Civ 6

First impression is that I’m drinking from a firehose.

I started a game as Rome, cause you know, Rome rules.  The game looks and sounds good, though not a whole lot different than Civ V.  Sean Bean’s narration is a nice addition mind you.  The overall presentation is fairly solid, though a few of the menus aren’t terribly intuitive.  Research/Civics selection menu is slightly too big for my tastes, as it’s hard to see the relation between all the items.  Selecting a city can be confusing in all the options/buttons.  Backing out of menus isn’t done with ESC most of the time, but with an on-screen button.  These little UI tweaks are more of an annoyance as compared to the rest.

The core systems work mind you, and are quite intertwined.  Builders and Settlers work very similar to before.  Roads provide some benefit (Rome rules).  Merchants travel for trade.  Emissaries are in for city states.  Still confused as to how I can deal with other nations with only a few clicks.  There’s a lot of “I want to do this, but I need to do this, and this, and this first”, which is both cool but also frustrating.

Combat is a good example.  With 6 nations on the map, I know that a military way forward is going to be required earlier rather than later.  To that end, I went down the military route and had catapults, bowmen and legion up fairly early.  Taking down the Barbarians is fairly easy, including their little towns.  I figured I was ready to take down a city state.

I was wrong.  Even with 3 catapults, 3 bowmen, 2 legions and a great general, it took nearly 10 turns to take down the city.  And it was the weakest city, only at rank 3.  I saved before hand, to be able to go back and apply what I learned. And what I learned is that an early military attack doesn’t make sense unless you dramatically outnumber the opponent.  I was nearly 2 ages above my opponent and it wasn’t enough.

I’m going to have to rethink my strategy.  It’s a fun game, but when I hit that hurdle, I shut down for the night.  That is honestly the first time I shut down a new Civ game.  Not sure how to read that…


The Rogue’s class quest requires a run through Maw of Souls and Black Rook Hold.  DPS queues are 30 minutes.  My DH tank is under 2 minutes, my Monk healer is instant.  So doing it as DPS, not so much fun.  I’m on the “5x 12 hour quests” phase now.

Now that I hit 110 with him, I have zero interest in doing group content with him.  If I could assign a negative number, I would.  I like the Rogue, sure.  Outlaw has it’s nice perks when you get a solid roll.  It just pales in comparison to playing a tank or a healer, and my time is much better invested both of those rather than another alt.  I’ll keep the artifact research going mind you, maybe come back to it near the holidays.

Speaking of holidays, I’m on 15 runs of the Headless Horseman without a mount this year.  That’s on top of the ~50 runs over the years.  Luck is not on my side.

Headless Horseman is Back


Headless Horseman – with head

Hallowe’en is one of my favorite times of the year.  You get way more candy than at Easter and you don’t get guilted for it.  (If you avoid stepping on the scale for a while that is).  Every game seems to have some sort of theme going on and WoW is not exception.

For my money though, Wildstar has the best event.  Shade’s Eve fits really well in the game theme, and the mini-instance is fun to rerun.  Last year I must’ve done it about 50 times across all my toons.  I have a serious itch to try it again!

Back to WoW though.  This year, there’s a new daily quest in Val’shara, near Bradensbrook.  You drink from a cauldron, kill a wraith and get a loot bag, maybe get a witch’s hat.  Yay?  The Headless Horseman is back again, same loot as always, just ilvl 835 now.  Which should be pretty meaningless for anyone who’s been at 110 for a couple weeks.  But it’s better than Brewfest’s ilvl 810 gear. Which, to me, seems like an odd choice given that it’s not like you can kit out a player in event-based gear…

Hallowe’en in WoW is more of an achievement hunt than anything else.  Go collect candy in buckets, use wands to transform people and collect masks.  Run the daily horseman event and cross your fingers on the mount.  Considering that it’s the only real-life event that Blizzard actually endorses (pumpkin content anyone), it’s still strikes me as odd that this event doesn’t have more to it.  Heck, Brewfest had a pile of things to do, with plenty of toy-based rewards.

I still like the event, if only for the theme.  Just could use a bit more to it.

Rogue Update

Bugger hit 110.  I did it much faster this time than I had expected, largely to a very interesting mod – ConsLegion.   It works a little weird at max level, and can be very distracting, but for leveling, it is really hard to beat.  It works by selecting the optimum route in a zone for both accepting and turning in quests.  It avoids sending you across large swathes of land, and instead focuses on the core quest line.  There’s a TomTom-like arrow and a few other bells and whistles that make the entire process super fast.  I cut my leveling time by a quarter, if not more.  So much so, that I had not even finished my first 8hr class hall quest from the one offered at 105.

