Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Posts tagged ‘druid’

Character Hierarchy: Who’s the boss?

I’m always interested in discussions about which character people consider their ‘main.’ I know people who have two mains, one they raid with and one that is their achievement/collector. Is your main your oldest character? The one you love the most? If you’re an RPer, perhaps it’s the character whose story you are most invested in. Changing mains can lead to mixed feelings and even a confusion of identity. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true! My friend Rades has been playing his death knight character primarily since he was unhappy with the hunter changes, but his identity in the WoW community is still pretty strongly a burly green hunter. After all, his blog is called Orcish Army Knife.

Millya's (and my!) first raid ever. I love this screenshot; I can feel the tension I felt at the time being told "Go stand here," while we waited to pull - and to me Millya looks as if she feels the same way. (p.s. Spellfire set and PvP staff, so retro).

I remembered being flat-out shocked when Wrath came out that people would change “mains” at this time. This was naivete on my part, to the tune of, “But you are a priest, how could you level your druid first?” Plenty of people I know switched characters at the beginning of Wrath (from a bear to a paladin! from a priest to a druid! from a hunter to a death knight!) I had to reconcile myself to the fact that people won’t stay the characters you expect them to stay. The death knight was especially rough because we had to wait for him to catch up to us at max level. The new expansion was a valuable experience, though, because when Cataclysm was coming out I knew to expect it and I started the conversation in-guild really early: Who are you going to want to be playing in Cataclysm? Several people seized on that opportunity, and of course now I understand at least partly why. If you are dissatisfied with your class or just want something new, nothing levels the playing field like the gear reset at a new expansion.

I’m continually surprised by how even when you think your main is clearly defined, other characters can sneak up in the rankings and even dethrone the long-time king or queen. Unexpectedly during Wrath, I dropped all of my max-level characters to play Shaedra – a character who was level forty when I was raiding Naxxramas turned out to be the healer I brought into Ulduar. I really fell in love with being a druid, and the character herself (as I was still on an RP server at the time) was a ridiculous amount of fun to play. Her personality was outrageous and she made people laugh, and I think that was a large part of why she became my “main.”

I took many screenshots of Shae because she was fun to photograph. She's posing here with what was actually a feral staff from Ulduar but it looked so neat I used it for screenshots.

As a confirmed altoholic, I have to admit that there’s always a certain shuffle going on with my characters. I had to play a healer because of raid group requirements, and I found that at the time I preferred to be a druid. I’ve since done this several more times. I remember one of my RLs famously remarking, “You can bring anything you want! But, can you bring a healer?” (Sorry, Saif!) It’s not that I didn’t enjoy healing, but at the time I had an awesome partner. It was fun to rock through Naxx with my druid buddy, two-healing everything. We were a great team.

My later experiences with Shae in Ulduar didn’t really match up with that. No one else in our group wanted to/was in a position to heal, so every week we’d be pugging again. There was the priest who asked whether I was a guy or a girl on Vent (okay, I know I don’t have a high-pitched voice, but I think I still SOUND like a woman), there were healers who would DC, there were healers who clearly had no idea what the heck they were doing. In one week’s run, I did sixty percent of the healing, the other healer did twenty (twenty!) and the rest of it came from other sources. On the one hand, it’s kind of fun to feel superhuman. On the other, I’d finish each raid with a crazy tension headache and started bursting into tears for no reason. This is when we realized that we were not succeeding at running a raid group, and I was burned out on being a healer.

My poor Holy priest, she is the epitome of "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." I have since race-changed her to be a draenei and she really doesn't have a story of her own.

So, I was happy to begin raiding as a mage again when I server transferred and moved to Business Time! They needed a mage. I had kept Millya’s gear at around T9 level because I can’t bear to let my beloved characters languish. BT didn’t really need a warrior but they accepted Voss grudgingly on my good merit (and conjured cakes). The truth is, I played a healer because a healer was needed, but I’m not sure any character was ever my true “main.” They are powerful second-string characters and sometimes I play them, but for me, there’s only really one true main.

Millya's triumphant return to Ulduar hard-modes - i was absolutely floored by some of the scenery in later Ulduar. Please ignore the fact that she is wearing pants, something that would never, ever happen if she had a say in it.

