Single Realm Play? Heck yeah….

The shared topic suggestion from Blog Azeroth this week is single realm play. The question, quoted verbatim from there, is:

If it were possible, would you want Blizzard to put all characters in a single realm/game world by realm type — PvP vs PvE vs RP? Why or why not?
My answer: heck yeah. I think the only downside to this is the possible lag and various technical hurdles that Blizzard has to address, but that’s not the spirit of the question. There are so many good things about single realm play that I can think of right off the bat:
  • Price uniformity. Right now, when you look at the price of, say, a certain enchant in AH in a realm, it varies wildly between servers. It is affected by several factors: the number of enchanters that have the recipe, the cost of mats (which in turn is influenced by supply and demand of mats, which also depend on other professions like tailoring etc), the demand of said enchant (which depends on the raiders and their progression level). For higher end enchants, the supply is often controlled by a handful of toons who HAVE killed the boss and have gotten the drop. You get the idea. WoW economy is a massive complex beast where if I were to draw a dependency graph, it would look so tangled that you can hide Waldo in there and can never find it. As a result, for each realm, the prices of commodities and trade goods vary wildly depending on the percentage of that realm’s population who want / have this and that material. Combining all the servers would only serve (HA!) to pool all the supply and demand forces and come up with a single point of equilibrium. Not only that, the price itself will be more uniform across time of the day. Right now there is a not-so-subtle pattern of price fluctuations from the morning till evening, and a sharp trader can actually make a lot of money off that fluctuation. But if everyone plays on the same realm, there’s gotta be someone selling and someone buying at any given time. This alone makes planning your crafting profession much easier and reliable, instead of relying blindly on the whim of the small market.
  • Economic health and stability. As an added plus, when you have such a massive market, a lot of the existing maneuvers done by AH tycoons such as price control and cartels would disappear, or at least harder to pull off. Right now it’s easy for someone with a few hundred grands to choose a commodity and corner that market. But if the market size is combined, good luck cornering that!! Everyone will be forced to compete healthily in the open market and colluding with your fellow crafters would be much harder to pull off.
  • Reputation. Right now, LFD and LFR are full of jerks. I’m one of them. When the realms are combined, you have to be careful with acting like a jerk, lest your name gets mentioned in Trade Chat for doing whatever it is that you did. There’s a reason that people actually tried hard and stayed after wipes in heroics in the days of BC and early days of Wrath. People want to be known as a good player, and they want to gain realm reputation. They want the invites, and they want to be able to apply to guilds without being turned down because “one of our officers played with you on heroics and….”
  • Speaking of which, guild recruitment and raiding PUGs will be healthier. There will be more of them, and each one would progress better. There’s a larger pool of players to recruit from, and each player can find the guilds that fit them the best. No more of “I play here because of friends but what I really want is that guild in that server”
  • Which, in turn, would mean less alts for people on average. There will always be altoholics like myself, but some people I know create alts on different servers just to be able to play with their RL friends. If they can play with friends and keep that one character, that character will be much more progressed. This issue partly has been addressed by the ability to group and LFD with cross-realm battle net friends. Note to self: write something about cross-faction grouping.

Now, I lied when I said that there’s no downside to single realm play. There are, of course, but they are pretty minor in my opinion. I’ll mention some of the big ones:

  • No more cornering of markets. For some of us, this is how we make a living.
  • Trade Chat. Actually, Barrens Chat. No scratch that. All zones will be like Barrens Chat if this were to happen. The combined power of the trolls would so dominate the chat channels all around Azeroth. But really, do we need trade chat anymore now that the AH is stable?

Spirits of Harmony

One of the most controversial topics in MoP beta right now is the introduction of Spirits of Harmony. It’s roughly equivalent to Frozen Orbs or Chaos Orbs of the previous expansions. However, Blizz threw in some twist:

  • It’s required in a lot more recipes of Pandaria professions, not just the high level ones as Chaos orbs and Frozen Orbs did.
  • It would drop not only from top level dungeons and heroics but also from the lower level mobs. Even according to Blizzard, it would drop more often in the leveling content than it would drop for raiders. For higher level content, mobs would drop motes of harmony or something, and you can combine 10 of them to form a spirit of harmony. Either way, you get less and less as you progress, unless you’re back to doing dailies and 5 mans.
  • It’s BoP. Fair enough, frozen orbs and chaos orbs were also BoP when they were first introduced, and made sellable several tiers later. However, chaos orbs and frozen orbs were only required for the high level recipes and they only dropped from top level dungeons.

