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We’ve moved! Massive thanks to everyone who commented and gave us feedback on the various hosting options available to us! In the end we’ve decided to go with a self-hosted option – please update your feed readers, links, blogrolls, favourites lists, or however it is you find and read us to aggromanagement.com. All new posts will now be posted there. :)

We should be back to our regular posting schedule shortly. :D

Just wanted to put a quick cap on my last on-topic post RE: Elwynn and my burning disappointment – particularly as You Know What drops You Know When and I imagine I will be terribly distracted for a little while moving forward.

I finished the map and moved on to Westfall, which is also now completed. Then I rolled an actual human to see if there’s any differences. My conclusion:

Elwynn = disappointing beyond measure compared to all the other maps I’ve played through. To be fair, they’ve streamlined the flow, given you shortcuts to questing areas and they don’t make you run the map anymore which is nice. Plus they’ve taken a couple obscure quests I almost always miss or forget to do and made them much more prominent. But that’s the extent of the changes. Seriously. It’s the same god-damned map, minus the slightest little shift to the end of the Hogger questline in order to make him a boss in the Stockades.

The disappointment. It burns.

Having said that…

Westfall completely makes up for it. Completely. I have never been so delighted with a map or a series of quests. Everything is updated – EVERYTHING. The quests range from hil-freaking-arious to exciting/serious. There’s a point at the end where Stoutmantle screams at you to run and go tell Varian and I was actually so flustered and panicked by the whole thing I wound up flying out to Moonbrook by accident. It was awesome.

My one complaint? Every boar I killed dropped their liver. I swear to God. You might think that’s great, given that the drop rate used to be one liver per eighty boars, but I regret / am pleased to inform you that that quest no longer exists.

So what the fuck am I supposed to do with all these livers?

So after much discussion, we’re considering switching from WordPress over to Blogger or Blogspot or whatever it’s called. The Google one. layteknight is a designer/coder type person, and the fact that she can’t mod certain pieces of the WordPress themes is driving her insane – plus, she has informed me that my “10,000 word posts” require a wider layout than WordPress can offer without making her whine and writhe and point at things on the screen she hates, but WordPress won’t let her touch.

I remain hesitatant because I have no idea what shifting addresses does to a blog. Has anyone out there ever done this before? Any advice? Any thoughts? Any way to either minimize layteknight’s pain here, or my pain if we move?

I suppose I should probably talk to savethefails too. I guess he kind of has a stake in this, eh?

UPDATE: Fuuuuuuu! This post posted before I was done editing it apparently and none of my changes too. :( Apologies if you get this twice on your feed readers – please read this version. It’s better. I swear.

Warning: This post is both image and spoiler heavy (for Dun Morogh, Loch Modan, Elwynn Forest, and the Wetlands).
 
Addendum to the warning: I’m a little over-excited right now, so I’m just going to assault you with some pictures until my thoughts can cohere into something resembling a respectable post. Cool? Cool.

This Just In: Gnomes Are Still Awesome

Exhibit A (for Awesome):

Exhibit B (for Better than you):

Exhibit C (for Class):

For what it’s worth, Bingles Blastenheimer is quite possibly my favouritest gnome ever (I mean, just look at him!). One of the many, many, many changes that I have been gorging myself on in the Dwarven Maps (Dun Morogh and Loch Modan, I mean – I’m not deep enough into the Wetlands yet to comment in depth) is that he apparently has a son now. Well, I suppose he had the son before since apparently the guy is a teenager already, but he just never talked about him. And I suppose, under the circumstances, I can’t blame him – the boy is actually fairly “normal”, given that he’s a gnome. His quests and dialogue are all well reasoned, not over-excited, and contained no made-up words that I remember (for shame, Ando! You are a lovely character, but you fail as a gnome!). I was almost concerned…and then this happened:

And then THIS happened:

And then this happened:

And my faith in the future of the Gnomish Race was restored.

In Other News: Dwarves Are Cranky

I know this isn’t new (Aggro Management Exclusive: they’re also drunk! Who knew?!), but it seems the Cataclysm has made the Dwarves crankier than usual, and I honestly found myself chortling gleefully at some of the acidic things they had to say to me and about each other:

Dwarves are cranky

Even their hats are out of joint (awesomely so, if I may be so bold):

The Combination Thereof

There’s honestly something about the combination of Dwarves and Gnomes that I adore. Dwarves are these stout, hardy, straightforward creatures, and their relationship with the Gnomes is genuinely heart-warming. Something in the way they work with and protect the eccentric, energetic little balls of light and creativity that are the Gnomes. They’re the original straight-man and clown. It’s terribly cute. The Dwarves bear the Gnomes’ out-there-ness with such dignity and stoicism and the Gnomes try SO FREAKING HARD to be helpful and useful. They give me the warm fuzzies.

There’s a point at the end of the Gnomeregan 1-5 starter zone where you successfully win a battle against Thermaplugg’s minion as part of a coalition of Gnomes and Dwarves. After the battle, when you hand in, Mekkatorque (fully voice acted, and positively jubilant) yells:

Razlo Crushcog is no more! The people of Ironforge and Gnomeregan speak with one voice this day. Hear us well, Thermaplugg. The day of your defeat approaches!

Beautiful.

Moving Right Along…

So to attempt to slap this post into some kind of coherency, let me just work my way around to what I actually intended to talk about before I got completely derailed by my renewed love of the short races of Azeroth (soon to be joined by the Goblins, who I already want to hug and pet and love forever).

My point is thus: I have played through the Dwarven/Gnomish starting maps, and started Elwynn (…as a Dwarf…don’t ask) and wish to provide my unsolicited opinion of them.

In general, may I just say, my love for this game has been rekindled to a degree I would previously have told you was not possible. The obvious caveat on this is I don’t know how long it will last. Sooner or later I will have played through these maps a froopopapillion times again and I’m sure I’ll go back to being sour and bored and developing a wandering eye for other games. But for now at least, I am intrigued and engaged and amused and thrilled and impressed and insanely happy all at the same time – except in Elwynn, but I’ll get to that.

Coldridge Valley, Gnomeregan, and Northshire

Coldridge Valley

Nicely done, overall. Nothing too stale or repetitive. Some interesting NPCs, good continuity in their dialogue and quests – though there was the one guy that totally hit on me (who can blame him? My Dwarven shaman is hot, and that is not even remotely sarcastic. She’s awesome) in one quest, but utterly failed at following up on it in the rest of the chain. I feel so rejected.

I like that the Frostmane trolls have been given a bit more meat in their motives and back story. The addition of the Soothsayers or whatever they were called was nice, but I can’t help but notice the quest chain went kind of like this:

Dwarf #1: Go in there and kill all the troll whelps.
Dwarf#2: Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a second. Let’s find out why they’re here before we just wipe them out.

Which I thought was really progressive, you know? Because before they were all: “look, there’s these trolls, see? And they’ve got these kids. Just go wipe them out. Don’t ask any questions, just wipe them out.” There was a brief moment when I picked up Dwarf #2’s quest where I really, honestly thought Blizz was going to let me off the hook WITHOUT murdering a bunch of troll children. Then I realized Dwarf #1 had given me a quest too – kill X troll babies.

