Blizzard, Hearthstone and Programming Errors

I’ve been in a fight with Blizzard for about two weeks concerning whether I have a bug in Hearthstone or not. Here’s the video I posted on Youtube;

My first video posted anywhere on the internet.  It sucks, I know. Taken on a HTC Evo shift that is 5 years old, and I don’t have the steadiest hands on the planet. You know which orifice you can access if you have a problem with it.

I’m in the Hearthstone tournament as an amateur (consistently loosing but it is fun) I’m disabled and live on a fixed income. I don’t have cash to buy cards with, I do this for fun.  The only way I can earn new cards is by completing daily quests in the game and using the gold rewards to buy new decks. Except I can’t complete quests. Haven’t been able to for over a week now.  This bug has cost me several decks of cards at the time of this writing, possibly skewing the outcome of my tournament games. I mean, I do loose pretty consistently, but if the cards are in decks randomly, who is to know what cards I might have gotten or been able to make?

Playing on a system running Windows 7 (still) Playing in casual mode. Checked today (4/20) quests advanced in ranked play, still not advancing in casual. Seriously Blizzard, this isn’t a hard programming glitch to fix. Should have been done within hours, certainly shouldn’t have taken longer than a day. Been more than a week now.

I maintain that they owe me these card decks, and their response is that I’m just a stupid player who doesn’t know what part of the game he’s playing, since not all parts of the game give quest progress.  For the record, I figured that out about two days after I installed the game and I’ve been playing for several months.  Started playing sometime in beta before there even were solo games to play and earn cards. So I know my way around the game, just to be clear.

If anyone is wondering, I don’t play ranked play over level 20; and I hit level 20 about 5 days into this months season, so it’s been awhile since I switched over to casual.  If this is another one of those undocumented changes, and Blizzard wants us all to now play ranked all the time, the quests should probably say that. Not that I will play ranked all the time, I’ll simply stop playing.  Not really interested in the more cutthroat play that you get in ranked play.

In my back and forth with the CS department at Blizzard, I’ve also discovered that their website has a basic flaw in it’s programming. The “I still have a problem” button on ticket responses disappears when clicked.  I have to start new tickets in order to respond to the previous unsatisfactory answer to a ticket they deem answered. I’ve tried this on multiple systems, in multiple browsers. Always disappears. Like the Hearthstone bug, it must be my login if it isn’t common across all players and installs of the game. It’s my breath isn’t it? Not sure how they smell it all the way over at Blizzard headquarters, but I’m at a loss to explain this any other way.

This is on top of my suspicion that there is at least one active hack that is pretty common in this game, which I also mention in the video.  My tournament opponent last week was a prime example of this modification to the game. His initial deal was perfect for all three of his wins. Not only was that perfect, but he just happened to draw the perfect counter for every card that I played. Through three games. For a total of about 25 turns. The chances of this happening randomly approach the astronomical.

As the video shows, I can dispatch my opponents pretty handily when the luck of the draw runs my way. Or when my opponent obligingly concedes when the game goes against him.

So, to summarize, I don’t really think the problem is PEBKAC in this instance, even though it generally is. I’m not convinced that Blizzard programmers can find their asses with both hands, in the programming sense. I mean, if you can’t keep your website buttons from disappearing, what can you do programming-wise?

I can say one thing for certain.  My script is canceled for World of Warcraft as of two days ago. I’m done paying for games that I find inadequate in programming.

Posted to the Hearthstone forums here.


The early morning maintenance on 4/21/15 appears to have patched the problem. Given the amount of time the patch took, I figure Blizzard owes me at least 4 decks of cards or 400 gold.  Not holding my breath on ever getting my satisfaction out of Blizzard on that score.

Feeling a bit conflicted on the whole subject. My sense of justice is offended by games that blatantly break their own internal rules. Effort that is not rewarded offends me greatly. If I wanted to have my efforts taken advantage of, I’d waste my time working in the real world, not screwing around in a game.

When I try looking at the amount of time and energy I’ve spent arguing on this issue from the outside, I have to wonder at my own sanity. Why am I still playing Blizzard games, if I’m this annoyed by their behavior?

That is a very good question.

Warlords of Draenor Fails to Hold Interest

This player has had a rocky relationship with World of Warcraft almost since the day I first started playing.  I really never understood what the hell was going on until I was well into Wrath of the Lich King, an expansion that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. I found myself able to live within the restrictions the game placed on me in that version of the game, without feeling like I was artificially constrained.

Then there was Cataclysm.  That was where the love/hate relationship I had with the game really came to light.  Starting with the changes to healing that the developers first introduced and then abandoned almost immediately, and progressing through most of that expansion pack the time wasting nature of most of the effort involved in the game which came to be summarized with the word Murglesnout.  I almost canceled my script during that expansion pack, and I only stayed because I really wanted to finish my long quest, something I have finally done.

Through all of Cataclysm there was one thing I actually liked; I could fly (there were a few other things as well, but)  I could fly all the time, everywhere. Well I couldn’t fly in the world PvP areas, but then PvP is my least favorite part of the game and don’t even level toons on PvP servers.  But I could fly everywhere else in the game, and that suited me fine.

Then came Mists of Pandaria. Once again, like at the beginning of Wrath of Lich King, the artificial limitation of required ground movement was imposed on the players, and this time that limitation wasn’t lifted for alternate characters on the same account, making the grind of leveling characters a grind in truth.  At least flight was allowed for endgame characters, so I could purchase flight capability for all 22 of my toons by the end of that expansion.

When Warlords of Draenor was announced, I started hearing some troubling rumblings on the forums. Rumors that the developers might not include flight in this expansion pack, not even for endgame characters. As far as I was concerned, this was completely the wrong direction for game development, and I took to the forums again with a few choice posts;

Allow Flight in WoD From the Beginning 


For my nickel, I consider it poor programming to continue to ground flying mounts just because the programmers can’t figure out how to make flying available without removing the challenge of the game.  As it is I don’t see the point in paying for faster flight (ever) since I won’t be allowed to fly at all until Blizzard decides we’ve paid them long enough to make it worth their while to give flight back to us.

It’s simple enough to knock players off of riding mounts, I don’t see the problem with knocking them off flying mounts, aside from the same frustration that is incurred from allowing players to be knocked off mounts at all. Either you have to fly so high you can’t see the terrain, or you dive low enough to risk being knocked off by whatever. It’s a game. Rez and run, it isn’t painful. 

Funny thing; I remember when this used to happen in Outland. Rather than complain to GM’s about my own stupidity at flying where I shouldn’t be, I learned to pay attention to where I was on the map so as to avoid being dismounted. Problem solved, all it takes is not being stupid. 

Same case here. I get that it’s a pain to have to fight when dismounted, or die when dismounted in the air if you can’t damage mitigate. Now I could whine and cry about it and demand they make the game easier and thusly be bored sooner, or I could stick to my original suggestion that they not cripple the game by disabling functions that I see as an essential part of gameplay.