The consequences of this design are thus:

  • Gone are the days of having an alt that’s leveled only for professions. We used to have an army of alts of every professions imaginable and use them to craft this consumable and that enchant. Since chaos orbs were used only to craft cutting-edge gear, it didn’t matter if my blacksmithing alt never hits level 85. As long as he can make shield spikes and belt sockets, he’s fine. As long as my enchanter can make the standard +50 rating enchants, she’s fine, no need for chaos orbs cuz she’s not making power torrent or anything. Right now, Spirits of Harmony are used in recipes even before 600 skill points. That is, no more crafting belt buckles unless that toon is well-leveled.
  • Gone are the days of ultra-geared character waiting in AH for LFR to pop while crafting. Almost all profitable recipes will require some amount of these spirits, and in order to do so, you have to go out and quest, or do 5 mans. In other words, you gotta FARM.
  • BoE gears will be more scarce (although not extraordinarily so) than they are today. The Imperial Silk (Pandaria equivalent of Dreamcloth) will be BoP as well, and they need spirits to make, so the character that wants to craft a BoE gear must first gather all the required spirits himself, and there’s a LOT of them needed.

Now I don’t know if they would change their decision, if this design is intentional, or even if it would make it to live with these settings, but assuming that it is intentional, I don’t understand their design decision. Here are some of my best guesses:

  • Blizz wants people to get out to the world more, and hang out in SW / OG less. They’ve said it again and again they’re doing everything they can to get people into the world, including awarding VP for dailies, Farmville: WoW edition, Pet Battles, removing guild summon perks, adding AHs and Banks in Pandaria. This would just be yet another attractive force to go out and repulsive force to hang out in the cities. But they seem to forget a few things:
    • Once you reach a certain point, raids ARE the only way to progress further. Now this is debatable of course, because arguably you can progress further by gaining more reputations and gold and what not. But if MY enjoyment comes from raids, I shouldn’t be punished for doing so. In the past, WoW has always been a raid-oriented game, and Blizz is trying to shy away from that by offering alternative means of character progression. However, there’s a danger that they’re over-correcting themselves. If anything, they do have a history of over-correcting themselves. Just look at BC-WotLK-Cata progression.
    • You might say, punished? How so? Well, raiders gotta eat too you know? If consumables and enchants become so expensive that they can’t afford it because they can’t support themselves due to rarity of Spirits in their content, then I consider them being punished for running the content they love to run because they want to enjoy the game the way they want to enjoy it.
    • There’s a faint but dangerous similarity between this design and the Vanilla days where we had to farm air elementals in Silithus just to get Essence of Air required for potions and flasks. This problem is exacerbated by making Spirits BoP, so even if say the guild is willing to fund each raider 1k gold per week to buy consumables, they’ll have to pay AH price. They can’t pay the “material cost” and craft them themselves.
  • Blizz wants to combat the economic disparity that has plagued basically every servers in the game. There’s an adage that says 90% gold in a server is owned by 1% of the population, and I don’t think it’s that far-fetched. Blizz obviously knows the exact statistics and they recognized this as a problem. How did they get there? Well let’s see…. There are several popular methods of amassing gold by playing the AH, but they can be divided into a few basic categories:
    • Buy low sell high / market timing. They’re just playing commodities like they would a stock market. This is not gonna be countered by anything obviously, Spirits or no Spirits, BoP or sellable. As long as there’s a time-dependent fluctuation of supply and demand, arbitrageurs are going to be there.
    • Buy popular items for cheap or sell beautiful transmog gears for a high price. This is a variation of buy low sell high method. In the end, it’s solely driven by and manipulating market forces.
    • Crafting. If I’m understanding the gold-making blogs correctly, this method accounts for a large majority of rich people’s income. What they’d do is do nothing but buy a large amount (hundreds of stacks) of clothes and volatiles, craft a large amount of gears, and sell. Of course the gear is not all the same. Part of what makes them really successful is their ability to know what’s in demand, and controlling supply by not posting everything all at once. A few of these crafters can easily account for 70% of item movements in the AH. (Warning: a statistic pulled out of my butt). Either way, these people don’t simply craft 10 gears and call it a night. They craft hundreds, but only post 10 of them (1 of each gear), and move on to the next profession on another alt. How else can you amass hundreds of Ks per month? This type of gold-making is the one that’s going to be severely impacted by Spirit of Harmony’s bindability (bopability, bopness?) If you want to craft anything remotely profitable, you gotta farm. Not farm ALL of the mats, but farm some. That puts a limit on how much volume a tailor / leatherworker / blacksmith / enchanter / scribe / (what else?) can churn per hour.

