Settling into a pattern, and Blizz is still alt-hostile

A month short of a year into Legion, and I realized over the weekend that I have finally settled into a weekly routine in the game.

Tuesday (reset day): Collect weekly things on my main — seals, Mythic+ chest, weekly bonus quest. I don’t run every weekly on my main — usually only the timewalkers and the mythics, the rest I either have no interest in (PvP and pets) or the reward is not worth the time. The rest of Tuesday is spent on raid 7-11 PM server time.

Wednesday: World quests and Broken Shore quests on main, decide which alts will receive emphasis for the week and run LFR, profession, or quests on it. Check the alts’ gear and decide how best to upgrade it for the week. I usually pick 2 alts to concentrate on — I find it is not feasible to work on more than that in a week, there is just not time.

Thursday: Replenish main’s potions/flasks/food, then raid 7-11 server time.

Friday: Run one Mythic +15 for the week on main with the incredibly generous guild group that tries to ensure every raider gets at least one in for the weekly chest. Run emissaries and BS quests on main and on one or both chosen alts. If I am doing it, run the weekly on main.

Saturday: Usually a day off, no game time.

Sunday: Pretty much alt day. Do class hall maintenance activities on maxed alts, also emissaries and BS quests on selected alts. If time, work on order hall or profession quest lines on an alt. If even more time, work on leveling a non-maxed alt.

Monday: Finish up odds and ends on main. Spend a couple of hours running sims on main for next week’s gear/talent best build. Study fine points of the coming week’s progression bosses.

I am at a point on my main where the only reason I run emissary quests and BS dailies is for the reward chests. Nothing given as individual loot for the quests is worth anything to my main — the gear is way too low, the gold amounts are paltry, and the AP is so low compared to what I need for an extra concordance point as to be downright insulting. Certainly not worth even the few minutes needed to do the AP quest.

The emissary and BS chests, it turns out, are the new gear currency. That is, there is apparently a magic secret number of them you have to open before you get a legendary. The difference between this system and previous currency systems is that we used to know how many seals/coins/etc we had to collect to get a desired piece of gear, plus we could actually choose the piece we wanted. But now only Blizz knows the number, and they not us get to choose which piece we get. But it is still a currency system, make no mistake.

So I still run these daily activities on my main. Luckily, it doesn’t take long, what with flying and also having pretty decent gear. Once in a while, if I need leather, I will spend extra time in one of the quest areas where skinnable critters are being killed.

On relatively new alts, the world quests are still useful in and of themselves. The gear can be an upgrade, and my new alts almost always are in desperate need of Blood of Sargeras in order to upgrade the crafted items I usually outfit them with, so they run the ones giving that as a reward whether or not they are part of an emissary chain. I also make sure my active alts run the world bosses each week.

I still believe making BoS soulbound is one of the worst ideas Blizz had in Legion. Of course, they stick with it because it forces more game play and thus increases bonuses for their executives, but it is an enormously frustrating mechanic. The effect of it is that by the time you have an alt able to gather BoS in reasonable quantities, they usually do not need it any more, unless they have a profession that goes through a lot of it. This is yet another instance of Blizz deliberately misleading us — “In Legion you can equip any number of crafted items, no more 3-piece limit!” Sure you can — except of course the crafted gear will be too low level to do you any good. At 20 BoS per crafted gear max upgrade, this can easily cost up to 200 or more BoS to fully outfit an alt.

In a grand gesture of generosity, Blizz recently allowed us to use order resources to buy BoS, at the rate of 1000 OR for 1 BoS, except you have to buy them in batches of 5. Generally, in keeping with the Blizz philosophy of being hostile to alt development, at the time when an alt most needs BoS they do not have 20,000 extra order resources available to upgrade one piece of crafted gear.

Not to worry, Blizz went overboard in their generosity here, allowing a shuffle mechanism to transfer BoS from one character to another within an account. You can buy order resources with BoS, transfer them to an alt, then have the alt use the extra order resources to buy the BoS they need. Sounds great, eh? Just one small thing: the exchange rates are exorbitant. You lose 80% of your BoS in the process. For example, it costs you 100 BoS to buy the order resources that would allow an alt to buy 20 BoS.

In everything, from profession quest lines to order hall chains to artifact progression to the nutty legendary system to crafted gear, Blizz remains extremely alt-hostile. Yes, they will claim they have gone to great lengths to permit alt catch-up, and there are some decent mechanisms. But in general Legion is still the most alt-unfriendly expansion ever.

Still, even given the hoops to jump through for alts, I have managed to get myself into a nice comfortable routine in Legion. Some people might think of this as a bad thing, but honestly I kind of look forward to getting to this point in an expansion. There is a lot to be said for the mental ease of familiarity.

The crafted gear dance

One or two of you who regularly follow this blog may have noticed I did not post anything on Wednesday, thus departing from my usual M-W-F pattern. The truth is, I had a wonderful rant all written, full of my usual over-the-top indignant comments, along with some really creative metaphors. As I was about to publish, I saw the June 14 hotfix notes, and they effectively negated most of what I had just written. That, combined with a real life schedule for the day that did not allow for a rewrite, made me just trash the post and plan for another day.

