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Outmaneuvered

The one two bright spots I have encountered thus far post-Patch, is the reputation gain from the first heroic dungeon/Scenario of the day. The interface changes which governs this is pretty slick and straightforward. After finishing a Klaxxi work order on the farm, I took my warrior through a quick Scenario, which resulted in decent Shado-Pan rep (due to Commendations) and an actual 463 blue from the bag at the end. From there, I chanced a heroic dungeon as DPS and was pleasantly surprised at a 11 minute queue. Best of all, considering I was already well into Honored with Shado-Pan from leveling with their Commendation, it appears likely that I will hit Revered over the next few weeks without doing a single Golden Lotus daily (as it should be).

The other bright spot was also Reputation oriented, and it has since rocketed up to be one of my favorite parts of the expansion: the Zandalari Warscouts. If you have not been following along, there are now new rare spawns across Pandaria that have a 100% chance to drop Bind-on-Account +1000 reputation tokens for various factions, and sometimes loot bags. I am not talking about the 5-man, 21 million HP rares, but rather the easily soloable 7 million HP ones; they do usually spawn in similar areas. I spent the better part of 2 hours off and on flying around, and ended up with tokens for August Celestials, Golden Lotus, and Shado-Pan x4. The spawn timers for the Warscouts is probably less than an hour.

And this also happened:

I got ganked by Horded before I could kill the 2nd one.

I got ganked by Horded before I could kill the 2nd one.

Remember my quaint hope of getting to Revered in a few weeks? Ain’t nobody got time for that:

42/3000 Neutral with Golden Lotus. Screw those guys.

82/3000 Neutral with Golden Lotus. Screw those guys.

The new daily island on the other hand… good lord.

I wonder if the Blizzard devs truly understand how outdated, archaic, and downright stupid their questing design philosophy looks in a post-Guild Wars 2 world. While running around on the new island, I encountered a group of five Alliance players also doing the daily quests. While all of us were able to get credit for killing certain mobs, the other 95% of the time I did nothing but stare slack-jawed while they tapped and cleared out the rest of the mobs in the area, while occasionally ninja-ing the vases (or whatever) we needed to break for another quest. Had there been 1-2 Alliance, I could have manually invited them to a party so we could actually share in the completion of objectives. Since they were already in a 5-person group however, they became nothing more than annoying obstacles in my way.

Do you remember the response one of the blues gave to the question of why you can’t complete quests as part of a raid group? “Because then the correct way to level would be to join the rolling STV (etc) raid.” Oh, yes, of course! That makes perfect sense. We cannot possibly allow organized grouping in an MMO, lest the player come to the mistaken conclusion that players of their own faction are a welcome sight, there to enrich their lives and make it more social and enjoyable. Heavens no! All other players are competition for limited resources, and two is a crowd already! Can you imagine the anarchy that would reign if each individual player did not kill their full allotment of 13 gnolls? Five people sharing the credit is bad enough!

What a joke.

I can understand that ArenaNet outmaneuvered Blizzard so resoundingly on this issue – seriously, folks, I don’t even play GW2 anymore but you can’t go back to tapped mobs afterwards – and it takes time for an oil barge as large as WoW to turn around. Hell, sometimes the blues indicate they don’t even know how some shit even works, like the original programmers died or translated the vanilla code from alien hieroglyphics or something.

I will even grant that the GW2 system could not simply be implemented wholesale, provided the Blizzard programmers were up to the task in the first place. A lot of the underlying systems would need to be changed, and not even ArenaNet thought a lot of it through. In WoW, for example, even though a 5-person group gets credit for shared kills, only one person ever gets loot, be it round-robin or rolls. The big issue in GW2 is that one mob can drop 5+ pieces of gear (one for each player that damages it), which rapidly inflates the volume of items floating around. By the time I stopped playing, the GW2 marketplace was identical to the Diablo 3 AH disaster wherein both crafting and mob drops were pointless due to the vendor+1c priced goods flooding the market. Then again, it would be much less of an issue for WoW considering 99.99% of all mob drops are useless vendor trash, up to and occasionally including the epics (beyond ilevel cheesing).