My screenshots folder tells the tale. As I rummaged through looking for good shots of all my characters, I saw the amount of documenting I had done for my behooved spellslinger. There are shots of her in every raid instance, dinging level 70, level 80 – learning how to polymorph people into pigs and wearing the worst Burning Crusade fashion choices. In a way, she’s my least exciting roleplay character because she is me. My other characters are often fun because I deliberately try to make them different – an outspoken booze hound/hedonist, a determined inventor, etc. She’s a bookish intellectual with a temper – not really my most creative decision given my personality. This doesn’t mean I never get confused about the main/alt issue. As recently as this week I’ve thought about playing one of my healing characters because it’s what the raid group needs. This time, fortunately, I faced up to the reality that even if I did it “for the good of the group” I would always miss her. If mages had a healing spec (a la Rift) I would not hesitate! I would chloromance the heck out of my raid group. But that’s not an option.

My feelings towards individual characters is a shifting thing. I haven’t been as excited about Shae since she is no longer a happy tree healer. It’s sad, but true. She’s languishing at level 83. Vidyala became such a favourite that I seriously considered playing her in Cataclysm, but she never quite made it. She is the queen of pugs and possibly an eventual alt run, but she isn’t my main.

Vid-on-ice. Or is that in ice? Anyway, you all know the fight. I guess my pathetic magic had betrayed me.

She is my top pick for when we’re branching out into alt-territory, though! This tier of raiding doesn’t seem very pug-friendly so I’m not sure how much raiding she’ll do, and I’m okay with that. I don’t have time to maintain two “complete” characters. Besides, if I weren’t running LFD pugs, how would I get crazy pug stories to write blog posts about?

Fireballing M.A.G.E.

I knew that when I felt a rush of relief at not having to switch characters to fill a healing slot that it was the RIGHT decision. I don’t want to not be a mage! I don’t know if it’s the class so much as Millya herself. If I could change her class and keep my mounts, titles, and achievements, I might consider changing her to a priest. Barring that, I don’t see it happening. Incidentally, I’ve heard that they are introducing the option to rearrange your characters on the character screen and I am so happy about this. It’s actually okay because Millya is at the top – I deleted my 58 Death Knight just so that she would be at the top. I don’t know why, I am OCD about some things. Now I will be able to put seldom-played alts at the bottom and arrange my other characters in the true pecking order.

How about you? Do you have one main forever? Did you find yourself switching when you least expected it? And why does your main hold the title?

A Furry and Feathery Look at Lowbie LFD

Thisalee (my latest druid!) has been leveling madly, and flinging herself into LFD with gleeful abandon at every opportunity. She’s level 50 now, only ten levels from being able to fly, and I am excited! She’s the first character I’ve leveled since The Shattering, and the difference has been profound and enjoyable.

Familiar, Yet Different

I have loved every new zone I’ve been to so far. I mentioned how I liked the changes to Darkshore and Teldrassil. I’ve also been through parts of Ashenvale and Desolace, and most of Eastern Plaguelands and Badlands. The quests are engaging and interesting, with just enough variety to keep them from getting monotonous. Having not done much research into the changes, I keep running into new zones and going, “Wow! Look at THIS thing that has changed!” It also leads to things like me plummeting into a ravine between the Badlands and Loch Modan, but we’re not talking about that. No, we’re not.

All of the zones have many more resources, which for a dual gathering character is frankly ridiculous. You want to talk about someone being “led down the garden path,” that’s basically this character’s life.

“Ooh, yellow dot! Ooh, another one there! And another! What was I doing again? Oh, I have to kill Lord Whosits. But he’s all the way on the other side of the zone… Wait, I’m all the way on the other side of the zone.”

I think of this as the “Mildred Phenomenon,” in honour of the Forsaken I was leveling with Voss. She was just an herbalist, but she’d follow a path of herbs into a pack of mobs and then I’d yelp and try to run away and Voss would yell (in this awesome Archie Bunker voice) “MILLLLDREEEEEDDDD!”

But Thisalee is a lone reed, and so there’s nobody to be annoyed by my constant forays into gathering. The gathering XP really adds up, too! Paired with my heirlooms and guild XP bonus, I expect she’ll be leveled in no time flat. LFD is actually less lucrative XP-wise, but I’ve been doing it to see how the instances are, and just to break things up a bit.

Hey, hauling around all these feathers is thirsty work. You'd drink, too.

What Big Teeth You Have

Someone said the tool should be called “Looking for Worgen,” and that’s pretty much true Alliance-side. There are many, many worgen – but actually, I’ve noticed a strong majority of dwarven shaman as well. Almost every healer I’ve had is a dwarf shaman! The ones that aren’t dwarf shaman are often gnome priests. Still, apparently Gilneas was just flooded with unfortunate souls and they want to rip up dungeons in retribution.

