Saturday, January 2, 2010

Real-Time vs. Turn-Based Strategy part 1

I grew up playing turn-based games like Civilization, Heroes of Might and Magic and Sim City. They evolved into a profitable poker hobby. I never felt the pull towards first-person shooters and real-time strategy games that mostly stressed hand/eye coordination.

With turn-based games, the intentionally slower pace allowed for real introspection between strategic moves. Greater importance was placed on each decision. Actions and reactions could be determined many steps in advance. An environment of trial and error was encouraged, allowing you to experiment with new approaches to challenges.

Then came a casual recommendation from a friend to try the WoW free trial. Gone was the dislike for real-time combat and I found myself hooked right from the start. I'd bet that most people view WoW as purely a real-time game and less actually see strategy beyond maybe their spec and rotation. That doesn't mean it isn't there though. Far from it.

WoW's Duality

While I don't think I realized it consciously in the beginning, my draw to WoW was largely due do it seamlessly combining these two gaming styles. There are countless aspects of the game that should be treated as turn-based decisions. Gear progression is probably the most common for raiders. Balancing hit, expertise and defense caps, as well as soft caps for many specs in haste, crit and armor penetration.

Not only do you need to balance your current stats while maintaining the highest combination of gear, but you should be planning several upgrades in advance. Where do these items drop? How large is that boss's loot table and what is your chance to win the item in your group composition? Taking it a step further, responsible raiders will take their competitors into consideration and balance their choices on their teammates situations as well.

Planning your emblem purchases over time based on your rate of acquisition is also turn-based strategy over a period of days. As the weeks progress in patch 3.3, more and more Frost Emblems are available with the release of gated ICC wings and a new VoA boss. 41 were available the first week, with 35 the following 3 weeks. Starting Jan. 5th there will be 47/week until a minor patch for the new Arena season, and on and on. Will going for your two-set tier bonus be more beneficial or is there a relic slot item or trinket that is best-in-slot for your spec?

More importantly, is there a 'best' order of purchase that you can deduce that allows you to get all your wish list before a new raid night? You don't need everything by the earliest possible day (unless you really want to dominate in your Heroic run). You need it by the next main raid night. Taking into account that ICC takes less than one night to clear, you have an entire week between each progression raid to collect Frost Emblems. Not to mention more flexibility in what to purchase and when.

Most importantly though, is the notion of time management as a turn-based aspect. Everyone that plays WoW makes these decisions from the character screen until you log off. Which toon needs attention first? Do I need dailies or crafting or raid time or social interaction first?

The Three Ps

For goblins, time management is the key to watching your coffers rise at rates that keep you hungry for more. Being able to streamline your Production, Posting and Purchasing all depends on making calculated moves to compartmentalize your process. Just because you have a system in place doesn't mean it's optimized either. It's a good idea to review your process every once in a while to look for flaws or new ways of doing things that hadn't occurred to you before.

Sometimes it's the scale of your operation that will be the catalyst to trying something new. I didn't feel a need for multiple posting toons until I had branched into enough markets to really start stressing my time and patience. Once you are getting several hundred items in your mailbox, it's time to expand...

Having Quick Auctions 2 for specific posting groups helps to keep your process organized. Being efficient with this saves time and each toon should only have to mail, craft, cancel/post their inventory once.

Keep track of your farmers and suppliers with notes on your friend's list that tell you how often they're on and what they have to sell. I even rank them with a self-made 1-10 scale on how well they understand their own value. This helps me to determine an offering price for their items.

There is no rush with the AH, so make full use of your 'turns' to evaluate your progress. Be as hard on yourself as you can too. There's no point in justifying mistakes or covering up losses to yourself - it will only hurt you.

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