Stealth Games Are Kinda Easy

In-between my many WoW sessions, I have been working on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The short version is that it is pretty much Human Revolution with new plot and Augments; if you enjoyed the first game, then you will enjoy this one as well.

But one of the things I have noticed over the course of 30 hours is that… well, it’s easy.

I am playing on the highest difficulty – Give Me Deus Ex – and just breezing my way through, even without Augments. Indeed, I spent half the game with 11+ Augment Points banked just waiting for a situation in which I needed to spontaneously develop wall-punching or remote hacking skills. However, this may be more a systemic issue with stealth games generally.

When we talk about stealth games, what we’re really talking about is extremely simplified, often binary, gameplay. If you are outside the cone of an enemy’s vision, you are hidden. The alarm is either raised or it is not. The enemy is fully active or they are incapacitated. This binary nature even extends to after the enemy is alerted, as almost every stealth game features the conceit that guards eventually completely forget that they watched their compatriots die, and go about their usual patrols.

This is not a criticism of stealth gameplay, per se. There is a good reason why “more realistic” behavior is not often implemented: it is less fun. Ever play a stealth game where the enemies patrolled randomly? It’s an exercise in frustration. Without a pattern to recognize and exploit, incapacitating/avoiding guards either requires RNG (which doesn’t feel good) or just attacking them straight out. And if the guards never reset after the alarm is raised, why wouldn’t the average player not simply reload their last save?

So if you are going to have “stealth mechanics” in your game, you have to make some concessions. This means it is incredibly difficult to introduce varying levels of difficulty with stealth mechanics without running afoul of annoying gameplay.

Still, I do have some suggestions. These mostly pertain to Mankind Divided – and especially at the higher difficulties – but I feel like they can be applied more generally as well.

1) Incapacitated Guards wake up.

Some stealth games have this already, but its lack seems especially egregious in Mankind Divided since you are in the same city for most of the game. Basically, once you knock out the guards, they are unconscious permanently. Since you already get more XP for using nonlethal methods, there really is no reason to not knock them out rather than use lethal methods. Yes, unconscious guards can be awoken if discovered by other guards. But considering how easily guards can be taken out – and no one cares about patrols reporting in – this is an irrelevant concern.

So… have the guards wake up, randomly. Not immediately, mind you, just over a period of a few minutes or so. This will still give you enough time to stroll through the area, but maybe not enough for a thorough searching of every file cabinet. If you want safety in your looting, you will need to kill the guards instead.

2) Nonlethal takedowns are more difficult.

In the last two Deus Ex games, you get the option of lethal and nonlethal takedowns any time you are within melee distance. In truth, there is just one rational option: nonlethal. Not only do you get more XP with nonlethal, but the actual nonlethal action is quiet, whereas the lethal one makes a lot of noise. Considering you can just shoot sleeping guards in the face with a silenced pistol afterwards, there is zero reason to go lethal initially.

How about we just reverse that? Lethal takedowns are quiet, but nonlethal makes some noise as the target struggles. This can extend to tranquilizer dart weapons as well, considering nobody really seems to care about a huge syringe poking out of their leg, even after it was fired out of a sniper rifle 50 yards away. Let them make some noise for the few seconds of consciousness they have remaining. Or, alternatively, make the tranquilizer take a random amount of time to fully go into affect, so that it’s possible they fall unconscious after walking to a less discreet location.

Because, honestly, the situation with the Tranq rifle in Mankind Divided is just silly broken. Headshots will instantly knock out guards, and body shots take a few seconds more. But, really? The delay is actually a boon. I can tag three guards in a row, all in the leg, and by the time the first dude hits the floor, the others start passing out before they have a chance to raise an alarm. That shit would be impossible with a regular sniper rifle, even a silenced one. Speaking of which…

3) Silencers not being silent.

