Tag Archives: Fives

Five More Crackpot Theories about the Scroll of Resurrection

You know, there are crackpot theories, and then there are crackpot theories.

Here are five of mine about the revamped Scrolls of Resurrection.

1. The Scrolls are for the Q1 Earnings call. Offering it right at the beginning of March will mean that everyone who comes back for it will count as an active subscriber during the important part of the quarter – the end. Timing is vitally important here.

2. The Scrolls are to counter Mass Effect 3 and SW:TOR. This isn’t rocket surgery, people. Bioware launches a game in late 2011 which zips up to 2 million subscribers; Blizzard counters with 4.3, perhaps the most fun patch of Cataclysm. Bioware launches a new game this week; a day later, Blizzard offers players a level 80 toon to revive their account for 30 days.

Striking while wallets are already open is a good move by Blizzard.

3. The Subscriber Loss is becoming a big deal. Subscriber decline is more of a PR problem than a financial one, but it’s still a big problem, and becoming a bigger one in light of the 2012 expectations placed on Blizzard. During the last earnings call, Thomas Tippi, the Activision/Blizzard COO/CFO, said:

Specifically, this year, we expect growth from Blizzard.

This is a very strong statement that the analysts took note of. While a contraction of subscribers may be acceptable while profits rise, it is a black mark on a company balance sheet which relies upon “the high-margin Blizzard product slate.” A subscriber loss indicates that growth has stalled on a product. That product will generate a fixed revenue, and cannot be counted upon to increase revenue without somehow increasing ARPU through raising prices on existing services, offering additional services, or lowering operating costs. Wall Street sees a product that has hit maximum market penetration; Blizzard has to show that it’s at least a stable subscriber base, if not actually increasing.

There is also the following statement:

Blizzard revenues are also expected to be down in the quarter [Q1 2012] due to tough comps, as last year they benefited from a higher subscriber base and the strong holiday launch of Cataclysm.

Cushioning statements like this, cautioning that subscribers will be down from a year ago in March, are trying to avoid uncomfortable comparisons with previous expansion launches. No matter the truth behind it, analysts think that SW:ToR has hurt Warcraft’s subscription numbers.

Further decline in the subs will be terrible press.

4. The Scrolls are a high-ROI subscriber boost. This should be obvious – for the cost of two pieces of digital artwork, updates to the SoR program administration, and customer service time, Blizzard nets a few tens of thousands of subscribers. Maybe it’s a few hundred thousand. That’s a pretty good investment with high margins. You have to watch the little things in Blizzard’s earning calls, like another quote from Tippi:

In addition, we continue to undertake productivity improvement initiatives across key areas of operating expenses.

If you don’t speak corporate-ese, this means that Blizzard is going to be trying to do more with less, or at a minimum with the same as what they have now. There is a huge stress on the Blizzard’s high margins in the earnings call, and that means costs will be slashed across the board. Blizzcon was an inevitable tragedy in hindsight – too much money without direct ROI. The February 2012 layoff of 600 employees is likely related to this – corporations often eliminate positions to reduce salary costs while revenues remain at their current level.

The Scrolls will provide a cheap way to boost subs that does not require much marketing on Blizzard’s part. They’ve even opened up a thread on the New Player Forum – a place where recruiting has been forbidden for several years – to allow strangers to SoR each other.

With apologies to my friends on that forum, my first reaction to that was “that’s a really cheap way for Blizzard to make money.” There wasn’t an official place for people to do that before, so they put it on the forums. No need to build a special site, or set up a service – just allow a thread on the forums and point interested players to it.

It’s pretty smart if you’re trying to maximize your margins.

5. Non-subscribers need incentives to subscribe – that’s why they’re not current subscribers. This sounds trite, but it’s worth mentioning, given that current subscribers aren’t getting showered with gifts. People who have left the game are, by definition, not satisfied with the product as it is (or was). Offering them an incentive to return is necessary if Blizzard wants to increase revenue.

