Category Archives: Game mechanics
Following up on some mock-ups, Blizz has started releasing information about the new talent trees for Dragonflight.
The first one that got my interest was Priest – I suck at the first two that they released, and that’s okay, folks, try not to be so judgey.
But I truly perked up and came into my own when they released the specs for Hunter – and WoWHead added it to their simulator (1).
This is not your daddy’s talent tree
First of all, let’s be clear – the talent trees of Cata and earlier are not going to happen. This is a new thing.
There are four key differences.
- There are actually two talent trees, with two “pools” of talent points to draw from. One which is just $class, and one which is relevant to your designated specialization – for Hunters, that is Beast Master, Survival, and Marksman, for example.
- In case it was not clear, each Specialization has its own talent tree, plus a generic $class tree.
- As you may have gathered from (1), there is none of this nonsense of going into a different spec’s talents for a specific talent.
- There are a LOT more talents to choose from, roughly 30-ish for each talent tree (class and specialization), for a real possibility of some fine-grained differentiation(5).
Okay, let me ‘splain (2) a bit. Let me ‘splain it in BM Hunter terms.
Back in The Old Days™, we’d go into the Survival spec to get a specific talent (Clever Traps, if you’re interested) and otherwise focus on BM talents. In the case of Dragonflight talent trees, this is not a possibility – you can’t ‘borrow’ talents from Survival. However, since several talents have been mainlined as simply “hunter” this may change things a bit. Though I don’t see Clever Traps as a talent in the generic pool, that doesn’t mean that that won’t be the case at release date, or that we can’t effectively reach that same outcome with what we have in the “Hunter” tree.
The same applies to other classes as well, though the only one that I am interested in so far is Disco Priest. Yes, I do run an Outlaw Rogue, but since I suck at Outlaw Rogue, I am going to keep my big mouth shut on that topic and stick to what I know.
To start with, Disco has the Disco again, baby. Prayer of Mending has become a baseline Priest ability, and I am all a-tingly over this. I mean, it’s not even an OPTION, you just get it as a priest. I don’t care if I have to share it with Holy and Shadow(3), I am just happy to have it back.
Long-term Beef Time. Ever since they relieved Disco priests of the ability to fling the Frisbee(2) around, I have been pretty emo about it. Disco without the Disco is just wrong. Disco priests should be flinging the frisbee around, and if you don’t agree, feel free to go play FFIV or whatever that’s called. I’ll be here to accept your apology when you come crawling back. And you will.
Anyhoo. I’m sure at this point that there is someone out there dunking on me mentally because I am sooooo hyperfocused on Disco. And that’s fine. I am. Get over it. There was a time that I found Disco / Shadow to be an interesting and provacative dual spec, but once they made Disco survivable on its own, Shadow was kicked to the curb. Good luck being third-tier DPS, guys, I feel ya, but only a little bit since if you wanted to play Afflock you shoulda rolled Afflock. Which I did.
I am not gonna prognosticate on the One True Way for Disco priest or BM Hunter. Not at this point. It’s clear that these talent trees are changing based on feedback, which is as it should be. But, also, I have little in the way to offer until I can actually bring up toons with these talent trees and test them. I am not a mental theorycrafter. I am a grinder. A person that just grinds away at the work at hand until it is done. This was recently presented to me as a compliment, and I accept it in full appreciation of the perspective that informed it. There are people that excel at the theory and make it work for them, and there are people that try the theory out and iterate on it until it works. That’s me. Put me in front of a training dummy, I’ll start to give you some decent real-world feedback. Show me a chart, I’ll tell you it’s pretty.
But I will say this. There will eventually be identified specific cookie cutter talent specs for every class. In some cases there will be multiples. I recall deeply the Destro Warlock variations of yore, which, I must be honest, basically were all the same on the combat logs, but it was great to me to see that there were so many paths to excellence for Destro Locks at the time.
Let me be a bit less apocryphal, in the form of BM Huntery which I am the most invested in.
