Friday, December 16, 2016

Working on Toon #7

So I managed to get my demon hunter to level 110 within a day or two of my last blog post.  While I really enjoyed it at first, the novelty wore off throughout the leveling process, and so I haven't been actively working on world quests on that particular toon.

I have been progressing his order hall quest chain a little bit, so I'll eventually have to cave and knock out the 20 world quest piece of that, but until then, he's spending a lot of time on the bench.

I've been enjoying the ret paladin in the world quest process a lot more than I enjoyed him while leveling, which seems odd, but the character just feels a lot better once he has some gear and artifact power.

My priest has also started down the leveling road and is sitting at level 105.  I'm leveling him as shadow.  I started out as disc, and while I was basically invincible, stuff wasn't dying particularly quickly, and rotation itself wasn't that much fun, so I switched.

I also went through a little exercise and finished the process of getting my first artifact weapon and unlocking the order halls on the last groups of toons that will be leveled.  That means windwalker monk, elemental shaman (which I may switch to enhance at 102...we'll see), subtlety rogue (I've never played sub, so figured why not, plus...he was combat before, and I didn't have a second dagger).  fire mage and fury warrior.

Of that group, the rogue quest line was by far my favorite, and the elemental shaman line was without a doubt my least favorite so far.  The elemental shaman artifact weapon quest basically wasn't something I could complete until another player came along and we were both hitting the boss at the same time.  #I'mNotLeet

So now that I've seen all the order halls, I'm not sure I have an absolute favorite.  I'm not a huge fan of the warlock one, which is kind of sad, since that's my main.  I also don't particularly like the death knight one since there's basically nothing at all new about it.  Priest, paladin and warrior are probably some of my favorites, just visually.

So that's the update for this week.

Cheers!

Joar


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Five Order Hall Campaigns Complete

So I finished my fourth and fifth order hall campaigns yesterday, finishing them up on both the druid and the paladin.










I'm still not particularly enjoying either of those toons this time around, although I've been debating gearing them enough to get into LFR and just try healing on both of them in raid instances to the extent that I want to play them.

For World Quests, not so much.

Both campaigns were pretty good with really interesting endings.  The stories on both were some of the more compelling so far.  The paladin one seems to have a little bit of cross over with the priest one (which I haven't done yet).

Making good progress on the Demon Hunter. He just finished up Stormheim as his second zone and getting ready to start on Highmountain.  He's at level 106.  I've also been working on professions a bit more.  Joar is basically done with all the stuff he needs for tailoring and enchanting (although not maxed on either yet).  The DK is making good progress on blacksmithing and working through all the stuff on alchemy.

My druid is my leatherworker, and there are a ton of quests to do for that one, so that may take some time.  Paladin is making good progress on jewelcrafting.  The only professions that I don't have a start on at this point is inscription and engineering, and both those toons are pretty far down on the leveling list.

Priest will be next after the demon hunter is done.  I'm going to make him a stylish set of 815 gear and then level him as Disc just for fun.

Cheers.


Monday, November 21, 2016

The Angst of What To Do With Alts

This time, more than any other expansion, I find myself torn about what to do with all of my various alts.  I hit 110 last week on my druid, my 5th max level character of this expansion.  Rather than the normal excitement, I find myself confused about what to do next.

In previous expansions, I might start running dungeons and possibly even work on getting a particular character into LFR, but my play schedule doesn't really work for running multiple characters through LFR multiple times, so I'm pretty much doing the raid tourism on my main and that's it.

The other characters I'm contenting myself with regular world quests and emissary boxes.   Normally on my druid, I would heal.  It's what I've done with that toon since Wrath.  So I'm sitting there with a Resto artifact weapon and bags full of tokens that I can use to quickly power that weapon up.  And they are sitting there.

Because powering up my resto artifact is pretty much useless for getting world quests done.  And that's what is creating the angst and the uncertainty on both my druid and my paladin.  Because the artifact weapon that I would rather have powered up for world quests is not necessarily the same one that I'd want powered up for raiding if I chose to do it.

I should probably just content myself with the fact that any raid content that I'm going to see is going to be on either the warlock or hunter and just power up world quest machines on the other toons.  But it's causing me a lot of angst.

Next up for me is the demon hunter.  I'm leveling him as vengeance, because I've generally enjoyed tanking specs while leveling this expansion, and at least so far, the demon hunter is no different.

After that, it's going to be the priest, and then the monk.

Cheers,

Joar

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fourth Level 110 Done, and Two Legendaries!

So I managed to finish up the paladin last week, and never really did decide throughout the entire process if I liked leveling as ret or prot better.  I kept switching back and forth right up until the bitter end.  For some reason, the paladin didn't feel as good leveling this expansion as it has for me in the past.  Your mileage may vary however.

His total played time to 110 was just about an hour longer than the hunter, and clocked in a 17 hours and 51 minutes.  While it was nice having world quests immediately unlock, I don't actually plan to do them on the paladin at this point.  I may change my mind later, but at least for now, he's going to sit on the bench.

The druid is up next, and I'm leveling this guy as a boomkin.  I went with the druid over the priest because this guy is my skinner and leatherworker, while my priest has the exact same profession set as my hunter.

I've also managed to accumulate two separate legendaries since my last post, one for the warlock and one on the hunter.  Both came out of emissary boxes.

I'm getting really really close to being done with the rep grind for Nightfallen on my main.  He's currently sitting around 18,000/21,000.  I'm looking forward to having that done and unlocking the new 7.1 quest chains for Nightfallen.  Once all of that is done, I might start doing the grind on my death knight as well.  Haven't really decided.

So that's it for this week's update.

Cheers,

Joar

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Still So Much to Do! (And Pally Progress)

So I'm still working my there on toon #4, my ret pally.  I'm trying to do the emissary quests every day on my three existing max level toons as well as doing extra Suramar world quests for rep on the warlock each day.  Those end up taking quite a bit of time, making the leveling process pretty slow.

Oh, and can I just go on record that the artifact weapon tree for ret pallies suck.  It's the first one that I I've seen that almost seems like it requires a reboot at some point in the process.  There's this wonderful little golden trait sitting there, called Ashes to Ashes, with a nice short path to get to it, but with absolutely nothing on that path doing much to help your DPS.

But I enjoy those.  I still have a fair amount of quest content still to go.  Kalec is patiently waiting at the Azure dragon spot in Aszuna for me to come talk to him about something.  And I've got the next installment of the Illidan quest line waiting for me back in Kalimdor.

