Cash Stops Can Be Confusing

Conversions of business models seem to be a complicated matter.  SWTORs hot bars, EQ2’s well, everything, LOTROs descent into madness – all show that it’s a hard thing to figure out how to make a buck.  I’ll give Rift and TSW a thumb’s up mind you, those were pretty good at the start.  Wildstar, while probably one of the most forgiving F2P games out there, is a true headscratcher in terms of trying to make money.  The devs are learning though, so that’s good – the Shade’s Eve fabkit is no longer single use, flair is dropping in game, so there’s some progress.

Aside from costumes, items in the cash stop are nearly all single use, single character – mounts, pets, consumables and service tokens (I’ll get to these in a minute).  I don’t mind that so much, since you want repeat purchases.  What I do mind is the price point against repeat purchases.  See, Wildstar allows you to create a lot of alts.  I think my account, since I bought a box a while back, allows for 14 characters.  Mounts and pets don’t cross the character line, so if I want the same mount I need to buy it multiple times.  At $15-$20 a purchase, I don’t see how this makes any lick of sense.  I’d gladly pay it for the entire account, for sure!  A month’s subscription cost for a mount ain’t a bad deal at all.  There are plenty of posts on reddit and on the official forums about this topic alone, I’d expect some movement eventually.  I’m in a pickle mind you, since there are limited time mounts (for Shade’s Eve and zPrix) that will go poof soon, and they are neato.

Service tokens are the solution to the game’s gold sink.  Sure, they let you teleport a 2nd time across the world but aside from leveling, I don’t know anyone who would actually use them for that purpose.   They are really meant to bypass RNGsus when re-rolling runes.  When that starts costing a plat or so per re-roll, service tokens are looking pretty tempting.  They are decently priced but nearly directly tied to power increases.  For at most 35 tokens, you can get the best rune slot setup possible, with a further max of 5 for every new piece of gear.  You still need the runes to insert, and those can’t be bought from the store, so there’s some fancy wall there.

The game also has a variant on lockboxes, with some fortune coins to gamble with.  There is so little push on this, I’m curious if people are even aware that it exists.  It’s quite different that other F2P games.

The real kicker for me though is the subscription option.  There are benefits, sure, but they are so weak I don’t see why anyone would be subbed more than a month.  Getting MORE rep or cash/credits just means you hit the cap faster.  I hit the elder gem and omnibits cap weekly already, so there isn’t exactly an incentive there.  For those that don’t, even that isn’t really motivating.  You don’t get a discount in the shop, you don’t get any NCoin either.  You actually seem to get more benefit from buying directly from the shop, in terms of that progress bar at the top, than you do from subscribing.  So, I’m not quite sure why it’s even an option.  I’d be curious as to what the beancounters are saying though.

EDIT: Syp has a post similar in tone.

I’m kinda hoping they tweak it a bit more, because the stuff in that store is making me feel like

frymoney

zPrix

Yesterday’s patch added the zPrix event to the game.  It’s a set of 3 hoverboard races, with 4 options for rewards each.  There’s also a hoverboard mount in the store (with the above issues) and it looks super cool.  That’s right, super.  The races themselves come with a teleport button to the starting line.  Each one is just around a minute, minute-and-a-half long.  You win by finishing, not by getting an amazing time.  Rewards are a title, costume pieces and housing items.  I ran all 3 on 2 characters, so the costume is fully unlocked and I have a burning wall of fire on my housing plot as well.

The races themselves are quite a lot of fun.  Trying them the 2nd time had me looking for shortcuts, or better lines through to make better time.  Quick, easy, fun.  Nothing wrong with that!

The patch also applied some changes to the Quiet Downs instance for Shade’s Eve, or at least did so for me. The starting point is random now, though the map is the same.  (For those struggling to get through the maze in time, the end goal is the ? in the middle of the map.  Just south of that is the graveyard, which is really quite easy to spot from a distance.  In that graveyard are two tombs with a wall at the back – the wall has a fence on top – the goal is behind that fence.  I’ve been unable to jump that fence so I instead take the a different path.  The right most tomb is surrounded by a gate.  One of the corner posts of that gate allows you to jump to the higher wall (east side).  I jump up there, and head north to the end point.  I can clear with about 90 seconds to spare.  Also, you can miss 2 objectives and still get a gold medal for 50 Shades, it that matters to you.)

