This past week I ended up running the dreaded early dungeon gauntlet in FF14 again – you know, the three early dungeon Square Enix requires everyone to do in order to move the Main Story Quest forward. Things more or less went as well as last time.
The first dungeon run went comically bad. As soon as we zoned in, the healer just ran through half the dungeon and aggroed all of the mobs. This, of course, resulted in a wipe. The healer never rezzed themselves though, which is pretty indicative that his/her behavior was intentional trolling. Unfortunately, you cannot Vote Kick someone within X minutes of zoning into the dungeon, so we all had to wait.
Then it turned out that the healer and the other DPS voted to kick the tank, which happened to be frequent In An Age commenter, MaximGtB (who offered to help me through these early dungeons). It took me a while to figure out what even happened though, because FF14 does not allow you to Whisper or receive a Whisper while in a dungeon. And I did not know if there was an easy way to teleport out of a dungeon you were in.
So, yeah, comically bad.
After that, MaximGtB shepherded me through the three dungeons without major incident. In two of the dungeons, we had a Thaumaturge or Black Mage or whatever that insisted on using a knockback in their spell rotation, much to my Pugilist’s (and the tank’s) annoyance. It was also kind of annoying fighting 3-4 mobs at a time with zero AoE abilities. I suppose that might be a feature rather than a bug at this stage, as it would be easy for new players to spam that sort of thing and get aggro.
My overall impression about FF14’s dungeons have not really changed. There is zero reason for these early dungeons to be mandatory and/or exist. They are apropo of nothing. I don’t remember if Wailing Caverns had any lead-in, but other early WoW dungeons like Deadmines were the culmination of zone-wide storylines. That the devs required these three irrelevant dungeons for the MSQ simply boggles my mind. Mandatory is one thing, zero story is another.
In any event, further progress on my character will have to wait, as Square Enix is “moving data centers” and that apparently requires two full days of downtime. Which is almost enough time to be tempted to pop another WoW Token.
…think I’ll start Mass Effect: Andromeda instead.
Gaming has gotten pretty complicated for me these days.
The annoying part of this situation is that the complication is all by design. Clash Royale recently celebrated its 1-year anniversary, for example, which means I have been playing this mobile game off-and-on for about a year. Just the other day they teased a “one time sale” that included 100,000g and a Magical Chest for roughly $25. At the stage of development I’m at in the game, that amount of gold would effectively allow me to upgrade two units. Two. For $25.
And I was seriously considering it.
The only real thing that stopped me was that the deal wasn’t as good as the prior deals I did take advantage of. The $25 thing was only a “x4 value” whereas I dropped $25 on a different package several months ago that was a x10 value. At the time, it offered a rather significant boost of power, and allowed me to finally snag an Ice Wizard, which I have used in every deck to this day. Conversely, it is not entirely clear that upgrading two units for 100,000g would see similar returns.
In addition to Clash, I am playing three separate gacha-esque games with similar payment models. Four, technically, if you include Fire Emblem: Heroes in there. I haven’t spent near as much in those as I have in Clash, but I do boot them up every single day for the feeling of incremental progression. And all of them are offering “amazing” deals for $10, $25, even $99.
Then look what happened with WoW. There is currently a “sale” on character services, which means it “only” costs $18.75 for server transfers. Since I had over $180 in Blizzard Bux from cashing in WoW Tokens, I decided to use some of those funds to move the survivors of Auchindoun-US over to Sargeras-US. Moved about four toons thus far, and thinking of a fifth. That’s $75 already. Not $75 from my bank account per se, but I could have nearly bought StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void and 50 packs of Hearthstone’s latest expansion with that same amount of funds.
All of this is why I take a somewhat adversarial stance with game designers. If these were all B2P games, we would not be having this discussion; instead I would be lamenting about how there aren’t enough hours in the day to play all these great games. Instead I’m talking about services within a game, or progression boosters, any of which are more expensive than actual, other games. I just bought Mass Effect: Andromeda from GMG for $41 and some change. That’s roughly two character transfers in WoW, or a few unit upgrades in Clash Royal.
Now, there’s the argument that there aren’t that many games you could even play for a whole year and not tire of. Doesn’t Clash Royal deserve my money for how much amusement it has generated? Isn’t plopping down some cash on these games technically cheaper than paying full price for new releases every few weeks/months anyway?
I think those are the wrong questions, and intentionally engineered to take advantage of cognitive dissonance. Because we aren’t asking those questions up front – we are asking them after having “invested” dozens (or hundreds) of hours into the game. If you told me at the beginning that it took 50,000g to upgrade units in Clash Royal, I would have balked. But having stewed in a pot of nearly boiling water for a year, it all seems reasonable. “Of course it makes sense that I used to get upgrades every three days, and now only get one a month.” Not really, no.
(Especially not when they end up nerfing units a month later. No refunds here.)
