Active Goldmaking in BfA: Warfront Contributions

The last two gold-making posts have been about “passive” income in Battle for Azeroth. What follows is what I have specifically been doing in an active way since the expansion launch.

Warfront Contributions

Holy shit, guys. If you were not online during the first four hours of the Alliance Warfront Contributions on a high-pop server… then I’m sorry. You can still make some coin, but probably not “selling a 2g item for 250g” level of coin.

Overall, I collected 120,000g in AH sales on Sunday, without expressly stockpiling anything.

WoW_BfAContributions

Hand over fist.

Warfront Contributions are a week-long event in which max-level characters of a specific faction can turn in items for +500 Azerite Power and +75 reputation. There are two default turn-ins of 100g and 100 War Resources. The other nine turn-ins are “random” items from various professions.

This week for Alliance NA, we have:

  • Coastal Mana Potion – 20x
  • Meaty Haunch – 60x
  • Monelite Ore – 60x
  • Coarse Leather – 60x
  • Battle Flag: Phalanx Defense – 1x
  • Straddling Viridium – 15x
  • Incendiary Ammunition – 2x
  • Enchant Ring – Seal of Versatility – 3x
  • War-Scroll of Intellect – 3x
  • Donations: Gold – 100
  • Donations: War Resources – 100x

If you’ll recall, Horde had a similar Contributions list two weeks ago:

  • Steelskin Potion – 2
  • Monel-Hardened Stirrups – 2
  • Enchant Ring – Seal of Versatility – 3
  • Crow’s Nest Scope – 6
  • Great Sea Catfish – 60
  • Straddling Viridium – 15
  • Coarse Leather Barding – 2
  • War-Scroll of Fortitude – 3
  • Tidespray Linen – 60

So, the first thing to note is that the same item can appear week-to-week. This will severely complicate the notion of buying up stockpiles of items for the next turn-in. On the other hand, when certain items fall to levels that may as well be vendor priced, well… sometimes that 1000:1 odds may work in your favor. For example, people were selling the Crafting glove enchants for like 1g apiece. I bought 300 of them. Maybe they will become the turn-in in October, and I can make a killing. Maybe it won’t.

This leads to only note that matters:

Raw Materials Are King

I have consistently been purchasing any ore priced under 20g. The idea was to collect some spare mats to level up Blacksmithing and/or Engineering on an alt in the future, but it allowed me to capitalize on the fact that Monelite Ore went from 20g to 80g apiece. For those keeping track at home, this meant I made a profit of 12,000g per stack. I did not sell them in stacks though, of course, I sold them in auctions of 60 to match the Warfront quests.

Incidentally, I did not have a stockpile of Straddling Viridium ready to go when the Warfront Contributions went live; my bet was on Insightful Rubellite. But I do have a JC character, so let’s look at the prices of Storm Silver Ore and Platinum Ore…

WoW_BfAStormSilver

Let’s do this thing.

It was barely above 25g, and that’s because I bought out everything below that amount. So, I prospected all that Storm Silver Ore, then cut all the Viridium and sold them in groups of 15, with each individual gem selling for 250g+. The precise numbers might have been needed to be crunched to see how I fared fishing for Viridium – it costs at least 125g every time I pressed that Prospect button – if not for the fact that every other outcome was pure bonus. Well, most of them. Owlseye is 580g and Kracken’s Eye is nearly 2000g. But then, someone decided to pay an absurd amount for even raw Rubellite and Kyanite for some reason, so my averages kept going up.

Do they know something I don’t? Who cares! I have always been a huge advocate for mild success over complete dominance, assuming the former takes a fraction of the effort as the latter. Besides, in a worst-case scenario, I simply prospect some more ore and compete with them on their secret strategy or whatever.

Some other easy wins on the Contribution list were Coarse Leather and Meaty Haunch. If you have a Skinner, they can drop from the same mobs, and hey, Blood-Stained Bone still sells for 35-50g apiece too. That’s practically a triple-threat all by itself. More farming tips will be in Friday’s post.

Strategy Going Forward

As with real life, the key to making bank via Contributions is owning the means of production. In this case, raw materials. Instead of stockpiling Coarse Leather Barding in anticipation of those items making a return, just bank a bunch of Coarse Leather instead. Profession alts are easy to make this time around, and one Leatherworker will let you take those materials and turn them into whatever you need crafted. Or in this week’s case, just sell the material straight-up.