All right, says I, maybe, after killing the babies and finding out the real reason the trolls are here, Dwarf #1 will feel bad about the homicide and tell me to go make peace with them or something.
So I headed out to where the babies were and began my wholesale slaughter, all under the watchful eyes of the adult Soothsayers who were busy waxing philosophical about their deal with the fire elemental while their young charges were being murdered.

I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but that quest is now even MORE awkward than it was before. Not only am I killing children, I’m apparently doing it with the approval of the adults watching me do it. Those adults have GREEN NAMES. They are FRIENDLY to me. Why? WTF? I don’t need this guilt!

But I comforted myself with the thought that there’s no way Blizzard would make this quest so awkward unless there was a peaceful resolution in the end, right? Right?!

So back I go to hand in both quests. After handing in the soothsayer one, Dwarf #2 sends me back to Dwarf #1 with the information we’ve found out, and I’m all: here we go! Remorse time baby! We are hideous murderers and it’s totally time to make up for it! Repent ye heathens!

And he said:

Dwarf #1: Oh. Well, whatevs. Go kill moar. Check the cave. I think you missed some back there.

I grumbled and sulked and stomped my way through the rest of the quest chain. But still – despite taking the awkward-factor to a whole new level, the quest IS actually better than it was before.

I don’t have any complaints about the rest of the quests. Troggs throwing priceless artefacts at me is…well…priceless. The initial quest-giver being stuck in his own personal FPS is amusing and adds a degree of urgency to the whole questline.

But the highlight for me, I think, was NOT having to go through that fucking trogg-infested cave at the end of it. Getting to fly OVER the mountain in a gyrocopter with a gnome filling me in on the political situation in Dun Morogh? Brilliant. Much better than slogging my way through a dank cave full of the single, most irritating sounds in the world. Also, I’m amused by the “go pack your things, because you’re not coming back here” quest that gets you a cloak, some food and alcohol, and a free bag. It’s a cute way of doing it. I’ve always thought it was kind of odd when quest givers just sort of hand you a bag for no reason that I can determine. It’s like you’re the last kid to run up to Santa, but he’s out of presents so he just sort of shrugs awkwardly at you and hands you a dirty old sack full of crushed hopes and dreams.

This bag had stuff in it.

TL;DR: Well done conversion. Fun to play through, but nothing super-epic.

Gnomeregan

Complete and utter love, for the following reasons:

  1. Nothing here is revised or reimagined – it’s completely new. The Gnomes have NEVER had their own starting area. They’ve always had to run through Coldridge Valley.
  2. It’s like the quests were created by Gnomes, for Gnomes. Nary a Dwarf to be seen until toward the end.
  3. All the usual jokes are in there, but there’s some degree of seriousness to it too. You can FEEL their longing to be home.
  4. It’s GNOMEREGAN. What’s not to love?
  5. Etc.

I don’t quite know why, but I’m enamoured of the idea that your Gnome character has been living in Gnomer since the “incident.” There’s something really exciting about working with your rescuers to get yourself out of Gnomer, de-radiated, and back out into the wide world. The little heroic flare they’ve added into the Gnomer theme doesn’t hurt either.

The area has a decent sense of momentum that’s maintained through the quests. Plus, it’s all about the Gnomes. It grounds your character in its own race, and does a much better job differentiating them from the Dwarves culturally and historically speaking. I just rolled a Troll (haven’t played it through very far yet) but I imagine it will be the same for them. When you share a starter map that belongs to another race, you kind of get lost under that other race. You’re not REALLY a Troll, you’re a tall Orc with fucked up hair. You’re not really a gnome, you’re a brightly coloured Dwarf with poor judgment. You never really get a good sense of your own race, which can make it challenging to try – from an RP/story standpoint – to place your character within it.

I also liked the introduction of a few more factions within the Gnomish race. There’s the heroic members of the Survivor Assistance Facilitation Expedition (S.A.F.E.), and the dedicated crew from Gnomeregan Covert Ops. They’re just stupid little additions to add some colour and flavour to the zone, but I really like them. They add a bit of depth to the race as a faction unto itself. They hint at the organization within the Gnomish government. They add a bit of legitimacy – by virtue of their existence, and in spite of their silly acronyms (of which I am a fan) – to a race that is often sorely lacking in legitimacy in terms of the way Blizzard handles it.

I should probably move on or I’m going to go into a rant here about the Gnomish Situation and how little attention it gets and how as much as I love the silliness and fun around the Gnomes I do wish Blizz would give them just a BIT more credit than they tend to.

TL;DR: Gnomer is as awesome as the Gnomes for which it is named. Roll a Gnome, Save our Home!

Northshire

So, I rolled a gnome and play through the Dwarven lands. Then I rolled a Dwarf and played through the 1-5 map and realized I’d already done the Dwarven lands and wanted to try something new, so I took my little shaman over to Elwynn, intending to start Northshire. I ran all the way up there and stared around in puzzlement, wondering where the quests were. I ran around the Abbey and inside the Abbey, and /begged at the quest givers but nobody would talk to me. Not one of them.

I ran around screaming: But there are Goblin Assassins, can’t you see them?! And Orcs! There are Orcs! Orcs in Elwynn! And the GODDAMNED VINYARD IS ON FIRE YOU OBVIOUSLY NEED HELP WHY WON’T YOU GIVE ME THE QUESTS?!

Because they’re racists bastards, that’s why.

TL;DR: Will apparently have to roll a human to be able to report anything beyond the fact that there are Goblins and Orcs and the Vineyard is on fire and I DON’T KNOW WHY.

Dun Morogh Proper / Elwynn Forest

Dun Morogh

Very well done questing experience. The quest hubs no longer send you running hither and thither like a chicken with your head cut off, only to send you thither and hither again once you’ve done them all. Things are grouped more efficiently and sensically. There is a lot of hand-holding in terms of transferring you from one quest hub to another. It’s a very linear experience, which I don’t think is necessarily bad. In fact, it’s probably nothing short of excellent for newbies who have no idea what anything is or where to find it and are too busy being overwhelmed by things to try to figure out where the Hell to go next. But I AM a little afraid that the linearity will cause things to get old faster than they would otherwise. Even if there were two quest hubs I was handed off to and I could pick what order I wish to do them in that would mitigate this to some extent, but ultimately: meh. It’s a non-issue for me until I get bored. It’ll be a huge issue then, but until then, I repeat: meh.

I like how Blizzard has taken more care to link one quest to another, and link events to quests to other events so that everything makes sense. I never found myself committing mass genocide and wondering in a distant sort of way why I was doing this outside of some vague justification given in a quest. The linkages are done well and the zone as a whole tells a much more solid story than it did previously. Most of the quests feel like they’re moving in the same direction and coming from the same place. I had a much stronger feeling of contributing to a larger effort or towards a solid goal, and less like I was being given a bunch of busy work by a few drunk dwarves too lazy to do it themselves.

I also like how, in between trying to give their storyline gravity and weight, they throw in the occasional thing to make fun of themselves – or of us as players. When I saw the rewards for this quest in Dun Morogh I cracked up:

And there’s this gem, later on in Loch Modan:

There are also tonnes of new rare-spawns, which is awesome because, honestly, rare spawns are like Christmas to me:

And they’ve given the old monsters new abilities, which for no apparent reason pleases me greatly. I think it’s because it adds to the uniqueness of otherwise boring mobs. This is a picture of Ol’ Sooty, but all bears have this ability now. It’s not a generic spell – it’s obviously specifically for bears. It’s just a nice example of attention to the little details that add a bit of colour to the world:

Alternatively, I am easily impressed. Let’s not rule this one out too quickly.

