Saturday, September 28, 2019

Field Report #25 - Who Needs Tanks and Priests?

No Tank
Interestingly enough I find there seems to be as much lack of healers as there is tanks when I am trying to group up in WoW Classic. This might be a bit skewed by the fact that I often play a tank and thus I spend more time looking for a healer than a tank. But as I've mentioned before, my experience of grouping for dungeons has so far been a positive one. This didn't change when I tried to get a group for Shadowfang Keep on my level 23 warlock the other night.

We did in fact find a healer but could not find a tank. I was worried the group would dissolve, but instead the healer asked the high-leveled rogue (27) if he'd be interested in tanking, saying that he himself was up to the task of healing him in that case. At first I was at least mildly concerned at the prospect of having a rogue tank, but when I remembered I could use my voidwalker as a back-up tank I thought it could, if nothing else, turn out to be an interesting experiment. The last time I tried to tank an instance without an actual tank was something like Botanica in Burning Crusade (we used a voidwalker back then too, as Demonology warlocks were pretty broken for a while).

SFK always makes me think of Tom Jones. It's a long story...

I pride myself in being pretty flexible with group setups and especially with group progress, as long as whatever is happening isn't due to anyone trying to ruin things. We decided to go along with our plan and recruited another dps for the final slot instead. It turned out to be another warlock, so equipped with one high-level character (the rest of us were around level 23-24) and soul stones/healthstones/pets worth of two warlocks we took on Shadowfang Keep.

And really had no issue getting through it. While the voidwalker isn't the best tank (especially not at keeping threat), the healer and the fact that we managed to generally spread out damage pretty evenly across the group, made sure we got through it fairly smoothly. We did one silly overpull where us two locks and the priest died, but because of soul stones we were quickly back on our feet without much slowdown.

Everyone was having a blast, we were joking around and I ended up on friends list and in their guild (it turned out the other four in the group were already guildies, I hadn't even noticed until the end!). Everyone was doing what they could to move forward, no one called anyone out for the few mistakes that were made. We genuinely congratulated each other when someone else got a gear drop and there even was a blue BoE drop that no one tried to ninja.

It tries its best though.

To me it was the essence of what makes WoW Classic so damn good. It was one of those times when you regain faith in humanity and remember that the vast majority of online players out there are not toxic a-holes, but nice people who are just looking to have a good time. While I know asshats reside in WoW Classic as well, it's just the way some people are and they'll turn up in any population, I've always found WoW in general has been fairly void of the worst kind. Maybe I've just been lucky, but the way some communities in other games have been described to me I just don't see that happening in WoW.

No Priest
For the 8 years during which I played a lot of WoW I mained a healing priest for almost all of that and I never stopped loving it. I started playing it about 9 months after I first started playing (early 2006) and enjoyed it through thick and thin. I also played a lot of alts, of which tanks and especially warrior tanks became another favorite of mine. Rogues were probably the class I enjoyed and played the least (actually, feral dps druid I probably played less, but I tanked a lot as a druid). Now that I've started playing WoW Classic I am currently enjoying my warlock the most but I'm interested in playing most of the other classes too.

Weirdly enough, I really have no desire to play a priest though, whether healing or dpsing (not that shadow priest is viable for much else than questing in Classic). I played other priest healers than my main before and enjoyed it just as much, but this time around… it just feels wrong. I'm not sure if it's fatigue, the fact that priest healer is the class I know by far the best even from Vanilla WoW or simply the fact that it just wouldn't be the same somehow.

It's a bit of a dilemma because I actually would really like to heal. But the thought of priest healing doesn't appeal to me. I never enjoyed druid healing much for whatever reason. That leaves paladin and shaman. Shaman is the one I've enjoyed the most out of those two, but the thought of a) levelling a resto shaman and b) some of the totems quests that you have to do are really putting me off.

Not even the totem likes the totem class quest.

I am nurturing this idea that I'll level only through instances, saving me having to quest as resto, only doing the bare minimum of quests (like abovementioned totem quests) but I am worried that I'll quickly be bored with doing the same instances over and over. We'll see what I end up doing, I am in no rush either way.

I also realize that if this is the biggest dilemma in my life right now I can consider myself quite lucky.

Meanwhile I am actually trying to not fall into the same trap as last time I played WoW, namely ignoring every other game out there. I really do want to play other games simultaneously, because if there is one thing that gives me existential angst it's the size of my backlog that I need to get through.

I am currently playing Resident Evil 2 remake Claire A (after completing Leon A) with the bf and also Jade Empire.

