Gloam the Conqueror

Handbag of Fury

HandbagOfFury

As mentioned yesterday we headed up to Joplin to go shopping and took my mother in law with us, since she wouldn’t tell us anything she actually wanted for Christmas.  The goal was to take her shopping and hopefully find something along the way.  This process involved me getting drug to a bunch of stores I would never actually visit on my own.  I brought my 3DS with me, but oddly enough I never actually used it.  I mostly piddled around on Twitter, Tumblr, and occasionally guild chat via the WoW Armory application.  I did pretty well for the first three or so stores, but after that I started hanging out in the car while they were shopping inside.

I am sure by doing this I missed numerous things that were photo worthy, but the highlight of the day was the above handbag.  It quite literally has a set of brass knuckles built into the clasp.  I am not sure if this was really intended for self defense, but it certainly would hurt like hell to get hit by that.  I tried to convince my wife that she needed it but she was un-swayed.  I am not sure how we ended up together, because if it were my choice there would be skulls on everything.  Hell I play a Deathknight…  that class is all about beating down things while wearing skulls.  My wife on the otherhand wants none of that nonsense.

I keep finding these awesome scarves with cute little skulls, and she is completely uninterested in them.  She is not exactly a girly girl… but I guess bedazzled skulls is a bit too far in the other direction for her.  Both her and her mother found several things during our trip, which is good.  I found a few interesting clearance Legos, but decided not to pick them up because really I would have just been picking them up for a few interesting parts… and had no interest at all in the thing they were intended to build.  These were originally 90 dollar sets that were selling for 40, but that still seemed a bit pricy to purchase just for a handful of nifty thingamajigs.

Gloam the Conqueror

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When I finally got home from the whirlwind trip of shopping madness I built myself a fuzzy little cocoon on my comfy sofa and settled in for some World of Warcraft.  I did my normal crafting cooldowns crawl, making sure everyone had created their trademarked rare daily craftable, before settling in on Exeter my Paladin Blacksmith.  The first goal of the night was to farm up the rest of the Motes of Harmony needed to craft two Ghost-Forged blades for my rogue.  While I was trying to get a hold of Fists of Fate, I was unable to do so and gave up on that mission settling for the two crafted blades instead.  I still think it is almost criminal at this point that Motes are not bind on account, since I seem to have way too many on some characters and never enough on others… but I have settled on a decent way to farm them.

MoteFarmHere

I badly photoshopped a map of The Dread Wastes to indicate where I go to farm motes.  There are supposedly better drop rates elsewhere in the world, but I find this to be my favorite spot.  Firstly no one is ever out here… granted by me saying this there will automagically be tons of people out there next time I need motes.  Secondly and quite possibly the most important reason… all this stuff is level 90, easy to kill and gives Black Prince reputation.  Most of my characters need this badly to be able to progress their way through the cloak quest chain.  Especially now that I have the repair mount, this is an awesome place to go mindlessly kill things and make tons of money doing it.  Additionally the mobs die pretty fast once you are in timeless isle gear and you can make a big loop of the island and by the time you reach the other side everything is completely full spawn again.

Finally I got my 40 motes and crafted the blades, enchanted them with windsong and was up and running on Gloam.  I have to say having the crafters to built a starter set of gear for Pandaria eases the transition.  You hit the ground running and are able to slaughter pretty much everything, even on the super squishy classes like the rogue.  I made my way through the first few sections of Pandaria before sleep claimed me.  My goal for the day is to make it through all of Jade Forest.  Not really sure if this will happen or not as today is supposed to be the last “nice” day for awhile, and I have a feeling I will get drug from my cocoon and out into the world.  If that happens no promises on how far I will make it on my goals.

Redragon Perdition

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At this point pretty much every MMO gamer is familiar with the Razer Naga and most are also familiar with the Logitech g600.  They each provide a different take on the concept of the large number of button MMO mouse.  Each has its strong points and its weaknesses.  The Razer for example, I have had three of them die in exactly the same way after about two years.  Similarly I recently had a g600 kick the bucket after about the same two year threshold, granted the g600 did not die so spectacularly.  The Nagas started “jumping” in that the cursor would mysteriously accelerate at high speeds in one direction or another.  The g600 on the other hand started missing mouse clicks.  One of the actions you do more than any in an MMO is holding down both the left and right mouse buttons to move forward.  The g600 would stop registering that my right mouse button was clicked and as a result I would stop forward movement.

When I was looking on amazon for a replacement, I noticed the Redragon Perdition, that literally looks like a combination of the best features of the Naga and the g600.  At the time it was a little over $20 cheaper than either of the other mice so I figured I would give it a chance.  The reviews were really favorable and it featured a naga like shape but with g600 style buttons.  The mouse itself was a little late getting to me, as it was shipping during our recent ice storms.  However when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised by the built quality.  This is after all in theory a chinese knockoff of a Naga and g600, but it is a very good one.  One of the problems I have with both the Naga and the g600 is that they don’t feel nearly as good as the old Logitech mx500 gaming mice.  These had a really great slightly rubberized pebbled texture to them, that just felt nice in the hand.

Much to my surprise the Perdition has almost this same texture.  Additionally like the mx500 it has counterweights that can be removed from the base of the mouse to give it a solid feel in your hand.  I find weight mice easier for me to use since I have extremely large hands.  The perdition also sports a truly insane 16400 dpi resolution… which I immediately had to scale back as it was insanely twitchy.  If you have ever wanted to play a game by barely moving your hand at all… then that might be the resolution for you.  Additionally the software that it comes with lets you customize pretty much everything about it, including creating damned near any possible color of LED light, and controlling the “throb” motion. 

So far I am a fan, I have gamed normally with it for roughly two weeks and it still feels great.  My only complaint so far is that middle clicking the mouse wheel requires more effort than any other mouse I have had.  Luckily I don’t really middle click anything but in my browser window to open new tabs.  However if this is a hotkey you regularly use in your keybindings, just be warned for my sausage like fingers… it takes quite a bit of pressure to get it to register a click.  I like the shoulder button quite a bit because it is comfortable to hit with the side of your finger, but not as prone to accidentally hitting as the third mouse button was on the g600.  If you are in the market for a new mouse and not opposed to taking a gamble on a chinese knockoff… I highly suggest you check it out.  I really am enjoying it so far.

