WoW Invasion Level Tally

WoW leveling tallies from the Invasion events so far: Mage from 73 to 87. Warlock from 50 to 60. Priest from 34 to 52. Druid from 23 to 32. My goal is to get the Priest and Druid to 60 before the end of the event. That will give me three choices from which to pick my two level boosts (one to 90 and one to 100). (My understanding is that if you boost from 60 it will also boost your professions too.)

(In truth it will almost certainly be Warlock and Priest, because I don’t like the Druid class that much. On paper it’s awesome but I don’t like the look of any of the shape-shifted forms.)

It seemed like the experience gains were about right to me over the weekend. However it’s definitely on a curve: The higher your character level, the less experience you get per Invasion, and thus the slower the leveling.

I got noticably more XP from participating instead of AFKing, with bigger mobs generally giving more experience than littler mobs. Also it seemed like all you had to do was tag a mob to get the full experience from it. Many times I came up late to groups killing the big skull-mobs, threw in a hit or two at the very end, and still got a bunch of experience from it. (I was never in a group so I don’t know if that affects XP gains.)

I’ve long since lost interest in opening any of those Legion chests. The chests fill up my inventory and when I run out of space I put them in the bank. My assumption is that if I wait until I get to level 100 to open them, they’ll have ilevel 700 gear in them. Maybe that’s wrong. I guess I’ll find out in the coming years if these characters ever get to 100. (Of course, I’m sure the first quests in Legion will also have ilevel 700 gear so it doesn’t matter either way.)

I have to admit to having a lot of fun with the whole Invasion process this past weekend. I spent more time playing than I intended to, and cancelled some boring chores because of it. It just seems like time disappears when you’re "into" WoW. One minute it’s morning, then the next minute it’s afternoon and raining and too late to mow.

Maybe "fun" isn’t the right word exactly. Maybe "comfort" is a better description for the feeling from playing WoW lately. These kinds of large-scale group events where you can participate anonymously are especially comforting to me in a way that dungeons aren’t. They are easy and predictable and I know exactly what to do. That’s really an attractive prospect at a time when everything in real life seems nerve-wracking and chaotic. (EG. My house is now covered with boxes and I have no idea where any of my possessions are, and the task of finding and organizing them is completely overwhelming.)

The problem that I’ve always had with WoW, though, is that it tends to become repetitious or unrewarding too quickly. It’s too easy to see behind the curtain, where it’s revealed that nothing fundamentally new awaits you no matter where you go or what you do. Let’s hope Legion will be different.

P.S. It’s amusing to participate in these events sub-level 60, and especially sub-level 40. Everyone else takes off to fly to the next boss, leaving you in the dust to hoof it on your roughly-turtle-speed ground mount, hoping to even reach the next boss before everybody else kills it. There’s always a few stragglers putt-putting away along the ground, having to go around obstacles instead of over them, straining and hoping to keep up with the cool kids, looking somehow vaguely embarrassed about their slowness.

Legion Ordered

I went ahead and ordered Legion. Why not? I had fun with the last expansion. For a little while, at least. And a level 100 boost is worth a fair chunk of change to me, considering it normally takes me years to get to the level cap in WoW. (Although I confess I have yet to use the level 90 boost I got in the last expansion.)

My second-highest level character in WoW is a Gnome Mage at, now, level 77, thanks to a handful of Invasions. This was also one of my original characters from back in 2006. I hear the experience gain from Invasions has gone down so I guess I won’t quite get the free ride to 100 that I’d hoped for. Still, I picked up four levels a lot faster than I would have through questing. And as it turns out, maybe fast leveling isn’t such a blessing for this character.

While playing this Mage over the last few days, I remembered that my professions were Enchanting and Tailoring, which was cool because I could simply disenchant all the extra gear filling up my inventory from the Invasions. (Oddly, none of the Mage gear I got from the Invasions was better than what I’d previously obtained from dungeons.) Unfortunately I kept getting the dreaded message, "Your enchanting skill isn’t high enough." Then I came face to face with the reality of what a royal pain it is to level the Enchanting profession and keep it roughly at the same level as the gear you get.

