Category Archives: Meta
(That’s a Red Dwarf reference, which I suspect he’d get)
Yesterday, I was faced with a terrible post on Twitter.
Okay, I’ve received his brother’s blessing to share this with Twitter at large. With deepest regrets, I’m sorry to tell you that the inimitable @_Rades passed away suddenly this weekend. To know him was to love him. He was the most creative, hilarious and kind person.
— Stacey (@_vidyala) August 30, 2021
For those that didn’t know him, Rades was a pillar of the online WoW community. His humor, love of lore, and love of the genre itself was legendary. He blogged at Orcish Army Knife for years (and it’s probably supremely ironic that his blog right now is getting more hits than it has in a decade). He invented the neon beer sign causeway in Wildstar. He invented Fabulor, the flaming hawtest Blood Elf evar. He engaged his followers on Twitter as NPCs in his ongoing D&D campaign. He coauthored From Draenor with Love (sadly, hacked) with Vidyala (quoted above). He authored a column on WoW Insider for a while. He created custom Weak Aura macros to play Disco Inferno when Fabulor had Hot Streak active. The list of things he did, really, stretches out as long as WoW has been around. Hell, I even featured him and his guild in a Filk (near the end).
The hole he left in our lives cannot be described with small words. But I’ll try to related something that comes near the point.
Back in the early 80s, just before I left my home on my Great Adventure (I’ll let you know how it ends when I get there), my father passed away from a heart attack. At his burial, I looked up and realized that the line of people waiting to get into the cemetery stretched all the way out to the highway, a good quarter to half mile of road. It was at that point that I finally realized the impact my father had on his community. To me, he was just “dad’. But to our small community, it was Rodney, or “Bogey”, a good friend, steadfast ally, city councilman and church deacon, hard worker for our town’s annual July 4th celebration, tireless campaigner for our democrat politicians, and occasional Santa Clause at our church’s Christmas dinner. He touched so many lives, and people responded with love and sympathy for my family, all in his memory. Hell, a sitting US Senator, who he was a great proponent for, even stopped by to pay respects.
Mike “Rades” Eng has made a similar impact on the WoW community at large. We don’t know it, possibly, until he’s gone, but he did.
Rest in peace, Rades. May your flame burn as flamboyantly in the next world as it did in this one.
(PS: yes, I stole that image right from his website. Steal from the best, friends.)
As is customary in my WoW life, every two months or so I poke my nose back into Classic, continuing the epic adventures of a Dwarven BM hunter and friends as they advance through the ranks. My experiences thus far have been mixed – I like the game mechanics better, but also you can’t futz around – or you’ll find out. Classic WoW is a lot more dangerous than Retail.
I haven’t been on since before TBC rolled out to Classic, and when I last left my guy, he was struggling through a bunch of Elite quests and areas in the high 30s to low 40s. Pretty much everything green was Elite, and everything that wasn’t Elite was pretty much yellow, orange, and red. With the limited toolset of the Classic hunter, there was a lot of struggling. Not impossible, but I worked for every bit of it.
So I was nowhere near max level anyway (or even 58, when the cheaters head to Hellfire) so regardless of when TBCC rolled out, I wasn’t too concerned. And that was pretty much how I was thinking about the transition from Classic to TBCC. Probably have to reset talents, but no big deal, ya know?
In my defense I did not recall a lot of the differences between Vanila and TBC – I quested to around 54 on my highest toon in Vanilla, then quit, and didn’t return until just before the TBC launch, where I started all over again (we didn’t have character restores back then).
So I was not prepared for the complete night-and-day contrast between Classic and TBC Classic.
Hunter pets are more resilient. They hold aggro far better. Shot rotations are far less cumbersome. Hell, even mounts are cheaper! Those elite quests? Far more in line with what I expect for a BM hunter (i.e.: no sweat). Yellas, pretty much same thing.
Also, remember this gal? Wonder what she’s up to these days?
Also, I’m very annoyed that Disco priest is so unpopular that the more popular strategy sites (looking at YOU, Icy Veins) don’t even HAVE a Disco guide.
That’s all right, I’ve been doing Disco longer than Icy Veins have been around. They can suck it.
I’ve often said that the people claiming that leveling up a new toon were making too much of a big deal out of how long it would take to get from level 1 to max (currently 50). So I rolled up a new toon just to measure how long it would take.