The value of money is mostly relative. Going from making $20k to $30k is life-changing, whereas going from $100k to $110k is likely not. However, money is also fungible. Dropping $10 or $25 here and there might make sense in the context of whatever game you are currently playing long-term, but those same dollars could buy anything else.
It is important, IMO, to consider the full picture of what your gaming dollars may or may not be purchasing. A server transfer in an MMO that will save your waning interest may seem a bargain. Hell, it might actually be a bargain in the final analysis. Just be cognizant that the decision should not be “do I spend money or not,” but rather “do I give up X or not.” I decided that two unit upgrades in Clash Royal isn’t worth half a Mass Effect. Framing it this way helps me resist all the fallacies (Sunk Cost, Gambler’s, etc) working on the decision to make it seem reasonable (when it is not), and gives me an answer I can live with.
Maybe your gaming budget is such that you don’t mind dropping hundreds of dollars a month into whatever. In which case, feel free to Paypal some my way, chief. Otherwise, we all have to look out for each other a bit, because the game designers and the in-house psychoanalysts on their payroll certainly are not.
Legion has been an interesting expansion for me for many reasons, but one of the more subtle, yet intriguing ones has been my shifting attitude towards cooldowns.
Prior to this expansion, I hated cooldowns. In the context of tanking or even just raiding generally, they were okay, but mainly because there was a clear time to use them. About to take a huge hit? Use the tank cooldown. Did someone pop Heroism? Use all the DPS cooldowns.
Outside of raids… when were you supposed to use, say, Avenging Wrath? On the first mob you see? Only when you’ve grouped up several mobs? Only for elites or rare mobs? It shouldn’t actually matter, as WoW’s open world questing is pretty trivial, but it only took getting burned once or twice over the years before I got gun-shy. Plus, on a PvP server, you might actually need those cooldowns to escape a gank. The end result of was years of not using many (if any) cooldowns on any toons.
…except one, actually. I had zero issues popping cooldowns on my rogue, from character creation on. I don’t know if it was because the rogue has so many cooldowns anyway, or if stealth fundamentally changes the cadence of encounters, or what.
Legion, despite gutting streamlining class fantasies, feels like it has more cooldowns. The most important is the Flightmaster’s Whistle, which has a 5 minute cooldown. I have trouble actually pressing 2 minute cooldowns, much less 5 minute ones, so I was quite annoyed at first. But now? Completely fine, obviously. The Skyhorn Kite got a cooldown nerf to 15 minutes – with a 3 minute shared cooldown with Goblin Gliders – but I use them any time it might shave off more than about 10 seconds of running around.
I am, at this point, pretty much completely cured of my cooldown anxiety.
The intriguing question is “why?” While the more straight-forward answer might be simply because I started to have to use them more, I think it might be more because the expected encounter/play-session length has shortened or at least fragmented. The interplay between World Quests and the Flightmaster Whistle ensures that which ones I complete are the ones that can be done in about 5 minutes; I actually skip the ones that can be completed in less than 5 minutes, as I’d be twiddling my thumbs waiting for the cooldown anyway. Given that I’m already spending 5 minutes (or more, depending on the time it takes for the Flight Path to complete) inbetween action, all of my cooldowns will be available at each stop. So… why not use them?
The good news is that I have noticed this “lesson” bleeding over into other games. I loaded up GW2 yesterday (a topic for another post), and while short cooldowns are rather integral to basic DPS already, I noticed myself pressing the longer 1.5 minute ones even when fighting basic enemies. And why not, right? It might only save you ~10 seconds or so questing, but not only does that time add up, it’s the equivalent of adding ~10 seconds to mob grinding each time the cooldown would have refreshed without you using it. So yeah, brain, there is an opportunity cost to pressing the button when you might have needed it later, but there is an equal opportunity cost for not pressing it.
As an aside, my WoW subscription has technically expired despite having 10 WoW Tokens (the maximum) – I figure there isn’t much of a point of playing more until patch 7.1.5. Yeah, I would be missing on selling Felwort and some lucrative WQs, but would I make ~58k gold in 30 days? Probably not. I might go ahead and spend one if I get in a mood, but we’ll see if GW2 and other games assuage the withdraw.
It finally happened last night:
My views on legendaries in general hasn’t changed since a month and a half ago. Indeed, in a very ironic sense, finally receiving a legendary at the long end of a hidden pity timer might be the motivation I needed to finally stop doing Emissary Quests, and most World Quests altogether. Lord knows how I would feel if another one drops after I kinda gave up farming Order Resources and thus never unlocked the “You can equip 2 legendaries” bonus. Even if I started right now, the research timer alone is 14 days.
So, yeah. Go me. The legendary’s effect is to reduce the cooldown timer of my 3 minute DPS cooldown that I never use outside bosses anyway. I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon.