Maybe you folks who’ve been playing for years and now have 50 bajillion gold stockpiled don’t remember how difficult it was. For your amusement, when I started a few days ago I had about 200 gold on this Mage. Let’s just say you can’t buy very much at the Auction House with 200 gold. Even the most meager of trade skill supplies are 1 or 2 gold each. Even if I’d had millions of gold, a lot of the materials weren’t there anyway. So I had to find most of my Enchantment materials the hard (ie. slow) way.

It’s a pain, but I have to say it was quite a bit of fun soloing my way through TBC dungeons (in the 60-70 range) farming materials for enchanting and tailoring. (I even skipped a bunch of Invasions.) Most of my experience with the Mage over the years has been that it’s slow, squishy, and underpowered, but when you’re over-leveled, invincible, and can 1-shot every mob on the run, it’s really fun. :) I pretty much just Arcane Blasted everything in sight, including bosses.

Getting to the right dungeons took a while though. I realize this is probably whining, but it sure takes a long time to get around the world in WoW. Since they are now implementing Rift Zone events so well, it would be nice if they could also install a Rift Porticulum in every zone too. Or maybe the dwarves could get off their butts and expand the subway system beyond just Stormwind and Ironforge. They’ve had plenty of time now to dig an underwater tunnel from the Eastern Kingdoms to Kalimdor too.

Speaking of Rift, next I’ll be spending more money on pre-ordering Rift’s Starfall Prophecy so I can get all the sneaky pre-order benefits that require you to order early. It’s an expensive time to be an MMORPG player.

Legion Pre-Expansion Invasions Are Fun

I had fun with the WoW Zone Events aka. Invasions over the weekend.

But first, the biggest news from my weekend was that I finally moved all my furniture from the old rental house into my new house. I achieved my goal of picking the hottest day of the entire year to move. I believe it was upwards of 95 degrees Farenheit with a heat index of 105. (Google tells me that’s 35 and 40.5 Celsius, but that doesn’t sound nearly hot enough to me.) The temperature reading inside the old house was 92 by the time we left. Since I am not currently dead, I must have stayed sufficiently hydrated.

But enough about that. I re-subbed to WoW on Friday night because I kept reading about these pre-expansion Invasions. They sounded a lot like Rift Zone Events, which are pretty fun, so I thought it was worth $15 to check them out. I logged in to find that my talents were reset and I had no idea how to play my 100 Hunter anymore. This is not surprising, because it happens basically every time I log in after being away for a while.

I’m no expert but this time it seems like they’ve really pared down the number of rotation keys, because now I think I’m down to three abilities with Beast Mastery. I’m probably doing it wrong though. (I routinely forgot to summon my pet, so that’s how good I am at playing the Hunter right now. Not that it matters, because you can almost auto-attack everything and still succeed in WoW.)

Friday night I went through the Broken Shores quest thingy, which was kind of cool I guess. I literally had no idea who any of the characters were in that story so I had zero personal investment in it. I must be the worst WoW lore consumer in the world because I kept seeing all these people doing these heroic things and I kept asking myself, "Am I supposed to know or care who this is?" The answer must obviously be yes, but I sure didn’t. The only name I actually recognized was Sylvannas, but it took me quite a while to remember where I knew that name from. (From the early levels of playing my Undead Warlock ages ago.) Perhaps they should have put a refresher course in one of those cut scenes at the beginning for people like me who only pop into WoW for a month or two every couple of years.

Side gripe: I found it kind of annoying that the cut scenes were in a lower resolution than the actual game video.

Later I learned that most of those names in that Broken Shore event were found in my Garrison, which explains why I didn’t recognize them, since I stopped playing WoW about the time I finished my Garrison. I hadn’t even built a Shipyard. Strangely, when I looked around my Garrison, it seemed like there were quite a few more people there than when I last left it. It looked like a thriving metropolis. I guess it expanded while I was gone.

It wasn’t until Sunday that I got to experience my first Zone Event aka. Invasion. In short, they are fun. (I hate to be a smug sarcastic bastard about it, but seriously, if you like the gameplay in these WoW Invasions, you might want to check out Rift.) I picked up a bunch of item level 700 welfare epics for my Hunter (previously I think I was somewhere around item level 580-something). In typical WoW fashion, the events are really easy, except for when you get killed for no apparent reason. But since the Invasions typically take place right on top of a graveyard, it’s no big deal.

