The Problem with Night Elves
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 December 2014, 1:01 pm
A giant crytals space ship crashed into Azeroth a while back. It irradiated a nearby lake and mutated the wildlife. The alien survivors set to work understanding the damage they'd caused. At times this was a violent process, gathering blood samples to study them. As they learned more, they found a way to clean the lake. Moving outward, they worked to inoculate nearby wildlife from the remaining radiation. In further stages they sought to understand the damage and limit further harm.

Contrast this with the night elf method:

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Sure thing!

I go off to kill a dozen demons and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Huh, must be bugged.

I go off to kill a dozen demons and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Third time's the charm?

I go off to kill a dozen demons and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Could you clarify that pronoun there? I think we're having some problems with the "them" that you want me to kill.
Quest Giver: You have to kill all the bunnies!
Me: Sure thing!

I go off to kill a dozen bunnies and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill all the demons. And also some more bunnies.
Me: Why didn't we just kill the demons in the first place, then decurse the bunnies?
Quest Giver: Because I'm not secretly an ambitious demon using you to kill bunnies and my rivals.



Archaeologists should fight only three things: Snakes, Nazis, and Unimaginable Tedium
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 December 2014, 8:26 pm
Since I can't fly in Draenor and I keep forgetting that I can fly elsewhere and the ores there aren't worthless, I've stopped using mining as my chilling between missions/queues activity. Archaeology has filled that gap. I go somewhere and press a bunch of buttons on my mouse. Sometimes I press my keyboard. My screen fills up with various colors marking off where things might be. It's the world's slowest laser show.
In case you're wondering what prompts the grats in that shot: someone has an auto-grats addon, and I think the other person is being sarcastic about it. Also, I spelled you're wrong the first time. And while trying to write that. I am filled with shame.

But do you see that other thing? Over there. Left. Not my character portrait. Right of that. Up. Those are the words above the picture, not that far...

That's an elemental fighting another elemental. Not a problem, right? Except sometimes they have no one to fight, so they fight me. It's little more than a momentary distraction, but the whole point of this archaeology expedition is chilling. I'm just not in a mood to hit things with my sword.

Most days I don't have to fight to get my artifacts. And I don't even thing I'd mind, but implementation matters. I don't want to fight some over-sized bird or rocks that don't know how to sit still. If I'm going to fight, it better be a Nazi, crypt filled with snakes, or the crushing boredom which is slowly, very slowly, digging up a giant plot of sand, only to find a few bits of pottery from the early 21st century and a taunting note from Dr. Evelius, my archeological arch-nemesis.



Get back to where you once belonged
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 December 2014, 8:12 am
I have a love-hate relationship with the timer on missions. The missions themselves are fine, good even, but that timer...

On one hand it can make me feel rushed. I have some quests that I want to to, and I have half an hour to do them, otherwise I feel like I'm wasting valuable clicking on followers time. But then there's the travel time, so I don't want to rush out and rush back, or in all my hurry I'd be wasting even more time.

Then they decide to switch it up, they being the mysterious forces that manipulate small events against us. They steal our socks and give us hat hair. This time it's a 45 minute quest. I go out and do a fishing daily and some fishing fishing and a kill everything daily. I have a few minutes to spare. The archaeology site is across the zone, so I'd use up half my time just getting there. So now I wait. Or do I go farm? Maybe hit a few mining nodes? Or just wait.

On the other hand, it can be nice to have that out and back again feel. I'm going on my own mission and I have a particular amount of time to complete it. Having that timer means that I have to think about what I'm going to do. I define a goal, figure out whether I can complete it, and set out to do just that. That can be a welcome change from wandering off and wondering what I'm going to do, only to end up doing nothing because I had all the time in the world to figure out what to do.
 
The endless outdoor nature of leveling, of chaining quests back to back, doesn't fit well with missions. Either the missions break the flow or there's this glowing reminder during the quest that you're missing something. At the more free form level cap, where activities aren't so often lines of quests, having some sort of structure to the time is to be appreciated.

Brb, phone timer is going off; my alt's missions are done.



The new Molten Core is the first genuinely bad experience I've had this expansion
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 November 2014, 1:32 pm
I'm not saying this expansion is perfect, but overall I've had fun and there haven't been many things that I've pointed at and said "this thing is reducing my fun." And then I queued for the Molten Core raid.

I was immediately dropped into a trash pull in progress, and it was not going well. A bunch of bosses were dead already, which made it odd that they were fighting at the entrance. And chat, chat was filled with people yelling. All of it was wrong. Somehow they'd become convinced that AoE attacks cause lava spawns to spawn or clone. Or maybe that AoE attacks did too little damage, which is true, but the better way to phrase that is "focus fire". People spent the entire rest of the raid yelling about how AoE attacks are terrible.

I opted to entertain myself by chatting with someone who had been there in vanilla and understood the absurdity of the situation. I might have also claimed that AoE attacks make Onyxia deep breath more often. I had just as much evidence as anyone else in the raid.

It was a slow, bumbling process of 40 people slowly bumbling their way toward bosses, without any idea of how they worked. People kept yelling nonsense directions in raid chat.

Apparently they'd been there for hours. I was sick of it after a few minutes, but I figured I'd see it through to the end. I got a hat and a mount. Wee.

Then I did things that were fun, such as heroics and follower missions. I'm going to have a hard time picking my favorite heroic, but so far, Shadowmoon Burial Grounds is winning.



We are the Warlords of Draenor
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 November 2014, 8:41 am
Orcs have warchiefs, not warlords. So who are the warlords? Us, of course. We are the warlords.

It was inevitable. We'd spent years gathering powerful magical items, built up reputations, amassed fortunes. And finally, we have our own private armies. People are seeing that when they throw their lot in with us, they get results, and tend not to die as often as when they go alone, or even join a faction. Notice how when followers join they don't say "I want to join the Alliance!" They say "I want to join you."