I haven’t really played a DPS role at 110 – instead focusing on tank for solo play, and healer for some groups.  I will admit that a leather wearing rogue in ilvl 775 gear isn’t very powerful, so from this point after unlocking world quests, I think I’m going to park him until gearing drastically improves.  That’s likely a week or so, as even the emissary quests give decent upgrades.  Then we’ll see where he ends up.

World Bosses

Final thought here.  Blizzard needs to change the display options on world bosses, especially those out in the open.  Nithogg was surrounded by mountains and J’im was in a cave, so that wasn’t the end of the world.  Levantus and Calamir are in the wide open, with massive AE.  A 40 person raid just destroys my experience, which works fine in all other cases.

It would be great to have a toggle… maybe there’s a mod for that.  Or you know, Blizz can stop making PC-melting events.

Shutting Down the Cottage

This wet weekend was spent shutting down the cottage for the winter.  I had helped with doing that exact work at other cottages in the past, and we did open it this year, but it was the first time where the wife and I were left to our own devices.

Saturday we had the final fire in the pit and got to watch the hunter’s moon (a giant blood moon) come over the rise.  That was seriously impressive.  Plus, the cottage is in the laurentian hills, which means hills everywhere with changing colors… I should get some pictures up about that view.  Combined with the rain clouds, it’s a bit like watching a movie.  Very serene.

A few lessons learned

  • Get the work done outside before it start raining.  Especially if it’s a downpour.
  • Containers that stack together empty and pile on when full are a solid investment
  • Hot water tanks hold an incredible amount of water
  • Don’t bleed the hot water lines until the pressure is off the tank.
  • There is a surprising amount of bedding to store in a cottage with 5 beds
  • The water is ice cold in October.  Bone chilling cold.
  • There’s a certain amount of sorrow when locking the door for the last weekend

So the first year is done.  Nothing but positive things to say about that.  Great memories, lessons that we all learned from, and very much looking forward to the spring.

Fall Habits

With that official closure, it means getting into the fall and winter habits.  I had a few too many beer over the summer and I need to work that off.  But the food in the fall is the best food of all.  Soups and stews and muffins…oh my.

Some people may have this too, but the lack of sunlight has a rather dramatic impact on my energy levels.  Waking up and heading to work in the dark, and coming home in the dark, that’s the worst part of this time of year.  Last year was a good year, and I hope that this one follows suit.  So far, the best remedy is exercise.  A rather tough gambit this month as it seems every night is booked with something.  Heck, I have hockey 4 times this week alone.

Yet it’s manageable and I’m having fun.  And at the end of the day, that’s really what matters.  Now for a cup of hot chocolate…

Alt Time

I’ve been able to find a few last pieces to get my DH to ilvl 850, which is sort of the cap for casual play I think.  It’s not that he’s immortal but with a particular artifact trait that heals me when I deal fire damage… I can take on 5-6 elites in Suramar without dying.  This is not something my Brewmaster can do.  To top it off, he’s 1 run away from maxing out the Withered Army training – in terms of chests remaining.  And aside from the 400 or so rep provided, the only thing left there is the chance at the cat mount.  My Brewmater long ago finished up that chain, but one of the Monk hidden artifacts is found in that chest… so more runs needed there.

All that to say, that for both of those characters, progress is now stuck” at running dungeons.  I like dungeons, I do.  Finding time to do them is a bit of a gap now, though I do have quite a few quests locked in there.  Plus the whole Mythic not being part of LFG is a little annoying.  They are both still actively doing Artifact research.

So, that means alts come out of the woodworks.

At 100 I have a Shaman, Hunter, Druid and Rogue (this guy dates from launch in 2005).  2 of them are in the Legion pre-event gear, so around ilvl 700.  The rest are in WoD gear, so around ilvl 640 or so.

That’s a heck of a gap.  I completed all of their artifact quests and got the Shaman to 101.  Those quests all scale with ilvl, not actual level, so there wasn’t a huge challenge.  Scratch that, my Hunter died a half dozen times in that quest.  I went Marksman, which meant no pet…likely the cause of the pain.