What I’d like is for the developers to treat flying as part of the game experience and not a perk to be handed out to endgame players. 

What I want is for them to finally embrace the fact that flying is part of WoW and stop pretending we have to plod in order to be immersed (whatever that is. Covered in flies, mud and sweat?) in the game world. The most annoying part of play in Mists of Pandaria was seeing areas that I could not get to because perfectly usable flying mounts were not allowed to be used until reaching 90 because someone was convinced the game was more fun seen from the ground. It’s grindy-er and more boring that way, not more fun.


 None of this content still exists on the forums.  Tons and tons of feedback that could have profited the game developers was deleted carte blanche by the forum moderators in vain attempts to mute complaints by disgruntled beta players.  Players like Jandarus who posted the following;


You can design a world where flying is an option. It’s more complex, more expensive, but Blizzard have both the time and the funding to do it. They choose not to, because the fastest and easiest route for them is to simply disable flying.

Imagine a tower with an objective inside. Players on ground mounts ride up to the doors and fight their way through the rooms in order. Stealthy players get the option to evade the mobs, but have challenges around timing of patrols and mobs that can detect stealthed players. Flyers get to fly in to the top floor and fight a different set of mobs to the objective. Maybe with anti-flyer guns on the way.


But the expansion rolled out just as it was presented in the beta version, including the highly inadequate improvements to my characters that I documented during the beta.  I did eventually find acceptable new faces for most of my toons, however the cosmetic problems with the game are far outweighed by the other structural changes to the game.

Don’t get me wrong.  I really wanted to like this version of the game.  Being essentially a retcon of content first imagined in the expansion for Warcraft II, Warlords of Draenor goes into more depth than was ever possible given the limitations of the far more primitive computer systems available in the mid-90’s, and the constraints of a strictly RTS game.  It really is engaging gameplay, and the changes to the various classes all seem to be pretty well balanced and streamline spell usage and rotations.

However, they’ve broken professions in their attempts to simplify gameplay.  None of the professions offer perks for having them unless you are into rare mounts.  Since you are limited to three crafted items equipped at the same time, maintaining professions that were useful for gearing in past expansions is pointless.  I now have upwards of nine Engineers in game, since engineering provides repair and resupply NPC’s as part of the profession.  It is really the only profession worth pursuing any longer in a general sense.

Don’t even get me started when it comes to the fresh hell that they’ve turned Cooking, Fishing and First Aid into.  First off, you can’t just go and learn new cooking recopies, you have to taste them or cook something else to get them (randomly) so forget just cooking things you need.  But let’s say you decide you want to fish and then cook that. That’s a funny thought, really. I learned cooking while fishing with most of my original toons. Now you can’t cook fish; or rather, you can’t cook them until you clean them, and you can’t clean just one. No, you have to catch 5, 10 or 20 fish of a particular size and type, and then you can clean that pile of fish.  Then you have to hope you have a recipe for them (if it’s Saberfish you will) and then you can cook those fish. Some fish turn into first aid items so you’ll need those fish to level that secondary prof, which is actually more useful if more maddening. Why maddening?  Because you can’t just make bandaids as you did in all other versions of the game. No, you need to catch those fish and make them into healing tonic to level. Never mind there really isn’t cloth drops any longer, now it’s a fur from beasts but I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole just now.

Suffice it to say that my pastime for 6 years, fishing, is something I just don’t do any longer.  Which is too bad because there are some really nice rare drops if you have the infinite patience required to find them.

The one good thing about professions is that the rest of them are so useless now, Archaeology is almost interesting by contrast.  So there is that bright shining moment to enjoy. The only reason to play multiple toons (characters) now is to test the various classes and playstyles. Not really motivation enough for me.

The garrison was another facet of the game that the developers pinned a lot of hopes on. That too seems to have backfired.  There is now no reason to ever leave your garrison. Most players never do except to get into group efforts, which returns you directly back to your garrison as soon as the group event is done. The garrisons themselves are entertaining for awhile. Some of the buildings (especially the engineering building that gives you a perk each day) are quite fun to to fiddle with and give valuable gear for you and your followers.

…Followers being one of the more puzzling introductions to this game, almost as if it wants to be an RTS like it’s original version was. I just don’t understand their purpose in the game, but it is entertaining sending them all out on quests then running out of your HQ to watch them all file out the gates and play the game for you.

The first official patch (6.1) for this expansion went live Feb 24, 2015.  As of this writing, I had yet to really log on and do anything beyond snooping through a few toons burning cooldowns; pretty much all I do anymore. There are some nice improvements in this patch.  More skins for the improved character models.  A way to share the heirloom gear that radically speeds up leveling for alternate toons. Improved heirlooms that now can be used through level 100.

Don’t really care.

I have a 100 for both factions now. I’ve played through both sides of the game, explored most of the garrison buildings, run the LFR for the first raid. I’ll eventually run the LFR for the second raid, and dabble in the PvP before I finally do what I threatened to do in Cataclysm. I’m canceling my subscription to World of Warcraft for the first time in 5 years. I have better things to do with the monthly premium for server access if I’m not going to play the game content; and it has become clear that I’m not.

I did log on and spend eighty thousand gold on heirloom upgrades for the toons that I haven’t leveled to 100, current endgame level. I will make that confession. I have (had) upwards of 400 thousand gold in game across 22+ toons. I think it was a good investment considering what unspent money in a game you aren’t playing is actually worth.

I have the distinct feeling that the game developers are resting on the games popularity, not pushing themselves to actually find the boundaries of gameplay with the new systems and faster internet speeds.  World of Warcraft remains essentially the same game it was more than a decade ago, and I think I’ve played that game long enough.  Time for something new.

World of Warcraft; New & Improved?

Some of the new and improved character models can be viewed on our website.

WoD Beta Notes

 I hate that phrase.  I despise it with every fiber of my being.  It is a learned response, because every single time that I’ve heard that phrase there is no noticeable improvement.  Case in point, the new character models for classic characters in World of Warcraft.

I’m in the beta group, so let me just illustrate the changes for you.  This is my Dwarf female Keslingra as she currently looks.  Notice the shape of the face.  The set and shape of the eyes.  The hair has highlights of gold. There is a youthful hopefulness in this face, possibly joyful amusement somewhere behind those eyes.

Can you see what I’m talking about? Do you have that mental image in your head, even if it’s not all there on the screen? Here is the next image.

This is the beta model of the exact same character ported over to Warlords of Draenor. Please note the shape of the face.  The set of the eyes. This woman has been washing a bearded bastard’s clothes for 30 years, and she’s about to visit his snoring ass in the middle of the night and bury his war axe in his head, so that she can get her first good night of sleep in longer than she can remember.

