Red Frog

Red Frog I recently had my first experience with Red Frog Freight and I have to say I was suitably impressed with their service.

I spotted an opportunity to buy some ships from Amarr and ship them across to Rens. Based on my analysis of the respective markets I conservatively estimated a profit margin of up to 300% via sell orders or, worst case, 100% selling to buy orders. Either way, I figured a minimum of 50m ISK profit for a 10 day old character was nothing to sniff at but with a volume of 800,000 m3 there was no way I was going to be able to move the stock myself. I remembered reading a post a while back about Red Frog so I figured I’d give them a try and went ahead and bought up a few sell orders in Amarr.

Having never used a freight service in New Eden before I wasn’t sure how it would all work but Red Frog’s FAQ was easy enough to follow and within a few minutes I had the courier contract set up and was “Zuminov” to Rens ready to receive the shipment and get the stock on the market.

Their service status page indicated that their queue was currently classified as “Huge” with around 190 contracts waiting to be completed and about 45 in progress. I headed to bed and figured that it would arrive some time the next day so I was very impressed to see that it had been completed by the time I woke up less than seven hours later.

Needless to say, I’ll certainly be using these guys again!

The House of Zuminov

A few weeks back I set up buy orders for all the skill books I was going to need for my “Traders” account. Most of these, with a couple of exceptions, and significantly below market cost might I add. Off the back of this, I took the plunge and created my third EVE account.

I toyed around with a couple of ideas for names, but ultimately decided that I wanted to have a common family name for all my traders to provide a little consistency. My wife suggested the name “Zuminov” (which she’s used variations of in other games) and we agreed that it had a good ring to it. I’m not sure exactly how the lore works regarding the Zuminovs being spread across the various factions of New Eden but they are, so deal with it.

And so, without further ado, I present to you The House of Zuminov:

 

Dimitri Zuminov

Dimitri Zuminov

Amarr – Ni-Kunni – Free Merchants

Dimitri was the first character to be created on the account. I’ve worked through the new player tutorial and the career agent missions in all three rookie systems.

I took things at a pretty leisurely pace for the first system as I reminded myself what was needed and got faster as I went. I admit I totally cheated for the most part… I flew Jhiqui up to Amarr space in a Corax fitted with missiles and just blew up all the rats while Dimitri looted.

Progress wise; I’ve finished training all the ship skills I wanted and have remapped to a Charisma build to train trade skills. So far he’s up to 53 market orders with support skills to three or four across the board.

Dimitri is going to base out of Amarr. I gave him an initial 50m ISK cash injection which I’ve doubled already mainly by buying skillbooks & implants and shipping these back to Amarr to resell. He has a fitted & rigged Executioner to facilitate rapid movement around the local area and will also be issued with a Bestower when he has the need for it. I’m also thinking I’ll pick up a Magnate and run some level 2 distribution missions to get his Emperor Family faction up a little as I can do this “afk”.

 

Anastasia Zuminov

Anastasia Zuminov

Gallente – Jin-Mei – Sang Do Caste

Anastasia is going to be based out of Dodixie and will have an Atron, Iteron III and probably an Imicus for the same reasons as Dimitri.

So far I’ve completed the tutorial and done the first couple of Exploration missions in the first career agent system. I know that I don’t really need to do these but they have the benefit that they give a decent initial standing boost for fairly minimal effort.

Her training queue is currently on hold until Dimitri reaches the end of phase one. This is where the limitation of only one character per account being able to train at a time is somewhat unfortunate as it would be really good to get two characters up to speed faster. Still, these are the rules within which one must work.

 

??? Zuminov

Alexei Zuminov

Minmatar – Sebiestor – Rebels

I have literally zero experience with Minmatar, their ships or their space beyond a few hauling runs I did from Jita to Rens back when I first started out.

Despite this, I’m aware that Hek is one of the fastest growing trading hubs in New Eden and that I should be able to make a reasonable return on investment by setting up shop here. Given that Hek isn’t as close to the Minmatar starter systems as Amarr & Dodixie are to theirs I’m expecting that I’ll either need to haul stuff in to sell or focus on station trading. For this reason, Alexei will be the last character on the account to be trained as I have the least experience in these areas. I’m considering starting him out in Rens and moving to Hek once I get a little more established but I have a while to decide exactly what I want to do on this front.

