WoW – Resub

I have gamer’s ADD but managed to get things under control… until last week when a friend told me she and two others had resubbed to WoW and rolled on a classic server. Having low will power and also a strong desire to play with friends, I also resubbed so all my careful plans to rotate games, etc. are tossed out the window. But this is a good thing!

I might like ESO, LoTRO, FF14 better than WoW, but WoW has one untouchable advantage – real life friends that play. And that is a huge draw. So, I found myself at the character creation screen of the Westfall server, and soon after had a druid, paladin, and priest ready for adventure.

WoWScrnShot_092819_111726

I picked the druid and paladin because they can fill multiple roles, and I like characters that can do more than just DPS. I like healing in general so those classes were natural draws as well. I plan to focus on druid and priest, with the paladin as a distant priority, since they are kinda boring to level.

WoWScrnShot_100319_193121

Over in retail, I peeked at my monk, who I left off at level 100 when I subbed previously (Warlords of Draenor era). Logging in produced a flurry of popups (garrison mission complete! new quest available! unspent talent points!) I quickly logged off, resolved to deal with all that stuff at a later time.

Anyway, we’ve grouped a few times now. Once as lowbies in the gnome starter area, questing along to about level 7 or 8, and then a week later with all four of us, questing through Westfall, planning out our eventual Deadmines trip.

WoWScrnShot_100319_203524

It was a ton of fun in our group (warrior, paladin, hunter, priest) tackling Westfall. I hope we can keep the momentum and avoid burnout while leveling along to 60.

I do have a backup plan in case something happens – WoW retail. It turns out my friends from work still play on Earthen Ring, so I can join with them too. Towards that end, while I’ve been concentrating on classic, I did put a tiny bit of time into retail.

When I resubbed, I got a free level 100 character boost. My monk, which I did enjoy, was already level 100 so I decided to boost my paladin to 100. Then, when I bought the BfA expansion, I got a free level 110 character boost! That went to my druid. I figured what the heck, I’ll have a choice of 3 viable characters to play on retail if it comes to that.

I haven’t completed the “welcome to your boosted character” intro on my retail paladin or retail druid yet, but I will when I have the itch to play but don’t want to do classic. Perhaps I can devote some time to leveling any of my retail characters to 120 to join the end game with my old guild.

Back in classic – we had a few wipes due to being caught by respawn. Moonbrook was surprisingly busy, with many characters waiting for Defias to spawn. One minute, crowded with players and no Defias, next minute the players are gone and all the Defias respawn… to help keep track of each other, we assigned symbols.

WoWScrnShot_100319_225825

Good times!

 

 

WoW – Flamebender

I took a break from computer games for a bit… I did manage to show up last Monday for the guild’s Blackrock Foundry raid, but that’s been it.

Blackrock Foundry

Overall it was a successful night. We downed 4 bosses: Gruul, Darmac, Hans & Frans (Hans’gar and Franzok), and Flamebender Ka’graz. I hadn’t seen Ka’graz before, so that was good – it is always fun to see a new boss fight!

Flamebender
Flamebender

As a healer my job was the usual keep the DoT’s going and avoid fire. I gather there was more to do as tank and DPS, since we would get occasional roving flame hounds (they looked pretty cool) and someone would call to “group up”. Hence the screenshot where we are all standing in some sort of bubble.

Glynneth’s item level remains at 665 – I am hoping to upgrade my pants as that item is currently my lowest (at 640).

The Culling

My WoW sub it up next week, but I’m going to renew for another 3 months. So in Aug I’ll be thinking about this again.

I let my EVE sub expire. It’s a great game and all, but I can’t play enough to make it worthwhile. Especially since there is certain fixed overhead as far as time spent in game goes – just getting from one place to another, scanning to exit the wormhole, dealing with PI and hauling goods to market.

Wildstar… well I extended another 3 months so I’m paid up until the end of Jul. It’s a fun game as well, and who knows, by then it might have dropped its sub or whatever the latest rumors are. If it doesn’t drop its sub, I will probably not extend.

This is not about the money. Really, I spend $15 a month at Starbucks every month. Or more. Just last week I went to see the Avengers with some friends and my ticket was $13. MMOs are pretty efficient as far as cost per hour of entertainment.