One could argue that we're more like Colonel Kurtz. We were sent out in an official capacity, and then took our mission to heart, seizing power locally in order to accomplish the goal given by our superiors. And then promptly went insane with power.


However, we are still in direct contact with our factions, receiving intel and the general strategy, rather than being off in the jungle while Sartin Meen tries to kill us. Those are how I interpret quests and follower missions; they can't quite tell us what to do, but they can reward us well and try to point us where they want us to go. However, before you think we are part of the organized military, we don't receive any sort of ongoing material support; it's all based on specific missions, making us appear more like an warlord for hire. Everything else is generated locally, from the production we set up and manage (gathering and work orders).

I rather like this situation. It feels as if we're finally getting our due. We used to run around murdering for trinkets and armor, then get called heroes, but rarely did our factions reward us for our deeds. Now we've set up our own armies and can finally take what we've earned. The mines we liberate send their ore to us. The soldiers we rescue join us. This world that we're pacifying is ours. We are the warlords of Draenor.



The best laid plans fall before the might of the overlooked detail
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 November 2014, 2:41 pm
I had it all figured out.

I was mere hundreds of experience away from level 100. I had to make it count and I had the means to do it: N.U.K.U.L.A.R. Target Painter. What could possibly go wrong?

I rode out of Telaari Station in Nagrand and found the nearest rare. I got line of sight and painted the area. Not the target itself; the AoE is pretty big.

Ten seconds later the area was covered in ash. A windroc was dead. My skin was charred. And that was it. Redclaw the Feral still lived.

It turns out that this is not a ground-penetrating weapon. It explodes on impact, blowing up everything outside the cave and leaving him entirely unharmed.

I returned to my garrison and resolved to find another rare, outdoors, with no pesky layer of invincible terrain to save it. While I was there I checked on my completed follower missions, and hit 100.



Please stop making exciting zones
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 November 2014, 9:16 am
Jade Forest is a nice zone. It's pretty. The story is awesome, particularly on the Alliance side. And I never want to do it ever again.

In the title I don't mean actually exciting, but rather the highly-scripted, frequently-interrupted, linear "exciting" that has been an increasing trend since Cataclysm. Rather than informing us of the need to kill some quantity of reskinned rats, we are instead treated to voiceovers, flybys of things, and short vehicle events. These are all fun, the first time around, when the story is new, the events are new, the flybys are of new things, and the voices haven't yet been reused a few dozen times. I'm not saying Blizzard should higher a different voice actor for every single NPC. At least they don't have people with identical voices carrying on random conversations consisting mostly of hello, goodbye, and their hatred of mudcrabs.

The first time around the breaks in the flow come with a reward in the form of something new. The second time around, they're just breaks in the flow. Even worse, you know they're coming, so it's that much harder to kill into a rhythm of murder. On a related note, I actually like the ridiculous name floats for new enemies; gives it a Kill Bill sort of feel.

I propose a solution: Background Hero Mode.

It is often the case that a scripted sequence features someone in an endless battle, off to the side, barely in the camera. Endless slaughter is kind of our thing, so why not have an option to play as that person? Let the scripted stuff run its course nearby, while you spend the time happily drowning the grass with blood. To spice things up a bit, give bonus xp if you kill a certain number of enemies during a sequence, or let us run some of the off-screen machinery, such as crashing Ogrim's Hammer and carrying boxes while asking everyone nearby if they're going to give them more work.



Best End of Expansion, Ever
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 November 2014, 7:06 pm
I've had a great time in the weeks leading up to the expansion. It's not because Mists of Pandaria is ending. Maybe a bit... But actually, I think this is due to a few things added during MoP that only recently have I taken advantage of.

Soon before the patch I finished the legendary cloak on my paladin. It was a profoundly anti-climactic moment. I effectively got a legendary for running LFR a lot, and for putting up with the utterly ridiculous need to win two specific BGs for a PvE chain. If it had merely been two generic BGs, or even to win two Pandaria BGs (including the same one twice), that might have been okay. I was glad to get it, but I think I've gotten bigger thrills from finding khorium nodes.

Then I heard that the Brawler's Guild was closing. I misinterpreted this as being permanently gone, or that the entire thing would be scrapped and return in some vaguely familiar, yet wrong form, as happened with Naxxramas, or Azeroth. This led to me spending pretty much my entire weekend before the patch trying to get to rank 10. I managed to do it, beating the paladin the morning of the Monday before the patch. Hexos, the first boss in rank 8, was probably the hardest thing I'd ever done in WoW.

My warlock had tried to get green fire, which meant flying to Black Temple and dying a lot. I'd not expected this to be a skill check. Gear helps, but it's like Hexos: it can reduce the length of time that you need to play well, but you still have to play well for a solid 5-6 minutes (Hexos was only two minutes, but was also even more unforgiving during that time). The result was that she died a lot. And then more. I looked it up and found that this wasn't typically people did with an ilevel of 490.

She had puttered around for a while, never even gone to SoO, barely done any LFR at all. That had to change, and that was the first part of the fun. All this time I could have gotten better gear, but for what purpose? Higher numbers for their own sake aren't that appealing to me. But, when they have a purpose, then I very much enjoy the collecting of near gear. Some time on the Timeless Isle (no idea how long) got her a couple timeless items, one of which replaced a blue. (did I mention that her gear was awful?) Some LFR brought in a necklace, Ordos donated a very nice belt, and a Celestial gave her her first tier piece. I gemmed, enchanted, upgraded as much as I could given my lack of lesser charms of good fortune (she was so neglected that she barely even had the currency they gave out for sneezing).

