Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Great Apexis Crystal Fail. What Happened and How Blizzard Could Have Made it Better.

When mists ended and we lost two of our long standing currencies, justice points and valor points, which in themselves were just the following generation of the badges that predated them, I was against the removal of them then and still against the removal of them now.  I can go on through the various reasons why I believe losing justice and valor was a huge minus for the game as a whole but perhaps I will save that for another post or you can just read between the lines and see some of those reasons for yourself in this very post.

In the end those points were replaced, in part, by apexis crystals.  They were the pseudo points, a bland, lifeless, boring, over priced and under represented replacement for what was removed unceremoniously for no reason.  I call it, once again, blizzard fixing what wasn't broken to begin with.  In the end I can call it nothing short of, The Great Apexis Crystal Fail.

Lets go over where I personally believe apexis crystals failed and how I believe it could have been done better.

Apexis Gear:

They added a few pieces of gear, six to be precise, that could be purchased with apexis crystals.  This, in and of itself, was not a bad idea.  Having a few pieces of gear that you could buy with a currency in game does sort of fill the space left by the loss of justice and valor.

Where they went wrong with how they set it up and that can summed up in three different parts.  I will go over them and then give what I believe the solution should, or could, have been.

1) You needed to keep the gear.

You could not just buy a pair of legs and equip them.  Well, you could, but once you got something better you put the something better on and then forgot about the apexis legs, or many did.  The thing is, if you had held on to those legs you could upgrade them later.  Then upgrade them even more.  But the fact you needed to hold on to the gear caused many issues.

People did not want to buy a piece because they hated the idea of "wasting" apexis crystals on a piece of gear they might end up grabbing off the world boss, or in a raid, even LFR was better than the base pieces, or even worse, getting a better piece from a dungeon, perhaps even warforged or with a gem slot or with a tertiary stat.  It could even be as small as being the same item level but with decent secondary stats for you instead.  Maybe you would even get a combination of two or if you were really lucky and carrying around your four leaf clover you could get all three.  Seeing all the ways you could get better gear, and easily, really devalues the base apexis gear pieces and people more often that not just sold them off when they almost instantly replaced it instead of holding on to it to upgrade it later.

So "wasting" your apexis crystals on a piece of gear that was 630, usually poorly itemized for most specs and classes, and ending up with a dungeon piece that had better stats, warforged, a gem slot and a tertiary stat made you feel as if your apexis were really wasted.  No one likes wasting anything, even more so a limited commodity like apexis crystals that was made to feel like a grind for anyone that was not named me, because I dig that stuff, but I am weird so do not read too much into that.

So either you held on to that piece and saved up even more apexis crystals to upgrade it and then made it a 645 which, just perhaps, might still be worthless when compared to a dungeon piece with all those bonuses and the perfect secondary stats on them.  So now you needed to hold on to it even longer, much much much longer, because now you needed to grind another 20,000 of those hard to come by (at the beginning when you really needed them) apexis crystals to upgrade it to the last stage where it might actually be worth upgrading that piece to its final level.

And what so happens if you got an LFR pair of legs, or a real raid one on normal or heroic, or mythic by that point because we are talking a long long time to collect all those crystals, or maybe you even got one from a follower mission quest that was better.  You saved up those 36,500 apexis crystals at a rate of getting 800-1000 per day, not counting the pittance you got from mobs while doing the quests sometimes, but not always.  That means you now spent over a month to get a piece of gear that might still, even when upgraded to maximum, be completely useless.

Or how about this worse yet, you vendored off those apexis 630 pants when you got the warforged ones from the dungeon we spoke about that were better not only because they were a higher item level but because they had better stats.  Guess what you have to do if you want to continue to upgrade them?  Either restore a sold item, which many do not even know is an option in game until I explain it to them, or buy a new set of pants at 630 to start the entire process over again and basically "waste" the original 5000 you spent and had worked 5 days to amass a second time.  Having fun yet?

So yeah, the gear for apexis crystals were a horrible idea to begin with.  The horrible stats on them for most classes and no options made them worse.  The fact you needed to hold on to them for upgrading later was even worse moving it to bad idea of the third level.  Then, if you did managed to stick it out to get the top pair of legs which cost 20,000 crystals and the previous ones you had a hard decision to make.  Do the daily for 800 when you only need 300 more and basically "waste" 500 of them so you can get to the 20,000 to buy it or grind mobs for hours and hours on end which drop 1 or 2 on occasion to get the 300 so you do not go over the 20,000 and waste 500 crystals.

