What I’ve Got to Work With

When I journeyed last across the lands of Azeroth, I was most concerned about progression. At the time I was putting in maybe 15 hours a week, and making pretty good progress, maybe averaging a level every other day (in the 30-50 range.) This is reasonable progress, I think – not speed leveling, but solid, sustained progression, which I kept up for a very solid month. Alas, last October’s work trip to Mississippi took what steam I had away from WoW, and when I came back we were on the very cusp of WAR’s release, so that was where my interest took me.

Now, picking things back up, I find that the Paladin class abilities have been pretty radically revamped, and a major new feature has been added to the game in the form of acheivements. I knew about both of these going in, of course, but the fact is that I at least intend to play more casually now, and have a little less desire to reach the level cap in a short time, and a little more to sit back and enjoy the content at a leisurely pace.

I was actually a little suprised to find that all of my characters on Kirin Tor were as high a level as they are (the lowest at 12, as mentioned in the earlier post.) Maximal enjoyment of the content implies characters in a variety of level ranges, and the structure of the WoW achievements suggests that getting them will be more fun done as you go rather than going back to clean them up after hitting a high level, because them you’re just farming them.

I and others have complained that WoW seems to gear all of its new content for the level cap players rather than incoming new players or existing players who want to play lower-level alts, and that level speeding cheapens the pre-cap game. Both of which are doubly discouraging because even for cap characters new content is introduced relatively slowly.

While I think this is still true, I think that the dungeon acheivements specifically might encourage people to keep low and mid-level characters in play to run that content. Veteran players with lowbie characters mean more population for new players to interact with at the levels they’re going to spend a lot of time in as they learn the game, before they become conviced that level-cap play is for some reason the only valid activity.

Now, I’d like a level cap character – there’s a lot of cool stuff to be done at and near the cap, and there will assuredly be some cap-level events (like the Shattered Sun Offensive that sounded like so much fun,) that I would love to see. You know, I like to gain levels as much as the next guy, but I’m tired of cap-chasing. So I’m going to make some effort to push upward with my main, but I’m also going to try to keep some characters in the lower level ranges as well.

Now the question arises of what main to push upward with. The Paladin, Vaktor, is the farthest along at level 45 – everybody else is under 20. But starting from, say, 16 (my Hunter) or 18 (my Mage) won’t set me back all that far. The issue is that I’m not yet sure whhether or not I will actually like playing the neo-Paladin or not. Maybe, but I was more confused than anyting else by the new ability mix last night. One of the reasons I liked the class before was that playing it was a little more interactive than most other WoW classes – I was always dropping seals and changing auras, and dropping Hammer of Justice on unrighteous Murloc ass. That seems to have been largely taken away, and the class is now much more engage-and-hammer until somebody drops. On the one hand, I want laid back – but on the other I don’t know that I will enjoy the redesigned Paladin, or even if I am misinterpreting his abilities.

I do know that I did not enjoy PvP with the Paladin before, and he’s no less melee-oriented now, so that probably won’t change. It’s interesting that I find PvP with a melee DPS unfun in WoW but enjoy it tremendously in WAR. Maybe I’m underrating the Paladin’s healing abilities, too.

On a side note, to address Hudson’s comment on the last post, I know that The Blood Elf starting zones are the fastest, and the Draenei are the second fastest. But I really don’t have an issue with most of the 1-10 zones, except Mulgore, which I always find nigh-unbearable. But I already have both of my Tauren characters out of there (the tauren are my favorite race despite the fact that I hate their starting zone so much,) and I’ve never had an issue starting characters in Durotar or Elwynn Forest, for example. But at any rate 1-12 or so goes really fast anyway, and once you’re past 20 you start mixing zones up anyway.

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2 responses to “What I’ve Got to Work With

  1. A few (lengthy) comments:

    – Depending on when you last played (i.e. prior to patch 2.3 in late 2007), you might find the exp curve significantly faster than you remember it. I’ve been leveling a new alt occasionally – I stop whenever I run out of rested exp and wait for it to recover – and I’ve been very surprised by how little content it takes me to level up.

    – The Paladin basically got redesigned from the ground up in the new expansion, and, unfortunately, combat is now structured around talents you won’t get until higher levels. For example, the Ret Pally’s rotation consists of Judgement, Crusader Strike (41 point talent, level 50 req), and Divine Storm (51 point talent, level 60 req). It’s much more interactive than it used to be (though the seal system is a bit less of a strategic choice with the removal of the non-damage options), but there’s simply less to do before you get to that level.

    You probably shouldn’t be leveling as either Holy or Prot (much fewer offensive options in the low level prot tree than there used to be) in that level range, which greatly limits your ability to fill either of the class’ tanking and healing roles. (Meanwhile, Blizzard is viewing the upcoming dual spec feature as a good opportunity to introduce a gold sink into the game, which means that your level 48 – who would be in the most need of being able to heal or tank to get instance runs in a sparsely populated level range – is out of luck unless you have 1000 gold lying around. This is a horrible decision, but one they seem pretty adamant about.) Prot gets one major combat talent (Holy Shield) at level 40, but also has to wait until level 60 for the last piece of its combat rotation via talents.

    – I have also noticed that I like different types of archetypes in different games. I think it has to do with the relative durability of players versus their opponents and the general tempo of combat. WoW lets players kill targets (mob or player) very quickly, which means that you can go splat before you ever had a chance to fight back. Warhammer targets live longer, so you get more of a feeling of actually fighting as a melee DPS in the fray, even if the end result is the same (e.g. you being killed without taking down any enemies).

    – This probably isn’t news to you, but, on classes, don’t be afraid to try something different because it sounds cool. You might hear things like how Fury warriors (dual wield specialists) are getting nerfed, but that kind of min-max efficiency is not going to affect you for the kinds of content you’re talking about doing.

    I’m obviously a relatively big fan of mages, but I won’t waste your space praising them – you’ve probably got a pretty good idea at 18, the only difference is that, at high levels, you start getting better at burning mobs down before they even get to you.

    Rogues and Death Knights both score high on my interactivity scale because their combat resources (energy and runes respectively) replenishes itself constantly and therefore encourages frequent skill use. Mana users generally want to consider holding back to reduce downtime, while rage users need to build rage before they can do anything, but these guys (and feral druids, but that’s another spec that really doesn’t bloom until level 50) don’t really have any dis-incentives to actually do stuff in combat.

  2. I last played in October, so that’s after the faster leveling went in.

    As a general rule, I tend to take all of the talk about nerfing with a boulder of salt. There’s nerfs and there’s nerfs, of course, but in the end Blizzard has done a pretty good job of balancing overall.

    I like my mage but pretty well hate Silverpine Forest, which is why he isn’t higher than he is. Already he is good at burying mobs before they hit him, although he has trouble with multiple pulls or when he hits a string of resits, since he’s so brittle.

    But then, it’s not like the death penalty in WoW is all that serious until you start having to repair high-end gear.

    I do want to try the Death Knight, more for the starting area/story than the class abilities. I will probably start one as soon as I hit 55.