While I recommend primarily raw materials, do keep an eye out to those selling below mat-cost just to recoup leveling costs. I’m note sure if any of those glove enchants will come up as an item turn-in, for example, but they sure as hell cost WAY less than the 5 Gloom Dust that it takes to craft them.

Beta for Azeroth

The expansion honeymoon phase is over for the WoW playerbase, and the rabble is’a rousing. To which I say, “about goddamn time.” The latest fuel on the fire? Ion Hazzikostas himself went into a Reddit AMA and basically said shit is broken on purpose. Which then led to this amusing exchange:

9p3h26ygrcm11In case something happens to the picture, the specific line from Ion was:

We’re crafting systems with an eye towards the grand scheme of the game as it unfolds over the course of many months […]

While it might not have quite the meme potential of EA’s “sense of pride and accomplishment” disaster, it remains one of those insidious bits of accidental truth that rusts out the suspension of disbelief. And lest you extend any sort of doubting benefits to Ion, just read his response to a question about the sad state of Resto Shaman thus far:

We knew Restoration were coming up on the low end in the initial weeks of BfA, and applied some measured buffs to their AoE healing in particular, but we expected the value of their Mastery to rise significantly once higher-end raiding and M+ became more of a competitive focus, and we wanted to make sure not to overbuff them.

In other words, the design team knew that the spec was weak at launch, but felt like gear would fix the problem later, so they decided to do nothing. Did they end up buffing Shaman? Yes… “measurely,” with trepidation. But why wait for a hotfix if you already knew the interim was going to be bad? And more importantly: why make your players wait for the game to fix itself?

Look, I understand the delicate balance the devs are trying to make here. If Blizzard made Resto Shaman competitive in PvE from the beginning, they would have to nerf them in the future to ensure that the Mastery scaling (or whatever) didn’t make them clearly better than any of the other healers. Nerfing always feels bad. But do you know what else feels bad? Being gimped on purpose because there’s some master plan in which you become adequate later.

This perverse philosophy really explains everything that we have been seeing in Battle for Azeroth thus far. The wonky Warfront timing, for example, will “fix itself” later on when there are 3-4 of them running consecutively. Some Professions not having any use for some dungeon/raid crafting materials, is another exa…

This is something we’ve been discussing a bunch. On the one hand, we’d like to add a way to get at least Hydrocores through doing non-Mythic dungeons, so that the professions that DO have a use for them don’t feel like they hit a brick wall in their crafting if they only do matchmade content.

On the other hand, it’s awkward to be swimming in Sanguicells with no use for them as an Alchemist or Enchanter. I don’t have a specific fix to announce right now, but we’re discussing plans to address that problem. (source)

Just kidding, none of the devs put any thought into Professions at all.

Or maybe they did, and they are just waiting to introduce the Expulsom Trader, ala the Blood of Sargeras Trader, into patch 8.1. That would certainly maintain the consistency of “reuse every aspect of the game’s design” method, which more and more seems like it’s done out fear of fucking up the formula than intentional design. But again, why wait? You know the solution, so just do it. Or be bold and make Expulsom/Sanguicell Bound-on-Account.

This entire fiasco reminds me of the advice I gave new bloggers six years ago: don’t “save” your best stuff. In the most charitable, optimistic scenario Blizzard is planning for the final months of the expansion to be fantastic. By then, everyone will have the appropriate Azerite Levels to use the outer rings of any gear drops right away, and there will be hundreds of new Azerite traits, and so on. It even jives with the way Blizzard has handled PvP gear looks for a long time – the first tier looks pretty generic, but by the end you are a proper badass.

The problem is… why should someone play during the broken part? I already used a WoW Token a few days ago, so I feel kinda stuck already, but if I had read this AMA before renewing, then I wouldn’t have. Everything that people praise about the expansion – the music, the questing, the general environment – is still going to be there after 8.1, or six months later, or whenever. I’m not suggesting that you go full Gevlon and essentially wait for the next expansion – which at this point, may end up having the same exact issues again – but waiting for 8.1 or 8.2 seems pretty ideal.

If you ever wondered what the deal was with people complaining about Destiny versus Destiny 2, this was precisely it. Or the Complete Edition of Civilization 5 versus Civilization 6 without expansions. Designers make mistakes, and that is okay. It means they are trying something new. What is not okay are designers who make mistakes, fix those mistakes, and then come out with a new product with the old mistakes baked in so they can sell you the solution all over again.