In the meantime, I’ll continue unlocking Draenor flying, farming Ulduar transmog, and perhaps get around to using my level 100 boost on something.
Since I am quickly approaching the end of all story content on the druid, I had a notion to try leveling some of my other characters. Specifically, one of the dozen or so I have been playing for the past 6+ years on Auchindoun-US. After about two hours, I have come to one, sobering conclusion: Auchindoun may as well be a graveyard for all my original characters.
You see, I didn’t quite realize how well I had it on Sargeras-US, Alliance-side. As far as I know, it is the most lopsided Alliance-favored PvP server in WoW. I just sort of took it for granted that I was only ever ganked twice (both times at the end of far-flung Flight Paths), and that there were always a dozen or so Alliance members attacking a WQ mob at any given moment. Even if there were rogues skulking about, I quest in Bear form, so… good luck, buddy.
Back on Auchindoun, the situation is much more grim. According to this site, it’s 77.2% Horde.
Sargeras is… oh, 92.9% Alliance. Wow. Goddamn.
Anyway, the bottom line is that the very minute that my level 99 rogue step foot in Azsuna the other day, I was one-shot by a hunter, presumably out of principle. What followed after was a harrowing two hours of questing, where I was constantly stealthing after every mob kill, and had to be ready to Cloak of Shadows/Vanish the moment anyone else showed up.
Worse was the simple fact that even if the Horde were content to leave me alone, I could never actually contribute meaningfully to any kills. The vast majority of every class and spec cleaves by default, which means I either spam Pistol Shot from 20 yards out or simply die to collateral damage.
All of this nonsense and anxiety was occurring on my rogue. I can’t even begin to imagine how many combined hours of time spent in spirit form I’d need for my mage or warlock. And, remember, Blizzard severely nerfed the experience one gets from dungeon queuing, because of course they did. What are my options? Battlegrounds? $25 server transfers? Straight-up rerolling? Even if I did manage to get to 110 in spite of everything… hey, I’m still fucked with WQs and world bosses.
“PvP on a PvP server,” amirite? Well… technically, yes.
But for one thing, Auchindoun wasn’t this imbalanced faction-wise for the first six years I called it home. It was a barren wasteland, for sure, but the current situation is inarguably worse for me. Indeed, had the server been this way all along – filled to the brim with hostile Horde – I would never had gotten as far as I did on it. This is all entirely Blizzard’s arbitrary doing, without ever offering an escape mechanism from a server that has declined in playability to effectively zero.
The feeling I had at the end of the night was the same I experienced in Wrath, when my account was hacked. These characters are effectively gone. RIP in pieces.
I have around 40 hours at the WoW endgame and have not gotten a legendary yet.
Yes, I understand how “entitled” that statement is. The problem is that this is the sort of endgame that Blizzard has designed.
Back in the day, Legendaries were extremely rare drops from the end bosses of high raiding tiers. This made them rare and cool, but effectively nonexistent for the majority of the playerbase and drama-laden for raiders besides. Sometimes the mainhand Warglaive never dropped. Sometimes the rogue got both Warglaives and then /gquit. Sometimes the warrior tank spent his accumulated DKP and “wasted” a Warglaive drop to look cool.
Around Wrath, the Legendary paradigm changed to make things a bit more organized. You had to collect 40 pieces of whatever, perhaps kill a specific boss, get a certain achievement, and then you got your Legendary. There was still a certain amount of coordination necessary though, as the Legendary pieces dropped for the whole raid, and thus had to be divvied up. In Mists and Warlords, the system was opened up further to the point where everyone could reasonably be expected to receive their own personal Legendary items. Drama around Legendaries was essentially removed, being solely a function of an individual’s willingness to grind past the gating mechanism.
In Legion, Legendaries are once again random drops. And there are dozens and dozens of them, for specific classes and even specific specs. The system, in effect, is a huge step backwards.
In principle, I actually like what they are doing with Legendaries, insofar as they are items that make you rethink your talent choices, skill rotation, and possibly even spec. Trinkets and Tier Set pieces traditionally function in this role, and their ability to “change the math” is precisely why getting them are exciting. One can stomach stat sticks only so far. In this sense, perhaps having “Legendary” items perform a similar role outside of Tier Sets and trinkets makes the piece of gear indeed “legendary.”
That said, we are now in a new Blizzard paradigm in which not only does Legendary gear drop from any content – including really dumb World Quests – but also one in which we can expect to see multiple pieces. Indeed, the last Class Hall upgrade for every class is the ability to equip two Legendary items at a time. Ergo, we should expect to have 2+ minimum. That said, there are tens of thousands of people right now with multiple Legendary pieces, and even more who have none. Supposedly there exists a “pity timer” which increases the odds of a Legendary drop the more one fails to receive one (such a mechanic exists in Hearthstone already), but nevermind.
