Category Archives: World of Warcraft

Was Cataclysm a Required Prerequisite for WoW Classic?

We got the date this week.  WoW Classic is coming on August 27th.

Classic is as Classic does

With that things felt… more real.  People started making plans.  I got an email from one of the old instance group, which we formed back in 2006 at just about the same patch level that WoW Classic is planned to launch with, indicating that we may yet again get the band back together.

I also started thinking about what class I might play.  Do I want to go back again as a pally with an offensive spell that is only good against demons or undead, along with auras and judgements and five minute buffs?

And do I go straight for consecrate on the holy tree?

You too can play with the talent calculator again.

I know Earl will go warrior and Skronk with a priest.  Maybe a druid this time, so I can do the run across the wetlands just like back in the day?

More on that as it develops.

And, of course, with the date announcement there was an unleashing of negative responses, often in the J. Allen Brack vein that nobody really wants WoW Classic, that it will flop, or that even if it starts strong people will soon realize it sucks and walk away.

I would have thought the ongoing success of EverQuest retro servers would have answered this question.  They form a part of the ongoing viability of the 20 year old game.  I suppose you do have to believe that Blizzard will learn from that, which is always a dubious proposition.  But even if Blizz thrashes about and moves at its usual glacial pace it should be able to make a success of selling nostalgia.  It certainly has a larger installed base to work with than EQ, and they are already suggesting that The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King variations on these servers could be in the works if WoW Classic does well, though Mr. Brack does remain the doubter in chief on that.

All this also got me thinking again on the Cataclysm expansion.

A date that will live in infamy…

Oh Cataclysm.  If there were thirteen expansions, this one would cost 30 pieces of silver.

I have many negative thoughts about that expansion.  Even in hindsight, where I take in other factors, like having played WotLK straight through from launch until Cata launched may have worn me out on WoW or that I followed Cata development more closely than any other WoW expansion which left me few surprises, there are still a lot of sins there.

And not the least among those sins was the reworking of the old world.

I get that Blizz was trying to improve the flow through the game to the current expansion, facing the problem of levels both with that and by limiting the expansion to just five more.  It was a first, if not very effective, cut at the levels issue.

And I will admit that many of the redone zones are actually better.  They have coherent focus and quests that further the story rather than the sometimes random series of of unrelated tasks that seemed to make up much of the content.

But MMORPG players seem to be an oddly nostalgic lot.  In a game that you don’t pick up, play for a few weeks, or maybe months if it is a particularly excellent game, but play for years, the history matters.  This was part of my “no good expansions” theory of the world, that expansion bring change, even to areas that otherwise remain untouched, which in turn leads to people pining for how things used to be.

In EverQuest many of the original zones have sat untouched for years, looking little different than they did back at launch, and yet Project 1999 is a thing, trying to bring back an original, untainted version of the early game, while purists decry the Daybreak progression servers as they include post-launch changes to the game.  The purists are small in number however, and Daybreak’s nostalgia farming continues to do well.

So I wonder if Blizzard had dialed back their plans a decade back, decided not redo the world, perhaps opting just tune it up to allow flying, tacking on the starter zones for the two new races the same way they did with TBC, and then just focusing on the new zones and dungeons and raids, if we would even be talking about a launch date for something like WoW Classic today?

The strongest argument for WoW Classic is that you cannot simply go back to old zones and see places as they used to be.  There is no was to easily simulate the old days, the way things used to be back at launch, because Blizzard changed it all.  Some zones didn’t get hit too hard, but others were changed drastically.

Once I ran a raceway… now it is under water

In doing that, in removing the easy out option of telling people that the old game still exists if they want to visit places like the Mirage Raceway, did Blizzard set themselves up to eventually have to create something like WoW Classic?

I still feel like MMORPGs are new ground for Blizzard in some ways, even almost 15 years in.  SOE launched it first nostalgia driven progression server a dozen years back when Blizzard was still trying to come to grips with WoW, the game that took over the whole company.