I was also curious about the leveling experience once Shadowlands rolled. Shadowlands was our first ever level squish, meaning we start Shadowlands at level 50, and everything else is squished in between level 1 and 50. So this experiment is also commentary on that.
The toon in question is a Night Elf mage named Tride (I tried, er, tride to get the name Trial, or Trile, but they were taken). I went with Frost spec as I felt that would be more challenging than Fire, and I know squat about playing Arcane. As it turns out, that choice was revelatory.
The rules are simple: leveling at the most casual rate possible. No dungeons or raids, no instances of any kind that WoW didn’t railroad me into. Follow the natural progression of the questlines only. No special events.1
The starting experience posed an immediate choice to make. In Shadowlands they introduced a new, generic starting area for all new toons. So I had a choice between that and going old school. While I was curious about this new starting area, I elected to go old school and start in Teldrassil.2 By the time I was level 10, I was camped out in Darnassus.
Once based out of Tree City, I had a few decisions to make. The results were as follows:
- Mining and Herbing, because raw materials always sell.
- No to fishing, I don’t need to give up a bag slot and it’s a waste of time.
- Maybe on cooking, to keep a little buff going.3
There was a little bit of cheating. I logged in on Jasra and bought myself some good healing potions and bandages with her money.
Once out of the Tree, it was time to get moving. I’m still annoyed that we’re dealing with the post-Cataclysm world here instead of based out of Auberdine, and the broken landscape is beyond frustrating.4
However, even at level, this part of the world doesn’t pose too many real issues. There was some dying, yes, especially when I got my aim off and blinked into something nasty.
The Tower of Athalaxx was the only intractable quest in that zone, and this illustrates the first problem with the new leveling experience. Namely, scaling.
In all zones now, mobs are scaled to match your level. If you’re level 25, expect to see level 25 mobs all around. And that’s fine, to an extent, but in the case of elites like the denizens of that tower, you either need to group (a no-no for this experiment), or get beefy and outlevel the boss. And now … that’s not possible. Blizz need to tune some of the beefier mobs out there to work better with the leveling experience.
In Classic, one of the quests that gets you out of Darkshore and into Auberdine is “The Sleeper Awakes” or something like that. I am glad that one’s gone. Hella annoying it was, and on several toons in Vanilla / BC / Wrath, I just skipped that one completely.
Another difference is that pre-Cata, you get sent to Astranaar first thing, but post-Cata you get sent to Orendil’s Retreat for a mini quest-hub and then it keeps progressing you further in until you do end up in Astranaar.
This is where your home base will be for a good 15 levels at least.
Chromie Time – I hit a wall
Here’s where a big disconnect happens.
Pre-SL, progression in these zones progressed normally. Post-SL, when you hit level 30, everything just … stops. No XP from killing anything. All mobs are level 30. Quest completion offers a fraction of what it did. And this applies to all mobs, in all eras. Go to Shattrath, and everything’s level 30. Go to Northrend, same dealy.
There aren’t many bread crumbs here, but the answer is that you really need to be on Chromie Time. What that is is that you speak with Chromie in Stormwind5 and select an era that you want to play in. You then get an introductory quest to get you started in the era you wish to quest in, and then off you go. So if you choose Burning Crusade, for example, you could proceed immediately to Hellfire and start leveling there.
And if you choose not to go to Hellfire, well, all mobs in all zones now scale from levels 7 to 50. So you can continue to level on Azeroth. One annoying thing about this is that Chromie doesn’t offer this as an option, you just have to guess. The other is that if you don’t start in Exile’s Reach, you end up having to figure this out on your own – the Command Board did not light up with a quest marker on the map, but it DID have the quest available to go see Chromie.
So I’m not sure at what point you’re supposed to pick up Chromie Time, but I do know that you have to do so no later than level 30.
This throws a huge error into my numbers – I spent over an hour figuring this out.
I got better
One reason I chose Frost for my spec was that canonically, right now it doesn’t hit as hard as other specs, and, as I mentioned, I had no clue how to play Arcane (I’ve tried in the past). And I did, I struggled a lot early on, even using some Fire spells out of desperation.
But as I progressed, so did my toolbox. The big one was when Brain Freeze became available, this opened Flurry as an insta-cast, and later on that allowed it to buff Ice Lance. Between those two, as well as the Frozen Orb, by level 35 I was really kicking butt.