Maybe, just maybe, if they had put some notes on the gear that said (apexis level: 1) on them so it would denote that it was a piece of gear you could upgraded later it would have saved a great many people the trouble of having sold the gear not thinking about it.  A swing and a miss on blizzards part by not making something like that part of the item.

Yeah, this was, without a doubt, the most horrible idea in terms of buying gear with currency ever added to the game and if it goes away I am sure there is not one single person in the history of gaming that would shed a tear.

2) The pricing.

I already dabbled on this in the previous part but it deserves its own header.  Who the hell came up with the idea that for a pair of pants it would cost 5000 apexis crystals and it would be the super crappy type that I can probably get something with better stats and maybe even a higher level or a gem slot from a heroic dungeon idea?

5000 Crystals for a piece of horrible gear was bad enough to begin with.  But 11,500 more to upgrade it and it would still have horrible stats on it for most classes was not only out of line but it was obscene.  That would bring the total price up to 16,500 now for that pair of pants.  Thinking an average of 1,000 per day, figuring doing the 1K quest most times and getting some drops otherwise with the 800 ones, that seems reasonable, you are talking 16 and a half days worth of work for a poorly itemized piece of gear that can not be warforged, can not have a gem slot and can not have a tertiary stat on it and will still be beat out by many easy access gearing options like follower missions, LFR and normal mode as well as crafted items, world drops and world bosses.

Now, to add insult to injury, the next upgrade would cost you 20,000, which is (was) the max amount of apexis crystals you could have to begin with.  This brings issues of its own, as mentioned above, but now places your total cost for that horrible piece of gear at 36,500, or 36 and a half days to get.

The pricing was not only out of line, it was insulting.  For "fill in" gear it should not take longer to get it to a "fair" item level than it would take to learn to raid from scratch even if you never raided and get into a group that could kill a boss and get you something better, if you got a lucky drop that is.

The prices for apexis gear were so over priced I can not even find the words to describe it anymore than to say they are out of line.

3) The selection.

For many classes, as I mentioned, the apexis gear was not really what anyone would call "great" and as fill in gear that you could buy outside of raids there is nothing wrong with that.  Some less than stellar gear you can get just to fill in that weak spot is not really such a horrible thing is it?  I don't believe so.

But why only 6 items?  They are crap items, they take months and months to get if you want more than one, and they take up bag space if you want to hold on to them to upgrade them later.  So they come with a ton of drawbacks right off the bat.  They should have had an apexis piece for every single slot.  Not just six.

What if you had a slot you were having an issue with that was not one of those six?  Like the all important weapon or trinket slots.  Don't you think having a poorly itemized expensive apexis crystal weapon would be better than not having one at all?

If they really wanted to go the route that it takes forever to get them, they are poorly itemized, and it is a grind from hell to upgrade, the very least they could have done it allow all slots to have an apexis option.

How would grumpy have fixed it?

First things first, no more keeping the item to upgrade it.  The pants would cost 5000, 11,500 and 20,000 flat out.  You would not need the previous tier to get the higher one.  Add a "discounted" version for upgrading if you have the previous ones, but do not make it required.  If I only wanted the 20,000 one and choose to save for that one, let me buy just that one and do not make me buy the previous 2 and hold on to them.  The prices are way the hell too high to begin with, having them that high and you need the previous ones make them not worth it.

Using myself for an example.  If I wanted to gear my mage alt that I do not play I could choose to get a cheap pair of pants, just for something, or save up and buy the top ones for 20,000.  But the idea of having to buy the same piece three times and that then makes it cost 36,500 means, fuck it, I am not buying them on my mage.  Excuse the language, but seriously, 36,500 for something I can get equal or better than in a pug?  No thank you.  20,000 is still pricy, sure, but if I am not raiding, it is worth it.  It is not worth 36,500 however and having to hold on to it to upgrade it.  I would buy them if I had the crystals saved up, as is.  But I will not go through the buy, upgrade, buy, upgrade, crap on an alt.

I am not done, I would have also had pieces for each slot.  Maybe not each step of the way.  Maybe the weapon would have been available for a 630 and a 655 only.  Maybe trinkets would be 645 only.  Not all things needed to have multiple options for it, but all things should have had options.

And cap, what is with that 20,000 cap they have (had).  If the most expensive piece is 20,000 the cap should not have been 20,000.  It should have had some extra room, so if you had a case like I mentioned you could do the daily, end with 20,500, and then go buy it instead of losing 500 because you hit cap.  The cap should always be higher than the highest priced item.  It should not be the exact same.