This is one of those universal videogame/movie sacred cows, but silencers on guns don’t actually make them silent. As it turns out, propelling lead out the end of a metal tube by way of igniting gunpowder is still kinda loud. So let’s have those guns still be loud with silencers attached. This will shorten effective engagement range for stealth runs, thereby increasing the chance that a guard could discover you, e.g. making the gameplay a bit more difficult.

4) Guards check in with each other.

There is a level in Mankind Divided that sees you skulking about a research facility with a PA system. While I was taking out guards left and right, I got a little nervous by what I heard. “West wing reporting all clear.” “Brzezinski, please report to docking bay 12.” Did I already take out Brzezinski? Would he be missed?

Then I remembered I was playing a standard stealth game, and none of that stuff matters.

To an extent, having guards checking in (or being sought by other guards) is one of those realistic features that end up making the gameplay feel worse. After all, if you are going to be so actively punished for taking guards out, you may as well remove the ability to take guards out at all. But what if the mechanics were more nuanced than that? What if you could get some kind of guard manifest that lists which ones need to check in, or figure out when they already checked in such that you are free to take them out afterwards? What if their absence is noted and guards are sent to investigate, but they eventually disperse if they don’t find any foul play?

Basically, instead of having each guard be a puzzle individually, perhaps force the player to consider a more holistic approach to rendering a base unconscious.

5) Blood stains.

Just so it doesn’t seem like all these changes make nonlethal useless compared to lethal methods of infiltration, let’s have guards react to blood stains. And, you know, have blood stains result from wetwork, assuming specific methods are not employed. Moving bodies might still be useful, especially for distraction purposes, but it shouldn’t be a Get Out of Jail Free card either.


I will be honest with you here: I’m not even sure any of the above will result in a better gameplay experience. All I do know is that my current experience with stealth games (and Deus Ex in particular) has made all of them not only play the same, but play easily. If I choose the highest difficulty in a stealth game, that difficulty has to be a function of changing stealth mechanics and not just making it easier for me to die once a firefight starts. Because a firefight will never start when I’ve knocked out every guard everywhere with impunity.

WoW Endgame As it Stands

A few people have asked me about my WoW endgame experiences, and as I recently turned in my 3rd WoW token, I should probably talk about it some more.

In short: it’s almost as good as Wrath.

Going forward, I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult to not have World Quests (WQs) and scaling mobs in future expansions. This is the “final form” of casual themepark gameplay IMO. Is it functionally different from traditional daily quests? Not really. Does it feel better than daily quests in every possible way? Absolutely.

Blizzard has tried to spice daily quests up before, and largely failed. Remember the Firelands dailies back in Cataclysm? Those had rotating/random dailies and somehow felt worse than what came before. In Legion though, it feels more… organic. I don’t even necessarily think it’s something special about the dailies, per se, but rather due to the fact that these “dailies” aren’t in the same location and not with the same mobs every time. Scaling tech allows Blizzard to utilize the entire continent, and they do. While you do end up seeing the same WQs pretty often, you never really know exactly where you will be flying that evening until you open the map.

Also, big props to Blizzard for having rotating WQs throughout the day. In other words, you don’t have a single list of 25 random WQs and that’s it until 3 AM. Some last a few days, some last a few hours. This not only satisfies the “optimization” need in me – only doing the most efficient ones – but also the individuals who might be bored and looking for things to do all day. There will almost always be a WQ for you providing some kind of reward.

The one problem with WQs might be that it can become a victim of its own success. For example, my druid is pretty much in full 850 gear, having stepped foot in heroic dungeons maybe four times (none of which resulted in upgrades). At this point, the only WQs I do are the ones to give Warden and Nightfallen reputation, as nothing else results in better gear. I mean, there is a chance a gear piece rolls Titanforged, but that’s a stretch. Mythic dungeons? No thanks. Maybe for the quests, but I’m not particularly interested in Mythic+ dungeon runs on timers.