I flew to Black Temple and proceeded to die a lot. I was doing this fight, not perfectly, but I think pretty darn well, except for my one inexplicably stupid habit of running away from cover and getting killed by a chaos bolt. It was as if I'd were being possessed by a Spirit of Stupid. I yelled at that spirit. Then I ignored it. I focused on my pretty red and purple flags on the ground. "Stay near those flags and everything will be okay", I told myself. I didn't and I died. I explain the fight again, "stay alive and stay near those flags. It's not a DPS race until late in; just survive until then." And finally I listened and I downed the boss.

Now I have green fire. This has the unexpected downside of making all of my spell icons look different than I remember, and all the same. But by golly, I have green fire, a weird title, and an Feat of Strength.

In other news, the price of arcane crystals has skrocketed on Blackhand, for no apparent reason. I knew my odd habit of farming thorium would pay off someday.



The Victims of the Stat Squish
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 October 2014, 7:44 am
When you hear the One Ring, do you think, "To rule them all?" Well you're wrong! Everyone knows that The 1 Ring is, "Not quite as good as the 2 Ring". Thankfully, it can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, which does not exist, so everything is fine.

The 2 Ring is, obviously, "Vastly superior to the 1 ring." It was a glorious sight to behold, with a magnificent 22 of every stat. What paladin could ever say no to a ring with strength, stam, intellect, and agility... and I guess spirit is allowed to be there. Alas, the fires of Patch Doom (6.0) have damaged it. Now it is a mere 10 of every stat. It's not the 10 ring! The 10 ring is a terriying thing to behold. This is just... a joke, killed by so-called "updates". Just like this. REND IS SUPPOSED TO BE BAD. *ahem* The worst part is that they were so close. All they had to do was make it The 01 Ring and everything would be okay.

This brings us to the last one, The 5 Ring. "This ring appears to have eaten the 3 and 4 rings." It has 17 stam, 17 crit, and 17 haste. Add up all the digits and you get 24, which is 6. 5+3+4 is 14 which is 5. Basic math says that this patch ruined everything.

I take it back, there is SO MUCH to complain about.



What's there to complain about?
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 October 2014, 1:07 am
I love a good complain. Change anything and I bet I can complain about it. And that's why the pre-warlords patch has me so angry. I'm at a loss for legitimate complaints. Oh sure, I have a few, but it's just not enough for a frothy-mouthed rage.

As might be expected, I'm a bit peeved about the switching of UBRS. And at first I found it to be terribly boring. Then I remembered an old pet peeve: people who watch TV while playing: paying no attention, making mistakes without even noticing), and generally making me wonder why they're even logged in. I'd become one of those people.

Pausing Netflix, I turned the sound back on, and focused on the game. Suddenly I could heard what I'd been missing, and generally notice. I pulled more carefully, rewired the gun turrets to help us, and soaked in as much fun as I could. Turns out, there's actually a bit of fun to be had. Maybe when it isn't half an instance I'll enjoy it more. In the meantime, it's nice to run a place where I can actually die if I play badly. I need to remember to bring my ring from LBRS to see if I can get a second Vael.

On the other hand, I like how the weird squish-non-squish has screwed up the already-broken tuning of old raids. Everything dies as if it were meant to be soloed, perhaps because Blizzard realized that people are typically running these solo or in small groups. I wouldn't say they're "tuned" for that, not in the sense that they're remotely challenging for such groups. It was fun to be able to just run straight into some of these places and knock them out without trying to rally friends to the cause, what with their annoying habits of having lives outside of outdated raids.

The invasion event was mildly interesting, though also almost an exact copy-paste between Alliance and Horde. Oh no, my filler content wasn't carefully customized for each faction! At this point the Iron Horde seems somewhat generic, but it probably doesn't help that I've seen literally nothing about the expansion outside of the game and whatever I saw on wowhead while looking for UBRS loot.

People in trade are mad about the squish, or some ability being removed, or... something or other. It's an enlightened bunch. Someone claims the squish ruined everything. As best as I can tell, in practical terms nothing changed, except that my Thunderfury, due to a fully-powered proc, seems to work just fine. (I got buffed! Wee!) I am still in the habit of trying to refresh Inquisition. I asked in trade if hunters still need mana; someone replied that they never needed mana. Jokes are wasted on some people.

I'm glad to have an enchanter; strange dust is selling well in pairs, thanks to the Fire and Poetry event, though I'm guessing that will slow down as people finish the quest. And then pick up again as people realize they haven't finished the quest.

Trolls look weird when they run.



Farewell, Brawler's Guild
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 October 2014, 8:23 am
Since The Great Betrayal soon after Cataclysm, I've been a bit spotty on the raiding front. My rogue did some in Cataclysm, but mostly LFR and I saw nothing outside of Dragon Soul beside a few wipes on whatever the first boss in the first raid was. Mists of Pandaria has mostly been LFR for me, because finding guilds is not my strong point and I'm not interested in PUG raids.

As a result, I've been missing on the challenge high, of failing over and over until I get it right, and then feeling amazing. Unfortunately, I didn't give the Brawler's Guild much attention. The best time to do it is first thing in the morning, which is also the best time for me to forget what I was planning to do.

Then I heard rumors that it would be gone. I misinterpreted this as gone gone, gone forever, Cataclysmed gone. So, with no time to lose, the Friday before patch day, I started Brawler's Guild. And then immediately wished I'd started sooner. It turns out that, despite my ranking as the number one level 90 paladin with a partial Justicar transmog on my server, I couldn't one-shot everything.

It all began with Hexos. In a way, that was a great boss, because it forced me to actually learn how to DPS without paying much attention. A momentary distraction from the pink of death was death. Over the many, many, many attempts, I reworked some keybindings, finally macroed my gloves, potions, and wings together, and stopped clicking rend. Then I died some more, until finally, I won, and then worried that I'd pass out because a pot of coffee does not constitute a complete breakfast. Good times.

