Tag Archives: Mists of Pandaria

WoW Battle for Azeroth Sales Stacked Up Against Past Releases

Fortunately I did some of the groundwork for this post back with the WoW Legion release.

It is here and it is selling

Blizzard announced today that the Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft, which went live around the world on August 13th and 14th, sold more than 3.4 million copies.  From the press release itself:

Heroes everywhere turned out in force, and Blizzard Entertainment today announced that as of Battle for Azeroth’s first full day of launch on August 14, more than 3.4 million units of the latest World of Warcraft®expansion had sold through worldwide—setting a new day-one sales record for the franchise and making it one of the fastest-selling PC games of all-time.*

I was a little worried about that asterisk at the end, but that just points to this:

Sales and/or downloads, based on internal company records and reports from key distribution partners.

So nothing dramatic there, just a clarification without much information.

To put that number in perspective here is how it shakes out relative to past launches:

  • Battle for Azeroth – 3.4 million
  • WoW Legion – 3.3 million
  • Warlords of Draenor – 3.3 million
  • Mists of Pandaria – 2.7 million (first week)
  • Cataclysm – 3.3 million
  • Wrath of the Lich King – 2.8 million
  • The Burning Crusade – 2.4 million
  • World of Warcraft – 240,000

That bodes well for the expansion.

Of course, you have to have some perspective when looking at that list.  Back in 2004 people had to go buy a physical box to play World of Warcraft and it has only been over the years that the process has become mostly a digital download experience.  But back then even that 240K number set a record for single day sales.  That number could have been bigger, but they effectively ran out of copies.  At BlizzCon they told the tale of the truck load of collector’s editions meant for employees being diverted to the retail channel because the game had sold out.  And that was US sales only, as it didn’t expand to the rest of the world until later.

The Burning Crusade number is probably the most impressive on the list, since it is made up of people who went out to a store and bought a physical copy on day one.  I went down to Fry’s on launch day… not at midnight for the launch party event… that used to be a thing back in the day… but closer to noon, to find pallets of the expansion out in the front of the store.  Blizzard was not going to run short like they did with the initial launch.  The cashier told me that people had been lined up outside the store for a copy earlier, so it was a pretty big deal.

I think the last time I went to the store to buy an expansion was for Wrath of the Lich King.  It has either been digital or Amazon discounted pre-orders since then.  WotLK was also a big seller considering how much of it was physical boxes.

And then there is Mists of Pandaria in the middle there, which they extended out to the first week of sales because it had to fight against both the sense of betrayal that some felt after Cataclysm and the lightweight perception that people had about it because it featured Pokemon-like pet battles and pandas as a race.  It turned out to be a fine expansion, but it had some work to do to overcome that.  I didn’t buy a copy until almost a year after it launched.

Anyway, the 3.4 million number is impressive, though the there ought to be an asterisk after it as well to remind people that the number includes all pre-launch digital sales.  You’ve been able to buy a copy of Battle for Azeroth since late January, so they have had a lot of time to pack in the sales, making the “fastest selling” claim a bit dubious.  (I am pretty sure that title really belongs to The Burning Crusade.)

But there were reasons to buy the expansion early, aside from the usual max level character boost (and mounts and pets if you bought the digital deluxe version).

There were four allied races to unlock (for which we received four more character slots per server) and level up, with special transmog gear if you hit level cap with them.  So, as a “giving people something to do” option it had some additional pull relative to past expansions.  And even that was only worth an additional 100,000 sales I guess.

The real number we’d all like to know, how many people are actually subscribed to World of Warcraft, remains hidden.  Once a staple of the Acitivision-Blizzard quarterly reports, they have kept it hidden since the dark days of late Draenor, when the number dropped to 2006 levels.  I suspect that if the subscriber base passed 13 million they would issue a press release, but the days of being able to track that quarter by quarter… or even pick out WoW‘s revenue from the financial statements… are long gone.  The irony of being a public company; they are required to report important data, but they get to decide what is important.

We will see how Battle for Azeroth does in the longer term.  A lot of people are very happy with the open world story and quest lines and the look of things in general.  But there is still the whole question of Sylvanas, a story line that upset some people in the pre-launch events. (#notmyhorde) And then there are the recycled bits from WoW Legion that pop up pretty quickly.  Those aren’t bad, but they aren’t new either.  Blizzard has had time to learn how to keep people engaged with an expansion.  They did well enough with WoW Legion, even if they did open up the Battle for Azeroth pre-orders seven months before it was done.  They will get to show us what else they have learned I suppose.

