World of Warcraft: Treading water

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Logging in to do my daily emissary quests feels a lot like treading water in World of Warcraft. I mean, I get wet, I cool off, and I can fool myself that I’ve gone swimming, but it’s not that impressive overall. I should suck it up and finish the last Suramar chain and then really focus on my Hunter for a bit, but I’m not feeling particularly motivated and I’m not going to push it. I also could be making some more money by picking up additional world quests (especially gathering ones), but again, not a lot of motivation.

I’m drowning in order hall resources right now, somewhere around 40,000 or so, because I only spend them on missions for gold now that my champions are all maxed out. Gold-making missions are very unpredictable; there might be days in a row without seeing any, then two or three on a given day. Trying for the right combination to get the 200% bonus is the only challenge there.

I did have a stroke of good fortune this past Thursday, as my emissary quest paid out my third legendary. Now, to my great dismay, I’m going to have to choose: my auto-bubble shield, my beefed-up magic shield, or this new one, which lets me shoot out an AOE fireball every 1:20. I decided to ditch the magic shield (auto > situational activation), since the fireball packs a huge punch and has a cooldown that’s low enough to use every other fight. It did require me to go hunting for a new cape, since the loss of that legendary left the slot open, but thanks to world quests, I got a replacement in minutes.

Getting more into mythics and raiding might be a possibility, at least for a sporadic activity, but for now I’m really hoping that 7.2 is nearer rather than further away.

World of Warcraft: Time’s up! (for cheap WoW Token prices)

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Those WoW Token prices, huh?

This week, Blizzard changed the functionality of the WoW Token so that it now can either exchanged for 30 days of World of Warcraft subscription or $15 of store credit for any of its games. This change has had a two-fold, good/bad effect:

  • Good: It’s allowed players to earn and spend these tokens on a variety of services, including realm transfers and chests in Overwatch.
  • Bad: With the surge of demand, the commanding price of a WoW Token has skyrocketed, doubling in value the first day alone with no immediate signs of slowing down.

If you were to ask me, I’m not overly thrilled that this is happening. Up until now, I was able to eke out a free sub every month with the gold that I brought in through world quests, the auction house, and order hall missions. Assuming that the prices stay north of 100K and gold income remains more or less the same, it won’t be doable. One every two months, maybe.

I get the flexibility thing and I know some people are overjoyed at being able to pay for name changes, realm transfers, and other Blizzard products with it. Honestly, if the prices hadn’t jumped up so much, I would be pretty pleased too. But it is what it is, so I have to make the best of it.

For me, the good news is that I had four WoW Tokens sitting in my bank, unused (and I had just bought that fourth one last week), with game time paid through the end of March from previous tokens. Normally, that would be four more months, but now that I can get $15 per token, I have the luxury of being able to shop for multi-month subscription discounts. I figure that if I can get one more token before March is up, I’ll be able to afford the half-year package, and that takes me through September. That won’t be too shabby.

Does this make me cheap? A little, I suppose, but then again, I’m playing WoW for maybe 30 minutes a day right now, and that’s close to my threshold of saying, “Nah, not worth paying a monthly sub.” But if I can earn it, it helps take the mental pressure off the situation.

Post-script: I wrote the above on Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning the prices in NA had dropped from 115K gold to a much more reasonable 61K gold (which puts it only a few thousand higher than it had been earlier this week). So obviously the market is volatile and we’re going to have to wait a bit to see how and where it settles — and if any promotions in other games or sales cause increased demand. But if it comes back to near where it was, that gives me much more hope for continuing to earn my sub through gameplay.

World of Warcraft: Do Druids poop in the woods?

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The long journey back to Druid life

In a recent WoW post, I talked about how I was searching for purpose and a goal in the game now that I’ve gotten Broken Isle Pathfinder Part One and pretty much have my Death Knight on auto-pilot doing daily emissary quests. There are some odds and ends to tie up with her, but until 7.2 arrives, my attention is starting to turn elsewhere.

The natural outlet would be an alt, but settling on one has been more difficult than expected. I’ve experienced this in MMOs, where I end up playing a class that’s so perfect for me that when I go to try others, I find them severely lacking and end up rejecting them all.

