Monday, November 30, 2009

It's not the hours, its the roles

Tobold posted recently that he had crossed a milestone in WOW, having played 5000 hours of game time on his various characters. It got me thinking about the number of hours I’ve played over nearly five years (I actually go over five years in March 2010), but unlike him, I really don’t want to know the answer to that question. Personally I think it would only lead to an inevitable scolding from my wife were the truth of the matter to be officially known! Naturally I filed any thought of the number of hours played where it rightfully belongs—deep in the recesses of my mind, and skipped forward to thoughts of my alts and what, ultimately, I was trying to accomplish instead. The more I think about how I game, the more it leads me to thoughts about the gaming mentality I seem to have. I’m a “do’er” and I like things to do, which is perhaps one reason I am not so worried about the amount of time I play WoW, whereas my wife would probably wish it otherwise.

I’m a do’er, yet I’m seemingly an alt-a-holic, which if you think about it, is diametric. I was absolutely horrible in BC, though in the weeks leading up to the release of WotLK I told myself I would make a concerted effort to combat that. I’ve tried, though not always successfully, to keep my play confined to a small number of characters. As WotLK launched I was playing my Shaman as my main character, but benched him not very long into Wrath when I switched to my DK as my main. Now after many months of play on him, he is in the early stages of benching and I now consider my Paladin my main. Yet the Paladin is still not the only character I play on, and I despair of ever attaining that nirvana that others seemingly have found, and remain faithful to just one toon.

Tobold’s interest in WoW and what he’s doing in might revolve around his hours played, but mine revolves around accomplishing goals, and about filling roles. Let me lay it out for you as clearly as I can.

80 Paladin – Primarily I consider my specs to be Ret and Holy, though I often respec on weekends to Ret/Prot to finish older dungeons and level various reps. I’ll probably be spending more and more time as Ret/Prot as I look to finish up rep grinds for the main BC reps and start dipping into Karazhan for Violet Eye rep, and ZG for Zandalar rep. Not to mention farming for mounts in AQ40 and the like. I researched options that would make it easier for me to respec on the fly, and recently posted an entry about the mods I found, and as I think you can tell from my blog recently, have very much taken to the class. Raiding wise Ret is extremely powerful and offers group versatility like a range of buff and aura options, hand of salvation/freedom/protection, party mana regeneration through replenishment, and through the miracle of hybrid theory, a means to play a completely second role in the raid through a second talent spec. That for me is typically Holy. While Prot is my least favorite aspect of the class, I’m eminently happy with the class as a whole and find myself about as certain as I think I’m capable of being that this character will be my main over the long term.

80 Druid – I had great hope that I would return to my Druid, who was my “main” in BC and in Vanilla, but I’ve had great trouble mastering cat DPS. There are mods that could help with that, but Feral By Night appears to be the best of them, and I’m not all that taken with the centralized visuals that come with it. My UI is busy enough without all that being front and center in my view screen. I’ve begun looking into switching from Feral cat to Balance, but I’ve been somewhat disappointed with mana efficiency in preliminary testing. It may be that I simply need more spirit on my gear, or picking up Dream state, which I don’t currently have. I’ll keep looking into it, but whatever I do decide to do he will at the least remain a central character for me as I leveled Enchanting and Jewel crafting on him. I continue to love Feral tanking. Despite the range of nerfs to Bears early in WotLK, they remain fantastic tanks and my second spec will remain Feral bear for that purpose.

80 Death Knight – My DK is/was my miner/jewel crafter and was my Main for most of this year, but I’m in the process of benching him. Within a few weeks I do not expect to be playing on him much at all, except to mine ore. Ultimately it was the continuous series of nerfs, and my bent toward hybrid classes that did him in. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the class very much, but after consider testing between the DK and my Paladin, they, in the end, are very similar. At that point, I think the additional versatility that Paladin gives me simply outweighed my fondness for the DK class.

80 Shaman – I’ve played my Shaman for going on two years now, yet sadly he’s been on the bench most of this year and will undoubtedly remain there for the foreseeable future. Counting against my play on the Shaman is the fact I am not overly fond of the Elemental spec. It was fun enough while it lasted, but I really didn’t enjoy it much in a raiding capacity. I played him as Enhancement throughout BC, but I really hated the state of the class in a PVP perspective. Things have gotten somewhat better in WotLK, but not to a great extent. Switching from Elemental back to Enhancement for raiding simply is not very appealing at this point. Enhancement would offer me no benefit over what I already have with my Paladin, or had with my DK for that matter. I’d actually delete this character if I didn’t have some hope, however remote, that I might do something with him again some day.

80 Rogue – I created and leveled this character as an experiment. Back when I started playing my Druid again I was having even more trouble with competitive cat DPS than I’m having now and wanted to compare Rogue abilities and DPS against him. I commented a few times on my blog about the small annoyances of leveling the Rogue, but I did eventually get him to 80 and started doing some light raiding and PVP with him. Ultimately it was the complete lack of healing that really turned me off to the class. There are a few gimmicks that Rogues can do that are interesting, but in the large sense they and cat ferals are very similar in most ways, except that Druids can heal. I keep him around more out of continued general interest at this point, than any plans to resume playing him in the future. Besides, he’s a 450 Engineer and has access to the auction house right in Dalaran!

74 Warlock – my Lock, despite its languishing state this last year, is still a character I have some interest in. I had a goal at the release of WotLK to have one melee dps character, one caster, and perhaps one tank. I’ve actually had several melee characters at this point, though I believe the question of who that “one” will be is finally coming to fruition, but the question about a caster was thrown into doubt when I decided I really didn’t like raiding as a Elemental Shaman. I’ve given a bit of thought lately to reviving the Warlock to fill that role, however as I’m currently looking into Balance spec for my Druid, I’ve decided to hold off on this character a little while longer. If I find I like playing Balance well enough on the Druid, then my Druid will fill my ranged caster role, as well as my Tank role (Paladin also). I also have a baby Mage and Hunter in the offing to level should I decided I don’t like Balance enough. I’ve seen great things from Mages and Hunters the past several months, so if the Druid isn’t to be my ranged character, it would eventually come down to a competition between the Warlock, the Mage, and the Hunter

14 Hunter – There isn’t a lot that needs to be said about Hunters. I used to have a 70 Hunter, and my Hunter was actually my first high level (60) character, so I’ve got some experience with the class. I can very easily see myself leveling this character and using it as my ranged character, yet I just haven’t found the interest there to do it for whatever reason. The operative word is “yet”, because as I mentioned, it’s certainly one of my options for the ranged class I still want to have available to me.

12 Mage – as with the hunter class, I used to have a 70 Mage. Unlike the Hunter however, I used to raid on him. So it is still an option for me, though I continue to have issue with the squishiness of the class now that I had in BC. The same issue that caused me to stop raiding on him and stop playing the class all together. I would most likely finish leveling the Warlock, then the Hunter before I ever got around to the Mage (to be honest) and I’m not even sure how much of an option the Mage class is for me really. It’s certainly one, but how much of one is an open question in my mind.