Thursday, September 13, 2012

Realm First: Pandaren Ambassador Conclusions

When I first saw the realm first achievement for Pandaren Ambassador I was thinking that it would take a week or two to do. I thought it would likely not go to the person who was fastest at leveling or the person who was most dedicated to daily quests... I thought it would go to the person who was very good at both things. After looking at things a little more I'm no longer sure that is the case and I don't know that this is a path I really want to throw myself down. There are a few concerns that I have which I want to go over now to sort out some thoughts...

The first problem is the human racial, diplomacy. For some reason I didn't think it stacked with the guild perk mr popularity so I was assuming that pretty much everyone would get a 10% reputation buff. Unfortunately this is not true and they stack additively. So a human in a reasonable guild will get 20% more reputation while I can only get 10% more. This worked out to being about 3182 less rep needed with each faction assuming linear reputation gains. That's a reasonable different but if the grinds are getting done in a week or two it's probably only saving them a day. Pushing a little harder to level faster and making sure to log on at 5am on the final day could be enough to get over that hump.

Which leads us to the second problem. Not all of the grinds are linear. In particular the Golden Lotus faction unlocks more quests as you gain reputation with them. The faster you can get the initial rep with them the more rep you earn per day. The total amount of rep you can earn looks to be enough that on some realms humans will gain an entire day's worth of honoured dailies over non-humans. That's another 1000 rep they get for free. They certainly get revered at least a day earlier. Which is a problem because two more factions (Shado-Pan and August Celestials) only unlock dailies after you're revered with Golden Lotus. This means humans get an extra day of dailies with these guys as well.

Ok, one day isn't such a big deal though. Just level even faster! Sure, but the next problem is how few dailies exist for those factions. Shado-Pan in particular only has 750 rep available per day. Suddenly the ~5000 rep boost that humans have is a lot bigger than a single day. By my calculations a human will finish that grind 34 days after hitting level 90. A non-human will take 40 days. Humans have a 6 day buffer as a result and I simply can't level that much faster. A human that cares about this realm first will beat a non-human that cares about it and there's not a whole lot that can be done about it.

There may be one thing you can do but it may not even make it into the live game. For most of the beta there were rare spawns (same as every expansion) that would drop a boe blue item, a bag with cash/cloth/etc in it, and an interesting item. Shapeshifting items, things like that. One of those interesting items grants 1000 rep with every faction. It is consumed on use but you could use more than one of them if you got your hands on multiples. They aren't bound so they could be sold to other players. In the last beta patch every interesting item was taken out and rares only dropped the bag and the blue. Which raises some questions... Are they gone for good? Why were they in the beta at all? If it does exist how good is it and what should I be willing to pay for it?

Well, for how good it is we need to decide how early we're getting it. Due to the way Golden Lotus scales getting one or two early is actually worth a ton of time. A single pipe knocks 2 days off my total by virtue of knocking off two days of Shado-Pan dailies at the end. The second pipe is worth 1 day at the end or 2 days at the start. 25 pipes is enough to cap Shado-Pan in a day. Knocking 4 days off by starting with 2 pipes is actually a pretty big deal. That cuts the human advantage down to 2 days assuming they don't get any pipes themselves. 2 days I'd like to think I can overcome. I can get to 90 a day earlier and I can log in on the last day sooner. So if these pipes exist I have a shot...

But how much is it worth to buy pipes? The first two are awesome but each extra one is guaranteed to shave at least a day off and could get two days thanks to rounding. Perhaps most importantly I'd need to keep them out of my opponent's hands. Quite possibly the way to go would be to get a second account and write a bot to camp the rare spawn to make sure I get all the pipes! Ignoring that option pipes are probably worth at least 5 digits and maybe 6. If I could guarantee I get the first two pipes and can suppress the remainder of the pipes for a month I would gladly pay 250k. Without those guarantees I'd probably still be paying 30-40k each.

Those guarantees are actually a pretty critical point in their own right. We're talking about an achievement that's going to take more than 6 weeks to pick up and there's no way to track your progress relative to other players. When you're looking at leveling realm firsts it's pretty easy to check on the status of your competition. Maybe you need to swap over to a horde alt but you can easily look to see what level the top players are at. Crafting ones are trickier but tend to be short enough to not really matter. You go pedal to the metal until someone wins and then you move on. 6 weeks is an awfully long time to work at something without knowing if you're ahead, close, or already guaranteed to lose. I hate being guaranteed to lose. Maybe I want to abort if I'm guaranteed to lose but I can't know! Possibly I could look up specific other players in the armory every day to find out if they're keeping pace but I don't know how I'd know who to look up. All human characters that hit level 90? Maybe I could write a spider to search through all known guilds? Hmm...

When working on all the reps at once you're looking at doing 45 dailies each day plus farming 16 plots, hunting down 3 rare fish, and maybe even scooping up some eggs. I've been plowing out dailies in an attempt to level Ogg Gulnath Tago and have been doing maybe 33 dailies each day. It takes a couple hours. I'm stuck flying all over the places to get all these dailies (Stormwind, Ironforge, Mount Hyjal, Tol Barad, Sholazar Basin, Icecrown...) and I'd imagine Pandaria is actually smaller. Of course I'm full of epics and doing pretty old content so I'm mashing the quests now. Pandaria ones I expect will be harder. It's probably 3 or 4 hours worth of quests to stay on top of things. Some of the factions take less time than others so you can afford to skimp every now and then. (Just make sure you never skimp on hitting revered with Golden Lotus and never skip anything related to Shado-Pan or August Celestials.)

I'm not sure if a human who wasn't trying would be able to beat a non-human. 6 days is a big lead but they have over a month to lose those days. Each of the factions has particular rewards (mounts/pets/gear/crafting patterns) and it's entirely plausible that a questing human would start by focusing on a faction with a good reward instead of on the one that will take longest to do. Someone who didn't look ahead wouldn't realize which they have to focus on and the 6 day lead could really slip away.

I do like the idea of getting started on the longest ones first and using armory to keep tabs on potential threats. Especially since there actually isn't anything you can do early on which would be 'wasted' time. You need to hit level 90 fast before you can really do anything else and I'd be leveling to 90 pretty fast regardless. And I do want the exalted rewards... Whatever they are!

I feel like I'm guaranteed to lose to any humans that care. I'm just not sure any of those exist.


Sky said...

So what you are saying is that if Sthenno (whose main is a human) comes back you are utterly boned and otherwise you are probably fine?

I should note that Sthenno is at home with a baby now, and might have a lot of free time. Best to check that now before comitting, I think.

Nick Page said...

Oh, if Sthenno comes back I lose. I mentioned in my first post that it sounded like his achievement to win if he wants it and looking at it further only convinces me more!