Social Justice

Happy Holidays?

Yesterday was a mixed bag, I am not going to get into the awkwardness that was Christmas with my family.  I should have taken a picture of the gallon jug of holy water that my grandmother for some reason seems to think she needs, however I did not as it would have been too obvious.  Suffice to say it was fine while it was just my parents and grandmother, but once people started showing up the fight or flight instinct kicked in and I had to get out of there.  We stayed long enough to be socially acceptable, or at least long enough to see everyone and then got back on the road.  I really don’t deal with large groups of people in confined spaces very well.

When I finally got home that night I went back to my LFR madness.  I really would have thought that the holidays would have made people better natured, but instead it seemed like only the worst people were running dungeons.  I guess it makes sense, as most of the “good” people probably have families and such that they would rather be spending time with.  The highlight of the evening, as far as horrible goes came when my Downfall group finally got to Garrosh.  We had a few people drop like usual, and one of the warriors  that joined in immediately started moaning that he had waited in queue for an hour and missed the entire dungeon.

Instead of doing the right thing, and just dropping group and taking the deserter debuff…  he proceeded to pull Garrosh while we were still getting prepared screaming “For Mother Russia”.  Obviously his ploy was to get us to kick him which doesn’t cause the debuff to happen.  He was running across the screen just about to aggro him again when the kick happened saving the day.  The problem is…  there needs to be a better way of managing this.  The systems in place don’t give us a way to flag this guy letting other people know that he will likely screw their group over if things don’t go his way.

Social Justice

TribunalCase League of Legends has had in the past the most notoriously toxic community in online gaming.  As a result they knew that this was ultimately hurting their product and keeping players from participating on a deep level with it.  Instead of sitting back and saying “pugs will be pugs” they took matters into their own hands and tried to devise a way of dealing with this.  As a result they created two systems that work hand in hand.  The honor system allows players to provide “endorsements” that are positive, such as Teamwork, Friendly, Knowledgeable, and at the same time provide a venue for reporting bad behavior.  When a player has received enough negative reports they go into another system called the Tribunal.

One of the problems with social reporting is that there is a sea of false positives and downright minor infractions that clog the customer support staff.  As a result the Tribunal system is innovative in that it brings each case before a jury of “peers” aka other players who have signed up to be willing to sit on these peer based juries.  You can view all of the results on the public Tribunal page if you are logged into your league account.  The image on the right side is an example of a tribunal ruling.  Of course warnings for language should apply as it states exactly what the player said during the match to warrant being reported.

Be Proactive Blizzard

These systems really do seem to work out in the wild, in fact with the big 2.1 patch in Final Fantasy XIV Squaresoft introduced a very similar endorsement system with some big rewards that can be gained through this positive behavior.  In the past there were unofficial systems on the servers that permanently labeled disruptive players as pariahs from the social circles.  There was a time where you could look at the guild a player was in and have a fair shot at gauging whether or not the player would be a positive influence on your group.  Additionally just talking to a player for a moment before inviting them to fill a group gave you a good idea of their future behavior.  When Blizzard introduced systems to automate these processes it completely removed the element of social ramifications, and such the “greater internet fuckwad theory” came true.

When it is perceived that there are no consequences for bad actions… players tend to behave worse.  Sure there are awesome people out there that are awesome all the time regardless of who is looking… but that is quite simply not the majority of people.  These systems work to bring a tally of someone’s misdeeds to bear each time they step into a group.  The guy who wiped the LFR because he didn’t want to be there… would bring with him a black mark from each and every player that flagged him for doing what he did.  I feel like blizzard does an excellent job of policing and banning players who are actively exploiting the game. 

However it is quite literally against their best interest to ban players who are paying them a monthly subscription.  Each time they ban one of these players they lose his money, and over time it adds up.  What systems like the tribunal do is introduce a neutral third party, the player.  The tribunal works because no only does it hold players accountable for their actions, but it also holds the players who are making these decisions accountable.  Every decision that is made, and the players who participated in making it is posted publicly for the world to see.  Since this relies on the players justice is usually far more swift than waiting for customer service to sift through their backlog of cases and deal with it.  It is my hopes that with the rollout of Warlords of Draenor, they will investigate a system like this, and hopefully make it applicable to ALL battle.net games..

Santa RNG

The Sidewalks Roll Up

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This holiday is considerably different than most.  Always there is a natural flow to the events, but due to my Aunt needing dialysis it has completely changed the order of things.  Traditionally last night I would have been up with my family, as they have always celebrated on Christmas Eve.  Traditionally we would go to “midnight mass” that actually happened about 7 pm, and then retire to my grandmothers house afterwards for awkward conversation and eventually even more awkward gift exchange.  During this my uncles would get into the cherished conversation of “why this random thing I own, is better than this other random thing you own” or “who hates ethnic groups more” or even the more recent “random insane government conspiracy theory”.  One of my uncles spins these grand tales of conspiracy that are delivered in way that they almost sound cogent… until you realize that the keystone of his argument is completely batshit crazy.

Now however the game has changed, as we did not spend last night with them… but are instead supposed to go up today.  Which pushes aside my wife’s family gathering… but that is a tale for another day.  This left us at home, by ourselves for the first time in years on a Christmas Eve.  We did not exactly plan well for this occurrence and as about 7:30 rolled around we decided we were hungry, and that nothing at all in the house sounded good.   Which is slightly insane, since we keep silly amounts of food on hand that could be prepared with minimal effort.  I got bundled up and went out into the cold night in search of sustenance. 

We have a saying here that the “sidewalks roll up” as a way of saying that the town is completely quiet and no business is being transacted.  Last night it quite literally felt as though the sidewalks had rolled up.  The only businesses open were Walgreens and Taco Bueno… and the line there extended quite a long ways across the now empty Reasors grocery store parking lot.  Seems like there were other people trying to find food on Christmas Eve.  Slightly forlorn I returned home and cobbled together something to eat out of the banquet of things we have laying around the house.  This morning when I went out to forage I was feeling no more positive that it would not occur again, however I successfully scrounged two sausage rolls and a jump start of caffeine to get us both going.