Jack Shade has also been tweaked.  He has many more attacks, summons jabbits, has pretty nasty AE and is actually a fight I need to move around in now.  I’m hoping this was just me hitting a simple bug, but the previous fights were just DPS runs, with an interrupt every so often.  Every run ends with a loot bag, so I’m stocking up on housing decorations.

Two events at once, both are quite fun.

The Benefits of Gating

I’ve long said that gearscore is one of the worst methods of determining a player’s value.  It just happens to be the easiest.  Playing in Wildstar after having done a fair chunk of FF14 sure does make you think.

When the family went to the zoo this summer, there was a section that had a height limitation, 48 inches.  My 5 year old was just under that.  She’s a giant (both are) but it still was’t tall enough.  Which is good, since the section had a clear strength requirement as well – I’d guess 7-8 year olds were the target demo.  What kind of test do they use then?  Pull ups and push ups?

Gaming isn’t much different.  Activities require 2 things, in varying amounts – skill and power.  FF14 takes a relaxed approach to this, with a 2.5s global timer in combat.  This slows everything down and the skill bar therefore drops down a lot in turn.  It then turns into a power game, where it’s slightly easier to balance.  FF14’s LFG system has a gear level requirement for some content – in order that you apply some meaningful benefit to random groups.

The question is always, what if I’m 1ilvl below?  Am I really that bad?  No, since in FF14 the gear level is so easily acquired.  You could certainly try the content at a lower level but a tank/healer that’s undergeared is a risk.  DPS… well that can be managed.

WoW has a gearscore requirement, that’s really more of a joke right now.  The only thing it prevents is alts joining top tier LFR 3 patches late.  Gear is like candy in WoW.  WoD forced people to go through proving grounds, which is great.  Probably #2 in my quality of life changes the game has applied after flex raids.

TSW has gear and skills, though only a single gate.  The Gatekeeper battles are what keeps you from top-tier content – ensuring that not only do you have the gear but also the skills and understanding to use them.  A fresh player will have a lot of trouble the first time in, though it does get better.

Wildstar though, that’s a different one.  Combat is extremely hectic, what with telegraphs all over the place.  The skill level is quite high, compared to what players learn while leveling.  What’s the last MMO you played where you needed to stun an enemy?  I mean to complete the content, not to get some sort of achievement.  Where did you need to coordinate interrupts in 5 group content? Most fresh level 50s don’t even have an interrupt slotted.  That means that skill level is super important.  Aside from raid attunement, there’s no content gating aside from level.

Some folks are pushing for an ilvl gate for dungeons.  While PvP gear can get you to ilvl70 for just a few gold, it’s not like ilvl alone allows you to complete content.  People still stand in the red.  People don’t slot runes, or amps, or use a mixture of support and assault gear.  There’s just a whole pack of variables well beyond ilvl that impact play.  And it’s those variables that are causing some frustration in the game today.  People are simply not used to the mechanics and admittedly, they are quite a bit more complicated that other games out on the market.

So my suggestion to Wildstar is the following:

  • A veteran dungeon has a pre-requisite that the Protostar dungeons be completed first
    • This ensures that the player has an understanding of group mechanics
  • A veteran dungeon has an ilvl requirement of 70 and that half the runes have to be filled
    • 70 is actually quite low, PvP gear can be bought at that level.
    • People need to rune their gear.  Not all slots are equal though and to save rerolls, only half need them.  That gives about 7 runes, which is about 1000 stat points or so.
    • Even at this ilvl, it’s should only be Stormtalon to start.
    • This ilvl requires a good amount of skill.

Anecdote quickly.  When my Esper was a fresh 50, I had a really, really hard time with the daily quest hubs, especially the 2man missions (spider queen is a good example).  It required a specific build to complete.  Now, with an ilvl in the mid 80s, it’s actually quite simple.  As if I had an additional 10 levels to the character.  The ilvl power curve in Wildstar is significant.

