World of Warcraft: How to Manage Alts in Mist of Pandaria

It’s been said that Mist of Pandaria is not alt friendly. Most of that involves the gearing aspect due to certain content walls like reputation, low Valor Point rewards and the large number of dailies. In the end, the issue ends up being time (or lack thereof) when it comes to playing each of your alts. So the big question is how do you deal with all your alts in a slow, grindy game?

The answer is fundamentally around time management. The game ultimately is all about good time management for many things. So the first thing to do is not become overwhelmed by the task of managing numerous toons. Realistically, you’ll probably only be able to handle 2-3 at a time max. Right now, I’m doing about 2-3 toons with a mixture of LFR, dailies and leveling. What you want to set up is a kind of rotation schedule. So rather than running each toon on every single task every day, you focus on groups at a time.

The best thing to do initially is focus on a single toon for a while until you can hit a leveling point. No, I’m not talking about level 90, but when you start maxing out the toon. For instance, maybe with regards to gear or dailies. Then you can start phasing that toon out as you move onto your other toons.

But again, with your first toon, you want to use that person as the seed planter. Just like in previous expansions, that first toon is essentially going to serve the other toons as “the hand that feeds.” In the case of Mist of Pandaria, the primary focus is on reputation gains and Valor Points. Valor Points might be slightly harder to obtain in terms of the cap and ability to gain the bonus to other toons. However, it’s the reputation bonus above all else which matters.

Also, focus on leveling a single toon at a time rather than running toons in parallel. For an alt-a-holic like myself, it can be tremendously tempting to start on each of your alts (especially when most are at level 85). But the general feeling of freshness is lost upon me since all I’m doing is repeating myself in a close range pattern. I like spacing out leveling to breathe more variety into the activities I do inside of WoW. That makes the process more mentally manageable.

The thing is that leveling will take time no matter what. Even in Cataclysm, it took me roughly a year to get most of my toons to 85 and geared. Certainly, there was more variety in the paths you could take to hit 85. However, in the end I used the same pattern over and over for most of them as I found it suitable for me. The trick though was avoiding burnout.

One major difference though was that the road to 85 vs the road to 90 was longer overall. So I didn’t take my own advice and concentrate on just one toon at a time, except for my paladin. That said, I did splinter them to a degree to make the process overall more manageable. Towards the end if I was able to max out on a toon, I would simply deprioritize them in favor of someone else that I wanted to bring up through the ranks.

Just remember that the real battle is about discipline and figuring out how much you can handle at once.


World of Warcraft: Retribution Paladin Now Epic

Last night was a good night in that I managed to obtain three epic items. Two from LFR and one from Valor Points at the Dominance Offensive quartermaster. The main item that made me happy to receive was a long overdue belt. I had been stuck with a 450 belt for the longest time and was the last item I needed to replace before getting the epic achievement. I believe I might’ve won it from a re-roll, which was great considering that I had been fighting each area for a belt for a while now.

So right now, I’m sitting at a nice 485 ilvl. Immediately, I went to a training dummy to give the new gear a spin. One of the drops was the tier helmet, allowing me to have the full tier 14 set. This set is going to make a huge difference in battles as my Avenging Wrath’s cooldown is reduced by 65 seconds, which is quite a bit in the game. So adding a few gems and a belt buckle, I was able to hit around 80k dps on the training dummy, blowing all cooldowns that I could. Certainly, with food and flask as well as other buffs, I could easily exceed that amount.

It remains to be seen in testing this out in other fights. I still can do a few more LFR runs (Heart of Fear, Mogu’shan Vaults). Having completed the Golden Lotus recently and Cloud Serpent factions, I’ve cut down my daily route so that I can put more effort into other factions like the Dominance Offensive. However, it also implies that my Valor Points will go down slightly, since Golden Lotus does provide quite a few dailies. Not to mention that I periodically will skip some dailies if I find one or two that are annoying.

Where to go from here? I still have a few more slots that I can upgrade like my weapon, chest piece, trinket, belt and boots, four of which I’ll probably end up spending Valor Points. However, it feels really good knowing that I managed to get to this spot with the effort I’ve put in. Admittedly, I have been rather lucky every week in winning rolls. Since I have most of the gear as a retribution covered, I’ll probably just use LFR for Valor Points and armor tokens for my protection spec.

