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. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jocelyne's Elixir Kick

Jocelyne's Elixir Kick

Jocy, as we all know, is a "boosted" child, skipping her formative years/levels from 27 to an instant 90. There are many advantages in taking that route to adulthood (skipping the leveling process for 63 levels being a major one). There are disadvantages, too.
Jocy had tinkered around with mining and gems for her professions, but she lost what training she had when she was boosted. She wasn't too concerned, since she really hadn't figured out what she wanted to focus on, anyway.

Meanwhile, Happy and Wild were chiding JB, the family alchemist, to get to work on raising her skill level for the new expansion, Warlords of Draenor (WoD). Sure, JB had level 600 skill, but she needed to work on getting to level 700 skill. The problem was that JB was still living in the days of Cataclysm, two expansions behind and stuck at level 85. She would need to climb the five levels to 90 just to begin the process of raising her skill in alchemy, and Wild didn't want to wait for JB to level up.

Jocy decided to volunteer. She was willing to learn both herbalism (so she could collect the herbs needed by alchemy) and alchemy from scratch. Go for it, Wild told her, wondering if Jocy had the will and the stamina to find and collect literally thousands of herbs from all over the worlds of Azeroth, Outland, Northrend, Pandaria, and Draenor.

She had the advantage of being level 93 and having a flying beast to speed the travelling, but there were still some surprises along the way. She started strong with such simple herbs as  peacebloom, silverleaf, mageroyal, and other low end herbs.  Her fingers grew sore and her eyes bleary, but she persisted. The more herbs she collected, the farther afield she had to go to find new ones.

Some were easy picking, but there were many, mostly older, herbs that took time and patience to collect. Goldthorn was so hard to farm Jocy had to beg for help from Happy by buying a few to help her over the hump. Those old herbs can be pricey, too. Many players are too lazy to farm them the old fashioned way. Jocy did her best, but when confronted with the underwater world of Vash'jr she balked at the "old fashioned way." Wild encouraged her to try (he would, since he could simply shapeshift into a fish), but the prospect of deep sea diving in all that heavy armor wasn't much to her liking. Pulling stranglekelp from shallow waters was as close to the deep end of the pool as she wanted to get. Happy relinquished a little more gold to get her past that hurdle.

Jocy also ran into some travelling restrictions by being a boosted girl. For example, the only portal open to the lands of the Cataclysm was Deepholme. The portals to the others, like the Twilight Highlands, had no active portals for Jocy because she had skipped past all the quests required to open them up. Still, she made do. She took advantage of the zeppelins in Org. When there was no other option, she simply hopped on her flying mount and flew to her next destination. That didn't always work out quite like she expected. There was the time Jocy forgot that flying too high would separate her from her mount - it was a long fall, and a long walk on foot to find the spot for a resurrection. At least twice Jocy accidentally sent her mount away while still in the air. That didn't kill her, but the fall was still frustrating and scary.

One of the more complicated journeys was trying to find a way into the Outlands. The huge Portal in the Blasted Lands was the only way Jocy knew of to get there. Going through it (yes, Jocy flew into it to see what would happen) deposited her at Ashran in Draenor. Eventually Jocy learned that a new Outland portal had been added in the Orgrimmer Drag.

Along the way Jocy had fun with a lot of the elite monsters she encountered. One-shotting elites that once spooked the poop out of her family was a fun payback. Her scariest moment, though, oddly enough, was back at that portal in the Blasted Lands. Jocy had been part of the great battle when the portal to Draenor was opened, but she didn't realize that the battles were still ongoing! Jocy was picking flowers in the middle of a battlefield in the Blasted Lands well away from the portal when she noticed she was getting hit by a couple of armored hostiles. Usually, one swing was enough to turn a mob into dead mush. The hits kept coming, though, as they say, and Jocy started to take damage. What the . . .! Jocy finally took a look around and found that she had landed in the midst of an enemy camp full of level 90 elites.