This means, two months in, I am close to being done with all world/quest content in Legion. Indeed, I am in spitting distance of the Pathfinder Achievement, which is my current goal – just need about 2000 Wardens and 7000 Nightfallen rep before getting it. Luckily, 7.1 is coming out next week, but unless there are a bunch new WQs and/or increased ilevel rewards, I will be passing. Then it is PvP or alts until next year.

Speaking of alts, I finally have a level 3 Shipyard on my namesake paladin, and am just waiting for the BoA ring mission to proc. Considering that I have 20+ maxed out Garrison soldiers and have yet to have seen a single Elixir of the Rapid Mind mission, I am beginning to question whether these things are even still in the game.

I actually switched to Protection for the Tanaan dailies (for Oil), and it feels better than Ret, but the paladin is pretty much a pass for me again this expansion. I tried out the Frost DK and got to chill with the Lich King, but that is going to be another pass. Basically, I wasn’t too impressed with the DK’s self-healing capabilities. Yeah, I’m sure Blood can be immortal just like most questing tanks this expansion, but even getting to level 102 is a chore. My Outlaw rogue is in a similar position, insofar as it just doesn’t feel as fun to kill shit with. Assassination seems pretty powerful these days, so I’ll likely try switching specs if I can make it to 102.

Beyond that, I actually have a Demon Hunter and playing it… is interesting. Double jumping and gliding is pretty much the main draw, as the rotation is meh. Coming from all these other classes, having one spammable attack and one resource dump is pretty basic. There are cooldowns, don’t get me wrong, but the fundamentals don’t really change. Well, unless you take the current Momentum build, where you are forced to zip around the boss/mobs every 4 seconds like some ADHD 7-year old playing soccer for the first time. I can’t imagine how annoying that might be on raid bosses.

As I wrap up Legion Pathfinder, I’ll be spending some more time on the alts, to determine which (if any) might eventually be transferring to my new “main” server. I’m still kinda holding out until some kind of 50% off Services sale or until I quit WoW in disgust again, but maybe there will be a simpler realization that I don’t actually like playing any of these alts anymore.

I Still Got It

I bought the Sky Golem I was talking about a few weeks ago, but my background plan hadn’t changed, e.g. creating my own. And yesterday, I finished:



The current prices on Auch are in the 130k gold range, which would mean a significant recoupment on my original outlay of 85k.

There are, of course, some sunk costs in terms of materials: 300 bars of Ghost Iron on top of whatever 30 Living Steel cost to produce. However, 100% of my Living Steel came from shuffling Ghost Iron ore/bars by transmuting them into Trillium, then Trillium into Living Steel. Well, Trillium and a surprising secondary path: the no-cooldown Trillium + Spirit of Harmony transmute.

Throughout this side endeavor, I had been trying to liquidate some of my last-expansion mats and failing to do so. “This AH is dead.” Well… maybe not as much. After crafting and listing the Sky Golem, I threw the leftover Trillium I had for something like 550g a bar. The next day, I learned that they all sold. Huh. I checked the AH and now Trillium is sitting at 750g apiece. Someone is either trying to reset the market, or there is a spike in demand. Either way, it’s time for me to get in on this.

I check Ghost Iron Ore and note there are like 800+ on the AH for 15g apiece. That means 400 bars is 30g, or Trillium bars costing 300g apiece (not counting the extra Transmute Mastery procs). Even if they sell at 550g instead of the reset price, I’m in good shape.

So, I bought all the cheap ore. And then let out a heavy sigh on my smelter alt:


Yes, that’s 10 and a half minutes of AFK time.

After that completed, I checked the AH for Spirit of Harmony, in the off-chance I could profit off Living Steel. Incidentally, there were only four Living Steel on the AH, so I bought them all out and doubled the prices. Then I blankly stared at the screen for a moment:


For those of you who might not know, you can combine 10 Motes of Harmony into one Spirit of Harmony. And based on the number of people selling Motes, it seems many have forgot about this:


Like… I almost feel bad for that top seller. Did he or she not read the tooltip on the item before listing? I mean, okay, I’ll buy your 52g Spirits of Harmony, three of which take the place of three bars of Trillium in the Living Steel transmute.

