Fulfillment vs Excitement
There is an Asmongold video out that has received at least 27 Reddit gold after it was posted:
(All the good stuff is within the first six minutes)
Among the criticisms he makes regarding Battle for Azeroth, one that resonated a bit with me was the distinction between Fulfillment and Excitement. Essentially, Blizzard used to give you a 8% chance to get a specific piece of gear that was your Best-in-Slot piece. It might take a long time to get it, but once you finally got it, it was an event. You were complete. Done.
When Titanforging was introduced though, suddenly BiS gear was rendered largely impossible. You might receive your “BiS” piece, but if it didn’t proc with an extra gem socket and/or numerous bonus stats, it wasn’t actually BiS. Moreover, it was entirely possible that someone just dicking around in Warfronts could luck into a piece of gear that surpassed something that dropped from Mythic Uldir.
Asmongold’s point is that while you can feel excitement over a drop that suddenly Titanforges up to insane levels… that excitement is short lived. It’s the pull of a slot machine. That’s fundamentally different than working towards an end goal, even if said end also requires some RNG along the way.
When Titanforging was first introduced, I was impressed. It seemed like a clever solution to the problem of completing content that was no longer rewarding in any way. I distinctly remember my tanking days back in Wrath, and how I was asked to clear dungeons with guildies despite the fact that I could get nothing from it (once I capped out with Justice Points). With this new wrinkle, there was always a chance I could get an upgrade from any content I completed.
What I did not realize at the time was how destructive that notion really is. You are never “done.” And not just in a “there will always be another content patch with better loot” kind of way, but in a more literal “never experience satisfaction in current content” way.
As Asmongold points out though, Titanforging by itself is not what is killing the BfA experience. Indeed, the concept of Titanforging has been around for several expansions now, and nobody seemed to have been complaining about it until now (or at least to this degree). The real problem is that BfA is so mechanically weak on so many fronts, that the fundamental issue with Titanforging is poisoning the experience more than usual.
I’m sure Blizzard has the stats on the number of people who just stop playing the game after they achieve BiS, and found the numbers problematic. Certainly in my case, once I finally got the two piece of transmog gear I had been farming, I found myself at a loss of what else to do. This could explain why they are trying to get everyone back to collecting a bunch of full suits of extra gear. With the deprecation of the concept of BiS though, I don’t think these extra suits are going to satisfy players for as long as it may have before.
What is the solution? We already had it for years: vendors. Bring back Justice/Valor Points. Everyone rightly complained in Legion about the Legendary system and how RNG could lead you to a situation in which your spec was basically broken the whole expansion… up until they introduced the Legendary vendor in 7.3.5. The initial rollout was still a bit lame RNG until they allowed you to straight-up pick the ones you want, but it was there eventually. Collect “Wakening Essence” from a variety of sources (WQ, missions, ect) at your own pace, and know the end result.
Titanforging is dumb. If it’s some kind of design imperative to have raiders running WQs or dungeons all the time, fine, make it Justice Points. Except this time, put in consumables, gear you can buy for alts, and other nonsense to give everyone potential reasons to collect it all day.
Give us back some goddamn agency for once.
So… Now What?
The problem with goals is that you complete them.
When I originally wrote Monday’s post about farming transmog pieces in WoW, I had not yet acquired the Tunic of Unwavering Devotion. Since I had technically been farming since Legion (via LFR), I was buckling in for the long haul. After a presumed failed run over the weekend, I was going to get back to leveling my Monk character to the cap and then seeing if she can also solo Nighthold.
Alas, like a strange monkey paw curse, I got exactly what I was looking for.
Oh, and have I mentioned that my Demon Hunter is sitting at ilevel 340 now? It took a dozen dungeons to go from 310 to 320, but about three days of casual, mostly solo content to go from 320 to 340. So there really isn’t much of a point in doing much of anything on the Demon Hunter now. I will do the occasional WQ if it offers reputation, but only in the off-chance that I continue playing WoW once flying is (re)(re)(re)released.
Leveling alts to the cap seems like a fine goal on the face of things, but… eh. They will not be used for raiding or dungeon running or farming transmog, so what’s left? PvP? I usually reserve my Warlock for PvP endeavors, but the forums are pretty clear about the apparent sad state of Warlocks this expansion. I could try going the healer route for giggles, as I do have a Priest at 111.