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.

Pet Battle Level Fest

I was going to just write a post about my daily pet leveling routine.  I start with a level 1 pet, because I seem to have a huge number of level 1 pets, and get them up to level 25 in a little less than 20 minutes, collecting some gold and experience along the way.

I guess that every pet you get through a quest reward or a drop or other method other than catching them is level 1.

The idea here was to have an easy daily task that would level up a pet and have some side benefits.  Having half a dozen level 100+ characters helped here, because to do this you need access to Draenor.  Also it helps to have the Safari Hat toy, which gives you a 10% boost to pet experience from battles.

I take one of my not-yet-level-110 alts and start them off in their Draenor garrison which, on the alliance side, happens to be very close to the first destination, the trainer Ashlei in Shadowmoon Valley.  Ashlei’s lineup is good because it includes an Elekk plushie, which has no attacks, so it is safe to bring in a level 1 pet into the fight.

Facing Ashlei with my Tauren, Safari Hat on!

With the Safari Hat on and a lesser pet treat consumed (25% bonus) the fight will boost a pet up to level 12 or 13, which is enough to make that pet safe to be swapped in on the other fights they will face.  There are plenty of viable, never fail teams for this fight.  I happen to use Grunty and Deathy, two BlizzCon reward pets, but those are hardly a requirement.  Just swap in your level 1 when only the Elekk Plushie is left on Ashlei’s team, stay a round, and they swap back to another pet to finish it off.

That’s the thing, a pet has to survive a full round in battle to get credit and experience.

From there I fly off to the the Spires of Aarak to face Vesharr.  I used to be on the hairy edge with this fight, where a couple of crits would cause me to lose, but have since found a safe team with Chromius and the Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling that works.  This fight can pump the leveling pet up to as much as 19 with the treat active.

From there I head to Talador and the trainer Tarelune for the third fight.  My team here isn’t optimal, featuring Rascal Bot and a Nether Faerie Dragon, but mostly works and, even when it fails, it comes close enough, and the leveling pet is high enough level by this point, that I can still finish it off and get the experience.

After Taralune I use my Dalaran hearth stone and from there use the portal to Pandaria.  There is a stable master right there after you use the portal to heal up pets, after which I fly out to Aki the Chosen, one of those fights where the Anubisath Idol makes all the difference.

Anubisath Idol up front in Pandaria, Safari Hat on!

After that fight, if I have a treat up, the pet I am carrying is well into level 24.  In order to get the maximum use out of the treat, which lasts for one hour, I recall back to my garrison and log off, having used less than 20 minutes of the treat’s time and saving the remainder for the next day.

I have a pile of those treats, but I like to conserve them because there is some effort to earn them.  I can used another character out in the world to get that last level, or just throw a one of the leveling tokens at it if I have one handy.  Either way, another pet to level 25.

If I did not have a treat up I will fly off to the Burning Pandaren Spirit in the Townlong Steppes for one more fight.  The spirit’s team can be taken by a snail or whelk, you just have to swap in the level pet at the right time.  Once the fight is done it will be level 24.

Taking on the burning Pandarian Spirit with snails

Each fight rewards gold, the last two also add in a bag of random items, and experience for the character who you’re using.  The experience is good enough that my rogue went from about 103 to 110 on it, when I then started using a level 100 mage, who is well on his way to 110 now too.

I could do more.  With some additional effort I could probably level up a second and even a third pet every day.  But the plan was to keep it from becoming a grind, and just four or five battles a day is easy and leaves me time to do other things.

Unless there is a pet battle event.

Last Tuesday after patch 7.3.5 hit I came home, interested in that, but started off doing my usual pet thing, only to find that my level 1 pet jumped to level 19, with only the Safari Hat giving any experience boost, after the first fight.  It was only then that I noticed that the week’s special was a 200% boost to pet battle experience.

Oh yeah, that helps

That seemed like an opportunity.  I wasn’t keen to burn myself out on pet battles, but I started looking up leveling pet strategies for the other NPC trainers in Draenor and Pandaria determined to not let this go to waste.  So rather than my usual 20 minutes or so I spent most of my play time working on pet battles.

Or at least as much time as I could stand.  I happened to have updated my standings over at Warcraft Pets just before the event, so I had a baseline of where I started.