So what was the topic that the hotfix notes ruined? Blood of Sargeras. Specifically, the fact that Blizz has stubbornly persisted in holding this mat as the main stumbling block for many profession- and gear-related activities in the game. They have done so by maintaining its soulbound quality, thus putting many players in the position of having a main with several hundred Bloods they cannot possibly use up, while alts that could use them cannot manage to scrabble enough of them.

The thing that gave rise to my renewed ire on the subject was that I have one alt with a lot of crafted gear equipped, but it has taken me weeks to get enough BoS to upgrade the six equipped items to max crafted level (875, prior to 7.2.5). The idea that it takes 2 BoS to use one obliterum effectively limits max level gear — in any quantity — to characters who have the profession levels to gather a lot of the mat, and thus probably do not need to use crafted gear. The alts that do need the gear almost never have the wherewithal to gather more than a few per week.

(This is yet another example of Blizz deliberately misleading us back when they announced Legion — “You can equip as many crafted items as you want, no more 3-item limit!” Same as the “No more limits on how many specs you can have!” All true in lawyer language, but complete falsehoods in reality. But that is a post for another time.)

At any rate, the Wednesday hotfix announcement that caught my eye was this:

(Hotfix in testing) Blood of Sargeras can now be obtained from Class Hall vendors at a price of 5 Blood of Sargeras for 5,000 Order Resources.

WOOHOO! Of course, the caveat “Hotfix in testing” could mean we will never see the change as it was announced, but still, it at least tells me Blizz seems to be aware of the problem the current method poses for alts and is working on a typically obscure way of remedying it.

As I wrote above, the main use of BoS I am concerned with is its connection to gear, more specifically its connection to the use of obliterum. Obliterum is, I think, another Legion mechanic that simply has not worked well. It is tedious to create and consequently expensive to buy in the auction house. Even if you can create or buy enough of it to upgrade an alt’s gear, it is doubtful the alt will have sufficient BoS to use it, unless the alt has a fairly well advanced gathering profession. The obliterum mechanic was slightly improved when Blizz got rid of that ridiculous and expensive quest line to unlock the forge, but that was at best a minor improvement.

The other really awful aspect of the whole obliterum mechanic is that it can only be applied to soulbound gear. This has a very detrimental effect on the entire crafted armor part of the game. Not only can you not craft and upgrade a piece of gear for one of your alts, but you are also limited to selling low level gear in the auction house. With the economic inflation introduced in the game by WoD garrisons and by the now-official gold selling, there are undoubtedly many players who would gladly pay good prices to buy max-level crafted gear from the auction house rather than go through the dance of buying low level gear, creating or buying obliterum, and then scrabbling for the BoS to be able to use their purchases. I am, honestly, mystified by the whole thing.

But the June 14 hotfix note, if actually implemented, would fix the problem, at least within an account. (Not for selling items.) It would mean you could transfer BoS from one character to another, though you would have to do a shuffle to do so. Since an alt with few opportunities to gather BoS likely also does not have order hall resources to spare, the method would be to buy order hall resources on your BoS-rich character, send them to your BoS-starved one, then have that character buy BoS with the order hall resources. Leave it to Blizz to do something like this rather than the easier, more straightforward fix which would be to make BoS account bound. Still, clunky and cumbersome though it is, it would work.

The other obliterum/crafted gear observation I have is how clumsily Blizz handled the 7.2.5 change to crafted gear upgrade level. Originally the announcement was that crafted gear would be upgradable to ilevel 885, two obliterum levels above the 7.2 ilevel. Thus it would take 10 instead of 8 obliterums (oblitera? maybe just obliterum in singular and plural) to max out the gear. So if you had currently maxed gear, you would need two obliterum and four BoS to do the new max. But when the patch went live, there was a stealth buff to crafted gear that maxed it at ilevel 900 instead of 885. But the total obliterum necessary to reach max level stayed at 10.

Stay with me here. What that meant was that everyone who had already spent 8 obliterum and 16 BoS to reach pre-7.2 max level suddenly had that retroactively changed to 5 (no refunds, of course, just a sort of historical rewrite of what you had done), and to reach the new max level they would be required to spend, not 2 obliterum and 4 BoS, but rather 5 obliterum and 10 BoS.

I am not complaining about crafted gear being upgradable to ilevel 900, but the implementation of this was a pretty dirty trick on players. Even those of us organized enough to anticipate the changes in 7.2.5 were caught unawares. I had in fact built up enough obliterum and BoS on my crafted-gear-heavy alt to upgrade all equipped pieces to new max as it had been announced prior to the stealth change. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was not nearly enough. My stash of 12 obliterum and 24 BoS were no longer enough to upgrade all six equipped pieces, instead it was enough for only two. And by the way, the sudden change caused obliterum prices in the AH to skyrocket, more than 3 times their pre-7.2.5 prices on my server.

Overall, this is typical Blizz good-news-bad-news methodology. They give something with one hand, then take it away or make it less useful with the other. In the big picture, the crafted gear upgrades and possible vendor availability of BoS are positive developments. In the more immediate picture, the methods for doing those things are annoying.