I gave several of my mothballed level 100s another try: The Beast Master Hunter felt dull and lacking a punch, the Shaman is just a mess and so much less interesting than it was in Draenor, and I can’t get into a good rotational groove with my Warlock. Then I got all fired up for a few days to create a new Monk — a class I’d really never tried before — and see what healing with that was like. Turned out that by the time I was running Deadmines, I found myself wistful that I didn’t have all of my Druid healing skills at my disposal. And that led me back, in a very roundabout way, to my Druid.

I have to say that I absolutely hate her name — Syppe — which I think I must have been punch-tired or something to not figure out a better version of the Syp nomer legacy. I might actually have to pay to change that one if I stick with this character. But it’s been pretty neat to come back to her and get things sorted out.

She just hit 101 last night and is in the early steps of opening up her class hall (such a confusing design, by the way) and forging through her first Broken Isles zones. It’s going to be… interesting to play a healer spec while questing, but I think I’ve figured out a good approach. She’s got the balance affinity, so that gained me the Moonkin form and some nice ranged spells. I’m not burning down things super-fast, but at least I can take them on at range and cycle through groups pretty well. Plus, I’ve figured out which healing spells I can use in Moonkin form (yay renewal), so I’m kind of hard to put down.

What World of Warcraft housing could look like

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I’m pretty resigned to the fact that Blizzard isn’t going to change its mind on player housing in World of Warcraft. Definitely not for this expansion, at least, and probably not for the foreseeable future. The studio has a perfect out: It just has to point at garrisons, say how hated they were in the end, and boom. Illogical argument made, no need to listen to rebuttals.

I don’t want to argue for why this game should have housing (although it really should, especially in light of Elder Scrolls Online making it a major feature of this spring’s update). Instead, I want to speculate on what housing in WoW could look like if Blizzard stopped being stubborn about it and embraced the concept.

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Honestly, I think it could be terrific, because housing would play to two of World of Warcraft’s greatest strengths: its top-notch art team and its active and creative community. While I’m not overly fond of Suramar City as a questing area, it is a wonderfully detailed place to explore. I’m finding myself fascinated with all of the little houses and shops, because at least the devs got to play with interior decorations and housing design — and it looked like they had a great time.

These places look cozy, detailed, and welcoming. The decor looks functional and aesthetically pleasing, and I can only imagine getting to move and place these things around. Even in very small spaces — and most of these houses aren’t large at all — the team has been able to do a whole lot with them, making each living space look inhabited and personalized.

Open world housing wouldn’t work in WoW, but small instanced housing and apartments would fit in fine without having to rearrange the cities. Players could pick their favorite style of architecture by town and move in to a place that suits their style the best. Decor could join loot, quest, and vendor tables — and even be a tempting carrot to rerunning old dungeons and old world content just to get new rewards. It would be transmog on steroids.

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I wouldn’t demand that houses hold a lot of functionality, although I wouldn’t complain if there was a bit, either. Actually, I would think that the housing and pet system could synergize well, with players able to unleash their favorite two or three pets in their home and enjoy seeing them romp, slither, or flutter around, giving a touch of life to the place.

Want to go even further? What if significant NPCs that you helped or forged friendships with would occasionally come over to visit while you were home? Just to pop in and say howdy, thanks for all you did, etc.

As social spaces, housing always holds plenty of potential. Giving players a personalized space to roleplay, to hold meetings, or to throw parties are some of the tried-and-true benefits of housing in MMOs… and that would be the same here.

Some ideas from garrisons could carry over, such as the music rolls and the hearthstone to your own pad.

It could be done great, and in a game that already has toys, pet battles, transmog, garrisons, farms, and other stabs at giving players tools for creativity and cultivation, it wouldn’t feel out of place at all. Maybe it’ll never happen, but it won’t stop me from imagining what this game could be with housing in it.

World of Warcraft: Seeking new goals

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The other day my tortoise-like progress through Legion was rewarded in an achievement explosion, as I finally finished up Broken Isles Pathfinder (part 1 of 16). I’d been crawling toward this for a while now, dutifully doing the Suramar quests while giving Blizzard shifty eyes about all of the Elves while doing so. But now it’s done and my Death Knight is, basically, all ready for 7.2 and the further progression of the new zone and the hope to one day regain flying. My moose, she wants to be free from the bonds of earth!