Santa RNG

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I would have thought that maybe last night players would have felt a wee bit more charitable since it was in fact Christmas Eve.  However if anything it seemed to make the assholes more assholish, and the clueless even more lacking.  I got to listen to more than one variation of the “you all suck” speech, but I dealt with it, because like I have said before playing DPS lets me compartmentalize my world.  I only care about the objective and achieving that objective, and since I am not tanking or healing and by default only responsible for myself… I can just zone in on that job and perform it.  I have lamented over the last few weeks how I have been unable to get weapons for my Enhancement Shaman.  So yesterday I soldiered on in the effort of trying to fill those gaps.

It might have been in the spirit of the season,  or maybe I just finally hit a lucky spot in the random number generator… but for whatever reason Santa RNG paid out big-time.  First I managed to pull the extremely cool looking Softfoot’s Last Resort from the protectors event.  Not very long after that I managed to pull the Seismic Bore mace from the Iron Juggernaut encounter.  So in one night I managed to bump both of my weapons up to decent levels and can now actually chart on the damage meters.  Thing is… Santa RNG was not finished quite yet.  Over the course of the evening I managed to pick up two pieces of the Tier 16 Shaman set the Shoulders and then finally the Chestpiece.  I still have a few slots that have 496 gear in them, but at this point there are not that many.  I have reached the point where Throne of Thunder really has no benefit at all for me, so I can simply focus on doing Siege each week.  I might have to do one last run however to pick up my final sigil of power.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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So while I might sound sullen at the moment, I am sure as the day moves on I will enjoy myself.  Right now we are trying to get up and about and out the door so we can be long gone from my grandmothers house by the time my uncles show up.  As a result I need to finish this post up, get showered and ready and gather up the gifts.  I hope you all have a really awesome holiday, and that if you didn’t get what you wanted… you at least got what you needed.  I personally got exactly what I needed…  some time off work and the freedom to mill about the house peacefully.  Other than that anything else I gain from the holiday is gravy.  Hopefully you have a wonderful day surrounded by loved ones and blanketed in goodies.  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and if you don’t read my blog again before then…  have a very Happy New Year.

I Hate People

Plans are a Crutch

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I had these plans yesterday of running the last part of Siege of Orgrimmar, but didn’t actually do that at all.  I queued for it at one point, but after seeing it would take an hour I bailed and gave up.  After being iced in for several days, we were out of a few things… not the least of which was toilet paper and paper towels.  The above picture is to show the extent of the icing… for years I have gotten in the habit of raising my wiper blades so they don’t get frozen to the window.  As you can see it is like everything had been sealed in plastic to preserve it for eternity.  If nothing else I knew I had to clear the vehicles so we could leave if we absolutely needed to. 

It actually did not take as long as I expected.  I went outside in my pajamas and started my jeep, then went back inside to take a shower and get ready for the morning.  When I got back out the heater inside and engine had managed to warm the ice up enough to where I could start breaking it off rather easily.  Roughly 20 minutes later I had cleared my Jeep and was headed back inside to let my wife’s vehicle warm up.  I could barely feel my fingers…  but it was at least clear.  When I cleared my wife’s vehicle I had the foresight to actually wear gloves.

We made it out of the house pretty easily, and I have to say this is the weirdest ice storm I have ever experienced.  Everything is absolutely coated in a layer of ice… the trees, the vehicles, the grass, anything elevated even slightly off the ground.  However the roads are almost completely dry.  It is like the perfect ice storm… all of the pretty with none of the consequences.  Granted some parts of the city are out of power as the ice snapped powerlines… so they would definitely question my assessment of no consequences.  All in all however it could be been and likely should have been much worse.

I Hate People

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I mean this in the nicest possible way… but I hate people.  When you put me in a room with more than a half a dozen people a severe fight or flight instinct triggers.  Now imagine how that instinct multiplies when you put me in a busy store during the holidays filled with hundreds of people.  I am generally pretty good at swallowing down that feeling, but the more stores you expose me to… the more of an asshole I become.  I am thankful that my wife realizes this because by the time we reached the last two stores of the day I am sure I was an absolute bear to be around.  We had several things still to pick up on our list, so while we were out and about… and since we were both going a little stir crazy we decided to try and knock as many things off the list as possible.

Target was both the worst and the best place we went all afternoon.  It was the worst because it was inanely busy and as I rounded the corner near the seasonal area… the instinct kicked in harder than it has in years.  There was this huge zombie-like shambling mass of people migrating back and forth between toys and electronics.  I gave up on any notion that I was going to go check the Lego isle and got out of there as soon as possible. It became a logistical exercise to even navigate my shopping cart through the narrow passages left by gawking customers.  I suddenly realized why a lost child just sits down and cries… because at that point I seriously did feel like surrendering to the hopelessness that was all of those people pressing in on me.

That was the worst part… the best part however is just how efficiently they were managing the checkouts.  They had roped off the area in front of the cash registers and while this caused the line to snake all the way down to the pharmacy area, it did make it move faster.  They had a worker acting like a traffic cop to funnel people down the little shoots and to the next waiting cashier.  Additionally they gave us a 10% discount as an apology for the whole credit card fiasco.  Since we were actually hit during that event…  I felt like we had more than earned it.  Last weekend my discover card was off in Oklahoma City and Norman making purchases without me… and we are assuming since we still have our credit cards… it is tied to the whole Target event.

I probably would have gone postal at some point during yesterday, but we went to eat at Monterry, a Mexican chain restaurant we go to regularly.  When I say regularly… I mean it, because the waitresses know our order by heart and often times fight over who is going to wait on us.  Yesterday we had Daisy, who is extremely awesome and has the same pen fetish that my wife does.  Over the time we have been going there, we have become rather social with them… and eating there act like a reset of my buffer.  It was a happy place that helped me cope with the madness that was stores like Old Navy.  Still by the time we ended our tour at Big Lots, I was so far past going that I am sure I was acting like an ass.