So this underlines a huge flaw in the Frost spec, and maybe others – at lower levels they’re really not up to the task that they’re assigned. It isn’t until you’re halfway through the talent tree that you can really feel like you’re getting somewhere, and, I suspect, all zones are currently designed as if you have access to all talents and spells.
Bottom line: that was a lot of work, retuning the old world to work with the level squish. But you really need another pass, Blizz, this time with toons at appropriate level.
Having gotten my leveling thing worked out, I finished off Stonetalon6, and forayed into Desolace at level 39, where I dinged level 40 and quickly ported over to Stormwind7 to get my fast flying8.
Again, as I gained levels I gained in power. This is one good thing that Blizz has accomplished, is the notion of spell ranks once again, but this time it isn’t just scaling – each spell rank can (and usually does) bring additional effects with it. So, as you progress in levels, you genuinely do feel more powerful, one of the key values of leveling.
As a result, clearing out Desolace was a pretty trivial task, though I did bite off more than I could chew on the ghost magnet quest. Other than Stupid Hunter Tricks (as payed on a Mage), Desolace was a cake walk.
One thing that puzzled me was that while I was expecting to be sent to Feralas once I completed that zone, instead I had no choice to go resume my questing in Southern Barrens.
Southern Barrens and Theramore
As I completed the final quests of Southern Barrens, I dinged 49 and was directed to Theramore, where I picked up a bunch of quests to go kill things and save a surprisingly ancient hermit and come to the rescue of some Goblins (no, really!). My journey to 50 was almost complete, and I realized at this point that I had been cheated.
Specifically, the World of Warcraft had shrunk. I had slavishly stuck to my home continent as I leveled up just to see what would happen. What happened was that I only barely saw Thousand Needles and Feralas in passing, with Tanaris, Un’Goro, Felwood10, Azshara11, and Silithus completely missing from my quest log. I suspect that the same would have occurred had I chosen Ironforge or Stormwind as a starting point. And that’s really sad.
While the level squish is mostly done well, barring a couple of technical issues which I suspect will never be fixed, it emphasizes exactly why I was against such a move. The problem I just described above has always been there since Cataclysm. When they revamped the zones for Cataclysm, then never went back and adjusted things so that you could visit the whole world. Quests would go gray before you were finished a zone, and you’d be off to Outland long before you completed other zones. Hell, Winterspring was so infrequently visited that I even forgot about it in the previous paragraph.
And that was never addressed, and that will never be addressed. The World of Warcraft is reduced to your general neighborhood. The Neighborhood of Warcraft.
Thoughts and Conclusions
At the end of the day, I ended up at 54 hours /played to get to Level 50. Subtract an hour for my confusion at level 30 if you wish, but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t.
What this adds up to is if someone played 8 hours a day it would take just under a week. A more realistic 4 hours and we’re talking around two weeks. I’d call it three weeks of dedicated playtime to get to the point that you’re ready to start leveling on whatever the new expansion is.
My conclusion here is that while it’s certainly not a gigantic burden to level up to 50 in a reasonable time, three weeks is probably longer than the endgame-eager “hardcore raider” mindset. Hell, ONE week is probably longer than they’d be willing to put in, and any time put in for this sort of thing is probably done grudgingly.
I still think that paying for a boost is appropriate in this case. I am forever worn out and tired of Blizz bending over backwards to a tiny sliver of the population and wish they would spend time making the journey to endgame more interesting. There are years’ worth of adventures locked away behind a poorly designed and paced leveling experience, and it’s a damned shame that nobody has any reason to visit them – much less enjoy them – other than the completionists out there dragging their max-level asses through content that they don’t even appreciate because how can you if you’re life isn’t in danger?
Tride the Frost Mage’s days are over, and I thank him for his service. I understand the process better now, and will no longer feel that people that don’t want to do even this little bit of leveling are necessary lazy or unwilling to put in the time. It’s a not insignificant amount of time that obviously I don’t begrudge12, but others might.
A new player just getting started will forever be missing what the rest of us experienced, for good or ill. How to explain to someone in the future that all these Chromie Zones were once played in sequence? I’ll leave that up to wiser heads than myself.
My adventures as a leveling toon ended when I dinged level 50. Chromie let me know that I was about to be kicked out. She gave me a countdown, and then booted me to present day, at the courtyard of Stormwind Keep. When I tried to port back to Darnassus, I was dropped at Darkshore, where all that was once our home lay smoking on the horizon13. With a heavy heart, I sighed and ported to Ironforge where I sold all my stuff, mailed the cash to Jasra, and quietly ended the enterprise.
