Category Archives: The future is scary
Okay, hear me out.
Throughout WoW, there was no big bad badder than the Legion. We were told, this was the ultimate goal. We were even teased that the war against the Legion would continue into Anduin’s old age.
And then came the Legion expansion, and we chumped Sargeras and, somehow (?) the Legion was rendered moot.
Now, we’re in a strange place where instead of hopping world too world after Dem Legions, we’re fussing around with Fancy Trolls and Thicc Bois and blowing each other up. And something something Teldrassil, and “anticipating” an adventure in the land of the dead.
It’s weird. Pursuit of the Legion had enough built in content to keep this game going for decades, with a wide diversity of possible worlds, multiple opportunities to switch things up, and ample opportunities for engaging new races and characters and maybe even classes.
Compared to this, Shadowlands feels – to me – like flailing about wildly for “what’s next”, a Dr. Strangesque excursion into a place that we didn’t really feel compelled to go in the first place.
I’m not sure who’s idea Legion was at the point that occurred, but I really feel “don’t schedule the endgame until you’re ready for the endgame” seems to be fairly rational advice, and I can’t believe nobody gave this advice to that person.
I’m surely giving Shadowlands a fair shake. But I feel somewhat less than excited to do so. BfA at least stirred my blood with the burning of Teldrassil, but this time I feel like, “can we just close the gateway and leave her in there?”
Hey, there are a few things I am truly looking forward to, starting with (and primarily) the new appearance options we’ll get for our characters. But everything else I’ve seen so far leaves me feeling flat.
I wonder how others are feeling about it. I imagine the hardcore raiders / pvpers are indifferent, as long as they get new raids and stuff.
It has been commented, by myself as well, that it’s not really cool to lock all of the interesting lore moments behind raids.
Not everyone raids, so it is quite often the case that non-raiders find themselves relying on blogs, videos, and other venues to find out what actually happened, to find out what key lore elements happened outside of their view. After a while, upon hearing that there was some awesome stuff going on in there, I’d roll my eyes and comment, bitterly, “welp, there’s more lore we don’t get to see” — because, you know, our guild could barely raise the headcount for Karazhan, much less a 25-man, at its peak. And we ain’t at our peak.
Well, it looks like Blizz has been listening, to some extent, because guess what we got in 8.2.5? Exactly what we were asking for.
Only, I wonder if they took it just a bit too far.
Without giving anything away, there are a number of cutscenes and one cinematic that get played, and in between are a number of fairly inconsequential and completely trivial quests that stitch them all together. It’s as if they said, “well, we can’t just play a series of cinematics, we best put something in between and call it content.” You can virtually see the outlet that the phone that they used to phone it in was plugged into.
Maybe I was expecting something more grindy, or at least something we might have to put some effort into.
Lest anyone accuse me of being a sore winner, let me say right now that I am very glad that everyone, no matter how not into it they are, will have the skill level necessary to complete these quests. So assuming they made it through the various gates along the way, everyone gets to see it.
But maybe, next time, put a little effort in, guys? It should feel like an achievement! Otherwise, yes, just play the damned video.
So what do I think of the thing? It’s … interesting. It’s setting something up. No telling what. And the Horde is now in a bit of a tizzy … there was nothing in the post-cinematics that really indicates that they have much of a plan going forward.
I’m more concerned for the Night Elves. Tyrande is out there somewhere, Night Warrioring things up, and – without giving too much away – she doesn’t really have much in the way of resolution. OK, I’m actually more concerned about her. How long can she contain that power without going critical? Are we getting another heel turn here? Will she go mad and take out anyone in her way to her objective? Haven’t the Kaldorei suffered enough, Blizz?
The dot-3 release is generally speaking the final time-waster release for most expansions – assuming they get that far. It’ll be interesting to see how they intend to fritter away our time this time around, or maybe they have something new and exciting, such as an additional content patch. But right now, I’m banking on old tried-and-true.
Imma not gonna lie, I never got the Water Strider mount until BfA, and even then it was the Welfare Water Strider. I was in no hurry, but until I got it I didn’t realize why so many people wanted it.
Take yourself back to Burning Crusade and the massive effect that flying mounts had on day to day questing. Now, there was a big difference between then and now. Then: you had to gain the flying ability per toon. Today: one toon gets it, all toons get is.
But there was a gate, and flying was that gate.
Before flying, you had to slog your way through any number of BC quests (flying didn’t apply to, well, anything on Azeroth), and that taught certain values about the value of flying in landlocked environments. Most importantly: quests that were difficult for landlocked toons were cake for those with flying mounts.
