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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?

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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!

Masquerade

Night elf druid? Come on. That is SO last expansion. Pumpkin-headed ninja witch just has so much more variety in the talent tree…

The Joys of a Guild Run

Most of my dungeon experience – well, about 95% of it, in fact – has been in PUGs. They are easy to find, if not always quick, and the dungeon finder neatly dodges the problem of there having been not too many leveling people in my last guild. I did do one run through Magister’s Terrace with them, but the rest of the group were mostly 80s, and a level 70-odd messing things up by accidentally body pulling wasn’t really an asset to the group. After that, in general, I’ve left things well alone and simply PUGged my way through the various instances…until now.

This new guild, as I think I have mentioned, actually does things together. We’re all a little bit disoriented with the new patch, and were discussing the various class changes and so forth, when I discovered that my baby disco priest was now locked out of Wailing Caverns since 4.0.1 hit. Apparently you’re now supposed to discover it before you can queue for it; clearly this is a change I’d missed! I like the idea, but it was a bit confusing at the time. In any case, three of us (a paladin and two priests) trundled off from Azuremyst to the Barrens…and, roughly half an hour later, we all arrived at the Wailing Caverns and picked up the quests. We were a little bit apprehensive, all things considered, since none of us was all that familiar with our class changes yet and we were at level for the dungeon, but one way and another we decided to give it a go.

I’ve always loved Wailing Caverns, in spite of its length and tortuousness, but there is no denying that it can be hard on a PUG. The number of times I have failed to finish it for one reason or another probably exceeds the number of times I’ve successfully got through it by a fair margin. This run, though – despite the fact that we were 3 manning it and that the group composition (ret pala, holy and disco priests in the level 16-22 range) was perhaps less than ideal, was absolutely smooth as silk. Bosses keeled over at our feet, adds and accidental pulls were managed with barely a slip below 50% health, and nobody got lost or fell off anything (unintentionally). Although it’s tempting to ascribe this to our amazingly l33t skillz and adaptability, I think it’s probably more accurate to give the credit to the very fact that this wasn’t a PUG.

Voice communication, for one thing, makes life indescribably easier. By the time you’ve typed ‘another druid’ and then added ‘and I’m slept’, and someone has typed ‘where?’ and someone else has typed ‘behind you’, half the unfortunate victim’s health has probably gone. Saying it is, of course, much faster. Also, voice communication seems to allow for more accountability; not that any of us was trying to ignore the others, but it fosters working in a team and actually listening to what each other say.

Also, of course, I think everyone is more relaxed in a guild run simply by virtue of knowing the others in the group. You can be reasonably confident that no one is going to ninja things or pull half the dungeon and then drop group (or that if they do, there will be consequences). Then, too, a lot of the difficulties around trading things cross-realm are of course removed. And, shock and horror, it’s all just more fun in a group where you can mess around a bit and chat, and where you know any mistakes aren’t going to be met with an instant kick. We ended up having so much fun with this one that plans are afoot to set up more dungeon runs in the near future, which is an alien experience for me but one I think I like. Isn’t this, after all, the definition of a massively multiplayer online RPG?

Of course, PUGs also have their advantages, and I doubt I’ll ever completely abandon them. Sometimes it’s nice to be anonymous and not expected to be on teamspeak or to socialise, particularly at the end of a long day. Likewise, though it’s fun to have friends around, you do sometimes end up on detours that you might not have with a random group. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing both, if only to keep my perspective on what’s good about each!

Are you a PUG person or do you prefer guild or premade groups? Honestly, I’m not sure I could decide…

Serendipity

Sometimes things just happen, without our apparent participation. Such is the tale I tell today…

I’ve been thinking for a while about leaving Dhakeilh’s guild. Not that they aren’t nice enough people, but the time zones aren’t a particularly good match, and even when they’re on, for some reason they seem to have difficulty hearing anything I say – because they never, never answer. This has got to the point where I almost wonder whether my gchat channel is even working! As I said, not unpleasant people – but also not a very social environment, and since I can’t raid easily on that server due to time zone issues, I’m really looking for a nice friendly guild.

On the other hand, they have put up with me as I leveled to 80, and it seemed a little cheeky to ding 80 and immediately say ‘Bye! Looking for someone I like better.’ So I dithered, and mumbled, and complained to other friends, and finally started looking around for a social guild to join. My efforts were somewhat complicated, however, by my criteria: the members must behave in a reasonably mature fashion, must at least attempt to speak English and not l33t, and must enjoy doing things together. You wouldn’t think it would be all that hard to find, but somehow, one or other of those criteria has been missing from all the ones I’d so far looked into – and with Cataclysm around the corner, I want my efforts to go into leveling a guild I actually like.