As the expansion went on, they could have added more items there at a higher level, maybe even increased the prices a little, or decreased the older ones, and the newer ones would have been the 20,000 numbers instead.  They could have done so much that could have been useful for apexis crystals as a gearing process, they just chose not to.  Makes one wonder why.

Gathering Apexis Crystals:

This was another swing and a miss on blizzards part.  Sure you could get a few out of work orders, but you would not be building them up fast that way.  Sure we could get a tiny pittance from mobs we kill but trust me, from experience, if you planned to grind mobs for apexis to get gear, it was not an option.  Even if you used a bot and did it 24/7.  Even if you did it with the new group finder and AFKed and let everyone else do the work (you jerk) it would have still taken a dogs age.

We had one quest per day, a timeless island epoch stone sort of quest, because we all know how much we "loved" doing that.  You would get from 800 to 1000 per day, with the few that dropped here and there, and that was that.

This is where we come to the number that to get one completely upgraded piece of gear it would take, at best, usually around 36 days to get it.  And that is really off base.  Way to long for a "casual" player to get gear because do you really think they will be on every day and able to devote the time to do a large quest line that?  I think not, heck, I know not.  It is even too long for a "raider" to get that one slot he is having trouble with. 

So if it takes an every day player 36 days to get the piece, how long would it take a weekend warrior that only plays on saturday and sunday?   Assuming an average of 1K per day and 2 days a week played that would mean for a casual player it might be reasonable to guess it could take them 18 weeks, that is four and a half months, to get one single piece of gear at a "fair" item level with poorly itemized stats.   Really blizzard?  This is your idea of a way for casual players to get some gear?  At the rate of 3 pieces of gear a year... a year!!! 

There were no places you could collect apexis crystals at a reasonable rate that would make the gear a reasonable option even for a casual player.  None what so ever, and that was a huge mistake on blizzards part.

How would grumpy fix that?

Add apexis crystals to other duties.  First up... add some freaking dailies to the game.  Then add some apexis as rewards for doing the dailies.  Offer 200 apexis crystals for doing a dungeon, then have bosses drop 30 each or something.   Have raid bosses drop apexis crystals.  Make rares in the world killable more than once and done (which is another huge mistake this time around) and drop baggies, like the rares did in last expansion, that can have a chance to contain from 10 - 50 crystals.  Add a few more, minor, crystal missions to the garrisons, maybe even have lockboxes have a chance to contain a few.  Have crystals come once in a rare while from gathering, from crafting an item, from the extra roll in raids, from the timed runs in CMs, the faster you do it the more you get.

Basically use apexis crystals to motive people to do things, to get out of their garrison and experience the world.  Heck, there is no other reason to do so anyway.  If apexis were supposed to be some sort of half assed replacement for valor, make it one and use it as such by making it a motivating factor for people to actually, you know, play the game.  Shutter at the thought people might actually play the game.  How dare I think that.

Purchasing Options:

I mentioned gear as the first and foremost reason for collecting and spending apexis crystals but that is not all they are used for.  You can buy followers, pets and mounts from certain faction when you reach the required reputations.  But if you are anything even remotely resembling an active player you are probably doing what I do with mine.  I buy my extra rolls each week with them.  Nothing really else to buy with them.

How would grumpy fix that?

Do what they did with valor to give some people are reason to keep collecting them.  Add a couple of BoE items that can be purchased with them.  So I can buy them from my main and send them to an alt.  Or I can buy them to help a guild mate that is just starting the gearing process.  Or maybe I can just buy them to sell them on the auction house.  That is a start right?

How about having something like the trading post guy that sells items for garrison resources.  Add one that sells stuff for apexis crystals.  A combination of the primal vendor and the trading post vendor.  You can buy fish or meat or even crafting materials.  Make them expensive if you have to.  5000 for a savage blood, 2000 for a stack of crescent saberfish flesh, what have you.  But it would still give additional options to keep collecting apexis crystals to buy stuff you need.

Then maybe you could make them even more useful by adding the item upgrade system.  A 5 point upgrade to a piece of gear for 2500 apexis crystals.  Each patch raise it by one level allowed to upgrade and there you go, another useful idea for apexis crystals, even if they used it only on gear originally purchased with apexis crystals to begin with.