Then I discovered the true purpose of the Invasions: Leveling alts. I spent a little time playing my Mage (73) and Warlock (43), participating in one or two events each, trying to figure out how the new specializations and rotations work. Again, I feel like everything was simplified. It’s like they really, really want you to play one specific way with these updated specializations. Any skills that deviate from the baseline are gone entirely. Also am I crazy or can I switch between the 3 specializations at will now? I think you used to have to pick only 2 of the 3. Maybe I should, like, you know, read the patch notes.

At any rate I give the Pre-Expansion Invasions a thumbs-up. For me, they’re going to be a nice way to grab some levels for my alts without having to resort to dungeons or questing. I like doing group events without having to know or care who I’m playing with. Actually I wish they would make these Invasions a permanent addition to WoW because they were my favorite things to do in Rift. Unfortunately Rift’s population is too low to sustain the zone events everywhere now, but even in these dark days WoW still has a comparatively huge population to support something like that.

Reactions To WoW Legion

World of Warcraft Legion

World of Warcraft is so far off my radar right now that the announcement of the new Legion expansion* is about as interesting to me as a deer tick. Even that horrible analogy was more interesting to me. It’s not that I don’t like WoW when I play it. It just doesn’t hold my attention for very long.

There are two things I just don’t understand about WoW fandom: The first is how people can look around at all of the MMORPGs out there and decide that WoW is the only one they want to play, and the second is how anyone can follow any of the lore that happens in WoW.

The “Burning Legion” mentioned in the sort-of-kind-of trailer means absolutely nothing to me. I guess we’ve seen them before? It says they’re “back” so I assume we drove them off in a previous expansion or something. Wait are those all the demon dudes wandering around in Hellfire Penninsula? Hey, maybe I know more than I thought I did.

Before Draenor came out, I remember a lot of discussion about how we were going to be time traveling into the past, or something like that. I bought and played Draenor. I don’t remember one single quest dialog telling me that I was traveling into the past. I didn’t know why there were Orcs and Draenei fighting it out in that expansion. I didn’t know why the Orcs wanted to time travel. Or maybe it was the Draenei doing the time traveling. Maybe it was a cosmic worm hole. I have no idea. Maybe I should have known why Orcs and Draenei were fighting ever since Burning Crusade, when the Draenei first fell out of the sky or whatever. I leveled a Draenei priest through those starter zones, you’d think I would know their backstory.

But I don’t even know how to spell “Draenei” without looking it up, that’s how disconnected I am from WoW lore.

Anyway WoW fans’s heads are probably exploding with disbelief right now, but for a casual player who doesn’t follow WoW, it was not obvious what was happening there at the beginning of that last expansion or why it was happening. And I didn’t just click through the dialogs either. But even if I had, it should still have been obvious what was going on if time-traveling was taking place. You’d think maybe somebody could have said out loud in one of those cut scenes, “Where are we? More like when are we!” Maybe when I re-subscribe for Legion I’ll double-check to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I still haven’t used my free level 90 boost.

Speaking of boosts, I hope they give out another free level boost in this new expansion. They probably won’t, but it would be cool if they did. I think I said it for Draenor too: That level boost alone is easily worth the cost of the expansion, when you consider how much time it takes to get to 90.

The only thing I’ve seen about the expansion so far that might be entertaining for a player like me is the new class. But I’m very wary about WoW classes. One day I should write a post about how nonsensical and weird I find all of the classes. They throw the strangest abilities in there. And you only end up needing to use like four abilities out of the one hundred they give you. (No I haven’t done any raiding–I’m sure it’s more complicated at the high end.)

But despite all my personal feelings about WoW–or lack thereof–I’m happy to see Legion is coming. It’s good for the genre.

* It occurred to me that when I link to MassiveOP I should probably disclose that I did throw a few bucks at their Kickstarter. So yeah I have a tiny, microscopic self-interest in sending traffic their way. Though I seriously doubt that my traffic is making any difference to their business.

Posted on Blaugust Day 10. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

WoW – My Favorite Addons

I started this post in November 2014, and TAGN’s recent post on addons reminded me that it was still sitting in Drafts. So I thought I would finally post it.