For some time now I have been ruminating on how water striding mounts fulfil the same role that flying mounts did, only instead of flying they offer the means to move freely in areas that water constrained the area of free movement.
And in the course of those ruminations, I have come to realize that water striding mounts fulfil the same role that flying mounts did on areas that relied on the behavior of ground mounts to restrict and control movement in a zone.
You see, this is all about control.
Control, and the complete lack of foresight on the part of software developers that are paid well to foresee such things.
The whole point of controlling flying in zones is to control the flow of the activities in that zone. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is bullshit. The design of a zone that has flying as a factor must take flying into account, or the zone design itself is a failure. So far, every zone that Blizzard has presented is a failure when it comes to flying. Flying overcomes all constraints designed into the zone. No zone designers thus far have designed with flying in mind. And as a result, we end up with artificial constraints on where you can and cannot fly. Shame.
Water Striders are the next generation of this shit-show of design. When they were introduced in Pandaria, they were a cute little end-game perk for players that endured an endless shit show of a rep grind. The short-sighted designers of these mounts failed to foresee how useful they would become in future expansions, for the design didn’t have any level constraints.
And then all of the zone designers after Pandaria worked water into the constraints of the zones that they designed, because somebody had already removed flying from the constraints until endgame, and, surprisingly, nobody had notified them that someone on the MoP team had designed a mount that would blow right by any water-based constraints. I mean, they can’t be expected to play the game and, well, read WoWHead, right?
And, unpredicted by anyone except us filthy casuals, water striding mounts became the most popular mounts in the game. Why? Because they broke the constraints imposed by the Master of the Universe Top Men programmers of all zones after Pandaria. The Top Men said “you can’t go here unless you fight through zillions of aquatic assholes” and we were like “lol I water stride the fuck over your heads motherfucker.”
I mean, this was the deal no matter your level. If you were able to earn enough rep to buy an Azure Water Strider (about a month’s work) then you had the ability to bypass a large part of any zone’s constraints that were based on water. You could just “fly” over the aquatic mobs’ heads and call yourself a mf’ing hero.
Listen, I’ve been doing. So don’t trot out any holier than thought bullshit. No time, no patience. It’s a thing that happened, and any player that employs maximum efficiency will do the thing. it’s natural.
What I’m getting at is that the changes to water striding in the 8.2 patch are kinda predictable. WoW isn’t about making game mechanics more fun, it’s about maximizing the amount of time the can keep you playing and Water Strider mounts don’t really help with that.
Now. Changes to the Water Strider mount are kinda weird in that light. What we’re getting right now is that the mount won’t be able to do the thing it was bought to do – walk on water – until the character that uses it is level 100.
Okay, I get that, if the max level for the current expansion is 100, that makes perfect sense.
But it’s not. Current max level for BfA is 120. So if you are level 100 and playing BfA, you are not in any way constrained when it comes to water walking mounts.
So I am in many ways questioning the changes to water walking mounts in 8.2.
Listen, I’ve been of the opinion that water walking mounts blew the level design of all zones since Draenor. But I’ve always envisioned a solution that … addressed the problem. As in only applying to max-level zones, not zones of the past.
The current solution is bullshit. Wrong. Punishing people other than the intended audience.
Though I have to say, if your mechanics design hinges on punishing people, maybe you’re in the wrong line of work.
Or I’m playing the wrong game.
Getting close to option B, friends.
If you’re not up with the latest happenings of the past hours (i.e. the commencement of War of the Thorns Pt. 2 and the animated Sylvanas Warbringers story) and care deeply about spoilers, close this tab now and come back when you’re caught up. There will be no further coddling.
I want to say first of all a few words about some peoples’ reactions.
One rotten development of this is that a lot of people have been harassing Christie Golden and others associated with the writing of this game, the shorts, and related media. I don’t care if you don’t like the direction a character is taking, harassment is out of line. It’s one thing to analyze the story without mercy, to call shit out, and express even disgust with the proceedings. Fine. Be as dramatic as you want about a video game.
(I don’t care how many years of your life you’ve “invested” in it. That just makes you look bad when you couch it in those terms. Stop making a fool of yourself).
But personal abuse of any sort is way beyond the pale. Take it down or get the Bitch Slap of the Apocalypse for your troubles. That’s my personal promise.
Back to the story.
We’ve known for a year that Teldrassil would burn. We’ve known that likely Sylvanas would be the burner, and that Azerite might in some way figure into all of this.
Blizzard assured us that Sylvanas wasn’t going full on evil, saying the world was “gray, not black and white”, or words to that effect.
Aaaand Sylvanas then turned full on evil. She burned that tree down for spite’s sake.