What it is about, for me, is comparing against equivalent goods. I’m not sure of the precise economics term, it would be some combination of utility and substitute goods, but WoW/EVE/WS are not in competition with me going to the movies, my Netflix subscription, or what have you. They are in competition with each other, any MMO that charges a subscription, and any MMO that is B2P or F2P.

I’m willing to throw in some money to an in-game store if I like a game, for cosmetic stuff or what have you. So for me, that ~$15 a month towards a sub game is money I could be funneling towards a game I enjoy more. Which in my case could be TSW, ESO, LoTRO, GW2, etc.

Actually, I haven’t been playing those much either lately – taking a break and all πŸ˜‰ – but I do plan to reorganize and cull some games.

Basically, out of curiosity I keep a log of how many hours a week I play MMOs. The result was: I average about 6 hours a week these days. And 3 of those are WoW due to the raiding my guild does.

This ties back into my perceived value for time and so on tradeoff: at ~3 hours a week, playing EVE is pointless, that game needs more like 15+ hours a week just to keep an income flowing and take care of logistics that are forced on you, the player, so you can do other fun stuff. At 3 hours a week I could farm planets and sell goods to stockpile ISK I don’t have time to spend on ships to do other stuff.

While I do enjoy Wildstar, ~3 hours a week means me soloing to the end-game and then, well, not having time to do much of it. The chances of me finding another guild, semi-casual enough to be OK with me raiding one night a week, having a raid spot for me, doing it during convenient hours (8-11 pm, about as good as I can expect), etc. trends towards zero. If it happened, I would consider a switcheroo – unsub WoW in favor of WS. But again, it’s a ways to the level cap for my WS char, and I’d need to gear, attune, find a guild, etc. Not impossible but many structural roadblocks along the way.

Therefore, almost by default, WoW is filling that “group content” slot I have time for. Yeah, all the criticisms of the rest of the gameplay, from unused dungeons to repetitive quests to garrison tedium to dull class design – all valid, but I don’t worry about any of that stuff because it doesn’t affect me. I’ve slimmed down garrison time to sending followers on gold missions and cut out all the resource queuing/gathering/harvesting because I don’t need it. Well, I stopped that after I crafted myself a Stone of Fire.

I’m probably not typical in what I want out of WoW, but playing 3 hours a week and spending all of that doing end-game group stuff is essentially the best ratio of time to actual fun in a game I could have. I pop into my garrison twice a week for less than 15 mins each time (I round that down to zero) and get summoned everywhere else. Contrast that to EVE where it takes 45-90 mins just collecting PI goods and going to market to sell them. And any inattention is risk for getting killed.

The question then becomes, how to best spend the rest of my available time. I’ve got more games than I have time to play. Keep pecking away in TSW, play another game if I have some extra time available? That seems like the most realistic, and given my recent gaming, the two I would most likely play with spare time are TSW and ESO, with a smattering of LoTRO tossed in there. All are solo-friendly and enjoyable to me. And I will spend some money in each in-game store to vote with my wallet, as the saying goes.

I do feel a pull to check out new games, however. I see Marvel Heroes on Steam, and lots of good press about Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. The problem with FF14:ARR is that it is a sub game, so given my spare time it would be silly to take it up while I have a few months on WildStar already paid for.

WoW – More Blackrock

I haven’t played WoW in a few weeks. By that I mean anything more than ~15 mins of garrison maintenance, every other day. I had other events crop up on the past few Mondays so I missed my weekly timeslot – the guild raids M/W but I usually can’t make Wed anyway.

What I had been doing garrison-wise was harvest frostweed in order to keep the work orders at my alchemy lab full. Those work orders generate alchemical catalysts, a material for transmutation and creating of the Stone of Fire.

Anyway, I was able to make this past Mon, for the first time in a month… and it was fun!

Since I hadn’t been there for a few weeks, I was a little behind on gear and thus received items everyone else passed on. The evening resulted in 3 big gear upgrades for me, and one side-grade (I replaced a slightly higher heroic item with a normal item that had a prismatic slot; basically trading single-digit stat decreases for a nice +50 secondary stat bump). The big score was moving up from my garrison-mission 645 weapon to the 670 Inferno-Flame Staff from Gruul!