I need to get to those.

I also continue to discover cool little things.  On my beast mastery hunter, I had no idea that there was a quest you could do to get an item allowing you to transform Hati to look like something else.  That, and grabbing a mana saber spirit beast pet from Suramar made for a cool looking combination.  The quest for the device to transform Hati gets picked up from a platform right to the right of your mission board in your class order hall.  Interact with that platform, a voila, Mimiron will appear and ask you to go get a bunch of stuff that he'll then use to build you said device.  Pretty cool.


So I'm continuing to slog my way through Nightfallen rep on Joar to try to finish up the Good Suramaritan achievement for Pathfinder.  I've got two more pieces of the story left, but then heard from a little bird about this nugget in the 7.1 patch notes:


Yes, you read that correctly.  That's nine more weeks of Suramar quests ladies and gentlemen.  Nine more week.

I guess I can hold off on that strongly worded resignation letter I was working on for the nice folks of the Nightfallen.

Cheers,

Joar


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ding, Level 110 #3.

So I managed to hit 110 on my hunter on Thursday of last week.  Definitely starting to see some pick up in level time as mob competition really drops off.  So the hunter managed to get there in right at 17 hours (16 hours and 58 minutes technically), compared to 23 hours and 24 minutes for the DK.  I did end up switching to beast mastery at the half way point, and while it was an absolute beast for leveling, I'm not finding it as awesome for world quests as I would have expected.

I now have 3 toons that I'm completing world quests and world bosses on regularly and beginning to wonder at the wisdom of doing that.

The death knight continues to be my absolute favorite toon for doing world quests, although I am decidedly not going to go back and work on Suramar on a second toon, so I'll still be relying on the warlock to get to completion on that front.

I'm pretty close to hitting revered with Nightfallen, leaving me with two more major quest chains to get through for Good Suramaritan.  All the other pieces of the first stage of Pathfinder are essentially done at this point.

So now I'm off to leveling the paladin, although with working 3 toons through world quests on a regular basis, I suspect that one may take some time to get through.

Cheers,

Joar


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ding, Level 110 #2 and Pathfinder Update

So I managed to finish up my death knight earlier this week.  I did most of the leveling experience with him as frost, but ended up switching to blood at the end just for the ease of taking down some of the higher level mobs and large packs of mobs.  I'm thinking staying blood may be the best bet for doing world quests as well since I'm not likely to do much raiding on my death knight this time around.  I think that activity is likely going to be limited to my warlock and hunter, at least for now.

Overall, the leveling time for the death knight wasn't wildly different than it was for my warlock, finishing up at 23 hours and 24 minutes (or only about an hour and 45 minutes faster than the lock).  Of course, the warlock with pet is an absolute leveling machine with no downtime, so that certainly comes into play.

I'll be starting the hunter next while continuing to work on world quests on both the warlock and death knight and also trying to finish up the Suramar quest line on Joar in order to get the Pathfinder achievement under way.  There's one piece of the Good Suramaritan achievement that you need for Loremaster of Legion that can't be done without normal raiding until Xavius unlocks on LFR, but I'm not necessarily having the rep to unlock that piece anyway, so not a big worry at this point.

The hunter is up next.  I've started him as Marksmanship, but I haven't really been enjoying it all that much, so I'm thinking of switching to Beast Mastery, at least for now.  After the hunter, the paladin will be up next as I continue to rotate between melee and ranged.  It works out well that I have exactly six of each, at least on the Horde side.

Oh, and -10 points to me for using "at least for now" way too many times in this blog post.  I clearly need to cut back on that phrase, at least for now.

Cheers,

Joar.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Activision-Blizzard Reviewed by the SEC

Let me just start this blog post by saying that, while the title of this sounds ominous, being reviewed and going through a comment letter process with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") is not at all unusual for a public company.  In fact, the SEC tries to review most public companies at least once every 3-5 years.  Activision-Blizzard had not been reviewed since 2012, so in that sense, they were due.

This was a relatively short initial comment letter, particularly for a company as large and complex as Activision-Blizzard and they only went through three rounds of comments over about a four month period of time, which is fairly typical.

Typically, when you receive one of these letters, the SEC gives you two weeks to respond, although they are generally pretty flexible about granting extensions if there are circumstances that make it difficult to gather the information they're requesting and respond that quickly and Acti-Blizz actually requested and received an extension on their second round of comments.  Once you receive one of these letters and start working on your response, the response letter that you're drafting also gets reviewed by your legal counsel and by your audit firm, which adds to the length of time these take to prepare.

Typically, once you respond to the SEC's questions, they will then take somewhere around 2 weeks to review your response and will then potentially get back to you with either follow up or new questions.  So in general, these things typically take a month to a month and a half for each round of comments, and it's not at all unusual to go through a couple of rounds of questions and answers.  At the end of the process, you'll get the anxiously awaited "We have no further comment" letter from the SEC at which point the entire exchange gets posted to the SEC website for the world to see.

So that's the context and the background of the whole SEC comment letter process.

Acti-Blizz's original letter was received back in early April, and the SEC's first question was around a topic that we've discussed here a few times:  the Monthly Active User metric ("MAU's").  Here's the question that the SEC asked:












They asked two other questions in the letter, one related to the period of time over which they were recognizing revenues for certain games and whether they had considered disclosing that time period either by major game title or by game type.

The second question related to what was in some of their other cost of sales categories and whether those related to product sales, services or other.

Here is Acti-Blizz's response to the MAU question:

Monthly average users (MAUs) is a player engagement metric that the Company has been evaluating as an emerging “key performance indicator” in light of various business developments discussed below. Although player engagement helps drive players’ investment in our games, mainly through digital sales transactions, prior to the current year (2016) we have not viewed MAUs as a “key performance indicator” or concluded that a discussion of MAUs was required in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (“MD&A”) for investor understanding of our business.  Instead, we have considered digital revenues, which we have provided and discussed in MD&A since 2011, as providing direct and relevant financial information about the growth in our digital business. We believe that our discussion and analysis of digital revenues performance has provided investors with the information required to evaluate the Company’s trends and performance, in accordance with Section III.B.1 of SEC Release No. 33-8350.
 In light of the development of our year-round engagement model, and growth of the free-to-play (“FTP”) and in-game items purchases business model across our franchises, in the second half of 2015 we began to consider the utility of the MAU metric by accumulating data, working to harmonize the metric across businesses, performing reviews and quality checks, and seeking alignment with senior management.  As a result, we began using MAU as a metric in communications with investors, such as earnings releases, beginning in August 2015, but do not believe that MAU was a key performance indicator required to be discussed in MD&A prior to 2016.

