A Familiar Time Of Year

It’s strange. Whenever I walk away from Azeroth, for however long, it’s always around this time that I return. Last time it made sense, what with the launch of Legion. Other instances, not so much. Even now. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious thought process as BlizzCon approaches…but it’s always the end of summer and into the fall. It’s as innocent as reading a blog post or catching a video on YouTube (usually lore related). Normally it’s no big deal but then this seasonal change comes along and it all changes.

To be honest, I came back to the game at the end of August when my holidays were winding down. I went two or three weeks in that window without playing and in the past that has been the reason that I stopped subbing and playing all together. Not this time. This time is different. Why? Continue reading

Moon Guard & Goldshire


Most players who’ve been around for a significant period of time know Moon Guard’s reputation as a server, most specifically as it pertains to Goldshire.  If by some chance you’re not familiar with it, Goldshire is the first main town of the human start area.  If you’re not familiar with Moon Guard, it’s recognized as an RP server.  The combination in this case has resulted in it commonly referred to as Pornshire.

I actually didn’t know this when I rolled Estheriot on said server.  I had a Troll Priest as well, but she was recently deleted.  Now in the case of Estheriot, she never went to Goldshire because she’s a Death Knight.  Well, she’s also a Worgen, but either way I wasn’t going to be passing through there as I leveled.  Sure, I went by when I headed to the Darkmoon Faire, but I never stopped long enough to know if anything of any nature was going on, much less the Pornshire reputation.

However, even before I took my hiatus this year, I wanted to see for myself.  Not because it was something I wanted to take part in, but really just to see what it was all about and literally to provide this post.  Basically a “what you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.”  Let’s face it, many people wouldn’t want to be caught in a place like that.  So, last night I sauntered on in.  For a Friday night, around midnight Eastern, I was told the place wasn’t very busy.  One of the people I spoke to wondered if it was a result of CRZ’s, but couldn’t say for sure.  Having said that, I went into the inn and sure enough it was fairly busy.

This is NOT busy?!?
This is NOT busy?!?

I decided to check out the whole place and was surprised by what I saw upstairs.  The Horde are quite present.  They basically have their room upstairs where they trigger the least amount of NPC aggro.  Still, I watched them dispatch any who came in and no Alliance took to attacking them.  There were plenty of Alliance in the room to begin with, so part of me thinks it would have to be Real ID in some cases as one certainly wouldn’t be able to translate the language of the opposing faction all that easily.

Not surprisingly, because I was a female toon, I drew attention.  No, I didn’t dress the part, nor did I pretend to be anything other than m’self.  With some, I was actually able to do a little bit of normal RP’ing, which it’s been a long time since I had (always enjoyed it, never caught on to the right circle).  However, there were a few private whispers that were fun to respond with “I’m a male blogger here to write a story on the reputation of this place.” More than once, they went silent.

After spending nearly an hour in the inn, I learned a lot about the whole atmosphere and reputation.  Is there Erotic Roleplay present?  Very much so.  However, you really have to keep an eye out to even realize it.  Well, there’s times where it’s incredibly obvious what folk are doing, but most of the time it just seems to be normal conversation.  The occasional emote suggests otherwise.    For the most part, though, it almost seems like a brothel mixed with a rave club.


But what I think surprised me most (besides having to look up futa…and trust me, don’t do that unless you really want to know), was just the friendly atmosphere.  Conversation was casual.  It didn’t necessarily jump to the ERP type of discussion   In fact, most of the RP advertised was for standard roleplaying and it was people trying to form a group to do so.  Of course, like any social location or channel in the game, you had your flagbearers of idiocy, but they could be easily ignored.

Over time I’ve seen many calls for Blizzard to do something about this place.  Some are just disgusted by the idea and others paint the argument of what if a young person coming out of the human start zone happens to come upon this kind of environment?  Valid question.  However, let’s say they roll on any other server and just get to a city where they can be subject to Trade chat.  To me, that’s going to raise far more concerns than what I saw and read tonight.  To me, Blizzard has no grounds for concern.  If RP servers were this active in general, they would be an even better batch of servers.  Again, not necessarily the full content of Goldshire, but the general sense that this is a group and a friendly one at that.  Now, should Blizzard keep an eye on it?  I think so.  I wouldn’t want to see something happen that would make certain goings on more open and attention drawing.  Or worse, players put in very uncomfortable positions whether through harassment or otherwise.