Jade Empire is one of those games I find quite meh but it's got flow enough to keep me playing at least. There are so many things about this game that are frustratingly close to being almost good that half the time I think I want to complete it just so I have a legitimate reason to write up a review of it, complaining about all these things. It's my intention to make that happen because I definitely have a lot to say about it. WoW Classic is not helping because it's difficult to motivate myself to play a barely engrossing game when the other option is one I thoroughly enjoy. Why do it then you might ask? Well because I want to check it off my list, simply! And write that review, like I said.

Images from

Monday, September 23, 2019

Some Things in WoW Classic are Better Than Vanilla

Ok, it's been 14 years since I started playing Vanilla so I'll admit it's possible that my memory of it could've been a bit corrupted over the years. Yet it is immensely fun to compare what I remember Vanilla being to how I experience Classic right here and now. There are actually a few things that are quite different from my memories, and one of them is the dungeoning experience.

To be fair, my highest level right now is 25 so I haven't done any of the crazy stuff at endgame or even mid-game (hello Maraudon). But I have some memories of even Wailing Caverns that aren't too positive.

People returning to Classic, like me, had a pretty good idea of what was waiting for them and most of these things have come true and have been pretty much as I expected/remembered. The scrounging for money, the endless running, the endless dying to everything. Some things are easier now just because I have so much experience - I rarely get lost in quests simply because I still know most of them by heart. But reading the quest texts I can appreciate that some of them are extremely vague. I had to go find some dude "east of the Crossroads". No he was up a hill east of the Crossroads. That information could've been very useful, because just "east of the Crossroads" is a pretty big area.

But then we've got the instancing. My memory of instancing is spending a lot of time finding a group, spending a lot of time getting everyone to the instance, spending a lot of time inside the instance. Then if there ever was a wipe, and there always was, invariably someone got lost or left the group. In case of the latter, one in the party had to run out of the instance, maybe and probably even hearth to a city to find another group member. This could take another amount of "a lot of time" if you needed to find a healer or a tank. Then these two needed to head back to the instance again where the rest of the group had been idling, hopefully (and then you needed to help them get to the instance as most instances has elites waiting outside). That's assuming someone else didn't give up halfway through waiting and left. Rinse and repeat.

In short, my memory of doing instances in Vanilla was that it would take a lot of time and patience. Because of this I was prepared that dungeons wasn't something I was going to be able to do much, since I have such little time to play (and some of it I spend writing stuff like this instead).

I decided to give Ragefire Chasm a go because it doesn't have elites at the entrance and it is already inside a city. It removed a lot of the time-consuming obstacles that other dungeons suffer from. It went so smoothly that I decided to do a couple more and then I even had the guts to give Wailing Caverns a go. That went smoothly too. In fact, the elites outside the instance weren't half as difficult as I remember them being. The instances weren't anywhere near as difficult as I remember them being.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like you can just dance your way through the instances. They require some careful pulling and cooperation from the group, which I absolutely love about them. But through the ~8 runs I've done in different instances so far, only once have I wiped (stray pet of course) and never have I've had a group that's been a lot of hassle. People have done what they're supposed to and have been good team mates. People have rolled for chests. People have been cutting eachother a slack when something has gone wrong. People have been chatting about this and that and throwing jokes around (unlike the complete silence I mostly experienced in the later expansions I played). Some people (hunters) have been taking my loot, but oh well. That is part of the Vanilla experience.

I've got this pet theory that because the vast majority (I am guessing) of people who are playing Classic either have experience of playing it before or at least have experience of playing WoW, there is just so much more pooled up experience in doing anything in the game than it was back then, and it shows. Finding information on how to play your class or what gear is good and where to find it is so easy now compared to back then. It seems to me that people are more patient and a lot more skillful than what I remember from back then. I know for sure I am.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

WoW Classic Broke Me

My protection warrior is no more...

I don't remember why or when exactly I decided to play a warrior, but my very first one - a tauren male named Vorax - I levelled as dps. It wasn't until max level (70) and half way through Burning Crusade that I decided to try some tanking, initially very reluctantly and extremely nervous. I had my mishaps, my favorite one was trying to tank a heroic with all my skills in rank 1. I had forgotten to train them after a respec (yeah that was a thing!). If my memory serves though it went well enough for me not to entirely give up on it, rather the opposite, I developed an extreme fondness for warrior tanking.

So much so that I decided to level another warrior from scratch, this time protection all the way. I've always held that the best way to learn a new class is to play it from level 1 and for me at least it's definitely worked well. My enjoyment of warrior tanking subsisted throughout my years of playing WoW and I created many new protection warriors simply because I enjoyed tanking dungeons so very much.

