Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Updates on Leveling and Thoughts On Artifact Power

So I managed to get my elemental shaman to 110 a week or so ago (the exact date was 2/2).  The leveling time on this one was right in the middle of the pack at almost exactly 18 hours of played time.

Elemental wasn't my favorite, but ended up not being all that bad by the time it was done.  It is also incredibly fun in dungeons, so I did a bit more of those than normal.

I also managed to get all 5 of my 910 legendaries upgraded to 940 grinding out essences, mostly from LFR runs and from emissary chests.  Wasn't too bad by the time it was all said and done.  I'm not sure it was 100% necessary, but what the heck, right?

I also managed to get the moose mount from the weekly archaeology quest.  It ended up taking about 3 hours and definitely helped having the Surveyor enchant on my gloves.    It was a welcome distraction from other things.

I also started working again on the fishing artifact.  I've finished up the rares in Aszuna and Val'Sharah and am starting to work on Highmountain rares.

Also a welcome distraction.

Meanwhile, I've been leveling my rogue as Subtlety, which I had totally forgotten was even a spec. But with my favorite leveling spec, combat, completely gone, I had to pick something, and I didn't have two daggers, so Sub it was!  It's actually been pretty decent to level, with a few abilities that give it really decent burst and power.

Finally, there's been a ton of controversy swirling about artifact power and limits and developer blog posts and thousands and thousands of Maw of Souls runs.  I'd like to get really engaged in this.  I really would.  But where I am as a player right now and what I'm doing in game, I don't care.  I really don't.  The system is clearly not working as it should for high end raiders and Blizzard absolutely needs to figure out how to address that and needs to be good about communicating what they are doing in that regard.  But for me.  It's not an issue.



Friday, February 10, 2017

An Analysis of Blizzard's Q4 Earnings Release

So after saying on Alternative Chat's Blog that I wasn't going to comment on Activision Blizzard's Q4 earnings release, after reading through it again, I just can't help myself.

I won't be providing the normal line by line in depth analysis, because frankly, very little of it is driven by Warcraft anymore, and it can all pretty much be summed up by "we made a shit load of money!"

But here are a few things that I did want to highlight:

They did report that Warcraft had a 10% increase in MAU's year over year and a 20% increase in the 4th quarter, which sounds pretty positive on the face of it.  But think back to the fourth quarter of last 2015.  I went back a looked at my blog from that quarter and there were titles like "Not Much of An Update" and "Why Not Level a Third Warlock?  What Else Is There To Do".  The fourth quarter of 2015 was the absolute pits of disgust and boredom with Warlords of Draenor and to only post a 20% increase over THAT.  Well, to quote a certain current world leader.  SAD.

The other interesting thing that they did start to provide data on is a new metric on "play time" which is not something that we've seen them publicly reporting on by platform before.  But they did disclose that this quarter for Warcraft was the highest amount of play time of any non-launch quarter in the last four years.  Which at least implies that, while their user numbers may have dropped off following launch, they are maintaining a decent amount of time per user (no doubt grinding out artifact power, but hey!).  That does at least imply they are getting something right about the pace of content releases this time around.

They also disclosed that Blizzard had record levels of full year and fourth quarter "in-game content" driven by World of Warcraft in-game content.  What is this "in-game content" that I'm paying for in World of Warcraft?  I don't recall any content / quest chains, DLC's, or other things that I have to pay for in game.  Oh yeah.  That would be the Token market.  Apparently that is working out quite well for them.

Oh, and one other interesting data point.  Blizzard's revenue and operating profit was higher this year than Activision's.  And that hasn't happened before.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Completed Toon Number 8

So I managed to finish the Joarfu the windwalker monk last week.  So this was the first toon that I leveled with a class hall follower body guard.  I know, I know!  As a result, it was perhaps also unsurprisingly my fastest toon to get from 100 to 110 with a total played time of 15 hours and 2 minutes, making it almost 2 hours faster than the next fastest toon, my beast master hunter.

The monk stayed fun to play throughout the entire leveling process and felt smooth and powerful the whole way.