And with that, since I have already screwed up my normal posting schedule for the week, I am going to take Friday off and start my weekend today. See you back here Monday.

A change of pace

Over the weekend I spent some time on my alts, mainly my alt hunter and my druid. It was a nice change for me. I spent time on my alt hunter mainly to finish her jewelcrafting quest chain and to gather a lot of ore, because I have other alts that would benefit from rings and necks and gems and such. (Shhhhhh, don’t tell Ion Hazzikostas … be vewy vewy quiet!).

I did finish the JC line, although of course that means very little — most of my recipes are level 1, and the mats seem to be quite rare. Also, the mining RNG quests seem to have a rather low probability of dropping, so of course I have not yet gotten them, which means (I think) I cannot yet get any Blood of Sargeras from this gathering profession. Without Bloods, I can’t craft high end items, nor can I even gear up enough to get into LFR.

Not making Bloods BoA is one of the worst decisions in Legion, in my opinion. I have over 200 on my main, for the most part worthless, and my alts are crying for them. This critical mat is what I call a “domino mat” — it has game repercussions far beyond what a single material should have. If you are a crafter, you cannot craft many high end items without it. Even if you have enough to craft the items, you can only craft them at a relatively low levels, because anyone wishing to upgrade a crafted picee of armor must do it on their own, using their own Bloods (20 or more just to get a single item upon to mediocre level). Thus, players wishing to use crafted gear to get up to, oh, say ilvl 850 or so — not exactly a high level in Legion — must have a buttload of Bloods in order to do it. That is assuming you have a character — probably a main — who can crank out obliterum at a high level. (Yes, Ion, guess what, we are now at the point of having a main exist to support  alts. Happy?)

Thus, the soulbound nature of Bloods, along with the requirement that gear must be SB to be upgraded, means crafters cannot make and sell  gear above level 815, and players wishing to upgrade this low level gear must be advanced enough to be able to gather the Bloods to do it — which generally means by the time you are able to upgrade your gear you have long ago stopped needing it. (Similar to that ridiculous class hall gear that requires you to have jumped through enough hoops in order to buy 810-830 level gear — or even to buy the final upgrade to get it to level 840 — that by the time you have grubbed enough to get there you no longer need it.)

Great job, Blizz, really excellent planning. This is like a toy manufacturer making a toddler pull toy, but requiring any child using it to earn their own money to pay for it — by the time they can do that, the pull toy is kind of moot.

Thus, when I decided to gear up and play my druid more, it turned out to be a much longer and more tedious process than it should be at this stage of an expansion. Not only for the reasons cited above, but also because suddenly nearly all the gear-rewarding world quests disappeared. Seriously, I thought well if I can’t upgrade my crafted gear on my druid because of lack of Bloods, at least I can run a bunch of world quests and get some decent gear from them. Nope. Whether by recent stealth nerf design or simply because of bad RNG in the WQ selection engine, there were almost no WQs that awarded gear this weekend. It took me literally until Sunday night, after 3 days of grinding, to get enough gear to qualify for LFR. LFR!!!! This is sad.

However, once I did finally get geared up, I had a lot of fun with my druid. I had leveled her as a boomkin, because I have always kind of liked that somewhat quirky play style, but also because honestly Blizz still has not made the leveling process very healer-friendly. (I am always impressed with people who level their healers as healers.) Anyway, having leveled her up a couple of months ago, I decided to switch main spec to resto.

First I had to get the resto artifact weapon, and I have to say I found this quest line to be pretty engaging. I definitely liked that it was heals-centric and required healing to complete. It was not overly long, but for a non-healer like me it was somewhat challenging. (I let my group die once before I succeeded … oops.) I had enough AP saved up to get my heals artifact up to level 24 in one fell swoop, so that was kind of nice.

Armed with my new artifact and a whopping 826 ilevel, I queued for Emerald Nightmare LFR. It was the first LFR I have done in Legion, and especially considering it was late in the game week, it went quite smoothly. As usual, I was stressed healing, but after it was over I realized I had a lot of fun. I got two pieces of gear that pushed me up to qualify for Trial of Valor, but I didn’t queue for it as it was pretty late. I’ll do it tonight (yeah, I know, Monday night LFR is a bad idea).

Side rant: What is it with Blizz and their apparent need to make support functions as annoying as possible for players? Last night I wanted to try out a few heal rotations, and since I knew there were no target dummies in Dal (!!!), I traveled to the druid class hall, thinking of course there are target dummies there — they have them in every other class hall I have an alt for. Nope. No target dummies in the Dream Grove. This of course is along with the Blizz design “feature” of no mailboxes in class halls, no auction house in Dal (don’t start with me on this, engineers!), and of course as I said no target dummies in Dal. Seriously, Blizz, what is the reason behind these annoyances? And don’t give me some bull hockey mumbo-jumbo pseudo-lore crap. I want to know the real reason! Malevolence? Twisted dev humor? Technical limitations? Laziness? Incompetence?

Late edit: See Sar’s comment below. Apparently the druid class hall has both a mailbox and target dummies! Whoops, well now this is awkward, what can I find to rant about?? Maybe clueless players who can’t find stuff in class halls?