 

So, the grand experiment has begun. Given that I’m 10 days in and have made around 80m ISK on a single low skilled character I’m hopeful that I should be able to fund at least this account from PLEX by the time the initial 90 days ends. Stay tuned!

Experimenting – part 2

A couple of days ago I mentioned a business opportunity that I’d identified. At the time I didn’t want to give too much away, but having had a few days to look at it more closely I figure I’ll share.

I had an old Thorax sitting in my hangar which I figured I’d get rid of. Since it had rigs fitted, I checked Contracts to see what the going rate was. I figured with all the modules and rigs it was worth somewhere around 30mil. (Thorax hulls are selling for ~12.8m ISK in Jita at the time of writing this, 3 rigs at ~3m each, plus guns etc.)

This got me thinking and so I had a look at what other people were selling. Instead of selling my Thorax, I ended up buying 3 over the space of an hour. One I only paid 8m ISK for, fully rigged and fitted with T2 modules. I stripped them and sold them piecemeal. With an investment of 35mil ISK I was able to turn around and sell everything on the market for just under 80mil.

Unfortunately, this was where the plan came somewhat unstuck. After exhausting all the fitted Thoraxs on Contracts I scoured all the other Cruiser hulls and couldn’t find any that were worth buying, so my little venture dried up almost as fast as  it started.

For the effort involved, the return was decent, but it’s more something to do between other things so will be one I leave on the back-burner for now.

Experimenting

Last night, almost entirely by accident, I stumbled upon a potentially very lucrative business opportunity.

It’s early days yet so I don’t want to give too much away for risk that it either doesn’t work out or someone else jumps in on a good thing. What I will say though is that it doesn’t involve scams, piracy or anything “illegal”. It’s simply taking advantage of people with less… market awareness. Based on my initial testing it has the potential to net anything upto 200% ROI (possibly more) with minimal effort (mainly just running around in a shuttle), though I’m not sure yet how scalable or sustainable that is.

 

Trade Alt(s)

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been thinking of starting a third account. My two main accounts income is currently sufficient that, if I wanted, I could finance a third account with PLEX which would mean that it would not cost me anything beyond the initial setup fee, for which I’d use the “Power of Two” offer that CCP are currently running. (90 days for £19.99)

What would I do with such an account you ask? Basically; pure trade.

My intention would be to create 3 alts basing them in (most likely) Dodixie, Amarr and then either Jita or Hek.  From these locations I’d initially start out with regional (5-10 jump range) buy orders for lower value items (skill books, implants, the usual sort of stuff). As wallets, skills and my own experience grow I’ll begin to fine-tune the items I trade and wind the range in to maximise my ISK/Hour. Ideally I’d like to spend no more than an hour a day managing everything on this account (preferably less) so it’s important to get everything running as smoothly as possible.

Each alt would follow the same training plan with the goal being to get some basic ship skills (to enable me pick up regional buy orders and transport them back to the hub for resale) and then focus purely on trade skills. I’ve built myself a plan in EVEMon with a 28 day “Phase 1″ which will enable me to rotate training around the 3 alts fairly rapidly so that they’re all up to speed by the end of the initial 90 days. If, after this time, the account is not self-sustaining I can simply cancel the subscription.

Here’s my initial plan:

Cybernetics I

Install +3 implants for Int, Mem, Charisma & Willpower (I can purchase these with LP on one of my mains or off the market)

Amarr Frigate III
Amarr Industrial III
Hull Upgrades III
Shield Upgrades III
Afterburner III
Warp Drive Operation III
Evasive Maneuvering III
High Speed Maneuvering III
Mechanics III
Jury Rigging III
Astronautics Rigging I

Training Time: ~5 days – Ability to fly Frigates & Industrials with a tech 2 tank.

Remap to Charisma/Memory and continue training…

Social I
Trade IV
Contracting I
Retail IV
Accounting IV
Broker Relations IV
Margin Trading IV
Retail V
Marketing IV
Wholesale IV
Daytrading IV

Training Time: ~23 days (28 days total) – All core trade skills trained. Worst case cost 100mil ISK (including skill books & implants).

