Friday, May 8, 2015

The Jocy-Fist Challenge Part 4

The Jocy-Fist Challenge Part 4

Fist is having a rough time keeping up with Jocy as the pair enter the weekend. Fist is still at level 95 +89% and scrambling for time to get to level 96. Indomitable Jocy, howewer, kept an iron fist (pun intended) on the leveling time. Jocy fought her way to level 97 and is over halfway to level 98. Fist crafted herself an i640 helm and shoulders to boost her gear level from i565 to i577, improving her kill rate and leveling speed. She still has to wrest time from Jocy to make any headway.

Though Jocy has stymied Fist for the moment, Fist was interested in seeing if Jocy started collecting garrison plans. Jocy is level 97 now, she has the Talador Outpost, and she's completed every quest in Talador, earning all four of the zones' achievements. She's even completed the outpost in Arak. After all that work, Jocy hasn't gotten a single garrison plan. Jocy checked in at Ashran, too, where plans can be bought, but the vendor refused. Jocy remains stuck with her garrison at level 2 and her buildings at level 1. It's frustrating, because being able to make garrison improvements as you level is an incentive to keep leveling. Jocy and Fist might as well ignore the garrison buildings until they reach level 100, when they'll have to beg gold from Happy to buy the plans they need.

Jocy is currently at level 97 +63%, but don't expect her to stay there very long. One thing that is beginning to hold her back is that as she faces tougher mobs, her gear level isn't keeping up. Jocy's gear is now i580, only three points above Fist's i577. Fist isn't over-geared, Jocy is under-geared. As a measure of progress, Wild's gear level is i644.

Jocy and Fist are going to have an even greater issue as they close in on level 100. Happyface no longer has the means to buy every piece of interim gear they want while leveling. Draenor's resources lack the volatility of earlier expansions. Price fluctuations are small and the trend of ever decreasing prices is challenging Happy's creativity at making a few extra gold. Even the always needed bags continue to lose market value. Happy once sold embersilk bags for over 400 gold each. Now they sell at under 300 gold. Happy's cut has shrunk to the point he may no longer be able to make a profit on them.

The same is true for most items now. The margin is very thin. Currently, Happy has to rely on the sale of high cost items, like enchants and the new 30 slot hexweave bag that Wild can craft. The hexweave bag is a good seller and nets over 2000g apiece, but the hexweave cloth required to make it has a finite limit (ie, the cloth is soulbound and can't be sold or purchased) on how much can be made. Ultimately Happy has to wait until Wild has enough cloth before he can make one to sell. The enchants don't have that restriction, but the price tag of the enchants is steep. It takes about 1900 gold on average (some enchants cost more than others) to make one high level enchant (Warsong, Bleeding Hollow, Shadowmoon, Thunderlord, etc). Wild can't produce the mats fast enough, so Happy has to buy them off the AH, but he can't buy too many at a time since even small price changes greatly affect the sale price on such high cost items. Happy can easily spend 10,000 gold just to make 3-4 enchants.

When they sell it's big bucks of course, but if they don't . . . well, Happy really, really hates selling at a loss.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Jocy-Fist Challenge Part 3

The Jocy-Fist Challenge Part 3

Jocy has kept the pressure on Fist, focusing hard on completing quests in Talador. Her expectation is that the completion of all quests in Talador will finally get her the building plans she wants. Her work was nothing fancy - kill everything and anyone that got in the way of completing quests. So far the map says Jocy has completed two of the four major achievements in Talador.

Although Jocy monopolized most of the time before the crash, Fist snuck in some work when Jocy was forced to take a break. The current tally is:

Fist went from Level 94 +65% to Level 95 +84%, not bad
Jocy went from Level 95 +57% to Level 96 +68%, good but Fist gained a little ground

Then everything went south. Jocy and Fist must have been progressing too well, so the gods of WoW decided to make things harder.  Both Jocy and Fist use the standard quest arrow to show the direction of the current quest. For some reason that arrow now disappears well before getting to the area of the quest. Sometimes it's obvious, so no problem, but in other quests it can make finding things or areas you're after more like an Easter egg hunt. What's supposed to happen when getting close is that a blue zone will appear on the map, outlining the area to look in. That zone doesn't appear anymore. Also, when looking for a specific item or character, a yellow dot shows the location. That yellow dot no longer appears. Effectively, the lack of these aids slows down the leveling and raises the frustration level.

Wild used to be addon crazy and I'd blame the problem on that, but I use very few addons now, and they're the same addons that I used before when things were working correctly. I was forced to do a user interface reset so that I'd have a clean interface, WTF folder, and Cache. Of course, that wipes out all of the settings I'd put in place. With four characters to fix, it will take at least a couple of hours to get everything back into shape, with no guarantee it will work. Some things can't be corrected at all after a wipe, such as the Auction House. Months and months of collecting pricing trends went out the window. Happy will have to rebuild them over time. Fortunately, Happy knows what things cost, and will make adjustments, but it's still a pain.

