Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Garrison Growth


I've reached level 2 with my garrison, and would like to start growing my professions buildings (alchemy, herbalism). I've also realized that the Tailoring hut probably won't benefit me any and should be replaced. I want to start a salvage yard.

Here is the research materials I found:

  1. Ask Mr Robot has compiled a great list of each garrison resource.  Based on their suggestion, I am going to start an enchanting hut for my third small plot. This will allow me to DE all my drops, instead of just vendoring them.
  2. WoWJuJu has compiled a great list for garrison followers. From here, I found out that the blueprint vendor is in my garrison and he sells them for around 1000g. I was looking at the vendor in Ashran and thought he was the only one. In addition, you can only assign a follower to a level 2 building. 
  3. WoWHead breaks down when and where blueprints come available. Through this I realized that I am probably about to get the plans for all my small plots soon as I think I am about done in Talador, maybe, ah who knows. As an alchemist, I'd really like to upgrade my farm. For dungeon/raiding, I'd really like a level 2 salvage yard. 
Blizzard, I hope you realize, this better move with me.. I am spending a lot more time and resources than I imagined on this place. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Response to Blizzard's Release Day Issues

Blizzard has been taking a beating over this recent launch. Clients worldwide are getting hit with long queue times, slow response from the game servers and even disconnected randomly. As an Information Technology professional for 15+ years, I can totally sympathize with them.

I work for a large public sector agency on a team responsible for supporting email services for close to 100,000 employees. I am responsible for the design, deployment and day-to-day operation of the computers hosting the email services. For comparison purposes, I would suspect that I am responsible for approximately 3 medium-pop realms worth of users on WoW. This is my attempt at explaining a technical environment and it's issue in as user-friendly of terms as possible.

Design: If I were to design a 'realm', I would want to mirror what we do with our email environment. It meets the needs of a high-demand environment, where the clients are using a fat client to connect and requires pretty much 24x7 access.

First off there would be resiliency. This means multiple computers that are supporting active clients

and exact-copy (passive) servers that are simply waiting for something to go wrong with the first (active) set. This allows my team to do minor repairs on the 'passive' servers while clients are actively working. This "cluster" of active & passive computers work together sharing information for that inevitable moment when everything goes haywire. As my population grows and shrinks, you can add/remove members to a cluster or you can spawn new clusters (i.e. add new realms).

Second would be security. Imagine your current residence (home, apartment, condo, etc.). Would you rather have all of your stuff simply out in the open, laying out on the lawn? Or would you want some walls, a door, locks and maybe even a high-end security system protecting your valuables? Our accounts, our characters and the entire virtual world are our valuables. Protecting that realm would involve perimeter security surrounding the entire server cluster, possibly around all clusters (i.e. region of US, EU, etc.). There would be a single point of entrance into this area for all connections to the cluster. I would likely place a high-end security device that could monitor the traffic going in, and turn away bad traffic. It's easy to manage. I won't need a millions of Internet connections (or IP addresses)

The alternative is placing each and every server directly on the Internet (i.e. out on the lawn). Doing this would open up each and every server to all sorts of malware, hacks and malicious intent. We would see a LOT more issues if this configuration was used. Anyone driving by our property could simply come by our 'place' and pickup something of value.

Day-to-Day: Blizzard grew to over 11 million players, then shrunk back down to 7 million.
This left Blizzard in a lurch with their investors as the cost of maintaining 100+ realms, but not the subscriptions to support a cluster of 6-10 high-end servers, and back-end infrastructure (backups, power, data center floor space, etc.. ). These costs don't go down. In order to reduce costs, Blizzard had to decrease their footprint on that data center floor. This is why Malfurion and Trollbane joined forces. Malfurion had shrunk, so we were migrated to Trollbane's clusters. We kept our realm info, but we've all been consolidated onto Trollbane's hardware. The beauty is lower cost of ownership on the equipment, same level of user satisfaction (in fact no to low pop servers come back to life!) and Blizzard doesn't have to raise subscription costs! The drawback would be if everyone logged in at the same time, there possibly won't be enough processing power to support the entire user base at once.