Now, I fully recognize that not everything is going to sell here. It’s even possible nothing sells – I did pretty much dump 40 bars of Trillium on the AH. That said… this has been the most excited I have been about WoW in quite some time. Which isn’t to say that I have grown bored with the endgame just yet, but the machinations around trying to “optimize” the AH is a entirely novel experience to everything else. And I like it.

Back in Draenor, Apparently

Don’t ask. I don’t know either.

… but apparently I had a wild hair the past day or two to pick up the Bind on Account Rings that you get from doing the Shipyard quests in Warlords. I think the train of thought was that even if I spent money transferring toons off of Auchindoun, a few were at, or even below level 90. Plus, you know, the future, man.

In any case, this triggered a cascade of research and dicking around to the point that my namesake paladin is now scouring Tanaan like it’s June 2015. I even took another look at unlocking Draenor flying, but 1) fuck Blizzard for that entire fiasco, and 2) getting the 20% bonus to reputations (e.g. Trading Post Rank 3) requires Exalted with any Draenor faction… and I’m not even Honored with any of them. I suppose I could just use Medallions of the Legion without the bonus, but I don’t actually think there are enough of them on the no-pop wasteland that is Auch.

In the meantime, I’m just lurking around rare spawn sites for Shipyard equipment and doing my best Jedi Mind Trick on the passing level-capped Horde. I was only “ganked” once, by a Blood Elf hunter that saw my attempts to hearth out as too irresistible to ignore. Too bad I have the auto-bubble talent, which led me to just hearthing again, this time at double speed.

All of this is quite silly, of course. I’m pretty sure whatever time I’m spending on this is more than I’d save with +5% XP gains. At the same time, my druid is basically in passive grinding mode for Legion Pathfinder and this side project gives me something to work towards a bit more actively. I haven’t yet stuck my foot in a BG or LFR or even a Mythic dungeon.

So, I’m doing it wrong, but I’m doing something. And that’s fine for now.

Auchindoun Really is a Graveyard Now

Since I am quickly approaching the end of all story content on the druid, I had a notion to try leveling some of my other characters. Specifically, one of the dozen or so I have been playing for the past 6+ years on Auchindoun-US. After about two hours, I have come to one, sobering conclusion: Auchindoun may as well be a graveyard for all my original characters.

You see, I didn’t quite realize how well I had it on Sargeras-US, Alliance-side. As far as I know, it is the most lopsided Alliance-favored PvP server in WoW. I just sort of took it for granted that I was only ever ganked twice (both times at the end of far-flung Flight Paths), and that there were always a dozen or so Alliance members attacking a WQ mob at any given moment. Even if there were rogues skulking about, I quest in Bear form, so… good luck, buddy.

Back on Auchindoun, the situation is much more grim. According to this site, it’s 77.2% Horde.

Sargeras is… oh, 92.9% Alliance. Wow. Goddamn.

Anyway, the bottom line is that the very minute that my level 99 rogue step foot in Azsuna the other day, I was one-shot by a hunter, presumably out of principle. What followed after was a harrowing two hours of questing, where I was constantly stealthing after every mob kill, and had to be ready to Cloak of Shadows/Vanish the moment anyone else showed up.

Worse was the simple fact that even if the Horde were content to leave me alone, I could never actually contribute meaningfully to any kills. The vast majority of every class and spec cleaves by default, which means I either spam Pistol Shot from 20 yards out or simply die to collateral damage.

