Archive for November, 2010


Day 2: Which is your favourite race, and why?

  

Here we are again on the 20 Days of Warcraft challenge, from Ama via Erinys. I’m not doing them on consecutive days, since time does not allow, but so far they’re interesting – so I shall keep plodding along at my own speed!

This one is a difficult question. I can name a couple who aren’t my favourite races – dwarves, whose fondness for ale and Scottish accents amuses but doesn’t really charm me, and humans (I am already a human. Do I need to play a computer game just in order to be one again?). Most of the others, though, have their redeeming factors:

  • Undead: Although they gross me out completely, some of their quotes when clicked on (and the underlying racial outlook on life) are rather fun. My personal favourite is ‘Remember, patience. Discipline.’ – closely followed by ‘What would you ask of Death?’. I suppose you could call it a morbid fascination…
  • Gnomes: Undeniably cute, but certainly sometimes a bit irritating as well. I love them when they’re sneaking and their death animation is endlessly amusing, but their laughter causes me to consider ways of bringing about their death as a race.
  • Goblins: Haven’t tried them yet (obviously) so it’s difficult to say. I’m guessing probably not, though, as I don’t really go for the whole profiteering thing. Plus, their voices tend to get on my nerves. That said, they clearly do have a well-developed sense of fun!
  • Worgen: Likewise, haven’t tried them yet. I would say, though, that they would be in there with a very strong chance. British accents instead of the endless American voices (no offense, I’m half American myself!), plus the whole changing into a wolf thing – and I’m strongly in sympathy with their desire to live their own lives and shut the rest of the world out, even though I don’t think it was the right thing to do.
  • Tauren: Definitely the gentle giants of Azeroth. Their culture is quite beautiful – certainly the pick of the Horde – and I think could be developed a bit more than it has been. That said, somehow my mental image of a cow doesn’t include a great deal of intelligence, so I perhaps don’t like them as well as I might otherwise.
  • Draenei: I love their devotion to the Light and their selflessness. They’re fun to look at, too (even if the girls’ posture makes me cringe – their backs must get terribly sore!), and they aren’t afraid to get involved in helping out when someone needs it. On the other hand, they’re also hugely popular, and I’ve never been all that fond of following the crowd.
  • Trolls: The embodiment of ‘cool’. They are fun and funky, and would also kill you or anyone else given half a chance. I quite like playing them, but you can never trust them not to do something horribly barbaric at any moment, which irks me a bit.
  • Orcs: Rather a divided race. My feelings about the orcs vary depending on whether we’re discussing the ‘Thrall’ type or the ‘Garrosh’ type. The former would probably place them up with my favourite races, for their honour and bravery; the latter would take them out of the running entirely!
  • Night elves: My main is a night elf, so I’ve probably spent longer looking at them than any other race (though, granted, she also is a cat most of the time. But an elven cat!). I like their connection with nature, but their arrogance and isolationism rather annoys me; I know, I said I sympathised with worgen for almost the same thing, but consistency is for the weak.
  • Blood elves: The ‘pretty’ race. Having pretty characters is fun, I can’t deny that (and I don’t play male characters, so I’m talking about the girls here). That said, as a race they really aren’t that pleasant, and no one could really describe them as team players.  But they are fun to dress up!

 

After all of that, with a short list of worgen, orcs and draenei, I think the eventual winner is the worgen. The orcs lose out due to the Garrosh factor, in the end – and even the draenei can’t quite compete with the turning-into-a-wolf bonus points the worgen get. Of course, I might change my mind after I play one – but I hope not, since the idea is that my new main will be Gilnean born and bred!

I got this topic from Erinys, who got it from Ama (topic-stealing ftw!). It looks fun, so I think I might try it! Though I don’t know that I’ll be making a post each day.

This is a question I’ve only just managed to answer to my own satisfaction, being incurably altoholic. To a large degree, my favourite class is the one I’m currently logged into – even warlocks are (sometimes) fun if that’s what I’m doing at the time. 

The one I can’t stay away from though, that wins in so many ways for me, is druid. I have…*cough* too many druids, mostly baby ones (though Dhak is of course of the feline persuasion), and I never get tired of them. And, of course, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for first the Shattering and then Cataclysm, because then I get FOUR druid races! And I get to be a bat!

*clears throat* ahem, anyway.