Relaxing with Friends

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Yesterday before the madness began, I noticed that my good friend Vernie had managed to hit 90 on his mage.  I did my normal song and dance about how awesome the Timeless Isle was for catching up, but as a very squishy class it seemed that soloing out there was just not something viable.  We made tentative plans for me to grab one of my characters and help him get some gear after I got back from the holiday craziness.  It was shortly after I got home that he logged back in and we did just that.  At first I tried to use Exeter my paladin, but I quickly realized that I already had gotten the weekly chests when I swam him out to get the chest in the pirate cave.  I grabbed Belgarou my druid, because I knew I had not really played him in a few weeks. 

It turns out that this was a great call as I ran out of leather some time ago and could greatly use a run to replenish it.  We faffed about the island for several hours and in the process we managed to get him Helm, Chest, Bracers, Belt, Gloves, Back, Legs, Ring and Trinket.  Which in itself was a pretty amazing haul for our first outing.  He had not really played since Cataclysm, so there are a ton of systems that simply did not exist back then.  The big one is the LFR system, so as we hunted for gear on the island we queued for Mogushan Vaults.  The queue was surprisingly short and we managed to make it through the three boss raid in extremely quick time.

I guess the game did not want him to have an unrealistic view of how the LFR system worked, because when we queued up for the second part of the raid… it went horribly.  Someone pulled the boss too quickly, the tanks had no clue what they were doing… and we wiped.  Moments after the wipe the raid just disintegrated in a matter of seconds.  I told him that sadly that was also extremely common.  While we waited for that raid to officially die we went out to Dinosaur Island… or more properly Isle of Giants.  We had zero luck in both pets and eggs, but we killed quite a few and I got some more leather.  I am not sure if it was in the first raid or the second… but at some point Vernie managed to pick up shoulders.

During the course of our faffing about he managed to go from 450 something to 474 and if we can get him a few more upgrades he should be able to start doing Throne of Thunder…. which I think is one of the more enjoyable instances of the expansion.  After we finished the second raid, that went surprisingly successfully.  Elegon managed to eat a half dozen people to the “floor boss”, but all in all we pulled out a win.  Will of the Emperor was a wipe at first, namely because the tanks didn’t really know what they were doing.  However someone luckily explained to them and we managed to pull that victory out as well.  All in all it was a really fun night, and I was happy that we got Vernie a ton of upgrades in the process.  Once again Faffing about pays off.

Beatstick Acquired

Ice Ice Baby

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We are still functionally iced in, at least in the way that everything outside is coated in a thick layer of ice… including both vehicles.  This has been the weirdest storm however as it has clung to everything but the concrete.  Additionally the temperatures have remained at just the right place to keep the ice from melting.  This means for the most part the roads are completely fine.  It is just lack of caring that has kept us in the house.  By the manifest restlessness upstairs from my wife, I have a feeling this is coming to an end today.  We honestly need to get out and about to pick up the last few gifts in order to be done for the holidays.

Right now on twitter, I have the name “Belgrinch Stole Xmas” and to some extent it is not just clever use of my existing naming convention.  I tend to be a big of a humbug when it comes to the holidays.  Over the years bad things seem to fall near the holidays, and when you combine that with the fact that Christmas as an adult is a massive let down if you don’t have children.  My wife and I have not put up a tree in over a decade.  For children, Christmas still is a magical time but for me I just see the hassle of having to run between four households and shop for a bunch of people you literally only see once a year.  I wish so much we could make Christmas be Thanksgiving 2.0.

Thanksgiving is pretty much my ideal holiday.  People get together to share a meal together, and there is no expectations past that.  You just have some good food, good conversation and then everyone goes on their merry ways.  Instead we have an awkward exchange of time as everyone tries to avoid the inevitable gift exchanges.  This year because of my aunt’s dialysis the timing is all messed up.  Normally we do all of this on Christmas eve, but instead this year everything is pretty tentative.  We considered going up tomorrow so we could just spend time with the family members we want to without the rest of the three ring circus.  For me it is about spending time with my parents and my grandmother…  past that it just gets progressively more and more awkward.  Namely I am trying to avoid being around my bigoted uncles as they seriously destroy what little inner peace I have… and make me feel absolutely dirty for being around them.

Beatstick Acquired

I have chronicled the hunt for one-handed weapons over the last few weeks.  My guildies and I have been running daily Heroic Scenarios for a shot at the 516 weapons that can drop there.  Additionally I have been working my way through both Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar.  Yesterday I spent most of the day queued for the various ToT dungeons that have a chance of dropping a weapon.  Turns out the in game loot advisor thingy doesn’t list everything.  It seems there is a series of weapons that can drop off every single boss in the instance, and after killing Jinrohk yesterday I managed to get one of them.  The mace pictured above is Zeeg’s Ancient Kegsmasher and comes from that list of alternative drops.  While not ideal, I wish it was a 2.6 speed weapon and not the awkward 2.4 speed… but it is better than what I had and I am extremely happy to get it.

Additionally I managed to get through the Underhold section of Siege of Orgrimmar which unlocks The Downfall and a shot at another one-hander off of the Klaxxi council event.  I am honestly not sure what it is about Underhold, but every single group I would get into would spontaneously disintegrate shortly after finishing Malkorok.  There always seems to be either a mass exodus immediately after finishing the boss, or after failing that first time to Spoils of Pandaria.  Last night… fairly late… I actually managed to find a group that oneshot every single encounter there… including captain lunchmeats himself… Thok.  I won’t lie, I am not sure if I will actually ever queue for Underhold again unless a guild member needs it for something.  The queue is around an hour generally, and with the lacklustre success rate it seems like a bundle of frustration I can simply live without.

Christmas Gifts Abound

So I am bad at this… let me start out by saying that up front.  My intent in this section is not to be “look what soandso go me, neener neener” so you are going to see some thank yous, without me actually listing who they are directed to.  I figure the people read my blog and they will know it is heart felt and directed at them.  First up someone very awesome got me Talisman Prologue from my steam list.  This is a game that I have thought about picking up so many times in the past but never pulled the trigger.  I love the Talisman board game, and even the crappy american version that Milton Bradley released called Hero’s Quest.  Despite how much frustration I have built up over the years… I am still a massive fanboy for Games Workshop and Talisman seems to be one of their purest gaming experiences.  Really looking forward to seeing how well the digital version translates.

