some key pets I want to get to 25.  Also I should finish up Argus and run all the instances I need to in order to wrap up crafting.  Doing LFG isn’t that much of a pain, I am just not fond of the “rush rush” nature of it.

We’ll see if I keep with Stellaris or wander off after a couple of games.

Also there are a couple of major sports events coming up, Super Bowl 52, which mostly serves to remind me how old I am since a couple of east coast teams are in it, and the Winter Olympics, so I can look forward to people complaining about how NBC has screwed up the coverage.  Somewhere in between the two is my wife’s birthday, better not forget that!

And, finally, for those interested in blog stats, I also have the 2017 blog stats for my other blog, EVE Online Pictures:

  • Total Posts: 183
  • Total Comments: 7
  • Avg Comments Per Post: 0
  • Total Likes: 19
  • Avg Likes Per Post: 0
  • Total Words: 381
  • Avg Words Per Post: 2

I am actually a bit surprised there were that many words, since the count does not include titles.  I guess I can’t keep quiet even on a blog that is supposed to be pictures.  The comments were split, 3 telling me I misidentified a ship, 3 of my copping to my mistake, and one “nice.”  Very few people click the like button or rate the posts there.  I thought the rating feature would be a thing, but it isn’t.  Ah well.  I’ll write more about all of that when it turns ten years old later this year.

Battle for Azeroth before Fall, Pre-Orders Now

World of Warcraft news is always big news.

Today Blizzard put up the next WoW expansion, Battle for Azeroth, up for pre-orders at the usual price points, $50 for normal and $70 for digital deluxe, which generally nets you a mount and a battle pet.  With my current battle pet mania going on I know where I might be headed.

Battle for Azeroth

Of course, it is always the details that capture my attention, especially anything that might indicate a ship date, and the pre-order page delivers with this line:

Pre-purchase: Battle for Azeroth will be released on or before September 21, 2018.

September 21, 2018 just happens to be the last day of summer on the calendar here in the temperate northern hemisphere.  It will still be warm where I live in any case.

Next on this list is, “Why should I pre-order this today?”

Well, you get that level 110 boost.  Given how long it took me to use the level 100 boost I got with WoW Legion… I think I used it finally in December… that isn’t a big draw for me.  I wouldn’t begin to know which character to boost at this point.  I already have four characters at level 110, and two more fairly close.

The battle pet and mount may take a while to show up.

Digital Deluxe items will be available on or before the release date of the game.

That is a bit vague.  Ah well, some day.

Gilded Ravasaur and Seabraid Stallion mount plus the Baby Tortollan Pet

So the only possible draw is really the promised Allied Races.

Pre-purchase of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth makes available the questlines which enable players to access the Highmountain tauren, Lightforged draenei, Nightborne, and Void elves. To unlock Allied Races quest lines, players must have a level 110 character and have met specific questing and reputation requirements on the factions that each Allied Race is aligned with.

Currently I am ready to go on the Lightforged Draenei, not that I need another alt.  The one I am interested in, the Highmountain Tauren require me to get all that rep again with a Horde character.  Fortunately, for my first time in WoW, I actually have a Horde character at the level cap, so it is doable.  More on that later.

As noted, the pre-order page is up and ready to take your money, though beware there is one small hitch.

Requires World of Warcraft and Legion.

Since WoW Legion is still the current live expansion, and has links right into Battle for Azeroth, you can’t just skip ahead if you do not have WoW Legion yet.

Anyway, you can pre-order today though, as with any Blizzard release, there might be a queue.

And for those keeping score, if the release goes on the last day that will put the time between that and the WoW Legion release at 752 days, which puts it pretty much mid-pack for duration.

  • WoW Launch to The Burning Crusade – 784 days
  • The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King – 667 days
  • Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm – 754 days
  • Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria – 658 days
  • Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor – 778 days
  • Warlords of Draenor to Legion – 670 days
  • Legion to Battle for Azeroth – 752 days (estimated)

I suspect that Battle for Azeroth will ship sooner than that however, maybe another August release.  My prediction was that they would get that shipped and be done far enough ahead of BlizzCon 2018 that they could safely talk about WoW Classic with stealing any of the spotlight from the expansion.  We shall see.

Meanwhile the Battle for Azeroth Q&A broadcast has been going on, so I expect all sorts of additional details to pop up today.

The Celestial Tournament

I have mentioned the Celestial Tournament before.  It is a pet battle challenge in World of Warcraft on Timeless Ilse in Pandaria.  You go there and speak to Master Li to join in.

Master Li on the Timeless Isle

Master Li has a simple description of the event.  The tournament is an instance with its own rules.