Next up is the shaman, and I can already tell I'm going to have issues deciding between elemental (which was my original plan) and enhancement.  Elemental seems much more fun in dungeons, but with 30-40 minute queues for dps in normals while leveling, dungeons just aren't that big a part of it.

For regular questing, enhancement seems much more powerful and capable for taking down mobs with minimal downtime.

After a fair amount of leveling this weekend, the shaman is sitting at level 105 and is working his way through Val'sharah.  Highmountain is up next and at the rate that is going, I will likely hit 110 in Highmountain without moving on to Stormheim (which means I'll have to run around to grab some flight paths later on for world quests).

I'm also working on the Touch of a Titan quest gathering essences for the various toons that have 910 legendaries.  It's a total of 5 legendaries that I have to upgrade.  I've already managed to finish it up on my hunter.  I've got two on the warlock, one on the death knight and one on the priest that I need to upgrade, so it'll be back to running world quests on both the death knight and the priest. I may put this on hold though to pursue the new goal, which is to get the remaining classes leveled to 110 in time for the class mount questline to be released in 7.2

With the shaman currently in progress, it's just the rogue, mage and warrior still to go, so I may try to get those knocked out and the class order hall campaigns completed before I go back to worrying about legendaries.

That's it for this week.



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Completed Seven Class Order Hall Campaigns

So I managed to complete my seventh class order hall campaign this morning.  They've all been pretty interesting as content goes, and I'm not sure that I could pick one that I've liked more than others.  But it's been pretty interesting working through all of them.

I wasn't a big fan of having to grind out the various dungeons on the demon hunter campaign (as I understand it, that also happens in the mage campaign, which I haven't done yet).  My main issue there is I never really did decide if I preferred playing as tank or dps.  I was questing mostly as tank, so I wasn't doing real well as dps in those dungeons.

My monk is still sitting at level 103, so I've got a ways to go at this point before I'm in a position to start doing much on his order hall campaign.  The windwalker monk has been fun so far, but I'm not in a huge hurry to finish leveling him.  I don't particularly see that as a class that I'm likely to do much beyond finishing the order hall campaign, much like the demon hunter.

I also managed to fill out the 35th trait on my weapon on the warlock, and I'm getting close to a full weapon on the hunter.  Rather than continuing to fill up the warlock destruction artifact, I decided to switch over and start putting points into the affliction weapon.  So we'll see how that goes.

Beyond that, with Nighthold opening today, the quest to upgrade your legendary is out, so it's important to grab that before you open any emissary chests, because the quest items can drop from those chests.

At some point, I also need to go back and work on the leatherworking and alchemy profession quests as well.



Friday, January 6, 2017

The Long-Term Patient Approach to Generating Artifact Power For Alts

So I'm going to write up the approach that has been working well for me in terms of generating significant amounts of artifact power for alts with what seems to be a minimum of effort.  While I'm putting this out there, I also fully acknowledge that this approach will definitely be impacted by the release of Patch 7.1.5, which is right around the corner, although in general, the changes in that patch may actually make this method slightly easier to execute on.

So here's what I do:

Once you hit level 110, don't do much of anything other than the regular artifact knowledge research every couple of days.  You can certainly finish up the class order hall campaign if you want to, although there are also benefits to waiting on that.

The one thing that I do make sure to do is the Nighfallen emissary quests every time that they come up.  You can do Kirin Tor emissary quests as well, but frankly those have gotten to be enough of a pain in the butt, that I can certainly understand passing on them.  Note that without unlocking most of the Suramar story line, it'll likely take you more than one day to do the Nightfallen emissary quest because of the limitations on the world quests available.  The good news is that means it'll be a bare minimum of time each day.

The rest of the process starts once your artifact knowledge gets to something over 20 which takes a little over 3 months at current rates, but will become significant faster once 7.1.5 drops and you have the ability to "buy" alts up to artifact knowledge 20 instantly.