Addons are a fact of life when you play World of Warcraft. You can play without them (I’ve done it), and most of the gameplay basics are there, but Blizzard has consistently refused to put in any of the quality-of-life enhancements that we are all used to from every single other MMO released in the past ten years. (I’m thinking of Rift in particular here, which put in just about every quality-of-life improvement you could have ever wanted in an MMO UI.) Thus you’ll probably want some addons for WoW. Here are my favorites, not so much to recommend them but more as a handy index for later when I inevitably lose them all after a reformat.

I typically don’t do much to change the visuals of the game, I mainly concentrate on quality-of-life enhancements and things that other games have that WoW doesn’t.

Altoholic. I don’t really do much with this addon, but it’s very handy to display informative lists of all your alts on one screen, because numbers and statistics are awesome.

Deadly Boss Mods. Honestly I don’t even know what this mod is doing for me, but I assume it’s helping me in dungeons somehow. Anyway I’m sure everyone in PUGs would yell at me if I wasn’t using it.

Gatherer. Keeps records and statistics on every gathering node you come across. There’s also a neat radar thingy that you can enable if you just want to run around farming while watching Netflix. (I rarely do that, but when I do, it’s very cool.)

LiteBag Bagnon. Merges all your bags into one. I mainly like it because it makes your inventory take up less space on the screen, because otherwise WoW covers up your minimap with your bags, which I hate. LiteBag is much more consistent with the WoW 6.0 bag interface, unlike Bagnon.

Moncai Compare. It boggles my mind that WoW still does not automatically compare items in your inventory to your equipped items when you hover over them. (I know you can hold shift, but come on, this is 2015. Nobody else does it like that.)

Multishot. I recently installed this to take screenshots of significant events like levelups and achievements. I suddenly got it into my head that I wanted an automatic screenshot every time I leveled a character. That way, I can track how long it takes me (in real-time days) to advance my characters. Not that I need to know that, but metrics are fun.

Omen Threat Meter. I very rarely need a threat meter, so I’ve struck it from my list. Usually the default threat display stuff in the UI is enough for me. (But if I did need one, this is the one I’d use.)

OmniCC. A recent addition, this addon displays remaining time on cooldowns numerically over your ability icons, as opposed to the radial spinning-clock countdown display. The radial thing is great for very short cooldowns but I like numbers when the cooldown is more than, say, 5 seconds.

PetTracker. Another recent addition, this very handy addon provides tons of useful helpers if you do anything with Battle Pets. The main thing I like is the ability to display Stable Masters on the map, because I always forget where they are. (This addon seems to have some issues with 6.0, though, as I see occasional debug reports from Swatter.)

Recount. Your basic DPS meter. I don’t know why I bother, though, because I feel like DPS is radically unbalanced between classes in normal dungeons from 15-70, which is where most of my group experience is. I mean, seriously, the tank is often the DPS leader. What’s up with that? At least in 6.0 it seems they fixed the ridiculously overpowered Shield Slam that practically one-shotted every mob below level 30.

TradeSkillInfo. Adds tradeskill information to item tooltips. I got this because I wanted something that would tell me what in the heck to do with the stuff that kept filling up my bags, as it’s not at all clear if you’re a relative WoW newbie (This particular addon isn’t quite as good as I’d like, though.)

XToLevel. A very cool addon that displays information about how long it will take you to get to the next level. A variation of this addon was one of the very first addons I ever installed for WoW, way back in the dark ages. It tells you how many mobs you need to kill, or how many dungeons you need to complete, or how many mining nodes you need to harvest, or any number of other things, because numbers and statistics are awesome.

Zoomout. Allows you to zoom out much farther than the default UI lets you. Absolutely essential. I love to zoom way out so that my character is like 10 pixels tall while fighting bosses. I wish more games allowed you to do that, but most don’t. I can’t stand it when the boss is so big that it doesn’t fit on the screen.

I think I might have had another post floating around somewhere in which I griped about the most common problem with WoW Addons: Too many options. Yes, I said too many. Perhaps six months from now I will have a post to followup on that.

Comparing Played Times

I found an old, old screenshot of my main Asheron’s Call character from near the end of my playing time:

What MMORPGs used to look like before they were fun.
What MMORPGs looked like when they were more work than fun.