- Okay, the Lunar festival was running at one point and I cleared a few Elders because those unanswered quest markers on the map were driving me MEGA HELLNUTS CRAZY.
- So sue me, the War of the Thorns is still fresh for me, OKAY?
- At some point I did cheat and bought stuff off the AH to level cooking.
- Why is it that the Night Elves are getting it in the teeth every other expansion and yet somehow we’re supposed to feel sorry for the Orcs and be okay with them cutting down every tree that they can see and then some? Give me a break.
- Of course, Stormwind. Always, of course, Stormwind.
- Having never visited the peak, once a must-have! (addendum: a later quest took me there. Duh.)
- Of course, Stormwind. Always … wait, I’m repeating myself.
- No, that’s not cheating – neither the teleport, which is a Light-given Mage perk, nor the fast flying. The assumption here is that I’m leveling an alt for … whatever the leveler needs that level 50 toon for. One assumes that the leveler already has mounts, and, as you are well aware now, SIR, mounts are account wide9.
- If someone was leveling a new toon, this would be very, very sad. I’ll essplain later.
- Where even is the bread crumb for that zone?
- Same question.
- Obviously not, I just blew three weekends on a silly experiment.
- As I said, War of the Thorns is still a bitter memory for me.
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.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been puttering around on my Hunter and Priest (started five levels apart) and really enjoying myself. It’s painful, inconvenient, slow, grindy, and painful. And yet I have not felt at all unhappy about it.
We’re looking back at a version of WoW that had perfected the Skinner Box model without realizing it, or taking much trouble to hide it.
If you’ve never heard the term, “Skinner Box” is named after a psychologist that theorized a thing called an Operant Conditioning Chamber, which is a fancy way of saying that it trained animals using mostly positive reinforcement. Push the right button, get a cookie.
In WoW, this is illustrated by the nearly constant positive reinforcement mechanism that kicks in after level 10. Every time you level up, you get something, often many somethings. You always get a talent point. And sometimes you learn new spells or abilities. If you’re a Hunter the phenomenon is doubled thanks to your pet.
Contrast this to BfA and Legion, where I believe it’s fair to say that aside from the changes to the core game at the start of the expansion, you gained nothing new.
Hell, the last time I got a new Talent is at level 100 – the end of WoD.
Did leveling up mean anything to you in Legion or BfA? I mean, did they even lock out zones based on your level? (spoiler alert: they didn’t).
The modern niceties of modern WoW are sometimes a curse in disguise. A game based on conflict that has basically greased the rails to max level doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Yet here we are.
But … about that Skinner Box thing.
The Skinner Box scenario is generally looked down upon by most “serious” gamers. It’s the perception that, instead of making a good game, the team has created a grindhouse in which you respond like … well, like a rat in a Skinner box. Green light goes on, you hit the button. A pellet of food comes out. Green light comes on, hit the button again. Eventually, what you’re conditioned to do is to press the button whenever you see a green light, and expect a pellet of food.
This reminds me of one of my favorite stories about “sick culture” work places. It goes like this.
Imagine a cage. In that cage are five monkeys. It’s a big cage, don’t worry.
Now, hang a banana in one end of the cage.
Now, whenever a money approaches the banana, ALL the monkeys in that cage get hosed with a firehose.
Eventually, you’ll train them to never approach the banana.
Now, replace one of the monkeys with a new one.
The new monkey will approach the banana. But instead of hosing the monkeys, you let the trained monkeys do your work: they beat the hell out of the new monkey until he too won’t approach the banana.
Keep doing this until you’ve replaced all the monkeys, then do a complete rotation again.
Now, you have a cage full of monkeys that have never been hosed, but won’t approach that banana.
And if they could talk, and you could ask them why they won’t go near the banana, they’d probably tell you, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done things.”
I wonder if Blizz did us a favor by getting away from the Skinner Box approach?
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.
I’ve been long delayed in my report on BfA inscription. A large part of that delay has been Blizzard’s delay in implementation of a reasonable system for Scribes to create Glyphs.
Lemme essplain. No. Is too much. Lemme summarize.
Starting in the expansion following (3.0) the introduction of Glyphs (2.0), Blizz offered a mechanism for Scribes to create glyphs that were introduced in every expansion. In short, the Ink Trader. The Ink Trader allowed you to exchange whatever the current expansion’s primary ink for inks from previous expansions. So, for example, if you were in the Cataclysm expansion, you could exchange Blackfallow Ink for any ink required to create glyphs in Vanilla, BC, or WotLK. In MoP, then you could exchange inks from that expansion for older inks. And so forth. I hope you’re keeping up.