I am a massive sucker for the sandboxy shooter experience.  Everything I have heard from friends and read has said that Farcry 3 really takes this whole concept up a notch.  As a result this is one of those titles I have almost bought half a dozen times.  But thanks to another amazing friend the decision was made for me.  Again I plan on devoting some of my two weeks of downtime to exploring this game.  Quite honestly… I have stuff on my steam wishlist as more of a reminder to myself, and because steam emails you when one of those titles goes on sale.  I never in a million years expected anyone to buy me something off of it.  Thank you guys very much, it made me feel loved.

Last but definitely not least…  the League of Legends Mystery Gift madness is back in full swing again.  For those of you who are not indoctrinated, you can send a friend a random skin for one of the champions they have.  The price is 450 RP but you are guaranteed to get a skin that is of higher value, but it will be assigned completely at random.  The coolest part about it is there is a chance of getting skins that have long been retired or for whatever reason removed from the game.  One of the skins I have always wanted but never picked up is Chosen Master Yi.  Who doesn’t want to play as a Jedi Knight?  Huge thanks to another good friend for sending me a mystery box and giving me this awesome skin.

Caroling in Ulduar

Tis the Season

It is that time of the year when we naturally reflect upon what was good and not so good from the previous year.  I myself am planning a post like this in the not so distant future.  However this blurb is not about that at all.  Yesterday the amazing Queen of Faff, Alternative Chat posted her very on audible review of the previous year.  It is most definitely worth a listen, but then again everything she does is worth a listen.  I have to say that while I knew of her before this year, it was a few months ago that I first listened to her podcast.  I have to say I am truly thankful for discovering it, because now along with several other podcasts I look forward to hearing each episode.

She brings a deeply thought out quality to the air that reminds me in many ways of NPR.  I am very much an NPR junkie so I think this soft spoken and rehearsed manner suits me very well.  In the podcast she has declared that 2014 will be the “Year of Faff”, and I wholly support this notion.  Before her I tended to view “faffing about” as a generally negative thing.  Now I have embraced my inner faffitude and find myself doing odd little things on a regular basis.  I look forward to seeing what directionless madness comes form this new venture.

Caroling in Ulduar

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Early in the week my good friend Rylacus, and the warden of House Stalwart while I was away… asked me if I would be willing to do an Ulduar run.  He needed a single meta achievement to get his 25 man proto drake.  I told him initially that I was not sure if I would be around, but if I was most certainly I would help out.  I have had both the 10 and 25 man versions of the drake for quite some time, but as I know the achievements pretty well I am always willing to help out.  Since last night ushered in yet another icebound weekend here in Oklahoma, I was most definitely available for faffing about in Ulduar.

My only requirement was that we try and get EVERYONE that came along their drakes.  No one seemed to mind and as a result we filled the ranks with tons of folks hopefully seeking their own.  Additionally we managed to knock out Algalon, who’s room is pictured above.  Most of the achievements quite honestly were pretty easy at 90, or at least easy if you knew what you were needing to do.  Yog’Saron of course takes a few tries mainly to remember exactly what we need to do.  The three of us that went into the portal went insane because we could not remember how to exit.  We then proceeded to murder everyone else in the raid.

After that little set back we pushed forward and got him on the next try earning everyone on their drakes.  Currently the only really annoying meta achievement is the “kill 25 dwarves with razorscale” one.  Initially we had this idea of just gathering up all of the dwarves and letting Razorscale enrage…  theoretically killing them all.  This would in theory kill us all, but we should have also gotten the achievement at the same time.  Two things we found out… firstly the enraged flame breath is still not enough to kill a dwarf that is sitting at full health.  Secondly we can easily survive the enraged form and ended up going four rounds after that in order to get all the dwarves.

Desperately Seeking Weapon

While I managed to walk away with some really cool transmoggy bits and two pieces of the tier 8 set, I did not further my overarching mission of finding some weapons for my shaman.  Granted I didn’t really expect to do so in Ulduar, but the Heroic Scenario that we ran beforehand proved both painful and fruitless.  My hope is today that I can finish running Siege of Orgrimmar and that the loot gods will smile on me and let me win the axe that can drop in the final part.  If this continues to prove futile I may just run Throne of Thunder as well.  I need to farm up the magical happy luck coins so I can turn them into extra roll chances for Siege, but I do not have the stockpile on my Shaman that I have on my other characters.  Other than this… I am going to try my best to stay warm and hopefully continue having power since the entire world outside is coated in an inch of ice.

What About Wildstar?

4.4.14

 

It as been roughly ten days since Zenimax announced the official PC/Mac release date of Elder Scrolls Online.  In doing so they either knowingly or unknowingly threw down the gauntlet to the other developers with their own tentative release dates.  The success and fail of an MMO has become so much more than whether or not it is a good game, but instead how distracted the gaming populous is at any given moment.  I remember a time in the not too distant past where major PC releases were truly few and far between.  However it currently seems like there is always something bigger looming on the near horizon.  Like it or not every single one of these releases is competing for the same relatively small pool of players, subscribers, and even money in general.

Yesterday Massively voted The Elder Scrolls Online… the MMO most likely to flop in the coming year.  While I personally think this is deeply cynical and maybe even more than a tiny bit inflammatory, I think more than anything it is short sighted.  Quite frankly the success and failure of Elder Scrolls Online has nothing to do with the PC gamer, and that is more than a tiny bit humbling.  We will no longer be the king makers for these online games.  With ESO and games like it, that torch is being passed from PC Gaming to the much larger pool of console gamers.  I have to say the console market is rabidly waiting for a new Elder Scrolls Experience, and especially a multiplayer one at that .  I think it might be a bitter pill to swallow to realize that the success and failure of these titles may very well be out of the hands of the “PC Gaming Master Race”.

3.25.14

 

Being the master tacticians that they are, yesterday Blizzard announced the release date for the Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls expansion.  With this they are releasing roughly four weeks ahead of Elder Scrolls Online, and as a result giving themselves plenty of time with the sole attention of the PC Gaming market.  Similarly however they are also hungrily eyeing the console market, and you can bet that they will be timing the release of the PS3/PS4/Xbox360/XBone release against the June release of Elder Scrolls Online to the next gen consoles.  I feel like a four week buffer is more than safe and should play well to the gamers that may not have the ability to purchase every title they want.  I know I am personally amped about this version of the game, because it fixes a lot of the loot problems I had with the initial release.  Additionally I am holding out hope beyond hope that they manage to roll in the console “controller” features as well.

