My alt and profession priorities for Legion

The Dream...

The Dream… (Anacrusa)

For the first time ever, I got into the beta for an expansion.

I spent virtually no time in it. Frankly, work pushed me about as close to my limit in June as it possibly could, and I could never justify jumping into beta during very limited play-time/energy when there were things to do in Live. So the invite was, sadly, basically wasted on me. Hopefully next time – if there is a next time – I will have more time to be a contributor, both here and in the beta.

Anyway, I said all of that to say this: I know very little about the upcoming expansion. I have read some, class-mechanic, stat, and gear-wise, but I got basically no experience on beta other than some time on a target dummy about a month or so ago.

That being said, here are my rough priority lists for Legion:

Primary

  • Feral druid leveled through Legion, in a Loremaster-y – as opposed to world-first-y – type fashion.
  • Once I finally hit 100: world quests, dungeons, PvP, and whatever the class hall requires, in order to have fun and possibly get geared for raiding.
  • Her professions on their way to being whatever they end up as in Legion.

Secondary

There are 5 other toons I want to bring into Legion, in relatively this order:

The frost mage...

The frost mage…

1. Frost Mage – if my druid is my melee toon (and possible healer) for competitive or instance play, the mage may be my ranged option. Fire is cool too, but I love frost from a greater conceptual standpoint, and so far I am enjoying playing him in the pre-patch.

(As a bonus, he is also my Tailor / Jewelcrafter, which I get some value out of…)

2a. Prot warrior – I really respect prot warriors and enjoy the challenge of playing mine. As frustrating as he is to play in certain situations, I love this toon, and I want him to get his sword and shield, and at least see how the spec plays in Legion. So far, he feels fairly powerful in Tanaan, given his relatively low gear level.

2b. Frost DK – because his weapons are reforged from the shards of Frostmourne! Do I get to talk to the new-and-improved Lich King, Bolvar Fordragon? I’ll find out soon enough (those who know, DON’T tell me!!)… Heck, that’s almost enough to make me take this toon into the Broken Isles FIRST.

(But I won’t. But it will happen sooner than later!)

2c. Mushan (hunter) – because he is my hunter, and because I still want to try to live my fantasy of the class in a casual sense, even if it means not prepping him for all the raiding stuff, etc. But his stock is sinking rapidly with respect to having a fun gameplay experience, in my observation thus far this patch.

3. Ret Paladin – …do I really have to say?

It’s Ashbringer!

This is, admittedly, a tertiary priority, because I really just want the artifact – I don’t know if I will really be able to give much time to her. But, since the expansion will apparently be at least 2 years in length, I have time to maybe do so.

Tertiary

Off-the-cuff thoughts:

– I am making a Demon Hunter, just to check it out.

– Can you believe I have not ever played a Pandaren toon yet?

– Can you believe I have not leveled a shaman to 100?

– Can you believe I have never leveled a Horde character to max level?

– Or a warlock, monk, or priest?

– . . .

Well, if I at any point thought that there was nothing left for me to do in-game, I was overlooking a lot. Now, it’s not like I’m retiring from my job and plan on spending the next several years immersing myself in everything WoW before the servers go down. But I would like to tackle a few of these, if not all. Here’s what I have in mind:

  1. As noted above, make a Demon Hunter (the easiest, obviously, to get to max level at this point).
  2. Level a Pandaren Monk. Alliance side.
  3. Level a Shaman (probably Dwarf, otherwise Tauren).
  4. Level a Tauren Druid if the sham is a Dwarf, otherwise Tauren Shaman).

*Side note: I still have both my level 90 and 100 boosts. I may use the 100 boost at some point if I get one of these toons to 90, because I like the leveling process – I’m just done with the WoD process. But the 90 boost I may never use. We’ll see.

Other

I was going to try to list some other things I have in mind, but really that stuff is so far off anyone’s radar right now that I won’t. The above list is enough to cover me for activity into the foreseeable future, especially if my future schedule ends up allowing me to do some raiding!

I’m not terribly interested in Professions this time around. Let me rephrase that: In Legion, I’m not going to go for broke on maxing out each and every profession to cover all of my bases. I’ll get Ana all done, and probably the mage, and the rest may or may not follow. My main focus is one to two toons, and I’m determined to leave a few of my 100s on the bench this time. That’s an idea that’s a direct rejection of the ‘jack of all trades’ meta-game in WoW. I need to focus on having fun. I already have a job. I worked 70 hours at it last week.

The Wrap

Three months ago, my plan for the Legion expansion period was to make a bunch of new toons and level them to 100 without taking them past Pandaria / to Draenor, because I do not really want to play WoD again for a long time, and wasn’t interested in working my WoW endgame ‘job’ again in Legion, in addition to my real job. Now, I’ve got plenty of potential fun on my plate along with some energy to direct toward it!

***

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. 


My alt and profession mindset for Warlords part 3: Alpha

Blacksmithing, soon to be going bye-bye.

Blacksmithing, soon to be going bye-bye. Oh, and Dimples. :D

Back in December and January, I published speculative posts regarding my toons’ professions in Warlords of Draenor: which alts I might level, what their professions might be, and why.

I have seven level 90s (all home-grown), but lately I’ve been thinking that – depending on how much I decide to actually play once my initial new-xpac buzz wears off – there will be a maximum of five that end up making the journey to 100. Could be a lot less, of course.

At any rate, at the time I noted that there were certain motivations for wanting to switch things up, and that there could be more on the horizon. As of last weekend’s Alpha info dump, one of those motivations has been clarified. So, with those in mind, I give you the factors that will play into how I play profs in WoD:

  1. I don’t know how many toons I will level because a) I don’t know if I will continue to be a serial subscriber in WoD, and b) even if I am, I am determined not to burn myself out like I have in the past.
  2. I want to make it easier to level profs on my main toon (and possibly others).
  3. I don’t know if I will be raiding, so optimal prof usage might not be important.
  4. I already have plenty of gold, so if I never sell anything on the AH for the whole xpac, I’ll still be fine. I have absolutely no need for a ‘job’ (or several) during WoD.
  5. Flying might not be a Thing in WoD for a while (or even the whole xpac).
  6. Alpha news: Professions will no longer provide performance bonuses (stat buffs / weapon bonuses / extra sockets / exclusive enchants / better gems, etc.).