This isn’t unique to Blizzard and World of Warcraft, of course. Back in the days when long distance telephone costs mattered, your optimal strategy was switching every few months when a new offer came out from the other companies. If you didn’t want to switch, you could still call up your current provider and tell them MCI was offering X deal and you were thinking of taking it. The problem here is that there isn’t competition per se within Warcraft, though there certainly is within the broader category of leisure time.

The counter to all of this is that regular subscribers feel slighted by being loyal customers. This is why phone companies discount phones (and even rate plans) for long-term customers, why they have retention departments. This is why airline and hotel loyalty programs exist, and to be very frank it’s a god damn travesty that Blizzard hasn’t come up with something like this. This is a big mistake, something contributing to long-term subscriber decline, and once they get past the Q1 earnings call I hope that they realize this.

Long-term subscriber retention requires planning and work up front, but it prevents you from having to blast out Scrolls of Resurrection every 3 months between content patches.

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Five Rules for Cynwise’s Field Notes

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Here’s the thing. This weblog? This thing you’re reading? It’s not really a weblog. It’s an experiment designed to get me over my writing block on my main weblog. It’s basically a big fat I DARE YOU TO POST button in my face.

If you’re new here, you might get many of your questions answered in the first post, On Field NotesHowever, as time as gone on, I’ve codified several rules that force me to hit Publish – no matter what.

RULE THE FIRST: PUBLISH NO MATTER WHAT.

It doesn’t matter what I think about a post, when I’m done I hit Publish. The topic might be controversial, or I might take positions which I feel uneasy taking in public. I might think it’s piece of crap (this is usally the case) and not worth publishing. I might think it’s too long (also the case) and that the structure is terrible.

Screw that shit. Once I start writing a post on CFN, I have to publish it.

Fear of not being good enough is what stops so many writers from writing. Damn the torpedoes – publish it already. It’s good enough.

RULE THE SECOND: NO LOOKING BACK.

No editing. None. Each post on this site is a first draft, straight from the can. No futzing about with post structure. No rearranging to make it flow better. No fucking around with sections or post flow or sentence structure or even going back to fix my typos when it’s all done. I will edit a post to death if given the chance – how does it sound, how does it flow, does it make sense, did I get all the points I wanted to cover.

No.

I’m not writing this to win a prize. I’m writing this so that I can fucking write.

First draft is good enough for CFN.

RULE THE THIRD: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE DEEP.

Holy shit, how many posts have I sunk because I thought, “this is dumb, no one is going to care?”

How many posts did I look at and go, this is like 200 words, max, that’s not even worth a post on CBM. I could tweet this!

How many posts did I go, this is not fully fleshed out, I don’t really know what I’m talking about, I need to think about this some more.

Shut UP, inner editor! Take a hike! Just fucking write it out already!

RULE THE FOURTH: NO SUCH THING AS TOO LONG OR TOO SHORT.

One of the challenges I have to overcome is that I like to write a lot of words. I AM WORDY OKAY I know it. Jeeze. You have no idea how often I yell that at myself.

Related to that, one of my biggest problems on CBM was that I felt, very strongly, that each post needed to have substance and heft. That every post needed to be 2000 words minimum, that it needed to be a weighty topic, that it needed to be brilliant and funny and insightful and a good, solid, friendly guide to Warcraft.

What the fuck, self? Get over yourself already.

I like to write a lot. “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead” could be my motto.

And it’s okay.

I’m not allowed to judge if a post is too long or short on CFN. I write until I have no more to say, then I stop. Sometimes that will be a single graphic. Sometimes it will be 7500 words.

No looking back. No such thing as too long. No such thing as too short.

RULE THE FIFTH: TELL THE INNER EDITOR TO FUCK OFF.

This rule partly exists to cover all circumstances not covered by the preceeding four rules. If I find that my internal editor is trying to make a mess of things and stop me from hitting Publish, I get to tell it to go fuck off.