Passive Goldmaking in BfA, part 2

If you want to actively make gold in Battle for Azeroth, go farm some herbs.

If instead you want to kinda kick back and get a couple hundred gold a day for doing not much at all (assuming you played in these expansions), then stick around.

Garrison (Warlords of Draenor)

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Mostly.

Back in the day, your Garrison was printing gold every day with missions worth thousands of hard currency. All of that has been stripped out, to the point where even opening those salvage bags rewards gear that vendors for 5 copper. But here’s the thing: there’s still gold in them there hills. You just have to dig a little deeper.

Mission Table: Medallion of the Legion

If you have a level 3 garrison with full followers, there’s still the possibility of lucking into one of those missions that rewards a Medallion of the Legion. This is a reputation consumable still in high demand because it allows you to get that much closer to unlocking WoD flying. On Sargeras-US, the current price is 8222g but I sold one a month ago for 15,000g. It’s not consistent money, but it’s something worth checking out on occasion.

Garrison Resources

You will naturally accumulate up to 500 Garrison Resources (GR) every ~ 3 days per character. Additionally, if you have high-level followers and Garrison overall, there is the possibility of landing missions that reward up to 1650 GR by themselves.

Why does this matter? If you build even a level 1 Trading Post, you can turn GR into a few trade goods that still sell for a pretty penny. Those include:

  • True Iron Ore (15.26g)
  • Sumptuous Fur (8.82g)
  • Raw Beast Hide (11.94g)
  • Sometimes fish meat

With the best trader (changes daily), you can get 1 good for every 16 GR traded. If that good is worth 8g on average, then each individual GR is worth 50s. This means that the 500 GR you receive every few days is worth 250g, and those big GR missions can net the equivalent of 825g. This is not as lucrative or consistent as a MoP farm, but considering you likely have Garrisons on all your toons already, it’s decent coin for doing nothing other than logging into characters twice a week.

Hexweave Bags

Guess what? Hexweave Bags are still a thing. Somehow.

If you have a Tailoring alt, have them endure a loading screen or two and pump out a Hexweave Bag every 2-3 days. According to this Reddit thread, at peak efficiency the material cost is 116 Sumptuous Fur (1023g), 16 Gorgrond Flytrap (12g), and 10 Sorcerous Earth (98.5g). That’s 1134g in mats for something that still sells for ~1900g or more.

Incidentally, stop buying Hexweave Bags. Sell them, don’t buy them. Deep Sea Bags are also 30-slot bags, and at Rank 1 the material cost is 30 Deep Sea Satin (910g) and 15 Tidespray Linen (296g) and 9g in thread. Deep Sea Bag prices are crashing down currently, and sell for 1250g  less than 1k gold (!!!) on Sargeras-US. That’s barely above Rank 1 material costs, but the bags are great for leveling up Tailoring, and the Rank 3 material cost is ~210g cheaper.

These prices are high because Tidespray Linen is almost 20g per cloth on Sargeras-US. That’s likely because a lot of the hyper-farms in BfA have been nerfed in the past few days, but I expect prices to lower over time naturally. This will drive down the costs for making Deep Sea Bags. Which appear to have zero bearing on the price of Hexweave Bags, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Primal Spirit Vendor

Have a bunch of Primal Spirits laying around? Convert them to gold, vendor-style!

Primal Spirits are BoP crafting materials that you used to earn in WoD content, much like Blood of Sargeras in Legion. Whether you have an unknown stockpile of them on one of your alts, or if you end up running Garrison Missions that have them as rewards, 25 Primal Spirits can be traded for a Savage Blood, which can be traded back to a Trading Post vendor for a bag which always contains ~50g and some change. So, in other words, each Primal Spirit is worth about 2g minimum.

You can technically trade Primal Spirits for other things, including BoP crafting materials like Hexweave Cloth and the like. However, the conversion rate is fairly abysmal for anything but the Savage Blood route. Technically, converting 500 Primal Spirits into one Hexweave Bag is an improvement – whatever Hexweave Bags are selling for vs 1000g – it it is not usually worth the hassle. And besides, who has 500 Primal Spirits hanging around? It’s much more likely to convert any of those “30+ Primal Spirit” Garrison Mission rewards.

