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.
With Legion, I feel that Blizzard solved a major source of social friction and then almost immediately made it even worse than before.
As you may or may not know, by default LFD queues in Legion are Personal Loot, which neatly solves the long-standing issue of loot whore/ninjaing. But this also made it feel like nobody was getting any actual loot, so Blizzard added a big prompt notifying when other people won stuff. Of course, this highlighted those situations when someone won useless (to them) loot, and people started pining for the days when they could pass on/trade loot to each other. So Blizzard made the items tradable as long as you already had something with a higher ilevel in that slot.
This culminated in my recent Neltharion’s Lair run, wherein I won some lower ilevel gloves and missed the whispers from the healer after the penultimate boss. Hey, the chat box gets pretty full sometimes with the near non-stop narration, okay? Taking my silence as some sort of snub – or perhaps simply engaging in some vindictive blackmail – the healer simply stopped healing me. After eating dirt for a second time in front of the trash leading to the final boss, and getting emotes instead of a rez, I asked “Did I do something wrong? :(” assuming that I was not following some trash mechanic. “At last he speaks.” Ah, I see. I trade the gloves and received healing for the last fight.
This sort of convoluted situation has since occurred three more times in different contexts. Boss dropped a 825 helm and the Demon Hunter traded it to me, but seemed to almost regret his decision. “Are you really going to use that?” I suppose he was asking since I had the 2-piece set bonus from the Order Hall armor. Another time some gloves dropped and the winner asked who needed it, and two party members must have gotten in a furious whisper war, because the run stopped for a solid 2 minutes before something was hashed out.
Finally, I won some lower-ilevel wrists in my latest dungeon run, and basically spent the rest of the run trying to inspect our Bear tank to see if they were an upgrade to him. They were, I surreptitiously traded them to him instead of the Demon Hunter, and went on with my day.
Hey, remember when all of this was solved by hitting Need or Greed? I do.
Seriously though, if Blizzard is going to add all of this tradable Personal Loot nonsense, they should probably invest in an UI element that asks if you want to Pass on the loot. If you hit Yes, it should pop up a Need or Greed prompt for everyone. If you hit No, the item could still be tradable in case you want to give the item to a particular person without advertising or whatever. Done and done.
As Shintar pointed out in the comments last time around, almost all of my coverage of Legion thus far has been either AH or complaint-related. And that’s fair – it has. I suppose we all just sort of take it for granted that WoW’s general gameplay is genre-defining and spectacular in most every way. Indeed, that engaging gameplay is precisely why we complain: if only X or Y could be fixed, we’d feel better about getting lost in the oblivion of killing mobs for hours.
Well, for this post, I won’t take it for granted. Legion is vastly improved in almost every way.
For one thing, all mobs everywhere are multi-tap capable. You know, that thing that Guild Wars 2 (and presumably others) have been doing for 4+ years already? Between the multi-tap mobs and the multi-tap resources nodes, the very fabric of open-world social dynamics has changed in Legion. Members of my own faction are no longer competition. Demon Hunter zipping around and collecting all the quest mobs in the area? Cool, let me just toss a Sunfire into that pack and get credit and looting rights to everything.
Granted, I might be more miffed if I were a spec without easy AoE.
There have been a lot of concern over the Great Ability Prune this expansion, but I have largely enjoyed having action bars back. More conditional and/or specialized buttons raises the skill cap, sure. At the same time, what is actually important is the feeling one gets pressing what buttons one has. If you only enjoy pressing 1-2 buttons of your 12 button rotation, what good is that?
In this regard, Legion is a massive, massive leap forward in most of the specs I have played. I smile every time I cast Full Moon on the Balance druid. Grappling Hook on the Outlaw rogue is fucking magical. You never quite realize how beaten down you have gotten over the years in regards to terrain until you gain the freedom to actually “teleport” up a hill you would otherwise have to traverse around. And speaking of Outlook rogues, Pistol Shot as an ability just feels so good. The sound, the action, the proc, the utility of having a ranged, technically spammable attack is perfect.
I have not spent much, non-Invasion time with the other alts, for reasons I kinda already got into with my complaint posts. What I will say though, is that the simple existence of class-specific content is an extremely good motivating factor in getting said classes leveled up and/or at least played some to see it. I didn’t like Unholy DK gameplay during Invasions, for example, but when I heard that the Lich King is involved in the artifact quests? Sign me up. It might only be an hour or two of specific content (and some locations are shared), but it is more than has existed for quite some time.
Leveling zones have been spectacular this expansion as well. It normally goes without saying, but I really do appreciate how much care Blizzard takes in not being as predictable in the art design department. Remember Wrath of the Lich King and the Northrend continent? Everyone expected every zone to just be all snow and zombies all the time. And while there was a lot of snow and zombies, you also had Grizzly Hills and Sholazar Basin and so on. In a similar vein, there is kind of a expectation in Legion for… well, Legion everywhere. Demons and green fire and Chronicles of Riddick-esque architecture. Not so much, actually. I started out leveling in Highmountain, and things have pretty much been up (har har) from there.