Diagnosis: There are two things I think went on. Based on the twitter feeds of several individuals, I don't think I am far off.


First off, the DDOS attack was focused on the front door of the datacenter. That front door was absolutely bombarded with millions of connections coming from both legitimate and illegitimate connections. Imagine a huge line of door-to-door salesmen ringing your doorbell at the same time your guests are arriving for a GIGANTIC party. The bouncer at the door needs to check with each person and see why they're there. We still got into the party, but the line was out the door, around the block a few times and then into the surrounding neighborhood. Even if 1:1000 people were these annoying salesmen, the bouncer is going to have a lot of extra work to do when there are several million people coming to your party. You have people scan the crowd for people carrying briefcases, or wearing suits. You ask them what the party is for and or ask questions about the host. It all takes time at that gate. Unfortunately, most of the time you simply have to ride it out.

Now, realize that these "salesmen" are not the only people hammering on the front door. The attacks could also be you and me. (wait... keep reading) At my RL job, we've had legitimate users, too chatty with our environment and take down servers. For example, Apple regularly releases a new iPhone OS and many people immediately update their devices. These updates are not always well tuned for our email servers and may require us to patch them or Apple may have a bug that needs fixed. Every once in awhile, their phone finds a corrupted calendar entry and asks 100,000 (an hour) for an update to that entry. This chattiness prevents anyone else from pulling their calendar updates. Now, with each major expansion, Blizzard often changes access interfaces on the game. These changes break add-ons. Add-ons that people come to love and rely on. Add-ons that they'll run even if outdated warning comes up. To stop the traffic, we end up blocking this user's access to their email until they fix their phone. Blizzard cannot do this for 1 million customers (easily).

Secondly, over commitment. I think Blizzard was a bit surprised in the number of concurrent users.
Now that the clusters had been shrunk to avoid additional costs, when our sudden flash mob hit the door, many of us overwhelmed the capacity. Blizzard had to put population quotas on the servers on the highest pop realms until they could add back capacity. ((This likely cost them a bunch of $$ to grab servers that quickly "here take my credit card and go buy whatever you need!!")). Like the Gym after New Years, aka "New Years Resolute-rs", the spike in traffic was there release day, then will slowly taper off. Me taking vacation time on Thursday and Friday, threw off the predicted connection patterns that they designed for. Sorry. My fault. I don't think I'll be taking the next expac release day off.

Going forward: Blizzard has gotten over the hump. The erratic release-week traffic has died down; I am back at the office now. We are already starting to see max-level 100s on the realms; saw 2 last night. Blizzard plays their cards right, we'll continue to see old players come-back to the game for about a year. After that, I would anticipate drop off of subscriptions if another expansion doesn't drop. They just need to make sure realm-performance maintains.

Thanks for the time Blizzard,

Elkagorasa

Friday, November 14, 2014

My First Day in WoD

This is my first day in Draenor via screen shots. My server is Malfurion-US (CST or GMT-6) I live in California (PST GMT-8) 

9am I log-on to the server and start questing. Immediately feel the urgency of the game. Leveling going great. The flow of the starting area, the cut-scenes, it's a lot of fun. Feels like the Jones series in Uldum of Wrath.  


I reach the first boss (this might not be him), and have to laugh as the names flash across the screen.
It reminds me of the silly splash screens that Borderlands is famous for, like... 

9:38am, I find my first profession, herbalism, book. Opening this book, teaches me several of the basics. Nice way to learn the next level of a profession, by doing it. 

After one such plant picking, I am attacked by a flower buddy. He's a little loot monster for the plant. Killing him nets 8x of the same plant. Very nice!


 Then the lag starts. I spot little things like this peon who's sleep walking. He proceeds to sleep himself up the ramp and out the front gate of my garrison.