Goblin Glider

No engineer? No problem! You can still craft Goblin Gliders with just the engineering hut active in your Garrison. The material costs are:

  • 8 True Iron Ore (122g)
  • 5 Sumptuous Fur (44g)

Since you receive 5 Goblin Gliders per craft, that comes out to be 33g per Glider. And you can currently sell them on the AH for… 30g. Oops.

Still, Goblin Gliders are worth checking out as a revenue stream once the prices of True Iron Ore and/or Sumptuous Fur come down. If we look at the median prices of these mats instead of their current prices, each Glider costs around 28g to make. That’s… still not even close to being worth it.

In any case, that’s that. Definitely not as good as the MoP farm, IMO, but it’s likely that you have a stable of alts with high-level Garrisons already, including a free hearthstone. As always, you could earn a lot more per hour by farming herbs or whatever in BfA zones. These “passive” income streams don’t require any thought however, and can easily fit into your warm-up or cool-down routines while playing.

Passive Goldmaking in BfA, part 1

If you want to actively make gold in Battle for Azeroth, go farm some herbs.

If instead you want to kinda kick back and get a couple hundred gold a day for doing not much at all (assuming you played in these expansions), then stick around. I might just blow your mind.

Sunsong Ranch (Mists of Pandaria)

Did you unlock all 16 slots in your MoP farm back in the day? Congrats on your free money.

Easiest/Quickest Sale: Spirit of Harmony (avg 480g/day)

Right now on Sargeras-US, one Spirit of Harmony is selling for around 300g apiece. If you plant Songbell Seeds in all the plots, you will generate 1.6 Spirits of Harmony per day, per character. A bag of Songbell Seeds has 10 “charges” and costs 30g, so your outlay is 75s per node (30g / 40) or about 7.5g per Spirit of Harmony.

Overall, you should be earning the equivalent of 480g without much thought or particular effort.

Medium-level Effort: trade in Spirit of Harmony (avg 707g-793g/day)

Keep in mind that Spirit of Harmony can also be exchanged for various other things, which can potentially be sold for more. The vendors will be in your faction hub in Vale of the Eternal Blossoms, and they sell things like this:

WoW_SpiritVendor

Most of these are not worth it, for the record.

For example, it’s possible that 20 Ghost Iron Ore (or 10 Ghost Iron Bars) will be worth more than a Spirit of Harmony by itself. On Sargeras-US, the price of Ghost Iron Ore is 22.1g apiece, so turning the Spirit of Harmony you just farmed (or bought on the AH) into 20 Ghost Iron Ore will net you 442g with six Motes of Harmony left over. Or looked at another way, each Mote of Harmony is worth 2 Ghost Iron Ore, so you should average 707g (32 * 22.1g) a day, assuming these prices.

To kick it up another notch, check the prices of Ghost Iron Bars. Right now, they are at 49.57g apiece on Sargeras-US, so having a Miner who can smelt bars will turn that haul into an average of 793g (32 / 2 *49.57g) a day.

Maximum Profits: Snakeroot Seed (avg 1016g-1428g/day)

Can we go deeper down the rabbit hole? Yes, we can. Specifically, Snakeroot Seed-deep.

Instead of planting Songbell Seeds, you plant Snakeroot Seeds. Now each node you harvest will result in 1 Trillium Ore (black or white) and 0-2 Ghost Iron Ore. The results are highly random: sometimes you will get 8 Trillium of each color, sometimes you will get 16 of one color. The total amount of Ghost Iron will also be random, but I typically net between 7-17 Ghost Iron Ore.

So, again, Sargeras-US figures:

  • Black Trillium Ore: 91.5g
  • White Trillium Ore: 53.96g
  • Trillium Bar: 359.8g
  • Ghost Iron Ore: 22.1g
  • Ghost Iron Bar: 49.57g

Assuming a worst-case scenario, with the least-profitable outcomes: 1,016g (16 * 53.96g + 7 * 22.1g). If you achieve balance in all things, you can see 1428g (8 * 53.96g + 8 * 91.5g + 12 * 22.1g)

You may note that Trillium Bar is currently selling for well below material price (it takes 2 Trillium Ore of each color to smelt one bar). That’s because Alchemists can transmute 10 Ghost Iron Bars into 1 Trillium Bar all day long, with zero cooldown. That method is also below material cost, but it’s augmented by the fact that Transmute specialists can get Trillium Bar procs.