#6 on that list was revealed in the Alpha patch notes, and answered a question that I had related in one of my earlier posts in the subject. As of 6.0, profession bonuses will be no more. Which basically negates any concerns raised by #3 on the list.

So, looking at my main, Mushan (hunter/LW/BS), I can tell you right now that he will be jettisoning Blacksmithing and picking up Skinning. Before the notes were released, this was already being seriously considered; now it’s a no-brainer. I have another max-level Blacksmith (Droignon, warrior/BS/Mining) anyway, and Mushan was really, obviously, just using Blacksmithing for his own advantage, and Blacksmithing is such a nice person who deserves better than a one-sided relationship… I don’t know, I try to stay out of it as much as possible (it’s complicated).

In all seriousness, after leveling Mushan in MoP as a LW/BS, I’m looking forward to being able to gather my own resources while I play him in Warlords. I have big plans for leveling him (which may or may not… OK probably will be revealed at a later date), and the main theme is going to be that I will immerse myself in playing him, as opposed to racing to the cap. I’m not going to worry about getting him capped ASAP, and then hopping on the druid to skin a bunch of dead things, and then hopping on the warrior and riding around mining everything I can in Jade Forest and leveling out of the zone before I do many quests from all of the gathering XP…

/breathe

…like I did last time. All to get those crafting profs maxed on Mushan, who for the past two expansions has been able to craft amazing stuff, but somehow is incapable of gathering his own materials himself. This time will be different.

Skinning also fits Leatherworking hunters better in my opinion, lore-/immersion-wise.

#5 on that list (no flying) sort of puts the kibosh on possibly changing Ana’s (druid/LW/SK) profs. Without the flying advantages, changing her to an Herbalist, as I mentioned in a past post, has no appeal for me. She’ll remain a LW/SK, unless I decide that I really really want to change her into an Alch/Herb, which I’m doubtful will happen.

The list (updated @ Alpha)

There are no other changes that I can think of, with respect to how my toons will approach profs in WoD. With that, here’s my list:

  1. Mushan (90 hunter/main): Leatherworking, Skinning (new)
  2. Anacrusa (90 Resto/Balance druid): Leatherworking, Skinning #
  3. Droignon (90 Prot warrior): Blacksmithing, Mining #
  4. Modhriel (90 Frost mage): Tailoring, Jewelcrafting *#
  5. Saldrahn (90 Blood DK): Engineering, Mining #
  6. Abenadari (90 pally): Alchemy, Herbalism **
  7. Ghilleadh (90 hunter alt): Enchanting, Skinning **
  8. Mydnas (85 druid bank alt): Inscription, Herbalism ***

Notes:

# Mushan is the only real concern for the time being. The rest will happen only if fun-times permit.

* With all of the forthcoming stat changes, I’m not particularly enthused about JC anymore, but then again, it’s not terribly important (see previous note), is it? As for Tailoring, that should be fairly straightforward to level, since killing equals gathering in that case.

** These toons will most likely not make the journey. One or both may be deleted for future character slots, unless they ever get around to connecting my server (grr..).

*** I don’t care a lick about this toon or Inscription anymore, but she’s the bank alt, so she stays for now. But I’ll be very surprised if she doesn’t mostly gather dust.

* * *

So, really? Hundreds and hundreds of words, and there are only two actual changes to my mindset compared with my previous post on the subject?

Yeah, sorry. That’s how I roll, usually. But this post comes from the fact that I’ve been spending portions of cold nights in an easy chair under a blanket, in my pajamas, making plain text notes on my iPad. I’m casually working on a grand plan for my foray into Draenor, and prof changes were on my list of prep questions. I can now go back and edit those notes, which will give both my prep and leveling expectations more clarity. It’s all part of a process that I am determined to enjoy as fully as possible.

Is it self-indulgent? Hell yeah it is. So is the vast majority of the rest of the stuff I post here. :)

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Letting the farms go

Mushan waves goodbye to Sunsong Ranch

Mushan waves goodbye to Sunsong Ranch

A few weeks ago, I realized that I was well beyond the point of caring about my farms at Halfhill. I’ve been tending them every day, since late September. Of 2012.

It started with my paladin – Alchemist/Herbalist – who has mainly farmed herbs at Sunsong Ranch. She currently has plenty of herbs to cover any flask and potion needs I may have for a long time. Since I have more gold than my humble needs will require for the foreseeable future, I’m looking to spend less time at the AH as we head toward (and move into) Warlords of Draenor, and more time trying to have fun, which means I don’t need herbs to mill or otherwise use to make gold.

So with little need for more herb-farming, I moved the paladin from Halfhill to the Shrine of the Seven Stars in mid-December. Over the next several days, whenever I logged on to do my Living Steel transmute, I had to fight the habit to run out, fly over to the flight path, and go back to Halfhill. I’m still breaking that habit.

Then, on the Sunday after Christmas, I retired two more farmers. Ghilleadh, who was sort of a “farm what I need most” toon, and Droignon, who mainly farmed ore, bid Sunsong Ranch adieu as well after harvesting their final crops.

I found that I was on a roll.

Within the next couple of days, I managed to pull more toons away from harvesting duty: by New Year’s Eve, all but one of the rest of my farms were abandoned. It was like the dam broke, or the plug was pulled in the bathtub. I broke the spell, the mantra, of every farm, every day by abandoning that first farm, and it made putting the rest of them to bed that much easier.

This leaves me with one farm going as of today. Modhriel, the Tailor, grows Songbell seeds for Song of Harmony. I’ve got a full set of Royal Satchels on Mushan (bags and bank), but I have some other toons that I’d like to fully deck out in those bags. So there’s plenty of cloth left to make, and I can’t imagine his farm stopping any time soon. In fact, his may continue on until the expansion.