Real world questing is something different.  My Shaman hit like a wet noodle.  My Rogue… wow.  I remember this guy just being walking death.  I died on the first quest in Stormheim – twice – not only because damage was so low, but the defense and health was as well.  I stuck with it for a few quests and got 5 gear upgrades along the way.  It’s starting to feel comfortable again.

It’s also a large shift from playing a tank, where the strategy is to round up 5-10 enemies and go to town.  DPS roles are meant to pick their targets, as AE isn’t exactly a strongsuit.  Plus, after years of playing a particular spec (Assassination), it’s rather clear that there’s a better alternative (Combat).  That means I need to hit 102 to unlock that artifact.  Not exactly a challenge, given that I’m likely sitting on 10 levels worth of rested xp.

It’s an interesting progress – going from focused goals and depth, to a more scattershot approach to the game.  I don’t have any particular goals other than just playing and having some fun with the various class quirks.  I figure by the time the rogue hits 110, I’ll just park him and do the various WQs for clear gear upgrades, then work on the next one in the line.

I do have a DK sitting at 94…

The Waiting Game

Back when raids reset weekly, we had time gates.  When Lich King patched in daily quests, we really started to feel it.  MoP really took it to the limit, with dailies everyone and in everything.  The thing about these time gates is that they were expiration windows.  You had to do X content in Y time, or you simply missed out.  That still exists today mind you, but the timers are more relaxed – usually around 2-3 days.  The feeling of “got to do it all now” isn’t as present.  This certainly maps to the more casual gamer demographic.

What WoD brought to the table was progress windows.  The garrison missions provided items and gear if you waited long enough.  It took all of 2 weeks for someone to develop a mod to quickly sort and assign those missions for the best returns.  Unless my math is wrong, I was making something around 1.5k per day, for 15 minutes of effort.

The issue with this type of time gate is that the reward is not tied to the effort, or at least, not tied psychologically.  It’s a set-it-and-forget-it type of event, where riches fall from the sky.  You only really notice that the gear faucet isn’t working when the stuff stops flowing.  As compared to actual events that culminate with rewards, like killing a boss and getting a drop, the timed missions separate you from the effort.

Which is odd, because life is about waiting for things to come about.  I put a turkey in the oven, I plant vegetables in the garden, my wife was pregnant and saw the child grow.  We are used to waiting for good things.  But we are invested in these because we are active in their growth.

I need to pay attention to that turkey so it doesn’t burn.  I need to feed/water/weed my garden to have it grow.  We needed to keep the baby healthy and secure.  These are active events that force me to pay attention to what’s going on, where I am further investing for success.

Legion cut a lot of the WoD stuff out.  Today, there is no real reason to run any champion missions.  There will be for 7.1, as you will need an ilvl 850 champion to unlock Karazhan, but for today… there’s nothing really to be gained that cannot be gained through other means – faster and more direct means as well.

The exception here is Artifact Research.  At 5 days per rank, and 24 ranks, that’s 3 months of waiting.  Each rank increases by a non-linear amount, so you get a lot more value from going from rank 14 to 15, than you do 3 to 4.  I understand that there is a catchup mechanism, my DH is using it as he’s maybe 2 days behind my Monk.  Still, it’s an odd structure.  You’re not directly rewarded from the event, it simply impacts other rewards.  Where an item might be worth 20 artifact points now, eventually it will be worth 4800 points later on.  That is a massive difference.

It would certainly be nice if we could have more of the “I built this” feeling when time gates are applied.  I don’t see how that would possible work with WoW, given the various tools, as the closest we’ve come was the garden in MoP.  Player Housing comes close, and Wildstar sort of scratched that itch for me.  Archeage likely is the most obvious candidate on that front, though EvE certainly has a big foot in the game.  The feeling of a time gate as being an investment, rather than a hurdle… that’s where the gold pot is found.

The Gearing Conundrum

My Brewmaster is at ilvl 850, even if he is near the bottom of the popular charts.  My DH is just around ilvl 840.  Both are around 18 pts into the main artifact.  Neither have set foot in a mythic dungeon or LFR.  Neither have had a drop from a world boss either.  This is entirely from world quests.

I’m somewhat curious as to whether this is a problem or not.  Certainly, I can increase my ilvl, but why?  I can clear anything in the world without real issue.  I am above what’s needed for mythic dungeons.  What’s left are raids and mythic +.