Druids are just fun. For one thing, they change shape – a lot. Of course the change to resto, which shall be left silently aside, has reduced the entertainment value of that spec a bit (never having played a high level resto druid, I’m not so disappointed as those who do, but I do think it’s rather a shame and I had been looking forward to being a tree). Even so, though, by the time your pet druid reaches maximum level, s/he has no less than six (or seven, if you’re balance or resto – eight if you’re also a worgen!) different forms to play with. Some of those forms are actually considerably better looking than the original night elf or tauren forms; I know, elves are the ‘pretty’ races, but I don’t actually find night elves terribly attractive. I’d rather look at a graceful, purple cat than at the back of an elven head.

The other thing I love about druids is the utility. Any class that lets you gather herbs and quest items without actually landing on the ground gets lots of points from me (even though Dhak is a miner and therefore has to land anyway…sigh). Cat form, properly talented, lets you run faster even indoors; bear form, even if you’re kitty spec, has been known to save at least 5-man groups whose tank has developed a sudden affection for the floor. And, of course, being able to swim indefinitely and fly without the risk of being knocked off your mount are also very useful perks in some situations. It’s got to the point where, as a couple of my other characters climb up into the mid-levels, I’m starting to wonder how I’ll like playing alts without that kind of functionality. Methinks I might be a little bit spoilt…

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m creating a new main come Cata – on an Oceanic realm, which is where I sensibly belong. Making her a worgen druid was basically a no-brainer, for all the above reasons (plus…werewolves!); the only thing I don’t like is that neither worgen nor druids really have as much use for mounts as anyone else! You see, I intend to go achievement-collecting on her, and what’s the good of having dragons or white tigers if you never get to look at them…?

That said, it’s perhaps a little early to be worrying about that (and it is, admittedly, a laughably trivial issue). Apart from the lack of diversity in steeds, though – druids all the way!

I suppose major changes like this to a world that people know and love are always going to provoke a lot of comment (and boy, is that an understatement. Have we heard anything but Cataclysm lately?). My feelings are rather mixed – so much so that, in fact, I’ve started this post no less than four times in different tones! I hesitate to apply the word ‘bittersweet’, because that might lend the whole thing a little too much gravitas, but I think that’s the term that best expresses the flavour of the moment.

I tried out the new troll starting area today (along with roughly ten million others, mostly playing druids). Having competed madly for quest mobs and listened to dialogue rendered meaningless by constant repetition as each of the ten million did the same quests, I quite liked it – but I think I’m going to wait a while to go back, since it was rather like being in pre-Shattering Dalaran. I shudder to think what Gilneas and the Lost Isles are going to be like! I also had a look at a few other places, including Dun Morogh (interesting), Stormwind (er…shattered) and Menethil (flooded), and ran around a bit to get a feel for Dustwallow Marsh.

I notice we now have new achievements as well, which has adjusted a few things one way or t’other. Of course, as we were warned, my characters have lost basically all their quest counts for old Azeroth (sigh). On the up side, the higher level ones seem to have gained the exploration achievements for nearly every zone, including ones they’ve never visited (Azshara, for instance!). I have a feeling that World Explorer, at least for pre-existing characters, has just got an awful lot quicker; I’m only missing 5 zones on Dhakeilh now. It was interesting to have a look at the achievements for the Cata raids and for archaeology, too – I’ve not been in the beta and have avoided hearing too much about the upcoming storylines, so I’m having fun speculating on where all the bosses come in.

The down side, of course, is the glaringly obvious. Deathwing has done his dastardly work and destroyed the world as we know it, and (since, as aforementioned, I’m beta-less) things keep taking me unawares. I trotted out the western gate of Razor Hill today and went splash into the Southfury River, somewhat to my surprise – and Orgrimmar looks so different that I have to keep looking at the map to find myself. I haven’t yet dared to visit Auberdine and Darkshore, and I’m not entirely sure I want to; I spent a lot of my early leveling time there on Dhak and on other characters, and in spite of its dreariness, I was quite fond of the place. I suppose I’ll have to go and have a look, though.