 With our recent acquisition of King Digital Entertainment Limited (“King”), which closed on February 23, 2016 and significantly increased the size of our FTP business model, we have concluded that MAUs are now a key performance indicator for our business.  Therefore, in future filings, we plan to include a discussion of MAUs within our MD&A.

So one of the interesting things here is it makes it clear that some of the additional disclosures that we were seeing out of Blizzard in the last quarter or two were at least in part in response to a request from the SEC.

In the third round of comments, the SEC introduced a couple of new questions to the conversation, including focusing on some of the non-GAAP measures that we'd previously discussed in an earlier blog post.  Specifically, there were three questions around their presentation of non-GAAP measures:



















In Blizzard's response, they basically agreed to make the changes that the SEC was requesting to their future earnings releases, which led to the changes that we talked about in Q2.    And that ended the comment letter process for them.

The other mildly interesting point to note is that the SEC doesn't only review the official quarterly and annual Form 10-Q and Form 10-K's.  The 3 comments listed above are based on a review of the company's earnings release and not it's financial statements.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

So Much To Do!

So I've been level 110 for around a week now, and I'm still finding myself completely overwhelmed by the amount of things to do.  A week later, and I'm still not geared enough for heroics (although I'm VERY close, sitting at 808).

So I guess we were all whining a bit about lack of content, so boy did we get it.  And it's almost overwhelming.


  • World quests (including daily emissary quests)
  • Profession quests (for me, both tailoring and enchanting)
  • Cooking quests and Nomi work orders
  • Class order hall quest line
  • Class order hall mission (including training troops)
  • Artifact weapon stuff, including training artifact knowledge
  • Suramar quests (I've finished all of the other zones, but I've barely scratched the surface of this one).
  • Nightfallen rep - there are two dungeons gated behind Nightfallen rep along with portions of my profession quest chains
  • Fishing / working towards the fishing artifact rod and reel
Needless to say, with all of this going on, I haven't made any progress at all on leveling other alts.  In Warlords, my second character hit max level 26 days after launch.  We're at 15 days now, and I don't feel like I'm likely going to get there in the next 11 days given that my next highest level character is sitting at 101.  But that's okay.  Because that means there is a lot to keep me occupied and engaged this time around.

In terms of gearing, I seem to be having equal luck from world quests and normal dungeons.  If I wasn't doing so much other stuff, I think I likely could have geared up for heroics fairly quickly, but it honestly hasn't been a priority.  There also seems to be a fair amount of reasonably priced 815 gear on the auction house on my server to supplement where needed, but I haven't felt the need at this point.  (And maybe others haven't as well, given the "reasonably priced" part)  I find the Companion App is better for figuring out which gear related world quests I want to go after because they're easier to pick out there.

Cheers,

Joar

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Joar Hits 110, and Still Lots to Do

So I managed to get to 110 yesterday on my warlock and then promptly got overwhelmed by the amount of things that I still needed to do.  Before unlocking world quests, I needed to get to Friendly with a number of factions, which meant doing a couple more quests in Stormheim beyond where I'd dinged.  It also meant heading to Suramar and doing a couple of quest chains there.

Then that opened up the window of world quests and all the fun to be had with those.  Plus I still have my Class Order quest line and a bunch of profession quests, and while I've been mucking about doing the profession quests, I haven't actually been doing much of anything to level my actual professions.  (Am I the only one that thinks its a bit odd that you don't actually get profession skill for doing all these quests?)

I also want to start working on fishing and cooking a bit to see how those go.  I figured out the recipe system with Nomi in Dalaran, so am accumulating lots of fun and exciting cooking recipes.  I just need some fish to go with a few of them.

So there's lots to do.  Oh, and I still haven't decided if I want to be affliction or destro.  Affliction was really annoying me while leveling with the little ghosts that it leaves for every mob that you kill, courtesy of your artifact weapon.  I also see all the posts on the forums and such as how affliction is absolutely bottom of the barrel in DPS right now, although given that I'm not going to be doing anything past LFR at this point, and we're still very early, I'm not sure that's even worth looking at.

In terms of leveling time on Joar, my first toon in an expansion is always extremely slow, because I do things like read quest text, and explore a bit, so he was at 25 hours and 11 minutes /played from 100 to 110.  This actually pretty in line with previous expansions.  Warlords was 24 hours and 30 minutes.  MOP was actually 28 hours.  The first toon that I leveled in Cataclysm actually was my paladin and not my warlock and he clocked in at 35 hours played to max level in that expansion.  And yes, I'm fully aware that it's a bit sad that I actually have all that data.

I'm also debating whether the death knight or the hunter will be up next.  I'm inclined to switch between melee and caster (particularly since we now have a nice even number of each thanks to the new DH hunter class, at least Horde side for me, alliance side tends to be melee heavy because I play both enhancement and feral there).

So far, I'm enjoying the expansion.  More updates next week.

Cheers!

Joar


Monday, August 29, 2016

Prepared for Legion, and Ding, Level 100 #27

So I've finished preparing the Joar empire for Legion, which is to say, I didn't do a whole lot.  The first four or five toons that I'm likely to level have had their bags cleaned out and they are more or less ready to go.  Folks are generally either in Orgrimmar, Stormwind, or their garrison, and most folks have done the Broken Isles quest line (although I wonder if that will actually even be needed after a while, I guess we'll find out for sure tomorrow).

I'm generally taking a much more casual approach to this one than I have in the past.  No lengthy to-do lists.  No significant advance preparation.  Even some basics like buying food I didn't bother with, because it has finally occurred to me that there's almost always better food and bandages available almost immediately in the new questing areas.  But hey.  I'm ready.  Ready enough.

In the meantime, I managed to get toon #27 to 100 purely on the back of doing invasions.  This was neither the fire mage or the shaman that I had been working on, but instead was a third druid.  Sunfiring the shit out of everything was just excellent for keeping that XP rolling in.  I managed to get him to 100 in slightly less than half the time that it would have taken to do purely by questing.  And with the added advantage that he was immediately iLvL 700 based on all the chests he had to open.