Got into the same dungeon 2 times. First time I barely kept up with the tank. He basically took the entire dungeon at a full run. If you looted the bodies, you were left behind. 
I liked the mechanics in this dungeon. The void area silenced you. No damage, but as a caster, I couldn't do anything. 
By 1PM, the lag was terrible. Here I am at the taxi stand waiting to dismount. Eventually I just had to exit the game the hard way (close the program). 
After about 5 minutes at the taxi stand, I bounced up into the air, where I found someone else stuck on the taxi. We could chat, we could emote, could even turn the taxi around, but couldn't dismount.


 Logged on after 10PM local and started working again on leveling up. In searching for a rare, Primalist Mur'og, I found this path with ogre path markers. Gotta love that ogre logic. Top image is at hideout, bottom is at entrance.

Accomplishments so far. 

  • Level 92
  • Garrison level 2 (great Garrison Guide by AskMrRobot)
    • Alchemy Lab - started first work orders. Now what can I do with these mats?? Not sure yet. Bought all the recipes that he had to sell for gold and the +int recipe for one research.
    • Tailoring - did first work order now need to gather mats to work on 545 head piece.
    • Tavern - two dailies that actually need me to go back into dungeons. Hour plus wait last night so maybe today after patched.. 
    • Mine is open. Need to find starting quests for farm and fishing pond.
  • Almost done questing in starting area, Frostfire Ridge. Wow that place is HUGE. I still haven't completed some quests in the upper north.

IMHO, the expansion day one went well. I can't remember a day one in the past that didn't have at least some lag on the very first day. They're working on something right now, so very possibly this will be resolved. Wowhead is reporting it was a distributed denial of service attack?? Or is that just techno-talk for Wow a lot of people from all over are all trying to logon!?! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Alliance Druid Update

My Alliance druid is still working hard to reach level 90 before the expansion drops. The last few days played (real time elapsed since 6.0.2 dropped), Esha-Alliance has been questing and running Wrath dungeons. The questing has been interesting because of the difference between Alliance and Horde. Little nuance differences like their purpose for coming to Dragonblight. Save the humans, vs experiment on the humans!

As of yesterday, I've dropped carrying the iLevel 40 off-hand and decided to just carry a bouquet of flowers. The stein provided only a few stam, then int and spirit. The flowers. set off the ninja costume nicely against the main-hand weapon. Yes, it's silly, but so was equipping a weapon that was from the starting area of Vanilla. Ok, I really should have gotten the two-handed weapon for tanking! I know now!

DMF is almost over, but I've tried to maintain the Whee buff for the dungeons. I really should purchase a few of the DMF hats for when I pull more than the healer can keep up with. I am trying to learn all my damage mitigation techniques, and hopefully it helps. Trying to be less of a button masher, but druid tanking (so far) doesn't seem to be anything but that.

With all that's going on at home, aka IRL, I doubt I'll make it all the way to 90 before Wednesday. She seems too close to 90 to pay $60 for a boost to 90 at this time. I do see the value though. Leveling all the way to 90, vs, 60 with a boost, or even boosting from 0, I could have been running rated BGs, or raids with my co-workers a lot longer. Maybe even made some inroads into the legendary cloak before the 6.0 patch landed. My current target is 88. See 12 more levels and she should be able to start questing in new Draenor.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

While I am away...

Elkagorasa wakes up stiff and sore. He did not sleep well again. He dreamt he fought Garrosh yet again. This time the team that came with him different, but the fight came out the same. Garrosh is imprisoned for his deeds. Only later to escape with the help of that insidious Kairoz of the bronze dragon flight.

He looks around his bunk in the Inn, finding all his familiar items, he sighs with relief, he can rest today. Nothing planned all morning. Sitting up he spots his well worn robes and the weapons that seem to be twitching for a fight. Outside the doorway, he can see the goblins, Branzlit and Perixa, crossing the courtyard to open the Bank. They appear to be bickering about some transaction or another in their own Goblin way. This causes Elk to chuckle to himself.