The impact on Jocy and Fist is significant. Very little will get accomplished until the new settings are back in place.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jocy and Fist Challenge Part 2

Jocy and Fist Challenge Part 2 [Challenge Accepted]

Jocy had revenge on her mind when she checked in the day after Fist took the lead in their one-upmanship girl fight. Fist wagged her fingers at Jocy, parading her improved score, now at 65%. Jocy was again behind with a score of 61%.

Glaring thunderclouds, Jocy spent an hour cleaning, shining, and honing weapons, then donned her sparkling heavy plate armor. She ignored the path of destruction Fist had taken. Instead, she went on a rampage closer to home, right in her own neighborhood of Frostfire Ridge. When she returned to her garrison, half frozen with mud and blood caking her gear, she greeted Fist with a sneer.

"Teased elites, did you say, Fist? Try harder. I killed Gondo, a level 90 elite." She shook the grime from her logbook and shoved it in Fist's face. "Feast you eyes on this. Read it out loud!"

Fist glanced at the log. Jocy's score had jumped to 81%. Fuming, Fist turned, grabbed her gear, and started out of the garrison without a word.

"I'm getting a bath and breakfast," Jocy told her followers. "Wake me when Fist crawls back - if she survives."

As soon as Fist stomped away, Jocy smirked to herself, gathered the reins of her mount, and headed north.

Jocy returned that evening quite pleased with herself. Her accomplishments:
Killed level 91 elite Gutsmash
Killed level 90 elite Icemaw
Killed level 91 elite Matriarch Dragon

In the interest of honesty, Jocy admitted that after killing the dragon she dawdled a bit too long enjoying the victory and scorched her gear standing in dragon flames. That'll cost her some gold for repairs.

Jocy decided to go into Talador where she hoped to gain building plans to improve her garrison. On the way she enlisted another follower, Morgath Bladefowl. Bladefowl has promised Jocy he'll get her the needed plans, but so far no go. Bladefowl knows his life is on the line to get her those plans.
The result to date? Jocy swept past level 94 and is now level 95 +57%, more than halfway to level 96.

Fist has yet to return.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

About Nat Pagle

About Nat Pagle

Nat Pagle is the pre-eminent fisher in Warcraft. Wild is the family's #1 fisher at the max skill level of 700. Over time many of Wild's family practiced fishing (when forced to). JB was the most persistent, getting her skill to 525. Others have tinkered with it was well: Philly reached 422, and even Mery at level 60 got her fishing up to 225. Tiphaine, surprisingly, fished her way to 318 while her daughter, Fist is currently at 425 and considering the trade. "Skinning fish is sorta like skinning hides, so I might like it," quips Fist.

Wild thought that Pagle was his friend, but he recently learned that the entrepreneur has a price tag on on being a friend. In Pandaria Pagle charges for friendship, which is required to get the goodies Pagle sells. Even that comes with more baggage, for to be truly a master fisherman Wild must also earn special fishing rights by joining the Angler's Faction.

Grumpy Wildshard says he's giving up fishing, but Pagle continues to plague him to return to the rivers and the sea. Wild has two fishing trophies he want's to earn. Wild's thinking about it, but he doesn't like having to go to the end of Pandaria every day for what is usually no more than ten minutes work.

On the other hand, Jocy seems content with her daily ritual of mining and alchemy work, particularly because she is much closer to reaching level 95 than Fist is. Wild got a laugh at that - the two women currently get almost all of their leveling from mining, which adds just 2-3% per day. Jocy is 60% of the way to level 95, while Fist is 52% of the way.

Tired of Jocy's "laggard" jabs, Fist flew off the handle last night and proclaimed she was going exploring just to get away from Jocy.

"Don't forget to pick up some quests while yer sulking, girl!" Jocy jeered.

"No quest'n for me, Miss Paladin Hide Behind Your Armor, I'm gonna make my way to the sea in Shadowmoon Valley!"

Even Wild had to smile at that. Fist would have to cross Gorgrond and then Taladar before she could hope to get to distant Shadowmoon Valley, through vistas she's never seen before. "Which is exactly the point," Fist states.

The flight path from her Garrison ends at Beachwatch in Gorgrond. From there she is on her own, on a ground mount, in mostly hostile territory. Much of the route is rural with many open paths, fields, streams, and of course a plethora of creatures. Fist killed whatever got in her way and skinned anything that came in reach of her blade. Fist dashed through an enemy encampment once, escaping with her gear bristling with arrows tangled in her leather armor. Then, just for fun, she ran back through them again, laughing, though she was careful not to attack, as that would trigger PvP. Killing alliance soldiers would have been fun, too, but she had better things to do.