There is no way to look at this release date as anything other than business strategy.  Elder Scrolls started this ball in motion, and now each game company will have to decide when the most opportune time is to deploy their own “forces” on the game board.  While the Diablo 3 demographic is not exactly the same as the Elder Scrolls demographic… there is more than enough overlap to have caused issues for either game.  As a result two major juggernauts have been placed on the “game board” and as a result the new year is less open than it was.  Now the launches of so many titles will have be strategized to figure out when the most opportune time to release will be.

Warlords of Draenor

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Since the title Blizzard announced was the release of Diablo 3 for the tail end of the first quarter, my assumption is that Warlord of Draenor was simply not close enough to ready to be able to launch against Elder Scrolls Online.  As a result I am guessing this means that WoD will be another last quarter of 2014 release much like a few other World of Warcraft expansion launches.  If this is the case that bookends the year up pretty nicely.  Diablo 3 first quarter, Elder Scrolls Online second quarter and Warlords of Draenor closing out the year.  You can already see the 2014 release calendar starting to tighten a bit and this will make it increasingly difficult for game companies to find a “clear window” to release against.  I personally thought I had written off the WoW franchise completely, but nostalgic can be a pain sometimes.

As a result I imagine there will be a lot of players that either intentionally or un-intentionally come back for the release of Warlords.  The lifespan of a WoW expansion rush seems to be roughly three months, so an end of the year release will also make the 2015 schedule some what slippery as well.  The problem is there are lots more pieces to be placed on the board.  Games like Titanfall and Destiny will also be chipping away at the pool of players that would h

ave normally played an MMO.  Additionally we still have EQ Landmark and EQ Next that have not committed to any release schedule and will likely be just as large of a force on the Calendar as the games that have already been confirmed.

What About Wildstar?

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I will be the first to admit… I am actually not that excited about Wildstar at all.  By all rights I should be, but for whatever reason there I have not followed it.  I do however have a lot of friends who have, and as a result I want it to be a success for their sake as much as anything else.  Up until this point we have heard a tentative “spring 2014” release.  As I have just outlined however the “spring” timeframe is extremely packed as it is.  Wildstar is in a really precarious place right now, and I do not envy them.  They are launching a new MMO, with a subscription model into a world that seems to have fallen out of love with subscriptions.  Additionally it is an unproven IP, and there are additional issues on selling a new player on “the vision” for this world.  Finally it is releasing against some really powerful forces.

The safe bet will be to release Wildstar in the July/August timeframe.  As much as I myself hate it, the players who are likely to leave a game will have done so by the time three months have passed.  July would be the beginning of a window where generally the “locusts”, a group I have been a member of so many times in the past… will have consumed what there is to consume with ESO and be looking for a new target to move to.  Plotting a course for this opening in the schedule seems like the safe choice for them.  However all it would take to make this more treacherous, is for the other pieces that are unplaced to fall into this window.  Releasing against EQ Landmark would be enough to make the fate of Wildstar uncertain, and we have yet to even discuss the potential for the upcoming and as of yet unnamed Rift expansion. 

My money is still on Wildstar penciling in a July release date, and EQ Next as a game being a spring of 2015 release.  I just don’t see Carbine being confident enough to release Wildstar without a good opening in the schedule.  They are in a much more tentative position than Zenimax, since the entirety of their fate rests upon the shoulders of the PC Gaming market.  Elder Scrolls Online could realistically release against another big game, since they will be gaining a bunch of “new to genre” players coming in from the console market.  Additionally they have a well established and well loved IP… and even if folks are not completely sold on the game… they are likely to at least dip their toes in the water for awhile.  I find myself caring far more about the people at the companies… than the companies and games themselves.  With several friends in the “industry” I honestly hope that they can stack the schedule in a way so that all of these titles fine at least limited success.  If we see another crop of relative failures, I think this year might be the last hurrah of the triple A MMO market.

Richer Than You Think

A Patch Awoken

Monday evening the Final Fantasy XIV servers were down to deliver the brand new 2.1 patch.  This is the one that everyone had been waiting for, that was supposed to deliver a ton of new content.  At one point I was anxiously looking forward to this update, because it held the promise of player housing as well as new dungeons to run to collect what we lovingly refer to as “bookrocks” aka Tomestones.  Now that the patch is live, I find that I can’t seem to be bothered to actually patch the game up.  Tuesday and Wednesday night I spent a bit of time hanging out in mumble with my friends who are still playing it, and they seem extremely excited about it overall.  The video below shows all the reported changes, and I will admit it seems pretty staggering.

 

However several of these things seemed to be tarnished by somewhat bad design.  The biggest of these that I have heard of is the housing system.  Currently it is oppressively expensive,  the day it was released I saw a tweet (that I seem to be unable to find at this moment) stating that they gained the first million gil towards their house… only 99 more to go.  That apparently is cheap… here is a listing of the housing prices on the various servers.  We are in group three, on Cactuar so right now it would cost 125 million gil to purchase the largest home… aka the one suitable for a guild house.  Considering prior to 2.1 there really was no way to make money at 50 other than crafting…  this seems insane.  The highest I have ever gotten with my character was 200,000 gil, and repair bills and components for my artifact weapon whittled that down to around 75,000 gil the last I checked in on the game.

Supposedly they have added in a bunch of new ways to earn money, which I guess is a positive.  However it does seem silly to roll out such an expansive and impressive system…  that no one can actually use on day one.  Supposedly over time the housing prices will fall, but that still puts the large house at 100 million gil at the absolute cheapest possible price.  Listening to my friends, they seem to be enjoying the new content.  The new dungeon Pharos Sirius seems to be genuinely difficult and to the best of my knowledge they have not beat the final encounter.  That was one of the interesting things about FFXIV dungeons, is that they had a 2 hour timer to get through them.  I feel like I should be excited about the prospects of the patch, but I just fine myself not caring at all.  Whatever magic I felt towards FFXIV seems to be gone for me, in the same way it has flickered away for so many other games.