Hopping down from his bunk, he lands on the plank floor with a soft thunk. Strides over to the basin, wash his face, then pull on his light slippers, and finally grabbing a turkey leg from Gryshka. Out for a quick run. Out the front gate, down the Razor Hill, following the road towards the Crossroads, cross the river and turn north at Far Watch Post, follow the road then trail until reaching Talrendis Point. Finally pass through the back entrance of Orgrimmar, run down passed the war machines, passed the constant the brawler's guild, and jump off the dock, diving into the pond. Ahhh.. Despite his hulking orc body, he swims smoothly across.
Elk loves that run, as it passes through places that have become his fondest memories of home. Even after Deathwing's destruction, the Barrens have survived and managed to adapt. All of the new plant growth bringing new life to the former dry. The plants, the animals, the scenery, the smells, all bring bright memories while off adventuring in foreign lands.
Dripping wet from his swim, Elkagorasa saunters through the tunnel from the pond towards the Drag. Wisps of smoke come up from the dark magics performed down there, burning his nostrils. This brings a giddy skip to his step and he picks up his pace, walking faster along the path back to the Valley of Strength. Upon reaching the Inn, he grabs his gear and dresses. Uses the restroom. Then picking up his backpack with the hidden gold coin pocket and slipping it over his shoulder, he heads out to the taxi stand.

"One to Camp Ataya" and off the griffon flies towards Feralas. Much to his surprise, the wind rider knows exactly where to go and starts heading off over the city. Soon he is soaring over the Azshara and the spectacle of the goblins. Below he can see numerous orc and troll joy riders on the rocket sleds going between the multiple stops. Off in the distance, the monolith of Gallywix, forever a reminder of the race's ostentatious nature. While on the taxi, the rhythmic beating of the wings puts Elk in a calm, almost meditative state. He often starts to think about various things in his life. How much longer would he do this? Why does he continue fighting the evil? What rewards are there for him?

The rest of the ride into Feralas is uneventful. He lands at the camp and wind rider runs over to Tono. They nod to each other in respect, but do not speak to each other. On the outskirts of the camp, Elkagorasa opens his mount journal and summons a flying mount. Lately his favorite mount is his disc of the red flying cloud. This awesome mount allows him to fly around as if simply flying himself. It's agile, quiet and small. Elkagorasa is able to skim the water then fly up over the tree tops.

During his last trip to Feralas, he found a new Goblin ran resort. A bit of guilty pleasure that sprung up after Deathwing's ascent. Elkagorasa's favorite portion is to simply lounge in the extremely hot steam pools. As an orc, he's able stand quite a bit more heat than the blood elves. With that he swims down to the bottom of the pond in search of crabs for his lunch. A little crab kabob cooked over an open fire, along with a cool drink from the wait staff make for an excellent break. Elkagorasa sits down in a lounge chair, feet up and he falls asleep.

"CLIFF DIVING EXCURSION LEAVING IN 5 MINUTES" screams the little gnome standing next to him. Startled and partially asleep, Elkagorasa flys out of his seat and almost strangles the tour guide. Looking up, he notices that there's a crowd following him. This causes him to quickly adjust and pat the little guy on the back, then join the crowd. "darn alliance", Elk mumbles to himself. The gnome snickers at him bumbling. The tour group departs soon on foot for the Twin Colossals. It doesn't take very long as the landmark is very close to the Resort. At the bottom, everyone is teleported to the top of the Eastern Colossal. At the top, Elkagorasa trades in some of his crab cakes, for a parachute from the vendor. Grabbing the chute from the vendor, he starts running south and jumps off the edge just as he gets it equipped. Soaring through the sky like a bird, Elk lets out a thundering roar. He even spots animals and the ground who start to run at his sound. Just as his feet brush the tree tops, Elk pulls the ripcord, deploying the chute and landing in the nearby pond with a huge splash.

