Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ahead of the Curve: Argus the Unmaker!

Yes, my screenshot skills are very rusty. This is better than the shots where I have my back to the camera.
My guild downed Heroic Argus the Unmaker this weekend!  We spent an hour trying to get our fifth kill on Aggramar, so it wasn't looking very promising.  However, our first attempt was a heart-breaking 0% wipe, so we knew it was in our grasp.

The next couple of pulls were odd wipes, including one where Argus decided to walk away from the tanks, turn around, and Cone of Death them. Finally we got a good pull where everything went well, went into the last phase, got Titanforging early, and everyone stayed alive longer than normal.

Argus is an interesting fight in that the last phase completely resets the board. Everyone who's dead comes back to life with the rest of the group and you start again cleanly. In some ways it's kind of nice, because once you've mastered the first phases, you don't have to do them perfectly while learning the last phase. A death or two here or there is perfectly survivable, and you can save battle resses for the last phase.

Now we just have to fix our issues with Aggramar. I'm not sure what's going on. I think we made some small changes which is making the fight more fragile for us.

Still, that's Legion pretty much done and dusted for us. I doubt we will try Mythic, just due to avoiding the roster hassle.

Friday, March 16, 2018


Imagine that there are two MMO players: Sally and Lucy. Both of them regularly play the same four MMOs: Game A, B, C, and D. However, they don't play each game equally, but for different amounts of time. Sally and Lucy spend 50% of their time in A, 25% in B, 15% in C, and 10% in D.

Both players have the same entertainment budget of $60 per month.  However, how each spends that budget is different.  Sally prefers to spend $15 on each game. Lucy, on the other hand, spends all $60 on game A, and $0 in the other three games.

GameTime SpentSallyLucy

My contention is that Lucy is a more accurate model of how most gamers want to spend their money. She doesn't mind spending a significant amount of money on her hobby. However, there is a threshold which a game has to surpass to be considered worth spending money, and all the money goes to those games which surpass the threshold (usually only one game). Even though Lucy spends 50% of her time in other games, they don't get any money at all.

Of course, if next month Lucy spends most of her time in game B, she will spend the $60 in game B.

There is a minority of gamers who are like Sally, though. Who prefer subscriptions and spreading the spending around.

I think the reason lockboxes are so popular is that they more closely match how Lucy wants to pay for her games. I think the game companies would prefer Sally and subscriptions. Witness how many games attempt to start with subscriptions but have to convert to F2P and lockboxes. The game companies are stuck with a audience of Lucys.

The common refrain in the community lately is that lockboxes are evil and predatory. The vocal community, though, tends to be Sallys. Perhaps lockboxes are empowering for Lucy instead, allowing her to spend her money exactly as she would prefer, even if Sally thinks that way is illogical and foolish.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


I haven't posted in a while, so here's an update on how things are going.

Rift Prime

There's a fair amount of hype and nostalgia going around for Rift Prime. I decided to give it a whirl and downloaded the Glyph launcher again.

Unfortunately Trion's website won't let me add my credit card as a payment method for some reason. It just stalls with no errors or response. So that's the end of that plan.

World of Warcraft

My guild has cleaned up our act on Coven, even one-shotting it a week ago. Unfortunately, this has also been accompanied by serious regression on Aggrammar in the last two weeks. We've been wiping much more than we did on our first two kills, making it very hard to actually get attempts in on Argus.

We did finally get a chance to make three or four serious attempts on Argus last raid. We even had a 1% wipe.  We just have to clean up that last phase and reliably get the Titanforging buff early.  Hopefully Coven and Aggrammar will go well next week, and give us enough time to down Argus.

I also got the Lightbringer title from Argus (the zone) last week. For some reason, I could not get the hang of the goblin glider, as this was the first time I've really used it. Normally I just bubble when I need to fall a long distance. I fell off the edges of Argus and died numerous times while trying to get the hidden treasures. I finally got them all, and got a nice title for my paladin.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Neat Ranged Paladin Idea

I came across this Reddit post describing ideas for additional class specialisations. One was for a ranged paladin, and I thought it was particularly interesting.

Normally ranged paladin variants play up the idea of paladin as holy spellcaster, the "shockadin". In the past we've even had spells like Denounce which allowed Holy paladins to try this playstyle. And it worked reasonably well for questing, but was never raid-viable. In Legion, Blizzard moved Holy paladin dps back to a melee-style, which I've found quite fun for questing. (Still not raid-viable, though.)

