I’ve finally discovered the purpose for my Warrior. It turns out he’s a blast to play in PvP. I kind of knew already that some light PvP wasn’t wholly outside my comfort realm because I’ve done Tol Barad several times with the Warrior but it was always kind of a side project; something to do whenever I wasn’t looking for excuses not to do dungeons as a tank. But the thing about PvP is that it allows me to use my Fury spec which I’m comfortable with in a non-PvE manner so I don’t feel like when I’m doing it that I’m so obviously failing as a tank.
The whole thing came about this week as I wrapped up Noblegarden by camping the Tol Barad Alliance base of operations for literally hours on Saturday morning. I should clarify up front that my daughter was off visiting her grandparents alone this weekend while my wife was out doing various personal errands and activities, enjoying her toddler-free reprieve. Meanwhile I was stuck at home at my desk because I pulled oncall duty at work so I had nothing to do but keep an eye on my work stuff and the rest of the time it was just Warcraft ahoy. Anyway, my only goal was to get that stupid achievement because I had the one day to finish it or it would have to be done next year. So I camped. And I camped. And I camped some more.
It gets really boring just sitting there clicking Alliance players to see if they happen to be a female Gnome, so I started queuing for Tol Barad when it came up. I figured it wasn’t going to hurt anything if I was away for a bit while the battle was taking place since most players on the Alliance side would be in the battle as well at that point, too. But Tol Barad only goes once every couple of hours so in the meantime it was getting dull. On a whim I decided to try queuing for random PvP Battlegrounds. Worst case scenario I figured was that I’d hate it and never do it again.
Instead I started having a lot of fun. It also helped that I realized how quickly Honor Points accumulate compared to Justice Points or Valor Points. Granted, Conquest Points are even harder to come by than Valor but it doesn’t matter since I’m undergeared for serious PvP anyway and most of the Honor gear is significantly better than my PvE stuff on that character. It soon became a huge project for me to get decked out as a contender in Honor PvP gear so I queued for Battlegrounds over and over and over again. At last I saw a female Gnome in the base camp and without really thinking I charged the camp, thinking, “AT LAST! THE GNOME!”
I didn’t make it.
The guards took me down before I could cast the bunny ears and I ended up at the graveyard on a 24-second resurrection timer. I couldn’t wait so I took off on a ghost run, saying aloud over and over: “Please still be there please still be there please still be there please…” until I was standing over my corpse with the resurrection dialog box and, lo! In the corner, I could see my Gnome. I rezzed and fully expected to be accosted again by the guards, this time at half health, so I hastily cast the stupid bunny spell and watched in what I presumed would be short-lived triumph as the achievement boxes popped up. And then…
…I didn’t die.
It was weird because I was out of the guards’ aggro radius and also not flagged for PvP so, technically, no one could do anything to me, but I was kind of stuck behind enemy lines. I briefly considered using my Hearthstone to go back to Dalaran (I switched my home city on the Warrior after patch 4.1 because they added the portal to Orgrimmar back and while it’s frequently a two-load-screen proposition to get to Org, it’s worth it because getting to Dalaran has been such a pain since Cataclysm) but I actually wanted to stay in Tol Barad and work on some daily quests so I tried to casually saunter out of the camp as if I had an invitation to be there the whole time. The guards saw through it all instantly and turned me into Cream of Orc Soup but it was totally worth it.
I presume that the back-to-back World Events with Noblegarden ending Saturday and Children’s Week beginning Sunday had to do with CW being the first week of May while NG coincides with the calendar-wandering Easter holiday, otherwise it’s kind of intense to have two of these things in a row. But I wanted to get a head start on Children’s Week since I cut it so close the previous event so Sunday—still oncall, still no daughter—I started working on those achievements. It’s a good thing I suppose that I got on the new PvP kick when I did because the difficult CW achieve is one in which you need to perform several PvP feats while your orphan companion is with you. So I spent more time queuing for Battlegrounds, earning Honor and trying to Assault a stupid flag in Arathi Basin. I finally got that one but it wasn’t easy. Even more challenging so far has been the Alterac Valley requirement. I actually got into a match where the Allies and Horde were trading off achievements but I didn’t realize they were doing it until it was very late in the match and I ran out of time. Hopefully I’ll have a few more chances but I still need to do Warsong Gulch as well. I keep thinking every one of these tough achievements is going to be the one that undoes my bid for the Proto-Drake. Knowing my luck it will instead be an easy one that I just overlook on accident or something.
By the end of the week my Warrior was rocking a nearly full set of Bloodthirsty Gladiator PvP armor and have close to 2,000 resilience now. I did a bit of reading and I think I need to reset my spec and adjust some hotbars and rotations so I can make the most of the tools at my disposal but I’m getting better at it and at least it’s breathed some fresh life into a character I had kind of gotten sick of.