* * *

Leaving the farms behind has been a freeing experience. Without dedicating a significant portion of free time to farming each day, I can log in and do things that advance the characters that I’m interested in, or simply play a low level alt. There’s no guilt, no feeling that I’m skipping out on an important job.

This has reinforced my feeling that, unless developing my garrison is vital to my characters’ raid-viability (or whatever) in WoD, I’m probably not going to spend anywhere close to the amount of time on it as I’ve spent at Sunsong Ranch. I can certainly see my hunter putting some time into it, but I think I’ll otherwise be perfectly happy letting my other toons simply play the core game.

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


My alt and profession mindset for Warlords

Many alts

On Wednesday, I wrote a ton of words about nerfing myself for the launch of Warlords of Draenor. Today, I’d like to elaborate more on some of the more structural changes I’d like to make, with respect to some other aspects of how I play the game.

I’ve reached a point in my life where the rat race like the one I embarked upon in Mists of Pandaria isn’t appealing, practical, or enjoyable. At the time, I did it, but I was looking forward to better times – and they have certainly come, to some extent. But the way I played in Cataclysm and MoP – many level-capped alts, all ten professions capped (sometimes more than once), seven full farms, plenty of Auction House action, and so on – is something that I just don’t have the energy or interest in anymore. So, while I still farm those farms, post those auctions, use those profs, etc., I am winding down as the expansion does, with an eye toward a more streamlined experience in WoD.

Originally, I had intended to write this post in point-by-point sections, but with the nature of alts and how I play/use them, everything is connected. So, one section it is.

. . .

Like many players who have several alts and most/all professions, I use my professions to support both my raiding toon(s) and each other. Miners provide ore for Blacksmithing, Engineering, and Jewelcrafting. Skinners provide leather for Leatherworkers. Herbalism provides herbs for Alchemy and Inscription. Tailors, um, tail stuff, or something. And all of those profs benefit each of my toons, directly or indirectly. Additionally, they support my gold-making activities. And while I am no AH expert, and do not use addons for that activity, I’ve done well for myself casually auctioning my wares.

In fact, I’ve done so well this xpac that I could probably not sell anything on the Auction House for the entirety of WoD, spend gold like I usually do (which includes paying for all of my own repairs, by the way), and still have more than I need left.

In the absence of an active interest in the gold-making meta-game, there are diminishing returns the longer someone like me continues to fight the AH fight. Unlike some of my peers, I don’t do much wholesale raw material buying, flipping, min-maxing my profit margins, and so on. I’ve done a little bit of that in isolated circumstances, but for the most part I’ve sold what I had/farmed/made, and left it at that. Going further – toward anything remotely approaching the gold cap – just doesn’t interest me much. So with a tidy savings in the bank, I think it could be time for a rest.

With that in mind, I’m planning to chop the number of professions that I max out in WoD to less than half. I currently have 15 primary profs maxed over eight toons, so I’m thinking six-to-eight total would be good…

Before I go further, I’ll also say that that number will correspond approximately with the number of toons that I take to 100, or even into Draenor. Of my current seven 90s and one 85, only three or four of them will likely be heading to 100. Certain profs will hit the chopping block as a result of this.

My 85 druid scribe is the first to come to mind. I’ve never really enjoyed Inscription, other than the concept itself and the convenience of making my own glyphs. I don’t really need a second druid any more, since I made her for the express purpose of leveling as a healer back in the day, and now that I heal on Ana, the other druid has no purpose other than those conveniences and the fact that she has a guild bank. I haven’t decided if I will delete her – for now, she stays, but that could change on a whim. But I’m done putting any effort into Inscription – that much is certain.

Anyway, one of the themes of the next expansion for me will be, as I wrote in my notes for this post, “Less alts. Period.” I should have written “Less alts at max level with maxed profs. Period.” but… I knew what I meant when I wrote it. When something is as much of a time/energy drain as alts have been this xpac, you don’t forget.

Aside from Inscription, I don’t necessarily dislike the other professions, since I finally got an Engineer (DK) to max-level. That was a rough one to level, but now that it’s up there, I don’t hate it. But it won’t be a priority in WoD, in part because my DK will itself probably not be a priority.

. . .

My priorities, in fact, will look something like this:

Mushan – hunter, main raider; LW/BS.

Anacrusa – druid (healer), potential raider; LW/SK.

Droignon – warrior (tank), potential raider; BS/MI.

Those toons will be my three level 100 toons in all likelihood. And, because I probably won’t be able to resist, I’ll probably level my mage (TA/JC) at some point, because I like playing him. But he’s not a priority. His profs will also not be a priority.

Additional profs that have potential to be leveled at some point include Enchanting (2nd hunter), Alchemy (paladin), and Engineering (DK). However, unless I decide to level the DK instead of the warrior for tanking purposes, all three of those toons will be sitting in SW collecting dust for the foreseeable future, and their professions will be leveled incidentally (particularly Enchanting, because of, you know, Disenchanting…) if at all.

So, with those things in mind, if I level the three main toons, I’ll have five different professions maxed. Six if I’m able to level Enchanting while my worgen hunter sits on his butt in a tavern. Eight if I level the mage’s professions. Eight is enough… right? Right?

. . .

It’s my hope that by not letting gold/prof concerns drive my playing activities, I will cut down on wasted time and enjoy a higher percentage of my playing time. I pretty much hate playing the paladin, the 2nd hunter will be unnecessary, and the DK will be dormant until some unknown point until I get very bored. Cutting out a lot of that “toon-bloat” should make me something more of a lean, mean playing machine, or something.

And anything I need that I can’t make myself or have made by a friend, I’ll buy. I sold all that stuff for a reason. This will be the time to use the proceeds.

. . .

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


RNG has a funny sense of humor

The day finally arrived. Friday was the day that my girlfriend finished making 21 Hardened Magnificent Hides, so we got together and exchanged mail belts in the evening.

First, she made the belt for me on her druid…

My Gorge Stalker Belt - yay!

My Gorge Stalker Belt – yay!

Then, she switched over to her shaman, and I made her the Int Mail belt…

Krasari Prowler Belt

Her Krasari Prowler Belt – yay!