She’s seated in the exact same chair in the exact same city in the game. Granted, the POV has been lowered, we are now looking dead on at the face, rather than from slightly above; but still, what the hell?  They have added a face button to the barbershop interface, but what about skin color? What about being able to change eye color separate from the face? (important now that the graphic resolution is finer) what if none of the faces emote anything other than bone weary boredom, tired resignation, or at best, fiery hatred?

Someone please explain to me how this face is an improvement over the face she had before?  I will be unable to play any of the characters I’ve ported over and checked, because every single one of them has been altered in a fashion similar to this, where the designers have taken liberty to alter shapes as they see fit, without having an understanding of what we the players were looking for when we selected the faces we had previously.

I started a thread over on the beta forums on this subject (the lifespan of my threads on WoW forums is generally charted in days, not weeks, just FYI) I understand that it’s too late to alter character models now.  We’re stuck with the improvements that aren’t improving anything at this point, I get that.  Can we please, please, please for the love of the light, get a free Appearance Change for our characters?  So that I can justify at least purchasing the expansion pack this time around?

I mean, if I wanted to play tired, dirty, ugly characters, I’d still be playing Skyrim.


Just wanted to add a plug for this thread on the forums as well;

Draenei are still screaming over face 7’s honker and short tails, trolls don’t understand why they all look so freaking angry, gnomes are frightened their eyeballs are going to pop out of their sockets, female humans and dwarves are violently applying regenerous cream from Olay to their faces to get rid of all these lines, the human men are trying to shave their beards off, the male night elves aren’t sure how their upper body is supported with their crazy small waist and wet noodle-like run. Orc women are looking for mascara and stealing the Olay cream from the human and dwarves, and the blood elves are all standing back cackling at the rest of the races with the goblins, pandas, and male worgens while the female worgens mourn the sorrows with the female tauren.

Guys, when there’s a ton of people saying ‘THAT’S NOT MY CHARACTER!’ or numbers and numbers of topics on the same tweaks you can make to the models, it’s time to respond to us. We’re getting frustrated and worried at this point that you haven’t listened to one snippet of our data on the models, and wasn’t that the big selling point for this xpac?

He had me rolling with just those two paragraphs. There is a serious problem with the models in Warlords of Draenor.  The author is also correct that this was Blizzard’s big selling point, the model updates were going to be unbelieveable (as in good) and what I’ve found is that they are indeed unbelieveable.  As in unbelievably bad. Bad enough that I have a hard time telling the April Fool’s joke female Draenei from the one that is in the beta.

Image from the dead link found elsewhere on the Blizzard forums.

In a weird way, this sort of makes up for the insult of changing my beloved characters, and explains it in a properly creepy-assed way;

Youtube – World of WarcraftLemmy the Gnome in “Gnomo-plasty”! – Nov 19, 2014

I have found a face for Keslingra that I find acceptable, and I’m learning to deal with the rest of the changes. Really had hoped for something more than acceptable and closer to the improvement I was promised.

World of Warcraft: Brewfest!

I recently wrote a novella (so the wife says) about my 5 years playing World of Warcraft trying to complete a quest I set for myself.  However, there is (at least) one other thing I did forget to mention. Gameplay in the world is generally pretty predictable, except at certain times of the year when world events occur, or on the odd years when a patch is released.

The first year I played was the release of Wrath of the Lich King, and the world event for Hallow’s End that year was marked by rolling hordes of zombies in all the cities, and mayhem that kept us lows (players who didn’t have characters at max level. Level 70 at that time) from getting anything done.  A world event and a expansion pack release event rolled together, or so it felt at the time.

I remember walking one of my ‘toons into Ironforge and wondering where all the guards were, why was there smoke in the air…?  Suddenly, in the distance, movement in the smoke.  Players?

No. Zombies!

Every freaking NPC for the city had been turned into zombies by players who had been infected by the undead plague. It’s funny now in retrospect, but I had things to do in the cities, unlike max level characters. I was quite annoyed at the time.  My toons took to sleeping in trees outside the cities until the the patch event had passed.

However, the first world event that took place in World of Warcraft after my subscription started was Brewfest; and Brewfest has remained my favorite event in the game ever since. When it spawned outside of Orgrimmar & Ironforge, I had no idea it was a temporary thing, or that this same event (like many others) would re-occur annually. I feel in love with it.

The reason for this goes something like…

There was a Jackalope over the bar in the local beer hall in the Kansas town I grew up in.  My dad used to love to tell stories about hunting Jackalopes, to which all his friends (who were in on the joke) would lovingly add details.  I can’t speak for the other children, but I was fascinated by this cryptozoological problem.  I would go looking for Jackalopes while wandering the fields near my house.  Unsurprisingly I never did find one, not until I started playing around at Brewfest.  The purpose of Brewfest was to get your character blind drunk; or rather, the program responded (and still does, to some extent) to each beer you drank by making the screen images progressively fuzzier, distorting perspectives into tunnel vision.  Also, after you’ve drank about three strong drinks, invisible creatures started to appear.  Little horned rabbits with wings.  At first I thought I was seeing things.  I really did feel like I was drunk (still do, sometimes. I blame the Meniere’s) and where did those creatures come from?

They were labeled Wild Wolpertinger in the game.  Researching the name, I discovered that Jackalopes and Wolpertingers are related, related by beer.  Wolpertingers are commonly found on display in taverns in the Bavarian region of Germany, and Jackalopes seem to be found in German settled areas of the American Southwest, also to be found in taverns there.  I had discovered a long drinking tradition, the telling of tall tales while indulging in the spirits at the local drinking hole. My father, whose mother was of German descent, was simply carrying on the tradition.

“Hey newb, did you know you can
dismiss your user interface by hitting CTRL-Z?”

The first year I played, you couldn’t catch Wild Wolpertingers, but you could purchase a pet one with tickets  (and your pet is invisible to everyone but you.  Unless they are drunk) You can catch them now, just like you could when the event first started, but that year you couldn’t.  I had to have one, so Tharthurm and I spent some quality hours working at Brewfest to get tickets for the Wolpertinger. Even took some tourist shots with the local guardsmen.

It was the event of Brewfest, combined with this whole new world to explore, that made me fall in love with the game.

It was after getting the pet (the pet that no one can see but me) and having it summoned pretty consistently for months, that I began to identify with the Wolpertinger; after all, it and I were the only consistent things across the various characters I played, and the other players couldn’t see either of us. So I started using it as my avatar across many boards and platforms I post in, using the cryptozoological beast to represent me.  I commissioned a piece of art from an artist I know so that I wouldn’t have to violate Blizzard’s copyright to it’s own game images.  Hers looks better than theirs, anyway.

That is where I am today. Represented on the internet by a cryptid that my dad used to tell great stories about, and that I rediscovered in a game I just happened to be playing because a friend asked for a favor.  If you play WoW and haven’t taken time to get your What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been achievement, You are missing out on one of the more interesting parts of the game.  You should at least try Ram Racing.  Do it now, because Brewfest is here!


