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320+ Achieved

What a joke.

Yesterday, I was talking about the Gearing Deadzone that exists between ~295 and 320 average ilevel. I had been receiving a few lucky drops from heroic dungeons, so I was quite far along in my quest to queue into Warfronts by that point, when I stumbled upon some easy “upgrades.”

First, Plundered gear. These are mostly “transmog” weapons that occasionally drop from Island Expeditions. The thing is, they are actual 325 ilevel weapons that sell for as low as 12,000g on the AH. The Agility 1-handed weapons are quite a bit more (around 20k), and you really want two of them, but it’s possible that this is an avenue to get you past the deadzone. If you have ilevel 300 weapons already, each Plundered upgrade will give you another +1.56 average ilevel.

Second, and I can’t believe this still works, just having BoE gear in your bag counts. Remember how I was saying that the DPS Darkmoon trinket cost 70k and that’s not worth the +3.75 ilevel bump? Well, I purchased the tanking Darkmoon trinket for 12k with the expectation of “I might potentially tank on this character someday anyway”… and then queued for Warfronts without equipping it. Because the 320 gate doesn’t care about equipped gear apparently. If I can sell it for the same price that I bought it, I’d only be out like 600g. That’s like four herb nodes.

So, I queued for Warfronts. Spent the entire battle wandering around, trying to figure out how to chop trees. Killed some mobs. Then got ilevel 340 gloves and ilevel 370 helm after about half an hour.

WoWScrnShot_Gloves

That was my lowest-level piece too.

Again, what a joke.

I’m not the sort of person that participates in the “log in, loot epix” criticisms of WoW. Using gear as the metric of achievement or skill always seemed asinine to me, because the drops are random. We all know (or have been) someone that cleared a raid a half dozen times with zero drops before. Having the whole set meant you were either lucky, or grinded out the RNG for months and months. Is that somehow more admirable than the person standing next to you, with the same Achievement unlocked, dealing comparable DPS in lesser gear because they rolled low?

The whole thing is silly, has been silly since the very beginning, and is especially silly in a world where Mythic Uldir gear is likely to be transmogged into gear sets from a decade ago the minute it’s equipped. Gear’s only relevance is to indicate how sloppy you can be and probably still complete content, or otherwise used as an artificial gating mechanism.

WoWScrnShot_Helm

Just a smidge of an upgrade.

Having said that, what is ridiculous and poorly designed is precisely this dumb gap between the end of leveling gear (290) and free loot raining from the sky (320). I understand the mechanics behind why the system is designed this way. Specifically, if Warfronts only rewarded 325 gear or whatever, then no raiders or Mythic+ players would participate, and it’d be dead content the entire expansion. Meanwhile, the 320 gate was slapped on so as to not invalidate dungeons altogether with fresh level-capped players getting fulls suits of 340.

But, seriously, man. After checking last night, the Warfront is actually going to be active for another day or two. Which means I’ll be chain-queueing that and turning in lumber until I have 340 gear in every slot. Then I’ll be running around tagging Arathi rares for every more loot and toys until it goes away for 2-3 weeks. The cycle will then repeat itself, possibly at a higher ilevel.

And that’s fine… if it were consistent with the rest of the level-cap experience, which it’s not. You ding and either cheese the 320 gate via gold/guildies, or slog through a bunch of dungeon content for hours and hours. Then, at 320, it’s free loot for the rest of the expansion. “Luckily,” by the time 8.1 rolls around, new alts will probably not have to endure this awkward phase at all and jump straight into Warfronts as soon as they hit level 120 via Profession BoE gear.

Fake Edit: In one, long Tuesday evening of playing, I queued five times for Warfronts and received 5 additional pieces of 340 gear. Not sure if it’s luck that I haven’t received any duplicates, but I almost cannot even stand to queue for it again. I see why people AFK through it – it’s not engaging.

Gear Deadzone

Never thought I’d be in this place again, but I spent the weekend chain-running dungeons in WoW.

My for-now main is a Demon Hunter, and I had been relatively satisfied with the ilevel ~290ish gear she had. Mobs scale up with ilevel now, and I’m not doing regular raids, so who cares? The thing is… character progression is nice. Also, I found that there must be breakpoints at which World Quests just refuse to grant higher-level gear. My understanding is that if you are at 290, you should see some 295 gear, presumably until you reach 295, at which point you’ll see 300, and so on. After 3-4 days of WQs, that did not appear to be the case.

Plus, the Alliance Warfront was active this past week, and that apparently hands out 340 gear every 20 minutes you chain-run it, with an extra 370 piece once a cycle. The catch is that you need to have 320 to queue for it. Also, you need 320 to queue for Raid Finder. So, how the hell are you supposed to hit 320?

Chain-run dungeons like a chump, apparently.

The experience has not actually been that bad, at the moment. I queued for some normal dungeons at the beginning, so I could hit the 305 breakpoint to queue for heroic dungeons. That took around two dungeons’ worth of drops. Then I ran about four heroics in a row, with about ~15 minutes of queue times inbetween them. Heroic dungeons drop 325 gear, which is nice, if a little weird considering how that’s 20 ilevels above the minimum.

During this process, I was very tempted to solve my situation with gold. First, by buying BoE epics from the AH. The DPS Darkmoon deck is 355, for example, and there were some BoE wrists that drop from Uldir too. Before committing, I decided to do the ilevel math myself to see how much of a bump that might give me. Going from a 295 trinket to 355 should be a big boost right? Well…

5016 (total ilevel) + 60 = 5076 / 16 = 317.25. Or +3.75 average ilevel.

While that ain’t nothin’, it also isn’t 320. Plus, the Fathoms deck is 70,000g at the moment. While I was poking around the AH, there were a couple of advertisements in Trade chat from people doing Mythic dungeon carries. I was very, very tempted to check up on the prices of that, out of curiosity if nothing else. Then I saw one being advertised for… 350k. Even that started to sound a bit reasonable as the Warfront window is rapidly to drawing to a close. Gold it meant to be used, right?

What brought me back to reality was Blizzard’s own intrusion into the real world. Specifically, WoW tokens. Current prices are 107k gold for $15, which meant I was about to pay $49 to get to 320 ilevel. That doesn’t seem all that good. There is often an argument to be made regarding how much time I am going to spend running heroics (etc) instead, and how I could just “work another hour of overtime” instead of spending 3+ hours doing something I don’t expressly enjoy.

First, I don’t have a job where I can just magically get overtime – that shit has to be approved on two different management levels. Second, there is a wide gulf between a distasteful or boring task in a videogame, played at home, in a comfortable chair, with a refreshing beverage, than there is with another hour spent at work. My job is relatively easy and stress-free, but I’d still rather be doing damn near anything else, including nothing, if given the chance.

Anyway, the decision is likely already made for me, as the Warfront window closes soon. I’ll continue to casually run heroic dungeons until I hit 320, so I can unlock LFR, which will give me a steady stream of gear for the rest of the expansion. This initial hump is extremely awkward though, as it’s likely to be pole-vaulted beyond for anyone playing in 8.1 given the next tier of crafted gear coming out.

I’m fine with Blizzard wanting there to be some sort of hazing phase where they want everyone doing 5-man content before “graduating” into raiding. I just think it’s weird to have Warfronts dropping 340 gear like candy for something that, by all accounts, is significantly easier than even 5-man normal dungeons. Finally getting over that 320 gear deadzone will apparently set you up for easy gear the rest of the expansion, and that’s just a strange sort of design decision.

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.