Also, I might start putting more effort into my druid and hunter. My druid has me a bit demotivated. After soloing the second half of MoP as a cat, I switched back to Balance since I wanted to play range. However, Boomkins are somewhat of a pain in the ass to play, which is why I started leveling my hunter. I mean, we’ll see how this all plays out. I’d really like to gear up my hunter since he was my original main and that I’ve been having more fun with him on this expansion than the previous one.

Diablo 3: Tempest Rush Monk Rules!

Finally, I hit level 60 on my monk while playing with some friends. Upon hitting 60, I spend around 12 million gold on gear to get a reasonable amount of spirit regeneration, which is required to handle the Tempest Rush build. Left me with just over a million gold left, but I have to say this: totally worth it.

I did a little bit of playing around on a Whirlwind Barbarian previously. The lack of fury at times made the build somewhat of a meh for me. It still felt a bit slow when you were fury deprived. Then up until now, the monk just felt horribly slow. Not anymore. Definitely one of the fastest classes around now.

What makes this class great is the raw speed you can achieve. You’re pretty much moving faster than almost any class. So it’s easy to see how this class/build might have become so popular recently as a premier farming class. I can see that this class probably works best on lower monster powers if you do not have high end gear. Right now, my resistances are quite low and my life is only around 15k. DPS-wise, he’s reporting to be around 70k unbuffed according to So I think overall he’s not truly hitting on all cylinders yet.

My build comes from Raoha’s Tempest Rush guide:

Right now, I have one major alteration in using Serenity in place of Blinding Flash. The thing is that I want my monk to be fluid in movement. So if I get entrapped, Serenity is a panic button that lets me escape in a hot situation. Also, I’m considering replacing Chant of Resonance with One with Everything since my Spirit Regeneration is a little over 12 seconds at the moment and the recommended amount is 10. That would allow me to potentially get cheaper gear but still obtain higher resistances.

I’m looking forward to doing some paragon leveling with my monk. I think I’ll try experimenting with him in Inferno to see how he fares. If I can get to Act 3 and farm efficiently there, I might switch to my monk from my demon hunter.


Conspiracies, Illuminati and Bullshit

I have a fascination with conspiracy theories as it relates to fictional ideas for good storytelling. I have a huge problem though with conspiracy theories when it comes to facts and what the authors of many documentaries want on their agenda. Today, I wanted to share my thoughts on that aspect as it relates to the so-called Illuminati and why I think that it’s utter bullshit.

My primary problem in the conspiracy theorists/theories is simply proof. When you read the theories, there’s just too many loopholes despite how interesting they may sound. The big one for me is idea of lizard people controlling us. If you watch enough videos on the subject, all too often you’ll encounter a silly image of the Bushes or other people of high power in a video tape recording showing “lizard-like eyes.” Often it’s the same video on repeat. Obviously, with the video editing software and Photoshop these days, anyone can doctor an image or video. It really takes more than a single silly frame to convince someone like me that these people are in fact “lizards.”

But it gets better. Nutcases like David Icke (whom I’m even embarrassed mentioning here) further rationalize that these beings are extra dimensional. So these videos only demonstrate periods where they reveal themselves. For anyone with any miniscule amount of common sense, you’ll see the red herring in this argument. It really is all based on faith in this case. Faith in a single individual’s belief system that we need to pay XXXX amount to get into a seminar.

However, where’s the real proof? If this was such a huge deal, why not do something realistic and grab around 10000 people, charge the Bush ranch and skin the guy? I’m not advocating murdering the former president, but how else is someone like a David Icke going to vindicate his premise? If we were being controlled by these beings, wouldn’t it make sense to create a mass rally and directly assault someone and bring them to justice? Why not show some balls and do something rather than setting up these useless conferences to show how bad cocaine affects the brain?

Next let’s talk about Satanism, the occult and UFOs in connection with the Illuminati. Much of the conspiracies centered around Satanism and the Illuminati. They attempt to connect certain figures like Aleister Crowley, Jack Parsons, the Church of Scientology, the Bavarian Illuminati, etc. with Satanic rituals. Some of the more infamous scenes in videos involve the Skull and Bones society at Yale initiating people, the nuclear bomb test, Bohemian Grove, etc. Also, they talk about the symbols, numerology and connection with rock music to hypnosis and other forms of Satanism.

However, something struck me the other night as I watched a rather long (and often redundant) youtube video on the subject matter. With regard to UFOs and alien beings, these people now are defining these extraterrestrials as “demons” on top of saying that UFOs are themselves living entities. While we might not ever find out the later aspect, the thing that made me suspicious is how the subject of UFOs and aliens went from something potentially scientific to something religious in nature.