I’m listing Snakeroot Seeds last despite them being the most profitable because it’s inherently more risky. Spirits of Harmony is something that can be turned into all sorts of other things, as needed. The demand for them is constant, and high. Golden Lotus is selling for 188g apiece, for example, so you can technically turn that 300g Spirit of Harmony into 376g of Golden Lotus pretty quick. Meanwhile, it’s hard to tell who is buying Trillium Ore at these prices.

Bonus Round: Sky Golem (avg 2613g/day)

If you’re curious as to why people still need any of these materials, it’s probably because of Sky Golems. One of the required mats is an Engineering daily (x30) “transmute” which requires 10 Ghost Iron Bars. The other required material is Living Steel x30, which is a daily Alchemy transmute of 6 Trillium Bars (or 3 Trillium Bars and 3 Spirit of Harmony, with no cooldown).

If you bought everything off the AH, that would mean:

  • 300 Ghost Iron Bars (14,871g)
  • 30 Living Steel (55,730.1g)
    • or 180 Trillium Bar (64,764g)

Considering the current price of Sky Golems are hovering around 149k, that is a tasty profit margin. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up the Engineering transmute cooldown, so the Sky Golem can only be crafted after 30 full days. However, if you want to be a do-it-yourselfer, then a Snakeroot Farm will actually give you all the materials you would need to craft the Sky Golem from scratch. Eventually. I wouldn’t recommend it though, unless you don’t have the starting capital laying around.

…which you can certainly start accumulating by working your farm. Or actively farming BfA mats.

Battlefield V is Awful

Holy shit is Battlefield V some hot garbage.

The open beta just came out, so you can go play it for yourself. It’s roughly a 12GB download, and I regretted it almost immediately.

You will note that I am not saying that the one specific map is hot garbage, even though it is. No, I am talking about the entire Battlefield experience. We have known from previews and the like that DICE was radically changing the mechanics, but it wasn’t until I actually sat down and played it that I realized how terrible they all were.

Ammo is severely limited. You have two, maybe three clips of ammo. See some figures running around in the distance? Shoot at them for a few seconds, reload, and… oh, hey, you have 30 bullets left. This change was supposed to make the Support class more useful, I think, but the reality is that no one is Support because you die instantly and can’t shoot anyone as Support.

Oh, and by the way, as Support you have infinite respawning ammo pouches to give other people, but you cannot resupply yourself. I ran around for five solid minutes with 15 bullets left in my mag, throwing ammo pouches left and right. I could only toss them when aiming directly at teammates – no throwing them at your feet and getting ammo yourself. I suppose they assume there will be two Support classes resupplying each other? This may or may not be alleviated once you unlock the actual Ammo Crate, but I have no idea.

Health is severely limited. While you start with 100 HP, there are breakpoints at which you cannot auto-heal past. In other words, if you get shot down to 10 HP, you will automatically regain HP up to like 65 HP or whatever. To heal yourself further than that, you need a Medic. In isolation, this is a change I’m kinda in favor of. It’s frustrating getting a few good shots into a target, only to have them hide and come back out at full health. But it’s a problem when…

Time-to-Kill is 0.00000001. Okay, that’s a bit exaggerated, but for the most part you will be dead before you realize that you are getting shot. In the case that you aren’t immediately killed from random gunfire, hiding will cause you to only heal up to 1/3 or half health, beyond which you will be instantly killed by any sniper tagging you in the foot.

All of the above combines into a bitter, shit stew of disappointment.

Spawn in somewhere. Run around, get shot a few times, now you’re at 10 HP. You heal up as best you can, but now you’ll be one-shot by any sniper in the area. Or maybe you kill a dude before getting shot yourself. You’re in a good position on the field, but… you only have 20 bullets left. Well, you may as well charge into the building and hope for the best, right? Kill a dude, go down yourself, then miraculously get revived by a medic. Except now you just have your pistol, and you get killed by the enemy as they retake the site.

I’m not entirely sure what I expected. Probably not a worse Battlefield 1, that’s for sure. But it’s hard to fully grasp how terrible this series has become, and for what possible reason. In Battlefield 2, Battlefield 3, and Battlefield 4, the game was about 64-player matches in which you did crazy-cool things with tanks and planes flying everywhere, dropping out of helicopters, and so on and so forth. Then DICE put out Hardline and it flopped. Then came Battlefield 1, which didn’t flop, but was oppressive as shit, and not at all fun to play. Now we have an even-worse set of gameplay systems, and less vehicles to boot.