Just Give It A Try
I have to make an aside here to talk about the phenomenon that happens to me in this game in particular but other online games as well which amounts to being shy about trying new things only to find they are not just tolerable but utterly enjoyable once I finally get over the mental roadblock of not wanting to have some twelve year-old flame me for twenty minutes because I n00b’d it up doing something unfamiliar. This has applied to doing random dungeons, random heroics, joining guilds, offering paid services like Mage portals or professional work and now PvP. Each time, broadening the scope of the game I play has made the game better, not worse which is what I always fear.
The lesson here is apparent: Just try it. If you’re newish to a sprawling game like this, especially one with a social element to it—even if that element is chatter on XBL—it’s worth just giving it a shot. It’s odd that the same anonimity mechanism which allows jerks to really embrace their inner douche doesn’t seem to permit those who would find their play experience fouled by those imbeciles to ignore their hateful pratter. In my case after a weekend of heavy PvP’ing I only encountered one instance of directly targeted angst which came because I was basically holding down the Goldmine in Arathi Basin by myself for close to ten minutes, valiantly fending off three or four small waves of assaulting Allies. At last another player (a Hunter I believe) from my faction showed up to help after the flag had been hit by a stealthing Rogue while I dealt with his Warlock and Paladin buddies. Between the two of us we wiped out the remaining Allies and I re-capped the flag which I felt was perfectly within my rights because I had owned this stupid cap point for so long and this Johnny-come-lately Hunter was free to try to cap it as well if he wanted but I felt no reservation in playing the Battleground as intended.
The issue was that he was achievement hunting for School of Hard Knocks (whereas I had already gotten the requirement for AB) and he took umbrage to the fact that I didn’t even have an orphan out which meant I wasn’t interested in the achievement. The possibility that I actually did need the achievement and had simply overlooked the orphan requirement didn’t seem to interest him and he called me several names. My sympathy was limited though. Like I said, if it wasn’t for me the opportunity to re-cap that flag would never have existed and he was free to try to cap the flag same as I. I know for a fact no one gifted me the achievement requirement when I got it, and more to the point he never indicated in any way that he was more interested in getting the achieve requirement than winning the Battleground ahead of time. I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility to make sure I have permission from everyone in the vicinity before I attempt to execute the game objectives just like I don’t feel like I need to ask permission to roll Need on an item that drops. I know that I try my hardest to play the game with integrity and a certain degree of polite deference to my fellow players. If their perceptions of my actions are skewed in some way, that’s not really my problem.
But these are the kinds of scenarios that, prior to their actual realization, fill me with dread and trepidation over trying something different. I wish I could somehow keep in my head the idea that so far I’ve regretted trying new things far less often than I have regretted not trying something. And interestingly that applies well beyond the bounds of the game.
Ze Patch, Mon
So 4.1 dropped which means new Heroics, interface changes and an alteration on how daily dungeon bonuses are handled. I’d love to tell you about the new Rise of the Zandalari dungeons, but I can’t because I’m one freaking ilevel point away from being able to queue into them on my Mage. I know that one of my trinkets and my cursed wand are what’s holding me back, but I can’t seem to get those slots filled. By far my favorite thing they did in this patch was change the daily dungeon rewards so it’s a weekly cap that can be rolled at your leisure. For someone who doesn’t play every single day and, even if it were possible, doesn’t always have the time to sit through a queue and then run a whole Heroic, this is huge. I tend to play in big chunks on weekend nights and smaller batches early weekday mornings before work. Where before I’d often try to squeeze in a Heroic in the morning so I could get my Valor, now I don’t have to and I can focus on other activities in those smaller blocks of time and get the weekly Valor in a more relaxed manner as time permits.
I ran a bunch of said Heroics on Sunday to try to get my ilevel up, but you need 346 (average) to queue in the new dungeons and I ended at 345 following a splurge of Valor point spending on a ring. My motivation was this: You can actually earn extra Valor per week if you queue into the new dungeons versus just grinding the 4.0 Heroics which caps out at a lower threshold so I figured if I sprung for a less significant item upgrade and it boosted my average over the queue requirement, I could at least try to make up the extra Valor with the new instances. Also, those instances drop epic level loot so it could end up being a benefit on that front, too. Anyway, the gambit failed and of course the one time I queued into Grim Batol (where Forgemaster Throngus drops an improvement for my sorry green wand) it was a kick/drop replacement and they were already on the third boss so I didn’t even get a chance at it.
Most of the other interface changes have been fairly uninteresting for me: I don’t really benefit from the extra rewards for under-represented roles since my level capped instance runner is a DPS and I’m already in a good guild on my three primary toons so the Looking For Guild feature will only help me on my lower priority alts. The interface changes did impact me though since I had some issues with a few of my AddOns following the patch. I don’t remember if I really dealt with a major content patch when I was playing after Wrath came out but if I did I don’t recall it being much of an issue. This time I had a lot of really glitchy behaviors popping up and slow updates from the AddOn maintainers didn’t help. I can’t complain too much since they are all provided free of charge but considering my rare opportunity to play for hours on end, it was a bit frustrating to have so many problems during that window.