Here’s what I think as I examine more and more of these conspiracy theories. There’s a small scale conspiracy behind them as well. The people behind them I believe are actually religious fanatics who are attempting to bend people’s wills towards their own agenda through scare tactics. The rhetoric, repeated nature of certain elements, use of religious iconography, etc. all are an attempt to pray upon our innate fears of the unknown. However, this smells like your typical zealot’s propensity for jingoism.

The thing to me at the end of the day is that you need proof. The problem with conspiracy theories is that they simply just remain theories. Fiction at best but still intangible and hence unbelievable. Stringing up video clips, taking historical moments out of context, etc. are actions anyone can do in order to create their own agenda to propagate for the masses.

But so what?

That’s the biggest thing for me. These people justify their own existence as “creating awareness.” However, I think it’s just a scam to get people to buy their books, listen to their radio, click on ads, etc. Websites devoted to these topics often are crude with tons of ads and a credit card payment option. So why would people who advocate moving away from a single currency system (e.g. credit cards) employ them on their site? It’s such a hypocrisy to me.

And the awareness thing is just not enough. What these people have done is accuse too many on an enormous scale of some extremely serious crimes. If that were the case, again why not rally hundreds of thousands of people to their cause and storm places like Washington or the Queen of England, etc.? Why simply sit behind a microphone and yell at people in the hope that they get attention for their silly cause? If it’s legality that they fear, then it’s all the more reason to do something radical on a mass scale. You have to become a martyr and demonstrate why a system is poorly conceived in order to fix it.

But again I think these people are all show. It’s just entertainment and profit for them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like listening to them. It gives me some interesting ideas for my own fiction. But their logic is so flawed that it actually repels me from doing anything.

That said, I would like to say that I do believe there are conspiracies going on in the world but on a far smaller, more obvious and less structured scale. And the most obvious conspiracy is this: everyone alive has an agenda, which simply is to be on top. That’s what we’re built for, how Darwin would explain us. It doesn’t get any easier than that to understand. As a living species, we’ll do anything to propagate and maintain ourselves as the status quo.

So from a conspiracy point of view, it’s just business as usual. The people on top want money because that’s how society has accepted in terms of a system of control. So groups like the FDA, farmers, fast food industry, insurance, banks, pharmaceuticals, medical, nursing, etc. are all part of that ecosystem to maintain themselves. Just like the NRA, military, CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, TSA, Boeing, etc. are part of their own ecosystem to fund weapons.

The thing is that if you’re not part of any of these ecosystems, you’re essentially fucked. It’s because there’s no support center for you and you’re just being manipulated all the time. But no matter what if you a part of a system, you have to deal with it on some level.

This is where I want to get back into the whole conspiracy theory thing. In the video, they used JFK as the last “true” president in the US, who wasn’t pre-selected by this group. There’s one particular quote that stood out mentioning how people can “truly be free.” But what does that mean? That seems to be such a lie in itself.

So let’s put this into practical terms. Let’s talk about “true freedom.” Let’s say these conspiracy people are correct and we beat the living shit out of some lizards and extra dimensional beings such that they high tail it. Then what? Are we going to suddenly move back into a mud based society where we’re dancing and smoking pot (i.e. the 60’s hippy movement?) What happens when some jack ass fucks a girl I think is hot? By “true freedom” that implies I could go over and kill that asshole, right? If that happens, then wouldn’t the girl grab her gun guaranteed by our sense of “true freedom” and just blow my brains out for revenge? I mean this will go on and on and on.

True freedom to me is just anarchy. But as you can see if we allowed true anarchy to reign supreme, we probably wouldn’t last long as a species. Don’t give me some stupid hippy “but we should love one another” speech. As long as we have finite resources on this planet, we will remain competitive as a species. I can’t suddenly see the girl I want to fuck going, “Okay, I’ll open my legs for you now and fuck this marriage thing!” without some severe consequence.

People might go, “Well then we’ll have to define how to be civilized and we’ll just need to get some really smart people to figure out how to manage resources.” Well, isn’t that what governments, businesses and economists are for? And what about the people who have to cook the burgers, prepare the meat, kill the cows, manage the crops, etc. You’re telling me that people willingly at some point will just start handling that because it’s fun? No way, people are going to be on the streets fucking and smoking hash.

Let’s put it this way. Yes, there will always be intelligent people in this world who can and want to be above this primordial state. But at some level, we’re still this primitive species. That’s why we like entertainment. We enjoy the dumbass kids who jump off of roofs, split their ankles, get powerbombed on their necks, etc. because we’re fucked up. That’s the real truth. No one likes admitting that they’re fucked up because it’s a hard pill to swallow.

