Wednesday, January 4, 2012

World of Warcraft: Darkmoon Woes

The release of patch 4.3.0 in World of Warcraft about a month ago brought about the change of an event that has been in the game very close to the beginning: The Darkmoon Faire. Although it was seemingly exciting and wondrous to someone new, its out of date content bored players to the point it ultimately serves the purpose of obtaining Darkmoon Card trinkets, obtainable for one week out of each month through turn-in quests, and hardly anything more.

The patch added five definitive mini-games to the Darkmoon Faire and, furthermore, a definitive location known as the Darkmoon Isle, where the Darkmoon Faire would reside. Quests for every profession were added as well, which were able to increase the skill of the respective profession, reducing the monotony that WoW professions can often cause. Other features, such as enlarged zoos and a plethora of venues, as well as an arena akin to the Gurubashi Arena in Stranglethorn Vale, where all players battle in a free for all for treasure in the middle every three hours add further content to the Darkmoon Faire that was nonexistent before.

In addition, the Darkmoon Prize Tickets were also changed. They became a currency (with the old Prize Tickets becoming useless junk, unfortunately) that could be used to buy pets, mounts, and other prizes, including replica armor pieces of Tier 3 equipment that was removed with the Wrath of the Lich King prepatch release for Transmogrification purposes (also added in 4.3, it is a feature that allows players to make a piece of armor look like another piece of armor for a price).

There were a few ways to get these new tickets. Players could complete each of the five mini-games for a ticket apiece on a daily basis, totaling 35 tickets over the week the Darkmoon Faire is accessible each month. The chest in the Darkmoon Faire Arena also awarded five tickets to the person fortunate enough to loot it, allowing for a potential 240 additional tickets. Finally, there were nine rare items that could be obtained through PvP and PvE content that can be turned in for even more Prize Tickets (for a comprehensive post on all the potential ticket awards, see here)

From here, I now turn to the heart of the issue with the current implementation of the Darkmoon Faire. Don’t get me wrong – the Faire itself is great and the mini-games are a nice diversion from a typical daily grind that involves several transmutations a day and Auction House scanning with some Dungeons or Raid Finder raids thrown in here and there. The biggest problem is this item below:
Source of this picture is

Never have I worked so hard to obtain a single item since I tried to farm for Battered Hilt back in Wrath of the Lich King with five of my level 80 characters running daily Heroics on top of soloing Heroic Pit of Saron trash on my Blood Death Knight and, furthermore, going on a 12-hour marathon farming Heroic Forge of Souls trash on my Druid in a desperate attempt to obtain a hilt (I ultimately won it in a Pit of Saron group on my Shaman), but that is another story entirely.

Allow me to describe how to obtain this item step by step:
  • Firstly, you must go to the Darkmoon Faire and obtain a Darkmoon Adventurer’s Guide, which allows a player to obtain these special rare drops.
  • Then, the player must run Cataclysm Heroic dungeons (or maybe Burning Crusade/Wrath of the Lich King Heroics if they are the appropriate level). In the case of Cataclysm Heroics, the Treatise can drop from specific bosses (or is known to) in all non-Hour of Twilight Heroic dungeons.

The list is so short...
  • The player must then hope for the item to drop. It is known to have somewhere around a 10% chance to drop (although the reported chances may range from 1% to 20%).
  • Finally, the player must win against four other party members (at maximum – I got extremely lucky and ended up winning one because my character was the only one with a Darkmoon Adventurer’s Guide). This is a 20% chance.
  • Given the drop chances, each boss that can drop a Treatise on Strategy gives you approximately a 2% chance of winning one to turn in for Prize Tickets (15 of them). This means you better be ready to run a lot of Heroics!
The odds, obviously, don’t look very pretty. This is further exacerbated by the fact Blizzard implemented a hotfix that causes players to queue in to Hour of Twilight Heroics just by queuing for the normal batch of Random Cataclysm Heroics, which results in eating a Dungeon Deserter debuff (if you deliberately disconnect to ditch a dungeon group, I don’t know you) if you are explicitly trying to get A Treatise on Strategy.

This is further worsened by the fact all the other dungeon drops (there are a total of five of them, including the Treatise) can only be gotten in level-appropriate dungeons. This, of course, is a bit problematic, turning a seemingly simple farm into something a bit more difficult. This is because the drop rates of the four other dungeon items are rather low, only disillusioned to drop more frequently because they were farmable from low level dungeons (which motivated me to go on Baron runs for Ornate Hilt and Monstrous Egg, with the mount drop as an icing on the cake) turning the farming of each of these items a difficult venture (and one was already pretty difficult work!). These four items can be turned in for 10 Prize Tickets each.