 From there I learned that, those things which are fought least are also fixed least. The snake was awful, filled with either bugs or just bad behavior. It would stop for no clear reason and get a stack, one of which is enough to end the fight. It would drop poison directly in its path. I hated that fight, not for being a crazy gimmick like Hexos, but for being a badly-made fight. The fire elemental angered me almost as much, though it at least took fewer tries. The stun would fail and the elementals would seem to go out of their way to run into the fire. But I beat them, and it felt great because it had not been easy and because I'd gotten better in the process.

Then finally the paladin. While it took fewer tries, I think it was a more accurate skill check than Hexos. Adapting movement to a rapidly-changing situation, seeing small changes, identifying the goal, timing, and finally winning a harsh DPS race. That's almost everything someone would need for an actual raid, beside other people.

And yet, there were other people. It had some of the social elements of raiding. There was the begging for a res from the person who had gone AFK and blamed you for dying. There was the delay as other people failed in their own unique ways. There was the every-growing repair bill. And there was the congratulations, because when everyone is trying to get the achievements on the last available weekend, they tend to stick around and recognize each other. We'd offer advice, learn from them, and cheer and smile as they finally beat a boss. It was a temporary crowd, but somehow, this solo activity seemed to bring people together better than LFR.

So here's to you, Brawler's Guild!

Next time, please have more arenas; it's not fun waiting 15 minutes for a fight.



The Long Dark
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 October 2014, 3:55 pm
I saw this the other day, looked interesting. Don't Starve had been a good bit of fun, this reminded me of it. Ha. Don't Starve is a walk in the park in comparison.


This isn't a base-building game. You don't get fancier toys as you go along. You might get none, stuck smashing cans of pork and beans, losing precious calories as they spill on the floor. Then you find one, and it is your precious. You sit shivering in your unheated cabin, fixing a can opener with scraps of metal, knowing that the wolf might still be outside.

It mauled me on the way in. I bandaged myself, applied my only bottle of antiseptic, and slept. I woke up hungrier than ever. Outside was a deer carcass, but I lacked the tools needed to gather any meat.

I did what anyone else would do: I walked outside, nearly dead from hunger, shivering, and barely conscious from lack of sleep, and shot my five bullets at the stars.

At this point there's not a lot of content: one 'sandbox' map and no story mode. But I see a lot of potential. It's not a game that encourages wandering, because that's how you end up like the frozen corpses that you find here and there. But you must explore, so it pushes you onward to find food, and firewood, but the cold and fatigue want you to stay here, where it is warm and peaceful. You can be perfectly safe for the moment, and doomed to die if you don't go out to face the wolves.

 I'd say this game is like a small box of legos. There is a lot of potential for fun, but at the moment, you're pretty much limited to a very small spaceship. Note: There are no spaceships, but there is supposedly a secret bunker somewhere with great wealth, which means lots of fire wood.



DPS the targets in this order that is always changing, or we all die
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 July 2014, 7:00 am
I'd decided to give healing a try again. It was never my strength. I might even dare to say that I am awful at it. And yet, I cannot help but blame how healing is done.

Let us imagine if DPS had a two dozen targets. Each one would need to be attacked within a particular time, hit a certain amount, or else the raid could wipe. These targets would change unpredictably and frequently. There are too many to simply assign a DPS to each one. They have to each, somehow, know which one to damage, and make these decisions within fractions of a second. Meanwhile the healers keep healing their targets, because their healers are too damn stupid to not make their jobs harder.

Wouldn't that be terribly unfun?

With a coordinated group, perhaps it would be doable. With a small group, only five or ten, it would be doable. But when your DPS are dropped into a chaotic mob of uh, chaos, it gets to be more difficult. The mobs move, so you lock them in place, but of course if you lock their positions, then you can't really see what's going on in the fight and it becomes that much harder to predict what little you could before.

My own experience has always been rocky. I'd done it about since I started playing, here and there. I love filling in for a lost healer or a tough spot. As a primary job, I am just not good at it. I never have been. I tended to get mad at it, and yet often got stuck doing it. Something about it just doesn't work with my brain. Maybe it's just a lack of practice. It is not unlikely that a lack of gear causes some problems as well; I only just created an incomplete Timeless set, without a weapon, no trinkets or rings, and so on. I'm sure it adds up to a blue set, but when the tanks pull like they're expecting a healer in purples, I don't see myself as overgeared.

On the plus side, I had a lot of fun trying to figure out macros to make it work. Somehow I had managed to fit all my prot and ret abilities into an action bar and a half. I roll to another bar if I need AoE and some are macroed to fit in extra spells. Holy has not quite managed to fit comfortably. On the plus side, I may find use for my mouseover macros elsewhere; though ironically, they don't work as well when the spells are bound to mouse buttons. For some reason mouseover doesn't work on party portraits when the macros are bound to my mouse.

And of course, above all, it is something new to learn. I like having those things.

The other day I went healing with some friends. One was used to healing, so we made him DPS. The other tanked as usual. I learned that the second-to-last boss in Niuzao Temple does not summon adds if you're alone, and his damage isn't actually that high, so as the last one standing I was able to slowly, very very slowly, kill him for about 10% before my friends told me to stop wasting the time of the PUG people. I granted their request to no longer grace the group with my greatness and switched to ret for the last boss. Somehow having far superior gear in a role that I am more experience with led to a better outcome.

I'll heal some more. Some. 



At least Engineering is supposed to do that, but Blacksmithing is terrifying
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 July 2014, 1:43 pm
Copper. Tin. Iron. So far, so good. These are all fairly safe things. What about mithril. Is it dangerous to smelt and work with it in an open setting in the middle of a major city? Or worse, an unventilated room?