Here’s my belief beyond the small scale conspiracy thing. People just plain suck. The reason why we’re in a state of being is that we’re horribly managed and there’s just too many people that creates far too many variables to deal with. No single person has the correct answer to create the perfect society and that’s just how it is. However, everyone has their own vision of what that perfect society ought to be. That’s where the real conflict comes into play.

If you look at the pros vs cons regarding the so-called one world agenda that these conspiracy theorists propose, you have to really think hard if it’s such a bad thing. One currency? Hmmm…the problem that currencies in the world just don’t make sense and that values in every country differ so drastically? One government….well, if it guarantees certain rights to everyone is that so bad? How about the notion of so-called control over people? Well, let’s face it. We suck. So if we’re allowed to take control of our own destinies, do you think that most people will be in school studying night and day to create rockets to the moon?

So the bigger question is what about me? What about Keith? What is his stake in all of this? I simply don’t care. I don’t want to be part of either side. Both sides suck no matter what. I couldn’t care less what happens to people. I’d prefer to be part of the Illuminati and get a nice handshake, have beautiful women surrounding me, nice home, food all the time just to sell my neighbor and biological family to some slaughter house to feed the so-called lizard people. But I suppose if that were to have occurred, I wouldn’t be writing this and I’d be having sex with Charlize Theron and Norika Fujiwara in a three way on a nightly basis while plotting how to take guns away from some rednecks in Texas.

Seeing that hasn’t happened and probably won’t happen because I probably lack some gene, I’ll be content sitting in a dark room, watching videos, getting ideas for stories and jacking it.



World of Warcraft: Patch 5.2 LFR iLvl Minimum Reduction

Just read that the LFR for Patch 5.2 will be reduced to 480. There was a large thread talking about the original number at 486 and how this number was pretty controversial. I made a suggestion that the correct number should be 480. Not sure if Blizzard took my post into consideration, but if you look at other LFRs, the numbers make sense around that point (e.g. to get into the first LFR for Mogu’shan Vaults, you need 460, which is 3 levels lower than maxing out your gear from Heroics, assuming each slot is 463 and you didn’t purchase any higher ilvl equipment nor found weapons in Heroics of 476).

This is great news for many casual players as the bar for LFR is pretty high as is. Also, mathematically the 486 number really didn’t make sense since that would assume people managed to get all pieces from LFR, upgraded each slot via VP and won rolls from Galleon, Sha of Anger or purchased VP gear. While this can happen for the casual (e.g. myself minus the Galleon aspect), you have to take into consideration things like alts as well.

My biggest argument about this setting is the psychology in which players in WoW works. Currently, the way LFR is designed, Blizzard wants even the casuals to go through a sense of raid progression. So they’ve created barriers between each raids by forcing people to complete each one in order as well as setting ilvl restrictions. However, one thing I’ve noticed is that as the expansion continues, the player base drops off and/or simply stops working on older LFR content. Even now, I’m finding queue times for Terrace of Endless Spring on a raid reset night to take in excess of 20-30 minutes. That’s the top tier for LFR. So how would that impact future progression?

It is understandable that you would want certain minimum gear requirements so that players can output enough damage, healing or damage reduction. However, if the content is tuned such that it requires a vastly higher number, then Blizzard already would be overshooting the core intention of the design (which in this case are the casual players). The only way to make up for this design is to once again introduce quick gearing instances similar to Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm. But at that point, the whole intent of raid progression goes out the window.

Just like in writing, it’s easier to subtract than add. So I think Blizzard made a wise move by reducing things this quick. For myself, I’m quite happy because my paladin just hit ilvl 481 today, making him qualified for the next LFR. However, I will continue to gear him as if the requirements were much higher. To me there’s no such thing as too little preparation.

World of Warcraft: The Aspect Blizzard Needs to Improve Upon the Most

The last two days I befriended someone in my guild by helping them via professions and questing. We talked quite a bit and I came to the realization that by being proactive, I was able to create a friendly environment that garnered me respect. He credited being in my current guild compared to his previous hardcore raiding guild. Truthfully though, it was my attitude towards the situation at hand that helped things along.

However, I realized that that the game in itself, despite being several years old, has gradually been losing its social environment. Some mechanics like LFG and LFR provide convenient tools for the casual player so that they don’t really need the basics of a guild for doing end game content. Many players reminisce fondly over Vanilla, but I suspect their memories are more for the community involvement rather than the mechanics of the game itself.