Fist climbed cliffs, swam rivers, teased a couple of elites, and had a wonderful time meandering across three zones. She reached Shadowmoon Valley and the horde town to the north. Plenty of plains animals for her to fill her pack with caged beasts, a bounty she might go after more often now that she's seen the size of their herds.

And for the icing on the cake Fist finished her evening 61% of the way to level 95 - and ahead of Jocy. "Let's see if you can top that, Jocy," Fist challenged.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Singing The Blues

Singing The Blues

Wildshard looked out on his Garrison and saw that it was good. Life is pretty easy these days for Wild. The stress of raiding is gone - has been gone for, literally, years. The acerbic JB, once a risk taking, axe wielding shaman, has been banished to Orgrimmar, having lost everything of worth to her, including her profession of Alchemy, which once helped sustain Happy’s gold mine. That task has been given to another. Philly is in even lower esteem. No one wants what she has to sell, and the once realm hopping priest no longer has a flock. Both JB and Philly languish at level 85 with no prospect of ever advancing further.

In their place is Jocy, a no nonsense paladin who took a shortcut from level 27 to level 90, and her opposite, Fist, the daughter of still dangerous Tiphaine. Fist worked her way from level 1 to level 90 in one long, grueling climb. Jocy is now at level 94, and Fist at level 93. They both have their own Garrisons and contribute goods that go into Happy’s pocket.

On a typical day, all three - Jocy, Fist, and Wild - follow a nearly identical routine.

1 - Collect Garrison stores
2 - Do daily profession chores
3 - Collect completed work, do more work orders
4 - Collect goods from the mine, to include working the mine
    - this includes work which helps leveling, and is very slightly dangerous
5 - Take a nap, watch a movie, whatever, and do it over again tomorrow

Wild does the above plus the following:
6 - Picks herbs from the Herb Garden
7 - Sometimes goes fishing at the Fishing Shack

Jocy and Fist argue about which one of them should start working on raising their level to the max one hundred, but Wild isn’t sure if the issue is demanding time to level, or demanding that the other do the leveling. Jocy has a very slight head start over Fist, but neither seem eager to jump into action.

Early on in Draenor Wild and family thought that leveling their professions and making amazing things would help keep things interesting. That soured with Fist after she crafted her first 36 slot Draenor leatherworking bag, which cost over 2,000 gold in materials to make. She proudly placed it in the Auction House for sale, only to discover that there was another 36 slot leatherworking bag, one that cost under 500 gold to make, and didn’t require leather working to make. She eventually sold it at a steep loss.

Wild had a similar come down when he actually did some work gathering materials to make a Creeping Carpet, the ground mount that Wild thought would be really cool to have. Wild soon learned, however, that the Creeping Carpet was exactly the same as the other two carpet mounts that Wild already had. The “new” mount was the same in every way but the name.

How about Jocy? An alchemist, she had made a steady income selling healing potions in Pandaria and expected to continue crafting the new healing potions for Draenor. Jocy found out the hard way that making those new potions had nothing to with Alchemy. The potions were lumped in with “bandages” and were crafted - get this - by fishing. Jocy doesn’t fish.

Life is good . . . well, okay . . . sort of . . . slow, boring, static  . . . snoooooze.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Baseball Again?

Baseball Again?

Every now and then my passion for baseball gets in the way of World of Warcraft. You have been warned. The below is the letter I sent to the sports desk of the Union-Tribune newspaper here is San Diego. (Sigh, the results tables didn't turn out very well here, but at least they are still readable)

To: Letters Editor (Sports):
HEADLINE: The San Diego Padres will have a winning season in 2015, but won’t make the post season. That’s my prediction, and I can back it up with the numbers.

The Assumption: The pitching will match their 2014 production in 2015, although a diminished defense will cost the team in unearned runs.

The Question: Given the above assumption, how good does our revamped offense need to be for the Padres to field a winning team?

I know the answer to that question. Getting to that answer required a couple of steps. Step  (1) Using a statistical modeling program, I ran a series of simulations based on the 2014 season statistics and the projected roster for 2015. Step (2) I ran a second series of simulations based on predicting improvements by key players. I call it The “Will” Factor. In a moment it will be obvious why.
Simulation One used only the 2014 statistics. The results show what impact the changes to the roster have on the offense.

Simulation Two goes a step further. The “Will” Factor - Wil Myers (2013), Will Middlebrooks (2012), and Will Venable (2012) - were selected for upgrades, using the statistics from the selected years. A fourth player, Jedd Gyorko (2013), is widely expected to make a comeback, so he also received an upgrade.

