Wednesday, January 27, 2021

First Chapter of the Kyrian Covenant Campaign

 I did the first chapter of the Kyrian campaign today. It's quite good, but also kind of weird.

Basically you're following one of the Aspirants around as she prepares for ascension. The two of you go to Azeroth to escort a soul back to the Shadowlands. In Azeroth, you meet the soul of Ben Howell and relive his last day.

It's a pretty cool quest, one where you're just a good, average man with a family. I won't spoil how he dies, but it was pretty touching and tied in with the original story back in Azeroth. However, once you finish that part, you escort the Ben's soul back to Oribos where he is promptly thrown into the Maw!

It kind of illustrates how wrong the Kyrian are. If the Forsworn were a pure third-party faction, then it would be very tempting to join them. But instead they're allied with the obvious bad guy, which just makes them seem stupid as well.

I guess we'll see how Blizzard resolves this in future chapters, but so far I think the execution of the Kyrian parts of the story have been pretty poor, and greatly hurt the faction.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Gaming Log - January 26

Normal Castle Nathria raid night again. This was my first raid as Kyrian, so I was looking forward to see how it worked.

In addition to its raw power, Divine Toll feels very good. Light of Dawn to get to zero Holy Power, Divine Toll to 5 Holy Power and 5 Holy Shocks and 5 Glimmer of Lights, then Light of Dawn again, is super strong just on its own.

I parsed quite a bit better--well, blue and green parses, but better than grey--on several fights, though there's a few I still need to work on. I did manage to get chained every single time on Sludgefist, which was annoying. I never really used the Steward potions, but now that I think about it, I probably could have in Stone Generals to remove a bleed.

I'm up to Renown 7 or 8 already. I did get a couple renown ranks from the raid itself, which I wasn't expecting. I think the full catch up will take a couple of weeks, though.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Switching Covenants

I bit the bullet and switched my paladin to Kyrian. I didn't really want to, but I'm parsing so low that's it's probably best to follow the theorycraft exactly until I figure out and fix whatever the issue is. I do have an alt rogue which I will put in Night Fae.

Divine Toll is really, really powerful. Even on Retribution and Protection it's pretty insane. Full Holy power and large amounts of damage to start the fight. I tanked a Spires of Ascension +4 after I switched, and it was pretty awesome. Multiple shields bouncing everywhere on pretty much every other pull. Though I did accidentally pull one extra pack with it before the third boss.

It is a bit interesting what carried over from the previous covenant. Neutral adventurers like Meatball and Croman come over with their same level. Covenant adventurers that you've previously rescued in Torghast can be found in the central Torghast area, though they start at level 1. You can use armor from your previous covenant, but you can't use the transmog. You can't use the previous covenant mounts, though. You do keep your conduits and their levels, but you have to unlock the soulbinds again as you gain renown.  Otherwise, you pretty much start from scratch.

Oh well, I do like the Kyrian plate armor, mount and classical Greek aesthetics. Let's hope the story is interesting.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

A Redistricting Toy Problem

This is a non-gaming post.

I've been thinking about drawing electoral districts and gerrymandering lately. I came up with a simple toy problem that I cannot decide on an answer for. So I'll throw it out for any readers to comment on.

Imagine we have a small, square town. There are two parties here, the Blues and the Greens. Most people lean Blue or lean Green. However, partisanship is not extreme, and some people will vote for a particularly charismatic or competent candidate from the other party. For various reasons about 2/3 of the people lean Blue and live on the west side of town. 1/3 lean Green and live on the east side. Like so:

B | B | G

B | B | G

B | B | G

The city has a council with 3 councilors. What's the best way to draw three districts for this town?

If you slice vertically, then you guarantee representation. There will be 2 Blue councilors, and 1 Green. However, the districts are not competitive at all, and there's no real possibility that Green will ever get a majority.

If you slice horizontally, then you guarantee competitiveness. However, it's quite possible that Green will lose all three elections, and have no representation at all. But if the Green party is particularly good one year, then they could take 2 or even 3 seats and have a majority.

So I don't know what the best solution is. Maybe the solution is to ignore district composition entirely and use strictly geographical borders.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Gaming Log - January 23

Not a lot done today. I woke up to find that one of the pipes in my apartment had sprung a leak, so my morning was preoccupied with cleaning up and getting the superintendent to fix it. Luckily it was a pretty small leak.