In any case, this ranged paladin variant isn't a spellcaster, but instead uses a two-handed crossbow. It fuses elements of a "witchfinder", inquisitor, or Van Helsing-style vampire hunter into the paladin. Having the paladin focus on a weapon reinforces the martial aspect, and witchfinders reinforce the religious overtones of the class.

Though crossbows would be the signature weapon, I imagine these paladins could also use bows and guns. It would also be nice for ranged weapons to be used by a class other than hunters. Though Blizzard would have to add Strength to ranged weapons.

A witchfinder might be an interesting idea for a new non-caster ranged class well, maybe wearing leather instead of plate. However, I wonder what specialisation options it would have. A paladin variant would be simpler.

All in all, this was a neat paladin variant, and one I'd love to see in-game.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Heroic Aggramar Defeated!

Heroic Aggramar fell surprisingly quickly.

We spent over an hour trying to get our second kill on Heroic Coven. We finally got them down and reached Aggramar with about 50 minutes left in the raid. I think we resigned ourselves to going over the basic strategy and then pulling it a few times to see the fight.

Instead we killed Aggramar in five pulls.

I think that part of it was that we use a lot of assigned CC on Coven, so it was pretty easy to do the same thing on Aggramar. Then the rest of the fight is straightforward.

I think our guild's major weaknesses are movement and spacing. If a fight doesn't require precise movement and positioning, we're decent enough. I'm not really sure how we can get better at movement and spacing. From previous guilds, it's not something which is really discussed, but more something which is done naturally.

In particular, I sometimes think that many players have a "home" position in a given fight. That's where they stand, and where they return to after a given mechanic ends. I feel that there are several players in our raid who don't do this naturally. They don't go back to a standard position, instead moving to new positions, often based on the position of different mechanics, all the time. It's not like this is wrong, exactly, but it does make their movement unpredictable. This ends up hurting us in fights where predictable movement is more useful.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Allied Races

With 7.3.5, Blizzard released four allied races if you pre-order the next expansion, Battle For Azeroth. There are two races for the Alliance: Void Elves and Lightforged Draenei; and two races for the Horde: Nightborne, and Highmountain Tauren.

Each of these races played a part in the Legion storyline, and recruiting them is a very organic development in the story. Each race requires a certain amount of reputation and achievements, which you basically have if you've been playing Legion.

I'm really happy that Blizzard chose to make playable scenarios about recruiting each of these races. A long time ago, I complained about Theramore, wishing its destruction had happened in game, rather than in an associated novel. It's heartening to see Blizzard put important story events in game, and give the player a role to play in those events. It feels like the Blizzard of a couple expansions ago would have just made the Allied races available to play, and put the story of how they joined in a novel or story online, or a cutscene.

Perhaps this change was prompted by competition with FFXIV, which is all in on the storyline occurring in game. Regardless, it's a good change. Hopefully the same thing will happen with the scenarios for Battle for Azeroth, especially the triggers for the war. I hope players have their bloody hand prints all over the burning of Teldrassil or the attack on Undercity, or whatever other events happen.

In any case, I created a Void Elf shadow priest, and have been very slowly levelling her up. She's currently level 35. I really like the scaling changes made to levelling, as well as having zone completion tied to the story lines. I've been levelling in Kalimdor, as I have not seen most of the post-Cataclysm stories there. The new levelling is very enjoyable.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Heroic Coven of Shivarra Defeated!

Coven of Shivarra was bidding to become our fight with the most wipes so far in this expansion. We finally got it down this week, only a few wipes short of our Heroic Avatar count.

Heroic Coven is an interesting fight in that the individual mechanics are not very hard, but dealing with the combinations can be very difficult. Some mechanics push you to spread out, some mechanics push you to collapse, and there's some randomness as to which mechanics happen when which makes it hard to learn the fight. You may see a certain combo only a few times a night.

For us, our big change was how we handled the marching adds. We switched to a strategy where we tried to lock down all the marching adds. This delays running behind them as long as possible, and makes it a lot easier to find safe spots during darkness.

It took us a little bit of practice, including several attempts where we got fairly close. But something always happened in the last 20% and the attempt fell apart. The final kill was fairly smooth. Hopefully we will be able to repeat this next week.

This is the one fight this tier that has really tested my mana. I was running on fumes for much of the last bit of the fight.

The only other thing to note is that the Legendary Prydaz makes a large difference this fight. It's well worth bringing it out for this fight if you have it.