So this is my guess as to what’s going to happen a few weeks into MoP after the dust settles and the market balances itself out:

  • Inflation is going to happen, but not as rampant, thanks to black market AH. Gold will be distributed more equally among players (see #2 above).
  • All materials (leather, clothes, ores) are going to be dirt cheap, thanks to the lack of demand since the production line is held up by scarcity of Spirits.
  • BoE gear is going to be expensive, which is fine. Right now it feels wrong that my rogue hits 85 and can do LFR in a few minutes if I wanted to, as long as I’m willing to spend 20k for it. Expensive BoE is going to make sure you learn your class and get a chance to play with your new spells and talents before you step foot to LFR.
  • Consumables are going to be expensive. I’m not sure I’m okay with this. Expect to see a lot more people in LFD and LFR ungemmed and unenchanted, or suboptimally gemmed / enchanted. Raids will have to make do without flasks, unless you’re doing progression content.

All of those are speculations of course. Who knows, maybe Blizz will up the drop rate of Spirits significantly that it doesn’t change supply and demand in a big way, but simply curbing the large-scale crafters a little bit. Sucks to be them, but cest la vie.

How to make class quests interesting

According to this breakfast topic discussion at WowInsider yesterday, a lot of commenters mentioned that they missed class-specific quests. I would agree. I remember leveling up my druid and working so hard to finally get that new form, or finally earn that new totem. It does feel like you’re growing significantly once you hit level 20, 30, 40, etc. I can see why they’re removed though. With the leveling up pace that’s so fast these days, hitting level 30 or 40 is not meant to be a big deal anymore. You’re supposed to press on a couple more days until you hit 60, and THEN that’s your big reward of going to Outland, if that can be considered a reward at all.

Another reason why they’re removed I think is Blizzard’s change of philosophy to make max level the new end game. Yes you still have to level up just because… I don’t know why actually. Maybe that’s another topic for another post. But the truth is, players and Blizzard both know that you can’t wait to get to level 85 / 90 as quickly as possible, so anything that hinders your progress (including withholding that totem / form from you) is not in line with their goal of getting you to max level as soon as possible.

However, with the rise of more customization, starting with availability of transmog technology, and a whole slew of vanity glyphs introduced in MoP, I can’t help but think, what if class quests are reintroduced with these vanity rewards in mind? Those quests are a great way to introduce lore. Not lore lore, but class lore, as in, you learn who you are as a druid / shaman / warrior, what you’re supposed to do and not. Class quests are a great way to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something meaningful and you’ve EARNED that new stance / form / pet. As a bonus, since the rewards are cosmetic in nature, you can brag and show that you’ve done it, which should serve as an added incentive to complete those quests.

The technology to do it is definitely there, as evidenced by Blizzard’s willingness to introduce the vanity glyph. I’m just going to offer some more suggestions as to what rewards can be offered for various classes for completing their class quests. Again, I haven’t looked at all the new spells in MoP, so I might be missing an obvious “duh” here. Suggestions and more ideas are always welcome.


I feel like this is the easiest. Introduce class quests to get a fiery flying mount. Maybe from Xoroth, maybe somewhere else. Introduce other quests to get an alternate gender demons (female imp, male succubus, female void walkers, etc). Introduce LONG quest chains to choose the color of your fire (green or yellow). This last one has been hinted as a possibility by Blizzard. This has been protested by players who want it now and easy. To them I say: if you want it, work for it. It’s not game breaking and it’s not mandatory by any means, so putting it behind a long quest chain is perfectly acceptable.