I did a couple of callings on my Paladin, then did the souls weekly and a Maw weekly + daily combo that was in the same area.

I then did a couple callings on my Priest, and upgraded another slot. It's kind of funny, I have almost none of the Sanctum upgrades on my Priest, as all my anima has been put into upgrading armor.

Finally I did a few more quests in Revendreth and got to level 53. Though, I have the suspicion that I'm getting more XP from mining than actual quests and combat.

Friday, January 22, 2021

An Interesting View of Gear in Shadowlands

Wrathofkublakhan at Coffee Cakes and Crits has an interesting way of looking at gear in Shadowlands:

Visiting the Wow Community Forums, I see all-in-caps complaining about the low loot drops in dungeons and raids. I think that they are looking at it wrong. The right way, it seems to me, is to look at your own ilevel. Mine is about 200 with a 9/10 clear so far of the current raid. That is about perfect.

I have gear pieces above and below 200 and a chest piece and/or weapon drop at 200 would be welcome. This is good. The game is working. I remember in BfA out-gearing the raid before we even started. The same in Legion, there would be times when we’d start a raid and all eyes were on the final bosses for chances of an upgrade.

I think this is a good way of looking at gear. I'm i205, and we're 4/10 Heroic Nathria. That's just about perfect. Loot is scarce, but every item that drops in new and challenging content is an upgrade. Most likely an upgrade for me, but guaranteed for someone in the raid. I have some high pieces (Legendary and rings, for some reason) and some pieces that could still use a Normal Nathria upgrade (bracers, as is tradition ever since Cho'gall).

I really like how loot is handled in Shadowlands. Loot is scare and thus valuable. I know there's a lot of complaints on places like Reddit, but I strongly hope that Blizzard holds the line.

About the only thing that might need a look is collecting raid sets for transmog. And even that might be fine after a couple more months.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Gaming Log - January 21

Raid night again. This time we're going into Heroic.

I changed my keybinds to more closely match last expansion. As well, I decided to lean on Light of Dawn instead of Word of Glory. I think those changes helped a bit, but I'm still parsing very low.

In any case, it was a pretty productive raid, as we killed Huntsman Altimor, Hungering Destroyer and Lady Inerva Darkvein, making us 4/10 for the raid.

On Huntsman we wiped 5 times, always at the same point when we had to switch to and kill the shades in P2. Sometimes we switched too late, so they became immune to CC and got their casts off. But once we got past that phase, it was a pretty clean kill.

Hungering Destroyer had 3 wipes, mostly getting used to the strategy. We set up in a box around him in the middle of the room, with 4 groups on the corners. Then we make sure one miasma person goes to each group. The wipes mainly came from multiple beams moving out to the same place.

Finally, we had 6 wipes on Lady Inerva Darkvein, including a wipe at 5%. This was mostly refining the strategy and making sure that everyone did the orbs quickly. Our kill was going well until the last 10% and then everyone started dying. I think we killed her with 5 people left alive. Though I was in a Podtender cocoon, and a priest was in angel form.

Still, a pretty good raid. This part of heroic raiding is still the best, where you wipe steadily until you succeed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Wave to Gor'goroth

I'm a Guide on my main, and it's pretty interesting to see what questions pop up in Newcomer chat. The most common thing people seem to be having trouble with is using emotes. Or possibly that's just a mistake which ends up in chat, while other mistakes are invisible. The other major mistake, which is also visible, is talking in the wrong channel.

For background, one of the quests in the new introductory area of Exile's Reach asks you to /wave to an ogre (and then to /dance with him). It's very common to see newbies type "wave" or "wave to Gor'goroth" in newcomer chat (which appears to be the default for new players).

Slash commands are second nature to experienced players, so it's enlightening to see how foreign they are at first. It's possibly even more foreign nowadays in the age of phone and tablet apps, where everything is done through taps and gestures.

I wonder if WoW should follow FFXIV's lead and create an emote menu, with icons you can drag to your bars. You can do this now with macros (memories of /kneel macros to get the achievement for Fandral Staghelm in Firelands), but you can't expect a beginner to handle macros.