To be able to enter it you first need to have at least 15 battle pets at level 25.  That probably isn’t enough, but that is the bar.  You can only do the tournament once per week, a lock out that resets every Tuesday.  Once you enter you have to defeat all of the challengers to win and you cannot use the pet heal skill or pet bandages to heal up any of your pets.  You have to get through with the pets you have with you.

Now, there is a work around on the healing thing.  There are some of the fights where the first pet the foe uses does a self-buff, so you have a free round to cast a heal.  Also, there is no penalty for quitting a fight, unlike the 10% health hit you suffer if you surrender in the wild, so you can get out a pet with a group heal, make them your first pet in a group, and heal on the first round, then surrender, until your injured pets are healed up.  That is a bit tedious and it requires that you not let your pets die in battle.  If you do, you’ll have to get along without them.

The challenge itself is divided into two parts.  The first part is a set of three Master Pet Tamers, each with a team of three.  There are nine total, three groups of three, that rotate each week.

The initial three are not all that tough of a challenge.  I was able to come up with winning teams for the various tamers soon enough.  My main problem was creating independent teams to fight each one.  If you read advice or comments about fighting any individual master pet tamer, the same usual suspects always seem to come up.  If you go over to Warcraft Pets and look at their Top 20 List of highest rated pets, most of that list comes up again and again.

I have duplicates of some of them… the Iron Starlette and the Emerald Proto-Drake for example… but not all of them, so to make independent teams I have to find substitutes.

Fortunately, for those first three, there are substitutes possible, so those teams were setup.

It was the second set, the legendary battle pets, that was the difficult part for me.  After the three pet tamers, you have to fight the four legendaries, Chi-Chi, Xu-Fu, Yu’la, and Zao, who also happen to be the four pets standing around Master Li in the screen shot up at the top of the post.

For those fights your team of three goes up against a single pet which generally has a lot more hit points and hits harder while having a buff that reduces your own attacks and often a self-heal skill that will undo all your efforts.  Over at WoW Head they have a pretty extensive guide to the whole thing.

My problem was two-fold.  First, back when I was first giving this a shot, I lacked a lot of the pets on the guide, so was having to wing it and roll up my own teams.  That led to the second problem, which was it is a pain in the ass to experiment with teams.  You have to go into the tournament, defeat the first three, then use your experimental team to see how it does.  If it fails, you have to leave the instance, heal up your pets, then go back and do it again with whatever your adjustments might be.

After a long evening of doing that I said, “screw it!” and set about just collecting more of the battle pets suggested and then leveling them up.  Basically, I went away for almost two months and only returned over the weekend to finally give it a go again.

And with a bevy of new pets to form teams around, I beat it on the first try.

Well, that was suddenly easy

There was, of course, an achievement that went with the victory.  But the real reason to do the Celestial Tournament is to ear Celestial Coins.

The coins, I want the coins

With the Celestial Coins you can purchase items from Master Li, including four battle pets representing each of the four legendary pets you have to fight.

The pets for sale

Fortunately, when you with the Celestial Tournament for the first time Master Li gives you a quick quest that gives you two more coins, so that you have a total of three and can purchase one of the pets right then.

It’s a gimme, but you won’t pass it up

I went for Xu-Fu, who is one of those pets on that Top 20 list I linked above and comes up regularly in strategy guides for various fights.

Xu-Fu obtained

Of course he is level 1, so I put him at the top of the leveling queue in Rematch to get him up to level 25 on my next leveling cycle.

Now I just need to win the tournament nine more times… which means nine more weeks… to complete the set.

For those interested, these are my teams for each of the for legendary battle pets.

Final Four Teams

You can click on that picture to make it readable.

The general strategies for each were:

  • Chi-Chi – Snails!  Keep Chi-Chi poisoned with your two DOTs and use dive when it is off cool-down.  Two snails should be enough, but bring three just in case.
  • Xu-Fu – Cast lightning with the Whelpling, switch to the Clockwork Gnome and have him put down a turret. When he dies, which he will do quickly, in with the Chicken and Flock until Xu-Fu goes down.
  • Yu’la – Dodge when Yu’la does lift off, burrow, then a cycle of attacks around that.  A set of regular rabbits can do this, but the Dust Bunny from Dalaran has a more powerful base attack, so speeds things up.  Now glad I got two of those.
  • Zao – Get lightning up with the moth before it dies, then go to the raptor, do expose wounds and then batter until Zao goes down.

Those teams I picked up while searching around.  They were generally not the top strategies I came across, but they all seemed to work and, most importantly, had no overlap in pets so I didn’t have to worry about keeping pets alive from battle to battle.

Anyway, another battle pet collected.  Back to working on the various Raiding with Leashes pets.