I don’t want to hear how she was better off not fighting a Resistance so it was a good tactical move. She had full on planned to capture until Delaryn Summermoon sassed her, telling her she would never defeat hope. And Sylvanas, morally grey Warchief of the Horde, who until then had other plans, ordered the tree burned. AND forced Delaryn to watch it. Deliberately, sadistically.
This is not me RPing angry Alliance, this is me saying that the character they depicted shows all the signs of a sadistic, evil creature not too far removed from Garrosh Hellscream himself. Cruel, capricious, and, from what I can see, just plain greedy. She’s missing a moustache to twirl, but so is Elon Musk.
And that’s a problem for Horde players that have been “we’re not evil” for all these years. Granted, this is the same Horde that Pearl Harbor’d Theramore and Scourged Gilneas, but otherwise a peaceful, pastoral group of people that were just trying to get by, farm grain, murder elves, same as everyone else.
The Horde now have a maniac in charge again, and I think this time it’s breaking them. I have seen a LOT of people revolting. (I’ve seen some revolting people too, which we’ll speak of in a moment). They are not happy and they are making themselves known.
In a way it’s kinda comforting to know that some people, when confronted with what their nation has become, will not, in actuality, go along with it. It feels like maybe we’ve learned something from the Nazis after all. Refrains of “Not our Warchief” reflect the real-world cries of “Not our President”. In a way, I wonder if Blizz isn’t making some sort of statement here.
Sliding back into the story … it’s hard to take it all in. I have two Kaldorei toons, both noob’d on Teldrassil back when getting to Stormwind was a harrowing journey through high-level dangers. I have a lot of memories associated with Darkshore, Teldrassil, Auberdine, and points beyond. A big chunk of my WoW history is literally up in flames now. Others are taking it even harder. Some people are tremendously attached to their gentle elvenfolk and feel as betrayed as the Hordies that can’t cope with their murderer-in-chief.
Right now the Kaldorei and Gilneans are camped out in Stormwind Harbor (seriously, Anduin, can we get some housing here?) and presumably they will be in search of new digs after all of this settles. Though, personally, I think, after they fill in that nasty basement, Lorderon would make a fine new home for our displaced friends. And maybe they’ll team up and take back Gilneas as well – that’s a huge waste of a beautiful city otherwise.
Maybe once the Sindorei disavow the Horde and join the Alliance, they will reunite with their sylvan relatives, we can fire up the jets, and Kaz Modan can fly off to Mars like a rocket ship.
Hey, you never know. Haven’t you read ElfQuest?
Today, WoWHead released a guide to changes that will take place in each class in the BfA pre-path on July 17. Not all guides are created equal, and by that I mean that the rest of the guide owners are probably PISSED at Bendak, who pretty much overachieved on all levels for the BM Hunter guide.
The Disco Priest guide is a little less thorough. I’m not hating – Bendak sets a high bar to clear on any occasion. That aside, I feel like a little bit of fleshing out is in order.
Light’s Wrath is gone, of course (I actually approve of this as it means we’ll get more choices on weapons and stuff), and with it are its abilities. That means that our massive healing nuke is gone.
The other biggest change you will notice is that the Global Cooldown now applies to a number of spells. What this means is that you won’t be able to cast a spell on Global Cooldown until the Global Cooldown cools down. This is not true for all spells, so pay attention to the spell descriptions.
Another significant change is that only three spells will lay down Atonement now. We also lost one spell (Plea) that applied it instantly.
Before this expansion, my favorite rotation was more or less this:
- PW: Shield on myself; then PW: Radiance to spread out Atonement; then again, to get another 5 people covered, then Evangelism to extend Atonement for all 11.
- Keep DoTs up on the boss (SW: Pain and Shadow Squid), hammer the boss with Penance and Smite until it was time to lay down PW: Radiance again
- PW: Shield where it was needed, mindful of its cooldown.
It was a pretty simple rotation, but it got me through LFR fairly well.
The new rotation will be changed due to changes in the various spells used.
- PW: Radiance is relatively unchanged. It is one of our Atonement spreaders.
- Evangelism is relatively unchanged.
- PW: Shield doesn’t have the limitations we had before; it is now our defacto spam. It applies Atonement to whatever it shields. In effect, Rapture got baked right in.
- Shadow Mend is relatively unchanged. It also applies Atonement.
- Penance is relatively unchanged, however, is now generally better spent as a direct heal than Atonement healing. Unfortunately, it does not spread Atonement when used directly.
- SW: Pain (or Purge the Wicked) is relatively unchanged, and I think that Penance still spreads it when used for damage. This of course will also increase your Atonement healing.
- Smite is still Smite, with its damage component and its shield component.