While I have not hit level cap just quite yet, I have high praise for the scaling leveling tech. There is more content than necessary for reaching 110 – which is good – but would typically present an issue within the zones themselves once you outlevel them. “Do I see the conclusion of this quest chain now, or come back later when it’s trivial?” I remember that being a major issue in Wrath in Grizzly Hills, as that was a zone I wanted to spend more time in, but outpaced the content available. Between the scaling mobs and scaling rewards, this is not an issue anymore.
I will admit though that there feels like a bit of a loss in the tangible feeling of level progression department, insofar as mobs are almost always the same level of difficulty. Sometimes it feels liberating coming back to older zones and having the run of the place, you know?
Quest-wise… this is WoW. People often complain about having to kill 10 whatevers in MMO quests, but that’s kind of why we’re playing a game with 10 million hostile whatevers, right? Besides, those sort of quests are filler and/or padding for the actual story/plot quests, which have been fantastically meaty from a lore standpoint. So much so, in fact, that I suspect the quest writers have been reading a bit too much Game of Thrones. Gods, demigods, Aspects… no one is safe. I legitimately wonder what Blizzard is going to follow this expansion up with – the old (figurative and literal) pantheon seems to have swept away, so they’re either wrapping things up or making room for new guys.
In any case, there it is. Legion is a lot of fun. I have complaints for days and days about all manners of things, but it comes from a place of frustration with wasted potential. That AH business, for example, would easily keep me entertained for 3 months if they fixed the throttling.
Alas, it is what it is. Which is 90% good, even if the 10% gets all the attention.
Amidst the summary of Ion Hazzikostas’ recent interview, the section that piqued my interest the most were the comment about improvements to the AH. Here are the MMO-Champ bullet points:
- The Auction House UI is pretty unacceptable at this point and past due for a revamp.
- Fixing this is a longer term project, but addons can help in the meantime.
- In Patch 7.1 there may be some logic changes to how items are sorted on the auction house.
- Right now stacks are sorted by total cost rather than cost per unit.
- Hopefully in Patch 7.1 the auction house will be able to sort by unit price instead, allowing you to see the cheapest items first.
AH updates continue to be throttled on Sargares as of today. This throttling is not from addons, for the record – it exists even using the default AH interface. If you search for Felslate, for example, there is still a 5 second delay to even be able to click the Sort by Bid tab. Meanwhile, when I checked on my home realm of Auchindoun-US, multiple pages were scanned nearly instantly via Auctionator like they have been for the past four expansions. It has to have something to do with either AH size or realm population or both.
I have been making due with the default AH interface, and every day it reminds me of how abysmal it is. For example, one of the “tricks” of AH goblins is something call a “wall.” That is where you post 200+ auctions of a single item (e.g. ore), in the hopes that anyone else trying to see what the going price is for said item will undercut you… because they cannot be bothered with clicking through 4+ pages of AH results. Trying to sort by lowest price will not get yourself past the wall, even if there are stacks of items at a lower individual price because, as Ion points out, the default interface treats a single item at 20g to be less expensive than a stack of 20 of the same item for 21g.
None of the above is at all an issue for anyone with Auctionator or any other AH addon, of course. Auctionator will condense the 200+ auctions into a single line item on the results screen. Or at least, it would, if not for this asinine throttle that makes it impossible to use addons in any constructive way for Trade Goods. Sigh.
In the meantime, I have made somewhere around ~45,000g since starting at 150g on Sargeras. My friend has given me some of the Hexweave Bags, but otherwise that all comes from selling herbs and ore. I definitely missed the gold mine that was early bracer crafting and/or Obliterum mass production though. I’m kinda sad about that… but another part is not.
With the AH in such a sorry state as it remains, two weeks from launch, I am beginning to feel like all those halcyon AH goblin days of mine are far behind me. And it is almost as though Blizzard is doing me a favor for being so terribly shitty at something so fundamental to their goddamn game. Not having the AH to keep my interest is one less hook keeping my nose the screen and thoughts revolving around WoW.
Legion is weird.
After all the dilemmas of two weeks ago, I bit the bullet and created a druid on Sargeras-US using my level 90 boost. With the help of some donated +300% potions during the Invasions, I hit 100 well ahead of the Legion launch. The plan? Level as Balance with Restoration as a 5-man backup.
My first impression is that druids might well have won this expansion, at least on paper. Mages might have portals baseline, but the Dreamway can take you damn near anywhere (old world, Wrath, etc), and it’s a pretty place to boot. Plus, any misgivings I might have had with Balance gameplay-wise was erased with the artifact ability. I smile every time I get to cast Full Moon and watch a goddamn moon crash into a bunch of mobs, usually hitting them for 50-90% of their HP with one spell.
Outside of the questing experience though – which is just as good as before – everything feels weird.