Stats before the event

That showed me with 248 pets at level 25.  After six days of the event I had Warcraft Pets import my latest standings and found that I had leveled 61 pets up to 25.

Stats as of Monday morning

Again, I probably could have done more but I have a sense of how much I can really binge on something like this before burn-out becomes a possibility.  And I still have this evening to run through the trainers one more time.  I should probably use the last day to boost up as many level 1 pets as I can, as once they have a few levels the options for raising them further safely are greater.

Meanwhile, because pet battle yield experience, gold, items, and even faction in some cases, I had a number of other achievements pop up including hitting exalted with one of the WoW Legion factions I was still working on.

Exalted with the Nightfallen now

Of course, one of the things that made this all viable for me is the Rematch addon I wrote about previously.  Not only does it let you setup teams, but you can also create a queue of pets you want to level up and allows you to create teams with a placeholder that it will automatically fill with the pet at the top of the queue.  I still have to juggle the queue sometimes to make sure I have a pet appropriate to the battle I am facing (no level 1 pets for the Mana Trap battle above, as one of the foes has an attack that hits your back line pets as well) but otherwise it helps me keep things going quickly without a lot of fuss.

So I made some progress on leveling up.  I still haven’t found time to return to the Celestial Tournament in Pandaria, but I now have a big enough field of level 25 battle pets that I ought to be able to take it on successfully.

Pet Battles – Beyond Catching Them All

When Pet Battles were announced as a feature of the Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft I was a skeptical.  Pets had been a thing forever in Azeroth, if a bit rare.  I remember getting that worg pup and a spider back in vanilla WoW, but they were akin to mounts back then in that they took up bag space and didn’t do much when brought out aside from follow you around… though that was enough at times.

Children’s Week brought along some more pets to show off, first in Azeroth then the Outland version.  Things evolved, pets and mounts became manageable through a different interface, ceased to take up an inventory slot per pet, and became cross-wide items.  I collected some along the way, including a few from BlizzCon Virtual Tickets, because I tend to be a collector and also because achievements began to show up for them.

Grunty from BlizzCon 2009

Still, as a Pokemon player I was dubious about Blizzard attempting to graft something akin to Pokemon game play onto WoW.  When I did finally pick up Mists of Pandaria during its second year, I treated pet battles as more of a collection game than anything else.  I picked up pets opportunistically as they appears, tried my hand against a few of the NPC pet masters, but generally treated it as very much a secondary or tertiary activity.

It wasn’t until Warlords of Draenor and the need to defeat some bigger pets in order to unlock the menagerie in the garrison that I started to consider doing more than level up a few pets for a catching group.  Then I started building something of a pet army, enabled by the Pet Battle Teams addon.

At that point I built up teams to defeat the pet battle masters throughout the game as well as the daily garrison challenge.  I leveled up pets and collected the badges to buy stones to upgrade their quality, but I never quite got around to the Celestial Tournament, the big pet battle event on Timeless Isle in Pandaria.

Before I got to that I burned out on Warlords of Draenor and garrisons and did not return until WoW Legion was looming.  At that point I was more about getting flying in Draenor then the pre-launch events for WoW Legion and then the opening of the expansion itself, during which time battle pets were not a priority.  After my initial run to 110 in WoW Legion I tired and took another break.  It was only with my return late last year, after switching to the Rematch addon for pet battles, that I was back in the saddle.

The main Rematch UI

But I still wasn’t up for the Celestial Tournament.

The Celestial Tournament is a series of seven battles against a couple sets of possible foes, three battle masters and four epic pets, during which you cannot heal or revive any of your own pets.  It your Pokemon faints battle pet passes out they are out and if you need that battle pet again you had better have a dupe.

While I have read that you can do the Celestial Tournament with as few as 18 level 25 pets, they do have to be the right pets.  I was able to put together teams from my 500 pets to take out the initial three masters, but the four epic pets would thwarts me every time.  Looking at guides, I discovered that I lacked most of the recommended pets for these battles.  So my goal became hunting those down and then leveling them up.

A few possible contenders, like the Iron Starlette, I had but just needed to level up.  Some candidates were fairly easy to find.  I stumbled upon an Unborn Val’kyr on my first attempt to find one, and bagged a pair of Emerald Proto-Whelps along the way.  Others took a bit more time.  I had to run through Ahn’Qiraj about a dozen times before I managed to get the Anubisath Idol pet as a drop.