The one thing that I did do in preparation for launch was to get all the current /played times for my toons recorded so that I can appropriately measure the time to level to 110 for all them.  Strangely, it's not that I even care about the speed at this point.  That gets adjusted so much these days over the course of an expansion that I'm not sure it matters anymore.  But because I've been doing it since Cataclysm, I hate to stop now.

At some point tomorrow afternoon'ish, Joar will be embarking on the path to 110.  I'm actually not in any giant hurry at this point.  Just going to enjoy it for what it is.

Cheers.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gearing Up Alts, and Ding #24, #25 and #26

OK, so #24 and #25 were quite a while ago, and were my boosted Outlaw Rogue, my third hunter and now a shiny new demon hunter.  I was going to go ahead and finish up the demon hunter quest line on the alliance side as well, but I noticed that I actually hit 100 pretty far before finishing the storyline, so I figured I'd wait so I could use the starting area to get a head start towards 110 on him.

So rather than work on #27, #28 etc using the invasions, I'm actually using them to gear up some of the lesser geared alts.  The goal is to have all 26 level 100's at a minimum ilvl of at least 660 by the time Legion releases.  I may bump that up a bit at some point, because at least now, I'm showing really fast gains using the invasions.  My lowest geared alt at the moment is at 626 and that's essentially with only working on this for a day since I was out on holiday all of last week.

So I may pick up and try to invasion my way through some levels on some toons at some point, but at least for now, I'm sticking with just gearing folks.

So here are some generally spoiler free thoughts on the invasions and Broken Shores questline.  My first thought on the Broken Shores quest line was to wonder when George R. R. Martin started writing content for Blizzard.  In general, I thought the story was pretty well done, although there were a few things that I was wondering (and I haven't finished the whole Harbinger series yet, so some of this may be expalined there).  Main question in my mind was where was Khadgar?

Also, portions of the main scenario still seemed a bit glitchy to me, which was disappointing, but in general, it was a really nice way to get a feel for your new class layouts and abilities if you hadn't done so already.

The invasions have been fun so far as well.  I'm a bit confused by the weapon drops and weapon upgrade items given that we'll all be replacing our weapons in a couple of weeks, but I guess that's okay.  The invasions are also making me very happy that I finally splurged and bought top level flying for all my toons.

So that's it for now.

Cheers.

Friday, August 5, 2016

An Analysis of Blizzard's Second Quarter Earnings Release

So this quarter again marked more changes in what Activision-Blizzard reports in their earnings releases on a quarterly basis, and we'll get to more information that later.

Overall, it was a fantastically successful quarter for Activision-Blizzard.  They reported non-GAAP revenue of $1.6 billion for the quarter, compared to $759 million in the prior year, an increase of 112%.  Non-GAAP EPS increased from $0.13 per share to $0.54 per share, and increase of 315%, and soundly beat the consensus estimates by the analysts that follow the company, which were $0.42 per share.

The company also generated an enormous amount of cash during the quarter, with free cash flow of $435 million for the quarter and $717 million year to date.  They paid off another $816 million of debt taken on from the Candy Crush acquisition during the quarter.  Combine that with the repayments from Q1, and that means that they've already repaid $1.3 billion of the $2.3 billion in total debt that they took on to help finance the King / Candy Crush acquisition just FIVE MONTHS AGO.  This company continues to be a cash generating machine.

On Monthly Active User's ("MAU's"), the company's new organization-wide user engagement metric, MAU's as a whole were down, with declines in both King and Activision more than offsetting a significant increase for Blizzard, driven mostly by the release of Overwatch.

Here is the table from their 10-Q:


The decline at Activision from prior quarter is due to the release of Call of Duty:  Black Ops III in the fall of 2015, which caused numbers to be high for the last couple of quarters.

So overall, a very positive quarter for the Company as a whole.

The one interesting change that I referenced earlier is that for the first time in recent history, the company did not include any detailed financial information for their individual segments (i.e., Activision, Blizzard and King) in their earnings release.  That information is still publicly available, but as I discussed last quarter, you now have to hunt down their Form 10-Q filing with the SEC to find it (see my discussion of what's in their 10-Q here).

So in terms of information for Blizzard specifically, revenue for the quarter was up 92% from $385 million to $738 million.  Operating income for the quarter was up 185% from $117 million to $333 million and operating margins increased from 30.3% to 45.1%.  For the first six months of the year, revenue for Blizzard was up 40% from $737 million to $1,032 million.  Operating profit for the first six months increased 64% from $256 million to $419 million.  Operating margins increased from 34.7% to 40.6%.

According to their 10-Q filing, the increase in Blizzard revenue was due to increases for Overwatch and Hearthstone, offset by declines in Diablo III (which released in China in the second quarter of last year).  Revenue was also impacted by declines in Heroes of the Storm and Warcraft (due to a smaller subscriber base).  They also mentioned that sales and marketing costs were up for Blizzard due to current and future product launches.

The other specific item that was mentioned on the earnings call was the pre-purchases of Legion were tracking in line with where they were with pre-purchases for Warlords.

So that's it for this quarter.  Stayed tuned later this month for more from @AlternativeChat and I in podcast form as we'll dive into more details on the earnings release, quarterly reports and other developments!



Monday, August 1, 2016

A Change in How Blizzard Reports Revenue

On Friday, Blizzard hosted a brief conference call with their investors to explain some changes that would be coming with this quarter in how they present their revenue.

As I've discussed in this space before, Blizzard presents their revenue on both a GAAP and a non-GAAP basis.  GAAP stands for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.  GAAP requires that Blizzard record their revenue when it is actually earned and not necessarily when they collect the cash.  

As a quick example, let's look at the WoW Token.  On a non-GAAP basis, as soon as Blizzard sells that WoW Token to someone, they are counting that $20 as non-GAAP revenue as soon as they have your cash in hand.  But on a GAAP basis, they aren't allowed to record the cost of that Token as revenue until someone actually uses it for game time.

Similar differences occur if you are pre-ordering a product like Legion, or if you are paying for your subscription in 6 month blocks.

Back in May, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates public companies like Activision-Blizzard that trade on U.S. stock exchanges, issued new rules and regulation on the use of non-GAAP measures by public companies.  

In response to those new rules, Blizzard announced that they will no longer be disclosing non-GAAP revenue in their earnings releases.  Only GAAP revenue.