As Syp notes, the class order halls feel like a waste of space. Or, perhaps more accurately, a waste of time – just another set of loading screens on my way back to questing. Seriously, my recent routine is Dreamway –> Order Hall for missions –> Dalaran for any profession quests –> Stormwind to AH herbs/ore –> Dreamway –> Order Hall for Flight Point back to questing zone. I suppose there might be a more efficient route in there somewhere, but the point remains that we now have three entirely different hubs with Important Things in them.
Remind me again how this is better than people being stuck in their Garrisons?
Indeed, the whole Order Hall business as Garrison 2.0 is making me scratch my head. I get the fiction of Order Halls. And I even agree that it fits thematically with us being commanders, wielding the artifact weapons of our people. But… why? Why this Garrison business again? The system is a lot more streamlined than before, with only ~5 followers or whatever, and that’s good. But the “gameplay” of three clicks every 2/4/8 hours is a road to nowhere. So much so that Blizzard recently released a companion app that lets you make those three clicks while not even playing the game.
Don’t get me started on Professions. Catch-up mechanisms really needed to exist, lest new players be forever stuck behind old-world material walls. This new paradigm of only needing level 100 skill though (and even then only for World Quests)? Jesus, what’s the point? Skill level is immaterial, old-world recipes are immaterial (outside maybe transmog), old-world mats are immaterial… oh, but the entire design in predicated on being max-level and hitting high reputation levels with endgame factions, rendering crafting alts as functionally useless. Which might well have been the design. But it’s a dumb design, a design that explicitly punishes the very things that Blizzard has been adding to the game for more than half of it’s existence.
So… I dunno. Blizzard probably got a good year of subscription money from me back in Wrath by actually making alt characters useful and engaging. We have now reached the point at which we have the opposite philosophy from the last four expansions. Between that, the fact that Sargeras had 30-40 minutes queues on Tuesday, and that the AH continues to be throttled (presumably due to realm size), I am beginning to question why I spend time playing this game over, say, anything else.
Been playing Legion at a good clip the past couple of days. Relatively speaking, of course.
If there has been one change that could smother my interest in the cradle though, it’s this:
There are a couple of things going on. The primary one is that, at some point, Blizzard throttled the Auction House (AH) page scanning to ~5 seconds per page. Did they do this specifically for Legion? I don’t know. Is this a permanent change? God, I hope not. Because as the above picture shows, it takes over 3.5 minutes to even to get an opportunity to post some silk using Auctionator (an AH addon, but other are just as affected). This scan occurs every time you post any item, including the same item, if you decided you want to post two stacks of five and five individual silks.
“Too bad for the AH goblin,” right? Well… yeah. And you. There is still serious gold to be made in the AH – the issue is now there will be less competition for the people willing to sit through the delay. Goblins raise everything to “market prices,” but we also undercut each other. If the delay completely kills my motivation to do anything with the AH other than unloading herbs/ore, that is one less person driving down the cost of produced goods. You’ll be back to the days of the 1-2 Glyph barons on your server with a 10,000% profit margin. Because we are no longer competing on price, but on our willingness to Alt-Tab or bot the process.
In the meantime, I have be using as much of the default AH interface as I can. There is still a 5-second delay is switching pages, but at least the first page gives me some sort of baseline for determining the floor of a given good. A lot of my browsing though, is simply no longer possible. Want to look at every BoE epic armor on the AH above ilevel 800 for flipping purposes? Good luck… you might be able to finish the scan before you get logged off for being AFK.
Sometimes you get lucky with the default interface though. Auctionator doesn’t even bother listing Bid Prices, which means you can lose out on some ridiculous nonsense like this:
Yes, I won the auction with a bid of 1 silver, 10 copper. I would have been fine with selling it for ~300g, but it turns out the actual going price since my last scan shows 750g.
That’s a win, but I’d pay all of that and more for a return to 1-second page scans.
Has there been a more well-received or better designed expansion launch event in WoW?
Or, hell, any MMO?
Top to bottom, the Legion invasions have been amazing. I mean, yeah, Blizzard is essentially bribing everyone with loads of free XP to avoid slogging through the content in their own game. That’s the thing though: everyone is involved. Leveling alts? Get in there and gain 1.5 levels per Invasion. Already at max level? Get chests of raid-worthy loot. Already geared out? Have some lucrative toys to sell or appearances to unlock.
All of this is fairly unprecedented. Hell, I had to go back and look up what the prior pre-launch events even were. The last notable one was the Scourge invasion back before Wrath. Sure, that was fun for a time – I still remember actually role-playing a paladin as I griefed players trying to turn into undead (by Cleansing them) and/or releasing their shackled souls once they turned. What of the others? An Elemental Invasion for Cataclysm was just a convenient way to stock up on, erm, elementals. Mists was… Theramore scenario? I still haven’t seen that in-game, and I’m not even sure I can. Then there was some max-level Iron Horde nonsense for Warlords, yeah?
In any case, this current one is currently the new bar, IMO. It involves players of all levels, and provides incentives to players of all gear levels.