It feels like WoW Classic is them finally discovering yet another facet of the genre that makes it different from their stand alone games of the past, where you released something, maybe did an expansion, released a few patches, then moved on to other things.

MMORPGs are long term commitments.

World of Warcraft 15th Anniversary Collectors Edition Announced

In addition to the WoW Classic launch date being announced there was also a news item about a World of Warcraft 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition.

WoW at Fifteen

While the box won’t be available until early October, you can pre-order it today for $100, because of course you can.  And when I say box, I mean box, as this appears to be focused on physical items.

Things you get

The list of items for the CE are:

  • Ragnaros Statue
    Behold Ragnaros, he who is ancient when this world was young! Bow, mortals, before this 10+ inch immortalization of the Firelord himself.
  • Onyxia Pin
    Add to your pin collection and adorn your home with the head of Onyxia, Broodmother of the Black Dragonflight.
  • Map of Azeroth Mouse Pad
    Gaze upon the realms your character has explored these past 15 years while you prepare for the next adventure.
  • Fine Art Prints
    Reach into Azeroth’s vivid past with eight frameable fine art prints.
  • 30 Days of Game Time
    Extend your stay in Azeroth with 30 days of game time to aid you on your next adventure.
  • Alabaster Mounts
    Take to the skies with these majestic alabaster mounts—living stone tributes to a pair of familiar flying creatures.

    • Alabaster Stormtalon for Alliance characters
    • Alabaster Thunderwing for Horde characters

While I am fond of collector’s editions for WoW (I regret not getting the original one) I am not really big on physical items, save for maybe the sound track.  At my age I am already carrying too much baggage when it comes to little nick nacks and dust collectors, so a ten inch tall Ragnaros doesn’t thrill me.

The mounts… maybe.  I’d prefer battle pets, but mounts are still good.

The Anniversary Mounts

But Blizz has me covered.  If I want just the mounts, they will be available on their own in the Blizzard shop in August.  If you buy them there then buy the CE you will get a $25 credit in the Blizzard store to cover the overlap.

And if you don’t want to spend any money on this, Blizz has plans for in-game anniversary gifts for the 15th anniversary for all subscribers.  We’ll get both a mount and a pet.  Blizz had put up a video of them.

So, in addition to WoW Classic, we have some things to look forward to later this year.

 

WoW Classic Coming August 27th

The announcement has finally hit, we now know the date for WoW Classic.

Classic is as Classic does

I thought that given the spotty reception that the Battle for Azeroth expansion was getting would get Blizzard to reel in the launch closer to June.  But Blizzard will move at its own pace, so late August it is.  One more of my predictions proven wrong.  Two, actually.  Par for the course.

There are, of course, lots of details as to what classic really means.  People have been following the announcements and compiling lists to keep track of what is in and out.  I watch the one in the forums and the one on Reddit when I want to see where things stand.

We know it will be based on WoW version 1.12, which has already made some people scream “That’s not classic classic!” or some such.  There is no way to please everybody on this.

There will also be the six phases of raiding unlocked over time, though we do not have and sort of unlock schedule or plan as yet.

Recently it was announced that your character count on WoW Classic will be separate from your main WoW character count.  If you have used up all 50 character slots in WoW you will still get 50 in WoW Classic, limited to 10 characters per server.

There is also a list of things that were not in classic that will be in WoW Classic.  From the forum post list:

  • The client will not run on 32-bit systems.
  • Accessibility options such as colorblind will be present, though modified to fit Classic.
  • Widescreen monitors are now fully supported.
  • Right-clicking on a player to report them has been enabled.
  • The modern engine no longer permits certain behaviors that could be used to get out of bounds.
  • Battle.net chat will be integrated into Classic.
  • Loot Trading will be introduced to Classic, allowing players to trade Bind on Pickup items to other players who participated in the same kill for up to 2 hours after the loot dropped, and assuming the item was not equipped.

The lack of support for 32-bit surprises me.  Does normal WoW not support 32-bit still?  I don’t get that, but there it is.  The loot trading thing caused a fuss a while back, but it is one of those things that solved a headache for Blizz as people would petition on accidental looting, so this just keeps that being a problem yet again.