As happy as I am to reach this spot, I also am suffering the usual loss of motivation that a project goal provides. It’s the “what do I do NOW?” moment of crisis that MMO players know all too well, particularly from when they hit the max level.

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I don’t feel bored with the game or itching to move on, plus there’s always that ticking subscription. I’d like to be working on something, toward something as we continue to wait for 7.2, and there certainly is no shortage of options. But what are the best ones? What would be the most fun and beneficial to pursue? I don’t want to only be doing my daily world quests and then logging out every day. That way lies burnout, sure as anything.

I’m starting to draw up a list and doing some research into this, but right now I have a few possibilities that emerge at the forefront:

  • Come up with a list of micro-goals, such as getting certain toys and transmog pieces, and then crossing those off one by one. I also need to level cooking more, so that’s something. I’d consider crafting, but I have two maxed out gathering skills, and that’s money in the bank.
  • Roll up a brand-new character. I did actually create a Gnome Priest, Syperia, because I can’t recall ever playing a Priest past level 20 or so. I don’t know if I have the heart for a full leveling journey again, though. There aren’t any classes that are screaming for me to play them that I don’t already have at 100.
  • Work on an alt. The most likely candidate right now is my Warlock, Syperstar, who has only just begun her Broken Isles questing. The question here is whether I can get into a rotation that feels natural, because after the smoothness of my Unholy DK, the Demo Warlock feels janky and awkward as all get out.
  • Start pursuing Mythics to gear up more. I’ve been dragging my feet on Mythics, but they are always a possibility and really the only way to gear up past getting into a regular raid group (which is never going to happen).
  • Do the 7.1 Suramar questline. There are still quests to be done, after all.

I do have three WoW tokens in my bags right now, so if I did drop my subscription to wait for future patches, I’d have an easy way back in. But I’m not quite there. I love my guild, like the general experience, but it’s definitely strange to have hit this goal after a long journey. In any case, there are plenty of other games and other projects left unresolved, so I’m not super-motivated to fill all available time in WoW. I just would like a direction for now.

World of Warcraft: I found the Game Over screen

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Instead of being scattered across a universe of MMOs this past weekend, I gave myself permission to deep dive into World of Warcraft with the intent of finishing up the Suramar campaign and getting Broken Isles Pathfinder part 1. Sometimes I like to see bursts of progress, and I’ve found that with these city quests, it’s best that I go into them for hours at a time rather than a half-hour here and there.

While I didn’t quite get to the end, I did make tremendous progress, wrapping up three of the remaining five story arcs needed for the achievement. One of those was quite time consuming, requiring me to farm ancient mana and then go all over the place to activate ley line nodes. The finish line is definitely in sight and I’m charging forward.

I’ve started to realize that my character is kind of at the end of the core Legion content, a realization that took me by surprise. I’ve maxed out all of my order hall research and upgrades. I have well over 20,000 order hall resources for gold missions. I’ve finished my order hall and class campaigns. I’ve filled out every node on my artifact weapon. I have exalted on all of the major reputations for the expansion. My mining is maxed out and herbalism is getting there (I had to restart from 0, so being in the 600s feels pretty good). My account is paid up through the end of March and I have two WoW tokens in the bank. And my DK is rocking about an 856 item level with two legendaries, which I think is respectable considering I’ve mostly just been doing world quests for gear upgrades.

When I get to the end of the Suramar missions, I’m going to be at an interesting place where my character will have kind of hit the “Game Over” screen… at least until Patch 7.2. The path forward for gear upgrades is mythic dungeons, and since my guild doesn’t regularly do those and there’s no LFG tool (whyyyy is there no LFG tool, seriously), I’m probably not going to be grinding out incremental gear upgrades. I could focus on cosmetic acquisitions, but truth be told, I’ll probably log in to do her emissary quests a couple of times a week and wait until there’s a new zone released.

This means that I might be on the cusp of being able to work on an alt (most likely my Hunter) without feeling like I’m procrastinating on any serious projects. It might even be relaxing to not have to rush through content or catch up, but just to enjoy the journey again and see how far I can go.

I’m going to give some thought to further projects and maybe do a little research about them. There’s never any shortage of things to do, but some are more profitable or personally interesting than others.