Anubisath Idol up front in Pandaria

I also came up with a daily leveling routine that would take a level 1 battle pet all the way up to level 25 in five fights, which I will post about later.

In the mean time I took on the Wailing Caverns and Deadmines pet battle dungeons.  Those are somewhat easier events based on the Celestial Tournament model, where you battle a series of challenges in the dungeon environment but cannot heal or revive your pets.  Doing Wailing Caverns has a chance to award pets when you finish, while the Deadmines awards you tokens that you can use to buy one of three pets.

At the Mining Monkey in the Deadmines

Then one evening as I was killing the same mobs over and over on the Isle of Giants in Pandaria looking for one of the Zandalari pet drops, I decided that maybe I ought to go check out the auction house.  Most pets you catch can’t be traded, but some you get through other means can be caged and handed off or listed at the auction house.

A visit to the auction house and 50,000 gold later and I had filled most of the gaps in my potential Celestial Tournament line up.  (Remember when that was a lot of money?)  I wasn’t aware that quite so many pets were tradeable.  Granted, they were all level 1, so I had some leveling up work to do, and a few need to be boosted to rare quality, but I had a clear path forward.

And then, when adding those pets to my collection I crossed the 600 pet mark, which gets you an achievement and another pet.

Stormwing is the reward pet

Meanwhile, I stumbled across another achievement reward out in the Broken Isles when I did the 30th unique world quest pet battle.  That gives you a token to up your battle pet storage.

Space for 1500 pets

I was actually starting to wonder about storage.  The initial limit was 1,000 pets and, while there are only currently 946 pets you can get (Warcraft pets says that number is 917, with 960 total, so take your pick) you can have dupes.  You can catch up to three of any pet… and I have dupes of some of my more useful ones… plus any pets that pre-dated Mists of Pandaria you got one for every character that had it, which is how I ended up with five Creepy Crates in my collection.  So my total was edging up towards 800.  But now I have more breathing room on that front.

At this point I think I have all my Celestial Tournament pets at 25 and boosted to rare quality, so I plan to give that a serious run this weekend.

And collecting… that keeps on going.  My count is currently at 614 unique pets and I have a bunch I can still get if I work at it.  I’ll never get to the full 946 though.

Recount collection stats

That count includes pets that came with collector’s editions of the game and, while you can find a collector’s edition of the 2004 release of WoW still, the price is way too steep for me.

Picking My Favorite WoW Expansion by Reputation

There is always a desire to rate and rank things, to quantify things down to a simple calculation.  Sure, you wrote a nice 2,500 review of that game, but how many stars did you give it?  What is the Meta Critic score.

And I am not immune to such things.  I can ramble on for hundreds of words about something, how I feel about it, what I liked and what bothered me, but sometimes I’d like a nice objective measure of my real reaction.

Which brings us to World of Warcraft expansions.  I had this idea rolling around in my head and then Syp moved me to action by essentially praising what I found to be one of the worst aspects of the first WoW expansion, The Burning Crusade.

Looking out from the Portal

I find expansions problematic in general.  They must change the game and, in doing so, alienate some segment of the game’s population.  They seek to extend the support of the fan base yet risk driving it away because every horrible feature, no matter how seemingly universally reviled, is somebody’s favorite.  So when an expansion makes something better it inevitably wrecks the game for somebody.

I’ve long said, only semi-sarcastically, that EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark was the only “good” expansion, mostly because it expanded Norrath without changing it too much.

And yet I am always at least somewhat enthusiastic for expansions, so I am even at war with myself over the idea.

Anyway, my gut ranking of WoW expansions has generally been:

  1. Wrath of the Lich King
  2. The Burning Crusade
  3. Mists of Pandaria
  4. Warlords of Draenor
  5. Cataclysm

Vanilla can’t really be ranked in that list, it is more of a baseline, and WoW Legion is still active and I am still playing it, so the jury remains out.

But I do wonder how much of an effect distance in time has on that ranking.  If it wasn’t for a peeve of mine about quests in TBC it might actually contend for first spot.  I mean, I loved the dungeons, there were plenty of them and, at the time, that was more important than a lot of other things.

So I started fishing around for a way to quantify my activities in each expansion.  Ideally I would be able to extract something like total play time or number of quests or number of dailies or number of dungeons run while each was the current live expansion.