I did a small amount of druid healing in LFR and a few random instances in WoD, but it was nothing to write home about. Before I queued last night, I got some quick pointers from one of our guild’s top druid healers, and that was very helpful. As it turned out, no one died — well except for a couple who died from trash because they stupidly outran the raid. I was pretty low on the healing charts, but I was always in with the actual healing group not the also-healers like Spriests and Pallies, and anyway I don’t give healing numbers much notice. I did do a lot of overhealing, but our raid healer explained that is pretty much unavoidable with druids, and he gets a lot of good natured grief over it in our raids.

It seems like Blizz pretty much left resto druids alone as they worked over many of the other classes. I suppose those of you out there who main a resto druid might disagree, but from my untrained perspective I did not notice a huge difference between what I did in WoD and what I did last night in Legion. I think I like the druid healing style because it reminds me of what all hunters used to be — highly mobile, with quite a few extra tricks in their bag. Also, I find it refreshing once in a while to get away from the kill-kill-kill mentality of damage dealers. There is a certain satisfaction in helping out your group members in such a direct way. (But I still find it stressful while doing it.)

Anyway, I enjoyed my sojourn into druid healyland over the weekend. I expect I will be spending more time pursuing this as Legion wears on.

Doubling down on bad ideas

Patch 7.2 will give us crafted legendaries. You can read the details of what we know about them thus far in this summary from MMO-C. Now, of course, Patch 7.2 is still undergoing a lot of changes, and the initial info on these legendaries could change a lot between now and live, but let me just say for the record:

What the hell, Blizz? Has the cheese finally slipped off your cracker?

Legendary implementation thus far in Legion has been a huge mistake, Blizz themselves have as much as admitted it. Yet they keep trying to make chicken salad out of chicken shit, and no one is clamoring for the sandwiches, so part of their solution is to add a line of artisan breads.

There are so many things wrong with the proposed implementation of this, I hardly know where to start. The basic plan is that players will be able to do a whole new series of profession quests that will allow them to collect rare materials that will allow them to craft leather/mail/cloth/plate legendary gear for specific classes.

First, the — admittedly still vague — quest lines for each profession involve defeating various raid bosses. This of course is Blizz doubling down on the main complaint about professions in Legion — they require raid level gear not to mention In some cases regular running of raids so as to be lucky enough to get the RNG recipe drops.

Second, crafting the legendary items requires what appears to be a host of very expensive and/or rare mats — 65 Blood of Sargeras, profession mats, something referred to only as “legendary mats” from quests, and a new mat called Felessence Legion-Flask. The latter is one of those horrible crafted (we don’t know by whom — all crafters or just alchemists) abominations that requires making a gray item, then upgrading it until it reaches “legendary” status. This is Blizz doubling down on the whole idea of ensuring that no one plays an alt for pure pleasure or to help out a main. If you have not had enough time to get your profession alts to level 800, you will not have enough time to have them craft a legendary, I guarantee.

Third, the crafted legendaries are BoP. Yup, you read that right. BoP. Thus, any character can only make this gear for itself. Your leatherworker better wear leather or mail, because she damn sure will not be able to make a piece of legendary gear for any other alt. There may be more of these crafted legendaries not yet announced, but so far characters that do not have a “classic” armor crafting profession — for example engineers or alchemists or inscriptionists — are S.O.L. And remember, early on in Legion, Blizz pretty much pushed many characters into having only one crafting profession because gathering professions are much more lucrative for garnering Blood of Sargeras (also BoP). So chances are a lot of players no longer have dual-crafting professions. Oh, and of course, making these crafted legendaries BoP also means they cannot be sold, just another little gotcha from Blizz.

Fourth, the current tooltip for these legendaries indicates they count as a normal legendary for equipping — thus they will be the one or the one of two you are allowed to equip. However, none of these legendaries appear to have any special abilities. Yup, they are stat sticks. So they might up your gear level a bit, but if you have any of the actual ability-boosting legendaries equipped, crafted will likely be last choice as a legendary. (Unless, of course, Blizz goes ahead and negates all current legendary damage, defensive, and healing bonuses — do not count that out as a possibility.)

Fifth — and this is the kicker — it looks like they will be level 910. Yes, again, you read that right — after going through all I described above, you will be left with a level 910 legendary. Trust me, any character able to do all the steps necessary to craft one of these will not need level 910 gear. I presume you will be able to upgrade them as we now upgrade the “old” legendaries, but guess what? That means you get to add another couple of weeks to the gear just to get it to a level that benefits you. (Oh, and it also is a way for Blizz to keep that ridiculous legendary upgrade quest line going.)

I honestly wonder what is in the water or air at Blizz HQ. Think about it, what are the parts of Legion people seem to complain about the most? It is as if Blizz has a working list of these complaints and used it to design these crafted legendaries. They have doubled down on many of the major perceived problems with this expansion. It reminds me of their reaction in WoD to the massive complaints about garrisons: they doubled down on them by requiring even more garrison work just to be able to see the new Tanaan content. “You don’t LIKE this? BWAAAAAHAAAAAA, well then you will HATE this!!!! That will teach you to complain!”