If the skill level in Wildstar was lower, then the ilvl itself could drop a fair chunk too.  It’s not, and unless there’s some sort of mandatory training (which any veteran player could do with ease), it’s a massive wall of hurt for new players.  The Protostar dungeons are a quick and easy way for people to learn the group mechanics, test out builds and ensure they can do group content.  It would be even better if they could be soloed (like proving grounds and the gatekeeper) in order to save time in a queue.  Keeping people playing is important and continual failure without feedback/practice does the opposite.

#Wildstar – How It Works – Rune Guide

One of the neat, and at the same time complicated, aspects of Wildstar are runes.  For those who played WoW, think of gems, combined with enchantments.  When you really start to pay attention, you can get easily overwhelmed.  This Rune Guide aims to help people understand how to Rune.

The first and most basic question – is it worth it?  Yes.

Even without sets, a runed item nearly doubles in power.  It’s less noticeable while leveling, but once you start elder content at level 50, it makes a world of difference and is essentially mandatory.

Rune Overview

You’ll notice that some items have rune slots, linked to an element (air, earth, etc…).  In each of these slots, you can insert a rune.  Rune names can get really complex, but they generally break down into the following:

[Element][Quality][Type][Effect]

So you might have an Earth – Divine Rune of Critical Hit Severity.

  • Elements are rather straightforward. Air, Earth, Fire, Life, Logic, and Water are the basic types.
  • Helmets, Chests, Gloves and Weapons can also have a specific type of Fusion rune, which provides a unique buff similar to AMPs, and can’t be found in other item slots.
    • Fusion runes can go into ANY rune type slot.   There’s no need to roll one!
  • You can re-roll a rune slot to a random element for a gold cost, which depends on the item level.  This can get quite expensive.  You can also use cash-stop currency…so I suggest you don’t start re-rolling until ilvl 80/100.
  • The number of rune slots on an item is linked to the quality.  Lower quality gear (blue) can only have 3 slots, while the highest quality will give you 5 slots.  This gives you a total best of 35 runes TOTAL per character, across 7 pieces of gear.
  • You can add a new rune slot for gold as well, though this depends on the item quality for the maximum number of rune slots. The cost depends on the item level.
  • Rune quality comes in quite a few flavors. The quality decides if you can equip it or not, based on a combination of your level and the ilvl of the gear you are using.
    • Lesser – ilvl10
    • Normal – ilvl 20
    • Greater – ilvl 30
    • Refined – ilvl 40
    • High – ilvl 50
    • Superb – ilvl 80 (dungeon level)
    • Pure – ilvl100 (raid 1 level)
    • Divine – ilvl120 (raid 2 level)
  • You cannot slot 2 identical runes on the same piece of gear. So no 2 Divine runes of Critical Hit.  You can put a Divine and a Pure though, which is often better than putting in a stat you don’t need.
  • Rune types come in 3 main flavors (See LINK)
    • Basic runes add an amount to a basic stat – strikethrough, crit, etc…
    • Set Runes can stack to add a cumulative bonus to some basic stats. 2 points is strikethrough, 3 points is crit chance, etc…  The set cap is 6.  Any class can equip these.
    • Class Set Runes are specific to your class and impact specific skills, adding a cumulative bonus. The bonuses to skills are at 4 and 8 points.  They are very powerful.
  • The rune quality can add more than 1 power per rune. A fresh level 50 can only slot runes that give 1 power.  With raid gear, you can slot items with 2 power runes- the only way to reach the 8 point bonus.
  • Rune set bonuses are limited to a single item. This means, that to get the 8 point set bonus, you need at least 4 rune slots (2 power each – called Exceptional runes).  This means you can get multiple rune set bonuses instead of just one for the character.
  • Set Runes are limited by the ilvl (Devastation required ilvl 80, Onslaught is ilvl 50)
  • The effect of a rune is linked to the element. You can only have 1 effect per rune.
    • Earth – Critical Severity, Armor, CC resilience
    • Fire – Critical Hit, Reflect
    • Water – Multi-hit, Glance
    • Logic – Vigor, Intensity, Critical Mitigation
    • Life – Life Steal, Health, Focus Pool
    • Air – Strikethrough, Focus Recovery, Deflect

Inserting Runes for Beginners

Given all of the above, it takes a bit of work to figure out what is the best way to slot items.  This guide assumes that you are wearing ilvl 50 gear.  If you have dungeon gear, then there are more/better options available.