And there are, of course, the things Blizz has said will not be in WoW Classic.

  • LFR/LFD
  • Cross realms
  • Races after Vanilla
  • Any content beyond Vanilla (as of right now)
  • Transmog
  • Achievements
  • Progressive itemization

I don’t think any of those are controversial.

I expect that WoW Classic will be a big success at launch and that among the things from classic we will be reliving, server queues will be one of them.

If you cannot wait for August the beta for WoW Classic is launching tomorrow.  You can opt in for it with your account where you opt in for all betas.

Now I am just waiting for the “When do we get The Burning Crusade classic servers?” question to start pouring in.  Oh wait, I think it already has.

Claiming the Pets of Children’s Week

It has been quite a stretch since I have done anything with Children’s Week in WoW.  I cannot even remember when I last did one of the quests, which probably means it has been a few expansions.  But for Battle for Azeroth the added in a new set of quests with a new set of pets, and once I noticed that I was pretty sure I had to give it a look.

While getting all the achievements for Children’s Week is an annoyance with which I haven’t bothered, the actual main quest that earns you a pet generally isn’t all that tough.  As has been the case in the past, the BfA version is a tour of some locations.  Once I found Orphan Matron Westerson it was the same routine as past versions.  Having hit level 120 with my main and done all the story lines and explored all the places… or most of the places, though I may have just forgotten some I visited so long ago at this point… that I was able to run through the quests little orphan Liam doles out easily enough.  And once I returned him to the orphanage the quest line was done and I was able to claim one of the four new battle pets.

I chose one and thought about how it was going to take three more holidays… three more years… to get the rest.  It has been long enough since I did Children’s Week that I think I only had my main in position to do the quests back then, so I collected the pets slowly, over years.

But after Warlords of Draenor and Legion I have a ton of alts… well, at least six… in place and able to run around Kul Tiras.  I just got an alt to level 120 last week.  So I got him out and found that, at some point, I had done the intro quests for BfA.  So I took the portal from the fancy new portal room in Stormwind (Orgrimmar got a better room) and went to the flight master to take the ride over to close by where the orphanage was.  However, the flight master didn’t have anything for me.

When you’re new in town

I could walk to the orphanage, that was just on the other side of town.  But the rest of the locations… well, I could ride there, but it wasn’t going to be as lickety split as having the local flight point.  Then I remembered something I bought from the 7th Legion supply office after I hit exalted with them and was picking up all the things they had on offer.  It was some sort of scouting maps that said something about flight points.  I had clicked on it, but it didn’t do anything for my main, so I wasn’t sure what it might really be for.  But it was bound to account, which meant I could send it to alts.  So I sent it to my druid.

The 7th Legion comes through

And sure enough, after I clicked on that the flight path options expanded greatly.

What you get after you show them your card

That made getting through and running the quest easy enough. My druid hadn’t upgraded his gear, save to buy a weapon at the auction house, since at level 120 the artifact weapon from Legion looked puny compared to green drops available on the auction house, and upgrading just that would keep his ilevel down, avoided the bad half of the difficulty ramp.

So I had two pets.

I got my hunter out.  He was level 112 and had been in Kul Tiras since early on.  He even had a few flight points.  But once I sent him the scouting report he had them all and soon enough I had three of the new pets for Children’s Week.

But at that point I was out of easy answers.  Anybody else would have to go through the intro story to get into BfA which I recall being long and tedious after a while.  Still, I thought I would give it a shot.  I picked my Dranei death knight.  I had started him on the pet battle run to get some levels.  He recalled to Stormwind, picked up a better weapon at the auction house, stopped off at Darkmoon Faire, then went to find Mathias Shaw.

Why yes, I have been to the fair. How did you know?

Fortunately my memory of the intro includes a bunch of the pre-expansion stuff from last summer.  Instead off all that you jump straight to Siege of Lordaeron, skipping past all that tree burning build up.  It is still a group event and you have to queue up for it, but there are enough people still doing it that the queue popped pretty quickly.