I stopped for a bit at measuring the number of characters who hit the level cap during the expansion, that being at least theoretically being a measure of how much I enjoyed playing in an expansion, but discarded it when the list turned out like this:

  1. Warlords of Draenor – 7
  2. Mists of Pandaria- 3
  3. Cataclysm – 3
  4. Wrath of the Lich King – 2
  5. The Burning Crusade – 2

Hanging with Khadgar and Thrall in Draenor

This is more a measure of how easy it was to level up rather than an indicator of enjoyment.  Plus, WoD started the trend of giving players a level boost and ended on the pre-launch event for WoW Legion where I managed to get two character to max level.

So I fished around some more and settled upon factions.  More specifically, how may factions from a given expansion did I end up getting to exalted status?  It is a decent measure of how long I stuck with a given expansion and it is something I tend to do with a single character.

So I went over to the WoW Armory and looked at Vikund’s standings, took the total number of “main” factions and the number I managed to get to exalted and ranked the expansions based on the percentage, which looked like this:

  1. Mists of Pandaria – 10 of 12 or 83%
  2. Wrath of the Lich King – 8 of 11 or 73%
  3. The Burning Crusade – 6 of 13 or 46%
  4. Warlords of Draenor – 3 of 8 or 38%
  5. Cataclysm – 1 of 4 or 25%

Jumping into Pandaria

Of course, there are problems with that measurement.  To start with, not all expansions have the same, or even comparable, numbers of factions.  And there there is the question as to which factions should really count?  I put “main” in apologetic quotes above for a reason.  I somewhat arbitrarily decided individuals in Mists of Pandaria should not count, nor should the Sholazar Basin factions in Wrath of the Lich King.

If I add those in MoP goes to 63% and WotLK goes to 61%.  Since that keeps the ranking the same I dismissed that for the moment.

Going the other direction, I might argue that the sub-factions of Alliance Vanguard in WotLK ought not to count the same way the Sholazar Basin factions didn’t count, which would give the expansion an 86% score, putting it on top.

And then there is the question of which factions did I get to exalted in one expansion AFTER a later expansion appeared.  Things get ugly for TBC with that, since I did at least three of those factions long after the fact, and even uglier for Cataclysm, which drops to zero.

  1. Wrath of the Lich King – 8 of 11 or 86%
  2. Mists of Pandaria – 10 of 12 or 83%
  3. Warlords of Draenor – 3 of 8 or 38%
  4. The Burning Crusade – 3 of 13 or 23%
  5. Cataclysm – 0 of 4 or 0%

Valiance Keep Harbor

This is the reason I cannot rate Vanilla, I am pretty sure I only had one or two factions to exalted at the most during the reign of the original game, and maybe not even that.  The Argent Tournament in WotLK got me to exalted on most of the main alliance factions  Also, there are a those wacky factions, like the Bloodsail Buccaneers, or raid only factions, like the Brood of Nozdormu, that I was never going to crack.

And this brings in a side issue, which is the expectations set by the previous state of the game.  After Vanilla my expectations for TBC were pretty high.  They were met on the dungeon experience side of things, but were dashed by how Blizz decided questing should be handled.  And don’t get me started on ugly equipment or the introduction of some really dull daily quests.

So my expectations were more modest for WotLK.

Then came Cataclysm, the expansion I spent the least amount of time playing.  That set expectations so low that I punted on Mists of Pandaria until it had been out for a year, then found it to be a really solid expansion.  But with only 5 level boost in the level cap you could get to dailies and follow on items like playing with your farm or doing fishing quest pretty quickly.

That realization, along with the return to TBC vibe that Warlords of Draenor started with and the idea of housing, again set expectations high.  The zones were fine, the dungeons good, but garrisons sucked the life out of things, seemingly having been designed to prove a comment that Blizz made long ago about why they didn’t want housing; they pulled people out of the world into their own little domains.

To add to the list of things that this might measure, I should also consider what I got out of getting various faction standings to their current state.

In WotLK getting to exalted unlocked mounts.  Many mounts.  Likewise, mounts were a motivator in MoP.  I know that the only faction I have at exalted in Cataclysm is there because I wanted that camel mount, while in TBC the Netherwing and the Sha’tari Skyguard specifically to get their mounts.  But in Warlords of Draenor I either didn’t want mounts or they were not there.  I can’t remember.  All I really wanted was to unlock flying, and that

And over the course of all of this the game has changed, the market changed, and we have all changed.  Goofy stuff that my daughter and I used to do, like wander far afield just to find a specific pet, have been replaced with other tasks.  The instance group, with whom I ran though Vanilla, TBC, and WotLK, started to fall apart as the years went by, our lives changed, and our ability to stay up late diminished.