Then, as it is wont to do, serendipity came along. I had temporarily given up the quests both  for a new guild and for Sons of Hodir reputation and had gone off to mess around on a level 10 priest – and got recruited into a leveling guild. Not only did the recruiter appear to have a basic command of the English language (though it isn’t his first), he also showed distinct signs of intelligence – and he wasn’t the only guild member logged in at the time, although it was the morning. What can I lose, I thought – it’s only a level 10, I can always leave if I don’t like them. So I signed up, got a few levels, chatted to them on teamspeak and was reasonably content with life.

Then, the next morning, I logged onto Dhakeilh and found a letter from my old GM. Apparently the guild had quietly disbanded itself overnight, and since I had been a ‘long term and loyal’ member, he’d done me the courtesy of writing to tell me. Timing, as they say, is everything; rather than floundering, I simply wrote him a ‘thanks and good luck’ note, and got Dhakeilh into this new guild with my little priest. They were thankful to have another 80, and I am interested to experience WoW with other people, instead of just with other people talking in their little groups, so it appears to be a win/win situation so far. They seem to like voice chatting whenever more than one person is on, which tends to make me retreat into my shell a bit, but it is nice to have found a group that not only talks to one another but (*gasp*) plays WoW with one another!

So! We shall see if this works out. The jury is still out, no doubt on both sides, but as all I’m looking for is a group of people to hang around with and maybe do some casual grouping with, I’m hoping it’ll be a good fit. If not, well, I suppose it’s back to the drawing board…

Llani, from Pocket Heals, has supplied us with this weeks Blog Azeroth shared topic (which I might be posting just a little bit late). She asks,

“What takes the longest to choose, is the first thing people see, and is the one thing they always remember about you and your character?

Your name.

How did you decide upon the name for your character(s)? Did you delve into Norse, Greek, or Roman mythology? Did you choose a name from one of your family members? Did you mash the “Random” name generator button in vain until you stumbled upon something you liked? Is your name a play on aspects of your class, using spells or other traits? Did you play around with syllables, vowels, and consonants until you found something that you loved?

How long did it take you to come up with your name? Do all of your characters share the same ‘theme’ or naming convention? Have you ever run into someone who had a similar name? How did you feel? Does your character have a partner with “the other half” to your name (such as “Salt” and “Pepper”). Do any of your characters have a “themed” guild that goes along with your name? Do you have a nickname that your guild, friends, or significant other has given your character?

Has your character name become your online persona, or maybe the other way around?

Do you have any tips for naming your characters in WoW, or any other game? Resources, name generators, mythology websites, sources of inspiration, etc.

If you are an avid roleplayer, how was your name decided upon by family/friends? Did your character choose the name later in life or were they given it at birth? There are whole stories behind naming/birthday celebrations that I am sure are floating around out there.

So much can be said about names. What does yours say?”

 

Wow. I could go on for hours (but, to everyone’s relief I’m sure, I won’t). And not to disagree with the Bard, but I’ve always felt that the name you choose for a character has a significant impact on how you feel about them and, by extension, how much you want to play them.

Warning: wall of text in 5…4…3…2…1…

Names, for me, are very important – perhaps because I’ve never cared much for my own real life one! While I have occasionally been known to use a random name generator or look at baby names (or adapt obscure book character names *cough*), as a general rule I simply invent them. This can at times be a long process, since I won’t stop until I actually have it right. If the character is important, it can go on for days or weeks before I’m happy enough to actually settle on one…and, of course, they usually end up with nicknames as well. In the interest of answering some of the questions Llani puts, I thought I might write about the process of choosing a name for one of my real characters.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been considering names for a character I hope will be very important – she will be sharing the ‘main’ honours with Dhakeilh when Cataclysm comes out. Dhakeilh, while lots of fun and definitely a going concern, is on an EU server; this has certain disadvantages when attempting to find a raiding guild if you live in Australia and everyone raids while you’re at work/at church/asleep. Therefore, I have decided that the most sensible thing to do would be to develop a second character in a place where, when someone says ‘Monday evening’, that actually translates to ‘Monday evening’ in my time zone!

No doubt I will say a great many things about this new character in due time, but in a post about names, I’ll (try to) keep it relevant. This character will be a worgen and a druid, and is intended to be a tank, so I want a name that doesn’t look ridiculous hanging over the head of a generously proportioned bear or a humanoid wolf; however, she will also be female, so I’m not going to call her ‘Grarh’ or ‘Maulpow’ either. Her name will need to be something that’s easy to say, doesn’t shorten to anything obscene or stupid, doesn’t contain any English words (it’s a name, not a charter document) and must be something I like the sound and ‘taste’ of. So much for the initial considerations.