I have little interest in mythic +.  I think the idea is sound, but ehh, I don’t play WoW for the stress of beating a timer.  Raids are a little different.  WQs have given me more than enough gear as compared to LFR.  LFR would only be for the lore.  Normal raids might be an option, what to get the artifact appearances and some level of challenge.  Heroic raids mean little to me.

So the main gearing question seems to be moot here.  I can get all I would need just by playing casually.  Sure, I won’t hit ilvl 880, but there’s no reason for me to do so.  It’s a conscious design decision, certainly.  Where LFR was practically seen as a gearing requirement, this expansion has provided multiple paths that are a better time investment.  It’s now back to the original intent – let people see the content.  That’s a good thing right?


I am still of the opinion that the best system for gearing is badgeing and tokens.  Both still allow for the RNG to apply to some degree but take a large sting out of bringing alts up to part later on.  There is a reason nearly every game since WotLK came out has this alternate gearing method – it works.  Badges make all the content relevant, regardless of your level or gear (FF14 does this wonderfully).  The downside was the tokens were only ever found in dungeons, making the gearing for said dungeons a challenge.

Tokens avoid those times where in vanilla you’d get a shaman head piece drop on an Alliance raid.  The ability to turn in a token, while still in the raid, is the best of both worlds.  Gear drops, it’s useable by a lot of players, and immediately equipable (though not enchanted or gemmed).

It Feels Better

I like the WQ gearing model.  It isn’t as sudden as what badges provide, and due to the random upgrade feature, you can really luck out.  It makes leveling an alt a rather easy affair.  You can’t jump into raids the day after 110, but that’s never the point.  And the WQs send you to dungeons for better drops as well, so it’s really a multi-path solution to a very old problem.  Heck, some of the WQs require a group to clear, so there’s more social aspects to it as well.  It reminds me a fair bit of the rift-hunting at max level within, uh, RIFT.

Overall, I think this system is a dramatic improvement on those that came before.  It’s an integrated system that links all the other functions of the game.  It forces people out into the world, and has very natural integration with group content.  It doesn’t feel like the progress is too fast, or too slow.  And with the random upgrade feature and chance at a legendary, it doesn’t feel punishing without reward.  Lots to learn from this.

Ancient Mana

This is a solid example of a great idea followed by missed execution.

Ancient Mana is the alternate currency in Legion, found in Suramar.  You collect 3-6 per kill, can collect various ground items for 5-150 (depending on the item), and can carry a varying total amount, which depends on your quest progression and a few items found around the map.  At max, you can carry up to 2000.

You spend it on 3 things.  First is 3 daily turnins for faction with the Nightfallen that also give a 1 hour buff each.  Second, there are random items around the map that you can spend mana on for another buff, either a companion, a shield, and so on.  Both of those are rather low cost, typically around 50.  The last item is the Withered Army training, which costs between 400-2000, available every 3 days.  This gives you ~450 rep, some toys, a chance at an artifact appearance (depending on class) and some gear.  It’s worth doing.

Getting to 2000 though, that’s a challenge.  You need to farm the items and I hate farming.

In Legion, when you harvest either a herbalism or mining node, it’s shared with other people on the map for a few seconds… 10 or so.  On the positive, no one can really steal a node.  This means less bad feelings and everyone gets a piece.  On the bad side, you see trains of bots harvesting.  Blizz has a solid record for banning them, but it takes time and even a few days of bots have a big impact on the economy.  Still, bots were there before and this actually makes it easier on honest players.  I should also mention that harvesting skill doesn’t gate you from harvesting.  My DH had 10 skill and was able to get herbs.  My monk with 800 gets more per plant, but that’s it.

The Issues

  • It’s a competitive resource that cannot be traded or sold.  This limits supply when others are around
  • You need to collect a fair amount to get to 2000
  • There is only 1 area (vineyards) that provides a decent pace of items to collect, without massive guards
  • Combined, this means 1 area is full of people all competing for limited resources

The Options

  • Increase the cap of mana to 2500 or 3000.  This means you don’t go back to zero when you do the withered army training
  • Increase the rate of ancient mana acquisition.  Similar to other harvesting abilities, let people get better at it over time.
  • Make the nodes shareable, like other harvesting abilities

It’s not like this is the end of the world, far from it.  It’s more of a reminder of what the game used to be like when everyone was competing for the same resources rather than working together.  And it’s not like the mana is absolutely required.  It’s more of a pet peeve/irritant to take 30 minutes to farm something when in reality, it should take 5.