While I loved healing in raids, I absolutely loved tanking for everything else in WoW. That's why I knew right from the start that I wanted to play a protection warrior first and foremost when WoW Classic came. Said and done, I rolled myself an orc warrior and started playing.

So I've played protection warrior a lot, especially for the levels between starting out and endgame and lowbie tanking was what I enjoyed best. But looking back at all those memories of tanking I quickly realized that I never actually tanked anything in Vanilla WoW. My knowledge of the original experience of tanking was limited to the rumours of rage starvation that I heard while bumbling about as a newbie priest. Rolling a protection warrior in Classic WoW would thus be a completely new experience to me.

Completely new though? Could it really be that different?

Well... in many ways yes. It is clear to me, having gotten myself to level 20 and looking back at my, so far, four experiences of tanking dungeons, that a lot had changed between Vanilla and Burning Crusade when I took up my shield and sword for the first time. Even back in Burning Crusade I remember thinking that warriors lacked some tools that other tanking classes had for a long time, a ranged silence (like paladins had) for instance (we eventually got that though). But boy do they lack tools in Vanilla WoW!

It's almost like I can see the Blizzard thought process - let's make warriors the tank for endgame and every other tank class can be for up until then (heck, even throw shamans into that mix). Because the harsh reality is that protection warriors are just not very well suited for dungeon tanking. Their shtick is to take one really big bad guy and tank that mofo hard. If you've got one giant dragon swiping at your face (hello Onyxia), being a tank warrior is probably what you want to be. If you've got three mobs out of which two are casters and one can pull other mobs from around you (hello Wailing Caverns), a warrior tank is the last thing you want to be.

It is one thing that the tool set is limited - as a protection warrior I literally have no aoe threat except Demoralizing Shout, Taunt is melee range only and as an orc (and maybe any warrior race) I can't even use ranged weapons without learning them first (how do you pull you ask? Well with your face of course).

Ok, so I just got Cleave at level 20 and I can actually use that in Defensive Stance (yay). But what does that cost? 20 rage!? Hahaha I never have that much rage... That takes me to my main issue with warrior tanking - rage starvation.

See I remember it being mentioned back in the day, and my guess is it was probably so bad it was something every protection warrior I came across mentioned. Or they just talked about it randomly in General Chat. Probably both. And holy macaroley is rage starvation a thing. As a protection warrior I will so easily end up in a cycle of just not being able to do anything. Unless I have Bloodrage ready (which has 1 minute cooldown) I will run into a pack with 0 rage, being able to use exactly one of my skills - Taunt. It takes me 2-3 auto attacks to get enough rage for 1 Sunder Armor. That is 1 Sunder Armor on 1 enemy. If there are more enemies in that pack? Well they've probably run off to the healer by now. Or any dps that can't follow target markers (a lot more common than you'd hope). So I run after a mob trying to Taunt it with my melee range Taunt and while I do that I do exactly zero threat to all the other enemies around us. Because I just. don't. have. aoe. threat. And even if I did I don't have enough rage to use it.

So my main issue is definitely that of rage. I am actually perfectly fine with not having a good aoe tanking tool, I mean I do have Demo Shout after all and that definitely works well enough. But not getting the rage I need to do any of the skills I need is just... not fun. At the moment I run in and just stare at the mobs angrily enough, hoping my ugly face will make them stay around to hit me. The only light in my tanking tunnel is that whatever hits I do get in generate so very much more threat that most players around me (at least if they're my level) that even melee hits can be enough to hold general aggro most of the time. But auto attack swing tanking is not a very fun way of tanking. I feel like a glorified target dummy.

My issue isn't even that tanking is hard. It was hard all the way until Cataclysm, warrior tanking was probably the most difficult for a long time and that is part of what I enjoyed about it. It's not much more difficult now, it's just... a lot more tedious.

I realize it might just be that tanking is this way for any tanking class in Classic. I haven't tried any other so I don't know. But I do know it's not very much fun for warriors at least, and anyone who has tried any other tanking thus far would be very welcome to tell me about that experience.

Things might look up in a couple of more levels, I am only level 20 after all. Looking at the protection talent tree there isn't really much in there that tells me that's the case though. So I am going to use some of my extremely hard earned money to respec into Arms and see if that can work better for tanking (and it's definitely going to work better for questing methinks). I guess it is fitting that WoW Classic would be the first place where I find that protection warrior isn't worth or fun playing. (Disclaimer though, I am absolutely loving WoW Classic and am having so much fun with it overall).

Monday, September 2, 2019

WoW Classic Is Exactly What I Hoped For

This is my 800th post on this blog, pretty crazy when I think about it. The vast majority of those posts are about WoW so it feels fitting that the 800th one would be on me returning to that game.