Elk looks up and notices the sun is about to set. His nap must of been longer than he thought. He has one more stop planned before heading home. Elk picks up his pace and starts jogging back to Camp. He waves to Tono and hops onto the nearest wind rider. Whispering in his ear, the animal jumps off the ground and starts flying west across the land. Soon the sulfurous smell of wyrms starts to fill his nostrils. Why anyone would want to live there confuses him. Oh well, not his town. The wind runner lands, but doesn't run over to the goblin master. He seems hesitant. Elkagorasa dismounts anyway, but gently pats the beast on his nuzzle and urges him over. The animal doesn't like it here at all.

Once again, Elk mounts his red cloud and starts flying. This time at a much somber pace. As he approaches the former city, he starts to weep gently for the loss. Upon reaching the former entrance, he dismounts and looks out across Theramore Isle. The devastation of the former, bustling Alliance city hits him hard. The mana bomb has left a permanent stain on this place. It's energy can still be felt tingling at his fingertips. He cannot believe the audacity of the former warchief. This makes him even more outraged that Garrosh has managed to escape punishment. This Iron Horde incursion via the Dark Portal reeks of his doing.

Reaching into his backpack, Elkagorasa pulls out his hearthstone, the small palm sized stone that has been with him since the very beginning. He starts the spell that will send him back to the Inn in Orgrimmar. He needs to rest. He has a feeling that in a few days, maybe a week, his entire world is going to change. Back to the battlefields. Back to his war craft.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2 Weeks Remain and Still So Much Ground to Cover

Is that a chicken in his right hand? 
Over the last few weeks, I have been actively trying to recruit some of my fellow co-workers (from the Horde Guild) to come back to Warcraft. The problem being that there's just so many, many options out there that they aren't taking the bait. They're playing Shadow of Mordor, they're playing Borderlands Pre-Sequel, they're playing anything that doesn't require a subscription... I've seen where Blizzard has waived some game time to attempt to get them hooked again, but for some it's just not enough. With only a few active players in guild it's going to be a quite expansion.

On my recently minted Alliance druid, I've reached level 72. Since reaching Wrath, she's started questing in Borean Tundra and ran the same dungeon three times, Utgarde Keep. I've been trying to make sure I keep the Wickerman +10% XP bonus up for a total bonus of 55%  (45% gear - head 10%, shoulders 10%, back 5%, chest 10%, legs 10%). I equipped the Stormwind tabard so that I am exalted with them. This means only 4000 gold and I can train into Artisan flying (and swift flight form).

This gold shortage, got me rethinking my auction house strategies. I've even started watching Elvine, but I am not sure his strategy works for me. First off, there appears to be a transmog'r already on the AH. Lots of variety of various helms available. There could be a niche for me to start making gold, but it will take a lot of market research.. I know in Wrath, I made my big bucks selling gem transmutes on my alchemist, but this druid is alliance (not horde) and on a different realm. (/sigh) More questing for me.

Hallow's End, curse you. I've tried 8 days, 3 times each, to get the Horseman's mount. If I give up on hoping it will it drop, will it drop?

I have not got back into the revamped UBRS again since the first try. The warlock has been in one or two times more because DPS is just so darn easy. Plus with the cloak, I have lots of AOE damage. Salt's has a great discussion on talents and I should really look into redoing them. I really would like some nice gear upgrades on all my alts. Here's Salt's UBRS video.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hallows End, Healing & Honor Hold

Over the weekend, marked the start of Hallows End. The holiday that has for 7 years failed to drop the flying horseman's mount for any of my max level characters. This also marks the first event with the new balanced loot drops as promised by:
With this I ran through Horseman's on all my 90's until they each picked up their appropriate ring ( Warlock, Priest, Druid). Now I need to run through a few more times, because I'd really like to get one of the new pets, like the Curse Birman (curse siamese) or Widget (ghost tabby?), only need 150 candies (each).

Update: 10/21 12AM - If you are leveling up a toon using heirlooms, don't forget about the Wickerman buff, Unburdened / Grim Visage. This buff can be picked up by throwing a piece of embers on the Wickerman. Undercity/Stormwind have a wickerman immediately outside the city. I don't know if  it sticks around while logged out.