Jocy is level 93, and no pushover. She could take an elite or five and still keeping picking flowers, but the skirmish was attracting others and the danger level started to rise. For the umpteenth time Jocy wished she had a fast get away spell. Without that, at least she could stun a few, and, staggering a bit, finally broke free of the gang of hostiles, but it was an ugly retreat.

It took Jocy three days to raise her alchemy from level 1 - 600. Draenor herbs are very cheap, so she'll likely just buy them to continue her leveling to skill 700. The herbs are so cheap Happy won't even offer them for sale. He just hands Jocy bags full whenever she needs them.

All that effort also got Jocy a small bonus - She went from level 93 + 1% to level 93 + 30%.

On the raiding front there is the hint of a possibility of Meitha Guild attempting a Highmaul raid on the 29th (that's tomorrow from the time of this writing). I assume they will start with Normal mode. Wild isn't ready. Still too rusty, still needing things, still not sure I really want to get back into that. Still, Wild prepares. He's happy he will start getting Draenor level potions and flasks soon from Jocy. He's raised his gear level to i624, and if pressed could steal a few more bags of gold from Happy and buy his way to level i630. Wild has succeeded at the Bronze level in the Proving Grounds, and is going to take his shots at the Silver level. I have addons to install, though far fewer these days. I also need to install Teamspeak. I'd like to listen in to the raid even though Wild won't likely be in it. Wild's biggest drawback is he hasn't even attempted the Looking For Raid (LFR) version of the raid. I just hate doing LFR. The day Wild steps into LFR raiding again is the day Wild gets serious about raiding.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wildshard Ponders the Proving Grounds

Wildshard Ponders the Proving Grounds

Wild can’t help but scratch that raiding itch. Today he finally put away his Moonkin spec and activated Restoration/Healing. Wild is and always will be a healer in groups. Healing is what he loves to do. He was a bit worried that he would have to relearn druid healing from scratch, given how long it had been since Wild had entered a dungeon or raid. There must be a lot of changes. Well, on his first look, Wild was pleasantly surprised that nearly all of the basic healing spells were still there, a comfortable set of spells that Wild knew very well. Rejuvenation, Nature’s Swiftness, Lifebloom, Regrowth, Wild Growth, Swiftmend, Tranquility, and Wild Mushrooms. If they didn’t all fit exactly like a glove, Wild came close to it. Wild mushrooms was only a novelty to Wild, but its simple mechanic – set it and forget it – was easy enough to remember. There were some changes in how some other spells worked, but nothing dramatic.

More challenging will be to integrate a number of new and changed talents that Wild will also need  practice with. He has to get his mind around managing his mana again, protecting the tank and keeping the rest of his group alive. It wasn’t just Wild now. Wild got so excited he grabbed his Mission Specialist, Warmaster Zog, and told him he wanted a chance in the Proving Grounds.

WHAM! Just like that, Wild was there. Trial Master Rotun welcomed Wild into the round chamber of the White Tiger Temple dungeon. Before Wild had time to even think about what he was about to do, the Scenario began. Wild’s group ran in and the first wave of foes attacked.

The first wave was a baby wave of hostiles, but it got Wild’s combat juices flowing and he began casting heals. Pretty easy at first, but as new waves came things got hotter and hotter. I’d forgotten to see who the tank was, but once the poor tank started taking heavy damage, Wild caught on and laid the healing on him.

The fourth wave brought on the real heavy DPS which struck all players at the same time. Wild was up to it, though, casting Wild Growth and maintaining his Lifebloom on the tank – well, most of the time. The fifth wave doubled down and Wild forgot about how rusty he was and simply did his best not to let anyone die.

To Wild’s great surprise, Wild and his group defeated the White Tiger dungeon. I hadn’t provided Wild any prior testing, he had no addons to aid him, and I hadn’t set up any of the many talent spells that could have been used. It was back to basics healing.

Wild earned the Proving Yourself: Bronze Healer rank.

