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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.

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.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Has anyone else felt like Battle for Azeroth is a bit… familiar? Like Legion 2.0?

The situation didn’t really strike me until last night. I do not have a character at max level – I have been just gathering and crafting pretty much nonstop – but I have progressed enough to unlock the Garrison. Or War Table. Or whatever the hell it’s called now. It’s pretty much exactly the same interface as the one in Legion, up to an including the same art assets. The same chance for bonus loot. The same method of collecting resources. World Quests are the same. Emissaries are the same… I think. Rare mobs and treasure chests peppering the map are the same.

On the one hand, this is great. These systems work. Remember Daily Quests? We had those since TBC and everyone was sick of them. World Quests on the other hand, feel materially different despite providing the same function. Artifact Power got a bit goofy near the end of Legion, but overall design structure of having steady progression over the life of an expansion without incentivizing mindless grinding worked (crazy mythic raiders excluded). So we have Azerite replacing AP without even needing to replace the term “AP.” Double efficiency!

On the other hand… I dunno.

There is a lot to be said about the penchant of Blizzard devs to throw out the baby, bathwater, and kitchen sink simultaneously, between releases. How many times have warlocks been overhauled, even mid-expansion? At the same time, I feel like the devs have perhaps hewn a bit too close to what came before with BfA. Where are the “Aha!” moments? Where are the game-changers? Where are the elements that justify an 8.0 instead of a 7.4? Is a bunch of new maps enough?

The launch of BfA was so smooth because there was no demarcation between it and Legion.

I suppose we should be happy, yeah? Less absurd content droughts, more design systems that clearly work instead of wild experiments. Any yet, my brow is furrowed. What is Blizzard doing with all that time they saved? No new talents, no new classes, no new races (Allied Races are reskins, IMO), no new systems. Maybe the island battles with the “advanced AI” will change things? Am I missing something else?

I remember when Farms were introduced in MoP, and it blew my mind. Or the rare elite mobs that dropped cool (and functional!) toys to use. Then Garrisons in WoD. Of course, the Garrison wasn’t necessarily good design insofar as they kept people locked in a personal instance all the time, but from a player perspective they were really compelling (and rewarding). To this day, I still have several characters doing chores around the Garrison, crafting bags and such.

Then there were the Artifacts in Legion. To this day, it blows my mind how much content Blizzard packed in there. Like, do you guys understand how much class-specific content was added in one expansion? There was some recycling when it came to unlocking some of the spec-specific weapons – I groaned every time I got sent back to Karazhan on alts – but everything was basically brand new per class. It’s a real shame alts were actively punished so much during Legion, but I may end up going back at some point to finish the class campaigns just for the lore. My jaw hit the floor when my Death Knight started taking orders from the Lich King, for example.

Now, in Battle for Azeroth we can be excited for… uh… hmm.

I’m not looking to be buried under 2+ full skill bars, or DPS rotations that require an addon to perform. I don’t necessarily even want something that will compel me to spend 10 minutes maintaining it every day, three expansions later. But I do very much enjoy a new puzzle to wrap my mind around and optimize. And I’m not seeing anything remotely like that in Battle for Azeroth thus far. Just a lot of reused, recycled systems with new numbers to the right of the plus sign.

That is what character progression MMOs are about, of course. Usually, there’s more spice though.

It’s the Little (Big) Things

The launch of Battle for Azeroth has been remarkably smooth, for the most part.

The state of the WoW Auction House is not included in “the most part.”

I mentioned before that the introduction of War Mode changed the entire trajectory of my WoW history. My patience for dealing with non-consensual PvP had ran out years ago, and a WoW in which alts were actively discouraged is not one I play for very long. By introducing that PvP toggle switch into the game, my alts were suddenly free from the tyranny of corpse camping, and I had a renewed interest in seeing how every class played out.

Well, it’s now going on the third post-launch day in which the AH in WoW is borderline nonfunctional, and my interest in doing anything is about to run out.

There will never be a better time to make gold than right now, at an expansion launch. The gems that give +5% XP were selling for 5000g apiece on Monday, and were selling below vendor price by Wednesday. Seriously, I was buying as many as I could so I could walk 50 feet away and sell them to an Innkeeper. The problem is that the AH is sluggish, unresponsive, and practically crashing in the midst of doing any kind of transaction.