But also it’s to remind me that it’s okay to swear.

I don’t swear in meatspace, I have two kids and I actually feel it’s important to set a good example for them. I can’t swear in front of them and then ask them not to do so too, and I think there are good reasons to teach your kids to not swear before kindergarden.

But – let’s be honest – I swear a lot in my head. And I swear on the internet.

And it’s fucking okay to swear, god damnit!

Ok. Hit publish and move on.

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Five Ways in which the 80-84 Isle of Conquest is Effed Up

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The Isle of Conquest isn’t my favorite battleground, but it’s so broken in the 80-84 bracket it’s not funny.

  1. Bosses are effectively unkillable. It’s not just that you need a geared 84 tank to take them out – you do, and good luck finding one of them – it’s that geared level 84 healers can’t keep up with the damage due to scaling. Level 84 characters are good for DPS, that’s about it.
  2. Bracket imbalance between 80 and 84. Some classes are exceptionally powerful at 80 when geared properly and can take out 84s – but the cost of gearing up a toon in full Wrath PvP gear is prohibitively expensive. DPS that scales with gear improves through 84 (84 Frost DKs are a nightmare) while healers get less effective. This isn’t a problem with IoC specifically, but it’s my list and it’s a problem with the bracket.
  3. Graveyard control can funnel entire teams into a single, easily-camped graveyard. This isn’t really a problem with the bracket, but if you control the rez vectors you can get the entire opposing team to rez at your keep’s GY. (Or their keep’s GY, but someone always takes their flag.)
  4. Siege engines do MASSIVE amounts of AoE damage. They can be used to 1-shot everyone. I mean, everyone, including level 84 twinks. Hey, eat 120k damage!
  5. Entire teams can get 1-shot every 30 seconds. Take #3, add #4, and now you know how to win IoC in this bracket. 40 players rez beside enemy keep, Siege Engine charges, kills all of them. Back up and repeat.

See what I mean about being broken?

Winning strat: Everyone to Workshop. Let enemy take Docks and assault your Keep. Take Hanagar, hold Workshop while capturing their Keep (turn the GY.) Retake Docs. Send Siege back to your keep but DO NOT RETAKE. Ensure that opponent’s rez vector is toyour Keep. Protect siege as it grinds rez waves. Rack up massive HKs, win on reinforcements.

Sanity-preserving strat: Consider /afking and questing instead.

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Five Quick Things That Are Different in Season 11

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I’m in a mood tonight. I’m just warning you.

  1. Valor Points cannot be exchanged for Conquest Points. Sorry, raiders, this is just gone. It’s probably due to …
  2. Epic PvP gems are available for sale. 750 Conquest Points gives you like… +5 to a stat? Oh yeah, that sounds like a sweet deal.
  3. Weapons require different amounts of points to purchase. You need 7250 Honor Points for the Ruthless 378s, 7800 Conquest Points for Cataclysmic 397s, and 15,700 Conquest Points for the Cataclysmic 410s. Yeah, sure, like I’m going to fucking remember those numbers.
  4. MMRs didn’t reset. Oh wait, that’s the same as last season. The difference is that this season they were supposed to reset. Whoops.
  5. Conquest Points from regular battlegrounds will screw things up for a while. It will take a while for everyone to find equilibrium again. Shit’s all stirred up right now.

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Five Ways I’m Amusing Myself with Heirloom Transmogrification

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Oh, Cynderblock. You offer me all sorts of opportunities to do silly things, and I admit, I’m hitting the transmogrification cardboard box pretty hard with you. It’s a pity that you wear plate heirlooms, though – I have great outfits picked out for you, but they require a mail chest and shoulders. And mail chests at your level just aren’t BiS.

Still, we can work around it, especially since you can mog heirlooms on high level toons and send them to leveling alts with the new image intact. Here are five silly ways I’ve been amusing myself with transmogrification.