All of this nonsense and anxiety was occurring on my rogue. I can’t even begin to imagine how many combined hours of time spent in spirit form I’d need for my mage or warlock. And, remember, Blizzard severely nerfed the experience one gets from dungeon queuing, because of course they did. What are my options? Battlegrounds? $25 server transfers? Straight-up rerolling? Even if I did manage to get to 110 in spite of everything… hey, I’m still fucked with WQs and  world bosses.

“PvP on a PvP server,” amirite? Well… technically, yes.

But for one thing, Auchindoun wasn’t this imbalanced faction-wise for the first six years I called it home. It was a barren wasteland, for sure, but the current situation is inarguably worse for me. Indeed, had the server been this way all along – filled to the brim with hostile Horde – I would never had gotten as far as I did on it. This is all entirely Blizzard’s arbitrary doing, without ever offering an escape mechanism from a server that has declined in playability to effectively zero.

The feeling I had at the end of the night was the same I experienced in Wrath, when my account was hacked. These characters are effectively gone. RIP in pieces.

Legendary RNG

I have around 40 hours at the WoW endgame and have not gotten a legendary yet.

Yes, I understand how “entitled” that statement is. The problem is that this is the sort of endgame that Blizzard has designed.

Back in the day, Legendaries were extremely rare drops from the end bosses of high raiding tiers. This made them rare and cool, but effectively nonexistent for the majority of the playerbase and drama-laden for raiders besides. Sometimes the mainhand Warglaive never dropped. Sometimes the rogue got both Warglaives and then /gquit. Sometimes the warrior tank spent his accumulated DKP and “wasted” a Warglaive drop to look cool.

Around Wrath, the Legendary paradigm changed to make things a bit more organized. You had to collect 40 pieces of whatever, perhaps kill a specific boss, get a certain achievement, and then you got your Legendary. There was still a certain amount of coordination necessary though, as the Legendary pieces dropped for the whole raid, and thus had to be divvied up. In Mists and Warlords, the system was opened up further to the point where everyone could reasonably be expected to receive their own personal Legendary items. Drama around Legendaries was essentially removed, being solely a function of an individual’s willingness to grind past the gating mechanism.

In Legion, Legendaries are once again random drops. And there are dozens and dozens of them, for specific classes and even specific specs. The system, in effect, is a huge step backwards.

In principle, I actually like what they are doing with Legendaries, insofar as they are items that make you rethink your talent choices, skill rotation, and possibly even spec. Trinkets and Tier Set pieces traditionally function in this role, and their ability to “change the math” is precisely why getting them are exciting. One can stomach stat sticks only so far. In this sense, perhaps having “Legendary” items perform a similar role outside of Tier Sets and trinkets makes the piece of gear indeed “legendary.”

That said, we are now in a new Blizzard paradigm in which not only does Legendary gear drop from any content – including really dumb World Quests – but also one in which we can expect to see multiple pieces. Indeed, the last Class Hall upgrade for every class is the ability to equip two Legendary items at a time. Ergo, we should expect to have 2+ minimum. That said, there are tens of thousands of people right now with multiple Legendary pieces, and even more who have none. Supposedly there exists a “pity timer” which increases the odds of a Legendary drop the more one fails to receive one (such a mechanic exists in Hearthstone already), but nevermind.

Regardless, I really kinda hate this system. Sure, I see what Blizzard is doing: moving WoW towards a more Diablo 3 looting model, which makes completing otherwise dreary “kill 10 X” more exciting. But I actually enjoyed working towards items. Remember the old Badge system? There is a huge difference on an intellectual level between grinding 1000 mobs for 1000 points to buy a piece of gear, versus grinding 1000 mobs for a 1/1000 chance for a gear drop. I mean, I get it: filling some progress meter is a more defined endpoint than random drops. But for me personally, this level of randomness provides no meaningful sense of progression at all.