In the past, there were a couple of different routes to maximum effectiveness for BM hunters. One was a pure DPS spec. I’ve always been of the opinion that that spec was a poor substitute for a MM build that focused more on DPS than anything else, and was less effective. You wanna go MM, go MM, man. Ain’t no thang.
You may be asking, what is there to offer in a DPS spec, other than DPS? And the answer is, utility. This is an ill-defined term that can be used – or misused – in several ways. My own experiences in Karazhan are a good example, as exemplified by BRK’s own example. Basically, one of the things that classic BM Hunters excelled at was utility. You can see this in BRK’s video, which showed him using his pet as an off-tank for the sub-bosses in the Moroes encounter. Using his trapping and pet, he was able to occupy one of those four adds while assisting the rest of the team in burning down the others one at a time. As I mentioned earlier, Clever Traps figures into this largely. BRK was my BM daddy, I admit it. I was nowhere near as competent at this dance as he was, but, given his example, I volunteered to fill that role in the raid, and I more or less fulfilled it. (we will not discuss That Time Grimmy Pulled The Whole Room)
So like I said, there are some cookie-cutter aspects to this, Fer Shur. But I ask you, in the current system, how is that not also true? The whole cookie cutter thing is a red herring.
PS: A few days after I started writing this, I saw one of our “premier” MMO blogs posting about why the new talents were Bad and the tiered talents were Good. Ignoring, of course, that if something with 45,000 possible combinations could be cookie-cutter’d, then something with 30 possible combos could, as well, and would be 10000x more likely to be. But I is not a Big Time Professional Blogger so please ignore me.
Can’t Get There from Here
One thing I’ve noticed from the talent trees is that you can’t get all the top-tier talents, at all. You can get, generally, two out of six or so, maybe three but I’m thinking that won’t happen unless you’re super-focused on those top-tier talents. This in a way simulates one of the features of the Classic trees, in that you had to make some choices along the way and that pretty much set your “specialty”. Nowadays, Blizz is more “tell don’t show” in their approach so rather than having your choices determine your specialty, your specialty determines your possible choices. Funny ol’ world.
I like it
At this time, in this place(4), I like what I see. Sure, there are many unanswered questions, such as:
- Fluidity – as in, right now, the talent trees presented may change. That’s fine. Alpha is kinda like that, troopers.
- Changing specs – will WoW preserve our builds, or will we need an addon?
- Will we be able to save and swap out builds, or will an addon be required?
- Will Specialization be a thing in 11.0? Okay, maybe that’s a long game question. But with the new talent trees, maybe we just chuck that concept. Specializations are, after all, an artifact of the tiered talents we currently have.
- What’s the 11.0 game? Will new talents be added or will the current trees be re-scaled in a form of “level squish” sort of operation?
Some of these questions are abstract, others more relevant to our upcoming experience within the next four and a half months. Most are along the lines of “will I need an addon to get around this possible issue?”, I guess. There’s actually a lot of room for a good addon here, I suspect. I doubt I have the skill to write it myself, though I can see its outline in my mind’s eye.
But overall I feel like this is a step in the right direction. A way to make talents interesting and applicable again. I mean, you can trot out all the arguments in favor of the “tiered” approach, but the relentless unremitting response will be, and always will be, NOBODY CARES. Imma go to Icy Veins and grab my talent specs and that’s the end, because there’s nothing there to tinker with.
I have in the past been critical of “the illusion of choice” vis-a-vis the Legion weapon trees which were not trees and really were not choices other than in what order you went. This here is a different animal, and, while it may devolve down to cookie cutters, there is still the potential to be an individual and blaze a trail, no matter HOW WRONG it might be. As a BM Hunter, Disco Priest, and Demo Warlock, I’m used to people choosing wrong, and forgiving them. It takes all kinds, folks.
- Be aware, there are pending changes to all specs. What you see is not what you get.