First the praise, now the criticism.  Three years ago the designers at Blizzard got lazy and they gave up offering new mugs (the in-game collectable for this event) and at the same time disabled a handy feature of the game for new players.  The old mugs were a useable item, and gave a buff which was useful in game.  Rather than scale the buff for new releases of the game, they simply replaced the real mugs with a magically refilling baby bottle that does nothing.  Bring back the mugs!  Bring back the buffs! (this is true of Hallow’s End candy as well) Update the gear drops for mid-xp and end of xp events, for crying out loud! Make it desirable to do the events, so that people will do them.

The toons don’t get blind drunk killing Dark Irons anymore.  I get it, we want to be sensitive to people who don’t approve of drinking to excess, but it’s a game for crying out loud. I still go around killing everything that moves in the game, and I don’t feel the urge to do that in real life.  I also understand that players become ill watching the drunken graphics. Me too. It would be nice to be able to just kill the visual effect with an easily findable toggle when it gets to be too much.  But that is aside from the point of drinking beer and throwing mugs to down the Dark Irons.  What are we saving the kegs for anyway since they can’t be used to refill mugs? See the first critique.

Finally, let’s admit the game has changed. Pandaren should be top brewers, not Ogres. Ogres make some nasty strong drinks, but Pandaren have turned brewing into a lifestyle.  They should not be relegated to a booth in the corner quietly selling also items that have no bearing on the event itself. None of my Pandaren will even go to the event until they are properly represented as the best brewers on Azeroth.  Call it a protest.  The rest of them will be there, though.


Editor’s note, 2019. They included some long-needed changes in the world event this year, including taking away barking for the Ogres in the city. They haven’t admitted that Pandarens are the kings of brew and food, but then I’m pretty sure the Dwarves (not to mention Orcs) would throw down over the Pandaren thinking they knew how to drink better than Dwarves do.

There is a battleground in there somewhere. Get on it, Blizzard.

There is an added event, an eating contest that features a unique in-game toy as a prize, but I didn’t try too hard to win it this year. There was a crush around the booth every time I wandered into Brewfest this year.

Also, the Dark Iron Dwarves are no longer the only miscreants trying to ruin Brewfest. Wowhead has a guide for the world event.

World of Warcraft – Long Quest Completed

Back on September 2, 2008 a good friend of mine asked a favor of me.  Really, it was probably the only favor he ever asked of me, and to me it seemed like such a small thing, I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t help him.  He’d been playing World of Warcraft for a few years at that point, and he was having trouble getting groups together to complete content; not to mention that they were giving away mounts for recruiting friends, and they were really sweet Zhevras.

I had played Blizzard games many times over the years (I would have said I preferred the Real Time Strategy games if you asked me) I liked playing head to head with family, a pastime (and a blog article I’ve been working on) that went back years.  Diablo II was a favorite in the house and when World of Warcraft was announced at the end of Warcraft III I hoped it would be something like that game in execution. The cheapskate that I am refused to even entertain the idea of paying for a game on a monthly basis, so I dismissed it as a possibility even if it was something I might like.

A few years later, and a lot more time on my hands spent indoors fighting the symptoms of Meniere’s, made the idea of spending a few dollars a month for game access seem like a bargain.  I’d be doing my friend a favor, and I had already asked him to shave my head earlier that year as a symbol of support for his going through chemotherapy again.  A request to join him in a game I secretly wanted to play anyway was easy in comparison.

So we started playing. Almost from the beginning I got off on the wrong foot in the game.  I had no idea that the two factions could not talk to each other or play together. I created Horde toons (a Tauren Warrior & Undead Warlock) on a server he was playing as Alliance (in fact, he only played Alliance) so he had to make new toons to play with me.  My daughter only wanted to play Night Elves (her favorite race from WC3) and she had already created a toon on another server that I just had to join her in playing. Being fond of Rogues from Diablo, I created a NElf Rogue (female, of course.  All rogues are female) to play alongside her druid.  I quickly created a whole slew of NElf characters with the intention of playing all classes as NElf, only to discover that not all classes could be played in all races. That lead to the Gnome mage Brenelbur and his evil warlock twin, but that was when the plan got out of control.

I hatched a scheme to level one toon (character) of each class, and I would do this for both factions, with a genuine attempt to play all races and both sexes for each race with at least one toon.  When I mapped this all out, there were nine classes, which Blizzard expanded to ten with Wrath of the Lich King and eleven with Mists of Pandaria.  There were also fewer races, with Worgen and Goblins being added as playable races in Cataclysm (DraeneiBlood Elves having been added in Burning Crusade, along with Alliance Shaman and Horde Paladins. I started playing at the end of this expansion of the game) so I had to skip a few race/sex combinations.  This was made easier on the alliance side, because I saw no need to play humans in a fantasy game.  I could play that in real life by turning off the computer.

When I started this quest, this scheme of mine, I really thought it would be no sweat to complete.  A few months playing, and all done.  Then the new classes and races were added, and the levels increased, and I began to wonder if I had even been sane when I came up with this crazy idea.

With the announcement of the release of Warlords of Draenor in November 2013, I knew the time to finish this quest of mine was now or never. Ten more levels on 22 toons would probably be more than I was interested in doing, and I really didn’t want to fail. So, earlier today (August 14th, 2014) I finally leveled my twenty-second toon to endgame, level ninety.   A birthday present for myself, and a nice way to close out the favor I started for a dear friend who logged off a few years after we started playing.  I’d like to offer a heartfelt thanks to Bear, wherever he is, for making me take up this silly game. I think it has kept me sane, if this is sanity.


One of the things that has improved over the years I’ve played this game has been the website. The last time I tried to do a toons & servers update, I had to clip photos from screenshots for each toon.  This version may be more boring to read, because I won’t be adding photos for all twenty-two toons, but it will be significantly easier to write. The links for each name will lead to the stat page for each of my toons. Better than clipped art, it is proof that the toon exists and represents an example of how it is set up, and what it looks like currently.