It’s not hard, people. Just let us have fun shooting things. If I wanted an oppressive battlefield environment in which I had no individual agency, had to rely on teammates that failed to deliver, and was barred from doing any cool things, then… I would just go back to work. Like I do every day.

Luckily, DICE can fix these things. There’s still time to just give everyone two additional magazines, let Supports and Medics supply themselves, and bring up the TTK numbers. Now, whether DICE actually does so before launch or only after BFV sales flop, that’s up to them.

Until said changes are made though, I’m sitting this Battlefield out.

Warfronts Sinkhole

Very clever, Blizzard. Very clever.

I had a post all queued up to go on a rant about how terrible professions have been designed this expansion. I still feel that way, actually, so let me just say it: professions in Battle for Azeroth are a lazy copy & paste job from Legion, including all of the mistakes. Well, most of them: at least alts aren’t as punished by needing mythic dungeons or whatever for Rank 2.

One of the principle sources of my ire however, were all the useless crafts and crafting materials.

Remember Unbroken Tooth in Legion? Well, the functional equivalent of that is Calcified Bone in BfA, which is selling for an average of 6 copper on my server. It’s supposed to be a higher-tier material, but all it does is displace the actually-useful Blood-Stained Bone material in Skinning – which will be relevant all expansion due to people crafting and scrapping leather wrists for Expulsom. So why have Calcified Bone at all? Why not split Blood-Stained Bone off and make Calcified Bone the crafting material needed for mail gear or whatever?

There’s not a good reason other than the lazy interns tasked with designing professions. But they’re going to get away with it because of Warfronts.

Basically, Warfronts are going to be item sinks for the entire expansion. The Horde have the turn-ins this week, and they include things like Great Sea Catfish and Straddling Viridium. Before this week, Great Sea Catfish was absolute garbage. Not only did you catch it in fresh water (huh?), you could only cook it into non-buff food. It’s greatest claim to fame was setting the floor price for Aromatic Fish Oil. Now you need 60 of them to get 500 Azerite Power and some reputation.

Meanwhile, while the 3% movement speed gems were nice in the first three days of the new expansion, I had bought several for below vendor price in the past few weeks. Now? There was about ~6 hours in which they were selling for 400g apiece. It says a lot about the game that people were willing to pay nearly 6000g to get 500 AP, but whatever, I just supply the things.

Guild Wars 2 has a similar “solution” for its own terrible loot system, in that the Mystic Forge lets you throw 4 (stacks of) items into a hole, and sometimes get a goodie out the other side. It kinda makes up for the fact that you accumulate an astronomical amount of debris in your inventory, and Warfronts provide a similar sink.

It’s all a bandaid, of course. The fundamental issue is that Blizzard regrets the existence of professions, and doesn’t know what to do with them. Should they be the source of the best gear in the game? “No, that should be raids.” Should they give better gear than WQs? “Also no, we need people out in the world.” Should they give gear that invalidates dungeon gear? “No, unless it requires dungeon drop materials, in which case we’ll allow it.” Should crafted gear be a catch-up mechanism? “Sure, that sounds fine.” You do realize that as soon as you put on crafted gear, then WQs will start immediately offering upgrades, right? “Working as intended.”

But, whatever. Warfronts are a thing now, and I just made 60,000g in a single day because of them. Mostly from Coarse Leather Barding and Prospecting Platinum Ore for gems. Next week should be much the same, up until people stop caring about maxing out AP. Which, given how the anti-alts philosophy Blizzard had in Legion has dropped, might not be for a while.

Waycrest Manor

I completed my first dungeon in Battle for Azeroth, which was Waycrest Manor.

The first boss was the Queue. The average time to get in was 8 minutes as DPS, and I waited 45 minutes. While I waited, I fished out in the Horde area, as a level 112 Demon Hunter. The only reason I was doing a dungeon at all is because Anchor Weed Rank 2 required running said dungeon. With Anchor Weed currently selling for 550g apiece, it felt worth doing. The fish being 50g-100g apiece was bonus.

Forty-five minutes is a long time though.