Then there's thorium. That's a nuclear fuel. Can you imagine if people were commonly melting down uranium, purifying it, and then making armor with that? What happens to the slag? Do we purify it to get the more or less radioactive isotopes? What about the radium that is generated by decaying thorium? Powdered thorium can spontaneously burn in air at near-normal temperatures, though that's true of many metals. It should have no problem exploding in a forge.

Just to the next expansion and we're working with fel iron. Fel iron? As in, iron that has been corrupted by demonic energy? It's not as if we forge it into something that isn't demonic, making either fel iron bars or felsteel. That is followed by adamantium, which is likely mostly safe, and given the willingness of vendors to purchase it, seems to have some ability to be recycled. Due to its name and rarity, I'd guess that khorium is terribly radioactive or in some way unstable. Why we would then mix that with demon-tainted iron is anyone's guess.

Cobalt. Well cobalt doesn't sound so scary, right? It really isn't, except for cobalt-rich ores tending to produce arsenic when smelted. It is named from kobold (which means goblin). And for some reason, despite being commonly found as a by-product of copper production in real life, it is instead found in pure form and is never seen during copper production. Perhaps it isn't actually cobalt and we've been working with some terrifying other mineral. Or it comes from meteor impacts. But how often do we see meteors? How much more often do we see infernals crash down?

Saronite is the blood of an Old God.

Elementium and Obsidium don't sound like anything all that scary, though it is a little odd that we only discover the latter after Deathwing triggers the Cataclysm. The original elementium was also an extraordinarily rare and expensive alloy created from a variety of materials recovered from hostile elementals. The new version is much easier to find and smelt, but is entirely incompatible, suggesting that, despite having the same name, it is something different. What are we working with? Pyrite is a sulfur-iron compound, which seems dangerous to be smelting, and who knows how we're turning that into something other than poor-quality iron bars.

Ghost iron.

Kyparite, as best as I can tell, is fossilized amber. That's where you get transgender dinosaurs, a stirring soundtrack, and certain death.

Engineering is supposed to be horribly dangerous and irresponsible. But blacksmithing? No one said that it would be hammering radiation, demons, ghosts, and congealed madness into armor.



Cobalt: This one weird ore that can make you lose your mind in just a few minutes
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 July 2014, 6:43 pm
Why it was okay that fel iron and cobalt were annoying to find

Once upon a time when leveling took a while, it was not unreasonable to need a lot of a crafting material to level the profession. You'd be out in the world so much that you were bound to get what you needed. Ores such as cobalt were widely-dispersed and tricky to gather without flying mounts. Yet you got them.

Upon hitting the cap, you likely needed the other ores more. So there were more of them. Saronite could come out the wazoo. Adamantium could also come out the wazoo. Meanwhile, fel iron would remain persistent even in higher level zones because it was still needed for high level items.

These are all fine and dandy when you're in a leveling-capping situation. These days, it becomes a problem. You may level out of the cobalt zones before you've naturally farmed enough. Then you're in the saronite-flooded zones for plenty long, a situation made especially noticeable thanks to the level 80 start on Cata, rather than the 58-60 or 68-70 that could fudge the starts and ends of continents a bit. So you have saronite out the wazoo, but there aren't capped crafters setting ten dozen stacks of saronite ore on fire to make a single "Boots of the Pretty Good That Can Get you Started on Raiding".

There are two ways to fix this. One way is to slow down leveling. The other is to replace some saronite with cobalt. My money is on the Third Way: ignore the problem.



Shared Health
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 July 2014, 8:11 pm
What if groups shared a health pool?

Incoming damage is calculated, and able to be seen, individually (no hiding that you were in the fire). It then feeds into a larger, combined health pool. Overall damage taken in unchanged. If the entire raid takes damage, then the proportional spike is as big as ever. If a particular player takes damage, just as much healing is needed. But, the spikes that hit individual players are proportionally smaller relative to the health pool, giving more time to deal with such things. More importantly, this cuts the number of health bars to deal with by 80%. Now the 25-man raid has as many health bars as a five-man instance.

I'd heal that.

Coming tomorrow, the post you've all been waiting for: Cobalt ore.



That guy who leaves the party and comes back and then pretends he never actually left...
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 July 2014, 8:24 pm
It just leaves us thinking that he spent the past two hours in the bathroom.

Apparently at some point I stopped writing posts. I cannot imagine that it was because I had nothing to complain about. Here, a list:

  • Requiring specific BGs for the legendary cloak
  • PvP pet battles
  • My inability to ignore cross-server
  • Healing
  • Not having three specs
  • PvP having a gear grind
  • Not being Horde (I admit it, I think male trolls and female blood elves look awesome)
  • Cobalt nodes
  • The next expansion (nothing in particular; I just get angry at change)
  • My usual bank alt name being unavailable on Blackhand
  • Healers who heal DPS who pull
  • DPS being allowed to talk
  • Groups that don't kill Ahune during the first submerge
  • The valor cap during the Have Lots of Valor in-game event
  • The lack of target dummies for healing

Where does one start? By putting that in another post, of course!

In the meantime, some positive things. I'll try not to make this a habit.

Despite three months to do so, I have not yet been fired. Madison has a lot of farmers markets. I met some cool people. I'm moving to a larger apartment. There is a bag of popcorn just out of reach, so that if I really want it, I can get it, but I won't waste it on a stupid whim (sorry, I might have just slipped into another complaint about badly-implemented 'accessibility'). And I'm still playing WoW, alongside a few other games.



Even if not great, Hearthstone is still really good
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 May 2014, 8:28 am
I've been having a lot of fun in Hearthstone. I saw the potential for more fun and decided to pay actual money to buy a lot of packs. This increased the fun.