My main Horde toons are still on Terenas, although the server is really a backwater in the game and it limits my ability to play content that is limited to the home server.  Blizzard has been working to combine servers and content, so this might not be a problem much longer. Of course, I could just level new toons on other servers, and that process technically has already begun. However, these are the eleven I count as main Horde;

  • OlaventaOrc Shaman (Herbalism, Inscriptionfrom the lowly also-ran who started out as a male with a different name, this toon has graduated into becoming my raider.  Shaman are excellent healers, and when your secondary talent is Elemental (not as much DPS as enhancement, but respectable) you can essentially use the same gear to level as damage & healing and not feel that you are letting anyone down by doing so. Olaventa as a character had a serious crush on Thrall when he was warchief of the horde.  She’s not forgiven him yet for leaving us with Garrosh as a leader. My scribes both wanted the Loremaster title, so they each completed every quest for their faction up to Mists of Pandaria. This toon has also completed all the quests for that Expansion, making her the most played, most experienced toon that I have. (Editor’s note: this toon was moved to Nordrassil in 2019. Her professions changed.)
  • Uroga Orc Hunter (Skinning, Leatherworking) Both my hunters I play just for fun. I collect pets with them, and not much else, although their professions are part of my overall scheme to explore different class/prof combinations. (Editor’s note: I deleted this toon in 2019 and the Wayback Machine did not save the data from character sheets. Apologies)
  • RakudagaTroll Druid (Herbalism, Alchemy) I deleted the character I started with this name and created a new one of the same name (the name fit a Troll better anyway) for the new racial combination of Troll/Druid that was offered in Cataclysm. Druids are my second favorite class after shaman these days, and some of the best tanks in the game.  Still, I don’t tank with them, I take the same minimalist tack with them as with other classes, combining balance and restoration which allows me to double up gear for leveling.  I used to hate male Trolls in game until Mists of Pandaria and Vol’Jin. Now I’m starting to like them. (Editor’s note: this toon was deleted in 2019 and recreated on Nordrassil with the same name)
  • RasmuertaTroll Deathknight (Mining, Blacksmithing)I’ve had a problem motivating myself to play Deathknights after Wrath of the Lich King. I mean, what is their motivation, as characters? “OK, life (or death) goals achieved, now what?” Still, they remain one of my favorite classes, and the only class I’m comfortable tanking with. (Editor’s note: this toon was deleted in 2019 and recreated on Nordrassil with the same name)
  • TanathBlood Elf Mage (Mining, Jewelcrafting) My only Blood Elf. I just couldn’t get into the story behind the Blood Elves. They remain my least favorite race in the game, weirdly. They are amongst the most frequently played by other players.  Mage is one of my favorite classes, but this mage doesn’t get played very often.  Just enough to get her to level 90. (Editor’s note: this toon was deleted in 2019 and recreated on Nordrassil with the same name)
  • Creavishop Undead Warlock (Tailoring, Enchanting) The third toon I ever made, and still my secondary raider for this server, because he is my enchanter and I’m always looking for materials for his work. Warlocks are liberating to play. Demon summoners and associated with evil in the lore for the game, they remain essential for any well-rounded raid group. Still making containers for all the toons on the server, and not getting enough gold for his work as far as he is concerned. His plans to take over the world are taking longer than he thought. (Editor’s note: this toon was moved to Nordrassil in 2019.)
  • Eugennah – Undead Rogue (Mining, EngineeringRogues, which were amongst my most looked-forward-to classes to play, have not turned out to be one of my favorite classes. Now that locks have been removed from regular game play (no more keyring) their essential role in-game has been left behind. Pick-pocketing isn’t nearly as much fun as it used to be, with more and more NPC’s in game reporting back as having no pockets to pick. Bummer. Eugennah hates her bony elbows and knees, and doesn’t like Undercity at all. She took over Engineering from Uroga so I could see how that might assist a Rogue in play. Her survivability in encounters seems better than Eieloris, my other Rogue. (Editor’s note: this toon was moved to Nordrassil in 2019. Her professions changed.)
  • RaspalliaTauren Paladin (BlacksmithingJewelcrafting) This toon was created as an experiment testing out the benefits of combining creation professions and their extra-beneficial perks. I also discovered the joy of PvP healing as a Holy Paladin. There really isn’t a better class to play as healer in a PvP situation, and survivability for this paladin is much better than the other Paladin who combines Blacksmithing and Mining. Those perks are rumored to be disappearing in the next expansion pack. (Editor’s note: I deleted this toon in 2019.)
  • Tharthurm – Tauren Priest (TailoringAlchemy) Tharthurm was the name of my first toon; but I really wanted my warriors for both factions to be small females, so the Tauren warrior was deleted, and I gave his name and look to the priest that I could make as a Tauren for the first time in Cataclysm. Tauren are my favorite race, in theory. In practice I don’t like the movements that Blizzard created for the models. I want to like and play them, here’s hoping the improved modeling in Warlords will make that more pleasant. (Editor’s note: this toon was deleted in 2019 and recreated on Nordrassil with the same name)
  • RastarshaGoblin Warrior (MiningEngineering) The addition of Goblins as a playable race created a quandary and a opportunity for me. I could finally actually have a Goblin engineer and could have a warrior on the horde side that would echo the stature of my alliance warrior. But I had to delete my first toon to do it, and I had to decide on either female or male, since I couldn’t do both. Pigtails decided me, although you can’t see them on this toon. Goblins, like Gnomes, are amusing. That is why you play them.(Editor’s note: this toon was moved to Nordrassil in 2019.)
  • JainrasigPandaren Monk (SkinningLeatherworking) All my monks are Pandas, and all of them are named Jain. There was a Bodhisattva of a similar name, and what Firefly fan can resist naming a character Jayne? RAS is for me. I’ve looked forward to playing as a Panda since I first started playing World of Warcraft, having loved the heroic character that was available in WC3. They took long enough to give them too us. The Pandaren lore is some of best World of Warcraft, in my opinion. I’m going to miss playing Mists of Pandaria come November. (Editor’s note: I deleted this toon in 2019.)

Muradin server was home for several years, even though I started out playing on Terenas. Because my family and friends were playing Alliance, my toons there were developed much faster than the Horde toons.  We found a welcoming guild on the server named “of the Emerald Dream” and were happy there until one of the raid healers took exception to my allowing my daughter to play the game while she was still drugged from having her wisdom teeth out (of all the things to pick a fight over) so we left and created our own guild, which I still run (on several servers, just not very successfully) even though I’m almost the only player left in the guild, now.  Frosty Wyrm Riders is max level (25) on Muradin, I just don’t raid with that guild.