I do like WoW's implementation of the guide system a little bit better than FFXIV's mentor system. There's no visible marker for guides, unlike the crown in FFXIV. Guides can identify new players (murloc marker), and new players can identify guides (green flag marker), and both have access to Newcomer chat, but that's it. As a result, I think Newcomer chat is pretty helpful and sensible.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Gaming Log - January 19

Raid night tonight. We went through all of Normal Castle Nathria and the first boss of Heroic. There was only one wipe on Sludgefist, and one wipe on trash. We tried to get too clever and avoid one trash pack, but ended up pulling it and the next at the same time.

But otherwise it was a really good raid. DPS stepped it up a notch, and all of our kills were guild records my a significant amount.

I added a WeakAura to show me when Holy Shock is up, but I don't think it helped that much. Maybe I'll try adding WeakAuras for the full priority list.

Loot-wise, I got i213 shoulders from the Great Vault, and then an i200 shield from the raid. I also got two boots for transmog. One thing about the scarcity of loot is that it does make collecting the set much harder. I only have three pieces of the Castle Nathria set.

Other than the raid, both the world boss and the daily calling were in the same area of Revendreth, so I did them together. A cool 500 anima, half the weekly quest in one go.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Soulshape Quality of Life Improvement

The main Night Fae ability is Soulshape. It transforms you into the shape of a creature, and blinks you forward. The blink is on a four second cooldown. You also move faster while in Soulshape form. In the regular world, Soulshape lasts for a few seconds, so it's a temporary speed boost/blink combination. Soulshape is on a 1.5 minute cooldown.

There are many different shapes that you can collect or find. You get two more, stag and moth, through the story. I spent 1500 anima on a tiger shape from the mushroom network NPC. (In hindsight, perhaps not the best use of anima.)

The other interesting element of Soulshape is that if you use it in a rest area, it has an infinite duration. This is especially useful in places where you cannot mount. So you can freely run around Oribos or the Heart of the Forest in Soulshape form and it is faster than walking.

However, one issue with Soulshape is that if you go through a portal, it will pop you out of Soulshape. There are two such portals in the Night Fae headquarters, one to the mushroom network and one to the Queen's Conservatory. It's pretty common to go through the portal, come back out, and still have Soulshape still be on cooldown.

A small quality-of-life improvement would be for Soulshape to have no cooldown if used in a rest area. It already lasts forever, and this would just clean up the few rough spots where you get forced out of Soulshape.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Gaming Log - January 17

I played my priest for a fair bit yesterday and today. I finished the second-last chapter of the Maldraxxus campaign. It's a pretty good campaign, and seems far more focused on the main story of Shadowlands.

I also did a Layer 4 of Torghast with a beast companion, mostly to finish one of the daily callings. The beast companion worked pretty well. It could taunt and hold aggro, which made it a little easier to play a Shadow Priest. I rather wish this wasn't a temporary event, but a full-time one. Though really, I could always go with a group if I really needed to.

I think I'm going to stop at Layer 4 with my priest. It's easy enough, and you get the lion's share of Soul Ash. Given that I haven't even made one legendary for the priest, I'm not really worried about it. Right now my goals for the priest are to finish the covenant campaign and get enough anima to fully upgrade the covenant set.

I also started my Horde Warrior. This time I went for Threads of Fate, and started with Revendreth. Revendreth gives warriors an improved Execute, and honestly, I don't see how any of the other covenants can compete with that. Threads of Fate itself is interesting. It feels very much like Adventure Mode from Diablo 3. About the only complaint I have is that some of the area quests where you fill a bar are a bit too long. I was killing things, looked at my bar, and was a bit shocked to see that I was only at 40%.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Torghast Beasts

This week there's a special event in Torghast where you can get a beast companion at the start of the instance and then improve it with anima powers instead of your own. This is the regular wings, not Twisting Corridors

I did a couple of Layer 8s, and as I was the healer, I gave the beasts a whirl. They seemed okay to me. I got this combo where the beast did 100% extra damage, but lost health every second, and a power where if the beast dropped to low health, it would explode. When the combo went off, it did a lot of damage.