Which brings us to the most notable absence from the current expansion. Normally, at the introduction of the x.0 patch for an expansion, the Ink Traders in all faction hubs (Stormwind, Shattrath, etc as an example) would provide an exchange of whatever that expansion’s most common ink was for any other ink in the game. For example, in Legion, we could exchange Roseate Pigment for inks from previous expansions.
But now we’re in weird territory.
When BfA rolled, we expected an Ink Trader in the faction cities to accept one of the inks from the current expansion (we figured it would be Ultramarine Ink) for inks from previous expansions. But we found nothing. At that point, the previous expansion (Legion) still held sway. So the only way to create inks for all expansions was: farm Legion inks (Roseate Pigment) or go gather herbs on the continents from the previous expansions, and mill them. This was less than optimal. In a world where we expected to exchange Ultramarine Ink for other inks, we were met with disappointment, at a massive scale. And now we are in 8.1.0, and there is still no sign of an ink Trader in Boralas, much less Stormwind.
So what we are doing, here in the first content patch of BfA, is farming Legion herbs. BfA herbs are almost useless – there are three Druid glyphs in this expansion, and that is it – so we are currently either selling them off – a poor financial investment – or banking them against an expected future where they are actually useful. At this point, I am becoming cynical.
So what is actually going on? Those that are willing to attribute an actual plan to all of this are welcome to comfort themselves in the actual market, but those of us that are embedded in the current market are doubtful. Currently, Dreamleaf (https://www.wowhead.com/item=124102/dreamleaf#comments) is the king of the Inscription market due to its secondary conception of Roseate and Sallow (especially Sallow) pigments. BfA Inscription is pretty much dead. And the WoW customer service accounts are pretty much silent on the topic after multiple pokes.
That is: currently. Aside from Cards of *, it is currently impossible to turn BfA herbs into a profit. And Blizzard doesn’t seem to care even so much as to stroke your ego. Sorry.
BtW: in case you were thinking of switching to Alchemy:
Herb-related crafting in BfA is, to be quite brutally honest, a cluster-fuck. You’re best served in just selling the herbs (especially Legion herbs) than trying to make a profit at Inscription or Alchemy.
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.
Casa de Grimmtooth exists in the path that Hurricane Irma took, and as a result we lost internet connectivity for over a week. Fortunately, I have plenty of games loaded up on my PC that have received little love while I was playing WoW, and do not require The Internets.
This window of time gave me ample opportunity to fully evaluate and compare some games that had especially languished while I went and did other thingys.
Here, then, are some mini reviews and in some cases, final reviews.
Of all the games I’ve recently purchased, this is the one I was most eager to get. I’ve been playing it on and off since before Blizzcon 2016, and yet I have not finished a single game.
Once we got power back after Irma, this was the first one I fired up, and played it for three days solid (in between things such as cleaning up and stuff). Finally, I’ve had time to come to the realization that Civ 6 is no where near the game that Civ 4 was. Civ 5 also suffered from that, but it grew up to be a much better game with a few DLCs. Civ 6 isn’t even as fun as Civ 5, though.
The problems with Civ 6’s core mechanics, however, will never allow for basic improvement unless some core mechanics changes come with any future DLC. It’s a lovely game, with some interesting takes on the original, but in the long run it just isn’t Civilization. It’s a game that looks like Civilization but isn’t Civilization, made by some company in China looking to rope in a few rubes.
The next time I get some time for extended play, I’ll go back to Civ 5, to see if I’m just growing disenchanted with the series and misremember my experience with Civ 5, or if Civ 6 truly took a wrong turn.
Sorry, Sid. But this wouldn’t be your first miscue.
Railroad Tycoon 3
My existing copy of RRT3 is only on CD, along with the Coast to Coast patch. It was the final game I picked up during the outage. Even with its terrible graphics, I feel it holds up over time. I really wish I had bought it via some service like GoG, but I hadn’t. (Of course, if there are no improvements with the GoG version, why bother, amirite? Weeellllll … I had to go dig out the “play” CD just to run it, so maybe it is. Hm. /ponder)
I mentioned Sid Meier’s previous miscue earlier, and here it is. The successor to this game was a game called “Railroad!”, which was so horrible that it took very little time to kick it to the curb. Even the master can mis-read the curve.
