WoW’s Legendary Gambling

I’ve played my fair share of Diablo 3.  That game is based on two main concepts – stats and specific gear bonuses.  The RoS expansion went full bore on this theme, with good success. Some specs cannot be played without a specific number of specific items.  There is very, very little strategic gameplay past that point – for most players anyway.

Getting those pieces of gear is the main challenge, and there are 3 main ways to achieve it.  Random drops from farming runs.  Cubing some items to have a chance at something better.  And Kadala shard-trading.  Kadala shard trading is the best way to get armor, while cubing is the way to go with weapons, from a cost perspective.  You get shards, trade 25 or so to Kadala, get a random piece of a specific slot – say a chest piece.  The optimum gearing path with a new character is to farm shards for gear.  A couple hours is often enough to get all the pieces needed, then it’s a grind to upgrade those pieces and get the complementary ones.

WoW’s Version

This is where things go sideways, since WoW is not an action RPG.  For a very long time, strategy won out over stats.  Set bonuses took a while to acquire, and stats bonuses were not massive increases in chance of success.  Except for legendary items.  These have always been coveted, as anyone with a legendary (a current one) was significantly more powerful than others.  The ring in WoD is the last example, but it required a significant amount of hoops to acquire.  The path was known.

Legion kept the same “game altering” legendary item system as before, but took out all controlled mechanisms to acquire them.  Not only was getting one a rare and random event, the actual item you received was random as well.  You could easily get a crappy legendary.  But the power benefit of a good one was massive.   All you needed to do was grind endless dungeons.

This reminds me a bit of the tuning done for Burning Crusade.  Raids past the first tier were all balanced against fully-gemmed gear, stacking Shamans, and everyone using Battle Drums.  If the raids were balanced against “regular raiders”, then those using the above strategy ran through without challenge.  Legion raids are not nearly as bad as thing, but the perception from raiders is that good legendaries are required.

Plus, let’s be honest.  For every person in your guild that gets a legendary, there are many more that feel disappointed that they can’t get one too.  Especially when the player has ZERO control over getting one.

Patch 7.2

Here things change, as Blizz is introducing the same Kadala mechanic from D3.  Trade in shards, get a random item for a specific item slot.  Any legendary will be for that slot.  This addresses the full randomness of acquiring one, in that you now have another method to try your luck.  It’s still RNG.  We don’t know how many shards, or the chances, therefore how much time expected.  But it’s an improvement.

Blizz also wants to tweak the legendaries to bring them closer together in terms of power.  That’s good.  It doesn’t really address the fact that legendaries completely change a spec’s playstyle… but it’s something.

Closing

I get what legendaries are trying to address.  I don’t personally think this was the way to go about it.  Adding the effect as a top-tier artifact trait would have accomplished the same thing.  Having legendaries be simply big stat boosts with unique art would have been fine to me.  I’ll be quite curious as to see how the shard dealer works in 7.2, and even just the analytical data that Blizz will collect on how people are spending them.  My guess here is that after a month or so, legendaries will be tweaked again, as the majority swings towards specific ones.

 

Paying for a WoW Sub

I am not cheap, but I am frugal.  I like value for money and am not one to pay out of pocket if there are other means.  The world doesn’t revolved around cash-money, regardless of what people may tell you.  It runs on perceived value and effort.

WoW subs can be paid either through money or in-game gold.  Both require some effort.  The question then becomes, which is more effort – the real world money or the in-game one?

How long does it take me to earn $15US vs how long does it take me to earn ~90k gold?

For the first part of that question, the answer is not very long at all.  But I’d rather spend that money on beer.

For the second part, it’s actually slightly more complicated.  So let’s break down my “regular” gold making activities.  In this case, these are activities that are just part and parcel of regular play.

  1. Class Hall quests
    1. These award around 2000g per run (assuming secondary goal completion).  I get on average, 1 per day, per level 110 character.  I have 3 that are maxed.  I don’t even have to log on for this, the WoW Legion app is enough.
  2. World Quests
    1. I run these with my Monk and Pally.  Quest + gear + cache = ~500g per day.
  3. Felwort & Infernal Brimstone
    1. If these are up, I run them.  Felwort gives 5+ per quest, sells for ~200g each.  Brimstone gives the same amount, but sells for ~150g each.  I have 3 herbalists, 3 miners, and the quest show up every 2-3 days.  Worst case, 1000g per day.
  4. Blood of Sargeras
    1. Trading 1 of these gets me 10 herbs that sell for 30g each, so 300g.  The acquisition rate varies greatly, but the minimum seems to be 5 a day.  That’s 1500g per day.
  5. Herbalism farming
    1. Starlight Rose and Foxflower.  The first sells for 65g, the latter for 30g.  Both are slow going.  I make no active effort here, but they are the only 2 herbs I will stop and pick when there are WQs in the respective zones.