However, I think it might have worked better solo. With a full group, we were killing things pretty quickly, so nothing lasted long enough. The beast did do the majority of my damage. And I mean I was a healer, so it's not like I would have done high damage if I hadn't taken the beast.

I've done both wings, so I probably won't do Torghast again this week. But the next time it comes around, I might try doing a wing solo with the beast companion.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Gaming Log - January 15

I finished the daily Calling in Revendreth, then a weekly quest in the Maw, healed a De Other Side +7, and then did Torghast Twisted Corridors Layer 2 in a group of 5.

This is what I like about Shadowlands. A lot of bouncing around from place to place and activity to activity.

Sadly we didn't time De Other Side. We wiped twice, once on the Manastorms and once on the Broker, and that was enough for us to miss the timer by about a minute or so.

Twisting Corridors was a little insane. I was Retribution and I did 242k DPS on the final boss! Even so, I came in third on the meters. The final boss just fell over. We used a Ravenous Cell to get extra currency from skeletons, so by the end we had over 2000 currency to spare. Pretty crazy run.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Need to Improve My Healing

I'm not really sure what happened, but my healing in raids has suddenly become abysmal. Last raid tier, I could regularly parse about 80% of similar item level. Tonight, I managed 12%. 12%! That's like basically not healing at all! My other guild healers are carrying me at this point.

(It's not totally bad. We killed Sire Denathrius on Normal, and killed Shriekwing on Heroic for the first time.)

I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong this tier. As far as I can tell from the guides and theorycraft, the Paladin healing style this expansion is similar to last tier. Holy Shock, Crusader Strike, keep Glimmer up, etc. Maybe Holy Power and Word of Glory are throwing me off rhythm. Maybe I'm trying to use Word of Glory too much instead of relying on Holy Shock.

I know I'm losing a bit from not being Kyrian, but not this much. Still though, maybe I should change. Though one problem with changing is that I'm currently wearing three pieces of covenant armor, and I don't have replacements.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Gaming Log - January 13

A mage in my guild wanted to start Torghast Twisting Corridors, so I ran Layer 1 with him. I went as Protection paladin and he was a Frost Mage.

It went pretty well, though no absolutely crazy combinations of powers for me. Just steady build up of all the paladin powers and tank health. I did take the power that doesn't allow you to move backwards, which was kind of weird. I usually mouse-move, so it wasn't a huge deal.

I did die once, on the last boss at 1%. I think I had stopped paying attention, and then took his special directly instead of avoiding it. Luckily the mage was able to finish him off.

Twisting Corridors is pretty long. That run took us almost two hours. Though to be fair, we probably could have pulled more aggressively and done multiple groups at a time. I am glad Twisting Corridors is thoroughly optional, though.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Gaming Log - January 12

Raid night again. This time we got the first 9 bosses down, and even had time for 2 pulls on Sire Denathrius. We have some new people who need to learn the fight though, so it will probably take another few pulls on Thursday.

I did change up my build slightly. I switched from Holy Prism to Judgment of Light, and from Sanctified Wrath to Awakening. I'm not sure it really changed much though. I need to find or make a Weak Aura to ensure that I cast Holy Shock on cooldown, and not delay it a GCD or so.

I'm also considering switching Covenants to Bastion. I don't really want to, because I like Night Fae. But the Bastion paladin ability, Divine Toll, is extremely strong. The Night Fae Blessings of the Season are fun, but not very powerful and also a bit clunky to use.

It was also Vault day. I got a i213 ring, courtesy of that crazy Plaguefall run yesterday. I guess that made it worth it in the end.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Mythic Keystone Monday

Monday night, so everyone in guild was doing a few Mythic Keystones to round out tomorrows Vault. I healed a Mists of Tirna Scithes +4, then dps'd a Halls of Atonement +6. Finally I tanked a Plaguefall +7.

Or perhaps "attempted" to tank Plaguefall would be a better description of that run. The first two groups were timed, but that Plaguefall had 40+ deaths. Part of it was that it was unfamiliar to some people in the group, part was my noob tanking, and part was that it was Plaguefall. Quaking and Sanguine made it even harder, as there's not a lot of space and many mechanics encourage you to stay close.