- Halo is unchanged, and is still an optional damage / heal AE spell.
- Holy Nova is now also a Disco spell, giving us a ‘native’ AE spell that relieves us of having to choose Halo over something more interesting. It also applies to Atonement healing, but only the FIRST target struck does so – additional targets struck by Holy Nova do not provide Atonement healing. I think this is rather shabby.
- Rapture now increases the duration of all bubbles by around 7 or so seconds. In my opinion, this improves it massively.
So basically it boils down to:
- PW: Shield on myself; then PW: Radiance to spread out Atonement; then again,
to get another 5 people covered, then Evangelism to extend Atonement for all
- Keep DoTs up on the boss (SW: Pain and Shadow Squid), hammer the boss with Smite until it was time to lay down PW: Radiance again
- PW: Shield where it is needed. Cooldown isn’t so relevant now, so anywhere you see a need, drop it. Use Rapture on CD to extend that.
- Save Penance for big heals unless fairly certain that it won’t be needed for that, in which case share the love via Atonement.
You may notice that Shadow Mend isn’t top of the list. I tend to only use it in emergencies. The long cast time and odd pain/pleasure dynamic makes it far less than a winner to me.
As before, Spell Power is the primary component of all of our spells. Only PW: Shield varies on that, in that it also improves on Versatility. I’m pretty sure Crit will feature in a lot of the calculations, but those are your two main stats of interest.
As has been the case for ever, my main concern is in how clumsy healing can be. It requires a lot of direct or mouseover targeting, which means one hand mousing while the other is keying the commands required. During high-movement fights, healers are at a huge disadvantage when compared to others. PW: Radiance was a good step in the right direction in this regard, giving us a way to propagate Atonement without making it about as clumsy as an elephant on a high wire.
However, it appears that Blizz did not expand on that theme, and instead moved us away from that mode of operation. I mean, I’m kinda glad that we’re moving more towards bubblePriest mode, but it does require a lot of mousing around to get the shields distributed around, which is dependent on a lot of things, not the least the clumsiness of the wielder
I am also bitterly disappointed that yet again, Disco priests don’t have the Frisbee. I mean, what is Disco without the Disc? In my mind, I see the Frisbee as method #4 for spreading around our Atonement Goodness.
But overall, this looks like a very viable spec going into the new expansion. As always, it will require a bit of play time to learn for sure where we stand.
Oh, and also? New expansion, new mog. While I loved the look of the silver haltertop and skirt I affected in Legion, it had a couple of real issues.
- It was a skirt, making running problematic. Remember, sometimes it isn’t whether you’re faster than the monster. But it matters if you’re faster than at least one other person in your party. As Flora and Illume have proven before, nothing beats a good pair of jeans for adventuring.
- No pocketses, precious. What is this, anyway?
Five weeks from now, the new expansion will drop, and that means that somewhere in between now and then, we will be getting the “pre-patch”, which will introduce the new expansion and stuff. More importantly, it will introduce the new game systems to all and sundry, whether you buy the expansion or not.
During Legion, I’ve been keeping afloat partially on sales of glyphs, but also some other stuff. This expansion hasn’t been great for Scribes, so I’ve supplemented with enchantments as well, but the upshot is that on the strength of glyphs alone I can play the game entirely on in-game currency. With additions, I can buy other things in the Blizz shop such as time for my sweetie if she’s in the mood to play. But it hasn’t been raining cash. You gotta hustle.
- Legion glyphs are the main money makers, to a limited extent.
- Older glyphs sell fine, but don’t bring in much cash compared to the cost to make them.
- Vantus runes and other sops that Blizz tossed to Scribes were worthless. I fire-sale’d all but Antorus a while back and it looks like I’m going to eat them anyway.
- One herb was by far the best for this business model – Dreamleaf, which also generated Nightmare Pods, which yielded great quantities of Sallow pigment. The Argus herb, on the other hand, was worthless for Scribes.
Overall, fairly lackluster. I think that applies to most professions, though.
On to new things.
New expansion, new inks
- Crimson Pigment –> Crimson Ink
- Ultramarine Pigment –> Ultramarine Ink
- Viridescent Pigment –> Viridescent Ink – returning once again to a “rare” ink for certain items, such as Darkmoon cards, codices, Vantus runes, off-hands, etc.
- All inks now require the use of Distilled Water. All BfA inks thus have an additional 2s 50c tax.
- Viridescent Ink also requires Acacia powder, an additional 2s 50c tax on that ink.
Yields, what herb gives what, and in what quantities, is not yet known.
