Poor downtrodden gold farmers

Anda's Game, a goldfarming sob story by Cory Doctorow.

Won't somebody think of the poor girls in the sweatshops?

(Via MapWoW)


WoWDigger, an alternative to Affinity Media sites

Well, that didn't take long. Just mere days after Affinity Media almost got a monopoly on WoW database sites, IncGamers (owners of WorldofWar.net) launched their own database site. Unsurprisingly, their announcement emphasizes IncGamers' anti-RMT stance. A good move.


WoWHead sold to IGE?

There goes the neighbourhood..

Update: The official announcement is out. John Maffei, the (former?) Senior Vice President of IGE says that Affinity Media has nothing to do with IGE anymore. I'm trying to verify that claim now.


Serpentshrine and the Eye attunements removed!

Lo and behold, someone at Blizzard is listening.

After a lot of thought and deliberation, we’ve decided to remove the attunement requirements to enter Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep: The Eye. While many of our attunements in the Burning Crusade have been good progression checks, a few of the attunements have turned out to cause unnecessary stress on guilds either doing the content or attempting to do the content.

Gold farming in raids? Unlikely.

New York Times has a new article about gold farmers. Most of it is the usual whining about poor downtrodden farmers working in sweatshop conditions and being harassed by racist westeners. However, the article gets more interesting near the end. The writer laments how mean old Blizzard has shut out the farmers from a large part of the game: raiding. And then offers a solution: Goldfarming guilds. 24 skilled goldfarmers who take you (for a price, of course) to the raid instance of your choosing, kill the boss for you and let you loot the item you wanted.

This caught my attention since several guilds do this already, although not for real-world money. Pre-TBC it was not uncommon to see a high-end raiding guild advertise runs to Molten Core, Blackwing Lair or even Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. You paid them a certain amount of in-game gold and they would let you tag along and grab any epics that their own members did not need.

However, I think this article has more hot air than glimpse of future gold farmer tactics. Why? Gold farming raid groups are a very risky business. TBC had already diminished these "charity" runs since the importance of a single raider increased when Blizzard shrunk raids to 25 people. The goldfarmers would have to be overgeared for the instance to complete it while being handicapped by the presence of their customer(s). Getting that gear requires a whole lot of effort and thus carries a significant risk. Playing and gearing up 24 hunter bots takes a whole lot less time than playing and gearing up a 24-man balanced raid group in full epic gear. And all that effort can go to waste if Blizzard bans your goldfarming guild. Getting your main raid group banned would be a devastating blow to many gold farmers.

There are also limiting factors. The raid timers prevent you from killing a specific boss several times in a week, so only one of your many potential customers would even have a chance to get that piece of loot each week. If the piece doesn't even drop you have an unhappy customer on your hands. Unhappy customers don't like to pay you money. Raid IDs prevent the customer from joining other raids, so you can't sidestep the problem with multiple groups, either.


Diablo the Movie

Apparently Legendary Pictures did negotiate rights for more than one Blizzard franchise..


The Trollish Art of Diplomacy

Shalkis had spotted a contingent of Red Blade works exiting the jungle outpost of Grom'Gol. Windclaw tilted his head quizzically. The raptor was as intrigued as his mistress. With a tug of the harness, Windclaw darted into the jungle. It was not time to reveal herself yet.

Shalkis directed Windclaw on a small hill overlooking the road to the Arena. She sent the raptor away and sat next to the tree. She adjusted her goggles to get a better view of the road without compromising her position. And waited.

Eventually the orcs came into view. Young orcs. Old orcs. Strong orcs. Weak orcs. Even Taerak. Leading the group was a female orc with a wolf at her side. She must be the Matron. Akesha. As Shalkis had guessed, they were heading towards the Arena. And there was only one group that called it home. The Second Gurubashi Empire.