As the game evolves, the one thing I feel strongly about that requires improvement is the community aspect. World of Warcraft has a lot of potential to be an excellent platform to create positive communities within the game. However, as it stands, you don’t see enough focus on that aspect. Blizzard’s twisted vision of creating community is through things like Challenge Modes. But I feel that, while well intentioned, still is limited towards only the upper echelon players.

The truth is that players come and go. Many of my friends have left just because they realize the game is just a grind fest. Without having many friends to play with anymore, my motivation slowly sinks as I’m certain other players may feel. World of Warcraft no longer is the shiny bauble everyone has to look at and touch. The engine is old to the point where players no longer are compelled to just kill, pick up and talk to people. That’s why you need other mechanisms to get players back into the game.

New raiding content, arenas, etc. and game mechanics surrounding those aspects, imo, are not the answer neither. Certainly, the top end players will always be around, but Blizzard again is missing the point in catering to a small crowd. What’s needed are the social incentives that made the game great in the first place.

First, the game really needs to start dividing up the player base even more. I think the dichotomy of players currently just is centered around the types of play (PVE, PVP, RP PVE, RP PVP) and geography. This is simply not enough for a game of this size. Take for instance how it’s been said World of Warcraft engenders more successful relationships than dating sites. How can Blizzard completely ignore this aspect in terms of gaming conventions?

Because of the massive player base inside of WoW, what’s really needed is a dating-like match making service. I’ve called for it for a while now but there’s little inside the game to provide something like that. Sure, you have guild finder, but I don’t see how that’s really effective. By the time, I discover someone is in the recruiting tab, it’s too late.

The idea is that you really want guilds to be composed of like-minded people. I feel that there’s not enough in game tools to provide people a way to find and manage guilds. Everything is just too broad and there’s not enough available in terms of fine grained searching features.

The other thing I would like to see is something that helps improve the quality of people in the game. I feel that there’s just too many rude, obnoxious and immature people. The game really sinks to new lows at all times with the terrible attitudes of people. And Blizzard seems perfectly fine just allowing this to be. I think when you have a game like this, there should be some level of social responsibility on behalf of a company like Blizzard to improve the way people interact. It’s really sad to think that you have more nerd ragers being created daily than people who can be of use to society.

I mean, let’s take an example of my own actions tonight. I helped my guildie, we created a bond. While that is great in itself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were more incentives like that? For instance, group questing bonus experience and/or loot. Or acts of charity where you provide other guild members items like glyphs, etc. Not just provide meaningless achievements, but some sort of reward to help encourage more acts of generosity in the game.

Also, the way guilds work these days the idea of guild levels is pretty much meaningless once a guild reaches 25. What other incentives are there within a guild outside of just achievements in terms of doing things together? Sure, you get some guild perks, but again that’s upon the guild hitting level 25. Or certain achievements entitle the guild to a few benefits. But let’s face it: those benefits suck on average. And once you hit that achievement, what other incentives are there to continue to encourage people to participate in activities?

Obviously, some guilds are better managed than others. Those guilds probably have great leaders with a vision. But not all guilds are built equally and many just don’t last that long. So this to me is a major issue in the game.

What about doing things like adding social points and leaderboards within the guild. For instance, you get XXX number of points based on various social activities such as guild chat, creating events, doing raids, etc. These points in turn can be used to help the guild. Perhaps, provide bonus damage in a fight, increased valor points, or gear. At any rate, these aren’t that hard to come up with and it’s surprising to me that Blizzard hasn’t come up with something that doesn’t sound cheap.

World of Warcraft: Gear Cheesing in Mist of Pandaria

You just hit 90 and you’re wondering what to do next? If your intent is to aim for heroics, you’ll probably be undergeared a few item levels if you’ve just been questing the entire time. So this guide is for the person who hasn’t instance grinded their way to level 90 and is wondering how to push their gear a bit higher without doing more instance grinds.

My goal at the moment is to hit ilvl 460. 460 represents that zone where you can enter LFR and kinda hide. There’s a bunch of assholes out there that thing you’re wasting their time by not bringing top DPS into the raid. If you don’t try at all, then they’re right. But if you’re just hitting the minimal requirements to get in, then you’re probably not going to be doing top DPS. However, my philosophy is to ignore those people and focus on just getting through so you can start your way towards collecting better loot.

