Tuesday, 25 January 2011

WoW: Once more through the level-a-go-round

Well, chalk me up another max level WoW character. Is it bad that I've actually lost count now?

I've got a new account, partly because my old one would have required the somewhat arduous recovery process to reactivate and partly because I wanted to use a much more anonymous ID for Blizzard games in future.

So I started at level 1 on 23rd December and am now 85. I took a Druid up as Feral, got irritated with the nature of tanking in the low level ninja pulling zergfests that are now WoW's primary new player scheme, switched to boomkin at about 35, switched to Death Knight at 55 for what are essentially 3 free levels from the DK starter quests and a set of very nice gear and went on from there.

I did a little tanking and DKs make decent tanks. The only problem is Death and Decay. This is going to sound very silly but when your group moves fast and you are trying to move faster to keep ahead of them it's quite easy to drop it in the wrong place. So your big high threat aoe move sits in a big evil red cloud while your mobs are off chasing the mage.

LFD (the anonymous instance match-making service) is my preferred method of leveling. It has a lot of warts, as previously noted, but it's very entertaining even when things go wrong. Kill ten rats quests, even the smoother slicker variety we get now, seem awfully flat in comparison. There's also a very high ratio of good groups to bad, especially before you get to level 85 heroics.

Since 70 I've queued as dps. I'm old fashioned enough to find it annoying when I tank for dps who don't let me get aggro before they start killing. However the mobs are all so lightweight it really doesn't matter so I can see their point with their "go go go", "hael ffs" and ninja chain pulling. I just don't want to feel responsible for them or the healer whose safety they're jeopardising.

As dps, certainly as a leveling dps I seemlessly switched from being part of the solution to being part of the problem. I took a leveling build off Elitist Jerks which is basically designed to dump all your runes and runic power in a big aoe splurge as soon as possible. This is great for soloing mobs you're supposed to kill in 3 seconds it's also great fun in an instance (although possibly not such fun for the tanks and healers). It's hugely damage meter friendly, I'll have melted groups of weak mobs while the mage is still winding up his Fire Storm.

It's very interesting from a design perspective that the natural way to play a class in easy content is very tank and healer unfriendly. The design quandary is this:
- allow dps to blast many monsters at once with powerful aoe attacks (which is immensely satisfying)
- penalise dps for not respecting the tank's aggro.

These are inversely proportional, you sacrifice the Trinity for dps fun when you allow dps players to go nuts without punitive mechanics.

Being a sophisticated player, the rational thing to do is follow the fun. It also got me to level 85 in just over a month which was satisfying as I didn't have enormous free time to play.


  1. I got too frustrated by the DF in my mid 50s to continue with it. That sticks you in a lot of the old endgame dungeons, and frankly they took too long and very few tanks could seemingly handle them. When a wall of mobs swarms the healer, as an AoE DPS I could either watch the healer die while the tank tried pathetically to taunt off 20 mobs, or I could give the healer a breather and die horrifically. Those are not good choices.

    I very much prefer groups where I can hold back and let the tank hold the aggro (I don't really care about damage meters, just everyone getting through alive). You really almost have to have a strong AoE tank to get through those dungeons, or someone that knows them intimately and can avoid the cluster f-ck pulls. I guess two or or three AoE DPSers could also get you through, but a mage, a warrior, and a random assortment of single target DPS certainly won't (at least that I saw).

  2. As a healer that leveled exclusively through LFD in the mid 50s, I can see what you're saying, Yeebo. Luckily, I usually got into a group where the tank had no problem at all keeping things off me, even through full BRD clears. I usually felt bad for bear tanks. Blizzard needs to give them some attention at low levels.