Now, yes, a part of that is surely the fact that there are 27 pages of 1-herb auctions clogging up the tubes. But in the 10 years of my playing WoW, I have never experienced anything this bad in terms of the AH. Those pages of 1-item auctions could have been cleared out by one person with a functioning TSM/Auctionator addon, but either one is struggling to do anything productive. I have resorted to using the default interface, and even that is barely functional.

Up to this point, it really appears that Blizzard doesn’t care. And why would they, right? It’s much more important that there aren’t any bugged quests that will impede progression, or that the dungeons work, or that there aren’t any crazy exploits out there. The AH is probably towards the bottom of their list of concerns.

…which is dumb. The existence of the WoW Token should absolutely make fixing the AH one of their top priorities, considering there is no other reason why people need gold in the first place.

People are resorting to spamming Trade chat with their prices and instructions on how to mail materials via C.O.D. Even worse, the prices people are offering are actually better than the items in the AH currently – someone offering to buy any BfA herb for 65g apiece, when there were a bunch for 50g in the AH – but the AH is so fucked and slow that you’d be faster gathering them in the game world than trying to spin your wheels in the interface.

In any case, the AH being broke is sapping my will to play the expansion. I am interested in the questing experience and how this story will play out in the future, but I have zero particular drive to hit the endgame scene and run a bunch of dungeons. The fact that I am missing out on the most lucrative time in an expansion is acting as a giant wet blanket over my drive to play at all. I had a precious few days to perform AH alchemy before leaving on vacation next week, and I fully expect the irons to have cooled down by the time I get back.

I would guess that I have maybe gained ~100k since BfA came out. Had the AH actually functioned in any particularly good way, that could have been 500k. And that’s a deficit in potential that will mar my playtime forever.

Ugh.

BfA: Quick Thoughts

The latest WoW expansion quietly came out yesterday. I say “quietly” because I actually had no idea it was supposed to be released on Monday, rather than the traditional patch Tuesday. It also felt rather seemless traveling to Silithus again, grabbing the Heart of Azeroth, and then continuing on with questing in a new area.

As an aside, I was momentarily confused with Magni talking about how “the soul of Azeroth” was basically a clock floor in a Titan cave somewhere. Did I miss something? I get from context that Azeroth has a gestating Titan soul or whatever, but why does it look like that, specifically? Did the Pantheon craft around the soul? Then I realized none of it matters, and I went on with my life.

I started completing some of the quest hubs on the demon hunter before I realized that what I should have been doing is hitting all the resource nodes instead. There really is no better time to gather herbs/ore than the first few days of a new expansion. Three seconds of mining translating into 70g worth of materials? Yes, please. Here are some tips:

MAKE SURE TO TALK TO THE PROFESSION TRAINERS

I was hitting nodes for almost an hour before I realized that getting 1 herb was not normal. As it turns out, you have to pick up the skills from the Herb/Mining trainers before you start getting normal yields. Make sure to stop by again once you hit 25/50 skill, so you can start getting the Rank 2 versions, which increases yields again.

Check in with the Trade Goods vendor

Ask a guard for directions, and then buy a bunch of the ingredients. The base-level Cooking recipe can be made entirely with four different vendor items, which is nice. Even nicer is the fact that you can turn around and sell these 20s ingredients for like 10g+ apiece on the AH. Take advantage of it while you can. Also, people will apparently buy your food too, so sell the excess.

Jewelcrafting is back

At least for now, anyway. I have had incredible success in buying BfA ore for 30g apiece, and then prospecting it away for gems that sell, uncut, for ~400g. Unless you get a red one, which sells for ~1500g because it can be cut into a +5% XP gem that sells for 2000g (prices have crashed a bit). Or take those gems and turn them into rings that sell for a few thousand gold more.

Maybe Buy and Hold Instead

While there was some easy gold early on from selling herbs/ore, I did notice that by the time I logged off for the night, prices were in freefall. There are a lot of reasons for that, but the main one is that nearly everyone is going dual-gathering and hitting nodes left and right.

It’s tough to know what prices things will stabilize at, but look at the requirements for Flasks and such: dozens and dozens of herbs for one Flask. Nobody will be raiding for a few weeks yet, and no one is going to bother Flasking while they level, so demand for Flasks is zero. However… in a few weeks, everyone and their mother’s main tank will be gobbling up bushels of herbs. So the likelihood of BfA herbs staying around 10g apiece is minimal. In particular, you might want to check on Anchor Weed, as it appears to be a herb that replaces other herb spawns, and thus is going to be more rare.