Eieloris’ image looked better than Tarashal’s did.
  • Tarashal – Night Elf Druid (Herbalism, Alchemy) This is the toon I keep coming back to. I started out focused in Mists of Pandaria with my Horde toons, determined to level and raid first as Horde with my adopted guild there. Before the year was out I was no longer raiding with them although still in the guild, three different raid teams having formed and dissolved in the process. Raiding in Mists is far harder than any other expansion pack, and this has shown through in the rapid dissolution of formerly sound raiding teams that had lasted through Wrath and Cataclysm. Even the raiding guild that I was part of on this server lost several players we had relied on for years.  Because I had started out with a different guild and faction, this toon did not make it into the raiding group which is most advanced in the content for this expansion.  Still, he has the best gear of any of my toons, and has completed more of the content than any other toon except for Olaventa.
  • Eieloris – Night Elf Rogue (Skinning, Leatherworking) With her fondness for Dwarves, which she deems “Just the right height”, Eieloris still has more ‘backstory’ than any of my other toons.  That only matters to me in the end; still, I really do enjoy playing this toon and would play her more if I hadn’t discovered how much I like to PvP heal as a Paladin.
  • RasputingDraenei Paladin (Mining, Blacksmithing) Also the name of my Monk character in Diablo III, the Wife named this toon when I created it, the first in a long line of RAS characters. I really didn’t like Paladins at all until this expansion pack, and it was only when I took the Tauren Paladin into Battlegrounds that I discovered how much fun it was to PvP heal as one.  By that point I had leveled this toon to 90, and he had a hard time getting the gear he needed to match her in PvP. Now that they are almost equal, I really can see a benefit in combining creation professions as I did with her. I’ll have to wait and see what Blizzard does with Professions in the next expansion.  Draenei are, in my opinion, the only good thing introduced in Burning Crusade; I tend to skip that entire area of the game when I level characters (easily achieved by taking up archeology at level 60) but the Draenei move the way the Tauren should move. (Editor’s note: I deleted this toon in 2019 and the Wayback Machine did not save the data from character sheets. Apologies)
  • RaslindaDraenei Shaman (Mining, Jewelcrafting) I try to remind myself that the game is fantasy when presented with differences between the sexes like are present in the male and female Draenei. Split hooves vs. solid hooves?  Looks more feminine, only represents a million years or so of evolution. She does look good moving, and the action animations for the female Draenei are some of my favorites. 
  • RasmortisWorgen Deathknight (Jewelcrafting, Blacksmithing) Worgen represent the race I’m most ambivalent about. I like the animations, but I never understood why they had to be added to the Alliance, other than as a race to balance out adding Goblins to the Horde. Having said that, adding them gave me an excuse to change Mortis from human, so there went my only human character. I really do like the way he looks in his black PvP armor transmog. If I had more time, I’d play this class more often. 
  • Hellice – Worgen Warlock (TailoringAlchemy) This is actually my second Worgen Warlock named Hellice. I leveled one to 85 for my son at the end of Cataclysm, and gave it to him as a present. I like the name, icy-damnation. Perfect for a warlock. This was the last toon to level to 90, because she had to start from one at the same time as my Pandas, and they were going to be leveled before she was.  Warlocks are just fun. That’s all there is to it. Mind if I suck out your soul and use it as a weapon on you? Doesn’t matter, she’ll do it anyway.  Worgen are damned to start with, that is the nature of their affliction. Why not warlock as well? (Editor’s note: I deleted this toon in 2019 and the Wayback Machine did not save the data from character sheets. Apologies)
  • JuvernaDwarf Hunter (MiningEngineering) Named for Ireland; he, like my Horde hunter just collects pets.  I know, I know, they are great DPS machines in this version of the game.  I don’t care, hunters are solitary. That is why their best friends are animals. (Editor’s note: I deleted this toon in 2019.)
  • Keslingra – Dwarf Priest (Herbalism, Inscription) Just between you and me, this toon I specifically made to resemble the wife, giving her the red hair I know she really keeps hidden under the blonde; and I say that just because when she reads this she’ll be furious and there’s nothing I enjoy more than having her angry at me. This toon taught me the value of playing a priest, which I never expected to enjoy playing. Shadow Priest has finally turned into a DPS specification worthy of the designation, and priest healers are the strongest healers in the game.  Since she is also a scribe, that means I completely every quest with her for the Loremaster title just as I did with Olaventa.  Lots of experience playing this toon. She is the current guild master for Frosty Wyrm Riders
  • BrenelburGnome Mage (Tailoring, Enchanting) This was my fifth toon created (after Tarashal) and I blame/credit him with starting me off on this crazy venture. He wanted to be a NElf and I resisted changing him to one after that race/class combo became available; but it was the frustration of not being able to make NElf mages that set me on the course of approaching the game the way I have. He is my secondary raider on Muradin (enchanting materials, yet again) and the character I play most often after the druid and shaman. Still love the Gnome laugh after all these years.  Joke all you want about Gnome punting; after taking this mage into battlegrounds recently, I have to say that mages have a ridiculous ability to keep other players frozen almost indefinitely. Try punting me when you are frozen in place, you big green monster. I’ll just laugh and blink away.
  • Rasmillia – Gnome Warrior (Mining, Engineering) Watching making of documentaries for films that I’m a fan of, I hear comments like “it was my favorite scene, but it just didn’t make it to the cut” a lot. This toon started out as a male named for one of my favorite SF characters. But he needed to be a she, and she had to have a different name. I should have just duped the name Rastarsha, but I stole Starsha from a guildmate and I didn’t want to go flouncing around her server with her name tacked on to one of my toons; so millia for warrior (Milly for short) never mind that another guild mate now has a toon named Milly.  I think she’ll understand.  I really, really wanted her to have the pink pigtails.  That was a must; that and dual wielding two-handed weapons. I admit it, I am easily amused.
  • Jainrasig – Pandaren Monk (SkinningLeatherworking) Yeah, same class/profession combination as my other Monk,  breaking my changing pattern. I really hadn’t expected to have an eleventh class to have to deal with. When it came down to brass tacks, they both needed to make their own leveling gear, so they both ended up as skinning leatherworkers. The daily quest that is available to Monks makes leveling much faster.  The Monk class itself is quite different from the other classes.  I can’t say I know what I think of it yet; which is too bad, because it will be different soon.  Classes always change with each expansion. 

I will really miss Pandaria, even though I haven’t enjoyed raiding through it very much. Chen Stormstout was my go to hero for Warcraft III.  If I could hire him in a map, he was on my team. His quests in the Valley of the Four Winds are essential for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the lore of Warcraft.  Unfortunately they have taken out the additional quests relating to him that were part of intermediate expansion content; but that is why it is important to play through the game as it is offered, and not as it exists as preserved as part of future content. I do wonder how they will include Garrosh in quest lines that used to rely on him, since he will no longer be the warchief of the horde after this expansion.  A good portion of those quests will have to be truncated, or they will simply be left alone to stick out like sore thumbs calling attention to content that should have been updated but was not.

It has been a fun five plus years playing the game so far. I have been invited to the beta for Warlords of Draenor and have done some minor fiddling with it, but I really wanted to hit this milestone before allowing myself to be diverted. The long quest has been completed. On to the next one.

Tarashal taking his ease in travel form on the Timeless Isle

How Many Herbs Will It Take To Make A WoW Trinket?

I remember when this was important to me a year ago.  I was marveling at the massive investment in time and resources the Scribe (Inscriptionatrix?) trinkets cost to make.  I really, really wanted to demonstrate just how much these “easy” trinkets actually cost in work-hours; easy being the dreaded word used to dismiss all things gaming “Oh, that’s easy” except it never is. I’ve offered the following to the dismissive types, what easy would be in terms of a boss fight;

The boss enters the arena, draws his weapon and advances on you. He trips mid-stride on a loose cobblestone and impales himself on his own blade. Fight ends.