Wild’s guild noticed, too. Wild got a Gratz! in guild chat from Grrbaby, who I believe is the man working on Meitha’s plans for raiding. Coincidentally, the guild just announced that they are planning a Highmaul raid next week. It would be the guild’s first WoD raid, I believe.

Wild is going to work on getting the rest of his healing preparations completed. Could Wild meet the challenge of the more difficult Silver Rank? Stay tuned.

Update: Wild was so excited with his early success he made an unauthorized withdrawal from Happy’s bank to improve on his gear. Just to see what’s available, Wild told himself. Wild needed to reach gear level i615 for the LFR. I’m not sure what minimum is needed for a guild Normal run, but I think that there isn’t a minimum anymore and so it would up to the raid leader. Maybe Almond can fill Wild in on those details.

Wild also learned that the very nice i640 crafted gear was limited. Only three pieces of crafted gear can be equipped. That required a little bit of shuffling, but the end result is that Wild purchased a new cloak, a necklace, a pair of gloves, and a ring. Believe it or not, Wild managed to spend less than half of the gold he stole – uh, borrowed – to get the gear, including enchants. Happy hasn’t noticed the missing gold, yet, but Wild is holed up in his Garrison now, where Happy can’t get at him. By the way, Wild started the day with an i602 gear score. Now it’s i619.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wildshard Reaches Level 100

Wildshard Reaches Level 100

On 18 January, 2015, Wild reached level 100. There were no magnificent highlights to report, but the march through the quests was entertaining and mostly without any hiccups. This latest expansion seems - to me, anyway - pretty stable. It took Wild 59 days to complete the ten levels at a leisurely pace, once he gave up trying to level Jocy and Fist at the same time. By comparison, friend Almond did all ten levels in one long, protracted night.

Wild's Garrison is coming along, now that Wild is level 100. I never figured out why I couldn't  improve Wild's barracks to level two. My best guess is that I got the plans via a quest, and then gooned up the process of installing it. No matter. The problem was solved when, at level 100, I was able to buy new plans (1500 gold, ouch). Wild's Barracks is now level 2. The Town Hall is now level three, and I'm finally starting to disperse my followers to their own duties. It's still a work in progress, but Wild is getting there.

Once Wild reached level 100 he got an invitation to the Proving Grounds. Wild played around with this when it came out in the Pandaria expansion. Basically,  it lets a single player work on dungeon and raid mechanics and hone their skills without having to form a group. Apparently, there are no changes to the Proving Grounds since Patch 5.4 (Pandaria), which surprised me. Many, if not most, guilds who are or are planning to raid now require players to show their competence by doing the Proving Grounds. There are Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Endless difficulty levels.

Why does Wild care about the Proving Grounds? Wild is starting to feel that itch - an itch to take down some elite raid bosses. Wild knows he isn't competent enough for that, yet. It's been more than two years since Wild last raided. But he's definitely thinking about it.

There are three raids (well, at least three that I have access to, not sure if there are others) - Draenor, Highmaul, and Blackrock Foundry. It also looks like Wild has at least the minimum gear level to enter the raids (Wild is at gear level i602). Theoretically, Wild is now able to join Looking For Raid (LFR) groups and Normal level groups right now.

Should Wild consider doing a few dungeon runs as both practice and to improve his gear? Of course, but I wouldn't want to subject "unproven" Wild to any group until I was sure Wild was competent enough. 

One word of warning, however: The LFR is what killed raiding for Wild. Joining a raid with a bunch of strangers and smash-mouthing our way to victory certainly helped Wild get nice gear, but it was boring and a waste of time if the LFR was all there was. The new raiding tiers give guilds incredible flexibility. Now, almost any guild can form a functional raid. If Wild's guild truly wants to raid as a guild, THEN the LFR is worth doing for the sake of helping prepare for real raids with a real guild and real friends.

That is the only enticement that might get Wild back into raiding.