Healing in Horseman's was absolutely painless. I am not sure if it was the dungeon(?), the recent respec and re-gem, or maybe the fact that the horseman's fight is only 30 seconds long.. :) It does give me hope again that healing another dungeon won't be as dreadful as before. I think I will run a heroic MOP dungeon before hand though..

Honor Hold?! Remember... it's the first Alliance inn in Outlands. Around this Alliance castle I've been leveling up my skinning and think that I am close to finally catching up with the required level to skin in the dungeons. The leveling guide has been quite useful. I've been sticking closely to each of the areas, except for 260-300 zone. I found that the Burning Steppes (around Dreadmaul rock) to be close enough in level, within a single flight path from Stormwind and plentiful of wolves and dragonkin.

OMG, Outlands dungeon bugs! I tanked Auchineai Crypts on my alliance druid (was level 65) and ran into the bug. Each trigger, the dungeon resets and puts your entire group back at the beginning. (sort of looks like you've been kicked, but still in group, then need to 'enter dungeon' again.) All mobs respawned. The only saving grace was the resets happened a little further along each time; just got up to Shirrak, just got passed Shirrak, just about to Maladaar, and finally we killed him (while healer was dc'd). One complete run through AC and I used up all my 3-days of rested and leveled up to 66.

Overall, a nice weekend. I will be trying to run the HH dungeon every night for the next 11 days.


SSOTD: Orc, Orc


Old character model and new character model?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Patch 6.0 Day 2 - I forget how to heal..

Last night, I decided it was time enough for me to run my disc priest through the new patch content. Solid in her LFR gear, I believe she was totally capable of running a lowly dungeon. I am also aware that people have had issues with healing other content, so I am cautious about what's ahead. So I queue up and almost immediately immediately land in a group.


  • Wipe #1 - Only button on VuDu that works is Flash Heal. Tank dies to very first trash in entrance area. I apologize profusely about deaths.
  • Wipe #2 - I update a few more buttons on Vudu, now also cast trigger Penance, and Heal (lost Greater Heal, I guess?).
  • Wipe #3 - I kept the tank alive through the next three rooms of trash. We make it into the boss area, but we die to his AOE attack.
  • Wipe #4 - Tank gets cocky and runs immediately from first boss, to next trash at 30% health and dies quickly. 


At this point we start losing players. DPS is replaced, tank sticks around for maybe one or two more wipes. One time, I took two seconds and ran back out portal and repaired. 200g. Gear was at 0%. Ouch! We never killed the second boss, before they get tired of my (lack of heals) and give up.

At this point, I am so devastated by my lack of healing ability, that I hearth home and log out. (takes deep breath, doesn't send nasty gram to Blizz complaining about nature of healing post patch, sigh, thinks maybe everything will change when they rebalance stuff in coming weeks). Logon to Druid, start feral build and start running new area. Druid's gear level is only 508, so can't queue for revamped UBRS. Esha runs through all of the Iron Tide quest chain and is 512.

This time, instead of just hopping into the dungeon, I check AMR for help. MrRobot suggests all sorts of gem and enchant changes. I go through each of these (spending most of my valor cash-in) and purchasing them off the AH. (What sale prices!). This time when I queue, I start right after boss 2. They're already upstairs, about to pickup the the trash outside the arena area. I overpull the room and die. (sigh). Ok, I just went through this, slower pulls, smaller groups. Healing is able to keep up and I don't die. Make it to the final boss, Tharbek. I die, in all things, because of standing in fire. Yeah, flaming sword of whirly-ness. One of the DPS says, "hey tank, move around to use the defenses". At midnight, the first thing I think is, oh, this is like Violet Hold and how you can click the sconces to trigger an electrical storm, killing all the little water elementals. This generated a few LOL's in game as they basically told me not to stand in the fire.. Second attempt, I moved out of the flaming sword, and we killed the boss. No drops.