Fish Head in Lordaeron

That ran pretty well and did not take as much time to get to Sylvanas as I thought it might.  She got her big monologue and escape and then it was back to Stormwind for discussions and then the task to sail with Jaina Proudmoore to Kul Tiras.  I groaned a little bit at that as, while I enjoyed the whole jail break scenario when it was new, I had done it a couple of times already.  Fortunately Jaina is a good commander and has her troops covered.

Or you can just skip all of that…

There is still a little intro quest, but the fourth stop is the flight master and I was headed there anyway.  I had sent the scouting map to my DK so he was quickly at the orphanage.

Is this were I rent an orphan?

So little Liam rode around with my DK and saw the sights of Kul Tiras.  For the fourth run it was a bit of a whirlwind tour.  I had all the trigger locations set and didn’t hang around for conversations or tours.  Sorry Liam.  But he still seemed as excited at the end.

And you have that battle pet for me, right kid?

And so I ended up with all four of the Kul Tiras Children’s Week battle pets.

All in my leveling queue

Now I am trying to remember if I did claim all the pets for the earlier versions.  It might be time to go check before the event ends tomorrow.

Addendum:

I was missing one pet from the Burning Crusade version of the event.

Legs acquired

That has been taken care of now.

Body Blow to Blizzard Margins

Oddly enough, I had a sense that things were off.  I picked up Candy Crush Saga again… I know, I said I was done there, but another post on that later… a couple months back and noticed over the last few weeks that they had added a ways to earn boosters by watching video ads.  You can get an extra booster every level for watching a video, an extra spin at the booster wheel for watching a video, and so on.

When this showed up my first thought was, “Somebody is looking for a way to boost Q2 earnings.”

And then the Activision Blizzard Q1 2019 financial report showed up yesterday.

You can find all the data they have shared, plus a replay of the analyst call on the investor relations site, but let me just summarize by saying it isn’t pretty, at least for Blizzard.

Overall it wasn’t so bad I guess.  The bottom line exceeded the guidance they gave, and that counts for a lot.  Activision gave us a warning last quarter and laid off 8% of its workforce in anticipation of tighter times.  The over payed executive staff didn’t share any of that pain, but they never do.  It is hard to look bad when you spend money on share buy backs to support the stock price.  From the report:

Two-year $1.5B stock repurchase authorization, started Feb 14, 2019

But expectations were set that things would be slowing down for the company.  On the Activision side of the house you only get one Call of Duty release a year, so you only expect one big quarter a year out of them.  They’ll be back in Q4 with big numbers.

But Blizzard and King, they are the reliable revenue generators, or so it usually goes.

Activision Blizzard Q1 2019 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 10

King looks to about on par.  They are down some from Q4 but are hanging tough on the margins front and align pretty well with Q1 2018.  Down a bit, but not much.

Activision is way off but, again, no Call of Duty release this quarter.  Margins are a bit dicey compared to Q1 2018, though revenue was actually up just a bit.

And then there is Blizzard.

It is tough to compare them against Q1 2018 because they had the Battle for Azeroth pre-order going, which boosted sales.  And, of course, in Q4 the game was still on its Battle for Azeroth high, with some people dumping in some extra cash for the 6 month subscription for an exclusive mount.  Well, it was exclusive.  You can buy it straight up ala carte now in the cash shop.  I suspect, again, something to goose earnings a bit for Q2.

The operating margin for Blizzard though… 16% is abysmal for a software company.  And that is noted as having been offset by “lower costs.”  They laid people off and likely cut back on something.  We might be seeing a reason here why Blizzard isn’t going to Gamescom this summer as well as looking for ways to offset more of the cost of BlizzCon this year with higher prices and special big spender packages.  Conventions like BlizzCon, despite what you might think, are not money makers.  Blizz is just trying to limit the bleed.