Inferno Slice
Inferno Slice

We had trouble with Oregorger, but are getting better. By that I mean we usually get to phase 2 of the fight and more than half the raid survives for the 2nd phase 1. πŸ˜‰ We used to barely get him down to 85% and now we are consistently getting to 50%-ish before calling it due to most of the raid being down.

Oregorger Fight
Oregorger Fight

To wrap up, we fought a boss I hadn’t seen before, Beastlord Darmac. He provided the previously mentioned side-grade and I hope the next time he is generous and gives me better leggings.

Glynneth is now at item level 665, which is stratospheric to me, since I never imagined gearing up this well. My leggings are currently my worst piece of armor at 640, the next lowest are a few 655 items. I can also improve a ring by finishing the legendary quest line. But for now I’m doing pretty well.

WoW – Mythic Siege of Orgrimmar

Once great thing about showing up in the WoD timeframe is there is so much content I haven’t seen. For example, anything at all really since I never had a level cap character before the boost. πŸ˜‰

My guild does “achievement runs” every other Sun and I make it a point to attend those since everything is new. The recent run was to do Siege of Orgrimmar on Mythic difficulty.

Even though we were 10 levels higher and over geared, it still wasn’t “easy”. I can’t imagine how tough this content was at the old level cap.

The first boss was a water giant named Immersus, and we literally lined up to fight him due to the encounter mechanics.

Lining Up
Lining Up

Next up was a 3 enemy fight that involved stacking and hiding inside bubbles when appropriate:

Inside the Bubble
Inside the Bubble

and I’ll skip ahead so as not to completely bore you. I particularly enjoyed the Thok fight; he is a giant “devilsaur”:

Dinosaur with Laser Eyes
Dinosaur Battle

Unfortunately, we only downed 10/11 of the bosses in Siege of Orgrimmar; we wiped 3 times on the final confrontation with Garrosh Hellscream. Since he is the last boss and it was late, we called it with plans to return next time to finish him off. By then I can read up on the encounter mechanics, since twice I died during the intermission phase in the Realm of Y’shaarj, and I’m not sure how to avoid whatever got me.

Before the Garrosh Battle
Before the Garrosh Battle

I was just standing in the wrong place, the classic thing to fail on. πŸ˜‰ To be fair, I was unfamiliar with all of previous steps and was generally able to stay out of the fire and contribute my healing portion. Perhaps on mythic difficulty some of the mechanics require advanced knowledge since they hit too hard to figure out what to do during the encounter.

WoW – Pandaria Achievements

The guild on Earthen Ring is awesome in that there is an active group that likes collecting achievements. This is ideal for me because that means going back to earlier content to finish of raid tiers, even though we are all over-leveled. It makes most fights quick but they are still fun. For me it is great because I haven’t seen about 98% of that content.

Sun evening we got a group of 10 together to visit Pandaria’s Heart of Fear and Throne of Thunder raids on heroic mode. Most fights were quick, and so were most bosses but some of the mechanics still tripped us up and we had to do a few fights more than once (i.e. we wiped). But that was rare, basically we had to make a few tries at the Dark Animus and Ra-den.

Twin Consorts
Twin Consorts

For a bit of variety I switched into Spirited Crane stance to do a little DPS while still being a healer, but I decided it was easier to just stay in Wise Serpent and throw an occasional Crackling Jade Lightning.

And after about 3 hours, we completed both and everybody Exalted in the guild could buy a Thundering Jade Cloud Serpent, which I think looks awesome:

Thundering Jade Cloud Serpent
Thundering Jade Cloud Serpent

The funny thing was I was 43 reputation points short of Exalted. Doh! But on the way through Stormwind I saw a Blingtron 5000 and clicked it. Completing that quest gave me 275 points which pushed me over into Exalted, so I could then buy my new serpent mount. πŸ™‚

It turns out the guild does one of these achievement runs twice a month. That is great timing – not too much commitment overall – and I’m getting to see more content in WoW than I ever thought I would.