New expansion, new herbs
- Akunda’s Bite (Vol’dun)
- Anchor Weed – appears to pop in all zones
- Riverbud (Drustvar, Zuldazar, Tiragarde Sound) – found along rivers
- Sea Stalk (Tiragarde Sound) – found along coastlines
- Siren’s Pollen – found in trees in swampy areas. In a way similar to Foxflower, picking one can create a swarm of them to pick up.
- Star Blossom – found on the sides of buildings in Kul’Tiras and Zandalar.
- Winter’s Kiss – found in snowy areas (Drustvar)
It should be noted that the locational information is far from accurate at this time. Also, there are three levels for each herb for gathering, so similar to Legion in how it works this time.
There will also be three tiers to milling, and mass milling will become available for all herbs.
Very few new glyphs have been added. In many ways this seems a lot like Cataclysm where we got one whole new glyph to use the pigments on – essentially, any pigments you grind will probably be exchanged for older inks or pigments at the ink trader, so find out who that is and go there.
The exceptions are, of course, the ones listed here. These are all Druid glyphs.
- The Dolphin – requires Revered with Tortollan Seekers
- The Humble Flyer – appears to be a discovery from Grumpy Grimble in Tiragarde Sound. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s what I got.
- The Tideskipper – drop from Corrupted Tideskipper in Stormsong Valley
There don’t appear to be any research-oriented tasks associated with this expansion.
A few glyphs have also been dropped, no doubt due to class changes. In total, we end up with fewer glyphs than we had in Legion.
- The Blood Wraith (DK)
- The Bullseye (Hunter)
- The Skullseye (Hunter)
- The Unholy Wraith (DK)
- The Wraith Walker (DK)
My advice on these is to hang on to them until after the pre-patch.
In my experience, dead glyphs are transformed into something like Charred Glyphs which are usually worth 50s. Dump them now, and get 1s. It’s worth waiting to see. Of course, if you can dump them for more than 50s now, go for it.
I’ve seen one – Uldir – and that’s it. I’m not sure if we’re going to see more or not, but right now it looks like they’re attuned per-raid, not per-boss. If the latter, I don’t think it’s worth the bother. If the former, it MIGHT be. Start slow.
Other Wealth-Enhancing Features
Inscription has picked up a plethora of things that may or may not be of value in the days to come. Test each carefully.
- Codices – As before, we can make a Codex of the Clear Mind kind of thing that will allow you to change your talents outside of rest areas. This does require the rare ink.
- Contracts – A contract is with a specific faction, and while it is in effect you gain reputation with that faction, similar to how tabards worked in Burning Crusade. I do like this mechanic, and also suspect this will be a small but steady income stream. I assume only one can be in effect at a time.
- Scrolls – Scrolls are back as “War Scrolls” that can buff an individual or group. The odd thing is the wording of the description indicates that, say, an Intellect scroll affects all team members, not just the int-using ones. I suspect only one can be in effect. So this is very confusing. They’re not too costly to make, but they may have a limiting factor that makes them unpopular.
- Ink Wells – This allows your champions to bring back ink from missions. This isn’t really a money maker unless you sell it on the AH to other Scribes – which might be the case because the darned thing requires some mats that drop from mythic bosses only. The mats are BoP, but the Ink Well is not.
Conclusions, such as they are
We may see 8.0.x this Tuesday, or three weeks from now (I can’t believe they’d cut it any closer). Now is the time to prepare, because once the patch drops, in my experience, you run out of options to keep things operating. For example, the ink trader usually stops accepting the previous expansion’s inks or pigments (i.e. Roseate and Sallow) and instead requires the new expansion’s stuff (Crimson and Ultramarine Inks or Pigments). At which point you will have to go flower picking all over the place to keep making glyphs.
The good news is that glyphs that sell now will probably continue to sell. The bad news is that the ones that aren’t selling will still probably not sell.
Hope you did well this time around, it looks like more of the same, alas.
Oh hai! The good news is that I’m still around. That is also the bad news. I just haven’t had a lot to talk about since the BfA announcement – that goes a while back, I know, but there ya have it. What was that, BlizzCon?
I’ve started a number of posts, but ran out of gas before I got them up to our usual low standards of publishability. I haz opinions, but really haven’t felt like any of them were worth your time.
I’ve even gotten in on the Alpha – hard to say who hasn’t – though I haven’t actually done anything with it. Matters of theorycrafting and so forth seem to be beyond my grasp – I’ve barely figured out how to properly use the Best in Bags tool at AMR. That’s assuming I am, of course. AMR agrees with my own calculations enough to earn extra side-eye.