The real problem I have is that I somehow lack the motivation to do much of anything, anywhere. Post-game Depression is a thing I talked about a few years ago, and it may well triggered when I got that last piece of transmog gear. Or maybe WoW has been on its way out with me for several weeks.
I dunno. I have a million other games I could be playing, but no motivation to load any of them. The 7 Days to Die Alpha17 patch keeps getting pushed into Star Citizen territory, and Fallout 76’s beta isn’t until the end of this month. In the meantime, I am just logging into WoW and puttering around on the AH, or closing the client and watching people play Hearthstone on Twitch.
Guess my next goal should be to get more goals.
When I came back into WoW during Legion, I had two long-term goals:
- Getting (mythic) Living Wood Spaulders
- Getting Tunic of Unwavering Devotion, or Skimpy Demonleather Tunic
Having finally gotten both items after some trial and error (and weeks of RNG), here is a mini-guide in case you want to follow in my footsteps:
Living Wood Spaulders
Why: the mythic version of these druid-exclusive shoulders have insect-like wings that are animated. While they will only be visible on Boomkin (with the Astral glyph) or Resto druids, the effect is rather striking.
How: Living Wood Spaulders drop from mythic Operator Thogar in the Blackrock Foundry raid from Warlords of Draenor. You will have the best chance of getting this item if you are at least level 111, as that triggers “Legacy Loot” and you’ll get ~5 pieces instead of just one.
That said, the first step is getting to the raid site. Garrison Hearth and then take a Flight Path to Gorgand. Fly or mount up to the raid entrance, which looks like this:
Be sure that the raid difficulty is set to Mythic. Once inside, avoid the trash and head to the right.
Before you can access Operator Thogar, you will have to kill Beastlord Darmac. This fight is relatively easy as a level 111 Boomkin, with one enormous caveat: you must avoid Pin Down. Periodically during the fight, there will be a faint horn sound and a small, swirling cloud graphic will appear. Within 2-3 seconds, a spear will hit the ground at that spot and, if hit, will render you unable to move or take action, permanently. If you manage to cast a persistent AoE (e.g. Starfall) right before getting pinned, there’s a small chance the damage will be enough to kill the spear and free you. Otherwise, you will have to wait several minutes while you slowly and helplessly get killed.
The second complicating factor in this fight is when Beastlord Darmac mounts Dreadwing, which is the dragon-looking beast in the back. Dreadwing has the Conflagration ability, which will essentially disorient you for ~10 seconds at a time. You can (and will) get CC’d by this ability and then be unable to move away from the Pin Down ability, which will (eventually) kill you. It’s exactly as frustrating as it sounds. Sometimes you might get lucky and the timing will be off (e.g. the Pin Down happens first), but you cannot rely on that all the time. Thus, I recommend starting the fight with Beastlord Darmac towards the rear of the room, closest to Dreadwing, so that he mounts Dreadwing first, and you won’t waste time beating the other beasts before seeing if you’ll survive the encounter.
Operator Thogar is a relatively more simple encounter at these levels. DoT him up, run out of the flames/electricity, AoE adds, and avoid being hit by the trains. You’ll be able to tell which tracks are safe by watching the train doors at either end of the room. Things were a bit more dicey in Legion, but if you get to level 111 and equip at least the crafted 225 ilevel gear in your slots, you should not have too many problems.
As mentioned, I completed the above as a level 111 Boomkin with ~225 ilevel gear. I recommend picking up Restoration Affinity over the other options, as I found Swiftmend (instant heal on 30-second cooldown) to be extremely useful if I accidentally took a lot of damage, like getting hit by a train. I cannot speak for whether Guardian or Feral would have been easier specs to farm this item.
Tunic of Unwavering Devotion
Why: this item is an incredibly risque leather chestpiece. Like, whoa.
How: There are technically three sources for this particular armor model. The first is the Demon Hunter PvP set for Legion. If you have X Marks of Honor, you can buy the entire armor set and be done with it. Note: you will only be able to transmog the set on your Demon Hunter.
The second source is the Legion world boss Ana-Mouz. This boss cannot be solo-farmed by any leather-wearing class that I know of, specifically because she will periodically cast a spell which will Mind-Control you after ~5 seconds. Now that I think about it, you might be able to pull it off if you switch to a healing spec and dispel yourself. Regardless, world bosses are on like a 12-week rotation, so it’s incredibly unreliable to farm her anyway.
