Thursday, November 19, 2020

Gimme The Loot

When I dinged fifty with my hunter I thought I'd go farm the Icecrown rare circuit for a while. It seemed like the quickest, easiest path to upgrades. And it was, except pretty soon it became obvious his slow flying speed wasn't going to cut it, even before they halved the spawn time.

The Shaman had had the same problem a few days before but she was fortunate enough to have more than enough gold on her from her leveling journey. All she'd had to do was portal back to Orgrimmar and train fast flying. The hunter, despite having been around a decade longer, only had about three thousand gold to his name. Since I hate to leave my characters completely broke I needed to get him at least another couple of thousand.

I spent a while looking at guides on how to make money. Most of them were horribly out of date and those that weren't made it look like a full-time job. I'm already quite deeply invested in making money through the markets in EverQuest. (Had my biggest haul yet this morning, over eight hundred thousand platinum). I definitely don't need to be doing any more of that. 

All I wanted was a fast way to make a couple of thou. Several guides suggested some outdoor spots. That sounded okay. I tried a couple but it took a long time getting there and money came in slower than just doing quests so there didn't seem to be much point carrying on with that. 

I thought about doing dungeons but then I saw one of the guides offering old raids as a quick and dirty way to make minor bank while waiting for your auction millions to start rolling in. It seemed like a plan. Only, how do raids work in WoW? I wouldn't know, obviously. 

I read that up and it was about as confusing as everything else in the game. I was kind of thinking I'd just fly to one of the blue spirals on the map and go in but it seemed that wasn't the way it was done. There was something about LFR and visiting NPCs...

I watched a video on YouTube (which I didn't bookmark and now can't find). It was helpful. All the guy did was go to his Garrison and talk to an NPC. I could do that. I have a Garrison. 


At the end the guy apologized that he couldn't be sure if the NPC he'd shown would be where he'd shown him if your Garrison wasn't maxed-out like his was. Or if he'd be there at all. I thought about googling to try and check that but then I thought it would be easier just to go to my Garrison, which is level two, and see for myself.

The NPC was just where I'd seen him in the video. I spoke to him and he gave me a long list of options, none of which meant anything to me. I could see I'd have to start a raid myself to get him to port me but from what I'd read and heard I thought I could begin with a raid of just one: me. 

I wasn't one hundred per cent sure whether other people could warp in and join me once I'd started. I've played games that work that way and it's always weird, when you think you're in a solo instance and suddenly someone pops up and joins in. 

It wouldn't really matter if that happened. We'd all get loot and loot was all I was there for. And its not like anyone ever speaks. Anyway, only way to find out how it worked was to try it, so I did. I picked the first name on the list, started the raid, zoned in and...

Found myself in an arena. It reminded me (a lot) of the one in Deathfist Citadel in EverQuest II. Like really a lot. There was the same layout, the same long speech by the arrogant warlord, the same wait for opponents to come in and brag at you before you killed them.

It went on for what seemed like a long time. There was a lot of talking. Two arena champions down and no loot later and I was starting to think it was going to be a waste of my time, when the whole place came under attack from some massive army and the scene shifted to a city under siege. 

Okay, I get it. The arena part's just scene-setting. Makes sense in a narrative-driven raid structure. I imagine there's some plot leading up to this, or used to be. I'm not interested in any of that. I just want to slaughter mobs for money. 

So I did, only they didn't have any. My experience of soloing old raids or dungeons for cash in other games includes mowing down the trash and pocketing a ton of loose change plus vendor loot. Not in WoW, it seems. Maybe one mob in twenty drops anything and that's just a couple of gold.

On the other hand, everything's a one-shot, more or less. Clearing them out doesn't take up much time and there's always that thing in dungeons and instances where doors only open when everything's dead so probably better to clear than skip. 

I opened the map because I had no clue where to go and there were all the bosses, handily marked. Getting to them wasn't as simple as it looked due to some misleading geography and architecture but it didn't take too long. Killing the bosses went even faster. Not quite one-shot. Maybe three or four.

Took me a bit but I got into the swing of it. Kill the bosses, pocket the loot, leave my own raid to get kicked back to my Garrison, run round the corner, sell all the loot to some vendor, run back and pick the next raid off the list. Rinse, repeat.

I worked through the whole list. One or two of them were awkward. The one where the top floor collapsed and threw me several floors into the basement was annoying. Another I couldn't even find the boss. 

Mostly, though it all went smoothly enough. Each run made me a hundred gold, sometimes twice that. Took me about an hour to make the couple of grand I needed. Then I flew over to the place where they keep the portal to Stormwind, took it, paid for my training and off to Icecrown.

Compared to how this kind of thing works in other mmorpgs I've played I thought it was odd. Certainly far more complicated than I would have thought necessary. I fancy doing the Pandaria raids, which reportedly pay better, but it seems I'd have to go to Pandaria and find an NPC there to set me up.  

That seems fair enough, if you look at this as a virtual world like some (ex-)developers would like you to, but this is hardly that, is it? This is a purely gamelike mechanic that's been specifically added so as to appease the portion of the playerbase that was in the habit of farming dead content for cosmetics before the sequence of recent changes to how levels worked. If it was a virtual world, the raids would scale to level the way the open zones do, wouldn't they?

The whole process felt so weirdly codified and segmented it made me wonder if it wouldn't be easier just to put the whole thing into the UI. With a max level character on your account you could just pull up a list of all the raids prior to the current endgame, pick one and have the loot from all the bosses delivered straight to your bags.

The feature could use the same rng you'd get if you killed the bosses and each raid instance could be on a cooldown equivalent to the average time it takes to clear. The end result could be that players would get the exact same loot in the exact same time but they could run the process in the background while they did something more interesting.

There's a lot gameplay in a lot of mmorpgs that doesn't hold up to close examination but the more I play Retail WoW the more it seems like a whole set of disconnected ideas. When Chris Kaleiki says that "Modern WoW, insofar as it has a vision, is muddled and unclear, even to the developers" (to quote Kaylriene's precis rather than the man himself) he's not kidding.

I'll probably do some more of these "raids". It is a quick and painless way to make as much gold as I'm likely to need and it's fun to see the zones and the cut-scenes. Once. 

The main reason won't be making a habit of it is that I find the way all the the mobs except the bosses drop nothing demoralizing. Also, once again, weird. One of things I noticed as far back as Exile's Reach is that in Azeroth, damn near all the mobs drop loot damn near every time. Why would that stop when you hit raid level?

I'll say this for the palimpsest of conflicting and confusing systems in modern-day WoW - it definitely makes you think. Whether that's the intent is another matter.


  1. Hmm. Weird. I had never even heard of that NPC before, so I had to look it up. Apparently he lets you solo-queue for LFR versions (e.g. the easiest) of the raids. I can't quite remember if trash dropped loot back when I was farming for transmog gear, but I was running around in Mythic versions of the raids at the time. Could be the a difficulty thing, or perhaps Blizzard indeed nerfed gold gains... which wouldn't be the first time.

    1. Right after I finished the post I took my hunter over to Pandaria and flew to the NPC there. I just did two of the Pandaria raids (beautiful zones) and all the trash there drops loot. Also the bosses drop more gold than the WoD ones. Maybe WoD was just a stingy expansion?

    2. When it was live, garrison missions alone would make you rich. When the game moved on to Legion Blizzard nerfed a lot of the gold earning hard, afraid we'd just sit in our garrisons getting rich rather than play the new content.

    3. I'm trying to figure out how to make bags with my Garrison tailor at the moment. I'll be happy if I can just do that.


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