So anyway, watching all the news about BfA and our new
Associated Allied races has me wondering about future installments on this already popular feature. We all know about the Zandalari Trolls, some sort of Orcs from Outland (?), Dark Iron Dwards, and Big Chin Humans from Jaina’s Home Island. What else might they be cooking up? Here are some ideas!
I think that we’ve all seen this one coming from a mile away. The only thing holding them back has been the rather insensitive-to-lepers name, but now that we’re in the second year of the Trump administration, sensitivity is for the birds! Bring on the possibly radioactive Gnomes!
Probably still won’t end up in the next cinematic, though.
Similar to the Big Chin Humans, but these folk trace their roots back to when the Curse of Flesh was first weakening the races of Northrend. Smart folks, these relatives of the Vrykul got out of there before it got too bad, and also stayed hidden for thousands of years before revealing themselves. They’re cool like that.
Racial Bonus: they use regular sized humans for shoulder gear. Cool.
Somewhat related to the Really High Elves, these folks only appear in Winter, spending the rest of the year in communes in Northern Kalimdor.
Obviously if seasonal Associated Races don’t work out, this will be the only ones we ever see.
Nocturnal by nature, Nasty Orcses have a racial bonus when fighting stupid hobbitses. Precious.
Limited to Warriors and Paladins. Obviously.
A somewhat embarrassing chapter in The Lich King’s campaign in Lorderon; these are the people who’s relatives gave up on them before they were actually dead. Arthas took them into the Scourge and never heard the end of it.
Made for some awkward war councils, too.
“I remember you. You told them I was dead!”
“Didn’t turn out so well, for me, either.”
“If you think that makes it okay, let me tell you …”
“People, can we focus on the counterattack from Alterac?”
An offshoot of the Highmountain Tauren, these folks really rock.
Probably hinting at the eventual introduction of the Bard class. You know how Blizz is.
I’m guessing this offshoot of the Pandaran race will line up directly opposed to the Gitauren. This might even be the basis for the conflict in the expansion that introduces the Bard class. I’m calling it now – “World of Warcraft: Battle of the Bands”.
There’s no sound reason, lore-wise, for this to ever happen. Therefore it will happen.
You get a Furbolg, and you get a Furbolg …
The perfect cross-over from Erfworld, these highly avaricious and clever subterranean creatures will replace the mobile auction house. Their native resource, Juice, will replace Mana / Energy / Rage / etc for all supported classes.
(Image from the WoW Trading Card Game, whose body is buried in Hearthstone’s back yard)
It’s a bit more than a week since the big reveal at Blizzcon – Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth will be a thing. The theme to this expansion will be that of faction warfare between the Horde and Alliance. I, on the other hand, just call it The Jaina Expansion.
(Image from Blizzcon 2017 key art. Cosplay by Taylor Swift)
The theme of this one is that for some reason, the Horde has decided, after working with us for some time to save Azeroth from countless nasty things, that the time has come to wipe us out. Word has it that Sylvanas has a thing for Stormwind, which is why she turns around and burns down Teldrassil. You’d expect Silvermoon’s finest Ranger to have better aim than that, but there ya go.
(By the way, it’s been officially confirmed that Sylvanas shot first.)
As a result, the Alliance strikes back at Lorderon. I won’t spoil it for you, but who won this one has also been officially confirmed.
(I’m not a member of the undead night elf fetish club, but the way, but the vice actor for Sylvanas has one of the most interesting voices in the genre. I could listen to her read the phone book.)
Aw, hell, I can’t get away from giving it away a little … the upshot is that Alliance ends up with exactly one base in Kalimdor – the Exodar – and Horde with one in the Eastern Kingdoms – Silvermoon. Sorry, haters, but it’s kinda fundamental to discussing what we know, ya know?
(Image from Ulduar announcement cinematic. I always liked big-nose Jaina the best.)
First things first. We don’t know yet how much this affects contended areas like Gadgetstan or Booty Bay, but I seriously doubt it will affect them at all. They were contested before, they still are now. Fine. That also means that I suspect that little outposts, such as what’s left of Theramore and Revantusk Village, will remain largely unchanged, though security might get beefed up. I doubt there’s a good lore-related reason for this, but in terms of game mechanics, I imagine it would be a lot more work than they have time for, unless release date is sometime in 2020.
They already have enough to do. The losses of two major capital cities is going to likely re-arrange the political geography of much of the two continents.
Teldrassil’s loss will likely lead to the loss of Darkshore and Ashenvale. Which is a shame since it seems that all that Horde does with woods is cut them down. Don’t get me started.