And by the way, this system seriously sucks for my situation in particular. I have been playing my Druid pretty much exclusively this expansion, with the understanding that I will need to be Balance if I ever wanted to raid later. However, questing as Guardian is so fucking amazing and quick that doing anything else is folly. And if I ever wanted to play some PvP, say, to capitalize on the Arena Skirmish bonus this past week? That’s either Feral or Resto. So, basically, no matter when or where a Legendary does finally drop (if it drops), I am guaranteed to not be able to meaningfully use it.

If I could work towards a specifically Legendary… but alas. GG Blizzard. GG.

Sky Golem, Ho

Still herbing, still making bank.

Sargeras-US prices for the Sky Golem kept getting reset higher, with the latest scan showing them to be 250k apiece. Luckily, the prices were much lower on Auchindoun-US – around 100k – where I originally had all my gold (~320k). I had the Sky Golem pattern on one of my engineering alts, but still had 15 days to go, considering the daily profession cooldown that was necessary.

Then I saw it: Sky Golem on Auchindoun for 85k buyout. Do I wait two weeks and save X gold? Or do I purchase now?

Typically, I would hem and haw on this decision for ages, and likely end up with a crafted Sky Golem two weeks later. Or perhaps find out that I am bored with the game and stop playing two weeks later. In light of that possibility, I decided to go ahead and spend my pixels for fun now. And believe me, the Sky Golem makes random herbing so, so much more fun. Combined with the Legion Herbalism glove enchants, it takes literally 0.5 seconds to herb a node, and I never have to dismount.

Given the difficulty of herbing in Stormheim and Highmountain, I don’t actually consider the Sky Golem to be an “investment.” As in, I do not think the mount is going to pay for itself over the life of the expansion by increasing my herbing yield by X amount. I mean, at current herb prices, it’s the same as around two stacks of Starlight Rose or three stacks of the others. But what I do consider it and can vouch for is its investment in fun. It is so, so very satisfying to herb now.

In any case, this is my WoW time now. Log on, set up some Missions, complete the WQs that grant 835+ gear while hoping for a Titanforge proc, and slowly work through the Legion Pathfinder achievement while herbing at maximum possible speed. I have a Demon Hunter and a half dozen other alts potentially ready to go, but I have a hard time justifying playing anything else. Which, of course, is only going to make things worse for me later, considering that Artifact Knowledge isn’t rolling on alts. Yeah, the AK work orders will be completed faster eventually, but gating is gating.

The thought of taking 1-4 more alts through Friendly rep on every faction and cycling through WQs on all of them just gives me gas though.

Making Gold with Herbalism in Legion

I have not done a specific WoW AH-related post in quite some time, but allow me a moment to make one now: get Herbalism and make bank while you still can.

As of the time of this post, TheUndermineJournal shows the following prices on Sargeras-US:

  • Fjarnskaggl = 105g
  • Starlight Rose = 191g
  • Foxflower = 153g

Even on the backwater Auchindoun-US server, it shows up as:

  • Fjarnskaggl = 54g
  • Starlight Rose = 187g
  • Foxflower = 106g

These prices are per herb. Starlight Rose is only collected 1 at a time unless a bonus mob spawns, and sometimes that 1 herb attempt actually fails and you get vendor trash. Thus, it might be better to simply farm herbs in Stormheim or Highmountain, as each herb node will get you 3-6 herbs and the fox spawn from Foxflower will give you 20-30 herbs for free. All of these herbs can be gathered at skill level 1, and the only thing that matters skill-wise is getting to 100 Herbalism to unlock the occasional Felwort WQ. Farming routes can be found below:

If you want to get fancy with all the farming, there are three approaches, which can be combined.

First, you can speed up your actual farming of herbs via enhancements. If you are mounted in either the Sky Golem or the Mechanized Lumber Extractor, you can herb while remaining mounted. The former has seen it’s price more than double over the last week however (from around 64k to 150k), and making your own is a minimum 30-day affair due to relying on daily Engineering cooldowns. That said, if you can both snag a Sky Golem and then the Legion Herbalism glove enchant, you can saunter up to herbs and zip away nearly instantly.