I am a big fan of the changes to the dungeons in general. Some of them have had their level ranges changed, and the dry spell that was Scarlet Monastery – Graveyard hell in the thirties has been greatly alleviated. Thisalee has run the following instances:

Scarlet Monastery

I only ended up running Graveyard and Cathedral during the course of my pugging. They are the same as they always were, except that many of the troublesome trash packs are now fighting each other and so can be skipped! I’ve noticed this happening in other zones and quests as well, and I think it’s a great design move. You achieve a feeling of an epic battle occurring, without having to fight an hour’s worth of trash. You also get to skip the private hell of pulling wayyy more than you intended to pull and dying a horrible death.

One of the tanks I had in a Cathedral run was having a rough time, mostly because the hunter insisted on pulling for him. This hunter was my polar opposite; My DPS tends to be pretty low in this instance because I’m overcautious. I don’t want to be the one wiping the group or causing a Scarlet mess everywhere. I’ll always remember a Cathedral run where someone ticked off pretty much all of the Scarlets in the Cathedral and then ran out…and shut the door.

This seems very Scooby Doo-esque to me. “Maybe they won’t know we’re here, guys! Look, there’s an exit behind the bookcase.”

I might be thinking of Culling of Stratholme here, though, to be fair.

Scholomance

This instance is still very Hogwarts in flavour. My group for this was pretty fun. I’m finding that the dungeon quests tend to lend themselves to greater group cohesion. People all have the quests and so they want to finish them – and they’ll stick it through ’till the end to do it. Moving this instance to the early forties was a good choice – it’s one that I really enjoy and it was a shame for it to get passed over in the late sixties in favour of Outland instances.

We did have a bit of an incident at the end where the tank let a stray mob eat the healer’s face – and then ass-pulled Darkmaster Gandling. I dropped moonkin form to heal him and DPS throughout both of these fights, even though my mana was running on fumes, we managed to pull through. It’s some kind of paladin phenomenon that (sorry, paladin friends) the pally tanks I meet think they really ARE all that and a shield too.

“No worries, I’ll just self-heal, lol,” the paladin said, preening and strutting when we managed to kill the last boss without the healer.

What, those heals I was casting on you? The ones that kept you from eating dirt? Those ones don’t count because I have a sword symbol next to my portrait. It was all you, paladin. No, really!

Dire Maul

My experiences blundering around here proved useful when nobody in the group started the silly imp running at the beginning. (My bad, too, I completely forgot he was on the left hand side). I tried my hardest to make them wait at the spot where he runs while I teleported out to cat-run along with him.

I’ll give my pug group some credit – they managed to stand still a whole forty-five seconds before pug diffusion claimed them and they started heading towards the next boss.

“Just hang tight, guys,” I urged them. “The imp will be there in two minutes.”

I had the last laugh, though, as the imp ran PAST them on their way to the next boss and they had to double back to reach him. We finished all the quests in the instance. I actually like Dire Maul, although I only ended up queuing for the first part of it. It seems to have been broken up into manageable chunks. You are meant to head down into the gardens at the end, though – something that wasn’t immediately apparent to anyone in the group. Not exactly intuitive, but we managed!

Zul’Farrak

I enjoyed this instance as much as I ever did (which is to say actually quite a bit, because I’m one of Zul’Farrak’s biggest fans!) There are many quests, as usual. I swear they’ve made these bugs bigger, don’t you think? They’re bigger than my moonkin.

I think it’s Zum’rah’s Vexing Cane that makes me like the instance the best. I always want it just as a flavour item, so that I can hit people with it and just be generally vexing.

And you think that regular-sized bugs cause the heebie jeebies.

Stratholme

This was the first time I’d ever run this instance at level, and my pug was hilarious. It started out with the tank saying that the healer was just grabbing coffee.

Me: “Sure, no problem.”
Tank: “Now he’s going to pee.”
Me: “TMI, TMI!”
Tank: “Well, I told him to grab a bottle, if he had we¬† wouldn’t be having this convo…”

I had no words.

Now that the quests are all grouped nicely at the beginning, I was able to grab those as we went along. About halfway through, I started to get annoyed that I didn’t have any Stratholme holy water. So I did what anyone doing this quest would do – started opening crates.

There was an outpouring of rats, bugs, you name it. No one had really noticed what I was doing (we moonkin are so stealthy) and so periodically they’d just get a bunch of bugs biting their ankles. Eventually, our ret paladin said, “WTF?”