With a flood of cards I was able to fill in a lot of decks, and create a lot of possibilities for new ones. These are no mere Lots of Powerful Cards decks. They have themes, ideas, goals. The cards are meant to work together. While certainly some of the increased fun comes from having a generally more powerful set of cards to draw from, at least as much comes from the greater complexity as I can call on a wider variety of mechanics and find new ways for them to fit together.

At the simple end this just means a rogue Combo mechanic: play one card and the next is more powerful. This creates some same-turn order of operations to consider. Throw in something like a Gadgetzan Auctioner and Violet Teacher and it turns into a spellcasting deck. Alternatively, I could have tried for a weapon-based deck, filled with daggers, poisons, and some minions and affect or are affected by weapons. The latter isn't as much fun for me; it's too direct.

Somewhere in the middle is my warrior deck based on enrage mechanics. It has a lot of minions with enrage and a lot of abilities that cause minor amounts of damage. This makes attacking a delicate matter for both me and my enemy. The minions don't have a great deal of health, so the line between enraged and dead is very thin. Frankly, this deck doesn't work particularly well; I need to get more charge effects in so minions don't just get knocked out after they enter. But it can be a bit of fun.

At the extreme other end is my priest. By itself it isn't particularly powerful. I don't have any cards in it that will win a game. Instead, it's based entirely on stealing my opponent's power. I copy their cards, I mind-control their minions, I clone them, and then I kill them. This gives it an element of unpredictability as I could steal great cards, or terrible ones. As for cloning, I don't know what my opponent might play, let alone when, so I have to guess based on what is on the board and what strategy they might be using. It also means that I have to play two heroes at once: my priest and whoever I stole from.

I love my priest deck. It's an absolute blast, at least for me. I suspect my opponents hate it, because so much of it consists of stealing anything good they have and turning it against them. But that just makes it their own fault. I don't even have Velen, let alone two, so it's not my fault if I cast a Holy Nova for 8 damage and healing.



Vash'jir was the best zone in Cataclysm
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 May 2014, 10:55 am
It's like they say, "Second time's the charm." They were too impatient for the third. Anyway, I ran Vash'jir on my warlock. It was pretty awesome.

The first time around I just entirely missed the story. I read the quests, but I never put them together into a complete story. I missed the forest for the greens.

Speaking of greens, it's pretty. I didn't realize just how much better it looks than Hyjal. Of course by the story they're telling, Hyjal is supposed to be a dark, burnt-out, smoke-filled wasteland. It's not a failure to deliver, I just didn't like what they were delivering. In general, my favorite zones are green, orange, or white. Grizzly Hills: green and awesome. Durotar, Silithus, and Barrens: orange and nostalgia-filled. Alterac Valley, Storm Peaks, Winterspring: white and filled with awesome, nostalgia, and excellent music. On the other hand, Icecrown is white, but also very dark, so maybe it's more like grey, and I really only like it because fighting with the Ebon Blade is just plain fun.

Vash'jir is colorful, but not garish. It isn't filled with humming purple crystals. On the other hand, if you pop up to the surface, it's just flat. The island over which we're fighting is a small atoll, of no use except as a naval base to attack Stormwind. It's obviously just a battle for the sake of a war. The water is flat, perfectly flat, without any features at all. Maybe that's lazy design, but it's also perfect for indicating that you are in the middle of nowhere, stranded.

That's the story: war and folly leaving us stranded. I'd somehow managed to miss that this isn't a zone of triumphant victory. It's us sailing off to glorious battle and getting our asses handed to us by a much worse enemy. It's an entire zone of us fleeing for our lives, trying to accomplish a little bit while we can. We're not rescuing lost marines out of kindness, but out of absolute necessity: we have no reserves, no backup, and no army. We cobble together a decent fight here and there, only to retreat when we find that our enemy is orders of magnitude more powerful than we expected. At the end of the zone we lose.

In Hyjal, despite the gloominess of it all, we won, driving out Ragnaros, rejuvenating large parts of the land, waking the ancients, and killing a whole lot of Twilight cultists along the way. It's essentially an unending march toward victory. Vash'jir is a beautiful zone of crushing defeat. Yet, it's not entirely a lost cause. We accomplish a lot while we're there, dealing major blows to the Naga and Old Gods; it's just not enough.

I like a little desperation in a story. I like the feeling that our victory is not pre-ordained, but is something that we will struggle for, and not get the first time around. While Hyjal consisted of us waking up the ancients so they could do the heavy lifting for us, Vash'jir was us doing the hard work, and everyone got creative with everything from improvised explosives to finding air to breathe.

My title might be hyperbole, since I think Twilight Highlands was great, particularly on a PvP server, but Vash'jir is definitely competitive, and makes the other zones look simplistic, ugly, and boring in comparison.



The Cruelty of the Server Transfer
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 May 2014, 7:30 am
Transferring characters feels weird. It's like moving, but when you can go back anytime, and you're the people left behind too.

I imagine that, if they could thin, those characters would be rather angry. In the time leading up to the transfer they may have dramatic shifts in their routines. The bank alt is in a rush to move inventory. The farmers stop. The character who is moving shifts into a bag-emptying mode, trying to maximize space for all the things that they'll be ferrying.

The characters may have once been part of an integrated economy. Resources would flow between them. The main always got the profits, or was reserved the right to anything it wanted, but there remained some back and forth. An alt might raise a trade skill, get gold for flying, or some few scraps of gear. It wasn't much, but it was something slipping out of the tight fists of the main character.

Soon before the move, one character after another is forced to mail off most or all of their gold. Items that cannot be sold on the auction house may be liquidated at a vendor.

The flow of resources moves in one direction from then on. It is a black hole.

Once it has moved, the main becomes a white hole. A bank alt is created and resources pour out to it. Other alts may be born, also receiving a large flow of resources. Where once there was nothing, from the main grows a new economy.