WoW – Garrison v2

Things are going faster with my new boosted char on Earthen Ring. No open world PvP crap to deal with, some familiarity with the quests, plus I learned from all the mistakes I made before. πŸ˜‰

My new monk Glynneth (Glyneth was taken, argh) took Jewelcrafting and Alchemy as her two professions, so my first two small garrison buildings were the Gem Boutique and Alchemy Lab. I find those two professions to be a nice mix of usefulness and ease of gathering raw materials – basically everything I’ll make comes from resources I can gather in my own garrison.

After some experience with Suldrun on Gorgonnash, I realized that Herbalism is a waste – the garrison herb garden is usable without Herbalism so there isn’t any need to gather in zones. Having it will let you get more herbs faster, but the herb garden supplies me plenty for the volume of potions I craft. Characters can only have two professions and Herbalism doesn’t carry its weight.

Actually, I think that all gathering professions are a waste in WoD: herbalism, mining, skinning. Yes, skinning. How to gather leather? With a barn – is much much faster than via skinning! I had skinning for a while, using it on every skinnable mob I killed, collecting scraps. The conversion is 10 scraps to 1 hide, and 5 hides for a work order (e.g. 50 scraps for 1 work order) – so dozens of mobs for one lousy work order. Or, with a barn, trap one Clefthoof in Nagrand for a work order. It is literally 10+ times more work to skin for leather.

I get the feeling that Blizzard might be not-so-subtly getting rid of gathering professions. I always thought it was lousy you had to take gathering professions when you could only have 2 overall – it would have been better to allow 2 production professions and 1 gathering profession. But with how WoD crafting recipes are craftable with a skill of 1 (thus not forcing everyone away to gather in low level areas) and the raw materials come right from your private garrison instance, why have them at all?

On the Earthen Ring garrison, my first medium building was the Lumber Mill, which lets me gather timber and produce garrison resources. Hence, my garrison grew faster than the one on Gorgonnash because I wasn’t blocked waiting for resources as much. When I finished the Gorgorond quest that awards the Outpost Building Assembly Notes, I used that to upgrade my Lumber Mill to level 2 in order to collect medium trees ASAP.

When I upgraded to a level 3 garrison, I built a Dwarven Bunker (to outfit followers and get a free Seal of Tempered Fate each week), a Barn (for leather/cloth and eventually savage blood), and a Tannery (create armor). Whenever possible, I assign followers to each building to boost output – one very important combo is a skinning follower at the Barn, and a leather working follower at the Tannery.

Questing

Questing even goes faster, although I haven’t timed it or anything. Many quests boil down to killing X number of mobs, so with a Brewmaster monk, I just put up my Black Ox statue and gather everything within a 30 yard radius and then pick them off one by one. Less moving for me! Although I have been guilty of poor placement and ahem… rounded up a few too many mobs once or twice. πŸ˜‰

My favorite technique when fighting a boss with a bunch of adds: put up the statue, move to the side, then taunt the boss away while his underlings keep busy with the statue. It’s like surgically picking out the one mob that matters while distracting the rest. Win!

I like the BrewMaster spec, I might switch over Suldrun (on Gorgonnash) over to it to replace WindWalker.

Raiding

After hitting iLevel 630, Glynneth became eligible to join the guild for a real raid. Not that LFR easy-mode stuff. πŸ˜‰ I jest because as I mentioned earlier, I kinda like LFR and have plenty of fun in there.

The guild started out trying some heroic-mode fights, which I didn’t join for. But after that wound down, they opened up to more players so I squeezed in as an extra healer for Brackenspore and Ko’ragh.

I had done both via LFR but I knew the “real” fights would be tougher.

Brackenspore
Brackenspore

As it turned out, they were much tougher. We wiped once on Brackenspore but downed him the next time around. It was pretty hectic and I’m probably the lowest geared player in the raid, but I did have a lot of fun.

Even better, since everybody else was decently geared, I walked away with a nice upgrade: spaulders (shoulder armor) of item level 655! My item level jumped from 630 to 634 after that fight – awesome.