Lorderon’s loss will likely lead to re-integration of the two Plaguelands (already partially integrated, but maybe they’ll remain contested), Hillsbrad, Alterac, Silverpine, and Tirisfal. It is also likely that Gilneas will be fully restored, and I suspect that this will become the new capital city of the Worgen and Night Elves, since the Night Elves hosted the Worgen up to now. I have no idea where the Forsaken will end up hosting, but I suspect they might be pushed into the Ghostlands (somewhat appropriate), thought that might involve Blizz having to rework a BC zone, which they seem very reluctant to do (which is probably also why the Exodar and Silvermoon are left alone in this expansion).
(Image from BfA announcement cinematic. Is it just me or has she been working out?)
As always with these expansions, there must be land to … expand into. This time around, it’s Kul Tiras – Jaina’s homeland – and Zandilar – home to nasty trollses. As you can imagine, the former has me more interested than the latter, but there are a few things that the announcement cinematic revealed about both.
We know a few things with regards to Kul Tiras. (1) It’s Jaina’s homeland. (2) It’s nautical. (3) Jaina’s dad is dead (Jaina sorta let that happen). (4) Jaina’s mom is still alive, and they have probably had “one of those talks”. (“Jaina, have we learned not to let ravening Orcs have their way with our parents now?” “:: sigh :: Yes, mother.”) I really hope they don’t go for the all too predictable trope of “Jaina’s mom is mad with loss and will be a raid boss” or something like that.
Speaking of expanding, Stromgarde Keep is coming back, being rebuild, just in time to be repeatedly attacked by the Horde. This seems odd since I could swear we were kicking the bums outta our turf, but maybe Hillsbrad turns into a pocket of resistance or something? Hard to say, but the fact remains that without a foothold, it makes zero sense to see Horde attacking someplace that is so far within the heartland. I mean, sure, there’s a pirate cove nearby (not gonna be touched, I can pretty much guarantee), so Southshore is the next closest point of entry. (I wonder if there is a corresponding Alliance stronghold in the middle of Kalimdor?)
And this brings up the main gist of this expansion – the two factions fighting. There will be a lot of focus on PvP-like activities, but there’s good news for us care bears. All the PvP-like activity is against (apparently) NPCs. So they might be flying the flag of the enemy, but they’re really just innocent bots that take pleasure in being slaughtered by the thousands by us god-like players.
(Image from Blizz’s old fan art site, no attribution provide by them, sadly.)
And that brings me to what I don’t like about all this. We’ve spent a couple of expansions now being told that we are the greatest thing since sliced bread by every friendly NPC that we meet. In Draenor we were elevated to military commanders, up to Admiral / General in the end. In Legion we were given command of our entire order. Set aside for the moment the massive danger there is in granting one supreme authority in both the military and religious spheres (that’s as close as I can come to describe what we are to our orders). The real issue here is that we keep getting more and more preposterously powerful amongst our peers.
And now – we’re foot soldiers in a number of PvP skirmishes? What a downer.
The whole theme of this thing, really, comes across as some seriously weak tea. Even the reason is weak. Why would Sylvanas suddenly want to go after Stormwind? And why would she then go after Teldrassil instead? Seems kind of random. The Alliance’s motivations seem more obvious – looks like they’re retaliating for this random violence on their shores. But Sylvanas has never, even once, come across as being a randomly violent entity? Did we get it wrong all along? Is Sylvanas the Dreadlord instead of Jaina?
The more I look at the set up – and I concede that “set up” may be entirely too accurate – the less engaged I feel. Many on the interwebz have called this a “filler” expansion done by “the B team”, and there are times when I have no ammunition with which to refute that. This seems to be rather drab and uninspired (even the logo is washed out).
I dunno, what do you think?
(Image from naptime (sometime in 2012))
Yeah, I’ll probably play, and hopefully rejoice in the restoration of our lands after all this time. On the other hand, visiting Kalimdor is likely to be heartbreaking.
Why so Handsy?
You may have seen the cinematic that deals with “The Fate of Xe’ra”. Here’s a link if you want to watch. Note it contains spoilers for the Argus campaign, which you may wish to experience in pristine purity of the pure. In which case, close this article now and come back when you have been pristinely enlightened purely.
We’ll wait until you leave …
Okay, here we go.
After six weeks, I’ve got a bit of a handle on Inscription as it stands. It’s definitely not the old profession we used to have. But is it better, worse, or indeterminate?
Here are the bullet points.
- Glyphs are no longer permanent. If someone wants to re-use a glyph after purging it out, they’ll have to buy it again.
- Glyphs no longer provide necessary improvements to your skills or talents – all they do is change appearances. That’s it. They have no real purpose, and anyone eschewing them will perform exactly the same as they would if they were fully loaded.
- Older glyphs cost all of three Roseate Pigments, the “common” pigment of Legion.