Common sense and experience with Blizzard both dictate that there will be plenty of new (or improved) areas that are just as beautiful and/or just as lovable as the ones that are now underwater or broken into bits. Likewise, in the grand scheme of things, an expansion that rearranges a computer game’s virtual world is not exactly an issue of major importance. Even knowing both of those things, though, I can’t quite evade a tendency to wail ‘But I wasn’t ready yet!’ when I see some newly devastated place. There were still things I should have got round to, screenshots I should have taken (why is it only now that I want to look at the statues in front of Stormwind as they were, when I could have done it any day for the last two months?), places I should have spent more time in, quest lines I really should have done…and so on, and so forth. I don’t think I realised, I suppose, that we’d be having the Shattering two weeks before Cata – but even with those extra two weeks, would I have felt ready? Probably not.

I have never been a person who really enjoys changes. Of course, I only started playing about a year ago, so there are still huge swathes of WoW that I haven’t touched. Unlike the majority, who were raid-ready as Wrath started or during its course and are now bored silly, there’s still heaps of content that would be plenty new and exciting (and difficult) for me. Probably that contributes to the mixing of my feelings – I’m not so desperate for something new to do as many others are, and all of the predictions about how Cataclysm will make everything far more difficult are worrying me a bit (I am quite dreadful enough as it is without adding more complications)! All in all, I’m looking forward to it – I think. But there is a level on which it feels rather like they’ve taken a good game that I was getting fond of and turned it back into a new game that I don’t know at all. Of course, I can only imagine how much more jarring the changes must be for those who’ve been playing years longer than me, too.

The title of this post should have served as a warning about its content! I really didn’t intend for this to turn into a whine about Cataclysm, because there are many things about it that I’m eagerly awaiting. Really, I think, it’s just the aftermath of seeing the destruction for the first time; when I get more used to it, and have got over the shock of seeing a few favourite places destroyed, I’ll find new spots to love and all will be sunshine again.

After all, who doesn’t love a new challenge?!

One of my pre-Cataclysm projects, that I’m enjoying far more than I thought I would, is to play through the quest lines in Eastern and Western Plaguelands before they all go away. I’d made a few brief forays up there for specific purposes and had thought the whole place very dreary and uninteresting (and full of disgusting ghouls and things), but I’ve gotten surprisingly caught up in the story since actually spending some time there. It isn’t so much the plaintive ghosts; uneasy dead are a dime a dozen in Azeroth, after all, and most of them seem to have something they want you to do to let them rest in peace. Nor is it the hordes of undead, who tend to evoke more disgust than pity in me; rather, it’s the land itself.

It’s clear to see, looking beyond the brown vegetation and dilapidated buildings, that the Plaguelands was once beautiful farmland with a string of charming towns dotted across it. I missed this entirely on first impression, as the general atmosphere of smoke and shambling abominations tends to catch the eye, but after spending more time and visiting places more than once, little details began to stand out. Andorhal, in particular, must once have been a delightful little town, with the lake close by and the hills overlooking it – but so must Darrowshire in its snug little valley and, for that matter, Hearthglen-of-the-marvellous-view (before the fanatics got quite so carried away).

Andorhal and its surrounding farms are the part that really got to me, though. I started off feeling a bit sad for it, but the more time I spend there, the angrier I feel at our friend Prince Arthas. The people of Andorhal never had a chance; first Arthas raises an army of Scourge and Lordaeron is destroyed (and Stratholme is corrupted – thus depriving them of their two nearest major cities). Then the Scarlet Crusade moves in and starts charging all over the countryside burning anything that looks at them funny, and all the while you have the Argent Dawn and their allies battling the Scourge up hill and down dale. No wonder no one lives there any more!

Not even the dogs…

It doesn’t seem fair, somehow.  I’m sure if I’d known what it was like before Arthas came to town I’d be even more indignant – but, of course, I don’t. Even so, having spent some time in the Plaguelands, I now have a much better perspective of why exactly the citizens of Azeroth want to hunt the Lich King down and slay him – besides the obvious. Villains seem to be rather common in Azeroth; you’ll find a marauding tribe of centaur or a restless minor deity under nearly every rock. Some of them, though, deserve death more than others.

What did you find made Wrath ‘personal’ for you (if anything?). I’m betting we all have some reason we’d love to kill Deathwing, or we will when we see what he does to the world; but I’m curious, what was the thing that motivated you to kill the LK?

The end of an era always tends to bring on a spate of reminiscences and bewailing the disappearance of whatever we most loved about said era. In the spirit of the times, therefore, I’ve been doing a little meditating on the idea of a home in Azeroth – and, being possessed by the lunacy of Hallow’s End, Blog Azeroth has elected to use the idea as a shared topic this week.