There are certain combinations of letters and sounds I like (k, t, s, dh, y) and others I really don’t as a rule (p, g, b, u). Female names, to me, should sound feminine; I almost never create characters with names ending in ‘ok’ or ‘um’, for instance. I will admit to an enjoyment of odd combinations of letters that we don’t use in English, but all of my characters must have names that are pronounceable by the normal person and easily typed, without weird characters or clever accents.
That all sounds terribly regimented, but it doesn’t work that way in practice – getting this far only takes a few seconds. It’s the next bit that’s time-consuming – finding a ‘base’ syllable or sound that I think suits her, and then playing with additions and changing letters and so on until I come up with the perfect combination. I’m doing this as I write this post, so I have no idea what her name will be either, but it should be interesting to find out!

‘K’ and ‘t’ go together well, and they both suit a combative sort of character. Shying away from the Kate/Katrina names, perhaps I’ll put them in the middle of the name – Akata works as a starting point. Serendipity being what it is, I typoed and added a ‘j’ to the end of that, which actually I rather like, so now we have ‘Akataj’; if she were going to be a mage of the Kirin Tor I might stop there, but I think something a little softer is needed for a druid. Aekataj? No, not quite right. Akhataj? Still evokes a mage, though it’s closer. Akhyatajh? Too complicated and rather affected, though I’ll admit I like the sound of it. Actually, I have too many characters with ‘kh’ in their names already, so perhaps I’ll shift away from that a little; also, ‘A’ is one of my more common starting letters. Changing those two things, we come up with…

Kahatya? Too evocative of kitty druids, which this one likely won’t be, and of Russians, which I’m not (I already have a Nadezhda who gets all sorts of whispers in Russian, which I don’t understand). Unfortunately, I keep getting drawn back to the complicated but pretty ‘Akhyatajh’ I dismissed just before; did I mention I have a weakness for strange combinations of letters? Every now and then a name just grabs me, and that seems to have happened here, so I’m going to disregard the previous comment about similarites to other character. Maybe if I remove the A, thus coming up with Khyatajh? No, that actually makes it paradoxically harder to pronounce. Perhaps I’ll get rid of the last h instead…or not…no, I will.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. If you made it this far through a maze of rambling and stream-of-consciousness babble, I’m very impressed! At the end of a convoluted but enjoyable process of name generation, and in spite of the fact that she won’t actually exist for another two months yet, I would like to present…

Akhyataj

Don’t you love it?

Maybe it’s something about being a fresh 80, which I’ll admit is written all over me even just to look at, but yesterday I attracted not one but two overly helpful citizens on my way to obtain my swift flight form. This, by the way, is a milestone, since achieving that much money has taken me quite a while; clearly I don’t spend enough time playing the auction house.

It must be admitted that taking unsolicited advice has never been my strong point. I prefer to ask for help when I want it and otherwise stand on my own feet, which has its good and bad points; it certainly led to my amusing demise yesterday in my first ever Trial of the Crusader run, when I got confused about where we were supposed to be standing and wandered over to the champions of the Horde…without bothering about any little details like, for instance, the tank or the healer.

Oops.

Fortunately in that case my group were more entertained than annoyed, and I got a quick resurrection and we finished the rest without a hitch. I then toddled off to spend almost all my money on buying artisan riding and my swift flight form and a new gryphon (not that I don’t love my snowy one…and not that I need a new mount, you know, with the whole bird thing going on). It was when I hit Valiance Keep and the trainer that the fun began.

First up was a level 23 night elf, riding his first ever tiger, who wanted to know whether I knew how to fly. Upon being informed that yes, as a level 80 druid, I could in fact fly, he then wanted to know if I had a gryphon and if it could walk. (Because, you know, we buy gryphons for their l33t walking capabilities). Having enjoyed a demonstration of the ambulatory talents of a snowy gryphon, he stood and watched as I bought the flight skill and got the relevant achievement…and then congratulated me and suggested that I might want to get swift flight form or a faster mount, because the bird he’d seen me fly in as was slow.

Thank you for those wise words, my friend. What did you think I’m doing?

 

He took himself off back to Darkshore, running commentary all the way, and I headed up to the roof of the keep to get my random-mount-calling macro right so that it stopped insisting that I wanted to use a slower mount. On the way I met a level 70 whose very first words were…wait for it…’Why is your gs so low, lulz’.