Once inside, I was immediately reminded of that one dungeon in GW2, which was also inside a mansion. I was going to look it up just now, but does anyone care what it’s actually called, even if they play GW2? The bottom line is that Waycrest Manor reminded me of that other one because they are both terribly designed. You can’t have an MMO with a floating camera and then do a bunch of interior houses. It’s dumb, players can’t see shit, and you fight the camera more than the mobs.

The dungeon run was successful, but that was either because our healer was god-like or the tuning was low, even by LFD standards. More than once, I accidentally pulled extra groups of mobs trying to utilize Fel Rush, especially since my Azerite Powers boosted it. This included accidentally pulling one of the bosses (Raal). Somehow we muddled through it all – probably because the healer was a Monk – and I got my Anchor Weed book and we defeated the final boss.

My druid is another herbalist, and I’m debating whether or not to try and knock out the quest sooner or later. Respeccing as a tank would certainly help with queue times, but I’m a bit leery of the dungeon in general. And, you know, getting back on the saddle in terms of tanking.

Or I could just farm leather/herb for another 45 minutes while sitting in the queue and not worry about respeccing at all, trying to change Azerite Powers, etc etc. Hmm. Tough choice.

Leveling Punishment

C.T. Murphy recently wrote:

Leveling, as in playing the game, is still a lot of fun in World of Warcraft. Leveling, as in playing a roleplaying game where you expect your character to advance and evolve, has never been worse.

When you level up in Battle for Azeroth, you get nothing. No talents, abilities, or anything of any kind of merit whatsoever. Everything scales now too so there isn’t even a sense of “being able to go places I previously couldn’t”. Outside of padding, I don’t understand why they added more levels in the first place.

This is 100% accurate with my own WoW experience currently.

We are approaching three weeks since the expansion launched. I was on vacation for a week in the middle there, but the fact remains that my first toon hit level 113 on Thursday. It’s not that the leveling is slower, it’s that there isn’t any point to it. WoW fully embraced the TES: Oblivion conceit of punishing players for leveling up. At least, that’s how I feel about it right now.

Seriously though, think about it. Everyone talks about how the stories and quest-lines in BfA are excellent. Okay… are any of them gated by level? I don’t think so. Maybe the War Campaign? In which case it might actually be better to turn off XP at level 111 and just complete all your questing with your uber Legion gear (including Legendaries) and breeze through the mobs. You get nothing but weaker during the leveling process. That’s literally insane game design.

Of course, once you finish all the story bits, the actual endgame is still gated at level 120. And it would certainly suck if you ever changed your mind and had to gain 9 levels with zero questing opportunities. But the mere fact that this almost sounds plausible is blowing my mind.

As it stands, my primary purpose in logging in is checking the AH, and doing some light farming based on the prices of the day. The questing is fine, but it’s literally worse than doing quests at max level, considering how your character gets weaker each time they level up. So, I would rather run around hitting resource nodes and fill up my gold bar than my XP bar.

At least the former will make my gaming experience feel better.

Disposable Professions

As of Battle for Azeroth, WoW professions have become almost entirely disposable.

I noticed this last night as I was puttering around on some of my alts. Three of them wear leather armor, so I was hopping onto each one trying to remember which had Leatherworking. As it turns out, none of them did. So, without much thought, I dropped Skinning on the rogue and then… paused. “Leather is cheap, but those Blood-Stained Bones are relatively expensive.” Then I decided that my druid would likely be more efficient at AoE farming for leather anyway, so I logged onto her and then dropped Enchanting without a pause and gave her Skinning.

If you have not been keeping track at home, Blizzard had been moving towards the Single Expansion Relevance model for a while now. Professions used to start at 1, and you would need to dedicate tens of thousands of gold/hours farming to level them up to 300+ just to get near where current-content gear was. If you kept up, you were sitting pretty, because everyone else just coming back from a break or brand new players had a huge grind ahead of them.

It was not a particularly elegant model, but it still felt… reasonable. Plus, the constant need for old-world mats for newly profession-ed characters meant that lowbies had a good shot at become rich by just gathering herbs/ore as they leveled. There was a whole micro-economy that existed there, including the savvy Auctioneers who were able to throw together a “profession kit” that would allow someone to max out to current content within 30 minutes. The dedication needed to remain in your own professions would inspire people to level alts just to have additional options, who then needed to be leveled and geared and fed a diet of AH materials, and so on, and so forth.

Then things started to change.