Another problem was that I had forgotten I had got [Dreamer's Mending] last week some time, and had decided to try it in my tank set. Our most experienced guild tank had warned me against it, but it was an item level upgrade, and I thought it could be helpful. 

He was right, and I was completely wrong. 

All through the first half of the dungeon I kept wondering why I was getting stunned. Was this some special tank mechanic I never heard about? I realized what was causing it at the second boss, but you can't change gear in a Mythic Keystone. So we just struggled through it.

I vendored the trinket the moment I left the dungeon.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Profession Dailies

Profession dailies in Shadowlands really should reward the zone-specific material. That at least would make them worthwhile. Instead they just give the baseline material which is present in very zone, and thus very easy to pick up through your general playtime.

If you visit all four zones equally to do quests, you might end up with 4 stacks of baseline, and a stack each of the zone-specific material.

If a Maldraxxus mining daily gave 20 oxxein instead of 20 laestrite, they would be much more enticing, while not really being overpowered. It would also tie the daily to the zone more strongly, which I think would be good.

I think this would be a small tweak which would improve profession world quests significantly.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Gaming Log - January 9

I did the latest chapter of the Night Fae story on my paladin. This time it was all about Bwonsamdi, and trying to retcon Vol'jin's decision to make Sylvanas the Warchief at the beginning of Legion. As far as retcons go, It was pretty good. Having Muzahela be corrupt allows Bwonsamdi to be the hero (well, as much as Bwonsamdi can be). Since Bwonsamdi is extremely popular, this works out well.

One interesting mechanical note is that if you've be gaining renown every week, this week you complete the covenant armor set, and are able to upgrade all the pieces to be better than regular Mythic gear. That seems like a pretty good curve for more casual players who do not group.

On my priest, I got some more renown and did another chapter of the Maldraxxus story. Maldraxxus is very focused on the current Shadowlands situation, with quests involving first Bastion and now Revendreth. It's quite different from the Night Fae who are focused on finishing up existing Azeroth stories like Tyrande. I think I'm now one chapter away from being caught up. I might actually be able to catch up if I finish the 1000 anima quest. Not really sure that's going to happen.

Mechanically, I've been putting all my priest's anima into upgrading the covenant armor. It's worked out pretty well, with most pieces being around i177.

Also, I did the second layer of Torghast as a priest. I underestimated all the Psychic Scream powers. I was avoiding taking them because using Psychic Scream on trash just meant that they ran away and came back with friends. But it turns out that the final boss can be feared! So those are boss fight powers. 

I still think that the majority of priest powers don't flow very well. Many of them seem way too niche. Part of the problem might be that very few of the powers are spec-specific, and most seem to be class-specific or more general instead. For a class where a specialization like Shadow is very different from the others, this causes issues.

Friday, January 08, 2021

More Thoughts on Torghast

Today a couple of guildmates and I did Layer 8 of Torghast Skoldus Halls. Then, not knowing what we were getting into, we tried Layer 1 of Twisting Corridors. 18 floors is a lot of Torghast!

It was pretty fun, though. By the 18th floor I was doing almost 100k dps as Retribution. A buffed Wings, multiple charges of Hammer of Wrath, HoW extending Wings, HoW boosting Templar's Verdict, Forbearance buffing damage. It was pretty crazy.

It's interesting to look at how the community views Torghast versus what I think was Blizzard's original design intention. I think Blizzard wanted to make challenging solo content. The original complaint about Torghast was that the bosses were too difficult. That you'd spend a hour clearing to the boss, and then get nuked.

Blizzard responded by making the lower floors of Torghast more difficult. I believe this meant that Blizzard saw the difficulty of the end bosses as correct, and increased the difficulty of the lower floors to ramp up more smoothly to the end boss. That's the correct response for content which is meant to be a challenge. If someone is not yet ready, they should wash out earlier.

However, the community sees Torghast as a "Rextroy simulator". Rextroy is a content creator who finds crazy combinations of abilities, then makes a video one-shotting everyone in PvP, and Blizzard issues a hotfix.

Torghast is that for a normal player. They get crazy combinations of abilities and get to go hog-wild, while not really affecting anything of real importance. There's no gear, just Soul Ash, which is fairly easy to get. It's PvE, so you aren't even destroying other players. You can even do it in groups, so classes with less powerful combinations can still come along. Of course, it would be better for Blizzard to give them some interesting options too.