Yet, do not mistake this for growth. There is left behind a cast of characters. They once picked, mined, skinned, disenchanted, and looted just as well, if not better, than these new alts. They aren't destroyed, not exactly, but where they once had a purpose, to support the main and to grow around it, they are now disconnected, adrift, and without purpose.

As the cycle repeats itself with the main seeker further, greener pastures, more alts are born and left to rot. Eventually some may be deleted to make room for new ones. Most will be insignificant losses, generic names of generic characters who were never interesting enough to play. For them it is a mercy, created with the intention, but not devotion, to be played. The names recycle, the character spaces open up, and the account goes on.

The server list remains littered with broken character stables: bank alts, particular farming professions, a profession alt who could have been somebody, could have been a crafter. They might, at times, reignite when an alt looks interesting, like a stray gas cloud falling into a dwarf star. For the briefest of moments it may ignite, yet will likely grow dim again.

But once or twice, that cloud was enough to light a spark, to draw in more, and to make a blazing sun big enough to form its own solar system of characters. And then, it too collapses into a black hole as it prepares to leave. And this is a science fiction black hole in which a black hole of the same mass as the star it came from has a greater gravitational pull, rather than less after blasting out a whole lot of matter.



The sequel to the thing that was imitated feels so unoriginal
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 May 2014, 10:57 pm
I finally tried Diablo III. It felt like Torchlight. That is all.



Hearthstone will never be a great game
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 May 2014, 6:14 pm
It is, most definitely, a very good game. It might even be the goodest game ever. But great? No. It is not a great game. I do not think it has the potential to be a great game. In fact, as much as I enjoy it, I do not see it sticking around for a particularly long time.

What makes it good?
It's accessible. For the most part, cards make sense. The way they interact makes sense. There is some nuance, but you're never going to get into a two hour discussion of the stack or how casting a spell has (12?) distinct steps. For the most part, if you try to do something, you will succeed, and rarely will you be unsure if you can do it.

It looks nice. Magic: The Gathering online is ugly. The UI is ugly. The cards look ridiculous. In contrast, Hearthstone is vibrant without being flashy. It is easy to see. It is fun to see. It adds a bit of life to the game. Note that my comments about Magic are only about the online version, not the actual physical cards, which are awesome. However, I do not think the offline card game is a direct competitor with Hearthstone. Of course we might wonder whether people will rather spend money on one or the other, but that applies to any entertainment. In terms of time, I think they'd be in different budgets.

What makes it impossible for Hearthstone to be great?

You don't actually play with other players.
Instead, you take turns showing off your decks. I will never react to a player's actions, because I cannot; I am completely pacified until it is my turn, during which my opponent is pacified. I can only deal with the minions that are already on the board, whether mine or my opponents.

"The best defense is a good offense" gets taken to its illogical conclusion. There are no blockers except when the attackers decides to attack that minion. They'd only do that if either A) the minion has taunt and is in the way or B) they want to ensure that the minion cannot attack back at them. Contrast this with Magic where the defender declares who blocks, or not, and is an actual participant in the battle.

The result is that combat is a frantic back and forth, with each playing trying to ensure that minions are not on the board for long. Board clearing effects are common, and yet can seem to accomplish little, given the ease with which a a board can fill up again. And then empty again. It tends make everything unreliable, without really being exciting. "Will he kill all my minions this turn? Or next?"

Play to win.
Given the "take turns showing off" nature of the game, this is a bigger problem for Hearthstone than Magic. The effect may be magnified by the non-physical, no investment nature of it. People have to pay, or worse, befriend nerds, to get their first deck of Magic cards. Since sunk costs aren't something that the human brain readily understands, it becomes easier to put money into the cards. The net result is that I get mad at someone who plays a half-dozen legendaries in a single game, while I have one, that, due to being Harrison Jones, is not all that great (except when I destroyed a shaman's Doomhammer).

Coupled with any sort of pay to win scenario is the care factor. Someone who cares more will pay more, which is likely to increase their interest in the game even further. In addition, someone who cares more will be more willing to deal with the randomness of the packs. If you're only getting a few a week from the dailies, then the luck from those is going to make a substantial difference. If you're buying packs by the dozens, then things will tend to even out and no particular pack's luck or lack thereof will matter. If the game had card trading, then some of the randomness could be smoothed out, allowing lower interest players to still pursue cards they want without needing to burn tons of money on pack RNG or the terribly inefficient crafting system.





Neutral Blood Elves
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 April 2014, 8:00 am
The other day's post about the factionalism of some Pandaren led to an interesting comment which, among other things, suggested that Blood Elves should be neutral. The idea intrigued me.

Lore
It's somewhat of an accident that the Blood Elves are in the Horde. As High Elves they'd been part of the Alliance. Their 'conversion' to Blood Elves was recent. Their joining with the Horde was even more recent, and was not inevitable. There were doubts, and justifiably, that this more-than-devastated nation would be little more than a burden. Surely a Horde that had only recently broken away from demonic influence would be wary of a race that was dependent on demonic power.

In terms of personality, it fits as well. Elves are generally arrogant, and high elves perhaps even more so. Why would they not stand alone, away from the savages and corpses?

They have their own problems, trolls and the Scourge. Remember, BC was long before the Lich King was defeated. Could they really afford to go marching off to someone else's war with the many powerful Alliance armies on the continent? But perhaps that's irrelevant, since they have a powerful buffer zone against the Alliance: the Plaguelands and Lordaeron.

Gameplay
Who would become paladins? I still think tauren paladins sound ridiculous, even though I also think that Sunwalkers are a somewhat logical extension of druidism. There has always been a bit of a push for Forsaken paladins, but those also have various problems, even if they sound cool. Perhaps they'd be the inverse of the Blood Knights: rather than being so dark that even their brethren shun them, they'd be rejected for their embrace of the Light.