I ran my Shaman healer up to level 30 doing chain instances, which was kind of cool. Level 30 seems almost like a bigger deal for this toon than level 20 was since you get Astral Recall, which acts as a second Hearthstone, Reincarnation which lets you rez yourself, and some new Totem abilities including Call of the Elements (my favorite) which drops selected Totems from all four groups at once. I guess level 20 was big for me as a Resto Shaman, but since Ghost Wolf hit a couple levels earlier—and the fact that I don’t go anywhere since I’m still leveling exclusively through dungeons—getting a mount was sort of anticlimactic.
Unfortunately I had to do a lot of Gnomergeran to get to level 30. One big downside to doing instance-leveling is that occasionally you get to a spot where there are only a couple of available dungeons to queue into. If one of them is kind of a stinker (I get the hate for Gnomergeran now), it really feels like the grind you’re trying to avoid by skipping out on questing comes creeping back in. The reason GNO is so agitating is that it’s long, especially if you don’t take the shortcut, and that first skippable boss is really tedious in that it involves an NPC fiddling around on timers while you battle spawning trash mobs of the most boring sort and then the boss finally shows up and he has the worst loot table. Granted, I’m realizing that caster Leather is really, really difficult to come by so I don’t really expect lots of sweet drops all that often but when every single player from a nice class cross-section rolls Disenchant on the boss blues—twice—there’s a loot issue for that boss.
What makes it worse is that there is no teleportation option into deeper dungeon levels and the trash respawns alarmingly quick. Which means if you, like me, happen to have the dumb and you fall off the platform after the second-to-last boss—as the only resurrection-capable healer—you get to attempt to run back to the party through scores of respawned elite mobs. It’s brilliant, really. The result of that particular run (I initially typed that as “ruin,” which is pretty fitting) was abandonment of the instance by all party members. They briefly considered attempting the boss without heals but nixed the idea since I think the party makeup was Warrior tank, Mage, Warlock and Hunter none of which have any kind of healing off-spec or anything that could be used in lieu of an actual healer. Considering we were at the last boss, it was pretty disappointing. The other option would have been to have the party run back through, trying not to die on respawned trash themselves, and escort me back to the spot we left off. I didn’t blame anyone for not wanting to do that.
I’m fairly shocked at how much fun I’m having playing a healer. I wonder in some cases if I like being a Shaman or if I just like healing in general. If the former then great! I’m already doing that. If the latter I wonder sometimes if I might not be better served by using a class that was more directly suited to the role (Priest, for instance). Most of what I read about Shamans indicate that they are capable healers but not exactly the most sought after class for that role. I suppose the analogy would be like Fury Warriors: They can DPS just fine, but if you really want to DPS you ought to look into a more pure DPS class. This is the consideration that led me to create a Mage and the result of that was overwhelmingly positive. But then again I wonder if playing a Priest might feel too much like playing a Mage: The gear is very similar, the play style looks very close; the only real differences seem to be the increased interest in the Spirit stat and the targets of your spells are different. For now I’m happy with my Shaman, I just hope I don’t hit a point where overcoming the class limitations for the chosen role becomes a matter of possessing a high degree of skill (this feels a bit like the case with Warrior DPS) where a less skillful player could mask their sub-optimal ability level with a strong class choice.
Meanwhile, I put a bit of time into my Death Knight for no other reason than that I’m frustrated with the Paladin and I’m hoping that the DK will catch my limited attention enough to feel good about making him my new Inscriptionist/Jewelcrafter. Leveling my Shaman through the instances has been fun, but I don’t seem to have the motivation to get the Paladin up to level 15 so I can start doing that with her. I wish I knew what it was about Paladins that makes me so prone to making this sound: “Glear-ACHKpth!” Then again maybe it’s that she’s also a Blood Elf? I dunno. There’s something very uninteresting to me about that toon and I keep logging in with her hoping it will pass and I’ll finally see the light that seems to blind everyone else into believing that Belfs and Pallys are “so freakin’ beast, man!” But then I realize that I don’t want to talk like that and I’m not sure why it matters to me whether or not I’m able to see things from the majority viewpoint so, hence, I hit the starting zone with the DK.
This actually marks my third attempt to finish the DK starting area which admittedly is awesome but for whatever reason I get to a point where I just stop and character abandonment ensues. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that 55 feels like a weird place to start because the thrill of the rapid level advancement that aids in lowbie grinding isn’t there or maybe it’s because no matter what kind of DK I roll the starting zone is always the same. I do want to get at least to level 60 with this guy so I can start trying to tank as a Blood DK (going back to my Just Try It mantra, I want to find some toon that I can find enjoyment in that role with) in Burning Crusade dungeons but I also keep forgetting that a lot of my time is going to be poured into the Warrior until the end of the next week because of the silly World Event. As much as I actually enjoy all these holiday things, they kind of put a damper on my schedules.