Mixed alt messages

Over the weekend I spent a few hours on my outlaw rogue alt. I like this alt, but he is not one of my “main” alts, if there is such a thing. He was already at 110 and had worked through the basic parts of Broken Shore and the class hall quest lines (but not the class mount one), but he had done nothing more than the intro quest to just get him aboard the Vindicaar.

The reason I hauled him out of mothballs is because he is my inscriptionist, and I usually provide most of the vantus runes we hand out in raid while we are doing progression. I craft them and send them to the RL, who passes them out to the raid just before whichever boss we think will be the toughest one for the week. They may be a crutch, but we have found they often make that small bit of difference — especially early on in a tier — that lets us walk away with a kill instead of a series of wipes.

So I dusted him off and ran a quick LFR to get the level 1 vantus rune recipe for Antorus the Burning Throne. My experience, if anyone is interested, is that it takes approximately 100 herbs at level 1 to mill enough mats to make one vantus rune, maybe a bit less with Dreamleaf which gives a bonus, or Astral Glory which seems to have a higher drop rate. So about 2000 herbs — 10 full stacks — for 20 vantus runes. Last tier I never did get beyond the level 1 recipe, mainly because of course the higher levels are random drops in the raid itself. (*sigh* RNG is such fun™)

Of course, if I regularly ran LFR on my rogue, I would theoretically increase my chances to get the level 2 technique, paving the way for level 3 and greatly decreased mat requirements. To make that LFR experience a little more pleasant, I figured doing Argus dailies and invasions would help gear him up (he is currently sitting at something like 905 ilvl) and increase his artifact level/effectiveness.

Unfortunately, for some reason Blizz has seen fit to require that every character has to unlock the various Argus dailies. It is not an account-wide achievement. At this point someone will inevitably assert something like, “Oh, you can knock those quests out in 20 minutes,” but trust me that is just not true. It takes me hours, and I suspect that is the case for most people. My rogue is the 4th character I have taken through the process, and it is starting to get old.

Blizz will proudly list for us all the “alt-friendly” changes they have made to Legion, and I do not deny they have made quite a few. But the fact remains that Legion started out as probably the most alt-hostile expansion in recent history, so to throw us a few bones that serve to make it only slightly less alt-hostile is not much to brag about in my opinion. Ion Hazzikostas believes that the only legitimate way to play alts is to force them into the same end game cattle chute as a main, and he has finally shaped the game to implement his personal opinion on the matter.

Now, finally, my point. Legion — by design — discourages alt play. I suspect (of course I do not have any publicly disclosed numbers to back this up) Blizz has seen the number of alts at max level take a nosedive in this expansion. By introducing Allied Races, suddenly Blizz is encouraging us to start brand new alts. Why the new ones? Why not just make some more changes that will nudge us to finally spend time with the ones we have?

As an aside, I am totally confused about what Patch 7.3.5. will bring. Suddenly it seems like it will include a whole bunch of things I could swear we were told at Blizzcon would be part of Battle for Azeroth. What gives? Has Blizz discovered they cannot possibly meet a reasonable BfA deadline and thus need to give us a bunch of new shinies to keep us busy? Are some of the promised changes so complex that they need to use 7.3.5 as a testing ground for them? Have they given up on making significant class balance changes — as they told us every “dot 5” patch would be — and need something else to make it seem like a major patch? Maybe it is all part of a grand plan for 7.3.5 to ooze into BfA, but it sure is confusing.

It is true that players have been whining for new races for a while now, so certainly this will be a popular move. But consider:

  • You cannot start one until you have met some rather lengthy max-level rep requirements on your main (and possibly other requirements, too, we don’t really know yet for sure).
  • The new alt leveling will coincide with what from all reports is a significantly lengthened leveling process due to Blizz’s zone leveling and increase of XP required for most levels.
  • Just encouraging players to play with alts they already have would absolutely not require as much play time as leveling a new one under these circumstances.
  • It will come at the end of an expansion, historically the time when players lose interest and go do other leisure activities until the next expansion.

Yeah. It is almost certain that the Monthly Active User (MAU) metric is at work here, notably the need to maintain high MAU numbers as a corporate measure of a game’s success. Although Blizz has often said the nature of WoW is that it is cyclical, and it is something they plan for and accept, clearly they are working furiously to change that business plan.

Will I level a new Allied Race alt? Sure, and I expect it will be a nice distraction during the waning days of Legion. My choice, even though I know I am being manipulated: Blizz discourages me from playing alts, except the ones they approve of, at the time they approve of, at the leveling pace they approve of, with the preconditions they have set.