/facepalm

OK, answering may have been feeding the trolls, but I did it anyway – along the lines of ‘fresh 80. And it’s your business because…?’ It turned out, however, that he had my best interests at heart all along; he wanted to tell me that to get into ICC runs I would need a higher gearscore and some achievements. I suppose he felt he was being helpful (or at least was labouring under the delusion that flying around Valiance Keep means someone has immediate plans to go to ICC), but I fail to see why a fresh 80 with a gearscore of 2.4k would be trying to get into ICC runs at all! The phrase ‘squashed like a gnat’ comes to mind.

One of my favourite sayings has always been ‘Better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.’ The fact of this blog’s existence, of course, demonstrates that I don’t actually follow that wise counsel – but my two benefactors today have certainly proven to me that giving advice should only be undertaken if you’re absolutely sure of your ground, just in case there was any confusion on that score! Meanwhile, I shall continue to potter around on my own little agenda…and use the /ignore command freely.

How do you usually handle the unwanted but oh, so helpful suggestions you encounter? Any creative strategies beyond pretending they’re not there?

Ding!

Getting your first 80 has to be a pretty momentous thing. At least, for me, I have to say I’m excited about it – even though pretty soon 80 will no longer be the level cap and Dhakeilh will once again be a candidate for leveling!  I even had the way I’d finally get there planned out, and I’m happy to say that a plan for once went exactly as intended.

At heart, I am basically someone who enjoys traditions and routines, so it made sense to go back to the first ‘grown up’ quest I ever did in WoW. It was not, of course, on my account; a friend in the US who I was visiting was attempting to convert me and, knowing me well, took his character to Dragonblight. Needless to say, I was abysmally bad at the quest, which was the one involving fighting the Azure Dragonflight at the temple, and I have a nasty feeling I may have created something of a repair bill for him – but the experience of flying a-dragonback, exactly as he planned, created a memory that stuck. I put off starting to play on my own for about a year after that, but the dragons can take the credit for putting out the initial bait – and so I went back to them as the very last quest to get me over the line to 80.

In a way, it was a little anticlimactic – no fanfare, just the completion of another daily quest. It is, however, quite satisfying in a quiet sort of way – and this even though I realise that this is only the very beginning of Dhakeilh’s adventures. As a matter of fact, I’m currently working on Valiance Expedition reputation, so there will be no resting on laurels around here. Also, I need to go through and make a list of the gear I need from the normal dungeons, and begin the (from all I hear) endless cycle of replacing existing equipment with better. Fortunately, being a jewelcrafter, one aspect of that at least will be cheaper and easier.

A million things to do notwithstanding, though, reaching 80 is still a milestone – and I intend to enjoy it. I also expect to have nearly as much fun picking out a new character to level…but that’s a story for another time!

Getting Into her Skin

Like so many other players, as soon as Dhakeilh was level 55 I rolled a death knight on her server, just to see what it was like. Having played through and enjoyed the starting area (apart from that quest – ugh! I know it’s the coup de grace in a way, but still.), I ventured out into the real world and…ignored her for about four months in favour of leveling Dhakeilh. Which is good, in many ways, since a) I didn’t want to become a death knoob, and b) with my distractibility, not getting sidetracked by a shiny new character is quite the achievement. However, it does mean that I’ve had a level 59 death knight sitting around doing nothing for the last few months.

No, it's not a 'real' Brewfest mount - just the hops (/sniff). But I love it anyway!

 

I got her out today to do a few Brewfest dailies and also to start working through the Plaguelands quest lines. These are apparently going away in Cataclysm, which is good for the Plaguelands but bad for newbies like me who are insatiably curious and want to experience storylines before they vanish; therefore, I am working through them both on Dhakeilh and on this death knight, Nadezhda, who is a blood elf and will therefore get to experience them from the horde’s point of view. So far, it’s turning out fun, though I’ve only barely started with Nadezhda. It is of course a complete faceroll on Dhakeilh, with her upper 70s feral kitty damage…strangely satisfying after a week of coming last on the meters in instances!

Returning from the tangent…having resurrected the DK today, I started off by reading my favourite article about frost dps yet again, because I never remember what to do from one month to the next. The mechanics of the whole death knight thing, being a combination of DoTs and Hitting Things with an Sword, have so far eluded me; with most of my characters I can refresh my memory a bit and then fall into a rhythm, but with Nadezhda I seem to stare blankly at buttons and then just randomly hit whatever might look good. Somewhat scarily, that so far has been fairly effective – at least in the sense that the target’s health tends to drop and hers tends to stay relatively stable. It’s not a strategy I’d care to take into an instance, though, and I think that mental disconnection has really contributed to my total lack of desire to log her on.

