Friday, January 30, 2015

Personal Loot vs. Master Looter: Your Preference and Why

img. WoW Interface
This is something that's been on my mind since the introduction of the Personal Loot option in Warlords of Draenor raids. Through anecdotal evidence I can report that there seems to be a clear favorite, but I'm also aware of the benefits to each method. I'm on the fence---I'm not sure you can say which method is best, because the best method can vary widely based on the motivations of the raid group.

While probably not necessary for the audience, I'll still briefly describe the difference between the two systems: with Personal Loot, everyone has a %chance to receive an item from the boss. With Master Looter, the raid is guaranteed one item per five players, and the loot master hands out the items based on the type of loot system being used (Need over Greed, Loot Council, DKP, etc.).

Heading into Warlords, I had an old-school attitude. Manually dishing out loot is part of what makes it a raid! Then, nearly every group I joined outside of our guild raid was using Personal Loot---granted, this may be a result of the fact that the groups are PUGs. Still, I couldn't help but notice that with Personal Loot A) Loot takeaways were equal to and often better compared to Master Loot B) No time was wasted calling for rolls, tracking them, dishing out the loot, etc. It jogs up the memory of having to wait to pull Iron Juggernaut during the Siege of Orgrimmar because our master looter was still handing out drops from Galakras.

Not only does Personal Loot take less time, but it removes the guesswork behind who gets what. No raiders are going to accidentally roll for something they can't use; no raiders are going to miss a call for rolls on an item they could use; and finally, a raiders' ire is directed solely at RNG---not at the player who won the roll over them, or the raid leader's unfair loot system. I feel Personal Loot works well for our guild, which fields a consistent 1-night raid, though it wouldn't for a group that prefers to gear its player more strategically.

That's just my take though---and not all of my fellow guildies would agree with it! I'm curious to know which method you prefer, and the reasons for that preference. Feel free to reply to me on Twitter!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Cover letter from second WoW Insider application (click to enlarge)

I can't even remember when or how I first discovered WoW Insider. All I know is that it was a long time ago. What I can say is since that first visit, I've returned on a near-daily basis. The Queue is something I look forward to reading every single day, and I'm pretty confident when I say I haven't missed an edition of The Queue since I first started reading. I'm one of those people for whom The Queue can be "late" if it isn't posted in the AM.

WoW Insider has consistently been a source for all things Warcraft, and really, continues to be a great source for all things Blizzard. I'd like it to remain that way. When I learned about the all-but-confirmed rumors about AOL shuttering the Joystiq family of sites, I was dismayed. I won't pretend to know about the finances that drive a decision like this; companies regularly cut services that aren't performing to standards. As far as I know, only AOL knows what those numbers look like; at least, if anyone else knows they aren't able to say.

In the corporate world, they'll look at a site like WoW Insider and determine it's value. Value, in this sense, is profit. However, a visitor to the site defines value in much different terms. I know that I'll find Warcraft news and analysis in a singular place, written by people I've grown to trust over the years. People who I consider a part of my life even if I'm not a known part of theirs. Most importantly, WoW Insider functions as a rallying place for the community where ideas can be freely shared and debated. That's value to me.

It's because of WoW Insider that I met hundreds of WoW players I hadn't known before. I wouldn't have this blog if it weren't for WoW Insider: this space began as a holding tank for the posts I submitted the second time I applied for a position at WoW Insider. I enjoyed the process of it, so even after rejection I chose to continue filling this space. The pet battling guides which brought over 1,000 visitors daily throughout MoP and much of WoD wouldn't exist were it not for WoW Insider. The hundreds of pets I've given to enthusiastic pet battlers over the last few years is a direct result of WoW Insider's existence.

I'm not going to pretend that a hashtag/letter-writing/boycotting campaign is going to give us the result we're looking for. If the rumors are realized, and our worst fear confirmed, there's not much we can say to AOL that would change their minds. We can yell "Hey! We like this! We find this valuable!" All they need to counter with is the bottom line, one that's in the red or not far enough into the black. Not profitable.

So where that leaves anyone, who knows. Until we get official word, none of us on the outside can truly tell what will transpire. However, the community does have the power to take things into their own hands should the worst happen. Sites like WoWhead, Ask Mr. Robot, Curse, Warcraft Pets, and others offer a substantial amount of a free content to the community, with additional benefits to people who pay a small subscription fee. I subscribe to, or have donated to each of the sites above because I find their content valuable and want to ensure they remain a resource for the community.

I can't say whether or not something like that would be feasible in sustaining WoW Insider for very long, if at all. But if we do have a shot at #SaveWoWInsider using our own means, we owe it to the folks there---and ourselves---to give it a try.