They said they will continue to use non-GAAP revenue internally to measure their performance and incentivize their people, but just won't continue to disclose it externally.

Here is a link to a presentation that Blizzard used on the call on Friday that explains the differences:


So what does this mean for those of us that follow Blizzard closely.  Very little.  As you can tell from the presentation, while they won't have an actual line on their earnings release for non-GAAP revenue, all of the information that you need to calculate that number will still be there and easily available, so we'll continue to calculate it and talk about it in the analysis that I do every quarter on their releases.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Thoughts So Far on 7.0.3

So I've had the chance to give patch 7.0.3 a solid trial run at this point and have a few thoughts that I wanted to share:


  • I don't like the new name plates, but am still hunting for an add-on that produces an option that I like better.
  • Not a big fan of Outlaw so far, although I need to give it more of a try before reaching any final conclusions.
  • Both destruction and affliction feel different but okay to me as a warlock at this point.  Haven't had much time with demonology yet.
  • I've been leveling as BM on my hunter, which feels very different, but I like it being more about "send in the pets".  Marksmanship feels okay but very different.  Haven't had the chance to do much with SV yet.
  • I like shadow priests, although other than the new voidform thing, it doesn't feel all that different.
  • Loving the boomkin changes so far.
  • Mages are still mages.
I think I'm probably going to get that third hunter to level 100 before Legion drops at this point.  He's working his way through Pandaria now, so feels like I've got a decent amount of time to get it done.  That'll be #25 along with my level 100 boost (which I've already used on an Outlaw rogue).

Cheers.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Step Away From the Mission Table!

Several things have recently come together at the same time to make me conclude that it's probably time to step back from the garrison gold-making efforts:

  1. The background downloader just fired up starting to dribble the pre-patch bits and bytes onto my PC.
  2. Yesterday was my best garrison gold-making day ever.  Granted, only by about 325g, but with what I feel was a still impressive 28,150g on the day, seemed like a good time to go out on a high note.
  3. I also had two fairly arbitrary gold thresholds that I was targeting.  One on my Horde server and one on my Alliance server and I managed to pass them both yesterday.  
So with all of that coming together at more or less the same time, I've decided it's probably time to back off of the regular garrison gold mission stuff and just focus on leveling until the pre-patch comes out and I can run as many toons as possible through that stuff.

Right now, my third hunter is sitting at level 68 and just started working his way through Northrend.  If I can get him to 100 before the pre-patch, I'd then switch to working on mage #3.

The focus during the pre-patch originally will be on my three mains - warlock, hunter and death knight, and then will spend a little bit of time on trying to get gear for my three undergeared Alliance toons - rogue, warrior and monk.

So that's the plan folks. 

Cheers,

Joar


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Happy 7 Year Blogoversary To Me!

So the 7th anniversary of this blog passed pretty uneventfully this past week.  I've been trying to come up with something profound to write about, but with our current massive lack of content, I just don't have much to say in celebration of the passing of this milestone.

Mostly what I've been doing in game has still be focused around garrison gold-making.  I've been averaging around 250,000g per month across all my toons.  That total is for a total of 22 characters across two different servers.  I'm also generally not playing every day.  In general, it's an average of just over 12,000g per day played.

This is mostly just doing garrison missions and using excess garrison resources and the trading post to sell various materials on the auction house.

I've also been working on leveling my third hunter.  He just hit level 58 and is on his way to Outland.  If the pre-patch hits in late July like most are expecting, he'll probably be the last toon to get to max level before Legion drops.  Counting my level 100 boost (which I'm going to use on a rogue, oddly enough), that'll give me 25 level 100's for Legion.  Which is pretty much certifiably bat shit crazy.

Of course, like the last 3 expansions, Legion isn't expected to be at all alt friendly, so I'm sure that'll be the last time I level a huge volume of alts, just like the last 3 expansions. [/sarcasm off]

Cheers!

Joar

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mission Accomplished - Level #100 #23

So that's mission accomplished on my leveling plans for Draenor.  I'm pretty happy with having got through all that, and will likely continue the garrison gold making charge as well as leveling a 3rd hunter and maybe a 3rd mage, at least until the pre-expansion patch comes out.  I'm guessing that's still at least a month out at this point.

The garrison gold making continues to go pretty well, average something over 60,000g per week using the techniques that I've outlined here.

My last two max level toons I've passed on fully building out their garrisons because I don't believe there will be time to recoup the cost between now and when garrisons get nerfed.

This toon was a monk, so I was heavily leveraging the xp boost that comes from the monk dailies on this one, so he ended up with a total played time from 1-100 of right at 1 day, 15 hours.

Cheers,

Joar

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Review of Activision-Blizzard's First Quarter Form 10-Q

So for those of you that aren't dedicated public reporting and accounting geeks and were wondering about my title, a Form 10-Q is the quarterly document that public companies registered in the U.S. file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The document itself contains some of the same information that companies typically include in the press releases but can often have other valuable information worth reviewing.  For large public companies, the document is due 40 days after the end of the quarter (so for a calendar year-end company, that would be today for Q1)

The first section of the document is the financial statements and footnotes themselves.  The second section is called "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations", which you'll sometimes see referred to as MD&A.  This is where the company explains all the things that caused changes in their financial results for the quarter.  There's also a portion of this section that is dedicated to discussions of liquidity - how much cash the company has, how much debt and what the terms of that debt is and how they plan to manage all of that.

The final few sections are more specific and technical and may include information on significant legal cases as well as a discussion of any changes or issues with the company's internal controls.

So that's the background.  There are a couple of places you can usually find this document.  Most companies will have a copy of it on the Investor Relations section of their website (usually under SEC Filings).  You can also get it directly off the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, and click the button on the top right that says "Company Filings".

So, couple of things from the Activision-Blizzard (ATVI) 10-Q that I wanted to go through today:  Segment Reporting, the Candy Crush Transaction, Monthly Active User disclosures and nuggets from MD&A.

Segment Reporting

The way the accounting disclosure rules work, a company determines their segments based on the way they provide information to top management for decision making and based on how they think about resource allocation.  Traditionally, ATVI has disclosed two segments - Activision and Blizzard.  Typically, when you do a major acquisition like the King deal, it gives you the chance to reevaluate whether that continues to be how you'd like to look at things.  In this case, it looks like the company decided to continue with business as usual, but of course with adding King as a third segment.  They also report a fourth category of "Other" which are things that aren't yet large enough to merit reporting as a separate segment.  Those include things like eSports, the studio and their distribution business.