Now my lagging gear is just three pieces: helm, belt, boots. Since I have a Tannery at my garrison, if I also get a better necklace, ring, or cloak, I can swap out that item out and craft a replacement at the Tannery. Essentially I’ll be hoping for a helm, belt, or boots as a direct replacement; or a necklace, ring, or cloak as an indirect replacement (any of those items will replace one of my current crafted pieces – limit of 3 in WoD).

WoW – Another Boost

I haven’t quested much lately, just a bit on Suldrun to complete one more step of the Nagrand storyline. I quested some on Aurora, my druid, and hit level 39.

It’s tense for me, questing on a PvP server. Simple things like opening the map and figuring out where to go, or reading the quest text, are risky. It’s a little nicer on the druid, since I can stealth and do some recon or hide, but it isn’t perfect as a flying high level char can still drop in from above and one shot me.

Normally questing and leveling up is something I enjoy, but here on an open world PvP server, I am reluctant and don’t look forward to it. Something is wrong…

I have 3 friends on Gorgonnash, but only one of them is really around right now: one joined a raiding guild, another hasn’t logged in much since WoD released. I also have 2 friends on Earthen Ring, and both seem very active as their guild is bigger and they are raiding in High Maul.

Earthen Ring is an RP server. I’m not sure how much RP actually happens, but the key thing there is RP servers are a variant of normal PvE servers. Those server rules would be much more enjoyable for me to play under.

After thinking it over for a bit, I decided to boost another char on Earthen Ring. And I chose another monk. I enjoy the class! Having the flexibility between DPS, tank, and healing is great. On a PvE server, I won’t miss stealth since I won’t be flagged PvP unless I do it by accident (typically by wandering too close to outpost guards).

I’ll have more fun questing/leveling in general, since I wouldn’t be a potential target all the time, wouldn’t have to deal with what I believe is a broken PvP design (I could rant for a while on WoW’s implementation) and the Earthen Ring guild appears large enough for raid attempts. The guild on Gorgonnash consistently has 4-6 people logged in, which is more active than guilds in other MMOs I’ve played, but 10-12+ is the magic number to start raiding. While I have plenty of fun doing dungeons (5 man content) I’d like to have the option to join in raids with my guild.

I could just transfer Suldrun over, but I want to have a presence on Gorgonnash too so as to continue playing with that group. I’m used to playing at least two characters in every MMO, so this would be similar to that except the two chars would be on different servers. By choosing the same class, no matter who I play I’ll be working on my “monk” skills, be they tanking or healing. Oh that’s another thing, I’m going to level on Earthen Ring as Brewmaster (tanking spec).

Suldrun (on Gorgonnash) has a future that might only involve Garrison stuff and instances. I can see how far you can advance a character without leaving your Garrison! πŸ˜‰

The boost would save me from leveling to 90 on Earthen Ring, just to get to Draenor… besides, I’ve seen that life is better as a high level char. The quests pay enough gold to allow self sufficiency and I like the garrison mechanic. I’d be able to complete the storyline in Draenor in relative peace and under enjoyable circumstances, rather than dealing with the random attacks and so on.

Syp posted about how miserable it can be questing on a PvP server… I was basically where he was weeks ago but rather than transfer I’m going to boost a 2nd char.

Mailboxes in Pandaria

I created a Pandarian a few weeks ago, back during the anniversary celebration where every new character got mail from the “WoW Dev Team” with a pet. The pet is account unique, meaning every char created during that time gets it, but only one can add it to your collection. Every other char gets to manually delete the pet, which is annoying.

Even more annoying is this Pandarian character can’t get the mail in the first place – because there are no mailboxes in the Pandarian starter zone. They were all removed to prevent cross-faction mailing. And since the mail contains a “unique” pet, I can’t delete the character until I get the mail.

Basically, if I want to reuse the char name, I need to play through the entire Pandarian starter zone in order to leave for Alliance/Horde areas where I can finally get this damn mail. When I do get the mail, I’ll immediately delete the pet since it doesn’t do me any good (already received it and added it to my collection). Then, I can finally delete the char.

The FAIL here is mind boggling but it’s what I’m stuck with. I’m going to have to waste time playing a char I want to get rid of in order to get an email that is useless but preventing me from deleting the char. Good lord.