- Apologies if I got the link wrong. As previously stated, these things are fluid. Trying to link to future abilities is dicey. Always in motion, the future is.
- I am somewhat intrigued at what a Shadow version of the Frisbee might do.
- As of July 14, the alpha launched, and we are getting, as they say in Mexico, mucho feedback.
- There are actually more than 30, but you get more or less 30 points to spend in each tree.
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.
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?
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.
The lady has a very fine post on WoW Insider about how cookie cutter builds suppress individuality – or words to that effect. I won’t gainsay her observations, but I do have some additional comments to make on the topic.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. The concept being that players are going to optimize their characters for maximum effect. If Vee’s laments are to be taken patently, then that means that every frost mage looks just like the next, and ever Afflock is pretty much taking the exact same spec. You have probably figured out for yourself at this point that that is not the case. Does this mean that Vee is full of shit? Not at all!
Please be mindful that Vee’s field of view is extremely limited by the data she has to work with. And in this case, the data she has to work with is from raiders doing raider things.
Instantly, without taking a breath, we have an automatic bias.
This bias is, strictly speaking, limited to people that (a) raid and (b) upload their combat logs to AskMrRobot’s combat log analyzer.
So, again strictly speaking, Vee’s article ONLY applies to raiders that like AMR over other log analyzers.
Those that do not raid – i.e., a lot of people plus PvPers – are not included in this equation.
If one were to take blog post titles literally – which I discourage – then Vee’s article should be more accurately entitled “How cookie cutter builds discourage player customization in raids“. Because that is one of the only two places (the other being PvP) where this statement is even remotely accurate.
Let me take a moment to be completely honest with you. What you choose as a spec and how you glyph and how you select talents are completely irrelevant if you are not a raider or PvPer.
Pretty much any build will work if you’re just questing, or bumming around Tanaan gathering Fel Blight or whatever that green shit is called, or grinding stupidity points in the Garrison, or, well, most activities in WoW. Talents and Glyphs are mostly meaningless if you are not raiding or PvPing.
Raiding and PvPing are special corner cases where all the rules of Sanity go out the window. In these cases, you must spec for maximum effectiveness. There is no other way. Failing to do so will result in less than optimum contribution from yourself to the effort at hand, be it a raid or battleground.
Yes. Yes, a thousand times. I am categorizing Raiding and PvP as corner cases in the WoW spectrum of builds. Because, when you compare the requirements of these efforts to everything else, they require specific- may I say, perverse – configurations in order for any one character to contribute effectively.
Former WoW lead designer GhostCrawler once confessed that he was surprised that users would optimize on efficiency. I as well would agree. But what he was actually commenting on was our tenancy to optimize on effectiveness, which includes but is not limited to efficiency. GC was wrong and the world may never be the same.
Let’s circle back on Vee’s core conceit here, though. In my mind,she’s late to the party, and I’ll tell you why.
For years we’ve known that raiding and PvP require specific skills. Optimization. Focus on what is required of you, the contributor to the team.
These are very specific environments, and nobody should be surprised that, given a known optimized build, top players would gravitate to the ones that yield the best results for others. Once you have let the information genie out of the bottle, there is no going back.
Blizz have given us the tools to do this, in the form of combat logs, threat meters, DPS meters, and so forth. Given a source of information, geeks will mine it for all that it is worth, and that means that we’ll arrive at specific recommendations for specific situations.
Up to now I’ve restricted my observations to Raiding/PvP. For raiding, there’s an extra-exotic layer in which one tunes one’s spec PER BOSS. And why the hell not? For the cost of a reagent, one can switch talents and glyphs around like they were backdrops on a Windows PC.
So here are my fundamental observations on all this.
- The cookie cutter thing only applies to raiders and PvPers. Regardless of your opinion of what percentage of the playerbase that is, I guarantee it’s not over 70%.,
- Optimization is both normal; and EXPECTED for raiders and PvPers.
- Optimizing for maximum effectiveness is a normal behavior for anyone that is informed and trying to do the best they can in their role, whatever it may be.