Here’s my original trigger question:

What does ‘home’ mean in your book? Do you have a particular home in Azeroth – a place you feel you belong, that you know like the back of your hand, or that you feel more comfortable in than anywhere else? Would this be different for different characters or different factions, or is there just a place that really resonates with you? Do you think Cataclysm will prompt you to find new and different turf, or will you be heading back there first thing to see what might have changed? If it is destroyed, how do you think that will affect your experience of the game, or your characters’ lives? Or do you think the whole idea of having a home doesn’t even really apply to a game?

 

This is a topic that’s close to my heart for a whole lot of reasons. I haven’t seen my own real life home in a long time, and probably won’t for a long time yet, but at heart I’m definitely a homebody (in spite of a life spent traveling). For that reason, I often will look for somewhere that ‘fits’ to use as a sort of base of operations – whether in a new city or in a computer game! – and, of course, I’m hardly alone in that. There’s a distinction in WoW, though, between a functional home and an emotional home…or at least, there is for me.

I originally became more familiar with the more traveled places, of course. If I had to choose the area I know best, it probably would be Darkshore (after leveling several night elves and draenei). The city I’m most familiar with? Probably Stormwind or Orgrimmar, no surprises there. My favourite place to look at? Ouch, that’s a tricky one. The jury’s still out on that one, maybe I’ll know in five years or so…but I’m guessing Storm Peaks or Stranglethorn Vale would probably be up there. Certainly Azeroth is a beautiful place. Functionally, I guess Dalaran and Stormwind/Orgrimmar share the honours – Dalaran for the shops and the portals, the others for the auction house. There are, after all, only so many places you can sensibly use to conduct all the practical micromanagement that is life in WoW.

‘Emotional home’, though, is a different story entirely. Stormwind might be practical, but homelike? Not really. Auberdine is familiar, but, well, a bit…dreary (is it only me who feels a cataclysm might improve it? *ducks*). And Stranglethorn Vale is a bit hot and humid really – I never liked the tropics that much.

Looking up toward the village

I will certainly admit that most people probably wouldn’t consider Desolace as their favourite place to spend time. In general, neither would I – with the exception of Shadowprey Village, tucked into a little strip of land ‘between the mountains and the sea’. I didn’t actually discover it until quite a while after I had started playing WoW, because Dhak never went to Desolace while leveling (and in any case would have been unlikely to visit a village full of trolls!); it wasn’t until my hunter got sent there in search of bloodbelly fish that I even had a reason to visit. When I did, I didn’t notice it much at first, being rather focused on finding the quest mob and then going for a swim to collect shellfish for him. It wasn’t until I was twenty feet underwater and actually opened my eyes and looked that I realised that actually, the seaweed and sea-floor were quite lovely. And then I surfaced and turned and looked back at the village, and fell in love – just like that.

The love affair was confirmed after I swam back and had a better look at the place. It reminds me subtly of my real home (which is nowhere near the sea) – the only explanation for this I can come to is that the air is clear and it’s tucked into the shadow of a mountain, but I think it’s something in the atmosphere. This is possibly fanciful, but I reserve the right to be fanciful in a blog about Azeroth! At any rate, an elusive something there makes me feel safe and happy, which after all are two major and necessary qualities in anybody’s home. The buildings are quaint and pretty, and you can get up toward the sky; this is terribly important for me as I have a love of flight and the sky that borders on an obsession. But above all, it just feels right. I can wander around there for long periods of time, just looking – even though I’ve seen it all before.

From the top floor of the inn

My horde characters, once they’re level-appropriate, tend to return there at regular intervals. I have one character on a RP realm who hails from there, and she is always pathetically glad to get home and away from the rest of the world. Being in such an out-of-the-way spot, too, it’s rare to meet another player – which for my introverted self can be a good thing at times.

But now, of course, Cataclysm is coming. And while I’m looking forward to it in the main, I’m getting more and more worried about what it’s going to do to the places I like – in particular, this place.

