Thursday, April 23, 2015

I want the old gear system back. Mostly.

When Warlords was announced approximately 7 years ago, I was pretty excited about the new gear system. It sounded interesting, and certainly different from all previous expansions. Now that I have had a few months to try it out I have to say I'm not really a fan. I don't enjoy the parts I thought I would and it hasn't really solved any of the problems it was supposed to.

Of all the major changes to gear this expansion, the only part I wouldn't change at all is how primary stats change when a player changes specs. That is undeniably awesome. When it was announced I immediately thought, "Killer! Now my priest only needs one set of gear!" But it really hasn't worked out that way. Secondary stats are so strong that very few pieces of gear are good for both specs. Or I'll get pieces with sockets or Spirit. All of a sudden I have two full sets of gear for my two specs. Just like before. It's fine, and maybe the system saves other classes some more inventory space, but I still have two sets of gear. And my hunter now has 4. Four. The SV set. The BM set. PvP set. I can't get rid of anything decent with leech or avoidance on it for soloing..Tertiaries and gems have made my inventory woes worse on my pure DPS character.

The most frustrating aspect of gear in WoD is figuring out what is really an upgrade. Sockets, Warforged, Tertiary stats. It's kind of driving me crazy. Last night I got a 685 neck from a mission. I was wearing a 670 neck with a socket. Due to the two combinations of secondary stats, these two pieces were incredibly close in value. I ended up having to use Simcraft to figure out what to do. I have to do that a lot these days. More than I ever have before, and I'm a pretty informed player. One of the reasons for getting rid of hit and expertise was that it seemed crappy players just went to an outside web site to find out what to do. Some of that is always going to be unavoidable, but it feels like I have to sim gear upgrades/sidegrades a lot more than I should. I know what my best secondaries are. I listen to the hunter podcast. I should just know what is an upgrade and what isn't, especially when I'm gaining 15-20 ilvls. It seems unreasonable to expect a less informed player to understand upgrading correctly under the current system. I think it's time to dial back some of the RNG attached to gear. It's confusing, and many times doesn't feel good. Unless you get the super lucky "trifecta," it always feels like something is missing. Maybe I'm greedy but I get a nice upgrade and instead of looking at the stats it has I see the socket that isn't there or wonder how much more agility is on the warforged version. Tier pieces are even worse because you don't really know what piece of gear it is until it's been won by a group member. I'm sure there are teams out there dealing with "I would have rolled on it if I knew about the socket!" drama. Gear has essentially turned into a slot machine experience where we're trying to score all three cherries for the jackpot. It's a bit much.

I think gem slots should stop being random. I don't mind them being rarer than they were before WoD, but let's just know which gear has them and which doesn't. Tertiary stats can come or go. I honestly don't have strong feelings about them. Except they shouldn't be random either. Maybe make them into enchants or something, but not random. If we have to have some slot machine aspect to gear I would prefer just going back to the MoP system where gear has a chance of being warforged. That is plenty of RNG.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Server Transfer Cost Me $285