Additional bloggers talking about this:

Alternative Chat
Apple Cider Mage
Exodar Sisters

Sunday, January 4, 2015

WoW Weekly: Someone Says [Farewell to the Molten Core]

WoW Weekly is a biweekly-ish, self-absorbed look into the things I've been doing -- or not doing -- in the game. From auctioneering and pet battling to mount farming and raiding.

To many players, the Molten Core for a long time was a thing of the past, or nothing at all. I'm told players who never experienced the content while it was current won't ever be able to appreciate its full glory and terror. I timidly agree, though I can count my Vanilla MC runs on one hand, and even then I was there as a warm body.

Patch 5.1 brought brief renewed interest to the Core with the introduction of battle pets that drop from bosses in certain legacy content. Pet battle enthusiasts and general collectors once again had a reason to visit ol' MC for a chance at three different pets. Of the twelve total pets added to legacy raids in 5.1, these were the most accessible as Molten Core was the easiest to solo.

Then, the 10th anniversary celebration was announced, and we learned Molten Core would once again be shoved into the spotlight. However, this time the Molten Core experience would be more akin to the one in Vanilla: a 40-player max-level raid. When MC 100 opened, my main character didn't quite have the requisite ilvl to enter, so my first impressions came through the experience of others. And that experience seemed absolutely maddening.

Full clears were taking anywhere between four and eight hours. Groups were wiping regularly. No one remembered/heeded/feared the Corehounds as they properly should. Needless to say, my initial excitement was tempered. So when I finally queued for Molten Core, I was elated to zone into an in-progress raid: three bosses remained before Ragnaros. When it was all said and done approximately two hours later, I knew it was the last time I'd see level 100 Molten Core.

But not quite the final time I'd see Molten Core.

See, there is also a marginal group of players for whom Molten Core has been a weekly source of anguish and frustration. That group of players seeks the Bindings of the Windseeker week after week, the left and right halves necessary to craft an item used to summon Thunderaan, who drops the fabled Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker.

So while fading memories of Molten Core 100 no longer plagued the nightmares of those who'd gone before, I continued on my quest with both my death knight and my rogue, each possessing the right half. Earlier this week, my rogue saw his quest complete, and the [Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker] Feat of Strength flashed across my screen.

So this is farewell, Molten Core. It's been emotional.

Now that I can scratch that legendary off the weekly list, there are these other things:

  • I have garrisons set up complete with profession buildings and Level 2 Mines on three alts who are all between level 92 and 95, and two more alts chilling in their garrisons at 90 just for the passive Garrison Resource generation. My characters do not wont. 
  • At approximately 521 ilvl, my rogue is able to solo the Dragon Soul 10 N and is over the halfway point in gem collection. Looking to gear him up a little more to ensure Dragon Soul 25 is viable, meaning more gems per visit. 
  • Ulduar and Firelands 25 are easily soloable with my main character who sits around 550 ilvl. Currently after the legendary mace and staff, respectively. 
  • Occasional Warbringer farming is still happening, as there's one mount I'd like to get my hands on. However, with many folks completing their journey to 100 on their first character, competition is heating up, and I'm rarely ever alone now when farming. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WoW Weekly: Not Complaining

WoW Weekly is a weekly-ish, self-absorbed look into the things I've been doing -- or not doing -- in the game. From auctioneering and pet battling to mount farming and raiding.

Well, we're about three weeks into this expansion, and while I can't speak for you, I feel like I've done so much already: I've reached level 100; my character has established and upgraded his base of operations, now a damn-near-impenetrable fortress; I've showed a couple of warlords what's up; and I saw the storyline advance to where it sits after closing out Nagrand---which, I might add, featured a pretty badass climax. So much content I've gobbled up over the course of two weeks, and there's so much yet to come.

The expansion brought quite a few new features and saw tweaks to old systems---not to mention model and environment updates that bring Warcraft's visual effects more in line with modern-day graphics, even if they aren't quite there yet. It's been a significant improvement, to say the least.

Still, I look around Trade Chat, even guild chat at times, and I tend to see complaints more than I do praises for the game: how a certain class is faceroll OP, or how professions are broken, or why Blizzard didn't design X feature the way I want it to be designed. Listening to some players' laundry lists of  dislikes sometimes leaves you wondering if there's anything at all they enjoy about the game. Why they still bother logging in.

I rarely chime in when I see comments along these lines. Just smile. Slight head shake. Get back to playing. Don't get me wrong, everyone's got the right to complain, and even more so complaints are often valid. Still, when there's so much to like about Blizzard's latest content, why spend so much time complaining about the little things?

