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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 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.

Waycrest Manor

I completed my first dungeon in Battle for Azeroth, which was Waycrest Manor.

The first boss was the Queue. The average time to get in was 8 minutes as DPS, and I waited 45 minutes. While I waited, I fished out in the Horde area, as a level 112 Demon Hunter. The only reason I was doing a dungeon at all is because Anchor Weed Rank 2 required running said dungeon. With Anchor Weed currently selling for 550g apiece, it felt worth doing. The fish being 50g-100g apiece was bonus.

Forty-five minutes is a long time though.

Once inside, I was immediately reminded of that one dungeon in GW2, which was also inside a mansion. I was going to look it up just now, but does anyone care what it’s actually called, even if they play GW2? The bottom line is that Waycrest Manor reminded me of that other one because they are both terribly designed. You can’t have an MMO with a floating camera and then do a bunch of interior houses. It’s dumb, players can’t see shit, and you fight the camera more than the mobs.

The dungeon run was successful, but that was either because our healer was god-like or the tuning was low, even by LFD standards. More than once, I accidentally pulled extra groups of mobs trying to utilize Fel Rush, especially since my Azerite Powers boosted it. This included accidentally pulling one of the bosses (Raal). Somehow we muddled through it all – probably because the healer was a Monk – and I got my Anchor Weed book and we defeated the final boss.

My druid is another herbalist, and I’m debating whether or not to try and knock out the quest sooner or later. Respeccing as a tank would certainly help with queue times, but I’m a bit leery of the dungeon in general. And, you know, getting back on the saddle in terms of tanking.

Or I could just farm leather/herb for another 45 minutes while sitting in the queue and not worry about respeccing at all, trying to change Azerite Powers, etc etc. Hmm. Tough choice.

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.

Disposable Professions

As of Battle for Azeroth, WoW professions have become almost entirely disposable.

I noticed this last night as I was puttering around on some of my alts. Three of them wear leather armor, so I was hopping onto each one trying to remember which had Leatherworking. As it turns out, none of them did. So, without much thought, I dropped Skinning on the rogue and then… paused. “Leather is cheap, but those Blood-Stained Bones are relatively expensive.” Then I decided that my druid would likely be more efficient at AoE farming for leather anyway, so I logged onto her and then dropped Enchanting without a pause and gave her Skinning.

If you have not been keeping track at home, Blizzard had been moving towards the Single Expansion Relevance model for a while now. Professions used to start at 1, and you would need to dedicate tens of thousands of gold/hours farming to level them up to 300+ just to get near where current-content gear was. If you kept up, you were sitting pretty, because everyone else just coming back from a break or brand new players had a huge grind ahead of them.

It was not a particularly elegant model, but it still felt… reasonable. Plus, the constant need for old-world mats for newly profession-ed characters meant that lowbies had a good shot at become rich by just gathering herbs/ore as they leveled. There was a whole micro-economy that existed there, including the savvy Auctioneers who were able to throw together a “profession kit” that would allow someone to max out to current content within 30 minutes. The dedication needed to remain in your own professions would inspire people to level alts just to have additional options, who then needed to be leveled and geared and fed a diet of AH materials, and so on, and so forth.

Then things started to change.

The first steps were allowing players to harvest current-expansion nodes even as a starter herbalist/miner. Blizzard made sure that the product extracted was basically junk, or 1/10th of the normal result, but you could at least tap the node. And that was reasonable, especially for the gathering professions, as it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to force high-level characters to be scouring old Azeroth for Tin nodes.

Then came the gimmie recipes for crafters, which allowed them to use current-expansion resources to rank up 400+ levels. One would think that such a feature killed off the old-school profession kits, but all it really did was set a price ceiling at which it was cheaper to just buy new herbs/ore. This was especially true at the beginning of an expansion, when the latest herbs/ore were selling for hundreds of gold apiece.

Somewhere in there, Blizzard also introduced profession books, which would allow you to “relearn” all the recipes you had lost when abandoning a profession.

With BfA, the circle is now complete. Professions are entirely stratified into expansion-specific tiers. Profession bonuses, which were the bane of hardcore raiders, were watered-down and diluted into irrelevance. Once a part of your character’s identity and story, professions are, at most, a (temporary) economic decision. Hell, in the heady days of a new expansion release, it can sometimes be worth the 1000g fee to relearn a profession if you can make ten times that amount in a night of being a temporary whatever. Blizzard helpfully removed most of the dungeon requirements for 3-star ranks, so the barriers has never been lower.