To be perfectly honest, I do not know if I ever want to go back to the Thunder Isle. The Isle of Quel’Danas and Tol Barad were fine for what they were, but they were also products of their time. This mob-dense, poorly-routed, arbitrarily designed, anti-social hellhole is two years two late. I had time to ponder all these things as I blithely soloed a 7.8 million HP rare elite on the ilevel 455 warrior (Second Wind is overpowered), watching one, two, three Alliance players go skipping by in pursuit of solitude. After picking up my loot, I sought to join them… only to have the bitter irony collapse in upon itself from the sheer weight of poor design.

Also! Who was the fucking genius who decided to implement crafted PvP gear for a new season, only to hide it behind once-a-day random research, the plate gear of which cannot even start being learned until Stage 3 of the island? Who is the crafted gear designed for? The new PvP players starting three months from now? You can purchase 470 ilevel gear for Honor right now! In every possible scenario you are better off getting farmed to hell and back in random BGs than A) waiting for the myriad of crafters to auction their individual pieces at 1000% profit margins, or B) unlocking the recipes yourself. You are going to replace this crafted gear with Honor pieces anyway, so… what the actual fuck?

Christ on a cracker, I feel like I’m watching a version of the Washington DC bullshit playing out between Blizzard devs and common goddamn sense.

5.2: From Most Alt-Unfriendly to Best Alt Expansion Ever?

Patch 5.2 should be out today. It is always a bit overwhelming looking at the huge, collated MMO-Champion post, but one thing should not be missed: 5.2 changes Mists from the most alt-unfriendly expansion ever to perhaps the friendliest one yet. Here are some of the changes I had been keeping an eye on:

New ways of gaining Reputation

Daily quests are fine the first time around, but grinding them multiple times is simply cruel. Commendations came out in 5.1, but you still had to do the dailies, albeit half as many. Now, as long as you fully unlock the Farm, you can do two work orders a day for 400 reputation apiece. Additionally, the first heroic dungeon and first Scenario of the day gives you 750 and 325 rep respectively. On top of that, the 5-person rare spawns on the new island have a chance of dropping BoA tokens that can be consumed for 1000 reputation with a particular faction. I am unsure if the 1-2 man rare spawns drop smaller versions of the same token.

While it may be still worth doing the actual dailies to compliment the bonus reputation, the point is we now have a choice again.

Accelerated Catch-Up Gear Acquisition

I am not sure what the official percent increase is, but the drop rate for the 5.0 LFR bosses and Elder Charm rolls will be greatly increased. The prices of Valor items from the vendors have been decreased by 50% and 25% for the 5.0 and 5.1 items, respectively. Season 12 PvP gear is now on the Honor vendor, as usual, but now you can buy the ilevel 476 weapons for Honor. Additionally, the new Conquest weapons will not have a rating requirement. Blacksmiths can make BoE versions of the Burning Crusade Blacksmith weapons, at either 463 blues or 476 epics.

Tangentially, if you have a tanking spec, you might actually be able to farm more Honor by running heroic dungeons than doing random BGs. One of the changes in 5.2 is that you get 100 Justice Points for each heroic boss kill. That means for every 8 bosses you kill, you can turn in 750 of the 800 otherwise useless Justice Points into 500 Honor (or 375 JP –> 250 HP). Even if there is a more efficient way of farming Honor – and assuming you’re not killing more than 4 bosses every 30 minutes – the fact remains that you can gain that Honor while also gaining +725 reputation of your choice plus Valor points.

This is actually starting to feel a lot like Wrath again, when I would tank the daily heroic on 3-4 toons a day.

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On a complete different note, I spent nearly four hours yesterday attempting to get the last 24 Motes of Harmony necessary for my Scribe to craft one of the 476 BoA staves. The idea was to craft one of the staves, mail it to my main to upgrade twice, and then bank it for one of my other alts before the upgrade vendor is removed with the patch. I had (obviously) waffled quite a bit over whether this was worth my time, and just decided this weekend that it was. Unfortunately, between all the time spent leveling this weekend (my DK Scribe was level 85) and the mad dash last night, I damn near came away snuffing the small flame of my interest in WoW entirely out.