In fact, I just looked at the TUJ and slapped my forehead. Around 9pm yesterday the price for Anchor Weed was 53g. As of this post, it’s 182g. I just talked about prospecting ore at 30g apiece, right? Now Storm Silver is up to 88g. That particular train has probably left the station already, but this seesaw action is something to keep an eye on in the coming days.

Farm nodes and sell when the price is high, buy and bank mats when the price is low.

A Good Bad War

The final part of the War of Thorns pre-release event was released on Tuesday. Other than Elsa Jaina coming to the rescue on her father’s ghost ship, it was yet another exercise of Alliance impotence in the face of the only faction clearly capable of any strategic planning. But, whatever. Sylvanas needs a foil for her antics, and Anduin’s character is about as flimsy as aluminum foil already, so let’s all just buckle in for the inevitable “Sylvanas never prepared to face the power of LOVE!” arc.

What I wanted to talk about today though, was everything leading up to this point.

First, if you have a few minutes, I highly recommend reading A Good War. This is a short story that came with the collector’s edition of Battle for Azeroth, but was recently released for free. I’m going to “spoil” most of the biggest plot points below, but it is essentially “the rest of the story” in terms of the War of Thorns pre-expansion content already on Live servers.

One of the many, many poorly explained (in-game) motivations surrounding the actions of Sylvanas was why we were going to war in the first place. Yes, Azerite is bright and shiny and supposedly useful, but other than vague eye-brightening, is did not seem to have many effects. This is supposedly explained in the Before the Storm book, which I do not have access to, but we do have some quotes and a summary from Wowhead. The main takeaway is that when Sylvanas touched it…

She was no longer a Dark Lady or even a queen. She was a goddess of destruction and creation, and she was stunned that she had never understood how deeply the two were intertwined. Armies, cities, entire cultures – she could raise them.

And fell them. Stormwind would be among the first, yielding its people to swell the numbers of her own.

She could deal death on a scale that —

In short, Sylvanas wants to destroy Stormwind, murder its people, and revive them as Forsaken. She wants to do that because, as explained in A Good War:

[…] “I believe that there will be no permanent peace with the Alliance—not unless we win it on the battlefield on our terms. And believing that, answer this, Saurfang: what use is delaying the inevitable?”

[…]

“She pointed at the map. There was a large marking in Silithus, the place where the Dark Titan’s blade had pierced the world. “No matter what I do, that will change the balance of power. Azerite sightings are coming in from across the world, Saurfang. We still do not know its full potential, nor does the Alliance. We only know that it will create a new generation of warfare. What will war look like in twenty years? In a hundred?”

Saurfang’s voice had dropped to a low growl. “A hundred years of peace is a worthy goal.” But as soon as the words left his mouth, he wanted to take them back. He knew what Sylvanas would say.

And he would agree with it.

The warchief did not disappoint. “If a hundred years of peace ends with a war that annihilates both sides, it was not a worthy goal. It was a coward’s bargain, trading the future for temporary comfort. The Horde’s children, and their children’s children, will curse our memories as they burn.”

This is the first major disconnect I see with people offering opinions concerning the start of the war. Sylvanas is starting a preemptive war, a war of opportunity, one in which the express goal is to completely destroy the Alliance forever, and to chain the people of Stormwind as slaves in undeath. Saurfang doesn’t necessarily know that last bit, but he knows the ultimate goal is the destruction of Stormwind. And he’s fine with that.

Until our navies are rebuilt, the high seas are wild again.

That would take years to change. And once that happened, yes, that stalemate would return, and war would become too costly to pursue.

And by all the spirits, Sylvanas was right, no matter how strongly Saurfang tried to deny it. War would come again one day, and if both factions were strong, that war would raze entire nations. How many different peoples on Azeroth would become extinct in that fight?

But before then, both sides have vulnerabilities and a limited time to exploit them. For a price, we can survive.

Just so we’re all crystal clear on this point: Saurfang and Sylvanas believe there can be no permanent peace between the Alliance and the Horde, that any attempt at peace is a “coward’s bargain,” and that they are actually doing everyone a favor in getting the war “out of the way” now, rather than later. And there are people crawling all over Reddit and elsewhere who suggest that this notion of war “makes sense” and is otherwise perfectly justifiable.

