I need to get out more, and other World of Warcraft tales

10th November 2008 – 9.42 am

With Halloween just behind us, the invasion of the Scourge heralding the imminent release of Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft, and Melmoth returning to Azeroth, my gaming time has been spent mostly playing protection warriors. I have woken Tiger, my original warrior, created on the first day of release, and run her through instances with Melmoth's shaman and paladin, as well as gracefully being invited to Karazhan with my old guild for the Scourge invasion quest, getting a pet bat in the process. Sapphire, my US-based warrior, has been rushing to 70th level, partly because the rest of the small guild is pushing to get there because of the new content shortly to be opened.

I doubt I'll be heading in to Northrend too soon, though. I can get frustrated both with selfish players and a natural lack of quest objectives. It will only be made worse with brand new content for everyone being opened and, unless lessons have been learnt from Burning Crusade, Alliance and Horde sharing many of the same objectives.

Sapphire hasn't just been rushing to 70th level for the expansion, it is mostly because levelling in Outlands is really quick post-3.02 patch. There are so many quests and such little experience needed to level now that I have skipped two regions entirely, and not come close to completing the content in three others. The good part is that this means there is still a whole load of content to be enjoyed whilst I hold back from entering Northrend. Even if I wait a short while I doubt my guild will be able to get more than a level ahead of me as the pace is once again returned to normal with the new content. It will be a shame if I don't get to see the high-level Outlands instances again, although at least I was able to experience them fully with my EU-based character.

Even with only two warriors to play on different servers there is still a remarkable amount of content to enjoy before the expansion. Early in the weekend I realised that I probably should not spend my entire time playing World of Warcraft and decided to take a break. When I asked myself what I wanted to do instead I was a bit stumped, though. As I ended up playing some EVE Online I realised that I need to get out more.

Returning later to World of Warcraft my guild are persuaded to try the Old Hillsbrad instance in the Caverns of Time, where we have to rescue Thrall from his capture. One of our group is at work so we find a fifth using the Looking for Group interface, a shaman. This shaman clearly is an alt, a player who has run the content fully before at least once and knows exactly what the instance holds in store. I imagine he is probably twinked, too. Unfortunately for him, my guild group consists mostly of people who only started playing World of Warcraft after the release of Burning Crusade, none of whom have seen any of this content before. We like to take our time and be careful, pay attention to the details of the instance and the quests. This isn't our hundredth time through the dungeon, it is a learning experience. What we don't need is a maverick player pushing the rest of us to play at his pace, particularly if it is at breakneck speed.

I mention more than once that the shaman needs to slow down and let us stay organised, that he shouldn't be so aggressive because we need time to set up. I know what it's like from both sides: I've done this content loads of times and could blast through it with the right group, but I also know how hollow the experience can feel to be waltzed through an instance I've never seen before with nary a pause. I would rather my guild and I get some natural enjoyment out of the game and not use instances only as stepping stones for experience and loot.

As a group we make use of the raid icons so that everyone knows the kill target, the polymorph target, and the secondary kill target. This helps to ensure that everyone focusses on the right mob at the right time, which greatly helps our priest, as she then only needs to heal the tank. The shaman doesn't listen, doesn't understand, or simply doesn't care. Even after being told that only one person has ever been in the instance before and being politely requested to slow down and control his aggro more than once he insists on pulling targets and attacking whatever he wants to, causing unintended multiple runners who pick up adds and wipe us. I know it may be only a minor delay for a veteran instance runner but it can be disorientating and ultimately demoralising for the casual player to experience this mayhem. I point out that I am happy to mark and tank but that I am not going to waste my time if my efforts are going to be ignored. The shaman replies with 'relax man', which is a spectacularly wrong answer for someone who has already received several warnings. I kick him from the group with no hesitation or explanation.

We are in the tricky situation of trying to complete a fairly difficult instance with only four players, most of whom haven't been here before. With little option of finding a replacement we push on. It isn't smooth from start to finish, but running an instance with mostly first-time players shouldn't be expected to be entirely smooth. Even so, the four of us finally prevail and Thrall is freed!

We run the Old Hillsbrad again the next day, to complete it for our previously missing guild member. Whilst our man is being shown around the Caverns of Time I take the opportunity to explore Hillsbrad of the past. I head in to Southshore where I see Nat Pagle fishing off the dock and overhear Mograine and other leaders of the Scarlet Crusade talking in the inn about the undead threat. It is really quite interesting to be mingling with these people before it all turns sour. Sadly, I can't head far enough north to discover Dalaran.

After Old Hillsbrad we then attempt the Black Morass, sadly not making too much of a dent in the second instance, getting overwhelmed by the fifth portal opening. This is down to some communication problems, overall inexperience, and the swiftness and ease of levelling almost precluding the ability to maintain suitable equipment for character level. It is a good effort to start with, although with Northrend opening this week I doubt we'll enter the Black Morass a second time. However, there will be plenty of new places and monsters to experience for the first time, which will be a whole new learning experience.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.