And what does this say about Blizzard games?  I see people say regularly that nobody plays WoW now, though that is patently false.  The servers are more lightly loaded, certainly, but things still seem to be buzzing and I run into other players everywhere.  However, those people who bought in on the free mount deal got to skip paying Blizz any money in Q1, having paid for six months up front.  That certainly might have left a hole in the income column.

And the Blizzard MAU for Q1 2019 was 32 million, which is down from 38 million last year, but still pretty high.  And when you have other games, free or non-subscription games, mixed into that number, it is meaningless unless you can get further details.  But clearly fewer people are spending money on Blizzard games.  SuperData was saying that there was burnout on the Hearthstone front and Overwatch has been reported as sagging since last summer.

And what else does Blizzard have?  Diablo III is in its forever seasonal holding pattern.  StarCraft II is kicking around without anything to sell people.  Heroes of the Storm is now a hobby as much as anything, its professional league having be shut down.  It makes me wonder how much Blizzard made via GoG.com with Diablo and Warcraft.

But more damning is perhaps what the presentation said about Blizzard, which wasn’t much at all.  Aside from a mention of the Overwatch League season, the Blizzard was pretty much left out.

But then, what else do they have to talk about on the Blizzard front?

WoW Classic is still out at some unspecified date in the summer.  The only new title on the horizon is Diablo Immortal, the mobile game that got such a bad reception at BlizzCon last year that I have to wonder if Blizzard is sitting on it until they have some other Diablo franchise news to report.  And that is about it.  There will be no announcements and Gamescom and BlizzCon doesn’t hit until November 1, 2019.  If it wasn’t for WoW Classic they would have nothing coming up.

And so it goes.

April in Review

The Site

As is usually the case, my post on April 1st about what Blizzard was up to for April Fools was the traffic peak of the month, and likely the traffic peak for the year, largely driven by Google throwing me a bone and showing me in the search results for related terms.  You can see my Google search stats below.

April 1st is always a spike

That is an enviable click through rate as I understand it.

April second saw an increased level of activity as well as people continued to check in on what Blizzard was up to.  But after that traffic slowed back down to the usual reality of 2019, which is about 500 page views a day.

Even April 1st was down, ringing in at roughly one fifth of the amount of traffic I got on the best April Fools, which was back in 2013.  But I was getting a lot more traffic back in 2013, averaging about 1,500 page views a day.  I am coming to the point of view, looking at old traffic and search terms, that writing about Pokemon was the secret to traffic.  Writing about WoW isn’t bad, and all the better if you have a rant about the game as shaking your angry fist at Blizzard still gets people stirred up, but Azeroth can’t really hold a candle to Pokemon.

Hell, even with April Fools the month of April barely had more page views than March, even accounting for one less day.  Maybe writing about EverQuest trumps WoW as well.  There is certainly a lot less competition on that front.

One Year Ago

April Fools at Blizzard was mostly about World of Warcraft.

Having unlocked the four allied races available with the Battle for Azeroth pre-order, I was set to take a break from Azeroth until the per-expansion events started.  The August 14th launch date had been announced.

Ultima Online‘s Publish 99 introduced a free to play option.

Speaking of things Lord British has touched, I also played some Shroud of the Avatar and then tried to figure out who it was really targeting.  That I uninstalled it later probably meant I wasn’t on that list.  I have not gone back to it since.

Pokemon Go got field research as a new activity.

On Rift Prime I was in Stonefield.  There was also a problem with claiming mounts.

There were two Kickstarter campaigns of note, one for Empires of EVE Vol. II and the other for the CIA agent training card game.  I backed them both.

For EVE Online Fanfest was on in Iceland, where the keynote announced the coming Into the Abyss expansion and the Triglavian menace.  There was a lot of other news and tidbits out of the event, which I tried to sum up on the following Monday.  CCP also got recognized by Guinness for the Million Dollar Battle.

Actually in game, we were busy up in Fade and Pure Blind, such that I am going to just list out all those posts as bullet points:

Good times in space.