Today, though, I’m hoping something has started to change. For a start, when I flew into Undercity on my way north, it actually felt like a natural place for her to be. For that sentence to make sense, it must be understood that Undercity does not rank high on my list of favourite places to spend time; undead things in general gross me out, and I tend to stay safely away from a city full of them. With my little reanimated blood elf, though, it feels like her natural habitat in a way that warm and robust Orgrimmar or arcanely dignified Silvermoon really don’t.

Then, of course, I got out to the Plaguelands. Now, an emotionally uplifting place they are not, but for a death knight who already has quite enough reason to be royally ticked off with Arthas, they are the perfect setting for her to practice her skills. Spreading diseases to ghouls and smiting skeletons seems to suit her, morbid creature that she is. Certainly I found her more engaging and smoother to play than I have in the past.

Maybe this will be a catalyst for me to keep playing her a little more often, anyhow. I hope so, since having a high level horde character on Terokkar would be helpful for a few reasons. Somehow I can’t seem to consistently play a character unless I can get into her head a bit, even though Terokkar is certainly not a RP server and I have no intention of roleplaying with Nadezhda. I seem to be getting a vibe of respect and sympathy for the Forsaken from her now, which worries me a little given their, er, ethical leanings!

Sometimes I think gaming would be simpler if my characters would hush up and do as they’re told…

Heroes of the Past

 

This is my first Harvest Festival.

The first time you get to experience something always seems to be a bit special, and I’m guessing this is probably no exception. Although, now that Brewfest has started, I’m enjoying throwing mugs of beer and racing madly around on rams, something in the understatedness of Harvest Festival has caught my imagination.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no complaints with fun and silly holidays. Indeed, I’ve been looking forward to experiencing Brewfest and trying ram racing, and getting a new set of ridiculous holiday clothes (a night elven druid in German peasant dress? Right.), and all that goes with it…including the highly noticeable effects of getting completely smashed. I am endlessly entertained by trying to locate Dark Iron dwarves with my ‘vision’ so blurry I can barely make them out, which no doubt just goes to show that I’m easily amused. I also spent quite some time just chasing a Wild Wolpertinger around for the fun of it, making me wonder whether it’s me or Dhakeilh who’s a bit silly currently!

I’m glad, though, that Blizzard chose to start Harvest Festival a few days before the riotous revelry that is Brewfest. I actually find it a really intriguing  juxtaposition between thoughtful remembrance of the dead and an alcohol-drenched party which, it could be argued, encourages our characters to forget their cares and responsibilities and celebrate life. (If I’d ever drunk as much as Dhakeilh did the other night, I doubt I could remember my own name)! Just to complete the contrast, there is some overlap between the holidays – so your character can go and honor the dead and then come back to drown his sorrows, or conversely, can enjoy her wild party now and then in the morning nurse her hangover and contemplate more serious things.

Azeroth is, when you come down to it, not the most cheerful of places to live. Nearly everyone seems to have lost home, friends or family, or some combination of all of them. Countless threats to peace and safety, from the merely irritating to the devastatingly world-shattering, are part of everyday existence – and at least every second person you meet on the street is part of some sort of military or defensive group. (Also, the place is bristling with valiant heroes – it’s always an ominous sign when the heroes come out en masse). When you look at it that way, it’s easy to see their need for both kinds of festival – the celebration and the memorial. It’s the memorial, though, that draws me deeper into the lore of Azeroth, and makes me want to go and discover more about the heroes in my characters’ past.

Uther Lightbringer and Grommash Hellscream both, as we are reminded at this time of year, made the ultimate sacrifice for the good of their people. Watching my characters kneel at their monuments has made more of an impression on me than I really expected; it’s almost as though it ‘really happened’. It’s moments like this that inspire me to keep seeking out the more obscure lore moments, and to really think of Dhakeilh as fighting some great evil rather than as accumulating a collection of numbers…which, of course, makes everything more fun. Most especially, though, rereading Grom’s monument has given me a new respect for the orcs as a race.

Perhaps it’s because honoring our fallen heroes resonates so strongly within our own society, but I think Harvest Festival stands out among the other celebrations. It manages to be serious without being over-sentimental, and understated without being entirely swamped by the noisier Brewfest. Although there may not be as much to ‘do’, I think I’ve found my favourite of the Warcraft festivals. I shall have to think ahead and plan for Aminyara’s celebration of it next year…