And then, I finally ditched my Tier 15 2-piece gear by equipping some new shoulders and making myself the mail legs. I figured, what the heck – it’s just a game, and these hides couldn’t possibly mean more to me if used for anything other than new hunter pants, even if only for a short while.

This trade was necessary because, betwixt my two Leatherworkers, I still had not learned the belt pattern on either (in 50 days X 2 worth of cooldowns). It worked out, because she was able to help me and I was able to make her a belt to compensate her – she was able to get her belt as soon as she was able to make it, and I was able to get mine in the face of possibly never learning the darn pattern. As I said in a previous post, there’s something fun and immersive – and elusive – about mutually beneficial activity when it comes to professions, and I’m glad I waited for the experience, rather than just buying a belt at the Auction House.

Of course, the next morning, this happened:

"Congratulations, you have learned a now-virtually-useless pattern!"

“Congratulations, you have learned a now-virtually-useless pattern!”

*and palm met face*

Ah well, at least we each got our belts – no harm, no foul. Although, regarding the legs, I fully expect to win the tier legs or some Warforged ones during the next week, now that I’ve used four weeks worth of mats to make the crafted ones. That’s how RNG works, right? Manipulative, playing with our emotions, torturing our hopes and dreams, laughing in our faces… It would not surprise me in the least!

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


New hunters: where to go for help/advice/info

On Monday, I got my first ever hit via Reddit.

Wait… what?

That’s what I said to myself when I saw that. As far as I know, I have never been linked on Reddit before. Since I was curious, I followed the link back, and it was to a thread by someone who is new to the game and chose to roll a hunter.

The link to Mushan, Etc. was put there by my friend Cheap Boss Attack, who referred to my blog as “a nice hunter blog.” To which I say, thanks! and /salute! @ Cheap Boss Attack. :)

But at the same time, I was troubled, for two reasons…

1) While this may be a decent blog – and perhaps even fun to read from time to time – I don’t know that I have much specifically helpful hunter content to offer a new hunter here; and

2) There is no longer quite as long of a list of places to send a new player/hunter for advice.

Nonetheless, in case other brand new players come to my blog looking for guides or whatever, there are a few places that I can, in turn, recommend.

Resources for new hunters/players (Not a complete list by any stretch!)

Scattered Shots – the hunter class column at WoW Insider

WoW Insider is a wonderful site. It’s extremely active, with many new posts a day concerning most aspects of the game. There are weekly class columns for most of the classes, including hunters. WoW Insider is also a great source for up-to-date news, lore, commentary on the design of the game, daily Breakfast Topics to promote reader discussion, raiding and PvP columns, a weekly podcast, and much more. It’s a site with something (or many things!) for virtually everyone, and has a very large base of active commenters. Additionally, there is information in the form of new-player “getting started” guides there for new players (of any stripe), which can be very helpful for someone just beginning to explore this huge game.

Scattered Shots – specifically – is the hunter class column. It has been written by different people over the years, and went through a long hiatus during the spring and summer between columnists. However, it is currently active and is being written by Adam Koebel, who seems to be doing a great job. The previous columnist, Brian Wood, wrote Scattered Shots for several years until this spring, and although the game tends to change from patch to patch and expansion to expansion, the pre-Adam posts are definitely worth the read if you’re looking to get a feel for the history and culture of the class and the hunter community.

WoWhead

If you’re looking for a site that is chock full of information on gear/items, quests, NPCs, professions, loot tables, and more information than I am willing to categorize in this post, WoWhead is your place. It’s a massive database/news site/blog that has a just a ton of info on just about anything you could need to find. Definitely a place to bookmark and visit often.

Icy-Veins

For good basic guides on how to raid with your class once you hit the max level – as well as dungeon/raid boss guides, news, forums, reputation guides, lengthy quest lines, etc., Icy-Veins is a great resource for any class.

The Brew Hall

Darkbrew (The Brew Hall) not only blogs about hunters, but he’s a co-founder of the Hunting Party Podcast, which is the podcast for World of Warcraft Hunters. He posts each episode on his site, and you can also find podcast information at OutDPS!, which Darkbrew recently took over when the podcast’s co-founder, Euripides (founder of OutDPS!), retired. The Hunting Party Podcast is both entertaining and informative, and listening to back episodes can provide a further look into the history of the hunter community, and of the game itself.

MMO Champion

For all the latest news, datamining, first looks at new gear/quests/mounts and pets/blue posts and changes, etc, MMO-Champion is a great site. Not only do they have frequent posts (and updates to those posts) with info on the game as it changes, but there are also forums with helpful guides to many aspects of the game. Additionally, in the past couple of years they’ve put together a great site in WoWdb, which is, among other things, a comprehensive item database with some excellent search-filtering features. Another great resource.

Petopia

Have a question about hunter pets? Wondering what special abilities certain pets have, which pets are best in certain situations, or which pets bring which buffs to your group? Want to know which food you can give your pet without him spitting it back at you? Petopia is your one-stop shop for pet info!

El’s Extreme Anglin’ – World of Warcraft FIshing Guide

Fishing can be both an enjoyable and profitable activity. If it interests you, or if you need to find certain fish, or have any other questions about anything fishing-related in WoW, El’s Anglin’ is the top resource. He cover’s fishing, cooking, achievements, and related topics on his site.

WoWpedia

WoWpedia is the wiki source I use whenever there’s something I want to know about the game that I feel they might cover better than most. There’s information on almost everything – I tend to use it most for lore and history, but over the years I’ve gone there for information on just about anything you can think of.

Ask Mr. Robot

Looking to optimize your gear and character for end-game raiding, dungeons, or PvP? Mr. Robot can help you gem, enchant, and reforge your gear, as well as find upgrades, and also has an in-game addon for all of that. There’s a lot to explore on Ask Mr. Robot – I use it all the time. Check it out!

As I noted above, this is nowhere near a comprehensive list of resources. There are also some important links to resources that I didn’t include on this list at the right side of my blog, so feel free to check them out. Additionally, check out resources you can find on other peoples’ blogrolls, and links to great sources of info in articles on the sites I mentioned. There’s a lot of info – and fun stuff to read – out there, and I don’t even know about all of it!