But, in the end, the most bizarre moment of the month was probably when Daybreak, asked if Russian sanctions might affect them, went straight to declaring that they have never been owned by Columbus Nova, despite having told us they were for owned by them since the acquisition from Sony.  Then they went on to try and gaslight the internet (always a recipe for success) including editing their own Wikipedia page to remove all mention of Columbus Nova, then issued more statements, and then had a round of layoffs, all of which just succeeded in bringing more attention to their absurd situation, to the point that I had to write a summary post just to keep track what the hell was going on.

All of which could have been avoided if Daybreak had just said, “No, sanctions will not affect us.”  A warning to PR professionals everywhere.

That kind of took the air out of the announcement that the Angarr server on EverQuest had reached the Planes of Power expansion.

Five Years Ago

Spacewar! for the PDP-1 was up via emulation on the internet archive.

The Elder Scrolls Online launched, hitting its planned April 4th date.  I did not play.

I was diving in to Pokemon X & Y, having returned to Pokemon at last.

The strategy group played a game of Civilization V that ended with a win via nuclear terror.

The Kickstarter campaign for the book A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online kicked off.  We were also watching Pantheon: Rise of the Something was splutter along after failing its Kickstarter campaign.

In EVE Online proper there was Burn Jita 3, which seemed like less of a thing the third time out.  There was a video.  Then there was the CSM9 vote.  At least there were only 36 candidates on the ballot.

In null sec we were shooting Black Legion things, because that is what we did in the CFC.  I was just happy to be using lasers, those skills having been trained up amongst my 120 million skill points.  There were also some posts about being space famous and an attempt at in-game blackmail.

But on the broader CCP front, World of Darkness was officially cancelled.

On the iPad I was playing Hearthstone and QuizUp… for about a week.

Turbine announced that Beornings were coming to Lord of the Rings Online.

SOE gave me a key for seven days of Landmark, so I went and tried it out.  SOE also announced H1Z1 and began their love affair with Reddit and got their new All Access plan running.  While on the old school front, Dave Georgeson said SOE never plans to shut down EverQuest.

Warlords of Draenor was still a long ways away.  But Blizzard was doing well on other fronts.  The instance group finished up Zul’gurub.  And there was the usual April Fools stuff.

Ten Years Ago

Dave Arneson passed away.  He was, with Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, that so-influential gaming system that has shaped how we view fantasy swords and sorcery games for over 30 years now.  There would be no World of Warcraft as it is today without Dungeons & Dragons.

We also saw the launch of SOE’s Free Realms, which stuttered a bit on day one.  Soon though they had millions of people signed up for the game, but since it was free to play, not a common thing at the time, that was no indication of revenue.  My daughter tried to sign up four times, so that was at least four out of the millions.  SOE was advertising the game heavily on Cartoon Network.  But FR did not run on MacOS, and my daughter was running on an iMac at the time.  I knew she has signed up because her email used to get routed to me.

In EVE Online I was mulling over the Apocrypha expansion and configuring up a Cerebus to try out as a mission runner.  I was also doing invention to make tech II missiles, which meant data cores and research agents and such, and pondering the idea that maybe using your skills should increase your skill points or something.

As usual, there was much ado about World of Warcraft.

I was sniggering like a pre-teen about Cornhole.  Also, there was something about Honest Scrap that was a meme, back when memes weren’t just pop culture references.

I was looking back on two years of the Wii and the games we played on it.

On the TV we were apparently watching Castle and Dollhouse.

And then there were new comers as we brought home two wee kittens.

Fifteen Years Ago

City of Heroes launched in the US.  Closed down by NCsoft in 2012, the game has been much in the news this month past month regarding emulators and such.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2019 is Pretty Much No Fools
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  4. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  5. April Fools at Blizzard 2018 is Mostly Just World of Warcraft
  6. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  7. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  8. WoW Dance Battle System!
  9. Visiting the Katia Sae Monument
  10. Brisc Ban Nightmare Scenario
  11. A Handy Guide to Criticizing Games You Do Not Like
  12. Brisc Rubal Exonerated

Search Terms of the Month

does tetris get faster
[Ladies and gentleman, somebody who has never played Tetris!]

is fortnite popular still
[Fortnite is popular still]

orcs gay game pc download
[Not willing to play a gay orc online game?]