Would either simulation be enough to lift the Padres to a winning season? Here are the results.

San Diego Padres RESULTS
Part 1 - Based on 2015 roster and 2014 statistics.
Record    Standings    BA    Runs/HR    SB    ERA    Errors   
70-92    4th        .224    521        54    3.55    x
83-79    2nd-tie/SF*    .239    605/129    48    3.23    x
75-87    4th        .235    595/119    77    3.19    116
81-81    2nd        .245    634/124    63    3.35    116
79-83    3rd        .220    516/117    68    3.15    137
78-84            .233    574/122    62    3.30    123 <-- br="" final="">* Possible post season chance
Answer - If the new roster plays at the 2014 level, the Padres will not have a winning season.

Part 2 - Based on improvement by four key players.
Record    Standings    BA    Runs/HR    SB    ERA    Errors   
86-76    2nd*        .249    592/145    67    3.36    131
78-84    3rd        .240    612/155    50    3.59    124
81-81    2nd*        .251    652/149    62    3.40    99
74-88    4th        .257    635/140    64    3.56    124
90-72    2nd*        .243    638/152    65    3.27    123
82-80            .248    625/148    61    3.44    120 <-- br="" final="">* Possible post season chance

Answer - SUCCESS! It is a marginal victory, but the Padres go over .500 in 2015. For the most optimistic, there is also a 3 in 5 chance that the Padres could win their way into the post season.
Note: The program I use for the simulations is from the Strat-O-Matic game company. I played five seasons for the two simulations and then averaged the results.
A baseball fanatic since 1968, and a Padres season ticket holder since 2013, I hope you found the above interesting.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wild’s Guild Starts Raiding

Wild’s Guild Starts Raiding

Wild’s Meitha Guild began their attack on Highmaul (normal mode) this past week. On their first night they brought down Kargath Bladefist and The Butcher, the first two of the seven bosses in this raid. On Thursday they will go at it again. Wild wasn’t there, and I didn’t have Teamspeak set up to listen in, either. I did listen in on guild chat during the selection of guildies for the raid. That brought back some old memories of waiting restlessly just prior to the raid, hoping that Wild would get the nod and I’d get my chance to raid.

Wild was curious enough to check the Looking for Raid (LFR)  on Highmaul. At first I was confused because the raid finder did not show Highmaul. Then I remembered from past LFRs that raids were split into smaller, multiple raids in the LFR. In the LFR Highmaul, there are three: Walled City, Arcane Sanctuary, and Imperator’s Rise. I read the game guidance for Imperator’s Rise. There is only the final boss in that piece of the raid, but it’s a significant one - there are five phases in that one encounter, making it a challenging battle even at the LFR level.

Wildshard knows he must do several things if he really wants to raid: get his gear level up; win the Proving Grounds at least the Silver level, and, I think most importantly, learn the fights and start doing the LFR. The LFR is necessary to gain better gear and practice the mechanics of the fights. Wild did take one small step: Wild’s gear is now i633, meeting the minimum i630 requirement for normal mode raiding. Wild’s good friend BK is running a new toon, a brewmaster monk in the raid. He is a great tank regardless of what toon he plays. His gear level is i638.

Wild continues to putter about, seeming a bit lost now that he’s at level 100 and no longer needs to level grind. Wild thought it would be fun to use his enchanting follower to enchant an illusory Power Torrent enchant on his fishing pole. The enchant is just for show, but it looks cool. Alas, the spell doesn’t work on fishing poles, even though they are considered weapons. Wild is also doing a lot of fishing lately while his Garrison languishes. I think Wild is living too much in the past these days.

Jocy and Fist spend much of their time with their professions, although the urge to start leveling again seems to be growing with Jocy.

Happy is feeling very unloved and despondent. The great barterer and wheeler and dealer has little to wheel and deal with. Everything in Draenor is dirt cheap. Prices barely change, and when they do it’s downward. That may sound like a good thing, but it could be the death knell for Happy’s business. Happy depends on price fluctuations and the law of supply and demand. Well, the supply is endless and the prices keep going down. He’s barely making ends meet by selling embersilk and frostweave bags, but the profit margin on them gets thinner and thinner. There is money to be made in weapon enchants, but the buy in is pretty steep. Happy was trying to sell the mats for the enchants, but the prices are almost flat lined. It appears Wild will need to craft the enchants for Happy to sell.

The bottom line, though, is that the production of goods from the Garrisons undercuts all Happy’s efforts to turn a profit. The Wild family better start wondering where the gold is going to come from if Happy isn’t able to replace all the gold spent recently.