In the end, it would seem that Goldshire lives up to its reputation on this server.  There is a lot of RP’ing going on. But I want to be clear about that.  There’s a lot of roleplaying.  Is there Erotic Roleplay?  Yes.  However it’s not as predominant as the WoW community would have you believe.  You can almost always find someone to chat with in that nature, if it’s what you are looking for, but you’re not going to be bombarded with it in text and visuals.  Basically I expected to walk into the inn and see a sea of nearly nakedness, if rumours were to be believed.   Instead, like I said, it seemed like a brothel/rave location.  People went there to be their character.  The ones who sought something could find it and the ones who just wanted to relax could do so.  They were surrounded by like folk, in a way that all RPers would probably like to be.  Just, perhaps, not quite in this particular scenario or reputed location.

Server/Realm Rage


I’ve seen a few people talking about connected Realms as of late, in part because they’ve recently become connected to another realm. Stands to reason, of course. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of not suffering that fate just yet on my main server, but it’s a scheduled change on the horizon.

So there’s been a lot of discussion on whether the connections are positive or negative overall and I think your mileage varies on that one. If you’re a PvE realm that is suddenly connected to a PvP realm you are more than within your right to drive to Blizzard headquarters and keyboard slap anyone inside the development department. That one just completely baffles me.  But then, the whole approach to realm management has baffled me and then some. By the end of 2008, Blizzard had 223 realms. Now that’s right after Wrath of the Lich King launched, so you’re looking at a period many consider to be the peak of the game.  As of today there are 226 US realms alone!

There have always been low population servers, due largely to the constant introduction of them.  When you have low population servers, why add more?  There is zero logic to explain that, unless you want the player base to be as divided as possible, or you think it will generate revenue when players subsequently want to transfer.  Of course, the transfer money has to outweigh the money you spent on the servers in the first place, so I don’t see how that’s smart business.

So we had all these servers and what did Blizzard decide to do?  Close some of them down.  No, wait.  That’s not it.  That would’ve been the smart thing to do.  Instead we got Cross Realm Zones.  Oh this was bloody brilliant.  Now you had 2-3 times the node thiefs, mob taggers, and general griefers.  If you were on a low population server that got merged with a higher one for zones, oh lucky you.  I have seen two good things come from CRZ’s and one is indirect.  Cities aside from Stormwind actually show signs of life again, which is great if a new player happens to come along.  It’s nice when more than just Storm/Org look busy.  The other bonus was that you could cross-realm group/raid.  That right there is absolutely awesome, I completely admit it.  But otherwise there are a tonne of headaches from CRZ.

So after that little test, and general populace disappointment, you would think Blizzard would catch on.  Nope, let’s now connect realms together.  Part of me would give them benefit of the doubt if there appeared to be any rhyme or reason at all to the pairings, but there’s next to none.  Not faction population, not PvE, not RP, not even time zones.  I’m genuinely baffled on the basis of these match-ups.

The solution was not a difficult one in the first place.  Step one would have been to stop introducing new servers years ago.  I can’t speak for everyone, but the last time I had a queue of any kind for one of my realms (and a couple were “full” for a long time) was Wrath.  And we’re talking the first month of launch.  I’ve never sat in a queue since.  But, we got more and more and more servers, didn’t we?  At some point, Blizzard should’ve looked and gone “wow, over these 10 servers we have less than 1% of the playerbase combined.”  Then, give the realm(s) 30 days notice that it’s closing and allow free transfers off the server to anywhere except the one(s) closing.  After 30 days, characters not transferred would be moved to a similarly set server.

I’m not saying wipe out all the low population servers, but some could certainly go.  Heck, the ones where one faction controls the capital city of the other one because the player ratio is about 5000-3 could certainly be an option.  You would slowly begin to centralize your population again and save money by not running all these servers.  I could do a completely separate post about questioning where the money goes that Blizzard makes just off of player subscriptions, but that’s not the focus right now.  Regardless of the answer to that, one can’t argue that too many servers is a waste of time and money.

The apparent decision to turn around and link together realms and players who in many cases don’t even want to be linked isn’t the solution to this self-created problem either.  To me, it seems like they looked at the realms situation and instead of admitting continual expansion was an error in judgement, they’re getting out band-aids to heal a missing hand.

5.2 Thoughts

Property of Warcraft Pets
While you wait for the second round results of the Transmog contest (sorry, work slipped in the way…I should’ve looked at the calendar when I set the round two dates), which will be up later today, I figured now is as good a time as any to share some thoughts on the next big patch.