World of Warcraft is a big game – and by that, I’m not referring to how many copies it sells or subscribers it has. What I do mean is this: we’re four full expansions past the game’s release, and looking at possibly a fifth during the next year, which is also the 10th anniversary of the game’s release. That’s a lot of lore and history and community and commentary to discover: you could theoretically lose yourself for hours on some of the sites I mentioned above, and for days on others!

I hope that someone finds this post helpful. I’m not a guide-writer or a theory-crafter, and I’m not even a nine-year “been here since WoW-beta” veteran. But I’ve been around a while, and have found all of these tools useful. Hopefully, sharing them with you can open your eyes to new things as well.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged!


“World of Warcraft: 100”

Mushan, the "Golden Lotus Hero"

Mushan, the “Golden Lotus Hero”

I’m just sort of winging it here…

The past couple of days, I’ve been thinking a bit about the next expansion and how I want to approach the opening week(s) of play.

With the past two expansion releases, I made increasingly concerted efforts to get to 90 quickly. In Cataclysm, my druid went first, leveling as a tank, and my hunter came second, leveling as… well, as a killing machine!

(/queue a Joe Swanson “YEEAAAHHHH!!! LOCK N LOOOAAD!!!”).

Hunters! Anyway…

The druid took longer, obviously – I finished on Friday after playing almost non-stop other than sleep and meals since the Tuesday morning of that launch. The hunter wasn’t speed-leveled, but it took less play-time regardless. In MoP, I reversed course, leveling my hunter in about 30 hours and finishing on the Thursday, after starting at about 6pm on the Tuesday of that launch. The druid and warrior soon followed, but the speed-leveling was done at that point.

The reason I leveled the druid so fast in Cataclysm was because I wanted to devour the content. In retrospect, I should have done that on the hunter, but I wasn’t thinking about it that way at that point. In MoP, however, the reason that I speed-leveled the hunter was because I wanted to be ready for raiding as soon as it was available. I was chomping at the bit to start raiding, without a doubt.

So, how did that go?

Well, it had its positives and negatives.

I had fun leveling on Mushan, because it’s the toon I would have the most fun doing most things with anyway, but I also blew through content that I could have enjoyed more, particularly given the speed at which we actually started raiding. (For those not in the know, it took us more than six weeks to get into Mogu’shan Vaults.)

In light of those general facts, I’m contemplating different leveling strategies for BC2*. More on those later in the post.

In addition to the 90-95 or 90-100 grind that is forthcoming, I’ve also been thinking about the leveling game as a whole recently.

Right now, I have seven 90s. Of those, one raids, two can do LFR whenever I want, and the others are currently in various states of “profession mule”/”play when I feel like”-ness. In addition to these, I have my 85 scribe druid – and I am loathe to level her right now (although I probably will sometime before the next xpac, because I do like having a scribe) – and low-level (25-30) hunter and shaman.

I usually enjoy leveling, and had some good fun leveling my death knight during this expansion. But I can’t get into leveling either of my lowbie toons right now.

This is a somewhat sad thing for me, because I remember a time just five years ago when the game seemed much bigger. There was so much that I didn’t know about it: I was leveling my druid, and having so much fun. The quests were awesome (if painful at times), there was no way to fly around and air-drop into quest spots, there were a ton of materials and items that I had to figure out what to do with. As this was my first MMO, and one of my first RPGs, there was a lot to learn about crafting and questing and the like. I made my way through this completely huge world in constant awe of everything before my eyes, which is something that I miss – indeed, it’s even something that’s easy to forget when you become a jaded veteran, which is what I sort of consider myself.

These were the days before I was a raider. The days when I was scared shitless just thinking about PvP. When I got stuck on some quests in Dragonblight and got so frustrated with questing that I grinded Crystalized Water at The Mirror of Dawn (to sell on the AH) for two-thirds of a level so that I could just skip to Grizzly Hills… which took me for-EVER…

Yes, you read that right.

There is something terrifying and wondrous about being a complete noob and learning new things through the sheer experience of encountering them in the game. It causes you to work through problems in your own way, even if your solution seems completely asinine to others or upon reflection – like what I did back then in Dragonblight. It causes you to tread with care, to learn by trial and error what you can handle and what you can’t. It causes you to make mistakes – like using a rare crafting mat to make something that maybe you don’t need, or wearing something from the wrong armor class because you thought it might help, or spending your gold on something dumb and then not having enough to buy your first mount – and to learn to both live with the consequences of that choice and to get by in spite of it. This all comes in addition to the constant joy of new discovery through exploration and interaction.

In some ways, those experiences are both irreplaceable and unrepeatable. You can look back nostalgically, and revisit, and even still learn new things, but the first wave of eye-opening is a powerful thing.

Back when things were new... (remember Fox? lol)

Back when things were new… (remember Fox? hehe)

There’s one time you can do this again (without rolling a toon on the opposite faction, which is still an incompletely new experience), and it comes every couple of years or so: when a new expansion drops. And even then, it can’t be a completely new experience, because there are elements of the game that are the same as they’ve been since the beginning, and you’ve already experienced them to some degree or another.

Regarding what I said toward the top of the post, I’m thinking about these things as I imagine Week 1 of BC2*.

*BC2, for those who haven’t read me lately, is my attempt at a semi-humorous working title/reference for the next expansion, which may, or may not, be about the Burning Legion. Your mileage may vary… and we’ll find out in about a month what’s really going to happen!

There’s not much that we know about it at this point. There’s speculation, based on the tooltip for the heirloom weapons in Siege of Orgrimmar, that the next expansion will feature a level cap of 100. Presumably, this will mean that individual levels will be achievable more quickly, since the last thing many people want is an even more brutal leveling experience..

Beyond that – and that there will be many changes to how we play the game – not much has been confirmed. But it’s pretty much certain that there will be new zones to explore, new characters to meet, and so on.