To which I say: I agree. The Alliance should have murdered the orcs as a race when they had the chance, rather than putting them in internment camps. That’s what we’re saying, right? There can be no permanent peace between the Alliance and the Horde because the Horde is a brutal faction of war-mongering monsters with no redeeming qualities. Well, maybe Taurens, but thus far they are simply a gelded race who lashed their ropes to a warchief that has zero respect for them.

In fairness, it’s possible Saurfang did not know about Sylvanas’ ultimate goal of torching Stormwind.

“And that is how you defeat Stormwind.” Saurfang was in awe. It was brilliant. Destroying the Alliance wouldn’t take a thousand victories. It would take one. With a single strategic push, the pressure on the Alliance would cripple them for years, just as long as they could not conjure any miracles on the battlefield. “You destroy the Alliance from within. Their military might counts for nothing if their members stand alone. Then we strike peace with the individual nations and carve them away from the Alliance, piece by piece.”

“If you want your enemy to bleed to death, you inflict a wound that cannot heal. That is why I need you to make the plan, High Overlord,” Sylvanas said. “The moment our strike begins, there will be no turning back. We can divide the Alliance only if the war to conquer Darnassus does not unite them against us. That only happens if the Horde wins an honorable victory, and I am not blind—the Horde does not trust me to wage war that way.”

Saurfang does not ponder on what it would mean to be a citizen of the Divided Alliance. I find it difficult to believe it would be pleasant, regardless of the Horde “striking peace with the individual nations.” It seems especially foolish considering how Saurfang already agreed with Sylvanas that peace was impossible anyway, given the atrocities committed by both factions up to this point. I have to imagine the point is that these nations would sue for peace because they were otherwise forever incapable of creating war. Peace for some, the torch for others.

In any case, we can see Teldrassil was intended to be taken as a means to shatter the Alliance with infighting. Crucially, the plan also hinged on being able to kill Malfurion and/or Tyrande. Taking out these faction leaders was not going to be a bonus, but a requirement. This was not explicitly called out in-game or even in the books, until later. When Saurfang hesitates in finishing off Malfurion, and allows him and Tyrande to escape, he Sylvanas reflects:

This battle was not about a piece of land. Even Saurfang knew that. Taking the World Tree was a way to inflict a wound that could never heal. Losing their homes and their leaders would have ended the kaldorei as a nation, if not a people. Even the loss of one leader would have been enough to create a tide of despair. The wounds of this battle would have bled, festered, decayed, and rotted the Alliance from the inside out. Anduin Wrynn would have lashed out in a final, desperate war, looking for a miracle, because only a miracle would save them.

But a miracle already had. A miracle granted by the honorable hand of a foolish old orc.

Incidentally, the constant referring to Saurfang as “honorable” is downright comical. Huge sections of A Good War talk about rogues sneaking about, assassinating targets with poison, and so on. Tossing an axe into the back of Malfurion is about as dishonorable as, you know, all of the actions that led to that moment in the first place. I dunno, maybe there is room in the definition of honor for waging preemptive war and “ending the kaldorei as a people.”

Anyway, when Saurfang comes back empty-handed, Sylvanas conceals her rage:

This conquest of Darnassus would rattle the kaldorei people. They would grieve for their lost, fear for their imprisoned, and tremble at the thought of the Horde ransacking their homes. But they would not fall to despair. Not anymore. Malfurion’s impossible survival would give them hope. Their wound would heal.

Even in this dark hour, they would say, Elune still watches over us.

And that was almost certainly true, wasn’t it? Elune had intervened. Perhaps she had even stayed Saurfang’s killing blow. And she wouldn’t be the only force beyond the Alliance to oppose Sylvanas’s true objective.

Sylvanas’s anger grew cold.

She had known this would happen. It had simply come sooner than expected. That was all.

“Sylvanas’s true objective.” A bit ominous, no? I am still assuming this to be “torching Stormwind and raising all of its people as undead,” but it could be foreshadowing of another sort. Possibly one with tentacles.

The book leaves out the conversation between Sylvanas and Delaryn depicted in the Warbringer video, but it expands on what happens immediately afterwards, when Sylvanas burns the World Tree. It is worth posting it in full:

He struggled to form words. Finally, pure hatred made him spit out a condemnation. “You have damned the Horde for a thousand generations. All of us. And for what? For what?”

Her expression didn’t waver. “This was your battle. Your strategy. And your failure. Darnassus was never the prize. It was a wedge that would split the Alliance apart. It was the weapon that would destroy hope. And you, my master strategist, gave that up to spare an enemy you defeated. I have taken it back.