1. Smite’s Mighty Hammer on Repurposed Lava Dredger. The thing about the Lava Dredger that I’ve never really liked is that it’s an awesome looking weapon that’s itemized for a thematically-conflicting class. Druids, defenders of nature, wielding something with gears and a turning key? Doesn’t fit. So I took Smite’s Mighty Hammer – which looks either like a massive boulder on a stick, or a big pillow on a stick – and replaced it. I don’t get to use Smite’s hammer anymore, but I’m sure one of my future putative Druids will.

2. Armored Titanium Goggles on Burnished Helm of Might. These goggles have been tanking goggles in my mind ever since I started playing WoW, at first due to Aggrojunkie’s love for them, and then later because they were my tanking goggles, too. I was disappointed when I got a helm upgrade for Cynwulf in ICC, because that meant his goggles were no longer for tanking. Now, with mogging, I really want to find a good complementary chest and shoulder look so I can level all my tank alts with his goggles.

3. Argent Avenger on Bloodsoaked Skullforge Reaver. I like the look of the Reaver, especially since it’s one of the few 1H swords to go across the back. But I’m kinda disappointed that Cynwise never gets to use her lightsaber, especially since PvP spellswords are usually not available. (Maces and Daggers cover more classes. Phooey.) So now my tanks get to experience a little bit of SW:TOR and tank with a lightsaber. (If you are leveling Arms/Ret, use the Very Light Sabre from a gnome warrior alt on the Reforged Truesilver Champion – another sword with a great model, but not a lightsaber. If you don’t have the Argent Avenger, the Spellfire Longsword works too.)

4. Scarlet Sin’dorei Robes on Tattered Dreadmist Robes. I rather liked the purple Dreadmist heirloom set when it first came out, but, oh god am I tired of seeing it. Level with something pretty, like the gorgeous Scarlet Sin’dorei Robes instead. (There are a lot of great looking robes in the game – I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to stick with just one.)

5. Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix on Charmed Ancient Bone Bow. I have this bow on my Warrior, of all toons, and she’s not going to be able to use it come Mists. Time to put that flaming bow to good use.

I’m honestly really excited by the possibilities of changing the look of my heirloom gear. It really opens up possibilities I hadn’t considered for leveling outfits, and makes me think about how I want my character to look like for 80 levels, and that I can change my mind. 

I love it.

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Five Things I Learned From 2-Manning Magister’s Terrace At Level 70

I got my blood elf disc Priest to level 70 and locked her, because, you know, that’s what I do these days. But I did it also because @druidis4fite’s baby warrior is also locked at level 70, and we thought duoing BC instances would be a lot of fun.

And it is a HELL of a lot of fun.

We tried Magister’s Terrace last night, figuring that if it proved to be too hard, we’d figure it out pretty quickly, and we could work on SSO rep while giving it a go.

It took us a while, but hey, we cleared it, and learned a lot in doing it.

So here’s an actual serious 5 Things from me this morning.

1. Healing 5-mans through LFD teaches you to use, maybe, 4-5 spells total. I’ve never really had to blow a lot of cooldowns in a 5-man. All those spells you didn’t touch in Ramps or Mana Tombs? Duoing MgT will make you wish you had them keybound closer to your rest position. I spent an hour afterwards just moving things around and discovering spells I didn’t know I should have used.

2. You’re going to have to DPS while healing, and Smitespec isn’t enough. I like Atonement healing in 5mans (but not in PvP), it gives me something to do while waiting for the bubble to wear off. When the shit hits the fan in some of those pulls, you’re going to have to provide a lot of DPS while healing. The more DPS you put out, the less healing you have to do.