TL;DR: Dun Morogh is fun to play through; good storyline, lots of content, solid revisions to old quests and entirely new quests.

Elwynn Forest

Are you ready to be completely blown away by the AMAAAAZZZINNNGGG changes to Elwynn Forest?! I haven’t completed the map yet, but I’m half to three quarters of the way through (barring any new quest chains I just haven’t hit yet), and I just don’t know how to capture all of it. It’s just too big! Too incredible! Too cataclysmic!

I mean look at this quest! When will the craziness stop?!

And Princess has a bow now? A BOW? I can barely keep up with all the new and exciting changes!

And even though I’ve killed a hundred thousand boars to make Stonefield bake Maclure a hundred thousand pies so I can kill Goldtooth a hundred thousand times to get back her god damned necklace just ONE MORE TIME, it’s totally a million times better now because even though not so much as a period was changed in the entire quest chain, or in fact any of the quests involving Fargodeep Mine, they moved Goldtooth. He’s on top now. That makes all the difference in the
world:

Especially because they didn’t change his location on the map so I spawn-camped him in his old spot and got respawn-raped by six god damned kobolds TWICE IN A ROW before I googled it and found out he’d moved. Exciting stuff, folks, exciting stuff.

So far, I have found a single new quest. NOTHING ELSE appears to be edited, changed, or revised. Oh, except now when they send me to the opposite end of the map they give me a horse to get there. And there’s an FP at Eastvale now so I can fly back and forth. This is actually a very, very, very good thing, but I’m having trouble drumming up any enthusiasm when all it’s doing is getting me from one tedious old quest to another faster, and preventing me from farming mines and herbs along the way.

I heard they did something or other with Mankrik’s wife. When will Rolf and Malakai get some love, Blizz, huh?

Maybe it’s because I’m playing through on a Dwarf, or because I didn’t do Northshire so I’m missing a chain or two that extends from there. Sarcasm aside, there are a few changes I’ve noted – the thieves on the map are no longer Defias thieves, as referenced above Princess is now actually accessible without a three hour walk through the forest, and so on. But none of the quest text so far has been different or revised. All of the same quests are still there. You’d think by now, between the Scourge, the Burning Legion, and now the Cataclysm, the god damned Maclures and Stonefields would have put their feud behind them and moved on so Tommy Joe can stop skulking on the river bank, but no.

I will reserve my final judgement for when I finish the map and when I actually play it through on a human (in the vain hopes that that will give me additional quests I can’t access as a Dwarf), but so far I’ve seen absolutely nothing worth shouting about. To top it off, I played through the first chunk of Elwynn AFTER playing through Dun Morogh’s new experience. The sense of momentum and contribution that was there in Dun Morogh (which is new as of the Shattering) is, of course, not present in the pieces of Elwynn I’ve played through. Because they’re the same old pieces they’ve always been with a few token changes that barely merit a mention.

Sad protflashes is sad.

I maintain hope that something, somewhere, at some point will be different on this map (I hear Hogger is new and exciting? I haven’t gotten to him yet). Pre-shattering, this map was the worst one for me personally and the one I was MOST looking forward to being updated because of how many times I’ve run it – even more than the Gnome map, and that should tell you something! But I’m at least half way through and it doesn’t look like it. I was so dejected I logged out and rolled a Troll hoping the colours would cheer me up (they didn’t…but the baby raptors did).

TL;DR: Final judgement pending, but for the moment: Blizzard, I am disappoint.

But I’m holding out for Westfall.

TL;DR

Rapidly dwindling hopes for Elwynn Forest aside, I’m still terribly impressed with the “new” Azeroth and all that comes with it.

I’ve been having a blast the last few days, even with limited play time. I’m sure at some point the honeymoon will be over and I can look at everything a little more critically, but right now I’m still at the point where if it’s a change, it’s good, and I like it, and I’m going to leap and frolic and play like an idiot.

It’s kind of funny because the actual expansion drops next week, and as excited as I am about goblins and worgen and 80-85, they could announce that they’re pushing it back by another MONTH and I wouldn’t care. I’ve got plenty to do right now – more than I’ve had to do in forever. Almost too much, actually. I have more than once found myself paralyzed from having too many options for what to play. Or, you know, post about. In case the 3000 word post and 700 screenshots didn’t give it away. I think I’m actually a little overwhelmed, I can’t focus on anything for more than a second before the next shiny comes along and pulls me away.

But then again, it’s been so long since I had shinies to chase! It’s so nice to be back in the game.

So, as you might have noticed from my general blogospheric absence, I have been in something of a slump in terms of WoW. I’ve played here and there, off and on over the summer and into the fall, but not with any kind of regularity. I kept up the PvP for the most part, right up until 4.0.1. We still have our regular five-man group once a week, and every now and then layte will rope me into a heroic PuG or two (which typically leave me a slavering mass of rage and hate). And we still hop onto our alts every now and then to muck around in the old world.

But that, I think, was a large part of the problem. The old world – and, in fact, the “new” worlds of BC and Wrath – is old. Like a nice, rock-hard chunk of stale bread, too far gone to even use for croutons. I know some people are still enamoured of its charms, and I will admit that even for me it has its moments, but the fact of the matter is I’ve been playing this game for almost the six years it’s been in existence. I have deleted more alts than most people have made. I grow more concerned by the 50-character cap as time goes on.

I have six 80s (five of them tanks, including one of every class that can tank – woo! At least one pre-Cataclysm goal achieved!). I can now officially say I’ve PvPed with some degree of seriousness. I’ve raided up into ICC, dungeoned, soloed. I’ve played every class in the game to at least level 40, and the vast majority of them up past 60, and a chunk up past 80 now. I’ve played all of the races (though I freely admit my tauren have never even made it to 20, poor bastards). There isn’t a map to be found that I haven’t beaten my face off of at least thrice. Certainly there are physical corners of the game I have not at least peeked into, which is to say a few of the old world and BC raids, but that’s it.

I’ve played this game. I’ve played it to death. If I have to make the run from Goldshire to the Eastvale Logging Camp one more time I am going to cry. For serious.

I’ve wished more times than I can count over the last few months that I could go back to my early WoW days – back when I thought Intellect was an awesome stat for warriors because it increased my weapon skill, and I would taunt monsters while soloing because why would they put it on my bar if I’m not suppose to use it maybe threat is a special kind of damage, and I thought add-ons were the devil because they were probably illegal and Blizzard would ban my account the instant I installed one and besides they would probably give me viruses and I could never figure out how to work them anyway.

I was so new back then, everything seemed so complex and vast and beautiful. I read my quest logs because I wanted to understand the world and what I was being asked to do; I studied my talent trees in deep, loving detail so that I could make the absolute wrong choice 100% of the time; I blundered about Azeroth flailing ineffectually at boars and gnolls and whelps and had a deep-seated phobia of murlocs and fell off a lot of cliffs and towers from whipping my camera around while auto-running to get a better look at some pretty tree or amazing sunset or cool looking mob. I left a lot of corpses around Azeroth, most of them mine.