After this run, I went back to AMR, and checked out the optimizations suggested. Oh my, everything stunk. Eride is an enchanter, so I purchased a large stack of sha crystals and re-enchanted almost everything that can be enchanted (main hand, chest, wrist, back, gloves). No rings. Running the Best In Bags option, I was informed to swap out my wand for the mace. I was surprised to see AMR suggesting the older Horridon's trinket over the new Ironmender's that I picked up from the IT quest line. Maybe I should have picked up the +Int trinket?? According to the calculator, it's only a 7 point difference, so I guess it really comes down to gaining mana or gaining mastery?


Deciding to go back to basics, I checked the "you should already know this" tab in the talent UI and realized that I missed my number one aoe heals for priests. When used on myself, this returned 5000 health, plus a quick cast time, i should have used this instead of the generic heals. 

LFR, here I come. Next time I logon, I am going to test my current gear and build on an unsuspecting group, not the close and personal 5-man dungeon. I want to see (via Skada/Recount) how my heals are compared to others.. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Patch 6.0 Day 1

face via armory.
Last night I explored patch 6 and all it's glory.

First off, I went through each of my toons and purchased my reagents tab. 100g well spent. My oldest characters gained the least. Elkagorasa gained about 3 open bag slots. Haven't made any alchemy recipies in quite some time, so bags fairly empty of herbs. Eride had a bunch of tailoring mats, but not a lot. She's been working on the cloth healer pants. Alliance druid gained almost 2 whole bags free of skinning / leatherworking mats.

(time delay - break for dinner and finish assisting with homework)

Next, Elk went to the void storage and moved all his old gear into the new storage slot. A few more runs back and for to the bank would really help, but not last night. I had a world to save.
Old face from wowhead
model viewer. Maybe it's
just the expression?

Queue up for the new UBRS dungeon. 45 minute wait as DPS. Oh well, moving on.

Trip to the barber to get a new 'face'. Yeah, face. Ok, now looking at the before/after screens I am not sure it's that different, but the preconfigured options are only slightly different from each other. I liked the 'toughness' from this face (he's constantly scowling) vs the placid "town idiot" look of the old one.

Now, run down into the Drag and grab the portal to Blasted Lands. From here I picked up the quests and started running through them. At my time (approximately midnight PST) there was only 3-4 people running these quests. The kill # of something quests were easy, but there was a little competition. Scouts posted around the starting area were limited. There were only a few executioner, but they respawned quickly. I got 2 just standing still. The mini-bosses were all mass-kill so my dps helped those lower dps toons. I liked the changes to the mini-map dealing with questing. Blue zones (like before) for quest item "kill/get x of these" and yellow dots inside blue zones for items that I had to interact with. Overall, way too easy with i540 gear and the legendary cloak (tuned for i500 gear I believe). All the quest rewards were in the 500s. My druid will have to work at this.

Think Elk would
look good in this?
In the middle of the quest chain, UBRS popped. The revamp streamlined the entire dungeon. The eggs have all been cleared out and new boss encounters all along the way. If you are raid-aware, you shouldn't have any issues with any of these bosses. We had one DPS who kept dying. (I didn't check his gear or stats). It appeared to all be 'personal loot', so I never rolled on items. I got it or I didn't. For example, I picked up a new chest piece.. Maybe swap out my tier chest with this and equip my tier shoulders that I just picked up a month ago. AMR suggest Best in Bag..

A number of add-on's failed, most noticeably my all-in-one bag. Blizzard actually added two pop-ups telling me that I had outdated "interface additions". Will need to force curse updates each time I logon.

Overall, I enjoyed the changes. No negative fallout from the stat squish. My chaos bolt dropped from ~500k damage to around ~40k damage. It's still impressive, but more manageable. I was still two shotting most trash (that's leading with immolate, then conflagrate).  I do miss casting a curse to lead with, but that will pass (changes button bar order). Looking at my armory page, I do need to re-glyph, as two of them disappeared.