There’s some interesting things to note there. First of all, my /played time was 17d 11h 26m 22s. I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing that game… it seemed like my entire life was spent in that game for about a year. (I was playing AC when everyone else was playing EverQuest.) Yet I only reached level 35. In AC, your character “level” wasn’t much except a measurement of how much you had played–your power level came from your skills. Level 35 seemed like an impossibly high number to me back then. I knew people in their 40s and I couldn’t imagine how anyone could get there without giving up sleep entirely.

I never thought I would ever wrack up 17 days of playing time on one character in any other MMO in my life, but then after my main WoW Hunter reached level 98, I noticed this:

WoWScrnShot_011015_135816_cropped

The total time played for my main WoW character is now over 19 days! Two more days than when I had an arguably unhealthy addiction to Asheron’s Call! Fortunately that 19 days spans over about eight years, so that’s not too bad. (Altoholic reports that the total playing time over all of my WoW characters is about 35 days.)

Then I started to think about games I’ve played more than WoW and I started to wonder.

I played a lot of Guild Wars 2 after it came out.

gw049_cropped

GW2 doesn’t make this easy, but that comes out to almost 12 days of playing time for my main Necromancer character, and almost 31 days for all of my characters together. Not as much as WoW, but most of my GW2 time was crammed into that first year.

But that pales in comparison to the game I’ve probably played more than any other MMO in my MMO-playing life: Rift.

2015-01-10_140609_cropped

Yes, that’s 35 days on one character in Rift since, what, 2011? The next three highest /played times on other characters are 13 days, 11 days, and 10 days on my other level 60s, and I have numerous characters 40 and under on various servers. So yeah, I’ve played a lot of Rift if you add it all up.

Shut up. It’s a good game.

Arbitrary Mid-January Status Update

I’m in a “bouncing around between games” mode at the moment, now that I’m done with Elite: Dangerous. I’ve been logging into two or three or four different MMOs a day, looking for one to capture my imagination.

Level 100!
Level 100!

WoW. My WoW subscription runs out on the 20th, and I won’t be renewing. WoW is a fun game, but I always tire of it pretty quickly. I did manage to reach level 100 with my Hunter and upgrade my Garrison, though. I have enjoyed my time in the game, but I simply can’t comprehend how people think the story in this expansion is the best ever. I guess I’ve never “gotten” the lore in WoW. (WoW might be the only game that I care less about the quest text than ArcheAge.) I thought there was supposed to be time travel in here somewhere but at no point do I remember anyone saying that I traveled back in time. (Except one quest to kill Banthar in Nagrand that sort-of referred to it, some five zones into the game.) There are Russian space goats and angry orcs everywhere, but then I was in a place with a bunch of bird people and giant crow gods or something. *shrug* I feel bad for people who will feel obligated to spend the next two years playing this expansion until the next one comes out. It’s okay to play other games, guys. You really don’t have to live in one game your whole life. :)

FFXIV. I still have my Final Fantasy XIV subscription, however I haven’t felt much of an urge to return to the game full time. I stop in periodically and level the Rogue class, but that’s about it. Not planning to cancel my sub though. (I noticed that FFXIV is now selling more and more optional cosmetic items in their store… I wonder if that might mean an upcoming change in their subscription model.)

ArcheAge. I still log into ArcheAge about once a week to pay my taxes. My property is still sitting there empty, probably making everyone else angry. Sometimes I think I should just push on through from level 48.5 to 50 before my Patron status runs out, but I can’t summon the energy for it. (I now have about 450 tax certificates stored up, by the way, which is enough to pay for my property for about… calculating… 22 more weeks.)

Rift. I also log into Rift every couple of days to pick up Minion rewards. I think I have about 50 million pieces of endgame crafting items now clogging up my inventory and bank, and countless numbers of Dimension Item boxes. I meant to do some of the Christmas event, but I never got around to it. It turned out I still had a sizable amount of Christmas currency from last year anyway. There’s a new recurring event now for

Guild Wars 2. I keep trying to get back into the Living Story of Guild Wars 2 but it only takes about twenty minutes of gameplay before I want to punch the monitor with my fist, so that’s been slow going. (See Aywren’s post for the exact reason why.) I’ve only just completed Dragon’s Reach Part 1, which involves trying to get Important People to come to some kind of Summit. I cannot emphasize enough how much I despise the GW2 concept of story being the reward for completing challenges. Loot should be the reward for completing challenges. Story should require no effort to consume. (In my opinion.) Not that it matters, because I play so infrequently that I have no idea what the story is anyway. There’s a new dragon somewhere I guess, and a bunch of annoying vines doing insufferable crowd-control effects, and some Asura prodigy doing something with waypoints. It’s all just random noise to me. It’s like how you do leveling quests without paying attention in WoW, except you’re not actually leveling so what is the point of even doing it other than to see what everyone is talking about. Also since the loot in GW2 is so impossible to understand, I really don’t know if I’m even being rewarded with loot either. Grrrr. It makes me literally angry with rage!