For a long time now, I’ve been a long way away from that. I haven’t read a quest log in ages, because I know all my favourite quests off-by-heart and no longer care about the others. I know more about the lore than I ever thought I would. I throw my talents in where I’ve always put them, knowing full well it’ll be good enough until end game and when I get there I can compare against the cookie-cutter build then. I’m decked out in so many heirlooms and GB blues and epics that I don’t really die at low levels anymore, even if I manage a terrible pull or blunder into a camp of gnolls just as it respawns. I’m not afraid of anything in the game anymore. And neither am I constantly awed (though again, there are still moments). And neither am I very interested.

And then 4.0.1 hit and for a brief, blissful window, I was interested again. They’d completely revamped the talent trees, and in some cases the mechanics of the classes. I loaded up my 80 paladin and panicked, not understanding anything on his bar or how it worked, so instead I made layte roll a pally alt with me to re-learn the class from the ground up, rather than trying to figure it out at 80 with too full a toolbar. Forgiving the sheer OPness of the low levels right now (1-shotting three targets at level 10 with Avenger’s Shield…Jesus Christ…so awesome, and so not awesome at the same time), it’s been fun. Plus the new talent trees briefly allowed me to overlook how repetitive and boring and trivial heroics have been lately on my warrior because I wanted to try out my two new warrior builds.

Rend! On a prot warrior! Who’d’a thunk it?

(Aside: One of my warriors has a Blood and Thunder build, and the other doesn’t. Currently I’m leaning toward really liking the Blood and Thunder mechanic. I’ve always been kind of sad about rend. It was like this pretty little button I never pushed and severely neglected and it stared dolefully up at me from my toolbar, as though to say “why do you even have me here if you’re never going to push me? Relegate me to the Bar of Suck with Slam! Do it! You heartless monster!” Now Rend and I are totally BFFs. And it makes me push Thunder Clap more, which I should have been doing anyway. And then that makes me Shockwave more, which I was actually doing anyway, except now it’s more fun because it’s all synergized with TC. Buffs come up, buffs go down. I like it. Also, a DoT on all my targets is sort of useful, what with no one understanding that they’re supposed to actually kill the skull first, not last.)

But even that didn’t last long for me. Ultimately the warrior doesn’t have any sweeping changes to the feel or mechanics. Short of tapping rend at the start of a fight, my priority list is basically the same, the threat distribution is the same (there’s just less of it to go around), and both my warriors are already geared to the point where I don’t have to stretch my brain too hard on gear choices yet (which means I actually haven’t adjusted to the lack of DEF yet and probably won’t ’till Cata). The baby-pallies remain fun and new in terms of mechanics, but ultimately they’re running back and forth across Elwynn. Which I’ve only done a hundred thousand times.

I clung to it as long as I could though and it got me through to yesterday. 4.0.3.

I was beside myself with hope and excitement and eagerness all day. Then layte sent me an e-mail and told me the servers weren’t expected back up until at least 8PM our time. Kill me. Seriously. I had already plotted out half my new alts with the class/race combos and which zones I wanted to play in and so on. Then, around 6:30, I idly opened the remote AH to check my auctions, forgetting I can’t do that when the servers are down, except the servers weren’t down and I’d made 33g 52s on auctions.

Back up the stairs we went to log in. I rolled a baby undead hunter and gleefully watched the totally new opening narration for it and exulted in every single difference I found. I didn’t know where anything was, I couldn’t find the quest givers, I was an undead hunter. It was new! Everything! All of it!

IT WAS NEW!

And then, fifteen blissful minutes later, I had to log off and log onto my warrior (not even the one who gets to push Rend) for our regular guild 5-man dungeon-run. Of Northrend dungeons. Which I have run a hundred thousand times and see in my sleep. And have absolutely nothing new about them as a result of this patch.

Insert the sound of me chafing and banging my head on my keyboard and biting at the chomp.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those runs and that group, but there was new stuff out there! And it wasn’t to be found on my 700th run of DTK! /cry

But I did manage some time running around and gawking at Orgrimmar. Cue OCD-raging at Garrosh because he’s standing where my bank is supposed to be, and running in circles around the new zep tower and flight master unable to find my way down.

Did you know there are flight masters now at all the little towns and quest hubs? Holy shit. I don’t know why this wows me as much as it does, but it does, it so does. I right-clicked the new FM in Razor Hill, got the “You have discovered a new flight path!” message, and just stared at him in awe for a moment.

After our dungeon runs were done, I logged onto my little 40ish hunter and – after consulting a vastly different Zones By Level list than I’m used to – ran down to the Bulwark and into the Plaguelands. Which have, you know, farms and shit – like actual farms where they grow things that are not the Plague. And like…living bears. And foxes and flowers and grass! And Koltira is there and he’s all emo and I guess that’s not really new, but he’s in the Plaguelands now! And they’re not level 60! And Andorhal didn’t chew me up and spit me out! And I tamed a Mastiff! And I looted like three hundred Blindweed which isn’t new but it kind of is because they didn’t used to grow there! And ALL THE QUESTS WERE DIFFERENT! And when you click on a quest in your log it shows you a picture of the person you’re supposed to kill! AND I KILLED THE RAVENIAN FOR THE TWELVE HUNDRETH TIME ONLY THIS TIME HE WAS IN A TOWER IN ANDORHAL INSTEAD OF IN SCHOLO!

The whole damn zone is basically a level bracket below mine (I’m supposed to be in EPL, not WPL) but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave even though the gear was all crappy for me BECAUSE IT WAS NEW and there were chain quests I’d never done before and I was actually READING MY QUEST LOG. What if there were quest chains that spilled over into the EPL?! How could I start the EPL when I didn’t know what happened in the WPL?! I actually DIDN’T KNOW what happened in the WPL!

Apologies for the rampant abuse of CAPS, but I think I may actually be getting excited about WoW again. From a mere forty-five minutes worth of play in a single zone on a character that is far from my favourite.

Fuck raiding. Fuck heroics. Fuck Northrend and Outland*.

Oh Azeroth! I’m home!

*With apologies to Northrend and Outland, both of whom gave me many, many, many hours of joy – probably more joy than angst, whatever else I may say – up until they got as stale as Elwynn.

Apparently it’s PvP week, here at Aggro Management. You had to know it was coming – my last two posts were largely positive, cheerful things, but as much as I am actually enjoying PvP (God, it feels so wrong to say it…) and rediscovering a class I’ve played for years, the more familiar I get with the game (specifically Warsong Gulch) the more annoyed I become at a few trends I’m just not understanding.

Should any of the following actually make sense to you, please do explain it. Some of it I’m pretty sure is just the standard PuG hazards. Other pieces may actually have some kind of reasoning behind them that I’m just not familiar enough with the game to get.

So, without further adieu, I present: Shit That Makes No Sense

Part 1. Pavlov’s PuG

Allow me to paint you a picture of the start of every. Single. Game.

You hit “Enter Battleground” when the message pops up and are promptly assaulted by the sight of an Alliance banner blocking your view of everything because you messed up your camera for Malygos back in the day and you can’t seem to un-mess it up. You titch to the side while Pitbull tries to decide if you’re a raid or a party. Approximately half of your group is num-locking into the doors, frothing at the mouth to get out there and die as quickly and uselessly as possible. The other half is not content to simply buff everyone for no mana – they have to spam every single spell they have. Someone’s using tranquility. Every mage in the room is Blizzarding. The pally is running around and consecrating everyone. Anyone who can’t cast a spell is jumping up and down and back and forth.