Regardless, I really kinda hate this system. Sure, I see what Blizzard is doing: moving WoW towards a more Diablo 3 looting model, which makes completing otherwise dreary “kill 10 X” more exciting. But I actually enjoyed working towards items. Remember the old Badge system? There is a huge difference on an intellectual level between grinding 1000 mobs for 1000 points to buy a piece of gear, versus grinding 1000 mobs for a 1/1000 chance for a gear drop. I mean, I get it: filling some progress meter is a more defined endpoint than random drops. But for me personally, this level of randomness provides no meaningful sense of progression at all.
And by the way, this system seriously sucks for my situation in particular. I have been playing my Druid pretty much exclusively this expansion, with the understanding that I will need to be Balance if I ever wanted to raid later. However, questing as Guardian is so fucking amazing and quick that doing anything else is folly. And if I ever wanted to play some PvP, say, to capitalize on the Arena Skirmish bonus this past week? That’s either Feral or Resto. So, basically, no matter when or where a Legendary does finally drop (if it drops), I am guaranteed to not be able to meaningfully use it.
If I could work towards a specifically Legendary… but alas. GG Blizzard. GG.
I have not done a specific WoW AH-related post in quite some time, but allow me a moment to make one now: get Herbalism and make bank while you still can.
As of the time of this post, TheUndermineJournal shows the following prices on Sargeras-US:
- Fjarnskaggl = 105g
- Starlight Rose = 191g
- Foxflower = 153g
Even on the backwater Auchindoun-US server, it shows up as:
- Fjarnskaggl = 54g
- Starlight Rose = 187g
- Foxflower = 106g
These prices are per herb. Starlight Rose is only collected 1 at a time unless a bonus mob spawns, and sometimes that 1 herb attempt actually fails and you get vendor trash. Thus, it might be better to simply farm herbs in Stormheim or Highmountain, as each herb node will get you 3-6 herbs and the fox spawn from Foxflower will give you 20-30 herbs for free. All of these herbs can be gathered at skill level 1, and the only thing that matters skill-wise is getting to 100 Herbalism to unlock the occasional Felwort WQ. Farming routes can be found below:
If you want to get fancy with all the farming, there are three approaches, which can be combined.
First, you can speed up your actual farming of herbs via enhancements. If you are mounted in either the Sky Golem or the Mechanized Lumber Extractor, you can herb while remaining mounted. The former has seen it’s price more than double over the last week however (from around 64k to 150k), and making your own is a minimum 30-day affair due to relying on daily Engineering cooldowns. That said, if you can both snag a Sky Golem and then the Legion Herbalism glove enchant, you can saunter up to herbs and zip away nearly instantly.
Second, there are technically addons out there that will allow you to server hop, and either get a fresh set of spawns or avoid someone that is already farming the area on your server (herb nodes are mult-tap, but only for ~10 seconds). In my experience though, farming routes are almost not even necessary. Just collect all the herbs you see while completing WQs in the area. That will generally be enough for 5k-10k gold in sales by the time you hearth back to an AH.
Finally, if you really want to get super fancy, you can follow the advice of this Reddit thread and create a level 101 twink. That’s right, with level scaling mobs, twinks are back. The idea is to get a character to 101 so that you can equip all of those ilevel 835 BoE epics, then lock your XP gains. Bonus points for actually equipping the Brewfest Tankards instead of your artifact weapon, since the former is ilevel 810. Since all the mobs in Stormheim and Highmountain scale to your actual level, as opposed to your ilevel, you should be able to both herb and close to one-shot any mobs that might be in your way. Using a Demon Hunter for this makes it both trivial to create and likely better than any alternative class, what with the gliding and double jumps.
The reason I say “start now” is because A) it is still wildly profitable right now, and B) prices will likely crash in 7.1. As shown on MMO-Champ last week, there is a Blood of Sargeras trader coming in the next patch:
While a lot of people are praying saying that the conversion rates are placeholder values, the fact remains that any kind of conversion is going to reduce prices across the board. If we take the current AH prices for example, the value of a single Blood at this trader is between 955g-3060g. If you only get 10 Foxflower per Blood, that is still… 955g-1530g. Blizzard isn’t going to make it 1 Blood for 1 herb, so I find it actually incredibly likely that the 20 herb conversion stays at 20 herbs.
Now, I do think it’s possible Herbalism will remain profitable even after the Trader appears. Traditionally, this has not been the case because of bots. There have been more recent reports from players seeing teleporting bots again this expansion, but I think we can all agree that Blizzard seems to be getting better at keeping them under control. I mean, with where prices are at currently, I would have expected a flood of botting already. Since that is not necessarily the case, I have hopes that the “floor” of the herb market will remain acceptably high.
Because I’ll be damned trying to transition to crafting professions when the AH is still throttled.