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.

Who are your alts?

As I usually do at the end of an expansion, I have been spending quite a bit of time with my alts. Getting reacquainted with them and in the process learning new things about them, I have to admit, is really one of my favorite activities in this game. If it weren’t for the time factor ( as in I already spend too much time on the game), I could see myself being a multi-account maxed-out number of characters type of player.

As it is, I feel like I can barely manage my current nine characters on my single account:

  • Worgen hunter main, level 100
  • Night elf hunter almost-main, level 100
  • Panda mistweaver monk, level 100
  • Gnome destro lock, level 100
  • Night elf druid I have never been able to settle on a spec for, level 100
  • Human mage (currently arcane) I keep threatening to delete, level 100
  • Human rogue I just rolled and leveled a couple of months ago, level 100
  • Human paladin I just rolled recently, level 30
  • Human priest that has been my banker for several years, level 18

The first four are the ones I feel most comfortable with, the ones I have raided with at various times, the ones I always level first in a new expansion. My night elf hunter was my very first character and my uncontested main until the current expansion, when for unimportant reasons having to do with various guild memberships and raiding activities, my Worgen hunter became my main. I run my Worgen as MM, my Night elf as BM, and I think of my BM as the fun hunter spec — the one I like doing old content on, the one I use to chase achievements, etc. If I had to dump all my characters but one, I would keep my Night elf hunter. Hands down, no contest.

I rolled my Worgen and my Panda when those races became available, just to see if I liked them. I did, obviously, and I have never looked back. I usually like to try new races, classes and specs when they come out, but sometimes it is just a passing fancy with me. I have tried DK twice, both times leveling to whatever the max was at the time, but just cannot make myself like them as a class. I will definitely roll a DH in Legion, but from what I have seen so far it will probably turn out like DK did for me. And — because I am stubborn and bull headed and still immersed in my tantrum — I will not roll a SV hunter. (As I write them, those look very much like Famous Last Words. I give you permission now to laugh in my face if I cave at some point on this…) I am certainly considering rolling a third — Gnome — hunter, though, when they become available.

As for races, I am not big on either Draenei or Dwarves. I have tried both, but I can never get past the aesthetics of hooves and a tail for Draenei, and although I think Dwarves fit the hunter fantasy well, I just don’t like looking at mobile fire plugs every time I log in to them. My only Dwarf, however, was female, so maybe at some point I would do better with a male. (And yes, I realize it is extremely sexist of me to think it fine for a male to be short, squat, and ugly, but not a female. I am not proud of it, but there it is. Sadly, we cannot always escape our cultural biases.)

I have two or three times tried rolling a Horde alt, but I just am not a Horde person. In addition to the ugliness of some of the races, I can’t get past the baseline fantasy of the whole Horde concept. I like my leisure escapism to be clear cut Good-versus-Evil, with me solidly on the side of Good. I get that the Horde are nuanced and conflicted, and have what seems to be a richer and more complex story than Alliance, but honestly I get plenty of nuanced and conflicted in real life thank you very much.

Anyway, back to my alts. I am fascinated by the fact that, as I play them, their individual personalities emerge, each quite different from the others. My Worgen is all business, very intense, competent, and professional. Also tends towards gruffness, gets impatient with frivolity. My Night Elf hunter, on the other hand, has a very laid back and balanced view of things. She is like someone’s really cool granny, who can enjoy being silly with the kids but who also has a strong grip on how to lead the family and who still stays on top of her professional skills. Nothing really fazes her, she takes it all calmly in stride.

My Panda is still figuring out her professional niche, hasn’t quite reached the top of her game yet, and tends to be a little insecure.  She is at heart a caretaker, a healer who dislikes doing harm to others except as necessary in the cause of saving those in her charge. I am not an expert healer on her, but I am respectable, and I find the healing mechanics very quirky and fun. We will see if they will stay that way in Legion.

My Gnome is all spit and fire, who gives off a clear signal of “Don’t f**k with me or I will kick your ass”. I think she is very cute, but I would never let her know that, because — well — she would kick my ass. But I find warlocks to be huge fun to play. If I feel the need to abandon my hunters in Legion, I think my lock will become my main.

I have had both my Druid and my Mage for a long time, but I have never really bonded with either of them. I think part of the problem is that I can’t seem to identify with a single spec for them. My Mage is all over the place on specs every expansion, although fire really is my favorite. I should probably just go with fire no matter what, and maybe then I would develop a bit more continuity and expertise with the class. As for my Druid, I like the idea of Boomkin best, think it is the most fun, but in WoD it has been horrible to play. I keep thinking I should learn to heal on her, because I think Resto Druids are quite powerful healers when played well, but so far I have found it to be a daunting learning curve. Still, I find Druids to be a fascinating class for their abilities to tank, heal, and be both ranged and melee damage dealers — really the most versatile class in the game.

My Rogue and Pally are experiments in melee classes for me. I rolled the rogue mainly to have someone to open lock boxes for my characters, and because I need one final profession to have them all. I find it to be an interesting class to play, but I am pretty bad at it still, and I get anxious when I have to just wait for  power build-ups and spells to become available. (I am a mad button pusher…)  My Pally is my only plate wearer, and is too low level yet for me to decide much about the class.

Well, this has been a longer and more rambling post than I intended. Possibly it reflects my scattershot, unfocused approach to the game these days. I’d be interested to hear how others view their alts.