Training would now shift to the next character on the account and repeat the same process. Once all three have completed phase one the plan then moves on to training the supporting skills (Accounting, Broker Relations & Margin Trading) to V and then training for Tycoon IV. This will take a further 47 days per character at which point their training will be “complete”.

Middle term; I’d most likely train one character to be able to fly a Freighter (around 30 days with a Perception/Willpower remap). Possibly train all 3 into Interceptors & Covert Ops (another 30 days) and maybe train for Transport ships (yet another 30 days). Again, working in cycles around the three characters.

Long term; I’d look to get into R&D, possibly establish a POS (I’ll have enough Gallente faction on Jez by that stage to anchor in 0.6, possibly 0.7 space) and begin researching and producing T2 BPCs, but that’s as much as a year or more away and who knows what I’ll be doing by then.

What’s New With You?

There’s been lots of changes going on in my gaming life recently…

 

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

Mists of Pandaria has been out for for a while now and while I remain really positive about much of what Blizzard have done with this expansion there remains one aspect that I’m not so excited about: The daily quest grind.

As I have mentioned previously, I levelled two toons to 90 (Priest & Hunter) and have completed the quest lines in Jade Forest, Valley of the Four Winds, Krasarang Wilds & Kun-Lai Summit. I’ve done maybe a third of Townlong Steppes and have yet to start of Dreadwastes or Vale of Eternal Blossoms.

I’ve run through the first round of LFR a few times and while it’s beautiful it was also more than a little face-roll. Sure, I should probably have gone in search of a PUG and run 10/25 normal but I was at the point where I found that my motivation to log in had simply run out. Rather than completely destroy any enjoyment I still had for WoW I decided it was best if I simply took another break from it. Doubtless I’ll end up activating my account again in the future (I usually do) but for now, WoW is on hold.

Star Wars: The Old RepublicStar Wars: The Old Republic

Back in the middle of last year Bioware announced that they were going to be taking ToR down the “fremium” route: Free to Play with an optional Pay to Play component.

I’d played in one of the beta weekends before ToR was released and had found it to be quite playable. My only criticism when I played on that occasion was that it felt more like a single-player game with the MMO bit kinda bolted on to be trendy. Based on this, I didn’t buy it when it released though I know a lot of people that did.

My dissatisfaction with WoW coincided with the release of ToR F2P so I created myself an account and started playing. I created a Sith Inquisitor (I’d played one in the beta so decided to stick with what I know) and got to about level 10 where I decided that I was enjoying the levelling experience sufficiently to subscribe for a month (a subscription removes the XP reduction, lets you train mounts earlier, removes the currency cap and gives you more storage, all things I was starting to need). As I found over the following few weeks, there’s good and bad about ToR.

The game plays fairly well, it’s pretty slick and looks good. The companion system is a really nice as it means you can take on mobs higher than you should probably be able to alone. I found making money to be insanely easy; people will pay, what I consider to be, ridiculous sums of credits for low-mid level items. For example; I looted a level 40 purple item that I was able to turn around and sell for about 500k credits. I don’t know if there’s twinking in ToR like there is in WoW, but that just seemed to be like a crazy amount of money to pay for a levelling item.

The crafting system is pretty decent, I really like the idea of sending your companions off to make things for you leaving you free to continue questing, however I find the gathering of raw materials to be a little tedious. Sure, your companions do the actual gathering but when all you need to craft something is one item and your companion keeps bringing back another it gets a little frustrating. At least in WoW if I needed Ghost Iron I knew I could run to the Greenstone Quarry in Jade Forest and dig up a few stacks in 5 minutes.

My biggest problem with ToR though was that the galaxy doesn’t really feel alive. At one stage I found myself playing through the entirety of one planet (Quesh, I think) without even seeing another player! Part of this problem is self-inflicted; I started my Inquisitor on the realm where my WoW guildies had been playing, unfortunately most of them had either quit ToR by the time I started or had moved to other servers. For now, like WoW, my ToR account is inactive and I think that if/when I return I’ll have to start over on another server with people I know. One of my real life friends has found a good guild on EU so I’d guess I’d go there (although they’re Alliance and I rather enjoy playing Sith).