So, if you hate Legion professions, if you think legendaries are a failure, if you have given up on alts because Blizz does not approve of the way you play them — stay tuned. Blizz appears to be sensitive to player dissatisfaction, and the louder the complaints, the more they are going to shove it down our throats.

Now THAT’S communication. I get the message.

It’s the little things

A couple of weeks ago in a tongue-in-cheek comment reply to a reader, I wrote that I had reached the “acceptance” phase in my grief over what I still consider to be Blizz’s destruction of the hunter class in WoW. I still bristle over the betrayal, but I finally realized they are not going to change it significantly, and I can either keep playing or quit. As I still enjoy the game itself, and as I am not willing to play a different class as a main character, that pretty much means I need to get on with virtual life. Doesn’t mean I won’t have some choice words for Blizz about it once in a while, just that it is not usually my main focus.

However, just like when you have a massive headache and consequently all of life’s normal little annoyances really really bother you, so too have I begun to notice a lot of annoying minor aspects of Legion. If I were not already cranky over the hunter thing, I probably would just take them in stride as part of a massive and therefore imperfect game. But the fact is, I am cranky and out of sorts over hunters, so these little annoyances grow in proportion.

Blizz cannot possibly repair the damage they have done to hunters, but here are some quality of life things that I think they can — and should — fix, if for no other reason than to make amends for the big things they screwed up in Legion.

Blood of Sargeras. This needs to be BoA. The fact that it is BoP means that it is yet another reminder of many of the major problems with Legion.

  • The huge time requirement levied on each character in Legion means that your main probably ends up with far more than can be used, while alts are starving for it. Yes, you can now trade it for mats — on my server that translates into something like 100-250 gold per Blood if you do a mat shuffle. This is not insignificant — although I would argue it is fairly low given the massive inflation in WoW economy in Legion — but the fact is, your alts do not need gold, they need Blood of Sargeras.
  • Blizz chose to make some professions winners and some losers in Legion. For example, if you have a skinner, you pretty much clean up on Blood of Sargeras. Blizz may claim that the drop rate is the same for skinning as for herb gathering or mining, and it may be, but the fact remains that you can do what amounts to mass skinning in a few minutes, whereas it takes hours to exploit the same number of herb or mining nodes. My main is in fact a skinner, and without even trying I have over 200 Bloods in the bank even after using a bunch early on for obliterum upgrades. Meanwhile, my poor engineer/enchanter can’t get enough for even one max crafted gear upgrade, and the same is true of most of my other alts.
  • This mat is an absolute requirement for upgrading crafted gear, both to make obliterum and to use it. It takes 2 Bloods just to use one obliterum. Almost always what that means for me is that my alts cannot gather sufficient Bloods for upgrades until they are well past the point when the upgraded gear is useful. This just serves to highlight the total failure of crafted gear in Legion, as far as I am concerned.

Obliterum. At a bare minimum, Blizz needs to allow this to be used on non-soulbound gear. Because as it stands now, it is almost useless as an upgrade mechanic. And while I am on the subject, let me just say I think the whole mechanic is one of the stupidest ideas Blizz has ever come up with, and honestly that’s a pretty high bar.

  • You can only apply it to soulbound gear. This means you cannot craft higher level gear and send it to an alt, nor can you sell it for decent gold. Effectively, armor crafters are nearly useless in Legion.
  • It requires Blood of Sargeras, both to make it and to use it. As I pointed out above, this effectively severely limits any alts getting significant crafted gear upgrades, until such time as the upgraded gear is useless to them. (Another example of Blizz being deliberately disingenuous to us. Remember their braying about “You can freely change to any spec in your class, no more 2-spec restrictions”? Yeah, right. And crafted gear — “You can equip as many pieces as you want”. Uh-huh.)
  • The quest line to unlock the forge is ridiculously expensive and annoying. I realize I may be an outlier, but I am so bad at pvp and I hate it so much, that I died on my main hunter 31 times just to finish the sewer part of that quest line. I suspect I am not unique in this. How is this fun? Because even when I finally did unlock the forge, I realized that it had almost no value to me going forward.
  • Obliterum can be bought and sold. However, the fact that you cannot use it without a stash of Blood of Sargeras means that it is of limited use to players looking for gear upgrades. Additionally, on my server it still goes for 3000-3500 gold each. Thus, even if you have the Bloods to do a full 10 upgrade to a single piece of gear, it will cost you upwards of 30,000 gold for just that single piece. Absolutely not worth it, especially since world quests award similar level gear for a LOT less effort and zero cost.

Weekly quests. This idea occurred to me last night, as I was trying to crank out another 20 world quests for one of my alts. Since Legion requires significantly more time on each character just to get to the same point most people are used to getting to, why not do a bit of pro-rating for the weekly quests? So, for example, if you don’t have the time to run 20 world quests on every max level character, why not award half the loot for running 10? Same for the Mythic and TW quests. I think this would actually encourage people to run these on more characters — and thus spend more time playing — because it would not seem like such an endless grind.