When the horn blows and the gates go up, for no reason that you can discern, the entire raid group pours out the door, mounts, and tears off through the graveyard and on their way across the midfield. “Okay,” you say awkwardly, “I guess I’ll go defence.”

You watch with a morbid fascination on the little map in the corner of your screen as what started as a blob of dots representing your allies inexplicably begins to fray at the edges, drawing out, splitting up, leaving pieces behind. There are dots all over the midfield now, each by itself, and maybe 4-6 left to go try to get the flag. That’s fine. That should be plenty. You know that for a fact, because at least five Horde have just come tearing up the alliance tunnel and are moving for the flag.

You grind your teeth as one of your team members managed to grab the Horde flag and charge the huge-ass, plate-wearing tauren aiming for your own. “For the Alliance!” you think, not without a tinge of bitterness, because your supposed allies have basically left you to try to defend the flag against five freaking level X9 tauren.

You can watch the rest from the graveyard, waiting for your rez. The Horde grabs the flag and heads out down the tunnel. The party guarding the Horde flag carrier will inevitably meet the Alliance flag carrier on their way back from the Horde base, now hopelessly whittled down to, at most, three people. Whatever Horde they managed to kill in the flag room have since rezzed at the graveyard and are now tumbling down over that cliff like a waterfall of death.

The alliance flag carrier gets sandwiched between the two halves of the Horde group, screaming obscenities at his own team as he dies. Some guy named Allysuck returns the Horde flag to its base. Fifteen seconds later some guy named Heresbeef caps the Alliance flag.

Part 2. The Part Where we Don’t Fix Anything

This makes the score 0-1 for the Horde, but there’s still 20 minutes left to the game and plenty of time to realize the mistakes of our past, organize ourselves, and actually, you know, win. Instead, the Alliance will do one of the following:


  • Abruptly lose all hope of winning because it is very obviously impossible and there is very obviously nothing we could have done differently. Half of them ditch immediately, leaving the battleground and a cloud of vitriol and hate in the chat in their wake. The other half decide the mid-field is a really good place to stay, and stay there for the rest of the fight, perhaps figuring since the entire group is obviously composed of retards and we’re never going to cap anyway, they’ll just farm HKs for the rest of the match – by which I mean give HKs to the vastly more organized, less defeatist Horde.
  • Do the exact same thing as we did last time, only now it works even worse, because we all died at different times and the concept of waiting to group up is apparently a foolish, foolish idea that would guarantee our deaths. So we just sort of…attack the horde base on a one-by-one basis. Three people will take the Horde flag and die two steps later within the space of as many seconds. In the meantime, the Horde have had time to confirm that yes, we are in fact a standard Alliance PuG, and they don’t actually need to send five guys anymore. They send two to three to rape me in the corner where I am stubbornly attempting to defend the flag. They will kill me again when I meet them at the end of the tunnel. And again when I chase them into their own tunnel, but not until they have killed whichever unfortunate team member has managed to pick up their flag and chosen to come down the tunnel at the exact wrong moment.

Either way, once the score switches to 0-2 for the Horde, the Alliance will kind of wake up. A sudden, startling realization will streak like lightning through the collective group – Holy shit, guys! We have a flag too! And we haven’t been defending it!

And so, now that there’s only ten minutes left in the game, and we absolutely need to get at least two caps if we want to win, which means we should probably actually be playing a bit of offence here, there will be eight alliance crammed in as tight as they can into the flag room, faces stern and serious, determined now to protect our flag at all costs. The same rogue who has picked up the Horde flag and dropped it again a hundred times continues to stubbornly stealth his way down the side of the field to try it again – no doubt already planning his epic, rage-fuelled swearing when he dies again because he didn’t get the support he never asked for. He’s also level X1 and no support in the world is like to keep him standing for long anyway.

“Okay,” says I, “I guess I’ll go O, then…”

The Level X1 rogue does not wait for me. He grabs the flag and dies just as I’m running into the base. “Fuck it,” says I. I jump on the bandwagon and down into the flagroom. I grab the flag, stun the pally guarding it, and make it halfway down the tunnel before I get raped by the entire Horde team, who are basically turtling now that they have two caps and we have none and their victory is more or less assured if they can just keep us from capping.

I am returned to my team’s side of the base, where we are also turtling, because we have zero caps and absolutely need to get two more to win, but we are not going to do that because everyone knows defence is the key to winning WSG.

We lose. The next BG group consists of largely the same people as the last one. Oh good, I think, they learned their lesson last time. Maybe this time they’ll…run out the door, mount as fast as they can, and make a desperate dash down the midfield for a flag they’ll never be able to keep. It’s cool, though. I know they’ll be back to turtle down with me once the Horde has two caps.

Conclusion

WTF?

Specced for Angst

On the day I decided I wanted Justicar, I was specced prot (naturally). Unfortunately, I was labouring under a misunderstanding about the nature of PvP – I believed it to be entirely about the “deeps,” because, after all, isn’t that what PvP is? Deeps deeps and more deeps?

So, after doing a couple WSGs to test the water and my own resolve, I decided to suck it up and do this thing right. No matter how much it pained me, I would respec into something deeps related, and take all those PvP talents I’ve always ignored. I went to my trainer, head down and shamefaced, and requested a respec. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry a little when all my talents went back into their pool, and I switched away from the protection tab.

I decided I would go Fury because waaaaay back when I rolled my first baby warrior, I was fury, and on my level 80 main (who used to be my first baby warrior), Fury is her sadly neglected off-spec. Also because I have been severely obsessed with dual-wielding since I was introduced to Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, with whom I have been madly, deeply in love my entire life.

My hunters dual-wield. My shamans dual-wield. My DKs dual-wield. My warriors, when they are not sword-and-boarding, dual-wield. It has absolutely nothing to do with the validity of the spec or whether it’s better than something else at what it’s supposed to do.

So, in the interests of Doing This Thing Right, before I started plunking my points down willy-nilly, I hit Google to look it up and oh my God, people are not friendly to Fury in PvP, are they? Forum thread after forum thread of people spewing bile at anyone daring to ask for spec recommendations for Fury in PvP, even after that person had explained that they know it’s sub-par, but it suits their play style, and that’s what they want to do.

And I thought raiders were picky.

Now, I fully support everyone playing the game however they want and fuck the forums, but there was a moment when I wavered and almost went Arms. They were just so…adamant that Fury had no place in PvP, and I really, honestly did want to Do This Thing Right, and I wanted to contribute, and I didn’t want to be that total noob bringing everyone down and making us lose the battleground.

But, in the end, two things kept me from going Arms – solidarity with my fellow it’s-my-game-I’ll-play-how-I-want brothers, and a lifelong crush on a bipedal mutated sea creature, who also happens to be a ninja.

Fuck the forums, I went Fury.

I settled on an interim spec and went back into the BGs, but for reasons I couldn’t entirely fathom, it wasn’t as fun as it had been the first couple times. I stuck with it for a whole two hours (so…4ish crushing losses and no rep), but I couldn’t take it. I died so easy. The rotation was escaping me, and as with anything at low levels, there’s no help to try to figure out what your rotation should be when you don’t have any fancy level 80 buttons and procs to work in. Then the crank started to kick in, and I went back to Google to figure out what I was doing wrong.