 

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution

I’ve played a couple of the older Hitman games and really enjoyed them so, when my wife bought me this for christmas, I was pretty excited to try this one out (she knows what I like!) I know that Absolution has had some very mixed reviews but I really enjoyed it:

The graphics are excellent and actually gave my (newish) video card (GTX 680) a bit of a work out. With all the settings cranked to the max I was still able to get frame rate that was just about playable and with them ever so slightly wound down I found I was able to achieve around 50fps in the most crowded of scenes and still have something that looked amazing. The game engine boasts that it can handle scenes with hundreds of people moving around at any given time and it certainly lives up to that claim. The scenes in Chinatown feel alive and really challenge you complete your objectives without being spotted.

I really liked the “story” of the game and it was very cinematic and with a few nice twists. I’ve started over again on the “hard” mode difficulty now and can definitely see that (like Crysis 2) this is a game I’ll probably return to time and again.

 

Farcry 3

The Power of 3

Farcry 3

Farcry 3 has been out for a while now and has had some excellent reviews. It looks stunning and sounds like it has an interesting story to go along with the visuals so all told it should be pretty interesting to check it out. I enjoyed Farcry 2 (I got it free with a video card a few years ago) so if history is any indicator I’ll probably enjoy this one as well.

 

Crysis 3

Crysis 3

I never played the original Crysis (I doubt the PC I had when it was released would have been able to handle it!) and I only really played Crysis 2 by accident (I won a copy in a competition). However, I really love Crysis 2, it’s one of my favorite games and I’ve played through it from start to finish several times.

All the screenshots and gameplay videos I’ve seen of Crysis 3 have looked amazing and it was the main reason that I replaced my video cards (SLI’d GTX260s) with my new beast of a card. It’s due to be released in about a month and is certainly something I’d be willing to buy(it’s been on my Amazon wishlist for quite a while)

 

EVE OnineEVE Online

So, what am I playing now? Well, for the moment, I’m back playing EVE. I find EVE to be a fairly relaxing game where, even if I only have an hour to play, I can log in and blow some shit up.

For now, I’m still living in high-security space though I keep considering venturing out into the wide open galaxy of null. The biggest challenge with this is that I’d need to find myself a corporation that fits my play style (ie; I don’t, currently, initiate PVP) which seems to be a rather daunting prospect given that there’s so much suspicion between players in null (This goes both ways; corps want to keep spies out and players don’t want a corp that’s going to take advantage of them.) – I’ve considered training into heavy interdictors (Probably a Phobos as I really like the look of Gallente ships) so that if I do join a low sec corporation I have something to offer, but this is a way down my skill plan at the moment.

Currently, I’ve got my two accounts flying Ravens with pretty decent support skills. I’ve adjusted my skill plans for both accounts to focus pretty much exclusively on combat for the foreseeable future since this tends to be what I do most. I should be able to switch to a pair of Caldari Navy Ravens within the next week which should bring my mission times down even more and increase my hourly income. Since being back (just over two weeks) I’ve made enough ISK to PLEX one of my accounts so I need to continue to fine-tune my strategies to maximise this.

I’ve been messing around in EVEMon with how I’d spec out a third account as a pure trader/industrialist. I’m setting myself the restriction that I don’t want to spend any more money on the game so that if I do start a third account it needs to totally self sufficient – ie; making at least enough ISK to pay for itself with PLEX and ideally finance my combat characters too.

 

I’m hoping that I’ll remember to blog a little more often this year. Even though I don’t think many people read what I write I still enjoy writing it. I’ve got a few ventures in mind for EVE which I’d like to try out and write about how I get on so I’ll have to think about that over the coming weeks/months.

Stay tuned!

It’s Been a While!

Wow, has it really been a month since my last blog post? It doesn’t seem like that long, but I guess it has. So, what’s been happening? Well, as it happens, quite a bit…

 

Level 90(s)

I got my Priest to level 90 on 13th October. I did this completely solo so it took longer than I’d originally hoped, but I wasn’t going to rush things. I’ve really enjoyed questing in Pandaria and still have two zones left to finish on her. About a week later I got my second level 90; my Hunter. This time around I levelled with my wife (duo Hunters) which was pretty good fun. It helped a little having been through most of the quests before and I tried my hardest not to spoil the surprises or rush her too much.