Without any real effort, I make (2000+500+1000+1500) 5000g per day.  Since WQs stick around, I don’t have to login every day, and things can roll-over into another day.  Worst case, 20 days in a month.  That’s 100k g per month.  Without actually trying, I pay for my monthly sub.

Imagine if I actually considered this effort?

When Random Ruins Fun

Most people have pulled the lever in a slot machine.  The rules are fairly simple.  Match up the proper items, get a fixed reward.  The randomness is that you’re not quite sure which of the possible rewards you’ll get, but you still know the options.  Random chance on the event is the kicker here.

Diablo is based on randomness, both on the chance of a reward, and the reward itself.  When D3 launched, the variance on the rewards was completely out of whack.  You would find bows with Intelligence (that no one could use).  You would find swords with +/- 50% overall impact to DPS, with odd rolls.  The actual percentage chance to get something useful was well below 1% – yet the game kept giving you “big” prizes.  A legendary was a rare event, but until RoS, every legendary was useless.  It’s like a slot machine paying out in chocolate coins rather than real money.  Lots of blinking lights, even more disappointment.

Thankfully, the system today is a lot better.  Rare drops have generally decent rolls.  And there’s a chance where the rare drop gets an overall upgrade.  That upgrade, in 99% of the cases, is superior to what you had before too.  And there’s ways to get that upgrade rather than face banging against a wall.

WoW has toyed with this model for a few years now.  It started with fixed item drops on bosses.  You’d kill some guy and he’d drop shaman gear, but you didn’t have a shammy.  Then it went with tokens, where the gear wasn’t on the boss and you needed to return to town to get it.  Tokens then could be used in the field (MoP).  It then included a random chance for an upgrade on a drop, which was the model until legion.

Legion has done many things right.  Many, many thing.  Randomness is one of them, in the form of daily quests.  There’s always something different to do each day – certainly as compared to other games.   For anyone playing up until LFR, and a bit of M+, there are no real issues.

For those past that point, things get wonky, quickly.  The randomness of stats on gear drops is ok in principle, if those stats were properly balanced.  I know my Monk has gear 30 ilvls lower than the rest simply due to bad rolls.  It got better in 7.1 but it won’t be truly fixed until the next expansion.

This is compounded by the gear drops that can roll up to 15 ilvls higher than normal.  No longer do you get 2 rolls, you now get 4 (normal, 5, 10, 15).  Stats are again an issue here, so it’s entirely possible to get a super rare roll (+15) with horrible stats.  This goes back to the previous slot-machine/chocolate coin issue.  You should be excited but end up disappointed.  A properly rolled item isn’t marginally better… it’s dramatically better.

Finally we get to legendaries.  The main issue here is that the legendaries are so game-changing, that they are practically mandatory for raiding.  Most provide a clear 15% increase in dps/hps – so it’s clear you need one.  This gets worse

  • There are truly bad legendaries.  The “fun” legendaries use the same drop chance as the “optimal” legendaries.
  • You can only ever have 4 drop per character.  If you get 4 and none of them are useful to your spec, you need to re-roll your character and start at level 1.
  • The method to acquire legendaries is out of player’s direct control.  You either chain run raids, high M+, or do emissaries.  There’s no finish line to get one, you simply keep pulling the lever.
  • Combined, it means that any alt required a huge grind to get to a “raiding” power level.

Each of these items has a reasonable way to address the issue.  First, you split legendaries into utility, and DPS/HPS.  Utility ones can be acquired through other means, likely something related to daily tokens.  You can swap 2 legendaries for a legendary token – account bound.  Legendary drops are guaranteed after 60 emissary turn ins (2 months).

Random is good.  It’s one of the few carrots out there.  Random turns bad when a rare event is not a reward but a step back.  WoW has certainly taken the random portion to hear, with a plethora of things to see and do this expansion.  In some places, that randomness wasn’t properly balanced.  In most cases, this is just due to the odds and inability to test low percentage events.  The overall lack of fixes on this issue… that speaks more to the development cycle required to make code changes.

Pally Hits 110

3/4 zones complete, Highmountain about half done.  I’ve got a Monk, DH, Rogue and now a Pally sitting at 110.  Leveling with the Pally was relatively easy, and plays a whole lot like a Monk.  With some exceptions.