The third, confirmed soloable method is killing Trilliax, the 3rd raid boss in Nighthold. My druid is still low-level, so I actually went in as a fresh, level 120 Demon Hunter with an average ilevel of 290. Make sure the raid is set to Normal, and you purchased some of those extra-roll coins!
Where is the entrance to Nighthold? Here are some pictures:
Zone in, clear/avoid trash until you get to the first boss, Skorpyron. This encounter took a while, but was completed with relative ease as DPS Demon Hunter. Make sure to save a few of your AoE spells for when the adds are activated. Also note that there will be a short burst window when the boss takes a lot of extra damage. Save your DPS cooldowns for then.
The second boss is Chronomatic Anomaly. This boss has an instant-kill debuff you would normally have to worry about, but there’s a trick to avoiding it. DPS the boss as normal, avoiding damage as best you can, until the add spawns. Run over and kill the adds, including the smaller ones that appear, but do not click the orb. The boss will essentially channel an AoE with stacking damage until the orb is used, but he otherwise doesn’t stack the debuff. So, basically, kill him during the channel. The level difference will allow you to survive 20+ stacks of the increasing damage, and you should be able to kill him before you’re whittled down. You might able to use the orb to buy yourself some more time, but I didn’t have a problem at ilevel 290.
Finally, there is Trilliax. Change to tank-spec for this fight. Trilliax will cast Arcane Slash periodically, which will give you a stacking debuff to damage taken, and I was not able to kite him long enough for the debuff to fall off. In tank-spec, your only real worry is the Enrage timer. To this end, make sure you maximize DPS as much as you can. For example, I took Abyssal Strike + Flame Crash, which gave me two additional uses of Sigil of Flame. Every DPS gain you can eek out is necessary! There’s nothing more frustrating than dying to Enrage timers when the boss is at 5%.
As mentioned, I completed the above as a new, level 120 Demon Hunter with an average ilevel of 290. I cannot speak to how a Druid, Rogue, or Monk might fair in these same fights.
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.
Ghostcrawler tweeted the sort of thing I’m sure sends “real” MMO players into howling fits:
“No,actually,there is not a wrong choice.Wether we(players) buy new items OR upgrade old ones should be our decision,not DEV’s.”
Giving players the ability to make choices with wrong answers doesn’t make players happy overall. (Source)
Choices having bad consequences is the best (only?) way to make a decision matter, as the argument goes. However, this quote got me thinking: do such players actually enjoy being able to make the wrong choice, or is it simply that the bad choice existing (which they did not pick) validates their good decision? Or put another way, who really likes making bad decisions?
I understand that the demonstration of skill necessitates there being wrong choices. Demonstrating skill, or improvement thereof, is fun. At the same time, the Mass Effect series (for example) was fun to play even though there weren’t any “wrong choices” (provided you weren’t specifically looking for X result).
There is only ever one correct answer to the questions of “which does the most DPS” or “what is the most efficient use of resources.” Ergo, is there actually any real decision to be made when one is correct and the other(s) not? I suppose the fun is supposed to be the result of figuring out which one is which, but that sort of clashes with the mockery and disdain frequently attributed to those who don’t look up the correct decision from the Wiki/EJ. Compare that to the question of “which transmog set is the best?”
I do not believe that there has to be a wrong choice in order for choices to be meaningful generally. We make identity choices every day – what type of person do I want to be, what do I believe in? – and I do not think that anyone would suggest that those choices are either irrelevant or have wrong answers (well… no one with any sort of self-reflection). And while I am willing to concede gameplay being under the (broad) umbrella of choice, e.g. one makes a wrong choice by pressing 11342 instead of 11324, I consider there to be a distinction between executing a rotation under pressure versus avoiding falling into a designer trap. One has its place as a legitimate test of skill, and the other is simply you winning via a few mouse clicks several months ago.
My WoW playing continues unabated.
I have reached Exalted with Anglers and Klaxxi most recently, and the Tillers/Cloud Serpent weeks ago. I am a step away from Honored with Shado-pan, and stopped at Revered with Shieldwall and Golden Lotus (may whomever is responsible for Golden Lotus dailies burn forever). Since I am neutral with the August Celestials and they have nothing of interest for my paladin, I have not bothered doing any quests for them.