Mists has so many daily quests on offer that one could literally send the entire day working on them. Instead we’ve decided to focus our efforts on 2-3 factions at a time (my Priest, her Hunter) and will move on once these are done. So far, we’ve hit Exalted with Tillers & Order of the Cloud Serpent and just hit Revered with The Anglers. I think we’ll probably move on to Golden Lotus and Klaxxi next and then Shado-Pan & August Celestials in another few weeks. My Hunter is also about 1/2 of the way through revered with Tillers but this is currently the only faction I’m working on with her.

Since hitting 90, I’ve stuck with a fairly relaxed play-style. My Priest has run a few of the heroics and (I think) all of the scenarios. I found that combat regen was a significant issue to begin with (especially when running the first couple of heroics) but things have gotten markedly easier as item level has increased. I finally hit the minimum requirement for LFR on Sunday so I dove right on it. Being my first time there I didn’t get much opportunity to look around but the zone (Mogu’shan Vaults) looked suitably grand. I went in blind having not done any homework or read up on the fights, I figured that I’ve been playing this game long enough that I should be able to pick things up fairly quickly and I’m happy to report I wasn’t wrong. From my perspective, the most interesting fight was probably Elegon, due to the movement and visuals, followed by Will of the Emperor, mostly because for the second (successful) attempt I decided to focus purely on the tanks (both tanks had died on the first attempt so I took this as a sign that someone should dedicate themselves to keeping them alive!) While I didn’t top the meters for heals, I wasn’t last either (4th overall for the first 3 bosses, 3rd overall for the second 3) so that’s something positive to take away, along with 6 upgrades!

 

Molten Core

I’m still doing my weekly Molten Core runs with my Paladin. On the 9th I got the Eye from Ragnaros so I wasfinally  able to complete my Sulfuras. I’ve still not got my second binging from Baron Geddon, but having Sulfuras complete helps a lot as I can now just run in, kill Baron Geddon and leave. Maybe in another 5 years I’ll get that second binding and be done with Molten Core for good!

 

Darkmoon Faire

The first Darkmoon Faire was disappointing. I’ve been doing my research every day on both scribes since the expansion began and was able to complete two decks before the end of the first faire. This took a combination of trading and buying a few cards for gold. I spent, in total, around 30k gold (herbs & cards) and ended up  selling only one of the trinkets for 70k. I’m sure I could have been more aggressive and sold the other, but I’ve not really been focused on it. The second faire is this week and I can only see prices going down. The trinkets really aren’t as amazing this expansion as they were in Cata, especially with LFR giving people access to the same or higher iLevel gear earlier.

 

Professions

Across all my alts I’ve maxed out the following professions: Alchemy (x4), Archaeology  Blacksmith, Cooking, Enchanting, Engineering, Jewelcrafting, Herbalism, Inscription (x2), Leatherworking, Mining (x2), Skinning & Tailoring. All that remains is First Aid and Fishing, both of which are getting there.

I ended up maxing out several professions on green patterns since the majority of my alts didn’t have any Spirits of Harmony as a result of this, the prize for worst/hardest profession to level is a dead-heat between Engineering and Blacksmith. Prices of ore have only just starting to come down so I ended up mining vast amounts of ore myself. In fact, I mined so much ore that both my Warrior & Rogue are close to 86 purely from mining Ghost Iron in Jade Forest. Leatherworking was considerably easier as my Hunter had plenty of Spirits to buy one of the high-level patterns.

It’s easily possible to max out Mining without ever leaving Jade Forest, Skinning you need to move on to Valley of Four Winds but I found I was unable to max Herbalism until I hit Kun-Lai Summit. The distribution of herbs also makes it harder to max Alchemy (unless you’re buying herbs) until you hit the higher zones as you need those herbs to progress.

Archaeology is super easy to level now and didn’t really take me overly long to do (in the grand-scheme of things). My Priest was only around 150 coming in to the expansion and I probably spent a couple of evenings working on it between taming pets. Cooking is a little more time consuming and while all the different “ways” are a little frustrating they do add a bit more flavour to the profession (pun fully intended).