The answer was so simple it was mind blowing.

The problem wasn’t that I was Fury. The problem was that I wasn’t prot.

There, on the first forum thread I’d looked at, was my answer. “fruy sux do arm sor prto”

Out of the mouths of douchebags.

It had never once occurred to me that prot was a valid PvP spec. Not even after that funny little patch where Blizzard nerfed Prot warriors because they were “doing too much damage in PvP” and we all kind of laughed and looked at each other and wondered what the PvP warriors were doing differently than the PvE warriors given that I can’t generally DPS my way out of a paper bag.

I can haz respec, NAO!

First though, I tested it out. I loaded up my level 80 prot warrior and popped her T10-wearing-ass into the WSG queue. More on this later, but suffice it to say yes. Yes prot is totally viable in PvP. Unequivocally.

Clutching my precious, precious talents once more to my chest I flipped back to the only tab I should ever look at and began to pop them back into place using the Talent Preview option. It was actually kind of fun to resist the urge to instinctively put them where I always do. For the first time in a long time I sat down and carefully read each talent and re-considered its purpose in light of the different game I intended to play. Suddenly talents I have always turned my nose up at became not only viable, but integral. Improved Disarm, for example. Others that I wouldn’t have been caught dead without – Vigilance – were suddenly kind of lacklustre.

I lay them down where I thought they should go and double-checked my logic against a generally recommended spec. Things seemed to be in order, so I hit learn, and watched, with no small amount of relief and glee, the sudden insurge of yellow text announcing all my favourite abilities were once again back in my spell book where they belonged.

Someday, Fury, I will give you the time and attention you so richly deserve, but my shield remains my security blanket, and I refuse to go far without it.

Mobile Gnome

Did you know that nobody links the metres in PvP? I had gone probably five whole BGs before I realized it. At best somebody might crow if they top the “Damage Done” in the BG Summary at the very end, but even then not often.

In part, I suppose, the metres probably can’t track everything going on, given that me and half my party can be an entire map away from each other. And even the damage done at the end is not really an accurate measurement of what you did. If I stayed on defence the entire time (as I usually do) I could have very little damage done if the Horde never tries for the flag, or if they try for it with a massive army and I die before I can do much more than cry out in alarm.

It’s refreshing, in a way. The DPS in a raid are so tightly chained to the metres and what they say that sometimes I wish I could institute a No Recount policy, where everybody shuts it off or hides it and doesn’t look at it. Then maybe we could all focus on something else. Like, I don’t know, the fight or something.

The idea that damage is the most important thing in PvP appears to be a myth – at least at this point. Obviously damage is important and the more you can dish out the faster you kill things, and the faster you kill things the longer you live, the more you win, etc.. But it’s not the only thing, and I really don’t think it’s the most important thing. Know what matters more?

Mobility. And the ability to hamper the mobility of others.

I’m telling you. When I loaded into WSG on my 80 Gnome warrior it was music. Warbringer + 3 different charges (two on enemies, one on allies) + Concussion blow + Hamstring…shit couldn’t get away from me. When I’d tried at lower levels as fury, I could charge once, if I wasn’t in combat, hamstring them – if I didn’t miss – and as soon as the hamstring was off they were gone again. I swear to God I feel like I’m the only class in the game without some kind of speed-up mechanic. I could do nothing but stare at a rogue’s ass as he tore away from me with Sprint. And staring at rogue-ass isn’t usually that onerous a task, depending on the rogue, but you honestly just hate the fuckers so much in that moment that it takes all the joy out of it entirely.

Shortly thereafter their fucking poisons and bleeds will kill you. It’s cool, though. They’re waiting for you at the graveyard.

On my 80, fully specced and (admittedly) geared, I could charge and concussion blow, and when that came off and they stunned me and tried to sprint, I could push the yellow-button-with-a-foot-on-it-that-undoes-snares-if-you’re-a-gnome and then intercept them and fuck them up some more. And by the time they were ditching again charge would probably be off cooldown.

If I had the flag, I could leapfrog all the way home, charging a tauren coming at me, then intervening to one of my allies up ahead, then intercepting up to a rogue waiting for me at the tunnel.

This is all completely situational of course, and sometimes it works out cleanly and other times it doesn’t, but the potential, in that moment, was limitless to my mind.

And I couldn’t help it – every time I shattered a Tauren’s kneecap with Shield Slam, I thought of every big-ass-cow I’d ever seen named after the various ways to commit violence to gnomes, and felt absolutely vindicated on behalf of my people.

Not punting anything now, are you Gnomkilr?!

A Different Kind of Prot

Doing that one BG on my 80 confirmed for me that I never should have switched specs. I understand Prot. I know its rhythm. I understand the cadence of its priority list and cooldowns, I can recognize the cues with my eyes closed, I can apply every tool in its box to a given situation without having to completely relearn what I’m doing. Raiding may be different than PvPing in just about every conceivable way, but it’s ingrained certain reactions and all of my keybindings into my brain in a very permanent fashion.

Plus, it’s been nothing short of giddy glee to suddenly discover dusty old buttons I haven’t pushed in years – icons I’d grown blind to over the levels due to their near complete lack of usefulness in PvE.

Disarm. I have pushed this button here and there, from time to time, only if required, or I’m bored, and only if it’s been pointed out to me I can do it. I use it so infrequently in PvE simply because it works on almost nothing. I didn’t even think of it in PvP until the Horde was assigned the same five rogues in two consecutive battlegrounds. They roamed the map in a pack, stealthed and ready to sap. There would be lines of alliance fighters, laid out in a row, all sapped, one after the other, as they tried to cross the field.

Anyway, I wound up spending an entire fight disarmed, as fucking rogues popped into and out of existence again. There was a certain RP satisfaction to picturing my baby warrior (unfortunately not a gnome) sucker punching the fuckers as they destealthed long enough to stab me and put a bunch of bleeds on me before disappearing again. But RP satisfaction is where it ended.

The one good thing that came out of that is that I was disarmed long enough to grow cognizant of the fact that I had been disarmed and to remember, in turn, that I could do that too. Now, out of pure spite, I will disarm every rogue I cross blades with.

But it will never take away the shame of getting into and losing a fist fight with five invisible men.

Hamstring. In PvE? I just. Don’t. Bother. For one thing, I’m tanking, so I’m not even in the right stance to use it. For another, when would I need to? Again, there just aren’t that many situations where it’s required, and another class can do it faster and easier than me.

In PvP? It’s the second thing I put on them (please see the previous paragraph about sprint).

I’ve finally learned to stance-dance properly. Start in Battle so I can charge (until I get Warbringer, anyway), drop a concussion blow and a hamstring, then switch to Defensive and start bludgeoning their skull with my shield. Switch back to Battle as they try to run to charge them again.

I almost feel like, as I gain levels and more talent points and abilities and other goodies, I can unlock a whole side to Prot I’ve never seen before. In the absence of the need to stand in one place and generate threat, I’ve picked up a whole new host of abilities that are the exact opposite of standing in one place. I can dart here and there around a playing field – something I always enjoyed in the few encounters as tank where I’d get to do so – interrupting and silencing and stunning as necessary.

Instead of being the heavily armoured thing standing between my part and the Big Nasty that wants to smash them, I am the heavily armoured thing that is chasing you down to wring bloody justice from your corpse.