“everquest 3”
[You are well advised to put that in quotes]

what did brisc rubal do
[Won in the end]

лего хогвартс
[Google says that is Russian for “LEGO Hogwarts”]

Game Time from ManicTime

There are a lot fewer games on the list this month.  March had ten games on the list, while April has just four.  And I didn’t leave any off just because they had a tiny percentage.  I appear to have played just these four on my computer.

  • World of Warcraft 72.52%
  • EVE Online 15.21%
  • Minecraft 9.78%
  • EverQuest 2.49%

The total hours played was down a bit, but not by much.  I just played a lot of WoW in April.

EVE Online

The low key conflict in the east against Pandemic Horde, NCDot, and the rental areas of both carries on.  I did not spend as much time on ops as I did last month… some nights you cannot just jump in not knowing if an op will last 30 minutes or 3 hours… but I did get in and play.  I got my PAP links and on a couple of kill mails to prove I am still alive.

And, of course, there was the whole CSM13 drama where Brisc Rubal and two other players were banned in a very public way only to have CCP roll back the whole thing based on further investigation.  This was all apparently because somebody thought it was odd that somebody else was selling their Molok titan and felt the need to report it.

EverQuest

After the big 20th anniversary Norrath nostalgia binge that was March, EverQuest fell a bit by the wayside.  I logged in a few times, as the anniversary experience bonus carried on into April a bit, and was revived for Easter weekend, but otherwise there wasn’t much to report there.  I suspect EQ will not make the list for May.

Minecraft

This came up because we got the Village and Pillage update which added a bunch of new stuff to the game.  My daughter helped hype this up a bit in our house, as a group of her friends have a server.  That got me going on figuring out the new stuff and exploring yet again.

Pokemon Go

We had a reasonably good month of Pokemon Go at our house.  My wife and I being on the same team now helps.  Thanks to the luck of simply being at the right place at the right time we even managed to participate in a few level 5 raids.  That was exciting.  However, I wasn’t aware how hard actually catching the legendary Pokemon after those raids can be.  I threw a stream of Golden Razz Berries to try and help, but did not catch a single one.  Ah well.

Level: 36 (+0)
Pokedex status: 410 (+9) caught, 441 (+10) seen
Pokemon I want: Meltan, but I still have to catch a damn Aerodactyl to get one
Current buddy: Luxio

World of Warcraft

I guess if you wanted to summarize my April play time, you could just say I played WoW.  I got in with Darkmoon Faire, then hit the pet battle bonus week, and then there was the WoW 8.2 Rise of Azshara preview that got me on board to unlock flying and there we go.  Also, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was big on pet battles.  I did potter around a bit with at least one allied race alt.  My Highmountain Tauren is now in his low 30s.  But he started at level 20 and the prospect of getting him up to level 120 currently fills me with boredom.

Coming Up

EVE Online will turn 16, so there will be the usual gifts and giveaways and such.  There was also some speculation that we might get the named expansion in May, but now that seems like it might come in June.

Around mid-month we should get the Q1 2019 quarterly results for Activision Blizzard.  We shall see if it brings good news, and if good news means laying more people off.

In WoW we will probably hear more about the Rise of Azshara update.  I suspect they will have the achievement unlock requirements for flying set.  But the speculation is that it won’t release until June or even July.

I will carry on some with pet battles… on a new alt… and getting my rep up to exalted on my main.  Maybe I will actually bring an alt into BFA.  Probably my hunter.

LOTRO… I sort of fell off the wagon when it came to LOTRO.  I got into the Mines of Moria on the legendary server and actually made my way through the first couple of areas.  Then all those other games I played in March sprang up, so I never made it back.  I think I missed the 12 year anniversary in April.  Oh well.  Maybe I will make in back in May.

My First WoW Alt to 120

I finally have an alt up to level 120 in World of Warcraft.  120 was the level cap introduced with the Battle for Azeroth expansion.  That expansion launched over seven months ago, so this isn’t anything like a brag.