Paladins play in the 90% hp zone, what with self-heals and good raw defense.  Their skills are about laying down a ground-based AE, then relying on procs to keep the engine going past 30 seconds (like DKs were for a while).  I find them somewhat cooldown dependent in that regard.  I’ll record a session to give an idea of what it looks like to play one.  Suffice it to say, it’s clear that it’s a vanilla class.  I also dislike consecration, as it stays on the ground and blocks the visuals of other effects – I’m sure there’s a way to turn that off…

Monks play in the 30% hp zone and are more in the active mitigation mode, with brew management a key concept.  There are no bad Monk tanks, there are dead Monks tanks and the rest.  Combat revolves around Blackout kick boosting other skills, and I’m never GCD-locked.  Plus, the animation is a lot better.  Throwing a keg, backflips, spewing fire, spinning kicks… it gives you something to look at rather than the boss’ knees.

Perhaps there’s a skill curve somewhere, but right now the Paladin plays with a “if the button is up, press it” mentality.  Sure, I’m invincible, but where’s the fun in that?  It is miles more fun that a bear though!

Starting off at 110

I forgot about the ilvl curve at 110.  All the way here, I could solo piles of enemies, and now as a fresh 110 with a ilvl of something around 790, things hurt.  A week or so of dailies and I’ll be right as rain.  I’ve unlocked the 3rd trait with the other classes (man, Rogue was tough as a DPS), and I’ll give that a shot here as well.  There’s something appealing about that carrot.

Others

I wonder if there’s a place that tracks the number of emissary quests completed.  Whatever that number is (a few hundred I’m sure), the corresponding number of legendaries is zero.  I think it will remain zero knowing my luck.  I have a post on this topic (RNG in this expansion) coming up soon.

Cleanup Pays the Bills

Last week when I re-started WoW, a token was about 36,000 gold.  When Legion launched, I was making something around 20K per week with no concerted effort.  Suffice to say, I’m going to be ok for a long time.

That said, whenever I get back into it, I realize that I hoard a tremendous amount of crud in my bags.  The majority of which seems to have no use.  A scroll to teleport to Suramar?  Out.  Berries?  Out.  Monk brews to walk on water? Out.  Even my alts have junk I had mailed around.  Considering I like things to be neat and tidy, this needed addressing.

The best way to clean up bags is to visit the auction house (or use the mobile app).  I plopped a reasonable chunk last night (herbs, ore, pets, miscellaneous items) where it seemed to make sense.  I wasn’t going to flood the market with my 200 Felwort, but 50 sufficed.

This morning I woke up to over 60k in sales, just shy of 2 months of game time.  My guess is that I have another 20K worth of stock to flush.  Not too shabby, considering I was going to vendor most of it.

I will say that prices have dropped substantially since the last time I played.  Felwort was 600g, now it’s 150g.  Most herbs are 10g, compared to 80-100g.  Still, considering that I have a Sky Golem, which doesn’t dismount when collecting herbs, it’s marginally more effort to collect herbs than to avoid them.

Sidebar, I picked up ConsLegion to assist with leveling the Paladin.  This is a TomTom-like UI modifier that points you along the various quests, speeding up your leveling.  Given that I already have 3 characters at 110, I know the story.  Not so much speed here, but efficiency.  Side-sidebar, I still have no real plans to do Highmountain.  At least not until flying is made available.

Return to Azeroth

I was making some changes on my PC, clean up and whatnot, when the Blizzard updater started working again.  It’d bee a while since it was working properly, one of two reasons I had dropped WoW in late fall.  Sure enough, things were working again and I decided to give it a go.

I have an on/off relationship with WoW.  Aside from vanilla, I usually show up for the expansion launch and get to the X.1 patch, then move on.  I am no longer a raider, so there’s very little carrot for me on that front.  I consume the single player content, build a specific goal, reach it and move on.  Last time was to build a nice stock of lvl 25 pets, which I did a good job with.

Back at it.

I have a rather large stable of characters, most above level 95 – with 3 exceptions.  A warrior, priest and paladin.  I tried them all in vanilla, none I ever considered fun.  Mostly due to the very poor solo options at the time.  I still don’t like warriors or priests, but I wanted to give the Paladin another shot.  I really like multi-classes, what with a Monk and Druid leading my squad.  I goofed around a bit, then decided to bite the bullet and use my level 100 boost on her.  Yes, I still had it.  The boost is useless if all the characters you play are already at level 100…

I already know how to tank, DPS and heal, so the basic elements are pretty straightforward.  I opted to play Ciceroo as a tank, after the experience with the DH, Monk and Druid.  DPS are rather weak up until the later levels.  I did play some ret mind you, just not that much.  Holy was limited to the artifact quest.  Quick review.

Playing as prot. The artifact quest doesn’t make much sense to me, and aside from the last zone, the mechanics are humbug.  That last part is more puzzle than combat, which is a tad weird for a tanking spec.  The actual shield/blade looks cool. The rotation is epileptic and boring though.  Not as boring as bear, but ugh… I miss my monk.  Plus, I’m not a fan of proc-based rotations, which this one can be on longer fights.  The flipside is that this is the first plate-wearing tank I’ve played, and self-healing to boot.  I took on 4 groups at once and survived, which was very impressive.