3. There are times that having 2 players instead of 5 actually makes pulls easier – Priestess Delrissa, while totally chaotic, was easier to heal because I only had 2 people to focus on – me and Norm. Norm only had to worry about me pulling aggro, not anyone else. While it was chaotic – OMG THE TANK IS A SHEEP – OMG THE HEALER IS CHARMED. (I’m glad that I had my PvP trinket equipped.) The problem is that you have to be on the ball, and REALLY focus on your partner. I needed to be faster on the dispels, and should have used Fear when Norm got sheeped.

4. There are times that having 2 people makes fights a lot tougher. Kael is pretty easy if your DPS is high enough – just burn him and the phoenix down, keep away from the orbs – but with 2 people, it’s a tough fight. I need to get more into a DPS/Heal rhythm while avoiding orbs, keep dots rolling on Kael, keep Holy Fire off CD, keep smitin’, keep smitin’.

5. Popping glowing wings while flying during the Gravity Inversion phase is AWESOME. Best use of wings, EVER.

If you haven’t tried doing something like this with friends while leveling… DO IT. You will learn more about your class than you ever expected. I’m glad Narci locked her XP so we could do this – seeing Burning Crusade at level, even years late, is a lot more satifsying than just blowing through it on the way to 80/85/90.

Normal MgT was wild.

Now that we have our keys, I can’t wait to try Heroic. :)

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Five Ways to Troll The Denver Airport En Route to Blizzcon

1) Wearing khakis, polo shirt, and a blue blazer, loudly decry the MMO subscription model and rave about Facebook games to random people. See who you can get to agree with you.

2) Walk around to different stores and try to sell them Fish Oil. Get upset when the merchant doesn’t want that item.

3) Argue loudly that your reputation entitles you to a discount with all vendors.

4) Walk up and down the terminal asking people where you can buy PvP gear.

5) [Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker].

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Five Reasons Deathwing Should Have Visited Major Cities All Along

1. Deathwing has been an impersonal villain this expansion. We should get to see his softer, gentler side. With catapults.

2. Raiders would have a truly personal reason for killing Deathwing: avenging their slain bank alts.

3. Human hunters named Bard are currently out of fashion.

4. Scatters alts throughout cities in hopes of 1) getting burned and 2) figuring out how Deathwing is going to get into Ironforge, Undercity, and The Exodar.

5. Maximum epicosity.

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Five PvP Gear Set Names I’d Like To See In The Next Expansion

  1. Mildly Irritated Gladiator’s Gear
  2. Tiny, Angry Gladiator’s Gear
  3. Ugly But Still More Attractive Than PvE Tier Gear Gladiator’s Gear
  4. My Little Gladiator: PvP is Magic Gladiator’s Gear
  5. Fucking Hostile Gladiator’s Gear

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Five Quality of Life Improvements I’d Like to See in WoW

There was a question on the class feedback threads – what quality of life improvements would you like to see? – that I quite liked. My only complaint is that it was class-specific, not general.

So, here’s my non-warlock list.

1. Bring back the city portals. In an effort to get everyone out to see the world, removing the city portals concentrated everyone in SW and Org. No, not concentrated – isolated. Most toons don’t leave the city. (Corollary: give mages a wider variety of ports.)

2. Allow people to change their RealID names. Learn from Facebook and Google+; people want the features of RealID without divulging personal info. This is still an issue, even if the forums don’t require it.

3. Clickable fishing poles. This is a small thing, but it screws up new players all the time. Most items are click-to-use, but not poles, and not ranged/thrown, for that matter. Having to find the ability is jarring.

4. Publish your Macro API and keep it up to date. Include basic tutorials in-game for making /startattack macros to streamline early play. Stop breaking my focus macros! :)

5. Cross-server heirlooms. Seriously, I could fill a list with this one entry. The inability to send heirlooms around really dampens playing on different servers with friends. If this is too big of a problem to solve, consider controllable XP buffs instead – you “unlock” certain tiers of XP gain that can be toggled on and off for a fee, just like the Experience Eliminators. Divorce the XP boost from the gear.

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