Let’s say that you’re a DPS Esper and have a set of blue ilvl 50 Pants, with 3 rune slots.  You can buy a 4th slot for 14 gold, which is a good idea.  You’re given an Earth, Air, and 2 Fire rune slots.  Given the item level of the pants, you can’t use Class Set Runes but you can use the general kind.  Given that you’re a new level 50, you likely aren’t running around full of plat, so you won’t be re-rolling the rune slots.   What’s available given those slots and at that ilvl?  You can use this link to get an idea: googledocs

  • Onslaught – Life/Earth/Air
  • Striker – Life/Water/Air
  • Havoc – Water/Air/Fire

The closest one, without re-rolling, is Havoc (3 points, Air/Fire/Fire).  So let’s craft/buy the runes needed!

  • 1 High Rune of Strikethrough (Air)
  • 1 High Rune of Critical Hit (Fire)
  • 1 Refined Rune of Critical Hit (Fire)
  • 1 High Rune of Critical Hit Severity (Earth) – not part of the set but a good stat to have

You’re now at a 3 power Havoc set, plus some additional Critical Hit Severity.  That gives +200 Strikethrough, +370 Critical Hit Chance and +200 Critical Hit Severity, plus the 0.17% Health and 0.2% Critical Hit Chance.  That is a massive increase in power.  You can repeat as you want on each piece of gear you get.

I do not recommend re-rolling for Fusion runes until ilvl80.  Class set runes start at ilvl80 for PvP, ilvl100 for PvE.

Optimizing at Maximum Level

At the best gear levels, you want to aim for 2 class rune sets, then 6/6 of the basic rune sets on the other pieces of gear.  Be aware, that getting the best runes is very expensive (re-rolling + the actual cost of the runes).

The general idea is the same as before, it’s just that you’re going to be re-rolling rune slots and going broke doing so (pray to RNGsus):

  • Buy any additional rune slots.
  • Find your class stat weights for priority.
    • You don’t want to stack Intensity as a healer for example
  • Find the your optimum class sets (2 of them)
    • Find 2 pieces of gear that match the closest and re-roll the runes to match your class set (4 rune slots needed to get the 8 pt bonus).
    • Slot each with Divine Runes (use Pure runes to avoid duplicates)
  • Look at Helmets, Chests, Gloves and Weapons to ensure you have 1 free rune slot
    • Apply the appropriate Fusion rune to that item
  • Find your best regular set (or sets)
    • Reroll the slots to match the set requirements.
    • The best is using +2 power runes in 3 slots (giving the 6 total), then the extra 2 slots for another set (giving 4 total).
    • For example with a 5 rune slot item, for a Devastation(6) and Onslaught(4) build, you’d be looking for Earth x2, Fire x1 and Logic x2 for the best of best stats (Crit Severity, Crit Hit and Vigor, respectively)
  • Super-mega-optimal-dream-world-RNGsus-loves-you has something like:
    • Weapon: Fusion + Class Set
    • Head: Fusion + Class Set
    • Shoulder: 6/6 Set + 4/6 Set
    • Chest: Fusion + 6/6 Set + 1 Rune
    • Pants: 6/6 Set + 4/6 Set
    • Gloves: Fusion + 6/6 Set + 1 Rune
    • Feet: 6/6 Set + 4/6 Set
    • For a total of 4 Fusion, 2 Class Sets, 5x 6/6 Sets, 3x 4/6 Sets and 2 extra runes.  Which is around 12,000 extra stat points, without set bonuses applied.

Runing Example

The following is an example of me actually applying runes to my engineer’s main weapon.  You’ll see that it’s ilvl 90, meaning that the only upgrades are going to be from raids.  So might as well make this one as good as I can!

Empty Gun - bad rolls

Empty Gun – bad rolls

You can see here that while the itself is pretty good, the actual rune rolls don’t help me.  I can have up to 4 rune slots.  I can’t use a Class set but I can use the Striker set, so I’ll aim for that.  Based on the runes needed (Life, Water and Air), the actual stats I need are Multi-Hit and Strikethrough. Since I can’t use the same rune twice, I will use 1 exceptional rune and 1 regular rune for Multi-Hit and then 1 exception rune for Strikethrough.  That means I need 2 Water runes and 1 Air rune.  The last one is going to be a Fusion rune, which can be any type.