Tank: “It’s because I have this [Fine Aged Cheddar], the rats want it.”
Paladin: “Really?”
Tank: “No.”
Paladin: “Oh.”

I ‘fessed up. “The rats may or may not have been coming from the crates I’ve been opening… But they have holy water!”

The tank said, “Haha! Only the sparkly ones have holy water. The other crates are evil crates.”

I told him (and I still maintain) that what’s the point of having evil and good crates if you can tell which are which just by looking at them? I swear that’s new, but I could be wrong. In any case, I kept my moonkin hands off crates after that, until I found a sparkly one. We joked around about my baby moonkin – he tries to fly, something I can never aspire to as a moonkin. We discussed whether Ragnaros can be used as a cooking fire or not (outcome not clear). I pulled an entire pack of mobs with my moonkin ass (I warned them it has a large aggro radius).

We finished Stratholme to much acclaim and decided to move on to another instance, which ended up being Blackrock Depths.

Blackrock Depths

Even with a map, this place still confuses me utterly. It didn’t help that I was lower level than most of our folks, so they had quests that I didn’t have. I never did end up completing one of the quests I had at the very beginning of the instance. We spent more time going around attacking bosses that were red to me. I did manage to squeak out level fifty in this instance though, so it’s not that I’m complaining exactly. I still had fun, I was just thinking of all the herbs there are out there waiting to be picked, and ore to be mined.

A mole machine and a repair goblin at the beginning of the instance are a nice addition and make the place more manageable overall. I freely admit that with this character I am DPSing because I want to avoid responsibility. When I’m healing, I have a particular soundtrack. It goes something like, “Oh my– what the heck was — you’ve got to be kidding me,” and occasionally, in tones of great disbelief, “SERIOUSLY?”

When I’m being a crit chicken, sometimes I literally sprawl in my chair and just spam two for awhile (assist macro is a great boon here). I may have also been starting a hurricane cast and then reading Twitter or other blogs. It’s a luxury I enjoy. I also have a theory that you get better groups if you are not pugging as a tank or a healer. Feel free to tell me I am full of it, but here’s why I think this.

Most people that want to level characters together opt for a tank and healer team. Nine times out of ten, when two people are from the same guild, one is tanking and one is healing. I’ve done it myself! It’s a solid strategy. You don’t hear a buddy saying, “OK, we want to make sure this run goes smoothly, so you DPS and I’ll DPS.” No. They say, “Okay, I’m going to tank, you heal me, and it doesn’t really matter who the three DPS are.” Consequently, I have pugged into some very stable and friendly groups. Tonight’s was especially fun – talkative and jokey (I have no idea how a tank can talk like this tank did while tanking, but whatever works for him). So cheers to <Free Beer and Chicken> from Mannoroth, you guys were a blast. Like I said, next time I expect the beer. I’ll bring the chicken again, with a side of moonfire.

Queues have also been very reasonable – all of the worgen and new classes being leveled are populating LFD quite heavily. I haven’t had to wait more than twenty minutes at the most, and often the wait is between five and ten minutes. For the opportunity to relax and really enjoy the instances, I think it’s a fair trade – all that herbing and mining takes time, anyhow. Lowbie LFD is currently very fun and efficient, something that really isn’t the case for end-game LFD, so I am going to enjoy it while it lasts!

From Vid's "Ill-Fated Pug Files," I left this run before it began because our 'tank' wouldn't stop bouncing around in cat form.

Worgen Frustration (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love My Night Elf)

After leveling to 85 and spending some time on instances and reps to gear my main, I thought I’d set some time aside for a little lowbie alt. I’ve come to accept this about myself – I like leveling. Whether it’s through instancing, questing, exploring – or lately, herbing – it’s a relaxing process for me. Some people are one character people, and I respect that. But I wanted to see the new zones.

I’ve even come to accept that I’ll never have “one 85 of each class,” because there are honestly some classes I don’t want. So instead I have multiples. That means two warriors (81 and 28), two mages (85 and 80) and most recently, two druids (80 and 27). But this druid has assumed two different incarnations.

What Big Teeth You Have, Grandmother

I was excited to make a worgen druid. Originally the plan had been to make a warlock, but as I mentioned, I accepted that I don’t necessarily want one of each class. I had cloth/caster heirlooms that would serve as well for a druid, and I’d love to have a power-gathering character. (She mines! She herbs! She is the incredible flying druid!) I was a bit torn on the gender; the odd, foxy features of the females didn’t immediately appeal, but I figured they’d grow on me.

Looking despondent - probably because when they put her in the stocks they wedged her staff into the wood. I'd be bummed too.