I’ve gone from Implacable to Inevitable.

From Immovable to Unstoppable.

I’m still protecting my allies. I’m still protecting the objective. But I’m doing it in a different way, with a different feel. It’s not a passive defence, it’s an active defence. Instead of sitting there and waiting for them to come to me and just taking it, I am actively hunting them down, chasing them down, seeking them out and, ultimately, making them pay (for…taking our flag. But that’s another post).

I have become a Justicar in truth*.

Only 124,000 more rep, and I’ll be one in title.

*Using the D&D sense of the word, which is what I’m assuming Blizz is going for…more like a cop than a judge.

Excuses, Excuses

With regards to the looooonnnngggg stretches between posts, suffice it to say that between the vagaries of real life, the fact that I am no longer reduced to a puddle of incoherent rage on raid nights (due to there no longer being raid nights for a while), and the general, all-encompassing state of Waiting-For-Cataclysm, I haven’t had a lot to say on the topic of WoW. I figured silence was better than boring everyone – a policy I will likely maintain in the future.

Trying New Things (TM)

In the gap between now and Cataclysm I have tentatively been Trying New Things (TM). Things like a Warlock. Which has been going surprising well, pet pathing issues not withstanding. Also, a rogue. That one’s not going so well. See, I have a 40ish rogue, and you might think, gee Protflashes, that’s really good given that your previous record was level 17 with that class. But then I’d be obliged to point out that between level 17 and level 40ish a guildie basically chain-dragged my heirloom wearing ass through instances, and…now I’m level 40 and my toolbar is a vast and desolate wasteland of buttons I don’t know how to use.

Combo points are scary, leave me alone.

I also started a new warrior, which has, of course, been going delightfully because that class, I can do. You might think that this doesn’t really constitute under the Trying New Things (TM) thing I’ve been doing, and you would have been right up to a point.

But at level 40 I decided I wanted a title. In fact, I set my heart on a title. It is no longer a case of want. I absolutely have to get this title for this character. It is perfect for him. He must have it. He will have it.

I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently I picked the hardest fucking title in the whole god damned game. Nor was I fully cognizant, when I first chose it, that it doesn’t exactly happen in my neck of the woods, so to speak.

The title I am so dead set on earning for myself – cue drum roll – is Justicar.

Cue three-year-old temper tantrum – IwantitIwantitIwantit!

For those who don’t know, earning the Justicar title involves grinding to Exalted with three old-world Factions, each associated with one of the three old world battlegrounds (Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, Alterac Valley).

Battlegrounds…you know…PvP.

That thing I don’t do. The Land of No Tanks.

Okay, says I, no problem. I just have to get rep with the three vanilla PvP factions. Easy peasy. I did Warsong Gulch for a little while years ago. Even Arathi Basin once or twice when I was feeling brave. They give these little tokens, whether you win or lose, and you just hand those in for rep.

All I need to do, I told myself, oversimplifying in the interests of curbing the ever-present combination of fear and derision PvP invokes in my chest, is grit my teeth, suck it up, die a froopopapilliion times, and boom! Justicar.

I did some “research” into the title, which consisted of looking at a single forum thread and confirming that Warsong Gulch is the hardest one to get. So I decided to start with that one (having only two options at level 40ish). If it’s the hardest to get rep from, let’s get it out of the way before the novelty wears off. Plus it’s the only one I can really say I have any degree of understanding of since I have actually done it before (however poorly).

So I hit H, pop into the queue and three seconds later I’m in a game already in progress. Approximately three seconds after that – I’m not even out of the flagroom yet – I am assaulted with a summary screen that I vaguely remember means the game is over.

Did I mention I’m Alliance? Apparently we don’t win much.

Anyway, I shrug and think smugly to myself: fastest token ever. I open my bags and begin to look for my little thing I can hand in for rep. There’s nothing in my bags even remotely resembling a PvP token.

Vague memories of a set of patch notes saying blah blah blah tokens blah blah blah rep blah blah blah sucks to be you.

Queue panic.

I head for Google again, this time intending to look a little closer at just why this title is supposed to be so hard to get. Apparently the tokens I was banking on no longer exist.

The only way to get rep with the Silverwing Sentinels is by capturing the flag. 35 rep per capture, 45 on a Call to Arms weekend.

To put this into perspective for you, I have been stubbornly PvPing since I decided I want this title (all of a week or two now), and of somewhere between 50 and 100 games I’ve played, the vast majority of them end with a score of 0-3 for the Horde.

I can play a game for 30 minutes and the Alliance will not cap a single flag. If we don’t cap, I get no rep. I’m not just talking about a possibility, here, I’m talking about something that happens on a regular basis.

I added up the total of what I will need to get the title – basically 126,000 rep, split across the three factions. I’m currently at 1700ish. I’m not even Friendly with Silverwing.

I’m going to be at this a while.

Fish out of Water

So far I’ve only tried my hand at Warsong Gulch. I recognize I’m going to suck for a while (maybe even forever), but I’d rather not suck because I’m an idiot and couldn’t be bothered to at least look up what I’m doing. Long years of raiding have taught me that a bit of research goes a long way, especially in a PuG where one out of a hundred might actually be willing to take the time to explain something to you.

I already knew the basics of WSG, I read the article in the last WoW Magazine, I hit up WoWWiki and took a look at what they had written down in terms of tips, hints, and general strategies for winning.

It’s a shame that the strategies employed by the groups I’ve played with resemble absolutely nothing I’ve read….

I’m nowhere near experienced enough to start actively speaking up with regards to strategies or making statements about what we should or should not be doing in the chat itself, but the lack of communication, coordination, and common sense is already causing my raid-lead-instincts to twitch. I have, on several occasions, begged for someone to give me instructions. I have also gotten into at least three or four fights with people over the severe lack of utility inherent in waiting until you are dead and the flag has been returned to scream for some kind of support. Also over throwing in comments about teamwork, when you’re the twit who sauntered off down into the Horde base alone, without a word to the rest of us, as we desperately beat back a wave of five rogues, three shamans, and a fucking priest in our own flag room.

PvP is a chaotic, dirty game, and it’s so incredibly not the one I’m used to playing. There’s no real leadership in the PuGs. Even in a PvE dungeon PuG, the pace still needs to be set by the tank pulling and going in first. Even if there’s no official leader, there’s a recognized order to events that should be observed if one does not wish to die in a fire.

In PvE the strats are static, inflexible things. You find one that works with your group make-up and skill level and you fucking stick to that thing like glue. If anyone deviates from it you bark and snarl and nip at them like you’re herding sheep back into place. Everyone has a fairly rigid role in any given fight, responsibility is compartmentalized, assigned out to individuals, and is down in the weeds in terms of details. The field of play may change, but it does so at predictable, regular intervals.

In PvP – and take this with a grain of salt, for they are the words of a noob – there are strats (that nobody follows, but hey), but they are in no way inflexible. They can’t be. The field of play in PvP is a big roiling mass of players, doing whatever suits their fancy right now, in this moment, because honestly? I’m dead in two seconds anyway. So, assuming you have some kind of coordination, your strategy becomes a very high level, agile thing. Instead of a list of chronological events and the required reactions (PvE), it’s more like a priority list – a series of “if, then, else” statements. All the pieces are moving, all the time.