And all of that is probably for the best.

I sat here a while, exploring my feelings on the matter, before coming to that conclusion. I am a huge critic of any game design in which someone can lose on the character select screen, and WoW’s profession bonuses combined with the grind back up to max rank was just another form of that. That is on top of the ~5%/month churn rate which could see your entire MMO population turn over every 20 months. A new expansion is usually released how often, again? It’s just not a good design IMO to require people to pump out thousands of useless pieces of junk to increase a number to a sufficient degree to get to starting line.

Nevertheless, yeah, there is a part of me that had fond memories of the old system. My namesake paladin has been a Jewelcrafting/Alchemist since 2008 and none of that matters. I spent hundreds of hours leveling up a fleet of alts to cover every profitable base each expansion, and now the same thing could be done by one toon and a willingness to drop 1000g.

I am sort of waiting for the day when Blizzard just goes full GW2 and lets you buy extra profession slots for real money and otherwise just be done with the restrictions altogether.

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.

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.

Combat Flow

I have been playing a lot of WoW the past week or so. While the original goal was to grind some reputation to unlock Allied Races, I am now focusing my time on getting my stable of alts up to level 110 prior to BfA going Live. And in that time, I am finding it fascinating how great (or horrible!) combat feels for the different classes.

My “main” in Legion has been a druid Moonkin. The thought process was A) I wanted to DPS, and B) my historical knowledge of Feral was that you basically had to play Dance Dance Revolution perfectly to only achieve adequate DPS. Thus, for pretty much the entire expansion, I stayed Moonkin. That is in spite of Moonkins feeling terrible to play.

I say Moonkins feel terrible, but it’s difficult to enunciate why. There just doesn’t seem to be any particular flow. Let’s say that I’m facing a fresh target 30 yards away. I can start with a New Moon rotation, which is a 3-spell sequence of escalating damage and cast times. The target is likely to die by the time they get hit with the third spell, and I’ll have enough Astral Power to fire off at least two Starsurges (instant-cast, hard-hitting spells) to finish off anything that survives. Then the clunkiness comes in. While the New Moon rotation is on cooldown, I pretty much just spam Solar Wrath until I can Starsurge again, or I toss on two dots and hope for instant-cast Lunar Strike procs from being hit.

One of the alts I’m leveling is a Demo warlock, so let’s compare there. Starting at 30 yards, I cast Summon: Dreadstalkers, followed by two Shadowbolts, then Hand of Gul’dan. At this point, the mob is either dead or about to be dead from the force of like 6-8 demons auto-attacking. When the Dreadstalkers go away, I get two Demonbolt instant-cast procs, which are mini-Pyroblasts that also give me Soul Shards to recast Summon: Dreadstalker and/or Hand of Gul’dan.

There is a flow with the Demo warlock that practically turns into a roiling boil if you immediately engage another enemy. Compare that to the Moonkin, with it’s anemic refractory period inbetween possibly blowing one mob up.

Another flow impediment is just a clunky rotation. Exhibit A: the Unholy Death Knight. Festering Strike costs 2 runes, and gives your target some Festering Wounds. If you hit them twice, they’ll have four debuffs, and you can spend your two remaining runes on Scourge Strike to pop two of them. And now… you wait for runes to regenerate, or possibly throw out a Death Coil. Alternatively, you can only Festering Strike once, and then Scourge Strike four times, the latter two of which won’t deal extra damage. If there’s a 2nd mob, you just sort of face-tank them for a while. I mean, you have AoE options like Outbreak or Death & Decay/Defile, but those consume runes too, and you’re left with awkward gaps in the rotation regardless.

Retribution paladin used to be the king of awkward rotation gaps, but I have been enjoying it since the 8.0 patch thus far. Judgment, Blade of Justice, Templar’s Verdict is sometimes enough to kill a mob outright. If not, Crusader’s Strike and another Blade of Justice (via Art of War proc) will get you another 3 Holy Power for another Templar’s Verdict. If the mob still ain’t dead, or if something else wandered into range, Wake of Ashes hits hard and instantly gives you 5 Holy Power for some additional Templar’s Verdicts. Point being, there may be some gaps later on, but they only show up after prolonged combat.