At that point, go out and do the the full Suramar story line.  If you did the full 3 month wait approach, while doing the regular Nightfallen emissary quests, you should have enough rep with Nightfallen to knock out the entire thing.  If not, it's going to take you quite a bit longer.  At level 25 of Artifact Knowledge, the Suramar story line is going to earn you enough artifact power to fill all 35 traits on your weapon.  And it's a hell of a good story in the process.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 Year In Review

So when 2015 came to a close I had just finished leveling my 19th character to max level in Warlords of Draenor.  I ended that expansion with a total of 27.  I'm a little surprised that it was only 8 more from the beginning of the year until Warlords end, but that's probably mostly an indication of how much time I was spending on garrison gold making over that period of time.

I also spent a little bit of time on other games as Warlords wounds down, dabbling again in Rift and in SWTOR as I looked for things to do.

I also started publishing more detailed analysis of Blizzard's regular earnings releases and public filings, both on my blog, and in a couple of instances on the Starting Zone podcast, both of which have been fairly well received.  While I intend to continue with that exercise, it's somewhat complicated by the fact that, as Blizzard has continued to grow and expand, they now disclose almost nothing in their regular filings about World of Warcraft specifically as it just isn't that material to their overall business anymore.

I've been somewhat re-energized with the launch of Legion and the new World Quest and Artifact Power regime and am back to being fully dedicated to Warcraft.  This is somewhat balanced by the demands of real life, which have served to somewhat reduce my available play time.  Even with that, I managed to level 7 toons to max level within the first four months of the expansion, and three of those will likely cap both artifact knowledge and their artifact traits within the first week or two of the New Year.  As usual with this game for alts, if you're willing to play a little bit of the waiting game, you can very quickly catch up your alts with a few tricks.

My plans for 2017 are to continue to level my toons until I get all 12 of each class finished and through their class order hall campaigns.  If I stick to the current pace, that should take me to the end of March or so.

It will be interesting to see when the XP nerfs hit this time around.  The unlock of flying will certainly make that an easier process (assuming it is account-wide again), but the real benefit from a leveling standpoint comes from the gross XP nerf and the ability to boost heirlooms to work until 110.  No world yet on when either of those are coming, but rest assured, you'll hear about it here with new expected leveling times, when that happens.  Interestingly enough, in Warlords, it was only 3 months between launch and when level 100 heirlooms were made available, so we're already past that point.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Working on Toon #7

So I managed to get my demon hunter to level 110 within a day or two of my last blog post.  While I really enjoyed it at first, the novelty wore off throughout the leveling process, and so I haven't been actively working on world quests on that particular toon.

I have been progressing his order hall quest chain a little bit, so I'll eventually have to cave and knock out the 20 world quest piece of that, but until then, he's spending a lot of time on the bench.

I've been enjoying the ret paladin in the world quest process a lot more than I enjoyed him while leveling, which seems odd, but the character just feels a lot better once he has some gear and artifact power.

My priest has also started down the leveling road and is sitting at level 105.  I'm leveling him as shadow.  I started out as disc, and while I was basically invincible, stuff wasn't dying particularly quickly, and rotation itself wasn't that much fun, so I switched.

I also went through a little exercise and finished the process of getting my first artifact weapon and unlocking the order halls on the last groups of toons that will be leveled.  That means windwalker monk, elemental shaman (which I may switch to enhance at 102...we'll see), subtlety rogue (I've never played sub, so figured why not, plus...he was combat before, and I didn't have a second dagger).  fire mage and fury warrior.

Of that group, the rogue quest line was by far my favorite, and the elemental shaman line was without a doubt my least favorite so far.  The elemental shaman artifact weapon quest basically wasn't something I could complete until another player came along and we were both hitting the boss at the same time.  #I'mNotLeet

So now that I've seen all the order halls, I'm not sure I have an absolute favorite.  I'm not a huge fan of the warlock one, which is kind of sad, since that's my main.  I also don't particularly like the death knight one since there's basically nothing at all new about it.  Priest, paladin and warrior are probably some of my favorites, just visually.

So that's the update for this week.