That is an easy fight. Nothing about Mists of Pandaria is easy, no matter how many players dismiss it as such.  If you think it’s easy, try raiding without Deadly Boss Mods or any other addon, and delete all your macros.  Take a video of it as proof.  Now tell me how easy that is.

But back to the subject at hand.  I kept a detailed record of the number of cards I made attempting to get all four of the decks required to create the coveted trinkets that were amongst the first epic items available in the expansion pack.

I need a formula that yields stacks of herbs average to make the number of cards at the end of experiment. There are 6 kinds of herbs. Fool’s cap is the only one significantly different. It takes 10 Ink of Dreams to make one Starlight ink, and 10 Starlight to make one card. 8 cards in a set.

Average stack of Fool’s Cap yields 6.2 Ink of dreams & 1.3 Starlight Ink

Other panda herbs yield 4.8 Ink of dreams & 0.5 Starlight Ink

First set – Keslingra 68 cards made – Serpents
Second set – Keslingra 77 cards made – Oxen
Third set – Keslingra 88 cards made – tigers
Forth set – Keslingra 90 cards made – serpents
Fifth set – Keslingra 93 cards made – cranes (end of experiment for Keslingra)

First set – Olaventa 44 cards made – Serpents
Second set – Olaventa 73 cards made – Serpents
Third set – Olaventa 85 cards made – Cranes (sold 12 additional cards 4, 5 & 6 of Tigers)

I abandoned the experiment then, and I never did come up with a formula that could tell me how many herbs per card, or roughly how many herbs it might take to make any one trinket at random.  I’m still interested in knowing the math, even though it no longer has meaning in the game; those trinkets have been long superseded, and I’ve sold off all the remaining cards.

The new expansion pack Warlords of Draenor will be out in a few months and I’ve already been invited to the closed beta.  I’m hoping that the professions will be less demanding of mats farming, but that would be an unprecedented move on Blizzards part.  No expansion to date has decreased the amount of work required for production of gear.  Proving (at least for professions) that the game does not get easier.


Taking a stab at the numbers.  Best case, using all Fool’s Cap – 16 stacks yields 30ish Starlight ink, so roughly 5.3 stacks per card, 42.4 stacks per 8 cards, or 233 stacks for the 44 cards (best case) that Olaventa made to get her first set.  Fool’s Cap would take the most time farming since it’s only available in one area.  Farming 233 stacks of Fool’s Cap would mean taking two stacks of Green Tea Leaf for every one, since they re-arranged herb spawning. It would be silly not to use the Green Tea Leaf since you would have collected twice as much of it anyway, so…

If I’m trying to imitate the real, average player behavior, I would use the other herbs from Pandaria, for the most part the aforementioned Green Tea Leaf. Using the farm, you get 3+ stacks a day, generally, but one of those stacks will be Golden Lotus every other day (6 to 10 per day) or three.  Better to farm in the traditional methods, you will get less of the useless (for milling) Golden Lotus. Farming for any herb available is fastest, probably a stack every 20 mins or so, depending on population of the server and competition for materials. So, the common herbs for Panda give you about one Starlight ink for each stack, roughly. That makes the calculation pretty easy.  One card equals ten Starlight ink or 10 stacks of herbs. That’s 930 stacks of herbs for Keslingra to complete her experiment, and 970 stacks of herbs to get Olaventa to her endpoint, still short one of the 4 sets of cards. 

Nine hundred and seventy stacks of herbs multiplied by my twenty minute guesstimate per stack puts it at about 300 hours of farming total.  Now, you could AH the herbs if they are available.  And if you are lucky they’ll be cheap, or about 20 gold per stack.  However, they’re offered with a straight face on the AH even now pushing 100 gold a stack, so I wouldn’t have counted on cheap.  Even at 20 gold a stack we’re still talking 19.5k investment to get the herbs to (hopefully) make 4 card sets.

…and I kept hearing the word “easy” associated with making the cards. It’s enough to make one wonder what kind of frustrations the people using the word easy to describe this grind faced in RL (real life) that would make that kind of time investment look anything like easy.

Well, it’s off to beta land now.  I’ll try not to complain too much about it when the even more astronomical materials requirements for professions in Warlords of Draenor are revealed.  Stay tuned?


2019 – Material requirements have simply continued to escalate inside of World of Warcraft. The costs were higher in Warlords of Draenor, higher again in Legion, which I boycotted for over a year over the lack of flight in the game. Without flight, material grinds really are a grind. Go from 30 minutes a stack to over an hour a stack.

To make the endgame feasts that are essential for progression raid play you will need three-ish stacks of each material to make one stack of 20 feasts. You will go through a stack of twenty feasts at least once a week. Do the math. It is a ludicrous amount of time to dedicate just to preparing for raiding, especially when you add in the materials needed for gemming and enchanting your gear. I don’t even bother with crafting high-end gear anymore. It simply isn’t worth the time to do.

The Final Patch for Mists of Pandaria

Blizzard is promoting the new 5.4 patch to the four corners of the world. I have a response to this.

Things I love about 5.4. 

Timeless Isle. In fact, I’ve loved all of Pandaria game play with the exception of the lunkheads that I’m forced to play with because there still aren’t any community policing tools in the game. Pet battles, quests, collectables. It’s a feast. If I could play it by myself. But this is about what I like, and I really do like Pandaria. It’s unqualified beautifully imagined. The landscape is breathtaking. The fights are challenging, if not a bit over-long in places. There are more ways to play the game now than there have been in any version prior to this one. Pet-battling may be demonstrably derivative, but it’s a great way to spend some time in the game, and a welcome addition to the melange of methods available to leveling characters.

Leveling has been sped up, and is so short through classic game that level ‘dings’ occur faster than you can clear quests in an area, if you are the kind of player that bothers to quest.   The re-mapped areas introduced in Cataclysm wear better than the original game quests where they have been changed (my objections to continuity issues aside) with the dungeons and PvP battlegrounds thrown into the mix, there really isn’t enough time to experience the full breadth of the game before you move off to the next area.

Things I hate about 5.4.

New currencies introduced to hobble long-time players.Why do that? Why punish players who have stuck through to the end of this XP who now have to throw away the work done with previous currencies, since those currencies are now worthless? (well we didn’t…) Really? The currency for speeding up research products has been spirit of harmony for the entire XP. Now it’s the same token that you use for extra rolls in the new raid. [It is actually an entirely new mat acquired through disenchanting. The previous mats acquired this way have never been seen by yours truly, although I have it on good authority that they do exist. Consequently the limit for the average player will be significantly lower than 3 a week] Don’t even get me started on the problems with raid looting.  Besides, I’ve already blogged on that subject.