Richer Than You Think

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This morning I achieved a personal goal… too bad it comes 2 expansions too late to be terribly impressive.  I have never been extremely successful at making money in MMOs.  I guess in the grand scheme of things it just has never really been a priority.  As a result I have always thought that I was broke, or at did not have a ton of liquid assets in game.  While I am still not anywhere near some of my guild members, I am was apparently doing better than I ever thought.  Awhile back I installed Titan Panel again, to help organize a lot of my informational gadgets in one place.  In trying to keep track where I was with all of my tokens I installed a Currency addon.  Interesting thing about it… is that it started to keep track of all of the money spread across all of my characters.

As of last night it showed that I had 25,000 gold distributed among all of my alts… five of which are 90 and in various stages of “raid ready”.  No character had more than 5,000 gold on them specifically, but spread out among all of the characters it added up.  Because of this I decided to realize something that had long been a goal for me.  With Wrath of the Lich king they added what has been ubiquitously referred to as the “Repair Mount”.  Since I do a lot of random killing out in the world, and solo farming of dungeons/raids… I find myself constantly searching for a repair vendor.  So many times I have thought to myself “man it would be awesome to have that mount”, but even with faction and guild discounts it was still 14,000 gold… which seemed like an insane amount.

I never would have purchased this back in the days before account-wide mounts… but the idea that I just gave every single alt the ability to repair whenever they hell they felt like it?  Sure 14,000 seemed like a reasonable price, especially considering I have branched out onto a second account of characters.  So this morning before sitting down to write my blog entry I shifted back and forth between all of my characters and began pooling my money on Belgrave to make the purchase.  I knew for certain he was exalted with Kirin Tor, the faction the mount vendor is sold on.  I have to say… I am freaked out a little that I just spent all that gold on a single mount, but within a few days that will pass and I will be happy with my decision.  There really is very little I want to purchase in the game at this point that my army of alt crafters cannot eventually make.  So I figure thanks to the mount I will be able to farm up more goodies to fill the coffers again.

Lucky Streak

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Most of the yesterday evening I spent working my way through Siege of Orgrimmar.  The first section of the dungeon went extremely smoothly and the loot gods seemed to be smiling upon me.  I managed to get a usable drop off three of the four bosses there.  Of course the first drop of the evening was a neckpiece… after purchasing the one with honor last night.  That seems like it is always the way however… when you upgrade a piece, you end up getting a better one almost instantly.  The second part of Siege however went extremely slowly as I had to complete it in two passes.  I was on the second boss of the first pass when my wife came home last night and needed my assistance.  After killing Iron Juggernaut I bailed from the LFR and did what she needed for a bit.

After coming back that meant sitting through another 30-60 minute queue and repeating the first two encounters without loot.  However that second run went far more smoothly than the first, and we had no wipes at all until folks lost focus during the Nazgrim fight.  That is not the type of fight that you can “burn down at the end”, since the not dealing with the adds means he very rapidly heals back all of the damage you are dealing to him.  During the second attempt however, folks stayed focused on the adds and we managed to defeat him in near record time.  My hope is tonight to come back and finish out the last two parts.  At 11pm I attempted to queue for the third, and it looked like roughly an hour queue so I gave up and went to bed.  Still no love for a weapon, but this next segment has the chance of dropping a weapon I believe.  So between it and my nightly habit of running a Heroic Scenario… I might have a chance.

Hole In Itemization

Just Too Good to be True

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I set out on a mission to attempt to earn a 498 pvp weapon last night through the justice point to honor conversion.  For the most part it went easy enough, and while there were plenty of mouthy folks in LFG the instance runs themselves were smooth enough.  I just kept my mouth shut and did my job as dps and pushed through it.  It is amazing how much it defuses a troll when no one at all in the party responds.  They make a few comments then quiet down themselves because no one is feeding them ammo.  For awhile last night I was thinking that this was really going to be an awesome way to earn starter weapons.  Unfortunately like so many great ideas this one had a massive flaw, that comes from the fact that I do not PVP… nor I understand how the PVP systems in any game work.

First flaw in the plan was the listed conversion rate was not 375 Justice Points to 250 Honor, but instead 500 Justice Points to 250 Honor.  This was manageable but basically meant that you had to earn 3500 JP to be able to get a weapon.  I did that last night without any real issue in a matter of hours.  Second flaw… and this one is the fatal one.  Apparently in order to purchase weapons with honor points, you have to have PVPed enough during the current season to earn 7500 honor.  Since I have not PVPed at all on any of my characters during this expansion, let alone the current season I simply cannot purchase weapons.  I have no desire to PVP enough to gain 7500 honor, which would be roughly 30 battleground wins.  In fact that sounds like just about the worst possible way to spend my time I could imagine.

Jewelry Is Nice

WoW-64 2013-12-18 06-18-07-16Since I had already taken the hit converting 3500 Justice to 1750 honor… I really had no desire to take the hit again and convert 1750 honor back to 875 Justice.  Other than weapons I have had a few glaring holes in my gear.  I was still using a crafted 450 necklace and a 450 ring.  While the weapons all require honor earned during the season to purchase, the gear however does not appear to have a similar requirement.  As a result I picked out a fairly decent neckpiece from the vendor for I believe 1250 honor.  This got me one step closer to my overall goal of being able to queue for Siege of Orgrimmar.

WoW-64 2013-12-18 06-24-20-30At this point I flew out to the Shadowpan Assault quartermaster in Townlong.  Sure enough they had a decent ring as well.  After plugging these two holes in my itemization and after picking up a slightly better weapon in the heroics I ran to get the stockpile of honor, I am now finally able to queue for Siege of Orgrimmar.  While I didn’t necessarily get what I wanted out of the nights activity…  I actually still got what I needed.  Maybe the rolling stones were right all along.

Hole In Itemization

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So after all of this, I return to the original thought process that there is a massive whole in itemization, at least from the standard late expansion “catch players up” mentality.  I got into a bit of a discussion of an aspect of this yesterday over on Twitter.  In previous expansions, there existed higher tiers of heroic level content.  The prime example of this was Trial of the Champion that helped catch players up in gear, both on normal and heroic modes.  Then later in the expansion you had the three instance story arc of Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, and Halls of Reflection that ratcheted up the difficulty level as well as the rewards.  I can remember Halls of Reflection heroic still being a significant challenge in Icecrown raid gear.