As a result, the players do not really want Torghast to be a true challenge. It's not really compatible with their Rextroy simulator.

To their credit, Blizzard backtracked quickly on their original goal, and made Torghast more in-line with what the community thinks it is. I imagine that when they expand on it in future patches, the emphasize will be put on new quirky and unusual combinations of abilities.

I don't think I'll ever do a huge amount of Torghast. But I think that doing one or two Layers a week is a fun change of pace, and is a great addition in Shadowlands.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Normal Castle Nathria Complete!

We killed the last two bosses in Normal Castle Nathria tonight!

Stone Generals

The Stone Generals took us about 3 pulls. Surprisingly quick, compared to Sludgefist. Not a particularly clean kill, I think we stunned the tanks and one of them died. So our other tank had to tank both for the last few percent.

Sire Denathrius

This was a pretty cool fight. We struggled a lot on the first phase, until we healers settled on a healing CD rotation and managed to stabilize it. We had 3 healers rotate CDs on the adds, and a druids use Tranquility after each Pride attack.

The second and third phases were much easier in comparison. Our only problem was that four or five of our hunters were Beastmaster, and their pets couldn't reach the ranged adds. We did cut it close, actually getting a second Heroism in, and Denathrius had shattered all four corners so we killed him while standing on the bad zones.

All in all, it was a pretty good raid. I'm looking forward to starting Heroic eventually. Maybe as soon as next week, if we manage to clear quickly enough.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Consols in Eve Online

Wilhelm at The Ancient Gaming Noob mentions that the Imperium (Goons, etc) have started issuing war bonds in Eve Online:

Then there was the fact that the Imperium began issuing war bonds to support the fight.  This has been viewed by PAPI as a sign of weakness, a last desperate attempt to stay in the fight, a sign that we were on the brink.  But it raised more than a trillion ISK in the first hours of issue, so it will sustain us for a bit.  One billion ISK will buy you one bond with a return rate of 10% per year, with payments due on the first of the month.  That one bond will earn you about 8.4 million ISK every time the first rolls around.

Spreadsheets in Space comes full circle!

These types of perpetual bonds are traditionally called Consols, famously issued by the British government from the 1700s to the early 1900s. An important financial mainstay of the Regency genre.

What's interesting to me is that the Imperium issued bonds at 10%, which is quite high. The British issued consols at 3-4%. Is the extra premium because it's a game? I confess I would have offered it at 6%, just to make the math easier (0.5% payment each month).

Also, if bondholders stop playing, then it's free money for the Imperium.

Of course, Eve being Eve, there's a reasonably large possibility that this is all a scam and the Imperium will default a year or two down the line.

I wonder if the Imperium will allow people to trade these bonds. Put it on the blockchain, Goons!

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Normal Sludgefist Down

Today was our first raid of the new year. We still have quite a few people, with around 25 in the raid.

We went through the first seven bosses on Normal fairly easily, now that the majority of people understand the fights. Then we started attempts on Sludgefist. We had gotten to him last Tuesday, but really only pulled him twice.

This time he took us several tries, but we got closer and closer on each try until we finally downed him at the end of the night.

It's an interesting fight because there are a couple of instant-kill mechanics that interact. Two people are chained together, and if they move too far apart, they die. But there's also falling rocks where you have to move or die. The fight--on Normal at least--is really about how many people you lose to those mechanics.

My problem as a healer is that I'm usually chained to a melee dps when the crash happens and huge raid damage happens. I forget that the melee wants to run in for the damage window, and just start healing. Then the melee runs too far from me and we both die. I just need to remember to run in before starting to heal.

Still a pretty interesting fight. Looking forward to the next boss, which we haven't seen yet.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Gaming Log - January 4

I'm pretty much just playing Shadowlands these days.

World of Warcraft

I healed a Sanguine Depths +2 in a guild group. Our tank was a new guild member, a friend of another guildmate. This was his first Mythic Keystone, but he was a really good tank. Pulled cleanly and steadily. We wiped once on the easy third boss somehow, but otherwise the run was really smooth. We finished with a good 8 minutes on the timer, even with that wipe.