The Candy Crush Transaction

So when you acquire a company like King, you're required to record all of the assets and liabilities of that company at their current fair value, including intangible assets that might not have been on the books of that company when you acquired it.  Then, to the extent that the amount that you paid is more than the value of those net assets, the difference gets recorded as goodwill.  Because technology companies and gaming companies don't typically have a lot of hard identifiable assets, this goodwill number can end up being quite large.

So the purchase price for King was approximately $5.8 billion.  And here is how they allocated that:


So you see a few interesting things here under intangible assets - a value for King's internally-developed franchises at $845 million, a separate value for the software itself at $580 million and then a value for their existing customer base at $609 million.  These things will all be amortized to expense over the periods in the right hand column, reducing King's profitability for those periods.

They also added $2.7 billion of goodwill related to King bringing the total goodwill on the books of ATVI as a whole to $9.8 billion.

Monthly Active User Disclosures

So in their MD&A, we got a little bit more detail on their monthly active users by segment than what they had put in the earnings call information.  Below is their disclosure by quarter, for the past year.


So looking at the Blizzard line, there is a pretty significant spike in Q2 of 2015, which likely relates to the Hearthstone expansion and the full release of Heroes of the Storm during that period.

The decline in MAU's for King is also pretty interesting.

MD&A Nuggets

So reading through their MD&A, you see some pretty interesting detail.  For the quarter, they disclose that revenue for Blizzard as a whole was down because of declines in Warcraft, related to lower subscriber numbers, and also because of declines in Heroes of the Storm, because the comparable period in 2015 contained a one-time revenue boost from the sales of Founders' Packs.  However, this was offset by increases in revenue for Hearthstone, which was released on iPhone and Android smartphones beginning in Q2 of 2015.

Finally, they disclose for Blizzard that their profitability as a whole as impacted by the same factors, and also by increased sales and marketing costs being incurred to support future releases.

The other comment that I found interesting in MD&A was under Product Development expense where they disclosed that development costs actually decreased for Blizzard because of the timing of cost capitalizations.***

One additional item that I wanted to highlight from the 10-Q is from the cash flow statement, where they showed operating cash flow of $309 million, up from $209 million for the same quarter in the prior year, so they are continuing to show strong cash flow generation.

Last item that was a little bit interesting was in Part II, Item 1 of the 10-Q which is the section related to legal proceedings where they disclose that there is a class action lawsuit out there against King arising from their IPO.   They include the fairly standard language around believing the claims are without merit and intending to defend it vigorously, but it may merit monitoring in case they end up incurring lots of costs from a defense standpoint.

Cheers!

***  I was asked a follow up question on Twitter about what this means exactly.  Unfortunately, it's probably too detailed to fit into a 140 character response, so I'm updating it here instead.  The accounting policy note in their 10-K explains their accounting for software development costs as follows:

 Software development costs include payments made to independent software developers under development agreements, as well as direct costs incurred for internally developed products. Software development costs are capitalized once technological feasibility of a product is established and such costs are determined to be recoverable. Technological feasibility of a product encompasses both technical design documentation and game design documentation, or the completed and tested product design and working model. Significant management judgments and estimates are utilized in the assessment of when technological feasibility is established. For products where proven technology exists, this may occur early in the development cycle. Technological feasibility is evaluated on a product-by-product basis. 

So prior to establishing "technological feasibility", the costs related to that particular game or piece of software are expensed under Product Development expense.  So what that means in general is the timing of a game getting to the point that they can call in technologically feasible so they can start capitalizing costs instead of expensing them can have a significant impact on the expense recognized for the period in this particular category.  What that would seem to imply is that something just hit that technological feasibility threshold recently, so costs are now being capitalized instead of expensed (or possibly they had a few things that were just short of that point last year).

Friday, May 6, 2016

An Analysis of Blizzard's First Quarter Earnings Release

So this quarter's earnings release was probably more notable for the changes in format than for the specific information about Warcraft that was available.  Most notably, we no longer have specific revenue information related to World of Warcraft being publicly disclosed by Activision-Blizzard ("ATVI").

So here is the table from the Q4 earnings release where they break-out the World of Warcraft information:



























And here is that same schedule now.  Note the footnote at the bottom where they explain that the stuff that used to be broken out and separately identified as World of Warcraft has now been lumped in with all the other PC based stuff.























So this is coming on the heels of separate subscriber numbers no longer being disclosed after Q3 of last year.

But here is something we are getting that is new this time around, and that is overall Monthly Active Users for Blizzard as a whole.  Below is a really cool slide from Activision-Blizzard's earnings call presentation that talks about their total audience reach across all three segments.


So we have totals for Blizzard now, which was 26 million monthly active users, and was the fastest growing of ATVI's segments, growing 23% year over year.  But keep in mind, that includes all of Blizzard's franchises - Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm (and maybe even Overwatch - they didn't really say).  While it was the fastest growing, it's really interesting to see how much smaller it is than Activision and King on a relative basis.

So, now for the numbers.  For ATVI as a whole, they had a strong quarter.  GAAP revenues increased about 14% for the quarter to $1.455 billion and non-GAAP revenue increased 29% for the quarter to $908 million.  Note that Q1 is typically a very slow time for the Company from a non-GAAP standpoint, particular without any notable new releases typically occuring during that time.

For Blizzard specifically, their non-GAAP revenue story was not nearly as good, declining 16% to $294 million for the quarter.  So while their monthly active users are up 23% year over year, that's not necessarily translating the revenue increases, at least at this point.

In terms of actual operating income, the decline at Blizzard was even larger, with a drop of 38% to $86 million for the quarter compared to $139 million in 2016.  There should be more detail explaining these particular changes in their Form 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but unlike previous quarters, they didn't file their 10-Q on the same day as their earnings release.

From a cash flow standpoint, we'll also have to wait until that 10-Q gets filed to see the details on their cash flow for the quarter, but they did disclose on the call that they generated something north of $300 million of operating cash flow for the quarter, which would be a significant improvement over the $209 million of operating cash flow from the first quarter of last year.