While I love the concept of the Timeless Isle, and the whole explore to find nifty things ideas… they are quite literally giving us epics in the process.  This is extremely friendly to altaholics like myself, and has allowed me to gear out an army of 90s…  but I feel little to know sense of accomplishment from doing so.  The Wrath era sequence was probably my ideal for gearing. It felt significant gearing from heroic, to the trial 5 man and then finally being able to queue for the Icecrown 5 mans.  Additionally the gearing seemed far more complete, since each 5 man tier dropped a complete set of gear including workable weapons.

Now it feels very much like, “Gratz on 90, here is your epic gear” but while you can queue for these raids…  without having a way to get a decent weapon you become an instant drain on any group that ends up getting you.  There are weapons you can get on the Timeless Isle, but like I said yesterday they are cost prohibitive (20,000 coins for a one-hander, 40,000 for a two-hander) and at 476 they are simply not worth the effort and do not provide enough of a bump over 463 crafted/heroic weapons to make it worth your time.  Now that I can queue for Siege however I will hopefully get lucky enough to pick up a weapon that way.  Additionally I will continue to run my nightly Heroic Scenario, as the potential 516 weapon would be well worth the time spent.  Additionally these scenarios when run with a guild group put money in the guild coffers and count towards the weekly.

Crafting Hates Enhancement

My general theory is that this glaring hole was intentional… and by making it they did not want to devalue completely the 502 crafted weapons.  I have my own opinions on the whole “crafting should be best” line of thinking, but I can see why they would want this.  The problem however with this line of thinking is that there are simply not weapons available for every itemization.  For enhance… they tend to favor slow weapons… so that rules out the daggers.  That leaves Fist, Mace and Axe that are all usually 2.6 speed.  In the 502 weapon itemization there is not a Fist, Mace or Axe that is agility based.  The “rogue” weapon that is craft-able is a sword, which shaman simply cannot use. 

I know in the past this has happened with Druids and other “weird hybrid classes”, but the fact that other players can nod and say “I know that feel bro” doesn’t really make it any better to try and work around.  At this point I will start queuing my way through Siege LFR each week and hopefully in the process I will luck my way into a weapon.  If not hopefully one of my nightly guild heroic scenarios will pay off and I will get one or more 516 random stat weapons.  No matter which path I take however, my shamans fate is now in the hands of the random loot gods, which is never really a fun place to be.

Unicorns!

Unicorns!

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Quick… type Unicorns if you want to live!  I had to share this picture as it was pretty much my favorite thing from yesterday.  Typing of the Dead was one of the most quirky Dreamcast games I owned, so I was super shocked to see that there was a newer version available on steam.  I have no real interest in playing it to be honest, but this image particularly caused me several chuckles throughout the day.  I am using it this morning as a crutch to get me started typing.  So far this morning I have overslept, and since I really did not do a whole lot of gaming last night, I feel fairly empty of ideas.

My last night was spent with my wife, taking her shopping.  I feel overall it is a noble if not maddening pursuit, but since she would be in teacher conferences tonight and Wednesday night… I figured it was a needed one.  At least I got a good meal out of the ordeal.  She has decided she wants to look more “put together”, and stop wearing so many neutral colors.  As an art major, I keep getting called in to coordinate color palettes for her.  If left to her own devices she tends to try and match everything, instead of pick a simple but coordinated group of colors.  Hopefully overtime she will pick up what I am doing and I will no longer be quite so needed in the process.  However for now I am her shopping buddy…  but in truth I always really have been.

The Quest For Weapons

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I really like my dwarfy elemental shaman, and I pretty much play him whenever I have the chance.  Right now I am on a mad quest to get him a couple of decent weapons.  He currently is using two matched blue weapons, and I have been pestering the guild to run nightly heroic scenarios on the hopes that I will actually luck out like I did on the paladin.  I feel like even one weapon swapped would be enough to get me into Siege of Orgrimmar LFR, which is ultimately my goal.  The problem that I have mentioned before is that there are really no good weapons you can get for characters.  The weapons out on the Timeless Isle are 20,000 timeless coins for a onehander, which involves quite a significant amount of grinding.  The problem with them is that they are only 476 ilevel which is not really that much better than heroic blue/crafted 463.

I might be insane, but I really do not see that it is worth the copious amount of grinding that it would take to knock one of these weapons out… to wind up slightly better but still very much undergeared to do the latest content.  Another option generally are the 502 living steel weapons that are remakes of the weapon specialist items from burning crusade.  Two problems here, firstly they take a month of Living Steel transmutes to get.  Secondly there is nothing agility based that a shaman can use, the only agility weapon is a sword.  Lastly there is the option that I have been avoiding like the plague, PVP.

PVP Gear without PVPing

I am not a PVP player at all, and I believe the last time I did any PVP was Baradin’s Hold.  Even then it was an extreme rarity that I participated in that unless I also had a bunch of guild members backing me up.  PVP is the worst sort of treadmill to me, and each time I do it I feel like a hamster as I quickly run back from the grave yard only to be sent back again.  There may be a loophole I can exploit however.  It seems you can convert 375 justice points into 250 honor through a vendor.  So that means I need to get 2625 justice points per weapon that I can comfortably grind out in heroics.  That would get me a 498 Axe or more likely the Fist weapon, as I seem to prefer those on my shaman.

This is something I can likely do, as I can probably even convince guild members to “roflstomp” some heroics with me to fill the guild bank with money.  We did some the other night to bump me across the threshold of being able to buy the heirloom axe for my orc warrior.  This seems to be the stopping place for all of the alts in the guild, we simply cannot get decent weapons.  I could probably even organize some group effort of running heroics to get people the pvp weapons.  The stats are not ideal, as it has that nasty resilience stat on them… but overall just the damage alone makes it worth it.  They would be more than viable for Siege and would let people get their weapons up enough to do quite a lot of other things.  Granted these are not as good as the 516 ilevel weapons from heroic scenarios…  however it is something you can actually work towards without having to rely entirely on that mean on random number generator.