The moment – who can tell me where I am?

In a way, it is something of the opposite of a brag.  Because the funny thing about my alt, an alliance druid named Alioto, is that he hasn’t been to Kul Tiras or Zandalar yet.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is that while he did go to the Broken Isles in Legion, and has his feral spec artifact weapons, I fell off the wagon there after a couple of levels.  The changes to druids between Warlords of Draenor, where I played him quite a bit, and Legion were enough to put me off the class.  And that didn’t seem to get much better with the coming of BFA.  Still, I might have given it a shot save for the next item.

Second, there is/was/remains the whole bit about how mobs scale up faster in difficulty than you do as your level and ilevel go up.  That was a serious drag with my ret pally main, and I felt pretty good about playing him otherwise, and led to all sorts of angst in the community about levels and what not.  Even I was wondering what the point of levels were if they actively made you feel weaker against the exact same content, and I kind of like levels despite their problems.

I am past that with my pally.  He hit level 120 months ago and has boosted his ilevel past the point of punishment and it is fun again to go out and do world quests and follow the story line.  When the expansion stops punishing you for upgrading things are pretty good, because aside from that I have enjoyed the zone content and the story line.

But I am not keen to dive in with alts quite yet.  I will probably wait until I unlock flying on my account before I dive into that.  And I am certainly not hankering to dive into BFA with alts that are classes that I feel weak playing to start with.  I’d probably be okay with warrior, hunter, or death knight, all of which are ready to go, but my mage, rogue, and druids… those all feel like they would end up being an unhappy slog.

Basically, BFA has made me focus on my main even more than Legion did, and Legion really felt geared to make you focus on a single main to start with, something that was a bit jarring after the alt happy Warlords of Draenor expansion, where I ended up with a bunch of characters at level cap.  And all of this was compounded by the fact that allied races came in with the run up to BFA, so Blizzard was essentially pushing alts by giving you a passel of new level 20s to grind up, while delivering an expansion that made leveling up alts feel like a chore.

Is it any wonder that Blizzard is fretting about levels and talking about crazy things like a level squish?  In hindsight they seem to have set themselves up for trouble.

All of which is part of the public debate about WoW, but leaves out how my druid managed to get to level cap.

He got there via pet battles.

And not just any pet battles, but the battles against grand master pet tamer NPCs in the Warlords of Draenor and Mists of Panaria.

Due to the quirks of the way pet battles have evolved over time, the easiest way to level up your battle pets is to run through some daily NPC pet battles in those two expansions.

I have been over how I can run a level 1 battle pet up to level 25 daily without a lot of effort.  With the right set of teams it is not a big deal, save for the occasional bad luck with the RNG. (I still highly recommend the addon Rematch for managing your pet leveling queue and teams.)

The side effect of running these pet battles, which are all in areas where the level cap was lower so they are pretty safe to travel through even if you haven’t unlocked flying, and completely safe if you have, is that they also yield experience for your character.  They are all daily quests, but due to the fact they are pet battles, they scale up with your level, handing you a solid at level quest worth exp with each one.

Seriously, from where ever through to level cap each battle gave my druid nearly 4% of a level of experience. With Legion, and carried on with BFA, the master trainers became world quests, which means you need to unlock access to them and can only battle them when they are up in rotation.

While there is a limit to the number you can do on a given day… you can only battle each master trainer once… doing enough to level a pet up to 25 each day gets you a good chunk of a level.

In fact, I think the master pet trainer daily quests in all of the content up through Warlords of Draenor do the same, and there are a lot of them.  There is even an achievement for doing them all in a single day, which I will do some day (with an alt well shy of the level cap).  I haven’t done it yet because, for me at least, pet battles are best done in small doses lest they become tedious.

Anyway, there is a way to level up an alt.  I’ll probably start in with another character… probably my mage, which is the level 110 alt I am least likely to ever play… and carry on with the pet battle dailies.

Addendum: I am not the only one on about mob scaling in BFA today.