Talent swapping. OK, I probably should not get started on this, but here is another world-class stupid idea from Blizz. This kind of hit home to me last week on one of our raid nights. We had just finished Mythic Nythendra and had decided to try our luck at Ursoc. Knowing there was a ton of trash to be dealt with before moving to Ursoc, I spent a Tome of the Tranquil Mind to swap from Murder of Crows to Volley.

Only I did not get to use it, because we were immediately in combat. I had neglected to announce to the other 19 people that everyone needed to stop what they were doing so I could make a talent swap. I did say something, and the RL said they would stop after this bunch of mobs. We paused, I hit another Tome, and lo and behold a mob wandered near one of our players and I lost yet another Tome and still was unable to swap talents. At over 500g a pop this gets mighty annoying might fast.

Here’s the thing: I understand we have never been able to swap talents while in combat, no big deal. But this ridiculous doubling of  steps necessary to do it — open the talent table, find the tome, click the tome, click the talent — means we are now doubly penalized for swapping talents. And those extra steps can obviously preclude talent swapping in a group just when it is needed most, as my experience shows.

This comes at a time when Blizz is deliberately making us choose significant differences in talent lines for AoE or single target, and when they are mixing up these kinds of fights to extreme degrees. (Not even going to address the raid time lost when players without the expensive Tomes need to hearth to Dal, then get resummoned just so they can swap a talent.) Honestly, hunters aren’t even the worst affected by this — poor warlocks are way worse off.

Blizz has said they made a mistake in setting the price of the Tomes too high and they intend to try and fix it soon, but for me that does not answer the basic question: Why the hell did anyone think this was a good idea to begin with? What possible benefit to game play does this provide? And don’t tell me it was so that Inscriptionists could make money — Blizz had no compunctions about letting many professions become useless in Legion, why should Inscription be anything special?

I really need someone to explain this to me.

That stupid hunter eagle “perk”. As some of you may know, hunters can get access to a special set of flight points presumably serviced by the same eagle line that transports us to our class hall. As it turns out, this is less a perk than yet another punishment inflicted on hunters. These flight points are all located on extremely remote, high mountain peaks. And, while they are not tied in to the regular flight points, for some reason they are tied in when it comes to using your whistle. Thus, hunters often use the flight whistle only to be whisked off to a remote location of no use whatsoever, and are then forced to use a hearth of some sort or perform a fairly long and complex glide just to get back into the flight system.

Blizz, please do hunters the favor of pulling your head out of your ass and  fully integrate the eagle flight system into the regular one, or if that offends you too much, at least make it unresponsive to the whistle.

Hearthstone type access to class halls. A couple of classes — druids and monks come to mind, there may be some others — have the luxury of being able to transport themselves directly to their class hall no matter where they are. Less favored classes — for example warlocks and rogues — must first get themselves back to Dal, then wend their way to a sewer access and through some corridors and maybe even then through a portal — to get to their class halls.

This may be “immersive” or “fun” at first, but after a few times it is merely tedious and annoying. Blizz, we get it: there is a great story behind each and every class hall, but for crying out loud give all classes a garrison-type hearthstone to get there.

As I said at the start, none of these things is a show-stopper, they are all minor annoyances. But taken together and along with some of the really major Legion problems, they become constant irritations that detract significantly from the game. Seems like Blizz could fix them for us, and no, doing so will not “cost a tier”.

Anyone else have any quality of life annoyances in Legion?

Just a couple things…

It is now Day 4 of Legion live, and I have some random thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly thus far.

For reference, you should know that my experience has been limited to my BM hunter main. She has gotten the artifact for MM but done nothing other than obtain it, she is now level 110 as of mid-morning yesterday, and has leatherworking and skinning as professions, along with all the secondary ones except archaeology. I do not do pet battling or PvP on any of my characters, and generally do not actively chase special mounts or toys. I usually play about 20 hours a week, but have spent considerably more time than that on the first few days of Legion.

The Good

  • Zone design and rendering — really not enough superlatives for this.
  • Questing — another huge success. It outshines even the excellent questing experience of WoD. The introduction of scaled zones has worked extremely well. The quest lines are interesting even to someone like me who cares very little for lore (I think it is added in and amended to justify mechanics, not the other way around). The one criticism I have is that the dialogues can get tedious, and there is usually no way to skip them like you can cutscenes — I think this will wear very thin by my third or fourth alt.
  • Travel portals — the addition of portals to the ones Dalaran already had is a good idea, as is the portal to Dal in faction capitols. I also like that we have a special Dalaran hearthstone, so that we can keep a handy locational hearth in an area we are questing in, a faction city, a tranquil little inn we just like, etc. Retaining our garrison hearthstones is similarly useful, since we may need to duck into them later from time to time for a quick bank trip, to DE some low level gear, as an alternate  (albeit circuitous) route to other places, whatever.
  • Dungeons — I have only done a couple of these, normal because my gear is still fairly low level, but the ones I have done seem adequate. Not too long, not too short, with some varied mechanics per boss.

So I guess so far Blizz has gotten most of the major expansion things right. Of course, we have not seen the live version of raids yet, and most of us have not gotten heavily involved in world quests or other end game activities, so I will reserve judgement on that part. And this is a 3-day weekend in the U.S., so there will certainly be a significant increase in the number of people playing, and we may yet experience some technical problems due to volume. But a thumbs up on the general experience so far.