I think Rhii expressed it best in this post just after the Cataclysm cinematic came out. She’s more bothered by Freewind Post and Auberdine biting the dust, while for me the gasp came when I saw that wave hovering over Booty Bay – how dare he? From my understanding of things, Shadowprey Village will survive Deathwing’s arrival, at least in the most part, but just about the first thing I do when Cata hits will be to log on one of the characters who’s there and make sure he hasn’t touched a single thing, directly or indirectly. And if he has…if he’s drowned, burned, dislodged or otherwise destroyed anything in that village…well, just the idea of that is what gets me feeling really murderous toward a certain large, black dragon.

Home sweet Desolace. Who’d have thought?

Challenge vs. Caution

To the bewilderment of some of my acquaintance, I haven’t yet tried even a single heroic. My dps is arguably high enough, depending on whom you ask, although my tanking is abysmal (it was bad enough before 4.0.1 destroyed any coherent idea I had of what to do. Now it resembles competent tanking much in the same way your average hunter represents competent melee dps). The tanking is less relevant, though, as my primary spec is still the kitty cat; still, I’m not keen to try it yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a challenge as much as the next person, and often probably too much. What I don’t like, though – and what I don’t really need in an activity that is supposedly fun – is to be holding other people back and attracting the ensuing comments and kicks. Having recently been kicked from a group that was absolutely owning Culling of Stratholme on normal mode merely because my dps was the lowest of the four (at approximately 1500), I’m not really anxious to step things up a level just yet. Silly ‘gogogo’ people aside, though, I don’t want to be either actually or in perception a drag on the group; I have a holy horror of being carried, though I know it happens a lot. Maybe that’s oversensitivity, I don’t know.

Ooh, look! Relatively pointless introspection; a new thing for this blog! There is a point hiding in here, if I can but locate it.

A huge part of the attraction of WoW, for me, is the challenge. Blizzard has, quite intentionally of course, built in a whole spectrum of ‘achievements’ which range from the ridiculously easy (Represent, anyone?) to the fiendishly difficult, terribly time-consuming or flat out impossible to attain. In case that wasn’t enough, they’ve also added a wide assortment of mounts, pets, toys and other pretty things that are usually only obtainable with a great deal of effort/time/sheer dumb luck. On an already distractible person, seeing or reading about these things has a predictable effect: “Ooh! Shiny!”. I’ve had to work hard to focus on one or two goals at a time, which seems to be the only way to get anywhere sensible, but the inner magpie also has to be reconciled to this state of affairs.

If ‘dream big’ isn’t a strange phrase to use about a computer game, that’s what I try to do. No, I can’t have a flying carpet today, but my new leveling project is a tailor, so one day I will get to entirely block off quest mobs from everyone else too. No, I can’t stop doing more useful rep grinds in order to get a green dragon (ha!) OR a red dragon at the moment, but there will be time soon enough. No, I can’t kill the Lich King – or Deathwing – or even Ragnaros – with a main on a realm on the other side of the world from me, but soon enough I’ll have a second main who can. And so on, and so forth. Of course, I’ll never run out of things to aim for, because (not being able to play WoW instead of going to work) there will certainly never be enough time between expansions; but that’s a good thing. And to be honest, the more unattainable something seems, the more I’m motivated to try to do it.

Don’t laugh! Just because no one else on the realm has a phoenix doesn’t mean it will never drop for me…

The tension between staying where I’m comfortable to work toward tangible goals (that will eventually come about if I keep doing what I’m doing; a full set of normal dungeon gear, for instance) and moving on to bigger and better things is an interesting one. Currently I’m not particularly eager to move on, as I don’t really feel that competent to do so, and I think the timing has to be right for maximum enjoyment (mine and my hapless group members’) – too late leads to boredom, and too early leads to frustration and sometimes to unfortunately timed displays of affection for the floor. There are times when my patience wears a bit thin, though, and I look at the ‘Random Lich King Heroic Dungeon’ option and think of the upgrades waiting on the next rung of the ladder. I do wonder if my approach will be a bit more cavalier with subsequent 80s, since I’ll know more accurately what to expect and what I can get away with; at the moment the heroics, much less raids, are a completely unknown quantity.

Somewhere in the middle, poised between the speculative glances at rusted proto-drakes and the fear of encountering That Guy in a PUG on a low DPS day, is the Happy Medium. I think I’ve nearly found it; I can see the question mark on my mini-map, but I seem to keep running past it in one direction or the other. I’m sure I can find it…if I can just stay focused long enough…

Shiny!