Second, there are technically addons out there that will allow you to server hop, and either get a fresh set of spawns or avoid someone that is already farming the area on your server (herb nodes are mult-tap, but only for ~10 seconds). In my experience though, farming routes are almost not even necessary. Just collect all the herbs you see while completing WQs in the area. That will generally be enough for 5k-10k gold in sales by the time you hearth back to an AH.

Finally, if you really want to get super fancy, you can follow the advice of this Reddit thread and create a level 101 twink. That’s right, with level scaling mobs, twinks are back. The idea is to get a character to 101 so that you can equip all of those ilevel 835 BoE epics, then lock your XP gains. Bonus points for actually equipping the Brewfest Tankards instead of your artifact weapon, since the former is ilevel 810. Since all the mobs in Stormheim and Highmountain scale to your actual level, as opposed to your ilevel, you should be able to both herb and close to one-shot any mobs that might be in your way. Using a Demon Hunter for this makes it both trivial to create and likely better than any alternative class, what with the gliding and double jumps.

The reason I say “start now” is because A) it is still wildly profitable right now, and B) prices will likely crash in 7.1. As shown on MMO-Champ last week, there is a Blood of Sargeras trader coming in the next patch:


If accurate, this will change everything.

While a lot of people are praying saying that the conversion rates are placeholder values, the fact remains that any kind of conversion is going to reduce prices across the board. If we take the current AH prices for example, the value of a single Blood at this trader is between 955g-3060g. If you only get 10 Foxflower per Blood, that is still… 955g-1530g. Blizzard isn’t going to make it 1 Blood for 1 herb, so I find it actually incredibly likely that the 20 herb conversion stays at 20 herbs.

Now, I do think it’s possible Herbalism will remain profitable even after the Trader appears. Traditionally, this has not been the case because of bots. There have been more recent reports from players seeing teleporting bots again this expansion, but I think we can all agree that Blizzard seems to be getting better at keeping them under control. I mean, with where prices are at currently, I would have expected a flood of botting already. Since that is not necessarily the case, I have hopes that the “floor” of the herb market will remain acceptably high.

Because I’ll be damned trying to transition to crafting professions when the AH is still throttled.

Beginning of Endgame

I have been at the level 110 cap in Legion for about a week now. A lot of hit, and a little miss.

World Quests (WQ) are an interesting variation of the traditional WoW endgame daily quest grind. You get an “Emissary quest” every day (accumulating to three total), which gives you some general direction: complete four WQs of that specific faction, get bonus rep and a chest full of goodies.

What’s odd about the system are two things. First, the interface for this is all weird. Maybe an addon will solve this (Edit: there are several), but I find it awkward having to zoom into each individual zone and hover over the WQ icons to see the rewards. Don’t really care all that much about Artifact Power or gold at the moment, and a whole lot more for the free gear.

And that’s actually my second concern with WQs: it does weird things to incentives. Basically, some of your WQs are going to reward gear straight-up, and the relative quality of this gear increases as your average ilevel increases. I’m not sure of the limitations of this system, e.g. if every armor slot is open season, but you better believe I’m willing to click on some objects and/or kill X mobs for the equivalent of heroic dungeon gear. Then you sometimes get Mythic gear WQs for defeating dungeons at any difficulty. Which, yeah, provides a pretty big incentive to run dungeons.

Incidentally, my DPS dungeon queues the last few days have actually been 3 minutes. One time it was actually instant, which caused a moment of panic as I thought I accidentally queued as a tank. I think WQs are the same across regions, and that might be the reason why a given dungeon would have no queues. Or possibly more people are willing to be tanks, given how easy questing is as one.