As you may recall from previous posts, they took on an additional $2.3 billion of new debt in connection with the King acquisition, and they also disclosed on the call that they had already repaid $500 million of that new debt.  Lastly, they also disclosed that they had received approval from their board to repay an additional $1 billion of debt over the rest of the year.  So as of 3/31, the Company had $2.9 billion of cash on hand, compared to $5.9 billion of gross debt, or net debt of around $3 billion.  This compares to $1.3 billion of net cash (total cash minus total debt) on hand at year-end.

Only planning to use $1 billion of the $2.9 billion of cash that they have currently on hand to repay debt over the remainder of the year might create some interesting speculation around what plans they might have for that remaining $1.9 billion, plus the cash they will generate over the rest of the year.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Stop Building New Garrisons Now!

So I ended up having a little bit of an exchange on social media yesterday about when the break-even point might come with respect to constructing new garrisons.  I had done a little bit of analysis last year to determine how long it took to break-even on a garrison in pure gold terms, but that analysis assumed an unlimited amount of time.  (And by the way, as a quick refresher, that analysis showed that it took 21 days of operating with a fully built out garrison and slate of followers to recover the approximately 10,500g investment for fully building it out).

So just to level set, here is what I'm generally looking at in terms of a fully stocked garrison for gold-making.  It is a level 3 garrison, a level 3 inn (for the treasure hunter missions) a level 3 salvage yard and a level 1 trading post.  It is also a full slate of 20 followers with the ones with specific i-level requirements for particular gold missions geared to those points.  Note that you could increase that to 25 followers with a level 3 barracks, but the cost of doing that in both gold and garrison resources would be higher, and it's not going to change the answer at this point.  The cost of building that out is approximately 10,500g and 3,550 garrison resources.

Now, if I'm leveling a toon from scratch, I am typically finishing up that process with around 1,000 garrison resources (that assumes that I'm using them to buy experience potions from my garrison quartermaster as I go).

So now it comes down to how long it would potentially take me to get to that break-even point.  One of the gating items is how long it would actually take to accumulate the garrison resources to fully build out the garrison.  At 2,550 net garrison resources needed, and an accumulation rate of 144 resources per day, that works out to 17 days, or just slightly under 3 weeks.  You could speed this up by building a lumber yard, but this would take quite a bit of extra time every day on that character to go out and collect the lumber, and at this point, that's not a time investment I'm willing to make.  You can of course feel free to choose differently.  In my case, my next max level character is going to be my 23rd 100, so I've got less willingness to invest additional time in those alts.

So between building, and then accumulating gold, that brings us to 6 weeks total. The real gating item from a time perspective is accumulating the followers.  I am typically finishing the leveling process with somewhere between 9 and 10 followers, just from working through the typical leveling process.  I am not generally going out of my way while leveling to collect specific open world followers because generally those followers do not have the traits that I'm looking for - which are scavenging and treasure hunting.

So using my inn to recruit one follower per week, it is going to take me at least 10 weeks to pull together the full slate of treasure hunters.  Now the three week time frame to accumulate the garrison resources to fully build out your garrison runs simultaneously with this, and you will be accumulating some gold while you are recruiting those followers, but not enough to make a significant dent in the break-even calculation.  It will likely also take you at least a week to fully level those 20 followers to max once you have your full slate of 20 collected, unless you're doing nothing but garrison mission for this particular toon.

So if I assume it takes 10 weeks to accumulate the followers and then 3 weeks to break-even on the gold (assuming the gold accumulated while recruiting helps to offset the additional time needed to level those followers to max), you're at a minimum of 13 weeks to break-even, which from today, puts you at July 29th.  So if you think 7.0 is going to drop on or before July 29th, it is likely too late to break even on a new maxed out garrison at this point.

What I would recommend instead, is to go ahead and upgrade your garrison to level 2, and build out a level 2 salvage yard, a level 1 trading post and a level 2 inn (or conversely, don't worry about the inn and just head out into the world and grab some followers), continue to accumulate garrison resources to use at the trading post and sell, and then do whatever base gold missions you can.  The cost of doing that is only 2,800 gold with the level 2 inn and only 1,350 gold if you ignore the inn, so is much more likely to be profitable over the next few months until launch.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ding! Level 100 #22

So I just hit level 100 on the alliance warrior, giving me my 22nd max level toon.  The sad thing is, I really used to enjoy leveling and playing as an arms warrior, but that was definitely not my favorite this time.  He seemed fairly squishy the entire way.  Not a particularly fun leveling process.

Next up is going to be the alliance monk, who is currently sitting at level 61 in Hellfire Pensinsula somewhere.  I expect with the monk xp boosts, this one should be really fast.

After that, I will likely start working on a third hunter if I still have time, and maybe then a fire mage.

My total leveling time on the warrior was 2 days, 10 hours and 16 minutes, which is about the same as the last couple of toons that I've finished.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Not Quite There Yet

A week long business trip to Europe delayed my plans on my Alliance Warrior, but he's back in the swing of things, and just started working his way through Gorgrond today.  That was my 22nd toon to run through the Tanaan Jungle starting experience.  Ugh.

It's a busy week this week, so not sure I'll be able to finish him up, but should be in relatively short order.  Then it'll be time to finish up the monk and finally nail down the goal of a level 100 of each class for each faction (plus one extra warlock, and maybe an extra hunter if I have time)

I'm still doing a little bit of the garrison thing, but not with the same level of urgency that I have in the past.

I was excited to see a release date for Legion as well.  August 30th will be here before you know it, so I've now got a fairly limited amount of time to get these last few toons done.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Return to Garrisons and Leveling

So as I foresaw in my last blog post, I think I've finally reached the point where I've lost interest in SWTOR again, so I've started to pick up my garrison activities and leveling in a bit more earnest now.

I've got two toons to finish up in order to reach the stated goal of having a max level toon of each class for each faction.  My alliance warrior is current at level 87 and working his way through Pandaria.  I've then got a pandaren monk that is sitting in Hellfire Peninsula at level 61.

I've gone back to looking working on my garrison's more regularly to keep the flow of gold coming.  All 11 of my characters on the Horde side have fully outfitted garrisons with all their followers at 675 and all are essentially always maxed on garrison resources as well so they can continue to use the Trading Post to make lots and lots of money.

With those 11 toons, I tend to average somewhere around 6-10K gold per day, so if Legion goes live around the end of September as expected, I should be able to conservatively add another million gold to the pile by then.

I've also started to do the same thing on the alliance side.  At this point, I've only got 6 toons that are fully equipped, 3 that I'm working on and then the two that are still leveling, so needless to say, things aren't nearly as lucrative alliance side for me, but I'm still amassing a pretty reasonable cash horde on the alliance side as well (see what I did there?)