When they come for us, they will do so in pain, not in glory. That may be our only chance at victory now.”

He wanted to kill her. He wanted to declare mak’gora and spill her blood in front of Horde and Alliance alike.

But she was right.

A wound that can never heal. That had always been the plan. And Saurfang had failed to inflict it. The story of Malfurion’s miraculous survival would have spread among the armies of the Alliance as proof that they were blessed in their cause.

War would still have come. That had been certain the moment Saurfang had led the Horde into Ashenvale. And it would have been what he had feared most: the meat grinder, spending so many lives to achieve so little, ending with a whimper, and thus dooming future generations to a war nobody could win. Once again, Sylvanas had seen it before he had.

And so . . .

She had sent a message. This was not a war that would end in a stalemate. Not now. The Alliance and the Horde would both understand that the only choices were victory or death. Lok‐tar ogar.

If World of Warcraft were not an MMO, I might have been excited at this turn of events. This feels like the penultimate chapter, the crest of a wave. Things will be sorted out once and for all.

But it won’t.

There will be an expansion after this one, and another after that. There will still be the Horde faction, and Forsaken running around in it, blighting things with Tauren chewing their cuds in the background. While I am convinced Sylvanas will no longer be warchief by the end of Battle for Azeroth, I can’t be certain whether it will be due to some impossibly sparkly “redemption” arc or because she went into hiding.

What I am certain of is that the Alliance will continue to be the bumbling white hats forever extending their hands in love and friendship and peace, only to get shit on by the Horde time and again. That is in spite of the fact that there should be no redemption for the Horde this time. And I don’t mean because Sylvanas burned the World Tree with all the civilians inside. I mean because the most honorable orc in all the Horde agreed that peace with the Alliance is impossible, and thus started a preemptive war in an attempt to destroy the faction permanently.

Like, I don’t think I can stress this enough. Even “preemptive war” makes it sound like the Horde were simply striking before the Alliance can move their war machines into position. To be clear, there were no Alliance war machines. The Alliance did not even really have access to Azerite. Sylvanas had ZERO Casus belli, and Saurfang the Honorable Orc drafted the battle strategy with minimum fuss. In fact, he was happy to do so, because he thought it would save Horde lives down the road. Which is all “justifiable” until you allow the Alliance the same courtesy.

By all rights, this expansion should end with the genocide of all orcs and Forsaken.

I suppose we’ll begin to see how it plays out in less than a week. If the Horde skates without Jaina or Malfurion torching the Barrens though, I will be very… not surprised at all.

Consequences for crimes is so 2015.

The Last Reset

This week is the last reset before Battle for Azeroth goes Live.

In the three weeks that I have been back playing WoW, it has consumed a rather large part of my gaming time, as it did in the past. I have since reached the level cap with my paladin, rogue, warlock, demon hunter, and death knight. Two additional classes are just barely past level 100 – the priest and warrior – but I have had great fun with playing them, so I plan on getting them to the cap as well.

I am abandoning my mage at level 92, as I tried out all three specs and found them lacking. In fact, it’s pretty awful considering mage is the only class that can’t face-tank mobs, and yet cannot blow them up either. Or maybe WoD is still overtuned post-squish? All I know is that I accidentally aggroed a bunch of crabs in the the beginning Garrison quests, blew all my cooldowns, and still died. I don’t think I’ve died to non-elite mob pulls in… five years? Maybe longer.

Anyway, the shaman is a big Nope for me, Zappiboi notwithstanding, and I never was particularly serious about the hunter in all my time with WoW. I’m probably going to wait until I unlock Void Elves before using one of my three stockpiled instant-100/110 tokens on getting a monk up to speed.

This last reset is going to be somewhat important for me in the transmog department. Specifically, I have been trying to obtain the Tunic of Unwavering Devotion since the release of the Nighthold raid. A similar model drops from a world boss, but it’s one of 11, and the order was completely random week-to-week until recently. I’m not especially confident that Legion raids or the world boss will be soloable on a leather-wearing class at the beginning of BfA, nor do I imagine there being much interest in small-party raiding of old content. If I have to wait 2+ years to obtain these transmog items, well, they are effectively removed from the game as far as I’m concerned.

We’ll see how it goes. I will have six opportunities (3 leather classes + bonus rolls) to snag the chest piece, and potentially another two if the demon hunter tier piece chest (same model) can be used for transmog on other leather-wearing characters.