Sometimes the rotation is fine, but there is something else that is ever-so-slightly grating about the class, which interrupts the flow. That has been my experience with Havoc (aka DPS) demon hunters. Nominally, the spec feels fine. In fact, it is extremely satisfying when you gather up mobs and watch them literally melt from Eye Beam every 30 seconds. The problem is… the sounds. The auto-attack and Demon’s Bite and Chaos Strike abilities make a discordant “ching-ching” sound, like metal on metal. It’s annoying as shit, and just about enough to get me to not want to play the class entirely, despite loving everything else about the kit. I might seriously investigate if there’s an addon or something that can change the sounds that those abilities make.

Of all the alts I’ve played thus far, the one that was the most surprisingly satisfying to play has been the Fury warrior. As far as I can tell, the spec is not even that particularly strong. But, guys, seriously, give it a go sometime. Charging your foe, hitting with Raging Blow/Blood Thirst/repeat, then launching into that amazing Rampage animation… glorious. Left, right, both swords. If you’re not careful, there can be a 1-2 second boner-killing gap in buttons to press within the rotation, but it’s otherwise a very good time. The sounds, the animation, the damage, the flow – the whole package.

Having said all that, it’s entirely possibly I have been doing things wrong. Talents play a huge part in rotations and spec feel, and I may have simply picked the wrong ones. For example, I’m looking at Icy Veins right now, and it’s saying that the New Moon talent for Moonkins is crap, which probably has a lot to do with how weak/clunky the spec feels. I’m not sure that spamming Solar Wrath or casting DoTs on mobs that should ideally die within 10-15 seconds will feel better, but maybe. The rest of my alts are all sub-110 also, so it’s possible that mobs scaled below max level are weaker than my druid main is used to fighting. As I bring each one to the level cap – almost entirely from doing Legion invasions once every few days – we’ll see how they feel.

It has been an interesting experience playing all these classes/specs nonetheless. A lot of people have kinda railed against the notion of making leveling new classes a trivial exercise, between heirlooms and XP streamlining and other nerfs. But I feel like it’s a great tragedy for new players of WoW to be coming in and possibly losing on the character creation screen. Or if not outright losing by sticking with a clunky spec/class, missing out on a class/spec that they would enjoy playing 1000% better than whatever they originally picked. This isn’t FF14 where you lose nothing in particular by switching classes. I’m stuck with the druid main at least until BfA – unless I’m willing to forever abandon unlocking the Allied Races – because I sure as shit ain’t grinding up the reputation again.

In any case, it’s my goal to get a stable full of max-level alts ready for the BfA release. And, you know, hopefully find the one that’s the most fun to play.

Waiting Games

The Alpha 17 patch for 7 Days to Die has been pushed back from “late July” to August. There are some sweeping changes being done to guns and weapon mods in general, in addition to introducing new vehicles and such. It will remain to be seen if these changes are enough to make the game feel fresh, but honestly, it won’t take much to bring me back anyway.

Fallout 76’s release date is November 14th. I was hoping that “beta access” actually meant beta access, but it’s more like the now-current industry standard of pre-release. Evidence? Beta will take place in October, starting with a small group and then getting larger, and XBox users will be first.

Battlefield 5 will be released on October 19th, or slightly earlier if you’re subscribed to Origin Access. There should be an open beta sometimes in September, which I suppose matches the “beta” of Fallout 76. Hopefully the “open beta” is actually open, e.g. free.

WoW’s latest expansion will be hitting August 14th, of course.

In the meantime, I’m mostly playing the waiting game. I log into WoW, check the Emissary quest, WQs, and Order Hall mission lists to see if there are any easy reputation gains, for Allied Races purposes. I recently upgraded all of my heirlooms to level 110, and equipped them on all my alts. I have recently discovered how lucrative the Invasions can be from an XP standpoint – with 55% bonus XP, clearing the map is basically an entire level – but the quests are account-wide, so I’m kinda cycling through my characters. If there is time/interest leftover, I do some mog runs.

Honestly, I should probably be spending this time playing something else entirely. But, as always, it’s tough to play something else when you really want to be playing something in particular that you can’t. In my case, since they have not be released/updated yet.