I'm hoping to finish up the alliance warrior sometime in the next week or two and then focus on the monk.

Cheers


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Slowing Down on Leveling Alts

So I've really slowed down on leveling all of the various alts.  Without any new content coming out of Blizzard any time real soon, I'm not in a big rush to get a few more alts to max level, only to then wonder what the heck I'm going to do with all of those alts once Legion drops.

I've also actually gotten to the point that I feel like I've accumulated enough gold, so don't even feel compelled to keep logging in for the regular garrison chores.  I'm still accumulating some on my alliance server, so when I do these days, it's typically to just work through the garrison stuff on the 9 max level toons that I have sitting there.

I still have both my alliance warrior and monk to finish up in order to have a different character from each class from each faction at max level.  Plus I've got my 3rd warlock sitting on yet another server.

Right now I've been playing a fair amount of SWTOR, just for the fresh content and storylines, but I expect I may exhaust the solo play end of that in another month or two, which will likely then give me some time to finish up those last few alts before Legion.

Or it's possible that I'll get tired of SWTOR like I did before, although they've really made a lot of improvements to the questing experience and storyline that may keep me engaged for a while.

So that's the update on the Warcraft front for now.  Not much to talk about, because there is really not much going on.  Such is life in the World of Warcraft these days.




Thursday, February 18, 2016

Analysis of the Q4 Earnings Release

So instead of my normal blog-based analysis of the Q4 Earnings Release, this quarter I did it in podcast format with Alt from Alternative-Chat and Mick Montgomery from The Starting Zone podcast was kind enough to put it up as an episode of The Starting Zone.

So a big thank you to both Alt and Mick.  And here is the link to the podcast analysis of Activision-Blizzard's Q4 Earnings Release:

Starting Zone Podcast - Q4 Earnings Release

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Playing Some Rift

So yesterday I went in and started playing a little bit of RIFT.  I'd run through my normal garrison activities for the day, and started working my warrior through Mt. Hyjal, and then just stopped and decided I wanted to do something else.

RIFT is a game that I've played since launch and really enjoyed.  I got a mage to max level in the original game, and even did a bit of experts and raiding, but once Storm Legion came out, I started falling behind.

So now I'm playing a little bit of catch up.  My mage is finally finished with the Storm Legion content and working his way through the Nightmare Tide leveling zones.  Those have been fun so far and I'm about half way through 61 at this point.  I'm leveling as a Harbinger / Chloro build.  You Warcraft fans out there are going to snort your drink out of your nose at this point, but this is actually a melee build for mages.

See, the interesting thing with Rift is that any "calling" (their word for classes) can basically play any role - tank, healer, melee or ranged.  So you can have a ranged warrior, or a healing warrior, and a melee mage, or a tanking mage.  There is a warlocky option for mages in Rift, but I was really enjoying the Harbinger through the Storm Legion zones, so I'm sticking with it for now.  I've also heard good things about Pyro builds (think fire mage), so I may try that out soon.

I've got toons in various states from the other 3 callings as well.  I've got a cleric at level 28 (who I play like a shadow priest), I've got a rogue at level 25 (who I play like a hunter), and a warrior at level 6.  Yeah.  I've never been much of a warrior guy.

So I may work on getting my mage to max level and then play through the content in the Planetouched Wilds, just to see what that's like.  Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ding, Level 100 #21, And More Gold-Making

So I managed to hit level 100 yesterday on my alliance shadow priest.  Not a bad way to start off the month of February.  I'm working on my alliance warrior next, saving the monk for last.  The warrior is currently working his way through Howling Fjord of all places.  I wasn't sure I'd ever done that on the alliance side, but now that I've started through it, I realized I had.  

Since on the horde side, I'd leveled my warrior as fury, on the alliance side, we're going arms.  All of the characters that I've been leveling lately, seem to have been taking right around a total of 2 days played to get to 100.  That just really blows my mind when I step back and consider that way back in the day, a total of 6 days played to 70 was absolutely bonkers fast.

How things change.

Beyond the leveling stuff, I'm continuing to crank out the gold horde side with 11 fully functioning garrisons.  Things are starting to crank up alliance side as well.  I've got follower groups fully geared on at least 3 different alliance toons, and working my way there on another 5.  It's the usual mix of treasure hunters and trading posts to keep the gold flowing.

Beyond that, there's not a ton going on for me in Warcraft these days.  Just peeking into alpha news now and again and waiting for the beta to come out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Space Oddities and Glass Spiders

So it was August 1987, and I was disappointed.  Seriously disappointed.  For an artist like David Bowie, clearly Red Rocks Amphitheater (which was coincidentally 2 miles from my childhood home), was the perfect venue for a David Bowie performance.


But it wasn't to be. This tour (the Glass Spider tour) was simply too big. Heck, the Serious Moonlight tour hadn't even set foot in Colorado, so understandable that they'd want to reach a wider audience.  so instead, I found myself sitting at Mile High Stadium.  Oh hell yes, I still went to the concert.  I may have been disappointed, but I wasn't nuts.  And it was AMAZING.

So this week, I'll be leveling to the accompaniment of the legendary Mr. Bowie.

So there's been a little bit of progress on the leveling front so far this year.  As mentioned in my "Year In Review" post, I did manage to get toon #19 to 100 before the end of the year, and I also managed to get toon #20, my alliance rogue, to 100 pretty quickly in the New Year.  I'm now working on my alliance shadow priest who is working his way through Northrend.  Next up is going to be the alliance warrior, and then the monk to round out my full set of 11 alliance max level toons.

I may comment more on this later on, but I've been findings a bit rougher going in Northrend leveling dungeons lately.  Things that used to be easy and lots of xp seem to be causing groups a lot more trouble these days.  It's the normal suspects - pulling too much, standing in bad, ignoring mechanics, not staying with the group (general rule of thumb - stay with the tank and healer, not that complicated folks).

I have typically run a lot of dungeons while working through the Northrend zones and then stopped once I hit Cataclysm zones, but I've been looking closely at the impact the new normal is having on my xp per hour, and really debating whether that still makes sense.


Level 100 #23, #24 and #25 are done...#26 in progress

So it's been a while since I've posted because I feel like there hasn't been much to talk about.  I'm running 5 toons throug...