So I have gone from a situation where the dungeon content has been supreme in my mind to being much more interested in solo items with some touristy group things via Dungeon Finder and LFR.  That means my rankings are flawed in an even more esoteric fashion.

So TBC and WotLK were good at dungeons when that was important to me while Cataclysm was not, while MoP was very good for solo when that was important to me while WoD wasn’t quite there.  But WotLK was also very good for solo for me once the group tired, while the TBC solo content didn’t hold me very well once the group was done with dungeons.

So maybe, in my own little world, I can admit that WotLK was a good expansion and put it alongside Ruins of Kunark.

Basically, 1,500 words in, I think I have decided that I have wholeheartedly liked two MMO expansions, but I don’t expect you to agree with me.

Resumed Pet Battle Campaign

On coming back to World of Warcraft I was a bit bemused to find that one of my key pet battle addons, Pet Battle Teams, appeared to have broken again.  I had run into problems with it before, when Blizz changed the name of the pets window in the game, so I checked on that.  But that did not appear to be the problem.  So I setup my base catching team, the Terrible Turnip, Grunty, and Deathy, and continued to catch pets in the Broken Isles while I tried to get the addon straightened out.

Grunty in Action, Turnip Face Down

Grunty and Deathy are BlizzCon rewards and are two of my favorite pets.  They are unique and a bit OP and work very well for a lot of my general needs.  Grunty was the first battle pet of mine that hit level 25.

I tinkered with Pet Battle Teams some more, tried uninstalling and re-installing the addon, and eventually removed all data and started from scratch.

That last bit appeared to do the trick.  Somewhere along the line my team data went out of date and when I came back to the latest version of the addon.  That was a shame, as I had already set up teams to handle many of the trainers and challenges in the game.  The problem I have with managing my pets is that with over 600 of them in my collection, including duplicates, finding the right pet for the right battle can be a challenge on its own.  I like to have some set up for specific battles and other set up for opposing different pet types, like aquatic or flying.  That at least puts a few of what I am often looking for quickly to hand.

My Pet Window with the Teams Addon

Of course, I should be working on flying in WoW Legion.  But if I spend all my time doing that it will start to feel like a grind, so I do a bit of that every day, the look into other things.

And with pet battles I actually have a lot of options.  I have a bunch of nice pets I want to level up.  I have the collections for various areas to finish.  And then there is Pandaria.

Pet battles came in with the Mists of Pandaria expansion, but that was the expansion I did not play at launch.  Because of that, when I did finally join in on the expansion… and it turned out to be one of my favorites… I was way behind the curve when it came to pets.  I had a bunch of pets, but they were all level 1.  So I wasn’t going to be challenging the master trainers in Pandaria.

So, for me, pet battles really started in earnest with Warlords of Draenor.  I had to work to build up a team to unlock the menagerie in my garrison.  While I have a number of negative comments about garrisons in Draenor, the menagerie was not something I would knock.

The menagerie became the cornerstone of my pet battle experience.  Between that and Trainer Ashlei I was able to level up and improve my collection dramatically.  As I wrote back in early 2015, my pet battle enthusiasm had been unleashed.

Now, running around the Broken Isles doing world quests, I was finding that pet battles were on the list of options.  In building up teams for that I started to realize that I had a something of a collection going.  Checking my stats over at Warcraft Pets, I saw I had well over 100 max level pets.  So I decided I might be ready to go back to Pandaria to face some of the trainer challenges there.

I may have binged on it a bit.  After a rough start I managed to get in the two beginning challenges for trainers there, racking up a number of achievements along the way.

Pandaria Pet Battle Achievements

Getting those required some research.  WoW Head has posts with basic information about each fight, which is a start.  It is the comments where the real meat comes in about the sorts of teams that might be successful.  However, it isn’t just copy the team and go at it… mostly because I almost never have the battle pets suggested.

Literally I think all of my pet battle problems would be solved if only I had the Anubisath Idol pet, as it seems to feature heavily in successful teams.  However, I don’t have him or a number of other favorites.  So I looked at what had been successful to see if I can use those ideas with pets I actually have.

A team that didn’t quite work…

I got a few on the first try, but most took a couple of runs to come to victory.  Eventually I ended up at my last fight.

This time I have you

Success there led me back to the quest giver.  That both yielded a reward, a new pet, of course.