The main way I handle things once I hit level 90 is to either craft or buy any gear that helps me hit that ilvl 460 mark. I’m going to assume you have no Justice Points accumulated up until now for this guide but enough gold to make the necessary purchases. First, I suggest picking up the 450 PVP set. There’s 8 pieces in total so you’ll probably spend anywhere from 1000-2000 gold at the moment. Also, you might not necessarily be able to find them (like I did).

From there, you can pick up a 450 cloak, up to two 450 rings, a necklace and the Dragonling Trinket (if you haven’t bought it beforehand). Lastly, you can do The Arena of Annihilation scenario quest, for which provides a nice 450 weapon at the end. By now, you should mostly have 450 gear to get you into Heroics.

One thing I would do immediately is attempt to do a Sha of Anger world boss as soon as possible. While you can do it before 90, it’s probably better you just start around 90 (in case they kick you out). Either way, you’ll gain the Claw of Anger from the boss at the minimum so you can immediately get some nice ilvl 476 boots. The nice thing about the Sha of Anger is that the required/recommended number of people allows you to hide a bit, making it a good entry level boss to go after. If you can do Galleon, that’s just an added bonus (but I’m discounting the spawn rates).

Also, start hitting your dailies hard. If you hit 90 say in Townlonge Steppes, definitely finish up Dread Wastes before moving on. Although I do encourage you to get the 8 piece PVP set, Dread Wastes also provides 3 quests which will have 450 PVE rewards (shoulders, belt and boots). You should replace your PVP items with these.

Of course, you may ask why even bother getting the full PVP set items and not just go straight into Dread Wastes? For myself, I found that the mobs had more health and did a fair amount of damage. So I wanted to boost myself in any way possible until I got better geared. It might be a bit of a waste, but you might want to save it in case you plan to do some PVP in the future.

Either way, the reason behind focusing on Dread Wastes is to unlock the Klaxxi daily quests. Certainly, you’ll want to hit the Golden Lotus as soon as you can too but I prefer opening up as much as possible. It’s really up to you in the end, but I’m thinking more logically in the order of things. Alternatively, you can start the dailies then do bits of the Dread Wastes. At any rate, you’ll need this zone asap.

No matter what get on that path to start picking up reputation and valor points. At the start, you won’t have as much opened up in terms of dailies. But once you get going, you can easily cap valor points just with dailies in 4-5 days (depending on how much instance grinding and LFRs you can get into). And start working on accumulating the Charms of Fortune so that when you’re ready to hit your first LFRs, you can do the rerolls.

If you have a larger budget and/or the professions, you could buy out some epics. There’s two epics for the chest and hands. Consider this a time investment if you do make that purchase. Also, you can pick up the ilvl 476 Darkmoon Faire trinket. Lastly, for most classes, you can also find a 463 weapon that a blacksmith or engineer can make. These can be pretty pricey. When I made my Paladin’s axe, it lasted a fair amount of time since I rolled bad on Elegon for a while. Inscriptionists who are spell casters have it luckier as they can create a BoA staff. In my case, once I finish my staff, I can pass it around to others like my mage, warlock and priest. Lastly, for engineers, you can make the 476 engineering helmet.

At any rate, there’s quite a number of options for gearing towards LFR. I did a few Heroics but found a couple to have rude people. When I was with my friend’s guild, it wasn’t as bad but again it was a learning process. I suppose if I put more time commitment into this, I could start hitting Heroics on my druid. If that were the case, I would probably just selectively choose the Heroics to practice on them and get the gear I need.

World of Warcraft: Hit 90 on Druid

Finally, after not bothering with my druid for the longest time, I managed to get her to 90. It was a painful process. When you get out of the grove of leveling, it takes quite a bit to push your back into place. You feel overwhelmed or that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel at times.

Fortunately, in a game like WoW, there is an end but it can be tedious. Once you bypass that point, things seem to move much faster. I managed to complete 89 and went to Townlonge Steppes. Usually, after the Jade Forest, questing can get pretty brutal. Some areas like the Dread Wastes are just synonyms for mental blocks when it comes to the lengthy grind quests. So my solution? I leveled with a guildie.

When you do things with others, you’ll find that time passes by quicker. Sure, you might have to spend more time when it comes to pick up quests. But it’s worth it. It’s kind of like pair programming. When you’re on your own, it’s easy to lose focus. While working with someone else, you tend to be less distracted since you’re attempting to solve a problem. When paired up with someone else for leveling, you end up pushing each other further, so the pain points of mentally moving past certain zones no longer feel as horrid as they might’ve during the first iteration.