Isle of the Thunder King
This interests me, though I have a long way to go before I get to it.  In the same context of the Isle of Quel’Danas, it’s the new Daily Quest Hub.  Alas, I think it’s still going to have a Molten Front feel to it and I know that’s not going to go over well with many players.  That one can choose whether to do PvE or PvP quests is a nice touch.  Also, parts of the island become available based on a Realm level rather than an individual one.  That has mixed potential, but we’ll have to wait and see. 

We still don’t have dailies for every profession, which I think is absurd.  However, the Smiths are getting some love.  Proceed far enough on the Isle of the Thunder King and you’ll come upon the Lightning Forge.  Apparently this will allow for the creation of some very unique items, including old weapons that I’m guessing have been removed from the game over time.  Oh, Moggers are giddy with anticipation…or just me.

New World Bosses
I’ve always liked World Bosses and I’m sure the folks farming the Sha would love something different. Two bosses will be coming in 5.2.  One is part of the phased island, but it seems Oondasta the giant armoured dino will be found north of Kun-Lai Summit right from the get go.  Also with this comes a slight change to the World Bosses themselves.  Blizzard refers to it as “Tap to Faction.”  If your faction tags the mob, so long as you take part you have a chance for loot -whether you were in the initial raid or not.  However, you can only earn said loot once a week (and the bosses will spawn more frequently).

Pet Battles
-Pet bandages are now bind to account…thank goodness.  This will most assuredly save me some bag space (they also stack to 25) instead of having several on several toons. 
-The Nether Roach will no longer die during an Apocalypse.  I mean, it was unique and fun that it was the one that could, but roaches be roaches.
-Players earn xp for pet battles as well, so long as the battle is within five levels of your highest level pet (so for most of us that would be any pet battle in the 20-30 level).
-PvP Pet Battles can also drop Battlestones now.  Interesting.  It would be more ruthless if you had a chance to win one if it was in your opponent’s inventory.  Stealing it outright would cause pandemonium, but being able to receive an equivalent to the one in their bags would be fun. 
-If you flee a battle, the pet you were fighting no longer disappears, but the fleeing squad will suffer some damage.  I like that.  Penalty for a tactical retreat and it makes sense if you’re running from the critter that it doesn’t disappear.
-Elite Battle Pets.  Oh my.  I know people where these will become the bane of their existence.  They spawn by themselves, too, so I suspect Pet Battlers are going to be in for one hell of a fight.  But, if you can beat them all you’ll receive a Red Panda pet (yep, the one up top there)

Buy The Farm
Even now that Tumunzahar has started questing out there, the whole farming thing does nothing for me.  Not even for potential gold profit.  Seriously, get it away from me.  Having said that, I know exactly how popular it is and the chance to own the deed for the land you’ve been cultivating is no doubt exciting to those indulging.

Notable Class Stuff
Pretty much every class (at least the ones I am familiar enough with) has some sort of notable changes going on.  I would suggest checking out the notes for what’s coming to your favourite role.  Warriors losing a 10% damage reduction for defensive stance is certainly one of the ones that jumped out at me. 

Green Fire!
Speaking of class stuff, Warlocks are dancing in the streets…if they’re into dancing.  The opportunity for Fel fire spells is finally coming to pass with the quest line now in-game.

Cross-Realm Hot Topic

I was quite excited the first time I saw someone pop a Blingtron4000, and then disappointed when Semblance here was too low to use it (80 and up, in case you’re curious).  Fortunately someone had the tiger out as well so she happily bounced upon it for a little while.  As she sat there rocking away, I was reading up on the latest on Cross-Realm Zones.  Before I delve into them, let me just say how much fun it’s been to fly out of Stormwind 8 feet past the gates and then sit and wait while the new zone loads, allowing me to work on Hallow’s End stuff. 

1. Time Zone Jumps
CRZ’s are currently capped where the realms that tie into the zone are no more than three hours apart.  I honestly didn’t know that and while part of the reason is for day/night jump limitation and the handing in of timed events, three hours is still three hours.  One solution being discussed is what sounds like a flatlining of the zone times.  Not 100% on how that’ll succeed, but it could be better than the current setup, that’s for certain.

2. Lag And Tech Issues
Resources, NPC’s, buffs and more can occasionally be non-existant when you change zones.  Blizzard admits this and is working on it.  Well, that’s a start.  As is finally acknowledging the horrid frame rate problem that many have reported (myself included) when hitting a CRZ.  A few people have suggested the zones weren’t ready to go live and these issues show that.  However, no one in their right mind should think this ever would have launched without any difficulty.  If they can sort it out, bonus for the game.

