Monday, 22 December 2014

Plexing Warcraft

Blizzard announced that they are now considering a version of Plex for the World of Warcraft: a game-time token that is exchangeable for gold in-game. In other words, I can buy with earthly euros a token that I can then sell for Azeroth gold. Or in my case, the other way round. I have to let that sink in. This would be immediately advantageous for me, since I am as rich as Croesus in Azeroth gold. I have already bought whatever useful BoE epics I can get. But I did this through in-game means. World of Warcraft, essentially, is a collector's world. Even those who are only interested in collecting boss kills must do so by first collecting gear. If that gear will soon be purchasable for euros, the point of most in-game activity ceases. Why bother skinning, mining, inscribing and so on to make gold, when its available on your credit card?

Then we need to look at the remaining activities, and ask if they are interesting on their own. Raiding with my guild is fun. We are not very hardcore and we raid once a week, sometimes twice. I spend the rest of my week preparing for those raids: collecting apexis crystals in order to buy better gear, gathering, crafting and selling stuff at auction to buy food and flasks, running heroic dungeons and LFR and killing world bosses in the hope of better gear drops.  There is a sense of being in a living world with all of these activities (except the random dungeons and LFR). Will that be enough to sustain in me a desire to continue with those activities? Knowing that I can buy whatever I need with my credit card probably renders them pointless. And what is the value of a living world in which your activities therein are pointless? Will I continue to remain in an Azeroth where I can buy the Sword of a Thousand Truths with my credit card? Of course, soulbound gear isn't purchasable like that. But the precursors will be: the crafted BoE gear that you need to even stand a chance of killing a boss and acquiring that better soulbound gear; all the buff food, potions and flasks that all make the difference between a kill and a wipe. They can all go on your credit card. So will I continue to be interested in an Azeroth in which I only need log on for raid night?

I'm willing to give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt, for now. Let's see if it actually gets implemented, and how.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Who did I just free?

Uhm, Cho'Gall, Teron Gorefiend (under the nom-de-guerre of Teron'gor), and Gul'dan. The Iron horde had made them their prisoner, and I freed them. My first act in passing through the Dark Portal into Draenor. Maybe I should have taken the side of the Iron Horde in this. Are Garrosh and Grom really worse than that trio? Oh, well. As Gul'dan says "there will be time for regrets later".

From an Alliance point of view, I suppose it's all good. We get to kill orcs, either way. From an orcish point of view, there must be more ambivalence. Free Gul'dan? Really? At least Garrosh has saved the orcs of Draenor from drinking the blood of Mannoroth, The shattered planet that is Outland shows how badly that went!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

10 levels in a day.

I've just learnt that there are already 3 level 100 characters on my realm, less than 12 hours after the release of WoD. That's pretty poor work on the part of Blizzard, in my opinion. What in fact is the point in having 10 more levels if they can be skipped through in a day? I recall taking a year to get to level 50. I wonder if I'll even be able to stretch my 90-100 levelling experience out for a week.

And once we get to level 100, what remains? Raiding, of course, but where is the virtual world we once lived in? Am I to play Garrison manager for the next couple of years? I already have a job like that in Earth Online.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hetzer forever!

In World of Tanks, I passed a new milestone yesterday: 10,000 battles completed.

And appropriately, my favourite tank, the Hetzer, fought and won the 10,000th. Go me!

So what have I been doing for 10,000 battles? As you can see from my ratings, I'm a pretty average tanker. And I've mostly been using low tier tanks: there doesn't seem to be any advantage in advancing to higher tiers, as the tanks are much more expensive, and so is the ammo, and you can still be facing opponents two tiers above you. Well, up to tier 9, anyway, when only tier 10 is above you; and tier 10, where nobody is above you.

Tier 5 or 6 tanks seem to be a sweet spot for earning credits (for non-premium tanks). In fact VBAddict shows that the top 10 tanks are all in those two tiers, so there really isn't much incentive to go into higher tiers where net income is lower, or even negative.

It's taken me two years to understand what I should have been doing with my premium tanks. Every now and then, holds a World of Tanks event where the prize is a premium tank Premium tanks normally can only be got by spending real money to buy them. You buy an in-game currency called `gold` with real money, and then you can spend that gold on buying in-game items. Premiom tanks can only be bought with gold (not with the other in-game currency 'credits' that you can earn by playing the game), and so are often referred to as "gold tanks". I've won a fair few of them now. The latest such event was Togtober, and that would net you a British heavy TOG II* premium tank if you completed it. It was while I was trying to earn it, that a clan-mate happened to mention that there is no penalty for putting crew from similar tanks** in a premium tank. That's when it clicked.