The Bad

  • Class halls — so far, this whole idea is just not working for me.
    • I can’t buy into the “everyone is the heroic leader of their class” fantasy, that is just moronic in my opinion.
    • I rarely see a whole gaggle of hunters hanging out there, so it is not exactly a social gathering place. As a matter of fact, in the hunter class hall there is not even any place to sit in the bar/food area. Now that I think of it, I am not sure there is any place in the entire structure to sit down except the floor.
    • I find the follower missions annoying and puzzling and far too reminiscent of the bad parts of WoD garrison missions, except there seems to be far less reward for the new ones.
    • I see no point in the class-specific quest lines, and I think the ones that require a class-pure group to do will become harder and harder to find a group for.
    • The only purpose I can see to the class hall is to manage your artifact weapon, and there really is no reason that could not have been done in Dalaran.
    • The whole mechanic just seems contrived and strained, as if someone decided there would be more garrisons in Legion, then had to do some dramatic changing because of the horrible reaction to them in WoD. Blizz should have just trashed the whole notion instead of trying to convince us that chicken poo is really chicken salad.
  • Professions — maybe these will sort themselves out in a couple of weeks, but leveling a profession is now a quantum leap in complexity from anything we have seen before. I confess I still cannot figure out what the hell I am supposed to be doing in order to just to craft some basic mail gear for myself.
    • There are long, long, long quest lines just to get a few recipes.
    • There is an annoying bug in which every time I enter the LW shop in Dal, I auto-learn the exact same recipes over and over again.
    • Getting to one of the key parts of professions — obliterum — is a ludicrous and currently prohibitively expensive process. I cannot for the life of me understand why everyone should be required to obtain a crafted item from four crafting professions just to be able to further craft their own stuff. On my server, to get the required items now (even assuming you can craft one of them yourself) is somewhere in the neighborhood of 90,000g. Blizz airily claims the prices will come down in the coming weeks, but I am not so sure, given normal greed in combination with the gold inflation of WoD.
    • I have collected over 2000 skins, am at 815 (Worgen racial) skinning level, and I have yet to collect even one Blood of Sargeras. Is this bad luck, a Blizz joke, or is it yet another part of the incomprehensible profession changes?
  • Overall game complexity — there is a difference between a game’s depth and its complexity, and I think Blizz has conflated the two, adding layer upon layer of complexity as a cheap way to give the impression of depth and skill challenge, or possibly as a way to easily add “content” that will keep people busy for a few months.
    • I am not exactly a novice at this game, and I confess I have no idea what the hell I am doing right now. I cannot juggle all the separate pieces of professions, leveling quests, class hall stuff, artifact talent and relic progressions, unlocking a seemingly endless string of required things and processes — even for just one character.
    • I suspect that in a few weeks I will have it more or less figured out, but I absolutely cannot imagine many new players will have the patience to deal with this. Has Blizz abandoned the goal of bringing in masses of new players to this game? Because at this point the investment of time to even understand how you want to approach the game seems too high for a new casual player.
    • Blizz has told us for quite some time that complexity is bad, we cannot be expected to bother our little heads about more than a few action buttons or to undergo the math trauma of figuring out how to reforge gear, and then they give us the chaos that is the Legion experience?
  • Some quality of life things — these are unnecessary annoyances Blizz really should take the time to fix very soon.
    • Auction house in Dal — there is no reason not to have one each for horde and alliance here. I read one blue post where Blizz is considering putting in an engineer AH like we had in Mists, but that is unacceptable and merely annoys non-engineers further. I urge them to discard this idea and just do it right, give us a regular AH in Dal, end of story. (Late Edit: Acutally, I just found the blue post and re-read it. The idea is to put in an engineer AH like in Wrath — not like in Mists. So if that is basically the barrel with an auctioneer on it, available to all, that would work for me.)
    • Quest log — given the large number of quest lines Blizz is more or less forcing us to carry at one time in Legion, the limit of 25 quests in your log is very difficult to deal with. (I hope this limit of 25 is not another piece of unchangeable legacy code like the knapsack limit.) This is another example of Blizz making sweeping changes to the game and failing to follow through  with their implications — make the game vastly more complex, add dozens and dozens of quests for every profession (even secondary ones), make them long and involved enough that one cannot just do them and move on, add even more quests for world content and class hall campaigns and special perks like the taxi whistle — yet fail to see that a limit of 25 quests needs to be changed, too.
    • Transport to hunter class hall — make this a thing you can carry around, don’t force us to go back to Dal, then take an eagle from there. Yes, I know it doesn’t take long, but it is an annoying and unnecessary step that some other classes don’t have to deal with.

The Ugly

  • Hunters. I am not going to stop harping on this. Blizz has, either because of incompetence or indifference, broken this class, and they must fix it. Yet we still have no acknowledgement from them that there even is a problem. Stunning. And ugly.

Summer blahs

For about the last week, I have found myself in the weird mode of being almost completely uninterested in the game, while at the same time close to panicking because I have too much to do to be this close to Legion. It is a very strange feeling, and I don’t remember having it prior to other expansions.