Add an heirloom vendor for apexis crystals selling both heirlooms and the items to upgrade them. Have an option to convert apexis to honor or conquest, I know I loved being able to turn justice into honor and I am sure people would be all over the apexis into honor, or even better conquest at a 100 to 1 rate even.  There are a million and one things they could have done.  But they did... none.  Nice job blizzard.

End note:

Over all, the idea would be the main idea for how I would have used apexis crystals.  Put lots of ways, out in the world, to get them and gather them.  Even pop up quest areas that are dailies, kind of like the ones we had while first questing thought, that offer some here and there.  Dailies, gathering, rare killing, all good reasons among the many others there could be to go out and gather apexis crystals and make the game a little more about being out in the world and a little less about being in your garrison.  And in the process blizzard could have turned the apexis crystals into the driving force that fed an expansion instead of a wasted resource that was useless basically the day the expansion came out.


  1. I got a helm because it was the only piece with my ideal stats. I upgraded it to the max at 655.

    I haven't had a better helm drop yet, so it has turned out to be a good choice.

    I wish I could upgrade it more.

    Since I can't, I stopped doing the daily apexis farming.

    I heard they might increase the limit in 6.1, so I did a couple days of farming again, but then I gave up again.

    Someone saw on the PTR that a 4th set of gear of ilvl 670 is available. I might farm again for that.


    1. I got a piece too while leveling my gear at the start. But over all it seems too high priced and takes too long to get. I hate having to upgrade to a higher one, just want to buy the higher one when I have enough for it.

      I do believe you can upgrade it more come the patch, and they are increasing the limit to 60K crystals.

  2. - The apexis gear I've purchased was only purchased after I had enough crystals to upgrade it to 645. The initial 630 items were just a waste. They were supposed to be like justice gear, but who ever bought entry-level justice gear? Running dungeons is super easy.

    - I accidentally DE'd an apexis item that I was holding onto, but I was luckily able to restore it using the support system. It's very easy to accidentally get rid of them...

    - I agree the prices are just absurd. Valor gear was normal level raid gear (now called heroic) so it'd be 670 or 680 now and the expensive leg/chest pieces usually cost what 2.5 weeks of valor or something like that (was it 2200 vp?). Not 5 weeks of work for a flex level item like this apexis crap...

    - Agree with all of your ideas, Grumpy. I just wish they would have left everything alone and kept jp/vp instead of breaking something that wasn't broken.

    1. Sounds like you had much of the same problems others I heard did. No reason to buy the 630, save for 645. Accidentally getting rid of one you needed later. So forth and so on. Blizzard did not think this one out at all.

      The price, oh the price, how it frustrates me so. 5 weeks for one piece of gear that is not even a decent item level? How does this replace valor gear, as you mentioned, which was better gear and only took 2 and a half weeks. They need to go back to that model, or if they are going to keep them this low of item level it should take no more than 2 weeks to get even the top item.

  3. I felt the need for Apexis Crystals only to complete the ring quest. With my army of alts, even these "exactly 4986" for each toon seem now like a chore.

    I looked up at the sold gear, told myself that it's "hell no", because the income is laughable if you don't do dailies, and forgot where those merchant guys in Ashran were. I can suit up effectively from LFR and craft for the next LFR, so I didn't see any point in crystal grinding.

    It was much better in Pandaria as they gave you these points for what you really want to do in game: scenarios, dungeons, raids, dailies (not into PvP so can't tell about that currency). So they kept coming without any very special effort and prices were good.

    1. I was grinding for drops that first day and few days there after. Do you know how long it takes to get that many killing mobs a few at a time for the 1 or 3 they drop? A while, but I did it.

      The price of the gear is what really made it laughable. "Hell no" is the only reasonable response to it when you see those prices. If they are expensive for a daily player that is willing to grind, what do you think it is like for a casual player? Blizzard and math do not get along.

      Mists was better as you mentioned. More ways to get stuff, get is as you want to, better stuff, cheaper stuff. That is what apexis should have been, not this.

    2. Yeah, in MOP, the valor came from basically every activity. If you played the game in almost any way, you were able to progress.


    3. And that is what made it great. Do what you want to do. Raid, dungeon, scenarios, dailies, pet battles, you name it, you could progress in your own way. And valor, unlike apexis, was useful for something.

  4. you know, it takes me coming here to read to find out most of the stuff in the game. Why WOW has becomes like this - where one has to go to a fan site to learn things instead of it being put in a book form somewhere is beyond me.

    So, GE - please keep finding out things and writing about them.

    Garrisons - anything that needs to be updated since you wrote about them?