I ended up with 3.4 Spirits of Harmony, a gain of 8 Motes across levels 87-88.5. For a minute there, I honestly considering spending 4000 Honor at the vendor to get 10 Motes (400 H for a Mote is goddamn robbery), but I was hating life pretty hard at the end and I would still be short a few besides. I washed the taste out of my mouth with a little PlanetSide 2, but I am definitely not going to be doing something as crazy again. Those days are long over for me.

Looking Towards the 5.2 Changes

There are a lot of changes coming in 5.2. Here are the ones I’m keeping an eye on:

Reputation

  • “Work orders will pour into the farm from factions across Pandaria, and completing a work order will earn a reputation boost with the issuing faction.”
  • “You can now earn bonus reputation for your first dungeon and scenario of the day. You can select which reputation you choose to champion by selecting it from the reputation panel on the character screen.”

The above two items have mentally freed me from the self-imposed shackles of dailies, for the time being. Up to this point, my time in WoW has been 100% consumed by dailies – Golden Lotus, Cloud Serpent, Tillers, Anglers, Klaxxi, Shieldwall. Even the days when I ignored Golden Lotus (no real rewards for them or any linked reps for Alch/JC), I still found 2-3 hour play sessions evaporate with nothing accomplished other than rep bar movement. I was back on the Golden Lotus horse due to the lure of the Commendation (I’d love for my tailor alt to get the 28-slot bag eventually), but the day I read these patch notes is the day I stopped feeling like it was required every single day.

There is not any indication to how much reputation is earned with either method, but assuming it is larger than 500, I feel comfortable in focusing more on alts than hitting reputation milestones on the main.

Valor/Justice

  • Heroic Pandaria dungeons now award 100 Justice Points per boss.
  • Scenarios now award 50 Justice Points, up from 25.
  • The cost of Valor Point gear introduced in patch 5.0 has been reduced by 50%.
  • The cost of Valor Point gear introduced in patch 5.1 has been reduced by 25%.
  • The ethereals that offered to upgrade items using Valor or Justice Points have departed Azeroth for the moment.

The big question mark here is whether the current Valor items will still cost Valor in 5.2. It seems a pretty straight-forward answer at first – “Yes, of course” – but look at the implication here. If you have 1200 VP heading into 5.2, chances are that that 1200 VP turns into 1200 JP and then… what? You buy upgraded heirlooms? It is great that Blizzard is actually putting in sources of Justice for people that want heirlooms, but what else are JP good for? I don’t think I have ever seen a patch transition in which the current currency is downgraded but then you need to re-grind the new currency to buy shit you had access to the day before.

On the other hand, one of my guildies was skeptical that Blizzard would reduce reputation gear costs by 50% plus add in the 100 JP/boss gain plus make rep gear purchasable with Justice. And how many new Valor pieces are going to be introduced anyway?

Hopefully there will be some clarification on this issue before the patch.

PvP

  • Conquest gear no longer has rating requirements.
  • Highest tier PvP items are unlocked after 27,000 CP are earned in a season.
  • Weapons that require the 27k CP unlock have said requirement removed inbetween seasons (i.e. in 5.3).
  • Honor weapons are back.
  • Your CP cap for the week is increased by 1,000 for each week you haven’t been hitting the cap.
  • The losers in an Rated BG gain Conquest based on score; close games can award up to 200 CP.

It is difficult to even imagine a coherent complaint about this fairly radical paradigm shift. Blizzard locking weapons behind rating walls was a mistake when they first made it in Season 3, and it has been a mistake every season since. The straw that finally broke my four-year subscription back was when my warlock alt maxed out on non-rating Arena gear; I was permanently “done” with that character’s progression, unless I bribed someone to boost me past the glass ceiling. While I would not look forward to 15+ weeks of Conquest caps from BGs and 2v2 anymore, at least there is no longer a brick wall at the end.

Overall, pretty exciting changes. I’m not following the new raid information particularly closely, because A) there doesn’t seem to be much news out there, and B) it is kind of a moot point for me outside of LFR. And speaking of LFR, I finished all of the available ones; impressions will have to wait for another post.