I love Big Brother, and there are five lights. Life is so much easier when you accept these things.

8 thoughts on “Mixed alt messages

  1. I have 0 interest in leveling an Alt. I have two sitting at 100. I had a boosted 100 Alliance Warlock that I tried hanging out in the Alliance Garrison, just to see what it looked like, but I deleted him along with a few others awhile back. I have my main, I will continue to just play him as I feel like any more. Initially I saw mounts for exalted rep, but now a mean 2500 odd points away, I doubt I will even buy them. I certainly have the gold for them, but it is beginning to feel like they have dangled too many carrots in front of me, and yanked them away because I won’t play to their release pace, I won’t run their Mythic content. I logged in twice last week, once to do missions, and the second time to take the Holiday server picture. That was it. I had no desire to jump into LFR, or do emissary quests. Getting my 2 legendary’s to 1000 feels like a moot point to me now.

    1. It may be another unintended consequence of Blizz’s extreme swing to a game that is less content-rich than it is content-coerced: expansion burnout. In previous expansions, burnout was something that happened to ranked PvP players or progression raiders, not to regular players. But your comments are similar to some I have heard from other players — they have chased too many things for too long in Legion, only to have the goal posts moved again and again, and they are done.

      Blizz has always considered the “I’m BOOOOORRED!” complaint to be a bad thing they must work to eliminate, but maybe it is better than some of what we are seeing as Legion ages: long-term dedicated players just giving up, losing interest day by day. I have the feeling they are losing the vast middle crowd of players — more dedicated than the very casual players who might log on once a week, but with less time or circumstances to do even pseudo-hardcore raiding. It makes me ask the question I have asked before: Who is Blizz’s intended audience for this game? I don’t know the answer, but I don’t think Blizz knows, either.

      1. I think they may have just been focusing on exit surveys for far to long trying to adjust game content to suit the desires of those who have left. The ones they should be concerned about are the people leaving or on the verge that just don’t care any longer and won’t bother giving a detailed explanation why. I feel there is plenty still to do, but it’s hard to play completing old content when everyone else is maxing their weapon, running Mythic +20, Raiding Heroic, completing the PvP ranks. I feel like I am being pushed into the casual but no time to play demographic. I have, or can make time, but there isn’t enough to keep up. I feel like the lone runner that has lost sight of the rest of the race and have lost my way.

  2. Yet again, I would disagree with “alt-unfriendly” message.

    I have 12 active toons (all classes), all their spec artifacts 52 and up (most played 64 and up). They’ve leveled every profession and crafted everything I need. They are Exalted with every faction. They have their class mounts. They’re slowly farming Antorus LFR for transmogs.

    I don’t deny, I have lots of free time for them – because it’s been 2 mythic dungeons throughout all the expansion – yes, TWO – I don’t do PvP at all, and I’m an LFR raider. But it depends on what you want from your alts. My playing style is casual, but persistent. And by now it’s actually waning days of Legion. Despite that I have few goals left in the expansion, mostly it’s grind 5k of this and 20k of that types of long-term achievements.

    It’s actually a pre-expansion lull for me… so that I rolled a new alt, and I’m going to see how it will play out 100-110 at this stage of expansion 🙂 My goal is bringing her to Antorus as well – we’ll see how it goes.

    1. I think Alt unfriendly in the sense of hearing them to raid content on par with a main character would be a good definition for many. I’ve never been an Alt player, and the two I have sitting at 100 got as far as finding the Class Hall, but when I saw the map to unlock the first area for questing, and thought about trying to get weapons and mounts on classes I have no clue how to play, I walked away from them.

    1. The short answer is that it is an uber-geek reference to a Star Trek Next Generation episode (“Chain of Command”, Part II), where Picard is captured and repeatedly tortured, with the promise that the torture will stop as soon as he says there are 5 lights in the darkened room, when in fact there are only 4. He is of course rescued before he breaks down and says there are 5 lights, but he knows had he been asked just one more time that he would have broken. Most terrifying to him is he knew he would not have broken because he wanted the torture to stop, but because he would finally have actually SEEN 5 lights.

      On a deeper note, it seems that the Star Trek episode has its basis in the novel “1984” by George Orwell (which of course is where my first reference came from). In that book, there is a passage about the “doublethink” slogan 2+2=5. The slogan was an affirmation of the power of the totalitarian state to make its people believe sensory or analytic truth was evidence of insanity, and that “truth” was whatever the state said it was.

      The book passage pertinent quote is,

      “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?”

      Sorry for the wall of text and the dark references to something I really only wrote in a MUCH lighter vein.


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