Let me first explain that crew members are trained for a particular tank. For instance, if you look at my Hetzer commander in the picture above (Stabsfeldwebel Krammer), you'll see that he's trained to 105% in the Hetzer (the 5% boost comes from some extra equipment I've added to the base tank model: "Improved Ventilation"). If I were to take Krammer, and put him in another Tank Destroyer (my Marder, for instance), he wouldn't be as effective. He would suffer a 25% penalty due to being unfamiliar with that machine, so he would be effectively at 75% (+5% if I were to add improved ventilation to the Marder). Crucially this penalty is NOT suffered if I move him to a premium tank**

Once I realized this (two years is all it took), I knew at once that I should never give my premium tanks their own crew. I should always put crew from other tanks into them, because I can transfer them from their main tank to the premium and back again at no penalty: the premium tank becomes a training vehicle. I immediately kicked out all my premium crews, and put a bullet in the head of most of them. From now on, my TOG II* is dedicated to training my British heavy Black Prince crew.

Sadly, most of my other premium tanks were light tanks, and I'm not really a fan of light tanks, except at tiers 1 and 2. So the next thing I did was to review the tech-trees for every nation to look at what premium tanks were suitable for training purposes. And of course, I came across the Russian tier 5 heavy tank, the Churchill III***. This tank was ideal for training the crews of my Russian heavies. It's rock solid. Slow moving, but hard to penetrate, and with a decent gun. It can stand toe-to-toe with most tier 5s.

Then I took a look at American tanks, and bought a tier 5 heavy T14. I'm not so comfortable with this tank - my play-style doesn't suit it. It's more nimble than the Churchill, the gun is decent, but the armor is a little thin. Faced with a KV-1, it had better run! Now that I write this, it seems obvious that I should play it more like a medium tank. Anyway, the good news is that I now have three heavy premiums for the three nations that most of my heavies belong to.

The German tree faces a disadvantage, though. Firstly, it has no tier 5 heavy premium tank. In fact its first premium heavy is the tier 8 Loewe. That doesn't concern me too much, though, because I prefer the German TDs. But there is no German tier 5 premium TD, either! The first is the Tier 6 Dicker Max. Tier 5 premiums cost 1500 gold (the currency that is paid for with euros or dollars). Tier 6 premiums are more than double that, at 3200g. So I'm going to hold off buying it until it's on special offer.

Up until now, I've been spending gold only on garage slots and barracks bunks, since these (and gold tanks) are the only items you can't buy them with credits. All the so-called "gold" ammo (APCR and HEAT) that I have was actually bought with credits, not gold. But with the purchase of the Churchill 3 and  the T14, I have officially gone pay-to-win.

* I've no idea why the Tog II* has an asterisk in its name, either.

** No penalty, as long as the vehicles are the same kind. So Tank Destroyer crews can be moved to premium Tank Destroyers and suffer no penalty, but will suffer a penalty if moved to a premium Heavy Tank, for instance. And obviously, they have to be of the same nation.

*** Lend Lease

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Enohar's Revenge - Iron Invasion

Poisoning ogres' cooking pots is now part of the work of our 'heroes' in the Blasted Lands. Enohar Stormbrew, whose sister (I didn't catch her name) was killed in Nethergarde Keep, wants to take revenge on the Dreadmaul Ogres who came through the Dark Portal along with the new orcs. And the only way she knows is to poison their rat stew.

"The poison will slowly eat away at their insides. Causing a prolonged and painful death, just like they deserve. Please, for my sister".

Paoquan did not have the stomach for it. He was quite happy to fight the ogres, but poisoning their food? Not for him. "Family, friends, food. These are what matter most". No. He could not bring himself to use such dirty tricks.

I am a little less squeamish. The ogres have long been the enemies of humans and fought on the side of the orcs during the second war. In sororal solidarity, I acceded to Enohar's request.  All the same, I regret it now. It seems to be a tactic more suited to the scourge and their forsaken brethren than to heroes of the alliance. Our paladins, I am sure, will take the same view as Paoquan.

Monday, 13 October 2014

A question of Valor

With one day left to spend your valor points or have them converted to gold in 6.0.2, I am busy trying to upgrade my gear: I found it easier to earn VP than lesser charms of good fortune, so I reckon I might as well make the most of them today. I'm not short of gold, anyway.

Incidentally, it was reported that adventurers who started on the legendary quest will still be able to complete it, if they do so before 13 November, and those who have not yet started will not be able to acquire the quests. But what if you're on "A test of valor"? How can you complete this?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A weight lifted

I recently became a Conqueror of Orgrimmar. What a relief I felt! I didn't realize how tense and weighed down I was at not having defeated Garrosh until that weight was lifted. I'm sorry, though, that King Varian Wrynn saved Garrosh from Thrall's justice.

In fact, I'm with Lady Proudmoore on how we should proceed: for the first time since the Second War, the Alliance has won an advantage over the horde, due to their internecine rivalries and their disloyalty to their own warchief, Garrosh. It is the perfect time to drive back the invaders from the elven lands of Ashenvale, Darkshore, and holy Azshara; to re-establish the city of Theramore; and to make common cause with the Scarlet Crusade in freeing Lordaeron from the control of its undead abominations. Having killed Garrosh, and with the horde in disarray, we should first establish Orgrimmar as an alliance city.

Light grant that King Varian sees the sense of this.