- Whoever is not raiding or PvPing may be doing their own thing, but the AMR data does not support any conclusions either way, because AMR does not collect realtime data on non raiders.
I will point out that one major point of Vee’s article is that 3% of the top raiders are different than everyone else, and that may be significant. I totally agree with her premise in that regard. The cookie cutter thing gets you so far – i.e. somebody did the hard work of discovering what works and what doesn’t for you. But the truly excellent players find their own ways of doing things. That 3% isn’t a benchmark. It’s a challenge., It’s a challenge to the number crunchers and theory crafters to do better.
And after all that, all I can say is: here’s to the 3-percenters. Keep us on our toes. /respect.
If you’ve spent much time around me, you know that few things piss me off more than game elements created to deliberately waste my time. In that regard, the Garrison as a whole, and the Lunarfall Excavation in particular really set me off on a rant when certain things come up.
But there’s more.
There are far fewer things that piss me off than things that are done to deliberately waste my time, but which contain self-defeating mechanisms to lessen or nullify their effects because the game designer was unwilling to hold the line on the decision to go with that design, and wimped out rather than admit s/he was wrong.
In this case, I am referring to the two little treats you can find in the Lunarfall Excavation – the Preserved Mining Pick and the Miner’s Coffee. These two items drop from Mine Carts that you find throughout the mine, and they nullify a bit of the time-sink that the mine represents – the picks by halving the time it takes to mine a node, and the coffee by speeding up your movement speed between nodes. While neither completely nullify the time or distance required to travel around in a Level 3 mine, they go a long way towards diminishing it. And that’s what annoys me.
When you’ve completed the design of a thing and submitted it to alpha testing, there are two ways of dealing with any shortcomings that the testers might find. The first is, you take their feedback and make adjustments to the thing to make things better. The other is, you pretend the testers don’t “get” your creation, and hold that line until someone else – say, the senior game designer – gets wind of it and there’s no time to actual redesign the thing, so little, stupid, workarounds have to be created to compensate for the failure of the thing.
Is this what actually happened with the Lunarfall Excavation? Honestly, I’ll probably never know. But the design is so crappy, it really looks like those two “buff” items were added as a compensatory afterthought to somehow mollify the throngs of torch-bearing beta testers that wanted someone’s ass.
Compare the design to the herb garden. The garden is compact, organized, and takes less than five minutes to fully clean out even at Level 3. Sure, it doesn’t render up the same quantity of resources or Primal Spirits, but it is just a far better design than the mine is.
This would not annoy me nearly as much if it weren’t for two things. The first thing I’ve already hit on – Blizz, having elected to have this huge, sprawling complex that took at least a quarter of an hour to fully clean out, seemingly decided to wimp out on the level of commitment needed to clean it out. They apparently decided to soften the blow with a rather wimpy solution that showed commitment to nothing.
The second thing that amps up the annoyance here is that the mine is artificially mandatory for anyone that has a garrison. Either you have to mine it for mats for your crafting – and many of these crafts are not blacksmithing or jewelcrafting – or you have to mine it for primal spirits used to upgrade your crafted armor.
Sure, you few Mythic raiders are going to get the good stuff off of Archy, but us mere mortals are going to have to deal with collecting resources to make our stuff, and unfortunately that includes mandatory mining for most things – Savage Blood, for example, requires Blackrock Ore for alchemists to use, and you need 60 of them to get a crafted item to its 4/6 level.
(Aside: it feels like they did levels 5 and 6 better, requiring you to be out in the world to find the primary mats for those upgrade, at least. So they can possibly be taught.)
Never let the seller know you’re hot to trot. Tell him you haven’t got the money. […] tell ’em you don’t have the money, that it’s all tied up in investments or some crap. […] A bad salesman will automatically drop his price. Bad salesmen make me sick.
With regards to the Lunarfall Excavation, Blizzard plays the role of the Bad Salesman.