I am by nature and training an organizer and planner, so usually by this point I have completed my on-paper planning and am deep into execution phase — cleaning out banks, consolidating gold stashes, ruthlessly auctioning or vendoring or DE-ing everything I can, doing final gearing up of alts, finishing up achievements I know I want (and have a shot at) before the end of the current expansion, etc. I did a little of that a few weeks ago, on a big-hand-little-map scale*, but I just can’t make myself get  interested in fleshing out the overall plan.

I think one reason for my disinterest in planning is my perception that the Legion changes are just overwhelming, it seems too daunting to even try to plan for it. I don’t remember feeling this helpless prior to other expansions, they always seemed manageable to me. But honestly, even after spending quite a few hours on the beta and in the PTR, I still feel like I have no real grasp of important mechanics like the interplay among all the various character and artifact spells, talents, glyphs, gear stats, runes, knowledge trees, what have you. Really I am lost, even on a hunter which is a class I have played as a main now for going on 9 years. I have literally zero confidence in my ability to select a good functional talent path for my artifact, in my ability to properly choose and change out my character talents to fit the specific scenario I am facing, or in my ability to determine which pieces of similar-level gear are best for my spec. Zero. Thank god for AskMrRobot is all I can say.

The learning curve for intelligent, skilled play in Legion — even for veteran players — is in my opinion much steeper than it has been in any other expansion, and something just seems fundamentally wrong to me about that. Change, yes, by all means, but complete rebuilds from the ground up? No.

Let’s be honest, there is no chance whatsoever that the majority of players will be able to figure out efficient character and artifact builds on their own. They will either go to a third party site and copy some template, or they will give up and just pick something at random with no thought to how the choice affects their other talents and spells or how it helps or hinders them for soloing, for AoE situations, whatever. Blizz loves to bloviate about how they want us to have “meaningful choices” in our talent selections, etc., but they completely negate that line of thought when they make the interactions between all the factors so complex that most people are reduced to a crap shoot in their selections.

So I feel like there is a gigantic hammer about to come down on my head with Legion class changes, and I am very worried about it, but at the same time there seems nothing I can reasonably do to prepare for it. Just keep glancing up and be ready to duck. Definition of stress.

Another reason I am not especially interested in the game now is that I think it is too late to do much about gearing any alts. With one exception, they are all above 700 gear level, which I think is fine for starting Legion. So I am not interested in chasing valor, or doing any of the weekly bonus events, or grubbing for felblight to upgrade crafted gear on them. I am finishing up the legendary ring on my rogue, so that means weekly LFR clears of HFC, and that is becoming more and more painful with each passing week. This week I got a grand total of 3 tomes from 13 bosses, a new low for me. It was demoralizing, I still have 4 more to go, and if I have a similar week next week I won’t even get them then. LFR has become beyond intolerable for me, I have to force myself to do it. The only thing that keeps me going is that I have promised myself once I get the tomes on my rogue, I will not step foot in it again until the Legion LFR tier kicks in, hopefully at least 2-3 months from now. Months of freedom from LFR, what a great thought!

Other than trying to get all the gold I can from missions, I am done with my garrisons. There is no point in gathering more profession cooldown mats, or WoD herbs or furs or ore or leather. I have a lot of all of these things in case they become useful in Legion. I will probably tear down at least one profession hut on each alt and build an enchanting hut, with the hope that I can DE Legion gear in them. (Hmmm. I actually don’t know if this will be possible. It should, but of course knowing Blizz, that would be too useful to players and so must be prevented at all costs… I need to try it tonight.)

I would clean out my banks, but until the pre-patch I don’t feel comfortable getting rid of all my saved gear for transmog.

I would like to do some rearranging of my alt profession structure, if it will be necessary, but Blizz is still being coy about the whole mechanism for Blood of Sargeras in Legion, sometimes saying you better have one gathering profession on every character and sometimes saying they are going to increase the drop rates for non-gathering activities because having two crafting professions is not wrong as Watcher may have mistakenly said…  I find this just infuriating, why be so opaque about it? Just tell us the plan, for crying out loud, throw us a damn bone for once. My tolerance for this kind of smarmy cuteness is very low just now.

So I guess I feel like I am forced to be marking time in the game now, even though there are tons of things I would like to be doing. It is not a comfortable feeling. Like when I was a kid and starting summer vacation — I had lots of projects and plans, but they were all pegged to later in the summer, dependent on other people’s  schedules, so I would find myself in an enforced wait mode. Not something an impatient person like myself does very well.

Summer blahs.

* Big hand, little map reference. When I was an Army operational planner, we had a standing joke about senior commanders who would come in to our planning sessions, stare at a map, then sweep their hand broadly over about half the map and growl something like, “What I want is a fixing attack here, with the main attack driving into their flank from this direction” (another big hand swoosh over the other half of the map). No matter that maybe there were only goat paths through those areas, or there were swamps or mountains or cities that would bog down any forces trying to pass through. It was easy doing the big-hand sweeps, unimaginably complex breaking it down into actual movement-to-contact routes for brigades, battalions, or companies.