I can’t mention cooking  without talking about farms, of which I have 7. (Currently 1x 16 plot, 1x 12 plot & 5x 4 plot). This gives me a total of 48 plots and a potential daily yield of 240 vegies (336 if I plant based on Jogu’s advice). I’ve made around 10-15k gold with absolute minimum effort selling these but prices are falling. Even so, I expect the farms to continue to be profitable for a while yet as a lot of people are still levelling their cooking and/or don’t want to play Farmville.

 

 

Hopefully, I won’t leave it so long before my next post!

Pandaren Starting Zone

My wife was working away last week helping out with a store refit so I once I’d created my Monk, I just parked her and didn’t log her in. On Saturday we, along with a friend, decided to check out the Pandaren starting zone; The Wandering Isle.

The first thing I noticed when logging in was that I couldn’t see anyone else. There were NPCs around, but no other players despite my wife being logged in on the same realm right next to me. I invited her and our friend to a party and they both appeared. A quick Google search turns up this blue post and specifically this quote:

The Wandering Isle, the pandaren starting area, will also not have CRZ enabled at launch, though we’ll have multiple instances of this zone running as needed for each realm, in an attempt to prevent overcrowding.

Hats off Blizzard, this is an excellent idea and very well implemented. The whole time we were questing through the starting zone we never really had more than one or two people competing for spawns which is a vast improvement over previous expansions (the DK starting area, for example, was very crowded).

 

As with the Goblin starting zone, we knew we wouldn’t be returning here so we took our time (embracing the Pandaren ideal of “slow down”) and let everything sink in. Like the rest of this expansion, the artwork in the Pandaren starting zone is beautiful and while I understand that anthropomorphic pandas aren’t everyone’s cup of tea you do have to give Blizzard credit for a job well done. The area is fresh, the stories engaging and the quests (while reusing tried and trusted mechanics) don’t feel too tedious.

The quests involving recovering the elemental spirits were fun and gave you lots of little glimpses in to Panderan culture. The fun quests are nicely balanced by more somber quests such as Passing Wisdom, where you bid farewell to Master Shang Xi. There’s even a budding romance between the two central characters Aysa Cloudsinger and Ji Firepaw which we know from the start is doomed.

The final series of quests, starting with The Suffering of Shen-zin Su introduce the Horde and Alliance. The contrast between the two factions has never been clearer; The Horde characters seem intent on revenge for being having prisoners on the crashed ship, while The Alliance characters seem more concerned with rescuing everyone from the wreckage before thinking about anything else. It’s at this point that the relation ship between Aysa and Ji is torn apart and it becomes clear to the player where eachs loyalties will ultimately end up.

 

All in all I quite enjoyed the zone. It’s a nice set up for the expansion and a great introduction to the Pandaren.

Pandaria Progress – Priest (Episode 1)

Last night I decided to start my journey into Pandaria properly. After getting home I played for around 3-4 hours and started working my way through the quest lines in The Jade Forest. As I said before, I’m not in any especial rush to level so I’m taking my time, reading all quest texts and just absorbing the enormity of everything.

I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t started yet, but I can assure you that you’re in for a real treat when you do.

One thing that I liked about SW:ToR when I played the beta last year was the voice acting. It really added to the immersiveness of the story lines and helped you to connect with the characters. It’s something that WoW has traditionally lacked and I’m really pleased to see that Blizzard have tried to incorporate this. While not every quest is voiced, many of the key moments are and it just makes this that little bit more engaging.

The real highlight for me so far has to be the White Pawn/SI:7 chain across the first half(?) of the zone. I love Sully & Amber and the series of quests involving them nicely echo The Day that Deathwing Came, only better.

 

Professional

Wizzadora has Herbalism/Alchemy so I’ve been picking flowers as I’ve been questing. As with Gomjabbar the other day, I’ve had very little (virtually no) competion for herb spawns. During my questing I picked up around a dozen stacks of herbs (Green Tea Leaf & Rain Poppy) without going out of my way to find it. Even so, it’s slow going and I’ve only got to 572 Herbalism. Still, I’m happy with the progress considering it’s not something I’ve really been focused on. I’m somewhat less impressed with Alchemy.

