Archive for September, 2019


Warriors and Rogues and Shaman, oh my!

I’m currently leveling three characters in WoW Classic – a NElf Rogue (level 12), a Gnome Warrior (lv 20), and a Tauren Shaman (lv 16). The shaman is probably the most fun of the three.

With the shaman, I have a lot of control over managing my dps vs mana conservation. If I want to blow something up quickly, I fire off all my most powerful spells, drop a couple of totems, and burn it down. I’ll finish with almost no mana left and have to drink, but it got the job done. Plus, if I accidentally pull two things I can DoT them both, put down a Searing Totem and Stoneskin Totem, and have a fair chance to survive. On the other hand, if I want to conserve my mana so I can chain pull, I can downrank my spells and finish a fight with 2/3 of my mana left, ready to pull the next one. If I need to make an escape I have Earthbind Totem to slow my pursuers down.

The rogue is also fun. Good damage, although not as bursty as the shaman. Survivability is good, using gouge and evasion to control how much incoming damage there is. Plus stealth and sap mean I can choose when not to fight if I’m careful. If I pull two opponents I might be in trouble, but I can Sprint away if necessary.

The warrior is by far the worst experience. Despite having a lot of armor, it always seems like every fight brings me down to 30% health by the time I kill my opponent. It also has the least survivability if I accidentally pull two foes, despite putting talent points n the Protection tree. The rare dps bursts come from procs of Revenge which I can’t control. I always feel rage-starved and can’t use the abilities smoothly. I’m sure I must be doing something wrong, but I can’t figure it out.

I’m only leveling the warrior so that my group of friends will have a tank if we decide to run instances. Unfortunately, a couple of them have already given up on WoW Classic so that may never happen. In that case, I’ll probably give up on the warrior and focus on rogue and shaman, and maybe start a mage or priest.


It keeps me coming back

I’ve said that the Classic game was clunky and harsh. Quests were bad. Corpse runs were a punishing time sink.

So why is it, then, that I haven’t logged into retail WoW in over a week, but I have been on Classic every day?

A good PC game creates a feeling that you are close to reaching a goal. Maybe you’re almost to another level, or you’ve almost finished a quest chain, or you almost have enough ore to create that engineering gizmo, or you’ve almost collected enough Goretusk livers. You always have that feeling that you’re close to another mini-goal, so you might as well play a little longer.

Some games are well-known for that. I remember losing hours into SimCity back in my younger days, and to the Civilization series more recently.

Retail WoW doesn’t have enough of that. When you log into a new expansion, you are faced with a series of quest chains that have a discrete end that is visible almost right away. Once you finish that, you’re into seemingly endless rep grinds and daily quests that offer no real intermediate goals. It is easy to look at your reputation and say, “I am still 11k rep from Revered. I’m done for now.”

Classic WoW offers 60 levels of questing spanning across two continents. There are countless intermediate goals along the way including the talent trees, new skills as you level, many leveling dungeons, professions, etc… It is so vast (even if I have done it all a decade ago).

When BFA came out, I was done with most content in the span of a week, and then it was a grind. In WoW Classic, I won’t run out of content for 6 months, and there is plenty to keep me coming back. Even if there are too many long corpse runs along the way.


Old posts become relevant again

I’m having a lot of revelations and memories playing WoW Classic.

I was just reminded that you have to mine a node multiple times to get all of the ore.

I remembered that gearing is not just picking the piece with the higher iLvL. Secondary stats, weapon speed, multiple wearable armor types… these things matter.

It occurred to me that some of my blog posts from 2008 are going to be relevant again. I have even seen a small spike in blog traffic since Classic released. I hope this doesn’t mean that I have to go through all my old posts and update them.

(A funny side note… I went back to a really old post where there was a discussion in the comments about weapon speed. One person was complaining that they wanted their rogue to be a swashbuckler wielding swords, but they felt like the game forced them to use daggers. We concluded with a dream that someday the game would add a way to make your equipped weapons look like other weapons. And while we were at it, we wondered if someday the game would let you change intellect on items into agility. Of course, both of those eventually came to be…)


WoW Classic is here!

Since Blizzard has cast Resurrection on the version of the game from 12+ years ago, maybe it is appropriate that I do a battle-res on this blog.

After all, 2006 was the time of an active WoW-blogging community, where individuals could write guides and give useful class-specific tips for dungeons and raids. Where a few dedicated folks could theorycraft and speculate on strategies and builds. This was before large, corporate-sponsored sites replaced most bloggers, and before Twitter changed WoW-blogging to small, 140-character tidbits.

Actually, my first post on this blog was in January, 2008. So if we are thinking of this as a time machine, I am actually going farther back to points in the game that I never wrote about the first time through.

So… WoW Classic. After it was announced, I originally though that I wouldn’t play it. The game back then was clunky. Quest design was awful. Low-level play was boring with only few abilities to employ.

What brought me around was the prospect that I could play with some of my old guildies. A few of us who still keep in contact through social media all agreed to make characters on the same server, with the thought that we could play together like we did a decade ago.

I’ve now started three characters and taken them up to levels 10-13 – a night elf rogue (duh), a gnome warrior, and a tauren shaman. Here are my thoughts.

The game is just… bad when playing solo. The difference between fighting a creature at your level vs one that is 1 or 2 levels higher than you is tremendous. Accidentally pulling two mobs is almost always fatal. This wouldn’t be so bad if the corpse runs weren’t tedious and vast. I was doing a warrior quest in eastern Dun Morogh, and every time I had to do the corpse run from Kharanos. It nearly made me rage-quit.

The quest design is unimaginative, compared to how it has developed over the thirteen years since then. Nearly every quest is a variation on “Collect 8 Goretusk Livers”, only to find that most Goretusks won’t drop their livers for you. Many quests take 30-45 minutes due to low drop rates and multiple corpse runs.

It’s a little better in a group of 2 or 3, especially if one is a healer. Kills are quicker and accidental pulls aren’t so deadly, although only one person can get a drop from each kill so now your group of 2 people has to get 16 Goretusk livers.

And yet, there is a little bit of joy every time a Druid hits you with a Mark of the Wild as he runs by. Or when another player sees that you are in trouble and comes to help you with the kill, even though the single-tagging rules mean that he will get no XP or drops for doing so. And the spontaneous grouping to overcome challenges is encouraging. These moments, caused by shared misery as we overcome steep challenges, are what is missing from the current retail version of the game.

My honest opinion is that the game will fall off steeply from its busy beginning. I have already seen a decline in spontaneous grouping. Yesterday there were six players struggling to kill harvesters at Saldean’s farm in Westfall for an hour, but none of us took the initiative to start a group. I’ll be surprised if in a month there are pickup groups that have the commitment to stick around through a two-hour dungeon run with multiple wipes. I will admit that I’m having some fun with it, when I’m not doing a corpse run, so maybe I’ll be wrong and it will have some longevity.


Classic WoW:
Dinaer - 11 Assassination Rogue
Cepheid - 13 Prot Warrior
Cartho - 11 Elemental Shaman

Retail WoW:
Dinaer - 120 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Cartho - 120 Elemental Shaman (US - Quel-dorei)
Derence - 120 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 120 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 120 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 120 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
September 2019
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