So let’s start re-rolling.

Re-rolling for service tokens

Re-rolling for service tokens

With the F2P change, you get omnibits from time to time.  The absolute best use is to transform them into service tokens, and then use those on runes.  To re-roll a rune slot costs 12 tokens, to add a new one of a specific type costs 25.  I need 2 Water and 1 Air, so I’ll re-roll 2 of them and then add one.  Total cost = 12 + 12 + 25 = 48 tokens.

Can't have two of the same!

Can’t have two of the same!

You’ll see here the limitations of of stacking runes, you can’t have 2 identical ones.  You can see that one of them will add 2 points to the set (the purple one) and one will add 1 point (the blue one).  I could have added a lower ilvl rune for 2 points, but the Multi-Hit value on the rune is worth more.

After adding all the runes, this is the end result.  Notice also the set bonus.

Super power.

Super power.

Cherry on top.

Cherry on top.

This is what it looks like when it’s all done.  I went from 100 strike, 100 multi and 115 crit at the start and now I’m at 370 strike, 600 multi, 115 crit and Siphon.   Then there’s the set bonus to it all, which comes out to about 150 extra points or so.

I won’t go over how much it cost for the runes, but it was about 1.5p per on my server to buy them.  I was lucky enough to have most of the materials on hand, so it ended up a decent price for an item I won’t be replacing.

So if you think about it, for the total cost included, I easily doubled the item’s power potential.

Wildstar – I Goes Squish

I was pretty gassed out yesterday.  My eldest was in the same boat, taking a solid 12 hour snooze.  My wife is on a kick to redecorate the house, which is ok by me, but my ability to appreciate her efforts isn’t exactly stellar.  She spent a bit at the store, came back with bags and bags of knickknacks that seemed neat but I was just too out of it to really pay enough attention.  To bed I went and was out for 10 hours.

This weekend, I’ll make sure to spend the time focused on this redecorating.  It’ll be a nice change to the house and really allow us to put more of our own touch to what’s around us.

Wildstar

I mentioned yesterday that my power output had increased.  I ran a couple more tests and this is still accurate, for the most part.  Regular enemies die slightly faster than I recall, so it makes clearing some quests and expeditions all that easier.  Mind you, some are long as all heck.  Deep Space Exploration is nearly 40 minutes long, solo.  I enjoy it and the story but wowza, it takes forever.  I could clear all of Star Basin in that time, twice.

Where the power output has not increased is in elite enemies.  I clearly do not have enough strikethrough, as enemy armor is huge.  In the previous fight length, say 2 minutes or so, I could clear these guys, self-heal and allow my mini-pet to tank.  Today in the same time frame, I can barely get them down by 10%.

Which brings me to the next topic, crafting.  Top-level crafting was rejigged.  Instead of existing on its own, there’s a penultimate level which is a good level 50 entry point.  Then the top level has 3 specific tiers, one for dungeons, and then for the 2 raids – each recipe uses crafting vouchers to unlock.  Vouchers are acquired through crafting quests – not terribly hard to do.  Crafting the first item set requires some ingredients that are somewhat hard to acquire on your own (in that you can’t farm them, you need to open bags) but they have a decent power level.  The last 2 can be crafted but only unlock fully if you’ve cleared parts of the actual raids… so not much worth on the market.

I bought a few recipes, put in some buy order for the material (which is 50% less than the Buy Now option) and logged off for the night.  If things go well, I’ll have a few new pieces to craft tonight, focused nearly entirely on Strikethrough, to make those elites a whole lot easier to run.

And that’s just my DPS set…

Of note, I’ve updated both Esper guides – DPS and Healing.

Wildstar – Returning to Nexus

I was finally able to really log in to Wildstar and see a bit about what had changed.  Yay!  The good/bad news is that it’s mostly quality of life stuff.

The downside is the sheer expansion of consumables related to the item store.  I need to do more looking at that aspect.  Filling up a rested experience bar with a potion is a weird thing, but it’s just a time saver really.  I never found the leveling portion to be boring but I’m guessing I’m in the minority on that.