When I arrived at Dawn’s Blossom I figured it would be a good time to train up my alchemy so I spoke to Ni Gentlepaw only to find that she had just 2 recipes for me that were both green… WTF?

After asking one of my guildies, it turns out that virtually every alchemy recipe needs to be “discovered” by crafing ones you already know, though this isn’t actually made clear anywhere in game (that I could see). Having done some more reading on this today wow-professions.com has (as always) a great guide on what to expect. Still, I really think that Blizzard need to make this more obvious.

The Eagle Has Landed

The Jade Forest

My first Pandaria screenshot; The Jade Forest

 

Initial thoughts

Mists went live at 8am yesterday morning. Since I (foolishly) didn’t book any time off work, I’ve not been able to play for more than a few hours last night but I feel I can sum up my initial feelings in one (very fitting) word… Wow. This is Blizzard at their absolute finest and I really am blown away by what they’ve done. Pandaria looks beautiful, full of life and exquisite little details wherever you look. The fantastic vista that Blizzard have created is perfectly complemented by a truly epic soundtrack worthy of a blockbuster movie.

Obviously I’ve known the inspiration for this expansion for a long time. I’ve seen the screenshots from Blizzcon and from the beta but none of them really do it justice. The visuals really bring to mind movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers. (The Jade Forest especially reminds me of the scenes in the bamboo forest from the latter.)

While my absolute number one WoW moment will probably remain the first time I arrived in Howling Fjord my first steps in Pandaria are a very close second. My hat is off to Blizzard for delivering on everything they promised and I’m really looking forward to being able to attack the content properly over the coming day, weeks and months.

 

First Steps

As per my plan, posted on Monday, I first took my Rogue out mining. I figured that most of the profession realm firsts are done and I’m not in any massive rush so I took my time and did a little exploring. Not being able to fly always makes the world seem bigger and The Jade Forest is certainly no exception. It took me a good 2 hours to explore the zone and there’s still a couple of areas I can’t figure out how to get to! During that time I picked up 20 stacks of Ghost Iron Ore with very little competition, maxing out mining along the way. Being 10 hours behind the first wave meant that there were less people around but it was far from deserted. I had one instance of someone “stealing” an ore node from, literally, under my feat while I was killing a mob and a couple of cases where someone beat me to a node fair and square but that was it.

I mailed all the ore I collected across to Jez and prospected it down. I didn’t get all that many blue gems, but I did get plenty of greens. Seemingly Blizzard tweaked the levelling for professions before release as I was able to get 3 points off most orange patterns and ground out 585 fairly quickly before running out of mats (for patterns that give skillups). I’m now left with the daily researches and blue quality gems to level on when I obtain more ore.

I was a little impatient with Inscription… I logged in briefly at lunch time and bought a couple of stacks of herbs off the Auction House for ~450g a stack just to get my research done. Neither scribe learned anything especially exciting (Glyph of the Cheetah and Glyph of Marking) so I didn’t bother crafting any. By the time I checked the Auction House before bed Green Tea Leaf had dropped all the way down to 23g per stack so I bought & milled 10 stacks.

 

That’s about it for now, more to follow in the coming days!

T-minus 24 Hours And Counting

Mists of PandariaMists goes live tonight at midnight and I finally got around to purchased my copy yesterday (nothing like waiting ’till the last minute!) I’ve been cleaning and organising and I think I’m about as prepared as I can be;

  • Vixetta’s professions have been switched over to Alchemy/Inscription and maxed both out. Unfortunately, Blizzard updated the material requirements for the Transmute mastery quest already so I haven’t been able to do that just yet: You now need to provide 4 Living Steel so this will be one of my first tasks once things go live.
  • Gomjabbar (Rogue) hit 85 recently and has maxed out her Mining to go with her Engineering.
  • All my glyphs are crafted and banked ready to start selling in the coming weeks.
  • Bags are cleared on all my toons ready for questing.
  • I’ve cleared as much junk as possible on my banker to make posting auctions of new stuff as easy.
  • Full set of Frostweave Bags crafted for my Monk.