Geographically, Silvermoon isn't of much use to Horde players. Undercity already gives good access the north of the Eastern Kingdoms.

Most importantly, it's too late for World of Warcraft. The story already happened, not that that has necessarily mattered; Cataclysm was more than happy to erase player actions, such as killing Onyxia. Players are Blood Elves and I suspect would not react kindly to a forced race change. A splintering, as we saw with Pandaren is possible, but also sets an annoying precedent, because what race could not be justifiably picked apart? Break off the Dark Irons again, divide the orc and troll races, might as well just have every character pick its faction. Someone probably likes that idea.

Future Story
This is where I think the idea shines. Or, gets exceptionally ugly.

Despite regaining the Sunwell, I do not believe the Blood Elves are particularly powerful still. They were hit far too hard and were never a populous group. If no longer under the umbrella of the Horde, they'd end up with a potential enemy: Sylvanas.

I'd love to see this dark... darker.... black hole swallowed by another black hole, but without the huge energy releases from gravitational waves... darkerest turn by Sylvanas. Why should her former brethren not rejoin her? Perhaps the Forsaken could find some use for the Sunwell.

This leads to her army marching right back up along the Dead Scar and her journey to becoming the Lich King-lite is complete. Might the Alliance, seeing the risks of the Forsaken gaining such a powerful source of magic, intervene? Things could turn out ugly for Vereesa.

Alternatively, they just get overrun by trolls and breakaway undead.



How population affects the world
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 April 2014, 1:29 pm
Some quests are better with an empty world. The lone hero who saves everyone quests in particular work best when there isn't someone else also around saving the world. Waiting in line just gets to be ridiculous. "Excuse me, sir, but could you hurry things up a bit? I also need to destroy this threat to the world." Kills and spawns can get silly too when you've destroyed the threat to the world, only to have it pop back up again and fight you while you're riffling through its pockets. This gets doubly bad when the next guy in line to save the world has to wait because you've gone and tagged the threat to the world. It's not as if shared kills solve this, as then we end up with a handful of Lone Saviors of the World teaming up to repeatedly kill the threat.

On the other hand, if things are too empty, then quests can get to be too hard. Many quests with elites are of this sort. Many of those are gone. This can still end up looking silly, because the quests were clearly designed for multiple players involved and went from being a significant accomplishment to being lame. I'm looking at you, Jintha'Alor. On a side note, not only was that place tricky to run at level, but it's also the worst Archaeology spot in the history of ever. Quests for mass killing are simultaneously well- and poorly-suited to a high population. On one hand, if those rats/orcs/rarcs are such a problem, then it makes sense that there would be a ton of people hired to kill them. It makes it feel a bit more like a war/magically oversized pest control when you have a dozen people busily killing them. Yet this depends a great deal on the spawn rate: if they come back quickly, then all is good. But, if the respawn is slow, then you have a bunch of guys standing around drinking coffee and yet, none of them claim to be supervising or on break.

Population variance can take a turn for the comical, utterly ruining the quest, but creating an equally-great situation, if only you can see it from the right perspective. For example, Westfall is meant to begin with an investigation into a murder. This should mean the lone player carefully questioning various vagrants, possibly bribing them, a feature that I believe all quests should have. In practice, it means racing people for the opportunity to punch a homeless person. Perhaps not what the developers intended, but it works just as well. And the ragamuffins have a field day.



Finally got a pandaren off of Turtleland
Posted by Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 April 2014, 8:00 am
Their quests made me angry. I'd make a monk, because frankly, a non-pandaren monk and non-monk pandaren just don't make sense to me. Then I'd play the monk for a bit. Then I'd get bored by the wonderful mix of "you are the greatest person ever" and "you must learn humility" and go play something fun.

I finally decided to go for it. I'm on my new server, so I have no shortage of character slots. I struggled through it all, until finally, I got in a balloon and talked to a turtle. This confused me for a couple of reasons. First, it was a bit out of nowhere. "Our turtle island is dying" didn't seem to come up much. There was some issue with the little element guys, but that struck me as being their own version of Cataclysm aftermath. Second, why had no one talked to him in so long? Surely a little check up would make sense. Maybe some small talk. Or big, slow talk. Perhaps ask permission to mine the copper nodes.

Then I went to a forest and suddenly... the trailer made sense. This was the strange island that the Alliance and Horde washed up on. Of course I then was wondering what ever happened to Turtle Island. Did it just go on its merry way and ignore all the problems in Pandaria? Did it get lost? Maybe I missed a bit of quest dialog somewhere along the line.

I greatly enjoyed getting to Stormwind and talking to Varian. He sold the Alliance very well, as what appeared to be an Azerothian NATO (an attack on one is an attack on all). The brawl, or the aftermath, was perfectly done.

It did leave me wondering through, is Pandaren society screwed? From the sound of it, there are a lot of Pandaren who are leaving to join the Horde or Alliance. Clearly joining one faction or the other, or being totally neutral, strike me as safer situations. In the former, there are allies to back them up. In the latter, each side has an interest in avoiding a conflict, since that could force them into the other faction. Being mostly neutral but losing new recruits to the factions surely must be causing some terrible societal divisions. When no one is joining anyone, then opinions about the factions don't matter too much. But what about when someone's offspring, siblings, or parents, want to leave to join a faction? Just the notion that they can leave, that they can abandon all they knew, can shake a society. Now make where to go not just a matter of choice, but of division, and things get messy. Even without outside manipulations, there would be those who want to promote or disparage a particular faction, and those people surely will not get along well. It isn't yet a civil war, but what is to suggest that it will not be?

Perhaps that's a good sign, when I'm left with more questions and caring what happens afterward.



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