Bad salesmen make me sick.
Though I am loathe to link them, wowdb has a pretty decent Artifact Calculator up. This is our first glimpse at the progression of our new main weapons in Legion, as well as some spells and abilities associated with specific specs.
Without chewing too long on any particular weapon, I do notice one big thing, which is this.
Old-school WoW players that enjoyed the pre-Cata talent trees (such as, me!) will probably like the look and feel of this new feature.
If you go over there and click around a little bit, you’ll see what I mean. All
talents Artifact traits are constructed in a very familiar way: start out here, which enables you go go here or here, possibly after you select this many of this talent artifact trait. They usually (as far as I can tell) offer two specific paths to follow, so you can emphasize in what area you like, or homogenize as pleases you.
Let’s look at the Frost Mage artifact, Ebonchill, as an example. You’ll see that two fairly distinct paths are offered – one heavier on defensive, one heavier on offensive, with some common traits and crossover paths between them. This is a very familiar mechanism to us old-schoolers.
And I kinda like it.
Given, these are all very early beta / late alpha stuff, i.e. datamined stuff and some speculation, which the underwriters of WoWDB excel at (the speculation that is). So take with a grain of salt. But the overarching way that the Artifact traits will be implemented and/or controlled.
It implies that there are realistic choices to be made, and that those choices will be dictated by your toon’s chosen lifestyle. For example, I can see a Questing toon go for the higher defensive path and later emphasizing offensive / DPS. \
I’m also assuming that there will be a respec / reset feature at some point available.
What’s interesting is that we’re losing a lot of “choices” in our glyphs – Major glyphs are going away, for example – while gaining many choices here. It’s apparent to me that character modification is moving into an area that is more blatantly relevant to the player, without providing the endless mini-game that was the WotLK talent trees.
I personally liked that mini-game, in that it gave me a lot of flexibility. But Blizz’s contention was that for most specs, there was one, and only one, true build for maximum raiding performance, so they normalized those non-choices out and left behind only “real” choices in the three-lane talent … trees we have today. Mind you, I’m not sure I agree with the terminology they use, as I continue to see cookie-cutter specs take over raiding and PvP as applies to the user, with the only real “choices” being between talents that nobody cares about anyway.
Normalizing to irrelevancy is not, IMO, a good thing, which is why I’m both excited to see the new Artifact designs, and apprehensive about the ultimate outcome.
It will be interesting to see where this is going, but for the time being it looks like it will take a predictable path, different from Vanilla in only the form which it takes. By the first week of beta, there will be just a few optimized configurations that render the maximum effect for each spec.
One last thing.
Datamining has revealed a Fishing Pole Artifact. Ain’t that a hoot.
A certain gaming website recently ran an article in which it noted that a LOT of people were piling on the pro-flight side of the scale with regard to The Great Grounding. Notable here was a complete absence if the pro-grounding camp. Why?
Well, the obvious and probably intended conclusion you could draw was that there weren’t any.
But given that I know for a fact that that’s not true, I’m entertaining another theory.
See, people that are basically okay with the status quo rarely speak up. Why would they? Everything’s fine! What is there to blog about?
I am thoroughly content with the pace of content patches.
I can’t find the words to express how perfect I find Garrisons as they are.
Nobody blogs how they think that the weather is perfect, or their soup was just the right temperature last night. Contentment isn’t interesting.
Bloggers, if we wish to aggrandize ourselves a little bit, are basically story-tellers. And one of the core features of a story is conflict. Nobody wants to read how Frodo got to Mordor without incident, or how Harry caught Voldemort flat-footed before he had any real power, or how Kirk raised shields when the Reliant failed to respond to hails and Khan got clapped into irons right off the bat. Nobody gives two shits about a story with no tension in it.
So my theory is – and I hasten to point out, it’s a theory – is that people that are okay with this aren’t really moved to express that they are, and thus it’s kind of hard to count them.
But I suspect the number of people that this describes is somewhere north of where you think it is.