Other ideas for warlocks: give us more dummy buffs. Is it game breaking for PvP? Do people still cast unending breath to shield friends from enemy dispels? But if we get waterwalking or levitate as rewards from quests, I wouldn’t complain


Option to alter the appearance of your pet. Instead of water elemental, you can have frozen revenant and watery revenant. Conjure familiars should definitely be one of those quest rewards, and I’m dismayed why it’s given as a glyph. New polymorph forms. Another idea: a flying form, just like druid. Remember how Medivh used to transform himself to a crow? This could be made not game breaking if we don’t get insta-cast, and can’t herb/mine in it. Another idea: telekinesis, as in looting from a distance. If hunters get it then we should have it too.


Upgraded forms: instead of dire bear, you have angry badass dire bear. Instead of tiger, you can choose to be other cats: lynx, hyena, or any of the Mac OS names. Better yet, canine form: wolves and siberian huskies, with otherwise exact same abilities as cat forms. Instead of the usual flight form, you can choose to be hawks, eagles, ravens.

Astral form for moonkins should definitely be a quest reward as well. Alternating between tree forms / choose your own tree colors. When summoning treants, you can choose to summon wild animals instead. If this is popped together with hunter’s stampede, you officially get a zoo.


New or upgraded ascendance forms. You’ll get an armored earth elemental or something. Upgraded totem graphics and elemental shield graphics. Upgraded bloodlust / heroism icons, together with new sounds. This is similar to how some mages buy the Dalaran Brilliance spell.


I really can’t think of anything here, since the major tenet of being a rogue is stealth and invisibility. Working hard for a cosmetic reward just goes against that very grain. Maybe give them a spell that’s equivalent to the highest level first aid? So if they do the quest they don’t have to do first aid?


Shadowform in healing specs, “light” form, turn shadow orbs into ravens, etc. Hey if Archbishop whats-his-name can still look like a light-blessed priest while being totally evil, so can we. Lightfiend instead of shadowfiend.


Fetch items should have been one of those quest rewards. Extra stable slot? (for balance purpose, the 6th pet wouldn’t be summoned during stampede). Upgraded hunter’s mark graphics. Also, the new aspects glyph is really interesting. Maybe the quest would allow the pet to be permanent.

I don’t know if this would be game breaking or not, but an ability called “master training” that would allow hunters to change the school of a pet. Wolves can be trained to be tenacity and turtle can be ferocity. Is this already in game? I haven’t kept track of the news.

Death Knight

Redemptive form, allows death knights to be less scary and more paladin-like. Not popular? Hmm what else. Scary visage, envelops the death knight in undead energy that’s similar to priest shadowform?

More choices of pet forms: banshees, perma-gargoyle, rotface look-alike. Transmoggable frostmourne replica. Flying acherus mount. I know they sorta have it as dungeon rewards, but maybe give it a slightly different skin?


Shadowform, like a fallen paladin? You know Arthas was kinda evil but was still a paladin for a while and was able to “call upon” the Light moments after he stabbed Muradin? Water walking. Paladins sorta get a slow fall in MoP, but that should have been a quest reward as well. Flying angels as your guardian graphic, or even cast a spotlight over an area with radius 20 yards when guardian is active, just to show you have a divine favor on you. Flying paladin mount. Extra auras that are non game breaking, for example, increased walking speed similar to aspect of cheetah.


Upgraded statue graphics. Instead of Jade, you can choose it to be diamonds or ruby. When you’re doing an animal related move (crane kick, tiger palm), a likeness of that animal can appear as a brief visage over you, similar to how JinDo’s image appeared in that zandalari trailer movie.


Ok I confess I haven’t played warrior in 3 years, so I have nothing to offer here. Maybe add a loud grunt with each weapon strike? Audible to everyone but you?

Progress: LFR week, challenge mode gear scaling

After running LFR on various toons for a week, I finally got my rogue to hit iLevel 355 and halfway through the twilight dungeon quests. My feral druid completed the Kalimdor midsummer fire achievement and my paladin completed the Northrend ones. Gosh, it’ll be a couple more years before I get the purple drake, if ever. At least the whole shared achievement means that I can do it on different toons depending on what I’m in the mood of playing at that time.

