Sunday, February 22, 2009

Define "Easy"

I tend to roll my eyes at the hardcore players who complain that the current end-game content in Wrath is too easy. Call me anti-elitist if you want (or maybe just elitist in a different way?), but since the expansion came out I've mostly been of the opinion that it's good for the raid content to be accessible to more than just the top few percent of players.

The last month or so has left me starting to long for the "good old days," though. Back in Vanilla WoW I didn't even realize there was end-game content, and in BC there was no chance I'd ever get a slot in a raiding guild. I didn't have the dedication or the math skills required to min/max my way up to the Sunwell, and I was okay with that because so many of the raiders I'd met were...well, let's just say "driven" or "Type-A personalities." I don't enjoy that kind of stress and abuse, and so it was kind of a relief to know that raiding was for the elite few, and I didn't have to feel bad about not considering myself on par with them.

But now everyone can run pretty much everything, and I really want to see the content in person instead of just streamed off of YouTube. "No problem!" you say? "Just run Heroics with your guild and gear yourself up enough for Naxx," you say?

Yeah, well, there's the problem: my guild is first and foremost an RP guild. I love the atmosphere and the people, but trying to get them organized and working toward raiding is like herding cats. We have a handful of 80s, all at different points in the gearing-up process and all focused on doing their own thing, which seldom coincides with anyone else's thing that needs doing.

"Okay, then, what about PuGs?" you ask?

There's the other, bigger problem: I hate pugging. With the fire of a thousand suns. Hate. It.

I'd rather play completely on my own than with random people who might turn out to be jerks. Yes, they might turn out to be good people, too, and I realize I'm probably missing out on some fabulous groups by avoiding pugging, but I can't help it. It's not just about other people, either; a lot of the problem is me. What if I suck? Friends and guildmates know me, they know my skills and abilities, and they're much more likely to be forgiving of an off night than some random stranger is. For some weird reason, it matters to me what the resto druid my guild grabbed from LFG to heal our Heroic VH run thinks of my tanking ability, especially when we wipe on the first boss.

All of which means that I probably won't set foot in Naxx—other than to drop a [Love Fool] and /pity it—for a good long time, and I'm kind of disappointed by that.

Is Wrath end-game too easy? As far as I'm concerned, it was easier pre-Wrath, when raiding limitations were external, imposed by the difficulty of the content. Now there's nothing stopping me except my own issues, and coming to terms with that is a lot harder.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Portrait of the Author as Several Dozen Young(ish) Women

Hi, my name is Myri, and I'm an altoholic.

I started playing World of Warcraft about a month after its release, switching from Final Fantasy XI after hearing friends' first-hand accounts of the ways in which WoW's game mechanics differed from FFXI's. Over the years I've gone from three characters on one server to twenty-six scattered across six servers and two accounts. I have a spreadsheet to keep track of it all, from levels to tradeskills to key bits of roleplaying information.

Admittedly only a handful of those twenty-six are anywhere near level-capped and only a handful more get played with any regularity, but each and every one is meaningful in some way and it's incredibly tough to cull the herd, even when I feel like I really ought to do so.

Shortly after Wrath of the Lich King was released, I finally broke down and deleted the Human rogue who had been one of my original three characters. I'd intended to "kill" her and bring her back as a death knight, but after running through the DK starting area with the newly resurrected version, I realized that I just didn't like her anymore; in retrospect, that should have been obvious based on the fact that I only logged on to her when absolutely necessary (i.e., to take advantage of her maxed alchemy skills to benefit characters I did play) and the only reason she'd made it up to level 40 was so I could get her a mount.

The outlook is better for my Undead warlock and my Night Elf druid. Both of them languished at 40 for ages, as well, though the last year has seen the warlock make it all the way up to 78 and become one of my favorite solo characters. She's only gotten set aside lately because I'm in the last three weeks of the Recruit-A-Friend promotion, and we're actively pushing to get a handful of characters boosted to 60 while we've still got triple XP making the grind much less grind-y.

And my druid? I considered retiring her as well, but then (while getting distracted by all the shiny at the Elitist Jerks forums during a recent extended maintenance period), I realized I'd never considered playing her as anything other than feral. After reading up on Boomkin specs, I leathercrafted myself some new gear and set off to get my owl feet wet with some of the higher-level Booty Bay quests. The verdict: she's probably never going to be my main, but I'm having enough fun to raise her four levels in a couple evenings worth of play. She can stay.

Of course, the concept of a "main" is both foreign to me and very nebulous when I apply it to my characters. Until Burning Crusade, if pressed I would've said the NElf druid was my main. With the BC expansion, though, came Blood Elves and Draenei, and I'm nothing if not a sucker for trying out new things. One of the new things I tried out was the combination of Blood Elf and hunter, and I liked playing a beastmastery hunter so much that she became my main.

Enter Wrath, and the paladin I'd leveled to 70 more because she had an interesting backstory and because the class made a good synergy with the two characters I was questing with—a frost mage and a holy priest—than because of any thought that I might actually enjoy playing a melee character. Turns out, though, that I'm really invested in getting her geared enough to tank heroics, and right now she's probably the closest thing I've got to a main. With a lot of research, hunting down of specific quest rewards, blacksmithing of gear, and (eventually) throwing of gold at the auction house to get those last few points by way of an epic ring and some +def gems, I managed to hit the defense cap.

Now I just have to get another couple of characters up to 60 in the next three weeks and then I can actually take her into a heroic instance instead of spending my time running Scarlet Monastary twenty times in a row. Though I have to say, there's really nothing more fun than walking into the fully packed cathedral, tossing Avenger's Shield at Mograine, and then tanking the whole shebang on the steps for the entertainment of the leveling lowbies being boosted.

On that note, I probably ought to get back in there. I've got an ugly hat to farm for my thirty-something Tauren druid alt, after all.