The Empire and the Red Blade? Odd. Ever since Tziak had taken over, the xenophobia had run rampant within the empire. Why would they even allow the orcs inside their Arena? It had to be a trap. And although the orcs would probably consider it dishonorable to even think to avoid a head-on confrontration, they would always appreciate some tactical advice. Shalkis dug deep into one of her pockets and retrieved a small whistle. If the Empire was indeed there, one extra raptor call would not be considered odd.

In less than a minute, the familiar figure of Windclaw appeared from the bushes, his fangs gleaming with fresh blood. He had eaten his fill, and would not mind waiting outside the Arena. She mounted the blue raptor and rode to the road and towards the Arena.

The orcs had taken up positions at the southern end of the Arena, and the Empire was at the north side. The ramp was filled by Blood Elves. Their presence was not surprising. A few months ago the Empire had sent a crate of elven heads to Silvermoon. Now they sought to return the favor. But since they were still not completely accepted into the Horde, they could not act rashly. There would be no point in charging the trolls, only to have the orcs charge them. They had to wait for the orcs' approval.

Rlaris, one of the Blooddrinkers was acting as an announcer. The standards had indeed been dragged through the mud if they allowed him into the esteemed ranks of the Blooddrinkers.. Once they were trolls of the highest honor, champions in the fight against the Hakkari, upholders of the law. Now they were simple thugs..

Shalkis heard the words and could not believe her ears. A negotiation for peace? Preposterous. There had to be a trick. Something that gave the Emperor leverage to force the orcs to submit. The Blood Elves around her were as sceptical as she was.

The two forces circled around the arena edge towards the ramps. As the orcs passed her, Shalkis spoke.

"A word of advice about trollish politics. Always prepare for a fight."

The warning had been given.

The orcs settled on the southern end of the Arena floor, and the trolls on the northern end. Akesha and Tziak approached each other, flanked by bodyguards. They were ready to start. But one of the orcish bodyguards eyed the crimson sand with suspicious eyes, aimed his flare gun and fired. The flare landed on the western part of the arena, right next to the ramps. And right next to the brightly burning flare was a very surprised assassin. An orc, but her tabard was one of the Sixty Thieves, an organization that recognized no wows or racial unity, only the will of the highest bidder. The female looked around sheepishly and leaned on the arena wall. Maybe this was Tziak's plan? To get an orc to assassinate Akesha to spark a civil war among the orcs? No.. there had to be more to this.. What about that Forsaken at his side? He was in plain sight and clearly in the favor of the trolls. If he acted it would be too obvious. There had to be more.

The trolls were shouting insults, mocking the blood elves and claiming that they had ridiculed the orcs' ancestors. No doubt it was true, but.. the orcs remained relatively calm. A few stinging rebukes were uttered. This can't be Tziak's grand plan, either. A shouting match?

Shalkis adjusted her goggles to get a better view, but the two negotiatiors had started to walk back towards the ramps. Was it over already?

At first the trolls did not notice him and walked right past her. Akesha, the matron addressed the blood elves. Tziak did the same, although he spoke no words himself, but instructed Rlaris to speak for him in Orcish. The Blood Elves were asked to leave. They of course resisted and wanted their revenge. But for a change, the cooler heads prevailed and the Blood Elves moved back to the entrance of the Arena. With the issue of hecklers somewhat resolved, the negotiations continued.

Oh yes.

Shalkis adjusted her goggles to get a better view. She could not hear Tziak's words from this distance, but the reactions of the orcs were more than enough. Their anger grew, word by word. Distrust turned into dislike, apprehension turned into disgust. Slow, calculated gestures turned into sharp, rash movements. What could he be saying to them to anger them so? And yet, he seemed oblivious to the effects. His face was hidden by his mask, but his gestures were as disinterested as always. Then.. Akesha's surprisingly strong voice echoed in the Arena.

"You all heard, Tziak admits he plotted to kill me."

That.. was Tziak's grand plan? To admit his treachery to people who value honor more than their lives? Before Shalkis could fully grasp the meaning of Akesha's words the warcries of the orcs.. and the elves filled the air, along with blood, fire and death of various colors and forms. The trollish bodyguards were cut down in seconds and the masked face of Tziak vanished in the veritable sea of angry orcs. Scores of elves were already jumping into the arena, raining down death and destruction upon the shocked trolls. In less than a minute, there were only orcs and elves standing on the Arena.