- New glyphs, or NuGlyphs as I like to call them, cost varying amount of Roseate and Sallow Pigments – Sallow being the “uncommon” pigment of Legion.
- Pigment drops vary vastly between different herbs.
- Roseate Pigment is the Palmetto Bug of Legion herbalism. You can’t get rid of it, and it’s everywhere.
So first I’ll address the yield rate of the different herbs. Observe:
- The first thing I will point out is that Roseate and Sallow yields vary widely between different herbs, and an herb that yields a lot of Roseate may be crappy for Sallow.
- Sallow Pigment is the real limiting factor for NuGlyphs.
- Secondly, from a strictly Herbalist perspective, and with the previous in mind, Dreamleaf is the way to go for glyphing. At a .23 yield, it’s a couple of hundredths ahead of even Starlight Rose.
- Roseate pigment yield isn’t really much of a factor.
- Dreamleaf yield rates do not reflect the addition of Nightmare Pods. These pods can yield a lot of Sallow pigments, and are the after effects of Dreamleaf milling. So Dreamleaf may have a higher effective yield of Sallow than the chart reflects. I will be working on gathering more info on this statistic at some point, but off the cuff it seems like it’s almost a 50% boost.
- I have more data on some herbs than other. Which brings me to …
- I have zero data on Felwort. Do I look like I’m gonna spend that kind of money on something so expensive to get data that nobody in their right mind would use? No matter how good the yields you get from this bonny jewel, it’ll always be better to sell it on the AH. Oh, all right, some day when I’m fat and buttery I’ll prolly blow a few Gs on a stack. But today is not that day.
Regardless, strictly for herbalists, Dreamleaf appears to be the clear winner.
But for Scribes, maybe not.
Let’s be clear: most Scribes are going to burn a lot more herbage daily than they can gather in a day. So that means they’re going to have to buy herbs from someone – either the AH or private channels, it matters not at all. Coin is coin. And that takes us to the more complex level of this equation.
Here you see three data tables. On the upper right is a breakdown of the prices for all but one of the herbs. To the left of the prices is a breakdown of the general price for each pigment as based on the yield rates of each herb.
The data are clear. Regardless of their inferior yield rate, Aethril’s much lower cost produces a much lower cost per pigment. Looking at the table to the left, you can see a calculation of price per glyph by class. As I said, mat requirements for each class varies. For example, Paladin and Priest only require 2 Sallow pigments, while Warlock requires 15.
The final table in this image is a little selector that changes the “Sallow” and “Roseate” values for the table on the left based on what herb you choose. Easy enough … right now, at this point in the game, on my connected realm, Aethril is the clear choice for purchasing off the AH.
Vantus Very Little
A word on Vantus Runes … I have no data. These runes require you to have defeated a boss before you can get the recipe, and I have not raided even a bit. Given that Jas is hogging all the glory, I imagine I probably never will without running LFR – which I look forward to as much as my next tax audit.
For the Profit
So, what is happening in terms of profitability? Before this expansion, Inscription was my cash cow. Slower at times than other, but still a steady source of income.
Now, it’s hard to say. I’ve suffered a massive loss of cash getting ramped up – at least 300,000 – but the treasury is starting to grow once again. Having said that, the sell rate is starting to fall off. So I’m not sure I can draw any solid conclusions yet.
There are around 20-30 glyph techniques – recipes, basically – that are drops out there in the world, making your ability to perform somewhat random. If you get some good luck in drops, you’ll be able to produce product that few others can. If you get bad luck, your stock will be limited.
Not saying we have a trend here, but from level 100 to 109, I’ve gotten exactly two – two – technique drops.
Gonna throw a little shade, here. Most other professions, you have “ranks” for items that you can produce. The higher the rank, the fewer mats required to create the item. These ranks come from various sources, such as drops in the world, world quests, experience, and so forth.
Guess which profession doesn’t have this mechanic?
If you guessed Inscription, you get a no-prize. Our recipes cost the same no matter what. There is no potential for improvement no matter how many of the darned things you make. I am not exactly pleased about this.
As I watch this profession for further trends, I have to wonder where we’re going with it. I see exactly zero motivation for people to buy my wares, and have to wonder which profession will be next to be hit by this sort of nerf. Enchanting? Alchemy? Hard to say.
I hope it swings the other way. That the person that thought that this was a great idea gets transferred to Diablo and never comes back. That we see a return of Inscription as a profession of great interest in the next expansion.
But I have a hard time thinking that Blizz is going to go back now that they’ve taken the first step on the voyage of “making professions fun again.” Which seems to be a euphemism for “make stuff for yourself, but not so much any one else.”
You know, “Fun.”