Stats have been renamed but function nearly the same as before.  Runes have been overhauled and while the interface is slightly different and the balance between them better, it’s not like the entire system was redone.  Crafting at the top level has changed a lot.  The activity of crafting is the same but the recipes are all different.

And that was the largest change for me.  My Esper had a decent amount of crafter gear equipped as I had not raided or run any dungeons in a long while.  I logged on to a full mailbox and an nearly naked character.  Since the items no longer exist, I was provided a crafting token to make a new one.  This part was neat.  Items have a sliding bar between DPS and support mode.  Instead of a random set of stats to select while crafting, you can now manually select what stats show up.  What this means is that there is a whole lot less RNG involved, which is a great quality of life improvement.  Crafting top tier items was crazy expensive, and replaced in short order, making crafting more or less useless outside of runes.

Combat is the same as before, though the power curve seems to have shifted a bit.  Maybe it’s that the gear has more power now… I’m not quite sure.  I ran a shiphand mission (called expedition now) and it was much easier than the previous runs.  I need to try some 5+ bosses to really get a verdict though, as those were usually tight affairs to solo on the Esper.

My housing plot seems to have exploded in size, near 4x what it was.  That is going to take quite a few hours to decorate.  I really liked the previous size, as the limitation meant that you had to be creative.  At this size, I’m a little perplexed why they didn’t make it account bound instead of per character.  I know I can teleport between them – which I do – but it’s still awkward.

Skill unlocks seem to be gone, which is awesome.  That was always an annoying part of the game that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Our guild bank was littered with skills that no one needed because they dropped 100x more than the ones that did.  AMP/ skill point unlocks are still there, as a goal for the elder gem (EG) folk.  This of it as an AA system really, that only truly takes effect at max level. There are a few spots to unlock these points, so it’s not like you’re forced to do it one way.  Maybe the drops on this have been fixed, I’ll have to check.

There’s no new content per se, so if you’re looking for more dungeons or adventures you’ll have to wait.  My guess would be not too long mind you, given that the people playing are not terribly likely to be new players as much as returning players.  They have 5 drops of content to get through, which is good for sure, but it would be hard to argue that the staff working on the F2P swap had anything to do with the content group (art, design, combat design).  Fingers crossed on that one.

Next up will be an adventure run, maybe a vet dungeon too.  I think I’ll level another alt too (I have an Engineer at max already) to see if the power/skill curve while leveling has been fixed.  I was kinda hoping that NCSoft would have put in a dungeon system like FF14 but I guess that’s for another post.

Please, Take My Money

Fall is finally here, what with the cold weather in like a beast.  I was thinking we might get a little longer of those super hot days, but hey, it was good while it lasted. This weekend was a fishing weekend with some hockey buddies.  Water was a little cold but there’s nothing like a canoe in a lake, surrounded by fall colours.

It was a nice mental break from work, though the overcast sun and about 10 hours of paddling did drain the batteries a fair bit.  Still, a lot of laughs, some amazing food and great company.  That’s the way it should be.  I’ve had my share of the awkward times with folk you really don’t need to be around.  Those days be done.  A cigar, a beer, and a big campfire.  That’s the life.

Wildstar

6 days after the relaunch and I can’t get past the character selection screen.  Either the login queue is hours long, or it fails to load the world afterwards. How very interesting.  I can only imagine how frustrating it is over with Carbine.  Too many people want to give them money (or at least look at their product) and they aren’t able to get them through the door.  Makes for bad conversion rates.  Good news is that it’s a quality product, and maybe with a better price point, it can have some “stickyness” to it.

There’s bound to be a point where I’ll be able to play again.  And hopefully this influx of new players will fill the coffers enough to get some new content in the game in short order.

Diablo 3

I fooled around with the Witch Doctor a bit more, filled out a few more pieces.  I think the power curve in this game is solid, in that the jumps don’t feel absolutely insane.  There’s a clear progression, with T6 being the “sweet spot” for most casual players.  The amount of time between those spots is where patch 2.3 has had the largest impact.  Item acquisition is twice as fast as before, what with the Cube as a viable option.  Mind you, on my WD, Kadala has been the lucky one for me, with the cube really only decent for set swaps.  Guess that’s what happens when there are so many items available for a class.