However, and I don’t think I can stress this enough in an MMO game, the biggest downside of the game remains the stunning lack of tools for dealing with bad actors. I really can’t understand Blizzard’s unwillingness to introduce a ratings system into the game; and because of  this group play remains hit and miss based on the luck of the draw.  With the fights more difficult than anytime previously in the game this presents a real problem for the average player just trying to get through the content.

I personally would welcome the challenge, if there was a way to remove the idiots.

No Seriously; Fix the Reward System, and Stop Making Excuses for Sloppy Programming

After a rather lengthy session of ‘assistance’ with a GM in World of Warcraft, it was stated that if I actually wanted something fixed, I’d have to submit a suggestion. Well, I know a bug when I see one, and if I have to submit a suggestion on that subject, it reads like this;

“The work order quests are bugged. Yes, I know there is a forum post on the subject, but I know a bug when I see one. The crops at Sunsong Ranch mature before the part II quest recognizes them as being mature. Contrary to the forum post handwaving, this is clearly a programming bug, because no one would consciously work to frustrate their player base and require them to needlessly duplicate work; when all that is actually needed is to sync up the times of quest proc and crop harvest. So fix it.”

It would have been nice if I could have found the blue post that was quoted to me. This is the only ‘blue post’ I could find on the subject http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/8178377823 the text is different.

This doesn’t even begin to cover the problem that started the GM report. The problem with 16 bosses defeated, 32 rolls for gear, and only one coming up as gear I could use and two pieces of duplicate gear I had earned with rolls the previous week; most disappointingly spending hard-fought-for valor points on second rate valor gear to get into Throne of Thunder, only to get 0 gear for 6 rolls.  The problem is, I have submitted suggestions on the issue of being insulted with gold in exchange for days of work getting the Mogu runes.  Runes earned with daily questing should always give gear.  Gear is the lure used to get us to spend all that time in the game to start with.  For the reward rate to be less than 20 percent on those runes makes the time spent a total write-off.  Better to spend time doing anything else, because you will make more gold doing anything else.

I have submitted this suggestion countless times.  Rumor has it they’ll fix it so you get gear eventually. How many runes will that take? Tired of the excuses, tired of being jerked around. I’ll just keep leveling alts till I get bored and leave, or they take this game seriously enough to fix the problems with it. Anyone want to take bets?

World of Warcraft Dead Again?

The latest post on WoW over at Gamebreaker asks the question;

The WoW subscription numbers have taken yet another hit, with a 1.3 million subscriber drop between February and May, Kotaku reports. They add that the subscriber loss has mostly come from eastern markets, but even so, this is over a 25% total loss from the dizzying heights of the Wrath of the Lich King subscriber numbers. 

We’ve joked about WoW being dead here before on Gamebreaker, and we’re hoping it’s pretty clear that we’re not being wholly serious this time either. The game has not gone the way of the dodo, it is not pushing up the daisies, it is not an ex-MMORPG just yet. Even with this drop, the WoW subscriber numbers are very healthy compared to just about any other MMORPG on the market right now. And for a title of its age to be able to maintain such a large base, even in the face of some stiff competition is impressive indeed. 8.3 million people is not a small number. 

Nonetheless, this is the lowest WoW subscription number point since early in 2007. It is a natural low point in the expansion cycle, with the latest patch on its way, and an uptick could well appear. Mists of Pandaria has been a divisive expansion, heralded jointly as being the best the game has been, and one of the worst grinds of recent years. But is this drop in numbers due to the changes in WoW, or the changes in the gaming world around it? WoW has a very diverse appeal: with a subscriber base of this size it’s nigh on impossible to please everyone, and are the players who joined later on just too different to those who came in at the start.

While WoW is hardly dead in the water, one has to wonder: what’s causing the subscription losses? And will it ever regain them?

 The last time I was tempted to critique the game I was banned from Blizzard’s forums; so this time, I’ll simply put it somewhere they can’t touch.

Having played all versions of the game except for pre-BC, I have to say I’ve never had to grind more for valor points and gear, or work harder to have food for raiding. If you are playing for raiding, the effort/reward is completely unbalanced, with weeks of work often resulting in little or no reward at all. This gripe should sound familiar if you’ve played WoW for any amount of time, or read my previous posts on the subject.

Casual players, on the other hand, have probably never had it better. With the addition of pet battles and the brawl-pub, not to mention a “Looking For Raid” system that provides access to a simplified version of end-game content makes casual play far more rewarding than it’s ever been before. The changes that Blizzard introduced at the end of Cataclysm, along with some additional thought towards players who don’t have days to waste in game, but simply want something quick to do in that 45 minutes before supper, has paid off well in my opinion.

As someone who plays to raid, I try to remind myself that I signed up to grind, even though I despise grinding. If the normal raid boss fights were simply as difficult as they are, but didn’t require days of work prepping for them, it would be far less frustrating. Conversely, if you had to spend prep time, but could be given a better than average chance of success, the reward factor would be higher. Wasting time endlessly with almost no reward leads to an elevated level of rage-quitting. The problem for Blizzard is that they’ve painted themselves into a corner once again. If they change anything they will be accused of ‘nerfing’ the game, and that will also lead to players rage-quitting as they did when the Dragon Soul raid turned out to be too easy in the estimation of hardcore players. 

I have an idea of what an easy fight would be, but I’ve never seen it in game. The boss draws his weapon, then trips and falls on it. That would be easy. Might be a good humor moment 

I wish I could say I was sympathetic to Blizzard’s plight, but the levels of frustration that I’m experiencing, as well as my history with them when it comes to trying to highlight problems in the game, appear to be clouding my judgement.

LFR – Some Things Were Improvements

This is months late, I’m sure. Still, it bears mentioning that I am thankful that Blizzard took the time to create a version of endgame content that could be played by the casual gamer. For the first time since we started playing World of Warcraft three years ago, the rest of the family (who definitely meet the definition of casual players) have been able to experience raid format play, and have been able to take down the main bosses for an expansion while the expansion is still current.

Seriously, this is a heartfelt “thank you” on that score.  Please, keep that up.

I find myself amazed that I am still playing, after more than a year since my last post where I promised I was going to quit when my script ran out that May. I’m pretty sure it was the annual pass and the bribe of a free copy of Diablo III (which I have been playing more than WoW of late. We own multiple copies of Diablo I and II, that one was a no-brainer) that keeps me on the script list.  It’s not the endgame play which, other than the LFR, has pretty much evolved into what Wrath was right before Cataclysm came out; die hards continuing to play content that they’ve memorized by now, casual players drifting in and out, mat farmers complaining about node ninjas and auction house junkies complaining about not being able to get what they want for stuff that no one wants to buy.

I have to say that the professions are about as useful, more or less, at this point as they were then too.  After the initial bumps of getting the XP going, the programmers have managed to roll out gear that can be created with a reasonable amount of mats, and can be used to gain access to heroics and the LFR. Can’t ask for more than that at this point.

Now for that post about the Panda Expansion in Beta.