It was so bad, I didn’t even keep the discs. And I never throw anything away. Just ask Mrs Grimm.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Here’s an oldie but a goodie that got acquired by Stardock, which also makes a rival game (Galactic Civilizations). Hopefully that does not bode ill for SoaSE, because I’ve tried both but only bought one of them. And it wasn’t GalCiv.
This game is often described as a cross between the 4X genre and RTS genre. I’m not sure how that’s really applicable – once you hit RTS territory, you’re an RTS. Any 4X elements are secondary at that point. Besides, every RTS I’ve ever played generally has elements of the other three X’s in it, so it’s not really a distinction I care to make.
Having said that, here’s the prognosis. Whether or not it’s a true 4X game, I really do like playing it, and it has enough challenge to it without ROFLstomping your ass at ever turn, but you don’t get a free pass, either. It’s balanced, and fun, and that says a lot for any game.
Which brings me to the final one.
I had really high hopes for this one, but never really spent enough time with it to get a handle on it. This down period gave me ample opportunity to give it a thorough examination. And in the end, I was really, really disappoint.
I never really got out of the opening game. Ever. I’m usually pretty good at this stuff, but the tech tree was so opaque, the diplomacy so ragged around the edges, and the gradients between “best friend” and “deadly enemy” so steep that there was never a point where I found myself in a position to be able to survive in the galaxy even as an inoffensive empire. I could spend every spare credit on improving my space fleet, upping the warmonger ante as much as possible, and every. single. time. I would be ambushed by a far superior fleet of ships, far advanced to mine and far superior in numbers.
There wasn’t a single game in which I didn’t find myself hopelessly mismatched somewhere in between when destroyer and cruiser tech were discovered. I’d meet two or three alien races, we’d say “hi” and form cordial and friendly relations between us, and then the next one would come along and rattle its sabre, at which point any of the three possible responses (“hi”, “don’t hurt me”, and “die, alien scum”) resulted in almost instant attack and the enemy entering my homeworld’s space without any sign of scouting – an impossibility for myself since in order to attack something, I have to know where it is. In other words, it really looks like the AI is cheating.
This happened every time. Without fail.
I reiterate, I don’t suck at this genre. I’ve played 4X games enthusiastically since they first appeared on 8-bit platforms (Reach for the Stars, anyone?), and I am here to tell you that this game lacks some serious balance. A good 4X game will challenge you enough at low levels so that you feel like you’re encountering some resistance, and yet give you at least a random chance to win every now and then.
Sure, I’ve had opening scenarios that landed me on worthless starting planets and poor luck in exploring, but never so consistently.
At the end, it was a completely unfun game and I’m pretty much on the edge of uninstalling it for good.
Don’t be that game.
At the end of the day, the most fun had was with Railroad Tycoon and Sins of a Solar Empire. Both are strong entries in their genres, and present challenges no matter your skill level, with the means to adjust as you get better at it. I am especially fond of SotSE’s depiction of space battles, which feel epic and meaningful and urgent all at the same time. In many ways, it reminds me of Gratuitous Space Battles, only with depth and situational awareness.
The real funny part of the Internet Crisis of 2017 is that once service was restored to our area, we were still out of service. It turns out that we had an amp hooked up to an external power socket that had a GFI breaker in it, and when the power did its final flicker, it popped that breaker. Here I am, the mighty Electronics Tech of days past, and I didn’t even think to look at that. Yeah yeah, I wasn’t actually aware it was there, but point is I didn’t even look. What eggs that didn’t get pitched, were on my face 🙂
The internets and WoW have been embraced within our loving arms, and we’re back to letting our souls drain down a coax cable. So life is back to what passes for normal around here. I’m just glad to have alternatives.
For the next go-round, I plan on getting the GoG edition of RRT3 and downloading some mods for SotSE (Star Trek, Star Wars, and Babylon 5), and maybe getting up to speed with The Settlers on Steam. That was always one of my favorites.
Right now I’m looking at Hurricane Maria, as it grinds on the edges of the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico has been clobbered, may not even have electricity for three to six months. So I’m not winge-ing over a week without internets. In the long run, we were supremely lucky. If you pray, pray for Puerto Rico and all points in the path of Maria. This is a gaming blog, about gaming shit, but real life Doth Intrude from time to time.