My current m.o. is that I prepare and conquer, but I’m not so sure that that’s the way to go in “6.0.Whatever.” Based on my experience at the beginning of MoP, there probably wasn’t much value for me in getting to level 90, and getting geared to the teeth, as fast as possible. I sat and waited – impatiently, I’ll admit – for six weeks before we started raiding. And it took a long time for the raid team to come together even after that.

Oh, there was definitely value in being as geared as possible when we made our first foray into raiding. That extra preparedness on my part certainly didn’t hurt our efforts to kill the first boss or two in MsV. Being 90 in less than a week meant reaching the Valor cap the first week, being able to do LFR on schedule, getting the long rep grinds underway, getting the legendary grind started, and so on. But was it more fun than the alternative?

At the time, I spent a sizable portion of my time stewing over the fact that people weren’t leveling as fast as I thought they should. Several people had talked enthusiastically about raiding, but then disappeared, or whatever, and while there were several of us that were getting there, ready to go, there were others that took longer than I liked or even fell off the map. And the key here – given that switching guilds isn’t really an option that I’m interested in, since I’m playing with my friends (Period.) – is that I spent time resenting people when I could have been enjoying myself and my game-time more.

So the value was there, but I think I went about it the wrong way. Perhaps the uber-intense Mushan isn’t the best Mushan for Mushan’s guild.

We’re a casual guild – like, hard core. And I think that I’d like to embrace the opportunity that that can afford by enjoying my leveling time and experience in the next expansion. I’d like to complete more zones, get into the story a little more, and not worry about being the first to everything, the most heavily armored, one of the best-geared peeps on the server right away; that sort of thing.

I think that taking a different approach to this next expansion can help heal some of the malaise that I’m feeling about the leveling game right now. If I’m going to raid with good players / friends in a casual guild – in due time – perhaps I would have more fun if I allowed myself to enjoy the process of getting to that point.

I know this is all sort of general and abstract, but hopefully it makes sense.

This morning, I talked with a Pandaren NPC. Of course, at the end of the encounter, he left me with “Slow down. Life is to be savored!” I thought to myself that, given what I am contemplating for the next xpac, there’s a certain irony that I’m thinking of “slowing down and savoring” my experience a bit more, but an expansion late.

Ah well, better late than…

P.S. I’m going to suggest that the new expansion could be called “World of Warcraft: 100″… not that it should be, of course! But “100” and level 100 both go with the 10th anniversary kind of well, do they not?  :)

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan by Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Alt Appreciation, week 1: Death Knight

Preface: Laeleiweyn suggested recently that we altoholics could collectively celebrate alts, either on blogs, Twitter, or by starting/playing them in-game, over the course of eleven weeks starting on August 19th, and ending November 3rd. Each week will be themed by class – week one for DKs, week two for druids, week three for hunters, etc. 

It’s a fantastic idea, although I do not have an alt for every class. However, I do have several alts, so I plan on participating by writing posts on the classes I do have. Week one is Death Knight Week.

I have a long and un-storied history of not playing death knights.

I made a death knight shortly after Wrath dropped, played through the starting zone, got myself drafted into the Alliance. I got him up to level 62, and was working through Hellfire Peninsula, smashing enemies like they were made of papier-mâché. My death knight was freakin’ awesome.

Yet, for some reason, I let him lie dormant for several months. And when I came back to him, I found that the class confused me, and he wasn’t as powerful as he had been, and I didn’t like him any more. Soon after that, he became a victim of the dreaded Delete button, and was no more. This was sometime in 2009.

Thus began the long and empty saga of not playing a DK.

Between that death knight and 2013, I killed Anub’arak, the Lich King, Ragnaros, Deathwing, took a laxative in Grizzly Hills seven or eight times, watched Thrall get married, ate some Red Bean Bun, and did many, many, many other things, both in-game and in real-life. Death knights weren’t really on my radar for a long time.

However, in Mists of Pandaria I came to a point where I began to want to play one again. Perhaps it was the memory of that epic finish to the starting zone; or a small fascination with the mechanics of playing a DK tank, as compared to a warrior; or a desire to figure out how the runic system worked. Whatever it was, I started a new DK several months ago.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to:

Saldrahn

Saldrahn, with some classic DK transmog action goin’ on!

If someone had told me a year ago that I would make and level a DK to 90, I would have laughed and shrugged that prediction aside. I really didn’t think it would ever happen.

From any type of end-game standpoint, there was no need for this toon. I made him purely for fun… and boy, was he fun to level! I leveled as Blood, and had an awesome time. I guess you’re supposed to level DKs as Frost, but I’m getting to be fairly experienced at leveling tanks, so I went with it. I leveled him casually: if there was a time when I was bored or tired of Pandaria or the Barrens, I could log in and rip some face on my DK for a while.

I’m still learning how to play him. I haven’t really read up on the runic system, so I’m still in the process of figuring out how it works, how to use Death Runes properly, and so on. I haven’t tanked any instances with him yet. That wasn’t something that I was interested in while I leveled – I just relaxed and had fun and didn’t really worry about interacting with others most of the time while I was leveling. So there are areas where I have a lot to learn, and his UI is a bit of a mess right now, and so on… but I hope to start using him to tank some dungeons before the end of the expansion, just to see how that goes.

On a side note, I finally leveled an engineer to max-skill for the first time. Saldrahn is that engineer. So I picked this achievement up, the same day I hit 90:

Master of All

Master of All!

That was another thing I never saw happening! Leveling engineering can be a frustrating process, for certain.

My DK is a toon that I leveled for fun, and it was totally worth it. It still slightly surprises me that he even exists, much less that he’s at max-level. However, he’s here now, and I look forward to more adventures with him in the future!

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Losing at the mailbox-float game

Last weekend, I logged into the few toons with which I had been playing a game of ‘mailbox-float’ with respect to my cooking mats.

Since I’ve been raiding on two hunters instead of one recently, my supply of Sea Mist Rice Noodles has been dwindling rapidly. So I prepared for a Saturday of epic wok-style cooking by fishing up more than a dozen stacks of Tiger Gourami up in Kun-Lai Summit and committing tortois-cide on the turtles* at the Torjari Pit for Raw Turtle Meat.