Now that I've got the opportunity to play some WoW Classic I can actually say it's pretty much what I hoped for. Heck I can't think of any way it's not what I hoped for so I'm going to say it's exactly what I thought it would be and wanted. Anyone remember the comparison I made to going to back to playing Pokémon Red a couple of posts back? I had just tried to play Pokémon Moon and not enjoyed it (the first in the main series I didn't absolutely love) and decided to go back to the roots. Doing so I was still wary that years of QoL changes within the Pokémon series would make the original experience more tedious than fun. That was definitely not the case, it was exactly as much fun as I remembered it and I loved every second of it.

So far, WoW Classic has been exactly like that. It might help that I stopped playing WoW in MoP and haven't played it for years (a month maybe in Legion but had no fun there). The original WoW was a masterpiece of a game for so many reasons. And while WoW eventually evolved for me to be more about the community than the actual game, that is not how I played it back in Vanilla. It wasn't until BC that I got into raiding, having done only very little of Vanilla end-game. My Vanilla experience, I realize now, was about enjoying the actual game and the randomness of random people. There was a social aspect for sure, in the sense that I needed other people to get things done, but other people weren't the reason I logged in to play.

I realize now, playing the game again, that atmosphere is why I play this game. The reason I love games like Thief, Deus Ex and System Shock 2 is atmosphere (and great game play design). No one does world building like Blizzard - when you run from one end to the other (and you'll be doing a lot of running) doing quests about anything and everything you'll feel connected and immersed. Even killing Shambling Horrors on a field or Quilboars in the outback feels like it has a purpose and fills in another piece of the puzzle that is the lore and world around you.

WoW Classic nails the sense of wonder and exploration. Going into a cave full of spiders or camp full of Kolkars I never feel indifferent or like I just want to get it over with. I am always curious about what is hiding behind the next hill, always interested in finding out more. And that is even though I have done these quests and run these areas tens of times in the past!

Is it flawless? Well in the sense that nothing has dulled my fun even the slightest, yes. Funnily enough, some things that I knew were a bit of a challenge in Classic and that could potentially drain the fun turned out to not be a problem at all.

Getting money is not easy, but I feel like I am always at the point of where I have just enough. Not enough to indulge myself in blues or even greens, but enough to get my skills when I need them and even buy some food for myself. And what else do I really need?

Enemies are tough, but again I feel like they are just tough enough. Not so difficult that every mob feels like a chore and progression is a slog, but not so easy that I can just pull a camp without some careful planning (or at all).

Like mentioned there is a lot of running, and some quests are quite far away from the quest giver but yet again - this gives me an opportunity to explore the world. The objective isn't right next to me, meaning I might find things I wouldn't otherwise have just by having to go around looking for things. It sets a pace that I find contemplative and almost meditative.

Quest mobs drop rate is horrendous compared to later expansions, but it just means I need to kill more which gives me an excuse to spend more time in each area and also gain more experience doing the quest. To me it's a lot like when I get lost in any of the Metroidvania games, I don't mind it since the experience gained always means there is progression.

Playing with other players means you're taking a chance. You might find someone who is nice or someone who isn't. So far I haven't come across any douchebags. People can run up and snag mobs or herbs/veins but it doesn't even bother me because with that many people questing in the same area it's just going to happen. I've been in several groups for small quests and for dungeons and everyone I've spoken to has been at the very least polite. The dungeon I tanked on my warrior was pretty much the epitome of a great run. Even the few mishaps we had, no one lost their temper or started blaming anyone. I can only hope that it's a sign of how things are, and not just me being lucky for my first few levels.

But there are a few things that have given me pause. You can't use Thunder Clap in Defensive Stance?! WHAT?! Ok, that one actually annoys me a bit. But tanking still went fine for my first (and so far only) try since everyone respected the target markers.

Also I know I am going to want a more efficient way to deal with my bags before long. Something that sorts my stuff and also maybe something that displays what is in my bags without me having to drag it to my bars.

A better way to display dots is probably something I am going to get as well. Right now all I can see is that my target has a debuff, no duration or anything.

So far I've gotten a warlock to 11 and a warrior to 15, both on the horde side. But thinking about all the awesome alliance questing areas like Elwynn Forest, Westfall and Duskwood that I haven't even checked out yet makes me all giddy. I want to take it endlessly slow, I almost wish I could level slower than I already am. Each area I am leaving behind I almost immediately want to return to to run around in some more. I can't describe how happy I am that WoW Classic is a thing but yeah, it's really great.