3. “We’re Blindly Happy With It.”
Sorry, I don’t know how else to paraphrase it.  The exact quote from Rygarius is as follows:

Despite a few lingering technical issues, we’re happy with how CRZ is populating the leveling areas with other players, and helping to once again foster MMO social experiences in the 1-85 content.

For the most part, I think some players would agree with this.  In the grand scheme of things, I might be one of them.  But the cynic in me can’t help but think node and mob stealing, npc pvp camping and more are not the MMO experiences I would want to be fostering. 

In fact, just recently Cheetah Dave was questing in Theramore and a Horde Druid was just camping a pirate needed for a quest.  He was doing nothing else, except sitting there at level 85 killing this pirate that anyone else in the zone would need.  Fortunately he had someone like myself who invited him to my group so that he could visit the quest location, but was guaranteed to do it on my server -which the Druid wasn’t on.  Not everyone has that option.

I’ve backed off the quasi “sky is falling” opinion I had when the Cross Realm Zones first came in, but that doesn’t mean I loathe them any less.  They have their place in the game but until a number of issues are fixed, being able to turn them off should be an option and probably the most viable.  Alas, that is the proverbial wishing on a star based on Rygarius’ latest (and still appreciated) comments.

Cross-Realm Makes Me Cross-Eyed

Property of ctrustnetwork.com

The other day I was flying on Liouxpold and all of a sudden I noticed his Skill Levels listed themselves in the chat window.  I thought it was pretty weird, but didn’t think anything of it.  I’ve since learned that’s the tell-tale sign you’ve entered into cross-realm phasing.

I won’t lie, when I first heard the idea I immediately thought “Guild Wars” ripoff.  GW 2 basically only requires a server for WvWvW PvP.  Otherwise, you can do most things cross-realm.  Again that was merely a knee jerk reaction.  I followed that up with “hey, I’ll finally see people in the low zones now,” and then “but why don’t they just merge some of the low population servers?”  Let’s face it, there’s servers out there where 2-3 of them could be merged and they’d still only be half a population.  I’m not knocking them, I’m just making said observation. 

Instead Blizzard has taken this phasing route and as I thought about it more it occurred to me this is great for group quests.  Then I realized there are barely any low level group quests anymore.  Sure, Horde get a series in Tarren Mill but it isn’t long before you can solo them (and still within the frame where it’s a decent xp hunk to do it).  Having taken two toons from level one into the 80’s, on both sides, I can’t think of too many cases where you needed a group -especially prior to Outland.

So the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize what a nuisance this could be for folks gathering.  Now the flip of that is what mats could start going for due to sparseness.  But you know what I never really thought of?  Exploitation.  I’m not even going to go into great detail on this, because Grumpy Elf covers it incredibly well in his random thoughts for today. 

You can’t help but read some of that, and then think of the recent Deathcharger fiasco (which you’ll recall I foolishly learned about only recently).  Apparently there’s rumblings of more items appearing in such fashion.  Part of me starts to feel a little dirty playing Warcraft.  Granted I’m not part of the problem, but the more prominent it becomes the less appealing things are.  Between fear of getting a hacked item and having someone griefing you because they can are not reasons to keep returning to Azeroth (and unfortunately some of these situations are unavoidable under the current circumstances).  That’s not me crying “the sky is falling” either, just how I feel at the thought of it.  My brain tells me it’ll all get sorted out over time.  By January I’m sure it’ll be forgotten.

I’m hoping by then cross-realm phasing is smoother as well.  To elaborate, I find I have a lower frame rate in a phased zone than I do in a city or raid.  That seems backwards.  Also, as Grumpy Elf pointed out, we should actually have the option of whether we even want to be part of a mixed zone.  Some people actually like, and desire, the peace and quiet of no one being around. 

At this stage I don’t know if it was a good idea or a bad one.  I stand by my thought that merging some realms would’ve been a more efficient move.  In six months, I could be proven wrong.  For now though, even Blizzard can’t argue that the system is not without its issues…many of them.

Economics 101

My Auction Housing is no secret.  I enjoy it, and even on the days my mailbag comes back half full of items, I am no less determined.  But I never go out to make a great deal in one fell swoop.  I’m more of the nickel and dimer.  Looking at my current balance, I’m ok with that.  Really, that’s all that matters.  If you’re on the up and up, and succeeding enough for your own goals, then your gold making life is good.

But in order to give yourself that opportunity, you have to have a key understanding of one thing: the economy of your server.  I’ve spoken about it before, how “item X” sells for far more on “Server J” than “Server “T” for example.  But I was asked a question that I have taken for granted all this time.  “How do you determine your server’s economy?”