*After all of the crap their distant cousins give me on the H Tortos fight, they do sort of deserve it after all, by some twisted sense of logic…

Aside from that, I was all set. I had spent months of “not-leveling” my paladin growing Scallions on her farm, so I knew that there were a couple of dozen stacks of those floating around in the mail, along with at least a dozen other mails full of meats and other food mats. I just needed to find them. Here’s how that went:

(opens Mushan’s mailbox):

“Hmm. No food mats in here. They must be in Droignon’s mail.”

(logs out. logs in to Droignon, opens mailbox):

“Hmm. No food mats here either. I must have sent them to Ghilleadh, since he had extra bag space for a while, too.”

(logs out. logs in to Ghilleadh, opens mailbox):

“Oh-kaaay… nothing here. Where… the hell… are my food mats?”

(logs out. logs in to Anacrusa, opens mailbox. there is one mail, and it isn’t food):

“…”

(logs out. logs in to Abenadari, opens mailbox. there are four mails, no food mats.):

“WHERE THE F___ ARE MY INGREDIENTS??!?!”

Yes, folks. After ten months of successfully floating stacks upon stacks of Tiger Steak, Mushan Ribs, Scallions (especially Scallions), Emperor Salmon, Turnips, and every other kind of ingredient in the mail, I managed to fail at the mailbox-float game. At some point, in search of a leaner, meaner mailbox on the toons I play most often, I must have sent them to Mushan or Droignon from a lesser-played toon and forgotten about them when they auto-returned, and now they’re gone.

I spent several minutes last weekend (I forget which day) logging in to all 10 Alliance toons on my server, hopelessly scouring their bags and banks, rechecking their mailboxes – all to no avail. The stuff was just gone.

This, my friends, is the potential risk of playing the float through the mail – if you let your vigilance lapse for long enough, you end up in my situation. And it’s all because I’m a pack rat, so my bank and bags are full, and there’s no room to put a food-specific bag in the bank, and I’m relegated to using the mail.

I was frustrated. Fortunately, I had more than enough Sea Mist Rice Noodles to last me another week of raiding, so the situation wasn’t dire. But I was still annoyed enough with myself for letting it happen that I actually got a little nauseous!

In situations like these, you have to make snap decisions. There was no way I was going to go without Sea Mist Rice Noodles in a raid in the not-so-distant future – I’m like a Starbucks addict when it comes to that. So I decided to take action.

Fortunately, I have six 90s.

One of them has an ongoing leg enchant enterprise, so growing anything but Songbells on her farm is out of the question. So, that leaves five 90s.

The next day, I purchased a Bag of Scallion Seeds for each of those other toons. I duly planted 16 plots on each toon. I also planted four plots on my DK, who is 89.

The day after that, I harvested a boatload of Scallions. I then repeated the process. On the final day, I harvested my farms full of scallions and planted the final eight plots, otherwise going back to my regularly scheduled farming routine.

On Wednesday, I bought Rice Flour and made a dozen stacks of Sea Mist Rice Noodles. I sent 11 of them to Droignon.

These ought to last a couple of weeks...

These ought to last a couple of weeks…

It was that easy. And I have several stacks of Scallions to spare, and I’ll still be farming them on the DK until he turns 90, so I think I’m good for a while.

It really was no big deal, after all…

Actually, after that initial queasiness went away, it wasn’t very difficult to accept that I had lost all of those ingredients.

The rapid logic that smacked me back to reality at that point went

A) “It’s just a game – deal with it.”

B) “When were you going to use most of those mats anyway?” “Well, I was thinking of maybe sel-“ “STFU you gold-hoarding miser!”

C) “Just grow some damn Scallions – you have six full farms!” “Yeah, you’re right…” *sheepish grin*

Seriously, the best I was going to do with all of the other mats was probably to sell them on the AH or trade them for Ironpaw tokens. Ultimately, their value wasn’t that great. It was not a huge loss. But it certainly felt like a kick in the gut for a few minutes!

Lessons learned: it’s just a game; they’re just food mats; STFU and deal with it. Hee hee…

Thanks for reading this tale of humor and folly by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Some thoughts on the Black Market Auction House and the economy in Mists of Pandaria

One of the hottest topics in the WoW universe this week – not named Diablo 3, anyway – is the Black Market Auction House.  If you haven’t heard about it, click the link (as well as this one) and check out what MMO-Champion has to tell us about it thus far.

Black Market Auction House (BMAH)

The items in the BMAH haven’t been finalized by Blizzard yet.  To take that idea further, I think there’s a chance that the pool of items that can go up for auction will be a living one; that is, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an announcement that “[Item Such-and-such] will be added to the BMAH pool for Patch 5.2.” (Etc.)  This will, of course, elicit a variety of responses from players, from those who are upset that a rare mount is able to be bid on, to those who are delighted that they can now bid on something that is very difficult to get (due to RNG, having been removed from the game, etc.) and different points and issues in between.

Let me say how I feel about it.

I think it’s a fun new thing that they’re bringing to WoW.  It may give certain people a reason to continue playing or to come back: some people love mounts, or old rare gear, or old unobtainable recipes.  It is a fresh feature in a veteran game that is fighting to maintain subscribers.

This is what Blizzard does, and while they are far from perfect, it’s evident that they’re constantly trying to improve the game.  The BMAH is like pet battles, account-wide achievements / mounts / pets, Lorewalkers, a new playable race or class, new zones, better graphics, transmogrification, 64-bit, Raid Finder, Dungeon Guides and maps, improvements to “Report Spam” in your chat window, revamped and improved armory, and so many other features like these.  What do they have in common?  They’re all attempts to improve the game, to make the game more fun, and/or to keep people interested in what’s going on in the World of Warcraft.

I’m glad they’re doing it.  I have no qualms about it.  Will I bid on anything?  At this point, I’m inclined to think that I probably won’t.  I love my transmog, and I enjoy certain races and mounts* and gear more than others, but I’m not interested enough in what looks to be a source consisting largely of vanity items to pay tens or hundreds of thousands of gold for those items.  But I still think it’s a good thing.