Playing as ret.  The artifact quest was pretty solid and closed off some lose ends.  I enjoyed it more than most other classes, truth be told.  After doing all 3, this one seems to be the “default” quest, and they built the other two following it.  The look of the sword is one I’m not too partial, what with a giant marble in the middle.  The rotation is simple enough to get quickly.  I’m sure there’s something I’m missing to add some complexity to it, as I can only see cooldowns as the next level.  Poor stats mean I’m weak as a puppy though.

Playing as holy.  What is with this artifact quest?  The first half makes no real sense and doesn’t require healing at all, just damage.  The second half is good enough, where you keep a team of 3 alive through a cave dive.  The final timed-standoff is a fun healing bonanza, but I think mine bugged on the stairs and I lost the entire squad with a minute or so to go.  So I ended up kiting and healing myself across the room.  Done.  My stats aren’t strong enough to determine healing power as compared to monk/druid, but I did like the rotation.

The home base for paladins is pretty darn cool.  Very large, very thematic.  The run to upgrade the weapon is a bit long, but otherwise I think it does a good job.  I’m looking forward to more quests related to the hall.

Gameplay wise, the paladin isn’t scratching any itch.  I much prefer my monk’s toolset to the paladin, much more engaging.  From a lore perspective though, pretty much the entire Alliance storyline is built around it, with other classes pitching in.  It provides a different perspective on the various story bits, and I find that interesting.  I’ll keep pushing on, with rested XP, until 110.  Who knows, maybe it will grow on me.

Chromecast

The other night when the family was asleep early, I went out and bought a Chromecast.  A regular one, that streams HQ video – not the audio one or the 4k one.  $45CDN later, and what amounted to 3 clicks and 10 minutes, I had a streaming service plugged into my TV.

I already have a Roku3 plugged in.  Works fine.  Netflix and that remote (with headset) are amazebang.  I have a few other apps on it as well.  I also have a NAS that runs a media server.  Very basic setup mind you.  I have a Raspberry Pi, though that’s set up as a Minecraft server rather than KODI.  I was really looking for something stupid proof.

And sweet molly, is the Chromecast stupid proof.  I can stream from iOS, Android and any PC with a Chrome browser.  My entire tablet is streamed with 2 clicks.  I can stream  a tab in Chrome and play WoW on the same PC, with no issues on sound (dedicated channel).  I can also stream the entire PC if I wanted to.  Again, 2 clicks.

So I watched the Habs beat the Islanders last night.  Sidebar, the NYI rink appears to be surfaced with sand and not up to NHL (or even adult league) standards.  Congrats on the move!  Find another rink before someone breaks an ankle.

Back on track.  This doohicky is giving me ideas as to sharing info with the kids on the TV.  I can use it for the hockey pool, easily share content from web sites, emails, cat GIFs, the good stuff.  My wife can likely use it at work for her presentations.

It’s more and more amazing the world that we live in.  I can still remember having to walk to the TV to change the channel on the brown/yellow picture.  It’s like living in a world of magic.

WoW

Rogue cleared ICC and the Argent Tourney raids without any real issue.  There were a couple bugs where I killed the boss too fast and their speeches went wonky.  Guess I can try for the Glory of the Icecrown Raider here.  Raiding with Leashes 3/4, I think I ended up with 3 pets after 6 raids.  Not exactly super progress, but some nonetheless.  I tried a bit more with Assassination, but nothing compared to the Outlaw shooting a gun, or Blade Fury killing 30 enemies at once.

7.1 added some nice quality of life changes too.  There’s a path now in Azshara to get to the faction vendor (instead of jumping on rocks), the quests for unlocking the class quests have been dropped to 3 hours each, and you only need 20 WQs instead of 30 to get the final relic.  Artifact research is still way too damn long to have any appreciable benefit to alts.  My rogue is halfway to 14 points, while my monk (rank 11), is over 25 points.  Might not seem like much, but my Monk has over 465,000 points invested while my Rogue has over 6,800 points.  68 times more points!

I would expect that this gets tweaked, as it’s impractical to bring an alt up to main speed in anything close to reasonable time.  In fact, I would argue that it’s safer just to level up to 110, and park the character until they reach rank 9-10 in AK before playing them again.

In good news, my DH has both alternate appearances for his artifact weapons (both on the same play session no less), and my Monk has yet to get any.  The BrW appearance is a daily “click on the keg” event, the MW is a raid-only drop (so once a week), and the WW is a once every 3 days (Withered Training) event.  The last one I think I missed a week’s worth of chances since the game launched – still no luck on the drop.  Still no horseman mount drop either.

Ah well, still fun to play both the Monk and DH.  That’s what really counts.