"What a mess", a male voice spoke in trollish. Shalkis was sure that she had heard him before.. but when she turned she did not recognize him.

"Ah yes. Tziak still has the touch. I have to admit that this was quite impressive. Not only has he allowed the Alliance to roam the vale, he also brought the wrath of thee orcs and the elves upon the trolls.", she replied.

That comment sparked an angry glare from the unknown troll male. But before he could act, he spotted the orcs walking up the ramp and wisely stepped aside.


The orcs were celebrating, brawling and drinking at Orgrimmar, under one of the few palm trees still left in the city. A veiled figure, dressed in blue from head to approached them.

"Matron Akesha of de Red Blades, a few words if ya will..."


The luck-based reputation grind

Shalkis on a Netherdrake
Shalkis on a Netherdrake,
originally uploaded by Shalkis.
After a few weeks of grinding, I got my Netherdrake. It's time for a few words on this new type of a reputation grind.

I had gotten my epic wyvern about a week after I dinged 70, so I had already cleared the largest hurdle in the Netherwing questline. I had also defeated Zuluhed the Whacked in some of WoW's most memorable and epic fights on top of the Dragonmaw Fortress. With the two prequisites out of the way, I started my reputation grind on the day after the 2.1 patch went live.

The daily quests were a good idea. You only require an hour (more if you're playing on prime time) to finish the quests. And since you got new daily quests on each reputation level in addition to the previous quests, your daily experience gain ramped up every time you moved up a notch on the reputation-o-meter. In addition, the daily quests solved many problems relating to reputation farming. Since there are several quests, you can always go elsewhere if one particular spot is crowded. And even if it's crowded, you can tolerate fellow players since they'll be there only for a short while and then be gone for the rest of the day.

At friendly you become the proud owner of the infamous booterang and get to re-experience the joy of smacking people in the Valley of Trials. Only this time you can do fly-bys. Quite hilarious.

At honored you can start racing against the Dragonmaw. The first few opponents are quite easy, but once you reach Ichman and Mulverick, the races become quite interesting. I couldn't help thinking that the races are a test on how aerial PvP could work. Basically, the racers fly on a set path and try to dismount you by throwing turnips, lightning bolts or even meteors at you. While the NPCs are easily bested by memorizing their paths and staying out of their range, fighting against fellow players could be quite interesting..

So.. Neutral to Revered. So far so good. Thanks to the ramping-up daily quests, there's now 9 quests you can do each day. Nice varied quests at different areas, which only take about two hours in total to complete. Quite casual. Except... There's the tenth quest, which is not a daily quest. It's a normal repeatable quest for the Netherwing Egg, a Bind-on-Pickup drop from any resource node or mob at the Netherwing Ledge. Since the daily quests are enough to gain a reputation level until Revered, you don't pay much heed to the eggs until that.

Why is a normal repeatable quest a bad idea? Because it undermines the attempt by Blizzard to make the reputation grinds more tolerable by limiting the amount of reputation you can gain per day. The Netherwing Eggs are an incentive to farm the Netherwing Mines over and over, even after you have completed all your daily quests there. Since the eggs are rare and have a very significant effect on your reputation gain, there's also quite a lot of competition. You can't loot eggs in combat, so be prepared to have people train mobs to you and steal the egg while you're trying to fend them off. If you live in the mines, you can shave off days or even weeks from the time it takes to complete the grind. Or not. You might not find any eggs at all, while others find dozens of them and complete the same grind much faster with the same or even less effort. Why try to control the amount of reputation gained per day if you aren't willing to go all the way?


IGE sued.. poorly

While suing a gold seller is all well and good, one should take a look at your legal arguments before filing the lawsuit. Handing a favorable precedent to the gold sellers is counterproductive at best.