Gold-wise, I broke 100,000g last night. All as a Gatherer mind you, as the AH continues to be throttled. I suppose the expansion is still new – and raids have just came out – but the prices of some of these goods is rather surprising. Either Blizzard has gotten the farming bot situation finally resolved, or everyone is still flush with gold from Garrisoncraft, because 70g 100g+ Foxflower is crazy. That herb in particular is not only easy to farm, it can proc a literal fox that runs around and drops 20-30 herbs. If I cared more about wanting more gold, I’d be doing that every night. Fjarnskaggl is also crazy, and Starlight Rose? 280g apiece.

Given the profitability of Herbalism, I went ahead and dropped Mining on my druid. I started up Alchemy, under the assumption that if herbs were so profitable, adding some labor in there might increase that profit margin. As it turns out, I understand now: Alchemy got hosed. Basically everything is gated through a half-dozen or more dungeon quests. Not just high-tier recipes either – you don’t get the Alchemy trinket or transmutes until the end of a long, multi-dungeon quest-line. Flasks are after heroic boss kills. Rank 2 recipes also drop from dungeon bosses.

And then you have recipes themselves, which require ridiculous shit even for cosmetic items. Skystep Potion requires four (4) Starlight Roses. To move at 150% speed for 8 seconds. At current prices, that’s over 1000g a potion. Yeah, herbs will probably be cheaper a year from now. But Starlight Rose in particular is an herb that can actually proc failures.

In any case, I am overall comfortably coasting right along at the endgame. I spent another WoW token to resub, and the general gameplay of collecting the easy WQ gear and herbing my way to 10,000g by the end of the session is satisfying. At some point I am going to check out Demon Hunters, and then take a look at my rogue and/or other alts. My other alts will be a problem though, I suspect: most are trapped pre-Draenor, and I never unlocked flying there.

We will just have to see how engaged I stay with the druid.

Social Dungeoneering

With Legion, I feel that Blizzard solved a major source of social friction and then almost immediately made it even worse than before.

As you may or may not know, by default LFD queues in Legion are Personal Loot, which neatly solves the long-standing issue of loot whore/ninjaing. But this also made it feel like nobody was getting any actual loot, so Blizzard added a big prompt notifying when other people won stuff. Of course, this highlighted those situations when someone won useless (to them) loot, and people started pining for the days when they could pass on/trade loot to each other. So Blizzard made the items tradable as long as you already had something with a higher ilevel in that slot.

This culminated in my recent Neltharion’s Lair run, wherein I won some lower ilevel gloves and missed the whispers from the healer after the penultimate boss. Hey, the chat box gets pretty full sometimes with the near non-stop narration, okay? Taking my silence as some sort of snub – or perhaps simply engaging in some vindictive blackmail – the healer simply stopped healing me. After eating dirt for a second time in front of the trash leading to the final boss, and getting emotes instead of a rez, I asked “Did I do something wrong? :(” assuming that I was not following some trash mechanic. “At last he speaks.” Ah, I see. I trade the gloves and received healing for the last fight.

This sort of convoluted situation has since occurred three more times in different contexts. Boss dropped a 825 helm and the Demon Hunter traded it to me, but seemed to almost regret his decision. “Are you really going to use that?” I suppose he was asking since I had the 2-piece set bonus from the Order Hall armor. Another time some gloves dropped and the winner asked who needed it, and two party members must have gotten in a furious whisper war, because the run stopped for a solid 2 minutes before something was hashed out.

Finally, I won some lower-ilevel wrists in my latest dungeon run, and basically spent the rest of the run trying to inspect our Bear tank to see if they were an upgrade to him. They were, I surreptitiously traded them to him instead of the Demon Hunter, and went on with my day.

Hey, remember when all of this was solved by hitting Need or Greed? I do.

Seriously though, if Blizzard is going to add all of this tradable Personal Loot nonsense, they should probably invest in an UI element that asks if you want to Pass on the loot. If you hit Yes, it should pop up a Need or Greed prompt for everyone. If you hit No, the item could still be tradable in case you want to give the item to a particular person without advertising or whatever. Done and done.