Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Patch 3.0.8 Drops, Wintergrasp Drops Servers

The long awaited patch 3.0.8 finally hit the live WoW servers yesterday. I didn't have work due to the inauguration, so I was able to sign on pretty soon after the servers came back up to snag the Wintergrasp rewards. I had just shy of 100 marks banked, which was enough to pick up a [Titan-forged Hood of Salvation] (finally, a Wrath-quality hat with a meta socket) for everyday use, a pair of [Titan-forged Slippers of Dominance] for my spell hit set (I was previously at the hit cap in my hit set, but lost a chunk of rating to make room for the [Sundial of the Exiled]), and an [Anvil of Titans] (Wowhead tooltip isn't updated yet, it's 84 resil and the spell power proc from the Sundial) for my PVP set.

It's a good thing I made it on early enough.

The Revenge of Wintergrasp

Blizzard has previously blamed server issues on Wintergrasp, and apparently the zone decided that it should show them precisely what would happen to the servers if it ACTUALLY decided to take them down. Basically, the entire continent of Northrend would crash every time the Wintergrasp keep changed hands. This became a critical issue because A) this patch rolled out changes that make it almost certain that the keep WILL change hands each time the battle is fought and B) the battle starts over after any server reset/crash. Basically, the server crashed every 15-20 minutes until Blizzard temporarily disabled the entire battle.

(Sadly, the Alliance lost the coin toss of sorts. The last server-crashing battle before the zone was disabled was won by the Horde. Therefore the Horde got uncontested control of the zone - including the mark reward vendors - for however long it takes to fix this issue. I'm a bit jealous - I would have earned enough Stone Keeper shards for my next heirloom item last night, had the Wintergrasp buff been in continuous effect - and will shift to a bit irritated if I miss out on the week's Archavon farming opportunity because this hasn't been fixed.)

This, I suppose, underscores the need for paid Quality Assurance testers. You can let players make a copy of their persistent characters onto a temporary test servers, but most players simply will not spend as much effort on temporary clones as they will on characters they get to keep. And then, somehow, a patch that spent over a month on the PTR's manages to launch with a server-crashing bug.

In other patch-day ramblings:

Icons everywhere, and other cosmetic details
I joked about the new icon for the Wintergrasp buff, but that icon was not alone. One of my trinkets turned from something that looked like a rune into a candle. Another one of my talent procs got a new icon. Judging from /guild, several other people had new icons lurking here and there. The patch also added a number of new achievements that hadn't been in the game previously, including at least two new critter-related ones.

On the downside, my polar bear mount got a slight increase in size that makes him too tall to fit in doors. As a gnome, I'm used to being able to ride into the bank and other buildings, relying on the shift indoors to dismount me automatically. The "improved" bear no longer fits in the door, which means that I run into the doorframe and have to dismount manually. I guess I'll have to switch out my bear for a shorter mount now. :-/

Other Wintergrasp changes?
I didn't get that much of a chance to play around with Wintergrasp due to the server issues, but what I did see was intriguing. There's a new daily quest (Horde version here) for the defending faction to destroy one of the previously useless towers held by the offense in the south of the zone. It looked like there was some kind of a buff for the offense that might be removed or transferred if these towers were destroyed. More details as I get them, and it may all be a moot point due to all the other changes that favor a quick and brutal end to the match in the attackers' favor, but it could be a good first step in making the rest of the zone matter.

Random bosses and loot are random
As Klep quipped last week: "Random boss is random". After farming the Violet Hold repeatedly (10 Cyanigosa kills, and several failed PUG's that fell apart on the first or second bosses), the last random miniboss I needed for the Lockdown achievement finally spawned last night. I'm not serious about attempting all of the optional "hard mode" achievements for the sub-bosses, which is a good thing since it would suck to wait for weeks to even SEE the random boss in question and then fail to get the achievement.

Meanwhile, with the Wintergrasp swag, my desired loot list is getting shorter by the minute. There are some more side-grades I'd like to pick up (e.g. PVP bracers, spell hit neck and hat), but the two big gear issues I have right now are pants and a wand. Unfortunately, it looks like I'm finally out of gear slots I can fill with some combination of rep and currencies, which means I'm going to have to bite the bullet and farm instances.

Believe it or not, the [Rod of the Fallen Monarch] I want dropped on a Heroic Azjol Nerub run last night... but, of course, I didn't win the roll. I can try the zone again today, but I'll be up against the same odds - something like 1 in 4 for the wand to actually drop, and then a roll-off if it actually does against anyone else who wants it. This is far from the worst drop situation in the game, but it's also already feeling frustrating compared to the relative assurance that a token system will get you the item you want in X amount of time. I'd rather have certainty that I won't be farming forever than the Vegas-style chance of getting the item outright on a first kill.

I suppose the system probably isn't going anywhere to the extent that it works, and I don't have anything better to do before I'm done with the last two dungeon reps and any heroic emblem purchases. Still, this is the kind of thing that you think about when your monthly bill date comes up and it's the only thing left on your to do list.

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