I've earned a million gold in World of Warcraft. Twice. That doesn't mean I got up to two million. It means I got to a million, had to walk away from half of it, and earn that 500k again. A couple of years ago Blizzard had a "sale" on character severs. Faction, race, and server changes were all 50% for one week. This was amazingly timed with the end of my long time guild disbanding, and many of us were already in conversations about moving to a bigger server. All of sudden we had a week to decide on a destination, organize our bags, and transfer for a more reasonable price. As a player of two characters, it was essentially a two for one deal. Not bad. So I spent a day or two liquidating assets I didn't want to transfer and getting all my various heirlooms to the characters I was going to move. There was probably another day or so spent researching destination realms and comparing notes with my comrades. So with decisions made and things in order I logged into battle net to move my characters to their new realm. And then I got this error message. The gold cap for transferring servers is 50k per character. I was stunned. 50k? But I have 900k that I worked damn hard to accrue! I'm sure 50k seemed reasonable when server transfers were first implemented. But we are now in an era with mounts between 40 and 100k. I spent 70k on a single Darkmoon trinket at the beginning of MoP. 50k?! Seriously? I was in disbelief. And running out of time.
So I frantically raided the auction house. I was looking for anything of higher value that would stack in my bags for the transfer. Primal Diamonds were good. I bought a few choppers (I know they don't stack, but still a decent way to convert some gold). It was working. I had fairly quickly turned more than 300k into things in my bags that I knew I could sell on the new server. Even if some of it sold at a loss, that was better than leaving gold on the table. But my old server was small. The same factors that let me corner the jewelcrafting market and earn a million gold were limiting my supply of available goods to "smuggle" across servers. I had to laugh when someone in trade asked why the price of Living Steel had quadrupled overnight. Because I bought literally all of it. And would have bought more if it had been there. I quickly realized that my little server's economy wasn't going to allow me to get all that gold converted. At least not while the sale on transfers was still happening. A friend and I looked into splitting a guild transfer, but details I can't remember now (guild level?) made that a non-option. And guild transfers weren't half-off anyway. I was starting to get pretty upset with the transfer gold cap. Having a degree in economics, I understood why one exists. I just couldn't/can't fathom why it is still so damn low. 50k was a lot in TBC. It really was. But today? Epic flying is 10% of that! I wasn't happy about it, but I couldn't see any solution. I kept telling myself Earth money is more valuable than Azeroth money. Over and over. Then I dropped 400k into my guild's bank and transferred immediately. My way of just ripping off the Band Aid. Eventually I got over it. I sold all that stuff in my bags, got my production system in TSM going again, and got back to making gold. I eventually peaked at 1.3 million before I started spending. While I was never ok with the transfer cap, I just kept telling myself it wasn't real money.

But now it IS real money. Now I could be using that gold to pay my subscription. And I'm kind of pissed about it. Beside the fact that I had to forfeit a major component of my personal character progression, the reason I had to do it is no longer valid, if it ever was. The only reason to have a cap at all is so somebody like me can't move to a server like my old one and disrupt the whole economy with their deep pockets. I understood that at the time even if I thought 50k was way low. But the WoW token is being sold region-wide. Large amounts of gold are now moving between server economies in 20-30k chunks. In a sense, there is only one economy for the entire region now. The AH is no longer faction specific, and we have been able to move battle pets across servers for years now. The old definition of a server economy has broken down. It's time for the transfer cap to disappear as well. Or at the VERY least be raised into the millions. Because of the 50k cap, I essentially paid $285 for a server change. And at the time I thought $25 was bad! My gold is gone, but maybe we can get the cap raised or removed now that gold is literally worth real money.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Extreme PvP

Blizzard got me thinking. A week or two ago one of the PvP designers asked the community why people play Heroes of the Storm but not World of Warcraft PvP. The common answers were unsurprising to anyone who has tried to get into PvP: gear is a barrier to entry, way too many abilities, etc. The community painted a pretty clear picture that the HotS experience, made from the ground up as a competitive PvP game is far superior to WoW PvP, which was essentially an afterthought for a game designed as an RPG (I'll try to never ever put that many acronyms in a single sentence again).
So with HotS and Overwatch both on the horizon, not to mention all the mobas from other companies out there, what should Blizzard do with WoW PvP?

Kill it.

You heard me.

At 10 years old, it is time for bold decisions regarding World of Warcraft and I say it's time for PvP to be done. I am so tired of abilities being changed in PvE to balance PvP and I have to assume serious PvP players feel the same when the opposite occurs. And I really have to wonder how many serious PvP players are left in WoW when it seems the whole world is playing LoL and Hearthstone for competition. I say it's time to draw a thick, clear line in the sand regarding which games are going to be supported for PvP (HotS and Overwatch) and which are not. If people want to do world PvP or duel, that's fine. But it's time to get rid of BGs, Arenas, PvP gear, and any sort of ranking system. Don't get me wrong, I love the occasional BG. World PvP can be a blast at times. But I think for the health of all of Blizzard's involved games, it is time to make WoW a purely PvE experience. At least in terms of content and balance.
This would obviously upset a lot of people. Bold, meaningful decisions always do. Maybe Blizzard could define the "serious" PvP players in WoW (total HKs, above rank X, wins in rated battles) and give those people a free copy of HotS or a special skin that nobody else has or early beta access to Overwatch. Something to placate the folks who will be most affected by this. I know when HotS and Overwatch are both out I won't be doing my PvP in WoW anymore. I doubt I am in the minority. Let's kill PvP for the good of the game as a whole.