First, I need to preface things a bit.  I’m going to explain how best to do it, but understand that if you follow along there is an incredible likelihood you are going to get an inaccurate representation which is exacerbated by the fact we know a new expansion will be live in less than two months.  The end of an expansion can be a hard enough time to gauge your economy, but the first month or so of a new one can be even worse.    Keep in mind not every niche is affected, but most are.  Also, as I’ve preached for some time…there’s a plethora of gold to come out of Pandaria and that’s going to no doubt inflate things even more unless people sink said gold into something else such as Pet Battles or the ever expensive mounts that are on the way.  That said, let’s press on.

If you want to get an accurate snapshot of your server’s economy (and remember this is just your faction as well, unless you start playing both sides), the first thing you should do is grab yourself an Auction addon.  There are several with varying degrees of what they offer.  Myself, I use AuctionLite.  It’s simple and lightweight, and for my efforts does what I need.  Regardless of choice, once you install it head to the Auction House and do a full scan.  This will give you a “current picture.”  Your results will vary as well based on your settings.  For myself, I go with a 20% or better opportunity for profit and a financial value of 1g or more.  This gives me a slightly longer list, but never underestimate how much Malachite adds up (to say nothing of the Mechanical Squirrels it’s good for).  The first scan usually takes a while, so it’s a great time to go putter afk or read a good blog (like this one!).

I’m going to reiterate this scan only gives you a snapshot of the current economy.  What you need to do from this point out is run a scan at least once a day if you can.  Personally, when I’m trying to get a true reading, I run mine twice a day, as opposite as I can.  Also, weekends are a must.  That’s when there’s the most activity.  Keep in mind, that’s also when items tend to come down in price because of supply and demand (and more undercutters, in all honesty).  After a few weeks, your numbers will start to settle and you’ll get a fair represenation of what’s worth what.  It really is as simple as that.

Also, the more you scan, the more you’ll start to connect the dots, or prices.  If you ask me about average materials and popular items, there is a good chance off the top of my head I can tell you what they’re worth on my main server to within 10%.  The items I keep on my favourites list (another scan option in most addons) will be even tighter.  You don’t have to keep track of what everything is worth, but knowing the values of the area you’re focusing on can help, as it saves you time.  If you just know what something’s worth, it means you immediately know whether to buy, sell, or ignore.  Like the Goblins say, “time is money.”

Of course, there is a second way that is more or less involved depending on your approach.  Over there, to the right, in my blogroll is a link called The Undermine Journal.  It’s not only great for determining your economy, but it’s a “must” point of reference for goldmakers.  Remember what I just talked about in terms of scanning?  The Undermine Journal datamines and records the information all the timeFor all the servers.  At any time you can head over there and check the information you want, including a great Current Deals list and what items are “hot.”  This doesn’t even factor in the ability of TUJ to show you a selling history on any item, including its value, the last time it was on the AH, and even the average price across the game.

So why not just use it as your source?  Great question, and you’re actually welcome to do so.  However, keep in mind nothing is perfect.  When you look at something such as the Current Deals List, the site will say “as of X min ago.”  If I’m not mistaken, that could be up to an hour.  Your in-game scan is real time.  That isn’t important for determining your economy, but it can be vital once you have it.  Also, in the time you spend looking at TUJ’s info, someone like myself may have come in and scooped up said item.  The Undermine Journal is an amazing site and resource but I recommend using it secondary to your addon of choice.

Something else I’d like to mention is that you’ll never truly know your economy.  You’ll have a pretty solid grasp of it, but it’s something that is always in flux.  So if you make the effort to understand it, but find it changing drastically, then there’s almost always a factor as to why.  Determining what that is, be it new raid content boosting gem and enchant sales, or a patch note that changes what a Glyph can do (or God forbid a class’ dependency on a certain stat), can help you adjust to the flux.  And don’t forget every server is different.  I’m on one right now where Elementium Geodes hover between 90 and 150g.  That’s an adjustment for me when everywhere else I see them for 200-300g.   It took some time, as I thought it might be a fluke that week, but I’ve learned that’s genuinely how it is.  Such is the adventure of learning the economy of a server.

The final point I would like to make is if you want to really learn the economy and generate some gold, then I can’t put enough emphasis on learning it for both factions.  That the two can be night and day is an understatement.  Learning both puts you leaps and bounds ahead of at least 25% of the Auction House players out there because if you have a means of getting your items to the opposing faction, then your benefits increase exponentially.

Happy Auctioning!