I’ve tweaked the play a bit as well, learning how to weave specific spells in the rotation.  Wall of Death and Zombie Bears have an interesting dynamic.  The former causes you to run when casting, the latter has clipping issues if you’re not positioned correctly.  Getting both to work in a given spot is some fancy footwork.

I also tried a chicken build, where you run at near 150% movement speed for 15s at a time, with next to no cooldown.  It makes speed clears something impressive, slightly ahead of the Monk when taking down groups.

I was able to get a few legendary gems leveled up, enough to give me enough juice to do T8 reliably well.  It’s really telling how those gems drastically impact the power curve.  I could feel the progress in each greater rift I did along the line, making clears that much easier.

As for the Monk, I tried fishing  a few rifts to clear a GR60 but never got anything decent enough.  Caves and ghosts have my number I guess.

Bears, Bears, Bears

It feels like a bus ran over me, stopped to pick up some fares, left and then realized he missed someone and drove back over me.  So you know, good.

Witch Doctor

In between fits of sleep, I was able to get a Witch Doctor off the ground in D3.  I had 1000 bloodshards and over 1000 death’s breath going in, so I knew I had a decent shot.  What I didn’t account for what the MUCH slower levelling speed of a WD, given that it’s so heavily pet based.  I died less often than my Barb but it took nearly double the time due to slow kill speeds.  Anyhoot, once I dinged 70, I started to gamble and gamble.

I was able to get a full set of Helltooth, a Belt of Transcendence, Thing of the Deep, and a Scrimshaw without too much hassle.  Plenty of Zuni’s as well, though that set takes a bit more work to build through.  I went from level 70 to T6 in about 15 minutes.  That’s 15 minutes of gambling as the result of rewards over X hours on the monk mind you.  This became abundantly clear when I played in T6, as most people didn’t have Paragon 100 and I was sitting over 500 (which due to scaling is about 10x more).

T6 works.  I’m continuing to gamble to fill in a few more slots but the amount of rerolls needed on the gear is quite a bit different than on other classes.  Most other classes focus on a single skill, stacking it upright.  Barb is either WW or HotA, Monk is EP.  WD are different, in that they have quite a few options available at the same time.  Wall of Death, Acid Cloud, Zombie Bears have 2 of the 3 in use.  Then there’s the weird synergy with gold pickup range increases, which through passives, provides a significant buff to output.  It’s a hot mess, with very specific “perfect rolls” that seem to be of a higher difficulty to achieve.  But that’s me, after a couple hours on the WD.

I will say that the playstyle is quite a bit different.  Having a screen filled with pets and fire and bears (oh my!) is an eye assault.  Throw in another WD (or 2) and then you really have no idea what’s going on.  There’s a level of hectic present here that isn’t found in other classes, a sort of puppeteer without strings if you will.  Where the barb just blindly swings through the mess and the monk zip-zips through, the WD has a stutter to combat.  It’s certainly more deliberate, requiring use of all the buttons to be clicked.

Anyhoot, it’s an interesting run.  I think I’ll encounter a skill wall before a stat wall, which is different than the barb I have.  Also trying to fish a decent GR60 as well on my monk.  Ghosts and caves can take a hike.

Wildstar

I guess more good news/bad news.  Outside of perhaps SWTOR, I’m struggling to think of an MMO that did the F2P swap and wasn’t able to take the load of returning/new players.  SWTOR’s issues were rather minor, as their instancing/super server technology was “fixable” with some additions to the hardware.  Wildstar’s mega-servers are just face paint, they need to actually add entirely new servers to the fold, and that’s usually not an overnight fix.  So good news in that there are lots of people at your door, bad news in that they are having a heck of a time getting into your game – which can quickly snowball into a lost opportunity.

The extra good news is that there is zero MMO newness for a while.  People are dumping WoW in droves, FF14 is in the content lull before 3.1, SWTOR is a month+ out from their 2nd relaunch.  Even the F2P games out there aren’t showing a whole lot at this time (TSW feels “done” after Tokyo).  At least, not enough for me to pay attention.  Who knows, maybe they all expected this to happen.

Once I’m able to actually log in and play, I’ll have some updates to show for it.  In the meantime, my only reliable source of info is Syp.  And to be honest, his posts are giving me the Wildstar itch something fierce!