Biggest adjustment for me? Well, actually, there are two. The first is that there are no tanks. There is no threat. “Aggro” is gained through an arcane mechanic involving some combination of how easy you are to kill, whether you have the flag or not, and whether some jack ass on the other side has decided he’s going to pull your damn pigtails for the next thirty minutes, by which I mean detour unfailingly to beat the shit out of you behind a bush somewhere, not ten feet from the flag carrier he’s supposed to be caring about.

In fact, it almost works the exact opposite of the way it does in PvE. In PvE, aggro is gained by being the most threatening thing in the field of play. In PvP, we’re all a bunch of damn cowards. If I have a choice between chasing down a level 49 paladin, bristling in platemail, with a big-ass two-handed sword, and his bubble off CD, or a level 42 priest wearing Kleenex and standing all by her onsies off to the side in the hopes of avoiding notice….

I know who I’m going for. Sure the pally will kill me in the end anyway, but I’m taking that priest with me. An eye for an eye, an HK for an HK.

The second, and perhaps hard difference to wrap my mind around, is that life – any life; yours, theirs, whatever – has no value whatsoever. In PvE, success can actually be very generally described as living. The more people alive at the end of a fight, the better you did. If you die, you lose. You eat massive repair bills. You gimp your raid group as they try to finish the fight without you. There are heavy consequences for death.

In PvP you are put on this earth for one thing and one thing only, and that is to cause as much bloody inconvenience to anyone with a red name over their head as you possibly can before you go down in a blazing ball of poison, fire, and fucking DoTs. This whole process will take a grand total of – at maximum – two minutes. Within a maximum of 30 seconds you will be rezzed, automatically, at no personal cost to yourself or anyone else (whether monetary or manatary), and are free to rain destruction down upon your enemies for another two minutes.

Assuming you can get past the rogue camping the graveyard, but you get the idea.

There are no consequences for dying. Not only is it not the end of the world that you die, it’s part of the game. If you never died, it’s sort an eyebrow raising, where-were-you-when-shit-was-going-down-in-the-tunnel kind of thing. It happens, of course, but it is fairly rare to my inexperienced eye.

Nobody notices. Nobody mourns. Nobody screams and rants and rails. You don’t even care. Sometimes I actually find myself muttering “hurry the fuck up and kill me already so I can get back to my own base and fuck up the EFC before he gets off the ramp”. Or, in the case of a caster, so they can get their mana back.

The whole thing – the flexible nature of PvP strategies, the lack of sole responsibility for controlling where damage is coming and going (i.e., tanking), the complete and total renouncing of my overactive sense of self-preservation – is at once frightening and exhilarating; it’s strange and incredibly chaotic and it all feels so, so wrong…

But I think I like it.

And that scares me more than anything else.

Layteknight and I were chatting about Cataclysm the other day (who isn’t these days, I guess). The conversation ran the gamut:


  1. Cataclysm is a panacea that will heal all wounds, give sight to the blind, raise the dead to the living, and cause the lame to walk again!
  2. Lifegrip sounds very, very, very dangerous. I trust Blizzard, I do. But man. I spend most of my time in a group screaming for the DPS to run toward the tank if they pull aggro. Reinforcing the awayness of their usual plans doesn’t seem wise to me. To say nothing of apparently removing even the small personal responsibility the DPS have traditionally had for staying out of fire / watching their aggro.
  3. I was really excited by the class previews, then read them, then realized I won’t actually understand how any of that is supposed to work until I can physically press the buttons, then was generally pouty and bored with them.
  4. We are not excited at the moment about 80-85. At all. We are excited about getting 1-60 back and playing it again and having it be new. I cannot wait. I can haz alts!
  5. Manifold goblin/worgen class combinations and which we would play and how we would play and so on and so forth.
  6. Then we looked up the Goblins – did you know their intelligence is pale in comparison to their race’s old smarts? And that they’re losing it more and more every generation? This is why their shit blows up – they’ve got the old schematics, but they no longer understand how it actually works. This is fascinating to me.

So then I started thinking about Goblins. I have long liked the Goblins as a foil for the Gnomes. Forget Horde/Alliance, the real conflict for me has always been Goblin vs. Gnome. It started when the option was first put to me to be a Goblin or a Gnomish engineer – complete with the following descriptions:

You want to know about Goblin engineering? Try asking one of their best and brightest engineers about it – I think his name is “Nubby Stumpfingers.” Want to know why he’s named that? THAT’S Goblin Engineering. (Ringo Tragediction, Gnome Engineer)

Know that feeling you get when you finish making something and turn it on for the first time to experience the power and joy of invention as your device springs to life? Gnomes don’t. (Nixx Sprocketspring, Master Goblin Engineer of Gadgetzan)

There was just something in those quotes that described in fantastic detail to me the rivalry between the two races. That was the moment I gave in and picked a side. I was immediately and properly offended I had even been offered the choice. I was a Gnome. What did they think I was going to pick?

And I harbor a secret hate for Goblins and Goblin engineers to this day. I turn up my nose when I pass the Goblin trainers. I get huffy when I see other players – God forbid a Gnome – talking to them. I named my Mechanostrider “Goblin Killer 3000.” It’s like the rivalry between two schools in the same town – and I bought into it hardcore a long time ago.

The place where this conflict plays out most obviously in game is in the Shimmering Flats, at the Raceway. I just…can’t deal with this place – it’s too awesome. Long, long ago, when I first started playing, someone told me about it and I walked (waaaaayyyy before mounts at 20) all the way there from Dun Morogh just to see it.

There’s a gnome camp, with their unnecessarily mechanical houses, and their gadgets, and their win. And a Goblin camp, with their pineapple wallpaper and far too many explosives in one place, and their other-kind-of-win-that-I-have-arbitrarily-decided-is-fail. And they’re racing each other to prove who’s inventions are better (the results of the races are also obvious if you know where to look, embedded in the stone walls around you).

Less. Than. Three.

But we’re losing the Shimmering Flats in Cataclysm – more accurately, they’re supposedly becoming a great big lake (/sob…my mining run in 1KN…how will I farm mining now?!). So where will the Goblins and the Gnomes find an outlet for their rivalry? Especially now that they’re actually on opposite factions?

But then I was thinking…

That’s how Blizzard could get me into PvP (which I happen to believe is one of their ultimate, super-secret goals – get Protflashes to PvP). I don’t care about the Horde vs. Alliance conflict because I think it’s massively short-sighted and completely ill-advised given the many, many, many, many, MANY shared enemies they have, whose main goals seem to be the destruction of all life on Azeroth.

But Gnomes vs. Goblins?

Fuck YES!

I will be the first person in the queue for that battleground. Hell, I’m already embroiled in that particular faction war. I want to Gnomish Death Ray a Goblin. I want to so bad. If I’m honest, I always have.

It’s just a stupid little subplot playing out in the grand scheme of things that is Warcraft, but I honest to God care about it. Maybe just because it’s one of the first sub plots I stumbled into. Maybe because Engineering was my first and my favourite profession. Maybe because it makes more sense to me than Horde vs. Alliance.

But what it means is that I don’t care if I die a million times, I don’t care if it means I have to learn WTF Resilience is, I don’t care if it means having to research ratings and how to get them.

I would get to Gnomish Death Ray a Goblin.

For Gnomeregan!