The first steps were allowing players to harvest current-expansion nodes even as a starter herbalist/miner. Blizzard made sure that the product extracted was basically junk, or 1/10th of the normal result, but you could at least tap the node. And that was reasonable, especially for the gathering professions, as it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to force high-level characters to be scouring old Azeroth for Tin nodes.

Then came the gimmie recipes for crafters, which allowed them to use current-expansion resources to rank up 400+ levels. One would think that such a feature killed off the old-school profession kits, but all it really did was set a price ceiling at which it was cheaper to just buy new herbs/ore. This was especially true at the beginning of an expansion, when the latest herbs/ore were selling for hundreds of gold apiece.

Somewhere in there, Blizzard also introduced profession books, which would allow you to “relearn” all the recipes you had lost when abandoning a profession.

With BfA, the circle is now complete. Professions are entirely stratified into expansion-specific tiers. Profession bonuses, which were the bane of hardcore raiders, were watered-down and diluted into irrelevance. Once a part of your character’s identity and story, professions are, at most, a (temporary) economic decision. Hell, in the heady days of a new expansion release, it can sometimes be worth the 1000g fee to relearn a profession if you can make ten times that amount in a night of being a temporary whatever. Blizzard helpfully removed most of the dungeon requirements for 3-star ranks, so the barriers has never been lower.

And all of that is probably for the best.

I sat here a while, exploring my feelings on the matter, before coming to that conclusion. I am a huge critic of any game design in which someone can lose on the character select screen, and WoW’s profession bonuses combined with the grind back up to max rank was just another form of that. That is on top of the ~5%/month churn rate which could see your entire MMO population turn over every 20 months. A new expansion is usually released how often, again? It’s just not a good design IMO to require people to pump out thousands of useless pieces of junk to increase a number to a sufficient degree to get to starting line.

Nevertheless, yeah, there is a part of me that had fond memories of the old system. My namesake paladin has been a Jewelcrafting/Alchemist since 2008 and none of that matters. I spent hundreds of hours leveling up a fleet of alts to cover every profitable base each expansion, and now the same thing could be done by one toon and a willingness to drop 1000g.

I am sort of waiting for the day when Blizzard just goes full GW2 and lets you buy extra profession slots for real money and otherwise just be done with the restrictions altogether.

P2Emote

Clash Royale has veered into an interesting monetization direction.

The game has always had built-in P2W-lite elements, and still does. Specifically, you can buy gold and special treasure chests, both of which can accelerate your progression well above the curve. Will it be a permanent advantage? No. Eventually your overleveled troops will carry you to enough victories to place you where your power-level and skill levels indicate. That the system is (eventually) self-correcting does not diminish the fact that you bought wins, but nevermind.

These days, Supercell has fully committed to… emotes. Lots and lots of emotes.

ClashEmotes

It’s been about two years since Supercell initially double-down on the emote trolling, only to back down three months later. The “backing down” required you to specifically mute your opponents every single game, but at some point they allowed the setting to stay on. However, one of the downsides was that muting emotes then muted them from your own teammate. There really wasn’t much communication possible via emotes, but it was sometimes useful to be able to “complain” about your partner’s inanity.

Towards the end of June of this year, Supercell released the new Goblin emotes. At first, I thought this seemed a bit silly. I mean, they were sold in $25 bundles that included a bunch of gold and cards which effectively made the emotes “free,” but it’s hard to imagine a company selling a sort of cosmetic item that anyone can just disable entirely. Later on, Supercell went on to just sell packages of emotes for $5, and mix and matching the types of bundles.

The funny thing is… I turned emotes back on. And I am somewhat serious about wanting to buy a certain combination of emotes.

The specific scenario I want to be able to communicate via emote is when my own 2v2 partner does something unbelievably fucking stupid. Like, every person I get matched with is supposed to be around my own skill level, right? So how can they be so dumb? It’s one thing to be interrupted while playing the game. It’s something else entirely to place troops poorly, or not at all, or basically get flustered and do random shit.

Goblins have a “roll eyes” and “this is fine (burning building)” emote and I want, nay, need to be able to communicate this to my opponents. Not my own teammate, because they either already know they fucked up, or are too stupid to comprehend it anyway. Just something a bit more… precise than simply the default “angry” emote plus sending a Fireball to the King Tower – the nigh-universal “I give up” action.

I didn’t think emotes could possibly work as a monetization strategy, especially when you can turn them off at will, but here we are. Supercell surprises me again.