I went for the Earthen spirit

That also opened up daily versions of the quests in order to get the pets I didn’t choose.  So I have more battles ahead of me.

In addition, I still have a lot more pets to catch.  In some places just one pet awaits me, like the one I am missing in Northrend.

It only spawns when it is snowing in the zone…

In other areas I have to get there at the right time.  And then there are the raiding with leashes pets.  I have a couple of those, but there is a list still waiting for me, including the aforementioned Anubisath Idol.  So much left to do… enough to keep me busy for a while I imagine.

WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches

Today, Blizzard announced that players have forged a truly formidable defensive front—as of the expansion’s first full day of launch on August 30, more than 3.3 million copies of Legion had sold through, matching the all-time record achieved by previous expansions and making it one of the fastest-selling PC games ever. In addition, World of Warcraft’s launch-week player concurrency climbed to its highest point since the 2010 launch of the Cataclysm expansion…

Blizzard press release, September 8, 2016

WoW Legion launched, which almost requires that there be some celebratory press release in which Blizzard referred to itself in the third person.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

WoW Legion has been up for a week now

My guess is that they had that press release ready to go for a bit now, as they didn’t even bother to fill in the date before they posted it.  I imagine they will fix that before the day is out, so here it is a screen shot for the record.

Roman numerals maybe?

Roman numerals maybe?

So we got some numbers.  Blizzard kept to its promise not to mention subscription numbers ever again, so they had to make due with vague claims about concurrency. (No numbers = vague in my book)

The number we did get was 3.3 million copies sold in the first 24 hours. (Yes, they said “more than 3.3 million” in the press release, but if it had been 3.4 million they would have run with that number, so it is likely 3.3 million and change.)  As usual, with any number standing alone, I start looking for context.  Fortunately, the internet provides context if you look for it.  The first day sales track record looks like this:

  • WoW Legion – 3.3 million
  • Warlords of Draenor – 3.3 million
  • Mists of Pandaria – 2.7 million (first week)
  • Cataclysm – 3.3 million
  • Wrath of the Lich King – 2.8 million
  • Burning Crusade – 2.4 million
  • World of Warcraft – 240,000

So, for first day sales, WoW Legion ranks with… I don’t want to say “the best,” since its peers at that level are not my favorite expansions… past top sellers.

Warlords of Draenor did just as well according to the Blizzard press release from its launch, which included a mention of exceeding 10 million subscribers, a mark that would soon drop precipitously.

Mists of Pandaria, which in hindsight was a pretty good expansion, maybe my second favorite, and which held on to the player base admirably compare to WoD, had to go a full week to get to 2.7 million sales, which put it below every expansion save Burning Crusade.  The pleading for a new expansion towards the end of Mists of Pandaria now seem almost quaint given the mass exodus from the game that came with WoD.

Then there was Cataclysm, which I am going to say was probably the first point when digital sales made up a significant portion of the first day sales, setting a record as yet unbeaten, with 3.3 million sales.  There were some good things in that expansion, but the destruction of the old world still stings.

Then Wrath of the Lich King and Burning Crusade check in at 2.8 and 2.4 million units sold on the first day.  That was back when Fry’s was open at midnight to sell you a copy and they had pallets of boxes out on the sales floor.  That was the era of growth, which Cataclysm put paid to.

And finally, just for completeness, there was World of Warcraft back in 2004, which sold 240,000 copies on the first day, which was a record at the time.  No digital sales in that number I bet!

So that is how the list stacks up.  WoW Legion sold well enough, though judging from what I have seen… or not seen… on store shelves, it was almost all digital. (I was at Best Buy on Monday and they had a single standard edition, wrapped up protectively in an anti-theft device and sitting alone at the bottom of a shelf.  No display.  No signs.  No big deal.  How times have changed.) That likely means WoW Legion sold directly into the currently subscribed base in the US/EU.

It would be interesting to know what the subscriber base jumped up to with the launch.  I suspect that if it had passed 10 million, Blizz might have mentioned it.  But maybe not, and we’ll likely never see a number to prove it either way.

I will have to hang on to the two WoW Legion boxes we got at our house.

Retail Boxes! Old School!

Retail Boxes! Old School!

Given the state of the retail channel for the expansion, those might be collectible in a few years.  I mean, a DVD for WoW Legion?  I am not sure why they even bother.  The patcher had everything in place already.  All I needed was the code off the label and I was upgraded and playing.  Modern times.