My priest got four (yes, FOUR) drops from the LFR in one run, so he’s at iLevel 380 now, has 4pc tier bonus, and only missing chest piece from looking like this. My mage got the chest piece and now has 2pc tier bonus, which looks seriously wonky. I haven’t tried it on the training dummy, but it’s seriously gonna step up the arcane rotation pace a little bit.

On the other news, Blizzard just clarified the challenge mode gear scaling here. I agree with their rationales, mostly centered around keeping hit caps and expertise caps intact while scaling down everything else. But there are a few issues with this approach:

  • Most people that’s “that good” (i.e., have hopes of completing gold level challenges) are probably in a raiding team somewhere, or will be sporting raid-level gear shortly. These people are going to gem and reforge their gear around raid boss hit-caps, as opposed to heroic boss hit-caps. For casters, there’s a HUGE leap from being hit-capped against level 92 mobs to against level 93. That’s a lot of item budgets wasted if Blizzard insists on keeping the hit-cap. With the item budget as scarce as it is due to downscaling, this is a huge blow to the other secondary stats. Note to self: find out how to properly spell hit-cap. Hit cap? hitcap? hit-cap? hit_cap?
  • Some people gear around soft-caps such as haste plateaus. If you keep the hit-cap but scale down the haste, you might seriously mess up a warlock / spriest / boomkin’s dps, or a resto druid’s hps.
  • Let’s not even get to tanks where there’s an intricate interaction between mastery (for shield tanks), dodge, and parry.

With those inconveniences, I expect that there will be a lot of people keeping an extra set of gear, gemmed and reforged exactly for the purpose of entering a dungeon mode challenge. There will be theorycrafters out there explaining how to game the downscaling system so that you “land” on the haste plateaus you want. There will be a Mr. Robot-like sites or addons figuring this out. Another alternative that’s been suggested by WowInsider commenters are:

  1. Have a fixed stats for people upon entering the dungeon. If you’re going to play as a combat rogue, this is your stat, period. Well, it does solve all the issues I raised above, but it introduces other issues, namely:
    • Research / Preparation. Dungeon challenge is not meant to be brute-forced with gear, true, but it’s also not meant to take away the how-well-do-you-know-your-class part. Part of what differentiates great players from good players are knowing what the soft caps are and how to utilize them. I remember that when I was finally able to reach a the sixth tick of rejuvenation on my druid, suddenly my “rotation” (if there’s ever such thing for a healer) changes. I prioritize rejuvenation a little bit more, knowing that it heals for more. I usually don’t give much credit to raiders who know how to look things up online. I don’t consider that “skill.” What I consider skill is the ability to understand why those stats are weighed that way and how to respond accordingly when your stats change.
    • Interaction with talent system. I haven’t seen ALL the talents of the class I play (which is like, almost all of them), but there might be talent choices that begets different caps or even stat priorities.
    • Personalization / Playstyle. At some point in Cata, there were to viable styles of discipline priest. I think one was bubble spam, the other was heal spam. I dunno I forget, I didn’t have a level 85 priest back then. I thought that was pretty cool that Blizz was able to tune it so closely so that there’s no clear winner. I’m sure some other classes have that choice too. The two styles also require different stat priorities.
  2. Let each toon chooses the stats they want to scale down while keeping others intact. As a druid, I wouldn’t care about crit or mastery for example, but I want to keep my spirit and my haste where they are. As a mage, I would want to keep my hit rating but I don’t care about the others. Doesn’t solve the level 92 vs 93 mob conundrum but it solves the other ones.
  3. Let each toon BUDGET their stats themselves. Upon entering a dungeon (or previously, where you can save a profile), you are given this much item budget, and it’s up to you how to allocate them. This is probably the best approach functionally, but it’s horribe from the user experience point of view. Raiders and seasoned players would be able to figure this out quickly. But what about your regular joe players who are new and trying to click at “hey what is this dungeon challenge button?” and then BAM, hit with a window full of knobs and buttons that doesn’t make much sense?

I honestly don’t know what the best solution is. Maybe they have thought this through and still think that the solution they put forth was the lesser of all evils.