This sparked some reaction from the player community as well. Although I usually take the words of the “table flippers” on the WoW Official Forums with a grain of salt, I simply couldn’t ignore the veracity of their statements in this case, as I have also experienced it, as have numerous players I know. A few suggestions to alleviate this issue are described below:

Increase the drop rates (significantly, possibly even to 100%). Although it is a relatively admirable idea, obtaining this item will still be somewhat of a hardship, as only RNG can dictate who actually wins the item. It would make solo farming of the item much easier, however.

Keep the drop rate the same (possibly increase it), but make it a mass drop, as in all players in the group who have the Adventurer’s Guide can loot it. I really like this idea because it has precedence in implementation. The Soothsayer’s Runes, which are the raid equivalent (cannot be obtained in Raid Finder) of the Darkmoon rare item turn-ins, can be looted by every player in the group who has the Adventurer’s Guide (it’s also a 100% drop chance, although raids can only be done once a week, so this is pretty fair).

Allow the items to drop in all the relevant dungeons of that level (for instance, A Treatise on Strategy could drop in Hour of Twilight Heroics). I think this is also a good suggestion to implement. It gives the players a chance to win all the relevant rare dungeon drops by running content that is tuned for them (i.e. a player without the gear cannot run the Hour of Twilight Heroics, locking them out of one of the potential dungeon drops). I would like to see this implemented in tandem with the previous suggestion. It would help issues in the long-term however small they may seem. To further follow up on this issue, Soothsayer Runes should drop in the Dragon Soul raid (currently they are known not to).

Keep the Treatise drop and looting the same, but allow the other items to be lootable from low level dungeons again by all players. An okay suggestion, but it still doesn’t address the problem with A Treatise on Strategy, which was the initial cause of grief among players.

What You Can Do

While the complaints of the players have gotten the attention of Blizzard Entertainment, it seems somewhat unlikely that there will be implementation in the near future. As a result, I will give some advice on how to make farming these items a bit less of a pain and, hopefully, with some luck, you will profit (quite literally if you don’t care about the Prize Tickets):

  • Put consideration into soloing the Heroic dungeons. If you have a Blood Death Knight or Marksmanship Hunter or some other class that is known to solo Heroic bosses, you can walk up to bosses that can drop the rare items you want.
  • Target the right bosses and right instances. Regardless of whether you choose to solo or not, know what bosses actually drop the item you need. There is a comprehensive list shown here. For soloing, I would recommend farming the Lost City of Tol’vir for A Treatise of Strategy, for instance (but be warned, the trash hits pretty hard and High Prophet Barim can be a challenge to solo). For dungeon queuing, just manually queue for dungeons that are known to have bosses that drop the item you need (Lost City of Tol’vir and Vortex Pinnacle are good choices if you want A Treatise on Strategy). Note that you can do this only once per day per dungeon, as you get locked to the instance.
  • Find a reliable group of people to do it with and just run Randoms: This will help expedite the process. You can queue for Random Heroic, as a boss in every Heroic can drop something you might need, and expect to clear the dungeon with ease (something you wouldn’t expect with a pick up group, which is why I mentioned it may be better to manually queue for some heroics that can drop the item you need). This can be done constantly and you and your party will benefit greatly from the Justice and Valor Points you earn. In addition, you may even be able to run some of the same Heroics multiple times (getting Lost City of Tol’vir twice would be a significant boon, for instance).
  • Use the Auction House/Trade Chat: Whether you plan on buying or selling, use the lines of communication and Auction House to buy or sell these rare items. You can either make a lot of money if you wish to do this for profit, or get tickets without having to farm the dungeons at all if you already have an excess of gold. If you haven’t figured it out already, all these rare items are unbound!
  • Buy/Sell/Farm between Darkmoon Faire events: The price of the rare Darkmoon Faire items will likely fluctuate downwards between Darkmoon Faires. This is because demand for the items decreases, but supply increases (as it’s impossible to turn the items in without the Darkmoon Faire around). You should also try to farm for the items during downtimes, where hopefully less people with Darkmoon Adventurer’s Guides will be running dungeons (new players and players with alts who don’t have the guide, for instance).

Hopefully this advice will help you. Thanks for reading! =)

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