I've been working on my Shadow Priest on the side. She joined the Maldraxxi covenant, which is actually pretty neat. Lots of interesting NPCs, aside from Draka. It's been interesting doing the catch-up. A lot of the daily callings give Renown, so you speed through fairly quickly. Meanwhile the covenant gear (with upgrading) is quite good for keeping yourself geared while playing solo.

Shadow Priest Torghast powers are quite boring. The Paladin powers are also basic, but they build on each other and boost your basic rotation so it feels quite good. Shadow Priest powers meanwhile, don't seem to flow well. I find myself taking the general boosts more.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Shadowlands Max Level Content Strategy

Blizzard is pursuing a new strategy for max level content in Shadowlands. I think it's working quite well, so I'd like to take a look at what I believe the strategy is.

The main strategy consists of:

  1. Multiple areas of content
  2. Low, front-loaded weekly caps
  3. Separate currencies for each area

 Let's take Torghast as an example. You get the bulk of the reward by running each of two open wings. The main reward is Soul Ash for legendaries, and Torghast is the major source. The bulk of Soul Ash comes from the lower levels, making it less necessary to run the highest level. Last week, I ran a Layer 8 and a Layer 4 (helping a guildmate who is still climbing). That's good enough.

The same pattern is there with the Maw. It's the only source of Stygia and Venari reputation. But the bulk of the reward is the two or three weekly quests. You can do the dailies and rares if you want, but the reward is much lower. Then there is also a soft/hard cap in the Jailer's Eye.

This even extends to story. Blizzard has been steadily releasing a chapter each week.

I think this is a pretty solid system. You bounce around the various activities trying to do the major items. The caps are very low, which allows you to spend minimal time in the areas you don't like. Having separate currencies for each area means that players can't just spam the most efficient content.

The biggest change is that Blizzard simply had to ignore all the players who complain about "gating", about being unable to spend more time to earn more power. Shadowlands has the strongest gating in WoW's history, and I think the majority of players seem to be happy with that.

We'll have to see if this strategy is good enough for the expansion's lifetime, but so far it seems quite good, and will probably be the model going forward.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Tanking Mythic Keystones

We have fair number of people in guild who are online these days. Our raids have regularly had 25 people or more. However, there's only two raid tanks. So on non-raid nights, we've been scrounging for tanks to run Mythics and Mythic Keystones. I've volunteered to tank some of the lower keys.

It's quite a change from last expansion. In Battle for Azeroth, I barely touched Mythic Keystone dungeons, even to heal.

I think the scarcity of loot has made a lot more people willing to run regular Mythics for gear and then lower Keystones, rather than jumping right into the deep end. I've been running +2 to +5 keys, pretty much with guildmates only. 

I've been using my healing armor--with healing Legendary!--and a couple of Ret/Prot trinkets, along with a Str sword. I've also just been using the simplest all-left-side Protection Paladin build and just trying to keep Shield of the Righteous up as much as possible.

I've healed for our raid tanks in Mythics, and they're pretty hardcore people who know skips and which packs you can pull together. Tanking was a little intimidating after watching them.

What I've found is that steady pulling of one pack at a time works pretty well. In Keystones especially, you need to kill a certain amount of non-boss enemies, so just clearing to them normally and avoiding fancy skips is good enough.

In my experience, wipes are what cause you to fail the timer, both from the time lost due to deaths and the run back and set up again. Pulling multiple packs, well, if you survive you gain some time, but if you wipe you lose a lot of time. One pack at a time, with minimal time in-between, seems good enough for now.

One tip is that some consumables, weapon oils and the lesser Desolate chest armor, are really cheap and last through death. So it's worthwhile just using those casually.

Tanking Mythic Keystones has been fun, and an interesting experience. I doubt I'd want to do it for randoms, but it's been enjoyable with guildmates.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I was on a decent posting pace until December hit. I did start a new job, so that probably didn't help. But still, I would like to do better this year.

Otherwise, everything seems to be going okay. My guild only raided on Tuesday these last couple of weeks, but we are now 7/10 in Normal Nathria. I think we'll make more rapid progress once we start our regular schedule next week.

In any case, I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and are prepared for a fresh new year of gaming!