My only real concern is with my Warlock: Everything that I’ve read points to only needing to be level 80 to train professions to 600 skill and I’m really hoping that this is the case as my Kinetick, my main scribe, is only 81. I’ve been meaning to get her to 85 for a while, but I’ve just not had the time; something else just always seems to be more important (either both in-game or out). I did manage to knock out 80-81 in around an hour or so last weekend so I expect that, if it turns out you do need to be 85 to train, I can probably power through in a fairly reasonable timeframe.

Launch Day Plans

For me (playing on US servers from the UK) the expansion will go live at 8am tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, I’ll be on my way to work at that time so won’t be able to log in until the evening. Sure, I could have booked the day off work but I decided not to bother. This means I’ll probably miss out on any realm firsts but that’s not really a big loss. I’ll probably hit 90 fairly quickly anyway and MoP is going to be around for a while so why rush?

So what do I intend to do on launch day?

  1. Gathering:
    I’ve just spotted something on Wowhead: Mist-Piercing Goggles. My first goal will be to get at least one pair of these crafted. To this end, I’ll be taking Gomjabbar (Miner/Engineer) out first. I have a feeling that these will sell for a LOT of gold in the opening weeks of the expansion, though the market risks becoming quickly saturated. The limiting factor here is going to be the requirement of two Spirit of Harmony. If these turn out to be easy to obtain (seemingly anything can drop them) I’ll consider farming them for a bit. Regardless, once I’ve got my pair crafted I’ll work on mining up the ore I’ll need for Jez’s Jewelcrafting (see below).
    Once this is done, I’ll send my (second) set of goggles to Wizzadora and take her out herbing firstly for Inscription then for Alchemy.
  2. Inscription:
    There’s no real need to rush Inscription to 600 on release day, the key thing here is to get both Kinetick & Vixetta to the trainer and learn Scroll of Wisdom (needed for the new Darkmoon Cards). This will give me access to one of the new glyphs which (assuming the market hasn’t already crashed) I’ll want to get up on the AH as fast as possible. Given that I’ll be losing a good 10 hours to the competition I’ll probably miss out on the best profits, but I’m hoping I’ll still be able to make a reasonable return on whatever the RNG gives me. The new glyphs are orange all the way to 595 as well so these should be a profitable way of levelling Inscription.
  3. Jewelcrafting:
    Something tells me that JC is going to be rather expensive to level. Everything needs gems and gems need ore, I would guesstimate that 525-575 will take around 50 stacks of ore. There only appears to be one type of common ore in Mists: Ghost Iron Ore for which there’s currently no prospecting data on Wowhead’s MoP site. So this estimate is based on the following assumptions: 1 stack of Obsidium Ore gives you (on average) 1.5 of each green gem, Elementium Ore slightly less. Assuming these probabilities continue (there’s no reason for them not to) levelling on Ornate Bands and Shadowfire Necklaces you’re going to need 50 of each green gem. Assuming a worst case, I think that 50 stacks for 50 levels is likely. With any luck, those 50 stacks of ore should also yield sufficient blue gems for the remaining 25 levels.
  4. Alchemy:
    Transmute: Living Steel is the goal here. Unfortunately, this requires 600 Alchemy. Wowhead has no information on where recipes are obtained yet, but broadly speaking I’d guess I’m looking at something like the following…

    All told, I’d estimate needing 30x Silkweed, 60x Rain Poppy, 25x Green Tea Leaf, 55x Fool’s Cap and 25x Snow Lilly (multiplied by 4 alchemists!)

That lot should keep me pretty busy! I expect there to be a fair bit of competition for resource nodes so the goggles should be a big help and I’ll want to get them crafted ASAP. I suspect I’ll end up levelling up one toon’s profession at a time, unless I end up with an abundance of lower level mats. Blizzard have, unsurprisingly, adjusted all the skill up bands for Cataclysm patterns such that they’re not viable for grinding very far beyond 525 so the ability to go back and do this is cut.

I’ll be sure to check the Auction House before heading out farming as you never know, the hard-core farmers might have already have driven prices down to where it’s viable to buy them off the AH (unlikely).

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