Landmark. I re-rolled a fresh character to see what a brand new player would see. It’s sort-of getting somewhere, but I still don’t get it. There still aren’t any real objectives. I couldn’t find any caves. There are newbie mobs standing right next to uber-advanced killer mobs that you can barely scratch with your sword. The combat feels weirdly like TERA, only a lot more limited. My hopes for EQ: Next plummet each time I play this game.

TERA. Speaking of which, I even tried to play TERA, but for some reason I can’t update the game any more. I suspect I need to un-install and re-install, but that’s too much of a bother.

WildStar and ESO. Waiting on subscription model changes, like everyone else. :) I think I have a 7-day “please for the love of God come back” free pass for WildStar that I might use. I’m actually looking forward to seeing what WildStar does in 2015 now that they’ve been crushed by the reality that casual players outnumber elite raiders by about a thousand to one.

SWTOR. Given my lackluster showing in the games above, I’ve sort of re-discovered Star Wars: The Old Republic again. It’s actually a pretty good game. :) I’ve probably spent most of my playing time in it during January. I even managed to play it successfully for a while without paying any money. But then I caved in and got a 3-month subscription so I didn’t have to worry about the restrictions. I expect by the end of 3 months (or maybe even 1 month) I’ll be ready to cancel again. I’m playing a Jedi Guardian Knight this time, and have so far gone from level 10 to level 22. (Previously, my highest level character was a Smuggler at level 28, but every time I try to play it now, I die horribly.) The Kira Carsen companion is hilarious.  (“Eat lightsaber, jerk!”)

Standing around in Nar Shadda, unable to remember to hide the FRAPS display.
Standing around in Nar Shadda, unable to remember to hide the FRAPS fps display.

Rift Enthusiasm Waning, Bring on Draenor

November is nearly over, which means NaNoWriMo is almost over for another year. As of this posting, I have some 1,500 words left to do before validating. (The story is nowhere near done, and I expect I will need to add another 40,000-50,000 words to actually finish the novel.)

I’m growing a bit tired of Rift. I finished the main story and got my main Mage to 65, and my Rogue, Warrior, and Cleric are all sitting at 60. I still enjoy playing Rift and sending out Minions, but it’s prohibitively time-consuming to farm Void Stones from 61+ Zone Events to upgrade one’s gear, and I’m not really in the mood for dungeons right now.

The Rift dwarven family of characters.
Ezarin and the Rift dwarven family of characters in Nightmare Tide.

With Rift fading from the limelight, I’m turning to Warlords of Draenor “full time.” The leveling game is crushingly easy as always. I finished the story in the first zone Shadowmoon Valley and reached level 92 in the process. I’m enjoying the Garrisons so far. They’re sort of like a slow-motion RTS. (I don’t much like having to wait for followers to finish their missions though.)

I haven’t yet used my instant-90. At first I thought I would use it on my 68 Mage, but lately I’ve come to the conclusion that Mages are the absolute worst class in WoW, and I have no more desire to punish myself by playing one. (Except I’m still determined to get my Mage to 90.) I honestly don’t know what they are good for (other than creating portals). They are terrible for soloing, and they are terrible in groups. The only useful ability they have in groups is a Remove Curse, and I consider that to be a healing responsibility, so I have no idea why the Mage even has it.

Hurray, I saved the world again!
Shadowmoon Valley saved!

Anyway, I think I might now use my instant-90 on my Warlock. Maybe. I haven’t decided yet. Who am I kidding? I’ll probably just hold onto it indefinitely.

In other news, I volunteered to write an article for Syl’s Bloggy Xmas Calendar. My article is scheduled for December 7, a date which seems to be looming a lot closer than I would like.