    Thanks and in the name of our great leader Duck Dodgers - "DUCK DODGERS IN THE 24 1/2TH CENTURY!"


    1. There have been a lot of changes. Maybe one day I will go back and make changes, but it doesn't seem like there is a lot of call for it right now.

      Warcraft has always been, at least since I started, the type of game that you need to view outside resources to get the most out of it. They do a really horrible job of showing you things and explaining things in game.

    2. hint - you really should update that garrison book you wrote. there is call for it - as you said - wow has been one of those games where one has to go out and find the resources.

      oooo, using GE's words to rally him into doing something..... LOL


    3. We need to convince them to add more in game help one of these days. ;)

  5. They did build missives into the game allowing you to turn trees (resources) into apexis crystals. Yes it's a bit of a grind, but I haven't had a problem, playing casually, getting the level 2 crystal gear (and halfway to level 3) by purchasing missives and doing the corresponding "dailies." 200 resources will get you 600 crystals and you can do as many per day as time and resources allow. If you're maxed out on resources, which is fairly easy to do if you have a lumber mill, you can obtain a lot of crystals all at once.

    Of course with 6.2 coming up who knows what'll happen. Buying Apexis gear with gold instead of crystals? What do I do with my crystals then? It'll be interesting to see what happens - and especially if Blizzard continues toward this scary path of real life money to gold to gear.

    1. 800 crystals, not 600 - typo; sorry.

    2. Maybe they will add new levels of apexis gear. But those things will work nicely for someone that is trying to collect the 250K needed for the mount.

      Little tip, buy the one that is the, it allows you to finish both at once.

    3. The one that is the daily you mean? So I can buy a missive and accept the corresponding quest when the same quest is the daily in the garrison and get 1600 crystals for doing the quest one time?

    4. Yeap, unless they hotfixed it and I missed reading it, that is exactly how it works.

      I did it once a while ago and it was really great. The one orc one in nagrand. I usually go to the one guy that drops the missive and summon the two rares. I usually just kill him and summon the rares 3 times and done. 1600 crystals for 5 minutes work. Takes longer to fly there. That is my favorite one when speed doing them.

      Heck, it is probably the only one I would do on my alts because it is so fast.

    5. The whole "buy a missive" for the same garrison daily area works like a CHARM! I'd never thought to try that out. Wish I'd have known about this a long time ago ... I'd be much more "crystal rich."

    6. Glad it works still. Awesome and it will really help with trying to collect the 250K crystals we will need for the new mount in 6.2.

      Lets just hope they do not "fix" it when 6.2 comes out.

  6. You talking about Ring of Blood? And the Ring of Blood Invitations contained in Bloody Stack of Invitations dropped at random? Or something else...

    1. No, let me look up a map real fast to see if I can grab the name.

      Mak'Gol watchpost.

      You loot the "secret meeting details" from a mob, look that up on wowhead for more info. Then you use that to blow a horn across a small bridge in the middle, it summons to rares. Kill the rares, by then the mob that drops the secret meeting details respawned, kill him, get the thing, blow the horn, kill the rares, repeat as needed.

      Apexis quest done super fast.

    2. Sorry for creating a new "thread" accidentally. Yes, I know EXACTLY which one you're talking about. I've not been able to blow the horn twice in a row, though. It despawns and doesn't come back so I haven't bothered. Next time I'll wait longer and see just how long it takes for the horn to respawn.

    3. Here are my results. I had to wait several minutes in between each blow of the horn for the NPC to return - close to five. When it did, it dropped the secret meeting item in order to summon the two bosses. The horn DID respawn when the second meeting notes dropped. Unfortunately a rare spawned in the area which put me over the "assault experience" needed to finish the quest so I didn't get to try a third time to see how it went before the quest was done. All in all it took 12 minutes to finish the missive quest killing the two rares you summon and the other rare pop which I took out. Most of this time was waiting for the NPC that drops the secret meeting details to respawn.

      Tow notes. First, I SWEAR I've seen that NPC that drops the secret meeting notes spawn faster than that. And second, when I've looked for the horn and it hasn't been there in the past I've been carrying 2-3 secret meeting notes items already. So I'm not sure if the horn has been changed to respawn more slowly, or if you must obtain a new secret meeting notes item after you kill the two rares for the horn to spawn again.

    4. Maybe they made it so it can not be blown again so quick. That is sad, but it still makes for a rather quick daily. That would make some sense because people like me were "abusing" it.