So, other than playing and wondering why people who hate this game so much still choose to play, in game I'll be:

  • Honing a strategy for garrison's 2 and 3. I've unlocked Level 2 on both my warlock enchanter/alchemist and my death knight jewelcrafter/miner. This allows me to craft my own gems and and enchants, and have mats on hand for anything I can't create myself. Additionally, I should be able to craft a ring or necklace in time for next week's raid.
  • My main character's garrison is reaching the point where resource generation is becoming less and less of a concern. Essentially, I'm waiting to tack off achievements that unlock the level 3 blueprints for my buildings. 
  • Ridding Draenor of its treasures. Frostfire Ridge, Gorgrond and Talador have been stripped bare. Spires, you're next. 
  • Raiding! Our 1-night group begins with a casual night this Thursday, after which we'll be honing and balancing for progression. This is by far my favorite element of Warcraft. 

What are you up to?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Don't Be That Player: The LFR Parasite

Many of us have been That Player at one time or another. From toxic players, oblivious raiders, elitist jerks and beyond, Don't Be That Player is a series that looks at different scenarios we've all encountered, and how they might be approached differently. 

You queue for LFR, hoping to join one already in progress. See, it's just the final boss who drops something you need and you absolutely hate the second and third bosses as groups can never seem to coordinate well, which often leads to a wipe. A few minutes later while you're out questing, the queue pops. You accept and get ported to the instance...and see that it's a fresh run. Drat. Except, you have a secret weapon. You quickly find the little green eyeball near your minimap that tells you you're in an instance. Right-click, then select "Teleport Out of Dungeon."

You hold your breath as the screen loads. Then you're back where you were moments before, quest objectives flanking you on all sides, and so far it looks like no one from the group has noticed your disappearing act. You knock out a few more quests, all the while eyeing your chat frame with the hope you won't be discovered. The first boss falls. The group wipes on the second boss, but quickly recovers and is onto the third. By this time, thirty minutes have passed. The third boss is more challenging than the second, but after a few wipes, some rage quitting and reforming, the third boss dies and the group heads towards to fourth.

Aware of the raid's progress the entire time, you right-click the little green eyeball and choose "Teleport to Dungeon." You port into the instance and join your fellow players in front of the final boss. The fight goes down without a hitch and when the boss falls the RNG gods curse you for abusing the system and you get no loot. Ever again.

But no, really, you may end up getting loot, but that's beside the point. You shouldn't be acting like the player above in the first place.

My Time is Better Than Yours

See, that player has determined that his/her time is significantly more valuable than that of the other 24 players in the group. They desire the ends, but don't wish to bother with the means of achieving those ends---even when they've essentially pledged to do so by entering the queue with 24 others in the first place. The LFR Parasite takes advantage of a flaw in the system that results in the exploit of their fellow players for personal gain. The LFR Parasite wins regardless---they don't "waste" their own time while reaping the benefits of a group they've latched onto. Worst-case scenario is their ruse gets discovered and they get voted from the group. Only to queue up again.

The LFR Parasite can be found in many forms in addition to the one described above. Other common variations include the Auto-Follow Parasite and the DPS-Queues-As-Heals Parasite. In all of these cases, the Parasite desires a reward that's only achievable with a group but doesn't wish to contribute effort of their own. "Well that's just another term for a 'carry'." No, it's not. The Carry may be there for a variety of reasons, while the Parasite involves specific intent to abuse the power of the group.

But what harm does it really do if one person decides to game the system in this way? The short answer is not much. LFR, by design, isn't tuned for 25 players at the top of their game. Anyone who's defeated the bulk of the Durumu encounter with seven people alive can attest to this. In other words, the absence of one person won't make or break the chances for the group's success in most cases. But what if three people did it? Five? Seven? Sooner or later, the impact will be felt and math alone dictates the percentage chance of the group's success will eventually plummet to zero.

It's not so much the action itself I take issue with, but the attitude behind that action, which I feel is a symptom of something much larger that permeates the MMOsphere: a blatant, callous disregard for how one's own actions could negatively affect fellow players. Heck, it's this disregard that really led to the idea for Don't Be That Player.

So you don't act like an LFR Parasite simply because it's not nice or considerate of your fellow players. I know when I enter an LFR that most players won't be dishing out top-tier DPS, but I do assume that if they're there, they'll at least try---after all, that is the purpose LFR: to participate challenging encounters with other players. If you're worried about the value of your own time in-game to the point you'll outright play the system to exploit other players, you're doing it wrong.