*Ground mounts, mainly.  When I’m not flying around as a stormcrow on my druid, I’m using either a gryphon or hippogryph on every single one of my other toons.  Big flying mounts annoy the crap out of me.

This isn’t to say that I’m one of those who considers himself “rich” with 50K gold, nor am I anywhere near gold-capped.  However, I have plenty. of. gold.  Early in Patch 4.2, when the Ranseur of Hatred was selling for a ton of gold, and I wasn’t raiding yet, and I had about half the gold I have now, I dropped around 40K on two of them (druid and hunter) and considered myself to have gotten a major steal.  And those items got heavy use – particularly on my hunter.

That’s the sort of thing I generally spend my gold on: items that will help me perform better, like reasonably priced weapons or other gear, enchants, things like that.

However, the BMAH will be a big hit, I’m sure of it.  I think it’s a good thing.  I don’t think it’s part of some conspiracy, or horrible because it takes away from whatever gear or mounts people earned back in the day, or whatever.

Anyway…

Gold sinks and the economy in MoP

One of the prevalent topics regarding the BMAH is that part of Blizzard’s motivation for it is to introduce another gold sink for MoP.

I think that’s a correct assumption.  Blizzard already has one potential gold sink in the works, the “Something Expensive” –  currently named Golden Sink according to Wowhead – which is an ingredient in the new MoP Jewelcrafting mounts.  The Golden Sink currently costs 25,000 gold, and while it may have a different name and price come MoP, the reasons for its cost – mainly, for the purposes of rarity and to pull money out of the economy – are fairly obvious.

However, the question is not whether the BMAH and the Golden Sink are gold sinks, but rather whether they will be enough to stave off the massive rate of inflation that we’ve experienced over the past several years.

My opinion?  No, they’re not.  They’re steps in the right direction, but not enough.  I don’t actually know what would be enough, other than maybe making a few pieces of epic BiS gear, for each spec, that are only purchasable from a vendor for 100K gold apiece (not won, not BoE, not dropped from bosses).  And I can’t see Blizzard doing that, because it makes gold too large of a factor in end-game raiding.

No, there are two reasons why I don’t think inflation will change much.

1.  First of all – for example – have you seen how much quests are rewarding?  I’ve only seen one quest screenshot so far where I’ve actually looked at the gold reward.  It was 60 gold (give or take some silver).

Now, when I leveled Anacrusa during the first week of Cataclysm, I netted well over 5K gold just from questing and vendoring trash, after reforging and paying repairs at each level change.  Level 84 quests in Cata averaged – judging by many of the dailies I do nowadays – 16-17g per.  If the 60g per level 89 quest is anywhere close to an accurate comparative in MoP, we could be looking at anywhere between a 100%-300% increase in the amount of gold we gross just from leveling.  This doesn’t include any AH activity, just quests minus expenses.

Right there, you’re looking at the following: for those who level primarily through questing, 10K is probably the lowest amount of gold each character will make.

There are, of course, variables.  Do you level your crafting profession as quickly as possible?  That’s going to cost you.  Do you only pick up gold and usable items from mobs, and leave grays on the corpses?  That’s not generally a wise choice (gold-wise).  But for the most part, I expect that leveling alone will bring you a nice chunk of change – and a much larger chunk than leveling in Cataclysm brought.

So gold will not be harder to get, and therefore AH prices will not necessarily go down much, if at all, relative to players’ incomes.

2.  Secondly, the number of people who play the AH game to the gold cap, as compared to those who will bid on such items as will likely be available on the BMAH, is not a one-to-one ratio.

One of the more prominent WoW gold-making writers out there, Euripides of WoW Insider’s Gold Capped column, has said on a couple of occasions on the Hunting Party Podcast that, while he’s not interested in transmog or other vanity aspects of the game, one of the reasons he likes making so much gold is so that he can purchase BoEs and other performance-necessary items without worrying about cost.  He is someone who I can’t really see bidding for vanity items on the BMAH, and I would be willing to bet that a significant portion – not necessarily the majority, but a prominent number – of the AH mavens around WoW will not make as much use of it as some people think.

I play on a relatively high-population server, which means that the AH is fairly competitive and prices aren’t that bad (but also aren’t rock bottom), but there are a significant number of people who play the AH fairly heavily, and I know some of them.  Most of them are people who prioritize the ability to buy gear without worry – and the AH meta game – to be way more important than bidding on vanity items.  This doesn’t mean that someone like Euripides would never spend money on something like that, but it’s not like every single “rich” player will be in the active bidding pool for each of the items – if they’re BoP – thereby excluding the have-nots from a chance at something fun.

The point that I’m trying to make is this: the amount of gold leaving the economy via gold sinks will not be enough to offset the amount of gold that will continue to be generated via the usual means – which is akin to printing money out of little more than time, really.  Therefore, I don’t expect inflation to be affected much.

Anyway, to summarize all of this into something short and simple, I don’t think the economy will change all that much.  Everyone should have a relatively easy time making some start-up cash from leveling, at the very least.  Unless Blizzard changes the gold cap again – and it looks like they won’t for the time being – people won’t be able to make an astronomical amount of gold.  However, people who know how to make gold quickly will still be able to do so, and they will.  Since there will still be more gold coming into the economy, in spite of the BMAH and the JC mounts, prices won’t be drastically lower than they are now, so comparative (Cata-for-MoP, blue-for-blue, purple-for-purple, etc.) mats / enchants / gems / gear / vanity items will sell for similar or proportionally higher prices.

Final thoughts… for now

I love that Blizz is adding these gold sinks in the next expansion, although I don’t think it’s the most important reason they’re adding them.  Ultimately, the BMAH and JC mounts are, first and foremost, about making the game fun.  The gold sink idea is good, and necessary, but buyers looking forward to a near future of low-cost mats and BoEs as a result of gold sinks are likely to be disappointed, as far as I can tell.

I could be wrong, though.  We’ll see.

– – –

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!