What has really surprised me is the grief Blizzard is getting for this (i.e. "stat squish", skills lost, PVP is now dead, healing is hard, etc. ). (Trying to find comment where player complained about how all his gear is now Wrath levels!?!? and the gold he lost due to buying gear on AH that are no longer useful!) Hasn't the PTR been available for at least a month now? Hasn't every WoW news source been talking about every one of these aspects since last Spring if not Blizzcon?

What's your first impression? Do you like where the game is going?

Monday, October 13, 2014

30 Days To Go!

Countdown to Warlord of Draenor. I am reminded to a post I did pre-Cataclysm that provided a series of things I suggested pre-expansion. Looking back at that list, it couldn't be more valid this time. Here is my list of items to plan for release date.
  1. Computer upgrade - With this next expansion, Blizzard has up'd the system requirements for WoD. If you want to see Draenor in full new-character model glory, you'll need to upgrade your PC. No longer will you want to run around with that 8 year old machine. Recommended specifications include i5 processor, 4GB RAM and latest patches of Win8 or OSX. On a personal note, I am still really loving my Vanquish II from Digital Storm. It's super fast. It handles WoW superbly. I run games like Assassin's Creed at max graphics quality without issue. Combined with the Corsair keyboard and mouse, I feel that I finally have a 'gaming' rig. 
  2. Add-On Re-review - With so many changes coming to the GUI in Warlords, I am really wondering how many of my addons will be relevant. Will the developers even update them? 
    1. BagSaver - used to auto-sell off grey and non-equippable soulbound items (plate on warlock).
    2. oQueue - while the new group finder will have a lot of the same functionality, I may or may not need something like this. Having most of the functionality inside the game and not need to download something else would be nice. 
    3. tBag - All in one bag app that sorts items. Will the bag sort function allow me the same functionality. This app has a long history of no developer support over expansions. So maybe this is the expansion that I'll finally love the default bags.
    4. Omen - Threat isn't supposed to be as important in WoD. In fact, that's one of the reasons they say warlocks won't need soul shatter (that and only affliction carry around soul shards). Tanks should be more focused on keeping us alive, not maintaining threat. 
  3. Pick a main / boost - Who do you want at 100 first? Will you boost a new toon to 90? Personally, I am going to play my warlock first as DPS is the easiest class to quest with. Bluey and me make a great team going through content rather quickly. 
  4. Pre-plan you garrison - I personally don't want to be faced with the need to pay some amount of gold to undo a bad Garrison building placement. Wait I wanted the Alchemy Alcove, not the Tailoring Tent? Blizzard has mentioned that there will be a way to 'bulldoze down your mistakes', but it ain't going to be cheap. 
  5. Rested Bonus
    Rest druid, rest.
    Your time will come.
    - If like other expansions, Blizzard will effectively wipe all your rested bonus. That means your (main) toons won't start off on Nov. 13th with 16 bubbles of 200% bonus XP. On the other hand, all your alts SHOULD be sitting in an Inn or capitol city gaining rested. Finish off your main in a week, you'll be fully rested on your second alt and almost feel like you skipped a full level. 
  6. Valor and Justice points? Blizzard will convert these tokens to gold with the 6.0 patch, so if you still have something you want to purchase (maybe upgrades on your MoP gear), buy it today.. 
  7. Empty mailboxes - Sometimes expac's go badly. One expansion, Blizzard lost all of our in-game mail. It was eventually restored, but it required opening each message with 2 clicks. One from Postmaster "This message was lost.." and one to open attached message then grab AH return. As an active AH player, I had close to 100 unread messages in my mailbox on one alt. This took several days to empty her mailbox. 
  8. RL Preparations - Snacks, time off from work, clean the desk, charge wireless device batteries, inform the spouse, etc.. There are no more 'realm first' achievements, so we can take more time to level up. In sake of Pandas, we are still asked to "slow down".
Are you doing anything special to plan for the next expansion?