Of my 10 alts, the highest remains stagnant at level 88; dailies and/or LFR consumes all of the WoW time I permit among my other diversions. With me hitting so many reputation milestones though, this may change.
My (high) opinion of LFR has not changed, although I did have a few bad experiences. During the first fight of Vault of Mysteries, we had a AFK warlock leecher, who stood by the stairs during the encounter. While it was annoying knowing that he/she could possibly get rewarded for doing so, the greater issue was how the encounter was reset TWICE when he was targeted by one of the bosses’ abilities. The reason why it took two resets to kick the warlock was because it was not immediately obvious why the encounter reset.
The luck I experienced with my first run of LFR has not held up to repetition. Two weeks ago I received nothing, maybe 1-2 of those coins, and this past week I received naught but a tier helm. I will agree that the “failbags” do indeed start to feel worse than not winning rolls under the traditional model… although that is more a psychological artifact than reason to go back. I think it is easier to believe you pessimistically expect nothing to drop, when you are not immediately reminded that you had a discreet chance via the roll. The difference between Blackjack and slot machines goes much further than the mere odds.
For the second week in a row, I have also cleared out Black Temple solo. I am not entirely certain that every class can do it, but my Retribution paladin with 474 ilevel does not have much trouble with a full clear in 50 minutes. The 2nd phase of Reliquary of Souls is the only time things get truly dicey – Council also requires frequent Word of Glories while kiting – but beyond that it is fairly easy at this level and gear. I got the T6 pants and shoulders on my first run, and picked up some other Transmog-worthy pieces along the way.
Unfortunately, both the T6 chest and Bulwark drop off Illidan and he has yet to drop anything useful for the 3rd week running; clearing the place is easy, but 50 minutes is still 50 minutes. I could probably “cut my losses” and spend a ridiculous amount of honor for the Season 3 off-color chest (seriously, 1000 honor vs 175 honor for the S4 chest), as I grow increasingly weary about the odds that one of the legendary blades will drop. In many ways, getting one of those on the paladin, an item I could not even equip let alone Transmog (…yet), would almost be worse than never getting anything from Illidan.
Gaming psychology. Such a twisted thing.
What Have They Done to Me?
I have a lot of positive feelings towards Blizzard’s 4.3 patch, primarily because of Transmogification. But… why? It has been 50 (!) days since I quit WoW. So why do I get excited about dressing up an avatar in a game I no longer play? Is it a function of my ~7700 hours of play time? Or perhaps unfulfilled dreams of legitimately using Ghoulslicer on every character that can equip 1H swords? I like cool armor as much as the next guy, but I behave this way in no other videogame, even ones that have item sets. Maybe it’s an MMO thing?
Anyway, imagine my consternation when the paladin PvP set was revealed:
Prior to today, I was a big believer that paladin T6 was the best paladin set in WoW, Judgement be damned. I never legitimately raided Black Temple or got any of the tier set, but I did do quite a bit PvP in TBC (since that was all there was to do) and Season 3’s Vengeful Gladiator’s Vindication set was just as good as the real thing (or arguably better, if you prefer the red recolor to the normal blue). So my sort of fantasy tank set would have been Vindication + Bulwark of Azzinoth + Ghoulslicer. According to Wowhead, the whole thing would have looked like this:
But Blizzard, defying years and years paladin-degrading precedence, has come out with a PvP (!) armor set that not only makes the PvE one look like a total joke, but honestly steals the whole goddamn Deathwing show from every other class. The only sets that come as close as this one is the Priest T12 and Priest Season 3. Between this new PvP set and the fact that they are putting older Season PvP gear back on vendors – letting me complete the Vindication set and/or get the priest set on an alt without scraping together a BT raid group – you have no idea how goddamn tempting it is to spend $15 on a dress-up simulator.
The only thing stopping me? My nine alts, seven of whom are level 85, are trapped on low-pop Alliance Auchindoun with full heirlooms, max level professions with most non-ultra rare recipes, and approximately 450,000g in liquid wealth. I am not paying $55 per character to move them and a max of 50,000g, nor am I interested in straight-up rerolling without the benefits my ~7700 hours of seniority entitle me. So until Blizzard gets their head out of their ass and tweak the server/faction transfer service price-points (seriously, would a weekend deal kill them?), all this renewed interest and goodwill is going to waste.
Which, given the ridiculousness of my desires in the scheme of things, is perhaps win-win anyway.