Either way, I’m quite happy now that she’s level 90. I’m hoping to do one Sha of Anger run before the reset, at the very least to get the ilvl 476 boots to start. In the meantime, I’m looking for ways to boost her ilvl so that she can eventually start running LFR. Mostly, I’ve been buying the 450 PVP gear as well as rings and necklace piece from the auction house. At the moment, I’m still missing the helmet, pants and bracers and hope to grab those fairly soon. I might cheese it a bit and just bite the bullet by purchasing the 476 chest piece (it’s around 5k gold). The other thing I’m working on is getting enough materials to upgrade her staff to the Inscription ilvl 476 staff. What’s nice about that is that it’s bind on account, so eventually, I’ll be able to trade it to my mage, priest and warlock. Definitely worth the time investment.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to assemble some guild groups to do heroics. That’s something majorly lacking in my guild. But I think if we can procure a tank and healer, it’ll work out nicely. Then I might not have to depend on the auction house for gear.

At the same time, I started working on my hunter once again. After not being able to find certain gear for my druid, I felt somewhat compelled to level my hunter just for leatherworking. It’s probably silly of me as gear does pop up from time-to-time. But it also is a way to push myself to drive my characters further. I hope to eventually get the rest of my guys to 90, or at least the ones with professions.

Diablo 3: Zillianop Drama and Game Implications

I was reading about some drama over on the forums with regards to a streamer who goes by the name Zillianop. The drama entailed him getting his account banned over botting but more so how he had been conning viewers into donating gold and money for him. Many of the comments on the forums were quite scathing towards him, many feeling betrayed and saying the guy got what he deserved.

However, the overall tone of the forums and how someone like this took advantage of a system made me ponder about Blizzard’s so-called design of their game. First, I’ve stated in the past that the introduction of the auction house and especially the Real Money Auction House has been a highly unethical decision on Blizzard’s behalf. I can see how they viewed taking advantage of Diablo 2’s situation in the past and wanting a cut in the auction (similar to how Ticketmaster designed Ticket Exchange to combat or rather get their hands in the secondary market for tickets i.e. scalping).

The thing is the game currently is designed to encourage competitive farming for money. Although Blizzard will outwardly lie in stating that they believe no one should use this as a permanent replacement for a job (come on, gold farming companies in China? You can’t be that ignorant Blizzard!), people have been using it to make some cash. The thing for Blizzard is that they ultimately control the rules on the cash flow, which makes the system entirely arbitrary.

So here’s the pain point for me: should a system like this be encouraged? Should we continue to put a company like Blizzard on a high pedestal for having a good reputation in the past? Or should we as a gaming community start to dismantle them for creating this monstrous platform?

The thing is that guys like Zillianop might have been created through a system like this, discovering that he could make an easy living. We can never truly know the extent of Zillianop’s nature as a conartist. Was it the system that encouraged him to take advantage of it? Or was he by nature already like this and just finding loopholes in the system to sneak inside?

For me, games should be focused around a single purpose: entertainment. Companies like Zynga introduced models that I believe are too short term focused but gave them a lot of praise from the financial community. However, the core products still lack substance which is why you’re seeing Zynga slowly die off. Then when you see a situation like a Zillianop where people are taking an idea that’s supposed to be centered around entertainment and manipulating to financial gain and duping the masses, you know that the idea in itself has become corrupted and must be re-examined thoroughly.

Truthfully, I’m surprises Blizzard/Activision/Viviendi has not been shut down or accused by the US government over the Real Money Auction House because of the gambling implications. Everyone knows that Diablo 3 is essentially premised around the slot machine mentality. However, connecting the slot machine mentality to real money implies gambling. Considering that Blizzard is located in California, I really have no idea how they managed to skirt around the rules (except through some sort of bribery). By the way, this is another example of why the Real Money Auction House is unethical.

Regardless, Blizzard/Activision/Viviendi are walking on thin ice right now. In the short term, they’ll win out due to the amount of money they’re making. However, from a product point of view, I feel strongly in saying that they no longer have the edge. Any good game designers can come in and create a better product that can wipe their franchises away. And it’s not really a matter of the product, but the mentality behind the company. As long as Viviendi and Bobby Kotick continue to dictate how Blizzard is run, the company will be constantly threatened by themselves once the gaming community revolts against them and begin to support upcoming studios and franchises who do not have as ruthless of a capitalistic mentality as Bobby Kotick and Viviendi.