So here’s Francisca, worgen druid. I played her to level thirteen. My impressions of the starting zone were mostly positive. I liked how quickly the action moved and the quests were organized in a logical manner. The flow was very nice, and the point at which the quests shout back to previous Kaldorei lore were great. I enjoyed the eerie feeling of the zone, the little things (like mastiffs and foxes!) and the accents of the NPCs. They’re a bit over the top but they still give strong flavour. You know you’re definitely not in Stormwind any more.

What I wasn’t feeling as attached to was my worgen herself. She lumbered everywhere, wrathing and moonfaring, but I just wasn’t feeling it. No matter, I thought – she can always remain human most of the time. The only problem with this is using the worgen racial, Darkflight – means that you are, naturally, transformed back into a worgen. And I use things like that on cooldown – it makes you faster! But despite that, I liked her as a human and ultimately intended for her to spend most of her time in flight form – so it didn’t really matter. I probably would have kept playing her, until I reached a pivotal point in the quest progression.

I’m trying not to give spoilers here for folks who want to do this, but essentially it’s a series of quests that make heavy use of phasing. You take one quest, proceed to accomplish it, and pick up the next quest afterwards. The next part has you following an NPC with an aggravating habit of dashing off in an unseen direction. I happened to get this quest just as it was time for us to head out for the evening (and I’d failed it). So, no problem (I thought) I’ll just drop the quest and park myself in front of the NPC that gives it, so that I can pick it up the next time I play.

The next day, I logged in to continue with my druid – the NPC didn’t have a quest for me. I was sure it was the correct NPC; but she had nothing. I tried moving around the phased zone by myself to see if I’d missed something. I went back to the beginning of the chain, thinking perhaps it had bugged out and I needed to start all over again. Nothing. I checked the Wowhead comments – I wasn’t the only one who’d had this happen.

I thought about my willingness to open a ticket and wait a very long time to have this one quest fixed. I thought about how this is a pretty major bug to have made it into a game, especially since it’s happened to other people, and I was frustrated by it. I thought about my lumbering druid with the interesting, albeit bugged zone.

Then I logged out, deleted her and made another night elf druid instead.

No Place Like Home

The world's stealthiest night elf. No, really!

I quite like the changes to the night elf starting area. They’ve streamlined things like silly gathering quests. When you go to kill spiders you bring the NPC with you so that you don’t have to run back and tell her, “I found this big, evil boss spider!” only to have her tell you, “Please go and kill the head honcho spider!” and then get lost in the cave again…although maybe that’s just me.

It is still a slower experience than the worgen starting area, possibly simply because of zone size. Shadowglen is a large zone – and I think the sole building needs an entrance at either end, because every night elf character I’ve ever leveled has circled that building at some time or another to find the front.

Other positive improvements include: putting the tree with the strange fruit along the shore of Lake Al’Ameth instead of wayyy on the other side of the zone, and also the escort NPC that accompanies you into the barrow dens is stupendous. She comes with a “we’ll point the way” green mist orb thing, incidentally my new favourite thing in the game. If I had a mist like that for running instances I’d never hesitate to tank them!

The Darkshore experience is definitely improved. My only regret (note, regret, not complaint) is that the combination of guild experience gains along with my heirlooms means I am outleveling my quests ridiculously fast. I haven’t done a single instance (although I am herbing and mining like a fiend) but all of my quests turn green and even grey before I have had a chance to hand them in. I’ve had to skip entire quest hubs for this reason. I’m a bit torn about it because I like to do every single quest possible, but my primary goal is to get this character high level so that she can start herbing and mining for me simultaneously. So I realize I could take off the heirlooms and slow the process down, but I’m unwilling to do that.

I had a tear in my eye as I ran through Ashenvale. I imagine I can hear all the Kaldorei characters I’ve ever known crying their outrage. Unfortunately, again I’ve out-leveled it and I may have to hop over to Stonetalon. I do really appreciate the new “Hero’s Board!” quests in the major cities. I know that I’ve often heard people ask, “Where am I supposed to go at level x?” These conveniently answer this question at any level, and they mean that you can pick up the quest there instead of having to find a breadcrumb in a lower zone before you can move on.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying leveling my new druid – apparently, since she’s now double the level my worgen was when I dropped her. My other unspoken goal for her is that I’d like her to cover her own expenses – epic flying, possibly even the faster-than-epic-flying if that seems possible. I often level characters that end up draining my main character’s resources. If this one can be self-sufficient I’ll consider her quite a success.

 

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