World of Warcraft: How to Make Dailies Efficient and Fun

It’s a given that most people hate the dailies. Blizzard obviously will not be changing course at this point in time with dailies so you might as well get used to them. However, you can do things to make dailies less painful and even fun to a degree. The key is organization and psychology.

What I mean by organization and psychology is that you need to structure your dailies in such a way that you find more pleasant in terms of ordering, priority and perception. The first thing to realize is that any recurring type of situation is going to feel horrible after a certain point. When you get to that point, you can do one of two things: 1) quit cold turkey; or 2) change the way you think about the situation.

In my case, I did both. I decided to stop playing World of Warcraft in a dedicated fashion for over two months. Instead, I moved towards Diablo 3, which refreshed my enthusiasm once I returned to World of Warcraft. Just because you pay $15/month does not mean you’re obligated to log in every day. That’s part of the mental trap you can get into with a game like this.

Second, I decided that once my time freed up I would go back and hit World of Warcraft hard again. I’m not playing 24/7 but I am focused on progressing my Paladin. My carrot on the stick at the moment is getting enough gear and preparing for patch 5.2, most notably the upcoming ilvl 486 gear requirements. Part of that involves using dailies as a stepping stone to get reputation gear.

Another thing I did was stopped worrying about the grindiness of these quests and just head straight in whenever I can. I am going to make a point for myself to do no more than the weekly Valor Point cap as I see little (outside of reputation and some gold) to gain by doing it every day. In this manner, I’m not forcing myself to do every single daily every day.

Next, I’m combining my strategy of using dailies for Valor Point capping along with doing LFR for Valor Points as I gear up. Currently, I can access all of LFR and just doing dailies and 3 LFRs up to this point, I’m pretty close to capping for this week. If I finished both remaining LFRs, I would hit the weekly Valor Point cap. In the case of the Vaults part 2, since I really don’t need anything from there, it’s just better for me to skip it entirely. I can do Heart of Fear part 2 and make an attempt to get a little more gear, but just in terms of Valor Points, I feel that there’s no reason to use that for that purpose.

So now, I have roughly 55 points needed to cap for the week. What can I do? If you look at the daily quest structure, there’s quite a bit of options. I’m mostly likely going to choose the Dominance Offensive as they’re new and have the best gear potentially. Since I won’t completely cap with them, I’ll still have some freedom to choose another hub or two. So I’ll probably go with the Klaxxi. Either way, I have some nice freedom in selecting my dailies.

The point in all of this is that I’m pre-planning how I will approach dailies and valor point capping. The good thing is that I realize that I’m almost completely capped and that it’s Thursday morning (my server is Oceanic so the reset time is much later). So that still leaves me most of Thursday, Friday and the weekend for other things. In short, this is simply time management that I’m doing with regards to dailies.

I did invest all my time up front in attempting to maximize as many dailies as I could towards the beginning of the week. However, at times I was selective with certain dailies. For instance, I find quite a few of the Shado Pan dailies to be horrid. The gear really isn’t great so I can ignore the days in which I choose to do dailies with them. I’m sure if I didn’t, I would cap even earlier with regards to Valor Points.

Also, I started structuring my dailies in a certain manner for a given day. This to me is the key in making dailies a lot more fun. The way I’m doing them is starting off with a fun one (say the Order of the Serpent Cloud) then moving into a necessary one (Dominance Offensive). I’ll go and check Townlonge Steppes to see what Shado Pan dailies are available. If they aren’t too bad, I’ll give them a go. But if they’re annoying, I’ll skip them and move onto the August Celestials, which can be reasonable. After that, I switch to the Tillers as I find them to be generally fun and then back to The Klaxxi, Golden Lotus and I’ll finish up with the Anglers.

So if you see the pattern I’m using here, I’m going from fun to necessary/grindy back to semi-interesting/fun, back to grindy and end on relaxing/fun. In the past, I would start with the Golden Lotus and I started to realize that it’s the worst faction to start with just because it can be long and at times frustrating. However, if I get into a mental grove with my routine, I’ll tolerate doing them. I use the valor point weekly cap as a way to motivate myself. Also, I’ll look at my gold to see how much I’ve made. You’ll realize quickly that your gold will skyrocket fairly quickly as you continue to plow through dailies.

Again, the thing you need to take away from this aspect of the game is that this is a mental battle and the way you overcome it is by changing your perception of the situation.

One other key that I have not mentioned is that you really should find a group in doing dailies. I firmly believe that any game that is repetitive will have that sense mitigated in a group setting. After all, this game is an MMORPG so you might as well take advantage of that aspect.